There are more than a few gym business models. At Fit Man, we believe that being a personal trainer is a results-driven business and people should take that into account when they open their own gym business.
Clients will demand a unique, personalised and memorable experience, and the model should absolutely reflect that.
Nevermind the start up costs of a gym (for now). If you just beginning or are now just getting serious about business, it’s actually better to start by working through some preliminary questions. We find these fundamental:
What does the fitness industry currently offer to clients? In other words, what do clients have access to?
What will make your studio different than the personal training studio or gym down the road from you?
Why will clients choose what you do over the hundreds of other services available elsewhere?
How will you, as a new gym owner, compete with the already established big gym chains?
These are the exact questions Joe had to grapple with when he founded U Fit Studio. Nowadays, aspiring gym owners have even bigger problems and challenges to solve.
Outside of the fitness world, there are industries which have operated the same way for decades, yet they are now being massively disrupted by hungry new companies with fresh ideas and technology. Think about it:
The world’s largest taxi company is Uber. Uber owns no vehicles.
The world’s largest accommodation provider, Airbnb, owns no real estate.
The world’s largest media company, Facebook, creates no content.
Traditional business models are becoming extinct because of these revolutionary new start-ups. Kodak, for example, knew about digital photography back in the 1970s, but clung to their physical print business for decades. Instagram was born, and Kodak became history.
Setting up your gym based upon old models would be like setting up a print shop after the smartphone was invented. A new generation of gym owners will need to fully embrace this kind of disruptive thinking if they are to compete and stay relevant.
Disrupting the fitness industry will probably not require Uber-quality programmers to join your team. Everyone knows the landscape is saturated with commercial gyms. To shake things up in a big way, all you need to offer is exceptional coaching. It is the new breed of nimble boutique gyms which will possess the savviest models to outwit and outperform the commercial gyms.
Boutique gyms consistently solve the two things people always need help with: time and accountability. Clients don’t have enough time to focus on their health or the willpower to maintain discipline in the time they do have. It’s a fact: an hour with a hands-on, personalised, results-driven boutique gym trainer is a higher value experience than with a commercial trainer.
Commercial gyms struggle to offer this kind of experience. Their stubbornness, arrogance, and failure is effectively rolling out the red carpet for the new stars and alternative business models.
Before a trainer can leave the safety net of the commercial gym, and for an alternative gym business model to work, consider 5 things:
Choose the ideal client that you will happily get out of bed every morning to train The client which is the most fun to train will be the foundation to everything. Every decision owners make will be based around this ideal client, from exercise programs and nutrition strategies to decor and everyday interactions.
What kind of culture will be in the gym? In short, customer experience is key, something that the big chain gyms overlook. That’s your opening. Build a culture around a unique, irreplaceable service which only you can provide. Do this, and you’ll never become obsolete. Read Joe’s thoughts on gym culture here.
Clients results Getting results isn’t enough to set a gym apart. Joe is not convinced that ‘most’ trainers actually get results for their clients. The reality is much, much different: big gyms drip feed trainers clients, and this volume of clients can create the illusion of results.Life is easier at the chain gym. Out on your own, there is far more responsibility than merely showing up to train pre-booked clients. There’s marketing, selling, and client retention. There are less sexy activities like cleaning the toilets.Selling clients into a result driven programme or membership is no cakewalk, and delivering on your promise to provide results is even harder. Those clients will need top-level nurturing and epic dedication from you. On top of that, to really sync it all together, a Fit Man will need to be influential, persuasive and charismatic, and carry real confidence.
Systems, Checklists, Operational Manuals and Hiring When establishing his gym, Joe relied heavily on his brother and team. Because they had been together for so long, he learned to understand the different roles and responsibilities pretty quickly. Hindsight is 20/20, and looking back, there’s two books that would have really come in handy: The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right. Atul Gawande and Black Box Thinking: Marginal Gains and the Secrets of High Performance. Spending time in Results Fitness University also wouldn’t hurt (Joe was a founding student), and getting a handle on what your real weaknesses are will prove invaluable. Real business owners know their blind spots, and real men own their vulnerabilities. Once the gym is properly established, the payoff for such honesty is entrepreneurial and financial freedom.
To become a better personal trainer requires becoming the best version of yourself Getting started, Joe studied the topics of mindset, persuasion, and influence. He did everything to look after his clients and build his businesses, but in time realized he had neglected himself. He had his health, of course. However, his personal relationships and financial situation suffered. The simple lesson that there is really much more to life than living in a gym came slowly. If you are suspect you might be neglecting relationships or squandering money, see how these questions land: How might you be getting in your own way? What could be the one problem likely to hold you back? Have you failed to meet the expectations of your parents? If money wasn’t an issue, would you still want to be running a gym?
If you are considering opening your own gym or personal training studio, then consider Joe’s step-by-step PT Growth Lab. Do the right things, right now, in the right order, and save years of frustration, mistakes and sleepless nights.
Already running a gym or personal training studio?
Gyms and personal training studio are generally run the same way. In an overcrowded marketplace, rivals fight over a shrinking profit pool. Lasting success comes not come from competing on prices. That’s a sad race to the bottom. Instead, create untapped new markets for growth, where you own your value and charge what you’re worth.