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3 Things About Gym Ownership Part Two


Part one of this topic was very well received so I wanted to back it up with a round two. I took a little different approach to this and wanted to pose three questions that I would now ask my younger self when the decision was made to open a facility.

Hindsight is always 20/20- but over the last two years, I have asked these exact questions to aspiring gym owners and they’ve felt some value in them…

Here we go!

1) What is your reason/why?

Cliche, yes. BUT, what I am getting as is this- why are you opening a gym? Do you think you can do it better than your current employer? (out of frustration). Do you have some secret sauce that makes your sessions better than someones perception of Orange Theory? (ego?) Or do you have an full schedule and want to take your business to scale? (expansion).

Seriously, ask yourself why. I was an ego driven and frustrated Strength Coach who thought I could do it better. We all know how that ended….

2) At what point will you be able to promote yourself out of the role as ‘trainer’?

This one typically starts with some confusion. You’re a damn good Personal Trainer, that’s why you’re opening a gym, right?

Not so fast.

If you’re opening a gym so that you (literally, YOU) can train more people, you’re just making a lateral career change that is going to cost you $5,000-$10,000 in monthly overhead to cover.

When you’re writing your business plan, make sure you know at what point you will be promoting yourself from Trainer to ‘owner’.

3) Can you teach?

Another often overlooked piece is your ability to teach your own systems to someone else. Clearly, you can TRAIN and teach a client. But can you teach your first hire? Your second hire? Can you teach someone who is going to be teaching the third hire?

Having your systems dialed in is one thing, but being able to clearly teach them to someone else is another. You would be surprised how many Personal Trainers don’t have their own training systems written out.

Start with that…seriously, that’s the product you are scaling to your new facility. You can’t scale a person - unless you have a cloning machine?- but you can scale the HOW you train part. Build that system, refine that system, and then practice teaching that system.


3 Things I learned in January


3 Things I learned in January

January was a wild ride for our facility. I can't really remember a month in the previous 7 years that resembled the level of awesomeness that we (a staff of 5 total) shelled out. We added 35 new athletes to our program, started up with 3 collegiate teams for the spring semester, while maintaining the 4 team training contacts that carried through the month. 

It was a lot of fun and positioned us well for the rest of 2018, however, it shined a big light on some things that had previously gone under the radar. I want to share those three things with you...

1) As you grow, make sure your systems do too

This was by far the biggest punch in the neck I received. I've always considered myself a 'systems' guy. We dial in everything from how to answer the phone, how to greet new faces at the door, and programming, BUT what I struggled with was how some of our systems started to deteriorate with an immediate influx of bodies coming in to our space. Huge plug here for the crew at Strength Faction, specifically Co-Founder Chris Merritt, who helped me identify what was happening EARLY on to help avoid issues down the road

This is why you surround yourself with people who have been there. INVALUABLE to the success of our program. 

Our facility was absolutely getting chaotic. This prompted us to immediately put everything under the microscope. Gym lay out, flow of traffic, storage, coach positioning on the floor, when we station a Coach at the desk, etc. It all was being assessed. 

This led us to alter the lay out of our gym space, change some of the verbiage when talking to prospects, and also changing some of our session times to better space the traffic through out our day. All have yielded very positive feedback from our members and have kept our staff sane in the growth process. 

2) Working with teams is more than providing strength and conditioning 

I made a post in the "Parisi Speed School Coaches Corner" private facebook page last fall when we started at Saint Michael's College working with three of their programs. I wanted to reiterate this point - the services we deliver go far beyond strength and conditioning. If you think that is your only role on a team, you are doing a disservice to the players and coaching staff and also discrediting yourself as a leader. After ramping up the spring semester last month, this point has become more relevant with two of those teams going in to their main competitive season. 

When you are a part of the team your duties expand to staying in contact with the sports med staff, talking to administration, communicating with alumni who may be on campus, talking to recruits who may in for a visit with the team, referring out for nutritional questions, helping with fund raisers (that pay for your services...) and so much more. When you are a part of the team, you are ON the team, don't take your role lightly.

Never take your role for granted!

Never take your role for granted!

3) Communication is the glue to your successful staff (development).

In January we started to implement a second 'in-service' day to our weeks. On Monday's we meet for an hour as a staff to talk operations and keep this meeting purely administrative. We cover everything from how to answer the phone, who's a new athlete coming in, injured athletes that may need programming adjustments, how to explain our pricing structure, and tough customer service questions or interactions. We follow that up with a 'Fri-yay' in-service where we talk all things Coaching. Training concepts, programming strategies, industry trends, etc. It's just pure coaching development. 

What I think is important to highlight why we do it this way is two things. 1) it separates the two types of 'coach'...emotional engagement and x's and o's. Our staff comes in prepared for the topics on their respective day and can engage better. 2) We doubled the amount of time we spent on group staff development. I meet with coaches privately each week some candid some planned, but as a group we sit down for two hours a week and just focus on getting better as a group. Going back to point 1 on this post, making sure we scaled our staff development to match our growing business is a key priority. 

Hoping that these three things help you and your facility thrive as we all jump head first in to 2018! 

ALSO- don't forget to check out the '3 Things Podcast' now available for download on iTunes, Google Play, and Soundcloud!