Three Ways Your Group Programming Might Be Losing Money – and How to Turn it Around

By Michael Hughes

Picture this:

It’s a bustling Monday morning at your gym, and the energy is palpable as clients stream in, ready to tackle their workouts with gusto. Among them is Sarah, a dedicated member in her mid-50s who’s been coming faithfully to your group classes for months. As she settles into her favorite spot in the studio, you notice a slight grimace flicker across her face as she stretches her tight muscles—a telltale sign of the lingering discomfort she’s been experiencing.

Despite Sarah’s commitment to fitness, she’s been struggling with recurring aches and pains that seem to intensify with each high-intensity session. And while she loves the sense of accomplishment that comes with pushing her limits, lately, she’s been questioning whether the physical toll is worth it.

As her trainer, you can’t help but empathize with Sarah’s frustration. You’ve seen firsthand how common it is for clients to prioritize intensity over sustainability, often at the expense of their long-term well-being. 

And you can’t help but wonder:

Is there a better way to approach group programming that not only challenges clients but also supports their overall health and vitality?  In the dynamic landscape of fitness, crafting group programming that not only challenges but also nurtures clients is essential for long-term success. 

As industry leaders, we’ve identified three common pitfalls that may be hindering your profitability—and we’re here to show you how to overcome them:

  • Reconsidering Workout Intensity: It’s a common misconception that clients crave grueling workouts. While intensity has its place, prioritizing it above all else can lead to detrimental outcomes. Clients value sustainability and results that endure beyond the gym floor. Unfortunately, the prevailing mindset in our industry often pushes clients to push past pain, leading to a staggering 144% increase in workout-related injuries. 

At Gymnazo, we’ve shifted our focus to empowering clients through tailored workouts that prioritize functionality over intensity. By making workouts feel like a celebration of their strengths rather than a punishment for their limitations, we’ve cultivated a loyal client base that keeps coming back for more which has led to higher retention rates and higher lifetime customer values. 

  • Embracing A Deeper Level of Inclusion: Group programming often falls victim to the “one-size-fits-all” approach, inadvertently alienating valuable demographics such as the over-40 crowd. These individuals represent the largest and most lucrative market segment, yet they’re often underserved and intimidated by traditional gym settings. 

To bridge this gap, we’ve reimagined our programming to cater to the unique needs of older adults. By creating inclusive environments where clients of all ages and abilities feel welcome, we’ve shattered barriers and transformed “gymtimidation” into empowerment. Our diverse clientele not only reflects the rich tapestry of our community but also serves as a testament to the inclusivity of our approach.

  • Blending Restoration with Performance: One of the most overlooked aspects of group programming is the integration of restoration techniques. Too often, trainers focus solely on performance, neglecting the crucial role that restoration plays in preventing injuries and maximizing long-term results. 

At Gymnazo, we’ve pioneered a holistic approach that seamlessly blends restoration with performance. Drawing on insights from years of collaboration with physical therapists, we’ve developed intelligent programming that prioritizes mobility, pain resolution, and joint health.  By incorporating these principles into our group workouts, we’ve not only reduced the risk of overuse injuries but also enhanced the overall client experience. Our clients leave our sessions feeling rejuvenated, empowered, and eager to return for more.

Ready to revolutionize your group programming and unlock untapped potential? Here are a few resources you can explore to experience the Gymnazo difference firsthand.

At Gymnazo, we’re not just redefining fitness—we’re revolutionizing it. Join us in reshaping the future of group training and maximizing profitability in the process. Come and check out Gymnazo at an upcoming SCW FitPro MANIA® Convention.  Experience what Gymnazo has to offer and the latest education on group exercise.  Register by April 15 and save $100 with code April100.

Follow us on Instagram: @gymnazo_edu

Subscribe to our Youtube Channel: Gymnazo EDU

Listen to our Podcast: The Gymnazo Podcast

About the Author: Michael Hughes

Founder of Gymnazo & Gymnazo EDU, holding a degree in Kinesiology, Michael is a Fellow of Applied Functional Science and certified as a Multidimensional Movement Coach, a Functional Manual Reaction Coach, a Female Chain Reaction Coach, a 3D Movement Analysis & Performance System Coach, plus several more.  He is also a Precision Nutrition Coach and Post Rehab Conditioning specialist. He’s spent the last decade pioneering a more sustainable model of training that blends his heart for restoration with the energy of fitness training. Michael’s mission is to elevate the industry’s standards for what quality looks like as a trainer through scientific knowledge and application.

Training Your Clients for What They Like to Do and Want to Do in Life

By Dan Ritchie
Courtesy of Personal Fitness Professional

At Functional Aging Institute (FAI), we talk all the time about training your clients for ‘need to do,’ ‘like to do,’ and ‘want to do’ activities. We constantly stress that you should keep your program design focused on what clients like and want to do in life.

Sometimes as trainers we forget about our clients’ goals and dreams, and we start training sets and reps.
This summer, I had the great joy of attending a Yankees game for the first time in my life. I would say that has to fit in the want to do or even dream to do activity list! It is not something I will get to do often, so I started to get a little nostalgic thinking about taking my two sons with me, one of whom is a really big Cubs fan and was super excited to get to see the Cubs play in Yankee Stadium.
Now, this wasn’t a massively challenging functional task, but I started to take note as we entered the subway station, counting how many stairs and people we had to navigate. Standing on a subway train, my 14-year-old son Ryan noticed quickly that it took some reactive balance… and you were likely to get bumped into!
We stopped off at Times Square since Ryan had never seen it, and then we added several thousand steps in a large crowd and an overwhelming amount of external stimulus. Even Ryan found it to be a little too much, and we headed back to the subway and on to the Bronx.
After climbing out of the subway station for the second time in less than an hour (more stairs), we entered the long line to enter the stadium, and after a few thousand more steps and more stairs, we found our seats. Then, after an historic Cubs win 3-0 (the Cubs had never won in Yankee Stadium in 12 previous tries), we had to do it all over again: stairs, crowds, curbs, subways swaying packed with people, etc.
I can’t imagine missing it with Luke and Ryan because it was too many steps, too many stairs, too tiring, or even a possible fall risk. I tallied 10,916 steps that Friday afternoon/evening, and now the 3 of us forever have the memory of being in Yankee Stadium together. We got to see the Cubbies get their first ever win and Fly the W at Yankee Stadium!
Sometimes we overthink fitness. All we really need to do is train people so they can have these experiences with their loved ones and do them with ease and enjoyment.
In fact, when we look at the 6-domains of function chart, we see we have to be training in each of these areas to be able to handle a trip to a major city ballgame. Even the cognitive component was significant as there were signs to notice and so many stimuli from so many different places to manage. If you are training your clients so they can have even more memorable peak experiences in life, then you will become an indispensable resource in their journey for years to come.

About the Author: Dan Ritchie

Dr. Dan Ritchie is the president and co-founder of the Functional Aging Institute. Dan also owns and operates Miracles Fitness in West Lafayette, Indiana, where they have trained over 2,500 clients since 2007. Dan was the 2014 PFP Trainer of the Year and is a sought-after expert and speaker at national and international events on topics like balance for older adults, fitness business development, the global aging phenomenon, and functional aging training models. Learn more at

IHRSA Rebrands to
Health & Fitness Association

Since its founding in 1981, IHRSA has been proud to share the stories about how its members have helped their members and consumers improve their lives through a commitment to physical activity, demonstrating that exercise and activity can improve physical and mental health.

In the last two years, IHRSA leaders have taken steps to continue the evolution of the association to reflect the changes in this modern, sophisticated industry.IHRSA hired a new chief executive officer, restructured and strengthened board operations, improved relationships with international federations and partners, global members, advocates, and policymakers. In addition, the board has worked with the CEO to define and implement new strategic pillars to guide operations, focused on advocacy, education, and research.

The Next Chapter

The next logical step in this process was an evolution of the IHRSA brand to reflect this focus. On March 6, we became the Health & Fitness Association.

Moving forward, the Health & Fitness Association will continue to be the standard-bearer for the global community of health and fitness leaders committed to providing a brighter, healthier tomorrow. Our members, industry partners, policymakers, and international bodies have helped us build a stronger industry, more unified than ever before. With an understanding of exercise’s critical role in improving overall health and mental wellness, we aim to transform the traditional view of how health and fitness facilities serve consumers.

What to Expect Moving Forward

Change takes time, so over the next few months, you can expect the rollout of our new name and focus on our mission to continue with changes to the following:

  • Our website will transition to Content will be redirected to in the next few months
  • Our new brand colors and logo will appear on the website, and references to IHRSA will change to the Health & Fitness Association.
  • Our social media platforms will change to our brand
  • Our email addresses will change to
  • In addition, several backend processes will change, including those related to finances, legal, and taxes.

What Won’t Change

Our staff and our commitment to continue serving the global health and fitness industry through advocacy, education, and research.

The 3 Keys to Starting
Your Fitness Franchise

By Caletha Crawford
Courtesy of Athletech News

A veteran franchisee shares the most important milestones for opening a fitness franchise
You’re in the process of finalizing your fitness franchise deal. Congratulations. Now it’s time for the real work to begin. The period between signing your franchise agreement and opening day is critical to the success of your gym. And, it’s also often a real wake-up call for new franchisees.

“A lot of franchisees will say, ‘You know, I’m buying a franchise and paying upfront money for the franchise, and the franchisor is gonna help me all along the way and I can just sit back and do very little. That is not the case,” Leonard Briskman, a SCORE mentor based in Washington, D.C., told Athletech News. “Once you open for business and you start that first week or the first two weeks, chances are the franchisor is not going to be readily available for you, unless you have an operational problem.”

Briskman has been on both sides of the franchise relationship. First, purchasing a lighting retail chain with 27 franchisees and later as a franchisee operating 42 athletic footwear stores.

For Briskman, the franchisor’s training program was immensely helpful, mainly due to the coaching he received but also because it gave him the opportunity to build relationships with other franchisees that were also going through the onboarding process.

But a classroom setting can only teach you so much. Briskman advises new fitness franchisees to spend time in an existing gym to get a feel for how things work behind the scenes.

“They ought to spend several days or maybe a week or more at another franchisee’s operation, especially if it’s within the same city just to acclimate to what’s happening in the business and what you can expect,” he said.

While every business is different, one thing is universal, once you sign on to open a fitness franchise, you are taking on a host of financial and operational responsibilities, many of which require immediate attention.

Here, we highlight three main milestones leading up to and immediately following signing your franchise agreement.

Secure Funding

It’s going to take a lot of investment to bring your gym or studio to life. It’s best to get your loan approved ahead of signing your franchise agreement. Because, of course, there’ll be no business if you can’t secure the capital but also you need to account for the lead time inherent in getting the funds, which could be up to 90 days.

You also need to make sure your lender is willing to finance a deal with the fitness franchisor you’ve selected.

“The SBA typically has a list of franchisors who they’re prepared to work with and franchisors who they will not work with,” Briskman said. “The best-case scenario is the lender and franchisor have worked together before, which will help expedite your loan process.”

Orangetheory Fitness is one of the leading fitness franchises (credit: Orangetheory Fitness)
While franchisees can opt for a traditional commercial loan, Briskman says an SBA-guaranteed loan has a lot of advantages that often makes it more attractive. For loans under $500,000, you qualify for the SBA’s Express Loan Program. Not only would that help you get going on your new business faster, but it would also be less likely that you’d need to put up collateral like your home in order to secure the funds.

Briskman said an SBA-guaranteed loan also typically offers a longer payback window than a traditional bank loan — for instance, 10 years versus seven. Plus, the borrower can put down less money toward the deal by going the SBA route.

Develop a Budget

Developing your budget is one key area in which your franchisor will be instrumental. Pay close attention during your training sessions to this part of the discussion so you’re aware of where the money’s going and you don’t end up making costly mistakes.

The list of expenditures you can expect to make long before you open your doors include: annual insurance premiums, real estate attorney fees, your lease, your contractor, permits, licenses, equipment, advertising and staffing.

“It’s nerve-racking, because all of these expenses are going out, but they should be budgeted for before you’re spending the money so nothing comes through as a surprise,” Briskman advised. “I would say you’re looking at probably something in the area of anywhere from eight months to 12 months before you’re able to open.”

When building your timeline alongside your budget, you need to factor in time for loan approval, lease negotiations, location scouting, location build-out and permitting.

Pick a Location

With funding and budget in hand, it’s time to pick your location. Again, Briskman said, your franchisor will be instrumental in helping to advise you on the area and the type of structure that will work for your fitness franchise.

Crunch Fitness franchise in Portland, Oregon (credit: Crunch Fitness)
In some cases, the franchisor may have a real estate team that can lend a hand. If not, you’ll need to work with a broker to find a location that offers the demographic, size and environment that best matches the franchisor’s suggestions.

Once you think you’ve found the best spot, it’s time to engage a real estate attorney who can negotiate a lease that will work for your gym or studio.

From there, it’s time to turn that empty space into your new business. One advantage of opening a franchise is your franchisor has a set aesthetic for its brand, which they’ll provide plans for. You and your contractor will need to work together to bring that vision to life in your new space.

It’s crucial that you ensure the contractor sticks with your agreed upon timeline. Every day that you’re not open is costing you. Also, you’ll want to work backward from your build-out date to determine when to start advertising and the best timing for onboarding your staff.

“If your contractor says, ‘I can complete this whole thing in 60 days,’ you have to hold that contractor to that 60-day period. Otherwise, there should be some kind of a penalty involved,” Briskman said.

The stakes are high in those critical first days. Remember, every decision you make will help lay the groundwork for your new studio.

“You’re operating the business,” he said. “You have to make sure that you have the best possible people who are assisting you. And you have to go out and advertise and provide [your clients] with an environment that they want to come back to.”

Getting to the Next Level

All it takes is 3 days to transform your state of mind from “giving up to the sky’s the limit.”  At SCW Florida MANIA®, May 3-5, nestle next to some of the fitness industry’s notables like Bill McBride, Brandi Clark, and Bob Esquerre, among many other business entrepreneurs. Experience the focus to equip you with the tools and insights for success. Register by April 15 and save $100 with code April100.

Bill McBride is a health club industry veteran with over 25 years of experience leading and managing all aspects of commercial health clubs, medical fitness centers, residential, community, multi-tenant, and corporate fitness sites. He co-founded Active Wellness, LLC and owns a health club consultancy business – BMC3. Bill has served as Chairman of IHRSA, serving on the Board of Directors. He was President of the Mid-Atlantic Club Management Association (MACMA) and served on the Industry Advisory Board for the American Council of Exercise (ACE). He serves on the Medical Wellness Association (MWA) as a Faculty Member and The Medical Fitness Network (MFN) Advisory Boards. Bill also served as Contributing Editor for ACSM’s Health/Fitness Facility Standards & Guidelines, 5th Edition. Bill was recently acknowledged as one of the top 25 Consumer HealthTech Executives for 2020.

Brandi Clark is a marketing and sales coach and mentor for fit pros helping them build the financially successful businesses of their dreams. With over 25 years in the fitness industry, she understands how quickly things change and evolve so she spends her time helping fitness professionals adapt so they don’t get left behind. Her specialty is training others how to create content that connects with their audience so they can build a six-figure training business, making more money to help more people.

Bob Esquerre, MA is a distinguished professional with over 13 years in Corporate America, excelling in Project and Operations Management. With a wealth of 38+ years in the Health & Fitness Sector, he serves as a renowned Trainer of Trainers, Instructor of Instructors, and Business Coach. Bob’s expertise spans GroupEX, Personal Training, and Fitness Direction. As a global lecturer, he guides Club/Studio Owners and Managers, offering insights on achieving financial success while delivering 5-Star Experiences. Bob’s impactful career includes roles as Corporate Fitness Director for prestigious establishments like Equinox Fitness Clubs and Genesis Health Clubs.

Looking to Hire?
SCW Can Help!

In Need of Teachers, Trainers, Directors, or Managers? SCW’s new FREE JOB BOARD is supporting the industry’s need for qualified fitness pros.

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