Investing in Staff
Training & Education

Your program staff are your most valuable asset. You should invest in staff by providing training, education, teambuilding and networking opportunities while empowering them to do great things within your programs.

Here are some guidelines for investing in staff training and education to make your team the best it can be:

Have an orientation and training program to set expectations and review policies.

Setting the tone for your staff early is important. It will get everyone on the same page and acclimated to how you operate your programs and what you expect from them. Some of the things to review prior to starting are not always the most exciting so add things to spice it up to engage your staff during orientations and meetings. Here are some things you can do to engage with your staff at meetings:

  • Give small prizes for answering questions or making a great comment.
  • Role play different scenarios that are sure to come up.
  • Do group activities.
  • Add in videos and educational content.
  • Move around to different areas of your facility.
  • Encourage staff participation and Q&A.
Take advantage of outside resources for new ideas.

There are several great resources online that can provide you tools and education to improve your program. Continually search and seek out new ideas that may benefit your program to keep things fresh for your staff and participants.

Incorporate icebreakers and teambuilding to make your group more cohesive.

This is important for your staff development, but often overlooked. You have a group of individuals that may not know each other and within a few weeks of hire they are starting to work your programs. Not only are they expected to work together but also make your programs a success.

Sometimes this is easier said than done. You may run into situations of staff drama, arguing, individualism, or not getting along that may result in disaster for your operation. Building a cohesive team takes time and effort. If you put in the work prior, it will pay off. You can continue smaller teambuilding exercises, which may also include reward and recognition programs throughout your programs as well to keep your staff motivated and working well together. Here are some things you can do for teambuilding:

  • Do internal teambuilding activities.
  • Take an afternoon or evening to use your facility with just staff.
  • Go on an outing like bowling, sports game, escape room, arcade, trampoline park, etc.
  • Take the group out to lunch or dinner.
  • Bring in an outside group that specializes in teambuilding or go to a retreat center.
Stay on top of industry standards and best practices.

Similar to researching new ideas for camp, you also want to stay on top of the current trends, technology and industry standards. Not just from an operational standpoint, but new legislations that may bring legal aspects of how you have to operate. Stay in touch with some of the national camp organizations that provide these resources, visit camp conferences and expos, and do your own research to stay up to date on the latest trends. Things are always changing and evolving so make sure your camp doesn’t fall behind to the old way of doing things.

Provide networking opportunities to collaborate with other professionals to connect and share ideas.

Networking is important and another way to stay on top of all the things we have talked about above. Seeing and hearing how others are operating is a great way to see how you can compare and potentially improve your programs. Ask questions, share ideas, and tell stories to connect with others in the field. Networking is not only for directors. Bring your staff into the mix too. Here are a few ways you can connect with others in the field:

  • Join a professional association in the industry.
  • Attend a conference or regional training.
  • Connect online.
  • Team up with others in your area for joint activities or regular networking meetings.
Include your staff in the planning process and empower them to take some responsibilities on their own.

To really get staff engaged include them in as much as possible. Constantly just directing, giving orders, or just going through the motions with staff will not go too far and will cause your staff to check out sooner than later. Most will learn more by doing, so involving them in your processes and giving them their own responsibilities will develop them more and keep them motivated.

Get feedback.

Talk to your staff individually and as a group to get feedback on things like their goals, what motivates them, their thoughts on how camp is running, ideas on how to improve programs, etc. Your staff are on the front lines of your programs every day. Talk to them regularly and anything you can get feedback on can only help everyone involved. It will also make your staff feel like they are being heard and have a say in the operation of the program. This will continue to keep them motivated and you will get more out of your staff just by listening and getting that feedback.

If you start investing in staff training and education, your team will start to develop. Eventually you will see them taking the initiative to get the job done without having to be told while performing at a high level. The quality of your staff can make or break your programs so make sure to provide them the tools they need to succeed and empower them to do great things.

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About the Author: Jason Schaitz

Jason Schaitz is a parks and recreation director with 15 years of experience managing youth sports, camps and recreation programs. He also created and manages League Source and The Summer Camp Source with the goal of providing free, high-quality resources for any type of youth sports or camp program. Take your leagues and camps to the next level by visiting our websites for free resources and education!

 

Independent Contractor
vs. an Employee?

If you’re bringing on a new hire, you’ll need to classify them as either an employee or an independent contractor. We’ll walk you through the differences between an independent contractor versus an employee, and why they matter. Misclassification is a serious problem for workers, who could be denied workplace legal protections and benefits if misclassified. Misclassifications are also problematic for employers, who could face fines and lawsuits.

How to tell the difference between an independent contractor and an employee

An independent contractor is a worker who often owns their own business and usually enters into contracts with employers to perform a specific project, typically on a short-term basis. In contrast, employees agree to work on a regular basis for a single employer. In some situations, the line between an independent contractor and employee is pretty clear. For instance, if you contract with an IT professional to set up your business’s new computer network, this person would probably be an independent contractor. In other situations, the line can be fuzzy. Say you are bringing on a temporary worker to help cover a big project that your business has been working on for a few months. This person could be considered an employee, but the classification of employee versus contractor would depend on several factors.

The IRS, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and the common law have all helped define the differences between an employee and an independent contractor. Although there is no single test to determine independent contractor status, these tests share some common characteristics. For example, they all analyze the degree of control the company has over the worker and afford little weight to how the parties’ themselves characterize the relationship. So, if the relationship between your company and a worker looks like an employer – employee relationship, then it probably is! Even if you intended for them to be a contractor.

To determine whether a worker is an employee for federal tax classification purposes, the IRS looks at three defining areas: behavioral control, financial control, and the type of relationship.

Behavioral control: Employees typically work specific hours as directed by their employer, and at a location that is determined by the employer. They use the company’s tools and resources to perform their job. The work must be performed by a particular person; employees don’t generally have the authority to hire someone to assist them. Also, if a company’s evaluation system measures the details of how work is performed, it suggests an employment relationship.

Conversely, contractors have much more control over the circumstances of their work. They determine when and where they will work, and they use their own tools (e.g. consultants will have their own laptops, roofers come with their own hammers). Contractors generally have the authority to retain or hire their own employees to do the work. Finally, a company’s evaluation system for an independent contractor should measure the end result only.

Financial Control: Employees are paid an hourly or salary wage set by the employer. Taxes withheld from their payments and paydays are set up on regular intervals—generally bi-weekly or monthly. Employees do not invoice their employers.

Unlike employees, contractors have invested in their own business, for example by paying their own expenses. Because of this, they have a financial stake in its success. Additionally, contractors’ payment terms can vary. Unlike salaried employees, contractors usually invoice for time and/or deliverables. For example, they may charge hourly or project-based fees with half to be paid upfront and half to be paid 30 days after the project has been completed and an invoice has been sent. Retainers are also common for contractors who address needs on a regular basis and require advance payment. Businesses do not withhold taxes when they pay a contractor’s bill.

Relationship: Employees can expect to perform work that is essential to the business and for the relationship to continue indefinitely. If you own a restaurant, your cooks are likely part-time or full-time employees. After all, you need people who will prepare the food in order to be open for business!

Contractors perform short term, specialized functions. For instance, you might hire a grant writer to help your non-profit to apply for a specific grant opportunity, or an interior designer to decorate your office space. When in doubt, the IRS generally assumes an employee relationship, but as stated above, the line can be ambiguous.

This handy chart can help you figure out the difference between the two:

An employee:

  • Works at a specific time and place set by you, the employer
  • Generally works for just one company
  • Receives training
  • Uses your tools or other work-related resources
  • Does work that is an integral part of your business
  • Is subject to a large degree of control by you
  • Is generally paid a salary or hourly wage

Why does it matter? Because employees…

  • Often receive employee benefits, like health insurance and paid time off
  • Are subject to financial deductions such as income tax and Social Security tax, among others
  • May join a union
  • Are protected by state and federal laws for overtime, minimum wage, and employment discrimination

An independent contractor:

  • Can work whenever and sometimes wherever they’d like
  • Can work for multiple companies simultaneously or in the same year
  • Is not trained by the employer, rather are hired for their expertise
  • Uses their own tools and resources
  • Controls their own method of work
  • Is often (but not always) paid by the project or on a flat-fee basis

Why does it matter? Because contractors…

  • Do not receive employment benefits
  • Pay their own taxes and are not subject to other withholdings
  • May not join a union
  • Generally do not receive overtime or protection for employment discrimination

These guidelines can help you to determine whether you need an employee or an independent contractor, however, these are not hard and fast rules. Someone who uses a company laptop and works flexible hours from the location of their choosing for an average of 40 hours per week is still likely to be considered an employee, even though their schedule and location are flexible. Many considerations come into play when categorizing an employment relationship—such as how permanent the relationship has been in the past and even how often the individual works for your company.

If you are still unsure about how your workers should be classified or you have a particularly complicated situation, reach out to a wage and hour attorney for advice.

Still scratching your head? You can file a Form SS-8 with the IRS.This form can be filled out by the employer or the worker, and we have a dedicated blog post to walk you through how to fill out Form SS-8. Once the form is filed, the IRS will investigate and issue a determination letting you know if the worker is an employee or a contractor.

Related

Q: What Is an Independent Contractor Agreement?

Hiring and Growth

How your worker is classified makes a difference in how you pay, tax, and structure your working relationships. Below is a quick breakdown:

 EmployeesContractors
Employment LawCovered by both federal and state employment lawsNot covered by federal or state employment laws
WagesEither an hourly rate or a salary paid, both paid on a regular scheduleAs specified in the contract agreement
PaydaysPaydays must meet state payday lawsAs specified in the contract agreement (e.g., one lump sum at the completion of work, smaller sums paid for milestones, etc.)
Tax WithholdingWithhold Social Security, Medicare, federal (and state/local, if applicable) income tax from each paycheckWithhold nothing, unless you receive Notice CP2100 or CP2100A from the IRS (if the payee’s name and TIN on the information return filed does not match the IRS’s records)
Tax DocumentsEmployer must request a W-4 from each employee (and some states require additional withholding forms)Employer must request a W-9 from each contractor
Tax ReportingReports all compensation paid to an employee during the tax year using a Form W-2Reports payments of $600 or more in a calendar year using a Form 1099-NEC—unless the contractor has a corporate business structure, in which case the 1099-NEC is not required
Other TaxesState and federal Unemployment InsuranceNone

For more information on the differences between employees and contractors, visit this IRS page.

Why is the distinction between employee and independent contractor important?

Individual workers often choose to become contractors because they desire greater control over their work environment and schedules. Companies often choose to use contractors to reduce costs when they only need someone for one project. While it can be beneficial for both parties, independent contractor misclassification results in exposure to liability in several areas. There are several reasons why it’s crucial to categorize your workers properly:

1. Misclassified workers miss out on employee benefits and protections.

If a worker does not enter the employment relationship with the intention of being an independent contractor, they probably want to receive retirement benefits, health insurance, and paid vacations that are available to employees. Misclassified workers also miss out on legal protections that are afforded to employees, such as wage and hour laws, workers compensation, and unemployment benefits. 

2. The law (not you) dictates who’s an independent contractor and who’s an employee.

Did your employee sign a contractor agreement, an employment agreement, or do they just show up a few days a week to help out? No matter what your arrangement is, or what your written agreement says, your team’s employment classification is ultimately based on the nature of the work they do and how they do it.

Simply referring to a worker as an independent contractor, even in a written agreement, does not prevent legal challenges to that classification by workers, the Department of Labor, the IRS, or state or local authorities. Misclassification audits and lawsuits are common and can result in steep costs and penalties. 

3. Employees and independent contractors are treated differently for tax purposes.

Companies are expected to pay certain taxes on behalf of their employees. This includes employment tax for the state and federal government, Social Security tax, and premiums for workers’ comp and disability. On the flip side, companies don’t pay these taxes for independent contractors. Instead, contractors are responsible for their own taxes.

Missed the memo? Time to get things in order. Improperly classifying your workers could make you liable for back taxes.

If you incorrectly categorize an independent contractor, one implication is that they may be able to file an unemployment claim against you when their contract ends. Department of Labor requirements can also mean thousands of dollars in fines for accidental misclassification. Intentional or fraudulent misclassification of employees has led to significant fines

4. Sometimes, independent contractors come with more liability.

You hear someone yell, “ouch!” around the corner. One of your employees just got hurt on the job, and you feel terrible. But if you correctly categorize them things probably won’t be so dire. How they’ll be able to recover often depends on their status, and in many cases, employees are the only ones who can receive workers’ compensation. Independent contractors, though, may be able to sue you under certain conditions, so even though contractors should have their own insurance policy, it’s best practice to make sure your workers’ comp policy covers anyone who is working for you, regardless of classification.

5. Employees can be subject to different workplace regulations.

Some industries, like health care and education, are a jungle gym of rules and regulations that specifically apply to employees. This isn’t true across the employment spectrum, but if you’re in a highly regulated industry, you may need to conduct additional trainings and retain additional documentation  surrounding the work your employees do.

What happens if I misclassify an employee as a contractor?

When hiring an employee can cost up to 30% more than hiring an independent contractor, it may be tempting to try to classify your workers as independent contractors. But unless they truly are an independent contractor, it’s not worth the potential savings. Government figures estimate 25-30% of all employees are misclassified as independent contractors. It’s crucial that employers get this right.  

Regardless of whether the misclassification was intentional or unintentional, your business could face serious legal and financial consequences for doing so. This could include reimbursement for unpaid wages, including overtime wages, paying the individual’s workers’ compensation benefits, retirement contributions, employee benefits, Medicare and Social Security contributions, unemployment insurance, health insurance, and any other employee-related costs like back taxes and any applicable penalties for state and federal income taxes. You may even be subject to a lawsuit in federal court, under certain circumstances. So just don’t do it.

When it comes to worker classification, the best thing you can do is be proactive, not reactive. Rather than waiting for a potentially precarious situation to occur, you should make it clear to your workers exactly how they will be classified from the start—and make sure their roles stay within the definitions provided by the IRS and Department of Labor. 

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3 Days to Smash
Your Goals

Train in what’s trending, upskill your staff, and discover new ways to draw more members to your club. Choose from over 20 specialized certifications live streamed during the SCW Certification Smash, May 19-21.  Certifications range from S.E.A.T. Fitness with Ann Gilbert, Life Coaching with Kimberly Spreen-Glick, Corrective Exercise with Giovanni Roselli, Nutrition Coaching with Amber Toole, and the brand-new Aquatic Personal Training Certification with Rosie Malaghan. Get certified for as low as $99.

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4 Steps to Creating a Teacher Training Program at Your Fitness Business

You’ve conquered the hardest part: you’ve opened your Pilates or fitness studio and you’re ready for more. Maybe you want a new income stream, access to a larger pool of qualified instructors, or to expand your offerings beyond private training or classes. If you’re considering a teacher training or education program for your studio, follow these four steps to help you on your path.

Before we begin, let’s talk about the benefits. Teacher training and other education programs can:

  1. Provide new income opportunities beyond private or group training.
  2. Give you immediate access to qualified instructors tailored to fit your brand.
  3. Create the perfect pipeline for loyal clients to take their practice to the next level, keeping them interested and challenged.
  4. Launch new opportunities for owners or staff to flex their mentorship skills, earn a better income, and stay inspired for the long haul.

You might agree that the benefits are hard to deny. One question remains: do you create your own, or do you buy a premade course?

If you’ve been shopping, you’ll see your choices run the gamut. Some benefits of “plug and play” certifications include:

  1. No content creation on your part, saving you valuable time.
  2. Instant access to beautifully crafted manuals, online options, and traveling instructors who come equipped to teach the method.
  3. Partnering with trusted brand names may attract clients and talent to your studio.

Some drawbacks to consider:

  1. Extra fees may include a buy-in cost, a percentage of sales, or travel costs if you’re hosting the program’s trainers.
  2. These courses may be missing your flair, appeal, or unique perspective.
  3. Contractual limitations may include non-compete clauses, participation quotas, cancellation fees, or long-term licenses.

After weighing your options, are you ready to create something of your own? If you said yes, follow these four steps to start.

Step 1: Research your industry standards and regulations

The Pilates industry is unique because no governing body controls the standard of education needed to be a Pilates instructor. For a lot of reasons, that should likely change. In addition to being confusing and running the risk of being dangerous, it makes it hard for businesses to find the right instructors to fit their needs.

On the flip side, this lack of regulation presents a great opportunity for those who have something to say.  You can be the creator of the change you want to see.

Other industries may require you to submit your education program to a committee, panel, or another regulatory mechanism before you can sell it.  Do some research to find out what you’re legally able to offer and what your industry standards require. You may be able to:

  1. Start a full certification course.
  2. Create a weekend workshop offering continuing education credits.
  3. Start a mentorship program and help certified trainers or clients dive deeper into their practice with your specialized insight.

Remember, you don’t always have to go big or go home; find the passion you want to share, and you’ll find the right avenue to share it.

Step 2: Be specific and strategic with the 5 Ws

Now that you know what type of program you can offer, imagine it and begin creating. Use the 5 Ws: who, what, when, where, and why and start now! Grab a pen and paper and answer the following questions. Be specific and visualize your product as you go.

  1. Who is your ideal student?
  2. What is your goal in creating this program? What will participants learn or earn if they take it?
  3. When does this program occur, or how long might participants spend on it?
  4. Where does the program take place? Is it at your studio, online, or somewhere else like at a retreat?
  5. Why might someone sign up for this program?

These first questions are crucial and help you define your program, outline your content, set pricing, and advertise your product.

Step 3: Organize your content, start creating today, and lead with your strengths

Organizing a worksheet, manual, or otherwise can be daunting. But remember, you know this subject matter well (it’s likely your livelihood!), and you have something to say. Don’t forget to keep it simple at the beginning.

  1. Start with an outline. Consider using a basic word processor such as google docs. You can spruce up your work with fancier tools later.
  2. Create headings or segments related to your 5 Ws (see Step 2 above). Examples include: Introduction to the Program; Exercise How-To; Common Errors; Modifications; How to Lead a Group Class; Props; etc.
  3. Generate unrestrained content. Fill your outline with what you know, and don’t be critical of your work. Your goal is to get as much information on the page as possible; edit later.
  4. Save the extras. Your knowledge and experience are important, not necessarily your graphic design skills. Add pictures, videos, links, and more at a later date; don’t be afraid to start with a simple template or worksheet for your first training.

Be creative about your shortcomings. We can’t know everything, can we? Lead with what you know and refer out what you don’t.

Step 4: Finally, get it out there!

Launch something (anything!) sooner than later, or you’ll get stuck in the editing and self-doubt cycle. In time, you’ll refine your program into the course of your dreams.

If your goal is to create a year-long teacher training course, start with weekend workshops. Generating your content bit-by-bit allows you to test each puzzle piece along the way. Keep what works, ditch what doesn’t, and let your content evolve. After a while, you’ll find you’ve generated lots of material in bite-sized, easy-to-create portions. Put the pieces together for a year-long program, break them apart for weekend workshops, and re-use your content for your social media, mentorships, and more.

Most importantly, have confidence in yourself, your work, and your unique voice in your industry. You deserve to gain the benefits of launching your own special program, and your future students will thank you for it.

Ready to invest in a teacher training program at your fitness studio? Mindbody Capital can help. Mindbody Capital provides pre-approved offers that help fitness businesses move their business forward.

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About the Author: Keira Cumberland

Keira grew up as an athlete: dancing, playing soccer, running track, practicing martial arts (Muay Thai), and training for triathlons. She was certified in Pilates in 2009. In 2017 she founded Pilates Collective SLO and has since created and co-created a series of Pilates Education programs and tools. Apart from Pilates, she is also a licensed California attorney, currently practicing law part-time in San Luis Obispo, CA.

How to Sustain Clients & Boost Business while Traveling

We’ve all been there- worried about how taking a vacation or a few days off will affect our business and clients. Worried about the financial aspects away from our clubs and studios, disrupting our clients training schedules, and the anxiety of straying from our regular daily and weekly routines.  So, we choose to put off taking the vacation, doing the long weekend away, or approving time off for our staff.

Taking time away from your business doesn’t have to be scary. In fact, vacations can help grow your clientele and leave you invigorated and inspired to take your company places it has never been before!

Here are a few great benefits and reasons to talk yourself into taking the vacation:

  • Be invigorated to come back to your workspace. Research overwhelmingly agrees- studies on employee recovery generally find that vacations increase wellbeing and engagement. Remember, we are in this industry largely for fueling health and wellness. Vacations support that goal for both you, your team members, and clients.
  • Don’t miss a beat. PT and Business software options are abundant, and by utilizing a software program, you can maintain your business from just about anywhere in the world. Create workouts and assign them to your clients, without missing a beat when you take that week off. Ensure you have a system in place to support your away time, then set it and forget it.
  • Make your vacation work for you. Create a group travel or retreat experience, and make it financially rewarding for you. Read more about how to create your own retreat in this article.
  • Gain a fresh perspective. Utilize your time away to boost creativity, generate new business ideas, and view your current offerings from a fresh perspective to continue achieving success. Sweet vacation time perfectly provides all of these things to whomever is taking the vacation!
  • Take advantage of wellness travel trends. Wellness Travel is predicted to achieve up to a 21% growth rate annually through 2025. As a leader in your space, you are perfectly primed to use this to your advantage and reap all of the rewards.
  • FitPros travel for less. A luxurious vacation doesn’t have to come with a luxurious price tag. Fitness Pros can save thousands of dollars by sharing their passion for fitness. Fitnessprotravel.com offers certified and experienced instructors and trainers the incredible opportunity to take super luxurious, all-inclusive vacations, at about 80% off the cost. An extra bonus?  Your traveling companion(s) can accompany you for free.
  • Network for your networth. Traveling forces us to connect with new people who may not otherwise cross our paths. Every new person you meet has the potential to be a future client.
  • Enhance your online and streaming offerings. Use the breathtaking views, whether you’re in the mountains or at the beach, for stunning backgrounds. Utilize this time to capture content for your brand- from filming workouts to perfectly curating flawless social media content.

Whether you are the person approving the vacation time off or taking the vacation time off, you have all of this, and MORE, to look forward to when taking and returning home from your future vacation. These are just SOME of the benefits of taking a vacation, all of which are backed by science, as well as plenty of anecdotal experience.

Fit Bodies, Inc. and their teaching vacation program (mentioned above), has more than 80 all-inclusive partner resorts where you can vacation  as a certified/licensed and experienced trainer or instructor, and in turn save thousands of dollars on your vacation.  They have been taking Fitness, Yoga, and Sports professionals on Teaching Vacations for more than 30 years!

Better yet, SCW readers can take 15% off their 1st teaching vacation with Fit Bodies, Inc. (traveling June-November of any year) by using code SCW15. You must use this code to receive  15% off , as refunds cannot be provided if code is not used.

So, take the vacation! Approve the time off. Rustle up your family members and book the flights! NOW is the time to re-invest in yourself and your staff, whatever aspect of the fitness business you are in.

Do you want to learn more about the concept of a teaching vacation for you or your staff?  Experience a teaching vacation here or Reach out here to find out more. We’d love to meet you in person and tell you even more, so register today for SCW Atlanta MANIA®, July 21-23 and make plans to dip your toes in the blue ocean water.

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About the Author: Anna Colosimo

Anna Colosimo is the Director of Partnerships and Business Development at Fit Bodies, Inc. She received her degree from the University of Dayton in Exercise Science and Fitness Management, and has always had a passion for fitness, wellness, and health promotion since she was a young girl. She has 17 years working in the business side of the fitness industry, with extensive experience in fitness education, programming, working with gyms, and in partnership with other companies/organizations. Within the fitness industry, she has held various positions and worked for noted companies such as Zumba, Trigger Point Performance, and PTontheNet/FitPro UK. She loves bringing new opportunities and ideas to the fitness industry and professionals that benefit our industry and bring abundance to all. 

The Key to Success

Entrepreneurs are motivated by more than simply seeing their ideas come to life. They are motivated by making an impact in the lives of others through their work. But is the adage “do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life” really true? Of course not. Entrepreneurship requires courage, and a lot of blood, sweat and sometimes even tears.

Growing businesses face a range of challenges, which demand different solutions; what worked a year ago may not be the best approach or solution today. Recognizing and overcoming common obstacles associated with growth is essential for continued growth and success.

Know Your “Why”

People often start businesses and careers before really stopping to ask themselves why they are even starting a business. When it comes to doing work that is meaningful, fulfilling, and purpose driven, you need one thing above all: your “why”.

My why was twofold: I wanted to become healthier, and I needed to make some extra cash. I had just graduated law school and decided to start teaching at Washington University Law School, in one of their empty halls. I had between 40 and 55 students coming three times a week, at three dollars a head. Beginning my career as a dancer at a very young age, I had already fallen in love with movement, and now I was making money doing something I loved- moving my body and helping others on their health and fitness journeys. This made me think that a fitness business would work.

I then started a small studio (Sara’s City Workout) after I graduated law school, and sadly, promptly lost all my money.  The studio business was a bust for me.  However, one day at the studio, I made more revenue in one weekend, running one simple fitness training event, for fellow instructors than I had made in the entire month through our studio classes. I promptly negotiated with a neighboring club to take on my students, close the studio, and started doing workshops.

We slowly grew from one workshop to four sessions to a full day to a full weekend event. I hired people that were better than me to expand and present other workshop sessions. We started in Chicago, then we expanded to Atlanta, Dallas, Orlando, San Francisco, Boston, and Washington DC, reaching thousands of fitness instructors and personal trainers. Then, we started offering certifications in select and unique areas. We began with an Aquatic Certification, expanded to Group Ex and Personal Training, and now we offer everything from Pilates to Chronic Disease to Active Aging Nutrition.

Be Consistent and Establish Trust

Branding is a critical part of staying relevant in today’s business world. Not only do you need to stay in front of your audience, but you also need to engage with them. Your brand is what people recognize and by being consistent and establishing trust, you can cultivate a loyal customer base, ensuring your business as a recognized leader in your field.

Through consistency and trust, SCW Fitness Education has developed a loyal customer base, while reaching new customers, that has kept us in business for 40 years as the largest provider of continuing education conferences in the world focusing on group fitness and personal training with an emphasis on execution, leadership, and management.

Seven regional MANIA® Conferences & Business Summits are held annually in Washington D.C., California (San Francisco), Florida (Orlando), Atlanta, Dallas, Midwest (Chicago), and Boston. These Fitness Conventions offer 8 sessions running every hour on various aspects of the fitness/wellness industry, including active aging, functional training, HIIT, cycling, mind/body, Pilates, dance, aqua, nutrition, recovery, business, and leadership. SCW regularly reaches over 7,000 fitness professionals in face-to-face contacts, 64,000 via organic email, and another 300,000+ in virtual connections. SCW Fitness is unparalleled in its provision of live and online certifications (offering over 40 different courses), continuing education videos, webinars, podcasts, and conventions to fitness professionals in multiple disciplines worldwide.

Adapt to Challenges

Some of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner are the long hours, the constant change, and motivating others. It’s not just about managing systems and operations. It’s about managing people. These can be the most volatile aspects of any business. Maintaining stability, consistency, and respect is difficult and challenging, but incredibly rewarding.

Dealing with change is always a challenge, but it can also be incredibly exciting. Changing your approach, changing your outreach, and changing with your customers is what business is all about. Prior to the pandemic, our company was strictly an in-person, live event educational experience for our customers. We were forced to pivot, offering solely virtual events, which was the most difficult, but also one of the most rewarding accomplishments of SCW to date. Survival during the pandemic and post pandemic is one of my company’s greatest achievements, all because we were able to adapt to the current climate and create unique solutions to still reach our customers in a safe, reliable way, that people have grown to expect from SCW.

Regardless of where you are on your entrepreneur journey, success can be achieved with hard work, surrounding yourself with an amazing support system, and remembering why you started your journey. Remember, a successful business owner is not necessarily about the number of zeroes in your bank account or whether you can retire at 66. It’s about having clear-cut goals and knowing what makes you stand out in your field. It can be easy to get caught up in the day-to-day, with any difficulties that arise causing you to question why you started your business in the first place. But remind yourself of those reasons and look at your overall success instead of minor pitfalls – that’s what will keep you moving forward in the long run.

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About the Author: Sara Kooperman

Sara Kooperman, JD, CEO of SCW Fitness Education, WATERinMOTION®, and S.E.A.T. Fitness sits on the ACSM Communication & Public Information Committee, the Gold’s Gym Think Tank, the canfitpro Advisory Panel and was a founding board member for the Women In Fitness Association (WIFA). Recently nominated for the IDEA Fitness Leader of the Year Award, Kooperman won the 2022 Most Innovating Fitness Pro by Fitness Industry Technology Council. She is also an inductee into the National Fitness Hall of Fame, an Illinois State Businesswoman of the Year, and an esteemed panelist for IHRSA’s Talks & Takes Monthly Talk Show.

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Talks & Takes

Sara Kooperman, JD, CEO of SCW Fitness Education, WATERinMOTION®, and S.E.A.T. Fitness sits on the ACSM Communication & Public Information Committee, the Gold’s Gym Think Tank, the canfitpro Advisory Panel and was a founding board member for the Women In Fitness Association (WIFA). Recently nominated for the IDEA Fitness Leader of the Year Award, Kooperman won the 2022 Most Innovating Fitness Pro by Fitness Industry Technology Council. She is also an inductee into the National Fitness Hall of Fame, an Illinois State Businesswoman of the Year, and an esteemed panelist for IHRSA’s Talks & Takes Monthly Talk Show.

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Atlanta MANIA®
Health and Fitness
Business Summit

Boost your business and career at Health & Fitness Business Summit at Atlanta MANIA®, July 21-23.  This 3-day event is a must with 16 Business Sessions focusing on Sales, Marketing, Social Media, Management, and so much more.  Facility Owners & Managers will walk away with all the tools needed to rise above the competition.  Get registered today for only $239 and don’t miss out on a $60 savings, (reg. $299) until June 26.

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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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