From Day Job
By Jim Thomas
Eight Essential Steps to Building Your Own Fitness Empire
Embarking on a new gym venture can be an overwhelming prospect, whether you are an aspiring entrepreneur or simply an individual pursuing your passion. While the idea of leaving a day job you despise to start your own business may be enticing, it requires careful consideration and thorough planning to increase your chances of success. Before taking the plunge and purchasing your dream gym, there are several things to think through as well as steps to follow. Below are eight essential steps to guide you on your journey towards quitting your day job and acquiring your dream gym.
Step One – Capitalize on Your Strengths – When considering buying a gym, resist the temptation to rush into purchasing the first cool-looking gym you come across. Your ultimate dream gym must align with your passion, hobbies, and interests. Evaluate the various types of gyms available and ask yourself if you would genuinely enjoy pursuing a career in that field.
Step Two – Conduct Your Research – Familiarize yourself with the gym market and gather information regarding the gyms available for purchase. Industry publications and gym listings can give you an idea of what’s available and provide the knowledge required to increase your chances of success. However, refrain from quitting your job at this stage.
Step Three – Evaluate Your Funding Options – Do you have the financial resources to buy a gym outright? Do you have a backup savings plan? Could you secure a loan, and if so, how much would you need? Would you prefer a partner or an independent investor? If buying a gym outright isn’t feasible, explore your options and assess how much you could borrow based on your assets. Financial considerations play a vital role in determining when to quit your day job for your dream gym. A steady income can help you navigate the initial stages of development when profits are scarce.
Step Four – Create a Business Plan – Never venture into buying a gym without a solid plan in place. You need a clear idea of how to take your dream gym forward and generate profits. A comprehensive business plan is necessary, not a luxury, to increase your chances of success. If you intend to apply for a business loan, you’ll require a business plan.
Step Five – Seek Expert Advice – You’ll need a lawyer and a business appraiser, at the very least, depending on the size of the gym you’re purchasing. Experienced lawyers and accountants can guide you through the process of buying the right gym and advise you on the necessary steps to take. They’ll also be there for you during the teething process to offer guidance and support.
Step Six – Wait for the Right Gym – Your dream gym will come to you, so don’t rush into anything if you’re unsure. A dream gym is worth waiting for, no matter how long it takes. If you’re proactive, you can even hire someone to help you find the right gym.
Step Seven – Make an Offer – The amount you offer should be based on a business appraiser’s assessment. Submitting an offer doesn’t guarantee acceptance, but it opens negotiations. Decide on a price point and go from there. When to quit your day job for your dream gym is entirely up to you. However, ensure the timing is right and that you have the financial means to sustain yourself before taking the plunge and starting your entrepreneurial future.
Step Eight – Develop a Marketing Strategy – Once you’ve acquired your dream gym, it’s time to develop a marketing strategy. Marketing is vital to attract new customers and retain existing ones. Start by identifying your target audience and understanding their needs and preferences. Develop a marketing plan that caters to their needs and interests. Social media, email marketing and influencer marketing are just a few marketing channels you can explore. Building a strong online presence is crucial in today’s digital age. Ensure that your gym has a professional website and social media pages. Use these platforms to showcase your gym’s features and services, offer promotions and discounts, and share testimonials and success stories. You can also consider partnering with local businesses or organizing community events to increase your gym’s visibility. In addition to digital marketing, word-of-mouth marketing is an effective way to promote your gym. Encourage your members to refer their friends and family and offer referral rewards to do so. Host fitness challenges and events to attract new members and engage existing ones. Provide exceptional customer service and ensure that your members have a positive experience at your gym. Happy customers are more likely to spread the word and attract new members.
Embarking on a new gym venture can be a challenging but rewarding experience. It requires careful planning, research and investment, both in terms of time and money. Ensure that your dream gym aligns with your passion, evaluate your funding options and develop a solid business plan. Seek expert advice and wait for the right gym before making an offer.
Once you’ve acquired your dream gym, develop a marketing strategy that caters to your target audience’s needs and preferences. Use a combination of digital marketing and word-of-mouth marketing to promote your gym and attract new members. Provide exceptional customer service and ensure that your members have a positive experience.
Remember, building a successful gym business takes time and effort. Be patient, stay committed and keep learning and adapting to stay ahead of the competition. With the right mindset and approach, you can turn your dream gym into a thriving business and achieve your entrepreneurial goals.
About the Author: Jim Thomas
Jim Thomas is the well-known founder and president of Fitness Management USA, Inc., a management consulting and turnaround firm specializing in the fitness and health club industry. With over 25 years of experience owning, operating and managing clubs of all sizes, Mr. Thomas lectures and delivers seminars and workshops across the country on the practical skills required to successfully build teamwork and market fitness programs and products.
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Steps to Build a High-Functioning Personal Training Team
By Lindsey Canty
Building and maintaining a successful personal training team starts with attracting the right candidate. By providing your team with effective tools to build a positive company culture, through team engagement and accountability, your retention will flourish. We will review best practices necessary to onboard personal trainers so they thrive in your clubs long term. Below are the steps to build and maintain a functioning personal training team.
The first step in developing a successful team is recruiting and hiring the right candidate for your company. To find top talent, seek out two types of candidates: passive and active. Your passive candidates are likely already employed and need an offer they can’t refuse. These people may work in another industry but possess qualities needed to be a successful personal trainer. If you don’t already have one, hiring a recruiter to help you get candidates into your pipeline can be very helpful. Your hiring manager can seek these folks on social media or in their favorite local establishment with service employees. Within the industry, keep an eye out for members of your gym who already are fond of the space and know about your facility. It can also be helpful to take classes at other studios/clubs for networking opportunities.
How do you attract active candidates in the fitness industry? Create active accounts and post on pages like Indeed and LinkedIn, partner with local personal training schools/colleges, and certifying agencies. Most importantly- act fast! Top talent is usually only available for 10 days.
Let’s assume you just hired quality candidates: Congratulations! Is your hiring manager sitting down with new employees to make sure expectations are clear while signing documents on Day 1? Introduce new team members to your management team and their peers so they feel welcome and part of your community. Support them in getting to know the space and feeling comfortable working with clients on your floor. Exceptional training starts with a structured system to support in building their business. Recognize the majority of new hires will not come in to your facility having a large lead pool. Whether they are new to the area or new to the industry, it is important to set them up with a structure that will support them financially as they work to grow their business. Exceptional training includes continuous in house workshops and trainings for new and veteran employees. What you cannot accommodate in club, consider bringing in external presenters to help trainers keep their skills sharp in a constantly evolving industry.
Sixty percent of companies are reportedly not setting any goals or milestones for new hires. You NEED systems to hold your team accountable in reaching their key performance indicators. Do you have a company expectation for generating appointments or staying present on the fitness floor? Set a standard for conversion and have a system to track it. Do you feel confident in your ability to support your team in their successes and challenges? Set recurring meetings in your calendars to overcome potential objections for upcoming appointments and to follow up with necessary leads. Provide trainers with a weekly action plan and empower them to track their own metrics. To hold trainers accountable, you must give your department leaders tools to track success as well. Consider what paid hours look like weekly and monthly for your trainers individually. Be sure you are tracking revenue and other reports to acknowledge wins and challenges. Conversion and retention should be measured regularly to avoid missing key opportunities to coach your team.
Review retention strategies, opportunities for professional growth, and continuing education to keep your employees happy. Instead of putting all your financial resources into recruiting, we need to focus on retaining our amazing talent. In the workplace, asking for feedback is an easy way to create positive culture. Are you conducting exit interviews to better understand why your employees are leaving and how you can improve? That’s great! But why not implement stay interviews. This allows you the opportunity to make changes with an unhappy employee before they leave your organization. It opens the door for feedback and improves company culture as a whole. If you want your fitness team to stay beyond 5, 10, and 15 years, provide them with growth opportunities. Make sure they have the opportunity to expand their employee benefits or earning potential. Provide potential education opportunities at the management level or to be a mentor within the fitness team. Leaders, you should be conducting career development reviews to know their current and future goals, so you know how you can best support your most valuable teammates. Outside the workplace, make time for fun! Go out for drinks as a team, sign up for a race or challenge together, or show off your competitive spirit with a company field day.
Implement strategies to expand your client base and boost sales. Track your booking and conversion percentage by providing managers with tools to stay organized weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually. Provide teams with lead lists to continue generating new opportunities and keeping your pipeline running. Collect information to see what promotions generated significant return and how you can improve for the next year. Ask for member feedback to coach your trainers and shout out their successes.
In closing, here are the steps you should be taking to build and maintain a successful team:
1. Recruit and hire top talent with both passive and active candidates.
2. Consider onboarding and training approaches that work well for your new team members.
3. Acquire systems and best practices for managers to hold teams accountable.
4. Understand what opportunities are important for your company to keep your employees happy.
5. Decide what tools you want to implement to boost sales and expand your client base.
About the Author: Lindsey Canty
Upon graduating from Springfield College with a B.S in Applied Exercise Science, Lindsey has been working the last six years at Healthworks in Boston, MA, an environment focused on excellence and innovation, impacting the health and wellness of women. In her current role as Fitness Director, she is a senior leader in the club contributing to the club and companies’ overall success and strategy. Not only a positive influence in the club, she is also responsible for leading and coaching the club’s personal training, and teamTRAINING programs.
How Fitness Coaches
Can Leverage AI
By Carl Hardwick
The rise of AI has spurred apprehension among fitness coaches, but these perceived threats can be turned into opportunities
More and more, we’re seeing AI technologies infiltrating just about all industries. I remember back in 2018-2019, the talk was all about AI taking over blue-collar jobs like factory workers, truck drivers, etc. Now, we’re seeing AI technologies being built that are becoming a major threat to white-collar workers such as attorneys, copywriters, and customer support staff.
If I were one of those white-collar workers, I’d ask myself, “How can I leverage this technology to make me more efficient and effective at my job?”
With change comes fear, and the integration of AI in fitness coaching has indeed spurred apprehension among coaches. But what if I told you that these perceived threats can be turned into opportunities for growth, productivity and increased client satisfaction?
In this article, I will discuss threats that AI brings and how we can turn these threats into opportunities.
Threat #1: AI Will Make the Coach Useless
AI is continuously evolving, with capabilities that are increasingly impressive, and some fear it will render human coaches obsolete. But let’s take a moment to leverage this perceived threat.
As fitness professionals, our task isn’t merely prescribing workouts. At the heart of our profession is the art of coaching—the relationship we cultivate with our clients, and our ability to motivate, align, empathize and understand their unique needs and goals. That’s where we shine.
AI, on the other hand, can handle the more analog tasks such as tracking client progress, analyzing data or even generating exercise, lifestyle, and nutrition designs based on client inputs. By allowing AI to handle these aspects, we free up our time to focus on the human element—building rapport, understanding motivations and adjusting prescriptions based on each client’s individual circumstances.
The machine can’t replicate this human touch. So like we’ve done for our entire existence, let’s look at how we can use technological advancement to our advantage.
Threat #2: Clients Using AI Apps and Not Needing a Fitness Coach
With the rise of AI-powered fitness apps, some fear that clients will abandon human coaching altogether. But let’s examine the facts.
As of today, 42% of the American population is obese, 120 million Americans have metabolic syndrome and 90% check at least one of the five metabolic syndrome markers. These staggering numbers exist despite the advancements in knowledge, understanding and availability of fitness.
In reality, most individuals need more than just an algorithmic workout plan. They need guidance, alignment, and personal touch—the irreplaceable attributes a human coach provides. So instead of worrying about AI apps taking our place, let’s focus on providing what AI cannot—the human component of fitness coaching.
Threat #3: Ignoring AI
The notion of completely ignoring AI and sticking to traditional coaching methods is tempting for some. After all, many of us think, “I am better, It cannot do what I can do.” While these assertions may hold some truth, coaches that learn to use AI effectively will create great efficiencies in their practices.
AI is only as effective as the way we utilize it. One practical way to master AI is by becoming an effective prompter—someone who knows how to input appropriate commands or questions to generate useful outputs. Resources like the Prompts Daily newsletter can be a great starting point to improve this skill and one that I’ve found very helpful over the last few months.
The latest ChatGPT model (4.0) is capable of answering complex questions, recognizing and responding to emotions in text and includes complex problem-solving functionalities. If we can master the art of prompting AI, we can harness its potential to elevate our coaching practices.
AI is not a threat to fitness coaching if we understand how we can leverage it in our own practices; rather, it’s a tool—one that we can harness to enhance our potential, increase our efficiency and ultimately better serve our clients. By focusing on the unique value we provide as human coaches and leveraging AI for what it’s good at, we can stride confidently into the future of coaching.
About the Author: Carl Hardwick
Carl Hardwick, CEO of OPEX Fitness & CoachRx is a strong advocate for bringing honor to the coaching profession and raising the value of all fitness coaches. He lectures frequently about program design, business systems, and building a sustainable coaching career. Follow him on Instagram @hardwickcarl and OPEX Fitness on YouTube
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