I had ideas for 2 possible posts for today and maybe they both will make it out this week, but for now, I want to pull back the veil a little bin on some tips to be successful in running a gym. As a gym manager who has had to deal with things ranging from marketing to hiring and firing…I have learned a few things and have a few small observations to make. Some of these tips have to do with the type of person you must be in order to be successful and a few are physical things that you need to implement or be wary of implementing.
First and foremost, lets dive into personalities and opening or running a gym. By gym, I am referring to a solid strength and conditioning program…not opening a franchise such as Gold’s or Planet Fitness…two completely different worlds!
If you don’t have 5+ years to be an overnight success…just walk away now. Opening a gym, like any business will take time. I have been involved with the CrossFit movement (if that is the correct term) for many years now and have watched as they open up left and right. If you do not have the time and energy and PATIENCE to grow your product, then focus on being a damn good trainer and earn your income that way. Being a gym owner means that you MUST put the business first and yourself a distant last. You want a successful business do everything in your power to make your staff the best. You must be willing to re-invest and be patient in what you are doing. If you cannot practice patience, you won’t get very far.
Item 2…Know your market and what it can and cannot support or have realistic goals. If you do not know what your demographic can support, then how can you adequately measure or even define success? One cannot believe that a small time gym will grow to 1000+ members.
Item 3…Stick to your standards; do what you agree with NOT something that might make you some money. This one is tricky but this boils down to being true to yourself. This business is an expansion of yourself. Do not sell something to your members that you can not get behind or support. The CrossFit world has opened up people wanting to get into affiliates to sell something. This ranges from clothing lines to supplements. If you are going to sell any of this stuff to your members, then you better be able to explain the advantages of using it. Don’t sell them all in your gym either…be selective. In my mind, if you sell every supplement under the sun from every person who asks you to, what do you tell your athletes to use? Do you simple say…Spealler uses Progenex and Froning uses Advocare, so who do you want to follow? It doesn’t work that way. Have some integrity in what you sell and be willing to tell your clients why you chose this one over that one. I can only pray that profit margin is not the deciding factor.
Item 4…Be thick skinned. This is the one that I struggle with daily, but am growing in it. You have to be thick skinned and do things in a way that you can keep your head up. You cannot react to the haters and you cannot rest on the praise. You have to always be pushing and moving forward. You are an entrepreneur and you have to accept what that means. You have to push hard in good times and in bad. But it always comes back to having a product that you can stand behind and stand up for. Don’t take anything, good or bad, too personally…just keep working!
And now, a few things within the gym…
Getting results for your clients matters more than the results you get for yourself. They are your business and you have to make sure that they are taken care of first and foremost. Your success is not and never will be contingent on how well your program has worked for you, but it is about how well you can help out each person who walks in the front door.
Don’t overdo it. Don’t run thousands of programs so that you think you are offering something for everyone. There is no need to run a strength program, an endurance program, and a gymnastics program all the time. If you want to offer all this, then do it through periods, but better than all that is truly incorporate those things into your standard programming and inform your members that they are in that cycle. Educate them. The knowledge that you share will keep them with you. They are learning and growing!
Item 2 – If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail…What this means is that if you are going to be rolling something out new for your members, make sure it fits with what they need to reach their goals. Make sure that the people you approach about being a part of it want to be a “nail”. If they are perfectly content where they are at…maybe pushing them into something else is not the best thing. Along the same lines, if it is something that you will be keeping around permanently, make sure people have earned the right to be there or it makes them better. Use it as motivation for a while to see how committed someone is to achieving access to the program.
Item 3 – Always think big picture, but care about the smallest details. You have to think about what is best for the business overall, but never forget that the bathroom needs cleaning and the trash has to be taken out!
Thanks for your time!