A Better Model For Burnt Out Gym Owners

Uncategorized May 22, 2020

If you ever wanted to convert your individual design and personal training studio to small group, this is your chance, and this is how to do it.

Part 1 of 3


Individual design and personal training studios are a great business model for people who want the income of a personal trainer with the autonomy of a business owner. That’s about where the model caps out. If you are an owner of a studio like I’m describing here, you have seen the outliers who prove what I’m saying to be untrue, remember, there are always outliers, if you’re reading this it’s unlikely you’re one of them, and it’s time to challenge your dogma. 


The individual design and personal training model has some major benefits in that you get to set your own rules, work with dedicated clients, and get industry leading results for them. The problem is that running a gym in this model is exceedingly difficult to grow a staff in, and because of that you will likely find yourself constantly working in your business instead of on it. To someone who just got started, this may seem irrelevant, but to those of you reading this who have been at it for three years plus, you may be nodding your head in agreement right now.


The problem with running a business model that is so difficult to ascend in yourself is that you go from feeling very free, to feeling very chained down in a short period of time. You come to realize that you are trapped, selling your time for money. Taking time off to be with family, going on vacation, and enjoying the fruits of your labor are things you thought you would be able to do once your business reached some level of success, and now you’re realizing that unfortunately, it’s harder and harder to do than you thought. 


How this happened in 5 steps:

  1. You got yourself highly educated by taking a course that taught you how to assess your clients, how to build a specific, solution based program for your clients, and how to measure your results. 
  2. You started working with clients and saw great results. You finally felt valuable as a fitness professional and thirsted for more.
  3. You decided that you were going to open your own shop so that you could keep more of the revenue and work on your own terms. You planned to hire staff eventually, but found it very difficult to find someone who meets your standards.
  4. You decided that you are going to stop looking for staff. It’s too hard to find someone like you, it takes too long to get them paid well enough to work for you full time, and the work you would need to do to take them from total newb to seasoned coach just isn’t worth it, and plus, you get paid every time someone joins the gym so it’s a pretty good gig.
  5. You were finally making some money, even if it wasn’t a lot, it was enough to start living the life that you thought you wanted. And now, in order to actually live that life without being a slave to your business, you would have to take a pay cut, go back to the space between step 3 and step 4, and figure out how to find staff who will inevitably also find themselves in a time for money exchange that you want out of. That feels like too much work, and now you’re between the proverbial rock and hard place. 


It’s hard enough to get clients for yourself, if you added a staff member you would also have to be able to find clients for them. After all, if they could find clients for themselves, they wouldn’t need to come work for you! Then, even if you did fill another coach’s book of business, that coach becomes the value, not your gym. So what happens if you need to part ways with that coach? Will the members stay with you, or do you think they leave with the coach?


Overall, you know that you could make enough money to keep living the life that you are currently living, but you know that in order to grow the opportunities in your life, you also need to change what you’re doing. The Covid-19 shutdowns give you the perfect cover to take your shot.


Some of the questions that are probably circling around in your head right now are:

    • How would I even approach my members?”


  • “How would I even choose the class times?”
  • “What if my clients like what they’re getting and don’t want to change?”
  • “What if I think personal training is valuable and still want to offer it?”
  • “Won’t I still have a staffing problem?”



I will cover the answers to all of the above questions in part 2 of this 3 part article. All that you need to know for now is this, if what you read above rings true to you, then you have already decided that what you are doing is just not working, and it’s time for some kind of shift.


One of the first things you may have done was written down what success looks like to you. If you did that, go back and read it again, it probably looks very different now. What got you here won’t get you where you want to go, it will only keep you here.

Look for part 2 on Tuesday!


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