"Know your market. Study it and keep studying and don't fool yourself into thinking that you know it all."
What's your background or what brings you to the fitness industry?
My background in fitness started with me being an athlete and studying training methods to improve my performance. While in college I studied exercise physiology and human nutrition then after a few years in the working world it dawned on me that I could make a good living as a fitness trainer and do something that I had passion for at the same time. So in 1996 I got certified as a personal trainer and started my career as a fitness professional. After a successful decade or so of training clients I decided to take a leap of faith and I opened my first studio in a 1650 square foot retail space.
When you were just starting out, what is the biggest mistake you made?
The biggest mistake I made when opening my studio was signing a 5 year lease at the height of the market. Within the first year of operations the great recession was in full swing and the market became really tough. I had high rent to pay in the toughest economy since the great depression.
Was there one thing that you'd wished you known before you started your gym?
Yes, I wish I had known that the economy would become so bad. Had I known that, I would have waited a year and secured a far better lease.
What was the event, equipment addition or management change that made you say "Okay, I got this, we're going to make it now" and did it pan out?
The one thing that turned my business into a profitable enterprise was when I introduced the 30 minute training session. In my market it was new and at first I had to convince clients that they could and would get a great workout in in only 30 minutes, and I had to convince my trainers of that also. In the end it was a success as it offered a lower price point for the client yet with our training method it also delivered great results. Now after nearly 10 years the 30 minute session is the backbone of my studio and we do nearly 600 (30 min) sessions a month.
What sage advice do you wish you would have received or what would you tell someone contemplating opening their own gym now?
Know your market. Study it and keep studying and don't fool yourself into thinking that you know it all. Stay on top of fitness trends but don't buy into them unless they offer value and results for your clients. Create a culture in your business. Drive your business from within. Create referrals and do client retention marketing. Focus on serving your clients as well as possible.
What do you think the world needs to know about you and about the fitness industry?
The fitness industry is a part of the personal service industry. Never forget that your business is about service and providing the highest quality services that you can.