When a gym swings opens its doors for the first time to the public, the ideal outcome is a membership base large enough to sustain the facility’s success and eventual growth. For the purposes of this post, let’s imagine that the gym in question is a CrossFit location. We recognize that the below principles can apply across a range of small coaching businesses and gyms.
Obstacles for Gym Owners
CrossFit gyms make their bread and butter in a group model training environment. Members proudly wear their local CrossFit’s logo emblazoned on a fair-trade cotton T-shirt and hushed murmurs about the grueling workout of the day can be heard across offices in America every morning. The positive effects of a ritualized workout and the warm encouragement of a team cannot be overstated. But what about the members who love everything about group workouts but are also interested in one-on-one coaching?
There’s no shortage of obstacles when a gym owner considers individual programming for their business. We hear from TrueCoach users that the biggest roadblocks to personal training in a gym setting are staffing and the assumed small return on investment. The owner or coach spends his or her time building a detailed individual program for one member and can’t easily measure the profit from it unless that same member renews month after month and continues to purchase personal sessions. The amount of work involved in building an individual exercise program versus the amount of revenue earned on a single person is also difficult to measure. For this reason, it’s common for gym owners and coaches to focus their time and efforts on group training classes and drumming up a bigger base of members to pay the monthly rate for those workouts. In individual programs, designing the workout, the actual coaching, and even billing the clients is daunting to say the least. If the gym isn’t sufficiently staffed and they don’t have the coaching muscle to pull off multiple personal training sessions per day, individual programming can seem like a lost cause altogether. Generally, the exposure gym owners have to fitness comes in the form of group training because it appears to be the shortest route to making money.
We beg to differ. Enter individual program design with a TrueCoach twist.
Individual Program Design
The benefits of individual program design at your gym are countless. Your members can enjoy an increased focus on reaching their personal goals while preventing injuries. Opportunities to improve are revealed more quickly than they would typically appear in a group setting when the coach’s focus is directly on them. Additionally, building that personal relationship ensures that the member is invested in the gym’s success too – it becomes a mutually beneficial and fulfilling partnership. For a member, this perfect storm increases their success and satisfaction and motivates them to renew their membership month after month. On the owner or coach’s side, the opportunity for increased revenue expands greatly.
Meet Gym Owner Stu Brauer
When a gym offers group training and coaching for individuals, a connective bridge forms; a synergistic relationship between the community and the member. We’re hard-pressed to name someone who understands this as deeply and passionately as Stuart Brauer does. Stu is a seasoned gym owner in North Carolina and host of WTF GYM TALK, a popular resource for CrossFit affiliates and gym owners. He describes his consultation business as:
“A way to learn how to handle those ‘What the F**k !?!?’ moments that come with owning a gym.”
CrossFit gym owners and coaches from across the country reach out to Stu on a weekly basis for business development calls via Skype, remote and on-site consultations, marketing campaigns, and coaching development.
To lay the scene for individual program design, Stu describes the variety of members that are likely attending classes in tandem at your gym.
“At 160 members, you have your super veterans. Then you have the people that have been there about eight months, the people who have gone through your fundamentals or your on-ramp for about three months, and then brand new members. You always have these smaller segments coming out as your membership gets bigger.”
At Stu’s gyms, his coaches perform a “test-out” for their member base – a short but comprehensive evaluation to suss out which members understand specific sets of moves and can perform them generally well. From there, his business can always sell one to two personal training sessions. Skilled members can benefit from being pushed harder while more intermediate and beginner level members will shine under a coach who can help them fine tune their movements and approach. “You have to plan for it now,” Stu says of individual programming and differentiating your growing membership base.
“It creates a phenomenal revenue source for my coaches.”
Understanding Average Client Value and the Power of TrueCoach
Stu also details the Average Client Value as the amount of money each member should be bringing into your gym in a cycle of 30 days. If your monthly rate for your gym is $150, for example, it’s important that the member spend an amount above that in order for your business to do more than break even. Selling retail additions like branded T-shirts and swag is one way to accomplish this but personal training sessions are far more impactful. A member who pays the monthly rate of membership and adds two personal sessions to the mix is someone who builds a powerful Average Client Value and ultimately helps your gym succeed in the long-tail game.
With the support of TrueCoach, coaches and gym owners like Stu can seamlessly create designated individual time within group training sessions, build a series of sessions during open gym hours or on open gym days, or even design an individual program for members who have the appropriate equipment at home.
The Case for Individual Program Design
Individual program design is the hack for the time-constrained trainer or gym owner. It’s also a great solution for distance; clients who want to be trained remotely or remain a member of your facility from another city can easily do so. Stu utilizes TrueCoach for his own program design to train his clients on-site at his gyms and remotely. When personal training is the best option for a customer in the genesis of their fitness journey, a program designed for them begs to be made. Though the group model is the most common structure of a fitness business, the optimal development for a long-term client includes personal training during the life of their membership. Personal training should be the second-highest revenue source after membership dues. TrueCoach creates a unique opportunity to add significant revenue from anywhere.