Shrugged Collective

Keep your gym in business

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This week on Barbell Business, we talk about what we’d do differently today if we were opening up a gym for the first time.

There certainly are some common mistakes you need to avoid. We should know, we’ve been there before. And to be honest, if we made these mistakes again today, we likely wouldn’t be in business very long.

This is our best advice. Start with these 6 tips and you’ll find building an enduring, profitable gym business far easier.

@douglaselarson dropping knowledge bombs on @christmasabbott and everyone else who attended our first ever #barbellmastermind

A photo posted by Barbell Business (@barbellbusiness) on


1. Listening is a skill, and it takes constant work.

We all think we do a great job of it, but the truth is that we carry a lot of presumptive baggage into every single conversation and interaction.

Our minds are about 80% made-up before words are ever traded, which is a huge problem in business and life just the same. We don’t listen well, and because of that we’re always at risk for repeating mistakes of the past.

Listening starts right now, with this post, podcast, everything you come across. Work on this skill daily, in all that you do, because every single interaction you have is a priceless opportunity to learn and gain from someone else’s hard-earned experience. So, listen up!


2. Surround yourself with great people.

You can build a business by yourself, sure, but you’ll probably be limited and stressed.

Solo-venturers get no paid holidays. And even though they burn the candle at both ends most of the time, they never have the luxury of true focus. They can never get to know themselves very well.

Don’t make the mistake.

Start by focusing on yourself or a while. You’ve tried doing everything, now what is it that you love to do? What are your strengths, and do you hate to do? I know, you probably won’t listen, not even to yourself, so do yourself a favor and get a personality assessment.

I know that you feel unique, but in reality you’re more like everyone else than you realize. Your presumptions, limitations, fears, worries, etc. are common and well-defined. So, know thyself.

You’ll enjoy it, trust me. Once you dig into your personality type, your personal history will start to make a lot more sense to you. But more important than that, this knowledge will allow you to hire people who have complimentary skill sets. That’s huge because the quicker you can get rid of tasks you suck at, the better.

You’re losing money every time you do something you hate to do. Instead, maximize the value you create by doing stuff that’s fulfilling.



3. Market hard first.

There’s a reason big globo-gyms and fitness franchises pre-sell memberships before opening their doors – It’s great to have plenty of money upfront.

You can only focus on your clients and service when you’re no longer pre-occupied with paying bills. So, do yourself a MASSIVE favor. Start marketing three months before you open your facility!

This is not Field of Dreams. If you build it, there’s a damn good chance that people will not come. And why should they? Just take a look at the market. Every single day the competition is getting thicker and thicker, and these gyms are working hard to get attention. To survive, you have to dig out your niche and make yourself known ahead of time.

Share your content online. Volunteer locally. Create abundant value for as many people as you can, and let them know you’ll be opening a facility of your own.

Just like the big boys, pre-sell memberships. A great, effective strategy that will still make lots of money for you long-term is to offer a few months free to founding members. If you can have 50 people signed up, which isn’t all that difficult, then you won’t have to scramble for money on the first of the month.

Instead, you can focus on your people and filling their needs.


4. Beware of busy. 

If you own a gym, you will probably always have to put in some work, which is fine. But the whole trick to creating maximal value and being effective is focusing on what matters most.

Do not be driven by urgency. You do not have to react and spend time on things that ultimately don’t matter at all. Say no and focus.

You’ll make a ton more money, sure, but you’ll also make your life a million times easier.


5. Save where you can.

Your early marking might crush. That would give you a big bag of money to play with, which is nice. But make no mistake. You don’t need tons of money to start your gym. In fact, you’re better off starting small.

Again, follow the lead of the big boys. Instead of dumping everything you’ve got into new equipment for day one, why not lease instead? The building, the gear, everything, save where you can.

In time, you can create a real-estate business that will own the building your gym calls home. But for now, start by stringing together a few profitable months.

Walk, then run.

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The quicker you document what you do, the better. 


6. Yes, you need systems.

I know that it sounds a little cliche, but you have to find ways to work smarter, not harder.

Your first step is to get to know every single role within your business. Who does the work, and how? Make sure that all of this is captured and documented.

Just getting it all down on paper is a start. From there you can refine and formalize all business activities into standard operating procedures, which you can then hand off to a new gym manager, for example. You could even choose to automate many of these activities, which only gives you more time to focus on what matters most – your clients.

You’re going to make mistakes in business, that’s just the nature of the game. But you have to make the most of those experiences and absorb the lessons, because you cannot afford to repeat those mistakes. Likewise, why should you repeat ours?

Keep your mind open, seek knowledge, and keep working. With that mindset you will find success.

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To get more info that will help you grow your business, visit BarbellBusiness.com and sign up for the newsletter.



Mike Bledsoe


  • Mike B suggested a website that has a good free template for developing a business plan (nuts and bolts, not what you would proposed for financing) when he was asked about how he would do things differently…..what is the name of the resource? Thank you!!


  • Great strategy for success (stray pieces, not what you would proposed for financing) when he was gotten some information about how he would do things any other way… ..what is the name of the asset? Much thanks to you!!

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