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Operations: The Top 5 Ways to Change More Lives


Years ago, when I would write an article or a blog post, it was easy to figure out who my audience was. My readers were gym owners and their employees. And these gyms were pretty much what I nowadays call, “mainstream” fitness centers. They had rows of cardio and selectorized machines, and in the back a bunch of free weights.

Times have changed. Now when I write an article, I am not sure who my audience is. I mean, I can no longer write with a mainstream fitness center in mind. I have to consider the training gyms, group fitness studios, CrossFit Boxes, boxing gyms and the one-on-one coaches who work from their homes or their clients’ homes.

But no matter the type of gym you have, it is all basically the same: You take money in exchange for a service. In a mainstream gym, that service starts with a membership, which means access to the equipment. In a training gym, it means paying for sessions with a coach in a one-on-one setting or in a group. Let me list the top five ways to change more lives, regardless of the type of gym you own or work in.

  1. Be specific in your advertising.

The mainstream gyms offer so much that they try to be everything to everyone. I recommend they think about who they want as a customer, and then figure out what that customer wants. For example, when I owned a gym, I wanted 35- to 55-year-olds who were seeking improved health and weight loss. So our ads had pictures of folks in that age range and we used words like “healthy” and “fat loss.” Also, we were specific about who we were: “If you want to be healthy and lose body fat, come try us for 30 days for $19.”

  1. Hire only fit and friendly.

Gyms are supposed to be environments of positivity and support. And visiting a gym for the first time can be very intimidating for some folks. By having friendly, positive and fit employees, you can create the correct first impression.

  1. Ask for referrals.

Your members know other people who live nearby. Ask them for contact information for their friends in exchange for something like a T-shirt. Email jason@jasonlinse.com for a free video on the step-by-step process for doing this. If you have earned their business and provided a kick-butt service, your members should be happy to help you bring in other prospects.

  1. Don’t fear the contracts.

I have coached and consulted with hundreds of gyms and many of them are afraid to force contracts on their members. All you have to do is offer a 12-month membership (this goes for training gyms as well), and also offer a month-to-month option for 20 percent more than the 12 month. It’s as simple as that. Show the prospect both options, recommend the 12 month and you should see 75 percent or more go with the long-term option.

  1. No more classes.

This may end up being a bit controversial, but I don’t care. Classes are not effective. Sessions are effective. Too many gyms offer free classes and end up creating a mindset that being instructor-led doesn’t have value. Dancing around and sweating will benefit the deconditioned for a short period of time, but truly changing their lives will require strength training through intensive coaching. The simple solution is to stop calling them classes, incorporate a strength component into all of them, start calling them sessions, and have them all be led by a certified coach.

And yes, you should charge for this. For more info on this topic, email jason@jasonlinse.com with “sessions” in the subject line

Jason Linse

Jason Linse is president and founder of The Business of Fitness, a consulting company. He also owns a personality assessment company called People Plus+ Fitness. Contact him at jason@jasonlinse.com or 612-310-1319 for resources on scheduling more tours and personality assessments, or visit www.jasonlinse.com.

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