Blaze Your Own Trail


Separation, immunity, niche, exclusivity. Every gym owner’s perpetual quest for a competitive advantage is to successfully challenge the dominant corporate brands and the lower overhead.

CrossFit boxes, small group and private training studios — the independent owner must blaze his or her own trail. Trends, fads, gym science and hype are important to acknowledge, but navigating through them will enable better market penetration. 

Modify your programming based on your club’s demographics. Pinpoint what will work best for your business, not that of the industry as a whole. Your business model should be based on what your clientele expect — not what your nearest competitor is doing. The competition may be more like a cardio machine factory than a gym because their members prefer redundancy over periodization.

If your members are younger, better educated in terms of fitness knowledge and appreciate newer training methods, you must exploit these differences and provide the systems and gear your membership demands.

For example, add more racks, platforms and unique bars while deleting some lesser-used cardio machines. Purchase new and groundbreaking equipment before your competitors, add a free-form area for agility and conditioning work, reimagine your profit centers, sublease unused space and price your memberships according to your current demographics and also to your desired demographics.

Many corporate gyms are rigid and unforgiving. Independent gyms are fluid and flexible. Use these advantages to overcome your marketing and financial disadvantages.


Thomas Sjolander is the director of KTI Canali and owner of FORZE XXIV Gym in Baltimore, Maryland. For more information visit

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