Discipline for Fitness Business Success

“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” –Jim Rohn

jarodAs a long-time fitness industry veteran, I can relate to the daily grind of attempting to satisfy every member,  consistently motivating the team and ultimately, maximizing financial performance. It takes undeniable passion for fitness, genuine care for others, and amazing competitiveness to be number one in any fitness business market.

With that being said, it all comes down to this single fundamental for success… DISCIPLINE.

Hundreds to thousands of members and guests enter our clubs every day. It’s our challenge to give each one of  them unsurpassed value by providing surgically clean facilities and superior equipment, creative and experience enhancing programs and elite service. Exceeding these expectations certainly isn’t easy and only a focused, dedicated and disciplined staff culture can keep members raving about our business.

As club owners and leaders, it starts with us. We must have the self-discipline and motivation to practice what we preach. Leading by example has become cliché, but if we don’t personally do the things we ask of our teams, then breakdowns will occur, as well as, lost membership opportunities.

As a club leader, I encourage you to have the discipline to follow these five steps:

1. Walk through your club a minimum of 3 times per day. Talk to members, learn names, clean, organize, high-five staff and smile. Do it with a purpose and direct your entire team to perform walkthroughs as well.  It’s the great coaches that dominate the details!

2. Huddle up with your team daily (5-10 minutes). Begin the day with an inspirational message. Review your Key Performance Indicators (membership sales, losses, profit center performance). Discuss upcoming programs and events. Celebrate progress and victories. Motivate and recognize top performers. Fire up the team!

3. Conduct an objective service evaluation daily. Measure your performance expectations. Stay ahead of your members and clients. Be pro-active. Recognize what you are doing really well and determine areas of focus. Is the club really clean? Are staff members smiling and using names 99.9% of the time? Communicate the results daily. Keep service top of mind because EVERY day is game day.

4. Know your numbers. Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) are your scoreboard. They are critical to managing and leading the operation. Communicate performance consistently (each day) and get everyone involved. The team needs to know where they stand at ALL times.

5. WORK like an Athlete. The fitness business IS your sport! If you want to win this game and be the number one fitness business in your market now and into the future, it starts with YOU. Use your club. Participate and get on the field. The ones that manage from the sidelines are the easiest clubs to beat.

It’s more competitive and sophisticated in the fitness industry than it has ever been. State of the art facilities, equipment, solid programs and amenities definitely give us an edge over others. We’re also learning that managerial systems and standard operating procedures are critical to any operation. However, if you want to be a true champion in today’s fitness business, the first thing you really need is discipline.

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Championship Personal Training Part II… Fitness Business Planning

ID-10083406This blog is dedicated to fitness trainers and coaches, and those who want to perform their best in business and work.

By now, you know my philosophy: The business of fitness training should be viewed as a sport. You must WORK like an athlete to maximize profitability and find genuine satisfaction.

In the end, your purpose is help others build strength, lose fat, and most importantly, feel better about themselves. Now with that said, let’s talk about how your business can do the same!

It begins with the realization that you can build a lucrative career IF you remember that “you own it,” even if you work for somebody else.

Success is totally up to you. Like an athlete, you must have focus and discipline to manage the details. You have to stay on top of the high expectations that hopefully you, your team members and clients have of your services.


— How much am I willing to work?  Seriously, are you a “grinder” or not?
— What stops me from putting in the time?
— How many clients can I bring maniacal focus to each day, week, or month?
— What income do I need to support my lifestyle? What income do I want?
— Do I prefer one-on-one, small group and/or large group training programs?
— Should I offer discounted packages, monthly EFT, or annual commitments?

The fitness pros of today know that training no longer has to be a part-time profession. But like an athlete, you must have a game plan to be successful at it. And if you have plenty of training knowledge, but limited business skills, you must improve upon them immediately.

Building a detailed business plan is a workshop in itself, so I’m going to keep this easy and break it down to just a few steps for those who have the necessary fitness credentials, and are ready to rock:

— Define business goals, develop strategies and set deadlines to achieve them.
— Keep your eye on the scoreboard. Track your KPI’s: Key Performance Indicators.
— Gauge how you’re actually performing vs. your goals.
— Communicate results with your team or managers.
— Share enthusiasm as a member or leader of the team.
— Learn about branding and get clear what you want to be known for.
— Find a professional marketer to help you devise a plan of outreach.
— Inquire about sales systems that other successful trainers have in place.
— Define who your perfect clients are and learn how to actively market to that kind of person.

Next up… Branding, Marketing and Selling for the Fitness PRO.

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Dominate the Competition Like a True Champ

Hood Pics3Today’s competition in the fitness business is fierce. Some small gym operators are even chanting the phrase, “Death to the Big Box Club.”

Personally, I don’t subscribe to that and I don’t like it either.  Instead, do what you do and do what you do… better.  Shouldn’t we all be in this business to change and enhance lives?

I’ve been leading big boxes for a long time, but what made our clubs successful against competition was the ability to push our Ego aside. We maintained passion for fitness and were constantly learning the best strategies and practices of those in our industry (including small gyms).

Admittedly, I’m not crazy about corporate policies, but I respect their structure and the systems. What I AM crazy about are small gym operators. Their energy, hunger and willingness to do what it takes in their given market is infectious. The ones who make it are to be celebrated and admired.

I also recognize there are some amazing big box operators, but many still don’t realize… what’s worked in the past and what’s working now, may not work in the future.

Here are the “5 Essential Es” to beat new competition and stay ahead of the fitness club curve:

1. Execution

The fitness industry is becoming much more sophisticated. Those who have the proper systems in place, simply need to execute their protocols day in and day out.  Do you have the discipline to do that?  Consistent execution represents quality and builds member loyalty. Do it and most of your valued members are sure to stay.

2. Exploitation

Let’s face it, many $10/month clubs have some of the same equipment as the $79/month club. So how do we separate our business from the others? Sit down with your key team members and find out as much as you can about your current and future competitors. What’s your unique point of difference? What do you want to be known for?  Sometimes it’s not what your facility has, it’s what you believe in and what you do to demonstrate it.

3. Excellence
We all know the value of raving customer fans. If your club is really successful at something, do you stop there? Of course not! You continue refine it, ask for feedback, and consistently make it better. On the flip side, we all could be better and usually there’s one department damaging the success or reputation of the business. Find it, fix or get rid of it. Demand excellence in everything that you do.

4. Employees

The best way to beat a new competitor is by having the right people who create a truly special culture, an exceptional social scene. Every hiring decision affects member retention. Your team is just as important as your leadership. Demand perfection and recognize their excellence. The longer your solid team members stay, so do your members. New competition hates that!

5. Educate

There is always a team member to train on service, operations (and even fitness). And there are always members seeking new ways to get healthier, feel stronger, look better and perform at a higher level. Good education breeds credibility. We’re in the fitness business to change lives. As masters of our craft, it is our duty to be a source of updated knowledge and information. The new competitor has a long way to go before they earn that… beat ’em to it!

Yes, competition forces us to get better, but remember like the big sports retail company says, “Protect Your House!”

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The Good, The Bad, The “Ugly” Trainer

When I walk through a club or a gym, I have this “sixth sense” that kicks in.

I appreciate it greatly, but it’s given me a reputation for being somewhat of a hard-ass.

You see, I can somehow detect what’s going wrong in a club while it’s happening, even if it’s not visible, and at times, before it’s actually occurs. I joke about being blessed with this supernatural power, but in reality, it developed from being immersed in every aspect of the fitness business for the last 25 years.

When assessing the vibe of a gym, personal trainers are always are a source of information. Their body language and actions speak volumes about the profitability and perception of the club.

The ones who “get it” exude enthusiasm that’s contagious.
The ones who don’t, poison your gym and can unfortunately infect your environment.

bad-personal-trainer2They embarrass our industry and also their profession.

I’ve been called to talk more about this in a webinar to the IHRSA community (International Health, Racquet, Sports Association). The topic is the Building a Championship Personal Training Business. While prepping and conducting some additional R&D for the event, I found myself shaking my head, thinking about how many moronic moments in personal training I’ve witnessed and continue to endure.

Trainers carry lots of influence.

The good ones are easy to spot. The bad ones often linger under the radar; so unimpressive they almost become invisible… but not to me! I can spot those culture killers a mile away. That’s why I’ve created:

Top 10 Traits of Poisonous Trainers:

10. They forget that they’re in the business of enhancing lives and inspiring others.

Personal training is about helping others reach their potential physically, mentally and sometimes even spiritually.  There is nothing more gratifying than helping someone reach their potential. Self-absorbed trainers who make it all about themselves make it easy for a client to hit the road and quit.

9. They show up to work without looking the part.

Great trainers are role models of fitness. They care for themselves well. They shower, shave, comb their hair, wear a clean, pressed shirt, and smile!  There seems to be a new crew of edgy, “too cool for school” trainers who don’t look the part or care to try. Get rid of them!  Edgy is cool, but look like a pro.

8. They sit down, chew gum, text message, and fail to engage throughout a paid client session.
The good ones never forget they’re being watched by other potential clients. The gym floor is practically a stage, but it’s also about connecting with clients. Although trainers are aiming for results, it’s also about the client’s experience. Heck they’re getting paid for it, right?

7. They take their club and the business that hired them for granted.
How many clients and how much income would a trainer possess if the club didn’t supply the equipment, facilities, lights, health insurance, marketing expense, or the members that walk in front of them each day? With hundreds and sometimes thousands of people walking by, a club trainer has the best sidewalk anyone can ask for!

6. They’re bad trainers and also bad teammates.
The most successful trainers and training teams are those who refer potential clients to one another, especially if they are not the right fit. They also develop relationships with other club staff (service desk, membership).  They’re not independent contractors who are exempt from interacting with club culture.

5. They don’t continually train themselves.
Great trainers are continuously on the lookout to be better at what they do. They are always on the hunt for new training methodologies and ways to become better at business, sales, marketing and service. They understand they’re an entrepreneur, not just a trainer.

4. They play the victim and wait for business to come to them.
The best trainers are health and fitness experts who are continually working on their business. They’re working on their brand, executing their business plans, promoting their services and solutions, blogging, tweeting, posting and communicating frequently with their current clients.

3. They have a “that’s not my job” mentality.
Great trainers help clean and maintain equipment. They report needed repairs if they can’t fix it themselves.  They protect their house!

2. They’re flaky and unprofessional.
Great trainers show up on time, every time, and are consistent in their greatness. They’re reliable, friendly, and leave their personal problems at the door.

1. They have no clue how to WORK like Athletes!
Great trainers approach their job like an elite athlete does their given sport. They have a vision, a plan and they get coached on what they can do better.  And then most importantly, they DO IT.

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Dealing with Adversity — Guest Blog from Extreme Athlete, Zach Carbo

Zach Blog

The story you’re about to hear is both gut-wrenching and inspiring.

It’s about one of my climbing partners and friends, Zach Carbo, an extreme athlete and dedicated family man (yes, he can do both).

When I first climbed with Zach, I watched in amazement at the summit as he carefully arranged his speed-flying “rig” and pointed his skis down the steep mountainside.

Gaining serious speed on an intimidating slope, he lifted himself in the air, flew over a cliff and down the mountain. Needless to say, he reached safe ground much sooner than I did, but it was awesome!

Since then, I’ve been fortunate to get to know Zach more. We’ve found many commonalities beyond climbing (family, fitness, etc.) and I have nothing but crazy respect for this fun, spirited adventurous guy.  Zach and I are part of a committed group of “brothers” who are passionate about mountains, pushing our limits and supporting each others’ accomplishments, and occasional failures.

Earlier this summer, Zach got injured in the Bitterroot Mountains of Missoula. His path back to health has been grueling, but his story is loaded with WORK Like and Athlete lessons.

It shows us how an elite athlete responds to the unexpected, deals calmly with adversity, plans for recovery, and endures the suffering to get back at it.

After you read Zach’s story, stop for a minute and ask yourself:

  • What situations in my work (or life) have gone awry and require a quick change action?
  • Where is positivity and resiliency needed in my mental game?
  • What creative solutions might be worth trying, despite pain or discomfort?

“I took a trip recently to Missoula to soak up the awesomeness of Montana with a good friend and fellow jumper. My car was loaded with gear and toys that I was sure we’d be able to use in the playground of the Bitterroot Mountains. With speedwings, BASE rigs, a wing suit and cameras, it was sure to be a good time.

After about an hour climb and 2000 feet in elevation, we arrived at the exit and took in the view. In that moment, I remember reflecting on life and the people I cherish most. After discussing logistics and checking each other’s gear, we were ready to go. I watched my buddy have a fantastic flight and an equally awesome opening, canopy flight and landing.

I took a deep breath, walked to the edge, gave my count and exited.  After the suit pressurized and inflated, I banked hard left and flew along the wall I had just jumped from. What a spectacular view!  After what seemed like forever, I banked from the wall and deployed my parachute. The opening was great, although a little off to the left.

I grabbed my steering toggles and turned the canopy around. Feeling a little discombobulated, I began to search for a landing area that was closer to me. I set up for my final approach and landed right on my mark…  Well, almost.

My left foot landed on the trail while my right foot landed on a large rock. My foot slipped from the side of the rock, sending my foot one way and the leg another. I heard and felt the snap and fell to my butt. Even through the wing suit, I could see my leg was broken.

I quickly removed my helmet, wing suit and rig. That’s when I saw that my right foot was on the side of my leg. I reached with both hands, pulled the foot back, began to sit up and yelled for my buddy. Once he arrived, he agreed to take both of our gear to the truck and I would start hopping down the trail.

After he left, I broke off the top of a burned down tree and used it as a walking stick for the next two and a half miles. It was long, tiring and tedious with several stops to rest and put my foot back in place (it kept flopping out of place and back off to the side of my leg).

My friend met me halfway, right when I was greeted with a log crossing over the river. On my hands and knees, I gingerly made my way across the narrow log with the freezing cold creek charging below. My stops increased in both duration and frequency, but eventually, we made it to the truck.

We drove to a hospital in Missoula where they took x-rays and splinted me up. I learned that I had a trimalleolar fracture of my tibia and fibula and it would require surgery. I explained to the doctors that I lived in Washington State and would opt to have the surgery there where I had a support system. I’m sure they thought I was a little crazy.

Under the fog of pain killers, I took my buddy and his wife out to dinner that night. I got a bit of sleep before getting up early to make my way back to Washington.

Thank goodness for cruise control. Driving a standard transmission for 7 hours is quite the chore. I arrived home safely and scheduled my surgery for the following week.

After surgery, the next 10-12 days were spent in a horizontal position. After 3 weeks, the doctors gave me a removable splint/boot and I began rehab and physical therapy. A steady diet of lean meats, nuts, fresh spinach, greens, fruits and vegetables was required for my healing… and I was ready to get after it.

I have been injured before and know the trials and tribulations of recovery. A strong, positive mindset along with a good diet and rock solid support system is key to getting back out there and getting healthy again. I have a long road ahead of me, but I know that it’s worth every bit of pain, sweat and tears that I will endure.  It’s what I do, it’s what I love and I will do whatever it takes to get back to it.

It’s moments like these that I say to myself… “Stay strong, stay positive and WORK like an ATHLETE!” -Zach Carbo

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