Okay, so you are crushing it as a pilates instructor, personal trainer, spin instructor or group fitness expert. And now you are ready to branch out and start your own fitness biz. Awesome! But here’s the thing: being a rockstar at your craft and running a successful business is not mutually exclusive. At all.
That’s a lesson that I – a fitness small business owner myself – learned after many, many years of hitting roadblocks, changing direction and learning what works (and what doesn’t). Through these lessons (which I share below), I have taken Pilates in the Grove from a 500-square-foot space to two, 1,600-square-foot locations that generate seven figures…and growing.
And now I want to help you build an infrastructure and cultivate a philosophy that will put you on the path to a thriving wellness brand. Here are my tips for creating a successful fitness business:
1. Understand Your WHY
It is crucial to not only understand WHY you are doing what you’re doing, but to be able to articulate that to your clients. Really think about it: what gets your juices flowing? What is your business’s purpose? And more importantly, why should your potential customer care about what you’re “selling?” In his book, “Start With Why” (which I highly recommend to any entrepreneur and their team), Simon Sinek writes, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” And that couldn’t be truer.
2. Understand Your WHO
I often hear fitness professionals say that “anyone can benefit from my services.” While that may be correct, it actually undervalues what you do and the service you provide. Creating a niche market and truly understanding your customer base (and how they think) will yield much higher returns, especially when budgeting where and how to spend your marketing dollars and time. So set out to become the go-to person for [fill in your fitness specialty]. Not everyone is your customer…and that’s ok.
3. Build A Community
People enjoy doing business with people that they like. It’s just human nature. It’s kind of like that restaurant you keep going back to, not because the food is the best, but because the host knows your name and the bartender remembers your favorite cocktail. Consumers like to feel special, and it’s no different with fitness clients. Growing a successful fitness business is not just about running your clients through a program of exercises, but about developing that personal relationship and creating trust. This approach cultivates clients for life, rather than for a season.
4. Keep Your Clients On Track
Set goals for your clients, and then demonstrate consistency in helping them achieve those goals. Clients seek you out because they want something different or better than what they have or had. They are looking to you for guidance and accountability to achieve their desired results, so communicate with them. Speak directly about how often they should work with you for optimal results, and encourage them to schedule sessions for weeks and even months in advance. Keeping your customers consistent with their schedule improves accountability and ensures a full schedule for you.
5. Continue To Learn & Grow
The world around us never stops moving forward, and neither should we. If you want your business to thrive, seek out opportunities to learn, grow and improve. With new studies about human biomechanics, treatment options and fitness protocols constantly emerging, there’s a lot of information out there. Attend fitness conferences/workshops, listen to podcasts and read. Read a lot. Train with an expert in your area, and soak up all you can from them. Surround yourself with a team that inspires and motivates you to be better. Even after 20 years in the wellness industry, I am still an education junkie that seeks every opportunity to learn from the best. And I believe that has been a key to my success.
I’ll be the first to admit that scaling a profitable fitness biz isn’t easy, but I can tell you from firsthand experience that it is possible. So get focused, work hard and prepare yourself to succeed. And finally, don’t worry about what the competition is doing. Focus on you, your clients and your goals. You are, after all, your best investment.
Christa Gurka, MSPT, PMA®-CPT