Home Posts tagged "Fitness Business Blueprint"

Fitness Business Entrepreneurship Thoughts: Long-Term Planning May Not Be For You

In my blog the other day, I alluded to how I never really thought I'd open a gym. It kind of just happened. And, this experience has led me to the belief that the concept of having a ten-year plan is absurd. Heck, even five years seems like a prohibitively long time to have a plan in today’s rapidly changing world.

I went to college in 1999 thinking that I was going to be an accountant. I transferred in 2001 to pursue exercise science, and went to graduate school to pursue a career in strength and conditioning research. In 2003, after a month on campus, I realized I hated organic chemistry and loved training athletes. I moved to Southern Connecticut in 2005, and then to Massachusetts in 2006, then Florida in 2014. These were twists and turns in every direction that couldn’t have been accommodated by a rigid career plan.

There are a lot of people reading this blog who are probably stressing about moving to a different college major, making a career change, or relocating for a change of scenery or new opportunity. There are also business owners who are super concerned about building a brand that they can ultimately sell. They're focused on writing books and delivering seminars about the training they do with their clients before they've even truly evaluated whether that training actually works well.

As is usually the case with the training side of our industry, a quick solution is always to simplify. Before you start looking at being hugely successful in the long-term, try focusing on being consistently successful in the short-term with whatever it tackling. To paraphrase a hackneyed expression, you have to win the battle before you win the war - and in entrepreneurship, you have to have a successful business before you make the leap to truly building a brand. As this graph from the Bureau of Labor Statistics demonstrates, why have a ten year plan when less than 40% of small businesses are even around at that time period? And, you can bet that this number is substantially lower in the fitness industry, where many start-ups are trainers who have zero business training.

I think that this can actually be a big challenge for some upstart companies when they deal with business consultants who are very focused on developing something that can eventually be sold for $100 million dollars. In the push to create systems for scaling things larger, entrepreneurs can lose sight of shorter term opportunities to be profitable and evolve as a business. For this reason, small business consultants usually have much more to offer to fitness start-ups.

The fitness business is challenging. Competition is high, the industry is constantly evolving, and there is a lot of "noise" that can distract consumers from pursuing even the highest quality training options. For this reason, most fitness businesses are better off focusing on "winning the day" than "winning the decade."

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How to Stand Out in a Crowded Fitness Industry

Today's guest post comes from my Cressey Sports Performance business partner, Pete Dupuis.

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I’ve decided it is time to add an additional component to our internship program. As it turns out, Cressey Sports Performance (CSP) has been doing a disservice to its interns for a while. We’ve been sending extremely prepared coaches out into the world with a lot to offer and no idea how to sell it!

A former intern currently coaching at a commercial gym recently admitted that he had regrets about how he’d approached his time with us. He explained that he’d like to go back in time and spend more hours in my office during his internship at CSP. In his words:

“I learned the hard way that being the best coach in your gym is irrelevant if you’re unable to convincingly sell your personal training services. I walked through the door thinking that my superior coaching skill-set would translate to a full client roster and ended up watching meat-head trainers pack their schedules and even turn away clients as I scrambled ineffectively trying to fill my book of business.”

It’s officially time for me to put some thought into preparing our interns for the realities of the personal training world beyond the basis of coaching.

Pay Attention to those Who Sell Effectively

I should start by acknowledging that I have never been a personal trainer. I am, however, the business guy at a fitness facility that has employed a number of fantastic strength coaches. I’ve seen the difference between the good and the bad, and know that every successful coach has at least one redeemable quality outside of their coaching skill-set. More specifically, my staff members with the infectious personalities are always the ones who draw people in.

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In a recent post, I discussed my new initiative of training alongside our clients to improve my “feel” for our training environment and client experience. It was during one of these afternoon training sessions when I realized we have a team member who routinely puts on a clinic when it comes to client interaction. His name is Matt Blake, and he’s actually not even a strength coach here at CSP. Matt is the CSP Pitching Coordinator and also the only guy in the room who doesn’t count on me to fill his coaching schedule. Much like your typical personal trainer, Matt’s time spent mingling on the training floor and in the offices of CSP ultimately drives his earning potential.

Since Matt routinely has his winter pitching instruction schedule fully booked by late October, our interns could stand to benefit from paying attention to how he handles himself in the gym. Here are four valuable lessons any current or future personal trainer can take away from Matt Blake:

What you deliver off-the-clock is often just as important as what you do during a session.

On the surface, Matt sells pitching instruction here at CSP. As far as the general public is concerned, there’s standard one-on-one pitching instruction, and there’s video analysis sessions where the mechanics of one’s delivery are broken down step-by-step. What they don’t realize is that Matt actually offers what he casually refers to as a “suite of complimentary services.”

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More specifically, Matt over-delivers with his clientele by making himself available in an informal setting outside of the pitching cage to discuss the complicated college recruiting process, the intricacies of the word of summer/AAU baseball, the importance of strength training and manual therapy as it relates to pitching, and more. He makes time “off-the-clock” to help his athletes understand that the effectiveness and usefulness of his pitching instruction is ultimately going to be driven by a variety of factors lying outside of the pitching cage.

Matt explains:

“In my field, if you’re going to charge a premium rate for your services, you need to be able to justify the price-point by delivering more than an agreed upon block of time in your schedule for the week. When I under-promise and over-deliver, parents and athletes are quick to spread positive reviews of my services.” -MB

As a personal trainer in a commercial gym setting, you have the perfect opportunity to replicate Matt’s efforts. I’m sure you see your clients executing unsupervised training sessions outside of your regularly scheduled appointments, so why not approach them on the training floor (in front of other gym members) to give a quick deadlift refresher free-of-charge? Why not catch them by surprise by saying, “I was thinking about how your shoulder was bugging you last week and tracked down a really fascinating article for you to read about addressing the issue with manual therapy.”

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz often says that while coffee is the product, his company is in the “people business.” Personal training may be your product, but make no mistake; you are in the people business. Differentiating yourself from other trainers (or pitching coaches) is essential to building and sustaining a career in this industry.

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Know More Than You Need To Know

“The general working knowledge of pitching mechanics is very superficial, so I stepped away from the commonly used jargon and lazy coaching cues during instruction and began to focus closely on the fundamental movement patterns involved in throwing a baseball.” -MB

The message Matt is sharing here is actually very simple: If you continue to do what everyone else is doing, you will continue to get the results that everyone else is getting. He’s taken the initiative to step outside of his comfort zone and obtain a working knowledge of cutting-edge arm-care protocols, the basics of self-administered manual therapy, and more. Matt sits in on every one of our CSP weekly staff in-services and doesn’t receive a paycheck for it. His dedication to understanding fundamentals outside of his niche not only helps him “talk shop”, but also inherently improves his craft by broadening his relative knowledge.

Differentiate by Association

Matt is smart enough to know what falls outside of his scope of practice. With a comprehensive network of qualified professionals, he is quick to refer out to when appropriate. He knows who his go-to physical therapist is in each part of New England. If an athlete complains of throwing-related pain, he has the contact information needed to get a fast-tracked appointment with one of the country’s best orthopedic surgeons. He can get an athlete in need of nutrition assistance in front of a qualified professional in minutes. Matt’s referral network has become one of his most distinct assets.

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Manage Expectations without Selling a Dream

“I’ve created a model that is focused on long term incremental gains. I don’t place a huge focus on the use of radar guns. I don’t count balls and strikes on a daily basis. That certainly has its place, but I put a lot more focus on mindful effort and understanding the process of throwing. My clients throw a baseball with a purpose and a plan.” -MB

The personal trainers who promise “10lbs of fat loss in just four weeks” are destined to lose clients in the long-run. The pitching coaches who guarantee specific velocity gains are destined to be replaced by the next flavor of the month instructor when results don’t reflect expectations. His initial message may not be as sexy, but Matt sells attainable and sustainable results. He explains that his clients are asked to embrace a process-oriented mindset and stop worrying about short-cuts to improvements.

If you can get your clients to appreciate the process of creating a healthier lifestyle or mechanically efficient pitching delivery, you’re likely to see them get excited about their incremental gains. It’s hard to value (or replicate) where you end up if you can’t remember how you got there.

Time for You to Take Action

Eric recently mentioned on Twitter that the best way to improve within your industry is to look outside of it. You can apply this concept immediately by emulating one or more of Matt’s habits outlined above. As you’ll soon see, it doesn’t require an extraordinary amount of effort in order to differentiate yourself from the rest of the trainers within your commercial gym.

About the Author

Pete Dupuis (@Pete_Dupuis) is the Vice President & Co-Founder of Cressey Sports Performance. Please visit www.PeteDupuis.com to find additional fitness business blog content and to learn more about his Business Consulting Services.

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4 Business Lessons I’ve Learned from Clients

Several months ago, my business partner, Pete, pulled together a guest article on how training clients often have some amazing stories to tell if you're just willing to listen. You can read it HERE. That said, after the article was published, we received quite a few inquiries from folks asking for more fitness business themed articles here at EricCressey.com. To that end, I thought I'd pull together one today - and it features the top four business lessons I've learned from clients.

Lesson #1: You don't have to be first, but definitely don't be last.

Back in my first few years of personal training, I would train the same client Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 6am. He loved to talk business, and we often wound up on the topic of investing. One day, he made a comment on how he'd purchased quite a bit of stock in True Religion (a jeans company) for a few bucks in 2004 - only to see it jump to almost $25/share in less than a year.

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Now, he certainly was no "jeans connoisseur," nor would he ever imagine even spending several hundred dollars on a pair of jeans. Hence, he wasn't the first one to jump on board the designer jeans bandwagon. Nonetheless, he was bright enough to recognize a good thing early on, and act on his instinct.

Not surprisingly, he did something very comparable with his own business, which involved high-end car detailing work. He wasn't the first one to do it, but he certainly wasn't late to the game - and he did it better than anyone else in his area.

Years later, I saw parallels in what we did with strength and conditioning for baseball players. We weren't the first people to train baseball players, but we did see recognize it as a remarkably underserved population - and were able to improve on a lot of the significant flaws we saw in other programs around the country.

Lesson #2: Your customers hire and fire you every day.

We're very fortunate to have a great landlord, and he's the one who first dropped this line on me. The fact that he recognizes it is likely the reason why he has been an awesome landlord, too.

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It's not good enough to be on top of things 3-4 days a week, but then useless on the other ones. Sadly, you see this all the time in the world of athletics; athletes can tell you when their coaches are in bad moods, and that absolutely shouldn't be the case. Being successful as a coach and business owner is all about delivering a consistently high-quality product, and you can't do that if you're moody or unresponsive. In fact, one of the first things we look at in bringing on interns and staff members is whether or not they're unconditionally positive. If you can't put on a happy face and get the job done even when things aren't going well for you, then you won't go far in any profession.

Lesson #3: Clients probably appreciate you for reasons you don't expect.

As part of our work with professional baseball players, we deal with quite a few agents. In fact, in many cases, these agents are also the ones referring the players to us in the first place. Last year, I was having a conversation with one of them, and he mentioned in passing something that surprised me: "The thing I appreciate about you guys the most is your accessibility."

I was really surprised, as I'd always assumed that folks appreciated our baseball-specific expertise first and foremost. And, while this is certainly important, me returning phone calls, emails, and text messages promptly was the most important thing to him. It makes sense; if I'm delayed in getting back to him, then he's delayed in getting back to his client, which makes him look bad.

Chances are that your clients don't care that you can name all 17 muscles that attach to the scapula, or that you just bought another safety squat bar for your gym. There are likely reasons they keep coming back of which you're not aware. If you put some thought into it, you might just find ways to improve your business by catering to these factors more. As an example, we knew athletes loved the sense of family and community at our facility, so we added a lounge with a TV, couch, ping pong table, and counter for eating in our new facility in 2012.

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Lesson #4: People who neglect their health generally struggle in other facets of their lives as well.

Early in my training career, I had a client who was approximately 120 pounds overweight - and he would always show up late for training sessions. It's one thing for a "normal" client to show up a bit late for a session, but when you're dealing with a severely obese client who is a legitimate risk for a heart attack, you can't just skip the warm-up and cool-down. In other words, his 60-minute session quickly became one where we could only get in 15-20 minutes of quality work.

Why was he always late? He had just started a business. And, just like he lost absolutely no weight in spite of having a trainer twice a week, his company also went out of business. Of course, I make this observation in hindsight, and I certainly wasn't cheering against him - but I do think it taught me an important lesson.

Youth and high school athletics teach kids about time management, teamwork, leadership, punctuality, professionalism, decision-making, and a host of other key success qualities. I firmly believe that many of these qualities are constantly "reaffirmed" in adult fitness programs; if you consistently show up and execute on the objectives you've set forth, you'll get closer to your goals. With each new training session and healthy meal, you're "grooving" these qualities more and more in your brain. 

Conversely, if it's okay to be late for a training session (or skip it altogether), who is to say that it won't eventually be okay to do it for an important business meeting? And, if it's okay to waste money on personal training sessions you won't use, who is to say that you won't waste money on silly expenditures with your business? And, if you're okay consistently bombarding your body with unhealthy food choices, who is to say that you won't be consistently adding "bad apples" to your staff?

Obviously, the last paragraph takes some leaps of faith, but I think that it's very safe to say that most people who are what we might consider "good decision makers" generally do so in all aspects of their lives. The reason they do so is because - whether they recognize it or not - they follow specific reasoning processes to arrive at those decisions. In their outstanding book, Decisive, authors Chip and Dan Health cover the decision-making process in a great amount of detail; I'd highly recommend it, if you haven't read it already. 

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What I think it particularly interesting is the book's subtitle: "How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work." There aren't separate books for "life" and "work" because good decision-making shares common traits across multiple disciplines.

Closing Thoughts

I've surely learned far more lessons from my clients than I could ever squeeze into a single post, but these are four that popped to mind when I sat down to type this morning. To that end, in the comments section below, I'd love to hear about the lessons you've learned from clients and athletes in your training career.

And, if you're looking for more insights for starting up a successful fitness business, I'd encourage you to check out The Fitness Business Blueprint.

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Aspiring Fitness Professionals: You’re Already Coaching Inspirational Athletes

Today's guest post comes from Pete Dupuis, my business partner of seven years at Cressey Performance. In addition to serving as our business director, Pete oversees our internship program and has a great perspective on how many aspiring fitness professionals see themselves, and where they want to be.

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Now that your “busy season” is coming to an end, and all of your pro athletes have reported to spring training, do you guys basically throw it on autopilot and count the seconds until next September when the minor league season wraps up?

An intern applicant asked me this question earlier this week.  His mentality actually wasn’t all that far off from that of many other previous applicants. In fact, I ask every single candidate what his or her long-term career goal within the fitness industry is, and the response is almost universally inspired by this attitude. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that at least 90% of the responses I receive when asking the career goal question specifically mention working with either “elite” or “professional” athletes. 

I get it.  Professional athletes are living the dream.  Why would you want to coach soccer moms?  General fitness population is boring you to death.  The lawyer you train isn’t concerned with getting in to “beast mode” every time he hits the gym.  Seriously, I get it.

Before you go and make a career change to coach professional athletes, or abandon a successful personal training business at your local commercial gym, I have a question for you: have you made an effort to REALLY get to know the people surrounding you every time you go to work?  More specifically, do you realize the goldmine of networking opportunities you are letting pass by on a daily basis as you dream about prepping a D-1 athlete for the NFL combine?

I’m not here to tell you that you have to “pay your dues” before you can start setting the bar that high (although, you do).  I’m here to tell you that in some cases, the least interesting clients we have at Cressey Performance can be the professional ballplayers.  In short, the season is so long and draining that when the off-season rolls around, most of them really don’t want to talk about baseball – which is the stuff you may find “cool” and discussion-worthy. While their in-season periods are very much abnormal as compared to “typical” jobs, they’re normal people in the off-season.

So, what do I tell an intern applicant when he or she asks me what the best thing is about working with so many professional athletes? 

Sometimes I’ll tell them that we have one client who dresses up as Santa Clause and jumps out of an airplane with multiple other Santa impersonators every December to raise funds for charity. 

He also happens to own one of the most successful roofing companies in Massachusetts, as well as property in Costa Rica that he kindly offered to EC for his honeymoon trip in 2011.

I’ll occasionally tell them that we once prepared a client for the FBI entrance exam, and he demonstrated the art of subduing a suspect by taking Tony Gentilcore to the floor and handcuffing him in less than 4 seconds…in the middle of a crowded gym…while dressed in a Halloween costume…in between his sets of deadlifts.

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Maybe I’ll tell them that we have one former intern whose favorite part of his time with us was the hours he spent coaching and socializing with the 7th employee at Facebook. 

Sometimes I tell them to look across the gym where we have not one, but three engineers from Bose who like to soak up the unique training environment while they’re not at their office designing some of the best audio equipment the world has seen.

Most importantly, I tell them that they’re going to miss out on a truly amazing learning experience if they spend their time with us (or at any other gym) only concerning themselves with chasing the “elite” athletic population.  There are some amazing stories just waiting to be told right there on the training floor.  You’ll inevitably find yourself on the receiving end if you step out of your comfort zone and appreciate the fact that many of the “average” people you interact with have experienced some pretty amazing things.  The clients who show up for training sessions on a year-round basis, as opposed to during an off-season, are the ones with whom you have the chance to make a life-long impression.

There will be times in the future when you’ll need to consult the people around you as you encounter difficult decisions.  Some of your best career, life, and business advise is likely to come from the network of individuals you’ve worked hard to develop in this gym setting.  This type of insight is almost certainly NOT going to come from the guy who has spent the last six months riding buses around the country and surviving entirely on sunflower seeds and fast-food.  It is also unlikely to come from the ones who are accustomed to bypassing airport security to step on to their chartered flight to the next MLB stadium.

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Whenever it is that my CP days are behind me, I’m obviously going to look back fondly on seeing close friends make big-league debuts, or maybe even compete in the summer or winter Olympics.  What I’ll absolutely cherish, though, is the fact that a couple of casual Saturday morning conversations with one of our general fitness clients eventually led to an introduction to the girl who is now my wife.  It’s a good thing I didn’t pass on chatting with her so that I could spend more time watching the pro guys argue over who had next on the ping-pong table.

Looking for more fitness business insights?  Check out the Fitness Business Blueprint, a detailed "how-to" guide for those interested in starting up their own businesses in this industry.

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Smart Things We Did With Starting a Fitness Business – Part 2

In part 1 of this article, I talked a lot about the financial portion of starting a training facility.  If you missed it, definitely give it a read before you move forward with this article, as this second installment won't mean much if you have no money when you start up!

With part 2, I'll focus more on the actual decisions we made with respect to planning our staff, business model, and actual gym space. We'll pick it up with point #4, as Part 1 included the first three.  What's funny about these points is that I can distinctly remember sitting down for dinner at Applebee's with my business partner, Pete, and discussing them.  We wrote our notes on a napkin.

4. We started small.

Cressey Sports Performance 1.0 could have been politely described as a dungeon.  This is actually the view on the second day.

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It was very rough on the eyes, so we had to put in a lot of renovations in the first few weeks to make it more aesthetically appealing.

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Still, in spite of what we invested on this side of things, it still wasn’t what I’d consider a showcase location. Rather, it was our "test facility."  We had to make sure that our business model was sustainable and profitable before writing checks our butts couldn't cash.  In other words, we made a good decision by starting small.

That first facility was only 3,300 square feet.  The rent and utilities were very reasonable, and it allowed us to get profitable quickly.  Just as importantly, it helped to give the perception of "busyness" that you want in order to create good energy in the gym.  Had we gone to 10,000 square feet right off the bat, we would have dug ourselves a much deeper hole – and I question whether we would have been able to establish a great training environment early on. Rather, it might have felt like a personal training studio – which doesn’t exactly get young athletes excited.  While we longed for a larger facility, we resisted the urge - and instead opted to satisfy our temptations by getting panoramic shots of our ~1,500 square foot weight room to make it seem really big to us.

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Only nine months later, we moved three miles east to CSP 2.0.  It was 6,600 square feet.

Then, 18 months later, we knocked down a wall to bump it up to 7,600 square feet by taking on some new office space.

Finally, 2.5 years later, we essentially doubled our space again, going to our current 15,000+ square-foot space.

The other hidden benefit of gradually increasing your space is that you can get away with making facility design mistakes along the way, as you simply commit them to heart and then work them into your next expansion.  You don't get that luxury if you start at 25,000 square feet, especially since you're usually more worried about paying rent than managing the "flow" of the facility and optimizing the client experience.

The moral of the story is to start small and give yourself room to grow. This might mean you need to sign shorter-term leases to allow for these adjustments, or just seek out a building that you know has room into which you can expand.

5. We purchased equipment our clients needed, not just stuff we thought would be fun to have.

This is a basic lesson, but an important one nonetheless.  We all (hopefully) learn the difference between "need" and "want" at a young age.  However, the ability to make this differentiation often escapes fitness entrepreneurs when they plan their new facilities and are perusing equipment catalogs and websites.  Don't buy stuff you want to train yourself; buy stuff you need to train your clients.

Just like 25,000 square feet isn't necessary if you only have five clients, a $10,000 machine probably isn't necessary - especially right off the bat. You probably don't need a leg curl - let alone four different varieties of leg curls.  It's much easier to add items later than it is to have to continually look at (and pay off) an unnecessary piece of equipment you never use.

As an interesting frame of reference, in our last facility expansion, we added about 7,500 square feet, but only two pieces of equipment: an extra set of farmer's walk handles and a Prowler.  We just needed more space.

Remember that it's your expertise and the training culture and environment you create - not equipment bells and whistles - that brings people back.

6. We selected a sustainable niche.

I've written at length in the past about how we found and developed the baseball "niche" and expanded our business in this avenue.  One of the key points I made what that we made a point of picking a population segment that was sustainable.  You can't pick farmers in New York City and expect to thrive, nor would you be able to train surfers in Ohio.  There are cultural, geographical, scarcity, financial, and logistical factors one has to consider in making this specialization decision.

Our "niche" came about somewhat by accident, but our development of it was absolutely, positively no accident.  In fact, our approach to baseball training and growing our business in this regard is incredibly calculated.  Believe it or not, by popular demand, we added a one-hour business development presentation from my business partner, Pete Dupuis, as part of our Elite Baseball Mentorships - and he received insanely positive reviews.

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7. We complemented ourselves instead of replicating ourselves.

I've written about this in the past, so this will be brief. If you're going into business, don't just pick business partners and initial employees because they are "just like you."  Pick people whose skillsets complement yours.  If you don't, your entire staff is going to be standing around with hammers looking to smash nails when you really need a screwdriver. 

As a quick example, my goal on a daily basis is to do zero administrative business tasks; we have a business director and office manager who handle these responsibilities so that I can best leverage my strengths.

8. We established a good network.

Your network may consist of professionals to whom you refer clients (physical therapists, massage therapists, pitching and hitting instructors), or those to whom you look for business advice (accountant, equipment supply company, business consultant).  These are all relationships you can establish before your business is up and running, as they are important and must be trusted resources before you have already backed yourself into a corner where you're too busy to critically evaluate their role with respect to your business.  Essentially, my recommendation is to not just establish a network, but be meticulous early on in making sure these individuals are a good fit for your business. If you don't do this up-front leg work, these individuals can make your business look very bad at a time (start-up) when you need to look very good.

Closing Thoughts

I hope that these last five points have complemented the three from part 1 nicely in order to give you a more comprehensive perspective from which to draw when starting up a fitness business.  As you can probably tell, there are a lot of incorrect paths you can pursue if you don't critically evaluate important decisions in the planning stages.  For more insights on this front, I'd encourage you to attend our Business Building Mentorship on April 7, 2019 in Jupiter, FL. You can learn more HERE.

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Smart Things We Did With Starting a Fitness Business: Part 1

This blog is a unique blend of fitness advice, baseball training discussion, nutritional information, and a host of other health and human performance concepts.  That said, while I never really set out to do so, as Cressey Sports Performance has grown year after year, this website has also become a business development resource for those in the fitness industry who would ultimately like to have their own training facilities.  So, that's the direction that today's post (and the follow-up) will take.

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Typically, when a writer covers "lessons learned," it's based entirely on mistakes one has made - and we've certainly had our fair share of business blunders that become "teachable moments" at Cressey Sports Performance.  However, I thought I'd use this two-part article to highlight a few things we've actually done correctly over the years. I think you'll be surprised to find that none of these points have anything to do with training; they are actually largely applicable to just about any business, regardless of industry.

I should preface these points with the note that I'll discuss my financial situation in a small amount of detail. I do this only to illustrate the importance of understanding opportunity cost and long-term financial planning, not to toot my own horn. When you start talking money, things always get awkward, and I don't want to come across that way.  I'm not looking for applause by talking about myself; I'm just utilizing my own experiences to make some very important points.

1. I made sure I didn't get buried under student loans and other debt.

I've spoken a bit in the past about how I actually started out at a business-oriented university with the intention of becoming an accountant.  After two years there, it was clear to me that my passion was actually in the fitness industry, and I wanted to shift my business credits into a Sports Management program while double majoring in Exercise Science. While there were several options available to me, I opted to attend the University of New England.  It was a program that had grown by leaps and bounds, but perhaps the biggest appeal to me was that my total tuition and fees bill would be about $15,000 lower each year - and I could live at home and commute to campus. Just as importantly, I could work to make money and gain experience (I worked at a gym) all through my last two years of undergraduate education.  I had a full-time summer job all four years, and never spent a penny on alcohol in my undergraduate career.  Very simply, I knew what I wanted - and over the course of the four years, these collective decisions probably amounted to a $60,000 "swing" in the direction of not beind buried in debt.

I opted to go to the University of Connecticut for graduate school thereafter, and there was not graduate assistant funding available for me in the first year.  As such, I paid out-of-state tuition and got my own room and board for the first year.  To cancel it out, I worked as a personal trainer and bartender on nights and weekends - all while volunteering in the human performance laboratory and in varsity strength and conditioning while taking a full course load. My hard work was rewarded with a graduate assistantship in year 2, and that included a tuition waiver and stipend for the year. I dropped the personal training, but continued to bartend. This two-year period was also the time where my writing career took off. When all was said and done, I left graduate school with more in the bank than when I arrived - and had a Master's Degree and countless valuable experiences under my belt, too. Had I not worked like I did, it would have been another $60,000 swing toward debt.

In spite of this apparent $120,000 swing, I still finished graduate school with student loans waiting for me - a lot of them.  Where I think I'm different than a lot of kids nowadays (besides the fact that the cost of college have skyrocketed since 1999-2005) is that I worked hard to minimize the accumulation of loans and had a firm plan of attack for how to address them. 

If you're going to take on a quarter-million dollars in student loans, you better be damn sure that the education you receive gives you a competitive advantage in the workforce. I've written about this at length in Is an Exercise Science Degree Really Worth It - Part 1 and Part 2.

The University of New England gave me a competitive advantage because I wanted a school that offered gross anatomy in its curriculum, was close to my home, enabled me to double major at very limited added costs, and put me in a position to work during my undergraduate career. I'd also had some health problems around this time, and wanted to be closer to some of the professionals to whom I'd become accustomed over the previous years. The University of Connecticut also gave me a competitive advantage because I had exposure to high level athletes, great coaches, cutting-edge research, and professors with tremendous expertise and professional networks - as well as the opportunity to receive a graduate assistantship.

If you can't name the competitive advantage your school provides, then you need to think long and hard about why you're there.  And, even if you can find the competitive advantage, with today's college costs, you better make like Cressey and start personal training and mixing up Cosmopolitans at the bar so that you're not buried under student loans in a few years.

2. I got out of debt early.

Here's a quick and dirty lesson on debt: there is good debt and bad debt.

Mortgages can be good debt (if you can afford to pay them) because of the mortgage interest tax deduction, and the fact that if it's at a low enough rate, you can get a greater return on investing your money, as opposed to paying down the mortgage.  Don't worry about that; you're looking to start a fitness business, not buy a house.

Credit card debt is bad.  If you're not paying them off in full each month, it's a pretty good indicator that you're spending money you don't have - and paying super high interest rates on that amount.  Taking it a step further, the interest isn't tax deductible.

cc-cards

Somewhere in the middle is student loan interest. You can write it off if you earn below a certain amount, so that's good.  However, a lot of people exceed that income threshold quickly (sorry, doctors and lawyers), so it can also be bad debt that you want to pay down quickly, especially nowadays, with the rates being super high.

What does all this have to do with starting a fitness business? Two things:

a. I always tell people that if you're going to start a fitness business, you should have three months operating expenses handy in cash.  Alwyn Cosgrove taught me this, and I remember him being really surprised when I told him I had it kicking around.  Apparently, very few fitness professionals he'd encountered to that point had any savings - so they were a long ways from being in a position to start a gym up.

b. If you're carrying student loans - and certainly credit card debt - it's going to be virtually impossible to get a business loan.  Banks aren't loaning money as easily as they used to do so; lots of financially stable folks with good credit scores get turned down for mortgages every single day in light of our current economic climate.  So, if you think you're going to get a $50,000 bank loan when you're showing a balance sheet with $100,000 in student loans and $10,000 credit card debt - and no assets to back the loan - you'd probably be better off going back to school to sit in on some finance courses. Or, you'll need to have that awkward conversation with a spouse or other family member about putting your house up as collateral for the loan.

I was lucky to have approximately 5,897 accountants in my immediate family.  Seriously, at our family reunions, they play cornhole with calculators instead of beanbags, and my first toy was an abacus.  Those are mild exaggerations, but it would be an understatement to say that I had excellent financial advice handy whenever I needed it. I learned about good vs. bad debt at a young age, and resigned myself to getting rid of all of it as soon as possible. 

In the year that followed graduate school, I worked absurd hours, had no social life, and lived well below my means.  It was worth it, though, as on my 25th birthday, I wrote a check to clear my student loans - roughly one year after I'd finished graduate school.  That was May 20, 2006.  Cressey Sports Performance was founded on July 13, 2007. In those 419 days, I trained athletes over 70 hours per week, published my first book, co-created a DVD set with Mike Robertson, and continued to save - which was easy, since all I did was work. And, as a single guy, I really didn't have any major expenses.

btea_set

What did this mean?  When the time came to open Cressey Sports Performance... 

3. I didn't have take out any loans.

This is a huge deal.  Historically, when fitness professionals want to start gym and don't have the capital to do so, they do one of three things:

a. Try to get a business loan (generally problematic for the reasons above)

b. Ask family members for money (this couldn't possibly go wrong, right?)

c. Get supportive personal training clients to invest

I had the capital handy to start our gym because I knew this day would come at some point and therefore had years of financial preparation under my belt.  That said, it didn't prevent five separate clients from approaching me about investing in me (which is a variation of "c"). It was absolutely flattering, as these were very business-savvy people who were effectively saying that they trusted in me as a fitness professional, business owner, and person.  I politely declined in all five cases, though, for three primary reasons.

First, you never want to give away equity in your business unless you absolutely have to do so. It always muddies the water long-term, particularly in the case of a silent partner.  It's easy to forget the initial financial risk an individual put forth when you may be cutting him/her a check 4-5 years later for double or triple what that initial investment was, so resentment can build. Plus, the more you dilute the ownership, the less long-term profitability you have the potential to attain. You never want to kill your upside entirely just to protect against the downside.

Second, when someone has an equity stake, he/she will obviously have suggestions on your business. You need to be prepared for the relationship to go from client to adviser - and an established friendship can often be a complex part of that interaction.  Nobody will ever understand your business as well as you do, so it can be difficult to take outside perspectives from those who weren't there putting in the long hours from Day 1.

Third, as I noted, I didn't need the funding. You might not be in this situation, but there is still an important lesson to learn: only borrow as much as you need, not as much as you want.

CP3

Part 1 Wrap-up

Now that you've finished reading this piece, I'll clue you in on something: none of this is information that is "exclusive" to starting a fitness business.  This is just 100% solid business advice that should demonstrate for you that being financially responsible and independent is of paramount importance to starting any successful business - and that includes one in the fitness industry.  It doesn't matter how good a trainer or strength coach you are; if you don't have your financial ducks in a row, you're playing from behind the 8-ball from the start. 

Sadly, very few fitness professionals who approach me for business advice have put themselves in this position and are therefore much further away from their dream facilities than they realize. It's unfortunately quite the coincidence, as fitness professionals are constantly working to make clients aware of how each and every choice they make in terms of training, nutrition, sleep, and other factors impacts their fitness progress.  Meanwhile, they may be overlooking the fact that their own short-sighted financial decisions and inability to manage debt and save money effectively are taking away from the long-term success of their fitness businesses.

I'm incredibly proud of what we've been able to accomplish at Cressey Sports Performance, with substantial growth that was undoubtedly fueled in large part by our training expertise and the culture and environment we've created.  However, I'm also very proud of the fiscal responsibility, hard work, patience, and focus that my business partners and I demonstrated in the initial planning stages in 2007.

With all that said, I apologize for rambling on with stories about myself.  I hope that it came across not as narcissistic, but rather as a case study you can use to help guide your path to fitness business success. In part 2, I'll discuss some of the more fitness-oriented topics we managed well during the start-up period.

In the meantime, if you'd like to learn more about starting a fitness business, I'd encourage you to consider attending our April 7 Business Building Mentorship at our Jupiter, FL location. You can learn more HERE.

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3 Tips for Finding a New Space for Your Gym

Today's guest post comes from the Vice-President and Business Director of Cressey Performance, Pete Dupuis.

Since opening during the summer of 2007, Cressey Performance has called three different pieces of property “home”. In just over five years of operation, we have seen our facility footprint expand from just over 2,000 square feet…to a 6,600 square foot unit, which eventually became a 7,600 square foot space…to our current place of business, a strength & conditioning playground that measures to just a shade over 15,000 square feet.

As the Business Director at CP, I have had the (mostly enjoyable) responsibility of identifying potential new property, envisioning its potential, and ultimately executing on our visions. This past summer I had the pleasure of attacking the project of a full-on facility relocation for the second time since CP opened its doors.

Since our Grand Opening in late August, the dust has settled, and in the blink of an eye, we find ourselves six months in to our new lease. We have survived another “busiest baseball off-season” in the history of our business, and I now have the time to reflect on this big step that we chose to take in doubling our space and expanding our staff by two full-time employees.

So, we’ve built three gyms; what did I learn? With a little reflection, I came to three quick conclusions as it relates to finding the right piece of real estate for your business in the fitness industry. 

1. Commercial space that meets your needs is not hard to find.

Seeing as how our economy hasn’t exactly flourished since we began this whole entrepreneurial adventure back in 2007, one lesson we’ve learned time and time again is that property is readily available and not hard to find. As a matter of fact, back in early 2008 when I began to entertain the idea of moving out of our first facility to find greener pastures, I simply kept my eyes open during my drive home.

Within the first three miles of my daily commute from Hudson back to the Boston area, I found three separate street-front signs advertising commercial real estate ranging from 1,000 square feet of available space, on up to as much as 30,000. Most importantly, these weren’t makeshift signs thrown up to catch attention the moment the space became available; these were permanent slots on the address boards that rarely changed. This told me that space was sitting vacant long enough for property owners to pay for signage rather than simply throwing a listing up on loop.net. This also told us that we had leverage before we even walked through the door.

Don’t assume that your hunt for property needs to start on the internet. Drive around. Open your eyes to the signs and buildings you mindlessly pass every single day. There’s a lot more available out there than you’d ever imagine.

2. Your landlord is not your most important contact once the lease is signed.

I ultimately ended up pulling into the parking lot at 577 Main Street in Hudson on an April afternoon in 2008, and was unexpectedly greeted by the Property Manager for the building. This gentleman, Bill, was more than happy to walk me through a vacant unit that was in line with the size and dimensions we were seeking for our next space. Without an appointment of any sort, I stumbled upon an opportunity to tour what ultimately proved to be our home from 2008-2012. What I didn’t realize at the time was that my great customer service experience with Bill on day one would actually prove to be an indicator of what I could expect moving forward.

When upwards of 150 people make their way through your gym on a daily basis, things break. Assuming you pay your rent on time, fixes and modifications are made when you request assistance through the previously agreed upon chain of command, as outlined in your lease terms. However, things get done faster when you’re friendly with the Property Manager. Let’s be honest: shooting Bill a quick text is a lot easier than emailing or calling the building owner, who then forwards the message to his Operations Manager, who then pages Bill to come to their office to discuss the fact that the guys up at CP are complaining that their air conditioner is too loud again.

I have come to the conclusion that, in many ways, Bill is, in fact, the most powerful man at 577 Main Street. More importantly, he is friendly with our clients, actively seeks out conversation with our staff, and truly cares about every square inch of the property on which our building sits. When two feet of snow falls on a Saturday evening in February, Bill spends his entire Sunday plowing. When the ceiling springs a leak in our athlete lounge at 5:30pm on a Friday evening, Bill is in his car and back to our space with a smile on his face. Bill simply gets things done, and you don’t have to ask twice.

If you want to eliminate a lot of headaches and frustration over the lifetime of your lease, I would strongly recommend that you ask to meet the person responsible for maintaining it before you ever sign on the dotted line. Trust me: you do not want to be dealing with Oscar the Grouch every time a light blows out or you need to request that a duplicate key be made for a new staff member. Make it your priority to find your own Bill the Property Manager in addition to simply identifying your dream space. You wont regret it.

3. Patience is a virtue.

During our first four years of operation at 577 Main Street in Hudson, business grew at a rate with which we were very pleased. Our clients regularly filled the parking lot, spent their fair share of money at the on-site café, and generally created a level of foot traffic that caught our landlord’s eye. It was for this reason that he spent the better part of the past two years trying to convince us that we needed to make the jump into “this great unit at the back of the building.” 

While we were happy to humor him by walking through the space and having some extremely preliminary discussions regarding costs associated with such a move back in 2010, the feedback we provided could essentially be summed up in one quick sentence: “It is simply too much space for us.” Not surprisingly, walking away from a discussion like that isn’t made easily when the second largest unit in the building has been sitting vacant for months or even years. Our landlord made it clear that concessions could be made. Offers including a month or more of free rent, considerably reduced dollar-per-square foot figures, and more were extended our way.

Fortunately, since the day we started our business, we have agreed that having more space simply because we can isn’t justification for an expansion. We could have been offered the 15,000 square foot unit for the same monthly figure we were paying for 7,600, but the reality is that we wouldn’t have been in a position to generate the foot-traffic necessary for us to A) create an optimal training environment, B) fund the expansion of our staff to meet the needs of supervising such a spread-out facility, and C) create an image of perceived “busyness” necessary to inspire confidence in those who enter our space inquiring about our services (perceived success is important).

Fast-forward to the spring of 2012, and suddenly the timing felt right.

Well, wouldn’t you know it: not only was the space still available, but it was suddenly even more affordable than before. After approaching our landlord to discuss, we ultimately found ourselves with an entire summer of access to the space free-of-charge to prepare for a busy fall opening, access to the building’s loading-dock-height truck for any and all moving needs, unlimited dumpster space for trash removal during the transition, and an anticipated clientele for the fall and winter that actually justified an expansion to double our space.

The ultimate take away from our experience was that you don’t need to rush to expand your business. Aggressive growth strategies for strength and conditioning facilities are likely to lead to half-empty units with full-size rent invoices in the years to follow. As it turns out, CP is not of the “if you build it, they will come” mentality. Sometimes, slow and steady wins the race.

Considering starting or expanding your current fitness business?  Check out The Fitness Business Blueprint, a product I collaborated on with Mike Robertson and Pat Rigsby. It discusses all the mistakes we made when opening our fitness businesses, as well as the common mistakes Pat sees in the businesses for which he consults. Mike and I complement Pat's business teachings with training-specific information like assessment and program design. For more information, click here.


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Five Years of Cressey Performance: Success Isn’t Just Measured in Revenue

Today marks the fifth anniversary of the day my business partners and I founded Cressey Performance.  In that time, we've gone through two expansions, and we're now in the process of a third one, which will effectively double the size of our space to over 15,000 square feet.

It's been somewhat of a tradition for me to write something about Cressey Performance on EricCressey.com every July 13 in honor of the occasion.  To that end, in light of the fact that I know I have a ton of current or aspiring facility owners reader this site, I thought I'd use today's post to outline one of the most important considerations I want our entire staff to understand.

Success isn't just measured in revenue.

Most business owners look to at a net income total at the end of each month to determine if they're successful.  While this certainly governs whether or not they'll be able to keep the lights on at the facility and feed their families, it doesn't speak to the far-reaching implications that a successful business has.

In the case of a fitness business, how many chronic diseases have thousands of exercise programs helped prevent?  How many bum shoulders have become asymptomatic so that a father can throw 400 pitches at his son's team's batting practice?  How many kids have gained confidence that's gone far beyond the weight room, impacting school performance and social interaction?  How many shoulder and elbow surgeries have been avoided by proactive strength and conditioning program initiatives?  How many young athletes have spent 10-12 hours a week at Cressey Performance surrounded by professional and college athlete role models when they could have been out getting into trouble with the wrong crowd?  How many families have collectively started eating healthier because a young athlete came home from CP with some healthy food options for them to try?  How many young athletes have been inspired to pursue fitness as a career?  How many people have learned to stand up for their beliefs in vigorously defending their answers to the Tim Collins Question of the Day?

It excites me to see our former interns doing absolutely fantastic things.  Many have gone on to master's degrees and doctorates in physical therapy, and two are in medical school.  Some have started their own training facilities, and others have gone on to college strength and conditioning positions. Kevin Neeld is working with the U.S. Women's National Hockey team and loads of high-level hockey players.  Brian St. Pierre and Jay Bonn are having a huge impact on a number of lives through their work with Dr. John Berardi and Precision Nutrition. Brad Schnitzer can drink a bottle of water really fast, too.

I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that I'm very proud of all these interns and what they've accomplished.

Taking it a step further, I'm always psyched to see guys like Tim Collins (Royals), Steve Cishek (Marlins), Kevin Youkilis (White Sox), and Bryan LaHair (Cubs) doing as much stuff as possible in terms of charity work.  

And, I'm even more psyched when I see our minor league guys wanting to follow their lead, and that's why getting involved with charity initiatives is an important part of our off-season pro baseball training crew. These little gestures of kindness mean a lot to people, and they mean even more when you're on the biggest stage and have a rare opportunity to impact thousands of people with your words and actions. My hope is that the Cressey Performance experience has helped to not give our younger guys the the awareness to appreciate these opportunities to help others, but instill in them the humility to properly make use of them.

Additionally, in our case, Hudson, MA isn't a tourism hub by any means (although we do have an Applebees, for what it's worth).  Yet, CP brings anywhere from 80 to 120 clients per day to Hudson from all over Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York, and Rhode Island. They spend money on food (including at our building's cafeteria), gas, and any of a number of other things while they're in town. Additionally, we have a lot of clients and interns who travel from all over the U.S. and abroad to train with us, and they support local hotels and rental properties. Finally, in Tony's case, he single-handedly keeps a local auto body shop in business with all the repairs on his car; in fact, I think their owners would vote for him if he ran for mayor because of all the "economic stimulus" he's provided them. At least these kids got some exercise and entertainment pushing his car to the mechanic.

All these considerations in mind, recognize that you don't go into business solely to make money.  When you're six feet under and looking up at the grass, nobody remembers you for your net income in August of 2010,  but rather the impact you had on the world before you left it.  And, on a related and interesting note, looking at ways to overdeliver and add value to someone's experience is often the best way to make a business more profitable.  As my friend Pat Rigsby would say, pursue "value addition" opportunities, not "value extraction" ones.

To all our clients who have supported us for the past five years, thank you very much.  Our entire staff is deeply appreciative of your continued support.

Speaking of Pat, he, Mike Robertson, and I collaborated on a product called the Fitness Business Blueprint last year.  It discusses all the mistakes we made when opening our fitness businesses, as well as the common mistakes Pat sees in the businesses for which he consults.  Mike and I complement Pat's business teachings with training-specific information like assessment and program design.  Taken all together, it's a great product for someone looking to start their own fitness business, or improve upon the one they already have.  In honor of CP's fifth birthday, we've put it on sale for $100 off for this weekend only (sale ends Sunday, July 15 at midnight).  You can pick up your copy at the special sales page HERE.

 

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10 Hidden Expenses in Opening Your Own Strength and Conditioning Facility

Today's guest blog comes from Pete Dupuis, my business partner at Cressey Performance.  Pete might fly a bit under the radar with respect to the online scene, but as you'll learn below, he plays a huge role in the success we've had at Cressey Performance. 

So you’ve decided to open your own strength & conditioning facility…

As any aspiring entrepreneur knows, there’s a considerably long list of expenses that come with getting your business off the ground. For those of us who’ve decided the right move is to open up our own gym, the obvious staples include: racks, benches, dumbbells, bands, mats, sleds, etc. Based on my experience, there are plenty more expensive surprises along the way.

Below, you will find ten quick examples that came to mind as I reflected on the time, energy and cash flow it took to get CP to where it is today. While I’m sure I could double or triple the number of bullet points on this list with a little time to run through my transaction records, the following collection represents the ten that either caught me by surprise, or simply slipped through the cracks as Eric and I sat at a local Applebee’s drawing up a business plan on a napkin during our “let’s start a gym” extravaganza. Enjoy!

1. The fine print on our insurance policy – Every business needs insurance. What every business does not need, is the anti-terrorism coverage built in to the policy that nearly went undetected on our radar before paying the year-one premium. A quick Google-search (or the application of common sense) told us that the terrorists of the world don’t seem to be particularly concerned with Hudson, MA, or the new gym that just popped on to the scene. We saved ourselves some money by throwing a check mark in the “no thank you” box next to anti-terrorism coverage.

2. Registering your LLC and maintaining it annually – I can’t speak for other states, but Massachusetts has devised a particularly profitable little policy that requires business entities in the Commonwealth to slap down a quick $500 LLC filing fee. Now, the filing fee wasn’t particularly shocking, but the realization that we’d owe an additional $500 on the anniversary of starting our business each July certainly stung a little bit when times were tight in the early stages of our operations.

3. Furnishings – Once you’re done with pulling together that list of equipment for your dream gym, you’ll probably realize that the key to keeping it full of clients is not only delivering results, but also demonstrating some level of professionalism. It’s pretty difficult to be taken seriously if you’re pitching your services from a poorly equipped office - or if Eric is passed out on a sketchy red couch after working a 20-hour day.  

While a laptop and a cell phone will get the job done for a couple days or weeks, you’ll soon realize that printers, phones, chairs, desks, trash barrels, etc. can pile up to make for a pretty hefty bill at Staples.

4. Logo design – Since we have yet to spend a dollar on what most would call traditional advertising (newspaper/internet/television/radio), CP has been dependent on delivering noteworthy results and some memorable t-shirt designs to stay top-of-mind with the baseball community. Without a decent logo, we’d be struggling on the brand-recognition front. Since design work isn’t cheap, we recommend taking the trade-barter approach with any client who’s got the right skill-set - and you'd be surprised at how many there are. You make them strong, and they make you the next Swoosh or Golden Arches…everybody wins. 

5. Website Design – On a similar note, writing HTML doesn’t come naturally to most of us. The “do-it-yourself” web-design tools might cut it for a little while, but the moment you begin working with professional athletes, their agents, or the organizations employing them, it becomes time for a website that reflects the same level of quality product you are promising on the training floor. Do yourself a favor and find a professional who is qualified to design an appealing site for you – and it’s especially nice if they’re interested in doing it in exchange for some of your appealing strength and conditioning programming and coaching.

6. Medicine Ball Wall – While some facility owners are fortunate enough to find space that incorporates cinderblock walls capable of handling the violence of a good med-ball session, many of us are not so lucky. In our case, the expansion from 2,000 sq. feet of gym space to over 6,600 came with the unanticipated $2,500 cinderblock wall installation. In our case, the 150+ feet of straightaway sprinting space outweighed the fact that brick/cinderblock walls were nowhere to be found upon our arrival.

7. Med-Ball/Equipment Replacement – The harsh reality of CP making baseball players better is the fact that we destroy medicine balls at an alarming rate. The same goes for wear and tear of exercise mats, bands, etc. Just because you managed to pull together the funds to outfit a facility on day one doesn’t mean you’re not going to be reinvesting in the business early and often.

8. Audio Equipment – In an industry where a mediocre training environment can singlehandedly kill your gym, loud music is a must. Unless you’re operating in a garage, it’s going to take more than a boom box to get the job done. Plan on investing in a receiver, some decent speakers, and an iPod to get the ball rolling on an environment in which people set PRs on a regular basis.

9. Memorabilia Mounting Fees – Assuming you’ve got a client or two that you’re proud to say you train, you’re going to want to hang a jersey, some photos, or the occasional newspaper story. Since thumbtacks are a little abrasive on game-worn MLB jerseys, professional mounting/framing is a must, and it isn’t cheap. The more successful your client roster becomes, the more expensive the gym walls become. It's a good problem to have.

10. City of Hudson Dumpster Licensing Fee – I saved this one for last because I find it to be both the most unanticipated and most obnoxious annual expense I’ve managed to come across since starting our business. Despite paying rent to the property owner and a dumpster rental fee to our trash-removal vendor, the city of Hudson “has enacted regulations to require licensing dumpster within the town” as of mid-2011. So if you potential gym owners are looking to open a S&C facility here in Hudson (which, by the way, would not be cool), you can plan on budgeting $75/year for the privilege of housing a dumpster on your off-street private property.

Like I mentioned earlier, these ten expenses are just the tip of the iceberg, and I could certainly go on all day with them. With that in mind, if you're a business owner who has walked a mile in these shoes, I'd be curious to hear what expenses surprised you along the way.  You can post your replies in the comment section below.

For those of you looking to learn more about Fitness Business start-up, be sure to check out the Fitness Business Blueprint, which includes loads of business, relationship-building, assessment, program design, and training strategies you’ll learn to instantly help take your business to the next level.

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Some Fitness Business Advice: Get on Twitter!

I stubbornly resisted having a Twitter presence (@EricCressey) for a long time.  My perception was always that it was just a bunch of schmucks notifying the world that they were watching TV or going grocery shopping.  It was only after a friend convinced me to give it a shot that I realized that Twitter was only stupid if you used it for stupid things.

This discussion might not seem applicable to this site, but the truth is, I've always prided myself on making EricCressey.com a place where you can get outstanding training, nutrition, supplementation, and motivational information.  It’s grown in popularity because a lot of the best information you can find in these realms is condensed in one place to make your life easier.  And, this is one of the many reasons Twitter has been successful: you can condense the important stuff in one place by picking and choosing who you follow.  For instance, I generally only follow folks in our industry, my athletes, and a host of baseball reporters around the country. Conversely, imagine turning on the local news to hear about the weather for tomorrow.  Chances are that you’ll have to watch some segments about politics, crime, sports, and religion as you wait for them to get to the weather.  This is fine if you’re interested in being well-rounded, but not very ideal if you’re just trying to figure out whether or not you should wear a long- or short-sleeved shirt the following day.  I’ll take Twitter every day of the week over this – especially since it doesn’t force me to look at 15 different websites to get the information I need. Additionally, it’s a quick and easy way to interact with people – friends, customers, readers – concisely.  I’ve also found our CP Twitter account (@CresseyPerf) to be a great way to build camaraderie among our staff and clients; they are constantly busting each other’s chops and building a stronger sense of community with each new day. Plus, it's a great way to share client success stories with the rest of the crowd so that everyone can feed off each other. So, take it from a guy who fought it for the longest time, but is now regretting getting on Twitter sooner: join today! For more Fitness Business Information, I'd encourage you to check out the Fitness Business Blueprint.

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