successful affiliate gym

I started writing about the business of gym ownership in 2008. Back then, I had two gyms: one was a personal training studio, where I made a good income; the other was a CrossFit® gym, which didn’t. In fact, the second gym almost pulled both gyms into bankruptcy.

When I found a business mentor (cue the “hallelujah choir”), I started recording his lessons on, because I thought—just maybe—another box owner might face these same challenges someday.

Eight years later, I’ve written over a thousand blog posts, published three books, recorded a year’s worth of podcasts and done free phone calls with over a thousand box owners worldwide. Two-Brain Business, one of Zen Planner’s partners, is the largest mentoring system for gym owners in the world.

I wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to “figure it out” myself. And I’ve mentored hundreds of other gyms who once thought the same. Learn from our mistakes: plan the work in advance, track the RIGHT metrics, and earn your “Perfect Day.”

This four-part blog series is a step-by-step guide to writing a business plan. In it, I’ll give you the equations you’ll need to be successful. Every gym is different, but the best have things in common. Here they are.

Step #1: Mission and Vision

This may sound like guru-speak, but please ask yourself, why are you doing this? You need to form a vision in your head of what your “Perfect Day” will look like.

In a perfect world, what time would you wake up in the morning? What time will you go to the gym? What will you do there? Work out? Coach? Write articles? Give lectures? What time will you
go home? What will you do on weekends?

Draw pictures, make notes. Write it down.

You believe in CrossFit®, you want to spread the word. You want to help people. That’s noble. The second your passion becomes your business, though, your responsibilities change. The greatest myth in entrepreneurship is this, “if I work really hard to get good at my job, my business will grow.” It won’t. To grow a business, you need to get good at business. And that means you’ll need to carve out time every day to work ON your business instead of IN your business. Factor that in. This four-part blog series is a step-by-step guide to writing a business plan for your affiliate gym

Learn how other box owners are creating success for themselves in our Affiliate Gym Benchmark Report
Step #2: Consider Your High-Level Goals

What do you want – and need – to pay for your “Perfect Day”? What must happen to provide a solid place for growth for your clients for the next 10 years? What will make you happy? What will keep your spouse happy? What will your children want and need as they grow older?

This is not a lesson in selfishness. A good coach, like the pilot of an airplane, should be happy, well-rested and feel thoroughly supported. Building a terrific gym family and then going bankrupt helps no one.

These are your high-level goals. After writing down your “Perfect Day”, work backwards. How much income will you need to take home? If your business has a 30% profit margin (high for the service industry, but we can get you there) how much will your business need to gross every year?

If you’re not sure how much to pay yourself, try this: add up all of your fixed costs (rent, power, insurance, gym membership software—everything but payroll) and multiply by 1.5x.

How many members will you need to break even, and how much will your business need to growth every month? Stay tuned for the next post in my four-part series, where I’ll cover finding opportunities, setting your rates and finding bright spots.

Thinking of opening an affiliate gym? Discover what thriving gyms are doing to create success for themselves in Zen Planner’s Affiliate Gym Benchmark Report.

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Guest Post by Chris Cooper, Founder of Two-Brain Business and gym ownerChrist Cooper

A CrossFit Affiliate since 2008, Cooper began blogging his business struggles on in 2009. As he learned through the mentorship of others, he shared lessons with other gym owners. Over 1000 blog posts, a popular podcast and three books later, Cooper launched in 2016. His mentorship practice spans the globe and is the highest-credited CEU course for CrossFit coaches.