How to Turn Your Fitness Hobby Into a Successful Business

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crossfit coach instructing athleteWe admire gym owners. It’s not easy to take a passion and turn it into a thriving business. It takes a strong vision, unwavering determination and wealth of business knowledge. We recently talked to Chris “Boris” Marhefka, owner of B3 CrossFit and Body by Boris, to learn how he opened a small gym and turned it into a fitness empire. (He’s launching his second gym location, running his meal delivery business and filming his own fitness reality show.)

chris marhefka

Chris told us his tipping point for success was when he took his first gym and transitioned it from (what was essentially) a hobby into a structured business. That transition meant building processes that are systematic, repeatable and scalable. Once he did that, his business grew, and he was able to launch his subsequent businesses.

Chris’ early challenges aren’t unique. Without systematic and structured processes, things have to be done manually and are without continuity. Since we often hear that gym owners are challenged to make the transition from a hobby to a business, we set out to identify some key steps it takes to get there.

Automating Billing and Payment Processing

One of the first things you need to do is automate your billing and payment processing. Without automated processing, everything is manual. You have to send invoices and collect payments from each and every member, every month. When it’s a manual process, members can essentially reevaluate their decision to remain a member each month. If they haven’t been able to get into the gym as often as they’d like, they’ll consider dropping their membership. It’s also nearly impossible to connect with each member each month, so payments get missed.

But when billing and processing are automated, it’s done automatically. Members receive a receipt email letting them know their payment has been. Processed payments are posted to members’ accounts, and the money is deposited in the bank. If a member has an expiring credit card, automated alerts go out to the members and gym owner. The entire process is simple, dependable and scalable for a growing gym.

Automating Lead Follow-Up

Automated lead follow-up is the next thing you have to do to move out of hobby-mode. Without automated follow-ups, you’re stuck at a desk, replying to emails and other inquiries. It’s a game of phone tag and catch-up, which is no way to run a business. Leads get lost, which, means business gets lost.

But automating lead follow-up eliminates all of the work and guarantees each and every lead is contacted and nurtured. Gyms that institute this process see a marked increase in new members and corresponding revenue.

Tracking Leads and Conversion Metrics

A third thing you must do to move out of hobby-mode is to track and understand where your leads come from. This is important because if you don’t know where your leads come from, you can’t make informed marketing decisions.

When you track your leads and conversion metrics, you can see which sources bring in the most leads and how well each source converts. A source can bring in a lot of leads, but if the leads aren’t converting, it’s not a worthwhile lead source. Conversely, a source may bring in fewer leads, but the leads may always become members. Tracking your leads and understanding the data is critical for smart marketing decisions.

Automating your billing and lead follow-up and tracking and understanding your leads are just a few steps in transitioning your small gym into a thriving, scalable business. In part two of this blog, we’ll cover a couple more things you can do to build a business worthy of your fitness passion.


Shopping around for affiliate gym software? Get your copy of our helpful checklist, 9 Things Your Affiliate Gym Software Must Have.

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Shilo Lucyk

Shilo Lucyk

In her spare time Shilo enjoys teaching yoga classes, doing CrossFit® and reading anything she can get her hands on.

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