No matter what industry you’re in, problems create opportunities.

Walt Disney developed Disneyland in response to the fact that amusement parks left a lot to be desired.

Wal-Mart grew like crazy because retailers ignored markets outside the big cities.

If most of the fitness industry is going to ignore the problems at hand, then that equates to opportunities for you.

Here are the most obvious opportunities as I see them:

Become “The Solution” For a Targeted Group of People In Your Area – In Boston, baseball players seek out Eric Cressey’s gym. In Edison, NJ, wrestlers flock to Zach Even-Esh’s Underground Gym. If you’re in Santa Clarita and want to lose fat, you go to the Cosgrove’s gym. If you want sports performance training in Watchung, NJ, Jason Ferruggia’s Renegade Gym is the go to solution.

Determine who you want to serve and become the “go to solution” for that group.

I know these people all built businesses by becoming passionate about helping a certain group and putting in the time to become the best solution for that audience.

If you take this approach as a businessperson, everything becomes easier. You know what you have to focus on, what to study, who to market to, and what your identity is.

I really think that the fitness industry is poised to move this way – targeted solutions for specific audiences. It’s up to you whether you’ll be one of the leaders.

Build a Community – All the gyms I just mentioned have their own community. Starbucks coined the idea of becoming their customers’ 3rd place – that place people wanted to be outside of home and work.

Great fitness businesses become that 3rd place for their clients.

I mentioned it before. I don’t care if you love or hate CrossFit, but they’ve built a community. Their members are posting pics and videos all over their Facebook pages, communicating with other “CrossFitters” outside the gym and making their experience viral. Think that stuff happens at LA Fitness?

Find ways to connect your clients with one another. Encourage them to support each other. Instead of each client only being “your client” – they also become part of “your team” or “your family.”

Do that and you’ll be amazed at the impact on your business, and you’ll separate yourself from all the other trainers and gyms in your area.

Be The Anti-Health Club – Even if you are a health club. Make everything personal. Know your clients… not just their names. Know about their work, their families, and their hobbies. Even if you run group classes, at least spend some one-on-one time with clients in the beginning to build relationships and learn about them. Then make it a priority to have periodic one-on-one contact with them regularly.

If other clubs want to try to be Wal Mart, then you can be the boutique location that everyone raves about.

Deliver Results or Find a Different Career – If you aren’t focused on making the people you work with better, move on. You aren’t doing yourself or anybody else any favors if you don’t deliver results.

I’ve spent a LOT of time in health club settings, and most trainers there don’t work to improve at their craft, don’t do assessments, don’t design programs, and don’t really care about their clients.

They just sell training and give workouts.

Take the complete opposite approach.

Study like crazy. Become a great trainer or coach, and accept that it will require a BIG investment (time and money) on your part to get there.

Do assessments, design programs, and care about your clients’ success. Focus on delivering results.

If you happen to work in a big gym, then do this, and you’ll quickly set yourself apart from 99% of the other trainers there.

Run A Business That’s Tough To Beat – If you’re going to be part of the solution in the fitness industry as an entrepreneur, that means you are going to have to run a sound business that’s poised to compete successfully with the big box health clubs. Here are the components I think give you the best chance for success:

  • A facility with a low overhead, having primarily an open floor plan without expensive cardio machines or selectorized equipment.
  • A model primarily based around group training.
  • A specific target market (or two) that you’re trying to serve.
  • The utilization of EFT billing.
  • A dedication to having a community atmosphere.
  • A focus on client results instead of client volume.
  • Several different revenue streams.

All the businesses that I mentioned previously utilize most, if not all, of these components. They give you the best chance for success.

So there you have it – my formula for taking advantage of the problems the fitness industry currently faces. What do you think? Are you one of the leaders ready to step up and take advantage of the opportunities I’ve mentioned?

By Pat Rigsby

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