Developing a Successful Business Model in the Gym Industry

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On this segment of the Lifestyle Business Owner Show, Mayumi and Aaron Muller sit down with successful gym owner and fitness trainer, Alex Wasserman.  The former collegiate football player turned his passion for fitness into a business and has owned and operated Elite Fitness Bellevue for the past 10 years.  Alex explains the importance of having a successful business model in the gym industry.  

After working privately for years, the demand of clients that Alex had were more than he could supply for.  He took his book of business to the gym he bought and was actually able to grow his business and his clientele without having to give more time.  Alex hired employees and continue to cultivate relationships. 

Alex has trained all of the trainers to train like him, so the clients got hooked on the workout not just relying on having Alex there 24/7. Personalized, one-on-one training keeps the clientele happy and hard working and motivated by having the diversity by circulating trainers.  Learn what it's like to own a gym in this ever-changing industry and what it takes to stay on top. 

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What makes a successful gym? 

  • With most gyms there are 3 different markets and each one has a different purpose and aspects that make it successful:
    1. Membership based, one- stop- shop 
    2. Group Fitness, cycling and bootcamps
    3. Boutique Studios: Elite Fitness
      • Very specific, hones in to one target area which is personal training.  High intensity, interval workouts.  

How do you find such great employees? Do you train them?

  •  At Elite Fitness, all potential trainers get put through a intensive, rigorous program to teach them how to train clients to do high intensity, interval work outs and keeping clients healthy in the process. Tending to injuries and being aware of their physical abilities is key.
  • For the hired trainers, they don't need to sell like big gyms to get clients, you have a schedule and hours that Alex and his management team provides. 

What about the extras? Have you thought about adding supplements and smoothies? 

  • Yes, but you don't want to nickel and dime the clients. 
  • Losing weight and being healthy isn't easy. You need to put in a lot of work and eat right.  Stick with the basics.  

 "Nobody knows how to train more than an athlete"

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How to identify the right employees for your business

  • Do not hire based on desperation
    • Step back, evaluate and then make a decision
  • Don't pass up a good candidate
    • Potential employees can learn the positions if you train them correctly

Labor Positions

  • Reliability
    • Can they be trained to do the job you are hiring for?
  • Job Retention
    • Why did they leave their last job? How long did they work there?
  • Positivity 
    • All positions, all industries require a positive "can-do" attitude

Sales Positions

  • Confidence: Numbers Don't Lie
    • Ask them about their sales experience and their numbers
    • What attributes are required for this position? 


  • Understanding the basics
    • Make sure the potential employee can work with your system(s) and software
  • Communicative 
    • Is the new hire someone that communicates effectively with you and your team?
    • Does their personality and performance fit the industry and position?



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