How to Improve Sales at Your Fitness Center

Owning a fitness center or gym can be a great investment and career choice as they can be very profitable in all economies. While a fitness center can be successful and profitable, it does count on sales and other efforts to drive enrollment and overall revenue. I continue to work with many gyms that continually say, “I thought it would be easier than this.” When evaluating their business, it will many times come down to simply a failure to properly understand and implement sales and marketing strategies. When you are looking to improve your sales efforts at your gym, there are a few tips that can be followed that will provide an immediate return.

1. Regardless of circumstance, be sure that everyone gets a presentation. So many gyms owners work so hard and spend so much money to get someone walk in the front door and then many prospects never get a presentation. Prospects will come in wanting to work out with a friend, they just want to take a class, and they have ice cream melting in the car…you name it. If you can master this tip, it will have an immediate impact.

2. Treat everyone like a buyer. This is easy to say but very difficult for many people to follow. Don’t prejudge your prospect. Treat them like they are there to buy, you’ll be amazed at the difference. Us this tip with everything, telephone inquiries, gym prospects, follow up, corporate accounts, marketing efforts, etc.

3. Sit down with every prospect. Many personal trainers will make this mistake, but I see it across the board. Solving problems for customers is what you want to do and the customer does not know what the desired outcome is. Guide them through the process.

4. Use a pre-printed price sheet. Now, it’s my suggestion that you decide on two programs you would like to sell and that’s what you show your prospect. You want to keep this simple for your prospect AND your salesperson. Don’t show your customer a menu of options, you’ll just create objections.

5. Be agreeable. This is another tip that will take some practice for many folks. I hear and see too many salespeople trying to sell from a standpoint of disagreement. Be agreeable, it will draw people to you. Now, this doesn’t mean we lay down or anything. “Mr. Customer, I understand, it seems like everything cost more these days, what do you say, can we get you started.”

6. Ask for the sale. Of course, this is the biggie. If you do nothing else, be sure you do this one. Of everything I teach, this is consistently the most difficult one for everyone — new and even experienced. It will take practice and regular training. The big mistake everyone seems to make when they are covering price…is when the customers offers and “objection” we have a tendency to go back to selling when in reality we need to be asking for sale.

7. Follow up. This is another one that offers a significant opportunity if it’s done properly. I won’t bore you with the statistics, but most leads don’t get properly followed up on. Learn how to do this properly and you’ll always have a full pipeline. The key here is to nurture your prospects and members — in other words, work to help maintain interest and desire.

One of the big problems I continually see is how we choose to view membership and personal training sales. In the end, you’re really not selling a membership or training, but rather, you’re solving problems for people and providing solutions. You gym will need a process that allows you to do this and you’ll have be sure and snag that first sale. Where do you find that first sale? We’ll it’s you. That’s the first sale you’ll need to make before to start talking to customers. YOU must be sold. Can you solve your customer’s problem? Do you have the best gym to sole their problem? Is now the best time to solve their problem? It’s easy to say “yes” on all of this, but it will take work, regular training and accountability.

Now, go improve your sales!

An Outsourced CEO, Jim Thomas is the founder and president of Fitness Management USA Inc., a management consulting, turnaround and brokerage firm specializing in the gym and sports industry. With more than 25 years of experience owning, operating and managing clubs of all sizes, Thomas lectures and delivers seminars, webinars and workshops across the globe on the practical skills required to successfully to overcome obscurity, improve sales, build teamwork and market fitness programs and products. In addition, his company will buy gym equipment from gyms liquidating or closing. Visit his Web site

What is the Cost of Owning a Gym?

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There are several key criteria to consider when calculating the cost of owning a gym. If you know all of the included costs ahead of time, you will be able to plan accordingly in order to maximize your profits.


Location will likely be the largest cost of owning a gym but will also be the biggest factor in gaining foot traffic and potential customers. Rent mainly depends on where you plan on opening a gym; the cost of opening a gym in downtown Los Angeles will be significantly higher than the cost of opening a gym in the surrounding suburbs. In order to make the right decision, you need to balance out the rental cost with the location in the city. Another item to consider related to location is the demographics you want to target for your gym. If you are considering opening a gym for an audience between the ages of 18 and 34, it might not make sense to open it in the suburbs or rural areas since 26% of a city’s population is made up of this age group compared to 23% for suburbs and 21% for rural areas. Remember, high traffic areas are best, but if the cost is insurmountable, then it may not be worth it.


Your second highest cost is your equipment. Gym equipment can be what differentiates you from other gyms and propels you to the top. However, this doesn’t mean you should blow all of your budget on equipment. For a commercial gym, equipment costs can range between $300,000 and $500,000. For smaller gyms, costs tend to be around $100,000. Take a look at your finances to figure out which category you fit into comfortably. Luckily, in many of these cases, costs are fixed, which means that you only have to buy them once and you should be good to go. You may need to upgrade and maintain some of your equipment in the future, but that will be a far lower cost.

Employee Costs

When it comes to employees, you have many decisions to make. You need to decide how many workers to staff, how many personal trainers to hire, and what to pay each of them. With all of these decisions, you need to find the right balance between quality of staff and reasonable costs. There are several employee positionsthat could be beneficial to your gym’s success. These positions include a cleaning crew, floor watchers, a front desk to answer the phone as well as questions about the facility, and fitness consultants to sell memberships. Additionally, your trainers need to be licensed, so you can either hire licensed personal trainers or hire non-licensed ones and provide them the ability to obtain a license.

Additional Upfront Costs

There are a few additional costs of owning a gym, but these are largely dependent on you. To open a gym, you need certain permits and licenses, but the cost of these vary on number of employees. Furthermore, you may want to plan ahead by hiring legal help to gain the necessary insurance and avoid any issues. Lastly, gym management software can help you run an organized gym.

Membership Delinquencies

While the cost of owning a gym may seem high, remember that you will attract members who pay a monthly fee. One thing to be aware of with memberships as it indirectly relates to gym costs, is membership delinquencies. It is a real possibility that some of your members will “forget” to pay their monthly fee, which means less revenue for you. New gym owners do not always recognize membership delinquencies as a possibility, so to avoid trouble down the road, you may want to include this category when tallying profit. Gym management software and payment processing can help mitigate these risks.

To learn more about the current state of the gym industry and owning a gym, check out our infographic!

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Jim Thomas is the founder and president of Fitness Management USA Inc., a management consulting, turnaround and brokerage firm specializing in the gym and sports industry. With more than 25 years of experience owning, operating and managing clubs of all sizes, Thomas lectures and delivers seminars, webinars and workshops across the globe on the practical skills required to successfully to overcome obscurity, improve sales, build teamwork and market fitness programs and products. In addition, his company will buy gym equipment from gyms liquidating or closing. Visit his Web site at: or

Coming Up with a Core Branding Idea for Your Fitness Center Business

When you start a business, you need to have something that separates you from everyone else. Your product or service needs to stand out in some way. For example, Apple computers stand out from other computers because they’re slimmer and more stylish. Forever 21 clothes stand out from other ready-to-wear clothes because they’re more youthful and cheaper. Chipotle markets itself as a healthier, almost organic Mexican option; this is what separates this brand from other Mexican food brands.

So each brand has something that sets it apart. And you also need to think about what exactly is going to set your business apart from others.

When Do You Start Branding?

If you’re just starting your business, this is the perfect time to consider this question. But even if you’ve been running your business for a while, you can make a conscious effort to evaluate your current brand and think about whether you need to change it.

What Makes Your Fitness Center Different?

The first thing you should do is to sit down with a pen and paper, either by yourself or with a business partner. Then write down exactly why you want to start this business.

  • Did you sense that there was something missing in the fitness center market in the neighborhood where you plan to start your business?
  • Maybe there are many gyms but no yoga studio?
  • Or maybe there are gyms but they’re all very male-oriented and don’t create a female-friendly environment?
  • Or maybe you’d like to offer exclusive fitness services in a neighborhood which only has very basic gym options?

Either way, there must have been some reason why you wanted to start your business. And usually, this can be the basis for your brand.

When you market/advertise your fitness center, you can emphasize the reason why you’re starting it. What makes it different and better? Why would your target demographic want to come here and not go anywhere else?

When Is It Time to Switch Brands?

There are also times when your original branding idea may not work out. Or it may work for many years and then peter away. In this case, it’s time for a new brand. And you can follow the same process when trying to define your brand. Just think about what you can offer your customer that they aren’t getting anywhere else—that one thing that makes you special. And you’ll have your core branding idea.

Contact us for more tips for setting up and running your fitness center business.

How to Skyrocket Sales in your Gym Immediately!

Do you have a quality gym but having difficulty getting more people to join? I’ve found that the solution to getting more people to join can be very basic. There are many little things that can be adjusted to make the membership sales process more effective but here are a few thoughts I can share with you to increase your membership sales immediately.

These methods will work regardless of what your dues are or what system you are using to sell. That’s the simplicity of this! These strategies can make a huge difference in your gym sales production if you just apply them.

1. Build impulse with your gym guest

Impulse is defined as your prospects “willingness to buy.” You must know that your gym guest’s impulse is near ZERO when they first hear about your club. It is your job as a professional gym marketer and professional gym salesperson to raise the impulse with your guest by using a series of strategic steps until your guest joins.

Your membership presentation has to be well thought out in order to raise impulse effectively. You must anticipate those points in the presentation where the club guest’s impulse level will drop. Use the club hot spots and benefits your guest would like to receive to raise the impulse back up and always close at the very peak of their impulse level for best results. Treat it like its “Love at First Sight.”

In the end, desire without urgency will not work and the value must exceed the price. You can control both.

2. Leverage the Law of Averages in how you go about your business each day

The number one way to double your membership sales is to double the amount of people you expose to your gym. Sounds simple enough, right? Every gym and every gym salesperson will have an inherent law of average. This law represents the relationship between the club guests that refused to join the club and those that actually did join. For example a 1:10 law of average means that you must get 9 no’s from a health club guest before you arrive at one sale.

Remember this is an average. It’s not to be taken literally. You may sell the first 2 guests that come in today and then get 18 “No’s” in a row. At the end of the day you average out your yeses and no’s to get your law of average. Now, let’s say you wanted to make 10 membership sales today, if you spoke to 50 people today and made 5 membership sales then how can you make 10 membership sales tomorrow? That’s right. Talk to 100 people.

3. The Second Sale and Up-selling

I think this one of the most common areas where gym owners and sales people really drop the ball. They invest all this time and money into finding prospects, getting them in the door, finally getting them enrolled in the club...and they simply stop selling. Never forget this…. You have a buyer here. Buyers buy. So keep selling. Suggest other club services or products that might benefit your new member. Personal Training, Nutritional Supplements, Gift Cards, Locker

Rental…whatever the case may be, you have to sell more to your new member or at least generate another lead from this new membership sale. Ask them what friend or family member could benefit from losing weight or getting back into shape.

All you have to do is ask? What’s the worst that can happen? They might say “No.” Big deal!

4. Regardless of Circumstances, Be Sure Everyone Gets a Presentation

It’s easy to get sidetracked- the prospect says something like, I just want to take the class, I’m just working out with my friend, I came by to pick up prices, my spouse asked me to stop by and the list goes on and on. We have had clubs more than double their membership sales by following this one simple tip.

5. Treat Every Prospect Like They Are a Buyer

This is the cousin of never prejudge. More sales are lost every day because we have already made up our mind the prospect will not buy. One of the secrets here is that you must be 100% sold on the fact that you can solve your prospects problems, you must be 100% sold that you have the best gym to solve their problem and you must be 100% sold that now is the right time to get started. Selling yourself is the first sale you have to make for success.

Now, go sell a membership.

Jim Thomas is the founder and president of Fitness Management USA Inc., a management consulting, turnaround and brokerage firm specializing in the fitness and health club industry. With more than 25 years of experience owning, operating and managing clubs of all sizes, Thomas lectures and delivers seminars, webinars and workshops across the globe on the practical skills required to successfully to overcome obscurity, improve sales, build teamwork and market fitness programs and products. Visit his Web site at: or

How to Get Your Personal Trainer Recognized

Of course, the goal of a personal trainer is to build a client list, train their clients and make money.

In order to accomplish the inevitable goal, trainers need to appeal to your members. Newcomers to the club are great to target for training services, but there are many ways to target existing members for training services- it just takes a little extra work.

The Contest

An easy contest, to begin with, is one which members will guess their body fat percentage. The goal is for your new trainer to meet members and build a rapport with people in the gym. It may not result in new clients for them right away but the members that participate will remember this trainer. If the trainer educates and impresses them enough, it is likely members will visit them again to get their body fat percentage progress- allowing the trainer the opportunity to follow up and potentially sell the member a few sessions.

How to set up: Have your new trainer set up a spot near the entry/exit of the gym. The trainer will then greet members as they walk in and quickly let the members know what they are doing. Some members may participate right away, some will say no, and some will do it on their way out but the important thing is that your new trainer is getting their face known and they are educating members.

Script: “Hey how’s it going? I’m the new trainer here and I’m doing a body fat percentage contest. If you guess within 2% of your actual percentage, you will win a FREE t-shirt (or whatever prize your club decides on). Are you interested in trying?”

What to do: If a member says no, leave it at that- they just want to get their work out in. Be sure the member is educated. If someone is doing the contest that knows nothing about body fat percentage, educate them before they make their guess. Have an informational chart with averages for each sex and specific age groups, along with ideal target ranges for each to strive for. Use a fat body analyzer, or whichever tool your club uses, to find out their results.

End Result: If they guess within 2% of their actual percentage, reward them with a prize. Some members will be shocked and begin telling you that they have such a hard time losing weight- this is a great opportunity for your trainer to introduce them to a fat burning supplement and work on their sales skills. And for guys or individuals that are pretty spot on with their guess and educated in this area already- it’s good to have them on your side and liking your staff, even if they are unlikely to ever train.

This contest is one of many. It is a very effective way for your trainer to meet your members and become approachable to them. For more information on, Fitness Management and Consulting, please explore our blog. If you have additional questions do not hesitate to contact us.

How a Business Consultant Can Help Your Fitness Center

If you like to work with people and would enjoy helping people improve themselves physically, owning a gym could be a great option. While owning a gym or fitness center can be a very rewarding career, it is also a complex business to own and operate. If you are thinking of starting your own fitness center, hiring a business consultant could be a great option as they could provide you with a range of different services.

Business Plan Preparation

One of the first things that a business fitness consultant can help you with is to help you prepare a business plan. A thorough business plan for a new fitness center owner is crucial as it will be used by investors, lenders, and local approval authorities to make important decisions that will impact your business. The consultant will be able to help with all aspects of this including financial projections, marketing plan, and other important components.


When you hire a business consultant for your fitness center, it will also help you by providing marketing services. The business consultant will be able to use a number of different methods to find potential members including social media and more traditional marketing methods. They will also help you to build a brand to improve your consumer awareness.

Ongoing Consultation

Once you have opened your gym, the consultant will be able to provide ongoing consultation services as well. This can include helping you to hire and train staff members, finding additional revenue sources, and working to improve your reputation in the marketplace. This will continue to provide you with support and a third-party perspective to help make better business decisions.

If you are interested in opening your own fitness center, you should contact us to learn more about the consultation and support services that we can provide to you.

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