Mistakes I Have Made Running My Gym

Owning a CrossFit Affiliate is a job like no other. The lines are definitely blurred between business and community. Clients come to your facility day in and day out and reveal their most vulnerable sides.

Making decisions under these circumstances is hard because there is so much emotion involved. With that said, often times clients don’t realize that your business is a business just like any other in that it has utilities, rent, payroll, etc..

Tough decisions need to be made on your business’ behalf, devoid of emotion, or your business will pay the price.

I have a huge appreciation for affiliate owners all over the world. The job that you do often is often thought to be “care-free” or “easy”.

I recall on numerous occasions when I owned my affiliate having a member say, “So you must be able go home and take naps and then come back and coach a few classes?” Not exactly!

The common misconception is that owning a gym is just about coaching classes and training clients. If that was all it took, then it would be a much easier and a much less stressful job.

There were times when we had members become coaches and they were always shocked by the amount of work my wife and myself had to put in on a daily basis.

I’ve had a lot of tough jobs in my life, but owning an affiliate is by the far the hardest job I’ve ever had. The good news is that the learning is experience is second to none.

Below I’m going to highlight a list of mistakes I made that did not serve my business well. I really hope that simply knowing how detrimental some of these decisions can be will make you think twice about them the next time one of these situations unfolds before you.

  1. Trying to please everyone: They often say if “you try to please everyone you end up pleasing no one” and I couldn’t agree more. Don’t worry about pleasing 100% of your client base because it’s not possible. If you’re able to be considerate of what is the greatest good for the greatest number is things will work out in your favor, but making decisions based off of the wants/needs of small sects of your community will not be a healthy decision for your business or your own mental well-being.
  2. Emotional: Because the connection to your community is so personal, it makes it easy to let your emotions affect your decision making. I’ve done this too many times. I added open gym to our daily schedule because a local gym that just opened had it, instead of actually looking at the numbers of what it would cost vs. what it would yield us. Taking your emotions out of the decision making process is a must.
  3. Being indecisive: When you’re indecisive, you lose credibility. Whether it be with a schedule change or programming, don’t second guess yourself. When I started Box Programming I told myself I would never be indecisive about my decisions and beliefs. This has led to a much healthier business where people don’t have to question what side of the fence I’m on or wonder what I’m going to do next. This alone will alter your ability to lead your business in the right direction while having people follow you.
  4. Getting too personal: I’m all for having a good time, but when alcohol is involved at gym social events we often become too “comfortable” with things that we’ll say. Don’t make the mistake of letting your guard down and then reveal personal information that has no place within your business.
  5. Talk: There will be times when members talk about other members in front of you. Don’t engage in this whatsoever. In fact, defend the member they are talking about. Talking about anyone in a negative light only makes you look bad.
  6. Firing clients: If you have a client that does not fit into your culture or may be causing issues within your community, politely tell this client that they need to find a new home. It may ruffle some feathers in the beginning, but you’ll be better served in the long run to not let situations like this continue. Remember, you’re not going to please everyone and that’s okay.
  7. Competitor Programming: I’ve tried to every which way to run a successful Competitor Program at my gym. Overall, it never fully worked out how I envisioned it. At the end of the day, a Competitor Program can be divisive and the success that comes from “special programming” can be matched with all inclusive and balanced general class programming. Overall, it’s not worth the issues it can cause.
  8. Training at your gym: Trying to get in a workout at my gym was tough. Over time, this really became an issue in the sense there were always interruptions or distractions. My advice to you is find somewhere else to train. Your training time is about you, not about coaching other athletes or answering membership questions. You owe that to yourself.
  9. Delegating: Take all of the roles that will not better your business off of your plate. You should not be spending your Sunday cleaning your gym when you can easily pay someone $15/hr to clean your gym. Don’t you think your time is worth more than $15/hr?
  10. Equipment: Purchase equipment that you need, not equipment that you want. I definitely think there are pieces of equipment that cannot be used in group classes that are well worth having (Reverse Hyper =)), but there are definitely LOTS of pieces of equipment that I bought that we did not need.

I’m sure I could continue this list, but I think you get my point. Overall, I really believe that the first four points are game changers.

Remember that your affiliate is a business and as much as we’d like to think it’s all about community, there still has to be systems in place to ensure your business will survive and thrive.

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