February 2011 I left my cozy Norwegian confines and journeyed to California to intern at Results Fitness for 3 whole months. When I was done interning the plan was for me to go back there and work the following fall. But as you know, things don’t always turn out the way you imagine them to, and in this case (to make a long story short) I decided to start my own bootcamp.
It’s been a very cool journey so far, and even though I’m far from an expert yet, I’ve still had great success. My bootcamp is growing in numbers each month, and the more people that join in, the faster it grows. Yeah kind of like a snowball.
So here are some tips for those of you who don’t know where to start, or for those of you who may need some new ideas on how to do things.
1. Get a mentor.
In order to become the best you have to learn from the best. If you’re starting out with no money and can’t afford a coach, I’d suggest you watch their videos on youtube and read their blogposts. In the beginning I got a lot of help from Michael Y. Seril and Steve Hochman on how to do pretty much EVERYTHING.
2. You don’t need everything to be PERFECT when you start out.
I had no business experience other than reading a few books. But you know what… Sometimes you just have to jump in with all you’ve got. Don’t be stupid though. If you have NO training experience, not working out yourself OR others, don’t jump, because you’ll get yourself killed. Get the basic skills down first.
You also don’t need very much equipment if ANY when you first start out. I was prepared to do the first few months with NO equipment. However, I had 1500 bucks in my account and ordered 5 TRX, 1 pair of Valslides, and 5 of Josh Henkin’s Ultimate Sandbags (still not a whole lot in a group of 15 people in a session). This is what Michael Seril told me about my fear of little or no equipment: “People are used to sitting around on machines all day. They’re BORED. Their training program sucks.
Your program is gonna be exciting and a breath of fresh air.
3. Call your prospects before they come in
This I’ve found is very important. Connect with them on a deeper level before they come in to train. Ask them what their goals are. Then dig deep into the WHY they want to achieve those goals. What’s bugging them about their body? How do they feel when they’re out with people? Why do they want to change now? When they’re done talking, you offer them a solution to their problem. You’re the product and can help them but only if you know what they really need.
4. Make the training program easy to learn.
Don’t expect people to follow and understand your little twist on the bottom of your lunge. The bigger the group is, the simpler the programming has to be. In the beginning when I used to have 3-6 people in one class I could teach them more complex moves and get away with it, but now if I do so it will all look like a big confused mess.
Also remember: You are the one that get bored with the programs. Not them. They don’t care for fancy, they care for FUN and RESULTS. Squats, Lunges, Rows, RDL’s, Plank variations, Push Ups, Mountain Climbers are all simple, but EFFECTIVE “bang for your buck” moves that can easily be learned. However, it’s important to demonstrate regressions and progressions to the different exercises too as everyone will be at a different level.
[From Jon: Check out The Ultimate Guide to Running a Group Exercise Program for more details on how to organize a class]
5. Don’t worry about the competition.
Save your energy and spend it on making your business better. People told me I was crazy for starting up ANOTHER gym in my town because there are so many gyms here already. “All the other gyms are going through difficult times, losing money because of how many gyms there are around.” Well, I thought of it this way: There are 45 000 people living in my town. 10 gyms. No gym has 4500 members.
There are MORE than enough people out there to join my bootcamp. The fitness business is one of the fastest growing industry in the world today. Just check out these numbers; in 2004 the amount spent on weight loss products (not including training, surgery or diets) was $46.3 billion dollars. In 2009, four years later, it went up to $100 billion! So as long as you’re providing a great product, and get people in shape, don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. There are more than enough people to take on as clients.
6. What makes you different?
There are 100 other bootcamps in your city. Why would Mrs Jones come to you and not “Franks Bootcamp” across the street? Make a list and write down all the advantages there are for joining your bootcamp. Learn how to position yourself by finding the chinks in the others army.
[For a great book on positioning check out Al Ries and Jack Trouts Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind]
7. Before you’re well established people will question your methods
It’s not enough to just say your name and people will run your doors down. You have to build your rep. Therefore it has to be easy for people to come in to the bootcamp especially in the beginning. Do transformation challenges, even “Train 21 days for FREE” , just to get people to come in and try it out. I did a 21 day free training, and out of the 20 who tried it out, 10 people signed up on a 12 month deal. That’s a lot of money with just a little effort!
8. What kind of clients are you attracting?
This is key: You have to choose the kind of bootcamp you’re going to be. Is it going to be one of the super cheap ones to $9/month, or more of an exclusive one? You have to choose your niche and can’t please everyone.
My gym is the most expensive place to train in my town. You’d think that would stop people from coming, but it’s quite the opposite; people cancel their memberships at other gyms and come to me instead.. paying twice as much! But here’s what I’ve found: It doesn’t matter what your price is as long as you’re providing outstanding service. It’s all about VALUE. If people see value in your training, they will pay anything to be a client of yours.