There are several things that are critical to your success when deciding to start your own fitness business. From my personal experience and through years of working in large, small, corporate, and independent facilities experience is crucial. Do not rush and take that leap until you are confident that you have to abilities to run every dynamic of a fitness facility.
Experience & Education
First, ensure that you are proper educated with at least 1 credible certification but hopefully more since you are interested in your own facility. Education is the line between success and failure. Not only should you have education in personal training, but you need to educate yourself in business management, finance, marketing, leadership, and many more roles that you will need to fill. Experience along with education is just as important. The hands on experience you can learn from working in a variety of positions in a variety of facilities is invaluable. I contribute a large majority of my success to having worked every department in a facility from the front desk, kids club, membership sales, management and more. Not only are these skills critical for you to understand but you will also have to teach these skills to your future employees and you cannot teach what you do not know.
Research & Preparation
You must thoroughly do your research and prepare to open a facility. You need to research locations, demographics, decide on your mission and vision. What are your target market and niche? Then you need to prepare a business plan by thoroughly researching every aspect of your business from costs/expenses to the types and costs of memberships you will offer. List out every single thing you will need to get your facility up and running and doors open. Licenses, permits, construction, equipment, office furniture, marketing, signage, paint, inventory, even small items like toiletries and office supplies can add up to large amounts of expense if you do not properly plan. Then you must decide how many employees you will need and will you need them when you open or perhaps later as you grow clientele. If you need them now, you will want to get them hired and trained before you open. Will you need an admin or front desk associate, a cleaning employee, another trainer or even a kid’s club attendant? Then you need to calculate how much the payroll will run for the staff and if you will be able to afford it when you are just opening. Perhaps you need to limit yourself to a set number of employees to stay under your payroll budget. Assuming you will not be able to wear all these hats in your business, I can personally say that an administrative assistant should be your first hire, then a part-time cleaning employee as they are usually cheaper than the overpriced cleaning companies, and next would be a trainer. When researching your locations think about parking as well. Are you going to have enough parking spots, room to train outside, and how easy is the facility to get to? Ask the landlord if there is anything else you should know and if there are any restrictions on what you can and cannot do (loud music, outdoor training, etc.).
Systems & Processes
The next vital step is to figure out what kinds of systems and processes you need and want to establish in order to be successful. You will need a billing and payment processing system. You will need a CMS (client management system). You also need to have in-house systems in place such as a sales process, waivers, contracts, how client program design is setup, lead capture and follow up systems like email marketing, employee on-boarding, and hiring processes. Bookkeeping, taxes, payroll, and benefits all need to manage properly. All of these systems you will need to make a decision if you wish to tackle on your own (cheaper) or outsource to a pro (easier but costly). Your ability to get and stay organized ensures the proper ability to follow up and manage clients which are again vital to your success and client retention.
Marketing, Branding, Networking
First, you need a plan. Spend about a day researching your local competition and their current offerings, memberships, prices, amenities, hours, classes, etc. Then, sit down and research current online fitness marketing like social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google, LinkedIn, etc. Next, research local marketing like print, paper ads, magazines, mailers, flyers, billboards, TV, and radio. You want to get the most ROI (return on investment) thus you need to do thorough research and always track your results. After you have done your research, devise a budget, and build your marketing plan around this. We create an annual marketing plan, broken into quarters (seasons) and then we break it down further into monthly and weekly marketing plans. Each plan is divided into “new” marketing and “evergreen” marketing. New Marketing items are campaigns we launch for one time only like a “Summer Swimsuit Challenge.” Evergreen marketing is something that we do regular like blog posts. Then, from this point, we break it down a step further into the types of clients we are trying to reach out too such as private clients, group clients, basic gym memberships and then we ensure we have some type of marketing targeted towards each of these consumer groups. This also ties into understanding your niche and your client demographics as the type of client who purchases private training versus the type of client who purchases a basic gym membership are completely different, right? They should be. Shotgun blast style training does not work nor does shotgun blast style marketing. Understand that you are building a brand and figure out what is that you want your brand image to be, then ensure this is communicated in all your marketing. Create your story or elevator pitch and every person you see, introduce yourself, and tell them exactly what it is you do. They may not be interested right now, but they might be later, or they might know someone who is! Planning, preparing, and learning will be your keys to success in everything you will ever do!
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● Associates Degree, May 2005, Temple College, Temple, TX
● Bachelor's Degree in Sports Management, Presidential Scholar
● Graduated Magna Cum Laude, May 2011, California University of Pennsylvania, PA
● Master’s Degree in Exercise Science & Health Promotion, July 2012, California University of Pennsylvania, PA
● Doctor of Integrative Health Care, Concentration in Clinical Nutrition, Huntington College of Health Sciences (2016-2018)
● Certified Personal Fitness Trainer, Oct. 2007 International Sports Science Association (ISSA)
● Certified Personal Trainer, May 2008 National Academy Sport Medicine (NASM)
● Certified Performance Enhancement Specialist, April 2010 National Academy Sport Medicine (NASM)
● Total Body Suspension Training Certified (TRX), April 2010 Fitness Anywhere
● Kettle Bell Instructor Certified, 2011 Kettle bell Concepts
● Certified Personal Trainer, February 2012 Smart Fitness International
● Certified Specialist in Speed and Explosion for Sports Competition, National Association of Speed and Explosion (NASE), March 2012
● CPR/AED/ First Aid Instructor Certification-Instructor Certification certifies in all 50 States-April 2012-current
● Certified in Bodybuilding Contest Prep, International Academy of Physique Conditioning (IAPC), Jan 2014
● Fit tour Certified Kickbox Instructor, Certified Yoga and Pilates Instructor Jan 2015
I started in fitness as a way to find a healthy lifestyle for myself. I was always an athlete in high school and college. However, after a year of college, I quickly found myself involved with the wrong crowd and in the wrong relationships. I saw my life slipping away from me and my health suffering greatly as a result. I come from a family that is the polar opposite of my current lifestyle, and I saw myself beginning to follow these footsteps. I knew I did not want that for myself or my daughter’s future. I knew I had to change for the better. Growing up and seeing so many people suffer from self-inflicted, self-destructive habits that have caused them and their families great turmoil and physical stress, I envisioned a different way of life. I determined to do better and become better. With that motivation, I cleaned up my act, left everything behind, moved out of state, started back in school. Became a certified trainer and never looked back. Years later I have put myself through graduate school, earned Presidential Scholar and graduated Magna Cum Laude. Currently, I possess a variety of certifications and will continue to educate myself forever. I am currently working on my doctorate degree and I am excited to bring these tools I learn to our facility, staff, members, clients, and future patients. I have learned that there is nothing you cannot accomplish if you put your mind to it and put in the hard work. Success will come if you will work hard and never give up. The only way you won't accomplish your goal is if you quit. It's that simple. Join us at BEFIT, where we are not just a "gym" and we don't just "train" people. We are lifestyle coach's, lifestyle mentors, and we can help you develop yourself to your optimal physical capacity through self-empowerment, education, and lifestyle changes!
Latest posts by Ashlee Nejtek
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