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4 Major Gym-Owner Mistakes and 1 Simple Fix

On a wooden board, several bent nails next to one nail that has been driven well by a nearby hammer.

Here’s a short list of mistakes that cost me a lot of clients and cash:

1. I thought most clients had the same goal: “Do hard workouts and get fit.”

2. I thought all clients understood how my workouts and coaching would move them closer to their goals.

3. I thought all clients logged workouts and recognized incremental progress toward larger goals.

4. I thought all clients’ goals stayed the same over time.

I was wrong in all four cases.

One single thing could have corrected all the errors.

A head shot of writer Mike Warkentin and the column name "Pressing It Out."


Goal Review Sessions


Had I done goal review sessions with clients, they would have gotten better results, and my profit-and-loss statement would have looked far better.

Here’s the exact way each of my errors would have been eliminated had I met with my members for 15 minutes every three or four months.

1. I would have discovered my clients’ actual goals, and I could have measured their starting points in order to show measurable progress in the next meetings.

2. I would have laid out an exact plan to accomplish the goals, and the value of my coaching would have been very clear.

3. I would have been able to show clients clear progress toward major goals and celebrate their minor wins along the way. And I could have modified plans to help them reach goals faster.

4. I would have been able to change plans when clients altered their goals.

You can see how all of that would have improved retention in my gym. Reduced churn alone would have decreased marketing and onboarding costs, increased gross revenue, and driven up lifetime value.

I also would have sold more personal training to clients who wanted to make swifter progress but didn’t even know more attention was available.

I don’t even want to think about how much money my mistakes cost me.

Podcast with Chris Cooper: “Why You Absolutely Must Do Goal Reviews With Clients.”


Start Now!


You do not have to follow my path.

If you start doing goal review sessions next week, you will avoid my mistakes and see measurable results very quickly.

I can say this with confidence because we interview top fitness entrepreneurs on “Run a Profitable Gym,” and every gym owner who uses goal reviews points to clear improvements in key performance indicators.

So set aside some time to do these sessions with your current and incoming clients. Two-Brain data shows this time is a great investment.

But you don’t have to trust us if you aren’t ready.

Run a test if that helps: Do goal reviews with five or 10 clients. Our data suggests about 30 percent of them will upgrade services by about 30 percent if you follow our plan.

Then put follow-up meetings on the calendar in 90 days. When you’ve gone through the entire cycle, review the metrics for these clients.

Did they purchase more services? Did they renew memberships? Did they make faster progress? Did they refer a friend because you asked them to at the end of a great goal review session? Are they happier? Is the ARM for your test group higher than your ARM for your other clients?

I’m confident you’ll get positive results. If you do, implement goal reviews with all clients, and do them every 90 days forever.

The worst plan?

Do nothing and make the same mistakes I did.

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One more thing!

Did you know gym owners can earn $100,000 a year with no more than 150 clients? We wrote a guide showing you exactly how.