Why It’s Not Enough to Be a Great Coach

A closeup of meshing gears, with one labeled "business" and the other labeled "model."

I was a great CrossFit coach, but that didn’t solve my business problems.

I was great at teaching powerlifting, too. But I still struggled on the profit-and-loss statement.

I might have been the best personal trainer in my city at one point, too. But I still had to ask my parents for grocery money when the business was struggling.

My methods never made me successful as a gym owner.

But my model did.

So I’ve spent the last decade making sure other gym owners have strong business models that ensure their success, too.

Model Vs. Method

Here’s the difference between model and method:

Your model is how you deliver your method. It changes, but rarely. For example, a gym might start as a PT-only facility, then evolve to group plus PT, then evolve again into a semi-private gym without large group classes.

Your method covers all the tools in your toolkit. What will you use to deliver X result to Y people? Your method could be CrossFit or Tae Bo or kettlebells. It could be swim lessons or the Zone Diet. It could be a mix.

Your method will also evolve over time, and it will probably evolve to include more methods. That’s fine. The businesses that fail are usually the ones that don’t evolve (or can’t evolve, like franchises).

Businesses whose methods don’t evolve are fragile. They decline significantly or go under when the market finds something newer or better. The fitness industry is littered with examples.

Remember how popular step aerobics programs were in the mid-’90s? Same thing with Tae Bo.

But what if you were a great Tae Bo coach who wasn’t tied to a method that’s going out of style? Well, you’d just pivot and use your skills as an amazing trainer to keep getting clients results with another method—functional training, for example. And you’d probably even find a use for some aspects of Tae Bo. Trainers with huge toolboxes have lots of ways to produce great results for clients.

Your model is determined by what your clients want to buy. We teach the Prescriptive Model because it’s a good balance of telling people what they need and letting them choose what they want.

I’ve laid that model out in detail here.

The short summary: You meet with a client and ask what they want to accomplish. Then you tell them exactly how you can help them reach their goals by providing a service prescription. You meet with the client every 90 days to measure progress and adjust the prescription.

This is a big deal: If you’re using the Prescriptive Model, shifting the method is really simple.

You aren’t tied to bodybuilding or powerlifting or functional training or Tae Bo—you’re tied to results for the clients. The model allows you to use any method.

5 Gym Business Models That Work

My new guide is out: “5 Gym Business Models That Work.”

In the guide, you’ll find five business models you can use to make $100,000 a year as a gym owner:

1. Group Only (with just 150 clients)
2. Group Plus 1:1 Training
3. Group Plus High-Ticket Offers
4. Semi-Private Training
5. Guided Access

I don’t mention a single method in the guide because these models will work with any method.

I bet you’re already an expert at delivering your method. I don’t need to help you with that. But I know coaching excellence isn’t enough. Remember, I was a great fitness coach, and I was broke.

What I can provide to you after years of research and trial and error is a clear, direct path to profitability for your business and income for your family. The guide lays all that out, with high-level executive summaries and spreadsheets in case you want to go deeper.

The model are examples. You can implement one of them exactly or you can build your own. Our mentors build custom models for every gym in our practice. We don’t force a specific model on anyone.

The key is this: You must have a model, you must have a plan and you must have someone to hold you to the plan.

Without those three elements, you’re at risk of being a great coach with a struggling business.

To get the guide, DM me on Facebook or jump into our Gym Owners United forum for more info.


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.