By Ken Andrukow, TwoBrain Mentor

As business owners, we focus on competitive advantages. These are attributes, what I would categorise as “things” inside your business model. Price point is an obvious competitive ground on which gyms try to attract more customers. Other competitive advantages could include towel service, free parking, or the newest equipment.

The problem with competing on these “things” is that you’re always chasing. There will always be a gym who prices their onboarding program lower than you. Someone will always offer a fancier reception area, have a better URL for their website, or have a cooler gym swag to buy.
But only you can be you, and show your clients they matter – speaking from the heart with your client in mind. Every person craves connection, and this starts with you and your coaches. Authenticity is a strategic advantage you will never have to chase.
CrossFit, like many fitness industries, can come across as elitist and intimidating for many of our potential customers. Our coaches, the faces of our business, are often dedicated athletes with years of coaching education, experience and training behind them – after all, these are attributes we look to hire. Contrast that with those who occupy the largest market for our services: people who may never have done a push-up in their lives, or are battling illness or chronic dysfunction. How can our coaches connect authentically with them?
When you think about how we truly connect with others, the “things” I spoke about earlier are irrelevant. Sharing towel service or a new set of Concept rowers won’t build connection with your members. Community one of the most powerful reasons CrossFitters stay with their training because within their community, an athlete shares the emotional experience of pushing through their particular limits or learning new skills.
Every one of us has felt the fear of trying a new physical skill that we saw others master, and we worried we couldn’t accomplish the same. Every one of us has been injured and felt the frustration of being unable to do basic physical movements and the vulnerability of having our egos exposed. We’ve all made bad life choices that have led to holes that we had to dig ourselves out of and recover from the negative consequences.
These are the imperfections we can all own and share with our members. We don’t need to be perfect to be successful gym owners. We don’t need our coaches to be perfect to be great coaches. Our imperfections form the basis of our ability to empathise with every single person who walks into our gym. When your members see that your gym is a place where you, your staff and the membership can be authentic and connect more strongly, they will trust and feel loyal to the gym – a loyalty that can’t be beaten with towel service.
Moreover, decisions about your business become more clear when you’re coming from an authentic place. If it doesn’t fit with your values, you’re not going to waste your time. You have a clear picture of what makes you a better solution for more clients looking for fitness and health and every decision to make aligns with those goals.
The power of your authenticity will connect with the people you employ and the people you serve, inspiring trust: this is your biggest strategic advantage.