Consistency and the Rule of Threes

Consistency and the Rule of Threes

Have you ever heard of the “rule of threes”?

It’s the idea that a trio of concepts or characters is more satisfying, effective and memorable than other numbers.

I just used it right there—did you notice?

This rule can be used to train your staff, coach your clients or teach any concept in a few seconds.

I did it again!

 

Stance, Grip and Position

 

When you hear two concepts in a row, you feel anxious until you hear that satisfying third.

At our gym, we say, “Stance, grip, position.” Kelly Starrett taught us that every movement can be viewed through this lens.

At first, we thought it was just an easy way to teach coaches what to look for. But when we started saying it in every class every day, people started to listen.

Now in class we ask our members,  “What are three things you check every time you touch a barbell?”

They chant, “Stance, grip, position.”

It works!

If you want your people to remember anything, find your three.

 

Focus, Focus and More Focus

 

Take whatever concept you’re trying to teach or behavior you’re trying to change and cut it down to three simple things.

For example, we have three actions our staff members have to take every day:

Smile—at everyone you see.
Learn—something new every day.
Help—everyone you can.

If they do those three things, they’re doing their job.

When they are on the floor coaching a class, we ask them to:

Celebrate—reinforce what the client is doing.
Scale—the movement if necessary.
Correct—poor movement last.

You can break down almost any idea like this to make it more satisfying, effective and memorable.

But that’s only the first step. Once you have your three ideas, you have to repeat them so often that they become part of your DNA.

If you want clients to remember stance, grip and position, you have to say it in every class every day.

Stance, grip, position.

Stance, grip, position.

Stance!

Grip!

Position!

Our gym wifi router is called StanceGrip. Can you guess the password?

If you can’t, you don’t get wifi at our gym—because we won’t tell you!

To clients, everything just sounds like random words unless you repeat them all the time. This is consistency, and its effects are tremendous—but not instantaneous.

You’ll know you have things in place when you hear people repeating the words.

 

What’s Your Trio?

 

Earlier in this series, Chris Cooper said consistency is more important than anything else. He also told you about how consistently doing one thing has made him successful.

The lesson here is about making consistency a pillar of your business. First you determine those few very important things, then you communicate them, and then you repeat them regularly.

In our Incubator, we help you dial in your mission, vision and values, and then we help you communicate all three to your staff and clients. Later, in our Roadmap, Incubator graduates listen to hear if their message is being repeated by clients and staff. When they hear it echo back to them, they know they’re running a focused, consistent business.

If you want to coach your clients, your staff or yourself, find your three.

Jason Williams is a Certified Two-Brain Mentor and the owner of CrossFit Hale and CrossFit Thames.

 

Other Media in This Series

Consistency Is Greater Than Everything Else
Consistency Is Greater Than Perfection
Driven Nutrition: Consistency Brings Success in a Tough Market
The 10-Week CEO Plan

The 7 Best Fitness Coaching Software Platforms: Our Unbiased Review for 2019

The 7 Best Fitness Coaching Software Platforms: Our Unbiased Review for 2019

What is the best software for coaching your clients?

A few months ago, we published an objective review of gym management software. We invested $35,000 and many hours to evaluate and rank the six best software platforms for running a gym business.

We received a lot of great feedback on the article from gym owners, and several companies contacted us to let us know they were working on improvements that would bring their products closer to our standards.

But gym owner and coach are different jobs that require different tools, so a separate review of coaching software is more than warranted.

 

Software That Solves Problems

 

The largest problems facing gym owners: attracting clients and retaining them.

We’ve got marketing and intake systems that help solve the first problem, and we’re constantly helping gym owners hire staff and implement processes to increase length of engagement.

In essence, retention comes down to helping your clients get results and then showing them those results over and over again. Retention is less affected by having fun, making friends, following the best programming or having the best community. Results are what really matter.

As a microgym owner, if you can show that you’re providing results for your clients, you’ll stand out from the “experience” gyms like Orangetheory Fitness and SoulCycle.

Unfortunately, results haven’t always been the focus of the fitness industry or the software companies that build our online tools.

We hope this review will help change that. To start the process, we evaluated seven platforms in detail: CrossFit btwb, Exercise.com, SugarWOD, Trainerize, TrainHeroic, TrueCoach and Wodify.

In the meantime, we’ll keep supporting the community with mountains of free content, advice and data people can use to grow their business and create their perfect day.

For a package of our best resources, enter your email address below.

 

Now, on to the software.

 

Key Elements of Coaching Software

 

To help the microgym owner, coaching software should be designed to produce and track results.

To determine the best software tools for coaches, we need to know two things:

1. What results our clients care about. Clients come to gyms to solve problems. So what are those problems?

2. The best way to measure and show off results. Once we know what problems clients have, we need to know how we can prove that our businesses are solving those problems. We need to measure progress and then illustrate that progress for each client.

 

A woman in a white tank top and grey sweats measures her waist with a yellow tape.

 

What Do Gym Clients Care About?

 

Gym clients care about exactly three things: They want to look better, feel better and perform better.

Each client has a different combination of goals, and not all clients care about all three.

For example, a client who wants to look better might want to lose weight, gain weight, tone up or get a six pack.

A client who wants to feel better might want to have more energy or notice improvements in mood.

A client who wants to perform better might want to improve at a specific sport or be able to lift his or her kids.

Most coaching software in the microgym space focuses solely on performance. A few focus on looking better (by measuring weight or body fat). Almost none focus on feeling better.

Software needs to be able to track and report improvements in all three areas if it’s going to help a gym serve all clients.

 

The Best Way to Measure and Show Results

 

Compliance

 Once you’ve figured out a client’s goals, you need to figure out the best way to accomplish them.

Successful fitness programs have three key elements: training, nutrition and recovery. Coaching software must be able to track all three.

That said, the number one thing that determines a client’s success at the gym is compliance. The program, coach and equipment don’t matter if the client doesn’t show up.

How many times did the client show up and complete a workout?

How many days did he or she follow a nutrition plan?

How many days did the client get the recommended amount of sleep?

In order to get the client to continue showing up and sticking to the plan—compliance—you must keep him or her motivated.

We know motivation follows success, so we need to show the client that the program is producing results: quick wins that produce the motivation to keep going.

That means we need to track a second thing in addition to basic compliance: bright spots.

 

Bright Spots

How many days in a row did the client show up?

Has he or she earned a PR? Bright spots can include a new load lifted, the first successful performance of a movement, the first successful completion of a benchmark test, and so on.

Has the client lost or gained weight or body fat?

Has the client’s mood improved over time?

How does the client compare against himself or herself six months ago or a year ago?

Does the data reveal other positive things the client is doing well?

Highlighting bright spots will keep clients motivated, making progress and showing up. Trainers need software that tracks bright spots and makes it very easy for clients to see progress. Also important: the ability for the coach to note the bright spots and offer congratulations, high fives and fist bumps right on the platform.

 

Several lines of white stars below a larger line of 5 gold stars next to the words "gold standard" from Two-Brain Business.

 

Coaching Software Evaluation Criteria

 

Our coaching software evaluation is broken down into five different categories.

Function—Does the software fulfill the needs described above? Will it track data that shows how people look, feel and perform? Does it track training, nutrition and recovery data?

Reporting—Are the reports useful? How easy is it to find the data you need? Can you create and run your own reports? Does the software highlight bright spots for you and your clients? Can clients see progress through the software even if they can’t see it in the mirror?

Usability—Is the software easy to use by the owner and the trainers? How about by the clients? Is there an app? What about the user interface (UI)? Does it make you feel warm and fuzzy when you open it or does it give you a headache? The product’s look and feel also factor into its usability.

Communication—Can coaches and clients communicate easily? Does the software allow emailing and texting? Are you forced to use the app for all communications?

Integrations/Bonuses—Does the software platform play nice with others? Does the program integrate with other tools a gym owner or coach would use? Does it have an open API so you can add things as you see fit? Does it have any bonus features that make it stand out?

Need more advice on common problems? Click here to book a free call with a certified Two-Brain Business mentor.

 

The Seven Coaching Software Platforms

 

We evaluated seven platforms in detail:

  1. CrossFit btwb
  2. Exercise.com
  3. SugarWOD
  4. Trainerize
  5. TrainHeroic
  6. TrueCoach
  7. Wodify

We chose not to review several other platforms.

Strava—This is the top exercise-tracking app in the world. It provides an amazing experience for athletes both during and after exercise. Most tracking apps only provide feedback after a workout; Strava makes the workout feel like a game. But there’s no coaching platform on Strava yet.

TrainingPeaks—This solid coaching software is primarily focused on distance athletes—cyclists, specifically.

Zen Planner—This gym-management software offers workout tracking, but its parent company recently acquired SugarWOD, which we reviewed in detail.

 

The Platforms

 

CrossFit btwb

The orange on white logo for the coaching software company btwb.

Courtesy of btwb

One of the most-established workout-tracking platforms, btwb has evolved over the years and is now the official CrossFit app.

Function: 8

This platform does a ton of stuff. You can create group workouts and individual workouts and track lifestyle markers such as sleep, hydration, mobility work and even fish-oil intake. Workout tracking is thorough and detailed.

Reporting: 8

CrossFit btwb offers tons of reports: You can track overall gym performance, individual PRs and performance, weaknesses, imbalances, etc. You can also see how fit you are based on an overall ranking and use the leaderboards.

Usability: 5

This is where the system struggles. CrossFit btwb has lots of clicks and confusing screens on the website, and entering workouts is not super easy. The company acknowledges this and offers a service that will enter workouts for you based on a spreadsheet. The app is a lot better, but the number of options feels overwhelming.

Communication: 6

Limited options here. You can push workouts to your clients and comment on their scores, but that’s about it. You can’t send individual messages to clients, and the social feed can only send emojis. For some reason, you can only communicate with your friends if you create a squad rather than communicate with the whole gym.

Integrations/Bonuses: 6

You can automatically add programming to your gym from lots of different vendors, and CrossFit btwb integrates with WordPress. You can easily export data, but it would be nice if the platform had an open API or Zapier integration.

Cost: $80-$250 per month.

Overall: 33/50

CrossFit btwb is a solid system with tons of features and options. With a UI refresh and greater clarity on some of the options, this platform could easily be the winner.

Chris Cooper’s notes: The founders of CrossFit btwb are very smart and strongly plugged in to CrossFit HQ. It might be a wise bet to track on this platform as the CrossFit Health initiative gains ground. It’s not clear how that program will benefit affiliates yet, but with a greater focus on nutrition at HQ and doctors working to make blood tests simple and affordable in CrossFit gyms, btwb will most likely be the first to integrate those features. They’re also most likely to offer coaches a “health” dashboard for clients in the future.

Exercise.com

A photo of a mobile phone and desktop showing user screens for the coaching app Exercise.com.

Courtesy of Exercise.com

Originally a system for logging individual programs, Exercise.com has recently expanded as a business-management software.

Function: 8

Now an all-in-one solution for coaching and business management, Exercise.com allows coaches to create programs and workouts for 1:1 clients and groups. You can easily add your own exercises, videos and movements. The platform integrates with MyFitnessPal, and you can track recovery metrics using assessment questions, measurements and progress photos.

Reporting: 7

Users can generate reports based on attendance, measurements and workout performance. The platform has a handy “snapshot” mode in the client profile so users can see all completed workouts and stats for each client.

Usability: 6

Exercise.com’s online interface is functional but basic. It can be hard to navigate, but you are able to add workouts and create programs fairly easily. The robust nature of this software means it’s tough to use/navigate until it’s tailored specifically for you, and a customer-service team will set up a custom app with just the options you want after a discovery call.

Communication: 6

Limited to email and in-app alerts. We would love to see a text notification and a client communication dashboard.

Integrations/Bonuses: 7

Exercise.com does not offer an open API, but users can connect to Mailchimp and ConvertKit to send broadcast and autoresponder emails, Stripe for payments, MyFitnessPal for nutrition, and Zapier for just about everything else.

Cost: $199-$499 per month (pricing is for the entire system, including gym management).

Overall: 34/50

This is a solid system overall, and there’s a lot more under the hood than you can see at first glance. Though Exercise.com started as coaching software, the new additions (charging clients, scheduling, etc.) make it a solid choice for managing the entire gym.

 

SugarWOD

Shayna and Drew Larsen of the coaching software company SugarWOD pose in blue T-shirts.

Courtesy of SugarWOD

SugarWOD started as a way to post programs for group classes and interact with members on a social platform. In May 2019, SugarWOD was acquired by Daxko, parent company to Zen Planner.

Function: 5

With regard to workout tracking for gyms, SugarWOD is a solid 8. Unfortunately, it doesn’t offer 1:1 programming or nutrition tracking. For a gym that only offers group fitness coaching, this is a great solution. But we’ve seen many gyms move toward more personal fitness and nutrition coaching, and we need software that works in these applications as well.

Reporting: 6

The reports are minimal, but—refreshingly—SugarWOD does focus on bright-spot metrics such as attendance and PRs without excessive emphasis on technical details. The reports for on-ramp athletes, benchmark improvement, PRs and so on are all useful for coaches.

Usability: 8

Ease of logging is the number one issue with coaching software, and SugarWOD does a great job with a simple app and straightforward interface. Entering workouts is very simple as well. We’d love to be able to easily fist-bump or direct comments to people on a list (as in a Facebook feed) instead of using extra clicks for each task.

Communication: 6

It’s straightforward: Everything goes through the app. People can get notifications, but SugarWOD does not provide text/email options or messaging.

Integrations/Bonuses: 6

SugarWOD has an open API, so it will send data to a variety of systems if you know how to code. It also has a workout marketplace so other programs can be delivered directly through the system. Native integration is limited to Zen Planner, PushPress and a couple of other systems.

Cost: $19-$119 per month.

Overall score: 31/50

SugarWOD is a good app for group-class management, and it’s very strong on usability when logging workouts.

Chris Cooper’s notes: We’ve been using SugarWOD at Catalyst for years, and I look forward to chatting with its founders every year at the Games. They’re great people, and they provide a constant reminder that software companies should focus on doing one thing really, really well instead of trying to be everything to everyone. I hope SugarWOD’s founders (Drew and Shayna Larsen) can help Zen Planner raise its game. They’re amazing people and very smart.

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Trainerize

A woman in tights and a sports bra sits on a gym bench and enters workout details using Trainerize on a mobile device.

Courtesy of Trainerize

Pure coaching software, Trainerize is mostly focused on personal trainers in a 1:1 setting. Chris Cooper uses this at his gym, Catalyst.

Function: 7

Trainerize offers lots of great functions. You can create custom programs, custom exercises, nutrition recommendations, goals and groups. The platform features a coaching app and a member app, and you can assign programs and charge for them using Stripe. One big drawback is that a person with a group program can’t receive individual programs, which prevents customization of programs for individuals who are part of a bigger group.

Reporting: 8

Reports are available for workouts, nutrition, weight and sessions, and Trainerize allows you to send automated messages based on the reports.

Usability: 6

Smooth, for the most part. Nothing is super confusing, but the volume of options makes it tough to know where to begin. The overview videos really help when you’re getting started.

Communication: 7

Trainerize really focuses on communication with in-app alerts and the ability to call or email a client directly from the app. The program even integrates with other systems to allow video calls.

Integrations/Bonuses: 7   

You can integrate Trainerize with MyFitnessPal to track calories/macros, Fitbit to track steps, YouTube or a video drive to store your exercise videos, and Zapier for everything else.

Cost: 0 to $270 per month.

Overall: 35/50

Trainerize Overview (Updated: April 2019) from Trainerize on Vimeo.

Trainerize is a good app for 1:1 training, with tons of reports and great communication options. It’s also one of the only products that integrates MyFitnessPal.

TrainHeroic

A tablet surrounded by athletes shows a screen from the coaching platform TrainHeroic.

Courtesy of TrainHeroic

Developed by coaches for coaches, TrainHeroic started as a training marketplace and was built into a full training system.

Function: 7

TrainHeroic offers lots of fun stuff. You can enter workouts or entire programs for a group or individuals, and you can define as many groups as you want for different purposes. It also asks questions about readiness and mood before each session, but unfortunately it doesn’t track anything related to nutrition.

Reporting: 6

The reports are pretty basic but focus on the things we care about, including compliance, readiness, history and performance.

Usability: 8

TrainHeroic offers a simple, straightforward interface. It’s easy to create a workout and a program, and it’s easy and even fun to log workouts as an athlete. When athletes start a session, the platform asks them several questions to assess readiness, then starts a timer for the entire session. Users log the scores, then TrainHeroic asks them how it went to provide feedback that can be shared with other athletes or coaches. The UI is well thought out, and set-up was easy, too. We were able to go in and add individual workouts for people on the fly by clicking on them. TrainHeroic also has a leaderboard you can post on a screen.

Communication: 7

The platform mainly offers email and app alerts. The notes were simple and clear, and it was easy to see what’s going on.

Integrations/Bonuses: 6

TrainHeroic has the ability to use programs from lots of different coaches through the marketplace. The platform seems to integrate only with Pike13, and it doesn’t have an open API. 

Cost: $45-$150 per month.

Overall: 34/50

TrainHeroic is a really solid system with a simple interface and great features. We got excited because we could actually see this platform in use at our gyms. The only thing missing is the nutrition element, a problem that might be solved through integration with a platform such as MyFitnessPal.

 

TrueCoach 

The staff of the coaching software company TrueCoach posing on a loading dock with an overhead door.

Courtesy of TrueCoach

 

Formerly known as Fitbot, this software is focused primarily on the coach, which helps users manage personal-training clients and small groups.

Function: 7

Users can easily add workouts for groups or individuals, and the platform features lots of sections for notes on equipment, nutrition, limitations, planning, etc. TrueCoach offers your clients a good app with messaging and other features, but we would have liked more of a social component to group-training work. As it stands, it seems like communication is only possible between client and coach.

Reporting: 6

Reports seem to be limited to compliance, which is the most critical factor. Clients and coaches can pick a metric to track over time, such as body fat or back-squat weight. This data must be entered separately and isn’t tracked with workouts, but a nice graph can be created over time.

Usability: 7

TrueCoach is pretty simple and easy to use, without a lot of “extras” in the way. The UI is friendly and makes you want to make entries. Users also have the ability to link to their own demo videos, which is handy.

Communication: 8

We liked the messaging app and how the coach can see a feed of all client workouts and messages on one page, like a Facebook feed.

Integrations/Bonuses: 3

TrueCoach does not appear to integrate with anything, help with programming or provide an open API. However, it’s easy to use, so you might not need integrations.

Cost:$19-$99 per month.

Overall: 31/50

If you’re a 1:1 trainer, this is a great app to start with. It’s not as solid for groups because the group members can’t interact with each other.

 

Wodify

A blond woman in a tank top stands in front of two flat screens displaying the coaching software Wodify.

Courtesy of Wodify

Wodify is a true “do it all” type of system, with member management, billing and workout tracking all in one. It was also included in our member-management comparison, which you can find here.

Function: 6

Wodify is primarily a gym-management app, with workout tracking built in. At the time, it was a revolution, but more useful workout-tracking apps have appeared. The Wodify system is still solid, and it lets you create and publish benchmark workouts to clients and have them log into the system itself. This creates some unique capabilities in terms of tracking attendance and flagging clients you haven’t seen in a while. The platform does not offer any mood/energy tracking, but Wodify does feature a nutrition journal, and a coach can review the client’s log.

Reporting: 6

Wodify offers basic reports that show benchmark scores, weightlifting numbers, gymnastics performance, etc. It also has a variety of attendance-tracking reports.

Usability: 6

Entering workouts wasn’t as straightforward as we’d like, and the system has tons of options. However, it’s trying to serve two purposes, so we won’t ding it much for the lack of focus. The app is pretty straightforward as well.

Communication: 6

You can email and SMS clients, but they have to opt in. This functionality is somewhat buried in the system rather than at your fingertips.

Integrations/Bonuses: 7

Wodify integrates with a few different systems, it has online programming on offer, and it manages your members. Lots of bonuses!

Cost: $79-299 per month.

Overall: 31/50

The “all in one” solution is the biggest draw here. Wodify is not the best coaching software, but it is the best platform if you want a single solution for coaching, billing, client relationship management and member management. Wodify’s goals are ambitious, and we’d all be using this system if the company nailed every aspect of its offering.

Chris Cooper’s notes: We’ve done a lot of work with Wodify this year, and its people are always amazing. Wodify has done much for the workout-tracking industry: It was the first to set a high price for service, the first to use screens in gyms, and so on. It’s tough to be the biggest player in a niche, but Wodify is on top for a reason.

 

Overall Results

1. Trainerize—35
2. Exercise.com—34
2. TrainHeroic—34
4. CrossFit btwb—33
5. SugarWOD—31
5. TrueCoach—31
5. Wodify—31

 

Conclusion by Chris Cooper

 

We spent over $30,000 in time and testing to produce this objective guide.

We also don’t accept partnerships from software companies in this space because we want to remain objective.

Our purposes in publishing are twofold:

1. Help gym owners find the best tools—Your key differentiator, as a microgym, is coaching. Big chains, like Orangetheory and the various bootcamps, sell an experience. They have scoreboards and apps. But they can’t plot client arcs from current spots to goals. They can’t provide nutrition coaching or accountability or bright spots. Their systems aren’t built to accommodate 1:1 relationships.

At Two-Brain, we teach gym owners to build their systems around 1:1 relationships. The tools we use must strengthen those relationships. If they don’t, they’re superfluous.

2. Give software companies a target—This is a new one, but our last objective review of gym-management software yielded some pretty amazing results: “The Six Best Gym Management Software Platforms: Our Unbiased Review for 2019.”

As soon as it was published, both Wodify and Arbox made heavy investments to hit our targets. I was really impressed with both. Each said, “We want to win next year.”

The result of that investment will be improved products for gym owners.

I hope that happens here, too.

 

Stay Tuned

 

Software companies are product companies. They respond to consumer demand.

The best ones respond quickly; the weak ones die.

Which will evolve with microgyms to provide the best tools?

I have my opinion, but we’ll see.

This review will become even more important every time we do it.

CORRECTION—Sept. 4, 2019: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated Wodify does not have a nutrition-tracking feature. Wodify does offer a nutrition journal athletes can fill out for review by their coaches. 
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The 6 Best Gym Management Software Platforms: Our Unbiased Review for 2019

The 6 Best Gym Management Software Platforms: Our Unbiased Review for 2019

“Which gym management software is best for my business?”

MINDBODY or Zen Planner? Pike13 or Wodify? PushPress? Arbox?

At Two-Brain Business, we’ve been helping gym owners answer questions about software for years. And the answer isn’t always the same. Two-Brain Business mentors have talked to thousands of entrepreneurs, and their needs change quickly as businesses evolve and new products appear on the market.

Our mentoring team is always discussing the best gym management software. And our clients—among the top gym owners in the world—bring up software solutions and pain points almost daily in our private Facebook group for Two-Brain Business clients.

Our constant research has led us to dozens of presentations, demos and software trials. Every company wants to know how it can help our huge pool of clients, and each one promises improvements to existing platforms soon. Some have asked us to sign non-disclosure agreements.

Beyond software providers, we’re constantly surveying hundreds of clients around the world. We want to know what they need to make their business successful. Is their software supporting them or letting them down?

We’ve invested $35,000 to answer that question here.
 

Essential Aspects

 
People are usually concerned with two things first:

1. Point-of-sale payment processing and automated billing. Cash flow is critical.

2. Membership management—essential to client tracking and retention.

Other critical elements: a powerful database, robust reporting, seamless automations and third-party integrations, appointment scheduling and facility management, check-ins and reservations, administrative features, and retention systems.

Also important: general functionality, cost of service, ease of use, customer support and mobile apps.

So which gym management software is best for you and your business?
A finger with pink nail polish is poised over a mouse and about to click on gym management software.
 

Gym Management Software: Our Exhaustive Evaluation

 
We’ve compiled our research on the key players in the gym software industry to help you decide which system will work for you, your staff, your clients and your growing business. You are investing in a service, and your need to see a return on your investment.

Our review is unbiased: We have no partnerships of any kind with any of these companies.

Below, we rate each of the major software providers from 1 to 10 in a few critical categories:

Function—Does the software meet the basic needs of a gym? These are the must-have elements: payment processing, scheduling (appointments, classes and staff), membership packages and so on.

Reporting—Are the reports useful? How easy is it to find the data you need? Can you create and run your own reports based on what you need? Is it easy to do so?

Usability—Is the software easy to use by the owner and staff? How about by the clients? Is there an app? What about the user interface (UI)? Does it make you feel warm/fuzzy when you open it or does it give you a headache? Look and feel also factor in here.

Integrations—Does the software platform play nice with others? Does the program integrate with common management tools such as Mailchimp, SugarWOD, iCalendar, Zapier, etc.? Does it have an open API so you can add things as you see fit?

Bonuses—Does it have any useful extra features such as a killer workout logging app or a kick-ass customer relationship management system (CRM)? What’s the customer service like? How about the development cycle? Does the software stand out through any unique features?

We’ve included pricing info in US dollars, but in some cases rates are variable based on features you select, the size of your membership, and so on.

We’ve selected videos that will give you an idea of how each platform functions, and you can find others on each company’s YouTube channel (except for Pike13).
 

Scoring and Standards

 
The maximum score for each gym software platform is 50, and our minimum standard is 35+. We’ve published our gold standard here.

In this article, we’ll tell you which platforms are ahead of the others and why. We’re not endorsing any platform yet or making blanket recommendations to our family of entrepreneurs.

But we really want to. We want to be able to tell our clients exactly which platform will help them grow their business and live their perfect day.

So we’ll keep evaluating and communicating the needs of the community to developers.

And when a platform finally does everything we need, we’ll recommend it to the Two-Brain family.

In the meantime, we’ll keep supporting the community with mountains of free content, advice and data people can use to grow their business and create their perfect day. For a package of our best resources, enter your email below.

Now, on to the software.

 

The Top 6 Gym Management Software Platforms

 

Pike13

 
Chris Cooper’s Intro—Nikki Violetti was the first CrossFit business blogger back in 2006, and I learned about on-ramps from her. When she started FrontDeskHQ nearly a decade later, I was eager to join, but I was pretty entrenched with MINDBODY, and FrontDeskHQ’s initial payment processor didn’t work in Canada.

Function: 8

Handles the basic functions most gym owners need pretty well, with payment processing, class scheduling, appointment scheduling, a pro shop, etc. It has a basic sign-in app you can put up on a tablet so clients can sign in and fill out waivers. Pike13 also offers an app that allows clients to schedule appointments and check into classes, but it costs you an additional $20 per month.

Reporting: 6

Reporting functionality is OK. You can run your own reports and save them, but the data is tough to get to. A custom dashboard would be nice. When we’ve emailed to ask about reports we need, we often get confusing answers or a response like “we’re working on that.”

Usability: 6

The platform is fairly basic, but most things are easy to find. Some steps require a lot of clicks, and the emails going out to clients can’t be edited.

Integrations: 5

Pike13 has an open API but limited integrations (Mailchimp, TrainHeroic, Emma). The API is OK, but it would be nice if we could use Zapier. You do not have the ability to use your own payment processor or Stripe.

Bonuses: 1

Nothing extra makes Pike13 stand out.

Overall Score: 26/50

Pike13 is a solid app that can handle basic functions, and has a decent UI, if a bit dated. A decent option.

Cost: $199 per month.
 

PushPress

 
Chris Cooper’s Intro—I’m going to be honest here: I wanted PushPress to win. I really like the team, and I like the product. The company is working on the few missing pieces. PushPress didn’t earn the highest score, but it was close. PushPress is the reason we decided to evaluate software platforms every year instead of once.

Function: 6

PushPress has most functions you’d want from gym software, but there’s a big missing piece: some sort of appointment system so you can book and pay for personal coaching. The company is working on an integration with Acuity, but it’s not in place at the time of writing.

Reporting: 5

Reporting is limited. Clients need the ability to create custom reports

Usability: 8

The interface is simple and useful. It’s easy to sell stuff, create things, etc. The platform is basic and could use a little polish, but overall the look and feel are solid.

Integrations: 9

PushPress integrates with everything via Zapier and uses Stripe as a payment processor. Open API: We wish all software were so flexible.

Bonuses: 4

The apps are pretty cool and easy to use, and there are client, staff and front-desk apps.

Overall Score: 32/50

For a small company, PushPress really hit on a lot of nice stuff. We’d like to see more polish, and, most importantly, an appointment system.

Cost: $139 per month.
 

MINDBODY

 
Chris Cooper’s Intro—Think about the negative reviews you read about MINDBODY: “It’s too confusing.” No one ever mentions missed payments, over-billings or absent features. There’s just too much stuff, and it takes a while to learn. I started with MINDBODY in 2006, when it was simple, so I missed the feature dumps over the years. But Orangetheory Fitness uses this system for a reason, and the integrations are pretty amazing for coaches. In the end, it’s easier to block the stuff you don’t need than to fill the gaps the other systems are missing.

Function: 9

MINDBODY has everything you could possibly want to run a gym—appointments, pro shop, scheduling, etc. It’s been built over many years, and MINDBODY has tons of clients, so they’ve added a lot. However, things aren’t exactly easy to find.

Reporting: 8

The gym software keeps data on everything and allows you to create and save custom reports. The reports aren’t pretty, but you can get all the info you need.

Usability: 3

The biggest drawback of MINDBODY is that it can do everything, but it’s really tough to use. A rating of 3 might be generous here. You’re always clicking away, and weird refreshes happen on pages. It’s a designer’s nightmare. Ideally, the system would offer fewer options so users can focus on only the things they really need.

Integrations: 9

MINDBODY integrates with lots of systems, and if you don’t find an integration for the one you want, it has a very robust open API. The only drawback: limited payment processing options—but this seems fairly standard in the industry.

Bonuses: 9

Apps, integrations, custom development—MINDBODY offers a lot of bonuses. It also supports outside development: Several custom apps for things like keycards, email marketing and workout tracking have been built specifically to integrate with MINDBODY.

Overall: 38/50

This is a well-developed, well-established system. MINDBODY is a leader in the industry, and it shows. Unfortunately, the UI is terrible, which means the time to get going is not ideal. However, you’ll never find yourself looking for gym software with more options. If you can customize the system for your needs, this is the one to choose.

Cost: $129-$349 per month.
 

Zen Planner

 
 Chris Cooper’s Intro—I went to visit Zen Planner in Denver a few years ago, and the company built a custom reporting feature for Two-Brain Business gyms. Zen Planner also claims to have the largest support team in the industry, and I’ve never heard a complaint about response time or access to support.

Function: 7

Zen Planner offers scheduling, appointments, payment processing, and staff management, and it works reasonably well. But it’s not always easy to do everything. For example, some clunky features make it tough to sell a T-shirt to a drop-in client. Customers have reported issues with double billing in the past.

Reporting: 7

Zen Planner’s reports are flexible, and the company seems willing to customize reports based on need. It offers a custom Two-Brain Business dashboard you can access if you request it.

Usability: 6

The package looks nice, but the functionality can make it confusing or hard to use for customers. There are extra clicks for things like checkouts in the pro shop, adding a client or the user app.

Integrations: 4

Zen Planner does not offer an open API, it has only one choice for payment processing, and integrations are limited. If you use Zen Planner as a base system but want to add on programs from industry leaders to handle workout tracking, texting/emailing clients and so on, you are limited to the options Zen Planner chooses.

Bonuses: 5

Workout tracking is a nice bonus, as is a client app, but Zen Planner doesn’t have a ton of other “wow” features. Support is great, but the company promises a lot of features that have yet to be delivered.

Overall: 29/50

The lack of an open API or connectivity with some apps really limits what Zen Planner can provide. While the gym software does cover the basics and is always improving, the limited expandability makes it tough to commit to Zen Planner if the package isn’t perfect for you right out of the box.

Cost: $129-$996 per month.
 

Wodify

 
Chris Cooper’s Intro—I visited Wodify in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, last year. Very recently, I did an hour-long seminar to help their support team learn to help gym owners more. The new dashboard features Two-Brain metrics such as length of engagement (LEG) and average revenue per member (ARM), and the gym software has the clarity that most other platforms lack.

Function: 7

On the surface, Wodify has everything a gym owner needs. When you dig a bit deeper, little things don’t quite work as you’d expect. Missing features related to appointments, messaging, membership set-up and the app make you wish for better functionality.

Reporting: 7

Again, it feels as if Wodify has everything, but when you dig in, the reports can be inflexible or not particularly useful. For example, it’s really cool to have reports on client performance, but they feel unnecessary when you’re trying to look at the health of your business. Reporting issues could be solved if Wodify tailored its reports to create the data that’s most useful for gym owners.

Usability: 7

It’s fairly easy to use and find things, and the side menu bar is useful. The big drawback: The app is primarily focused on workouts first and gym management second. In the grand scheme of things, entrepreneurs are more concerned with revenue, profit and retention than workout performance. Business data should be more prominently displayed.

Integrations: 7

Pretty damn good! Wodify integrates with Zapier and others such as Stripe, Facebook, Mailchimp and WordPress. The developer API allows access to workouts but not much else. You get the impression the developers would work with you if you had something creative you’d like to do.

Bonuses: 7

Wodify offers an app, a screen cast and integrations with other workout-tracking apps such as MyPulse. Because the company started with workout tracking, it’s the primary focus, and Wodify does it well.

Overall: 35/50

Wodify is a solid gym management software system that’s been developed from the ground up for CrossFit-style gyms and functional training facilities. If you want an all-in-one solution, Wodify is the choice. The biggest drawback: So many features that everything isn’t perfect. This means Wodify has 80-85 percent of what you’d want, but some aspects—reporting, appointments, etc.—are not quite up to code. If Wodify continues to develop and improve, it could become the top choice.

Cost: $79-$299 per month.
 

Arbox

 
Chris Cooper’s Intro—We put Arbox on the list because they have a great product and their team works really fast. They just received a ton of new funding, so we think you’re going to hear a lot from them in 2019 and 2020.

Function: 7

Arbox is one of the upstarts on the list. It’s a small company in Jerusalem, Israel, with about 500 clients. Right out of the box, it has almost everything you’d need: scheduling, texting, pro shop, messaging. The biggest drawback: The screens are slow to load, which might be a function of servers based on the other side of the world from our testing.

Reporting: 8

This is where Arbox shines. The reports are slick and easy to modify. They can’t be fully customized, but the developers are quite responsive and seem to add reports all the time.

Usability: 7

An area of strength. The UI is easy to use and navigate. Loading times are an issue—especially for an American with a short attention span.

Integrations: 5

Arbox doesn’t offer a ton of integrations but gets points for an open API and a responsive development team that has volunteered to build integrations we might need.

Bonuses: 6

Arbox offers a host of features you’d want right out of the box—a big bonus. It has a client app that allows people to sign in for classes, plan workouts, etc., and you get the feeling that this element will grow along with the company.

Overall: 33/50

Take note of Arbox as an up-and-comer in the world of gym management software. The company has grown quickly, and its development cycles are fast and useful. We have hopes that these guys will be an industry leader in time.

Cost: $149 per month.
 

The Rest

 
Many members of the Two-Brain Business family asked us to evaluate their favorite platforms. Our mentors can help clients who are using any gym management software, and our Two-Brain reporting systems don’t require clients to use a specific product.

We had conversations with 20 platforms total, and we chose to focus on what we consider the top six.

For one reason or another, we chose not to add more companies to our main report in 2019. Some just weren’t ready, some weren’t interested, and some didn’t meet minimum standards for greater consideration.
 

Selected Other Platforms We Considered

 
Mariana Tek

Club OS

Exercise.com

Wodboard

APP Palestre

Trainerize
 
A graphic ranking software  1 to 6: Mindbody, Wodify, Arbox, PushPress, Zen Planner, Pike13.
 

The Big Question: Should You Switch?

 
Right now, no single platform is so far ahead that it’s worth the pain of switching.

Some platforms have features you might find more important—such as scoreboards—but we’d prefer that you stick with systems that provide good reporting and metrics.

But all the main software packages are so close that it might not be worth switching—yet. If one platform offers you something the others don’t and offers to move your clients over, that’s valuable.

In the end, the best system for you is the one you’ll use. If you can’t get your basic metrics, or if the gym software can’t book appointments or collect money, the platform isn’t giving you what you need as a box owner and entrepreneur.

We’ll stay in touch with these companies—and others—and keep letting them know what box owners, gym owners, studio owners, personal trainers, coaches and clients need. As the providers grow and improve their products, we’ll let you know which ones we believe are best for you and your business.
 

Read More: “What’s Wrong With Your Website” by Chris Cooper