Why Boring Investments Are Often Best for Gym Owners

The cover of Chris Cooper's book "Millionaire Gym Owner" with the words "yes, it's possible."

This is a preview of my new book, “Millionaire Gym Owner,” coming in early 2024.

I have a successful gym. I also run a large worldwide company.

I’m tempted to open a coffee shop, bike store, self-storage space—and about five other companies.

But just because I’m a good entrepreneur with a lot of interests doesn’t mean I should own five different types of businesses.

Instead, I should maximize one type of business, take the profits out and put them in conservative investments that won’t take my attention away from my core business. That’s the “barbell strategy” that I laid out in the previous post in this series.

The last thing I need is something else that will wake me up at 4 a.m., have me obsessing over it and send me running around all day.

For example, I love coffee. But if I opened a coffee shop, I’d lose money for a few months—or even a year—while I figured out how to staff it, bought inventory and lost sleep over food waste. I’d scratch an entrepreneurial itch, but my gym would suffer. Eventually, I’d probably decide that one business is enough and sell the other one.

When I told a friend that I’d love to own a coffee shop, he asked, “Why do you want to ruin another favorite hobby?” He was joking, but he was right: Fitness was my hobby until my gym made it my job.

So I own a gym, make money and spend lots of time in other people’s coffee shops.

Attention: A Finite Resource

Even “boring businesses”—like self-storage and laundromats—still take attention away from your core business. And attention is your most valuable asset to invest.

Think about it: How often have you been on the floor, coaching a class while you’re completely distracted by something outside the gym?

Maybe it was your drive to work or your kid’s poor grades or an argument with your partner. It doesn’t matter. You know that feeling, and you know you’re a worse coach when you’re distracted.

Well, nothing is more distracting than another business.

Imagine coaching a 1:1 client and stressing about a broken dryer in your laundromat. You’re stuck at the gym, so you can’t fix the dryer, and the dryer is stressful, so you can’t concentrate on the client in front of you. Nobody wins when you split your attention.

Now imagine you own a coffee shop, which is 1,000 times more distracting than a laundromat. You’ll have staff issues. You’ll have supply issues. You’ll have quality issues. You’ll have to go to the grocery store twice a day. You’ll run out of cups. And all of this for a lower profit margin than your gym offers—just because you really like coffee.

If you’re making a bit more than you need from your gym, put the money in boring investments that you don’t have to think about. Set it and forget it.

Your most valuable asset is your attention, and you lose when you split your attention too many ways.


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.