The Client-Centric Gym: How to Build Around the Right Clients

A number of blue sticky notes with arrows on them point to a yellow note with the word "customer."

If you want to have a successful gym, build your business around what your clients want.

A graphic of a client-centric business in which the gym, services, staff, owner and model all point toward the client.

This sounds obvious, but there are four challenges:

  1. You can’t give everyone everything they want.
  2. What they want and what they need are sometimes different things.
  3. What your clients want will change over time.
  4. It’s very, very hard to change your model.


In this series, I’ll tell you which clients to build your gym around, how to balance what your clients want with what they need to get results, how to shift with technology and new ideas, and how to change your whole model if you have to.

First, the most important part: identifying which clients to build your business around.

You do not want to try and please everyone. So skip the surveys and polls.

If you’re starting a gym from scratch, this is easy. I wrote about the process in my book for new and prospective gym owners, “Start a Gym.”

Here’s the quick version, if you already own a gym:

  • Take out a blank sheet of paper.
  • Draw a vertical line down the middle.
  • At the top of the page, draw a smiley face on one side of the line. Draw a dollar sign on the other side.
  • Start with the left-brain exercise: Under the dollar sign, record the 10 clients who pay you the most money every month.
  • Now move to the right-brain exercise: Under the smile, record the 10 clients who make you the happiest. These are the people who light you up and give you energy, not just the 10 who are easiest to tolerate.


The names on each side of the line might be mostly different. But you should notice a few names that appear in both columns.

These are your best clients: the people who bring in the most and bring out your best.

Next, you want to take these few clients for coffee.

Ask each, “What led you to my gym in the first place?” This will tell you what type of marketing will attract more of these best clients.

Then ask, “How do you describe my gym to your friends?” This will tell you the language your best people use to describe your service. Copy that exact language in your media.

Then ask, “What’s your biggest challenge outside my gym?” This will give you a glimpse of how your business can shift (or grow) to accommodate these clients more.

If you want to be successful, don’t try to find clients to fit your service. Build a service to fit your clients.

In the next post, I’ll tell you how to balance what your clients want with what they actually need.

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