Discipline Equals Freedom: Why You Need Systems

An empty gym - discipline equals freedom

“Your business is imaginary. It’s all in your head. You’re making it up as you go. And worst of all, you’re starting from a blank page every day!”

The strength of your business can be measured with this question:

“How successful can it be without you there?”

Your business is not your marketing. Your business is your systems: the processes your staff members use to deliver excellent service. These are the standard operating procedures everyone follows to be consistent, predictable and excellent.

No Systems, No Standards

I once walked into my gym at noon to this sight:

  • Chalky handprints all over the floor.
  • Two “open gym” clients finishing their workout while the noon class waited and watched.
  • A potential new client leaning against the wall by the front door.
  • A coach’s half-finished lunch on the desk.
  • Both bathrooms full, with people waiting to change clothes outside.
  • Loud, uncensored rap music that I’d never play in front of my kids.

I started my day being the bad guy (“Your workout time is over”), cleaning up other people’s messes, smoothing over a poor first impression and yelling at a coach to get a class going. I spent the rest of the day angry, hating my business but too distracted to do anything about it.

Worst of all: I knew it would be exactly the same tomorrow.

The problem wasn’t that my staff was lazy or that my clients were taking advantage of me. I sure felt that way, but the truth was that my entire business was in my head: People were breaking rules they didn’t know existed. They were following checklists that didn’t exist outside my mind. They were rising to their standards, which were different from mine. And they were trying to guess what I wanted them to do, even though they weren’t mind readers.

The problem was that I had no systems. And without systems, I had no discipline in my business.

Clarity and Consistency for the Win

As Jocko WIllink says, “Discipline equals freedom.”

When your staff knows to start classes precisely on time, they will.

When your clients know to be ready for noon, they will be.

When your future clients know to book a No Sweat Intro instead of just showing up to watch a class, they’ll book intros.

When you have a cleaning process, you’ll have a clean gym.

When you have a coaching process, your classes will be excellent.

When you have an intake process, your clients will be onboarded more smoothly, stick around longer and get greater results.

When these things happen automatically, you’ll have the freedom to build your business.

But if it’s all in your head, you’ll have none of these things. Your internal goals, your standards and your processes are just daydreams.

In this series, I’m going to tell you how discipline and rules make you—and your staff—more money. Then I’m going to tell you how to start getting your business out of your head and into a system.

We walk through this process step by step in RampUp because if you dig deep enough into any problem faced by a gym owner, a lack of systems is usually at the root.


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.