Top Skills for Gym Owners: Gain Thinking

A closeup image of a person placing a final red block to complete a bridge made of wooden blocks.

The real secret to success as a gym owner is building and keeping momentum.

You’re going to have setbacks. You can’t avoid them. The key is to ensure those setbacks happen less often and have minimal effect.

Imagine you’re trying to walk up a road. You keep taking a small step forward and then a small step backward. You do this over and over until you’re tired. But you haven’t gone anywhere!

But then one day you take two steps forward and then one backward. That’s much better. You’re getting somewhere. You’re not going fast, and you’re probably frustrated at your pace, but you’re getting closer to your destination.

And then, a few days later, you’re able to take three steps forward before taking one back. Then four steps forward and one step back. Then five steps—and on and on.

This is what it means to build momentum. In business, it’s more important to build and keep momentum than to do any one momentous thing.

When I look at a gym owner’s progress over the last year or two years and I see a lot of ups and downs—one step forward and one step back—I know they’re working hard and I know they’re trying things, but I also know they’ll never grow. Because they don’t have momentum.

Here’s how to fix the problem.

1. Measure Backward

This sounds counterintuitive, but you must measure how far you’ve come instead of how far you have to go.

Momentum requires energy. You create energy for yourself when you have little “wins” in your business—you take one step forward and you feel great. Repeated success creates momentum.

In his book “The Gap and the Gain,” Dan Sullivan gives the advice to focus on “the gain”: look back at the progress you’ve already made. He calls this “measuring backward, not forward”—which means comparing your current position against your former position instead of your ideal position.

Basically, count your wins.

Here’s how I do it: Every night, before I go to sleep, I ask myself, “What did I do today to grow my business?”

I think back through the day and hopefully find something that clearly grew my business in a measurable way. It doesn’t have to be a momentous thing—it can be one blog post, one email to some former clients, one No Sweat Intro.

It doesn’t have to be momentous; it just has to preserve my momentum.

2. Keep Doing What’s Working

When something works, keep doing it until it stops working—not until you’re bored with it. We’re all drawn to new ideas. But we have limited bandwidth. So when we find a new idea, we usually stop doing what we’re currently doing and start doing the new thing instead.

This “one and done” thinking is what creates the ups and downs in your revenue and the feeling of “one step forward, one step back” in your head.

For example, let’s say you come to the Two-Brain Summit and you learn about doing sell by chat on Instagram. You go home and text 300 people the next day. You get nine to book an appointment and sell to five. That’s pretty great for two hours of work, right?

You should do that every month and every week—even every day.

Instead, you probably heard about setting up your customer relationship management (CRM) system. So the next week you do that. And the third week you start using AI to write blog posts. And the fourth week you start a podcast. Three months later, you haven’t done any more sell by chat on Instagram. One and done, you quit doing the thing that was working.

Even if the new idea works, there’s always a ramp-up period. So when you stop doing the thing that is working, your revenue dips before the new thing takes its place.

3. Delegate

Maybe you started doing Goal Reviews and started getting referrals. But you don’t like doing them, so you forget to book 20 for next month.

Or you try to automate them by sending out emails or whatever. And you stop getting referrals. You think, “Oh, they only worked for a while,” when in truth you only worked them for a while.

This is what your staff is for.

We teach gym owners to systemize, optimize and automate the stuff they don’t like. So after you’ve done something, write the process down. Then teach it to someone else. Watch them do it. Tweak the system to make it better (this is what a mentor does). Then delegate or automate it—it’s the same thing; the word is just different if you’re talking about humans or robots.

Build Momentum!

The most important force in business is momentum.

All the books you read about the 1 percent rule and building habits and incremental gains, they’re really all just about momentum. And gain thinking creates momentum by having you focus on your wins every day.

If you see your progress, you’ll keep going. Success creates momentum.

In the next post in this series, I’m going to talk about the hardest entrepreneurial skill to acquire: virtuosity.

Other Media in This Series

“Top Skills for Gym Owners: Focus for the Win”
“Top Skills for Gym Owners: Virtuosity”


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.