How Much Time Does It Take To Run A Gym?

What’s your job?
 
When you start working out, your job is to become as fit as possible.
When you become a coach, your job is to get others as fit as possible. That comes first. Your workouts–though necessary–come second.
When you open a gym, your job is to make the gym profitable. That comes first. When your primary work is done, you can coach. And when the coaching is done, you can train.
 
This is a message I’ve repeated very often, because it’s a fundamental concept–AND it’s often forgotten.
 
Some gym owners refer to “the business side” of owning a gym–as if there were any other side. Owning a gym is owning a gym. Coaching is coaching. They’re not the same. Business isn’t what you do if you have time left over between appointments. Business is what makes the appointments possible.
 
Other gym owners are running their business upside down: they open a gym so they can train first, coach second, and worry about “the other stuff” in the time left over. Of course, these gyms don’t last long.
 
But most gym owners started a business to buy themselves a coaching job. And if your dream is to coach for 5-8 hours every day, working only with high-paying clients one-on-one or in very small groups of 2-3, then sure: the model can work. I started out this way. But someday, you might want some time off; or a raise; or a business that doesn’t close its doors when you get sick. And when that time comes, you’re going to have to work ON the business instead of IN the business.
 
Not sometimes. ALL the time.
 
It’s not hard to spend 50 hours per week running the business. There’s more than enough to do. And if someone isn’t dedicating at least 40 hours to managing and growing your gym, it will take YEARS to become successful.
 
Let’s say it takes 2000 hours per year (50 weeks x 40 hours) to run a great gym. That includes time spent meeting new clients, training your coaches, collecting money, stocking toilet paper, building your processes…I can’t even list everything.
 
A gym owner who coaches 20 classes per week will have, at BEST, 20 hours per week to work “on the business”. Because she also has to eat, and sleep, and train, and talk to clients before and after class…
 
That means she has a maximum of 1000 hours to invest in business operations and growth per year. And that means it will take her twice as long to become successful as a full-time owner.
 
What if she’s tired from coaching? What if she spends some of that time following bad advice she found in a Facebook group? What if she spends 10 hours designing a new t-shirt or arguing about the profit margin of Kill Cliff vs FitAid?
 
The more she coaches, the less effective her time will be on “other stuff”.
 
If she has 500 productive hours per year–or 10 per week–it will take her FOUR years to reach the level of a full-time gym owner. And probably more. As someone who’s tried to grow a gym on ten hours per week, I can attest: those ten hours are not very productive. The only thing that saved me was having a mentor, because then I maximized those ten hours to get a LOT done. But Catalyst’s recovery and growth still took years longer than it had to, because I was coaching too much.
 
Running a gym is a full-time job. Now I have an amazing GM at Catalyst named Jamie. He likes to coach a couple of classes per week (literally two.) But his job isn’t coaching; it’s running and growing the gym. And he’s great at it, and his hard work creates jobs for the coaches.
 
What’s your job? As soon as you take responsibility for the welfare of others, your job is to make them as successful as possible. As a coach, that means making your clients successful. As an owner, it means making your staff successful. That means building the business first, and coaching in your “free time” after the work is done.

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