How To Beat The Knockoffs

“I have a new F45 gym in my neighborhood. And I hear there’s an Orange Theory opening up soon, too. How can I possibly compete against these guys?”

Big chains are very good at selling group fitness. They’ve taken the CrossFit group model, built a solid system and brand around it, and they’re selling it in your neighborhood. They’re probably selling it for more than you are. They’re probably paying their coaches less. They probably have less equipment and space, but cleaner floors and nice bathrooms. They’ve commoditized intensity, and they’re better at business than you are.
How do you compete? You don’t. Here’s how to build a business that benefits from The Knockoffs, instead of trying to put them out of business:

  1. Sell coaching, not choreography.
    Coach people 1:1 in your classes. Coach people 1:1 in a private setting. Coach people between classes with goal review sessions. Coach your clients in your private Facebook group.
    Consider yourself the umbrella: prescribe exercise, nutrition and lifestyle to your clients.
    Imagine yourself saying, “Based on your goals, I recommend three HIIT workouts per week, and one slower, easier day on your bicycle. We’re going to eat 16 Zone blocks per day for the summer, and we’ll reconfigure for the fall. I want you to finish these three books before September when we meet again.”
    That seems simple, right? But a truly evolved coach could follow that question with this one:
    “Where would you like to do the HIIT component of your program? You can do it here with me, or you can do it at Orange Theory. I have a contact there who can set you up.”
    Could you still make money by sending people to Orange Theory? Well, you tell people to ride their bikes, right? And you don’t sell bikes. You don’t have to own every piece of their prescription to get paid as their coach.
  2. Consider the “other guys” as an OnRamp to your program.
    One of the big mistakes I made when I opened was slamming P90X. Most of the local firefighters were doing P90X DVDs at the fire hall. I thought that was my competition. I should have realized they’d all get bored after the 8-week challenge ended, and want the next rung up the ladder–CrossFit.
    I should have said, “When you reach the eighth week, come into the gym and let’s do the Ab Ripper together!” and then provided an easy segue into a CrossFit class. But I didn’t. And there’s still a wedge between Catalyst and firefighters.
  3. Build your prices above their threshold. 
    The truth is that The Knockoffs are doing you a huge service: They’re anchoring a higher price for coaching, and filtering people who want to pay for coaching. They’re spending thousands on lead generation in the local market. And their BEST clients really want YOU–or will soon.
    Your WORST clients might want THEM. What does that tell you? That your clients don’t really have a problem with price, but they don’t see the value in what you’re selling. They see you as the same commodity, not as their coach, and they’re willing to pay more for the better commodity offering. Unless, of course, you’re doing the stuff I listed in #1.
  4. Let them put a chip on your shoulder. 
    That’s right, get mad. These guys took Greg’s ideas and didn’t contribute to our Movement. They’re not better coaches than you, but they’re earning the owners more. Their science is usually fluff. And your clients like them better!
    Use that chip on your shoulder to get up early and get better at business. Shoot a coaching video every morning, correcting some wrong you see in the local market. Teach, don’t rant, but use them like a pebble in your shoe (I do this with other ‘business consultants’ in the fitness space.)
    Open before they do. Call and text your clients. Run your warmups outside their front door. Teach your clients to know more than their coaches do. Steal their soap–well, maybe take a class and steal their best ideas. Don’t steal their soap.

We actually love Orange Theory and F45, because they’re better at sales and pricing than most CrossFit gyms. That means they pull the price anchor upward. Read more here.
And boxes who can place themselves above The Knockoffs on the value ladder–by offering more coaching during, around and between class workouts–actually benefit from having a Knockoff gym in their market. Some of that is mindset, but some of it is strategy. Depending on which phase of entrepreneurship you’re in, you and your mentor can build a strategy to knock out The Knockoffs.
They’re sitting ducks, my friend. None of their coaches care about their business, their livelihood or their clients as much as you do. Prove it.


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.