How to Retire as a Gym Owner (Yes, It Can Be Done)

A road leading off into a forest with the word "retirement" written on it.

My lowest point as a gym owner didn’t come in my worst month.

Instead, I hit rock bottom during an above-average month. Our gym was pretty full; I had over 40 personal-training clients per week alone. We were paying the rent, and I wasn’t missing paychecks. In fact, I couldn’t figure out how we could even take more clients.

But it wasn’t enough. I was barely paying the rent, even with a full schedule. My staff members weren’t making enough. My clients would only train with me. And I was working from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. (and seven hours on Saturday, too).

In that low point, I asked myself, “Is this all there is?”

I couldn’t see a way to pay myself an extra $100 per week, let alone save for my kids’ education—or retire.

Even worse, when I looked around the fitness industry, I couldn’t find a single example of someone who’d worked as a trainer for 30 years and then retired to a life of ease.

That was 2008. Ten years later, I’d built a retirement plan for myself—but I was still the only one I could find. So I started teaching the plan to our higher-level gym owners in Two-Brain.

Last year, Two-Brain Business certified 26 millionaires—these are people with a net worth of over $1 million—or just barely enough to retire right now. That means if they sold everything and paid off all their debts, they’d have at least a million dollars left in their hands.

Here’s how they did it.

Option 1: Scale Up Your Business

Some of these successful gym owners expanded their fitness empire by adding more locations, growing their client base over 250 or adding different services. Some diversified into other markets (like opening a ninja gym or a nutrition consulting practice), some duplicated their operation in a nearby town, and some simply added a higher-ticket offer to their practices.

All of them invested in mentorship to grow their businesses. Some leveled up to become mentors for Two-Brain, scaling their knowledge to help other gym owners!

Of note, though: Just leaving money in your business isn’t “reinvesting” in it. You must think like an investor and leverage money to do things that actually grow your revenue.

The key to this strategy is to reinvest in your own business, which will grow faster than anything else (usually) but require a lot of active involvement.

Option 2: Reinvest Your Profit

After reading “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki, I decided to buy a building. The building would house my gym as long as I owned it, but then I could rent it to someone else and live off that income when I was ready to retire.

By 2014, I had a building, and by 2017 I’d paid it off. Now my gym pays me rent, which I reinvest elsewhere.

Others reinvest their profit in short-term rentals (like Airbnbs), long-term rentals, index funds, overfunded whole-life insurance, bonds—the list goes on and on.

The key to this strategy is to put your money somewhere where it will grow without your oversight.

The Only Thing You Must Do

You have many paths available, but one thing is non-negotiable if you want to take even one step:

You must level up as a leader.

Obviously, there’s a lot of overlap between these options. Some will buy a building for their gym and then buy another gym out of town. Many, like me, have money in our gym, a building, some stocks and even other businesses.

But no matter which direction you take, you must level up your knowledge and your leadership.

Being the local expert on metabolism still makes you the local beginner on real-estate purchases.

None of your deadlift prowess translates into the bond market, unfortunately.

And as you tackle these new opportunities and build a larger platform for your family, your leadership skills will have to grow to match. You will no longer be on the gym floor all the time. You might hire a manager. You might have to spread your attention across two gyms—or resist the urge to open a taco truck.

Our Tinker Program was built to help successful gym owners make long-term plans, including expansion, reinvestment and retirement. Of course, we focus a ton of attention on leadership development, too!

Click here to talk with our team about Tinker.


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.