How to Run a Gym Remotely (and Catastrophe-Free)

A gym owner holds a remote control and pilots and airborne drone.

I’ve seen many owners try to completely abdicate responsibility for running their gyms—and then watch the businesses die from a distance.

Here’s how to run a gym from afar the right way.

1. Delegate Before You Abdicate

If you want to step back, you must hire people to fill the roles you, the owner, currently hold. Test them in the roles for at least three months, evaluate their progress with key performance indicators (KPIs) and mentor them to improve.

Here are the key roles you need to fill to manage the gym:

  • Marketer/lead nurturer—someone has to generate new leads and convert those leads into appointments.
  • Salesperson—someone has to convert those appointments into clients.
  • Client success manager (CSM)—someone has to keep those clients around.
  • Admin—someone has to bill those clients.
  • Property manager—someone has to make sure the lightbulbs work.
  • Programming—someone has to find or write the workouts.
  • Cleaner—someone has to keep the place clean.
  • Media creator/social-media person—someone has to keep your place visible.
  • Head coach—someone has to make sure the coaches are coaching well.

If you wear any of these hats, you have to hire someone else to wear them for you.

Here’s what you can expect to pay for each role, at minimum (obviously rates change in different areas):

  • Marketer/lead nurturer—$25 an hour (about one hour a day, asynchronous work, aka “done on demand”).
  • Salesperson—$25 per No Sweat Intro (as required. I don’t pay for NSIs, but most do. In my gym, the person doing the NSI gets the client as their reward.).
  • CSM—$25 an hour (about one hour a day, following your Client Journey).
  • Admin—$25 an hour (three hours a week).
  • Property manager—$330 a month or about 10 percent of your rent.
  • Programmer—$40 an hour (one hour a week to tailor or write general group programming. You can buy it for $49 a month. Don’t overpay for constantly varied, high-intensity programming.).
  • Cleaner—$20 an hour (five nights per week).
  • Head coach—$35 per goal review or staff evaluation.
  • Media creator—$50 per delivered piece (blog, YouTube video or podcast)
  • Social media—$25 per hour (one hour a day, or $400 a month).

Some of these numbers are driven by local market rates (like cleaner); some are driven by broad market rates (like social media and programming—you can outsource both pretty cheaply).

Total staff expense for all of these? About $2,600 a month in my gym, with about 20 hours a week of total work.

You’ll notice I didn’t include coaches here—that’s because these are the roles required to manage the gym. If you’re still coaching and want to run your business remotely, you’ll obviously have to pay someone else to coach, too.

These roles don’t all have to be filled by different people. Some can wear multiple hats. For example, the head coach can do goal reviews, evaluations, NSIs and more.

2. Consider Combining Roles for a “General Manager”

A very broad skill set is required to manage everything listed above, but it is possible for one person to do all of it in about 20 hours a week.

You can find value if one person is responsible for overseeing everything. The downside is that this person becomes a linchpin who might also come with deficiencies in some areas: If they’re only good at some parts of the job, or if they leave, you’ll be in a real bind.

If you have a person who can do all of these things at the required level, multiply the total expenses (around $2,600 a month in the example) by 1.15. That extra 15 percent is for bearing the burden of responsibility. The job becomes overseeing everything and fixing problems without you.

A good GM will see that lightbulbs need changing and get the lightbulbs changed.

A weak GM will see that lightbulbs need changing and text you about it.

It’s worth an extra 15 percent to have a good GM.

Remember: If you don’t have a general manager, you’re the general manager. The same goes for any of the roles above.

3. Mentor Your General Manager

Just as you, the owner, have a mentor, your GM needs a mentor. Unless you hire a mentor for the GM, you’re the mentor.

One reason a GM might not take the initiative to change the lightbulb: They don’t know what to do. Another reason: They don’t know who to call. Still another: They don’t have access to money.

As you mentor them, you’ll solve these problems for yourself, too.

“Oh, you don’t have money? I’ll buy some $100 gift cards for Home Depot, and you can use them to buy cleaning supplies every month.”

“Oh, you don’t know who can change a ballast? Here’s my contact.”

“Oh, you aren’t aware that’s your job? No problem, let’s write an SOP so you can own the process.”

Delegate and Support

Running a gym remotely means you’re hands off, but it doesn’t mean you’re disconnected.

Remember this: Any role that’s left unfilled will fall on you, whether it’s cleaner or mentor. And if you don’t support the person in each role properly, the role will fall back in your lap.

If you want to ensure you delegate jobs properly, check out my series on gym automation.


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.