Superhero-Sized Revenue: Secrets From Wolverine’s Trainer

Superhero-Sized Revenue: Secrets From Wolverine’s Trainer

Mike Warkentin (00:02):
Hugh Jackman said this to my guest: “Thank you for all you did over the years to help me on this journey. You are the best.” That’s a true story. Steve Ramsbottom of the Performance Institute in Burnaby, B.C. has worked with Jackman, Zac Efron, Amanda Peet, Jessica Alba, and many more. Now, he’s also a celebrity himself because he’s one of Two-Brain’s revenue leaders. I’m putting on my X-Men uniform today to rip into the story with adamantium claws in this episode of “Run a Profitable Gym.” I’m your host, Mike Warkentin. If you want the cheat codes to gym ownership, hit “Subscribe” wherever you’re watching or listening because I have the top gym owners in the world on this show every month, and they shed their secrets. If you want that, hit “Subscribe.” Now, Steve from Burnaby, welcome. How are you doing today?

Steve Ramsbottom (00:43):
I’m great. Thanks so much for having me.

Mike Warkentin (00:45):
I am pumped about this. And before we get into revenue, I have to ask you about it because there’s no way around it: How did you end up training some of the biggest stars in Hollywood?

Steve Ramsbottom (00:52):
So, kind of a fun story. Our facility initially started as what’s called an acceleration program, which is no more. So, it was kind of famous for having a high-speed running treadmill that went up to about 30 miles an hour. And I got a call one day from a trainer, and my friend now, Ramona Braganza, who is working with Jessica Alba. And, uh, she was having some knee issues, and she said, “Hey, can you look at her running mechanics? I think there’s something wrong with her running mechanics.” So, I got to work with Jess for a few sessions, which was cool. And from there, we heard that X-Men was coming into Vancouver and basically applied for the job, did an interview. All of a sudden, I got a call one day from Hugh saying, “Hey mate, can you train me?” And I got really lucky. We had a great, great relationship, and I got to work with him on three different films, and it kind of spun through there with some different actors and different opportunities down the road.

Mike Warkentin (01:48):
What a cool story. I don’t know if I’ve ever talked to anyone who’s got a phone call from Hugh Jackman. Is he—I’ve got to ask this. I’ve seen the Instagram videos. Is he really as strong as he looks in those videos?

Steve Ramsbottom (01:57):
He—you know what—he’s like all us gym geeks. You know, he worked in a gym going through university too.

Mike Warkentin (02:03):
Oh yeah?

Steve Ramsbottom (02:04):
He loves to stay fit, and he loves pushing it. And very early into us training together, I started working out with him, and we were pushing each other, and I got in the fittest shape in my life working out with him too, so it was fun. Yeah.

Mike Warkentin (02:18):
Yeah because I’ve seen those deadlift videos of him creeping up around four or 500 or something like that. And I was just like, “Wow, that looks legit.” So, you’ve got a hand in that. Well, my claimed to fame is I watched a March Madness basketball game beside Dennis Quaid on a recumbent bike one time.

Steve Ramsbottom (02:32):

Mike Warkentin (02:32):
He asked me a question; I look over, “Oh, I liked your movies. Who’s winning?” Away we go. Not as cool as your story, but let’s get into the other parts of your story. Give me the 411 on Performance Institute. Like, what do you do? What’s your gym size? What do you sell? Who’s your ideal client besides Hugh Jackman? Basic overview.

Steve Ramsbottom (02:49):
So real quick, we’re coming up on our 25th anniversary in January, so we’ve been around a while. We started as an athlete focused facility. From there, we quickly learned we needed to expand because we weren’t pulling in the revenue that we needed to grow. So, over the years the core of our business has always been small group training. You know, our demographic is people who were athletic or maybe still are and maybe a little banged up, and they’re 35 to 65—somewhere in there is the majority of our clients. And then, we have quite a few personal training clients as well. And then we do active rehab, so with something in Vancouver—in B.C. called ICBC. So, post car accident, people come to rehab with us. Outside of there, we’ve got a corporate group. We work with a large number of figure skaters as we’re in a facility with eight hockey rinks. And then we’ve gone into doing soft tissue release sessions with a number of our trainers, and my wife does our nutrition coaching.

Mike Warkentin (03:49):
Wow. So that’s a ton of cool stuff. I’m going to blow your horn a little bit for a couple other things I pulled off your website. You are actually the author of the book “Wheelchair Training,” and you’ve been part of 11 Paralympic medals, or has that number gone up? Have I got it right at 11?

Steve Ramsbottom (04:01):
I’m not sure what the number is, but yeah, I’ve had the opportunity to work with several of our national Paralympic teams, and yeah so, we’ve been fortunate to work with many of them. They’re awesome people.

Mike Warkentin (04:13):
Yeah. And then over the course of your career, I also see that you worked with the Vancouver Ravens lacrosse team, and you were strength and conditioning coach for the Vancouver Whitecaps for six years.

Steve Ramsbottom (04:22):
Eight years I think it was. Yeah.

Mike Warkentin (04:23):
Eight years. Okay. So, I’ve got it wrong on the website. My apologies on that, but what a list of stuff in 25 years in business. I want to ask you one specific thing about what you just said: When you say small groups, what kind of size is that generally?

Steve Ramsbottom (04:33):
So small groups for us is—what we try to do is personal training within a small group setting. So, we have one coach per maximum of five people, generally.

Mike Warkentin (04:43):

Steve Ramsbottom (04:44):

Mike Warkentin (04:45):
How long have you been doing that?

Steve Ramsbottom (04:46):
So I actually started at our facility as a student intern before eventually taking it over. And that kind of concept was there when I came. And we’ve run with it and really expanded it, and we never had personal training before. And that’s something that we’ve done for many years now. And that’s definitely one of the keystones to what we do.

Mike Warkentin (05:08):
Yeah, it’s very cool because Brian Bott out in New Jersey, he talked about semi-private training, which is the exact concept where you’re working with individual clients in a group setting. And it’s a great way for a trainer to serve a lot of clients like two to four usually is a good number with high touch service and personalized programming, but doing, you know, four clients at the same time. So, “Your warmup is this,” check-in, circle around to the next person. You’ve actually developed your own version of that on the West Coast, it sounds like.

Steve Ramsbottom (05:35):
Yeah. Oh, for sure. Yeah. We’ve done it, and it definitely—I think the negative to it is it takes time to get a coach ready to be able to handle that because it’s not doing a one-on-one session. So, it can take a few months to really get someone ready to take five people and do a great job with it. But when you do it, I think it’s more economical for the client. It provides that community, and they get a great result from it.

Mike Warkentin (06:02):
And then from a business perspective, if what Brian says is true—tell me—it’s got to generate great revenue because you’ve got a number of PT clients in that setting where they get a bit of a break because your attention is diluted, but at the same time, you’re making better revenue than just throwing people into a group class at a hundred bucks. Is that right?

Steve Ramsbottom (06:18):
Absolutely. And then, I mean, one of the things that we’ve been trying to do is—I think especially since Two-Brain has really, you know, poked me in the butt to do this—is to try to get some of those people needing extra attention, be it nutrition or soft tissue release work or personal training sessions, and get them really getting the full value out of what we can do.

Mike Warkentin (06:37):
So you’re offering a total package. And before I ask you about your revenue streams, tell me: You’ve been in business for a long time. 25 years, almost, now. Why did you sign up for mentorship with Two-Brain? What, what brought you to us?

Steve Ramsbottom (06:47):
I did a few coaching programs before Two-Brain, and my wife, who’s my partner, found Two-Brain, and she said, “I think this place looks legit.” And I think it’s a blessing and a curse in that we’re always trying to improve what we do. And the longer I—you know, thinking about this podcast—the longer I’ve been in business, I think the one thing I can pass on is don’t expect your business to be perfect because it never will be. And I think what you have to do is look at where your biggest gaps are and try to find where you can improve the most. And I mean, we all have places that we can do better, and I think that’s what you want to do is, is kind of chip away at one thing at a time and slowly change your business. And if you’re moving forward well, a year later, you’ve made some huge changes.

Mike Warkentin (07:31):
I’m going to ask you about some of the gaps that you filled in to bring things up to an elite level now. But before I do, just give me an idea of—you mentioned a lot of different revenue streams. How do they break down loosely? Like is it, you know, 90% group in some gyms and 10% personal training in others? Mine was 100% percent group and no personal training. How do yours kind of shake out? So people have an idea of how you split up the time and the energy in your business.

Steve Ramsbottom (07:53):
We’re roughly doing about 15 personal training sessions a day. So, I would say we’re something like 60/40, 70/30 group to personal training. The small group is, like I said, the core of our business, but we do quite a few privates and semi-private as well.

Mike Warkentin (08:12):
Okay. And group training, what kind of stuff do you do in there? Is it like high intensity interval stuff, or is it other things?

Steve Ramsbottom (08:16):
We try to bring the right tool for the job. We have—

Mike Warkentin (08:19):
Ah, good.

Steve Ramsbottom (08:20):
All different sorts of people, right? Like our youngest client is like 11 years old, and we’ve got three 85-year-olds. So, it depends. And that’s maybe not the easiest answer, but it really depends. You know, some people, it—we try to give them what they need and what their goals are, and we always try to merge what the client wants with what they need and make it a happy union between those two things.

Mike Warkentin (08:45):
That might not be the easy answer, but I think that’s the best answer. And I think a lot of us back in the day got hooked on certain methods and realized that sometimes their client didn’t like that method or didn’t want to use it, and there was another way to get the same or better result by just switching things up and that client might have more fun. So, I think you’re onto something there. And if your clients are staying for a long time and love working with you, you’ve obviously done a good job. I want to ask you about—so gross revenue, how has that changed over the years? And you’ve got 25 years to look at, but how did things change, and what are some of the big reasons that that went up? Was it adding programs, or was it raising rates, or what did you do there?

Steve Ramsbottom (09:16):
I think it’s a number of factors. I mean, we’ve had times where we really haven’t been on top of increasing our rates regularly. And that’s the thing that we’re really trying to stay on top of now is every year we do a price increase. I think it’s much easier to be able to introduce that to our clients rather than having one big shot. And because we were not on top of it, we’ve had to do that a couple times where we’ve had to do large increases to really catch up and pay our staff properly and cover all our expenses. So, I think that’s certainly a part of it. The big thing that we did—man, looking back probably five years ago now—is we always sold sessions, and when we went to the membership model, that changed the game dramatically. So, you know, if you’re not, if you’re not doing memberships, I think you’re really missing out. And I had a friend of mine who’s got a gym in downtown Vancouver, and he kept trying to push me to do it, and I was always afraid because it was change. And I finally decided we have to do this, and when we did, it’s been nothing but positive.

Mike Warkentin (10:22):
Okay, so if I’m a PT member at your gym, I have a membership to that, and it just rolls over on a subscription basis. Have I got that right?

Steve Ramsbottom (10:28):
Well, we haven’t done it for our personal training clients. And I know the question I always get is: Are people being committed to the sessions? We don’t have a problem with commitment with our personal training sessions. So, it’s not that. And a lot of people do tend to travel and different things, so we’re giving them flexibility. However, the majority are very consistent with the small group, though; everything is on membership now.

Mike Warkentin (10:53):
And the best part about that is that you don’t have to sell things every single time. Because I do the same thing where it’s like punch cards and packages and things like that. And like if someone’s like, “I’m going to hold this punch card for a little bit,” you kind of—the revenue doesn’t go. So like regular revenue on that subscription model is great. And I know there are some people that would do it—that do do it with PT. So, it’s like you have eight PT sessions, and you’re booked every month, and you’re going to use them. They don’t roll over. You’ve got to get them done, and it renews every month, and away you go. So, there are—listeners, there are people out there that do that model as well. When you brought in different programs, were those big revenue bumps for you? Like when you said your wife started doing nutrition, things like that, did those things really start bumping revenue, or was that just like a little bit of gravy on the pie?

Steve Ramsbottom (11:32):
I would say it’s gravy. She’ll typically have around 10 clients on the go for nutrition. I think it’s far easier to get someone to start training than it is to change their diet.

Mike Warkentin (11:42):
It is.

Steve Ramsbottom (11:43):
Some people—I assessed a guy this week and he’s like, “I’m not going to start training until I change my diet.” And he—you know, that’s a rarity. Usually, you get people training for a while and then like, “You know, I’m doing great, but I really want to get leaner. I want to do this.” And nutrition is such an important component, so everyone’s on their own timeline a little bit, and that’s something we’re looking to improve on—how well we do with that structure. But yeah, that coaching is—it’s on top, but it provides such an important service. We really want to keep doing that.

Mike Warkentin (12:11):
Yeah. You know, and listeners, I can tell you that our State of the Industry Report—Two-Brain’s—is coming out. And one of the things we’ve noticed is that nutrition does not—still year to year—does not generate a huge portion of revenue in any gym. And that’s not—I won’t say any gym. In most gyms. There are a few out there that I know that’ll get like 20% of their revenue: Clark Hibbs at Yellow Rose Fitness in Texas does that—20% from nutrition—and his wife does it in their spare bedroom. However, that’s not common. I think the number this year—I think it’s under five for sure. So, that’s an interesting one to think about. And it is, as Steve said, very difficult sometimes to get people to change their diet. It’s not to say you shouldn’t do nutrition, but maybe it’s not the biggest target for you. You have to decide for your business. Steve, where do you get your clients from? You’ve got obviously high value clients besides Hugh Jackman calling you up. Who else is—how are you finding these people?

Steve Ramsbottom (12:57):
You know, the biggest source for us has always been referrals. And that’s something that we used to just take as they came. And we’re trying to get much more proactive with that. So, especially as clients start and we do the whole indoctrination of Performance Institute with them, we’re asking for friends and family to come join in. And that’s certainly something that certainly not everybody does, but I think you’ll always have those certain clients when you’re asking because I think a lot of people think, “Oh, you don’t want to take on any more clients.” And that’s usually not the answer the gym owner wants to hear. So, I think you have to be a little proactive with that. That’s been the biggest thing. We’ve certainly seen a difference with our blogging and social media posting.

Steve Ramsbottom (13:43):
When we do—especially videos—the old “get people to know, like, and trust you,” I think that’s a really important thing. And I think the more you get out there, we definitely see a lot more of that. So, I would say those are the two biggest ones. We haven’t done any paid marketing consistently, and that’s something that we’re actually looking to just get into around the corner here. So, we’re, like I said, we’ve been trying to improve all our different systems, and I didn’t feel like we were really ready for that yet. And, and I think now we’re going to try to turn the corner and go there and hopefully continue to grow our business.

Mike Warkentin (14:19):
Ah, that’s neat. You hit on two of the funnels that Chris Cooper has built for Two-Brain clients. The ones that are super important are: organic social media, which doesn’t cost you a lot other than your time. You crank the stuff out. And the other one is the referral funnel. If you have good clients, you want more people just like them. The best people to get are their friends and family, even their coworkers, and then you start working outward because if these people bring their friends in, they’re warm leads. They already have a connection to your business. As Steve said, they know, like, and trust you, and it’s kind of a huge win for everybody because they have a reason to stay with your business. They have a friend in the business, they’re going to get great results. Everything is pretty wonderful. So that referral funnel is huge. If I was going to give you some advice, listeners, ask your clients, and don’t just like expect it to happen. Ask them: Who in your group can I help? And they’ll give you someone and then crank out the media. Steve, how often do you publish stuff on social media, and where can people look at it? What’s your best account?

Steve Ramsbottom (15:09):
Honestly, that’s something we met with our coach Jolene this week on is trying—

Mike Warkentin (15:14):
Oh, she’s good at that.

Steve Ramsbottom (15:15):
Yeah, we’re trying to get some more structure to what we do because we’re typically twice a week with emails and then we’re—social media posts a couple times a week. And you know, we’re probably far less than a lot of places. And that’s something that we’re looking to build. Like I said, every business, I think, has areas that they can improve, and that’s something that we’re looking to address right now.

Mike Warkentin (15:38):
Well, you know, maybe two times a week, organic social media, you could post more there. But I don’t know too many gyms that are sending emails twice a week. And I believe that your email contact list is more important than your social media. And that’s just a personal opinion, but I know that getting stuff into a person’s inbox is a lot easier than getting into their social media feed because you’re competing with so much stuff right now. So, I think like two emails a week is a huge, huge thing. If you add in some outside stuff, I think that’s just going to add fuel to the fire for you. So good work on sending email because most gym owners do not do that. If you have not sent an email to your client list or your contact list lately, do it tomorrow morning. I guarantee you’ll get a client out of it. Steve, what are you doing to generate revenue right now? Is there anything important that you’ve got like a main focus, either with Jolene or with someone else? What are you doing right now to start bump up that number? Or are you just looking at holding steady and retaining? What’s your focus?

Steve Ramsbottom (16:28):
All the above. I think.

Mike Warkentin (16:29):

Steve Ramsbottom (16:30):
From when—you know, the early days—when I was manning our front desk and doing all the training and doing everything myself, and then we’d go through a slow period, and it’d be like, “Oh, I’ve got to start calling all these people who haven’t been in in a while.” It took me a few hundred rounds of doing that to figure, “Hey, if I do this regularly, maybe this won’t be an issue.” So that would be my biggest thing is work on retention. And that’s something that, since working with Two-Brain, we’ve really been proactive with is doing follow ups. So, we’re doing follow ups with our clients constantly within the session. And then also we’re getting external contacts without it. And sometimes this is email with certain people—as we get to know, they respond better. Sometimes it’s a phone call.

Steve Ramsbottom (17:11):
So, retention I think is honestly one of our biggest ones. Improving all our systems, finding the gaps on everything from our programming: How can we improve our programming? How can we service our clients better? Simple stuff like that. Improving social media presence, community events. I think if people are showing up for a workout every week, after a while it gets stale, and you need to throw in something fun. So, we’re doing—next weekend, we’re going to run a rowing challenge just for fun. And we’re doing a fundraiser for what’s called KidSport out here. And so, we’re going to raise a bit of money and have some fun with it. And I think doing some of those social events periodically—people remember that, and you want to make it, you know, the funnest part of their day, the funnest part of their week. If you’re doing that, you’re doing a good job.

Mike Warkentin (17:58):
I really like that. And iif it’s fun, they’re going to tell their friends. They might bring a friend. Two-Brain recommends running a bring-a-friend event quarterly and making it very easy for people to get in touch with your business, learn about you, try it out, get on your mailing list, and eventually become clients. And honestly, the show is about revenue, but there’s no way to have revenue without retention. Like Steve, you just said it, retention of great clients is an incredible multiplier in your business because if you have a high average revenue per member and you’re offering a premium service at your gym—Steve, so you do—if you retain those clients for a long time, that adds up so quickly as opposed to bleeding off members and then having to spend money on marketing and then having to reintegrate people, and they bleed out, and you’re just on this hamster wheel, and it’s just miserable. If you can retain your clients longer, even a month longer for each client, and increase your length of engagement—industry average: 7.8 months; Two-Brain average: over 20. Okay. So, those are things that we have specific tactics for, but if you can increase your length of engagement by even a month per person, think about the math. Do the math in your head, and it adds up very quickly. So, I love that you’re focusing on that, Steve. Do you do goal review sessions as a specific thing?

Steve Ramsbottom (19:05):
It depends on the client. I think we’ve got to know our clients. So, while certain people, I will sit down with, some people I will call. A lot of people, I’ll just email, and I just find it’s—I’m going to get more information out of them that way, and I can get through our client list. And like every month—I’m doing it right now as I go through our monthly lists on clients who I’ve got to reach out for who are coming up on membership renewal and that sort of thing. We kind of space it out that way. Yeah, we’ve done that, and I think the reality is some clients don’t really respond to it, and they’re like, “Yeah, it’s great.” And they don’t, and then other times, you pick up things that, “Hey, I want to do a bit more of this in my program,” or “I want to get my deadlift better,” or whatever it is. And then you communicate with your staff, and they know that they’re being taken care of. And again, that just leads to retention that you’re hoping for.

Mike Warkentin (19:55):
Yeah, and the reason doesn’t surprise me that you’re not formally doing a goal review system. I’ve talked to enough people that run gyms like yours that because they’re staff people, and their owners are so in touch with their clients, and you’ve got small group personal training, a lot of that, often in those settings, you don’t see people doing these formal goal review sessions because you’re talking about their goals every single day, every week. It’s such a high-touch, close relationship that it’s almost—you don’t need that session. In other gyms like mine, for example, when I ran a larger facility back in the day, it would’ve been great to have done goal review sessions because we didn’t ask clients their goals; we just assumed they wanted to deadlift more, and some of them wanted to lose body fat, could have used nutrition program, all these other things.

Mike Warkentin (20:34):
So if you’re out there and you aren’t talking to your clients, and you can’t literally list what Steve’s goal is or what Sean’s goal is, and you can’t rattle those off the top of your head, consider goal review sessions quarterly. Sit down with your clients, ask them how it’s going, ask them what they want to accomplish, put together a plan, tell them the price of that plan, and away you go. And you’re going to improve retention; you’re going to solve problems. It’s—and again, Steven, your thing: I’m guessing you are training your staff members and so forth, and you are going to be giving the highest touch service so that you’re talking to these people daily. Is that right?

Steve Ramsbottom (21:03):
Yeah, I mean, we really promote the “check-in” every session. Every session, you know, we try to do the “Cheers” thing, and everyone walks in, and everyone’s called by name: “Welcome”. And we do check-ins to see how everyone’s doing every single day. So that’s a huge part of what we do.

Mike Warkentin (21:19):
Yeah, in those types of environments—small group one-on-one—you get such a better chance to add retention because you’re building this incredible relationship. “People will quit a program; they won’t quit a relationship.” I think Greg Glassman from CrossFit said that, if I’m not mistaken, but it’s totally accurate. Tips specifically for strength and conditioning people: You said something interesting in the intro that I want to ask you about. You had focused originally at one point on athletes, which is an interesting market, and it’s great, but there’s not that many of them, right? So, it can be tough. What are your tips for strength and conditioning people, specifically those who might be thinking, “I want to train high-end athletes”?

Steve Ramsbottom (21:53):
You know, it’s still something that we do, and it’s still, I think, the foundation of how we treat all of our clients. Our saying is “You’re an athlete at your own level,” and be it rehab or high performance. So, we deal with quite a few athletes still. And some are adult athletes, some are hockey players in college, some are figure skaters or golfers or whatever. I think you have to look at what the yearly plan is for those athletes and find where are the off-seasons, and you can focus on different sports that way, but that’s just the reality of sport, especially the way it is now with academies and with so much going on. You’re not going to have them year-round. That’s just the reality of it, so you have to maybe get them six weeks or 12 weeks, and then fill in the gaps with other people if you really want to be athlete focused.

Mike Warkentin (22:47):
Yeah, it’s interesting. Back before I had my space, the only place where I could do Olympic lifting was a smaller gym in town where a lot of the local NHL guys would come and train in the off-season. So, we’d go in there, and we’d bring a barbell lift, whatever—like Jonathan Toews would literally be over there doing his programs and so forth. That facility was never—at least when I was there—was super full, but it eventually folded into what’s called the Iceplex out in Winnipeg, and I think the Winnipeg Jets train there now. So that was another option that those guys went. But you’ve had obviously some contact into like professional teams and so forth, but also treating all your athletes like professional athletes, even if they’re just, you know, with a soccer dad on the side. Is that right?

Steve Ramsbottom (23:22):
For sure. Absolutely.

Mike Warkentin (23:23):
That’s cool. I like that a lot. What if you were going to give someone a tip? So, I ask every gym owner this one, especially our leaders: If you were going to give a listener a tip at whatever level they’re at to start generating a little bit more revenue tomorrow, what would you tell them?

Steve Ramsbottom (23:36):
Well, I wrote down a few ideas, so I’ll try to—

Mike Warkentin (23:39):
Oh yeah. Give me all of them then; I’ll check them off.

Steve Ramsbottom (23:40):
So, my first one I thought of was: Take great care of your clients. And I think—it sounds obvious, and it sounds simple, but for trainers, I think they have to be reminded sometimes that it’s not all about the workout. You know, sometimes people are going through relationship issues, or they’re exhausted, or they’re hurt. Taking care of the clients: That’s such an important part. Communication with your clients, with your staff. It’s critical. Most of the issues that I’ve ever run into in business have been communication problems. And you know, the better you are at communicating with your people, the better off you’re going to do.

Mike Warkentin (24:17):
I’m going to just jump in there because you’re so right, and you said that it may be obvious, but for a lot of gym owners, and we’re focused on stuff, it’s not obvious for us because we’re trying to acquire more clients, and we’re not focusing. We do that at the expense of our current clients. Acquiring new clients shouldn’t come first. It should be holding onto your current clients. So, acquiring the new ones, get to that, but if your retention sucks, why bother? Right. Fix the retention; make it great. So, I love that you said that because it sounds obvious, but it wasn’t obvious to me at one point.

Steve Ramsbottom (24:47):
Yeah. And then I just had: Listen. Listen to your clients; see the feedback. If they’re telling you it hurts somewhere, see if you can help them figure it out. Get them to a professional if you can’t do it. Don’t be afraid to spend some extra time with the session. You know, we really try to encourage our coaches, if the workout runs 12 to one and you need another 10 minutes with them, spend it. Try to do your best with those people. And they will thank you so much for that long term, and they’ll keep coming back because you’re doing extra care, and they don’t want to see that you are “clocking in, clocking out,” so to speak. You know, so if you need to spend, you know, an extra five minutes or whatever with that person to really finish the session off properly, do it.

Mike Warkentin (25:26):
And that’s all built into your business model, correct? Because I’ve seen other guys where it’s like “on the clock, I’m out.” You’ve obviously built this so-called “flex time” into your business model because you want to prioritize client care even if it takes an extra 10 minutes.

Steve Ramsbottom (25:38):
Yeah. You know, one of the things that—there weren’t, there weren’t many—but one of the positive things from COVID was we had a ruling where we had to have a 15-minute clean gap in between all the sessions. It worked so well because we used to have groups coming in, and then the next group of people would come in, and it was a gong show to get the next group started. And having the gap gives the coaches a bit of a brain break—lets them get set, lets them get organized—and again, if we do need some extra time, we’ve got that built in now. So that, and remote training would be the other one that I guess I didn’t mention at the start that we’ve been able to do since COVID. So, two good things. The rests not so positive.

Mike Warkentin (26:21):
I hear you.

Steve Ramsbottom (26:22):
What else? I think meet collectively as a group; make sure you’re doing staff meetings. Again, sounds obvious. It’s something I was always resistant to, and always in my head, I was always like, “Ah, I’m too busy for this. I’ve got to grow this business. I’ve got work to do.” But spending that bit of time with your staff and going through training and systems and different things that are going to help the business and help them individually pays huge dividends. And I think you will continue to keep your staff longer. You know, we’ve been really lucky to have—like our longest coach has been with us now 17 years, and we’ve been able to keep some of our coaches really long. And I think that’s in part—so meet with them collectively and individually. And then finally: Lead by example. If you’re not the guy willing to pick up some paper towel off the floor or clean off the bathroom yourself when it needs it, they’re not going to do it. So, you really have to have those expectations and lead by example.

Mike Warkentin (27:18):
So what I’m—sometimes when I talk to gym owners, and I talk about revenue, they talk about marketing, and they talk about outreach and average revenue per member and all that other stuff. It’s interesting to talk to you, and your focus is inside the business creating what I’ll call—I stole this from Chris—a culture of excellence where you are creating a really, really, really great business from top to bottom that’s designed to serve clients, retain clients—and yeah, we’ll add some, but the focus is first on building a great business, and that goes from staffing to picking up paper towel off the floor. It’s really interesting because that’s slightly different from what I hear sometimes, but it’s working for you, right?

Steve Ramsbottom (27:52):
We’re trying. We’re trying.

Mike Warkentin (27:53):
Yeah, I like it. Well, that’s—I’m going to let you get back to training your superstars. You’ve probably got, you know, Ryan Reynolds banging on your garage door there, so I’ll let you get back to it. But Steve, thanks so much for sharing your story and helping gym owners around the world improve their businesses.

Steve Ramsbottom (28:05):
Thanks a lot for having me. Appreciate it.

Mike Warkentin (28:07):
This is “Run a Profitable Gym.” That was revenue leader, Steve Ramsbottom, all the way from Vancouver, Canada. Thanks for listening. Please hit “Subscribe” wherever you’re watching or listening because I don’t want you to miss a single show. And now here’s Chris Cooper with a final message.

Chris Cooper (28:19):
Hey, it’s Two-Brain founder, Chris Cooper, with a quick note. We created the Gym Owners United Facebook group to help you run a profitable gym. Thousands of gym owners just like you have already joined in the group. We share sound advice about the business of fitness every day. I answer questions, I run free webinars, and I give away all kinds of great resources to help you grow your gym. I’d love to have you in that group. It’s Gym Owners United on Facebook, or go to to join. Do it today.

Thanks for listening!

Thanks for listening! Run a Profitable Gym airs twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays. Be sure to subscribe for tips, tactics and insight from Chris Coooper, as well as interviews with the world’s top gym owners.

To share your thoughts:

To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help, and we read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes.

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.