4 More Surefire Ways to Kill Gym Growth Dead

A closeup of a finger stopping a sequence of dominoes from continuing to demonstrate stalled progress.

In the previous post, I shared four of my top ways to stop your gym from growing. Today, I have four more.

1. Run Your Business With Your Personal Checking Account

I once worked for a studio owner who had only one bank account.

He lived out of that bank account, and he also used it to pay the studio’s bills.

So every time he had to pay his staff, he acted like he was taking it right out of his wallet—because he was. And every time he had to pay a personal bill, it put something in his business at risk.

Every decision about money became an emotional one. He couldn’t think objectively.

Of course, he also had a major problem at tax time, but that’s a different story.

To avoid this problem, set up a payment strategy for yourself. Live off that money. Don’t put more of your own money back into your business, and don’t use your business debit card for your personal purchases. Seriously—you and your business need some space.

2. Don’t Return Calls or Emails

When people are interested in your service, make them wait—this a great way to crater gym growth.

Better yet, play hard to get! People love that.

I remember a boss once telling me, “Chris, every phone call is worth $10,000.” We were selling commercial treadmills. Of course, not every phone call was worth $10k, but some were, and you never knew in advance. So we treated the ringing phone like it was a ringing slot machine.

But you don’t have to do that. Go ahead and never answer your phone.

I mean, if they’re serious, they’ll call back … right?

(They won’t. That was a joke.)

3. Make People Feel Unwelcome When They Walk In

Last week, I started working with a new attorney.

It’s a newer firm, but the founding members have been practicing law for decades and recently went out on their own. I met one when we were volunteering to help local businesses during the government lockdowns of 2020. I was excited to move my business to him.

The firm bought a local historic landmark and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars fixing it up. It’s gorgeous inside. Great parking, hardwood floors, original brick walls, antique couches.

And an impersonal receptionist.

When I arrived, she told me I didn’t have an appointment. And that it wasn’t her fault. And that I could “wait and see if he can talk to you.”

Now, granted, I’m usually wearing a T-shirt and running shoes when I go to meetings. But my book of business is large for a city this size, and I did have an appointment.

After 20 minutes of waiting around while she avoided eye contact, I texted my wife to come and pick me up.

Luckily, the attorney I was set to meet happened to catch me as I was putting on my coat. We had a great conversation, and I signed a contract worth nearly $100,000 to his firm.

No matter how great your facility, location, community, equipment—all of it—you won’t sign people up if you can’t greet them warmly.

My advice, if you want to stop growing, is this: Set up for your own workout. Take off your shirt and crank the old-school tunes. Leave the lights on and the door unlocked. If someone wanders in, just ignore them.

4. Wait to Get a Mentor

More and more, I hear this in chats: “Thanks for this free guide! We’re doing OK. No need for a mentor yet!”

Some gym owners mistakenly believe that a mentor is a lifeguard: You call when you’re drowning.

Smart gym owners know to call a mentor before growth stops.

I learned this the hard way: After a mentor saved my gym in 2009, I said “I’ve got it from here!” and went solo for about two years.

In that time, the gym kinda coasted along and I got distracted. By late 2011, I was burned out again. I wasn’t broke any longer, but life wasn’t much better—know what I mean?

I said, “Well, mentorship worked for me last time!” Then I found a new mentor—and the gym took off.

I currently spend around $250,000 a year on mentorship. I learned my lesson as a fitness entrepreneur. I now have the largest mentorship practice for gym owners in the world because I pay business mentors to help me grow. If I had waited until my mentorship practice was in trouble, I never would have gotten it off the ground.

Analyze and Act

Entrepreneurs often sabotage themselves without realizing it.

Do this exercise for yourself right now: If you actually wanted to stop your gym from growing, how would you make it happen?

Your answers become your list of “never-do’s.” In some cases, you’ll have a flash of insight and realize you are doing some things that are preventing business growth. Make changes immediately.

And sometimes you might be too deep in the forest to see the trees. That’s when an outside perspective becomes essential. A mentor can analyze your business and point out all the things you should and should not do. Even better, a mentor will prioritize everything so you make the most important changes first.

That’s how you actually grow a business: Do one thing each day that will measurably move your gym forward.

As always, my team is here to help. If you’re ready to stop making mistakes and grow your gym fast, book a call with us here.

Other Media in This Series

“How to Stop Your Gym From Growing”
“The Top 7 Things You Need to Stop Doing at Your Gym”


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.