Gym Owner: It’s Time to Think Like a CEO

Wooden block letters spell "CEO" beneath a glowing light bulb.

In most gym businesses, the owner is the CEO—but most fitness entrepreneurs don’t realize it.

If you ask them to list all their roles, you’ll get stuff like this: group coach, programmer, PT coach, on-ramp coach, accountant, cleaner, social-media manager, GM and so on.

All the roles are important, but the CEO role is most important, and it often doesn’t make the list.

From Western Governors University: “Chief executive officers are responsible for leading an entire organization or company.”

It’s really hard to do that with a plunger in your hand and a PT client waiting in the lobby.

What Would a CEO Do?

I get it: In a small business, an owner must wear a lot of hats—at first.

But your goal is to get out of the early stages of entrepreneurship as quickly as possible, and that requires vision and action. That’s CEO stuff.

You just can’t obsess over squat cues or the cleanliness of your floors and hope growth takes care of itself. You have to generate growth—and you can pay someone else to obsess over coaching and cleaning because it is important.

Yes, your gym should be clean. And your coaching should be A+. But those things are insufficient for entrepreneurial success.

I know great coaches with pristine gyms who are bleeding money and planning to leave the business. It’s heartbreaking.

To succeed as an entrepreneur, you must think like a CEO. Here’s today’s exercise:

Fire yourself from every job for two hours. Make the commitment, block off the time and pretend you got fired from all your gym jobs.

Now imagine you’ve been hired as the new CEO of the company, and you have been expressly tasked with expanding the business and improving profitability.

For the next two hours, think about every aspect of your business. Walk through the building if you need to, but don’t ignore the stuff you can’t see on your tour. Pull up your metrics, review your profit-and-loss statement, dig into key performance indicators.

Keep asking this question: What would make this business better and more profitable?

Write everything down. You’re going to get stuff like this: “Change burned-out light in lobby.” And this: “Scrape gum off squat rack.” But you should get stuff like this, too:

  • Repair email automations so “welcome” emails don’t go to three-year members.
  • Cancel second, third and fourth unused music subscriptions.
  • Create client avatar and adjust marketing to appeal to this avatar.
  • Review client journey to find common cancellation points and make adjustments to improve retention.
  • Cancel poorly attended 9:30-a.m. class.
  • Create a 50+ program for retirees.
  • Plan bring-a-friend event to generate leads and book free consultations.
  • Build and test lead-nurture sequence.
  • Sign up for sales course to improve close rate.
  • Practice five free consultations.

And so on.

In the last 10 minutes of your two-hour block, do this: Review your list and organize it. Select the easiest action that will bring the greatest return on your time investment and put it in the No. 1 spot. Order other tasks below it.

Then block off CEO time tomorrow to address that task. Keep working on it until it’s done, even if you have to work in intervals over a few days. Then hit the next task on the list. Repeat. When you’ve hit everything on the list, make a new list and start again.

Now you’re a CEO.

Need Help?

Here’s a common issue that pops up when people do this exercise:

“I’m overwhelmed. I have a list, but I don’t know what to do and I can’t find time to do it.”

That’s where a mentor comes in. A mentor can help you organize your list, add critical stuff you missed and find the time to take action on priority items. A mentor will tell you exactly what to do and provide time-saving checklists and resources.

For example, a Two-Brain mentor might tell you to hire a cleaner so you have time to build a nutrition program to generate more revenue (you’ll cover the cost of the cleaner with some of that revenue). The mentor will supply our plug-and-play 21-day nutrition challenge and a huge pile of of social-media content you can use to promote it, as well as other key done-for-you resources. You can get that program running fast.

A mentor will also check in and keep you accountable: “Did you do that thing yet?” This part is essential. Your clients need a coach to stay on track. You need one for the same reason.

The best CEOs have mentors. I have one.

And I know 1,000 CEOs of fitness businesses who have mentors. They are Two-Brain clients, and we help them get major results fast.

Want to take a big step toward becoming a great CEO? Book a call here.


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.