The Most Successful Gym Owners in the World Do These 3 Things

A graphic showing three gold stars on a gold background.

The most successful gym owners in the world do three things their peers often do not:

  1. They create business systems.
  2. They work on their businesses instead of just in them.
  3. They push the “easy button” to make changes at high speed.

How do I know the best gym owners do this stuff?

They tell me every single week on the Two-Brain podcast: “Run a Profitable Gym.”

A head shot of writer Mike Warkentin and the column name "Pressing It Out."

Two-Brain tracks key business metrics for gyms, then creates leaderboards. Every month, I ask these owners—the top 1 percent of gym owners in the world—exactly what they’re doing. They give me unique answers related to their businesses, but three themes pop up often enough that it’s worth highlighting them so you can “follow the leaders” and grow your gym in 2023.

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1. Build Business Systems

Without fail, every single successful gym owner tells me their business is based on systems. Key metrics simply don’t move when you’re making it up as you go and constantly moving from one emergency to the next.

Two-Brain’s top gym owners have taken the time to document all their roles, responsibilities, policies, procedures and standards. Nothing is done on a whim. They’ve formalized everything that happens—from sales and marketing to cleaning and coaching. 

Here’s what these systems do:

  • They reduce stress—Decisions are made in advance, not during emotional periods.
  • They increase efficiency—Standard operating procedures ensure clarity and eliminate confusion.
  • They ensure high standards—Tasks can be offloaded without declines in service.
  • They make hiring easy—Clearly defined roles and tasks ensure quick training and continuity if the new hire is a replacement. 
  • They free the owner to be a CEO—Instead of having to tell each coach how to run a class, for example, the owner can hand out a staff playbook and get back to growing the business (see No. 2 below).

Level up this month: If you don’t have any systems yet, start by writing down every role and task in your gym. Find that overwhelming? Write down one role and all associated tasks per day. Start with cleaner, then go down the list until you’ve got them all. This simple exercise is a huge first step in systemizing your business. (We’ll talk about hitting the “easy button” below, but here’s proof of concept: “Done-for-You Hiring Plan and Detailed Job Descriptions for Gym Owners.”)

2. Work to Grow Your Business

For whatever reason, many gym owners behave like employees instead of CEOs. It’s likely because they love to coach. But when you focus on delivering service personally, you aren’t working as an entrepreneur, and your business will likely stagnate.

When I ask top gym owners why their businesses are growing so quickly, I get one of two answers:

  • The owner says, “I do exactly this to grow my business.”
  • Or the owner says, “This specific person grows the business by performing these tasks for me.”

The answer is never, ever, “I’m a great coach and my business grows because of it.”

In every case, the owner is taking specific steps to grow the business. Some common ones:

  • Focusing on sales in No Sweat Intros or training a salesperson.
  • Creating and developing a new revenue stream.
  • Helping a coach launch a specialty program.
  • Creating a client avatar and client journey.
  • Installing quarterly goal reviews for clients.
  • Hiring and training a client success manager to improve retention numbers.
  • Actively working to generate referrals from current clients.

If you do not have time set aside for tasks like this, your business will not grow.

Level up this month: Hire someone to replace you in one of the roles you documented in Section 1 above. The easiest role to offload is often cleaner. Use the time you would have spent in that role to generate more revenue than you need to cover the cost of hiring. If you don’t know how to generate new revenue, review the bullet points just above and pick an option. (Another “easy button” with step-by-step instructions: “Climbing the Value Ladder.”)

3. Hit the Great Big “Easy Button”

It can be tough to figure out how to fix a business. Busy owners don’t have a lot of spare time, and they can’t afford to make a lot of mistakes. It can take years to find the right path—and time is precious to an entrepreneur.

The solution? Buy speed.

The most successful gym owners in the world don’t waste time with trial and error, experiments and theories. Instead, they work with a business mentor who can provide tested, data-backed tactics that come with clear instructions.

For example: You could create your own goal-review process. It would take some time, and you’d have to adjust it several times to get it right. Or you can just bolt in the Two-Brain process with the help of a mentor. No experimentation needed. Just quick implementation of a carefully created system that’s been used with great success in hundreds of other gyms.

Another example: You could experiment to figure out the best way to sell your services. You’ll lose some sales along the way. Or you could just follow Two-Brain’s plan and get a world-class system running in a week.

Level up this month: Talk with us about how we can help you make dramatic changes fast in 2023. Click here to do so. If you aren’t quite ready for that, get the blueprint for a profitable fitness business: “Gym Owner’s Handbook.”

Be Like the Best

We’ll let you know when we discover a gym owner who’s doing something uncommon. We regularly analyze new tactics to see if they hold water. When they do, we tell our clients all about them.

But as we roll into 2023, it’s rarely about differences. It’s about similarities.

This is clear:

  • The top gym owners in the world have business systems.
  • The top gym owners in the world set aside time to grow their businesses.
  • The top gym owners in the world invest in mentorship to save years and even decades of time.

Take action today. We want you to have the same success as the best fitness entrepreneurs in the industry.


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.