How to Deal With the Copycat Gym Down the Street

Chris Cooper

Mike (00:02):

That gym down the street copies everything I do. And I can’t stand it. Ever said that? How about this one? They’re undercutting my rates and trying to steal my clients. If you’ve ever worried about competition, Chris Cooper is on Two-Brain Radio to tell you exactly how to find peace.

Chris (00:17):

Hey guys, it’s Chris Cooper. Your members are buying supplements somewhere, so they should buy them from the person who cares about them the most: You. And you should work with my friends at Driven Nutrition. Jason Rule and the Driven team put customers first, every time they’ve got a ton of products with high margins and they’ll even train you so your retail program adds revenue to your business. Kirk Hendrickson from Iron Jungle CrossFit says Driven Nutrition has some of the best support I have seen from any company we’ve partnered with. To make more money with supplements and retail sales, visit Now back to the show.

Chris (00:50):

Hey everybody, it’s Chris Cooper. And today I’m going to talk about competition because once a week I get a letter like this. Dear Chris, the nearest gym is 800 meters away from me. They charge less, they copy everything I do, right down to my color scheme.

Chris (01:05):

And if they’re not copying me, they’re running me down, they’re saying bad stuff about me to potential clients and even on Instagram and stuff. What do I do about it? Well, before you turn to arson, there are several reasons to actually be excited about competition, including this one. They’re not hard to beat. And I’m going to tell you how to do that today. But first, some assurance first, if you’re going to compete with anybody, you want it to be that person. You will always have competition in your market. If you’re the only gym in town, there is a vacuum and somebody else is going to be tempted to open up another gym. If there’s a bad gym who is negative, or they’re attacking you, or they’re undercutting you, or even if they’re copying you, this is the person you want to compete against because they’re beatable.

Chris (01:53):

Future clients will see the difference and even better, their best clients will graduate up to you because people are human and humans are smart and smart people identify like, wow, I’m not in the best place here or I’m in the B minus version of that A-plus plus service. So if you’re going to compete with somebody, you probably want it to be that gym. Their presence is probably stopping a better competitor from entering your market. The second thing that I want to say, just to give you some hope is that the bad gyms usually lasts three years and then they’re gone. All you got to do is survive. So in 2016, I was talking to Dave Tate and I was saying like, oh, there’s this copycat business coaching program. And it’s out there right now and it’s driving me crazy. And he said, Hey, Chris, don’t worry about it because the top 10% of gym owners in the world will just keep looking until they find you.

Chris (02:48):

And I thought he was paying me a compliment, but he was really telling me to just focus on being the best. And I’m asking you to do the same. Don’t just be 10% better than the other gyms, be so different that you have a monopoly. Be so different that no one thinks that you’re the same as the low priced option, right? There’s no confusion. Be so far ahead that everybody knows that you’re being copied. And finally, the goldfish scenario, I was talking to a registered psychotherapist, Bonnie Skinner, she’s in the Two-Brain program. She has offices in my building and I work with her one-on-one about every couple of weeks. And we were talking about a lot of these new biz coaches who have emerged since COVID their own gyms have gone bankrupt. They see an opportunity to sell biz coaching or whatever. And so they start promoting themselves online to gym owners.

Chris (03:40):

And it drives me crazy because they have a lot of false promises and unfortunately, sometimes people fall for them. And what Bonnie said to me was, Hey, Chris, let me tell you about how to have a beautiful tropical fish tank. And, this was actually super insightful. And I wanted to share it with you. If you want to have a beautiful fish tank that highlights like these beautiful fish from the tropics, you also have to have in the tank, at least one bottom feeder, because even the most beautiful fish create like waste, right? And that waste sinks to the bottom of the tank. And somebody’s got to clean that stuff up. So these are present in the fitness community. I mean, if you’ve been in fitness for more than 10 minutes, you know this right? There’s like people hawking supplements and snake oil and all kinds of crap.

Chris (04:27):

And it’s the same in the fitness business community. There are people solving, like get rich quick schemes and like sign up for this thing. And we’ll get you 10 new clients in one minute or it’s free. And you know, you and I know what happens. Maybe it works for a little while, but long term, it has a negative outcome on your business or best case it just stops working. But now you’ve spent all your money on this, right? And so, this goldfish scenario applies to your gym because there are people in your community who are not ready for your gym yet. Goldfish scenario doesn’t have to be cheap. They don’t have to be slimy. I’ll give you an example. I thought for a long time that bariatric surgery was a negative, that it was my competition. That people who went and got like a tummy tuck, that’s not what it really is.

Chris (05:16):

Right? Like they, they actually put an elastic around your stomach so that your stomach can’t fit much food in it. And that’s how you lose weight. I thought this was just the worst thing in the world. But the reality is that a lot of people wouldn’t join my gym because they didn’t have the confidence to do so. And I learned this the hard way I was ripping on bariatric surgery in front of a group class one day in my gym. And after class, this woman pulls me aside and she is a real maven at my gym. I loved her. Her whole family came to my gym, including her husband. They were just totally enamored with the lifestyle and the community at atalyst. They were kind of a central figure. And she said, Chris, I’ve had bariatric surgery. And I you’re kidding me. There’s no way. Like you’re super fit.

Chris (06:00):

You’ve got abs, you know, you’re this great role model. And she said, yeah, but I did the bariatric surgery lost 40 pounds so that I would have the confidence to join a gym. And I joined yours. And that made me see things in a different light. When I opened up Catalyst, I was ripping hard on P90X because everybody in my town seemed to be doing the P90X DVDs. What I should’ve understood was that this wasn’t competition. It wasn’t a slimy trick that wasn’t going to work. It was a stepping stone. People who did P90X got bored with it in 90 days. And then they said, what’s next? And they would have said, oh, CrossFit is next. Except that I’d positioned myself as like the enemy. So, while there are people in your market who will come to you, eventually, they might not be ready to come to you yet.

Chris (06:51):

And so they might need to work with these people who you and I might see as even bottom-feeders, they might have to start there first, right? So you have to look at this as like, these people are maybe not competition to you because nobody is going to sign up for one fitness program, do that forever. And that’s it. And never move up the best. People will always graduate up to you. Now let’s talk about copycats. Even though Two-Brain is a huge family with gyms on every continent, or maybe precisely because of our success, we have imitators, we have copycats, right? There are consultants out there and giving mediocre knockoff advice. But these people actually help our mission to make gyms profitable because they teach gym owners that mentorship is important and easy to find. And they also work with the clients that we don’t invite to our ramp up or mentorship program.

Chris (07:42):

And they often help those people become a little bit more successful. And then many owners graduate up to Two-Brain when they’re ready, which makes me immensely proud. OK.

Chris (07:52):

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Chris (08:38):

So here are the problems that you might have that create this type of competition. And here’s the opportunities that you have to fix them. So the first problem, people quit your gym and then go to that other gym because it’s a lower price. The reason they’re doing that is because the average consumer in your town can’t tell the difference between what you sell and what they sell. So they’re just going to change based on price, right? This is the definition of commodity. If I’m selling vanilla ice cream and you’re selling vanilla ice cream, I’m going to choose the cheapest or the people who give me the most for the same amount of money. But being slightly better isn’t enough. So if you have some sprinkles on your ice cream, you know, I might not choose it. I’ll have to decide if it’s worth an extra 25 cents to have vanilla ice cream with sprinkles.

Chris (09:26):

The opportunity here is to be really different, not to just add 24 hour gym times open access sprinkles to your gym, but to actually sell a high value coaching business. So don’t do free trials. Do consultations. Build in a unique measurement system. You know, sometimes the InBody is a unique advantage in the market. Sometimes the Level Method is a unique advantage in the market, but create a measurement system that nobody else has, start with nutrition instead of just throwing people at thrusters. There’s a hundred ways to slice this, but start here, you sell fitness. CrossFit might be your tool. Yoga might be your tool, but it’s not your only tool. Group classes might be part of your delivery of fitness, or they might not. Create a consultative process that tailors your approach to everybody, every client that you have, that follows up the tracks and optimizes for results, and you won’t be competing with anybody.

Chris (10:24):

Second. The second problem, and the big opportunity is that their gym is too close to yours. They’re creating market confusion because they’re like right next door, right? Well, the reason the other gym built close to you, isn’t because they wanted to be all up in your face, it’s because you have a great spot and they also wanted to be in the best spot. In this case, the opportunity is to be the best gym. So they’re doing you a favor by teaching the people in your area to love yoga or love CrossFit or love bootcamp. And then they ask their clients to run by your door, a better yoga, a better CrossFit, a better bootcamp gym every single day during their warm-up. They’re basically running an on-ramp for you. And if they do it right, if you do it right, they’re going to keep all the troublesome clients who want that discounted lower price option and their best are going to graduate up to you.

Chris (11:15):

Because they’re going to see that. Having a gym close by is not a threat. It’s a massive opportunity if you’re better. And the gyms who are really worried about a new competitor opening up are really worried that they’re not going to be as good as that competitor. So just be better. Third. The big challenge, they copy everything you do. Here’s the good news. You’re not going to run out of great ideas and they already have. So you remember when your little brother played that copycat game with you as a kid, right? They just said every word that you said. I’m going to tell mom, I’m going to tell mom, oh, I’m dumb. Oh, I’m dumb. You know, whatever. How did you end that game? How did you shake your little brother, you started going faster. You’re established, you’re bigger.

Chris (12:00):

You’re stronger. You can just go away from them. If another gym is copying your content, your website, your programs, just make yours bigger and better. Bury them, right? Your clients will know because people are smart. And then fourth, the fourth big challenge and your opportunity, they’re bringing a poorer version, a less good version of your service to the market. They’re hurting people, or they’re giving yoga a bad name or Pilates or bootcamp or CrossFit, a bad name. So tell yourself this again. If you’re going to compete with someone, you want it to be them. They’re not poisoning your market. They’re probably stopping a better competitor from entering your market. So when a gym owner tells me that he’s going to expand, because he’s found a town with, oh, there’s no, there’s no yoga gym in that town. There’s no CrossFit in that town. Then I tell him to go back and look for towns with poorly run gyms in them.

Chris (12:53):

Those are the huge opportunities because the bad gym has already taught people to love yoga or taught people to love CrossFit. And then given them a B plus experience. They’ve groomed the audience for you. If you have an A plus experience. So trust me, I get copied. Former coaches from my gym try to attract my members to their programs, personal trainer, try to tell people that CrossFit is bad for them in my town. I have a guy running Google ads with Two-Brain Business in the title to try and trick people. And some people will be tricked. And I feel bad about that, but I want to work with the people who won’t be tricked or who won’t be fooled more than once. Some of my best clients in the gym and in Two-Brain are people who went somewhere else first. As one client said, quoting, I ran the gauntlet with Gym Launch, Gym Legends, and two other gurus.

Chris (13:43):

It was not until I became a part of Two-Brain and really embraced the idea of getting 150 clients, tracking ARM and LEG, that our revenue increased in state high without any paid ads. These programs did teach me how to sell and kudos to them for that. But specifically the prescriptive model versus one rigid front end offer, the mentorship and the fundamentals program are what made all the difference. I’m so happy I joined Two-Brain where I will never leave, end quote. You can get that kind of client. OK? Now finally, you need these guys. You need these competitors. You need somebody to push you to deliver better instead of becoming complacent. If you have a competitor from day one, good, because you’ll constantly be looking for ways to be better. Worst case is if you have no competitor for three years and you don’t strive to be better in a meaningful way. And you know, following the ways that matter, and then somebody enters your market with a brand new approach, they’re going to knock you back a few steps, right? I want you to remember this. If somebody is copying your ideas, they’re already in second place. They can never do better than the silver medal. They can never win as long as they’re copying you because they don’t have any ideas of their own. And you are not going to run out of ideas. I promise because you are more than enough, you just have to live up to yourself.

Mike (15:07):

Two-Brain Radio is your best source for the best advice in the gym business. Subscribe so you don’t miss an episode. And now here’s Coop with an invitation.

Chris (15:14):

Thanks for listening to Two-Brain Radio. If you aren’t in the Gym Owners United group on Facebook, this is my personal invitation to join. It’s the only public Facebook group that I participate in. And I’m there all the time with tips, tactics, and free resources. I’d love to network with you and help you grow your business. Join Gym Owners United on Facebook.


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