Why We Publish the “State of the Industry”—and Why We Want Your Help

On a background of graphs, the words "Our 2023 Survey for Gym Owners Is Live!"

When you’re looking to grow your gym, it’s easy to find advice.

Generally, there are three types of advice.

First, you obviously want to avoid bad advice. It can hurt your business. But useless advice is also something you want to avoid because you waste time consuming it, and it doesn’t actually help you get anywhere.

Good advice, of course, is what you want: It helps you grow your business with clear, actionable steps.

But how do you tell good advice from bad?

With numbers.

Numbers will prove that something worked or didn’t work. Numbers will tell you if something will work in your situation right now. Numbers will tell you if something used to work but no longer works. And numbers will tell you which thing works best. Numbers let us answer these critical questions: “is it true?” and “is this the most important thing for me right now?”

For the last five years, we’ve been collecting numbers so gym owners get good advice. No one else has. We publish these numbers in our annual “State of the Industry” report.

We’re collecting data right now, and I’d like to invite you to spend about six minutes entering your numbers: 2023 State of the Industry Survey.

Many companies, after seeing our “State of the Industry” report, wanted to do something themselves. CrossFit HQ is even trying to do something with Zen Planner now.

The problem is that many groups confuse giving a survey with actually collecting meaningful data, so they’ll publish a guide that has opinions instead of actual, proven facts. Or they’ll produce something that is obviously designed to promote the publisher.

Or their bias is so strong or the sample size so small that the report is practically irrelevant. Or it basically exists only to funnel your information to the publisher.

We don’t do any of that.

When we say that your results are anonymous, we mean it. We don’t connect your answers to you. Even though this is the largest data set in the fitness industry. We cannot correlate your answer on one question to your answer on another. We do this on purpose because I want you to stay anonymous; I want you to own your information.

When we approach our partners—Wodify, PushPress, Kilo, TeamUp—we make anonymity a condition of participation. We don’t sell your email address to them, and they don’t give your email address to us.

Some other players would partner with us only if they would get all your information. We turned them down even though we’d love to add another 3,000 gyms to our sample. Your privacy is critical to me, and we don’t sell your information.

But that’s my own axe to grind.

The relevant question for you is this: Why should you participate? Why should you do our “State of the Industry” survey instead of one of the others out there?

Read on to find out.

You Get all the Data

First, you get the data. It costs me about a quarter of a million to put this whole thing together and publish it with the help of an external analyst. This is the data set that every gym owner needs to run a business without making random guesses. And it only costs you about six minutes to enter your data and contribute.

Look, we all think we’re smart enough to figure it out. But the truth is that separately we’re all just a bunch of unconnected islands. If we don’t have data, we can’t learn from anybody else’s mistakes. So we have to learn from our own mistakes, which takes a ton of time and a ton of money.

Why not just skip over all that crap and find out what’s actually working instead of relying on what the chest-beating “guru” is screaming about on Facebook? Or, conversely, if the guru actually knows what works, you’ll want to know that without risking your money to find out.

So I make the “State of the Industry” report available to you for free—except for the investment of about six to seven minutes of your time.

Your Input Helps Others

Second, we want to make our free content as good as we possibly can. I’m not just saying that. If you’ve ever downloaded any of our free guides, you know that we’re not just running some kind of marketing funnel here. We’re actually producing meaningful guides, instructions, webinars, seminars and podcasts that will actually help you do things better.

We give away more than 95 percent of the stuff that I write and produce, and that stuff is accurate and precise. The reason is because other gym owners have taken the time to put in their data to do this survey.

I don’t want to guilt you to participate. But the reality is I really feel like it’s your duty.

If I were interested in obtaining the info and insight in this report as a gym owner, I would consider it my duty to participate and have my own data represented. If you enter your numbers, the rest of the community will grow, and we’ll all perform better.

And don’t worry about how you’re doing: The people who are doing the best and the people who are doing the worst have the best data. Every bit helps. If you think you’re not doing well right now, that’s fine. Please participate anyway!

Bias-Free Data

Third, it’s important to be independent. We don’t want biased reports.

If you’re doing a survey for someone who stands to benefit from a positive response, they’re only going to report the positive stuff.

Our “State of the Industry” project started because I suggested CrossFit HQ do it in 2018. They said “no.” I was disheartened but then decided I had to do it myself—because the project is too important.

But now I’m glad HQ said no because I want gym owners—affiliates or not—to know how the brand is really doing. And the same is true for F45 gyms and Fit Body Boot Camps and Orangetheorys and 9Rounds and independents.

I sometimes say “we work for affiliates, not for HQ,” and that’s because we purposely maintain our objective perspective. If the best thing you can do to grow your business is to go get your CrossFit L3 credential, we’ll say that—we have no vested interest either way. If it’s not the best thing you can do for your business, we’ll say that, too.

We even hire an independent analyst to go through the data we collect so I don’t inadvertently place my own bias on what we publish.

The Power of Gym Owners

Finally, the gym industry is really run by a half-dozen big chains. These are the franchisors or chains with hundreds of locations. They have a seat at the table because they can pay to lobby. That’s why they got bailout money during COVID lockdowns and the small microgym didn’t.

What puts us at that table is collective action. Gymownersunited.com is a good place to start—join that group. It’s free, it contains 7,700-plus members, and it’s growing at a faster-than-average rate. That’s pulling the industry up.

The next step is participating in collective activities like “State of the Industry” so that we have real data to support our case when we need to make it.

And our data is already being used: We have requests from Fitness Industry Canada and IHRSA to quote this guide. These are the largest fitness lobbies in North America, and our data is better than theirs is.

You can also see some instances where people read our guide on their media channels without showing the cover or saying where the data came from. That’s OK—it just shows how valuable the report is. And I don’t care who gets the credit, I just want you to get the help you need to grow your business.

To increase the collective strength of microgym owners, take some time to enter your metrics. We’ll use them to move the fitness industry forward.

Participate Today!

This is your industry, and this is your guide. I hope you participate by completing our survey. We’ll publish our analysis in November.

Here’s the link one more time: 2023 State of the Industry Survey.

Thank you for your time—and for leading our industry forward!


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.