I’ve got a lot to say today, so I’m going to keep the intro short and sweet.
Thinking of starting your fitness boot camp?
Start right here!
Tip #1 – Figure Out What Makes Your Boot Camp Unique
Obviously, everyone comes to the fitness industry for different reasons, and those reasons each require a unique approach.
So first of all, figure out what kind of training you want to offer. Weight loss? Athletic prep? Body building? Your choice here should be a combination of what you are most interested in and what your market wants.
Then, find a unique, interesting way to present your training that your market will respond to. If you look around at other successful fitness businesses, you’ll notice they tie in their training with all kinds of themes that are not necessarily fitness related.
Some examples: religion (of all kinds), competition, self-love, technology, staying trendy, mud, etc.
Sure, you can deliver effective training without any of these elements, but truly successful companies use interesting themes like these to build a BRAND that will stick in people’s minds – that’s the point.
Tip #2 – Consider Joining a Franchise
As you’ve probably noticed, there are plenty of franchise businesses out there offering some version of the boot camp model.
I’ve got my own boot camp business: Fit Body Boot Camp. Quite honestly, I think it’s the best fitness boot camp franchise you could possibly work with. The market appears to agree, considering how we are the fastest growing boot camp franchise in the industry.
Of course, I don’t expect you to just take my word on that. In fact, I recommend you sit down and think very carefully about whether you want to join a franchise. If you decide you do, then you should thoroughly research each of your options before you sign on with anyone.
The main advantage of not joining a franchise is that you have much more long-term creative control over your business. You can rebrand or change your training whenever you want…which can be a double-edged sword.
If you set out to build your very own fitness brand, you need to be extremely on-guard against the Idea Fairy. If you wind up changing your message, brand, or USP every few years, you’re going to really struggle to build a sustainable business – regardless of how many “great ideas” you have along the way.
By the way, this is one of the biggest advantages of joining a franchise. With a franchise, you’re joining a brand that already has awareness and a good reputation, and since there’s a huge network of people maintaining the brand there’s less risk of it changing overnight.
Now if you do decide to join a franchise, here are a few things you should look for:
How/when do you get to choose your territory? This shouldn’t be a mystery – you should know exactly where your territory is BEFORE you sign on the dotted line.
What sort of resources do they offer for new franchisees? You’ll have an easier time getting started if your franchise has a “business in a box” ready for you. Example: at Fit Body Boot Camp, we have a step-by-step formula to get your doors open and get you your first 100 clients in just a few months.
How do their royalty fees work? Some franchises scale their royalty fees to keep pace with each location’s revenue. In other words, no matter how hard their franchisees work they never really increase their profits. Personally, I think that policy is silly, so I made sure to set up FBBC with a flat royalty fee that is the same for EVERY location.
Tip #3 – Avoid Banks and Investors
Now of all my tips for starting a fitness boot camp, this one will probably be most controversial.
Because unlike a lot of people, I really don’t think new business owners should turn to banks and investors for their first round of capital.
Maybe it’s because I’m a control king, but I’ve never really been comfortable with the idea of someone who doesn’t know my industry and doesn’t know my market having the power to make serious decisions about my business.
And when you take too much money from bankers or investors, that’s exactly what you’re signing up for.
Think about it from their perspective – if you gave someone enough money to START A BUSINESS, wouldn’t you be just a little bit curious about that business’s long-term health and growth? And wouldn’t you be a little bit tempted to make some hands-on decisions about how that business works, even if you’re not the best authority on that industry?
By the way, this is an issue that comes up in every industry and at every level of scale.
You ever notice huge, powerful businesses make decisions that seem kinda sleazy or even downright confusing? Quite often, those businesses have a stakeholder somewhere leading them astray – someone who controls the purse strings, but doesn’t fully understand the business.
See, that’s why I personally think it’s better to avoid that situation entirely…but of course, I understand that some people are in situations where they absolutely must borrow the money.
And to those people I say borrow the money if you must, but still make sure you have multiple poles in the water. You never want your business to be too dependent on any one stakeholder.
So keep your borrowing at a minimum, and for the rest of the money…
Tip #4 – Raise Early Capital Through Sales
Now you’ll probably notice immediately that this is not the easiest path to opening your business…and for that exact reason I think it’s the best path.
I see pre-opening sales as a fire test for true entrepreneurs – if you can start selling before you even have a full business open, then you’ve got the skills and mental toughness to withstand all the future challenges of business ownership.
Since you’re starting a fitness boot camp, you’ve naturally got some great options for raising money pre-opening.
If you can find a space to borrow, you can start offering boot camps the same way you would in your own facility.
Or, if you can’t find the space for boot camp training, why not sell some one-on-one training?
Have you got upsells (such as cook books, supplements, or gear) that you’re planning to offer your future clients? Start selling those now.
Like I said, this is the more challenging path, but it’s also the path of greatest growth. If you embrace the challenge of pre-opening selling and raising your own capital, you’ll build yourself an incredibly solid foundation as an entrepreneur.
Tip #5 – Don’t Overthink Your Location
Commercial and light industrial zones are your best bet, but really anywhere you can get a nice, clean facility that’s not in the middle of nowhere will work.
For a boot camp, you really don’t need anything more than 2,000 square feet. That’s a good snug fit for the average boot camp session size.
And hey, if your classes are a tiny bit too big for the space that’s GREAT! It shows your community that your service is in high demand.
Think about it: if you see a restaurant with mostly empty tables, even if the location is way too huge for it’s own good, you get suspicious. If you see a restaurant with a line out the door, you just KNOW there’s gotta be some awesome food inside. Same principle.
Also, don’t worry about street visibility. If you follow my work regularly you already know that you should do most of your marketing online. If you do that right, your prospects will find directions to your facility wherever it is.
Tip #6 – Don’t Have a Business Partner
If you don’t trust yourself enough to be the leader of your business and make all the tough decisions, stop and work on your mindset until you’re ready to take charge.
Tip #7 – Never Stop Learning
The fact that you landed on this blog post means you’ve probably been researching the heck out of this whole boot camp thing to see if it’s right for you.
That’s a great instinct – now keep it going forever.
Seriously, even when one day you’re vacationing in Hawai’i and sleeping easy knowing you’ve got a steady 7 figure income rolling in, I STILL want you to research, read, watch, learn, and think as hard as you do right now.
At this point in my career, with all this massive success behind me, you might be tempted to think I no longer have to do my homework…
…and you’d be wrong. If anything, I probably put in more research time now than I ever have before. I’m constantly reading books on leadership, sales, marketing, and business, both in the form of audiotapes and actual paper books.
On top of that, every month I pick out 3 successful franchise businesses and 3 failing franchise businesses and I obsessively study them to figure out how they work. Not to name names, but I can tell you why Sandwich Shop A already feels like a thing of the past while Sandwich Shop B seems pretty much un-killable.
The point of all this is to make sure I never lose my momentum – that I’m always growing the success I already have. Because the truth is there’s no third option in business: you either grow or you shrink.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my tips for starting a fitness boot camp. And hey, if you need a little extra advice on this topic, make sure you watch this video:
Committed to your success,