Hope is not a business plan

Hope is not a business plan

“Hope is a religion, not a business plan…” – Thomas Plummer, The Business of Fitness Workshop

According to a study by the American Psychological Association, less than 1% of people would want to know when they are going to die.

This is called “deliberate ignorance”.

But, what if by having that knowledge you could change the outcome, and you could
carry on to live a longer, more fulfilled, more fruitful life…?

You opened your facility full of excitement and energy. But damn, reality kicks in fast.

Once you’re over the exciting bit of choosing your flash equipment and what shade of duck-egg to paint your changing room, you’re faced with covering the costs – which are almost invariably way higher than you ever imagined.  But, the members appreciate the Farrow & Ball paint versus Dulux, right?  [Ed: Many of us will never know how members manage to get a footprint 6ft up the changing room wall!]

“Deliberate ignorance” is a natural human reaction, but it is one that can only lead to a natural fait accompli situation.  By ignoring or denying what is going on with your business, the outcome is pretty much already decided, and you simply await your day of reckoning.  Hey, you can tell people you “tried your best”.

But did you?

In times of emotional turmoil it is hard to be objective.  Try to step back.  Reflect on why you started the business.  You are a great trainer.  People love the service you provide, and it is something that you love doing.

So, what changed?

Scale is what changed.  Managing a training gym with 100-250 members is a totally different thing to ~20 PT clients that you train a couple of times a week for £60+ a pop.  When you have that many members, you are going to have the “whiners”.  No matter what you do, they will whine.  Typically these members are compensating for their own issues.  You need to ensure you continue to provide the very best service to all of your members, not just those who are in-your-face.

You have to accept that you cannot do everything yourself.  You need processes, procedures and the tools to support you.  Amazon wouldn’t be what it is today if Jeff Bezos wasn’t so process orientated.  You simply cannot turnover $88.91B selling from out of your garage, packing every box on your own.

Failure to plan, is planning to fail

As a facility owner, it is essential that you have a plan for your business.  You should plan 12 months in advance, and review and update the plan every month – correcting your course, where necessary.

Stop relying on your magic 8-ball hunches and crunch the numbers instead.  Analyse your costs, and analyse your income.  What do you need to achieve to be profitable, and how are you going to hit that?  Are you taking advantage of every opportunity open to you?

As facility owners, we are not always natural business leaders.  There is no shame in this.  What is ignorant is to ignore our weaknesses and to do nothing about them.

How to start

Step one is to accept that you are going to fight for your business in a proactive and constructive manner.  You are going to make it work, and it is going to provide you a profitable and happy future.

Step two is to educate yourself.  Not knowing something is nothing to be ashamed of.  Nobody knows anything until they have learned it.

There are some great fitness industry leaders, such as Thomas Plummer.  We are not affiliated with Thom, but we highly recommend his online “Business of Fitness” training course which is available for roughly US$18 per month for a 12-month course.  If you can get to one of his workshops in person, even better.  Thom is arguably the most business orientated though leader in this industry, and he tells it like it is.  He is a prolific soothsayer for where the industry is headed, and people ignore his guidance at their own peril!

A number of reputable industry support groups also exist, including the IFBA and Lift the Bar in the UK. These are typically full of like-minded facility owners, who provide each other support and guidance.

Try to avoid discussion groups that are little more than a toxic echo-chamber full of “woe is me” type people.  That sort of environment will not take you forward, but will just amplify and re-enforce feelings of doom and negativity.

Business coaches such as Nicky Sehgal from FBDA provide expert professional guidance for your business.  Specialist marketing agencies, such as FMA, are experts at marketing fitness facilities and can help you unlock new leads, providing you with a solid pipeline to convert.

Finally, make sure that you use your business tools effectively. No matter how good your gym CRM, there isn’t a whole lot it can do if you don’t take the time to configure it for your business, and keep the data within it up-to-date.  For many facility owners, they think of their business systems as a booking-and-payments tool, and miss the wealth of support that it can provide.

Quoox is designed to help you operate your business professionally, effectively and profitably.  From automated nurturing sequences; to an unparalleled set of member retention features; to powerful KPIs and monitoring metrics Quoox will lift a lot of the strain from your business – enabling you to concentrate on what you do best.


There is no magic silver bullet.  Almost every facility owner works hard.  The key to success is to work smart.  Make every minute count.

If you find yourself repeatedly dealing with the same issues and tasks, then examine why.  How can you reduce that burden?  Can you eliminate it altogether?

Review your day.  What is it you spend your time doing?  Do you spend more time complaining about how hard life is, rather than actually trying to effect change?

Don’t feel alone.  You are not on your own.  I doubt there is a single facility owner that hasn’t at some time thought “OMG, why am I doing this?”

Start today.  Now, I mean start now.  Tell yourself that you are “going to succeed, and become the success that you deserve to be”.  Start being proactive rather than reactive.  Reach out for support, and educate yourself in those areas that are giving you trouble.  Shed yourself from all negativity, and focus.

You’ve got this!

Chris Windram signature

Chris Windram | Co-Founder

a: Quoox Ltd. | 71-75 Shelton Street | London, WC2H 9JQ
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