Elitefts Roundtable: Owning Your Own Gym

TAGS: gym equipment, Ironsport Gym, I-FAST, total performance sports, Monster Garage Gym, owning a gym, NBS Fitness, The Spot Athletics, elitefts.com, orlando barbell, Elitefts Legacy Log, Elitefts Info Pages

We asked members of Team Elitefts™ to share the best and worst parts of owning their own facilities. The responses varied—some are comical and good for a laugh while others make gym ownership seem a little less glamorous. If you’re thinking of opening a gym, check here first for an inside look at the issues that you may encounter.

The Best: I get to create a facility with the equipment and atmosphere that I want. I go to work each day in shorts, T-shirt, and a ball cap, and I get to spend the majority of it helping and making people better. All my best friends work out at my gym, so I get to spend time with my friends all day every day (which makes it hard to leave sometimes). I don’t have to answer to a boss, and I get to make the decisions that I feel are best for my business (although sometimes this can be very stressful). It’s my passion and being able to make money at your passion is everyone’s dream.

The Worst: The busy work. I still have to do all the accounting and paper work. This stuff gets old quickly, but it's necessary to keep the business running. I also hate having to deal with people who don’t respect my facility whether that be by breaking equipment, not racking their weights when they're finished, or making a mess and not cleaning it up. This will happen at any gym, but it seems that people think that because a gym is “hardcore,” they can just trash the place.

Everyone thinks that working at a gym makes training that much easier, but I find it harder to get motivated because I’m in this atmosphere all day long. I have all the distractions of work going on while I train.


The Best: Creating something special that is yours, from naming it to creating the culture to picking the equipment (elitefts™ equipment, of course), and designing the logo. I ran someone's gym and it was awful. He didn't know anything about training but wanted to tell me how things should be done. When it’s yours, you get to make the calls and create what you want.

The Worst: You never get a day off. Even if you're off, you're still thinking of ways to make your facility better. I think anyone who has a great business spends a lot of time trying to make it better. When people ask me what my hours are, I usually reply “from the time I wake up until I go to sleep.” It's all yours and that is great, but that means that all the screw ups and issues fall to you.


The Best: As the owner of the Monster Garage Gym, there are many ‘best’ parts of owning your own facility. In no particular order, some of the best are:

  • Watching the vision that you put in place come to fruition as all the moving parts start to work the way you want them to
  • Seeing the lifters, one at a time, realize that they're part of something bigger than they are, that they're part of something amazingly special
  • Watching the PRs (both gym and meet) break on a very regular basis
  • Watching the old faces of the gym tell the new faces the story and history of the gym (which is something I used to do and now they often beat me to the punch)
  • That great feeling you get when guys/gals bring something into the gym (a big pallet of paper towels, a box of chalk, or a few bottles of baby powder) unsolicited just because they know that they're part of this very powerful family
  • Seeing the camaraderie at the semi-regular grill outs that we do
  • Reaching 600,000 views on our YouTube page
  • Receiving positive comments from lifters all over the world
  • Watching the lifters support one another, especially the more average guys/gals because their gains come slower, which makes breaking a PR for them even more special
  • Getting that new piece of strength equipment for the gang and seeing them jump all over it
  • Watching some of our more handy guys work together to make our Atlas stones and boxes to squat off of
  • Showing up to a meet some 19 lifters deep and seeing the amazing support for our guys from our guys and the support that our guys show the other lifters at the meet as well

The Worst:

  • Not being able to get all the things I want for the team/lifters when I want to get it
  • Hearing that people are intimidated to come to the MGG because they haven't made the connection that all our strong guys started out just like they did and that no lifter is born a 1,000-pound squatter; they get that way with the support of the team and tons of hard work
  • Having tons of lifters who want to train at the MGG but realizing that people can only logistically travel so far to train with us
  • Not being able to answer all the training question related emails that we get
  • The fear of failure

 

The Best: Having my own place to train at whenever I want.

The Worst: The upkeep comes out of my pocket.


The Best: The best part for me is that it gives me a chance to mentor and expose so many new lifters to a great strength training environment. They don’t have to be exposed to some lousy chain gym and learn horrible training information from some random curl bro.

The Worst: The worst part (for me anyway) is the fact that it just isn't profitable.


The Best: The best part about owning your own facility is that you call all the shots. You get to choose your equipment, your music, who you train, the works. Owning a facility also means that you can impact and influence a ton of people, which makes it really special.

The Worst: The worst part about owning your facility is that it’s your *ss on the line if something goes wrong. Plus, you quickly realize that when you own a facility, you’re running a business. There’s much more to it than just being a good trainer. You have to be able to network, market, and promote your facility or you’ll end up out of business.


The Best: Without a doubt, the best part of owning Orlando Barbell is being able to use my knowledge and experience to help others get stronger, especially those who may not feel comfortable training at other gyms. From training a Special Olympian to coaching a 71-year-old veteran in our sport to helping lifters prepare for their first meet, nothing is more rewarding than being able to give back to something that has given so much to me.

The Worst: The worst part of owning Orlando Barbell is realizing that everything is impermanent. People come and go and move on with their lives. No one stays forever. It helps to realize this, but it’s always hard when someone moves on after you’ve trained and built a relationship with them.


The Best: I think that the best part about owning my own place is the freedom to create the type of training environment that I want. I want a place where people can lift and get strong(er), a place that is full of people who want to train, a place where people are educated about training and work hard. I also love the fact that I get to choose what we do as far as programming for clients and what type of services we offer. TPS doesn't follow the industry trends. We create our own.

The Worst: Aahh! Where do I start? There are 10,000,000 things that suck about being the owner from stressing over property tax increases to making payroll to keeping up with what Google is now doing to fuck you on rankings and countless more. I think the worst thing is that I am responsible for everything and that consumes time, my most precious resource. A lot of time is lost on minutia and it is very hard to avoid it.

Forget all the bullshit you read in the industry marketing emails that try and sell you ebooks on how to own your own place and work at the business three hours a week. You have to keep an eye on everything, and it doesn't matter how good your managers are. I can’t tell you how many times I've gone into the bathroom and saw that some douchebag shit on the toilet seat. There is no time to find someone to clean it. You have to do it now or it makes the place look like shit, pun intended. There are 10,000 little day-to-day things that keep you from doing the things you love (training people or writing an awesome new ebook).

I call them bombs. Bombs go off every day. For example, my site was hacked three days ago and now I've spent the last three days cleaning it, backing it up again, and arguing with the web host over security breaches. It’s the little things that suck, but in the end, I’d rather work for myself and deal with all the crap than work for a big box commercial gym with a douchebag fitness manager who can’t squat his body weight telling me what to do or how to do it.

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