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Tuesday, 25 April 2017 14:33

I've got another confession to make

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In 2004, I answered a job ad.  The position was in membership sales at a 30,000 square foot gym.

I was 31 years old. 

For the previous 10 years, I was either a golf professional or a fitness trainer for a few different organizations.

At 31 years old, I wanted to work for an Independent gym, with one owner.

This was that gym.


Highlights of my time there:  Owner dude comes in around 11am, and leaves around 5pm.  He spends the entire day in his office in the back.  When I am not there, he doesn’t give tours.  He has front desk get a name and number.

After a couple of months, he starts telling me that we need cash.  I am unsure how to interpret that, so I start pushing pre-pays.  In an area that has low household income.

The gym is run down.  It needs upgrades.   Owner dude’s wife loses her day job. Things look like they are about to get worse.

I quit to go work on the other side of town, 40 miles away, at a 10,000 square foot gym with one owner.

Before I was offered the job at the 10,000 square foot gym, during the interview process, I ask owner guy questions like:  “I am leaving a gym because it is going under.  Are you well capitalized?”

“Yes.  I plan to open other gyms soon.”

My first day on the job, front desk guy, who has a day job as a school teacher, says to me, “Paychecks around here tend to bounce.”


New gym owner guy spends his time in his office, eats fast food every day, doesn’t exercise, and never told me that a week before he hired me, the gym finished a month long special where they offered $19.00 per month memberships.  Now, in April, I am responsible for contacting all of the leads, people who did not take the $19.00 membership, and try to get them to come back in and join for $41.00 per month.

Paycheck bounced.

At that point, on that day, I should have left the fitness industry and never looked back. 

I am not kidding.

That would have been the smart thing to do.  But I was 31, and didn’t really have any other ideas, or skills.  At least I didn’t think I did.

Why am I writing this blog post?

This industry is full of lazy, cheap, charlatans, with no desire to work hard at all.  It is a “second chance” industry, because a college drop out, convicted felon, with two DWIs can walk into a gym, fill out an application, and get hired the same day.

Try that in any other industry.  Seriously, even in the used car industry, they do a back ground check.  Maybe.  I don’t know.

Gym owner:  Entrepreneur.  Ego.  Has it all figured out because, on paper, it isn’t too hard.  In fact, on paper, it is very simple.

Find space.  Fill it full of new and shiny equipment.  Hire young folks, or anybody willing to work for $9.00 per hour.

Sell, focusing on price, and specials. 

Advertise only in January.

Hire a couple of trainers.  As independent contractors.   Get mad when then don’t make sales, and get even madder when the clients they do have, are the only time they show up at the gym.



Okay, I’ve vented and bitched enough.   I want to be clear:  I say I “should have left the fitness industry and never looked back.”  But I am glad that I didn’t.

I have carved out a nice career as a self-employed fitness business coach.   I have managed to do this because not everybody who owns a gym fits the description I offered above.

Many do, many don’t.

Many understand that you have to pay a bit more, and that also allows you to require more from the job than simply sitting around and giving a museum tour when a prospect walks in. 

Many also understand that the more you fill your gym with employees who use the product, the more successful you will be.

And many also understand that trainers need to be called coaches, and that coaches need to be employees.

And many also understand that as owners, they are leaders.  And the best leaders hire people smarter than they are, and are good listeners.

This industry is awesome.  Many solid gym owners.  Unfortunately, there are way too many who want easy money.

This business is simple.  It just aint easy.

Keep changing lives.

Jason Linse

Jason has a passion for the industry, follows other industry experts, attends workshops, speaker schools, reads, reads and reads.  He enjoys imparting knowledge and ultimately affecting the bottom line of business.  He lives in uptown, Minneapolis, exercises almost daily, and lives by the motto:  “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”

Website: jasonlinse.com Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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