The Gym Owners Blog/Podcast/From Gym Rat to Gym Owner.... Now What?!?!?

From Gym Rat to Gym Owner.... Now What?!?!?

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

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people, gym, owners, money, started, business, franchisee, helping, building, work, athlete, offer, spend, piece, bullshit, talk, coaching, coach, john, sudden


  • Why are we working with gym owners and not someone else? - 0:00
  • ​Getting to know gym owners well - 1:18
  • ​The importance of saying yes to people - 5:17
  • ​Coaching athletes vs. helping gym owners - 8:19
  • ​Why we knew we could help early on - 11:48
  • ​The problem with being in a community of coaches - 14:10
  • ​The worst thing you can do with social media - 16:42
  • ​Why gym owners chose us - 20:21
  • ​It’s all about fulfilling work - 24:55


Tyler 00:00

John, why are we working with gym owners and not something else. Because these are things, a lot of the things that we are running through are things that I've learned, picked up in another field, I learned in transitioning what I had done in heating and air conditioning company, and transitioning the sales process and your offers from this traditional, we come in and fix the thing and walk away and send you a bill and all these processes are scattered to the wind, and there's no opportunities to sell over and over again on stuff. And so we had kind of built this into a business, it wasn't my business, but I was the what's the word I like, basically the head of that service department. So we went through all of that stuff. And all those things made sense to me. I never even thought when I had my gym to apply it to that I don't know when to jump. It just never really came across to me. But we got going. And and as the years passed, and I'm not it wasn't that my gym anymore. And whereas in Europe, and we're coming across all these other gym owners, we started to see these problems, but we didn't really know going into it like that the solutions for you and I were we're going to come in and make a business. We weren't sure that it was going to be gym owners in the beginning gym owners were our people. Right? But not necessarily our business as we were building a business.

John Fairbanks 01:18

No, because because it would make no sense. It made no sense. And I guess the best way to describe that is like, we got to know gym owners really well. And what we were doing was strong fit, even though we were helping them kind of on the coaching side. And on the service side. It's I got to know gym owners well enough to know, right? This is not historically a group of people that like spending a whole bunch of money. Yeah, they weren't Historically people that they got sold a lot. And they were so damn busy, like gym owners as a as a group of people right are they're like the epitome of like bootstrapping, like solopreneur type people, which I definitely endears me like to them quite a bit on top of the fact that like there are people just because like both you and I like we come from athletic backgrounds, right? We played sports all through high school, right and played sports in college, the people that are in the gym culture, guess what they did, they did those same things like it's and right. A lot of people that are friends look a lot like us. They're they're big on their bearded right, it happens to all kind of work in that. And so it makes it easy, but those were kind of like they were just our people opposed to that's not where the business was. And I guess the best way to just like, for me as I was putting together our business, on the side of things, as I started, we started helping, right? Different companies in different industries. We weren't I wasn't helping gyms,

Tyler 02:50

right? Oh, because we're not gym owners didn't have money. Yeah, they didn't have money to spend on these types of things. Well, just because I didn't think I didn't think going into it that I would have spent money on such a thing with my gym, what a guy that was, it was like what we talked about sales. I was like, I was like shit, I never had money to be spending on these types of things. So what we had done at first was very labor intensive. For us. It's a lot of worry to us doing everything for you. And that works for businesses and industries with very deep pockets. And they want to offload some of that responsibility and stuff. It had to be done very differently for gym owners, because the landscape of it is just very different. And it's changed a lot in the last year and a half.

John Fairbanks 03:29

Well, yeah. And early on when we were building our business, right? If business one a one especially like in this marketing virtual space is you go and build a product or you build services where money is. Yeah, so so very early on, honestly, like we were making the majority of our money on our side was actually helping franchisee owners, right? Whether you're working with like pool companies, lawn companies, pizza company, like food, restaurants, whatever it is franchisees and that's where I started. I got really endeared a lot of the mentors I followed early on were people that would take these principles or concepts that would work in mail marketing would work over here and this space would work over here, right Julie? Like Julian was strong for right? You take philosophical things and would apply them elsewhere and make them work. And that really clicked for me and my brain though stuff where it's like, okay, I want to take this idea this works over here, can this work over here. And some of the best advice that I ever got was like, the way you differentiate yourself, the way you make your business different or your idea different is go take what's working in the real estate space. Go take what's working in a totally unrelated niche that you're in or niche that you work in and apply. Just look what's working there and now apply it to your thing because now you don't look like everybody else. Because what ends up happening is this echo chamber happens and everybody just copies with each other Do it. And it's like, okay, well, how do you break through the bullshit? How do you get through that white noise? It's like, well, let's just take what works elsewhere and plug it here. And so I was doing that for franchisee owners, and talking about people that have like marketing budgets have money to spend want to be

Tyler 05:17

money, they have to spend by half, two, part of the things like we got to spend X on this, and why on this and it's, and so so for us coming in as we're like, oh, well, we understand these principles. I think we know how to make this stuff work, I think this can work for them, you start going down this road, in an industry that maybe we're less familiar with, we're a little bit less familiar with the personalities when it comes to franchisees. And then you would kind of came to that conclusion, John, where you were just like, you could make a lot of money on this.

John Fairbanks 05:45

But yeah, and I put a lot of work into it, like I did a lot of preliminary work to position us in the market and doing a bunch of stuff. And it when we're interviewing

Tyler 05:53

franchisees from all over the world for quite a while building up like the knowledge base for it and understanding what moves could or should be made. What?

John Fairbanks 06:05

Well, to go, Ah, I don't, this isn't my heart just in this. And that was it. And that was like, and so it will look and sound very familiar, because what I saw was way too much information that was out there. I wanted to be able to help people cut through the noise, cut through the bullshit quickly identify things that can help them either make decisions faster, help them be more efficient, and on the back end, be rewarded for building right building those resources and making them easier. And just essentially, my desire or interest in helping was there. But boy, like the people I'm talking to the businesses I'm dealing with, these weren't people that bought a pool company, or bought a lawn company. They love it, because they want to help people keep their lawns nice, right? It was like, it wasn't that it was just people that were like a p&l sheet profits and loss numbers it like these were businessmen. And I realized, oh, I don't I hate I hate you. I hate this. I hate everything that you're about. I hate it. And there's only one other, there's only one group that I still work with. And it's because their mentality is their ethos. And we talked a little bit about like our ethos, and what you and I see like our origin story type things of those ideas of what makes us tick. That's what makes them tick. And that's why I'm like, you know, what, we're gonna continue to work with this, like, this isn't something that I'm stepping away from. But it was definitely one of those things where I was like, the money literally doesn't matter. I don't care, because I hate this.

Tyler 07:43

So all of that work done, essentially everything, all of the principles we had tuned up and the principles we had tested in multiple industries now. And we had had gym clients that we had ran these things through. Right? Yeah. And that's why we that's why we end up at this point, where what happens is we start saying yes to people. So you say yes, in this franchise thing opens up more options, like shit, there's some money in this. Instead, it's leave the money on the table, because I can't just do this. I want don't want to make this to scale. I don't want to do this for 100 people or, or 500 people not not not if it's like the franchisee thing. It's very similar to those of you out there. And we've heard from people that have coached athletes of varying levels, right? It is much less satisfying taking an athlete who is, let's say, on a grade of gold medalist being like an eight plus, right, getting somebody from an A minus to an A, that athlete doesn't appreciate you that much that athlete, and all of the things around them have most, they're gonna get most of the credit for that as they deserve. And your impact is very minimal. And not only that, you could be swapped out for almost anybody, and that athlete will still be successful. So how important and how valuable, are you? Right? Right. Whereas what I always loved when I was coaching, was coaching people who would come in off the streets and you could just change their fucking lives, dude. Yeah, like, they come in and they go, man, it's like, they're at a turning point. And you coach them through and you guide them and a year from now, this person is lost 50 6070 pounds, they feel different than I mean, you take somebody from an F to A B. Yeah, and that like that's what that's what got me fired up. And that's so that's why like, when we started shifting this over is like, the success we were having with gym owners got me fired up the way having success with athletes, I was coaching once, which is like, yes, dude, like I knew it. Like I knew you could do it. This is you know, like, like, that's a very different thing than helping a guy who's gonna make a lot of money, make a little bit more money. And that's not the game. That's by the way, there's money to be had in that. You just aren't interested in replicating that out and spending all this time building a system to then turn it over and sell and interact in ways that just aren't satisfied. So gym owners always have been our people And running this business kind of through and teaching them through these principles is the way to help our people. And that's the thing, all that all the things nowadays in 2021 2022, like finding your people and helping them succeed. Like that is the thing right now the world's very fragmented, it's all over the place, but you can really make a difference in the people that matter to you. And that's what we're here to do.

John Fairbanks 10:22

Yeah, because it definitely the idea of like the fragmentation of just genuinely trying to help people. Right? It's like that is that big piece? Because I think there's so the tribalism gets so strong, the us versus them mentality, people are getting so sick of it, they're just shutting shit off, right? There's turning TVs off. I'm disconnecting from Facebook completely right out. I'm getting out of this, because I'm so sick of that, to where it's, if you can genuinely try and help people and genuinely try and do the right thing. I think people are starting to feel that. And I think that genuine like no frills, no bullshit, we are exactly who we are. Whether you come and hang out with me, or hear me talk here, you and I talk, or you spend time with me at my home or with my family, right? The same as you you did with me. Right? You bring your family, our family spend time together, I don't all of a sudden become a different human being.

Tyler 11:17

Yeah. And I think that

John Fairbanks 11:19

right. And I don't think I think that there are people that are like that, and those are our people. But the people that are full of shit, that pretend like everything's going great all the time. And whatever the fuck it is, those aren't our people. So but I will tell you that the idea of like, helping gym owners just fucking crushed it to where you and I looked at be like, how can we help more of these people? It didn't start off that way. Yeah, the fact is, is because we knew we could help people. Early on the first few folks that reached out just like you said, we started getting messages, right. So like, it's 2019. And it's November. Yeah. And I knows what's coming. Like something's coming. Things feel weird, right? Like there's some there's people talking about things over in the UK and London starting to close down, but like, it's, this is America. Yep. And we're not going to have that.

Tyler 12:20

And all of a sudden, within a few months, almost everybody is peeled back down to zero. Nobody knows when they can open, nobody knows what they can do. All of a sudden, the entire business being dependent on one method of intake, one method of sales, one method, one source being one way, Vargas classes. Yeah, we are, you're as screwed as a gym owner as you would be if you were a concert promoter it's over. And that the piece that overall health and community health has in how we get through whatever this crisis is, is critical. Anyways, so seeing this thing just abandoned, was very frustrating for me to see. And you seen people who I already knew and had relationships with it were good people, essentially being locked out of their own businesses. And told you it doesn't matter what you do, you can't feed your family and, and but what they did, the people we worked with did first off, many of them it was on their own accord, right? They were just figuring it out, what can I do offer, but that thinking differently, I can fulfill this way I can offer this service. But that takes a little bit and there's a lot out there. So like you said, people start stamping out Oh, I see other people do this. Let's just start building this. And we at that time, by the way, this was new times for everybody. We're going they're coming to us saying, Well, can you help me do this? And so what we would do, we were saying yes, I want to help whatever you want. Yeah. Okay, whatever you need. And we had a couple sneaking suspicions in the beginning where it's like, I was like, this still seems a little bit out of order. But they're in their market. They know their people, we kind of let that be we made the stuff and by the way, it was great shit. Yeah, I mean, they loved it, whatever. And it did serve their function. But because it was so out of order for some of them, it was like It's like, well, now what?

John Fairbanks 14:10

Well, and what was happening was because people saw you and I in this larger community, right? have hundreds of coaches and people executing what appeared to be right was was Facebook groups and was of virtual meetings and coaching that was online and we were kind of we're helping right that the another business successfully navigate what appeared to be what now everyone was being forced to navigate. So the conversations that I was having with good people were calling and they were saying, hey, you've been doing zoom calls, you've been helping manage recordings you've been helping manage online class like this, this type of thing.

Tyler 14:55

All those things can be delivered remotely, things that aren't dependent on you and your geographic collocation all of a sudden gym owners are going well, if I have to sell to people that are the gym, why do I Why am I only trying to sell to people that are within 10 minutes drive from my gym? Now all of a sudden the world opens up. It's weird, because everybody else is thinking the same way. And how do you navigate that? And that's the pieces were after we had started rockin and rollin on some of the things we went, John, we gotta, we gotta tighten this up. There's a

John Fairbanks 15:25

problem. Yeah, yeah. And it became very evident, because we were doing the same things that we knew, could make successful. But this is what we now what we step back. And what we try and warn everyone that we talk to against, you don't have this free baby, you don't have to pay us for this advice will yell it from the rooftops, constantly, which is you can't you have to stop, you have to stop looking at other businesses, you have to stop looking at what they are doing, quote, unquote, stop looking at what they are doing, and say, hey, I want to do that too. And then therefore, you think you should do that, because you don't know their financial situation, you don't know if they took a loan out and that they're fucking drowning, and they're going to be out of business in six months,

Tyler 16:12

you don't know if they're living off a trust fund and don't have to actually earn any money in order to make this work. You know, there really,

John Fairbanks 16:20

there's so many pieces, right? There's so many pieces that that's and that's what we learned very quickly, is that because everyone's position, even if they were in the same niche as you even if they were another gym owner. You don't know why they're doing what they're doing. And like, surprise, they don't know what the fuck they're doing. They're just doing stuff. And the worst thing ever is that you start doing because you see someone else doing thinking they have a

Tyler 16:48

clue. And you're only seeing the lens of what they're doing on social media through the lens of what they're doing on social media and on their website, which is very, very, if they're doing it, well, it's going to look better than it probably is, right? If they're doing the social media stuff well. And if they suck at it, why are you reparable replicating something that's not very good to begin with. And I just think doing anything based on mimicking mimicking another gym, and you're exactly it not just in your market, but just in your field is things that work is one thing, but just things that you see, that's not results, things that look cool things where you're like, oh, that seems like a good idea. It's like, did it work? How many did they sell? How much money did they make? How much? What's the word I'm looking for? How much social credit did they have to cash in from their members by being really sleazy about this offer? Are they over soliciting? Are they under solicit or the leaving when there's way too much stuff that goes into it than just like, oh, they offered this thing that I kind of like, okay, well, that's one step. Harvard pile up those ideas, but we need to put them in order and it needs to be done the right way.

John Fairbanks 17:55

And exactly, do they have the infrastructure to manage that? Just because it won't this looks like it's working really well. It's like don't do Yeah, but he's now divorced. Because he's now working 80 to 90 hours a week to make this function. And the reality is, what you're doing is you're trying to make this look like a thing, instead of it actually being the thing. And that's where we just we started saying no. So like you said it started off where we were saying yes, yes to fucking anything. At the end of the day, it's nice to get paid, we're all hurting. So it was great to get paid. And people were telling us this is what we need. So we had no reason to argue until we got enough projects in that we were finally the yes was gone. It was like,

Tyler 18:39

No, when it started to become no was the answer to exactly. It's not about telling people what to do or flexing them. But it's that it's that when things come in and I see this, the answer is very respectfully. Not yet. And because I cannot take any, I can't take money from somebody, and then put it into a thing and have it not work. If I take money from somebody, and they don't make that money back. Bad money, that to them. That is bad money. And by the way, there's plenty of things that people spend money on that don't give them money, you know, that don't pay back. But the world I want to live in, is remember, we got into gym owners worried that they didn't have enough money. Right? So what we're doing with this thing is we give you the first few steps to make sure that you know some very basic ways to make more money. And there are ways that you can take with you forever. So now this gym owners market with a few of the first basic things that we can offer with this first kind of run through and we can really empower them and educate them on how to do it. As they run through this first thing. They have the tools and the know how and everything to produce a lot more money. Now. They want to start going down the road of some other things then we can talk right you have your affairs in order. You have have money. Now you're a viable client for me, but I'm not gonna I can't come in and do work for people that don't have, I don't want to take somebody's last $1,000, exactly last 5000 or less 10,000, I won't do that. You know what I mean? And so if you give me your last 1000, it better turn into 10 or 20, or 50, or 100.

John Fairbanks 20:21

And it's because we're good people. Deep down. But that's this much. Because you need to understand, like, respectfully understand why this is the case. We want you, we want you to make $10,000 After paying us $1,000, because I want you to then pay us $10,000, because we're going to help you make $100,000 It needs to be understood, like it's in our best interest for you to be successful. Because if you're not successful, and this is, and this is anyone, anyone that's clean, and this is what I got so sick of and this is why when I told you, this is what I want to do, this is the direction we needed to go. Not because we want to, but we need to we have to, because like you said the question was why gym owners, it never was gym owners. Like we didn't choose gym owners, gym owners chose us Period, end of story like hard stop. And I was so passionate about it. Because I was sick and fucking tired of people selling gym owners stuff. That was all philosophy mumbo jumbo hippie bullshit, that didn't have a practical application to allow a coach to then go make more money with the skills they were learning. It was driving me god damn insane. And that's why I told you it needed to be we're going to teach them to do a thing. But then the most important thing is how to take that thing. And immediately, cash in, there has to be a return on investment. And that return on investment can not only be knowledge.

Tyler 22:00

Yeah, well, and that's the piece that we had maybe not gotten quite right. In the first few iterations, were going through this stuff, the first thing we thought we're going to do is inform and help. Like really, really, oh, how do I want to put this John, we wanted to really like go down this whole path, like lay this whole thing out to be like, here's all your stuff. But we found we needed the most condensed version, because some of these people can't come in and get into a very long term, or expensive relationship with a long, long, long process. Because they can't see that far ahead right now. And they don't see the short term benefits. So we had to come in right away and align this whole process with a very strong short term benefit. That is not taking a ton of time from you, that you can just go in, you can figure this stuff out, we teach that stuff very, very concisely, in a very thorough way. This is essentially, this isn't a course, essentially, as a workbook on your business, right, you're going through and you're working through these things on your business, and then you go, Alright, now here's what we're doing. But we built that into a way that is going to make it very, very easy for people to turn around the money that they throw this way. So it's not gone, just knock on you walk away with the skills and the skills that can make you money. And I always the reason that when you settled on that you kind of settled on this path. When we talked about this, they made the most sense to me as, as coaches as gym owners, right? Someone comes into your gym and you give them results. Or you give them someone results over three months, and then they're gonna be with you for six, and then they'll be with you for a year. And you have to continue to deliver and you have to, you have to, I can't come in and say I need you to sign up for five years, John, like, well, when am I going to lose the waves like, well, we're going to spend the first three, making sure that you have a flawless air squat, I mean, three years straight, that would be an absolutely atrocious sales pitch, right? But I want to come in, I want to get you the results early on that are going to keep you coming back because it is in our best interest for our clients to have money and have success. I'm not doing the turn and burn thing, the churn and burn. That's not what you would want to do that with your clients. That's a bad model for a gym. And it's a bad model for us. We tried to we tried to do all of these things, kind of these patterns need to work from top to bottom. And that's when I started seeing like, Oh, this is this is the perfect way to get people into this is you come in and you're going to do thing a for x price. Eight, you're going to make x times whatever amount right away. Good. And then we can talk. You can just run that puppy until you got money burning a hole in your pocket and you come back to us and say, What can we do now? And then we'll talk about what that stuff is. But coming in right away. I mean, I think that that is I think that is like the I don't know I think I think that's the main thing that people need to take away as a gym owners have always been our people and that we're not here to just take

John Fairbanks 24:55

you know, yeah. Yeah, cuz it is all about genuinely fulfilling, and making sure that our people are taken care of. Yeah, because I don't think there are some people out there. And these are folks that we're going to be making sure that we affiliate ourselves with, that we bring to our community are going to be these organizations that are good people that are good orcs that are out there, that are companies that are doing it the right way. And they're doing the right things that are truly helping gym owners do their jobs to to function to do better, right, we always the idea is and so this is where it's, that is where I really want us to sit. Because if we are called to be able to support gym owners, because that's truly how I feel about this is that this isn't something that was the grand plan. This was something that pulled me out of my chair, because I couldn't sit back and watch people struggle any longer. And so that's why it definitely is that it's why gym owners, gym owners chose us, and therefore, it can't just stop at this it has to be then how can we support everybody from every single angle and make sure that nobody ever again, feels like that if anything happens again, like what we have experienced over the last 18 months that no one will ever again feel like they're alone on an island that they have the support that they need.

Tyler 26:27

So if people are interested in kind of starting this like feedback loop of success, yeah, where do we want them to go here we have a Facebook group.

John Fairbanks 26:35

It's like a gym owners movement will have a link to it gym owners movement is

Tyler 26:39

the group is the group title. So we'll have a link in the description and all this stuff here but gym owners group on Facebook gym owners movement on Facebook. You can also find the gym owners podcast on Instagram. You're gonna find it on Spotify, all that other good stuff. Apple. You find me at Tyler Elphinstone on Instagram find John at J banks FL Go Gators. I'm trying to think of what else we wanted to get out there. But if you have any questions, you can shoot us an email as well. If you're if you if you want to have some long form discussion directly with us, you can just shoot us an email if you want to fill us out. That's info at Hack your

John Fairbanks 27:17

you can go to how to and you can find all that information. But get

Tyler 27:23

in the group. Get in the Facebook group, right? It's private. It's not open to the public. It's us we're running it there is no bullshit. There's no yeah, this this spot for all things. So it's a conversation resonates with you if it made sense to you here as a listener or at least as a gym owner. If you have a gym owner in your life, send us their way.

John Fairbanks 27:41

Yeah. I like it. Yeah.

Tyler 27:46

Awesome. All right. Thanks, everybody. We'll see you soon.

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