View Full Version : How to make a hardcore gym commercially viable?
09-09-2007, 12:21 AM
I just wanted to know how you made WFAC commercially viable while still keeping it hardcore and basic. Nowadays most commercial gyms seem to be health spas not real gyms. How did you appeal to the average person and how did you retain them without selling out and turning into a front for muscle & fitness?
09-10-2007, 08:09 PM
The viability of a black iron gym like WFAC depends on the size of the market. A bigger city with enough people can support an actual gym like this one if it's marketed correctly. If they know you're there and they know that you're serious, with usable equipment and a good coaching eye, they will find you. I hate to say this, but WFAC is not viable in this 100K market. Since we moved in 2001, the amount of commercial gym space in this town has doubled, leaving us in a situation where the only members we have now are serious trainees, and there are not enough people like this here. The average person has no interest in work this hard; they'd much rather walk on the treadmill and watch TV, and I have never figured out how to turn an average person with average expectations and an average level of commitment into an athlete. I'm not sure that any black iron gym has ever made what you would call Real Money. In fact, the gym business as a whole -- big box and small local -- is not a particularly profitable business. That's why corporations have entered the market, so that relatively small margins can be aggregated into what are cumulatively viable earnings.
I have hung on this long because I am very good at not spending money, which comes in handy if you're not very good at making it. I know how to keep my overhead down, and book sales have helped. If you want to try it, my advice is to start very small, and build your business as you grow your membership. Don't try to do it the other way, because that's how used commercial equipment dealers -- the guys you'll be buying stuff from -- stay in business.
How is the Crossfit affiliation adding to you bottom line?
I've talked to a few other affiliate owners, and some seem to be doing very well and others seem to be floundering.
You seem to be one of the few who owned a facility, and were successful before adding Crossfit classes into the gym. Do you foresee this developing further (for WFAC and you) as Crossfit grows in popularity and "name recognition"?
09-11-2007, 08:05 PM
CrossFit has been at least half of my business since I affiliated. It is a good fit, and I can't say enough good things about the program.
Some affiliates will crater and some will do well, for the same reasons that other gyms do. But a serious approach to training is growing in popularity, as people see results and as the truth about exercise becomes harder to hide. CrossFit has helped immeasurably with this growth and this increasing awareness. For instance, there are more people doing snatches and clean&jerks now than ever before in history, due almost solely to CF. It has, however, not occurred to USAW to thank Greg Glassman for increasing interest in weightlifting, something that could conceivably be thought of as their job.
Think what you want about the program itself; some people don't like anything but purity of specialization, and for competitors in a metabolically-specific sport like powerlifting CF is not useful. For many other sports and occupations it is the best PT available. But it is not arguable that CrossFit has been a force for positive change in what is otherwise a pretty fucked-up industry, and I am proud to be associated with them.
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