Chris Burgess is sharing with us this month his thoughts and learnings of what he feels are issues often overlooked by PT’s when they are working hard to set-up, or make a success of their own business. These are his top tips for PT studio success.
Chris, who currently runs his own facility, as well as the fitness mentoring group ‘Lift The Bar’, is pleased to say he has learnt ‘from his own mistakes’ along the way and is committed to helping other PT’s forge a successful career.
From his years in the industry and from working with PT’s across the country Chris has identified five common themes which he feels contribute to the success of any studio, ‘Over the year’s five key themes always come out on top when it comes to the success of a new studio.
Choosing too Much Equipment
Firstly, the PT chooses too much kit that only has one use’ he explained.
‘Treadmills and cross trainers have their place but generally they aren’t recommended in a PT studio where space is often limited. The key is to find robust kit that can be used for multiple exercises and training cycles. By using a squat rack or half rig well a PT can easily have three or four people training at the same time where as a treadmill, as we all know can only have one!’
Scalability and Layout
Scalability is clearly important and this plays a key part in Chris’s next point, ‘A lot of trainers seem to overlook the layout of their facility and place their kit where they want rather, than thinking about the flow and how a client/member might use the space. Kit placed randomly means the PT is running the risk of limiting the number of people who can use the space at one time.
‘Creating a simple pod system allows the PT to plan sessions effectively moving from a warm-up, to strength work, to assistance work and then finishers. By placing everything, everywhere it is much harder to plan in an effective programme and to have the maximum number of users on the gym floor. The recommended way to build the best programmes that see results, to the greatest number of users is to create a clear flow of kit. Never put the ‘scary’ kit at the front of the facility – first impressions count and when showing a prospective client round they will probably feel more comfortable seeing stretch mats than huge, heavy dumbbells,’ continued Chris.
Design for the Client not Yourself
Thirdly, something Chris is keen for PT’s to think about is the kit they buy ‘When buying the kit think about the client’s needs and not your own’, said Chris, ‘Don’t get me wrong I love big shiny new dumbbells and leg presses. I even bought myself a massive hack squat as a moving in present when I opened my own facility. The reality was it got minimal use from anyone other than the coaches themselves.
‘At a PT facility experience has taught me that time and space is better spent coaching with barbells, dumbbells, medicine balls and bodyweight exercises than taking up a large chunk of space with a piece of kit that only three people can use’, he added.
Have a Dynamic Approach to Buying Equipment
As we all know the industry moves fast and there are constantly new products and offerings coming to market so how do PT’s keep evolving and engage their clients, ’Great facilities have a high turnover of kit’ said Chris ‘Things come and things go but as the client base evolves and advances and you get new clients the kit choices will need to be adjusted accordingly’.
Chris went on to explain how he made the decision to phase his purchasing so that his clients could look forward to three specific dates when new kit would be coming in. ‘It got them engaged and interested and it showed them we are investing into THEIR gym’ he said.
Your Client Base is Your Most Valuable Asset
Finally, away from the focus on the kit and gym floor the biggest asset many PT’s have is their client base. ‘It is hard to compete with chain gyms and their huge array of kit so, if people decide to pay more to have less tools it means as a PT you are providing something incredible to that person,’ explained Chris. ‘ Consideration needs to be made on how to make and build a community from your facility’ he added, ‘And it doesn't have to be complicated – workshops, social media groups, nights out, they all work and can make a world of difference to retention and showing people you’re not what people would expect’.
So there we have it – five key points to consider for PT’s wishing to set-up or in the process of setting up their own studio.