How To Transition Into A Small Gym Business Owner


Tim Caron

At the gym, he’s known affectionately as T-BONE. This industry-leading strength coach has two Master’s degrees—one in Performance Enhancement and Injury Prevention and one in Strength and Conditioning. Before Allegiate, T-BONE was the Head Football Strength and Conditioning Coach at Army West Point. He helped Army beat Navy for the first time in 15 years—an explosive triumph in one of the oldest football rivalries in sports. Before Army, Tim was an Associate Strength Coach at USC, where the Trojans came off a 10-2 season and ranked number 1 in the country. He worked with the football team on nutrition, injury and rehabilitation protocol, preparing players for the NFL Combine. From the warm up and workout to the recovery, you’ll get plenty of T-BONE time (he takes pride in directly coaching every member), and the dynamic program he has personally designed is guaranteed to take you to the next level.

There are more books before even considering opening a business, but this a really good place to start. So you are thinking about leaving your job and opening up a gym; the amount of times I hear this in a given week/month/year makes me think that gyms will take over as restaurants as most failed business ventures very soon.

// Do you need to do it?

The biggest question you must ask yourself, are you running towards or away from something?

The overwhelming message from all the books listed is an undeniable calling towards something. They all have in common a deep physical need, make no bones about it entrepreneurship is a full-contact sport, to create something and not relent even after they were successful.

I find it very difficult to listen to these calls or read the emails because the majority of the time the premise of opening a gym is based on the person not liking their job. I am sure that most people just want to vent, but the reality is that you are asking something extremely personal that has made a huge personal impact, so it is difficult to separate the need to vent from a serious question.

Specifically, in strength and conditioning, we all knew what we signed up for: low pay, long hours, little autonomy….. So it is surprising when these conditions are met with frustration, which I am not condoning, but when people just complain about their circumstance, it makes me wonder what did you expect? The reality is if you are asking about trading in your current situation for a potentially worse one with a lot more personal risk are you helping your situation?

A great thought experiment would be when would you actually take the plunge? When you get fired when you are the verge of getting fired when you had a bad day? Or the exact opposite, when you get an extension when you get a raise when you are on top? That means a lot as the pretence as to why you make this huge change. I can tell you the people in those books all left or started based on need, not because they had a bad day at work.

// Not Gym Owner, Business Owner

The phrase I want to open a gym should be reclassified as I want to start a business. You will have more in common with the yoga studio or a smoothie bar owner than you will a D1 S&C coach. The sooner you realize that the better the chance you actually start to figure out actually how to do that.

So what does a business owner need to know? They need to know how to manage their business as well as market/sell their product. The truth is the rest of the gyms out there are really bad from efficacy to or effectiveness standpoint, but they know how to do the other two really well so they will be more successful than you. It is very comparable to going against a team with more resources and better recruits, it’s a loaded deck so you have to find a way to compete.

Managing your business is simply about making more money than you spend. You will get familiar with terms like Net, Gross, Return on Investment. It is your money, so buying that random barbell has to be justified will it add to the experience, differentiate you from your competitor, and you can monetize it effectively. I see a lot of S&C coaches struggle with this, you go from playing with house money to your own and have a hard time reinventing yourself with much less of a budget. The “grinding” part like coaching groups or working early mornings you will be fine, the problem is when you focus on that and neglect the areas you really need to focus on.

Marketing/Selling your business is a skill and the ones that are better at selling their product will win every time. Your quality will keep them and the results you get will make people loyal, but you need to figure out how to get them in the door in the first place. This is around the clock job: doing outreach, contacting leads, working on your sales pitch…. Get used to rejection and being told no I am not interested or I prefer this or I just cannot afford it.

// Closing Remarks

Every aspiring entrepreneur should listen to How I Built this podcasts, the Guy always asks was it luck or was a skill? I think we would want to say it was skill and I was that good, but the truth is it was more so luck.

It would take a lot for me to go back to college S&C. I wanted autonomy, I wanted to see if I was good enough, I wanted the challenge. I got a lot from college S&C, but I was not getting any of that, at least at the level I wanted. But if I had to do it all over again, knowing what I know, I realize how lucky I was. I have a wife that I could go on her insurance, I had a head S&C coaches salary with a house provided with no debt so I could save a lot, I left on my terms, I had really incredible partners that believe in me and my abilities and make do the business management and marketing/selling really well which allows me to be the best version of myself. I am not sure if the guy that hates his/her job really has that circumstance and should probably really consider how much of a risk they are actually taking.

Hope this helps,


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