Today I want to talk to you about the top three questions I get from fitness professionals who want to start a fitness boot camp.
Of course, starting a boot camp is much more complicated than these three questions detail. But this should give you a guideline for taking the first steps towards a successful career in the boot camp industry.
The number one question I get is, “Do I want to start my boot camp indoors or outdoors?”
On the surface, you would think that there’s a better value to you starting your fitness boot camps outdoors because there’s no rent and no utilities overhead. You probably believe you could grow your boot camp as big as you want.
However, having been someone who started boot camps outdoors, I can tell you with the utmost certainty that not opting to lease or own a facility brings a lot of problems.
One of the main problems I, along with many of my coaching clients, have faced is running the risk of getting kicked out of an outdoor space. When local municipalities change their rules and regulations, you can get kicked out if you operate outdoors.
Weather is a huge factor too. Whether it rains or snows, whether it’s too cold or too dark in the morning, you’re going to have a problem attracting clients.
You’re instantly going to kill yourself and your business when it comes to getting clients.
With a standalone location or a sublease location, you can still reduce the cost of your overhead and make it really effective.
Here’s what I mean.
You can go into a karate center, a gymnastics center, or a cheer center and offer to pay them rent in their off hours. In exchange, you can negotiate for morning use of their facility. They’ll sometimes take up to $600 a month from you so that you can run your boot camps in there.
You can easily get 40, 50, even 60 to 100 clients into your morning boot camps, conveniently making you well over $100,000 a year.
There is still a drawback to a sublease – that just means that you operate under someone else’s roof.
Once the sublease location figures out that they can actually make more money if they ran their own boot camp, they might want to kick you out.
Of course, now you’re stuck without a place to run your boot camp, so ultimately the safest bet is for you to transition from a sublease to a standalone. Here’s how you can make that really cost effective for yourself.
Whenever you go into a sublease location, the very first thing you’re going to do is give yourself a mental timeline.
You’re going to say, “Within four to six months, I’ll be out of here and into my own business.”
Now, you’ve got four to six months wherever you’re subleasing at. Take this time to grow your business, keep your cost low, get a lot of clients in the door, and scout out a location for a standalone. That standalone can be located in a commercial, industrial area or even a strip mall, as long as you find a location that’s ideal for you.
The best thing about this is that while you’re scouting out locations, you’re growing your boot camp in someone else’s location.
Now you’re going to take that money that you’re making currently and apply it towards opening your standalone location. Often times, if you negotiate your lease correctly, you will get as many as three months of free rent.
Build-out cost could even be covered. The landlord will gladly take care of that for you because there’s a giant surplus of locations on the market.
So you parlay that money into your standalone so you hardly have to pay out of pocket, if you play your cards right. My opinion to you is to go from a sublease to a standalone. If you’re already operating at a park, you should go directly to a standalone because you already have a stable client base.
The next question I get is, “Should I run four-week boot camps and then take two weeks off? Or should I run a continuous boot camp?”
I tested this in my own personal boot camp years ago and what I found was doing four weeks on and two weeks off, that two-week period creates a high attrition rate.
This means that if you have 40 people in your boot camp, you’re probably going to get a third to a half of the people coming back, which is obviously not favorable. You have to constantly market to get clients.
When you run a continuous boot camp, you’re in a position where people are paying you month after month, just like a personal training program or a gym membership.
They’re going to get continuous results.
They don’t have those two weeks to get used to a bad lifestyle. They don’t have those two weeks to take a hiatus and then restart.
You’re probably wondering, “Well, when do new clients start then?” It should just be open enrollment. Say somebody signs up. By the next day, they should be able to come in and work out.
You might give them some foundational stuff to do the first week. You might tell them to go at half speed and half intensity so that they’re not extremely sore.
A few might come to the conclusion that boot camps aren’t a good fit for them. Most will want to give your location a shot, and this is great because you already established a starting point for their fitness journey.
By the way, you should have auto-debit in place (or EFT, electronic fund transfer). When you do, you’ll have reliably secure and consistent income, and whether you’re using PayPal, One Shopping Cart, Mind Body Online, ShapeNet, or Member Solutions, it doesn’t much matter.
The final question I receive is, “How should I structure my programs?”
I’ve tested this out, too, and found two things that work really well.
First of all, what works best is selling a 12-month program at a deep discount and with a prize for those who complete a year with you. If somebody pays you well over $2,000 for 12 months, it’s okay to reward him or her with something awesome.
If they choose to go on a month-to-month program where they can cancel at any time, that should be about $50 to $80 more per month, and they don’t get that prize at the end because their contract doesn’t run out.
This forces most people to take the more cost-effective program, which is a 12-month commitment.
It gives your clients better results.
I hope you now have a better idea of how to start your fitness boot camp. Trust the process, put in the work, and see the results roll in.
Committed to your success,