About Our HomeTown Gym
Enter the Hometown Gym.
This is not a small personal training-only studio gym that seems to be all the rage right now. They require a big market that has stiff competition. Trust me, I co-own one and also sold one.
This is also not a 24 hour gym franchise you'll find in the back pages of Entrepreneur magazine. They're too expensive and too restrictive. Trust me, I looked into franchising 9 years ago, and am so thankful I didn't.
Instead, we took the best of both models, added some additional upgrades we've been testing and tweaking over the last 9 years, found a small market it thrives in, automated and systemized as much as we could, and created a model we call The HomeTown Gym. It's built on :
- A Financial Engine that includes an automated stream of revenue that pays the bills, puts profit in your pocket, and is independent of your time. In addition, it can be fully customized to your market so you can create specialty revenue sources that are unique to you and your community.
- A Marketing Web that attracts the right members without spending your hard-earned cash, as well as creates a referral engine that constantly brings in new leads for free.
- A Contagious Atmosphere that builds a community of raving fans and friends and makes going to work seem like a dream.
- An Optimized System that can be run efficiently, minimizing expenses and overhead while maximizing profits. It gives you the freedom you can't get in your regular 9-5 job. And if you want to keep your 9-5 job, it allows you to do that too.
Our model gives you everything you want - freedom, financial independence, and fun. You're the owner. You make the rules. You make the money. You make the difference. You can work 3 hours per week or all 45 hours per week. It's up to you. How unbelievably satisfying does that sound?
Take a look at these eye-popping stats:
- 57.3 million people belong to a gym in the U.S.
- Over 66 million people in the U.S. utilized a gym in 2016 with over 5 billion visits.
- U.S. gyms generated over $22.4 billion in revenue in 2013.
- Gym revenue is expected to grow at 2.9% annually through 2019.
Obviously fitness is no longer just for Hollywood starlets, men with hulking physiques, and professional athletes. Although the aesthetic benefits of fitness are still popular, it's now become much more about health and happiness. Because of that, it's now mainstream. Everyone is hitting the gym, including your grandma.
And with healthcare costs spiraling out of control, it doesn't seem to be slowing down.The amount of people you can help is staggering. Today, 1 in 3 U.S. citizens are considered obese. These individuals are at higher risk for diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, dementia, and a handful of other medical conditions. The obesity crisis costs the U.S. more than $150 billion in healthcare costs annually. Yes, that's billion with a B.
With such a large potential market, the interest for fitness is only going to grow. That's evident by the following statistics:
- OrangeTheory Fitness plans to open 400 more studios in 2017, bringing their total to over 1,000 locations worldwide.
- Planet Fitness projects total revenue for their franchise to hit $415 million in 2017.
- YogaWorks, which operates 29 yoga studios, was sold to a private equity firm for $45 million.
More and more private equity firms and investors are looking at gyms as valuable assets to have in their portfolios. Soul Cycle, Equinox, and Snap Fitness have all benefited from investment firms.
I know what you're thinking... The numbers look great, but how do they look for the little guys, the owners with just one or two gyms? Although not as large, just as profitable. Keep reading.
This Is What We Help You Build
This is Ageless in Gillespie.
And so is this...
This is our gym's promise...
We’re not a gym. We’re not a fitness center. We’re not a business. We’re a sanctuary for happiness. We’re a place where people from all walks of life come to feel young again. Exercise is just a boring synonym for play. What we do in our classes, what we do with our personal training, what we do with our equipment is essentially just child’s play. We’re one big playground for adults.
In short, we’re the fountain of youth. We help remind our members of the days of old, when youth blessed us with hope, belief, and change. Anything was possible then, and anything is still possible now. We remind them of the days when everything was much, much simpler. The smallest accomplishments resulted in the biggest smiles. Stress was as foreign to us as property taxes were. We were carefree, happy, and most importantly, living, not surviving. Maturity may have made some people forget, but we have not. For age is nothing but a number.
May you always love, laugh, learn, and lift.
This is our gym's history...
We formed our LLC in 2008 in a small, rural town in Illinois called Gillespie, our hometown. We bought a small, old 2000 square foot building on main street, added some paint and new flooring, and opened a gym. Two months later a tornado ripped off the roof of our gym, turning it into a condemned property. Acting quickly, we then leased a space further down the street in another old, small 2,000 square foot building, giving us time to contemplate our future. With less than a year's worth of experience and profit, we doubled down and built our current building, a 9,000 square foot 24 hour gym one block off main street on a former concrete plant.
Now, almost 10 years later, it's been a bigger success, financially and emotionally, than we could have ever imagined - the impact we've made on the community, the goals we've seen our members accomplish, the friends we've made, the relationships we've deepened, the laughs we've shared, and the challenges we've overcome (and the almost 120 months of profit too).
What started off as two friends tossing ideas around in a basement, one not wanting to work in a boring 9-5 and the other looking for a hobby and/or tax write-off, has turned into 10 year success story that hopefully continues to grow.
This is how many members we currently have...
This is what our annual revenue looks like...
This is our hometown....
They told us not to build here. The town was too small, too poor, and lacked the means to support a gym.
As you can see, you can't blame them for telling us that. We are a small town. We are surrounded by cows and cornfields. We're not the wealthiest, nor are we the biggest fitness fanatics. We're not an ideal location for a gym.
This is why we're going on almost 120 straight months of profit....
We love our hometown. We enjoy the conveniences and intimacy of small town living. We enjoy the fact that we know our neighbors, our neighbor's neighbors, and even our neighbor's neighbor's neighbors. We see a familiar face everywhere we stop.
It's that familiarity and intimacy that's made us a 10 year success story. We're a hometown gym.
We built an efficient business model that can withstand a small market. We're in communities where rent is cheap. We have a model that doesn't require expensive or extensive labor, yet is still open 24/7, 365 days per year. We reduced the expenses down to the bare minimum without affecting the quality of our service. Our revenue is mostly long-term contracts, allowing us to achieve a positive cash flow almost immediately as well as a steady profit. And most importantly, we've become part of the community, giving back when we can and reinvigorating a once sleepy, old town with little to do in the evenings.
What's the Difference Between a HomeTown Gym Startup Coach and a Gym Franchise?
Before we started our gym, we actually looked into several fitness franchises. Unfortunately, the costs, restrictions, and the length of contracts were unappealing at best and appalling at worst. Plus, we were young, foolish, and arrogant. So, we started our own gym.
When we were approached by multiple firms to start franchising, we knew immediately we didn't want to pursue that route. If we weren't willing to become a franchisee, why would we become a franchisor?
Compared to a typical fitness franchise, we have:
- ZERO upfront costs - Most fitness franchises have an initial franchise fee of $25,000 - $50,000. Our fee is $0.
- Less monthly costs - Typical monthly franchise fees range from $529 per month to 5% of gross revenue. Our fee is a flat $349 monthly fee.
- No hidden fees - If you read a franchise contract carefully, you'll notice a range of fees, everything from local and national marketing fees to a website fee to a failed payment fee. That $529 monthly fee mentioned above can quickly climb to over $2000 worth of monthly fees if you check the fine print. We have one fee $350. That's it.
- Fewer restrictions - Most franchises will have you purchase all of your equipment from only a few suppliers, work with just a few software vendors, and require very specific signage throughout your gym, among a list of other requirements. Although that guarantees a similar member experience at every gym in the franchise as well as fulfills the franchisor's end of the deal, we feel it's too restrictive for the true entrepreneur, the dreamer. Although we'll help you open a gym exactly like Ageless, you have the final say in everything. You're opening your gym. Why feel like you're handcuffed?
- A shorter initial contract - Most franchise contracts are 10 years. We're 2 years with an option to renew annually at a discounted price after that. Why? Because those first two years are critical to your long-term success. That's when you're prone to mistakes, and you'll need a coach to help you take your gym from dream to reality. After those two years, if we're as good as what we say, you'll be able to not just run your gym, but more importantly, grow it on your own.
- The option to test drive ownership for $2000 - Unlike fitness franchises, we give you the option to test drive gym ownership for a weekend at our gym. We want you to be confident gym ownership is right for you. So for an entire weekend, you'll be the boss. You'll get see all of the numbers, the daily operations, and anything else you want to. We'll even show you one our studio gyms so you can see the difference between a HomeTown Gym and a boutique gym. And at the end of the weekend, you can decide whether to pursue a HomeTown Gym, wait, or not do it at all. No hard selling. This option is only available to our coaching clients.
And we kept the things we did like:
- No experience needed: It's a complete "business-in-a-box" that could be owned and operated by anyone no matter how little business and fitness experience they had.
- Expert Help: You'll receive expert training to get your gym up and profitable as quickly as possible, as well as ongoing support and training to make sure you stay profitable.
- Freedom: You, the owner, can work as little as 3 hours per week or as much as 45 hours per week. It can easily be ran while keeping a full-time job. In fact, it was specifically designed to be an automated, income-generating machine so that I personally could still work full-time at the pharmacy if I wanted to.
With that said, there are a few disadvantages, compared to a franchise:
- A National Brand: Your gym won't have the national recognition like Planet Fitness or OrangeTheory Fitness. It will be a standalone gym.
- Small Markets: We like small. Our "blue ocean" is the small towns none of the big guys want. That's where we found our home, and know you'll succeed. It also minimizes the risk. As mentioned many times, this model was designed as a minimal risk/moderate reward investment. It was created to supplement my pharmacy income, not put it at risk. Small markets are cheap, yet provide a steady profit.
- No Big Payday: Our model was designed to accomplish three things: 1) Provide a steady profit. 2) Have minimal risk. 3) Be ran as efficiently as possible to give the owner the freedom he/she would want. To accomplish all three of those goals, we had to stay in the small markets. Thus, there's a limit to how much you'll make. Our model will allow you to make a comfortable living, doing something you love while giving you the freedom to do what you want. It's about balance. To us, that's much more appealing than working 80 hours a week for 10+ years to build a $10 million dollar company that you hope to sell one day. Plus, who really wants to retire when they are doing something they love every single day?
So yes, we are an alternative to a franchise. And yes, we do believe for most people interested in opening a gym, we're the better option.
But why not just open a gym on your own?
Why Hire Us To Coach You vs. Opening a Gym On Your Own?
You very well can.
We did. Not once. Not twice. But 4 times.
However, we also wasted a lot of time and money. We would have been a lot more successful much sooner if we would have had help. Instead, we had to make our own mistakes and figure out what worked and what didn't. That took more time and money than we expected. It was frustrating and even depressing at times.
Stop and think about all the questions you'll have. We had the same ones.
- What size space do I need?
- How much should I pay in rent?
- What type of insurance do I need? Where do I get it from, and what's a good price?
- What type of equipment will I need? How many treadmills? How many ellipticals? How many squat racks?
- Where can I find affordable, quality equipment?
- What should my pricing structure be?
- Who will create my gym contract? What does it need to include?
- What software system should I use for my point-of-sale?
- Should I offer discounts to big businesses in my town?
- What kind of classes should I offer? Who teaches them? What days/time should I offer them?
- How many employees will I need? Who will create the employee contract?
- What should my staffed hours be?
- Do I need a website? Who will create it?
- Who should I use for my 24/7 access? How much will the security company charge?
- What kinds of promotions should I run?
- How much should I spend on advertising?
And those are just the questions I can think of off the top of my head. If you give me an hour, I can probably list a few hundred more unanswered questions we had when we started our gym.
Do you know how nervous we were opening our first gym? We didn't have a clue how to answer most of the questions and were simply guessing. Needless to say, there were a lot of sleepless nights, tossing and turning with anxiety.
Why a HomeTown Gym Vs. a Studio Gym
I completely understand the allure of opening a studio gym. I've owned two in the last 6 years, and currently am a co-owner of one.
I'm sure my pros list looks a lot like yours.
The startup costs are significantly less than a traditional gym, often not even requiring a loan from the bank.
The overall footprint needed is much, much smaller than a traditional gym, which makes the monthly lease in big cities much, much less expensive. Plus, it's easier to find 1500-2,500 square foot spaces than it is a 7,000+ square foot space.
The math is simple. More importantly, it looks good. Really good. 100 members paying $200 per month in a city of 50,000 people. $20,000 per month. Sounds easy. Sounds profitable.
Studio gyms are hot. All the fit biz gurus like Bedros, Pat, and Thomas, say so. And the customers seem to agree, as industry research shows it's the niche gyms that are growing at the fastest rate.
They're easier and cheaper to maintain. Unlike treadmills, the equipment lasts forever. And if you do have to replace a few kettlebells, they're cheap.
Sounds appealing, right?
Unfortunately, it's a little harder than it looks.
For one, the math looks simple, but selling isn't. Most consumers, especially those new to fitness, find it hard to justify spending $200 per month for a gym membership when they can purchase one at the brand new Planet Fitness with equipment as far as the eye can see right down the road for $10 per month. Not only is it hard to sell, but those free "assessments" are also time-consuming, which means either you or someone you're paying is spending 30 minutes in a sales presentation (oops, I mean assessment) with someone that has a 70% chance of not converting.
Worse yet, not only are you competing with the $10 clubs but because of the low barrier to entry for studio gyms, there seems to be a new studio opening every few months. Now, not only do you have to convince the prospect you're worth the extra money compared to Planet Fitness, but you also need to convince her you're better than the 5 studio gyms that are doing exactly what you're doing (and probably listening to the same biz gurus you are too) in the same 10 mile radius.
And if that wasn't bad enough, now the traditional gyms are slowly trying to take back those members it lost to the niche gyms by offering small group training and niche classes.
I think though the biggest difference between a studio gym owner and a traditional gym owner is the delicate decisions required to balance the classes and training sessions with the costs associated with them. During the first 6 months, or possibly longer, as a studio gym owner, you're almost in a state of purgatory. You have to offer enough classes and small group sessions to make it convenient for members, but because you're new, many of those sessions will only have a few members. And growth is usually slow because not many people are lining up to spend $200 per month on a gym membership. That means either you're working long hours, or you're paying someone to train those small classes, and most likely losing money. Worse, you probably offered discounts to fill those classes up, so the few members that are attending aren't even paying full price, further reducing your bottom line. It can be a very, very stressful time, especially if you didn't budget 3-6 months worth of expenses in your startup costs.
By the way, did I mention the long hours? If you can't afford to hire someone to help run the classes initially, your workday starts at 4:30am and ends a little after 7:30pm. Even when it's doing something you love, those can be long days.
Obviously, it's not all sunshine and rainbows. The studio gym business is tougher than it looks.
With all of that said, I do still co-own a studio gym. It's on pace to do $500k in revenue in 2019, which was what we originally projected. So although I wholeheartedly believe the HomeTown Gym model is superior for aspiring gym owners, a studio gym can be successful. And if that's what you really want to do, I can definitely point you in the direction of coaches that can help with that model.
However, if you're like me, and see the value in the HomeTown Gym model, keep reading.
What We Offer
The first two years of gym ownership are crucial to your long-term success. Those 24 months lay the foundation for years, if not decades, of financial and emotional success.
And it's those first two years that you, an aspiring gym owner, will need the most help. There are so many decisions to make, so many things to do, and so many people requiring your attention that it can be overwhelming. The stress. The decisions. The paperwork. It's almost too much for a single person.
That's where we come in.
We combined the intimacy of coaching with the automation, training, and replication of the franchise model.
From the moment you decide to open to a gym, we're are just a phone call or email away. You get access to everything you'll need to open a gym just like Ageless.
During our twice-monthly coaching calls and unlimited emailed access to myself, we help you:
Start the Gym
- Our 12 week planner so you know each week what you need to accomplish and how you need to accomplish it so you are on track for your grand opening.
- Budgeting and revenue projection help so you can better estimate your revenue forecasts.
- Design and layout advice so you can maximize revenue per square foot and minimize wasted costly startup spending.
- Equipment selection help as well as access to the vendors we use so you get the right equipment at the right prices.
- All of our swipe files for employee contracts, membership contracts, and other legal documents.
- Our "Building an Ageless" playbook that takes you from dreamer to doer.
- Access to our banker so you can work with someone that knows the fitness business and will work with you to get your gym started.
- Access to the vendors we use for our point-of-sale software, security, marketing, and insurance so you know you're partnering with trustworthy vendors giving you the best price.
- Our policies and procedures manual so you know exactly what needs to be done daily, weekly, monthly, and annually as well as how it needs to be done so your gym is running as efficiently as possible.
- Our training programs for new employees so employees can be trained as quickly as possible.
- Our workout templates for our "Feel Good Look Good" program, all of the workouts for our classes, our Fit to Fab group, and our Personalized Coaching Plans.
- How to set up and run our quarterly member challenges.
- Email drip campaigns for new members so you don't waste valuable time answering questions that can easily be answered in an email.
- Ongoing, updated training for gym managers and owners so they can keep updated with the latest industry trends, best practices, and marketing ideas.
- Swipe files for all of our marketing initiatives including our annual marketing calendar.
- Facebook ad training so you can use the world's biggest social media platform to your advantage.
- Twice Monthly owner strategy calls so you know you're not in this alone.
- Social media strategy guides so you know the best practices for each social media platform.
- All new class workouts, personal training templates, and weight loss programs we offer.
Easy to own. Easy to operate. Affordable. Profitable.
No hidden fees. ZERO start-up costs. Low overhead costs.
So if you're interested in opening a HomeTown Gym and you love the idea of:
- Just one single monthly fee of $349
- Minimal restrictions so you can make the gym your own.
- A short 2-year initial commitment.
- Twice monthly coaching calls and unlimited email access to myself.
- Getting everything you need to open and operate a successful 24-hour gym.
- Getting access to continued support from our friendly team at Ageless for all of your questions, concerns, and ideas.
Or, contact us directly at BeTheChange@ageless-fitness.com to start your journey. We only have 10 spots open for 2018.