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 fees range from $49 for the book to $697 for the 6-week course to $5,000 for the 1 Day Mentorship.
- ZERO monthly costs - Typical monthly franchise fees range from $529 per month to 5% of gross revenue.
- 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 ZERO fees.
- 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?
- No contract - Most franchise contracts are 10 years. We don't have one.
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 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
We know everyone is at different stages in their ownership journey so we offer three different "products" depending on where you are on the ownership continuum.
For those that have always dreamed of opening a gym but unfortunately are still stuck in the "dream phase," we offer the only book available on 24-hour gym ownership. We take you behind the scenes of Ageless and give you everything you need to go from a dream to a grand opening. Every question you have will be answered by the time you get to the end of the book.
It's over 30,000 words and includes 17 chapters.
If you're ready to open a HomeTown Gym and want it opened with 12 months, this course is for you. By the time you finish it, you'll have a completed business plan, every single document you'll need at your gym (membership contracts, email drip campaigns for new members, a marketing calendar, etc), and access to every single of our vendors and suppliers. It's literally a gym-in-a-box.
How does this sound?
We fly you to beautiful, little Gillespie, IL, pick you up at the airport, give you behind-the-scenes access to Ageless for an entire day where we answer every question you have, book you a hotel room for the night, and fly you back to your home the next day with the confidence you need to make your decision. Heck, we're even going to buy you breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
How satisfying would that feel knowing with 100% certainty if gym ownerships is right for you?
No more tossing and turning at night. No more regret. No more what-if's. No more internal debates that seem to never end. 100% certainty. 100% confidence in your decision.
- All of your questions answered either from us or with your own eyes.
- Firsthand experience running the day-to-day operations at Ageless.
- Access to not just myself but our entire team and our gym members so you can ask them any questions you have.
Best of all, there aren't 20 other attendees like at your typical mastermind event. It's just you. 100% of the focus is on you and only you so that we get *hit done.
Is it going to be fun? Yes. Everything we do is fun.
Is it going to be enlightening? Yes. You get behind-the-scenes access to the gym that only owners are privy to.
Are you going to leave with a definitive decision on whether or not gym ownership is right for you? Yes. Every question and concern you have will be answered.
Is it going to be exhausting? Yes. It's 12 full hours of thinking, discussing, and strategizing so you have the knowledge you need to move forward with your decision.
Are we going to have intense discussions? Yes. We're not going to bed until you're satisfied with the answers and access you've received.
Are you excited? You better be. In 24 hours, you'll have everything you need to pursue your dream.
So here's what your "Own a Gym for a Day" will look like:
- Meeting #1 -We fly you into St. Louis International Airport and pick you up at the airport. On the hour drive to the gym, we jump immediately into our first spoke* - you. We'll discuss your goals, your values, your vision, and your core ideology. We're going to bring clarity and tangibility to everything in your heart and your head so we can have a strong foundation to build your gym on. Although this my may seem like "rah rah" spiritual BS, remember that I'm just "country bumpkin." If I don't see its value, I don't do it. I can assure you that if your vision is aligned with your business, you have fun and make money.
- Meeting #2 Depending on what time your flight gets in, once we get into Gillespie, we'll do one of two things. If it gets in late and our morning classes are already over we'll grab breakfast and dive into our second spoke. If your flight gets in early and our morning classes are still going on, we'll stop by the gym so you can see how the morning shift is, and then we'll go get breakfast and talk about the second spoke* - your brand. This is my favorite spoke because it's all about creativity. We'll discuss your positioning, how to separate your gym from the competition, and how to create your gym's promise that will attract hundreds of paying members. By the end of the 2nd spoke, you'll be able to clearly see your gym's personality and unique selling position.
- Meeting #3 -Once we finish the second spoke, we'll move our meeting to the outdoors where we'll discuss our third spoke* - finances. We'll discuss budgets, startup costs, payroll, expenses, and revenue. We'll log into our point-of-sale software and show you exactly how much Ageless makes. You'll see exactly where every penny comes into and out of our gym.
- Meeting #4 - By the end of the third spoke, the lunch bell should be ringing. We'll grab a bite to eat at one of the local restaurants and talk about the 4th spoke* - management. We'll discuss staffing requirements, when to hire, who to hire, roles, responsibilities, and expectations. By the end of this spoke, you'll have a crystal clear organizational chart.
- Meeting #5 - After lunch, we'll head back to the gym and dive into the 5th spoke* - your product. We'll discuss pricing, equipment needed, your services, your classes, quality control issues, and how to create an experience that your members will rave about. By the end, you'll have the "nuts and bolts" for your gym.
- Meeting #6 - Because the product spoke requires the most time, we'll take a small break as our staff is arriving for the evening shift. You'll be able to chat with the staff, talk with a few members, or get a quick workout in. After that short break, we'll dive into the 6th spoke* - sales. I hate sales. I hate hard sells. I hate sleazy sales tactics like using fake scarcity to sell products. That's exactly why we built our own sales systems. It doesn't rely on hard sales techniques, sleazy scripts, or cheap discounts. We'll help you set up a very similar system using content marketing, creating superstar gym members, and a gym experience so great members sell it for you.
- Meeting #7 -We'll finish the previous spoke just in time for you to watch (or participate in) one of our evening classes. Once that class is over, we'll finish with our last spoke* - marketing. This last pillar is another one of my favorites. We're going to look at your market, separate it into segments, create customer avatars for those segments, and then create messages that will speak directly to those segments, first emotionally and then rationally. In short, we're going to create a marketing plan that's cheap and works really, really well.
At this point, you will be drained. You've been thinking, discussing, and strategizing about your gym for almost 8 hours straight. So, we'll finish the day off with dinner at one of the local restaurants. You'll be able to ask any questions you still have, and we'll clear up anything that was a little muddy. Once dinner is done, we'll drive you to your hotel and schedule a driver to pick you up from your hotel and take you to the airport the next morning.
Sounds exhausting and exhilarating right? In just 12 hours, you basically created a complete business plan for your gym from scratch. How relieved will you be knowing all you have to do is type it up and tank it to the bank?
Of course, now that you've visited my town, worked out at my gym, met my team and gym members, and had breakfast, lunch, and dinner with us, I can't just leave you hanging once you get back home. So for the next 90 days, I'll just be a phone call away. If you have a question, you can call me because no matter how thorough we are during those 12 hours, I know once you start typing up your business plan questions will arise. Call me. For free.
Or, contact us directly at BeTheChange@ageless-fitness.com to start your journey. We only have 5 spots open for 2019.
Still have questions? Check out our FAQ by clicking here.