What Are Successful Small Gyms Doing Right?

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  • What Are Successful Small Gyms Doing Right?

It takes passion to run a small gym. Not just an interest in hanging around weights, but a true desire to be in the industry, to pull it off when so many factors are pushing against you. We all want you to succeed, but what does it take to make it in today’s competitive fitness industry?

Who are the ones succeeding?

Most Americans are not gym members!

Fewer than 40% of people in the United States currently have gym memberships, according to Policy Advice’s research. That totals about 64 million people who visit a club regularly. So although the number sounds big, we’re all competing for the same small group. 

Specialization leads successful gyms in today’s post-Covid world.

Boutique gyms and discount gyms are outperforming bigger, high-end gyms and fitness clubs. Boutique fitness is expected to be worth $22.1 billion by 2022, up from $21.1 billion in 2019, according to https://runrepeat.com/boutique-fitness-statisticsRunRepeat research. 

So how are small gyms setting themselves apart?

Owner Claude Mumpower spotting female strength competitor.

Iron Mayhem in Bristol, Virginia, borders the state of Tennessee and considers itself one of the top strength and conditioning gyms in southwestern Virginia. 

The title may not be far off, as it does one thing every day — powerlift. Since its inception in a 2,000-square-foot facility to its current 11,000-square-foot location in downtown Bristol, owner Claude Mumpower drives a culture of intense training.

The former police officer set his mark by hosting fully sanctioned powerlifting meets and strongman competitions that attracted serious athletes. Over the years since opening in 2014, he’s carefully selected specialized equipment, and expanded his gym to respond to the needs of today’s athletes. Every piece of equipment has a purpose and it works so well, the Pittsburgh Pirates minor league baseball team trains at his facility. 

Lift heavy outside! 

Exterior gyms packed powerlifting equipment attract gym members of every fitness level

Take a walk out back of Iron Mayhem and a colorful graffitied stone garden awaits. The fully equipped outside gym features pull sleds, strongman logs and yokes, concrete-filled kegs, squat lift platforms, tire flip gear, Atlas Stones, and a car deadlift platform. Despite, or maybe because of his concrete floors and sparse decor, the place is booming, Mumpower says. In reality, only about 15% of his members compete, yet that energy spills over to the average fitness fan. To his delight, and that of the future of powerlifting everywhere, high school and college kids have discovered Iron Mayhem. “Everyone wants to come to the cool powerlifting gym,” he explained. 

Fitness for every body

Fitness for everyone is almost a cliché today. Unfortunately, with our social media-drenched images, it’s a phrase that’s lost its original meaning. Not everyone can exercise. Some of us need a lot of help to make even modest gains. 

American Fitness Center in Fayetteville, Ga., is one of those gyms defying the cliché and creating a community where fitness really is for every individual. Owned by European champion bodybuilder Ricky Moore and run by his son Demetrius Moore, the 10-year-old fitness center looks and feels like a regular gym: cardio, weights, small-class space all coexist in a single location.

However, within its walls is an active rehabilitation service assisting stroke victims, paraplegics, diabetic patients and others to live a healthy and fit lifestyle.

Although it is not a certified Medical Fitness facility, its reputation as a place where Ricky Moore can bring you back to full health is well known and it receives frequent client recommendations.  It offers rehabilitation, recovery services and athlete training for a clientele spanning amputees to Olympic athletes. Members access red light therapy, percussion massage, and compression therapy. AFC envisions a future where relationships with insurance providers allow them to grow and expand their rehabilitation services.

In one telling case Demetrius described, a two-limb amputee consigned to a wheelchair for 17 years now walks with prosthetics after training with Ricky. That type of life-altering story goes a long way in helping a small gym succeed. 

Look around and offer what no one else does.

Stroke patient in recovery training at American Fitness Center

In our quest to understand what makes a small gym successful, the same theme kept emerging: do something really well and make sure it is different from local competitors. Whether it’s as simple as a sauna in a northern Wisconsin health club, or as exciting as a fully stocked powerlifting cage, pushing the limit and putting it all out there is what builds success. Take it to another level. Find the competitive edge that makes your gym the best. 

Gym Insight 

At Gym Insight, our gym membership software provides a clear, transparent picture into your company’s financials, and offers a platform from which to run your business effectively. Our software is built in-house, by fitness club owners. There are no cumbersome third-party plug-ins or complicated protocols, and it’s available for a single, low monthly subscription price — no hidden fees, no links to your payment processor. Call us today for a free demonstration on how we can lower your software management costs and free up time and capital.