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Old 09-13-2014, 09:38 PM   #1
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Default Gym rates

As my ongoing research into starting a training facility continues I've started to narrow my focus and nail down some details. The goal was always to focus on young athletes who either want to excel in their sport or who want to get into strength training for some other reason (aesthetics, body transformation, etc.). The question all along was how much to charge for what I will provide. Originally I wanted to keep prices low, but as I crunched the numbers I knew it wouldn't fly.

I decided to do a little digging and see what other similar gyms were charging, and I was blown away. I found a personal trainer who worked with high school athletes and charged $150/mo. Crazy. Then I looked up the prices for the program run by Zach Even-Esh, a well known and respected warehouse gym owner who also focusses on young athletes. If you want your kid to train there then you can commit to at least 12 months and pay $195/mo, or if you don't quite feel ready to commit to 12 months it's $295 A MONTH.

That's half of my mortgage.

Now, it must be taken into account that Zach has been doing this a long time, so he's proven himself and he can charge pretty much whatever he wants. I'll be starting from scratch with essentially no track record, so I'm in no way thinking that I'll be able to pull that kind of scratch (and I wouldn't want to. Seems like highway robbery to me, lol), but it's got me once again rethinking my rates.

My thought process is that if I charge more, I can have a lower number of athletes who will hopefully be extremely motivated. If you charge twice as much, you only need half as many people to end up with the same bottom line.

I'd also REALLY like to avoid raising my rates later on if demand outpaces my ability to provide the quality of coaching I want to.

So let me ask you this; If you were a parent of a highly motivated athlete and wanted to pay for him to receive specialized, periodized programming and coaching in a small group setting (my groups will max out at 10 people, 12 for more advanced groups), what would you be willing to pay? What caveats would change how much you'd be willing to lay down per month?
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Old 09-13-2014, 11:17 PM   #2
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When I took an Oly Lifting course at peak Power at SAIT Campus here in Calgary a couple of years ago, the rate was about $1300 per year, with access to an actual Oly coach 4 nights per week for about 4 hours. there were about 10 platforms in the facility. I thought that was quite fair.

Gymnastics courses here for kids are about $300 for only a couple hours per week for about 4 months.

I used to pay $40.00 per month at the crew gym, but receently paid $1500.00 for a lifetime membership. Crew dues are about $300.00 per year, and I receive 4 hours of coaching per weekend.

I hope you can come up with a solid fee structre that works for everyone.
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Old 09-14-2014, 10:19 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Squatter View Post
When I took an Oly Lifting course at peak Power at SAIT Campus here in Calgary a couple of years ago, the rate was about $1300 per year, with access to an actual Oly coach 4 nights per week for about 4 hours. there were about 10 platforms in the facility. I thought that was quite fair.

Gymnastics courses here for kids are about $300 for only a couple hours per week for about 4 months.

I used to pay $40.00 per month at the crew gym, but receently paid $1500.00 for a lifetime membership. Crew dues are about $300.00 per year, and I receive 4 hours of coaching per weekend.

I hope you can come up with a solid fee structre that works for everyone.
I didn't want to actually lay out my proposed rates because I wanted to get unbiased opinions, but I know that was a bit of a long shot.

Here's what I'm currently thinking;
1 month- $100/mo
3 months- $270, or $90/mo
6 months- $480, or $80/mo
9 months- $630, or $70/mo
12 months- $720, or $60/mo

That would include 3 sessions per week in a group setting that would include 10 people at the most. The groups will be assigned based on experience, ability, age, and how full each group is. Hypothetically there will be one group for ages 9-14, 1 group for females, 2 groups for ages 14-18 intermediate, and 2 groups for ages 16 and up intermediate to advanced.
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Old 09-14-2014, 10:55 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Soldier View Post
I didn't want to actually lay out my proposed rates because I wanted to get unbiased opinions, but I know that was a bit of a long shot.

Here's what I'm currently thinking;
1 month- $100/mo
3 months- $270, or $90/mo
6 months- $480, or $80/mo
9 months- $630, or $70/mo
12 months- $720, or $60/mo

That would include 3 sessions per week in a group setting that would include 10 people at the most. The groups will be assigned based on experience, ability, age, and how full each group is. Hypothetically there will be one group for ages 9-14, 1 group for females, 2 groups for ages 14-18 intermediate, and 2 groups for ages 16 and up intermediate to advanced.
For a smaller group that is a great price, I think.
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Old 09-14-2014, 11:10 PM   #5
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You're going about it the wrong way. You need two numbers.

First, you need to know how much money you want to make out of this. This will be influenced by the setup costs, rent on the facility if any, whether you're doing it as a hobby or profession, and so on.

Second, you need to know how many people you are willing and able to train in total. Obviously you can train more people in small groups than one-on-one, and more people still if you hire staff, but then you have staff expenses, etc.

Divide the first number by the second, and that is how much you need to charge people. If you think that's too little, bump it up. If you think it's too much, then change your business model or abandon the project.

Whether you think 300/month is too much or not, if for example you need 3,000/month for rent and mortgage and bills and you can only train 10 people, then 300 is simply what you have to charge them. If it's a hobby you can act out of charity, if it's a full-time job then you need to make a living.

"But I want to help people," sure, but you can help more people with $1,000,000 than you can with $1,000. Let those who can, pay through the nose, then you can give your time to the rest.
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Old 09-15-2014, 02:32 AM   #6
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To put it delicately, demographics are important. Obviously I am ignorant to the details of your potential clientele, but consider the following.

Fort Hood, Texas:
Estimated median household income in 2012: $40,201
Estimated per capita income in 2012: $14,323

Just my 2 cents (no pun intended)
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Old 09-15-2014, 09:42 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Kyle Aaron View Post
You're going about it the wrong way. You need two numbers.

First, you need to know how much money you want to make out of this. This will be influenced by the setup costs, rent on the facility if any, whether you're doing it as a hobby or profession, and so on.

Second, you need to know how many people you are willing and able to train in total. Obviously you can train more people in small groups than one-on-one, and more people still if you hire staff, but then you have staff expenses, etc.

Divide the first number by the second, and that is how much you need to charge people. If you think that's too little, bump it up. If you think it's too much, then change your business model or abandon the project.

Whether you think 300/month is too much or not, if for example you need 3,000/month for rent and mortgage and bills and you can only train 10 people, then 300 is simply what you have to charge them. If it's a hobby you can act out of charity, if it's a full-time job then you need to make a living.

"But I want to help people," sure, but you can help more people with $1,000,000 than you can with $1,000. Let those who can, pay through the nose, then you can give your time to the rest.
Thank you again for your insights.

What you're talking about is essentially what I've done, but I had to spend a lot of time thinking about what I could offer and how to make it both profitable and affordable while also providing real value for what the customers would be paying. I started with what I wanted to charge based on the idea that I would be opening a facility that would also allow open memberships, but I've decided not to go that way for now. Instead I'm planning to get a warehouse space around 1000sqft, toss in some power racks, some sand bags, some GHRs, some sleds and a few other goodies and only offer group training.

The reason is because this will only be part time. I'm going to be starting college so I want to start small with the group training and allow it to grow organically, if I am truly able to give people what they want. if it grows, it grows, if it doesn't, I'll do what I need to do. My monthly costs excluding equipment will only be about $1000, and I'll only need about $4k worth of equipment to get going, so with relatively low startup capitol I could still keep things open for many months even without a single person signing up.

Also, it would only take about 12 people signing up to break even on my monthly expenses, so I could potentially be pulling profit within a few months of starting if I hustle. As anyone who starts a business from the gorund up knows, if you make any profit at all in your first year you're doing better than most. I believe that once I get just a few kids in the word of mouth will kick in and things will start to pick up, although I'm not relying purely on that for marketing.

I'm also not hiring anyone. That just makes things complicated, and I'll avoid it as long as possible, BUT, if the venture grows then hopefully after 1-3 years I'll be ready to move to a larger space. At that point I may look into bringing in outside coaches and offering things like open memberships.

I will also offer personal training for non-athletes, but that will not be my focus and it's a very small part of my business plan. But as I'm sure you know, the REAL money in fitness is in helping soccer moms get toned and lose 20lb, so I'll do a little of that on the side if the opportunity presents itself. For that I would charge per session, but the costs would be relatively low simply because I don't have the credentials to warrant charging more for personal training services.

I was thinking something like 30$/session for 1 on 1 training, but I'd also offer packages. I think there's also opportunities for seminars or possibly doing a short series of classes on introducing people to gym equipment and teaching them how to do the movements. I'd also like to do a free support group for people trying to transform their bodies. I think that would both lend me credibility in the community and help me bring in perspective clients.
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Old 09-15-2014, 09:50 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Constintin View Post
To put it delicately, demographics are important. Obviously I am ignorant to the details of your potential clientele, but consider the following.

Fort Hood, Texas:
Estimated median household income in 2012: $40,201
Estimated per capita income in 2012: $14,323

Just my 2 cents (no pun intended)
You're absolutley right. My plan would not fly here, but I'm only at Ft. Hood because I've been stationed here by the Army. The gym will instead be started in Ocala, Fl, which is my hometown. Demographics there are very different. Ocala is the heart of horse country and is a thriving city overall. There is new development constantly and the population is expected to continue to grow. The city has a few private and 2 large public high schools whithin city limits, but there are a number of other high schools outside of the city that are very close by.
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Old 09-16-2014, 01:08 AM   #9
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as I'm sure you know, the REAL money in fitness is in helping soccer moms get toned and lose 20lb
Actually, the real money in fitness is not in training people. It's books, DVDs, supplement sales, affiliate marketing (hello bloggers who don't train anyone!) and in providing courses to other trainers for certification and continuing education.

You've got the right idea and have obviously thought this through. Soldier obviously knows this, but for other readers here, the four basic kinds of training are,

One-on-one. High cost per hour, and you can't train many people. For example, $60ph, but since to pay for PT people need a job, and most jobs are 9-5, 80% of PT sessions happen 0600-0900 and 1800-2100. So you might do 10-15hr pw of sessions with 10-25 people in all (if the sessions are mostly 30'), and to be a real gun of a PT you'll need to do split shifts. I've done it in the past and been doing it recently (at community gym 0600-1000, look after son most days, training people 1600-2100 at ACE with a break at 1800 for dinner), and it smashes you.

Small group. Lower cost per hour per person, but more people means trainer makes more money per hour, you can train lots of people. For example, $25ph/person, but there are 4 people there, so the trainer gets $100ph. Do that for 10hr pw and you're working with 20-40 people (sessions are usually 60'). Of course, the coaching is less focused than with one-on-one.

This small group training is probably what most people need, you don't have one-on-one for jiu-jitsu and in that sport people choke each-other into unconsciousness, so I don't think we need one-on-one for lat pulldowns.

Large group. Lowest cost per hour per person, you can train lots and lots of people, but won't be coaching them much. This is quite cheap for each individual, and thus makes the trainer quite a lot of money. For example, $10ph/person, but there are 20 people there, so it's $200ph. Sounds great, but nobody's doing 20-40hr pw of gym group classes, usually people expect the trainer to participate, so most only do 3-6 classes a week, and setting up and packing up and getting all the people in there occupies a lot of time outside the sessions.

That's why few self-employed trainers do large group training, it's usually just happening at the big box gyms. Of course it's different if you're getting a whole sports team in there, but that goes beyond my experience so I'll leave that discussion up to Soldier and others.

Seminars. People pay for a weekend or week and come and have some intensive learning of the use of barbells, kettlebells, etc. At $500-$1,500 each for 5-20 this comes out to good money for the trainer, but you need a reputation or serious accreditation before anyone will sign up, and you won't be doing one of these every week. Even for example Mark Rippetoe only does one every month or so, not all of them are full, and he'll have 3-5 coaches to pay, plus the facility rent, etc.

In practice each trainer will focus on doing 1 or 2 of these things. I'm not the "rah, rah! come on, guys!" type so I never do large group classes, but most of them never do one-on-one, either. And obviously I'm not well-known (or good?) enough to do seminars, the closest I've come is someone coming from interstate for a few days to learn the Starting Strength lifts, that sort of thing. So I'm one-on-one and small group.

Usually I start people one-on-one to teach them the basics, then slot them into a small group. But some people prefer one-on-one. This is another "need vs want" situation.
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Old 09-16-2014, 04:08 AM   #10
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You're absolutley right. My plan would not fly here, but I'm only at Ft. Hood because I've been stationed here by the Army. The gym will instead be started in Ocala, Fl, which is my hometown. Demographics there are very different. Ocala is the heart of horse country and is a thriving city overall. There is new development constantly and the population is expected to continue to grow. The city has a few private and 2 large public high schools whithin city limits, but there are a number of other high schools outside of the city that are very close by.
Excellent. Get on it.
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