How To Start a Fitness Boot Camp Business

Guest Post by Laurel Blackburn

This is another guest post by the boot camp queen Laurel Blackburn. Laurel last post Marketing a Fitness Boot Camp was and extremely popular post here on KickBackLife.com and I’ve asked Laurel to be a regular contributor.

In this post Laurel is gonna share with you how to actually start a fitness boot camp business… I think you’ll like it…

First of all I have to say that I really appreciate all the great responses I received from my last post. I hope that you guys were able to put the information to good use.

I am so fortunate that I am doing something I absolutely love and I get paid (a lot) to do it.

In talking with some of you and with some of my boot camp coaching clients, I am still amazed at how many people are putting in 8-10 hour days doing 1:1 personal training at the gym. If this is something you love to do and don’t mind only making a percentage of your fees, then my hat is off to you. I couldn’t do it.

If you are one of those, however, that know there is more to life than spending countless hours at the gym working for and supporting “the man” then this post is for you.

First of all, starting your own fitness boot camp business is not for everyone. If you don’t like to take charge, aren’t a go-getter, afraid to take chances, lack self discipline, aren’t organized, lack patience, lack self-confidence and aren’t open to change and learning, then it’s best you keep working for “the man”.

If you have that fire burning within you (desire), drive, tenacity, self confidence, ethics and open mindedness and aren’t afraid of a challenge then you might just succeed.

I think the first mistake people make in starting their own fitness camps is a complete and total lack of planning.

I touched on this in my first post. You can have all the best marketing tips in the world, but if you don’t treat this as a REAL business, then you will either fail or your camps will just barely survive.

Yes, you can get by on doing 2 or 3 camps of 5 people a day, but is that all you want?

Didn’t you get into this to have a hugely successful business and make enough money not only to live on, but to thrive on?

So, let’s take this from the top.

Call me stupid (and you wouldn’t be the first), but I think it’s important to first of all figure out what you want. Not everyone has the same goals in mind.

Some people want to start boot camps because they heard that’s what everybody is doing these days.

Some people want to do some small group training to supplement their personal training and prefer to stay in the gym and pay rent.

Some people want to totally break away from the gym, get their own place, have a bazillion boot camp classes a week and make tons and tons of money.

Some of you may just want to do on site corporate boot camps and not worry about rent, overhead, gyms or anything else.

Some of you may want it all!

Whatever it is you want, here’s my suggestion on how to start your fitness boot camp business…

Take some time and decide. The great thing about planning is that you can always change your mind!

I put everything on paper. I got a notebook and just started writing. I wrote down everything that I wanted my business to be. Some of my original writings included doing fitness camps at schools so that teachers and staff can leave the classroom, change clothes and workout before they go home. I wrote down doing fitness camps for kids in after school programs. I wanted to do family camps, kid camps, camps for obese people. I wrote down things that excited me and lit that fire in my belly that made me want to jump up right then and there and get started!

The fun part of all the initial writing was sitting with a calculator and figuring out how much money I wanted to make. I estimated having 10 people in a class 3 times a week at $120.00 per person. That was $1,200.00 a month!!! For one class!! For 12 hours of work a month!!! It took me 3 months at the gym to make that kind of money.

Let me just stop right here and say… That was my initial planning and back then to go from my measly gym pay to $1,200.00 a month was huge. I hate to even tell you what I really bring in now, but it’s a lot.

Then I figured out I could add another class on the other 2 days a week with 10 people and work another 8 hours a month and bring in another $960.00. Anyway, I played with all kinds of figures and like I said, that was the fun part. I have to admit, I would get greedy and figure out how much I would make if I charged people $200.00 and have a class size of 20 people and did like 10 classes a day! It got crazy and I’ll just blame that on the coffee.

Everyday, I wrote in my book. I had slogans, ideas for contests, give-aways, workouts, marketing ideas, just anything that came into my head that got me excited.

Maybe while you are doing your writing, you may find that you would prefer to do small group training in the gym you work at or you may want to do fitness camps for kids as part of an after school program.

Maybe you want to do camps for stay at home moms right after they drop kids off at day care or school.

It’s your business, make it what you want, make it something that excites you and don’t base that decision on just money. If you are passionate about what you do and you have a desire to succeed, the money will come.

The next thing I did and this was the scariest; I got out my planner and set a start date. This would be the day that I hold my first camp, the day that I no longer work for the gym (that was my goal), the day that I would start my very own business… and build my fitness boot camp

I gave myself a little bit longer than 3 months. It make take you more or less time depending on how much time you have to put this together and do the foot work. If you already have a full time job, which I did not, it may take longer.

If you try to re-invent the wheel, it will take longer.

If you have time each day to do the work necessary to get started, it may not take as long. The most important thing is to treat this as a business. I can’t stress that enough. If you’re gonna start a business, treat it as a business.

The other thing I did from the very start that I think made all the difference in the world was to find another successful small business owner or two and get advice. Since no one else in town was doing what I was doing, I talked to owners of businesses that I frequented. This was a valuable source of information and support.

Who else would know your town, your market, your business climate than the people who are already running successful businesses?

This may not seem like much, but I am going to leave you with this. Do the planning, do the dreaming, do the math. Even if you already have a boot camp business and you just want it to grow or to go in a different direction, do these tasks. There is a such thing as a “Grand re-opening”. Figure out what you want and why you want it, set a date.

I’ll be back next month for more.

Laurel

Laurel Blackburn is a fitness boot camp marketing specialist. You can learn more about Laurel and her marketing strategies at MyBootCampBusiness.com AND check out her boot camp site at BootCampsToGo.com

Please leave a comment letting Laurel and/or myself know your thoughts on this “starting a fitness boot camp business” post

And if you haven’t done so already, leave your name and email so I can send you my blog updates full of all kinds of tips on how to start and market a fitness boot camp business and how to grow a personal training business using cutting edge marketing strategies

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Let me know what you think…

Comments

  1. Right on Laurel! Passion, planning and perseverance were and are essential as we have built from the ground up as well.

    People catch on pretty fast if you are not structured and organized in your group setting. After all that is why many if not most have joined your program instead of continuing to flounder at the gym.

    I look forward to reading more from you. Nice website!

    Make It Happen!

    Dean

  2. Great Post!

  3. It make sense that trainers got to really look hard at starting a boot camp if they want to leverage their time better. It’s cost effective for the consumers and it’s definitely greater return for the trainers.

    Before I started my boot camp in Perth, I was burn out as a personal trainer and started to hate the job. Now I have more time with family and really enjoyed training people in groups.

    TC
    http://www.perth-women-bootcamp.com.au

  4. Yes starting a fitness bootcamp ..while not rocket science, does take planning and having things in order..such as where,when,how much,workouts,marketing,etc..I also agree that it may not be for every trainer,for some it may be more comfortable to do small group training or partner training.
    Thanks!

  5. Hey Chris I am loving your guest posts man.

    Laurel is a boot camp terminator and I was bummed at the Ryan Lee boot camp when she had to fly back down to Florida so soon right after she spoke.

    Thanks for the information you provide us boot camp coaches and personal trainers.

    Actually scratch that last comment thanks for the information you provide to us FITNESS BUSINESS MARKETING ENTREPRENEURS. (this is how I introduce myself to people I meet…sounds a hell of a lot better than saying I am a trainer.)

    You are one of the few that lets us know and says..

    “WAKE THE F UP. It’s a business and WE are the bosses.”

    While most of my buddies are at the gym at 6AM this Friday I am at home in my skivvies and bathrobe eating waffles and watching cartoon with my 10 months old. I may also even take a mid day nap.

    Yep “Lazy Fridays” are the ish! Got to save the energy for “Grind it out Mondays!”

    peace man and thanks for your generous info

    Nii

  6. Great to have Lauren as a regular!

    Thanks Chris and Lauren!

  7. The information is good but do we really need the pics of girls with guns? I don’t get it…

  8. Hey Chris I am loving your guest posts man.

    Laurel is a boot camp terminator and I was bummed at the Ryan Lee boot camp when she had to fly back down to Florida so soon right after she spoke.

    Thanks for the information you provide us boot camp coaches and personal trainers.

    Actually scratch that last comment thanks for the information you provide to us FITNESS BUSINESS MARKETING ENTREPRENEURS. (this is how I introduce myself to people I meet…sounds a hell of a lot better than saying I am a trainer.)

    You are one of the few that lets us know and says..

    “WAKE THE F UP. It’s a business and WE are the bosses.”

    While most of my buddies are at the gym at 6AM this Friday I am at home in my skivvies and bathrobe eating waffles and watching cartoon with my 10 months old. I may also even take a mid day nap.

    Yep “Lazy Fridays” are the ish! Got to save the energy for “Grind it out Mondays!”

    peace man and thanks for your generous info

    Nii
    Oops, forgot have added great post! Waiting for your next post!

  9. Help!!!! I want to start bootcamp programs but there are so many “experts” out there to choose from. I’m looking for a comprehensive program to implement immediately, not theories and general ideas. Who’s program is best?

  10. Laurel,

    Right on! I apologize if this is lengthy.

    I’ve been wondering if what I was doing was right and if all the stuff I was writing down in my notebook was also crazy…turns out I’m doing everything right and I’m not crazy! After just getting certified in December of last year, I knoew it was going to be tough to get a whole bunch of one-on-one clients to pay me big money per hour, so to get started I went on an interview with a woman starting a new Boot Camp program (that she did not come up with on her own, she bought a franchise…LAME) and I thought to myself “I could do this!”. I left the interview, sent her an email and thanked her for her time and got to work in my notebook setting up my Boot Camp.

    I planned out 12 progressive workouts, how much to charge, scheduling, the name and what info to put on my website. I set a date for February 1st. After putting up my website the second week of January, by the last week of January I had no people. I was bummed! But, four days before my big first day people started calling!

    Last month, my first month, I had 6 people, this month I have 9 people and next month, I will have 12-14 people! I had read Laurel’s last article on marketing a Boot Camp and put some of her advice to work and boy is it working! In May, I plan to have a “Basic” Boot Camp and then an “Advanced” Boot Camp and due to demand from referral clients, I am having an evening “Group Fit” class starting next Monday! I am also planning on holding a couple of corporate Boot Camps and having them run by other trainers so I can focus on marketing.

    I am telling all of you this because the info Laurel has given all of us is great! So do what she says, dream big and be organized, get yourself a little notebook and make plans…big plans.

    Thanks Laurel,

    Doug Seamans – PRIDE Conditioning
    http://www.prideconditioning.com

  11. Laurel,

    Right on! I apologize if this is lengthy.

    I’ve been wondering if what I was doing was right and if all the stuff I was writing down in my notebook was also crazy…turns out I’m doing everything right and I’m not crazy! After just getting certified in December of last year, I knoew it was going to be tough to get a whole bunch of one-on-one clients to pay me big money per hour, so to get started I went on an interview with a woman starting a new Boot Camp program (that she did not come up with on her own, she bought a franchise…LAME) and I thought to myself “I could do this!”. I left the interview, sent her an email and thanked her for her time and got to work in my notebook setting up my Boot Camp.

    I planned out 12 progressive workouts, how much to charge, scheduling, the name and what info to put on my website. I set a date for February 1st. After putting up my website the second week of January, by the last week of January I had no people. I was bummed! But, four days before my big first day people started calling!

    Last month, my first month, I had 6 people, this month I have 9 people and next month, I will have 12-14 people! I had read Laurel’s last article on marketing a Boot Camp and put some of her advice to work and boy is it working! In May, I plan to have a “Basic” Boot Camp and then an “Advanced” Boot Camp and due to demand from referral clients, I am having an evening “Group Fit” class starting next Monday! I am also planning on holding a couple of corporate Boot Camps and having them run by other trainers so I can focus on marketing.

    I am telling all of you this because the info Laurel has given all of us is great! So do what she says, dream big and be organized, get yourself a little notebook and make plans…big plans.

    Thanks Laurel,

    Doug Seamans – PRIDE Conditioning

  12. It’s the same thing we tell our clients:
    Focus on what you’re doing.
    Don’t just aimlessly go through the motions.
    Perform every task with purpose.
    Have a written plan and stick to it.

    No, it’s not rocket science.
    But, it does take passion and commitment.

    Thanks guys, for keeping me motivated toward success.

    Peace. :-)

  13. Nice article. The dreaming, the notebook, the math, the planning, the business of it…all right on. And nice guns…on Laurel.

  14. Ok, I’m NOT in charge of the scantily clad chicks in my posts. I think Chris must have nothing but guns and girls clip art.

    Thanks for the great comments!

    I was talking with my brother tonight about how the budget is being cut so slim here in our state and that many of our campers are losing their jobs and how blessed we are to do something we love, work a few hours a day and make quite a bit of money.

    One lady was giving me her payment tonight and telling me that because of budget cuts, she had to get a 2nd job! Here she is handing me a check for $120.00!

    It makes me want to work harder to give these people a quality product that delivers results. People are cutting back in a big way but they are also holding on to the things that they value and to be one of the things that people value is quite humbling.

  15. Doug, that is so cool! Value each person. Make their boot camp experience not only a great workout, but a place where they feel important, not just a name and you will continue to grow.

    I was just telling one of my new trainers a story this morning after he asked me if any had ever gotten hurt at boot camp….

    A couple of years ago I had an older couple that came. The lady was out of shape and we had to modify a lot of the exercises. She gave 100% each and every workout. They had been coming for a few months and I wasn’t quite sure if they were going to be long timers or not.

    During one of our workouts, she fell and broke a bone in her leg. It was devastating for me! I was sick to have someone get hurt in my program. We took care of her and her husband took her to the hospital. I followed up, send emails, called her and really kept in contact. Her husband came back after a couple of days.

    She ended up missing 3 or 4 months of camp while she healed, her husband kept coming. I found out later that he was a PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY!

    Because they bonded with us, grew to love us, loved our program, felt appreciated and cared for, they never thought once to sue us.

    They have since fell on hard times and I keep finding ways to get them to come for free as they need it, by bartering a contract that “I need” or some other legal work.

    Put your clients first and it will all come back to you ten-fold!

  16. Hey Laurel,

    KEEP “RIPPIN’ IT UP” in the south, GIRL!!!

    I’ll keep it tight in Jersey…

    Thanks & Peace-
    Matt

  17. Laurel:
    That was AWESOME! I love your realness! I have a dream notebook as well.boot camps I love planning and writing-I have 3 boot camps currently and I work fulltime in a school setting!

    Peace and Blessings
    Lisa

  18. This is great stuff Laurel! I too have a notebook with a million ideas and it keeps getting more and more full! Boot Camps rock and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

  19. GREAT STUFF!

    Life stands still for no one…if you’re a go-getter, then GO GET IT! That’s what i’ve always been about, and it’s even more clear these days. I’ve toyed with bootcamps in the past, and the concept always made sense to me. I always had a good response, but I lacked direction and planning. Bootcamps are a win-win for trainer and participants! Back on the bootcamp wagon, and excited about it! :) Laurel, you’re a rockstar!

    Yours in Health,
    Sarah E. Rippel

  20. Hi, Laurel (and Chris) -
    Thanks for your guest post. You inspired me to take the bootcamp plunge – I arranged for a permit to use the park (a 5 min. jog from my house) and register BaltimoreBootcamp.com

    Thanks for the push.
    - Stephen

  21. Great stuff. I did the same with an ideas notebook for a while and then decided nothing was happening, so I just got started. I now run 7 classes a week and have 41 clients.

    Jo

  22. I have currently started my own boot camp business and so far all my ducks are in order. I have done everything from a-z at this point and I guess the stumbling block that Im having now is finding a location. I have got in contact with local park districts only to get shut down because I guess they already have a “similar” program that they offer the community. But yet I see other boot camps taking place with-in a park in that district but I seem to be the only one getting denied. Am I doing something wrong? What are the rules fo using a public park as I would like too? It seems like im being denied becaus I may be the only one asking permission? Can somebody help me with this?

  23. Richie Winning says:

    Hey Laurel and others! :)

    Im from Scotland and looking at setting up some boot camps and creating new ideas with this concept. Its a thing that is not as common in my country as it is in the states, but could really take off.

    I was just wondering though, how you get people to pay so much for the classes. As i feel the $120 for 3 classes is a lot of cash for most normal people!? I just cant see people paying this? am i missing something.

    Would be really great to get an email from you in regards to this and i hope that i am able to be as successful as you have been with the concept out there, let me know :)

    cheers , Richie

  24. Esther Harrier says:

    Hello,

    How do you protect yourself regarding participant injuries and legal issues when teaching your Boot Camp?

    Thank You,
    Esther Harrier

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