Start a Profitable Gym with Money You Have AND Keep Your Day Job

You’re successful at your “9-5” job and make good money. But still...something is missing. Like many people passionate about fitness, you’ve thought about opening a gym.

But you still have a day job and perhaps a family to feed or monthly bills. You’re not ready to throw everything away for something that might not work. If only there were a way to scratch your entrepreneurial itch AND keep your career.

Luckily there is.


My name is T.J. I'm a full-time pharmacist, father, and owner of three successful gyms.

I’m going to show you how to:

  • Open a gym, with minimal risk and with money that you already have. Franchises can cost $200,000 or more and lock you into 5-10 year commitments, even if your gym fails. This won't. 
  • Keep your day job. You'll only need 10 hours/week or less to run a gym. Currently, I'm spending 3 hours per week on my 3 gyms and still working as a pharmacist. 
  • Turn a reliable, healthy profit year in and year out, even among stiff competition like Planet Fitness.  What you do with that profit is up to you. If you're like me, you'll take an extra vacation or two each year. Or, you could start taking every Friday off from your full-time job, giving you a three day weekend every week without taking a cut in pay. Or, you could save that profit for a rainy day, giving you the security you need so you don't feel so dependent on your full-time job. Or, if you're really smart, you'll use it to invest in other businesses and build a small empire, giving you complete freedom from your 9-5. 

Sounds great, right? But, it seems daunting. Should you franchise? How much do you need saved up? Where do you even begin?

These are all questions I had when I started. Now, 10 years and three profitable gyms later, I know the ins and outs of opening and growing a profitable gym while keeping your full-time job...and I’m here to help you start, operate, and grow your gym. 

 

How I Started Three Profitable Gyms as a Full-time Pharmacist

My name is T.J. By day, I’m a pharmacist by trade. I like my trade...but there was always something missing--the itch for entrepreneurship, the itch from for something more. Perhaps you like your trade but have felt the same way.

Being a self-described fitness dork, I always believed I could scratch the entrepreneurial itch by opening a gym. It always sounded like fun, but I wasn't for sure I could make money from it. I didn't want just a hobby. I also wanted a profitable business, and preferably one that didn't add to my already full-time schedule at the pharmacy.

So, I looked into franchising, and spent a lot of time analyzing gym franchises like Snap Fitness and OrangeTheory.

Luckily, part of of running a pharmacy means being able to understand the numbers, and they didn’t make sense:
  • Franchises can cost upwards of $200k. Even if you make good money, you’ll still likely need a loan from the bank, who will want to own a large stake of equity in your gym. The big down payment, the high recurring monthly fees, and high net worth requirement were just too much. 
  • Large gyms lock you into 5-10 year commitments, even if your gym isn’t profitable. Having a family, I still wanted to mitigate my risk. When you franchise, you could easily lose $100k in 12 months. And worse yet, you can be locked into a long-term commitment even though you can barely keep your doors open. The legal fees alone would cost you over $10,000 just to try to get out of your contract. 
  • Franchises have little freedom, and you’re essentially just running a gym for someone else--that’s not being your own boss at all. I wanted to start something that's truly mine. Although I wanted help starting and running my gym, I didn't want it at the expense of having little control over the business. 

Luckily, running a pharmacy that pulls in 2-million annually per year, I knew a thing or two about numbers, so I created a gym model that worked for me and will work for anyone.

Ten years later, I run three gyms. All with different models. All profitable.

A look at the annual revenue of one of my gyms.

Here's a quick look at my gyms:

  • Ageless is a 24 Hour Gym located in a small, rural town in Illinois.
  • Iron Orchid is a small, high-end personal training-only studio located in a suburb of St. Louis.
  • Flow is a pay-per-class spin studio also located in a suburb of St. Louis.
3 gyms. 3 completely different models.

    Our Model – The Hometown Hybrid Gym

    Membership numbers see an increase year over year


    We engineered a model that takes the best part of personal training studios and 24-hour gym franchises.

    Best of all, it can compete with those franchises and carries much less financial risk. 

    The secret is our 4-ingredient “secret sauce”:

    • 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 it can all be run with less than 10 hours per week, allowing you to keep your full-time job. 

    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.

    The Hometown Hybrid Gym is like an asset...think of purchasing an affordable goose that reliably lays golden eggs. It takes some caring, sure, but you can still always step away and make money.

    Ready to start? There are 10 spots available for franchise in 2018. Click the link below to get a free phone or Skype consultation with me.

    Benefits of Working with Me To Start Your Gym

    You can open your own gym and you don't need a $250,000 net worth or $100,000 in liquid assets. No business or fitness experience required either. All you need is a passion for helping people and a willingness to learn. 

    Here’s what you get when working with us:

    • A step-by-step blueprint for creating a 24 hour gym, taking you from a dreamer to a doer to an owner.
    • Design and layout advice so you maximize revenue per square foot and minimize wasted, costly space.
    • Virtual and in-person training for owners and managers.
    • Ongoing training for managers, keeping them updated with latest industry trends, best practices, and fresh marketing ideas.
    • Pre-sale support for the grand opening.
    • Vendor discounts and partnerships.
    • Monthly owner strategy calls and unlimited email support.
    • Template workouts including our Personalized Coaching Plans (PCPs), Look Good Feel Good Workouts, and class plans including spin, bootcamps, and boxing.
    • E-mail campaign templates for onboarding and monthly newsletters.
    • Social media training including setting up accounts and creating ads that return a positive ROI
    • Access to our Ageless playbook, which helps you plan the next 10 years of growth at your gym.
    • Done-for-you marketing plans and ads including our annual marketing plan.

    Much like a franchise, it's a business-in-a-box BUT:

    • It's cheaper - $9,997 startup fee and a $350 monthly fee vs. the typical franchise startup fee of $25,000 and $550 monthly fee (along with 20 other hidden monthly fees)
    • It's a shorter commitment - 5 year commitment vs. a typical 10 year commitment for most franchises. 
    • It gives you freedom - You're not locked into pricing, colors, or even a gym name. We give you the engine and tools, and we'll help you design it exactly how you want. 
    • It minimizes risk - We put an out-clause for you in our agreement. If you aren't succeeding, the contract is cancelled. 

     

     

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Ageless 2018 from TJ Allan on Vimeo.

     

    What's the catch? Is this a scam?

    It's not a scam. I can promise you I'm real, my gyms are real, the numbers above are real, and the Profit and Loss statement I'll send you is real. Take a look at our websites and social media pages. Stop in at my pharmacy. You can even visit beautiful Gillespie, IL, home of one stop light, a Subway, and a Dairy Queen. 

    So, why don't we advertise like a franchise? Why does it look like spam? This is a low cost model. We charge 1/5th of what a typical franchise charges. Thus, we don't have the marketing budget to take a $10,000 ad out in the back of Entrepreneur magazine. We're using guerilla marketing tactics, just like we did to grow our gyms. That's how we can get a 35-40% net profit percentage at Ageless - minimize expenses, operate an efficient model, and have a low customer acquisition cost. 

    Our ad you saw on Facebook may seem slightly spammy, but we wanted it to be short and sweet - here's who I am and what I've done and here's how you can do it. I'll openly admit that headline isn't much different than the direct mailers you get from your mailbox everyday, but I only had 2-3 seconds to get your attention. That headline tested the best. 

    And the catch? There is no catch. This is something I wish I had access to when I started my gyms, and now I have the opportunity to offer it. I had too many people ask me how to start a gym to just ignore it. I know this isn't for everyone. In fact, I've had quite a few people contact me already, and what they wanted to do and where they wanted to put a gym wouldn't work with our HomeTown Gym model. So I guess the catch is this model isn't for everyone and every location. If that's the case, I'll flat out tell you that so you don't waste your time or money. 

     What type of gym is this? What does it compare to?

    It's a 24 hour gym model. The size and scope is very similar to a Snap Fitness. We are much smaller than a Gold's or a Planet Fitness. 

    We recommend spaces between 5,000-7,000 square feet. It needs to be large enough to have a spin room (~600 sq ft), a 24 hour room (~3,500 sq ft) and a classroom (~1,500 sq ft).

    What's the best location for this type of gym?

    Small communities. Specifically, we recommend communities with less than 15,000 people. 

    For example, the P&L you'll receive from us is for our gym that's located in a small, rural town in Illinois with a population of 3,190 with a median household income of $40,521. It has one stoplight, a Subway, and a Dairy Queen. 

    Because our model is so efficient (it only requires 39 staffed hours per week), we don't need a huge market. In fact, we'll probably be the only gym in town. Most franchises will overlook these smaller markets. That's great for us because these smaller markets are perfect for those looking to make a low risk investment that can provide a steady profit with very little effort. 

    What's the total cost? 

    Our fees are simple.

    We charge $9,997 as an upfront fee. That gives you our entire playbook on how to start, operate, and grow a HomeTown Gym in addition to the 5 days of hands-on training you'll need to run the gym. Much like a franchise, it gives you access to our startup checklists, weekly calls to make sure you're on the right track, equipment recommendations, policies and procedures manual, and anything else you need to operate your gym. You won't have to worry about pricing, creating membership contracts, determining class times, creating marketing materials, figuring out staffed hours, or creating class workouts. 

    After the initial fee, it's $350 per month. That's it. Our monthly fee isn't based on revenue like franchises, nor do we have any hidden fees. It's a flat $350 per month for the 5 year agreement. Of course, if things don't work out, we do have an out clause that allows you out of the agreement if you close your gym down before the 5 year agreement is up.  

    Overall, including our initial upfront fee, the total investment will be between $75,000-100,000. That varies due to the size of the building and cost of the remodel. The bank we work with typically requires $20,000 down on a $100,000 loan. 

    What's the difference between this and a franchise or coaching? I'm confused as to what a MSO is.

    If we're looking at a continuum of how you can start a gym, opening a gym on your own would be on the far left, coaching would be slightly more to the right almost at the 1/2 mark, our MSO would be around the 3/4 mark, and a franchise would be at the very right.

    Compared to coaching
    Compared to coaching, our MSO provides more value in the form of hands-on teaching, continued development, and eventual maturity where you may not even need us at all after year 5. With a coach, you simply pick up the phone, tell him your problems, and he provides you with opinionated answers. It's then your job to take his answers and implement them into your business. He has no "skin in the game" as he gets paid no matter what happens. If you already know what you're doing and just need to tweak a few things, a coach can be extremely beneficial. However, if you're new and have no idea where to start, you won't extract much value from that type of relationship.

    With us, you get our exact blueprint on how to start, operate, and grow a gym - our systems, processes, equipment list, marketing plans, etc. It's the exact blueprint we've used, tested, and tweaked over the last 9 years at our gyms. In fact, it's still the blueprint we use today to grow our gyms. Unlike coaching, it's not opinionated answers. It's how we've succeeded and are still succeeding right now. And because it's a 5 year commitment with an out-clause if you aren't succeeding, we have a vested interest in your success and growth. So we're there with you at the beginning and then every month thereafter.

    Compared to a franchise
    Compared to a franchise, our MSO provides more value in the form of freedom and financial independence. With a franchise, you get a business-in-a-box. The entire business is already done for you. You just have to set it up. If you're brand new to entrepreneurship and just looking for a business to start with little thought, a franchise is probably what you're looking for. Unfortunately, the downside to a franchise are the costs (upfront and ongoing), the limitations, and the long-term contract.

    With us, we give you the exact same engine, tools, and support a franchise gives you except we also give you the freedom to customize or improve it as much as you want. We firmly believe that most entrepreneurs start a business because they want to create something of their own, an extension of their values and personality. We don't want you to lose that artistic moment. So we give you everything you need to start and grow a gym so that you can focus all of your efforts on making it your own. And better yet, we make it affordable. Extremely affordable. And we don't lock you into a 10 year contract.

    How is it de-risked? Why shouldn't I just franchise with another gym?

    You can never completely remove the risk. However, as Tony Robbins said after interviewing some of the greatest financial minds in the world for his finance book, you can minimize the downside and maximize the upside so that you can make a calculated bet that's highly in your favor..

    That's what we've done with the HomeTown Gym model. We've selected smaller markets with extremely affordable leases as well as plenty of available options. We created an efficient model that minimizes expenses, particularly the biggest one, payroll. And compared to a franchise, we made an agreement that's a win-win for both sides. It's extremely affordable. It's not long-term. We've also given you an out clause, which is almost unheard of, so that if things don't work out as planned, you aren't legally required to continue to pay our monthly fee.

    As you can see the entire model was designed to minimize risk. Even if things went wrong, I wanted to be able to bounce back in less than a year, and regain my $100k pharmacist lifestyle. It's nice to dream big, but often times, the bigger the dream, the bigger the risk. I didn't want a multi-million dollar business and the risk associated with it. I wanted a small, simple business that generated a profit every year, a business that allowed me to sleep peacefully at night and could almost be run on automatic.

    We've had 108 straight months of profit at Ageless. And that's been in a small, rural community of just 3,500. We then did it again in another small, rural community of just 5,000. And again, it's been profitable since inception. And just to make sure we really, really liked our model, we also opened up a spin-only gym as well as a high-end personal training studio so we could objectively evaluate the different models. Our HomeTown Gym model had the least risk, was most efficient to operate, and provided the most consistent profit.

    Of course, you can franchise a gym, but if you compare our costs, restrictions, and length of contract, you'll see why a HomeTown gym makes more sense.

    I know nothing about business. How can I make this succeed?

    All you need to have is an ideal location, a willingness to learn, the desire to help people succeed, and the ability to roll your sleeves up and do some work during the first year (although you'll still be able to keep your regular full-time job). Our training will give you all of the business skills you'll need to run a successful gym. You'll get our entire playbook - the systems, processes, and tools we've used, tested, and tweaked over the last 9 years Like a franchise, it's a business-in-a-box. However, once we help you put it together and you get used to operating it, you can customize it in any way that you want. That training continues as every month we'll make sure you're up-to-date on the latest fitness business trends.

    If it makes you feel any better, I only had one "business-related" course in college, and it was directed at managing a pharmacy. When I opened Ageless, I had zero business experience. However, I had a voracious appetite for learning, read every business and marketing book I could find, found mentors, and continually tested the systems we used until the gym started running like a well-oiled machine. Of course, you won't have to go through those years of trial and error, as I did it for you.

    I know nothing about fitness. How can I make this succeed?

    Again, all you need to have is an ideal location, a willingness to learn, the desire to help people succeed, and the ability to roll your sleeves up and do some work during the first year (although you'll be able to keep your full-time job too). We give you all of the business systems and training you'll need, and we can point you in the direction for fitness and nutrition training. I didn't go to school for fitness. In fact, the only "college course" I had on fitness and nutrition was only 2 credit hours. I read books, took at-home certifications, and because I had a passion for fitness, continued my pursuit of more and more credentials until I had so many letters behind my name it looked like an alphabet.

    Or, you can hire someone with fitness experience to run your gym. There are thousands of trainers looking for work. You could easily focus on the business side of things, while your manager focuses on the fitness and nutrition side of things.


    This doesn't look like I'm going to get rich quickly. Will I?

    No. This is a low risk, moderate reward opportunity. It's not designed to get you rich quickly. It's designed to get you rich slowly with minimal risk. A gym like Ageless can be started for less than $100,000. With enough equity, $20,000 in cash is all you'll need to put down and the bank will finance the rest. Our goal is to make that initial $20,000 back within 12 months. Thereafter, that initial one-time $20,000 should provide you with $30,000-$70,000 annually, with little effort on your part (less than 15 hours per week). Although that return won't allow you to quit your day job completely and retire somewhere tropical, it will allow you to cut back, take a few more vacations, and enjoy life beyond the typical 9-5.