A culture is a way of life of a group of people; their behaviors, beliefs, values, and symbols that they accept - generally without thinking about them - that are passed along by communication and imitation from one generation to the next.
- Understand what culture means and how it impacts your growth in the fitness business (both positively and negatively).
- Understand that culture is shaped and built by the foundation and leadership you provide to your clients, staff, and community.
- Learn a path to follow for building a strong positive culture that allows you to retain more clients, keep staff longer, and make your business a fun company to be a part of.
When it comes to your fitness business, developing a strong culture is critical to building and retaining a loyal community of clients and staff as you and the business grows. Get this right and clients pay early and upfront, show up ready and waiting to be part of a workout, referrals flow naturally, and everyone loves being part of what you’ve created.
But when culture goes wrong clients are leaving the business just as fast as they signed up, staff is quitting and stealing clients to open up shop across the street, and you may question if this career path is something you truly want to continue doing with your life.
Here are seven tips to create a winning culture in a fitness business and have more fun along the way as you grow:
1. Know What You Stand For
Your values serve as the foundation for your business. That’s why it’s so important to not only take the time to define them, but keep them front and center. Live by them. Teach by them. Hire and market to them. And be sure to fire (negative clients or staff) to them when necessary.
We often refer to core values as the “stars in the sky” you use to guide the ship by. Building a business is a lot like being one of the great explorers. When Christopher Columbus left Europe by boat in the 1400’s, he had no map or knowledge that his crew would survive the journey. They simply went out to discover new worlds with the mission to eventually return home and share their knowledge with others. Many laughed. They believed the world was flat, and that they’d simply sail off the end of the earth. Without a map they navigated their way with only a compass and the “stars in the sky” to reach the promise land and then eventually return home.
Your values will serve you much like those stars in the sky did for the great explorers. When you’re lost, or unsure of which direction to turn… look to your values. Shape your decisions by them. Hold yourself accountable to them. They’ll inspire you and others to grow in the right direction every time.
In my business, the core values include:
- Personal Responsibility – We believe success begins with taking personal responsibility for your actions and results – no matter what.
- Honor and Integrity – We are committed to a culture of honesty and integrity.
- Commitment to Excellence – We are committed to providing the best results for the people we serve.
- Kaizen – We believe in humility and continuous improvement always.
- Leadership, Mentorship, and Coaching – We provide leadership, mentorship, and coaching to those we serve.
- Courage and Faith – We believe in taking courageous steps and practicing faith to reach our goals and fulfill our dreams.
- Give Back and Make a Difference – We are committed to giving back and making a difference.
Remember as the great Alexander Hamilton said, “Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.”
2. Have a Big WHY That Inspires Everyone around You
Your purpose is what gives your company heart. It’s what inspires you to get up and go to work to serve your clients on the good days, the bad days, and the ugly days when times are tough.
You’ll know you’ve got your purpose right when it lights a fire in your belly. And when it inspires others to want to be part of your purpose too… then you’ve definitely got it right.
Here are some examples of purpose statements from fitness businesses we work with:
- “To help people live a larger, happier, and healthier life”
- “To inspire others to reach their full athletic potential”
- “To help athletes and coaches be better”
At NPE our purpose is to “Empower entrepreneurs to achieve their goals and fulfill their dreams.”
This purpose aligns our entire team to do what we do.
3. Know Where You’re Going
Growth companies and communities (and yes that includes you even if you’re a solo personal trainer working alone at the moment) always have a big mission. They’ve defined where they want to go. They have a dream. And they have a goal.
The most common missions are called “target missions.”
Here’s a template for defining a fitness business “mission” we use often with our clients:
“X clients across Y locations by <month and year>”
When you have your mission defined, it will lead and guide your short-term (and long-term) goals and priorities. It makes it a whole lot easier to say YES or NO to other opportunities that will come up along the way.
All you have to answer is the question, “Does this align and support my mission, or not?” Without that clarity though, it’s all too easy to become distracted by the latest bright shiny object or fad of the month going on in the fitness world. Don’t let this happen to you.
Your community wants and craves leadership, and as the leader you must step up and say, “This is where we’re going!”
4. Have a Plan to Make It Happen
Goals without plans are daydreams.
Once you’ve got mission, it’s your responsibility to create a plan to make it happen.You know how to do this already because it’s the same thing you do with your clients every day. They bring the goal, you then create a plan to help them make it happen.
Now it’s time to do this for your business too!
A good plan will inspire your team and give them confidence in your vision. It’s vital they know what needs to happen in order to get to where you want to go.
5. Enroll Your Clients and Team in the Mission
Everyone wants to play for a winning team. Everyone wants to feel like they’ve contributed and were part of the journey to make it happen.
Too many fitness professionals and business owners keep their dreams and plans locked away in their head. They don’t talk about their goals or plan to anyone, let alone enroll others in supporting them with the mission.
Don’t make that mistake. Don’t be afraid to publicly declare your goals and mission.
Your clients and staff will be inspired to be part of something special.
6. Market and Hire to the Values, Purpose, and Mission
Once you’re clear on what you stand for, why it’s important to you, and how you’re going to get there; let your values, purpose, and mission inform all your important decisions.
Looking to take on a new trainer to help with your clients? Give them some tests that will reveal character and demonstrate how they align (or don’t align) with your values and purpose.
Same principle applies when you’re marketing to bring new clients in the door. Share your values and let your community know what’s important to you. Tell your story and what has inspired you to join the fitness industry full time.
The right people will not only want to be part of what you’re building, but they’ll be inspired to share and tell others about you too.
7. Have Fun along the Way
At the end of the day, building a fitness business is hard work. But it also can (and should be) a whole lot of fun.
When you create a great culture, you attract and build a powerful community that makes it a true joy to get up and do what you do each and every day to change the world.