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Facility Owners: How’s Your Atmosphere?

By February 19, 2010December 26th, 2013Training Philosophy

If you haven’t read Tony Gentilcore’s blog, I highly suggest you check it out. The man is hilarious, plus he knows a thing or two about training as well! In case you didn’t know, Tony is one of the co-founders of Cressey Performance, along with Eric Cressey and Pete Dupuis. Eric Cressey, I believe, is one of the top-five brightest individuals in the entire fitness industry.

I’ve been reading Eric’s work for many years, and I believe he’s done a heck of a job (along with his partners) in creating an amazing atmosphere at Cressey Performance. Here’s a recent picture that was posted on Tony Gentilcore’s blog last week; some of their athletes decided to have an “80’s theme” at their facility one day.

I don’t know the story behind this video, but it appears that it was made by some of Eric’s west-coast clients. At any rate, it’s funny as hell!


Here is another video that was recently posted involving an athlete who got his hair did upon arriving at CP:


By reading Eric and Tony’s blogs, watching their Youtube videos, and listening to the music that plays in the background during their videos, I can get a strong sense of the culture and atmosphere at Cressey Performance. I can tell you vehemently that the culture and atmosphere you create at your facility has a tremendous impact on word of mouth advertisement and client retention.

Videos like these make me feel very nostalgic, as I closed down my training studio almost exactly one year ago so I could write my eBook, focus on my writing, and acquire a name in the fitness industry. The name of my studio was called Lifts.

Owning and training at Lifts was by far the most enjoyable job I ever had. I was “El Capitan.” I could hire whoever I wanted, work the hours I wanted, and create all of the systems. I hired young and energetic trainers and we worked our butts off ensuring that our clients had a good time. We were always in good moods, we were always “high energy,” we were very motivational, and most important, we were always fun. My trainer Jordan had severe A.D.H.D. but was probably the most complimentary employee I could have hired because he was one of those guys who made me much funnier. His sense of humor was second to none and he made the clients feel very comfortable. My other trainer Michelle was a former hair stylist who would often cut our clients’ hair after their training sessions.

I’d send out newsletters to the clientele honoring the hardest workers, “biggest losers,” most consistent clients, impressive feats, etc. I created a YouTube page dedicated solely to my clients that showed clips of PR’s and outstanding performances. I loved the fact that all of my clients knew the proper names of exercises. It thrilled me to hear my clients talking about Bulgarian squats and glute ham raises. We always did group training and the clients got to know each other and became a family of their own. My clients became friends on Facebook and started hanging out together outside of Lifts. Some of my clients would tell me that Lifts was the best part of their entire day, and that it reminded them of the Cheers song (you want to go where everyone knows your name).

We trained a lot of younger females (word got around that I was the Michaelangelo of butt sculpting) who trained at the same time as each other. We’d always have a lot of fun with them. The previous owner of my facility turned the place into a Yoga studio, and when their lease expired they left black lights all over the ceilings (I guess for spin class or something?). Sometimes we’d turn on the black lights, dim the regular lights, and blast techno music while the younger women trained. Jordan would utilize this opportunity to show off his dance moves. Some would say that this was unsafe but it really wasn’t. The women loved it.

We had a records board and the rule was that I had to supervise any record-attempt. Whenever a record was set, all three trainers would do a “records dance.” We also had a board that kept track of the number of times a client complained, was excesively negative, or tattled on another client for bad form (we called it the rat board). If a client got 3 tallies on any particular day, they’d have to do an extra “finisher” at the end of the workout. Of course, this was done in good spirit.

We had nicknames for every single client. When clients walked in, they’d grab their workout journals that contained their workouts for the day. Their journal was always labeled with their nickname and we made personalized journal covers that had pictures and graphics that pertained to their jobs, hobbies, or interests. On Halloween the trainers would wear costumes. We wore sleeveless shirts during the summers. We had a pair of converse shoes to match each color of shirt we wore to work. We had special CD’s that we made for various clients. On several occasions, we would invite our clients to meet at Lifts on a Saturday night before they went to the bars and clubs here in Scottsdale so they could “pre-drink” and get a buzz before they went out for a night on the town.

This, combined with rapid results, are the things that get you clients. Word of mouth advertisement is the best form of advertisement and costs absolutely nothing. Within 3 months of opening up my facility, we had 55 clients. Granted, this was when the economy was doing much better, but it goes to show you how important the atmosphere of your facility is in creating a successful business. The best part about the atmosphere is that it adheres to the “steam-roller effect.” Once things get moving, they’re hard to stop. Potential clients show up to check the place out and they are swarmed by several current clients who tell them how amazing the place is and how great the trainers are. How could they resist signing up?

So, if you’re a trainer or a strength coach and you have your own facility, get creative, be unique, and develop your own culture and atmosphere. Most important, be fun!

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