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Owning Your Own Studio

By September 9, 2010December 27th, 2013Coaching Tips, Money

I wanted to throw up a quick blog that discussed some of the caveats to owning your own fitness training studio. I owned my own studio called Lifts in Gainey Ranch in Scottsdale for almost three years and these were some of the best years of my life. Here are my top seven reasons for wanting to own and operate your own studio:

1. Hours of Operation

I’m a night owl. Always been one. For this reason, I made my hours of operation 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.. At 8:00 p.m. I’d train for an hour and then I’d write the following day’s workouts til around 10:00 p.m. or 11:00 p.m.. This worked well for me because I hate waking up at 6:00 a.m.. I’d rather die!

2. Family/Friend Discount

I gave my family and friends discounts. Some of them I trained for free. There is no higher reward than helping someone you love take an active role in becoming more fit and healthy. I got to see almost all the people I cared about several times per week; my Mom, Dad, sister, niece, twin bro, step brothers, step mom, sister-in-law, and friends would train with me regularly.

3. Choose Who You Want to Train

If you don’t like a client you can tell them to take a hike. I only had to do this once but it felt great knowing that I could remove a negative person from my life as I was “da boss.” My clients kicked ass and many of them became like family.

4. Employees

I hired really cool employees; high energy, hilarious people who made me look forward to coming to work every day. We had so many inside jokes it was sickening. The synergy was great.

5. System

I was in charge of creating all the systems. If it works well; I’m a star. If it sucks; I’m a loser. It’s cool knowing that you are responsible for creating the framework for something big. I enjoyed the challenge of creating training systems, scheduling systems, billing systems, procedures/policies, cleaning systems, referral systems, etc. I especially liked my training systems as to this day I believe they’re second to none.

6. Own Gym to Train In

At the end of the day, I’d lock the doors, blast music such as Rise Against and pace around like a madman in between sets of deadlifts. When I was ready to lift; it was like a demon possessed me and there was no way I could fail. I love my equipment so much and can’t fathom training in any other environment. Chalk, deadlift levers, chains, and heavy metal? It doesn’t get any better than that!

7. Community/Local Impact

This is actually what it’s all about. You have to experience it to understand it. You’re part of the community. You hear locals gossiping about your place when you go eat nearby. Your clients have camaraderie and “hate” on other gyms. All the clients and employees would wear Lifts and Skorcher t-shirts and brag about how we’re the best gym. I was on a few local news stations and had some articles written about me in local magazines and newspapers, etc. It feels really good to know that you are “taking care” of the neighborhood in terms of fitness.

This was my “deadlift song.” I swear it added 30 lbs to my strength.


  • Kristin says:

    Love it!

  • Great post Brett! I co-own my own studio and I agree with your reason for owning your own studio. Being your own boss is a much better fit for me….I’m a terrible employee!!!

    Now that I am a father of two, one of the best things for me is that I get to make my schedule in a fashion that allows me to be free in the afternoon on most days to take my daughter to the Zoo, Sea World, the park or just hang out and play. If I worked in a J-O-B I would not have that luxury!!

    So do you not have your studio anymore? Where are you training clients now?

    • Franz, great points! I train people out of Bret Contreras Strength & Conditioning, also known as BCSC or simply, “Bret’s Garage.” 🙂 All my Youtube videos are filmed in my garage.

  • Nick Horton says:

    This comes as good timing, as I’m about to open my own place. Been working out of another gym for years. It’s a great place, has all we need, but we’re outgrowing it. Time to go for it.


  • Isaac says:

    Great post, gotta say, love Rise Against, perfect sled and deadlift songs. Hahaha. I swear I always get stronger listening to them.

  • TJ says:

    So what made you switch to your garage?

    • TJ, several reasons: first, all the shops in my plaza were shutting down so foot traffic was diminishing considerably due to the poor economy. I felt that my landlord should have reduced rent but he wouldn’t budge. So I chose to not renew my lease. But more important, I wanted to start writing and try to see if I could become popular in the fitness industry as I had a lot on my mind that I wanted to get out to the public. I believe it was a great decision, even though I miss the hell out of it.

  • Eric Moss says:

    I can see where you are coming from. I don’t have a studio but I train people in their homes (kind of like a mobile studio). It is nice to be able to make your own rules.

  • Yeah, its cool having your own place and doing what you want to do and how you want to do it! I’m really liking having my own facility again but the economy here in PHX is definitely tough right now and people are watching their pennies.

    Thankfully my rent isn’t too high (I split it with Patrick Ward of OSP) or I might be in the same situation you were in Bret! Location is a real key when it comes to this industry though…


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