If A Gym Were A Real Business

If a gym were a real business, a professionally managed business, it would have its management functions split up among various executives. There are a variety of ways and business structures to manage a business and most gyms use none of them.

Managing a Gym is at Least Three Full-Time Jobs

Many gyms are one person shows or are run by one couple (or two partners). Other gyms are adequately staffed in terms of operations (coaching and instruction), but have no strategy or staff for sales functions (one of the most important of any business functions).

Management Functions

Let’s first examine what are full time occupations and careers in standard businesses – Board of Directors, CEO, CFO, COO, HRM, R&D, Sales, MIS, Public Relations, Marketing, Facilities Management, Controller, Purchasing, Manager (Day, Night, Weekend) and Secretary. These 15 careers and business functions are professionally handled by at least one full-time employee, specifically educated, trained and experienced in the field in the normal business world. The average gym has only two or less true designated managers who are usually only experienced in coaching. Many of these functions go undone or neglected until the crisis stage.

Strategic Management

Every gym has a CEO, even if not by that name. Usually the combination head coach, gym owner and president of the gym has the CEO’s functions, along with all the others. Some of the most important functions of a CEO get lost in dealing with the day to day crises and the work overload. Oversight of other executive’s performance does not occur because either there are no other executives or there is little or no time for oversight. Long-range strategic planning, the business of ensuring the survival, competitiveness and profitability of the gym, are put aside for daily crises. No one is dealing with the prospects and ramifications of new competition, new business and profit centers, changing markets and regulatory environments, technological or business innovations, tax strategies, decisions to go public or stockholder (if there are any or should be) relations and profitability. This is like running the motor of the boat, but not steering it, through rocky shoals and uncharted reefs.

Outside Directors and Advisors

No responsible public corporation can exist without the advice, aid and supervision of an outside board of directors. For some reason (the ego of the coaching personality?), most gyms and owners do not solicit or even accept any outside advice or mentoring. They recreate the wheel and stubbornly go on alone.

Financial Information, Management and Controls

Accurate financial information and control is essential to profitability and intelligent business decisions can not be made without adequate financial information. Decisions like which classes and programs are profitable and which should be dropped, when and what major purchases will increase profitability, when should facility size be increased, should the business be buying or renting and, of course, what actions will make the business most profitable. Most gyms do not even track the data required to understand and make these critical decisions and without them, poor business judgments may be made. Without adequate financial controls, gym owners can be robbed blind by dishonest employees and never have a clue.

Systematic Business Operations

Operations (the responsibility of the COO) are probably the area that most gyms do best or at least concentrate their energy upon. Operations, in terms of a gym, involves the production (instruction and coaching) of gymnasts, scheduling, and day to day operations. Still in the majority of gyms these operations have not been systematized.

Training is the Key

Human Relations Management (the dealing with all of the concerns of employees/associates is another much neglected area usually limited in gyms to pay scales, raises and occasionally benefits and sporadic training. Employee satisfaction and motivation, career paths, college education and training, hiring and firing practices and policies, orientation of new employees, promotion policies and practices receive little to no attention. Occasionally some gyms will send their coaches to regional or national Congresses, sponsored by the USAG or the USAIGC or do in-house training, but this vital area (a gym is really its coaches and associate employees) is neglected.

Regular Gymnastics R & D

Research and development in the gym business can include investigation into a variety of areas – teaching techniques, new services and products, computer technology and software, sports science research literature surveys, internet research, business magazine and journal research, gymnastics magazine past issue reviews and government reports. There are thousands of articles, dissertations and studies relating to the sport and the business. Any or all of them could make a significant contribution to your gym.

Sales Training

Sales is one of the most important functions for any business and yet is seemingly a second class occupation or activity everywhere, not just the gym. Most gyms have no salespeople, no sales training, no formal sales pitches and no sales plan. Gyms open and expect customers to show up and sell themselves and certainly many do, but many more could and would be sold with even elementary sales techniques.


While most gyms have a computer, none have what could truly be termed an information system. Gyms have no networks, no business software systems, no appreciable gym software, no intranets, no data input operators, no gymnastics tracking programs, no gymnastics training programs, no gymnastics databases and no computer staff.

Be All You (and Your Gymnasts) Can Be

Implement these business functions and make your gym business a real business – Board of Directors, CEO, CFO, COO, HRM, R&D, Sales, MIS, Public Relations, Marketing, Facilities Management, Controller, Purchasing, Manager (Day, Night, Weekend) and Secretary.

We offer consulting on any and all of these areas.


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