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Boot Camp Business: Make It Thrive!

by Cat Smiley on Sep 20, 2012

Running a successful company is much like being an athlete. You’ve got to attack the task with dedication, commitment, passion, integrity and respect for the road ahead and the people who are part of it. Just as you keep clients by training them to run faster and jump higher, you’ll build a long-lasting boot camp by starting out great and just getting better.

To secure success for your boot camp business in the long term, consider these strategies.

Have the Best Workout in Town

The content of your boot camp is simply the most important factor—having lots of exercises and modifications for all kinds of abilities and injury restrictions helps ensure that clients leave your class feeling they have succeeded. To stay motivated and empowered, clients have to be able to keep up and do the exercises.

Build a Solid Reputation

How will you get people to pay the fee you need to turn a profit, when so many fitness start-ups are out there giving classes for free? The answer lies in the perceived value of your program. Customers’ goals may vary, but ultimately your clients exercise to look better, get fitter and feel more energized. Create a tracking system to show them they are making progress and to keep them motivated. For example, hire a photographer to take “before boot camp” swimsuit photos on the initiation day and “after” photos 8 weeks later. Chances are they will be so happy with the results that they’ll upload them on Facebook and tag your company with a raving review—letting everyone in their network see that your programs work.

Set Up Your Systems

Creating loyal, paying clients doesn’t require the additional expenses of merchant accounts and online processing in your first year or two of business. The important thing when you start is to show your clients you are serious. Avoid cash transactions, as they do not look professional.

While many vendors do not accept checks, I do. Taking checks shows customers you trust them; I’ve had a few bounced checks, but the clients have always taken full responsibility. Also, taking checks makes it easier to keep all your income in a consistent accounting system. You can track revenue by depositing all checks at the same time and keeping a spreadsheet log of the amount paid per client.

Do It Yourself

Don’t hire a bunch of trainers so you can work fewer hours—stay hands-on with your fitness programming and teach as many classes as you can. Nobody cares more about your business than you do. I have found that it doesn’t matter how well you are paying your instructors, how qualified they are and how awesome they may be—at the end of the day you want to take ownership of your clients’ results and have your clients consider you to be their boot camp instructor. This is very important to the longevity of your brand.

I’m proud to have started Canada’s first boot camp, but I am more proud to be leading the country’s longest-running boot camp. To still be in business in a small town of 10,000 after a decade is what means the most to me.

For more strategies, please see “Building A Successful And Sustainable Boot Camp Business” in the online IDEA Library or in the May 2012 issue of IDEA Trainer Success.

Credit: Image by Len Spoden Photography.

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About the Author

Cat Smiley

Cat Smiley IDEA Author/Presenter

Hello! Thank you for visiting. I am passionate about living my best life, and inspiring others to do the same. I am a Master Trainer and the Fitness Director of Whistler Fitness Vacations, Canada's premiere weight loss retreat for women. Formally, I was a professional athlete in downhill skiing (for 12 years). I live in Whistler, B.C., and blog almost daily. My book, The Planet Friendly Diet, can be found in bookstores across North America. Other accolades include my nationally syndicated health column which was available for publication to over 300 Canadian community newspapers for almost 10 years. I was well known in the fitness industry for launching Canada's very first fitness boot camp - The Original Boot Camp. This ran for 13 years until I dissolved the company. There were books and DVD's written, as well as I had the privilege to co-author the CEU for boot camp instruction for the ISSA. I enjoyed lots of media at that time for my contribution to bringing boot camp fitness into the mainstream. In 2005, 2006, and 2007, the International Sports Science Association named me Canadian Trainer of the Year. That was really awesome. I love to connect with other trainers and entrepreneurial folks who are interested in cross promotions and collaboration.