A thriving business is not built overnight, but you can beef up your bottom line and spark new energy in just 14 days. Learn the nuts and bolts of running a simple, 2-week Buddy Boot Camp that can be a slam dunk in your personal training or fitness business. Discover how to execute this program, which you can tailor to the size and strengths of your business model. Get ready to jolt your revenues and wow your current and prospective clients.
We implemented our first Buddy Boot Camp in September 2015. Our business was already hopping with group fitness classes, regular boot camps, training sessions, hundreds of daily check-ins and more. So why did we add a new program? Because businesses that fail to innovate go stale. We wanted to enter our busy fall season with something fresh to keep our current members engaged.
This concept was sparked at the IDEA® Personal Training Institute, where one of my personal trainers attended a session on partner workouts. Her idea morphed into a brilliant new program. Instead of just offering partner workouts, however, we made the entire camp about creating trust and accountability with a "fit buddy." Partners signed up together, and participants then supported and celebrated with their chosen buddy for 2 weeks straight. Requiring people to sign up in pairs empowered them to recruit on our behalf.
We brainstormed a camp structure to make it unique yet easy to implement and promote. Within a month, we were ready to launch. In our first-ever Buddy Boot Camp, we enrolled 70 people! With such a huge turnout (our goal was 30), we adjusted the plan and rolled out the program. It worked. Accountability and fun were sky-high, and our business grew.
We repeated our success in September 2016, having tweaked the program based on ideas we gleaned from the previous year's survey. The camp now has a permanent home on our schedule for fall, when people are ready to reset their routines. Each year we will change the workouts, homework, prizes and awards, but basic elements will stay the same.
So what exactly is Buddy Boot Camp? Far more than a workout, it's an experience.
Buddy Boot Camp Step by Step
Here, in detail, is how we set up the program:
We began Buddy Boot Camp with a kickoff session, handing out goodie bags, encouraging participants and giving clear instructions for success. Throughout the 2 weeks, we hosted five partner workouts, provided samples of our recommended meal replacement shake, engaged in a private Facebook group and even hosted a video conference call. We finished with a group finale, where we took pictures, celebrated, let participants share their "wins," and drew for prizes. In camp, recording weights and measurements was optional. Campers who did weigh in lost 3–9 pounds.
During the 2 weeks, we supported Buddy Boot Camp by offering the best of our fitness and nutrition programs.
The camp cost $25 for members and $35 for nonmembers. Our regular boot camps cost $50 in addition to our membership fee, and we liked the idea of splitting that fee with a buddy. You should set pricing according to your business model, budget and market. Our camp does not include personal or small-group training. To keep our program affordable, we coach in large groups and shift some of the daily accountability to the buddies.
Although you are in business to change lives, you need to keep your doors open. Know your breakeven number and hustle hard to earn more. If executed well, this camp can boost your bank account for the entire year.
Revenue from our first camp:
- 56 members and 14 nonmembers: $1,890.
- 20 nutrition upgrades at $25 each (received five packets of Shakeology® meal replacement from Beachbody®): $500.
- Total revenue: $2,390.
- Custom rubber bracelets: $124 ($1.77 each). One bracelet said "Fit," while the other said "Buddy." Both bracelets had our club name. We ordered them from 24HourWristbands.com.
- Trainers who led our buddy camp were salaried, but if you want to budget trainer hours for yours, plan on approximately 10 hours of administrative work and five workouts. Total, at an average of $30 per hour: $450.
- Buddy Boot Camp journals for each participant: $98 ($1.40 each).
- Shakeology packets for the optional nutrition upgrade: $400 ($4 each).
- Total cost: $1,072.
So, our net profit was $1,318.
Our juice bar sales increased during the 2-week camp. Additionally, we enrolled six participants in our monthly automatic shipment of Shakeology, to help them with their nutrition after camp (we earn 25% commission on all orders). We also sold many pieces of Under Armour® logowear from our pro shop.
Retention and Client Acquisition
Revenue from the program is helpful, but the real numbers go deeper. Success is also reflected in member retention and new memberships. Of the members who participated in our first camp, 100% are still members, except for two people who moved out of the area. In addition, four of the 14 nonmembers joined on an annual membership. Five nonmembers continued with day passes or a monthly pass. Ongoing marketing promotions used camp testimonials and photographs, and they helped us attract new members year-round.
With retail and new memberships, the camp added thousands of dollars over the course of a year. These statistics show the power of short camps as a feeder system into your business.
Let the Program Begin!
Programming specifics for our Buddy Boot Camp are outlined below. Feel free to modify them for your business.
To accommodate tight schedules, we did a rolling kickoff that lasted all day. Participants could stop by anytime on the first day to officially check in, pick up their buddy materials, hear a short orientation from a staff member about how to succeed in camp, and complete optional weight and measurement assessments.
We held five Buddy Boot Camp workouts in different time slots (morning, evening and weekend). Two sessions took place indoors, and three were at outdoor locations around town, including our facility, the beach, a park and the school track. Campers were not required to attend all workouts.
Scheduling conflicts are a reason people do not invest in specialty camps. We took that objection away. Offering people flexibility really helped drive enrollment. But also, much of the success in camp was attributed to campers' activities outside of group workouts (nutrition, daily fitness homework, etc.). With all the extra accountability, we could work on improving habits.
All workouts included some form of partner work—from sharing equipment to doing physical exercises like partner squats and partner planks to participating in relays to simply alternating work and rest intervals. The interaction built great camaraderie, encouraging a lot of fun while delivering a safe, effective experience.
Here's a sample of one of our workouts:
- 45-second work interval and 15-second rest interval
- 4-minute sets alternating two pieces of equipment: e.g., BOSU® Balance Trainer and kettlebell
- Partner A completes a strength move, while partner B does a cardio move. Switch four times.
- Total of 30 minutes' work, followed by a group cool-down.
To engage our campers outside of their workouts, we scheduled one videoconference on Monday evening during the second week. We hosted it like a "roundtable," and participants joined from home. They shared a win and a struggle from their week and a goal for their final week. Trainers offered suggestions as needed. The videoconference encouraged interaction and accountability.
We also hosted a private Facebook group where trainers shared workout pictures, simple nutrition tips, motivational quotes and encouragement. We also posted reminders for important camp dates. Campers used the page to connect and to share pictures of their meals and their own workouts.
Fit Buddy Journals
Each day of camp had its own page in the journal, always with a motivational quote. There was a place for participants to track daily water intake, record their workout and fitness homework, and rate their nutrition (scale of 1–10).
The inside cover included 10 things each buddy pair needed to complete by the end of the challenge:
- Post a sweaty buddy selfie on the group Facebook page.
- Send your buddy an encouraging text.
- Post a picture of a healthy meal on the group Facebook page.
- Go to a group fitness class with your buddy.
- Go for a walk or run with your buddy.
- Attend a Buddy Boot Camp workout with your buddy.
- Enjoy a coffee, tea or meal with your buddy.
- Swap a healthy recipe with your buddy.
- Give your buddy a shout-out on the group Facebook page.
- Tell your buddy why being healthy is important to you.
Participants turned in their completed journals at the finale. Then we drew for prizes, such as a free boot camp, a glass water bottle, and a drawstring bag with our logo.
We marketed our camp intensely across many platforms over a 2-week period. The campaign included engaging Facebook posts, Facebook Live videos from trainers explaining what to expect in camp, articles in our e-newsletter, promotion in a weekly email and signage around the club. As buddies signed up, we took their pictures, formatted them in side-by-side collages and hung these up in the club. We also used the collages to welcome participants to camp on social media. We tagged each buddy and often got new inquiries from their friends or family. To build name recognition, we branded each picture with our Buddy Boot Camp logo.
Engaging More People
If you want to grow your business, keep creating new ways for your clients to fall in love with fitness. Buddy Boot Camp is fun and memorable and drives daily accountability. This winning combination will deliver results for your members and your business.