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Curtis the Entertainer

He sings, he dances, he claps his hands. No, he's not a circus performer; he's the owner of Curtis Jackson's Fitness Studios.

Subject: Curtis Jackson

Company: Curtis Jackson’s
Fitness Studios

The First Time. Curtis Jackson once aspired to join the ranks of such celebrities as Tom Hanks or Denzel Washington. He had begun following his aspirations but became sidetracked after he first stepped inside a gym. “I was interested in acting and was also getting into martial arts,” recalls Jackson. “The first time I walked into the gym, I immediately felt comfortable.” From that point on, Jackson developed a fascination with the human body and its capabilities, and redirected his focus from acting to helping others achieve optimal fitness. Does he feel he left his passion for performing at the gym foyer? Hardly. “All day long, I walk up to strangers and test my courage and skills. That’s basically acting,” he says.

A True Performer. Jackson is not the typical personal trainer. Although he may not star in the next summer blockbuster, he takes every opportunity to stretch his creative muscles to best assist his clients. “I have an opportunity to change lives,” he says. “I used to get up at 6:00 in the morning and be kind of psyched. I realized that you have to be on point every day. I wanted to be an actor, but why not act a little crazy if you can get away with it?” What he means by “crazy” may include a march through the gym with a cowbell one day, or a cardio room performance complete with leisure suit and ’70s disco music the next. “I wear costumes and often look the fool,” he says. “I want to stand out. Working out with me is fun, and other members see my clients laughing and kicking my butt (when I have them doing some punches or kicks for a cardio element) and want to join in on the fun.” In his experience, this leads to greater client retention and client success. “By keeping my clients entertained and focused on enjoying their workout, I help them achieve faster results, and
results are noticed by other members.”

A Unique Model. Jackson recently opened Curtis Jackson’s Fitness Studios inside the Ultimate Fitness facility in Shelton, Connecticut. Previously the fitness director for Ultimate Fitness, Jackson decided it was time to open up his own shop where he could hire his own personal trainers, physical therapists, massage therapists, nutritionists and other related professionals. “Basically, I help these professionals set up their own businesses within my business,” says Jackson. “Their businesses are all organized as LLCs [limited liability companies]. I find this gives them greater ownership, which motivates them to take full responsibility for their success.” Jackson holds himself responsible for everything else. He creates marketing materials and business cards, tracks down potential clientele and refers them to the appropriate professional.

Surmounting the Competition. Jackson’s business is successful partly because of clever marketing systems and special offers that help maintain client retention. “Ultimate Fitness is a somewhat upscale gym, and memberships are more expensive than those offered by the newer gyms opening in town,” he says. “So in order to retain members, we find ways to continually entice them.” Such offers include prizes, DVDs, T-shirts, client vs. client competitions and more. One major draw is that when new clients purchase a package of training sessions (which can be used with any of Jackson’s professionals), they are given a complimentary yearlong membership to the gym. “This is just one way of saying, ‘I want you here,’ and they love it,” says Jackson, who offers memberships through special agreement with Ultimate Fitness. He believes that his incentive has long-lasting value for clients, which motivates them to remain members. According to Jackson, client satisfaction is key and is made up of one part dedication, one part perspiration and maybe even a dash of Dance Dance Revolution for good measure.

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor, and IDEA's director of event programming.

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