How to Transition From a Group Class Gym to Individual Design

6 Tips to Transition From a Group Class Gym to an Individual Design Gym

Change: For some, it’s novel and exciting.

But for many of us, it’s scary, risky, and overwhelming. 

Never is this truer than when it comes to making changes in your business, especially sweeping changes…

…Like switching your gym from being a predominantly group class facility into an individual program design OPEX Gym

Though many group class and CrossFit affiliate gym owners find themselves overworked, burnt out and barely turning a profit, they’re too scared to make sweeping changes, so they continue on the dire path they’re on. They continue to let their fears get the best of them:

What if I lose revenue?

What if I lose clients?

Where do I even begin?

Here’s the thing: You might lose some clients in the short-term. There might be a bit of a transition phase, but you’ll receive business mentorship every step of the way from OPEX HQ and will be way better off in the long-term than you ever could be as a group class gym owner.

Take it from Glen Oliver, a former CrossFit affiliate owner who transitioned into OPEX Gatwick in the UK.

He was scared, worried, fearful of change, but he knew it had to be done. Over the course of five years, 500 people had come in and signed up for group classes at his affiliate, most of whom fell off as quickly as they signed up. The system he was working in was broken, and he was tired of it. He hit rock bottom, so to speak, and decided it was time to change. 

Oliver admitted he did lose a few clients, but he was able to start charging more as an individual program design-based OPEX Gym, and the members he does have now are “lifers,” he said. 

“They get what we’re trying to do,” he added. 

As a result, Oliver no longer loses members—his client retention was perfect the month he made the switch to OPEX—and no longer beats his head against the wall figuring out how to bring in new ones each month.

In every way, he’s better off today, he said. And so are his clients. And his coaches.

6 Tips to Transition From a Group Gym to an Individual Design Gym

Oliver, and Megan Sweet from OPEX HQ, offered their top tips for anyone thinking about switching to becoming an OPEX-licensed gym—to make the transition as smooth as possible:

Tip #1: Make sure OPEX is right for you

Sweet says the most important thing is you really need to believe in individual program design and how it’s better for the coach, the client and the business. It’s not enough to just want to change or move away from the CrossFit brand. You need to be truly passionate about individualized fitness, she explained. 

Thus, you must gain experience doing individual programming before you jump blindly into opening an OPEX-licensed gym.

“If they’re not (already) doing individual program design, they’re going to struggle,” Sweet said.

The best way to learn the model properly is to sign up for the OPEX Coaching Certificate Program (CCP), where you will work with seven different clients in an individual program design capacity during your final project, before you start to overhaul your current gym.

Tip #2: Start offering individual program design at your group class gym

Slowly and organically immersing your current clients into individual program design is the easiest way to educate them—and get them to buy in—so they see this is a better model for them. Then, when you make the switch, many clients will already be on board.

You might already have clients asking for extra help and extra homework in order to achieve goals they can’t reach in the class. These are prime clients to start with, Sweet and Oliver both said.

Once you start offering individual program design at your group class gym, usually more and more clients will become intrigued as they see others around them following individual programs and improving faster than ever.

Tip #3: Establish a real game plan

Establish a plan and “stick to it,” Oliver said. 

“This may seem obvious, but in the midst of the transition you may doubt this,” he added.

Sweet explained that you will receive mentorship from your OPEX HQ mentor to help you come up with strategies for your transition, as well as your new business plan, which helps mitigate some of the fear and overwhelming feelings (as well as the obstacles that might come up along the way) you might be experiencing at the thought of overhauling your current business. 

Tip #4: Be realistic and get into a long-term mindset

The reality is you could lose some clients and could lose some revenue in the short-term, but sticking to your guns and getting yourself in a long-term mindset will help make this short period of time less stressful.

“Not everyone will be a good fit and that’s OK,” Sweet said. Like the guy who shows up with the sole intention of beating people every day and topping the leaderboard. 

Generally, you’ll be more relieved than anything to lose those that aren’t a good fit…

Oliver added this: “Allow everyone in the gym the chance to experience individual design but don’t be surprised if not everyone wants to try it.” And don’t take it personally, he explained. 

As for those who are a good fit, and who are positive influences in your community, approach them first, Oliver said.

“Identify those in your community, who shape the opinions of others. Go after them early and get them on board. Offer them a slightly reduced rate so they scream and shout about how awesome what you do is. Get them to post on social media and support new members in exchange for the reduced rate,” he said. 

Tip #5: Be financially prepared in the short term

Oliver offered this advice:

Split the gym into three buckets: Those you know will stay no matter what. Those who may stay once convinced. And those who will definitely leave.

Then, “Make sure you can survive,” Oliver explained, if you lose the clients you expect you might lose. 

“Plan for this financially, (and) establish a reserve line of credit if things get a bit lean,” he said. And remember, it’s only temporary.

Tip #6: Meet each client one-on-one

Sending out mass e-mails or hosting a group educational seminar is not the best way to educate your clients about why you’re switching to an individual program design model, Sweet said.

The most effective way is to sit down with every single client in a one-on-one setting to answer their questions and concerns and educate them about your plan. It’s time-consuming, but worth it.

Though some clients might surprise you, Sweet recommends making a list beforehand of every single one of your clients and rank them in terms of who will be a good fit for OPEX. Offering them a four-week trial is another way for them to buy into the new way of training, she added. 

Like anything worthwhile in life, changing your entire business isn’t easy. It’s downright scary. But if you no longer believe in what you’re doing, you’re burnt out and barely making a profit, there is another way that is way better for everyone in the long term.

“It’s the long-term game,” Oliver said. 

Take the first step to building something for the long-term game, today.

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