This Was More Fun When I Was Poor

I can’t wait until I…

  • Have an admin to do the busy work
  • Employ more coaches to pick up the programming slack
  • Have the money to upgrade my website
  • Move in to a bigger gym
  • Can afford to buy that Keiser equipment I’ve got my eye on

Everyone seems so intently focused on how big they’re going to scale their fitness business these days that they lose sight of the fact that the most enjoyable part of the process is passing them by.

Some tough news for the gym owners that are in a rush to grow up:

The first five years of building and operating Cressey Sports Performance (CSP) were considerably more enjoyable and rewarding than the next five.

Let that sink in for a second…

I’m not saying that my work has entirely ceased to be rewarding and/or enjoyable. Instead, I’m saying that once you’ve survived the emotional and exhausting rollercoaster of going from lean start-up to profitable business status, the bulk of the day-to-day that follows pales in comparison.

Sure, I make more money now. My gym is bigger and prettier than it once was. There are dozens upon dozens of professional athletes who are proud to say that they train with us. All of the perks of taking our business from unknown to industry relevance are great, but they come at a cost.

Today I have eight employees on the payroll in Massachusetts. That’s eight extremely different personalities to manage and eight people who count on me to make sure they can pay their bills. I’m also negotiating a lease proposal, evaluating alternative payroll and health insurance providers, and on the hunt for more affordable tee shirt and sweatshirt manufacturers. In short, my work isn’t limited to editing my next creative Instagram post and making small talk with Major League Baseball players.

I’m guessing you didn’t happen to notice that my list of bullet points at the top didn’t say:

I can’t wait until I

  • Get to see my health insurance costs more than double in an 8-year span
  • Have to stress about pulling together enough employees to staff the gym on a busy holiday weekend
  • Realize that heavy foot traffic leads to expensive equipment upkeep and replacement
  • Have the chance to chase revenue goals that were set before an economic downturn
  • Get to fire my first employee or uncooperative intern

Having faith in your own self to succeed is the easy part. The real stress kicks in the moment you realize that several other people have come to rely on you to earn their living. There will come a moment when the hobby-aspired-business starts to feel a whole lot more like a job. That moment may not be until you’ve finished your first lease, executed your first expansion, or cut yourself that first big paycheck. Nonetheless, you can be damn sure that day will come eventually.

Can't decide which hurts more looking at this picture...my hands, or my back?

Can't decide which hurts more looking at this picture...my hands, or my back?

Stop agonizing about your 5 or 10-year plan and attempt to enjoy the moment

Take pictures…tons of them; I always wish that we had more from our early days.

Throw yourself in to the tasks you resent. My fondest memories are aligned with the most physically exhausting moments of my life. You’ll know what I mean when you take your first shot at cutting rubber gym flooring with a utility knife.

Spend time getting to know your team outside of the gym. Once you’ve accumulated this social capital it will be the fuel that drives the personality of your business and brand moving forward. The bigger your team grows, the more difficult it will be for you to coordinate this type of social interaction.

In short, be present. The best part is happening right now.

Do you enjoy my fitness spin on business concepts?

I publish my “Friday Four” newsletter at the end of each week featuring links to useful articles and insights on applying concepts from each to your own fitness business endeavors. Check it out HERE!