If You Thought Pet Rocks Were a Stupid Idea...

I’ve been on a cleanse diet for the last nine days so forgive me if I can’t even muster up the energy to bring out Angry Hossein. But I do have a bone to pick. Then again, on this cleanse diet there is no bone picking, just veggies. But I do have an issue, and it’s how personal training is positioned in a club.

Before you read any further, remember the idea behind this blog is to make you think. Make you question everything and come up with creative, smart, fiscally responsible ideas that you can implement in your club. And laugh. To do that, you have to start with the absurd. So what if all personal training was free?

If you had told someone 15 years ago that all domestic long distance calls would someday be free, they would have slapped you across the head and told you to stop smoking the wacky tobbacky. But today, when you call using your cell phone, whether it’s the same city or the furthest state away, there is no real difference to you. In fact, you don’t even need to dial the “1” anymore.

Or imagine talking to Disco You in 1977 and trying to convince you that you can have all the music you want for just $10 a month. Let me tell you what would happen: Disco You would take out his Pet Rock and throw it at you. For those scoring at home, I used the word “you” eight times in that paragraph. You should check my math.

So before you dismiss free personal training as crazy, remember what is considered crazy today, is simply commonplace tomorrow. So we have to ask ourselves what’s the next real game changer in our industry? Is it free personal training? Let me try and make the argument.

Let’s say you run a gym with 2,000 members. And each member pays $35 per month to be a member.

You offer pay services like locker rental, laundry service, a juice bar, child care, and a small pro shop that sells locks, socks and batteries. Now compare an identical club where the only difference is you give away free personal training. I made the assumption that if you gave away personal training, you would lose that revenue but you would make it up by selling more of everything else. If you want the actual spreadsheet that I created so you can put in your own “real” numbers, let me know. I’m happy to email it to you.

In my model, I showed that by giving away free PT, a gym with 2,000 members can make roughly $40,000 per month. And before you start with the whole what about the expense side, save it. I don’t want to hear it. I may be dumb, but I ain’t stupid. To really hash out this idea, you have to look at both sides of the equation. All I’m saying is, maybe, just maybe free would work! And for every, “Hossein you are extremely good looking but I don’t think this will work because…”, there is an equal, “Hossein you are extremely good looking and you forgot this other benefit…”

What I want to really show you is that you need to question everything. There are no sacred cows in business, just the carcasses of companies that have not evolved. I’m not saying free PT is the next big thing, what I am saying is that if you decide to go on a cleanse diet, you are just going to be hungry all the time. That and question everything. 


Hossein Noshirvani is the executive vice president of Motionsoft Inc. Learn more about Motionsoft's club management solutions at motionsoft.net.

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