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What makes a successful fitness entrepreneur? 

4 Strategies of Highly Successful Fitness Entrepreneurs

The entrepreneurial spirit drives people to do incredible things. From building amazing brands and producing fantastic products to changing the world; it’s a spirit that motivates. While entrepreneurs tend to be passionate, motivated, and driven individuals, there’s more to it than that. These people are usually risk-takers, creative, knowledgeable, and have the type of personality that gets a person to where they want to be. 

The fitness industry is competitive and has taken a hit over the last year. But it’s resilient. You can see that resilience in some of the top entrepreneurs in the fitness industry.

In this article, we try to understand the thinking behind the brightest minds in the industry and what makes a successful fitness entrepreneur in today’s post-COVID world. 

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What is a fitness entrepreneur? 

A fitness entrepreneur is an individual who starts a new business based on their own idea. They take all the risk and reap the rewards. ​As a business owner, they are usually involved in all aspects of running the business including marketing, hiring, and accounting. They tend to have a great deal of knowledge in the health and fitness industry. An entrepreneur is someone who decides to start their own business, whether it’s for profit or to change the world.

To give you an idea of the risk and reward of being an entrepreneur, here are some of the latest statistics: 

How are fitness entrepreneurs coping in today’s industry?

After the COVID-19 crisis and the global fight against the pandemic, businesses across multiple industries are looking to move forward. In general, businesses are falling into the following categories: battered and bruised, surviving but limiting resources, or thriving and adapting. You may even feel like you fall into a few of these. Wherever you see your business, no doubt, many businesses are going into 2022 with caution. Here are some standout statistics that show the impact of the coronavirus on the fitness industry: 

The fitness industry was tasked with keeping clients fit and healthy throughout the pandemic and beyond. While some fitness businesses and personal trainers launched a digital fitness platform with extreme speed, others have fallen behind the curve and are struggling to find their feet. The pandemic has reshaped the fitness industry and upended the way we exercise, socialise, and live. 

It’s clear that the digital revolution in the fitness industry is well underway. Initially, an online offering was a bonus, but now it’s considered an expectation of gyms and fitness centers. So, how are small gyms and businesses expected to compete against high-end tech companies delivering a home fitness experience with a seemingly unlimited budget?. The short answer is that these small gyms can’t match the production value of tech companies. But what they can do is provide personalized online offerings that focus on developing a closer relationship with their clients. It’s not just about creating the best digital offering, it’s about providing an online experience that still has an element of human connection and interaction. 

3 top fitness entrepreneurs taking on the fitness industry

With gym franchises, niche Pilates health clubs, digital fitness, supplements, and personal training, the fitness industry is vast. Some of the top fitness entrepreneurs have gone on to create multi-million dollar fitness empires. They have become household names and changed the face of wellness and fitness forever. Let’s take a look at how these three fitness entrepreneurs came to own some of the most well-known brands in fitness. 

Ben Francis, Gymshark Founder 

Ben Francis is the founder of fitness apparel brand, Gymshark. At just 19, Ben was studying at university and decided to start Gymshark as he juggled full-time studies and his job as a pizza delivery driver. The business has experienced rapid growth and the turnover has increased tenfold in the last four years. The company has doubled its staff in the last 12 months alone. Now, Gymshark is a $1 billion brand and is currently limbering up for its stock market debut. So, what makes Gymshark successful? Not only is the clothing affordable, breathable, and flattering, but they created an effective influencer social media marketing strategy. The brand used a combination of 18 influencers with a potential to reach 20 million followers. 

Payal Kadakia, Founder of ClassPass

ClassPass is now a household name and was born out of the thinking that it should be easy to find a fitness class. Now, ClassPass connects members to millions of classes and fitness training sessions in 30 countries. As of January 2020, ClassPass is part of the billion-dollar startups club. The brand was recently valued at $1 billion and has announced a new acquisition. ClassPass has now been sold in an all-stock deal and the founder, Payal Kadakia, has announced her departure from the company. 

Joey Gonzalez, Barry’s Bootcamp

In 1998, Barry’s opened its doors and LA-based instructor launched his innovative HIIT interval group training. Fast Forward to 2004 and Joey Gonzalez went from instructor to CEO and started to pave the way to the Barry’s that we know today. Over the next couple of decades, Barry’s experienced rapid global expansion with over 140k members taking classes every week. The global community continues to expand with new members signing up regularly. 

The Fitness Founders Podcast has an insightful episode on what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur right now. Eric Malzone, a fitness industry consultant and podcast host, talks about the opportunities in the industry at the moment and the key qualities you need to be successful. 

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9 ways to be a successful fitness entrepreneur 

Entrepreneurship requires a great deal of determination, knowledge, organization, and analytic thinking. But some of the most successful fitness entrepreneurs are also adaptable and creative. Whatever type of fitness business you’re looking to build, here are nine ways fitness entrepreneurs strive for success. 

Embrace change 

Innovative fitness entrepreneurs embrace change. They are constantly looking out for fresh ideas, new opportunities, and learning as much as possible. These professionals continue to evolve and have a willingness to adapt. Change in a business can lead to many positive results like gaining a competitive edge and remaining relevant. For example, Atlanta-based trainer Bria Young transitioned to online digital workouts during the pandemic. Her business is booming and she is pivoting to full-time digital fitness. Young found a way to adapt and evolve her business to stay relevant and continue supporting her clients through a tough time. 

Lead and empower others 

Even the most experienced entrepreneurs have ups and downs. But successful fitness entrepreneurs lead and empower others. Despite feeling shaky from recent events, they don’t let that uncertainty trickle down through the business. Protect your business and make moves to a brighter future. Empower your business and lead employees with the vision of future success. Fostering that entrepreneurial spirit in your employees is key to inviting more innovation into the business. 

Prioritize changing customer needs 

Consumer tastes, needs, and behaviours change. Over time, it’s normal for interests and needs to shift. This could be due to technological advancements, world events, changes in consumer spending, health awareness, the list could go on. If COVID-19 has emphasized anything, it’s that businesses need to keep up with changing times. Businesses have the opportunity to evaluate how they build trust with customers and identify new opportunities. Understanding changing customer needs helps small businesses to stay relevant and fresh. 


A strong sense of community makes your fitness studio or health club more than just a place to work out. It helps to create a supportive and team-orientated environment that allows members to connect with each other. Whether it’s creating a tribe culture or finding ways to support your digital community, a sense of community is important in fitness. With social distancing and isolation, fitness is a way to connect and engage with your community. Some of the top fitness brands are built on a feeling of community. 

Work smarter 

Often, when you think about what makes a successful entrepreneur, you might think of words like grafting, hustle, hard work, and no sleep. Sure, success demands motivation, drive, and resilience. But the best entrepiernas work smarter, not harder. They leverage talented people, software, and technology to streamline the business. From marketing automation to gym management software, top companies find ways to effectively manage the business. For example, member sign ups and payments can be streamlined through management software. Gone are the days of lengthy data entry and printing off contracts for members to sign. Digital contracts, member portals, and automated payments all help to streamline a business. 

Stay curious 

By their nature, entrepreneurs are curious. They are constantly looking for creative ways to do something, seeking new opportunities, and looking for fresh talent. Thinking about new ideas to help them reach their target audience or a new product idea because they see a gap in the market. When you’re curious, the mind is more observant of the world around you and you can start to view things differently. Some of the top entrepreneurs in the world like Steve Jobs and Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter, have that curiosity. 

Set clear goals 

Goal setting is crucial in several areas of the business. As a fitness entrepreneur, goals help you to stay focused. But, it’s also important to remember that building a business takes time. It takes time to let people know who you are and why they should spend their money on your brand. By setting short-term goals, you can stay focused on the task at hand. While long-term goals, keep you aware of the vision of the business. Your goals should be clear and attainable. Goal setting is key to success. Map out your goals for each area of the business as well as your overaching business goals. 

Provide great member experience 

Providing great customer service and member experience sets the foundation for your success. The better service you provide, the more likely your members will return instead of going to your competition. Pleasing the customer at all your touchpoints is vital. The overall member experience impacts your business. If you’re looking to take your gym or fitness center to the next level, improving the member experience is crucial. While gym members expect a certain level of service, those expectations are rising. To stay competitive and relevant, your experience should drive value to solidify your brand’s position as a top player in the industry. 

Constant learning 

Embracing change and curiosity seep into this section as they drive the need to learn. Staying hungry for new information can help give your business an edge while allowing you to spot market opportunities that could be lucrative. By constantly learning, entrepreneurs can find inspiration, avoid common pitbulls, and set themselves up for success. We live in a time where the words and advice of some of the greatest minds in business are one Google search away. 

In summary 

No doubt the impact of 2020 will stay with us for the rest of our lives. But the takeaway message is that adaptability is key to future business success. If you can take on a pandemic, you can take on the world. Although many small business owners have been blind-sided by the COVID-19 crisis, the entrepreneurial spirit is resilient and powerful. Successful business people tend to have similar qualities that allow them to create a fit-for-purpose idea. The fitness industry is vast and full of opportunity, so don’t let recent events discourage you. With a strategic vision and adaptability, you can create more success in your business. 



The Customer
Engagement Playbook
for Your Fitness

Customer engagement is the way in which a brand
connects with its customers on a deeper level than a
simple business and consumer relationship.
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