A Boxing Gym Success Story

 

 

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this article are of the author’s and do not necessarily represent those of USA Boxing.

 

 

Champions Boxing Fitness … a boxing gym success story. (A three-part marketing series: 1-Concept. 2-Member recruitment. 3-Member retention.) 


We love boxing. We believe in boxing. This is a boxing gym success story. It is also a cautionary tale as well. I write it to help you build your own gym membership, and to share our experiences in the hopes it can give you some ideas about how to continue to grow or start a gym of your own.  I also write it so you can learn from the good decisions we've made, and to spare to the pain of the poor business decisions we made as well. 


This will be a short series of 3 articles I will share over the coming weeks and months. As you read you will need to appreciate that our approach is not simple or for everyone. To my knowledge there are no quick fixes or simple ways to build a successful business. That said there are things we can share with you that you that might help you in your current gym or in one you hope to open.


There are six elements to our business: 

  1. Authentic 
  2. Member recruitment and
  3. Client retention. 

Today’s short article is on our authentic clean keep it real concept. In fact, it is our belief that without the right concept you will a great difficulty in maintaining a solid membership base. So, if you want to skip over this section I’d advise against it. There is something here everyone can take away. 


Frankly, it was always my dream to have a traditional boxing gym. I also dreamt of building a few champions from scratch as well. I think this is the private dream of many coaches and I was no different. This tendency makes a lot of us attracted to the bright and shiny appeal of talent... sometimes at the expense of the vast majority of kids we will coach who will never be champions or even marginally commutative at any significant level. I learned early on that building a champion is a crapshoot if you try and do it one fighter at a time. I learned that champions come out of programs where you have a deep and consistently developing pool of talent. Keep this in mind as you build your gym. Remember, most of us started coaching in the first place to help kids. 


Since I am boxing guy I was not really interested in opening or operating a "fitness facility” ... if you know what I mean. Yet it’s been my personal experience and our collective research told us that most pure boxing gyms struggle to keep the doors open, let alone make a profit. In fact, many gyms were NFP (Not for Profits) funded by the local municipalities and are located in warehouse facilities, churches or community centers. As a result, we came to the inevitable conclusion that if we wanted to open a gym that could sustain itself and make a profit, then we needed to cater to the broader market and include fitness as a key and essential aspect of our program.  


This was going to be a challenge. 


About the concept: 


We opened in 2011. We are a family. We are located in Rockville Maryland, just outside Washington DC. We are in a retail center making our visibility very good BUT as a result our overhead costs (rent…) are very high as well. It’s a choice you have to make, and we felt the visibility was key for our model so we choose this route.  95% of our members are on long-term contracts and we are big believers in EFT (electronic funds transfer directly from the bank to your business account each moth).  


Our first goal was to build the right facility and "KEEP IT REAL” - We didn’t just throw the gym together. We researched it. We visited our competition, both hardcore and LA Boxing style gyms. We positioned ourselves directly between the two. We used traditional boxing colors, kept it clean but simple and not trendy.  We had a large number of bags but kept a unique open area where real boxing could take place. We have machines, treadmills and dumbbells but also balls, sledge hammers and kettle bells. When you walked in you saw an inviting gym, a CLEAN gym but also a place that told you it was time to work!  We were NOT LA or Title boxing and we were also not the typical warehouse community center gym either. While all of these are great places, they are not what we do.  We are a real boxing gym with a real fitness element/environment. We are not a Disney boxing experience like Title to LA Boxing gyms are, nor are we a down-and-dirty experience like traditional gyms either. We took great care in marketing ourselves as authentic as we could, but a place where everyone feels welcome, and everyone can come to get a kick in the butt workout in a cool environment. 


We run about 33 boxing and kickboxing themed fitness classes each week. We also have a group of personal fitness trainers that run small group fitness classes as well. These are our most popular programs. With that said, the most vital element is that all of these programs are wrapped in the boxing concept. This is the connection we maintain. In addition to our fitness focused members we also have the true boxing side that makes up the other large portion of our membership. 


Every coach in the gym is a program legacy (expect one). That means every coach in our gym was first a member on our competitive team. As coaches they teach to our systems and nothing else. There are no individuals in our place doing their own thing. 

 

 

 

Next, we teach to a system; I developed our system and every coach teaches it. We begin this process early as every member of our competitive program is required to do some teaching along the way. This creates continuity and a sense of being part of something larger than themselves. We take great care in not having competing voices or systems in our gym!


The next thing is we approach boxing as a TEAM sport! Besides being a boxing coach, I am also a high school football coach. I played organized team sports my entire life, so I am deeply steeped in the team concept. Our athletes operate within the gym as a team. We act, move and work as a team. We are for the greater good of our teammates, not just ourselves.


To give you a better idea how that is going, here is an update: This past year we have had three Golden Gloves Champions (MD/D.C./VA), won the Team Trophy (novice division) and sent three athletes to the Regionals. We havea nice stable of professionals who fight out of our place. Top prospects such as Shakur Stevenson and Lamont Roach, along with many other top amateurs and professionals can be seen at our gym fairly regularly getting work and sparring in. One of our own top prospects, Alex Marin will fight for the IBO Super Flyweight World Title this summer. Over the past few years we've had many of the top coaches/trainers in the world come through our doors, including the Mayweathers' and Adrian Davis (11x World Champion), to name a few. This past year we hosted the Philippine Olympic Team, who chose our gym to send their athletes to the United States to prepare for the Rio Olympics in 2016.


The very first step is attracting new members to your gym is building something that people can't get other places and that appeals to a broad section of the population. This involves not just the physical layout and equipment, but also the perceived value they get for their money and how the gym makes them feel being a part of it. If you want to attract members, build a place where they feel special, where they get value and where they feel good about belonging. If you do that, you will be on the right track.

 

To date our gym is thriving. If you would like to learn more, please feel free to contact me. Next time I will share with you how we approach client recruitment (how to get members). I's important that you do not discount what I have written above. This is our product and it is what people are buying. If you don't have a good product, it makes no difference in the long run how well you market yourself. You will fail.

 

I look forward to the next time when we discuss member recruitment. Until then, this is Coach Bruce, wishing you well and good luck!