It breaks my heart to read some of the comments I see in forums online for gym owners.
“We are undervalued, under-appreciated, over-stressed and over-worked.”
“Even my partner says we should close the gym.”
“Safe to say I’m burned out.”
“What am I doing wrong?”
So many gym owners have slowly lost the passion for what they do after years of investing in people with little return, being unappreciated for how hard they work, and missing out on their personal lives.
These stories strike a nerve with me, because I have regularly had moments at the gym where I felt the exact same way. In these moments, I would find myself wondering, “Why tf am I doing this?”
I would be angry and defeated. I would be indignant, complaining about what was happening around me, feeling victimized by a situation I willingly chose to be in.
Each time I found myself in that position, though, I knew I had to change my mindset.
Now don’t get me wrong. This isn’t where I turn Pollyanna and remind you of the silver lining in every completely miserable and crappy situation.
What I mean by changing my mindset is that I had to remind myself, really and truly, what I wanted to get out of this experience as a gym owner.
Let me illustrate this point by using our members as an example.
When you first ask people why they want to join your gym, some people puff their chest as they declare, “To be healthy.” However, if you keep asking why, the answers start to devolve into…. well, honesty.
“I want to be toned and fit,” turns into…
“I want to be look good naked,” turns into…
“I WANT TO SLAY IN THE CLUB.” (block-quoted because that is a literal quote from one of our members)
In the same vein, you can follow this line of questioning to reveal your true motivation for being a gym owner.
You might start by saying, “I LOVE helping people!!”
But that may turn into, “I just want to be a positive role model for my kids.”
Here’s the beautiful thing:
It doesn’t matter what your reason is for wanting a successful business. The only thing that matters is that you embrace it.
Your “why” doesn’t have to be noble or widely understood. It just has to resonate with you.
If you don’t embrace your “why,” you will always find yourself disappointed when you face the inevitable hardships that come with the role. It’s not because the journey is challenging. For as long as you don’t have a clear understanding of why you’re riding the highs and lows of this journey as a gym owner, nothing you do or sacrifice will make sense. You will constantly ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?”
If it’s because you want to be a role model for your kids, then whether you’re having a good day or the worst one ever, you will always have the opportunity to fulfill that “why.” You can celebrate your good days and handle your terrible days with grace, knowing that your kids can look to you as a steady example of how to be a good human being.
The same thing happened with me.
When I got really honest about why I wanted to become a gym owner, I realized that the most important thing to me was freedom.
I wanted to create my own schedule and be productive on my own terms.
I wanted time to travel.
I wanted for money to never be a limiting factor in my life.
And I wanted the freedom to having meaningful relationships with people I enjoyed being around.
I then realized that through this journey as a gym owner, I already had most of what I wanted! Some things I have now, some things we are still working to obtain, but we know we are on the right path.
Once I understood this, life got way easier.
I began to acknowledge and prioritize my “why,” and all the other false motives fell away.
Since then, I have felt less compelled to spend hours working out at the gym because I needed to “look the part.”
Since then, I have felt less compelled to find busy work to accomplish for the gym in attempt to justify my role.
Since then, I have put in time toward something else I love: this website.
I outsource many of my roles and I rely on others to help where I won’t. I ensure that the success of the business is dependent on a staff and not a person. Now a step removed, I continue to manage the growth and the processes of the gym, finally handling the business in a way that serves us and what we ultimately want.
We have already figured out how to make our customers happy.
Our product is solid, and our employees serve as our brand ambassadors, cultivating those transformative moments for people that create the bedrock of the fitness industry. The PRs, the weight loss, the gradual shift to health – those life-changing events still continue to happen without my constant presence.
Our members are happy, and I am happy.
And that, folks, is the most successful dynamic for a business. Why? Because when this becomes a win-win situation, the customers are happy, but more importantly, the business owner is happy and will consistently deliver the customers’ happiness for years to come.
Consistency and success over the years will outweigh any of the stories you tell yourself about why you really decided to become a gym owner.
So ask yourself: But really, why?
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