270 – Luke Carlson – The Complete Fitness Studio Recovery Plan

Luke Carlson on fitness studio recovery
Luke Carlson

Luke Carlson (luke @ discoverstrength.com) is the founder and CEO of Discover Strength, a fast growing personal training business based in Minneapolis and four other personal training facilities in Minnesota. Discover Strength offers a variety of strength training sessions, including virtual personal training, facilitated by educated and expert trainers.

In this episode, Luke Carlson shares the 3 phases after the shutdown, how to recover your HIT business, strategy for maximizing success, COVID-19 prevention and mitigation plans, marketing, revenue generation, and much more.

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Show Notes

  • 2:28 – The 3 phases after the shutdown
  • 6:22 – Discover Strength’s COVID-19 mitigation plan
  • 12:48 – Do you need to survey clients?
  • 18:52 – How to manage the in-studio ‘rush back’
  • 25:25 – Marketing ideas when you reopen
  • 31:35 – Optimizing virtual training 
  • 37:31 – Pre-vaccine safety and business strategies
  • 47:24 – Reopening survivability rate
  • 49:37 – Positive opportunities for studio owners
  • 55:13 – How to market in a recession

Selected Links from the Episode

People Mentioned

Comments 5

  • Interesting discussion of the future.

    The commodity end of the fitness industry (big box gyms, group fitness studios like orange theory, large group exercises classes) is going to struggle quite a bit during phase 2 with isolation and space requirements for exercisers. Businesses which require squeezing a lot of customers into small, expensive pieces of real estate won’t be able to operate profitably. One-on-one training studios should be able to siphon off the more affluent customers of those businesses. But pricing will be an issue for many people. Upgrading from a $50/month gym membership to $50/session personal training will be a hard sell for many, and out of the question for the millions that are unemployed.

    Regarding supervision: A trainer can certainly push you to deeper levels of failure than you can reach on your own. And if you really want to feel like you had your ass kicked, the right trainer can provide that. However, I’m not convinced that this is necessary to get “good enough” results.

    • Hey Greg,

      I agree with regarding to big box.

      If studios are marketing effectively, then they should already have a target market who can afford 1-on-1 personal training. Even as we enter a recession, those individuals will still be able to easily afford personal training services and I’m confident will continue to invest heavily here. Exercise is near the top of their value stack. I agree that it will probably be a hard sell to try and convert big box members to studio unless you’re targeting ex-Equinox and other high end big box where the monthly cost is comparable and a similar target market.

      I wouldn’t normally say this, but there has been a radical shift in consumer behaviour, and when discounts would have devalued a brand before, now they might be exactly the right thing to provide since they demonstrate “helping others” which is the number 1 value people who thinking about when buying products and services right now according to the data https://www.winbigmedia.com/covid

      I disagree on supervision. I think that you and I and many of the people in our audience can get great results without supervision, but I think most people need supervision for adherence and to produce best results. This is supported in the literature too.

  • No doubt there are many people who benefit from supervision. I’ve just never been convinced that I will get benefits sufficient to justify the extra cost. Designing my own workouts, and tweaking those endlessly is a large part of the fun for me. Everyone is different of course. And a business can be built on selling the service to those who feel they need it.

    I will point out that there is a difference between good enough results (for health benefits) and best possible results (for athletic performance, aesthetics, etc), or trying to get as much done in as little time as possible versus taking a more relaxed and enjoyable pace to get to the same end result.

    I suppose I may also tend to overreact a bit when I hear people talking about how great the workout was because they got their ass kicked. In the end, it isn’t how you feel after the workout that should matter most, it is what kind of adaptations you can produce after you recover, and how sustainable the program is for long haul.

    I think Luke’s business sells to highly motivated, driven people who tend to want to optimize the hell out of everything in their life. Some of those folks won’t feel like they got their money’s worth unless every workout feels like a decent beatdown, and I think he caters to that. But Cross Fit does the same thing (that whole Pukie the Clown meme says it all). Beating someone down is easy – just string a lot of exercises together in quick succession. If that is what the customer wants, great. But is it necessary to be effective?

    Anyway, very much enjoyed the discussion. My current gym (big box place, very cheap) is going to reopen next week. I doubt I’ll be going back anytime soon, even though I still have 8+ months left on my annual membership. I am at higher risk due to age, and have a household member that has immune system issues, so I have to be extra careful. I don’t have enough certainty around the real risk from airborne transmission, and I have no confidence in their ability to keep the equipment clean (though the CDC now seems to be deemphasizing the risks from contaminated surface contact transmission). So I will be sticking with the home workouts, and buying (or building) more gear to facilitate that.

    • Really appreciate your insights Greg. Great read as always.

      I respect your decision not to return to the gym. I find it fascinating that you have very low confidence in their ability to keep the place clean. This just reinforces the fact that fitness studios MUST communicate clearly all of the measures they are taking to keep studios surgically clean. Like Luke talks about on this episode, I think it’s very effective to clean in front of the client pre-exercise and describe the process to the client.

  • I understand the concerns of high risk people like Greg. But surgically clean workout rooms????
    So, is a gym the only risky place???? Do we stop living now because of being afraid of things that never have been a problem??? Maybe we should have different areas for unhealthy and healthhy people in all aspects of social life. People now walk around as if thy entered a nuclear reactor damage area. Yet had no issues a few months ago by walking around “normal “. Fucking idiots have planted via media some weird seeds in their heads.
    This super hygiëne idiocy is the SAME idea as providing equipment for weaker becoming people instead of making them stronger. My opinion!!!!

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