Look inside America’s biggest weightlifting club 🏋️

ABOUT THIS ARTICLE

Gym World comes from Kilo co-founder John Franklin, who shares lessons about making money in the fitness industry.

& how to make $58,500 in 3 days…

What’s up Gym World?

Barbell clubs aren’t known for being super profitable. It’s a tough business with tough clientele:

  • It’s hard to sell the service to someone who doesn’t know what it is.
  • It’s challenging to onboard new members.
  • Each member takes up a lot of space.
  • The gym’s reputation depends on having skilled athletes.
  • Your best athletes, who take up the most time and space, want to pay the least.

Yet Sarah and Chris Amenta figured out how to turn SoCal Weightlifting Club into a cash cow by studying profitable studios and modeling their business after them.

Today, they run America’s largest brick-and-mortar weightlifting program, with over 200 athletes and $50k/mo in recurring revenue.

Here’s their story:

Building SoCal Weightlifting Club

Chris started in CrossFit but turned to weightlifting after an injury in 2011. Three years later, he founded SoCal Weightlifting Club with five athletes in a CrossFit gym.

SoCal Weightlifting Club foundation
The club bounced around, including Chris’s garage, until settling in another CrossFit gym.

SoCal wasn’t making money until Sarah, a CrossFit athlete at the time with a degree in sports management, came in and ran it like a business. She took over operations, and the gym started to grow.

In 2016, Sarah and Chris bought the CrossFit gym they were operating out of, making it the only brick-and-mortar weightlifting club.

CrossFit gym with the only brick-and-mortar weightlifting club
The entire space was 10,000 sq ft.

With no other weightlifting gyms for revenue comparison, they looked at other studios and small gyms making at least $50K/mo for ideas.

Here’s what they cooked up:

Model

SoCal runs an open gym model with coaching available from 2:30pm to 8:30pm.

💡 Athletes come and go whenever they want. Everyone has their own program, and Sarah and Chris staff the gym based on expected attendance.

The gym is 10,000 sq ft with 7,000 sq ft dedicated to:

  • An area for anything requiring a barbell
  • An area for squats
  • A bodybuilding pit
💡 Usually 20-30 members are training at once, but the gym can accommodate up to 60 people during peak hours.

The other 3,000 sq ft is used for a workshop for Chris’s e-commerce business, Onyx, and a meeting space for staff and members.

gym and meeting space for coworkers
💡 Onyx sells leather straps for weightlifters. It started as a hobby in a garage with Chris’s training partner in 2014. As the gym grew and became profitable, Chris joined to expand the business, which now makes around $30k/mo.

Packaging & pricing

Memberships at SoCal are 18-month agreements, and pricing depends on how often members train:

  • $197 per month for three times a week
  • $217 per month for four times a week
  • $237 per month for five times a week

Shorter 6- or 12-month contracts are also available at a higher cost.

💡 Chris says 50% of the 200 members come in three times a week, meaning each member is worth $3,546 in annual recurring revenue.

Onboarding

SoCal’s follows a 6-step sales process:

1. A prospect texts the gym, and either Sarah or Chris responds as quickly as possible.

SoCal responds as quickly as possible

2. A 10-minute pre-qualification phone call to ensure SoCal is right for them and they can afford it.

3. A 20-30 minute consultation with a coach to assess their movement and current level.

4. 3-5 paid 1-on-1 personal training sessions at $100 per session.

5. A programming meeting to discuss the training process and set goals.

6. Choose membership which is either 3, 4, or 5 days a week of training.

💡 It’s a similar process to The Fort in NYC and lasts 1-1.5 weeks.

And because most prospects have a strength training background, onboarding is easier because:

  • They already understand the sport.
  • They know what technical and strength areas they want to improve.
  • They take weightlifting seriously.
💡 Chris says 85% of members are familiar with weightlifting. Most are former CrossFitters, high school, and collegiate athletes.

Staff

Sarah and Chris have a team of four full-time staff:

  • An operations manager
  • weightlifting coach
  • weightlifting director
  • high-performance coach (Chris)

They also have three part-time coaches, including Sarah.

💡 Coaches are stationed in different zones of the gym, each responsible for different tiers: beginnersregionalsnational, and international. They move around and provide athletes with multiple touchpoints during their training.

Events

Once Sarah and Chris got SoCal growing and making money, they expanded their revenue streams with Onyx and by hosting local weightlifting competitions.

SoCal public events attracts leads and organic growth
These public events are held three times a year (spring, summer, and winter) and attract 150 athletes per meet. They provide a great opportunity for leads and organic growth.

Registration is $130 and includes swag plus a free customized singlet for each athlete. This adds at least $19,500 in revenue per event. 🤑

💡 Competitions are held over two days, organized by weight class, age, and gender. Saturday is for women, and Sunday is for men. There are 5-6 sessions per day, each lasting two hours.

The club also collaborates with sponsors and partners like Virus and Mavrik Barbell to add more value to the events.

💡 Sarah believes these competitions are high-quality because they focus on providing a great environment and space for both athletes and coaches by being on time, consistent, and well-organized, which is hard to find elsewhere. This makes people go out of their way to compete and train there.

And because they’ve been doing this for 10 years, with everything running out of the same space, they’ve built a solid reputation in their community. This foundation will likely keep them successful for a long time.

💡 If you’re a niche like weightlifting gyms and become the biggest, like SoCal, you become a brand people talk about. New gyms in the same niche will measure themselves against you.

Long story short…

The Amentas started with a tiny clientele and, over the last 10 years, have built SoCal into the largest weightlifting club in America.

Like any gym owner, they faced challenges but put good systems in place. Now, they’re working on opening a second location next year.

For deeper insights on the business, watch or listen to Sarah and Chris’s full interview on Gym World.

later,

j

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