The Gym World Worldwide Worldwide Recognition Awards 🏆


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

Who were this year’s biggest winners? And losers…

Happy New Year Gym World,

We’ll be back to talking to the world’s most successful gym owners soon.

But today, I’m joined by Mateo Lopez and Kaleda Connell to recognize the biggest winners and the biggest losers of 2023.

Here are the nominees:

Favorite Guest

🏆 My pick: Mike Doehla

If you ran into Mike Doehla on the street, you wouldn’t assume this man owned one of the largest online nutrition empires in the world.

Without any formal training in business or nutrition, Mike broke every rule in the book as he built his nutrition coaching company, Stronger U Nutrition.

After six profitable years, he sold it for 8 figures to a global fitness franchise, and since, has spent his time raising a family.

Mike’s episode is a must-listen for anybody thinking about a long-term career in fitness or nutrition.

💡 🏅 Mateo’s pick: Dr. Conor Heffernan - His insights into the history of fitness show that human nature doesn’t change, and neither do the laws of marketing.
💡 ⭐ Kaleda’s pick: Cassie Day - Kaleda loved her process for creating a lot of content in a short period of time. Her two episodes are super tactical, so gym owners can start applying her strategies today.

Fit Pro You’d Bet It All On

🏆 My pick: Lindsey VanSchoyck

I first met Lindsey at a dinner in 2019. At the time, she was just getting her gym off the ground. I wouldn’t have bet that she would go on to open two profitable gyms in two years, let alone start a multi-million dollar online nutrition business.

To me, Lindsey has proved she has an uncanny ability to find an expert in any market and apply their playbook at lightning speed. Being coachable and consistent are rare traits for entrepreneurs, and Lindsey has shown she possesses both.

That, paired with her credentials and a hot niche, makes her the fit pro I would bet it all on.

💡 🏅 Mateo’s pick: Rick Mayo - He’s the master of keeping business super simple and scalable.
💡 ⭐ Kaleda’s pick: Cassie Day - Her personal brand, along with her ability to attract and retain good talent, makes her a sound investment in Kaleda’s book.

Gym Concept You’d Bet It All On

🏆 My pick: Planet Fitness

For the second year in a row, Planet Fitness takes the top spot for me, and with good reason:

  1. There are a lot more people who don’t work out than those who do, and newbies tend to go for a low-cost option.
  2. Young people are broke. I think they’ll continue to be broke, making Planet Fitness the most attractive option.
  3. One of the biggest challenges most coaching gyms face is staffing. Planet Fitness relies on unskilled labor.
  4. The value is insane, and they have massive scale. It would be hard to compete with them on cost if you were to start today.

💡 🏅 Mateo’s pick: Semaglutides - We saw a huge demand for weight loss drugs in 2023, and more and more gyms, like LifeTime and Xponential, are implementing them into their services.
💡 ⭐ Kaleda’s pick: Alloy Personal Training - If Kaleda were to open another gym, she’d follow Alloy’s playbook. Their concept is beautiful, simple, and scalable.

Biggest Winner

🏆 My pick: Plunge

The Plunge story is wild. The two founders, facing pandemic closures for their sauna studio and float center, took a bold pivot: selling cold plunges online.

  • In 2020, they did $270k in revenue.
  • In 2021, they did $8M.
  • In 2022, they did $33M.

In 2023, they were on track for over $100M. 🤯

The 2023 CrossFit Games had three cold plunge sponsors.
The 2023 CrossFit Games had three cold plunge sponsors. Last time I went, there were none.
💡 🏅 Mateo’s pick: Dan Trink and Kyle Fields - These guys persevered in one of the world’s toughest markets during COVID, shifted their marketing strategy, doubled down on content, and grew their business to over $300k/mo.
💡 ⭐ Kaleda’s pick: Othership - Othership is at the center of two huge trends:

1. Gen Z seeking community and novel experiences

2. Ice baths, saunas, and breathwork.

Biggest Loser

🏆 My pick: Jay DeCoons

Jay DeCoons took over as CrossFit’s VP of Global Affiliate and Operations in October. He had an MBA from Harvard and 10 years of experience in the fitness industry, but never owned an affiliate.

That, paired with a clip from 2018 where he said CrossFit “just seems really unsafe,” led to some loud voices in the space calling him “out of touch” with CrossFit’s culture. Things got even more complicated when affiliate rates rose 50% just one month into his job.

It was already a tough job from the start, and it seems like Jay wasn’t given a chance to prove himself.

💡 🏅 Mateo’s Pick: Web3 Fitness Apps - At the beginning of the year we called them Ponzi schemes, and that turned out to be more or less true.
💡 ⭐ Kaleda’s Pick: Specialized Boutique Studios - We’re seeing a lot of specialized boutique gyms (like yoga and spin studios) struggling and shutting down due to financial strain from the COVID-19 closures.

For a full recap of our nominees, be sure to watch or listen to the latest Gym World.



P.S. Stay tuned for part 2…

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