This gym owner gets 60 referrals a month


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

What’s his secret?

What’s up Gym World?

We’re back this week with James Pratt.

James runs Pratt Personal Training, a semi-private training gym with 650 members who pay over $450 a month.

Pratt has 9 trainers and offers 10 class times daily.

He runs four sessions at once, each with eight athletes. This means 32 members train at the same time during peak hours. 🤯

💡 Read this article for a deeper dive into James’s story and business model.

Mark Fisher calls him a “freak of nature” for his obsessive dedication to the craft. James and his staff geek out over customization and client satisfaction, which grew his gym to 300 members without using paid ads.

His primary source of client acquisition has been giving away the product for free.

He’s always offered a 14-day free trial, which is a terrible strategy for most gym owners, but not James.

Why, you ask? Three reasons:

  1. The average member stays for 20 months
  2. The average member pays $450 per month
  3. James has a thiccc profit margin

When a new client is worth $9,000 and your gym is profitable, you can spend way more than your competition to acquire a new client.

Here’s how the math works out:

Gym APratt Personal Training
Monthly Membership$120$450
Length of Engagement7 months20 months
Profit Margin5%40%
Average Client Value$840 ($120 x 7)$9,000 ($450 x 20)
Profit per Client$42 ($840 x 0.05)$3,600 ($9,000 x 0.40)
Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) to be Profitable< $42< $3,600

Marketing guru Dan Kennedy once said, “whoever can spend the most money to acquire a customer wins.”

And James clearly can spend more money than the average gym owner to acquire a customer.

This is true whether you run paid ads or not.

Early in his career, James didn’t run ads; he put all his marketing dollars into training people for free. Here’s how he did it:

The secret referral strategy

Every member at Pratt Personal Training is on a custom program.

After a client completes a program, they get a 30-day free trial to gift to a friend (normally, the gym offers a 14-day trial).

💡 Referrals generate high-quality leads, so a higher conversion rate offsets a longer free trial.

Over time, Pratt’s team got good at converting free trials, so he added fuel to the fire.

Facebook ads

Seeing other gym owners succeed with Facebook ads, James decided he wanted to lose even more money on the front end, so he hired a marketing agency to generate leads.

He offers the same 14-day free trial he offers everyone:

Pratt Personal Trainer ad example
Each lead costs over $30, so he spends about $2,500 monthly, which yields about 8 clients.

60 people do a trial each month—meaning he gives away around $10,000 in services BEFORE his ad spend & agency costs.

But again, a client is worth $9,000, so spending around $15,000 to generate $63,000 doesn’t sound too bad.

Word of caution

Giving away free services doesn’t work for every gym owner. It’s easy to:

  • Bleed money really fast
  • Frustrate current members by filling classes with people who don’t understand the culture or care about training
  • Stress your staff out with a bunch of prospects who’ll never buy

James understands the drawbacks of this model, but he’s confident in his math.

For more, watch or listen to James’s full interview on Gym World.

until next week,


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