What you’ll learn from this episode
Highlights from the interview
[10:49] – How he is able to attract clients from all over the world by creating authority with a book he’s written
[23:49] – How Allan is able to live in sunny Panama year round and train people locally and remotely using his app
[44:41] – How he uses the app as a passive source of training income and also for more active training clients!
[52:44] – How he markets to his niche of training clients 40 years and older
About our Guest
From 250lbs to taking a sharp turn, getting fit and starting his own fitness business with his own Fitness App
Allan Misner is a personal trainer, owner of Island Fitness Gym located in Bocas del Toro, Panama.
What’s really interesting about Allan’s training business is that he focuses on helping the 40 years old and plus market get healthy through his podcast, aptly called 40+ Fitness Podcast, and his own fitness app in the app store, aptly called 40+ Fitness Training App!
He has even wrote a book The Wellness Roadmap: a Straightforward Guide to Health and Fitness After 40 that is highly reviewed on amazon!
Through the app, he does group training and one-on-one training. He offers different packages from $75 to $399/month for a premium package on the app.
In addition, he lives in Bocas del Toro, Panama how cool is that!? I can just feel the sun on my face by talking to him. He’s living the dream training people remotely, training people in person, and enjoying the warmth year around.
However, he hasn’t been a fitness guy all his life like many trainers. He was well over 250 lbs and only started on his fitness path at the age of 39.
I’m curious to hear how he made such a sharp 180-turn at a point in his life where most people would have not been open to such a change.
Edited transcription of Fitness Business Secrets Podcast, Episode 11
Kristy: Hi, listeners. We have a super awesome treat today because we are talking to Allan Meisner, who is a personal trainer and owner of Island fitness gym located in Bocas Del Toro, Panama.
What’s really interesting about Allen’s training business is that he focuses on helping the 40 plus market get healthy through his podcast, aptly called 40 plus fitness podcasts.
What’s so interesting is his own fitness app in the app store aptly called 40 plus fitness training app. He has even written the book, “The Wellness Roadmap,” a straightforward guide to health and fitness after 40. It is highly reviewed on Amazon, meaning five stars. Through the app, he does group and one-on-one training.
These are real packages that he’s selling from $75 a month to even a three $99 package on the app. In addition, he lives in Bocas Del Toro, Panama. How cool is that? I can just feel the sun on my face by talking to him. He is living the dream training people remotely and in person, and enjoying the warmth year-round.
However, he hasn’t been a fitness guy all his life like many trainers. He was well over 250 pounds and only started his fitness path at the age of 39. So, if you ever feel like it’s too late, listen to Alan’s story. It’s really inspiring.
I’m just curious to hear how he’s made such a 180 shift in his life, changed his focus to fitness, and built this online 40 plus fitness empire.
Alan, how are you doing today? How’s Panama?
Allan: I’m doing great, Kristy. Thank you. And, Panama is warm as always.
Kristy: I’m from Hawaii, so I get it. Every day in Hawaii, it’s like 80 degrees and sometimes it’s 90. First, I wanted to ask you about your whole story. How did you even get involved with fitness?
Allan: Well, I was, as you mentioned, 39 years old and really unhappy with myself. I had a great career. I was making good money, traveling all the time, and seeing the world.
But, I just wasn’t happy. I wasn’t satisfied. There was too much missing, and I couldn’t rely on the things I had. My health and fitness was failing.
I turned myself, excuse the language, into a fat bastard. I wasn’t happy and not being cool to other people about it. My whole outlook was not where it needed to be.
Figuring it out and getting certified
Allan: So, I started trying to figure it out. I can’t hire a personal trainer because I can’t commit to going to the gym every week. I have business travel. I have to go somewhere.
I went ahead and decided to get certified myself through the NASM certification.
I went ahead and decided to get certified myself through the NASM certification. I did the corrective exercise and the fitness nutrition. Then, I went with the Functional Aging Institute and got certified as a functional aging specialist.
I’ve done a few other things in the background as far as education. Just kind of getting myself into that mode of, “What does a personal trainer for someone over the age of 40 look like? What skills do I need to have?”
So, I got those skills so I could train myself, and then I did. I lost about 66 pounds of fat and gained about 11 pounds of muscle in about 11 months.
I went from being the fat bastard to being able to do Tough Mudder with my 21 year old daughter. I made drastic changes to myself. Obviously, you’re on Facebook and someone sees you finished Tough Mudder and you’re looking at a picture. My friend says, “Hey, what did you do?”
He said, “I just saw you last March and you didn’t look like this.” So, I explained to him what I was doing and I said, “I’ll coach you if you want, but I only have one payment for that.”
And he’s like, “What?” “Well, I’m starting this podcast and when I train you, I want our calls to be interviews on the podcast.” And, he agreed.
I trained him and his wife, and over the course of 10 weeks, he lost 39 pounds. She lost 29 pounds. I was like, “Okay, what I’m doing works for people over the age of 40.” It’s a proven model.
So, I decided to go ahead and start trying to train people. Because I still had that full-time job, I knew that I couldn’t do it in person effectively. So, I started doing it online.
That comes with building a website and everything behind that, eventually, led to the app. But, it really started from me wanting to change myself and being successful at it, and then wanting to help others.
I just started reaching out from there. The podcast and everything else was really just an outreach to help people.
His decision not to go back to the corporate world
Kristy: Just curious. What was your job? What year was this that you were traveling a lot?
Allan: Well, I was a corporate executive working internal audit for public companies. From the time I was 32 years old until 2017, I was traveling all the time. I’ve been to well over 45 countries.
In many cases, I would spend 90% of my time away from home and maybe spend one or two nights a month at home. That was just my lifestyle, my travel.
It was very stressful. As I was looking at my overall health and continued with the podcast, I improved my fitness significantly. I was improving other parts of my wellness, but the job and the stress of the job was still holding me back.
That’s when I got laid off in December of 2017. I made the decision to just not go back.
I know I’m not making enough money doing the online personal training to pay my bills as you will, but I just didn’t want to go back to corporate. So, I said, “I’m gonna make it work.”
Writing the book “The Wellness Roadmap” that changed his and other people’s lives
[10:49] Allan: It was kind of an all-in deal at that point. That’s when I thought, “Okay. How do I get the credibility to be out there and really train people?”
I have some testimonials that I could put out there, but that’s not gonna move the needle.
That’s when I wrote the book, “The Wellness Roadmap.” Some people said a book is a business card, but I can tell you it’s so much more than that.
When you get the emails from someone that says, “Hey, this really changed my life.” Then, they get that message.
Many of those people then come on and say, “Hey, I want to be a client. What do I have to do to be a client?” When you have people coming to you asking you for that, that’s an easy sell.
At that point, they’re committed. They’re ready to go. That’s the kind of people you want in your tribe. That’s who you want to be working with.
Kristy: I love that. How long did it take you to write the book?
Allan: Well, it took longer than six months because as I was doing the outline for the book, I actually did a series of five podcasts that were basically the outline for the whole book. I did those methodically to put them right at the end of a calendar year because thereby comes into January with their new resolutions.
I thought, “If I hadn’t “The Wellness Roadmap” out there, I’m five episodes of a podcast ready for them.” When they come in, they can literally go through these five, and that’s the roadmap that’s going to help them get there. That was my outline for the book, and I did that in December of 2016.
I got into writing the book in March and finished up, and we published it in early December.
Kristy: So, you did the five episodes in December 2016, which means you’re still at your job. Then, March 2017 you started the book, and then December you put it live on Amazon.
Allan: Yeah. Actually, the book went live in 2019. I guess my year was off a little bit. Basically, it was in December 2018 that the actual book came out. At that point, I was effectively unemployed. I was an online personal trainer, but I wasn’t training anybody in person at that point.
I was just doing the online training. I had time. That was a really good time for me to invest in myself by getting this book out there.
How many hours went into writing this book?
Kristy: How many hours a week did you put into writing this book?
Allan: Around 70 or 80 hours. I hired coaches. If anything you’re doing, hire a coach. Just go ahead and do it. Just like you want people to hire you to get good results quickly without hurting themselves or anything else. It works the same way in your business. If you’re sitting back and you’re struggling with something, you’re going to gut it out.
Time is the equity you need to put in. But, if you have it in you, hire coaches. I hired a really good writing partner, a really good editor, and the best people for the graphics of the book. Everything I did, I made sure I had invested in the right people to help me get where I wanted to go.
Everything I did, I made sure I had invested in the right people to help me get where I wanted to go.
With my writing partner, we were having conversations, and he helped keep me on track. The editors, they’re like, “This is the structure.”
We lay this stuff out, and then I’ve got to do research to fill in this gap because I said something and I need to prove it. Because it’s a roadmap and it’s setting a GPS like all these cars.
As I’m going through this, I have to be thinking about, “How do I say this with pictures?” I’m thinking about a car. You’re looking at the gauges, the speed, and the type of the car. All those different things played into trying to explain to someone some fitness or health concept.
As you’re writing the book, you need to have a common tie in front to back. That’s where you see most of these books that will come out, and you’ll read them. You’ll recognize that they’re there using those same things to carry through the whole book.
There was a lot of thought process into, “How do I explain to someone that they’re going to have to go with the pace that makes sense for their lifestyle?”
So, it was like some people are going to get in a Ferrari and just haul it, which I was able to do with mine because I didn’t have any other obligations.
For eight to nine months, I was just working really hard on fitness. That was my Ferrari. But, sometimes you have family members, vacations planned or other things you have to carry with you. So, you’re in a minivan or a pickup, and that’s just you understanding the course.
When you’re talking to someone, don’t expect to always be in a Ferrari because you’ll burn out. Sometimes you have to take the minivan because the family’s got to come along with you.
It’s just those kinds of stories that you’re trying to come at. Plus, just personal stories. I share so much about my path and my story in the book, and you just have to be open and personal about it.
Like I said, I literally called myself the fat bastard at the time. I bought the domain. I own fatmaster.org. If you click on it, it’s probably going to take you to 40+ Fitness.
That’s kind of the concept as you go through the book. People will say it’s a business card, but I’ll tell you it’s much more than that. Particularly, if it’s built around the structure of the way you train and it’s your voice.
When someone’s going to hire a personal trainer, they have to be very comfortable and trust that person. I wanted to make sure with the book that they understood my style, who I was, where I came from, and knew I was a fit.
If they read my book and they don’t like the person that they’re having that book, then I’m not a good trainer for them.
I totally get that. I can’t be a good trainer for everybody. But, for the people who like my style, they’ll hear that in my podcast and read that in my book. I even did an audio version of the book. They know who I am as a trainer, my philosophy, and my approach.
Kristy: That’s really interesting. I think a lot of us have been inspired or thought it’d be great to write a book, but you really did it.
At the same time, you’re reminding us there were some real costs with that. Is this right? You spent six months and you said you were putting 70 to 80 hours a week into writing this book?
Conceptualizing lessons for the book
Allan: Yes. It wasn’t all writing time. Like I said, a lot of times you’re just sitting there and thinking, “How do I structure this or what would be a good story for that?” So, I’m thinking back to my past and it’s like, “When have I experienced something like this? What were the feelings?”
When you write a story, you don’t want to just say, “I did this, then I did this and that.” No one likes that story. But, when it’s, “I did this. I felt that.” It gets deep into the emotions. I talked about ego and I said, “For one reason or another, I just got it in my head that I needed to be able to deadlift 500 pounds.”
There were no other 50 year olds in the gym. They weren’t close to that. I was like, “I just want to get 500 pounds and I don’t know why.” I don’t know where it came from, the number or any of it. I started deadlifting really heavy.
Then, I’m going into a CrossFit workout and they have us doing heavy deadlifts. So, I’m really pushing myself on the dead lifts.
Then, the metcon (metabolic conditioning) was hang cleans, toes to bar, and a run, and you did those at an AMRAP (as many reps as possible). My lower back is so fatigued at this point.
There’s no reason I should have been doing hang cleans, and I knew it as a personal trainer. I would never have programmed that.
But, I tried to do it and I hurt myself. It’s embarrassing. I’m a personal trainer and I just did something really stupid. When you share that kind of stuff for people that are afraid, that’s going to scare people away. They’re gonna think I’m not a really good personal trainer if I can’t keep myself healthy.
It’s just being real with them and saying, “Look, we have egos. We want to compete. We want to do these things sometimes. It’s really hard to pull yourself back, but it’s really important that you do so.”
I’m not trying anywhere near 500 pound deadlifts anymore. I do deadlifts that are appropriate to what I think I might need to do in a day-to-day life.
It’s changed my view of fitness and I work every day to pull my ego back, and sometimes to pull my clients’ egos back when I see them wanting to push just a little too hard.
Kristy: That’s a great lesson. You wrote this book and invested a lot of time. I’m assuming you had savings at this time to support yourself during your writing period.
Allan: Yeah. I did well with my career. It was the one thing. “What did I do really well?” It was the career. I was really committed to my career, and I made some really good moves because I would go where the job was.
I wasn’t one of these, “I have to live in this town. I’m not going to get a job more than 50 miles from where I live.”
I was the person that took a job in California and said, “We have an opportunity in Massachusetts.” I ended up in Massachusetts. Here’s the job in Las Vegas or Arkansas. Go. They were good career moves and I was really good with that. I let everything else go.
I had some savings and opportunities. But, I would say don’t let the money part of it slow you down. The reality of it is it might take you longer to get that book out. Take the time to invest in yourself. If this book is going to be valuable to you as an asset that can help you and your business, then get it out there any way you can.
We spend so many hours doing things that aren’t productive and aren’t really adding value to our business. Most entrepreneurs will tell you that it’s not a nine to five job.
If you have a nine to five job and you’re doing something on the side, that’s still not even a nine to five. You’re going to be putting in a lot of hours.
In the long run, if you’re making an investment in your business like this, it’s time. It doesn’t always have to be money because you can hire someone on Fiverr to do your first cover. You hire an editor on Upwork. You can do those things and get something out there. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
I won America’s Best Book award in the health and fitness category because I really worked hard on this book. I put a lot of time, effort, and a bit of money into making this happen.
I just happened to somewhat be a perfectionist and have the opportunity to make that kind of investment, to have that kind of book out there.
I won America’s Best Book award in the health and fitness category because I really worked hard on this book. I put a lot of time, effort, and a bit of money into making this happen.
You don’t have to win awards with your book. You just have to have the book out there so someone can get to know you because that’s really what this is about. A business card tells them how to call you.
A business card doesn’t tell them who you are as a person, but a book is a great opportunity for you to really connect with someone.
They know who you are and how you coach. At the end, get that call-to-action, “Hey, if you want to work with me, here’s my email address. Here’s my website.” That’s gonna resonate with them. They get to the end of the book. They liked what you had to say.
How much did it cost for writing and editing?
Kristy: How much did it cost for that writing partner and editor?
Allan: Roughly, I think I was in for about $35,000 total. So, it was very expensive. I went high end. You don’t have to. There’s other groups out there. If someone wants to reach out to me, I know a writing coach guy that is much cheaper.
They actually publish the book for you. You go through their program and they publish the book for you.
I actually joined this guy’s group training just to understand book marketing because that was a whole nother area I didn’t know. As I was getting into this, “How do I get more people to read the book?” It’s that investment in self and saying, “I know I need to market this book. What do I need to know? Who’s someone out there that I can learn this from?”
That’s been successful and resonates a little bit. If you’re really looking for this and you just want something that’s a lot less expensive, they do it soup to nuts and they’re really good.
Kristy: Those are good points. You have this amazing book and people are reaching out to you from the book. At the end of 2018, you published the book and you had your podcast going for a couple of years. You have a great online profile.
What did you do next? Were you living in Panama at that time?
Allan: No. I was still in Florida. That was the other side of it. My wife and I were looking at our costs of living and what I was making in training, and we were like, “Let’s just sell everything and move to some bungalow on the beach.”
How Allan is able to live in sunny Panama year round, invested on his own fitness gym and trained people
[23:49] Allan: We started looking around for, for lack of a better word, retirement communities or at least cost-effective places we could live because at that point, I was effectively a digital nomad. I had the ability to live anywhere I wanted and do exactly what we’re doing.
As we’re recording this podcast, we had all these technical issues. My power went out. I’m tethered to my phone. I knew I could solve these kinds of problems, and you just roll with it.
Panama’s that kind of place where it’s just laid back. It’s comfortable. Nobody’s really busy. Everybody’s generally happy, ’til someone steals a bike or something like that.
It’s a really chill place to live, which is good because one of the fundamental things that I wanted to improve in my health was my stress management. Living in a place like this, it’s pretty easy to just sit back and relax from time to time. We moved here (Panama) in February of 2019.
It’s been over a year that we’ve been here and we’ve spent time living out in the jungle and in town, bouncing back and forth. It’s a really beautiful place to be. It works because I can still do what I’m doing with the online presence.
It just so happened as we were moving down here that the owners of the gym were selling. So, I started the negotiations with them. Then, in June of 2019 I bought Island Fitness.
Kristy: How big was Island Fitness at the time? I’m assuming you improved it and it grew, but how many customers? I’m not really familiar with this exact area you’re in. Is it a small community?
Allan: We’re a series of islands. Bocas Del Toro is basically an archipelago. There are about nine habitable islands, and most people live on three or four of them here, which are in clusters. I live in the main one which is Isla Colon and Bocas town is the main town.
That’s where the gym is. It’s a small gym. Quite literally, it’s smaller than the garage gym I had in Florida. It’s probably somewhere around 800 square feet. When I first got there, they didn’t have a lot of things.
So, I immediately lowered all the membership prices. I said, “We’re not earning this so I’m going to lower the prices.”
I lowered the prices, started cleaning the place up and painting it, and that helped. Just some little things are missing. They didn’t have 25 pound dumbbells. We’re going to have a set of those. They had it from five all the way up to 70, but they were missing the 25s. And, I’m like, “That’s the most popular dumbbells in the gym.”
So, I bought those and a set of twelves because we didn’t have them. We only had one Olympic bar so I bought two more. We didn’t have a cable machine so I bought that pull down machine with the cable row attachment.
We didn’t have a squat rack. So, now we have a squat rack and a pull up bar and the whole bit.
I have been investing heavily in equipment since I bought the gym, only because I did want to build it up. I could’ve just run it and that would have been fine, but I was like, “No. I want to change the model. I want this to be a gym that people feel good about coming to.” Now as we’re recording this, I’m going to go up on the prices again.
That’s one of the things when you’re investing. You now have an asset that’s worth more, you charge more.
Kristy: How is that doing? Do you find that you’re getting customers? Do you find that your current online marketing is attracting people or do you have to do different local marketing?
Allan: I have to generally do local marketing here because a lot of them aren’t taking the time to necessarily listen to a podcast and they’re not necessarily in the same circles. With the podcast, people will join a group that says 40+ Fitness.
There’s a group that we have for the podcast, and people will join that just because they see 40+ Fitness. They get in there and be like, “Oh! There’s a podcast.”
They didn’t even know there was a podcast because they’re coming in through the Facebook side. Then, others are coming from the podcast onto Facebook.
That kind of works dynamically, backwards and forwards, for people to learn about the podcasts and people on the podcast to get to know me better.
But, here it’s not that way. Here it’s social things. I contribute. We had a charity for the Women’s international Day, and we gave away memberships for them to do a silent auction.
I make sure that I’m engaged with the community. So, if there’s a charity event or something like that, I go and bid on silent auction things or even on live auctions.
I’m active in the environment and the people here so they see an active owner. They see an engaged owner that cares about the community. Then, they start the conversation, “Hey, I really want to get in shape.” Then, you have some objections you work through.
Engaging his clients thru small group trainings
Allan: Most of my training here now on the Island is group training. What I’ll do is I’ll bring in a group of four to six people, a really small group, and say, “We’re going to come in during hours the gym is closed so we don’t have to fight for equipment. You have a full run of the gym. I’ll run you through the programs.”
We push ourselves, and they get results. I’m working through the first round of that because I just bought the gym in June. I just got all the equipment in there and started really doing this.
So, now I’m starting this practice that I’m going to bring in small groups. We’ll have a focus. Are we going to work on building muscle or general functional fitness?
I’m still from a practice perspective, gravitated towards the 40+ crowd, but that’s only because that’s my age group.
Because for some people, they just want to be able to get in and out of the boat easier. I’m still from a practice perspective, gravitated towards the 40+ crowd, but that’s only because that’s my age group.
They see me as a trainer. Someone in their twenties isn’t necessarily gonna walk up to me and say, “Hey. Train me.” But, a lot of my friends now on the island will say, “Hey. I need to do something.” And, I’m like, “Okay. Join one of my small groups and let’s get this done.”
That’s the thing with something local. You need to be local. You need to really be paying attention to that. That’s not something you mail in with ads. You can do mail outs and flyers and things like that, which I know a lot of gyms will do. The “$5 for the first month” kind of thing.
Great! $5 for the first month and you’ll never see them again. But, if you go and take the time to build a relationship with someone, then you bring them in and you sell them up not just a gym membership, but a relationship. I’m going to be there for you every Tuesday and Thursday at two o’clock.
It’s our gym, and I make the groups name themselves. One of my teams is called the Super Sloths, and the other is called The Howlers. They come in and work hard. They’re getting results and they’re happy. I’ll set up another round.
I’ll bring in another group, but some of those people probably come on and join one of those groups and I’ll say, “Come up with a group name cause I don’t want to call you Tuesday or Thursday.”
It’s just that relationship thing, and you can do that online. You can also do that offline, but this is different. I think it’s a slightly different approach when it’s in person because at that point, you have to build a deep relationship like a friend. They have to trust you to be willing to come.
Whereas with my online training, those guys can work out at home. We talk about their workouts and push them through it, but they’re in their home gym and I’m not counting reps for them.
How tweaking his prices brought in more local clients
Kristy: It sounds like at your gym, you have group classes and gym membership, and you’re mainly the person doing the personalized training. That’s only through small group training. Is that right?
Allan: Right. If someone came to me and said they wanted to hire me as a one-on-one trainer, I would work with them. But, for folks on the Island, it’s a little cost prohibitive. Part of the reason people are in Panama is because the cost of living is low. The wages here are low.
A perfect example is there is another personal trainer. She’s never gotten a client at the gym. She’s charging US-based prices at $75 an hour, and no one here is going to pay $75 an hour for a personal trainer.
That was my rate in the United States when I was training people one-on-one in person. That’s what I would have charged. So, I understand why she’s charging what she’s charging. She’s not getting any clients.
Whereas I can come to a small group and I can say, “For the six of you, this is the rate,” and it literally works out to less than $10 a session if I have six.
The first one I set up was a nine week program and it was $225. I’m meeting with them 18 times at $225. That comes out to I think a little more than $10 a session. But, when they get their gym membership included, you’re back. The hours that I get paid as a personal trainer is less than $10 a session.
Kristy: Nice. So, that’s how you solved that price difference between the U.S. and what the local area was charging. How much is the gym membership for people there?
Allan: Right now, it’s $30 for locals, but it’s gonna go up to $35 because I invested in the equipment and cleaned the place up. I moved the group classes to another building so they have more space. Just making the place nicer for everybody in general.
I felt it’s time for me to go ahead and increase the price to pay that back and to make sure I can continue to do that.
Kristy: Do you pay anybody to just open the gym up? Like a front desk?
Allan: Yeah. I have local staff. They keep the gym open. That’s primarily their job to come in and open up, wipe down, clean the mirrors, check people in, and smile. That’s their job and they’re really good at it, but none of them is a personal trainer.
I can’t use them in any other capacity other than doing that. For most of them, this is not their first job. This is a second job. So, if they can’t be there, they call me or message me and I’m like, “Okay. I’ll come in and work a shift.” For the most part, I actually don’t do much in the gym other than fix things and train people.
Kristy: If you don’t mind me asking, how much is the rent for an 800 square foot gym space? Then, you got another room maybe like 150 square feet for the classes.
Allan: We sublet for the classes. Basically, it was a yoga space. She set it up for yoga, but it’s big enough and it’s appropriate so we do the classes there. We pay $150 a month to have that space, and then we pay $600 a month for our gym space.
I know that’s going to sound really low and it is, but relative to rents here, that’s actually not really that low with all things considered. To preface that, my apartment rent is $850.
We have a two bedroom apartment in the center of town, and it’s $850 a month for my apartment rent. So, if you want to kind of compare and contrast that of what your rentals would be, your rentals are probably going to be a lot more.
If you’re in commercial space in the United States, it can get a little complex because you’re looking at not only the rents, but sometimes the shared cost of keeping up the building.
I get these things to buy because I signed up to potentially buy in at Anytime Fitness at one point. You’ll see people are people paying $9,000 a month for rent and facilities.
Start low and small. Work from your garage if you can because in the end what crushes a lot of people is that their overhead costs are so high, they never are able to make that up. So, by starting small, it gives you that capacity to grow.
When I have more than 10 people in the gym, it is really crowded, but they’re all working hard and enjoying their workouts. I’m okay with a little bit of overcrowding. During certain busy hours, someone asks me, “When is it not so busy?” I can tell them, “Come in at 11 o’clock.”
It starts tailing down at 11 o’clock. We close at 12NN and reopen at 3 o’clock. Come back in at 3 o’clock if that’s when you want to workout. 11AM and 3PM are the two best hours for someone to come into our gym. That’s when the least amount of people are going to be there.
I just know those peak times. During the peak times, we’re going to be overcrowded. It’s gonna be tight, but people are there. They’re enjoying it.
As I shift the model from a drop-in business, which is what they were, to a member centric business, it just takes me listening to what the members need and giving them the equipment and space they need.
That’s why we expanded the space. It just was not working having the classes in the same workspace where we had the gym. You can imagine that. Imagine how many of us in a class, in a building, 800 square foot room, and you’ve got all your weight equipment in there as well. So, they’re trying to jump over, around, and not bump into people who are trying to do their lifting.
So, we’ve fixed those problems. It took an investment and my rent’s more, but we just keep plugging on.
Managing memberships, drop-ins
Kristy: How many members do you have?
Allan: We’ve got about 80 members. We have drop-ins that far exceed that. We’ll have probably 200 to 300 drop-ins over the course of a month. I want to shift that model. It’s nice to have 200 to 300 drop-ins per month, but I’d really like to have the membership be a little higher.
I’m really kind of targeting getting well over a hundred this year.
My goal, internally, is to start seeing the member count be over a hundred because that really gives us some staying power as a business.
Kristy: How much do you charge for the drop-ins?
Allan: It’s $5 for locals and $7 for someone who’s not from the Island.
Kristy: I see. So, it sounds like you’re making money. That’s good. How much does it cost to buy the gym? Because it sounds like pretty much you started from, there wasn’t a lot that you had.
Allan: I paid a premium. I will admit that. The people that were selling wanted to sell, but at the same time, they were holding out. I was actually concerned that they would go under before I bought. They had like four or five owners and it was a weird transaction.
Let’s just say that the negotiations with them were very weird. I basically bought 90% of the gym, and the total value of the gym at that point was $29,000. If I had to buy all that equipment, $3,000 to $4,000. The difficulty would have been getting it to the Island.
Really where my struggle with the equipment and supplements is getting the things there. With that said, I valued the equipment at about $5,000 to $6,000. The brand name Island Fitness is pretty cool. It fits the location that we’re in the lease we have. We’re right next to the largest hostel in the area so there’s a lot of walk by traffic.
There’s a program they do on Fridays for the kids. They’re in their twenties that go out and they go bar hopping, pub cross these different bars. It’s called filthy Friday, and it brings in hundreds of people. So, the foot traffic around our gym is phenomenal.
That buys into why there’s so many drop-ins. In many cases, they weren’t expecting to see a gym on the Island. We’re actually the only full service gym on the island. There’s a little fight club gym.
Then, there’s a lot of people doing yoga here and there, but we’re actually the only what I would call full service gym.
Building his online platform
Kristy: Nice. So, your gym is coming along. You have your podcast and some online training that you’re doing. What happened next?
Allan: Well, my online training was doing well. I built the entire platform myself using plugins from WordPress. I had a membership plugin. I had my Stripe account and Vimeo for the videos. I cobbled all that together to do my online training. I even had an online chat room for everybody to communicate.
The whole community was all built into this platform that I had done on a WordPress. Over the time, I had improved it and got it to a point where actually I’m pretty proud of what I built.
But, every time a new plugin was changed or something came up, I’d start running into a problem with the page.
Because I own the site, I was completely responsible for customer service when someone couldn’t get into my work. I was like, “I’m spending far too much time on the site and not enough time with clients.” So, I started doing some research and I did it for a little bit. Finally, I just went ahead and said, “I’ve got to bite the bullet.”
I looked at two different approaches. One is called Trainerize, and the other’s called PT Distinction, and they both are really good. If you look online, you start seeing reviews. You’re going to see that both of those are pretty much some of the best that are out there for online coaching.
But, what I liked about PT distinction, and it might be true of Trainerize as well, was that if you buy the premium service, which is really still not that expensive, you can brand the app specifically to you.
When people go out there, I can send them to an app that’s branded 40+ Fitness. So, it’s my app and my logo. If I give them a workout, it’s programmed into there for them and they see that workout. I can make those videos my videos.
They have basic videos that I can use, but some of my clients are blind so they can’t just watch a video to do a goblet squat. They can’t watch the video. So, if I want them to learn how to do a goblet squat, I have to actually explain the movement to them.
The videos that I do for the exercises are much more meticulous and better described of exactly what a goblet squat feels quite like. So, it’s more about the feel than the look.
I can’t sit there and just say, “Your knee should trail out this way or just bring your butt down and you hold the goblet, the dumbbell or the kettlebell in a rack position.”
I have to actually explain what a rack position feels like. As part of the branding, the videos are all mine when I need them to be. That is huge because from top to bottom, it looks like me.
How he uses the app as a passive source of training income and also for more active training clients!
[44:41] Kristy: You have this really amazing app, and looking at the pricing, I went to PT distinctions website. It looks like it’s about $80 a month or $1.60 per client.
Allan: Yeah, that’s the high end. If you have a lot of clients and start small, you can actually get familiar with the app. Their beginner pricing is really low. I think that it’s even free at some level. Then, once you want to brand it, I think you’re up to $60 a month.
They’re so good about their customer service and the app works really well. Everything’s in there. I can track habits. It connects with MyFitnessPal so I can see their nutrition. It connects with I think it’s a garment or something. If they want to keep up with their steps, they’re working on an Apple Health tie-in.
They can put their nutrition in there. I can put things on their calendar for them to do so if they’re supposed to train certain things, “It’s Tuesday and we’re supposed to be doing legs.” I have their leg workout put in their schedule. They wake up in the morning and that’s when they turn on the app.
They’re going to see a motivational quote from me, and then they’re going to see their workout for the day. That’s right there for them.
They’re going to see a motivational quote from me, and then they’re going to see their workout for the day. That’s right there for them.
They can log all that in the app. It also allows in-app messaging. Like I said, the motivational message is there. I can schedule that. It goes to them.
If I’m going to schedule a call, I can go into the app. If I want to email everybody, I can just go to this one place and write the email and it sends it to everybody. All my communication and everything is inside that app.
Kristy: I see that it comes out to a charge per client, and then I guess it decreases in cost per client if you get more clients. But, it sounds like there’s a real cost per client.
Allan: Basically, it works like this. So, you’ll pay $80. I’m actually at that level because at one point I had hundreds of clients that I was doing something special with, and I’ve stayed at that level. Basically, I pay $80.
Up to 50 clients, that $80 is all you pay. If you have 51 clients, they’re going to add $1.60. These are clients that you keep for over 30 days. Let’s say you wanted to do a seven day challenge and that’s how you wanted to use it as your lead magnet.
You’re running a seven-day challenge and you set it up and structured all inside the app to deliver the emails for it to give them the workouts, the nutrition, and all the information.
You just schedule it out. It’s programmed and set up. When you add the person to the app and to that challenge group, then they’re getting everything automatically and you can schedule it to go out.
Let’s say they sign up today, then tomorrow’s email is going to be this. Someone who signs up on Friday, their Saturday email is going to be their first email. You literally can just schedule that out whenever they sign up. You can schedule everybody at the same time.
When I did my Lose a Size challenge and I put that out there, I had 216 people sign up. We started in October. We started all the people in that group, and then I told them, “I have to pay for every one of you that’s in this group.
So, your payment to me, because they’re getting this for free, is you have to participate. If I don’t see you checking in and you’re not responding to my messages, I’m kicking you out a challenge.” And, I did.
After the first week, I fired 90 clients. They were free clients so they didn’t really cost me anything. Because I got them off of the app before they were in for a month, I didn’t have to pay that $1.60.
By the time we got down to the end of the month, I think I was down to 40 clients in that challenge. I think about four of them became paying clients after that.
This was a 28-day challenge. So, you’ve got a big investment of time and effort for something like that, but it didn’t get me clients, which was what I was after.
Kristy: So, you do challenges and train people online. You mentioned before we started that the price can be between $75 to even $399 if they do one-on-one with you. Could you go over the process you use to get clients and then to convert them to paying customers if it’s not a challenge? Because it sounds like you don’t do that every time.
Allan: I did a lot of the challenges and they’re good. You get lots of people to sign up for a free challenge. When you ask them for a credit card number to do anything else, they say, “No. I’m not interested.”
“But, you lost a size.”
“I’m still not interested.”
A month later, they’ve put that size back on. There’s just people that are just not ready. They’re just not ready to do what’s necessary. They’ll stick with a challenge because it’s fun and exciting.
They’ll do all your free challenges if you let them. If you just sit there and just keep running free challenges, there’s a group of people that will love you.
They will just adore you and all your free challenges, but they’re never going to give you a whole lot of money for anything. So, you’ve got to kind of preface this with a transformation of, “What can you do for them and really change things and their mindset so that they see online training as the approach they need and the value of what they’re after?”
Three things that could physically transform your clients
#1: Do a fitness challenge
What I’ll typically do is I’ll do one of three things. I’ll either do a fitness challenge, and most of my challenges are 28 days, only because I know that for someone to really physically change, they need to put some time in.
So, the people that do put the time in for my challenges, they get the actual results I promised them. That’s the first key.
You do your challenges, meet the promise.
#2: Do workshops
Allan: I’ll also do workshops based around my structure, The Wellness Roadmap. Basically, it’s a five day thing where we go through the mindset stuff. We go ahead and set our GPS and roadmap for where we want to go with our health and fitness.
That structure helps people really break down what they need to do to reach their goals.
That one I actually did sell because I was doing calls each night. So, each night for five nights, I got on a conference call with the people that were doing that, and there was a price to it. We got on the conference calls, went over the lesson, answered any questions they had and kind of be that support for them.
I would do something like that where I’m actively engaged with them and that netted some clients.
Kristy: So, you charged them for the workshop and then they ended up turning into clients.
#3: The slow burn
Allan: As you kind of go into this, you recognize that some of them have turned into clients.
The final way to do this, and actually probably the best way, is the slow burn. What I mean by that is I’m doing a podcast and I wrote the book.
I’m active on social media groups of people that are your target or the person you want to work with, and they’re asking questions.
It could be questions about nutrition, fitness or the mindset, and you just take the time to answer their questions. From some of those people, when you see them and you make that post, they’re gonna thank you.
That’s an opportunity. Now, some people will go in and immediately try to friend request that person and message them.
That feels a little creepy to me, but if that’s an approach you want to take and it works for you, friend them. Otherwise, it’s just the continual having the conversation with people in a group.
How he markets to his niche of training clients 40 years and older
[52:44] Allan: You’ll start to build these relationships. Even if it’s not a direct friend on the platform, people will reach out. They’ll want to learn more.
When you have that person that comes to you and says, “I want to do some more.” That’s when you’re not even really having to sell anymore because at this point, they’re asking you for help.
That’s something that as a 40 year old knowing, “Can I keep training my shoulder? How do I keep training when I have a shoulder issue? Do I need to go get surgery first?”
The way I said it was I let them know that I’m a trainer that understands working with injuries. Because the people in the group are my target and they’re the kind of people I want to work with, that resonates with people.
You get a direct message, “Tell me more about how I can work shoulders without irritating my shovel.”
Kristy: It sounds like you’re saying, “Go into Facebook groups, give out a lot of free answers and information, and let people know about your certifications.” Did you just go into groups that have mostly 40+ people?
Allan: Yes, because that’s who I want to work with. I’ve actually had a guy who was 38 years old. He wanted to hire me, and I said, “No. Come back in two years.”
That’s how I actually feel about it, but you have to do that. You have to sit there and say, “If this person isn’t the ideal client, then I actually don’t want them because that takes away from the quality of what I’m doing.”
It takes away from my branding, and I want to stay true to the brand. Understanding who you are and that you shouldn’t be trying to train everybody. I know when we’re in a gym setting that’s a little more difficult, like when I do my groups.
I don’t necessarily do an ID check to say you can be in my group, but I will say just the kind of person I am and who I resonate with of the people in my groups, only one of them I believe is under 40, and she’s not much under 40.
Most of the people I’m working with are well over 40. That’s just who I am and how I sell myself. The three ways that we talked about, the challenges. It’s easy to set up and low barriers to entry.
You can get a lot of people to do it. If I run a certain challenge and I put some ads on Facebook, I can spend $100 and easily get a few hundred people into a challenge.
The challenges are really easy. You come up with a challenge, write up all the emails, put that into your autoresponder, and then you just start telling people about the challenge. I could do a certain challenge and run some ads on Facebook. They go to my signup page and it’s absolutely free. All I’m asking them for is their first name and their email.
So, it’s a low barrier to entry. You just keep pushing. Try to get them in your Facebook group and interact with them, and it goes.
Kristy: Yeah. You say just try to get them into your Facebook group and those are easy.
Allan: Yes. Those are easy. You get them in your Facebook group, now you’re interacting with them and have access to them on a fairly regular basis. You have their email address so you can do some email marketing to them.
That’s your overall game. With the workshops or if you wanted to do it more as a webinar, that’s an event type thing, in some cases, you can charge for those if there’s enough value.
That’s your overall game. With the workshops or if you wanted to do it more as a webinar, that’s an event type thing, in some cases, you can charge for those if there’s enough value.
Just realize when you charge, you’re going to get less people, but you’re going to get better compliance.
In a normal challenge, I would say 80% of the people that sign up for a free challenge never actually do the challenge. They’ll open up the first one or two emails. But, if it’s like a 28 day challenge, by the time I get to the end, I’ve got about a 10% compliance rate.
If I have someone pay, even if it’s a nominal amount like $7 or $5, what I’ve found is that the compliance rate is closer to 80% or 90%. So, understanding those two and the investment, the investments are about the same.
You’re just going to be selling to fewer people if you’re running something that’s paid versus doing something that’s completely free where you’ll get a ton of people.
Then, the final way is just that slow burn of just being there for people and not hard selling them at all. In fact, in most groups, I’d say don’t sell at all. You can tell them you’re a personal trainer. You can say, “With my clients, I do this.”
If they start asking some more detailed questions, you can just say, “There’s a lot of information I would need from you that I really don’t think you will want to post in a public group. Private message me and I’ll be glad to help you.” Then, you get them onto a private message and you’re having a really good conversation with them there.
When they start understanding that you could coach them over Facebook messenger, then it kind of clicks with them. I don’t have to have someone in the gym counting reps for me if I have someone like this that understands me and my problem.
The different types of packages that he offers in his platform
Kristy: I love it. That’s a great way to get people in your app with your online training platform. What are the different types of packages or services that you offer in your platform?
Allan: I’m a big proponent of keeping it simple. I’ve had lots of little programs that have sold. I’ve sold 28 day, $28 programs. Those were generally popular, but I really didn’t connect so much with the people that were doing it and it wasn’t something that I felt I wanted to keep doing.
Right now, I have basically two things. I do the online personal training one-on-one. That’s my core. That’s where I do everything a personal trainer would do.
We do movement assessment and all the other assessments, and then I actually coach them. I say, “Here’s your programming. You’re going to talk about nutrition.” We have a weekly call and I get them on the phone each week. I hold them accountable and we talk about what’s going on.
They can message me through the app during the week. I have some clients that at every workout, we’re having a conversation about their workout.
So, I’m doing everything a personal trainer would do except counting reps. If they even want me to look at the format of their squats, they can send me the video.
I can treat their form just like a personal trainer would do. It makes it much more cost-effective to pay for an online service. But, if you hired a personal trainer to be there for each of your workouts and you’re working out three to four times a week, you’re paying over a thousand dollars a month for that personal trainer.
So, it actually is quite cost-effective for one-on-one training online.
Then, I have the group training. I do have some set programs in the app that they can pull down. So, If they want to do strength, functional fitness, or mobility, I have those workouts in there ready for them to go, but it’s a base core workout. There’s no customization. It’s not, like I said, “Take a video of your gym so I can see what’s going on.”
Kristy: You were telling us about the different programs you offer, the $75 group training.
Allan: With the group training, we have a weekly conference call instead of the one-on-one. I typically go in with a lesson. If you can think of it, I do the podcast. I’ll do some solo episodes on the podcast. I just go in and have a short 10 to 15 minute lesson. We’ll talk about something, particularly if one of the clients has asked me some questions during the week.
I feel like that’s a good area to dive into. We’ll have that conversation and then I open it up for Q&A, so anyone that’s on the conference call can join and ask questions about the lesson.
Then, I have an open Q&A, so anything that’s going on that they want to talk about, whether it’s nutrition or fitness wise, or if they are concerned about something, then we can talk through that. They have me as long as they need me.
What I’ve found is if I get more than 10 people starting to show up for a given conference call, it’s worth me having a second one. If I start seeing my numbers of the conference calls go too high where it’s not conducive for everybody to have a conversation and kinda connect.
Then I go ahead and close it off and say, “We’re going to have two calls, and you go ahead and register for which call you’re going to come on to so we can keep some numbers and a good conversation.”
In a general sense, that’s not really a problem. I record each of the conference calls and make that available to everybody. Right now, there’s a collection of about a hundred past conference calls.
So, as a new group client comes on, there’s a ton of material there. All my group clients and my one-on-one clients, when they come on, they basically go through my wellness roadmap.
The first four or five days on the app, they’re getting messages and going through a process that I use to set my client’s mindset straight from the get go.
We set their goals and expectations, and we understand their limitations and capacities. We set this plan. From that plan, then I, as the coach, know exactly what each person needs.
We set their goals and expectations, and we understand their limitations and capacities. We set this plan. From that plan, then I, as the coach, know exactly what each person needs. So, when I’m having a conversation with them, I understand.
For example, I have a blind client. When I’m talking to her about something, it’s a little different. I can’t just shoot her over to any old YouTube channel and say, “Here’s the guy telling you how to do a goblet squat.” I have to spend a little bit of time talking them through how the actual exercise works.
I spent probably more time with my group clients than I should, but it’s a labor of love. When someone asks you a question, you do take the time to answer it.
They get that weekly call. They get a chance to ask me questions. They have my email address and the app, so they can message me anytime and I’m there for them.
If they want to track some habits like cutting back on sugar or making sure they’re drinking enough water, we can actually encode that into the app.
Each day they get an opportunity to check in and say, “Did you drink the water? Did you stay under your sugar goal?” Those questions can be put out to them each afternoon or evening for them to check in and say, “Yes. I had a good water day and I kept my sugar low.”
You keep them consistently doing something long enough, they build the habits. That’s really what this is all about.
Keeping track of his clients and building a great relationship
Kristy: Just so I understand how much time and effort is going into your group clients, they pay about $75 per month. You have the Q&A with the lesson every week, and then you have an open Q&A and possibly a second Q&A. Everything else sounds like it’s kind of self-automated through the app.
And, they’re tracking their habits. If it’s a situation where they start to not keep up with the habits, do you actually monitor that and then step in even though they’re just a group client?
Just so I can get an idea how much work it takes for you, it sounds like you have the lesson with the Q&A, then you have the open Q&A and possibly a second Q&A. When you track clients’ habits, do you have to track everybody’s habits so you step in in case they’re not?
Allan: Yeah. My basic approach is this. From a pricing perspective, I’ve basically allocated about an hour of my time per week per client.
My basic approach is this. From a pricing perspective, I’ve basically allocated about an hour of my time per week per client.
Just to kind of give you an idea of what I feel is sustainable for me to have a true group practice, I have to have an hour available for each and every one of them.
For some, I’m spending a little more than that, like the first week a new client comes on.
It’s a lot more than that because I’m really trying to get them to commit to change. I’m trying to get them to understand why they failed in the past and what we can do about not letting that happen again.
It’s really that internal dive that’s important. I spend a lot more with eight individual clients at the beginning, and then later on, the workouts are already out there. They’re already tied in.
If they are tracking, then basically all I’ve got to do is I log in about once every three or four days and I’ll just see, “How is Debbie and Jeff doing?” I’ll go through their profiles and see where they’ve checked in and what they’re doing.
If I start seeing a bunch of ‘nos’ that they didn’t comply, I’ll go ahead and send them an email and say, “Hey. I noticed that you’re checking no more times than not. What’s going on?”
If they’re not checking it at all, then I can say, “I see you’ve stopped checking in. What’s going on?” Sometimes they say they got sick, that something came up, or they just fell off.
That little little rib right there with just an email. It takes me 20 seconds to look at their profile and 20 seconds to send an email.
So, in less than a minute, I’m on their profile. I’m sending the email in the app so I don’t have to go anywhere else. I just click ‘send message’ and I can literally email them directly right there from their profile.
I can go through my clients really quickly. To kind of put this in context, I onboarded 216 clients for one challenge. They were all in the app and I was messaging them on a regular basis.
I was able to keep up with those clients for the month that we were doing this, and I was doing that same kind of structure about every three to four days. Then, I started firing clients that weren’t complying because they weren’t paying me.
By the end, I got down to where I was less than 50 clients. Most of them had complied and had gotten results.
At that point, the conversations were, “Wow! This is great! I’m getting results. I’m going to definitely keep this going on.” And, it’s like, “Well, how can I serve you going forward?”
Because we are coming towards the end of this thing, but I don’t want this to be the end. So, how can I serve you? Those were now, at this point, very individualized conversations, and I knew enough about them because we had been working together for 28 days. We felt like we were on a first name basis.
It wasn’t just some person on my computer. We had a couple conversations. At that point, it was a relationship.
It wasn’t just some person on my computer. We had a couple conversations. At that point, it was a relationship.
The best way to sell locally is almost a similar thing to online, but it’s a slightly different relationship. You’ve got to have that relationship. That’s how they become clients.
When they’re clients, now they know you. They know your email address. They know you as Coach Allan. They’re likely to ask you questions on a regular basis and most of these things are going to take you just a minute or two to respond to.
I always tell them, “If it’s going to take any more than a couple of minutes to write an email to you, it’s probably something for us to talk about on the next call.”
I’ll say, “If you can’t make the next call, at least listen to the replay because I’m going to answer your question in a lot more detail.”
For example, our next call is on Saturday. I’m going to want to make sure to answer your question completely and I’ll even have done a little bit more research on this just to make sure I’ve got the citations and know exactly the full picture.
How Alan motivated 50 clients at the same time in his 28-day fitness challenge
Kristy: It sounds like for your challenge, that great 200 prospects, 50 of them stayed on. They didn’t pay anything. Fortunately, you don’t have to pay anything in the app for the first 28 days. You basically gave them your full service as a group. You gave them that much attention to show them the full value.
For those 50 clients that complied after 28 days, do you give them that full service that you would give a regular group client?
Allan: In this particular challenge, I did. It was a different approach. Most of my challenges are just email-based. Let’s say we’re going to do a squat challenge. You’re going to get an email from me each day with your workout of the day. There’ll be a motivational quote, a tip, and then some form of write up.
Usually, it’s a story to give some information and to interact. Most of my challenges are just that.
Kristy: That sounds like a lot of work.
Allan: It is. I wouldn’t encourage people to do that much work. Do a couple free challenges, but just make them easy. Try a seven day challenge. Maybe it’s a seven day whole food challenge.
For seven days, nothing from a McCann bag, box, or jar. Make your own food. That means going to the grocery store and shopping in the produce and the meat counter. Get some eggs and maybe some butter. Just eat whole foods for seven days, and that’s your challenge.
Each day you’re sending them an email with a story or a quote. Just things that they’d have to get to know you better because that’s what this is really about. It’s getting them to know you and like you. Then, if the seven days they go through and get results, now you’re starting to build that trust.
You could keep doing these challenges. There’s going to be people that are just going to do every free challenge you put out there. They’re going to love every one of them. They’re going to just tell you how much they love you. Then, you say, “Hey! Here’s a paid challenge. It’s $7 for a 28 day program.”
Someone will just say no, and you’re like, “But, it’s $7.”
Then, they’re like, “Well, I don’t want to pay for a challenge.”
But, they wouldn’t pay you for the challenge. They really haven’t decided they need your service. You’re not solving their problem. You’re just fun. Your challenges are fun and they’re enjoying them.
So, don’t get too wrapped up in the, “I have to keep doing these.” Try different things.
I’m four years into this and I’m still trying different approaches. I’m still doing different little things here and there just to see how the market takes it. I ask people what they want. Everybody wants to lose weight. That’s their answer.
When I really try to dive down into why, I found out most of them don’t really want to lose weight. They want to get off of their diabetes medications or their knees hurt. The doctor told them if they lost some weight, their knees wouldn’t hurt as bad. They want to get rid of knee pain, but their initial thoughts are always going to be weight.
That’s 99% of the people that come to a personal trainer. That’s exactly what they’re asking for. We really kind of dive down with them a little bit, but you’re never gonna get that opportunity to dive down to them unless you connect with them.
That’s where the challenges, the podcast, and the book come in. All those things that I’m doing is really just to connect with as many people in my demo as I can and just have a conversation with them.
Focusing on retention by having meaning conversations with clients
Kristy: How long does an average group member or one-on-one client stay with you?
Allan: I have had clients since 2017 that are still with me. Most of them stick around. I don’t do a lot of churn because I’m really focused on retention. Even though I do the challenges, I do some other things here and there to bring in and meet new people.
I’m not a numbers person where I just want a whole lot of people. In fact, I went through my mail list earlier this year and deleted everyone that has not interacted with my emails in over six months. I’d cut my email list in half.
Most people would say, “Oh my God. That’s crazy. You had all those emails and you just deleted them.” I’m like, “Yeah, because they weren’t going to be a client and I was wasting time.” Not necessarily, but when you look at deliverable rates on my emails, it was like, “If they’re not going to open the email, then it’s not an open.”
That’s not really doing anybody any good. It’s just filling up an electronic mailbox somewhere, and it’s making my mail service thing that I’m sending irrelevant stuff.
Apparently, I was. Basically, if they don’t respond to my emails and are not engaged to opening and reading them, then I’m not going to spend a whole lot of time worrying about it.
I’d rather have a smaller email list. I’d rather have a smaller group. I would rather have a smaller clientele. When you get engaged clients, they’re successful.
That success feeds into other clients. Particularly, we get it on a group call. My one-on-one clients, they’re entitled to come on the group call too. That’s included in their deals.
It’s interesting to be having a conversation with them and they have been working with me long enough. They start actually being active participants in the call.
I might say, “Here’s the lesson. What do you think? You have any questions? Any comments?” A lot of times it’s my own members that will come through and respond and say, “Yeah, this is how it worked for me.”
Kristy: Nice. On average, how many paid members do you have on your app every month? What percentage is group and what percentage is one-on-one?
Allan: Right now, I’m a little low in the group and the whole thing because I have not really been doing any marketing. I stopped doing challenges. I did a workshop in January, but I haven’t really done any marketing there. I’m sitting somewhere around 15 total clients. Half of them are one-on-one. So, it’s not huge.
There are people out there that are making huge money. There are people out there that are charging thousands of dollars for their services for a 12-week thing.
I prefer to know every single one of my clients, even the group clients. I know their name, where they live, and what their issues are.
And, that’s great. I like that people can do that, but I prefer to know every single one of my clients, even the group clients. I know their name, where they live, and what their issues are.
30% of my clients are blind. I’m training people that would really struggle to get fit. One of them actually pays a personal trainer at our gym to do the physical training. They’re in a gym, but we have conversations.
She says, “I’m noticing this problem or that problem.”
I said, “Well, tell me what your trainer’s doing with you, and here’s the question to ask.” So, she can go to the trainer that’s there helping her load the machine, getting her on it, and do the work safely. Then, she can get home.
When she’s asking questions, I’m like, “Here’s what I would ask the trainer or what I would say. You might want to ask your trainer if you can do this and that.”
She was like, “I’m doing the workouts, but I don’t feel like I’m going anywhere.”
And, I’m like, “Well, are you increasing the load? Are you adding resistance to actually get stronger?”
She says, “No, we’re using the same weights.”
I said, “Okay. Well, just tell your personal trainer that you want to get a little stronger. Can you start going up on some of the weights where it actually makes sense for you to be under load?”
I can have those conversations with the client in just a few emails and it doesn’t take a ton of my time. She’s getting huge value out of that because I understand what she needs, and I understand her. I know her name and where she’s from. She’s on the group calls and we’re talking on a regular basis.
You build those relationships and I’m much more into that, which is going to be the retention side. Then, the churn. Bringing in hundreds of people that just churn out. I’ll do a challenge. That’s really to build up my email list a little bit. That’s to build up my Facebook group and kind of get that going.
You need new blood in there all the time anyway, but you don’t have to blow this out. You don’t have to think, “I’ve got to be six figures or I’m not making it.”
The cool thing about online is that you can scale. Once you have a model, really take the time. I still feel four years into this that I’m still working on my model and I’m enjoying the heck out of what I’m doing.
I have this freedom to live where I want to live. I was able to buy the gym doing that. I have the online, and they don’t conflict with each other. They actually mesh really well together because I can take things I’m learning from my clients in real life stories and I can share them.
Kristy: I completely understand. We covered the three big components of your business, so I can kind of just do a wrap up. Unless there’s anything specifically else you wanted to share.
Allan: I think the only other thing I’d put in out there is I’m keeping it simple. I’m trying to not have too many things out there at any given time. So, it’s group and one-on-one training.
I’m very selective about who goes into my one-on-one training. It’s an application base.
For my group clients, if they want to get in a one-on-one call, I sell them individual sessions. In a group, they can buy a block of three. So, if they want to get on calls, they have a means of doing that as an add-on to being a group client.
Now, I won’t do the programming, the movement assessment, or the video stuff, but if they just want to get on the phone and talk about some things, that’s there.
That’s from a simple model. It’s just those things: the group, the one-on-one, and then the ability for them to connect with me deeper if they want to. Just keeping it simple means my model’s very easy to manage.
Kristy: I didn’t know you did the add-ons. How much does it cost for the add-on calls?
Allan: It depends on whether they buy a group or not, but I basically charge $40 for a half hour.
Kristy: Nice. Wow. Well, Alan, you’ve done so much. I’m so impressed by your book. You’ve carved out a life that works for you. You’re living in Panama. You have your own gym now. You have a podcast and an app. Thank you for sharing all of your knowledge.
If somebody listening wants to reach out to you or find your posts, how can they do that?
Kristy: It was really great talking to you today.
Allan: Thank you, Kristy.
Kristy: Great. Thank you.