3 Destructive Myths That Boutique Fitness Studio Owners Believe


If you’re starting over with a fitness business or launching a new one, this article is for you. 

Nobody likes being told what to do, especially in the fitness world, but when we don’t want advice is usually when we need it the most. For years I’ve had a front-row seat watching studio owners close their doors because soundproofing was not a priority, and I’ve seen health club operators lose millions trying to launch a boutique fitness concept.

We learn quickly from our mistakes in the areas that matter the least: board games, sports, direct messaging, and email blunders. There are certain mistakes we only make once and vow to never repeat. But, unfortunately, we often replicate errors in the areas that matter the most: business, finances, and relationships.  

Myths that boutique fitness studio owners believe

This isn’t rocket science, but I’m surfacing three assumptions you already know.

The Experience Myth

Success is intoxicating, and experience in one business does not mean you’re experienced in others. Having expertise in one area does not make you an expert in all areas.

Extraordinarily successful fitness owners invite smarter people into the room. Those who need the least advice will seek advice and appreciate the value of outside consulting. They are always learners in learning mode. They are curious and listen. Fitness experts who “know everything” will push the smart, mature, talented, people away and then wonder why their doors closed.

An MBA sitting on a corporate board may not have the grassroots marketing skills needed to fill classes or recruit talented staff, and a popular instructor with thousands of followers may not have the necessary mindset to manage the architecture, design, and build-out.

Experience can make you older, poorer, lonelier, and very tired — but experience alone does not make you wiser.

Observation: When you don’t want advice is when you need it the most.

The Time Myth

Time is your friend and not your enemy. Tapping the brakes instead of hitting the accelerator will bring clarity if you find yourself worrying that since the clock is ticking, you should hurry up and sign a lease, use an online contest for a logo, and open the doors before your competitor.

Rushing leads to copycat ideas, design, and language. In the radically new business book, ReWork, author Jason Fried said, “…if you’re a copycat, you can never keep up. You’re always in a passive position. You never lead, you always follow. You give birth to something that’s already behind the times – just a knockoff, an inferior version of the original, and that’s no way to live.

Successful startups use the gift of time to develop their “religion” or core beliefs. Hiring people who believe what you believe will eliminate contradiction and confusion, but many refuse to spend time thinking, observing, and learning. Reflecting on the words your brand will never say is important, along with avoiding words used by your competitors to describe how unique you are. Developing your brand identity, and writing customer service policies, training manuals, original website copy, and job descriptions takes time.

Setbacks are gifts, and using time wisely will allow you to move with a sense of destiny, learn what you don’t know, and work relentlessly with an abiding sense of humility to see a bigger vision than you ever imagined.

Observation: Time allows you to hear things you would otherwise miss in the rush to open.

The “If You Build It, They Will Come” Myth

While this romantic notion worked in the movie Field of Dreams, believing that people will line up to buy memberships after your grand opening shindig is a regrettable but preventable assumption.

You are not building a fitness business for yourself. You may be a user of it, but you are not your market. 

Corporate and franchise tactics often follow the “Rule of 7” which states that people must see or hear your message at least seven times before they will buy anything from you. Annoying methods (such as promotional advertising, broadcast, and print) rarely tell stories that create an emotional connection and add more clutter to busy brains.

Independent owners are masterminds of grassroots marketing and rely on early adopters, influencers, social media campaigns, pop-ups, and word of mouth. They believe in being an integral part of community enrichment and supporting local charities. “Do good, feel good” is their mantra, and loyal members are connected through the power of positivity.

Value and price are two different things, and the overall experience should be worth more than the price of a class, or they won’t come back — not even for free. Talented coaches and instructors are the heart and soul of every fitness business, yet they are often overlooked and underpaid by owners who have never taught a class. Eventually, they leave to become your competitor and know your strengths and weaknesses.

Observation: Become a living, breathing, walking testimony of your brand both inside the studio and outside the walls – and they will come.

Do you have a myth of your own to share? Are you curious to learn how we launch successful wellness and fitness facilities worldwide? Drop us a note. You’ll be glad you did.