If You're Only Focusing On Your Members, You’re Doing It Wrong


In my discussions with CrossFit affiliate owners, regardless of their business model or geographical location, there is a common theme we always spend a decent amount of time on: retention.

Typically, this conversation is led by the gym owner explaining the systems and procedures put in place to make sure their members are receiving the best service possible. There’s talk of the quality control calls they make at scheduled times during the lifecycle of their clients. They walk me through the goal setting meetings they host for their members and all the community events they organize to keep the “stickiness” level high and their culture vibrant.

And while that’s all good - and absolutely required in our industry by current standards - in my opinion…it’s not client retention that is crippling most gyms. It’s employee retention.  


Members will come and go. Most will stay (if you’re half-way decent) and some will fall through the cracks or opt into a different type of fitness routine somewhere else. It’s guaranteed to happen to some degree.

We invest in marketing efforts to bring new blood into the business. You have systems and on-boarding procedures to ensure they are properly introduced to your fitness program. There are cancellation notices and exit interviews when they do end their time at our gyms.

But what have you done - to that degree of sophistication - for your employees?

  • Are you constantly advertising open positions to create a steady drip of potential recruits? (...Because you never need a new coach until you NEED a new coach)
  • Are you having periodic, personal meetings with your staff to evaluate their level of satisfaction with working in your company?  
  • Are you providing development resources to make them better?  
  • When it comes time for them to leave your organization, is it done with pride because you played a role in their professional journey or contempt because now you’re short-handed?

Members will come and go. There is no shortage on the demand side of this equation. Where there is a gaping void lies within the available pool of quality individuals to provide this service.

Hundreds of newly-minted coaches are getting their L1 this weekend in your state. But how many of them will mesh with your company’s ethos and your personality? How many will buy into the vision you’re pursuing?


Clients are easy to find. Great employees…not so much.

So rethink your retention strategy and start focusing on each - client and employee. Because our businesses need both.

For more information on hiring and and developing your staff, check out my video here.

For more information on full-time vs. part-time coaches, check out my video here.

About The Author

Stu is a 15 year student of strength & conditioning and was fortunate to find CrossFit in 2006. Since then he's dedicated his life to building a fitness business simply based on the pursuit of excellence. From humble beginnings making 3 figures running workouts in a park to building a million dollar gym, he's now ventured into business consulting for gym owners looking to chase their dream. You can find his content on FB and IG @wtfgymtalk.