The 3 Layers of Support Every Fitness Business Owner Needs

by | Jun 3, 2023 | Business Owners Journey, Coaches Corner, Fitness Business Owner, Leadership | 1 comment

(Last Updated On: March 14, 2024)


In the challenging world of business, having a strong support system isn’t just a luxury—it’s a necessity. As a gym owner, you’re not just the local ‘fitness person’; you’re a business owner navigating a complex landscape of opportunities and obstacles. It’s an exciting and stressful journey, and it’s not one that you have to travel alone.  A lot of times the difference between success and failure hinges on the strength of your support system.

Imagine trying to climb a mountain alone, without a guide, without a team, and without the right tools. You’ll figure some things out, and you might make some progress. But the journey will be difficult and there’s a high risk of falling or getting lost.  Every directional decision, every obstacle, every situation where it seems like you’re in over your head – you’d be left to figure it all out on your own.  

Now picture the same journey, but this time, you have an experienced guide (a business coach), a team of fellow climbers (a peer network), and the best climbing gear (peer group coaching). The journey remains challenging – you’re climbing a mountain after all.  But with this support system, you’re far more likely to reach the summit.  For each of those same decisions, obstacles, and situations you’d have resources there to advise, guide, and support you.  

That’s the importance of having a strong support system in place as you grow your fitness business. It’s the difference between feeling isolated, overwhelmed, and directionless, and feeling empowered, supported, and focused. 

Our philosophy is that there are 3 Layers of Support that every fitness business owner needs, each with certain criteria: 

  • Layer 1 is the ‘Coach’.  It’s the trusted 1-on-1 expert, in your corner, committed to your best interests.
  • Layer 2 is the ‘Network’.  It’s the larger community of people who have some things in common with you.  
  • Layer 3 is the ‘Peer Group’.  The more intimate subset of the Network.  This is a smaller group of people, but who are much more like you than the rest of the network.  

The order of these layers of support is not arbitrary; it’s strategic. Each layer builds upon the previous one, creating a comprehensive support system that addresses different aspects of your journey as a business owner.

Here is an overview of the 3 layers of support every fitness business owner needs to not just survive, but thrive in their entrepreneurial journey.


Layer 1: The Fitness Business Coach – Building the Foundation

Everyone needs a coach. The coach comes first because they lay the foundation. Before you can effectively network or benefit from a peer group, you need to have a clear understanding of yourself, your goals, and your fitness business strategy. A fitness business owner also needs to have a high sense of agency.  This helps you remain as your own compass and maintain your own direction, rather than succumb to the inevitable distractions that you encounter along your journey. A Fitness Business Coach helps you build this understanding, teaching you how to think strategically and hold yourself accountable.

The coach-client relationship is also the most personalized form of support. Your coach should know you and your business well, providing tailored advice and guidance and being committed to your best interests.  

This personalized support should ideally begin as soon as you start your Fitness Business Owner’s Journey. However, it can start at any stage and is likely something you’ll need continuously – as long as the personalized support is capable of evolving along with you. 

With the right habits, the coach-client relationship can function with minimal effort, and reaching this high-functioning level is often one of the most valued periods for the client.  


Layer 2: The Gym Owner Network – Expanding Your Horizons

The second layer of support is accessing the network. Joining a community of fitness professionals isn’t just about expanding your network; it’s about broadening your perspective and learning from others’ experiences.  You need to be building relationships with people like you who are also on this journey so that you can see the infinite forms that one’s business path and its challenges can take. 

Another benefit is the motivation and support you’ll receive. Whether it’s a pat on the back, a helping hand when you stumble, or a quick answer to a non-critical question, this network of fitness business owners can be invaluable. 

This layer should ideally begin early in the coaching process. However, it can’t substitute for the third layer because it lacks the depth of understanding your business needs.  Think of the Network as your high-volume, lower depth relationships, while the Peer Group would be lower volume, higher depth relationships.  

It is important to be aware that networking groups such as BNI, while valuable as a marketing avenue, are NOT the type of communities or peer groups that make up the 3 layers.  The communities and peer groups that make up the 3 layers are for the clear purpose of helping you learn how to run your business and grow as a business leader.  


Layer 3: Fitness Business Peer Group – Deepening Your Understanding

The third layer of support is peer group coaching. This layer is designed to curate a subset of stronger, more meaningful connections within your network.  The goal is to amplify the mutual benefit by creating a deeper understanding of you and your business.

Your peer group acts as your informal ‘Board of Advisors’.  They should be providing feedback and insights that only come from a deep understanding of your business.  They should be able to talk to you from a perspective and in ways that other people won’t. 

Ideally, the group members also share some similar business functions or capabilities which they could leverage for maximum speed and value.  Fitness business operating systems, for example. 

The difference in a high functioning peer group and a ‘mastermind’ is typically the level of facilitation.  While most ‘masterminds’ tend to use a version of the ‘let’s show up and talk about stuff’ format, a high functioning peer group requires skilled facilitation.  The facilitation should be designed to balance between staying focused on what’s most important (to the members individually and the group collectively), and creating space to open up the creative juices, knowing when the time is right for each. 

A high functioning peer group should also provide increased exposure to the best practices of the higher individual performers, so you can see first hand ‘how the best are doing it’.

It’s important for all entrepreneurs to be surrounded by a group of people with similar values and aspirations. This group isn’t a catchall; similarities and differences have to be taken into consideration, and there has to be experienced and strategic leadership for a group to truly become high performing and elevate each individual’s growth and performance.

This layer of support is most effective once you have a solid foundation (from your coach) and a broad perspective of what the various businesses in your industry look like (from your network).  


The Power of The Three Layers

As a gym owner looking to grow your business, these three layers of support – a fitness business coach, a network of gym owners, and a fitness business peer group – are not just nice to have; they’re essential. They’re the guide, the map, and the board of advisors that will help you navigate your journey, overcome challenges, and seize opportunities.

Without these layers of support, you’re a lone climber on a mountain. With them, you’re part of a team, equipped with the tools, the knowledge, and the support you need to reach the summit. Remember, you’re not just a fitness enthusiast; you’re a fitness business owner, and these layers of support are there to propel you toward success.


Want to learn more about the first Layer of Support – the coach? You can talk directly to a Success Coach and find out exactly how they can guide you on your journey by scheduling a Strategy Session.

Author: Nick Berry

Nick Berry is an accomplished entrepreneur, CEO, mentor, and author, with a track record which includes founding and leading numerous companies to success since his first venture in 2002. Nick Berry is the Founder and CEO of Fitness Revolution.

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