February 15, 2020
Sean Garner’s interest in fitness started as he was preparing to become a firefighter. That led to a passion in helping others and he decided to start his first gym. Since those early days, Garner has owned three different fitness facilities, has worked as a personal trainer and also has managed a multi-million dollar per year training facility in Miami, FL. A true Renaissance Man, Garner has also created DVDs, multiple digital fitness products and has been named one of the Top Trainers in the World by Men’s Health magazine. Recently, after seeing what the online space can provide fitness professionals and clients, he founded EntreFit, where he guides fit pros and gym owners to create or scale online offerings as a component of their business. FIBO Focus caught up with Garner to get his insight into the fitness business. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; https://www.linkedin.com/in/seanagarner/
FIBO Focus: What was your journey like to your current position in the fitness business?
Sean Garner: It’s been a long, winding journey to say the least. I can honestly say that I’ve worked in almost every aspect of the industry — as a gym owner of garage-style gyms and at a strength and conditioning facility; as a strength and conditioning coach for a hockey club associated with the NHL; as a personal trainer; and as general manager of a luxury fitness brand.
That’s impressive enough. But I hear there’s even more.
Yes, I’ve also worked with Men’s Health magazine to create DVDs and digital products. I started and scaled my own online fitness programs and built influential relationships with several big brands.
That sounds exhausting.
The bottom line is that I’ve been exposed to several areas in the industry and have worked my tail off. Like many fit pros I’ve sacrificed family time and my personal life — missing big moments, working myself into exhaustion. Being told that ‘This is just how the fitness industry is’ led to me looking for a better way.
And what is that better way?
Growing online fitness businesses over the last few years has opened the doors for new and, I believe, better ways to serve clients on their health and fitness journey. I now serve as director of development for a major fitness app and continue to consult with brands. Most of my time is now spent helping gyms and trainers start and scale digital sources of revenue through my coaching and marketing agency, EntreFit.
So what is the focus of your business now?
EntreFit’s focus is on helping trainers and gym owners grow and scale their online businesses. There are many quality trainers who have spent their careers focused on becoming excellent at their craft, but that’s left them behind in the world of marketing and business. The industry is changing and we are living and working in the digital fitness boom. So we help trainers and gyms create, market and grow their online fitness businesses so they can impact more people while creating time flexibility and financial freedom.
What inspires and motivates you now and how has that changed over the years?
Eleven years ago, when I got into fitness, online components of fitness were non-existent. People had websites, but you didn’t see gym owners or trainers having online programs or products for purchase. But now the doors are wide open and it comes with the good and the bad.
Good and bad? How’s that?
There are many online trainers with no real fitness training experience. Unfortunately, they are often beating out fitness professionals with real experience who are actually experts in their fields. I’m passionate about changing that and magnifying the good in fitness. There are millions of people who need what we, the quality professionals, have to offer. And it’s my passion to help fitness professionals grow an online business to serve people better while improving their quality of life in both time and finances.
This sounds personal to you?
Unfortunately, there are many quality trainers – just like I was – that are on the verge of burnout, working a ton of hours and not making the money they deserve. There’s a better way in online fitness and I’m excited to help them discover and excel in this new sector of fitness.
What is your health and fitness philosophy and how do you translate that to your clients?
My health and fitness philosophy is to focus on the small daily habits that add up to the big impact. Just like we teach clients that it’s not the occasional cheat meal that creates obesity, but the daily choices they make that determine the outcome of their health and fitness effort.
And how does that translate to your business?
It’s the same thing in the fitness business. It’s the daily improvements and things we do for our business that can leave you in a much better position over the months and years to come. We often overestimate what we can do in the short term and underestimate what we can do in the long term.
How has technology impacted you and your clients’ way of doing business?
It’s everything. Tech has allowed for the online sector of fitness to exist. Often I teach fit pros to not make the tech side too complicated when they first start out. The main things in getting clients and providing a great customer service experience in the gym are still the same or similar in the online space. But tech can make online fitness scalable in a greater way.
What role do you see in-home exercise playing in the future and how is this trend co-existing with traditional health clubs and gyms?
People are getting busier and so many services are being provided on-demand. Many people are looking for convenience in everything, even in their fitness and health services. That’s where in-home exercise is gaining traction.
How does that work?
Clients’ schedules are getting more full and trends in tech and in-home fitness are suggesting that clients want options. They love the experience and communities gyms can provide, but want the option of workouts they can do on the road or at home or coaching they can receive 24/7. This is where gyms can expand by offering fusion (in-person and at-home) programs to existing clients as well as offering online offerings for people who love and follow the brand but live outside the gym’s area.
Switching gears a bit, how would you characterize the state of the fitness business? What are its strengths and weaknesses?
The fitness industry in the United States is relatively young and exciting. There are huge possibilities in the near future, with a wide variety of ways people can diversify their revenue streams and impact more people. However, there are very few innovators. Now so many gyms are adding boutique or group class fitness. I’m concerned that many are jumping into the trends too late and will fall behind or end up closing shop, even exiting the industry. We all have to work to stay current and be creative in how we can best help our target clients. We are in a service industry — how can we best serve and add value to people so they can improve their health and fitness and do it in a way that’s fun, sustainable and impactful?
What role do you see FIBO USA playing in the U.S. fitness business?
FIBO USA provides a place for industry leaders and influencers to unite and learn from one another. One of the things I love most about FIBO USA and the conference is that there’s something for everyone in the industry — the trainer, gym owner, fitness enthusiasts, tech, health and equipment brands. All the aspects of the industry are coming together under one banner. When we are united we can innovate and make things better for both people working in the industry and the clients that need our help.
So what one piece of advice would you give to the typical club owner or trainer on how to be better – and make more money – in the fitness business?
Stop thinking about yourself and your brand and think more about your customer. If you truly wake up each day and ask yourself ‘How can I better understand and serve the people that I am called to?,’ you will never run out of clients. When you serve, you get results that more people are attracted to.
Finally, in what direction do you see yourself in particular and the fitness business in general headed in 2020 and beyond?’
I’m pumped at what’s ahead. This is the best time to be in fitness. I want to continue to grow and expand my company EntreFit to help more trainers and gyms reach more clients with innovation, creativity and customer experience in the digital space. As tech and AI expand in the fitness space there are more ways consumers can become disconnected to human interaction, which will also create more desire for this one-on-one connection. Brands, gyms and personal trainers need to be thinking about how they can be a part of both — how can they utilize tech to create convenience, but also provide that personal connection that elicits results and loyalty.
SEAN GETS SOCIAL
How important is social media to your brand and how you connect to people?
It’s vital. I don’t see how a business could really survive and thrive without it. Approximately 45 percent of the world is on social media. And the average person spends almost 2.5 hours a day on social media — that’s way more time than most people spend at a gym.
So what does that mean for gyms?
You’ve got to go meet your ideal customer where they are — on social media. If you’re not putting out value-added content to your target clients then your brand is dying, if not already dead.
Is that all there is to it?
Don’t hide behind social media. People are bombarded with advertisements all day long. Go deep with your marketing efforts and not just wide. In 2020 we will see brands succeed by pushing people to more one-on-one conversations such as through chat or DM services like ManyChat or text message services. People crave this one-on-one attention and connection. Direct response marketing is an incredible and exciting way to do that.