#048: Meet Gym Growth Specialist Tyler Sullivan – AMA!

#048: Meet Gym Growth Specialist Tyler Sullivan – AMA!

Is your gym doing… alright? Maybe you’re even doing a pretty good job? If you’re way past gym business 101, but are still looking for some advice that’ll help you get to the next level of success, this Friday’s Gymwright LIVE is for you.

For this episode of Gymwright LIVE, we interview Gym Growth Specialist and veteran box owner Tyler Sullivan for PT2 of our AMA (ask me anything) interview series.

Tyler specializes in helping gyms go from good to great and hit their maximum potential. His remarkable business acumen, creativity and true passion for the privately owned box has helped many of his coaching clients achieve their BEST MONTHS EVER.

Join us every Friday at 10 a.m. PT on The Network where we’ll be airing live. Be sure to stick around for the live Q&A session at the end of the show so we can answer any questions you have.

This show was recorded live in The Network on Friday, Sept 7, 2018. Click the video to watch. 

Just a few of the questions we’ll be asking him for his AMA include:

2:00 What’s Tyler’s story?

Coach Tyler started training athletes in 2006 and opened his gym Badger CrossFit in 2011. He has a classic indoctrination story into owning a gym. Just as he was getting bored with his current training routine, Tyler found functional fitness and discovered the fun and the effective results he thought he had lost. He knew he wanted to share it with the world and owning a gym would be the platform he could use to help people change their lives.

Tyler now has 400+ members at his box. Wow! He owners one of the very few gyms that have grown to a massive membership size with a great community aspect that’s running strong.

badger crossfit 

Image Credit: Badger CrossFit

7:00 This is typically a tough time of year for many gyms because of back to school time, what have you been doing to keep things trending in a positive direction while most gym owners are scrambling to survive during this challenging season?

Tyler finds that their efforts from the 2-3 months prior will start to show positive/negative results around this time. Which means if you do nothing, you will see the negative effects of the slow back-to-school season. But if you can get ahead of these issues months in advance, you can focus on social events and value adds to proactively anticipate this slow time of year.

badger crossfit

 Image Credit: Badger CrossFit

8:00 How do you keep from losing members to other gyms who do things cheaper or similar?

It’s a big marketplace and we’re all trying to do great things with people. The core theme Tyler’s gym focuses on is the community. They strive to have the best workshops, educational opportunities, social events, and impactful small gestures to show that their members are part of your family. He says, “the one thing that never goes out of style is showing that you care.”

Tyler’s wife sends meal trains to members who are new parents so they don’t have to think about meals for the first few weeks. Now that’s thoughtful. They send hand written cards to new members, they take their coaches out to dinner individually, they go to coffee with members who are struggling with issues – there’s no trick to it… they just create real relationships.

There will always be people who are cheaper than you, but no one can sell short a great relationship. He also mentions that if you’re worried about growing too fast, a good gauge is if you or your coaches know every members’ name and background. If there are a few people slipping through the cracks, it’s time to reel it in and focus on getting to know your people.


 Image Credit: Badger CrossFit

14:00 How do you handle member retention challenges during the long winter months?

There’s no arguing it’s a struggle to keep people motivated during the harsh winter months. The motivation has to come from within, but the coaches can do something to give their members a hand. They can create engagement before the problem happens, so they prepare to do more in-class community builders before winter strikes. As you can see, Tyler’s gym is all about tackling issues before they happen.

They strive to get their members laughing and having a good time – even more than usual and more immediately than usual. Fun-factor and fitness cycles/challenges become priorities. Taking their attention away from the regular routine and putting them in a cycle gives your members a longer term vision which can get them happily through the cold, dark, and wet season.

Another thing Tyler’s team likes to do is embrace the winter so they take their members sledding, skiing, and tailgating during football season.


Image Credit: Badger CrossFit

18:00 How do you help gyms professionally grow without losing their family-like, close-knit culture?

Growth isn’t actually a good thing if there are issues with the gym’s systems. In fact growth when you’re flailing can cause huge problems. Tyler works to create systems within his clients’ retention processes that inject authentic care from the gym. He also works on building loyalty with special and powerful member moments like PRs or consistency streaks. He focuses on creating systems that are scalable so his clients can grow with a close-knit family-like culture.


Image Credit: Badger CrossFit

22:00 What’s your favorite thing to teach your coaching clients about growing a better more profitable box?

Creating focused efforts for the gym owner is one of Tyler’s favorite aspects of business coaching. Tyler loves guiding his clients through their purpose discovery process to ensure that what they’re doing is what they want to do. He enjoys understanding their strengths and weaknesses, finding out what they should be doing more or less of, and getting them on a solid path towards having their dream business – and dream job within that business.

He also loves optimizing the sales and retention processes – from new lead phone call to 90 days of membership. When you’re standing at the front line of your business and you have complete control over how people perceive your business, nothing feels better! You’re, in many cases, changing a person’s perspective on health and fitness which is no small thing. You can take yourself out of the fear mindset and create the systems to really connect with people.

badger crossfit 

Image Credit: Badger CrossFit

25:00 How did you get people to come to your new gym when you first opened?

Functional fitness wasn’t very well known in 2011 which had it’s pros and cons. Obviously, because there was no competition in town, they had the market share which was great. But Tyler also had to hash out a ton of education about what this style of training was all about. In the beginning, he was very guerilla which was just the way it had to be back then. There wasn’t any option for good online advertising so he had to get down and dirty. They had public workouts, handed out fliers and business cards at local businesses, tagged every person on Facebook that entered into their gym… he just did it all. He also did free personal training so he could showcase their results on his website.

badger crossfit

 Image Credit: Badger CrossFit

30:00 If you could give one piece of advice to a gym owner, what would it be?

Be firm in the foundational principles of your gym: your mission, vision and values. Make decisions for your business, culture, and family based on those. It’s being true to who you are that’s the secret to being balanced and happy in the business world. When you lose sight of your foundational principles, that’s when you start to question why you’re doing what you’re doing.

If you’d like to work directly with Tyler to grow your gym, sign up for a free discovery session to see if the *BETA 2.0* Foundations Program is right for you. We only take 20 gym owners per class so if you’re interested, sign up now. 

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Jessica Depatie About the author

Jessica is the marketing maven here at Gymwright. She's a business consultant and holistic marketer for fitness businesses. She specializes in the decision-making psychology of what makes everyday people want to optimize themselves. She dives deep into how people seek out growth in the pursuit of living happier and healthier.

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