Gym Owner Shifts to Online Weight Training (and Thrives)

Perhaps no industry has been disrupted from the net than schooling. Online training is booming — from 1-hour classes to college degrees. Require Barbell Logic, for instance. It gives one-on-one conditioning and strength coaching, entirely web-based.

Matt Reynolds founded the business in 2016. He explained the educational process to me, saying,”Our customers video themselves doing weight moves and lifts. We break down those over 24 hours and then post our investigation and improvements. It is all through an app.”

Let’s see our product:

Fast forward to 2020, and Barbell Logic has 1,000 clients and a burgeoning Academy program, which trains prospective coaches. He and I recently talked about the company, attracting coaches, and acquiring customers, among other topics.

Our whole audio dialog is embedded below, followed by a transcript that’s been edited for clarity and length.

Eric Bandholz: Tell us about yourself and your organization.

Matt Reynolds: I was a gym owner from 2008 to 2015. I began training online in January 2016. The business is Barbell Logic. We’ve got a team of approximately 80 expert strength coaches for individual training. Our customers video themselves doing weight moves and lifts. We break down those over 24 hours and then post our investigation and improvements. It is all through an app.

In addition, we have an Academy where we instruct up-and-coming barbell coaches. The business is going well. We have got roughly 1,000 customers. We love what we do.

Bandholz: Every trainer is a little different. How can you maintain consistent standards?

Reynolds: I am really particular about systems, the normal operating procedures. We list our criteria for coaches.

We employ the best coaches and allow them to coach as long as they follow the basic criteria, including providing feedback within one day, keeping it simple, and do not suggest tactics that will get customers hurt. We stick with the basic lifts, such as the squat, the deadlift, and the bench press — also fundamental conditioning such as walking or rowing an Echo Bike or things like this. Ninety percent of our instruction is in that wheelhouse. The additional 10 percentage is flexible.

Bandholz: Your company creates a good deal of content.

Reynolds: Yes. Our content is a completely free value-add for customers and prospects. We put everything we know about fitness, strength and conditioning, and nutrition. It is all expert quality — and free.

Our YouTube channel has brief, high-impact videos. Our podcast, which can be known as Barbell Logic, is approaching its 400th episode. And we have an unbelievable selection of articles on the website. We’ve got a excellent editor-in-chief who writes a lot .

We want to be the place to help people learn how to squat or eat or exercise.

Bandholz: how can you acquire clients?

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Reynolds: We get referrals than from trainers and present clients. We’ve got relationships with notable folks in the area, such as Brett McKay in The Art of Manliness, who send customers our way.

Beyond that, we have got a full-scale marketing group, such as a chief marketing officer and graphic designers. We market on Facebook and Instagram. We have used Google and YouTube, but our return on investment isn’t quite as great there.

In addition, we emphasize organic search. We rank near the top for key words like”strength training” and similar.

We also publish a good deal of ebooks. And they are not pure advertisements for our firm. We attempt to provide genuinely useful info.

Our primary purpose is to increase our customers’ quality of life. That assignment skews to an older demographic — from the late 30s to approximately 60.

For the most part, they are settled in life. They are not flighty. They do not get tired of strength training after six months and change into Hot yoga or CrossFit. They tend to remain. They are financially secure and can pay for a premium product.

We are among the more expensive online coaching businesses. It’s due to the high-touch service that you get. We pay our coaches well, incidentally.

Bandholz: Speaking of coaches, tell us about your Academy program.

Reynolds: It is our method of training future coaches, much like a curriculum. It is entirely online. The cost is $79 a month for 12 months, or $849 upfront for the whole year. That is for the Basics Course, which covers all of the basics to be a trainer. Then there is a tier of Master Courses on anatomy, kinesiology, biomechanics, programming, and the business of coaching. These are deeper dives.

Bandholz: It seems like a ton of investment, the Academy.

Reynolds: Yes, it is. We are on the next version of the program. It is 26 modules, like chapter lessons. But again, we have a fantastic staff.

We’ve expanded into the B2B markets — corporate, military, and government. I am scared that the government’s likely to approach us and say,”We have 2,500 soldiers we want you to train.” And my answer is,”I can not do it because we do not have the people.”

To put it in perspective, the most recent Academy program has been a fulltime job for three people for the previous year with no return on investment before it is ready to go. But imagine if we will need to close a large corporate or government contract and we can not because we do not have the coaches.

So the Academy is most likely the main thing we’re doing at the moment. It gives the greatest repository of specialist strength coaches in the world, which can be critical from a sales standpoint.

Bandholz: You had some spouse problems, a lawsuit.

Reynolds: I did online coaching for the first year after selling the gym. It was not known as Barbell Logic at the moment. I paid my mentor for a permit to use his name. It went well for many years. But our company started growing faster than he anticipated. Finally, his firm filed a lawsuit for trademark infringement. Then they pulled our permit. This was June 2019. The litigation ended in June of this year. I am happy that it is over.

It was the most stressful thing I’ve ever gone through. It wasn’t great for us financially. We lost clients. But when we got through it, there was this enormous relief. We’re free as a brand and a business. 2020 has been very great for us.

Bandholz: How do people follow you and reach out?

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