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  • Writer's pictureMichael Richards

My top 5 best moves as a private facility owner.

Updated: Aug 24, 2019

The top 5 best moves I’ve made as a private facility coach/owner

Michael Richards

ISSA Certified Strength Coach

Owner Elite Athletic Performance LLC

18 years of experience training athletes


Published Author:

Your Student Athlete; Should Do, Must Do, and Don’t

1) I stopped being such a grumpy strength coach.

Yes, this was in my last blog “Top 5 mistakes I’ve made as a coach and facility owner” but this needs repeating. A lot.

You can’t compromise who you are or what you know is the correct way to build athletes. But there are things you can give a little on. Let’s face it, the things that kids need most are boring. You do not have to change that. Yes, speed ladders are pretty stupid once the kids are older than like, what, 11?

Yet every parent is going to ask for “Speed and Agility”. Instead of “educating” everyone on how dumb they are(that’s only gonna make them see you as a jackass and they’re going to leave anyway) add 15 minutes of “Speed and Agility” following dynamic warmup. You and I know it’s basically just an extended warmup and we won’t hide that fact if someone were to ask. But on the outside looking in, the CUSTOMER, you know that person you must have in order to stay in business, felt they were heard, and you got an athlete that was nice and primed for the important portion of their session in the weight room.

2) I embraced the fact that I’m not their sport (school) coach

Bottom line(s)

A) If they think you’re a d**k, they aren’t staying. That’s a VERY tough business model.

B) You need to get your head wrapped around the fact that these kids are paying your salary. Your job is to develop them as athletes and lead BY EXAMPLE. Not treat them like frat pledges.

I’m sorry but the private facility owner that does “punishments” for simple kid stuff just comes off as the coach equivalent of the cop that got picked on in HS or that couldn’t get a job as a real coach.

Chill out

Professionals in the free market pull kids aside and let them know if a particular behavior needs to stop. If it doesn’t, you remove them from your program. You only get these athletes like 4 hours per week anyway. Whatever good you engrain in them is going to get undone by whoever they’re learning it from at home.

3) I utilized the fact that I’m kind of a child stuck in an adult’s body.

This one comes very natural for me.

I let our kids drop the weights, we listen to rap (edited versions). I DESPISE being called “Sir”.

Everywhere they go, day in, day out, from the minute they open their eyes, to the time they go to sleep, they have an adult telling them what they did wrong or what they better do next.......except at EAP. I tell them frequently, I will never treat you like a subordinate UNLESS you show me that I have no choice but to treat you like one.

4) I started offering A LOT of times to train for a flat monthly fee.

Of course we all want to train elite athletes and all that. But if you want to keep the doors open in the meantime, you need to have a gaggle of 10-14 year olds coming in. This sounds elementary but you need to remember they can’t drive. You also need to remember, their “Uber Driver” is also shuttling around siblings to their stuff.

By offering limited windows in which their kid is able to train (aka get benefit from the money mom/dad spent) you have now become an added stressor to people’s already chaotic schedule, you won’t remain in their budget long like that.

Honestly, this was one of the things that helped us turn the corner.

Because it helped the customer see a ton of value for what they’re spending their money on. Other places you basically paid $125 per month and you could come train for three- 60 minute classes per week.

We offered unlimited access to up to nine-60 minute classes per week and you had different time options. i didn’t make people commit to a certain time because I didn’t want to be an extra burden on their schedule. One very solid thing I’ve learned is if you give people options, they are way less likely to cut you from the budget.

Yes, results are king. But you have to keep them coming in long enough to get those results.

So when EAP really started doing well we were offering


4pm Strength

5pm Speed and Agility

6pm Strength


4pm Strength ONLY

If you care, DM me and I’ll go over how we fit our arm care work and all that into this schedule. Other wise I will save the space. This was a game changer for the gym as a business but as a “One Man Band” it was a grind.

Today our operation goes much smoother.

Our ages 16 and up train between



Friday “If I’m here, you can come“

They have their programs, they know the rules for how to act when there is a group training along side them. As we are guiding the group we are also “floating the floor“ watching for technique flaws and things that need to be corrected for any of them.

Our ages 11-15‘s operate almost solely from the whiteboard in a group setting.

The group trains


4pm-530 and 530pm-7

Athletes are completely free to come to either session. Whichever fits their schedule best on that particular day.

Each 90 minute session consists of

- Warmup

5 Minutes

- Speed/Agility/Explosiveness (Whatever buzz word/term you want to call it)

10-15 Minutes

- Strength Training 40-50’ish Minutes

-Skill 20-30’ish Minutes

*Athletes are welcome to stay and complete extra cage work, Recovery, etc., as long as they comprehend they cannot be in the way of anything that was already scheduled. There are kids at the age of 12 that are totally capable of that and there are 17 year olds that aren’t. You know exactly which kids I’m talking about too. There WILL BE growing pains if you choose to try this BUT it is really awesome to see them learn how to coexist.

We have our racks color coordinated, the 16 and ups know the red and yellow racks are theirs if they’re training along side a group but they also know the “traffic flow” of the group trumps whatever they are supposed to be doing. They know they’re supposed to almost go unnoticed by the group and that I reserve the right to call an audible on what they’re doing at that point in their day if I need an extra rack because we have an abnormally large group for a particular time slot.

We offer a flat monthly training rate.

- we are here five days per week

- you can train once per day. Stay as long as you want for (approved) extra skill, recovery, etc. You just can’t turn around and repeat the same class after finishing it the first time.

- you can train up to five days per week if you choose.

Monday/Tuesday/Thursday/Friday are strength days. Wednesday is a recovery day. Is it the absolute most efficient programming for athletes? Of course not. But it is light years better than what they will get when they decide to cut you out of the budget because they can’t make that “430pm Mon/Tue/Thu or you’re just crap out of luck” time slot.

Most train 3 times per week. You will get the occasional ones that come 4 or 5. Those become your walking talking billboards because they make incredible gains with that type of commitment plus you get much higher client retention because they have options and are much more likely to continue paying for your service.

5) I gave up on having different ages at different times.

Obviously like 10 and under need a different time for safety purposes if you want to have that age group training. And, again, this won’t be as insightful for facilities that follow a Semi-Private model.

But from 11 and up, they all train together, even in a group setting with the workout written on the whiteboard.

*Actually now we follow a Semi-Private, customized programming model for our 16 and ups now bit that real only got truly rolling when we got into our new facility last February. We didn’t have the space or equipment to have groups and custom programs going at once before then. But I’m speaking in this blog to the facility owner that still has to run their facility via group training model.


Because every time I tried to break them up into age groups at separate times, I had half the group of 14 and unders needing to come during the time set aside for the older group because of little sisters piano practice or gymnastics.

And vice-versa, 15 and ups we’re trying to “just come do it on my own” when the younger crew was there.

So I got frustrated, started writing the scaled back or regressed version of each exercise to the direct left of each programmed exercise for the day when applicable and put them all together, from 11 year olds to college kids. Younger crew is learning to Goblet Squat while seeing the older kids doing the things they aspire to do. It creates an awesome culture.

Side Note:

If you have a large group you will need help to make this happen. 11 year old new trainee can’t really have any time alone for the first few weeks. 16 year old new trainee can be showed what to and you can at least get a drink of water while he/she is completing it.

Do you have any golden nuggets of wisdom you have figured out in your facility? Please let me know! I love to learn about other business owners and what works for them!

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Your Student Athlete; Must Do, Should Do, and Don’t

The “Owner’s Manual” for parents to maximize their kid’s time, help them perform better, and avoid injury

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