Boot camps have been around for a while, in this article we look at everything that you need to set up an effective boot camp, and how to be successful.
Boot camps are definitely more popular now than they have ever been. They are popular with clients because of the low-price barrier (compared to personal training), the camaraderie, and the excellent results they can achieve.
They are popular with personal trainers and instructors because they are relatively easy to set up, have a good cost/benefit ratio, and can be a stepping stone to further business ventures.
Get ready to take some notes, make some money, and change some lives!
This step may be the trickiest part of the whole operation. It used to be that you could just set up your boot camp in a local park and get on with it. These days a lot of local councils have decided that they want to charge personal trainers for the rights to use their parks. Whether you feel that this is right or wrong, it is not a good idea to ignore it. There are still many councils that are not enforcing it, but if you are unlucky enough to get caught or reported you could lose your business.
Contact your council before getting started and let them know what you are planning. They might be absolutely fine with it, or they might want to charge you a fee. Parks in London such as Regents Park and Hyde Park can charge up to £200 for a licence, while local parks might only charge a few quid.
It’s worth talking directly to the parks manager though, particularly if you are just starting out. Explain that you haven’t even started yet, and they may allow you to do it for free until you have a certain number of clients.
You should also consider whether you even want to do it outdoors! Yes, it can be cheaper, and you’ll have a lot of space, but when winter comes it will be cold and dark, and this can seriously affect numbers. Training indoors has a lot of advantages but it can also cost you quite a bit more in rent. There is also the option of having an outdoor boot camp from May to October, and an indoor boot camp from October to May.
Depending on how up to speed your local council is, they may ask you to perform a risk assessment. Don’t panic! This is quite an easy job. Just think of absolutely everything that could possibly go wrong, and then right down what you would do to prevent it happening, and how you would respond if it did.
Even if your council doesn’t ask, it is a good idea to do one anyway. You might be thinking that this is health and safety gone mad. But anything that can be done to reduce risk of injury is a good thing, and if the worst-case scenario does occur you will have written evidence that you did your best to prevent it. Which will help you if they start talking about lawyers.
You definitely need to decide on what sort of boot camp you want to run. Is it going to be primarily body weight? Or are you going to purchase a bunch of equipment? Is it going to use HIIT, or circuits, or a combination of both? Will you focus on building muscle or burning fat? Who is your boot camp aimed at? Amateur footballers? Or middle-aged women?
Don’t whatever you do decide you’re going to train everyone and suit every goal. This will not help with your marketing. By all means, take on any willing client there is, but if your boot camp has a target audience it will be a lot easier to sell.
One thing that surprises a lot of brand new boot camp instructors, is just how long 30 minutes can feel when you’re running it. On paper you might think that you’ve got enough exercises to last 2 hours, but once people are performing it, you realise that they’re all done and there’s only been 20 minutes on the clock. Setting up a trial session is a great way to smooth out any cracks in the program, and to increase your confidence as an instructor.
It’s also a fantastic way to get yourself some brand-new clients. You have two options here, you can do an open day where you message all of your friends and family and ask them to bring a friend. You take them through your boot camp and then at the end you can offer them a discounted rate for your boot camp when it starts. Take lots of photos, videos, and get some testimonials afterwards. Then you can promote this on social media.
The other option is to find 10-15 friends, and instead of doing an open day, do a 12-week trial program with them. This is a long-term strategy and means that your boot camp won’t be making any money for the first three months (unless you decide to charge them a discounted rate, but this can reduce the number of people who turn up). The benefits to this are numerous.
You will have a large group of people who are training with you regularly. This will make your boot camp look popular and busy, you will be able to attract more people to a successful boot camp than an empty one. Your group of people will be more likely to sign up afterwards, they should have got some really good results, and will value your instructing a lot more.
You will also have a group of people who will be able to give you some amazing testimonials after the 12 weeks. Make it part of the offer that they get 12 weeks free provided they provide a before and after photo, a testimonial, and that at the end they bring a friend to the last session. If their friend signs up then they both get a discounted price for the next month.
Are you going to do a morning boot camp or an evening one? Or both? When you’re starting out you’ll probably get quite a few people trying to dictate to you what time you should do it. “Oh, I can only do 7pm so if you do any other time I won’t be able to make it”. Stand firm on this, pick a time (but make sure it is a sensible one) and stick to it. It’s definitely worth it long term, even if you lose a few potential clients along the way.
When you do your bootcamp will dictate who you should aim to market it to. If your boot camp is Monday at 10pm then marketing it at business men and women is not going to bring much success. Instead marketing it at stay at home mums (or dads) might make more sense. They’ll have dropped off the kids at school and will have an hour or two to spare. This is also a great way to build your business as a lot of parents tend to know each other through school and their kids.
There are a couple of options, you can charge people per session, or charge people per month, you can also charge people in 3-6-month periods. There are benefits to all three. Charging per session is fairest to the client, if they can only make one session per month, then their costs will reflect that.
The downside is that 1) they will have less inclination to turn up if they haven’t paid for a session, and 2) you have to manually round up every single person with your hand out at the end of each session.
Charging monthly is great because it will keep people motivated to turn up (as they’ve already paid for the service). You have guaranteed income each month, and you don’t need to remind people each session to pay you. Most people will be happy setting up a standing order or using PayPal. The downside is that, when someone misses a payment, you are now chasing a lot more money. It can also be a little more difficult to get people to sign up for a month than it is to sign up for one session.
The final option is to charge every 12 weeks or 24 weeks. The benefit of this is that you can completely change how you market it. Instead of paying for a monthly subscription, they are giving you an upfront payment for guaranteed results. They are paying for the results, not for the service. This is a big difference and will change how you and the client think about your boot camp. The downside is that it is the most difficult option to sell someone, because the upfront costs are so much higher.
You need to constantly be thinking about ways to build your business. Referral schemes (bring a friend, referral competitions, discounts for their work colleagues etc) are a great way to do this but try to hold off on this until your client has been with you for a few weeks. Possibly add it at the end of the first 12 weeks when they’ll be noticing their results and will know how good you are.
You should also be getting testimonials, taking lots of photos and videos, and mentioning your boot camp every chance that you have. Offer trial sessions, or free assessments, create a Facebook page, and fill it with those photos, videos, and testimonials.
Once you have a group of 20+ people who are regularly attending your boot camp you may feel like you’ve made it. In some ways you have, those 20 people will stay with you so long as your service remains excellent. Keep those clients happy and you’ll have a guaranteed income for years. But what about the future? Do you want to expand? Do you want to double your boot camp numbers? What about ensuring that you are always ahead of the competition?
You need to be looking at ways to improve your service, improving your knowledge, your exercise, base, your program (why not add a simple to follow diet?) will get better results for your clients, and will keep them satisfied. Creating a better program by taking a course like our 1-day circuit training course can massively improve each session you teach.