How to be a winner like Rocky Balboa?

by Hossein Noshirvani, EVP Motionsoftmotionsoft

Earlier this week, I wrote an article for IHRSA called, “Is there a ‘secret sauce’ for gyms?”. The premise is pretty simple: What are some of the components that make a facility successful? There are a number of reasons you should read this article. It’s like watching Rocky V without ever having seen the first four. You would NEVER be able to follow the story, and this blog does make some references to it. Also, I give you the recipe for McDonald’s secret sauce that makes the Big Mac, the granddaddy of burgers.

rocky picThe first focus is going to be on people. How to find good people. How to get good people. And how to keep good people. Of course I’m talking employees…

What the low cost high value (LCHV) gyms have proven is that members buy based on a checklist.


  • Is it convenient?
  • Does it have the equipment I want?
  • Is it clean (enough)?

There may be a few other factors, but at the end of the day I think we can agree (I agree with myself all the time by the way so the we in this sentence refers to both Hossein, and Angry Hossein), that to get people to walk into the door, doesn’t take much. For the people looking for a “premium experience” like what Equinox might offer, there are key differences (to be discussed in a future article). But for the majority of people if the above criteria are met, they don’t really know or care about all the stuff we think they care about.

And I believe that the LCHV guys have really helped grow the pie.

BUT. And there is always a but. I’m not convinced that in the long run (think Rocky XXX – The Wheelchair Years), the LCHV guys have solved the second part. How to improve retention. The conventional thought is that at $10 or $20 a month, people will keep the membership because it less of a hassle to cancel, or they can at least say the belong. I don’t know if I buy that. I think at some point, that going to change.

And that’s where your staff, your employees come into play. Without making this super long article like a second grade book report, I put together a short list of way to get, and keep your valuable staff.

  • We are in a service industry, when you come across good people in other service industries, don’t be afraid to see if they might be interested in a new opportunity
  • Use LinkedIn. There are a number of great groups that you should be a part of. Don’t be afraid to post!
  • Market rates are for average people. For exceptional people, be willing to pay a bit more. I think it’s the best money you can spend.
  • Interview. Interview. Interview. They say that to become great at something you need to do put in 10,000 hours. I’m not proposing 10,000 hours of interviews, but the more you do it the better you become at it.
  • Evaluations should be done regularly. Objectively. A lot of people look at evaluations as the reasons you need to fire someone. It should be a positive experience. It should be about what YOU can do to help your staff become better.
  • Don’t hire when you are desperate or in need. That’s when you make bad decisions.

There are lots of ways to improve your operations. In my mind the most bang for your buck is through your people. Don’t take them for granted. And if you follow these simple rules “You’re gonna eat lightin’ and you’re gonna crap thunder.” Which according to Rocky is a good thing!


The GGFA is heard and respected as the unified voice of all franchisees. We are involved in all decisions that affect our brand and the franchisees. It is our goal to secure Gold’s Gym as the most profitable franchising opportunity in the fitness industry and the number one fitness brand in the world.


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