I’m going to make an assumption about you.   I hope you don’t mind, but it’s important that we establish this up-front. If we don’t, it doesn’t make sense for you to read the rest of this Pat Rigsby interview where he shares 7 Small Business Ideas for Massive Growth.

Here it is: You are a rock star personal trainer, strength conditioning coach or otherwise VERY passionate fitness & wellness professional that is EXTREMELY good at your job.

Am I right?

If I’m wrong, then these growth hacking tips Pat Rigsby shared with me will be worthless to you.

Why? Because it all starts with a great product. That product being YOU; your training services, your fitness studio or your wellness business.

Only if you have a fitness business worth marketing should you take the time to read this interview with Pat Rigsby.

Small Business Ideas for Fitness companies, gyms an personal trainers

Pat Rigsby Bio

What can I say about Pat Rigsby? Well, he seems to be everywhere, like the omnipotent Wizard of Oz. He’s passionate about fitness and business and does a helluva a job marketing himself. In short, he’s a guy who’s built the dream…or a dozen of them.

Pat Rigsby has been the CEO and Co-Owner of over 12 businesses, with five becoming million dollar or more ventures. Two of those businesses, Athletic Revolution and Fitness Revolution, have been multiple time winners on the Entrepreneur Franchise 500 list. Not too shabby ;o)

It’s safe to say that Pat Rigsby knows a thing or two about fitness sales and marketing.  So when Pat agreed to this interview with me, I went to bat for you.

I got Pat to dig deep and get real in this interview. No conversational remorse here.   Pat spilled all the next level stuff; the stuff YOU should be doing to grow your fitness business.

Alleycat Athletics

Alleycat Athletics.  It’s a fake business I made up for this interview with Pat.

You see, when I design new “collections” for Fit Templates – like “Warrior Gym” or “Performance Personal Training“, I do the same thing. This kind of brainstorming exercise puts me right squarely where I need to be: in the mind of fitness business owners.

This time around, Pat Rigsby agreed to play along in my make-pretend adventure.  He’s going to reveal small business ideas to grow Alleycat Athletics, our fake athletic training center.

For a bit of background, here’s what I told Pat about Alleycat Athletics:

  • 6,000 square foot athletic training center in business for 2 years
  • 50% of business is high-level teenage athletes being groomed for college sports
  • 50% of business is adult CrossFit type workouts and adult group training boot camps
  • Located in an upper-middle class neighborhood hidden behind a major shopping mall

Alleycat Athletics Goals:

  • Launch a girls softball program, get 25 girls into an off-season program
  • Increase adult membership from 350 to 425 people in the next 6 months

So, how would an experienced entrepreneur go about growing this small athletic center? Here is Pat Rigsby’s take…

Pat Rigsby Interview: 7 Small Business Ideas for Massive Growth

Small business ideas for massive growth - An interview with Pat Rigsby

1. Connect to the right centers of influence

Fit Templates Question:
Word-of-Mouth Marketing is a powerful influencer. How can Alleycat Athletics launch its new girls softball program using word-of-mouth referrals?

Pat Rigsby Answer:
“Find the talent that has proven they’ve gone over a typical youth level player.  This is where parents are willing to invest to be a part of the organization.”

“Then, look at who you already know to make the connection.  Look at people who are parents of athletes, coaches, local travel organizations, local high school programs and administrators. Maybe you can find someone who’s on the board – a parent of that athlete – someone who is a 2nd degree away.”

“If you get in the door, you essentially have a captive audience where, if you can become an authority figure, it can be worth over $100k to do their off-season training.  If you don’t have a contact, find someone to introduce you.”

Small Business Ideas for Massive Growth - Fit Templates

2. Approach Influencers Strategically

Fit Templates Question:
How should you approach an “influencer”?

Pat Rigsby Answer:
“Don’t approach an administrator or board member with the approach that you are just going to make their athletes better. Go in with perspective of “What’s in it for them”?

“Really find out what, exactly, is important to them. Figure out in what area of the sports program they want to see improvements. Then, provide specific solutions. Gain trust. Get authority. The snowball effect will be they refer business to you.”


Small business ideas for personal trainers and crossfit

3. Get Social Proof

Fit Templates Question:
Alleycat Athletics doesn’t have a track record with softball athletes yet, how do they gain authority and trust?

Pat Rigsby Answer:
“If you weren’t training any softball players, you’ve gotta find a way to train softball players.You’ve gotta get at least one person in the door

Here are Pat’s ideas to get your first clients:

  • Train for free to get the social proof.
  • Develop a softball clinic where money gets donated back to the organization or school that you are training to offset the cost of a tournament.
  • Host a speed training for softball event just to get people talking about what you do.
  • Just find 2-3 softball players and start training them.

“By providing these training programs, you absolve the risks and use those new relationships to open up doors. Then, you can sell them into on-going programs.”


small business ideas advertising

4. Optimize Paid Advertising

Fit Templates Question:
Let’s pretend Alleycat Athletics has a budget of $1500 for the next month to promote its adult training programs. Where will they get the most bang for their buck?

Pat Rigsby Answer:
I’m going to build an email list. If I have people interested in what I’m doing, I’m going to try to capture them as a client on my list. Then anything I do will be to drive people to that list. 75% of the time I’m building a list. 25% of the time is a deadline-driven offer.”

“If I have the budget I’m going to run a challenge. I’ll invest in a newspaper ad or Facebook ad with a deadline-driven offer.”

“I also like very targeted Every Door Direct Mail campaigns because they are cheap.  I’ll do a series of 3 letters.  Or even beyond that, I’ll work with home owners associations to get in their print newsletters.”


Fitness challenge flyer template for weight loss programs or clenses from FitTemplates.com
Use this Microsoft Word template to create your own fitness challenge.

5. Host a Transformation Contest

Fit Templates Question:
How should Alleycat Athletes run their challenges or transformation contests?

Pat Rigsby Answer:
“One of the most successful contests I’ve seen are team challenges.  I recently had a client who got 117 people to participate, 55 were new.  The requirement was every team had to have 1 new person to the gym. Once someone is in the door, sell them.  But you’ve got to capture someone’s attention first.”


small business ideas partnerships
Photo: Survivor

6. Build Strategic Alliances

Fit Templates Question:
Strategic alliances can be a bit tricky.  You want to partner with businesses who have similar clients, but don’t offer the same services. How does Alleycat Athletics choose the right strategic partners?

Pat Rigsby Answer:
“The key to doing this successfully is always start with a warm relationship. Before cold calling and building relationships, look at someone you already know. It reduces skepticism. People will lower their defenses because the introduction implies trust.

“I was very protective of my players. If I didn’t know a person, if I didn’t know they had the interest and well-being of my kids at heart, I wouldn’t bother.  I think most fitness professionals would be skeptical turning over clientele to anyone who wanted to talk about nutrition or supplementation. It’s the same thing here.”


small business ideas start small

7. Test Small & Dial-in Marketing Efforts Before Going Big

Fit Templates Question:
Consistency is key in marketing. However, I see a lot of trainers jump ship on a marketing campaign in as little as a week if they aren’t seeing results. How long should Alleycat Athletics run their marketing campaigns?

Pat Rigsby Answer:
If it’s profitable, they should run it indefinitely.  Then if it’s not profitable, it depends on investment.”

“You don’t need to jump to a shiny object right away. You have to get SOMETHING out there and test to see if it works. Then, keep turning the dial until it does work.”

“You’re much better off testing small and optimizing before you roll out big instead of pushing your chips to the center of the table, all in.”

Want more small business ideas from Pat Rigsby?

Get 52 Cut & Paste Fitness Newsletters that you can start using today…for free…to build your email list from Pat. Click here to access.


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Jill Tomich

Jill Tomich, Founder of <a href="http://fittemplates.com"> FitTemplates.com</a>, is an award-winning entrepreneur passionate about helping fitness and wellness professionals grow their businesses. She's helps athletic centers, online personal trainers, naturopaths and wellness studios from all over the world grow their revenue from her Hawaii-based Marketing Agency. You can connect with her on <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/jilltomich"> LinkedIn.</a>

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