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How Live Free CrossFit gained 40 members in three months

Hilary Achauer

John Kelly knows a lot about fitness.

Before opening Live Free CrossFit in Miami, Florida in 2013, Kelly worked as a personal trainer, a firefighter, and competed as a professional mixed martial artist.

When he opened the gym with his business partner, Kelly figured his work ethic and fitness knowledge would be enough.

He and his partner focused on providing an outstanding experience for their members. They believed if the product and service were exceptional, they didn’t need to invest large amounts of time and money into a marketing strategy or sales techniques.

Their approach worked … for a while.

Eventually membership plateaued around 160 or 180 members. In the summer of 2018 Kelly bought out his partner and decided it was time to try something new. He joined a mentorship program and realized if he was going to grow his business he needed a new strategy. 

“I began to understand it’s not just about being a good trainer and caring about people,” Kelly said, “you have to actually get people in the door. And you have to be able to keep in touch with those people.”  

 A New Approach

Kelly began making small changes. He’d been buying Facebook ads, but wasn’t sure what to do with those leads. A friend told him about Autopilot, a marketing automation software. So Kelly began writing customer journeys to guide people through sales funnels and capture leads, but he quickly became overwhelmed trying to keep up.

“I was continuing to bang my head against the wall and learn all these new skills that took time to learn -- like Facebook ads and writing these journeys and all that stuff -- on top of all the normal gym stuff you gotta do,” Kelly said.

He'd used Healthy Steps Nutrition as his gym’s nutrition program and had heard about UpLaunch through them. Kelly was intrigued but wasn’t sure he was ready.

“I was having some success with the strategies I was using, so I wasn’t ready to commit financially, because it was $600 right off the bat. And in hindsight, that’s not a lot of money, but at the time, it was,” Kelly said.

Kelly continued to reinvest any extra revenue back into the gym, either in the form of equipment or marketing. The more effort he put into marketing, the more leads he generated. Soon, Kelly was overwhelmed. How could he make sure he was capturing and following up with all these leads without neglecting all of his other responsibilities as a gym owner?

The Next Step

That's when Kelly remembered UpLaunch.

“I said, ‘Let me just talk to the UpLaunch people.’ I talked to Beth (at UpLaunch) and I liked the way everything sounded, but I was unsure if it would work or not. I figured, let’s give it a shot and see what happens,” Kelly said.

Kelly signed up with UpLaunch in the spring of 2019.

“What really attracted me to the platform was that they’d done all the heavy lifting already. I wasn’t going to have to rewrite all the emails, which I wouldn’t mind, but it’s a lot of work,” Kelly said.

Kelly integrated UpLaunch into his website and started funneling Live Free CrossFit’s leads into UpLaunch’s lead campaign.

“I already had something to capture people on my website, but I didn’t have a way of making a lot of touch points with them unless I did it myself. I immediately noticed a better response from new leads that were getting booked into our intro program,” Kelly said about the difference with UpLaunch.

Soon, Kelly was booking more and more intro sessions. That’s when he discovered something interesting.“I was getting more and more practice, so I became better and better at doing intros. Once I realized how valuable the service we were providing was, I was able to charge more money. As I was getting more people in the gym I gained more confidence and I was making more and more sales,” Kelly said.

Kelly found practice breeds confidence.

In return, that confidence leads to success.

In less than three months more than 40 new members joined Live Free CrossFit.

“Last month (June of 2019) was our best month ever in six years,” Kelly said.

What’s Ahead for Live Free CrossFit

Now Kelly is committed to paying for services that help improve his business -- leaving him more time to strategize and focus on the big picture.

He pays a company $300 a month to maintain his website, and uses that service to constantly improve his online presence. He purchased the Rockstar Coaching Course for his staff, “so they would be a little sharper when it came to their coaching,” Kelly said, “and it got them more polished.”

Kelly hired a social media coordinator, which pushed him to develop a social media calendar. He gives the social media coordinator his content and relies on her to make it look good. He also hired a cleaning person.

Outsourcing these tasks has allowed Kelly to focus on new ways to bring in members. His latest initiative is a six-week metabolic makeover program, aimed at people who are new to exercising, or who haven’t exercised in many years. He purchased a separate UpLaunch platform for this campaign, and assigned a coach to take care of the challenge. He’s using Two Brain Business’ 4/9 model, which means he’ll pay this coach 44% of the gross revenue generated by this program.

Kelly is talking to a potential corporate client he hopes will bring in 10 to 15 people, and he joined the UpLaunch Affiliate Program, referring a local gym to UpLaunch. If that gym signs up, Kelly will start earning a recurring commission.

“I can help them, they can help me, we can both help UpLaunch. Everybody wins,” Kelly said.Even with all these changes, Kelly said the constant throughout the years is Live Free CrossFit’s connection to their client base and the community.

“I’ve just really tapped into that and focused on growing that more than anything,” Kelly said.

He said he’s always been more interested in seeing his clients move well into their sixties and seventies, rather how much weight they can throw around.

“That more holistic approach with a focus on longevity has led to a more inclusive program and allowed me to attract a broader range of people,” Kelly said.

Kelly found he was able to share his fitness knowledge and expertise with more people once he invested in systems and support to help his business grow.

How to write a Facebook ad for your gym

When was the last time you wrote a new Facebook ad?

If you aren’t getting the leads you once did, it might be time for a rewrite.

We know life as a gym owner is crazy busy. Who has time to spend hours creating the perfect Facebook ad? To help you out, we consulted some of the best marketing minds in the biz and talked to owners of successful gyms to create this free, step-by-step guide to writing a Facebook ad.



Download our guide to writing a Facebook ad customized specifically for gym owners!
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