By Jason R. Karp, PhD, Special AFS Contributor

In the spring of 2007, I was sitting in the back of a taxicab in Rosemont, Illinois, just outside of Chicago. I was in town to speak at a fitness industry conference. I brought my racing shoes and clothes because I planned to run a race in Chicago’s Grant Park while I was there.

I didn’t have a car in Rosemont, so I got up extra early and took a taxi from the hotel to the park. When I stepped into the taxi, rubbing the early morning from my eyes, the taxicab driver asked in an accent I couldn’t quite place, “Where are you going?”

“Grant Park in Chicago,” I responded. “Going to run a race.”

The taxicab driver immediately got excited. “When I was back home in Greece, I used to run all over the country!” he exclaimed, sounding like he was already on his third cup of coffee. “Running is a great way to see the countryside in Greece. When you run, everything is perfect.”

I didn’t expect to hear something so profound at six o’clock on a Sunday morning in a taxicab in Rosemont, Illinois, but there it was. When you run, everything is perfect. On that day, in that cab, a random taxicab driver from Greece said something that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. I share his words every time I speak publicly about running. 

Running is the most popular exercise in America, the most effective and fastest way to get fit, and the world's best calorie-burner. Indeed, running is, perhaps, the single best thing people can do for their health. Offer any of these running programs at your studio or gym, and change people’s lives as well as their waistlines.


Types of Running Programs

There are numerous options for running programs in gyms. Any of these options below can be spun off into another option. For example, the group treadmill interval class can be spun off into group training programs for upcoming races or to create more opportunities for one-on-one coaching and personal training.

1) Treadmill Interval Running Classes: Like any other group fitness class, treadmill classes can be added to your studio or gym's group fitness exercise schedule and included with members’ membership, or they can be offered as exclusive small group training classes for a fee. 

2) Fat-Loss Programs: Since running is a great calorie burner and one of the most sustainable weight-loss strategies, you can offer fee-based small group training for weight-loss clients.

3) Race Training Programs: Given how many people run races (20 million in the U.S.!), this is a huge opportunity for your business to profit off the largest segment of the fitness market. Create fee-based group training programs from 5Ks to marathons. Bring them to life with weekly outdoor group runs that start from the front door and include treadmill interval workouts as part of the program.

4) One-on-One Coaching: Some clients want more individualized attention. Having certified running experts on staff offers another opportunity to increase personal training revenue from one-on-one sessions.

Marketing Strategies 

Once you have your running programs in place, the next step is to market them to your members and local running community. Marketing strategies may include the following:

  • Post engaging content in your social media channels and groups
  • Inclusion in your group fitness schedule and listing/description of programs on your website
  • Send emails to local runners
  • Distribute postcards/flyers at races
  • Promote through local print and online media
  • Promote through local running shoe stores
  • Ask local shoe store to become a sponsor; you promote the store to your training group in exchange for the store providing a discount on shoes/apparel to your group’s members
  • Offer discounts for referrals 
  • Seasonal deals
  • Word of mouth

Running is social and people like to sweat together. Offering running programs will get guaranteed results. When people get results, they keep coming back, and they bring their friends, which will increase member retention and potentially new memberships. All of this means more profit!


A competitive runner since sixth grade, Dr. Jason Karp quickly learned how running molds us into better, more deeply conscious people, just as the miles and interval workouts mold us into faster, more enduring runners. This passion that Jason found as a kid placed him on a yellow brick road that he still follows all these years later as a coach, exercise physiologist, bestselling author of 8 books and 400+ articles, speaker, and educator. He is the 2011 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year. His REVO₂LUTION RUNNING™ certification has been obtained by fitness pros and coaches in 21 countries. His books can be found on Amazon.

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