By Kenton Boutwell, Special AFS Contributor

Why calculate revenue per square foot? 2 reasons: Here are two stats from AFS' industry-leading research that might shock you:

1. Top-producing studios generate $193 per square foot, but the average studio only generates $68.
2. The average studio has a client retention rate of 75%, so a 5% increase in retention can boost profits by 25% - 100%.

Let’s unpack these numbers. First, a look at revenue per square foot. If you’re not sure how much revenue you’re generating per square foot, do this quick calculation to find out.

Why calculate revenue per square foot? Two reasons:

  • The amount of revenue you generate per square foot is a direct indication of how much value you’re providing to members. Studios that provide more value have more members, charge higher membership fees, or both. This equates to higher revenue per square foot.
  • If you want to optimize your business, you need to determine how to maximize profits within the space you have. Revenue per square foot gives you a clear measure of your studio’s level of optimization.

So how do the top studios optimize this metric?  They provide huge value for members.  These studios usually have more or better ways of showing their customers how much they care. They keep members engaged through programs, events, online services, and more. And more value means higher membership fees and higher retention rates, which both lead to more revenue.

Now, let’s address that second statistic: A 5% increase in retention can increase profits by 25% - 100%.  How does increased retention affect revenue so drastically?

  • In the short term, closing the proverbial “back door” on your customer flow keeps existing clients in your studio. There’s no doubt about it that happier, more satisfied customers stay longer!
  • The long-term benefit is that happier clients share more!

In a recent IHRSA's Industry Survey they “found that leading club operators spend a median of $118.65 in sales and marketing costs per new membership account.”  Put simply: Acquiring new members costs more than retaining your current ones. Retaining members decreases your costs and provides a hidden, long-term bonus: If your current members love the studio, they’ll do the advertising for you.

According to Nielsen, a company that specializes in market and consumer research, “The most credible form of advertising comes straight from the people who know, like and trust us. 83% of online respondents in 60 countries say they trust the recommendations of friends and family...”

By increasing member engagement, you increase member retention and add a credible stream of advertising for freeSo, the essential question for you is: How can you increase member engagement?  You can do this many different ways, even Bingo works! But there’s one method that can increase engagement and decrease your per-client workload:

Online Training.

Apps like Wodify and Nike Training Club highlight the fact that, like every other industry, fitness is going digital. You can use this to your advantage and add online training to your studio’s services. Online training can provide extra engagement for studio members who want an added level of guidance and tracking on their fitness journey.


The best part? You can do this work during studio downtime.  Most studios are busy in the early morning, around lunchtime, and in the evening. But between the hours of 10am-12pm and 1pm-4pm, things die down. What are you doing during those hours to add money to your business? Online training can help turn that downtime into profits.

But the real secret to working less lies here: it doesn’t just benefit your studio members, it can benefit anyone, anywhere in the world! Sounds a little extreme, doesn’t it? Let me explain. Right now, there are clients all over the world who would pay for your help. How are you going to give it to them? Once you start providing online training to your studio clients, you can do the same for anyone who has an internet connection by offering online-only training services. This lets you...

  • Reach clients outside of your city, state, or country.
  • Take on more clients (because online training requires less engagement than in-person training).
  • Serve clients who may not be able to afford your standard studio rates (because less work on your end means you can offer lower rates).
  • Tap into your existing network of those who trust you, but may not be close enough to train in-person.

When you start adding online-only clients is when the “working less” part of the equation really starts. Since you’re not training these clients in person, you’ll save valuable physical and temporal resources.

Additionally, there are companies like GymCloud, where you can sell your training programs through the platform. It’s a simple way to add some revenue to your business without adding unnecessary work.

So, how do you start online training?  It’s simpler than you think. Here are 3 easy steps to get started.

1. Pick an online training platform.

Here’s what you should look for in an online training platform:

  1. Simplicity — The simpler a platform is, the quicker you can start using it and making money. (It’s also much less headache.)
  2. Scalability — You want a platform that can accommodate your current studio members, as well as the online-only clients you plan to gain. You should be able to easily add more members as they join.
  3. Member Involvement — Members should be able to track their progress and record PRs, at the very least. Bonus points if they can interact with you, record body stats, or schedule 1-on-1 sessions.

2. Offer online training as an add-on to current members.

Allow current members to add online training to their membership for an extra fee. Before you do this, be sure to highlight the value of online training to your current members. They will now be able to do workouts from anywhere they want — which is especially valuable if they travel for work. They’ll be able to track their progress and maintain all their fitness information in one place.

3. Offer online training on your website for remote members.

When someone finds your studio online and wants to follow your training, you want to give them an easy way to do it! Give people who can’t make it to the studio an option to purchase online-only training services. In the end, online training is another tool for your studio to help members reach their goals and stay engaged in their fitness journey and your training community.

Do it right, and you’ll have more freedom, make more money, and reach more people.


Kenton Boutwell GymCloud Founder & CEO, gym-owner and USAF veteran holds an MS in Exercise Physiology and Kinesiology and is an NSCA CSCS, ACSM CPT, USA Weightlifting, USA Powerlifting, CrossFit, TacFit, StrongFirst, MovNat, Precision Nutrition, and Functional Movement Screen certified Fitness Professional. He uses science, technology, and strategy to optimize human health and performance.

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