Meet the Gym Who Has Picked up 33 New Clients during COVID Using MadLab’s Hybrid Gym Model

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, not the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

Never has this famous Charles Darwin quote been more true than now, and nobody has more proof of this than Brandon Robb, the owner of Heroic Athletics, a MadLab Group gym in Calgary, Alberta.

Robb has been with the MadLab Group for six months, and was starting to have huge success with the MadLab’s hybrid gym model prior to COVID-19.

What is the hybrid model?

In short, the MadLab hybrid model pairs each client up with a personal coach, and they do a combination of group classes and one-on-one training with their personal coach, or in some cases individual program design. On the coach end, the coach is compensated on a percentage of revenue for each of his clients.

When COVID-19 hit, just like every other gym, Robb had to close his doors. But instead of focusing on what he had lost, he set to work figuring out a way to turn the hybrid membership model into a high-level online coaching service.

“I wanted to make sure clients could still get the benefits of the group online, but also would continue to have a relationship with their coach,” he said.

The result: His clients have been following daily programming at home, either via Zoom classes or at-home workouts on their own. They also have weekly checkpoints with their coach, and on Sunday nights they fill out a self-questionnaire for their coach to take a look at before providing feedback on Mondays.

“The weekly checkpoints are to ensure clients are complying. These give the coach a good gauge of where the client is each week, where they need support, and where they need to intervene if the client falls off the rails,” he said.

Coaches also have what Robb calls “office hours”—specific times they’re available online for their clients to ask further questions, he explained.

“It’s basically the MadLab hybrid model, but all online,” added Robb, who uses the ProCoach app—Precision Nutrition’s software—for nutrition coaching and the Train Heroic app for the workout portion.

Another unique thing Robb has done is help his clients set up home gyms consisting of various supplies from Home Depot, including a couple of bags of sand, some small tool bags they can fill with sand, a couple buckets and some makeshift parallettes.

“It basically gets them set up with a home gym for $70 Canadian,” he said.

Once Robb got his current clients set up and running with virtual hybrid memberships, which cost $250 a month, it was time to extend the program to new clients. He created an onboarding process for new clients that involved an assessment phase with their coach in a one-on-one online setting, and a resource package of educational videos. Those who want more help can also book additional one-on-ones with their coach.

Once through the onboarding process, these clients join the others on remote hybrid memberships.

Robb’s gym already had a strong reputation with first responders, so he decided to target them specifically. It would also allow him to generate additional revenue from first responders who lived in different cities, and who wanted access to coaching during this time.

He created very targeted Facebook ads that spoke to this group specifically. Having worked with many first responders before, Robb was familiar with the problem many of them want to solve: “They have done program after program and haven’t seen results. They want a program that gives them performance results, and they want to reduce injury. Some have strength but lack endurance, and some have endurance, but lack strength. So I really leaned into that and offered a solution.”

His solution: Coaching.

“That’s the huge difference. Many of them have followed programs willy nilly, so I focused on how having a coach can make all the difference,” he said.

Clearly Robb was correct in his assumptions, as first responders—firemen, cops, paramedics—started pouring in.

So far he has picked up 33 new clients in the last two months, all 33 of them being first responders. Each of them pays $250 a month for his online hybrid membership.

His advice for others using Facebook ads: “You can’t write an ad to speak to everyone. Find a niche, and then offer a solution to them. The only time I will stop on an ad is if it speaks to me personally, so you have to speak directly to those people, and you have to understand their problems. Speak to them like you know them better than they know themselves.”

Today: While Robb has lost a handful of former members, who have placed their membership on hold for now, he still has a net positive of 25 clients since he closed his doors and his revenue has increased. He has even hired a new coach to join him and his two other coaches.

Robb’s facility in Calgary is still closed, and he expects he may not get to open until August or September. Unlike many other gym owners, though, who are stressed to the nines about when they can resume in-person training, Robb is not.

“I’m not worried. Even if I don’t open until September,” he said. “We adapted and we’re doing well.”

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, not the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” – Charles Darwin.

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