How I grew my bootcamp from 20 to 150 participants

10 July 2020 Jonathon Petrohilos
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When I first started running bootcamps… I sucked!

I started working at a franchise, which had 75 locations all over Australia and we were ranked based on our retention (#1 had the best retention rate in the franchise, #75 had the worst).

Take a guess at what I was ranked?

#75… Dead last…

I had the worst retention out of all 75 locations!

And it’s not like I had a heap of clients! I only had 20, and I couldn’t even keep them!

At the end of the year, there was a convention that all 75 Bootcamp Operators had to attend. I didn’t want to attend (for obvious reasons) but I thought, “If I don’t attend I’m going to lose my location and even though I’m obviously not great at what I do – I really like it! But if I do attend, and I act engaged, write notes, listen, and suck up, maybe I’ll keep my location.”

So I attended, and it was the best thing I’ve ever done in my life.

Straight off the bat, I had to have a meeting with the franchise owners to explain why I was coming 75th.

And I gave every excuse in the book (and I made up a few too)

  • There’s too much competition in my area
  • There’s all these 24 hour gyms
  • There’s free bootcamps running in the park
  • The leads you’re giving me are bad leads
  • No one trains outside during winter
  • The government

After I’d finished off rattling off excuses the franchise owners said something to me that changed my life

“Jono, we’ve got good news and we’ve got bad news… The bad news is when it comes to operating a bootcamp, you suck! You’re coming 75th! But here’s the good news. You can actually do something about it. At the moment, the reason you’re unsuccessful is because you’re blaming everyone but yourself.”

“Maybe it’s not the competition’s fault that you’re failing – maybe it’s your fault you haven’t done enough to be better than the competition. What upskilling have you done? What extra courses have you done?”

“Also, you’re saying we’re giving you bad leads? Maybe the leads aren’t bad – maybe it’s your sales skills that are bad. What sales books have you read? What business coaches have you hired? And if our marketing is so bad, why don’t you go out and do some of your own marketing?”

“Oh, and the weather? You can go out and hire something like a school hall for $20 a session… You can solve your biggest problem for $20 but instead you’re too busy blaming everybody else but yourself.”

“So how about this – you’ve already identified the reasons why you’re not successful, from now on, instead of blaming someone or something else, take some responsibility and actually do something about it!”

Now considering I was coming 75 out of 75 and these two owned all 75 locations, I figured I better listen.

So, for the next 12 months, I did exactly that – I took 100% responsibility.

The first thing I did was hire out that school hall for $20. That probably doubled my retention rate during winter on its own! And, it taught me the power of investing – it’s okay to spend a little bit of money if it means you’re going to make more back.

The next thing I worked on was my “product”. My bootcamp sessions. I made it my mission to learn as many different fun, interactive and unique bootcamp workouts as possible. I booked myself into a “Bootcamp Course for Personal Trainers” – it cost something like $300-$400 but I thought, if I do this course and that helps me gain and keep one more client – it’s paid for itself!

And just from doing that course, I’m pretty sure I was able to pick up four to five new clients. I thought, if I do one of these courses and get four to five new clients each time – I better start doing more courses! So I made a decision to do a CEC course every three months (regardless of whether I needed the points or not)!

And the last thing I worked on was my sales and marketing. I hired a business coach – which cost me $1000 for 10 weeks – at the time that was the biggest expense I had ever made in my life! But I did the math and realised – all I need is this coach to help me gain three new clients and it’s paid for itself.

And to cut a long story short… 12 months later, I went back to that same convention.
Now take a guess what I was ranked?


My retention rate was 104%

I now had 100 clients and every single one of them signed back up for the next week challenge PLUS four of my ex-clients who heard my service had improved had came back!

So that’s my story…

From #75 to #1.

From 20 clients to 100 clients.

All in 12 months.

And now I teach other Bootcamp operators how to do the same.

Jonothan Petrohilos

Jono is the co-founder and director at Fitness Education Online (one of the largest online fitness CEC providers in the world). Jono was a finalist for the 2019 New Zealand Fitness Educator of the Year and the winner of the 2020 Fitness Australia Educator of the Year.

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