Using the barter system

For beginners, cross-class rooms. How to optimize the costs of the owner of a small club.

Translation of Noah Abbott’s article, owner and head coach of CrossFit Lumos.

When you start your business, reducing costs to a minimum is crucial (Author’s note: I did not do it well). Even if you have a small hall, but the incomes at the same time exceed the costs – there are no grounds for concern. Many gym owners concentrate only on increasing the number of visitors, but forget that if rents are too high and there are many other costs, such as monthly maintenance and repair costs, then very soon they will still be in negative territory.

"GREAT EXPERIENCE, and a GREAT PRODUCT. Loving this skipping rope as a pre-MMA warm-up, and as part of a conditioning workout. Overall, 5/5 on all fronts." -Jonah P.

In addition to the small area of ​​the hall, the main problem at the beginning of the job is to attract a large number of participants, they will be able to make your room a real hall for CrossFit. When you are in the gym alone – it quickly gets boring. Invite a large number of visitors to the hall was a fun atmosphere, and it was always filled with different people who can communicate, push each other and build their community. This is of fundamental importance.

Use the barter system. I think the first time I heard about the barter from the 2nd grade textbook, from an article about the trade of the pilgrims with the Indians at the dinner table for Thanksgiving, when the game was shown on the TV by Packers versus Lions. Of course, I’ve exchanged baseball cards with my friends many times, and later with magic cards (please, do not ask what those cards were). The point is to find someone with objects and services equivalent to what you can offer him in return. For the owner of the gym, this will not be huge costs and investments, while this will help attract additional visitors to your room. As I said above, this must be done at the very beginning of the hall to attract people.

About barter, you need to understand two important things. Firstly, the person should be the one you want to see in your gym, those whose energy, communication and character are suitable for the atmosphere that you create in your room. Such people will bring you much benefit, as well as your gym will give them more than just training. The second point. Are these people already members of the club or are they planning on making an appointment? If you transfer the current paid members to the staff of the hall, the hall will be able to earn as a well-functioning mechanism, but it will not generate revenue. Identify people who are hesitating or just thinking about enrolling in club members or not, for fear of high financial costs. Or find a guy who comes several times a week, but wants to come more often,

Below are a few examples of barter relations that we used at the beginning of the work:

Social Media Manager

My publications on social networks mostly consist of professional memes on wrestling and funny pictures. I do not know how hashtags work, search engine optimization, and applications like Bufer and Hootsuite. All this for me is a dark forest. So I had to find a person to post in Instagram, Facebook and Twitter on a regular basis. Of course, this implies trust in the chosen person and a clear definition of posting parameters. However, in this way you will be able to organize this work quite efficiently (and perhaps get even more than expected), instead of laying out your posts yourself.


Another member of the club (a former SFSBK client in New York) is a certified accountant. So I asked him to monitor the finances, coordinate our incomes and expenses with the help of an online bookkeeping tool and prepare for the tax return. He also deals with practical reports and receipts. If you find a qualified accountant – it’s good, do not have to do hard work, just check the statements at the exit (I would have made a mistake one hundred percent somewhere, and this would end with a tax audit).


I hate cleaning, but I love clean gym. Visitors appreciate it, and it also helps sell it to potential customers. In a dirty gym can be just dangerous – you can get infected with ringworm. I quickly found a man who agreed to clean the hall twice a week in exchange for membership. I also clean, sweep, etc., but the main load is assigned to it.

Marketing / Branding / Events

It’s great that I have a person who does all this. It makes me concentrate, and the thoughts that swirl in my head start to work. We have created a “brand Bible”, so communications, social networks and advertising now correspond to our perception and our values. Probably, only thanks to it I use the terms “perception” and “values” in my speech.

Photos and videos

Sometimes I see on the network posts with photos of coaches, for which it is very easy to see what the coach did himself (especially video, content in Snapchat, etc.). When I see such pictures, the question arises in my head: “If the trainer was taking pictures / filming, then who was doing his work?” Perhaps I find fault, but it seems to me that the coach should train, not take photos, check his phone and something that distracts him from his main task – working with visitors to the hall. Part of this work is to shoot our joint work. Visitors to the hall like to see themselves in the photos! So, I organized a barter with a member of the club who makes wedding photos and photographs of other events so that he takes pictures of our club every week for a few hours. This will also help to personalize our site and to create a gallery of images for use in social networks. I think this is very important. I also arranged a barter with a club member who works in the film industry so that he produced several videos for the site, social networks and for use as invitation / adaptation materials.

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