Josh: Welcome to the Gym Heroes Podcast. I’m your host Josh Peacock. Today’s show is brought to you by Gymdesk, the easiest gym management software you’ll ever use. Take payments, create marketing automations, track attendance, and much more. To try the software out free, go to No credit card or painful sales call required.

Today we talk to two gym heroes, Kevin and Brandon Kist. These brothers own and operate RTS Barbell, a unique strength training gym that’s been growing steadily since launch a few years ago. Today, they discuss how they achieve that growth with virtually no marketing budget, as well as how they operate the gym 100% remotely. Without further ado, here’s the Kist brothers.

So, if you guys will introduce yourselves and give us a little bit about your background before you got into the gym business, and then also how you got into strength training and what led you to start a gym, the sort of things that kind of tie in together.

Kevin: Yeah. So, my name is Kevin Kist. I’m the owner of RTS Barbell. This whole thing is kind of my big dream and journey. The really quick and abbreviated version is I was overweight as a kid. I got introduced to lifting weights in high school, it changed my whole life, and I always say now that everything good in my life is because I started lifting weights. And I knew at 16 I wanted to open a gym someday and it was just kind of a thing that I knew that I would do. And I didn’t know how to get there, but it was always in the back of my mind.

And then I was in college, I was a sophomore in college, and Brandon had just come home from being away for, I believe work or whatever. And I told him I wanted to drop out of college to pursue building a gym. So, at 19 I left school with his support and we’ve just been running full steam ahead ever since then, just about five years soon. Yeah.

Brandon: Yeah. I am Brandon Kist. I’m Kevin’s brother. I serve as an advisor to RTS Barbell, basically help run the business side of things. My background is a little different. I went to the University of Virginia and studied government. And for years afterward, I worked in DC, in New York in various foreign policy roles and government roles. And in 2014, like Kevin said, I came back to Cincinnati to help run my dad’s company, which was an electrical contracting company. So, when Kevin dropped out of school, he went to work for the electrical contracting company, which I was helping to run while also kind of building up to be in the business.

Now at first, it wasn’t a gym. At first, we were doing apparel and other things. But we were sort of in that entrepreneurial mindset. But I was helping run this electrical contracting company and learning about business, learning about the things you need to do to start a company. And as things developed, and as Kevin talked more and more about the gym, I was in a position to really help get the business in order, start an LLC, do the things that you need to do to organize and really hit the ground running. And so it was this accumulative thing where we were sort of both back in Cincinnati, we were both in a certain kind of mindset. We were both working for one company while thinking about starting a gym, and we sort of grew in that knowledge and in that capability until we were ready to make the leap.

Josh: Awesome. Brandon, how did you get into strength training or do you or do you just manage?

Brandon: So, I don’t spend a lot of time strength training. I’m more into basketball and tennis and things like that. Kevin over the years has gotten me into it here and there. It’s not something I do regularly. It’s really more of the management and that’s how I got pulled into the business side. But I think little by little I see the value in it and I do — The more we grow and the more I spend time around it there’s certain elements that I get drawn into. But I’m still more of a basketball and tennis person but it’s been great to help run a gym and to learn about this world.

Josh: Cool. Yeah, I’ve always been more of a combat sports person. So, it’s been later in life now that I’ve seen the value of strength training and been interested in it. So, the business does, because it’s called RTS barbell and I was told this is really based around more like traditional strength training. And so I was wondering, what is it your gym does, Kevin, that is different from a big box gym that’s filled with treadmills and stair steppers and stuff like that?

Kevin: Yeah. First and foremost is we have an extreme sense of community. So, actually, that’s much more different than just the equipment we have is that we’re all about trying to be a family. All my closest friends are there, we have a lot of people who have become friends there, and we all spend a lot of time together, you see a lot of the same people all the time. So, just from a people standpoint, it’s really a place that people come to because they want to be seen and cared about. And they want to experience an environment where they’re supported and I’m trying to give them the best of everything.

On the other side of things is just how we operate and what we offer. So, we’re a 24/7 open gym strength and conditioning facility. So, the entire community, they have 24/7 access. I don’t sell any coaching or programming, which is very different from most facilities that are kind of in our realm. Typically, they might have 24/7, but personal training is a core component for them. I’m actually the complete opposite. I want to focus strictly on the community and the culture and the facility, because that’s what I believe that I’m the most interested in and the best at.

So, yesterday, we just had 15 pieces of equipment delivered from this amazing company called Arsenal out of Tennessee. And really my skill set is to craft a fantastic environment, and then be the one that brings people together to be happy and be excited and feel comfortable and safe. And that’s what we do. And I think we do it extremely well.

Josh: So, you said something really interesting about how your gym is managed. So, you said it’s 24/7, and I think I was told that it’s managed totally remotely, is that accurate?

Kevin: Correct. So, unless I’m in the facility, we do not employ anybody to be in the facility as an employee or anything like that, or manager. So, we have systems set up, one being you guys, Gym Heroes, that allows us to basically run it remotely from all aspects; entry, the gym software system, cameras, all that good stuff. And we have it down to where if somebody wanted to visit for a day pass or join, you can go to the website, you can do the entire setup process through the Gym Hero software, and then they would receive an email with how to get in and their access codes and they would be able to let themselves in. And it’s really easy. So, that is a very unique component for us.

I love lifting so much and lifting is such an important part of my life that I wanted to create a place that it shouldn’t be difficult to have access. That’s how I felt about it. If you want to be there, I want it easy for you to be able to be there. If you’ve had a bad night, and at 02:00 AM you want to go lift, it shouldn’t be hard to find a fantastic place to go train and work on yourself and do what you need to do. So, that’s really a massive motivation for us is how can we constantly improve like ease of access, and that entire experience?

Brandon: I would say that this mentality dovetails perfectly with my thinking, my background. I’ve been very interested in using technology to solve problems throughout the different things that I’ve done. And when we kind of talked about the vision for this gym, this was the part I took the most active interest in was kind of setting up the technology and the software and the system that would facilitate this with really a minimum effort on our part and really be able to make it streamline for people. And it’s been very much a process. We have not always had the perfect system up front. It has been a trial and error thing.

And really the recent, kind of within the last six months of onboarding on the gym heroes and really using that as a powerful tool has really made it possible for us to have an amazing system. So, it’s been even the last six months, the system has made a huge leap and Gym Heroes has been a big part of that; being able to manage things and dashboard and just have a lot of capabilities that we didn’t have before that we had among four or five different software’s that we can now have from just one.

Josh: Yeah. I’m actually definitely interested in talking about that, because my next question was about how software and technology has really helped make this a reality. And you’ve touched on the software that we provide. And I was wondering because now you said you’ve consolidated from like five software’s down to down to one. Where did you start at? What did it look like trying to put all the pieces together?

Kevin: Yeah. So, when I started in 2017, basically where we’re at, we were a little 600 square foot room within a bigger building that used to be a clock factory. So, basically, there was like an outside door and an inside door. And I had no control over the keypad for the outside door. That was just a code the building owner set. But I had went to Home Depot and I’d got a door handle [inaudible 00:10:56] door handle just like a basic one you could like, put one code in. And so for the first couple years we ran the gym using, basically Square in kind of way that Square wasn’t really built to be used, but it processed the payments and it would track the customer, so it kind of — [crosstalk]

Brandon: The recurring invoices.

Kevin: Invoices and whatnot. And then we used Adobe sign for our waivers, which was kind of a very simple approach, but it was like, covered what we need to cover. And then I had this one door handle that had a single code. So, everybody that came had the single code. And in those early days, we ran around everything. Like I would run up and meet every single person that called or emailed or whatever. I shook every hand, I talked to every person. And we were just always in the systems trying to make sure everything was working and communicating, or not communicating. But we were doing the things that need to be done to keep the system rolling because nothing did communicate. And really, that’s how it started.

And we’ve been able to take those systems and evolve them little by little as those companies evolved over the years. But we always knew that there was this point where we were wishing and dreaming that this perfect-for-us system would come out and we would discover that would allow us to streamline everything into one software that could communicate to one entry system that tied into one camera system and it all flowed together. And it just simplifies everything for both us and for the members. So, it’s been quite the journey over the last almost five years. But where we started was quite complicated, but we made it work.

Brandon: I would say, in addition to the software, as he mentioned, we also had one for sending text messages like group texts and we had a separate sort of camera system. So, we had quite a number of different logins, quite a number of different systems. The goal now that we have Gym Heroes is we have more capabilities that we’re going to integrate more things pretty much in the gym heroes, including remote access, and a camera system that can all sort of be tied together. And of course Gym Heroes has a text messaging built in, it has a dashboard built in, it has communication with the members built in, it has waivers built in. It’s a night and day difference. Now, that’s not to say — They were all amazing softwares, individually. The problem is that they didn’t work that well together, and that’s the big evolution now.

Josh: Did you use something like Zapier or was it i-Manual or?

Brandon: Sure. I’m familiar with Zapier. I never was able to find a way that would be very helpful. Some of the things we mentioned aren’t integrated through Zapier and that wouldn’t have worked anyway. So, a lot of it was, there was a manual facilitation. So, we would get a member and there was some back end stuff that we would just have to do manually. And once we set that up, it would run automatically. But there was a little bit of manual intervention with each thing and as you grow and get 100-plus members that just becomes untenable to do anything really manually if you can help it.

So, that’s where it became a progressively more important thing to find the software system that would integrate things better. But yeah, Zapier is an amazing tool too, it just never quite worked for us. Some other things that could help facilitate just didn’t really work out. So, we were in the market for something that would really bring it all together.

Josh: Absolutely. Zapier is a really cool tool. But if the softwares that you’re using just integrates directly, it’s always better. It’s always better. I want to back up for a second and go back to your business model and ask about if you have, like personal trainers and coaches in the business and how that works with the business because you said that you don’t really have any direct employees of the business that are there unless you guys are there. So, can you explain about that?

Kevin: Yeah. So, we have two independent coaches. So, essentially, independent contractors. They operate as their own business. They essentially just pay us a flat fee, rent, if you will. And they can operate and work with whoever they want to work with. Their business dealings have nothing to do with me. That’s another unique thing that I’m always proud of, and I stand by is that, with me, I don’t get involved in their dealings. I want to see them absolutely succeed. So, as long as our agreement is met, they pay me a flat rate. But they can do and train — If they want to train from 12:00 AM to 12:00 AM the next day and train everybody and make $50,000 a month and do that, that’s what I want for them. I want these people, Jordan, to excel and succeed.

So, my job is to give them an amazing environment to do so as long as they meet my singular requirement, financially and then the requirement of being nice and treating people well and cleaning up after yourself, we have an amazing relationship. So yeah, that’s how we operate. They have complete control of their deal. Their money does not flow through me. I have no part of that and I have no part of their client acquisition, or anything like that. I’m completely hands off. So, I trust them to basically be their own business, they have all their own LLCs and insurances and things of that nature. And it’s a very harmonious relationship.

Josh: Awesome. I understand that you guys have grown fast since launch. And, Brandon, you might be able to speak about — you speak a lot about this as well — I’m sure you can. I was wondering what do you think led to that growth? What are the strategies that both of you guys have put into place to maintain that growth over the years too?

Kevin: Brandon can definitely answer that,  but I think I should start because I take a unique approach in that I operate with this mindset of conviction, not convincing. And so I want the facility to speak for itself. I want when you come in, I want you to open the door, and I want you to see the greatest strength conditioning equipment that the world has to offer. I want you to see that we don’t cut corners. I want you to see that I care more than is almost like healthy and natural sometimes. I want you to see that we have a community of people that have each other’s back, and really care.

So, my approach since day one has been just that. And that has been our marketing, that has been our sales approach, if you will, like that I don’t have a sales approach. I don’t sell anything to anybody. I build a facility and I craft, almost like an art, what we put in and when we put it in, and what that means for the members, and how that’s going to improve things for them. And I obsess over those things. And that speaks for itself and one by one people come along. And really they say, wow, this is very different. The quality of care is so much different than you’re going to experience somewhere else, and that really is the thing.

I think we’ve grown slow, but we’ve grown in control. And that was preferred because it’s very expensive to scale. Right? It sounds nice to just have lots of people and whatever, but it can be quite expensive to always scale. You need more space, you need more equipment, you need all these things. And there’s certainly a happy medium, just kind of depends on what your goals are and where you want to land. But it’s been a long five years, but it also has felt like it’s been both long and quick in the same sense. But that’s been, from my perspective, and that’s very important for me is that I care much more about letting the facility do what I’ve created it to do rather than me trying to convince anybody through marketing and funneling systems and client acquisition system; that’s not my thing? And I really don’t want any part of it. I think it’s just not authentic to me.

Josh: Yeah, the whole funnel hacking thing.

Kevin: Yeah, the funnel hacking thing. I get so frustrated when I hear people talk about it because it’s about the people, right? It’s about people, they’re not numbers. That’s what it comes down to. I know everybody’s name. I know their dogs and their cats, I know what they do for work. It’s very important to me, and that’s the difference. When you walk in when I’m there, I know exactly who you are, I know what you’re going on or what you got going on. Most people, when I see them, we talk for a few minutes, they tell me — I know when people are in car accidents, I know when people are having babies, I know people are moving; whatever it may be. And I want to be a pillar for people that they can always rely on. And that’s what it is.

And so people tell their friends and people share on Instagram, and they do certain things. And really, people, they want this. There’s certain kinds of people that want what we have to offer. So, they search for it, as simple as going to Google. And when we come up on Google, it’s very clear very quickly that we’re a unicorn, if you will, yeah, especially here in Cincinnati. And I don’t wake up to compete with anybody else. Like, I don’t think about what anybody else is doing. I have no interest in what other people are doing. But I know what we’re doing is very unique and very special, and we obsessively try to excel at that. So, that is kind of, to me, exactly why we’re —

I used to buy one piece of equipment at a time, and I would save up for six months to buy one piece of equipment. And yesterday, we had 15 large, very, very, very expensive and high quality pieces of equipment come in. And that was a massive accomplishment. But that speaks to, like I stay up at night researching equipment. And I know every company, I know everything they make, I know exactly how it works. I went out into the showroom and tried, basically the showroom for the company that was delivered yesterday; I went and did three sets of 10 at the showroom in Las Vegas on every piece of equipment. So, I knew personally exactly how it felt. Did I like that? Did I not like that? How would this serve everybody? What problems would this solve?

You know, I watch everybody in the facility, if they’re trying to set this thing up, or they’re trying to — I hate when people have to make shift anything. I don’t want you to make shift. I want you to have a premium experience. I want you to go get on that piece of equipment and have an amazing time while using it. So, that’s it. That’s what it is. I mean, the back end stuff is crucially important, and it simplifies stuff so that we can be opened up to focus more on that. And we know the money’s right and we know everything’s in place, and we don’t have to worry about that stuff. And Brandon says it best. He just said it in the transition to Gym Hero is what we’re doing now he’s like, the less we have to worry about all this stuff, the more creative and focused you can be on the things you’re the best at. And so that’s really the benefit of that. But yeah, I mean, we’re where we’re at today because of, I think, that conviction over convincing mindset for sure.

Brandon: And the metrics bear this out. So, I do all the accounting and analytics, and I have a daily and weekly and monthly view about the revenue and what’s happening. And the biggest jumps in our membership have come when Kevin’s made the investments, the crucial investments in equipment and experience and then growing the size of the gym. So, you can go to the RTS Barbell website and you can see the evolution of what this gym has been. Went from Kevin training by himself in somebody else’s garage, near our parents house, to the facility that you see today. And then if you go to the website, you can see what’s coming in a year’s time. We have plans to build a 10,000 square foot custom facility that we’ll own and we’ll operate.But we’ve seen the jumps in membership have come when we went from a facility that was kind of one, what was the square footage of the very first…

Kevin: 600 square feet and then [inaudible 00:24:30]

Brandon: Yeah, what were the evolutions of square footage up to now?

Kevin: So, the original space after that tiny garage was 600 square feet and then the space next to us opened up, that was 400 square feet. And I got the building owner to let me tear down the wall in between so that made the whole thing 1,000. And we did that until 2019. And then we really need more space. And it just so happened that the space across the hall which was 3,300 was opening up, and we were able to get that. And that’s where we’re at today. And then now like he said, we’re building, ideally breaking ground in March on a 10,150 square foot facility that is custom designed by me. And I’ve planned everything and I’m crafting it exactly the way that I think will provide the very best experience.

But, yeah, I mean, we started in, it was smaller than a small conference room. It was very small, two squat racks and two bars. I mean, people who have been around since then we joke about it all the time. But, I mean, it was very, very bare bones, it was very grassroots. But I just believed in it all so much. I just believe that there are people in the world like me who wanted a place that they could come and they could train, and truly feel like they were in a judgment free zone. Like, they could come in, they could just train and they could be loud, and they could be intense or not be intense. Like, they could just be how they needed to be, and have access to at least something at the time.

But from the moment we opened, it was just like, obsession, just like saving up for — I always was like, okay, the next piece. Like, what’s that one next thing that I think will jump us in value? Like if somebody walks in, they’re going to oh, okay, you don’t have much, but you have that, like respect. You made the right choice doing that next. And that’s always been my mindset is like, as a lifter, right, because I’m a lifter first, that I’m thinking, okay, what would I be thinking if I came in here and it wasn’t me who was building the place; what do I want to see? What kind of user experience am I looking for? And so that’s what we’ve been trying to craft around.

But yeah, we started so, so, so small, and it was one person at a time. I mean, somebody would find us on Google and come and visit and they would laugh at me. Like, really, I mean, the amount of people that laughed at me that basically were like, oh, this is super cool to my face, and then like, never spoke to me again, and just ghosted me because they just didn’t know how to be honest in person. There was a ton of that. But again, my conviction was I knew this — I was going to get us there, right. I worked full-time doing electric, I was dumping every bit of — I was paying the rent out of my little, what I had leftover from electric that I could get out, I was paying rent, I was saving up for equipment. I was doing all those things.

It was a little while before the gym had enough people to even start to kind of cover rent, but yet alone adding new equipment, yet alone other things. So, I mean, I personally bled and worked and grinded and paid into for a long time to get us to where we’re at. And now it’s really no different other than we just have access to some more resources, and we have a much stronger base, which is a very powerful place to be, to operate from with all that support, which is incredible. We have incredible people.

But my driving obsession, like I was the piece of property for the building, I’ve been out there cutting down trees all week. And the 15 pieces of equipment got delivered last night and I rented a forklift, and I’m running everything. I don’t opt out of any work. Nothing. I touch everything because that’s authentic to me. That’s just how we do. This isn’t authentic if I’m standing on the sidelines watching other people do everything. I want to be in it. I want to look back and know that I bled for it, that I worked for it, that my hands crafted it, and no one can ever take that away.

I always had this kind of mindset that like good for good or for bad, it’s my fault. So, if everything goes right, it’s my fault with the caveat that I’m not an island, I’ve got Brandon, I’ve got my wife, I’ve got people behind me. So, nothing I do that I’m successful is just me. But if everything goes wrong, it is my fault, right? And I never want to look back and say, wow, I wasn’t in there, I wasn’t getting my hands dirty, I wasn’t understanding what was happening in this place that we were building, and I wasn’t doing — I was throwing money at problems. That’s not how I — I don’t like to throw money at problems. I like to be in there, I like to find solutions, I like to understand. And it’s that understanding I think that makes us really good at what we do.

Brandon: And before we move off of this particular topic, I want to circle back to one thing that he mentioned in passing that kind of ties back to your original question. One of the more powerful things we’ve done to get people’s attention is to have a website that’s very straightforward. We don’t try to hide the prices, we don’t try to hide what we’re about, we use Squarespace. So, we don’t try to make it complicated. We use Squarespace, we design the website ourselves, we have big pictures of every corner of the gym, we have a whole list of all the equipment that we have.

And we have landing pages with prices for day passes, prices for student membership, prices for regular membership, it’s very straightforward. And then you sign up directly from that page. You don’t have to come for a tour if you don’t want to, you don’t have to call if you don’t want to. It can all be taken care of if you like what you see and the information is all right there, you can just sign up right there, come into the gym, you never have to meet anybody if you don’t want to. Or there’s a way you can schedule a tour directly from the website if you do want to have that interaction. And all of that has been made very powerful by what he discussed.

When I look at the SEO metrics, people find the gym mostly from Google Maps, is what it looks like. And we were very careful early on, that was something that we did know about, right from the start, is we’re very careful to build out that Google sidebar, to build out that Google business profile, to build out that map pin to make sure that people were going to find it in that way. And that is primarily the way that people are finding the gym, by searching barbell gyms in Cincinnati, it comes up we’re maybe first on that side, the first or second on the list. And then they click on the website and go from there. So, that is one of the more powerful ways of just getting connected to people.

Josh: Awesome. Very cool. So, it sounds like, so you had your personal trainers, they acquire their own clients, but it sounds like most of your clients are people that come directly to the gym. Is that accurate?

Kevin: Yes. From just a numbers in the entire facility standpoint, we factor in the trainers’ clients. But yeah our core thing is the members that are there for 24/7 open gym access. So, that’s who I am and like he and I are in management of, really. The trainers, they’re really in management of their people, but their people are part of the bigger thing. So, I’m just as close and have relationships with them, but they’re more over on the trainer side of things being managed by them.

Josh: Cool. And most people find you through SEO. Are there any other marketing activities? Is it just word of mouth or flyers or Facebook ads? What’s going on there?

Kevin: To this point, it’s been people finding us, people seeking us out, and people telling other people about us. I’ve never spent a penny on marketing in the traditional sense. I’ve spent every penny we have on marketing in the putting the best equipment we can put in the facility, having a very honest and transparent and well-done website, and letting that do the work, and it does. And again, it’s not the fastest, right? And there’s going to be a lot of people, they listen to us, and they’re like, this dude doesn’t do Instagram ads and he doesn’t do this, and he doesn’t do that. But I’ve actually been very happy with how we’ve grown because it’s been very genuine.

And when people come along that way, they’re coming, because they’re looking, almost always. And that means that they want a place to call home. Right? It’s not just this fleeting thing that they saw. No, they’re there in search. And that’s a much better way in my mind, it’s maybe a harder way, right? Like you could really view it like that, but a much better way in my mind to build a solid foundation of amazing people that honestly truly appreciate and respect what we’re what we’re doing. And that’s been, you know. So, I don’t know what we’ll do in the future. But I always viewed — I view an amazing piece of equipment and I know it seems funny, but I view an amazing piece of equipment as better marketing than $100 or $200 or $1,000 on Instagram.

And more so is the more value I provide for the people that are already supporting me, that is better business and just better everything than it is me seeking. So, I don’t chase. I have people right here in front of me. I have amazing people right here in front of me that every day they come in, they’re paying their hard earned money, they’re coming in and they’re training, I have a responsibility to them. Over delivering for them is better business for me than chasing people that are just out there, right? If I over deliver for these people, I believe in my heart that that will translate down the road. Whether it’s them telling people about it or them going and leaving an amazing Google review, or whatever it may be. That has always been my mindset.

I think that kind of mindset is so drowned out right now, because all anyone talks about is ads and funnels and all these things right now. And sure, there’s ways of getting just in front of more people, especially when you’re a niche. But to this point, that mindset of somebody coming in for a tour, and them looking around, and them looking at me, and just like, almost being confused by the fact that we have this equipment, that we have this atmosphere, that we that I’m like, oh, yeah, I can just come in. I can just…

Yeah, 03:00 AM, you want to come train, come train. Noon, whatever. That’s what we are, that’s how we do it, and that’s what we do really well, and that attracts the right kind of person for us, right? Because as much as we’re absolutely all about being inclusive, we are here for everyone. We attract a very specific type of person, like mindset. So, we have a very diverse community, but everyone’s mindset’s very similar. They’re looking for similar things in a gym. So, we appeal to the person that’s looking for us and that’s really important.

Josh: Awesome. What advice would you guys have for somebody who wants to start up a gym or just is a new owner of a gym and wants to be successful?

Kevin: I will say, people say to me often that, oh man, I want to open a gym, I want to do this, I want to do that. I would say that if you don’t absolutely think that you can be obsessed and sustain day in and day out, struggle while balancing constant striving for improvement; if you’re not really willing to do the work, I mean, really do the work. If you’re not willing to just overturn every rock and just travel around every corner that is necessary, just don’t do it. I mean really sincerely, just don’t do it. It is a very, very hard business. If you’re not willing to operate in such a way that —

I believe the best thing that we do is we operate with honesty and care, right? If you’re not willing to be that way, it’s not going to go well because people see right through that. People don’t want to be mistreated. People want to be cared about. People want to be loved. I use that word all the time. I tell people I love them all the time. And if you’re not willing to just be absolutely obsessed and find the best way to do each and everything you can do, then you’re going to be drowned out by everybody else doing the same thing. And there are a lot of them, and that’s no disrespect to anybody. I always say that I believe every type of gym should exist. I don’t knock commercial gyms, I don’t knock Planet Fitness or anything like that. There are plenty of people that Planet Fitness is exactly where they need to start. And maybe one day that start leads them to finding somewhere like RTS and that’s great.

But it is a very — I mean, I could go on and on about all this. But the last five years I’ve worked electric full-time. So, we have this amazing facility, we’re building a building, all this stuff and I’ve been working electrical full-time this entire time. I’ve been just absolutely night and day, sunup to sundown, just as much as I can, whether it’s in the facility, moving all the equipment and cleaning, wiping everything down, talking to people, working on the behind the scenes stuff, laying awake at night researching equipment, thinking about —

I’m a big motto guy. The gym’s got some mottos. If you kind of look at our pictures, I got a banner, we call the gym a refuge for the dedicated. I have a big stenciled thing on the wall, it says never satisfied; always thinking about how I can tie the story back into itself and share that with people, so people can really understand that this came from nothing. And it’s really there because we’ve been willing to do the honest and right things and just work really, really, really hard.

And what’s cool now is like, we’re obviously learning how we can work smart. That’s the beauty, right? But everybody always talks about working smart, but the reality is that there’s always going to be so much hard work that even happens before you can even kind of have the means to always work the smartest. And that’s just the reality. That’s just what it is. So, Brandon’s amazing at finding smarter ways for us to do those things. But sometimes, especially in facility, and along this journey, I’ve done every — We grew up in construction, our dad’s an electrician. I’ve done every tear out, I’ve done every remodel, I’ve put together a piece of equipment, I’ve done electric, I fixed windows, I’ve done this, I cut down trees, I do everything that I can.

And that has allowed us to get to where we’re at, because I’m not always sending funds out the door, right, and just throwing them at other people when I’m able to keep those resources here at home and do that hard work, and then use those resources to circle back and keep doing the cycle. And now we’re getting to the point where we’re building this new building, and I have a list of things that I’m doing. I’m doing the property clearing. We have contractors and architects and engineers, but I’m managing the whole thing. I’m going to paint. My dad and I are doing all the electric in the building.

So, everything that we can touch, we’re going to do that work. Because at the end of the day, I want to step back, and I want to be very, very proud that our hands were all over that and that our obsessions and passions are all over that and that shines through. Because at the end of the story is what — I want to maintain the story. I want people to know how we started, and the journey and all the things we talked about, and that’s why it’s on the website. I want people to be connected to that. You’re not coming into a commercial gym that’s backed by venture capitalists. You’re just coming into a place that’s backed by me.

And if tomorrow 80% of the people walked out the door, I would be figuring out how to supplement that and so I could build it back up again. You know what I’m saying? It would be me, it would be me who’s doing that. And obviously, Brandon would be behind the scene [inaudible 00:43:18] out how we can make it happen. But that’s really what it’s all about. To kind of circle back to the answer, I think that the gym business is super hard if you’re not just obsessed with it. And I think the other thing too, is that a lot of people want to open a gym because they’re lifters and I’m first and foremost, I’m a lifter.

But as time goes on, I’ve actually — I love business, maybe incrementally more than I do lifting. And you have to. Because 99% of everything that I do now isn’t even about me lifting weights, right? It’s how I can build something for others to lift weights. And so if it’s all just about wanting to have a place that you think you can just waltz into and lift weights, and you don’t have to answer anybody, I don’t think that’s going to be the way. But if you’re really wanting to create a place that’s about people, about community, and you’ve got some greater kind of purpose behind the whole thing, then I think you really got a shot. And if you’re willing to work hard and be honest, I think anything is possible; gym business, whatever it may be. So, that’s kind of my thing.

Brandon: I want to jump on that last point of Kevin’s. If you want to be in the gym business, you have to know that it is business, and you have to know what you’re getting into with that. So, there’s things that I work on behind the scenes; accounting, legal, insurance, legal structures, meeting with tax accountants at the end of the year, looking at revenue, making sure you have liquid capital that you need to meet your obligations every month, and financing. And so if you are not personally good at that, then you need to very quickly find people that you trust that are. You can’t just, like Kevin said, it’s not just about having a place you can lift, you’re really good at lifting and so you’ll start a business, you have to know what business means.

And if you don’t, you need to find people that can help you out or you need people that you can trust and you need to learn very quickly, because there is a lot more involved with even owning a gym than just the weights that are inside of that gym. There’s the whole structure of any sort of business is so important. And I think that’s another kind of one of the superpowers that we’ve had over the years that we’ve been a good team. He’s been able to in facility part he has had unlocked, and I’ve had the behind the scenes part unlocked, and together we’ve been able to navigate this on both of those fronts and that’s just incredibly important.

Josh: Awesome. Great advice, you guys. Where can people find you if they want to learn more about what you’re doing at RTS Barbell or any one of you individually?

Kevin: Yeah. Super simply, two best places are, and then Instagram is @RTSBarbell. Those are really the two ones. Everything that’s happening in our ecosystem is either on the website or on Instagram. On Instagram, obviously, you’re going to get like day to day constant like little blurbs and things like that, like the equipment being delivered, all that good stuff. And then I actually need to update all the pictures today on the website now that all the new equipment is in. But yeah, those two places, extreme transparency. Like, you will know exactly who we are and what we’re about by a quick Instagram scroll and a look at our website. And then obviously, you can email me at kevin at rts barbell . com, so very straightforward.

Josh: Awesome. Well, you guys, thank you for coming on. Great advice, great talk, and I hope we can get on and talk shop again sometime.

Kevin: Absolutely. It’s been great. Thank you.

Looking for better gym software?

We can help you run a more efficient and more profitable business.

Learn more

Get Our Best Content In Your Inbox

Insights on how to manage and grow your gym

Subscribe Now

Get more articles like this directly in your inbox.

Learn how to make your gym or martial arts school a profitable business.

* Unsubscribe at any time