Something has been driving me crazy in cheer lately, and those who know me know a fired-up blog is headed your way. 


Burnt-out gym owners: Please stop projecting bad attitudes on young hopefuls. For every post from a gym owner asking for advice when opening their new gym, there are at least three-to-five comments from tired, worn-out owners telling them not to do it. Sometimes there is an emoji, and you can almost hear the humor in their words, but in reality – there is always a little bit of truth behind those jokes. I can imagine they’re a bit disheartening for these future gym owners though.


I’ve got two audiences with today’s blog: The burnt-out gym owner and the future young hopeful.


To the burnt-out gym owner: Stop telling hopeful new gym owners not to open a gym. Don’t project your own poor experiences onto them, but instead, help them so they don’t make the same mistakes you made. If you made mistakes in your early days, as I did, you probably have some regrets. You might have some 1-star reviews like I do to back it up. You had some hard-learned lessons and wish you could change how you did things back then, but you can’t. All you can do is learn and get better, little by little, day by day. If you’re working a million hours a week and hating your life, you have two options. Get help, or stop owning a gym. No kid deserves the wrath of a temperamental coach who is out of patience. No mom deserves that, either. No one at score check deserves that, nor does your uniform rep. If you’ve been living life, day after day, the same way – wishing you hadn’t opened your gym, then make a change. Your life doesn’t have to be 6 a.m. to midnight of dealing with parent complaints and problems. Here’s an example. 


Today I had to be up at 3:50 a.m. to take my daughter to the airport. It was an exhausting morning. I had a couple of unread messages. One from a parent and one from my business partner. When I got home, I wanted to wait to go to sleep for a few hours to make sure my daughter arrived at her destination since she was flying alone. I wasn’t quite ready to tackle the messages yet, so I respectfully let them know I would get some sleep first and would get back to them this afternoon with a fresh brain. In the meantime, I checked my emails and worked on my new season’s athlete handbook. When I got word my daughter had made it on the second plane without any issues, I went to bed for a few hours. 


I could have comfortably stayed in bed all day, but I was eager to start the day when I woke back up. (This blog was first on my list today after just a few minutes of scrolling Facebook.) 


What’s my day look like? Well, I’ll work until about 5 p.m. today on: 


  • A few more pages of my athlete handbook
  • Marketing for my competitive tumbling and hip hop programs (cheer was posted about five weeks ago, and we’re looking great there)
  • Updating my business partner on a few things regarding our new childcare license and a question a parent in the gym had regarding leveled tryouts


I’ll also: 


  • Work out
  • Make dinner
  • Bake some bread (my teenagers have been eating a ton of this and are requesting more!)
  • Watch The Bachelor finale with my husband
  • Host our live video for Next Gen – Fireside Chat at 9 p.m. 


Ten years ago, my life would have been very different. It would have looked more like this:


  • Work all day at my full-time job
  • Go straight to the gym after work
  • Coach for three hours
  • Clean the gym
  • Work on payroll, so it’s done by the 1st
  • Answer gym emails
  • On a good night, I’d leave just before midnight
  • Get home to see my kids and husband are already sleeping, spend a lonely half-hour winding down and getting ready for bed before waking up at 6 a.m. to see my kids for 20 minutes before school 


Some of the gym owners commenting on those posts live a life similar to mine 10 years ago. I was exhausted all the time. It couldn’t last forever, so I got help. I hired a business coach and dove into every audiobook I could find about business. I didn’t have much extra time, but I had about 30 minutes between my drives to and from work and the gym. 


In that 30 minutes a day, I learned how to essentially buy back my own time. I hired people to do the jobs I was doing and refocused my efforts on more important, higher-level tasks. 


You should be doing the same. Tired of the culture in your gym? Get the silly things off your plate and get to the bottom of it. Be intentional about fixing it. Burnt out with all the messages from parents day in and day out? Empower your staff and pay them well to help you answer those messages. 


Now, for the new owners…


To the hopeful new gym owner: Don’t listen to those telling you not to do it. Owning my own gym is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done. I’ve owned almost a dozen businesses in the last ten years. I’ve sold some of them and invested in our future. Before my gym, I had never owned a business before. The gym is the one I’ve never seriously considered selling, though. I love it too much. Last year some of my long-time staff and I even got matching tattoos. The memory of this gym will live with me forever. Here are some of the most amazing parts I’ll never forget: 


  • The first time my team had ever performed. It was a tiny team of just six kids. I am not a crier, but I bawled my eyes out. I was so proud of them.
  • Getting the keys to our own building. It took blood, sweat, tears, and a lot of patience to buy our own building, and I was so incredibly proud.
  • The former rec mom stopped me in Walmart during the COVID closure in 2020 and asked if she could donate to keep the gym open because we had an incredible impact on kids in our community – including her daughter.
  • The former athletes who had moved away registered for virtual classes to support us during 2020 (We even had some who paid for virtual private lessons in other states just to help us keep up revenue during the closure.)
  • More recently, the first church service hosted in my gym. (Our church started a second location and rents our gym on Sunday mornings for services.) Even more impactful for me was seeing so many of my cheerleaders at Sunday church service in uniform on the day of our showcase. 


I’m sure I’ll think of 10 more memories I wish I had added, but you wouldn’t have time to read them all. After all, you’re in the hustle and bustle of starting a gym. 


In my early days, I took all the advice I could from wise gym owners who had forged the path ahead of me. About three years in, I realized many gym owners weren’t as wise as I had thought. They had failed at owning a business (or were currently failing) and were giving me jaded advice. Some of them had bad experiences and hadn’t handled them well themselves – yet they hadn’t taken time to reflect on what they should have done to give me good advice. So, I attempted to pave the right path for my gym. It wasn’t until I met the group of owners that currently own Next Gen today with me that my gym (and my life) changed.


Together, we read books, studied business, and listened to podcasts. We met regularly for accountability and to build ideas. We systemized our gyms and worked together to troubleshoot what wasn’t working. 


  • I went from working 88+ hours per week with small children at home to attending any class party or field trip I wanted. 
  • I went from a budget that made me cry every month wondering where all our money went to a predictable, data-driven budget that paid me on time every time. 
  • I went from throwing my hard-earned money at all the wrong stuff and leaning almost entirely on word-of-mouth marketing to running reliable Facebook ads with a 95% success rate.
  • I went from walking around telling everyone what to do every night and feeling frustrated they couldn’t even clean a bathroom correctly – to having an incredible staff that handles things while I’m on family vacations and away with Next Gen.


So, if you need some advice, here it is…from a gym owner who WANTS to see you succeed.


  1. Be leery of the advice you get on the internet. Some of it is bad. Find credible sources, and dive into the content. Never stop learning. Things change rapidly, and you’ll need to keep up, but it is possible.
  2. Don’t forget you have a business first. If you can’t be successful at the business, you won’t have anywhere to do the coaching you love. A thriving business will offer your athletes more opportunities than a great coach ever could.
  3. You will make mistakes. Without a mentor, it might be hard to recognize them as mistakes, but once you do, commit to changing and not making them again. Change the systems and processes in the gym to adapt to the new way of doing things.
  4. Sometimes parents are only crazy because of your antiquated systems and processes or lack thereof. Recognize that, give them grace, and commit to improving every year.
  5. More equipment will not bring you more athletes. Celebrity coaches or a mega-gym name brand may not bring you more athletes. Authentic and effective marketing and a proven sales funnel will bring you more athletes. You’ll also need systems in place for retention. A leaky bucket can’t hold the maximum amount of water. 
  6. Rec may not be your passion, but it’s an important part of the all star funnel. It’s also a great option for athletes who can’t afford all star. Treat your rec athletes with the same gratitude as your all star families. 


So again, don’t listen to the naysayers. Without young, energetic gym owners with fresh ideas who are opening new gyms, our sport will die. I opened my gym in 2013 when another gym had been in my town for 10 years. They had been super successful, and I knew I probably had no business competing with them. It turns out there were plenty of kids in my town for both gyms. 


Consider joining the Academy and including ongoing education in your initial budget. Lots of gyms close every year, and lots of business owners burn out every year. You don’t have to be one of them. Book a call to learn more at