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Is it possible to manage/own and still coach

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Geoffrey Taucer

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I have toyed with the idea of one day openning a gym myself, but my biggest hesitation is that I'm afraid I wouldn't have as much time to coach -- and that's what I really love doing. I have known several gym owners who were brilliant coaches, but just didn't have time to coach much because they were too busy managing the business side.

First and foremost, I want to coach. Would it be a mistake to try to open my own gym?

(to clarify: this is not anything I'd be doing anytime soon, just something I might consider doing down the road.)
 

JBS

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Yes...it is possible if you are very dedicated and have a great business sense. Owner responsibilities cannot be placed on someone else's shoulders. If you are going to be a coach (especially head coach) and owner, you have two jobs. If you are very good at doing both of these jobs, they will start to overlap (you can lead by example). However, owner responsibilities will never disappear and they need to be at the top of your "to do" list.

Most great coaches concentrate more on coaching their gymnasts than running the gym. In running the gym you have a new set of students, all of your employees. By training (teaching) your employees as much as you do your gymnasts, you will eliminate a majority of the one thing that owners deal with....PROBLEMS. Less problems....less stress....more time doing what you love (whatever that may be).:)

I know we'll get some good threads going in this section to really explain in detail some of the advantages and disadvantages of owning a gym.
 
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Feb 15, 2007
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Our local recreational gym owner, Patti Komara, coached and managed her own gym when she first opened up in the late 60's and then eventually, as her business became more successful and grew she gave up the coaching side and focused her energy on the business side. She got the best of both worlds... :)
 

blantonnick

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Gym owner and coaching

I did an apprenticeship running International Gymnastics Camp's recreational gymnastics school during its offseason (in other words fall and winter time when the camp doesn't run). At 24 years of age it taught me a vauluable lesson...if you want to coach gymnastics, don't try and open your own gym. Between running enrollment, accounting, marketing, plowing/salting the roads etc(the list goes on and on) you don't have time to effectively coach like you would love to. My advice, do one or the other...unless you are one of those rare human beings who can work non stop 80-90 hours a week. In that case, go for it:p
 

gymmomntc2e6

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Aug 25, 2007
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The owner of our gym also coaches. That is her true love, gymnastics and coaching - and it shows when she is in the gym w/ the girls.

I don't have a lot of info, I think she does a lot of the business stuff during the daytime and then she can concentrate on coaching in the evenings (from 3:30 on) - But I don't know much about the business side. This is also a small gym and less than 5yrs old I think.

I think it can be done, but also at a certain point you have to be able to let other people do some of the work - like an office manager so you can coach if that is what your true love is.

just the opinion of a parent looking in from the outside.
 

bogwoppit

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The owner of our gym also coaches. That is her true love, gymnastics and coaching - and it shows when she is in the gym w/ the girls.

I don't have a lot of info, I think she does a lot of the business stuff during the daytime and then she can concentrate on coaching in the evenings (from 3:30 on) - But I don't know much about the business side. This is also a small gym and less than 5yrs old I think.

I think it can be done, but also at a certain point you have to be able to let other people do some of the work - like an office manager so you can coach if that is what your true love is.

just the opinion of a parent looking in from the outside.
Our club is exactly the same. The owner is the head coach,choreographer,cleaner,administrator, you name it she does it all. She coaches five evenings and one weekend day and attends all meets.

It certainly takes a lot of discipline and organization. She cannot be sick, late or too tired. Not easy for a parent with young children in school or with a partner who travels for work.

Obviously it can work, but like anything in life, you have to really want it badly to work that hard.
 

ZJsMom

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What I've heard from people who are successful is that you have to delegate one or the other. If you try to do everything yourself, you're going to limit your growth. I think the models for successful gym owners choosing one you can look to are Mary Lee Tracy and Jeff Metzger. MLT focus on coaching and delegates more of the business stuff, while Metzger focus on business and no longer coaches. Al Fong appears to be the model of someone trying to do it all on a large scale and it's been public knowledge that he has struggled financially and GAGE almost went under. I suppose if you don't aspire to grow that large, maybe you could do it all.
 

gymnomore

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Aug 3, 2007
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Here's another parent's point of view. At our former gym, the owner is a very good coach, when he is coaching. We saw many changes throughout the course of our time there, and one thing all the parents agreed with is that he couldn't effectively do both. This affected the success of the team. After we left, I heard many comments about how great of acoach he was back in the days when he was just a coach. On the other hand, we went to a new gym where the owner built up the gym to the point where he could successfully hire other coaches to do just that, and he moved on to the role of gym manager and owner. It was a much better situation for everyone.
 
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BlairBob

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Geoffrey, I'm in the same boat as you. Personally, I want to live a little before I ever think about opening up a gym of my own or starting a family, wife, kids, dog and cat.

I think many owners have to be sensible and I have seen it being very successful where they also hire an office manager or gym manager besides program directors to offset the workload. An owner might simply not be able to commit to coaching 25 hours a week or various levels of team. For perhaps a short time as the gym ramps up and grows, but not a long term situation. Perhaps they can commit to coaching one or two levels ( level 4 or 5/6, developmental or at the most difficult, optionals [ which in some sense, coach themselves by that point ]).

After my first few congresses, I realized that if I wanted to survive as a coach, I would need to be able to coach many things or everything. After a few more congresses and years working as a coach, I then realized that unless you are a coach in a big program and are in high demand; that only by being an owner is a decent living. Another route is to also have alternative sources of income be it a day or morning job, chiro/massage/PT.

Personally, I still have some thoughts of owning or co-owning. However, if I want to start a program and take a gymnast to level 10, it would take at least 10 years. On another note, I personally wanted to know as much about every job in the gym, before venturing on my own to doing it. That's just myself. I've made it a focus ever since then to always understand how the office works, number crunch, insurance, marketing, etc, etc. If I ever went into full bore, I'd be hitting Jeff Metzger and similar clinicians beforehand, too.
 

Valentin

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Nov 12, 2007
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I don't think i can add anything more then what has already been said, but this is what i know
Like yourself i would like to own my own gym (here in NZ preferably maybe). But until then as BlairBob said i need lots more experience.
I think that you can coach and manage but it is definitely going to be HARD, especially as the club grows. The current club owner used to coach rec to competitive (partly cause she loved it partly cause shortage of coaching) and manage, but this year is doing only like 2-3 rec classes a week, and the rest is club management. Now this is for a club of about 300-400kids. (rec,comp, tramp, display etc included). To me i think that for be able to do both successfully it requires to delegate the work. I think that the best way to go about it is to like JzsMom said to delegate responsibility. Its much easier to say ok I am head Competative coach, so and so is head rec coach, so and so is Head tramp... etc.. So everyone has an area of responsibility. You as head coach (i would assume for competitive) and manager you have the responsibility to ensure that all the other head coaches are onto it, and are doing their job effectively but you let them do them, that way you have time to spend coaching. It requires a strong committed team effort but i for one would prefer to work together with a group of people towards one goal then to try and run everything myself.
I guess as a owner/buisness person you need to be a great leader, and like all great leaders you need to know your strengths and weaknesses.
 
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