The Lounge Q+A: Eddie Zhang, Fitness Business Coach

Interview with Eddie Zhang

Business Coach, Gym Owner

Training Grounds Gym


Eddie Zhang is a business guru for our times. Whatever he touches turns to gold and he inspires hard work and success from those around him. Not only is he the Founder and CEO of Training Grounds Gym in Columbus, Ohio, he coaches other fitness trainers to make 6 figures and be their own boss.

What do you do?

I own a gym in Columbus, Ohio called Training Grounds. Basically the way that I set up my gym, it’s like a salon but for trainers. There’s a business here in Columbus called “salon lofts” where you can rent your own room and you can cut hair, run your own business, cutting hair. I basically did that. But for personal trainers, I have basically like two car garage size gyms within my gym that are just like these, we call them training pods and they’re all identical. They’re just repeated over and over and over again.


I rent them out to trainers, they run their own gym. I’m basically a landlord, I just collect rent, they run their business.


How did you set up your business?

I set up my business in a way that I like, as long as the trainers are making money, then like I make more money. So the more money they make, the more money I make. I basically started just like experimenting, helping them out with some marketing stuff, some business stuff. And lo and behold from, for this was probably in the last two years or so, this turned into basically its own full on mentorship slash mastermind situation and I became, without even realizing it, almost like a business coach for trainers and such.

It doesn’t matter if you’re six figures or are two figures, you want to start off running your business the right way. Number one, I showed them the right business model that’s not going to soak up all their time and that way they don’t have to change it later on down the road.

Some good business advice?

Something I personally believe in and I’ve found is that, if you want to grow a business, you can’t make yourself like the essential piece that it doesn’t work without you. In my mind, I’ve always imagined the CEO is not necessarily the one that has to be doing all the individual tasks. They find a way for others, they create systems and they make it scalable so that way somebody else can come in and duplicate that task and do it while the CEO works at a high level and just focuses on growth and creating new things.

“The trainer has to be a part of it. We’ve always coached them to create systems in a way that the business can run without them and to create that relationship where the people feel like they have that intimate relationship with their coach. We’ve actually kind of started focusing on creating more of a community.


Tell me about your protege Kaylin Pyles.

She only works with young girls between the ages of like 25 to 30. When a new client signs up, she has created this amazing community where a new girl gets put into their group chat and then she gets bombarded with 50 new messages of, congrats, welcome to the squad. You made the best decision ever, or something like that. So now Kaylin doesn’t necessarily have to be the one all the time, you know, being leaned on, answering questions. Like anytime somebody has questions in there, usually they’ll ask a question, their group chat and then four or five other girls jump in and they’re super supportive. And so she’s done really well by creating this online community, they’re in there, supporting each other, creating relationships, creating friendships.


How have you changed your mindset?

Back in the day I used to think that big business had to have all these moving parts. It’s complicated and the more complicated it’s almost like a sign of value.


Your thoughts on PocketSuite?

I love PocketSuite. I’ve never found another platform that does everything PocketSuite does, I don’t want to say you guys should raise your prices, but if you were to price each of these features is [worth] way more than $20 a month.


More business tips?

I think everyone needs systems and the right business model. I think one of the things that people do wrong a lot is they look to the old way of doing things where it’s one-on-one personal training, One-on-one online training and that’s not really scalable. You only have so much time in a day. All I do is I basically, I just got connected with other six figure and seven figure online fitness coaches in person, fitness coaches, gym owners and I got to be friends with them. So part of my mentorship is this is what they do. You should probably do the same thing.

Fitness Trainer Resources

Check out our comprehensive Fitness Resources for everything you’ll  want to know about becoming a fitness pro including  options training, certifications, associations, licensing, and more!

What do you tell the trainers you coach?

It doesn’t matter if you’re six figures or are two figures, you want to start off running your business the right way. Number one, I showed them the right business model that’s not going to soak up all their time and that way they don’t have to change it later on down the road. It’s a hassle to change things down the road. Number two is once you have the right business model, then you just need to find the right lead generation strategy. Now they have a strong foundation, now I can just start putting people in there and like building up my house, lead generation is the second one. And then the third one that we focus on is retention.


It’s a lot easier when I can see you every week. We can build that rapport and that relationship. But a lot of the coaches, when they switched to online coaching, they somehow ended up losing a lot of that. That’s where the whole community comes in. So once you have the right business model down, you have a solid lead generation system down and then you have a good retention system with your community. I mean, there’s really nothing else you need. I have a good business model and every month I get say four to five new clients and each client stays with me for six to 12 months.


Your thoughts on money?

You can be at eight to $10,000 a month pretty quickly that way. We just focus on those three areas I mentioned. I personally think that your first eight to $10,000 a month is a lot easier than your next eight to 10,000 because your next eight to 10,000 you’re out of time.


A book you love?

It’s called “You’re a badass at making money” by Jen Sincero. She really helped with my money mindset and about how I think about money. A lot of the people I work with, they’re almost afraid to say they want money. Almost like money is an evil thing. The way that I see money now is that if I can help and provide value to somebody, then money is a reflection of the value that I provide. So if I’m making more money, that’s probably because I’m providing more value. That book helped me shift my mindset on money, gave myself permission to go out and earn money.


What are your parting thoughts and motivations?

We are always in control over our own destiny. The one thing that we can control is what we do. We can still go out and market ourselves. We can still brand ourselves, we can still DM anybody we want to on Instagram. We can shoot anyone an email that we want to, nothing is stopping us from succeeding. Even though the economy might be a little on the downward trend, there’s still people out there trying to spend and you know, there’s 330 million people in the United States. We’re still in control. We can still find them. So my parting thoughts are we’re in control. We decide what happens next to us.

Featured In eBook

Eddie Zhang adds key business growth insights in our latest eBook on How to Become a Fitness Trainer. He’s in the business of training trainers, so we were honored to have him contribute to the book.

Fitness Trainer Resources

Check out our detailed resource guide for everything you want to know about becoming a fitness pro.

Get the rundown on training, certifications, associations, licensing, and more!

Visit Fitness Trainer Resources

Lounge Sessions

Related Articles

eBook: How to Become a Studio Fitness Trainer

Get Started With a Fitness Trainer Career Becoming a fitness trainer is one of the most rewarding careers. Every day ...

How to Run Your Fitness Instructor Business with PocketSuite

The fitness training industry is becoming more competitive by the day. More and more people are beginning to understand the ...

How to get your personal trainer certification!

Are you a personal trainer or looking to become one? If so, you’ve probably heard that it’s important to get ...

Grow your business as a Boutique Gym Trainer

Are you a trainer at a boutique gym? Are you looking to lift your business to the next level? Maybe ...

Choosing Software – Mindbody vs PocketSuite

So, you’re looking for a solution to help you run your service business and you're considering MindBody. In this article ...

Training Tips for Fitness Pros from Eddie