8 Things I’ve Learned About Starting a Gymnastics Club

It’s 2014 — which means that 20 years ago we started ATLANTIC GYMNASTICS TRAINING CENTER   in Portsmouth, NH. I’m always nostalgic on April 15 (Tax day here in the USA), thinking about how far we’ve come as company and how far I’ve come as an owner.  On a day like today, I wish I could reach back into the past and talk to Tony Retrosi, 1994. 

If I could talk to Tony 1994,  here are eight things I would tell him:

1. Your team is everything: You won’t get very far with this gym without a fantastic group of people with you along the journey. Hire slowly, and fire fast. Pay close attention to what makes each person tick. Some of the people around you will become life-long friends. Cori has been with me since the day I opened. I need to remember to tell her how much I appreciate her.

2. It’s going to take longer than you think: Everything is going to take a lot longer, including developing the lesson plans, raising money, hiring a team and growing the business. Starting a gym isn’t a short-term affair. Be prepared for a very long ride.

3. Starting a gymnastics club  can be full of heartache: The road you’re about to embark on will be a very tough journey, and you’re going to feel deep sadness and heartache along the way. You’ll be betrayed, tricked and ridiculed. But just know that around the bend is another day, and it does get better.

4. Don’t compare yourself to other gyms: Oh, this is so hard. But it’s critical to your sanity. You’re going to see other gymnastics clubs get more funding, have a bigger space, better equipment and other gym club owners start numerous gyms while you’re still working on this one. You’ll see club owners with more Twitter followers and gyms with more clients. Remember, you can only control your small sphere and you’ll drive yourself crazy trying to keep up with others. Figure out what is going to set you apart from the rest. Find your own identity. (CAUTION- Do not unnecessarily  reinvent the wheel.)

5. Don’t worry about the competitions: You can spend lots of time worried about what your competition is doing, or you can focus on what you can control. Hire a great team, build a great product, and focus on revenue and costs of your own business. The competition will come and go, but you control your own destiny.

6. Raising money is very, very hard: It’s difficult to put into words just how hard it is to convince people to part with their money and invest it in your gym. Until you get the check in the bank, anything can happen. The key to success is presenting the company as an investment opportunity. Remember, people have lots of places they can invest their money. Find ways to get people truly excited to invest in your company.

7. Survive and advance: Like the NCAA basketball tournament (“March Madness”) it doesn’t matter how you win — just find a way to survive and advance. When you look back, the details will be fuzzy, but what you will always remember is that you found a way to survive. And that’s more than most entrepreneurs can say.

8. Form your own opinion: You’re going to be surrounded by lots of so-called experts along the way (ME INCLUDED!). Listen to what they have to say, but make sure you form your own opinion. It’s their 15 minutes of advice, but it’s your company. And you have to live with the decisions.

TONY SAYS: They say Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are successful gymnastics clubs. In fact 99 percent of successful gyms grind it out every day and wake up many years later just hoping to have seen some success. Today, I’m going to pause for a moment to celebrate just how far we’ve come. What a ride it’s been!

9 Ways to Become a Better Leader

Encourage employees to disagree with you. 

Gyms get into trouble when everyone is afraid to speak truth to power. Whether it is a business decision or a technical decision.  If all you hear is how great you’re doing, that should be a danger sign that your staff are afraid to disagree.

Don’t micromanage. 

Empower the people below you, then leave them alone. “A good part of leadership is stepping back,” says Bill Pasmore, senior vice president at the Center for Creative Leadership. “A good leader leads from front and back.”

When people err, don’t destroy them.

But make sure they LEARN whatever lessons there are to be learned from their mistakes. Failure is a prerequisite for success. 

Show compassion. 

Develop strong interpersonal relationships at work, so employees have some meaning attached to the work they are doing. One of our key employees recently had a death in the family and missed a lot of time. Instead of being frustrated with the time she was out, all the staff pitched in to help out. Sometimes it was just bringing her a coffee when she was at work. In our industry, we have to make sure everyone views this as MORE THAN JUST A JOB.

Vow to be constantly learning and curious.

It is OK to take risks but always ask yourself, “What is it that I don’t know that I should know? How do I learn it and test it out in situations that are not necessarily safe?” If your staff sees you learning, they will be motivated to learn.

Know yourself. 

“Just like you can’t start a weight-loss program without getting on a scale, you must begin your journey by learning the truth about yourself,” says executive coach Tasha Eurich. “We’re often the worst evaluators of our behavior. One of the biggest problems I see is a real lack of self-awareness. Executives often aren’t aware of who they are as people and the impact they have on others.”

Be laser-focused. 

Stick to one goal at a time.  Coaches who have transitioned into gym owners or managers often choose too many development goals. Give yourself the greatest chance for victory by developing one thing at a time. It is far better to make progress in one area than to make little or none in five.

Get rid of poor managers. 

“Of the 60 top executives at Continental, I probably replaced 40 who were not team players,” says retired airline CEO Gordon Bethune. “Don’t tolerate factionalism, backstabbing or prima donnas. Everyone wins, or no one wins.”

Practice leadership skills daily.

“The amount of deliberate practice you choose will be proportionate to your improvement,” Eurich says. “It’s like learning a violin concerto. You have to learn the concepts, then you practice every day to create beautiful music.”

You may want to read a past post, WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM GEESE 

Job Opening in NJ

Bright Stars Gymnastics Academy is seeking a Team Director/Head Coach for our fully equipped, 21,000 square-foot facility in South Jersey. (Approx. 1 hour from Philadelphia and 15 minutes from Atlantic City) We are looking for a leader with experience who wants the challenge of growing our successful existing girl’s program. Applicant must possess a passion for teaching children & developing athletes, have a strong work ethic, believe in a positive environment, be a positive role model, possess high values, loyalty & integrity, have strong technical knowledge & spotting abilities, be willing to work with all USAG levels & development programs and work well with co-coaches.
Additional requirements are as follows:
Current USAG member & certifications up to date.
Successfully pass an extensive background & reference list check.
Strong ability to coach levels 9+ a plus.
Professional, friendly, “kids first” attitude, with a love for teaching.
Excellent leadership; managing program for quality & consistency.
Demonstrate ability to be a Team player.
Responsible, reliable & safety-minded.
Strong organizational skills.
Ability to work & communicate effectively with staff, kids and parents.
Ability to work evening & weekend hours, & travel to competitions.
Coaching up to 28+ hours/week; administrative duties up to 8+ hours/week.
Professional Development – Attend Clinics & Certifications
Pay based on experience & knowledge.
Email cover letter & resume.
Bright Stars Gymnastics Academy
3330 Bargaintown Rd. Egg Harbor Township, NJ 08234


Job Opening in Iceland

Grótta gymnastic club in Iceland is looking for a full time professional WAG
coach for girls 10-20 years old, all together 22 that train in two different
groups. Two of the girls are in the Icelandic senior national team, one in
the junior team and three girls are in the Icelandic youth program.

We are looking for a coach that can start working soon, temporary or for a
longer period of time. This could be interesting experience for someone that
is between jobs or looking for new one.

For more information contact Sesselja Järvelä head coach of Grótta gymnastic

phone +354-8936658.

Jokes to Play in your Gymnastics Club Today.

Happy April Fools Day.

1538688_658718930831601_848843557_n-1Mother nature almost played the best joke here in New England by making it snow yesterday.  I’m kind of pissed that I had to get up and plow.

I spend a great deal of time writing and coming up with serious things to post at Gym Momentum. Today we will depart from that. Life is too short not to have a little fun.

Those who know me in the gym know that I enjoy a good practical joke. I’ve been known to play a few as well.

Share your best Practical Joke and I will hook you up with a prize.

BEST PRACTICAL JOKES I”VE PLAYED. (my apologies to my children as they are often on the receiving end)

When the kids were younger I switched their beds while they were sleeping. Putting my son in my daughters’ room and visa-versa.

Used GREEN Hair spray and colored the kids hair while they were sleeping.

Had all the forms for my children to be legally named Rutabaga and Monkey Butt

Had our daughter convinced that she had an older sister we put in a convent. (This went on for 3 years)

Replaced Vanilla yogurt with mayonnaise

Filled a piñata with guacamole (the looks on their faces when it started oozing after they hit it was AWESOME)

I was asked to take care of my neighbors cat. I sprinkled POP ROCKS in the cat litter box.

(same neighbor) Was gone for 3 months. I was helping his wife walk his dog. Every time I went over I would get a dog treat and say “Tim’s an A** Hole” and give the dog a treat and then take him for a walk. After 3 months All you had to do was say “Tim’s an A** Hole” and the dog would go NUTS.

Things I’ve done in the gym.

Replace the Windex with Blue Gatorade and drink it in front of kids. (Works well as long as you remember WHICH bottle you’ve filled)

I had a number of gymnasts that instead of spraying their grips would spray the water bottle in their mouth and then spit in their grips. A little SOAP in the water bottle does the trick. They no longer do that!

One that involves team work and acting- Threw one of the best (and nicest) kids out of the gym for not putting her grips on fast enough. She and I thought it was pretty funny!

Spur of the moment- I have a friend who is a cop. He stopped by to drop off some tickets to baseball game. One of my employees asked why I was talking to Cop. I said, “It appears you have a stalker. We will talk about it later. You probably need a lawyer”

A very realistic stuffed rat works great to get the kids out of the pit fast.

A few Balloons in a vaulting board that POP when the first kid hits the board.

A “woopie cushion” under a sting mat.

Go into the locker room and tie everyones shoes together

A well placed air horn behind the door

A well placed air horn behind the door


Under a Chair

Under a Chair

Share your FAVORITE or BEST April Fools Jokes with GYM MOMENTUM

Thoughts about Twitter.

You check it.

hashtag-bird50 times a day—usually between events or during break—and use it to follow everyone from your best friends to your favorite gymnasts (and I hope you follow me @tretrosi and @gym_momentum).  But how much do you really know about Twitter, and the people behind it?

At the SXSW conference in Austin earlier this month, Kevin Weil, Twitter’s Vice President of Product, Revenue, revealed  the surprising reasons his company has been so successful—and what you can learn from Twitter’s big ideas.

1. The company follows a secret code …
… but Weil will reveal it anyway. “We think there are really four things that make Twitter unique: that it’s public, live, conversational, and widely distributed,” he says. “Everything we’re doing now and in the future is in service of those things.” Recent examples include showing photos and videos in timelines—rather than users having to click to see the images—and introducing Vine last year. “Vine is a great example of those four things applied to video—people sharing their lives and their creativity in 6-second loops—and it’s almost become its own sort of art form. We love what we’re seeing there.”

2. The brains behind the brand break a sweat together. 
Twitter seems to roll out new features at lightning-speed—which makes sense, since its HQ is made up of highly active athletes. Weil, for example, usually runs 8 to 12 miles in the morning—often with his coworkers. “My morning run is an opportunity to connect with friends and colleagues, or if I’m alone, it’s an opportunity to collect my thoughts and plan for the day,” he says. “Running gives me balance, and leaves me with energy and enthusiasm for the coming day in the office. Twitter is a wonderful place to work, and extremely high-energy. Being a long-distance runner helps me keep up with my coworkers!”  

3. They strive to stay head of the tech curve. 
Weil has a big prediction for where technology is headed: “I think we will see various forms of Internet-connected devices and sensors become so prevalent that they fade into the background of everyday life,” he says. “Cell phones already have, and the world is massively different than just 7 years ago because we each carry in our pockets an always-on connection to the rest of the world. Wearables are another example of this, and they’re clearly in their infancy. I can’t wait to have more real-time information about myself, my health, and my fitness from wearables. I’m looking forward to what the future holds.”

4. They can’t function without collaboration. 
Weil’s favorite business motto: “Strong opinions, weakly held.” In other words, Twitter rose to be one of the most popular services around because the company valued collaboration. “We work every day to create new experiences for hundreds of millions of users, and it’s important to be bold, to be willing to suggest and defend big ideas,” Weil says. “But it’s equally important to have the humility to ask questions, to welcome others challenging your ideas, to look honestly at data whether it supports or refutes your idea, and ultimately to learn from our users.”

I personally started viewing Twitter and other Social Media at first like at novelty. But now it is an integral part of my marketing plan. Marketing, like gymnastics, is a dynamic environment. You are moving forward or backward. There is no such thing as staying the same.

I recently was asked to MC the University of Calgary International Cup. The FIRST thing I did was start using a hashtag (#UCIC) to encourage the audience and the athletes to get involved before, during and after the competition. I look forward to growing this at future competition.

How do you use Twitter?

What has been your most successful post on social media?

Share your thoughts, keep the momentum going!