camp rhino

A Gym Owner’s Advice for Modernizing Your Legacy while Staying True to Your Values

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As a business, it is crucial to keep your finger on the pulse of the industry you serve.

Market trends, competitive analysis, customer buying habits and cycles are just a few of the metrics that should be on your radar. Over time, some of the most successful brands have adapted to the economy while still staying true to their core values.

For example, over the past decade many soft drink companies have had to expand their product lines in a response to the attack the healthcare industry has made on sugary drinks and the correlation to childhood obesity. Now, there are more options than ever before for “healthier drink options” from bottled water and electrolyte drinks – all made available to you from the brands that used to only offer soda.

The face of the fitness industry has also changed dramatically in the past decade. As the owner of a fitness business, how do you maintain your identity and core values as you adapt to the market trends, the shift in demographics, and customer expectations?

Over the past 14 years, Camp Rhino of Las Vegas, NV has built a legacy that has impacted over 40,000 lives in their community. We asked the owner Julie Johnston, how she has stayed true to herself and the goals of her business as Camp Rhino has evolved to what it is today.

Power Systems: Julie, what have you done in response to some of the fitness industry trends to help your business grow?

Julie Johnston: We started with obstacles, competitions, and boot camp in 2004, but we wanted to put the obstacles inside a facility. We opened Camp Rhino in 2012 and quickly realized that we needed to have classes that complemented obstacle training, so we added Rhino CrossFit. CrossFit and Bootcamp attract different types of people, but we often find our members attend both class types depending on their goals and upcoming competitions. Having both CrossFit and Bootcamp available keeps our clients from getting bored.

In 2015, we started focusing on nutrition in response to our members desire to look and feel even better. We offer nutrition programs to members and non-members with coaching available in person or even online.

Camp Rhino began by offering mostly group classes. Over the past two years we have shifted to put a heavy focus on Personal Training because it’s truly the best option for new members.

This year, we added a full-time Physical Therapist to provide our members with quick access to therapy services, so they can stay active and avoid long-term injuries.

PS: Explain how you have stayed true to yourself and the goals of your business as Camp Rhino has evolved to what it is today.

JJ: Every program we offer at Camp Rhino was added because I personally wanted it. This is not necessary to run a successful business, but I still participate in almost every program we offer. I love being a member even more than I love being the owner. I have become the healthiest version of myself, even fixing some of my medical issues, through our nutrition and exercise programs. Every new program we add must align with our mission, which is to prescribe exercise and nutrition while making it something our members want to do!

PS: What do you want your legacy to be with Camp Rhino?

JJ: Camp Rhino’s legacy will be with every member who used it as a catalyst for change in their lives. Joining a positive, health-driven community does more than just improve someone’s health and lifespan. It can change the entire course of their lives. Finishing a Bootcamp, CrossFit, or obstacle workout can spur someone to believe in themselves for the first time. Achieving personal physical fitness records can create major momentum that starts small and results in something much bigger like job promotions, career changes, new relationships and emotional healing. We have touched over 40,000 lives and climbing. We are going to be releasing our famous Bootcamp programming soon for the first time to share with other gyms and can’t wait to grow the community even more.

PS: How has Power Systems contributed or complemented your efforts to build a strong legacy?

JJ: Power Systems sold me my first piece of exercise equipment in 2004. I used to look at their catalogs and dream of new equipment and exercises for my Bootcamp classes. I still gain inspiration from them for our programming. They sell a variety of equipment that is great for our Bootcamps, CrossFit, and personal training sessions.

Personally, Power Systems helps me reach outside my comfort zone every month as one of their Master Coaches. Before I met the Power Systems team, I hadn’t interacted very much with the fitness industry outside of Las Vegas, NV where we are headquartered. Now we are traveling to fitness expos together and a whole new World has opened up to us. I’m learning from my fellow Master Coaches and meeting people I never would have had the chance to meet.

PS: What would be your one piece of advice to professionals in building a lasting reputation in the industry?

JJ: Find a way to help your clients. Prescribe what they need and give it to them. They need to exercise in a way that will keep them moving when they are old. They need to learn to eat healthy in order to feel good and have energy. Give them what they need and do it in a way that makes them enjoy the process. Don’t utilize advertising gimmicks that herd massive amounts of customers in at a rate so cheap it’s impossible to give them what they need. Be steadfast and consistent and be there for your members when they need you. Charge what you need to charge to pay your employees’ wages that will keep them long-term. If your members are getting the help they need, they will stay.


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Elisabeth Fouts

About Elisabeth Fouts

Elisabeth serves as the Education Coordinator for Power Systems and is their primary content contributor for blogs and articles on a variety of subjects from personal training and group fitness programming to product spotlights and health club operations. She holds a B.S. in Exercise Science and has over 12 years of experience in the fitness industry from a personal trainer & group fitness instructor to regional level fitness management. Elisabeth is also a Master Trainer for PowerWave Master and holds industry group fitness certifications with ACE & Les Mills.