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Martial Arts in Fitness Studios

by | Offline Marketing & Sales

Setting Expectations for Martial Arts Students Upfront

Authority is highly influenced by emotion.

While your staff and students may intellectually understand that you are the boss and master instructor, they have to feel it, not think it.

It’s the emotional connection that anchors your authority on a deep level.

If there is one powerful moment in your role as a professional martial arts instructor, it’s in the enrollment conference.

While the parents may see you as the master black belt, they usually don’t have an authoritative reverence at this early stage.

The enrollment conference is a seminal moment for you to establish your authority and gain the respect and gratitude of the family you’re dealing with.

Presenting the programs and their cost to parents can be tense at times. Some parents want to negotiate. Others might object to the agreement. Some want a safety net in case their child wants to quit.

While it’s important that you are prepared to overcome any objections, it’s when the bottom line is signed and the initial investment is completed that you have a critical window to demonstrate your authority.

Many owners complete the transaction and gush with statements like, “Awesome. It’s great to have you on board. Johnny, you did an awesome job tonight. High five! Thanks Mrs. Jones it’s great to have Johnny as part of our family. Let me know if I can help with anything.”


Who has the role of authority here? Mrs. Jones and her credit card. That was a missed opportunity.

Let’s try again. You would adjust this script to the age and circumstance, but here is an authority template for the enrollment conference.

Mom has just enrolled Johnny into the program.

You, “Johnny. You want to learn Empower Kickboxing, right?”

“Yes sir.”

“Good. I want you to understand that your mom just enrolled you into a six month program. You are going to learn a lot of great skills and lessons. It’s going to be fun and sometimes it’s going to be hard. That’s the good part because that means you’re learning. So you have to pay attention and practice at home 20-minutes a day when you don’t have class.

Are you going to work hard and practice?”

“Yes sir.”

“I’m glad. Your classes are Monday and Wednesday at 5pm. When are your classes?”

“Monday and Wednesday at 5pm.”

“Good. You’re a smart guy. That means that you have to be ready to come to class by 4:30 on Monday and Wednesdays so that you’re not late. Will you do that?”

“Yes sir.”

“No matter what you are doing, you will be ready by 4:30, right?”

“Yes sir.”

“Good. The first lesson is integrity. Integrity means that you do what you say you are going to do. You keep your promises. You promise to work hard and be ready for class, right?”

“Yes sir.”

“No matter what you’re doing. Right?”

“Yes sir.”

“Great. We’re going to be so proud of you. Your mom just enrolled you, so please turn to her and say, ‘Thank you mom.”

“Thank you mom.”

“Alright. When someone does something good for you, you always say thank you. That’s called gratitude. What’s it called?”


“Correct. So you’ve learned two important lessons today. Integrity and gratitude. What does integrity mean?

“Keeping your promises.”

“Yes. What does gratitude mean?”

“Saying thank you.”

“You got it! You are going to do great, I can tell already.”

“Remember, your class is…”

“Monday and Wednesday at 5pm.”

“When will you be ready to come to class?”


“You have a good head on your shoulders Johnny. You’re going to be good at this.”

“Because you’ve showed your mom gratitude and you’re going to keep your promises, here is a school t-shirt for you to wear. Every time you put it on, I want you to think of integrity and gratitude. Will you do that?”

“Yes sir.”

“I just gave you a shirt. How do you show gratitude?”

“Thank you sir.”

As taught in the MATA Certification program, it’s also a good idea to let mom know that it’s important that she control what Johnny is doing around 4:30 which is the agreed upon to be ready for class.

If Johnny is playing with his friends or deep in a video game, it’s going to be harder to get him to get ready than if he is cleaning his bedroom or something he’d like to leave to go to class.

Keep in mind that mom is watching this happen before her eyes. What have you done to establish your authority?

  1. You’ve provided her with a language pattern that both her and Johnny understand. This is huge.
  2. You’ve given mom the “integrity” framework to deal with any reluctance to go to class.
  3. You’ve provided her with a strategy to engage Johnny in less fun activities so that going to class is an easy decision.
  4. You’ve laid out when Johnny should get ready for class without complaint.
  5. Before her eyes, you taught her son important lessons with real world examples. No doubt, your authority sky-rocketed in her eyes and in her heart.

Look for places where you can make these kinds of strong emotional connections.

Demonstrate true authority and leadership. That will last much longer than a trite, shallow compliments like “Awesome! Good job.”

This will help your students to understand how and why they are training with the best school.

Fitness studios who want to expand their market base would do well to look hard at the martial arts and I don’t mean just fitness kickboxing. Programs like children’s martial arts, self-defense, and tai chi all attract markets that, for the most part, are not in the fitness studios.

Here is a key point. The more of a structured curriculum the program offers, the more the club can charge. Again, this is not fitness kickboxing. Most martial arts schools charge $149 and up per month.

Here are three martial arts markets for fitness studios.

1. Children’s Martial Arts.
This is 70% of the martial arts school student base so the market and interest are there. Parents appreciate that they can get their workout in while their kids are in martial arts class. Studio owners appreciate the additional traffic and revenue the program creates.

This is typically a progressive learning belt based program with the goal of earning a black belt in 3 - 5 years. Clubs will need a smart curriculum that allows multiple belt ranks in the same class to feel equally challenged as they progress.

Contact MATA for curriculum recommendations.

Charismatic, qualified instructor who loves kids and wants to see the program grow.
This will be your biggest expense. The key is to partner with the instructor for a percentage of the revenue that is created. The details of such an arrangement are beyond the scope of this more general article. But, if the interest is there, we will create that information for you. Just comment or Contact MATA.

a. The club should profit from uniform, belt, and sparring equipment sales.
b. Training pads are inexpensive and use little storage space.
c. Mirrors are usually already in place if a studio has an aerobics room.
2. Self-Defense
This is a HUGE opportunity for studios. Learning to teach good, solid self-defense course doesn’t require a lot of time or money. You do not have to take martial arts classes either.

The club owner can learn to teach this class in a weekend.

While seminars like Bully Response Plan, Active Shooter Response Plan, Children’s Survival Camps, and Adult Self-Defense Boot Camps are easy to sprinkle throughout the year, it’s the 5- or 10-week comprehensive self-defense course that is the core of the program.

If properly promoted, this program will attract new people who are not already members of the club. One way to transition them into the club is to offer free training before and during the course. For instance, Sally enrolls two weeks before the self-defense course begins. Allow her to train at the club for the two weeks prior and during the length of the course. Then, as part of her Self-Defense Graduation, she gets a discounted incentive to join the club as a regular member.

Someone has to learn real self-defense and how to teach it to regular people. We have law enforcement based courses that work great for someone who wants to learn how to teach and market self-defense part time.

The Opportunity
Every day in your community, there is media coverage of a violent crime. That means that every day, you have a good reason to contact the media. If there is a car jacking or home invasion, you can learn how to position yourself as an expert that the media will seek out to get a comment, analysis, and tips on how to deal with the crime.

Offering free or paid seminars for teachers, reporters, real-estate agents etc... are all great ways to create media interest. How about the kids that travel to third world countries as part of a church mission? Do you think they could use some self-defense training?
The opportunity is as big as your imagination.

You will want at least one full body set of protective equipment for the instructor. Head gear, forearm, ribs, and shin protector along with MMA style gloves. This is a combination of protection plus shock and awe for your students.

Tai Chi
America is aging and tai chi is BOOMING.
Like the martial arts program, you’ll need to find a qualified teacher. The good news is that most part-time tai chi teachers are really into what they do holistically more than financially.

Same room as the martial arts. Mirrors help but are less necessary than in martial arts or self-defense.


If you have any questions, please leave a comment or Contact MATA.

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