Build the Right Gym Culture for Your Physical Therapy Center

How to Build the Right Gym Culture

There is one thing you need to do to create a successful, thriving physical therapy and training center. This facet of your gym will help grow your business, improve the quality of your work, and assist your athletes and clients reach their goals faster. So, what is this one thing you need to do? Build and maintain a gym culture.

Build the Right Gym Culture

Building the right gym culture cannot be done in just one night. It can’t be completed in the first month either. It is an ongoing process you must build and maintain every day inside and outside of your center. As time goes on, the daily process will become easier and a natural part of the way you train and function. When building the right gym culture, there are three points of focus: your staff, your client, and your gym

Gym Culture Starts with Your Staff

    • Your team has to be on the same page, has to have the same attitude, and has to treat clients with the same level of respect to create a consistent atmosphere and gym culture.
    • What you wear to work matters. At the Training Room, we wear what’s comfortable and what allows us to provide effective treatment. A lot of times, we may need to demonstrate an Olympic lift or perform certain types of movements, so our clothes cannot be too restrictive.
    • When a client walks in the door, say “hi,” shake their hand, and welcome them.
    • Don’t create a very clinical or medical environment because clients don’t always appreciate that. They want to be somewhere they feel comfortable and can have a good conversation with you. Find the balance between professionalism and a friendly relationship.
    • When you get new staff, try this exercise. Send him/her on the training room floor to learn three facts about each client. Tell them they can’t coach until they have those three facts. Show new team members the importance of getting to know the person you’re working with before coaching them.
    • Create a culture of trust. Meet the demands of your clients and their demographic, and be able to adapt. Make your clients feel comfortable.
    • Be available to your clients outside the clinic. This doesn’t have to be 24/7, but show you are there to make sure they reach their goals. Even just being active on your social media can help. Maintain the physical therapist relationship in the appropriate manner.


  • Find your gym’s coaching style. Are you going to be yelling or screaming, or are you more laid back? Are you going to have a lot of fun and make jokes or be serious? We find that a healthy balance is always best. Sometimes you have to be stern, but other times you need to lighten up and be friendly to get honest responses from your clients.


Know Your Athletes to Build Gym Culture

  • What sport do they play? In our gym, we see predominantly baseball players, so we grow our knowledge around the subject and the current events.
  • Build your gym culture around their sport’s culture. Again, in our instance, baseball players like to hang out and be in the clubhouse. They have a lot of rituals and a lot of mini games. Use that to build and develop your culture.
  • Understand the nuances of their sport and have discussions with your athletes in between sets during a warm up. If your athlete is young, get to know the parents and learn more about your athlete to better understand his or her goals.
  • When you learn their goals, demonstrate you actually care about helping them reach these goals. Tailor your programming and motivations toward their goals. Become invested in helping them reach that goal and seeing them play.
  • If you work with college players, understand the college season. With professional athletes, understand the professional season. Find out what a minor league player has to go through on a day-to-day basis.
  • With athletes, you can make it clear when they walk in the training room that they’re here to work. Set the expectation this will be hard work, and it will help them better themselves in their sport.

Design Your Gym and Programs with Culture in Mind

  • Warm ups don’t have to be the same boring things every day. Mix it up and make a game out of it. Many of our athletes love the days we start with Spikeball for 10 or 15 minutes. Clients see other athletes in the gym playing Spikeball, and they want to hop in and then they make friends.
  • Encourage your athletes to support each other as you support them. Get them excited about hitting a certain milestone or lifting a heavy weight they’ve been chasing.
  • Any successful gym culture has a certain amount of healthy competition. Get the most out of your athletes by creating these opportunities. It is a great way to get clients to show up excited, ready to go, and wanting to beat their old numbers.
  • An easy way to set a healthy competition is to have a record board.
  • Find out what music your athletes want to hear and play that to motivate them. Just remember to keep it appropriate if there is a mix of clients in the center.
  • Have all the specific equipment you need to help make your athletes get better.

Every gym is different and has its unique features. Find your uniqueness, whether it stems from your coaches, your activities, or your programming. Building the right gym culture comes down to building relationships and showing people you care. Culture extends beyond the walls of your gym. If you can create something that’s deeper and beyond just four walls, then you’ve created a successful gym culture.

If you want to hear more about how to build gym culture, listen to our Training Room Talk’s episode on the subject

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