Country Strong Fitness Learning Center for Kids Saves Gym’s Financial Livelihood

February 2, 2023 by
Courtesy of Karina and Lani Bangay
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Karina and Lani Bangay had always wanted to find a way to generate revenue at their gym during the quiet hours of the day, but the task seemed impossible.

But when the pandemic hit in 2020, they knew it was time to “pivot or die,” said Lani, who owns Country Strong Fitness in Cedro, CA.

With schools being closed, and so many more kids getting homeschooled, they put a plan in place to add a learning center to their gym—a place for homeschooled kids to come to do their schoolwork, and, of course, do multiple short workouts throughout the day.

Today, that plan is a reality. Country Strong Fitness is also home to Country Strong Learning Center, which has a waiting list because they’re at capacity.

The details: Country Strong Learning Center opened in September 2021, and today has 60 kids who come anywhere between two and four days a week

  • Parents pay anywhere from $450 to $550 a month for each kid to attend and be supervised by a full staff that includes teachers. 
  • Not only has the learning center saved their business from a financial perspective, but both Lani and Karina said it has made a huge difference to the children’s health and fitness. “We recognized the need for kids to move more,” said Karina about another reason they opened the learning center in the first place. 

The result: Not only are the children doing multiple functional fitness-style workouts a day, but they’re also learning to embrace healthy foods.

  • In December, the learning center ran a seven-day no sugar challenge, and “the kids went wild for it,” Karina said. “It was amazing to see their level of motivation.”
Courtesy of Karina and Lani Bangay

One big thing: As eight-year gym owners, one of the hurdles the Bangay’s constantly battled was that their price point was hard for many adults to overcome.

  • “Most people assume $40 a month is what a gym should cost,” Lani explained, adding that it was getting exhausting constantly trying to prove to people that what you do isn’t the same as a “regular gym,” and sometimes it felt like an uphill battle. 
  • As a result, it was very challenging to be profitable as a functional fitness or CrossFit gym that caters to adult group classes charging $200 a month, he explained. “You have to charge three to four times what the majority of people are willing to spend…Most of your competition are hobby (gyms) not a business, including us for most of our existence…Functional fitness has to be adapted perfectly to turn a profit,” he added.

That being said, when it comes to their kids, people take a much different approach, Lani said. In fact, from his experience people don’t blink an eye when they hear that it will cost $450 to $550 a month to enroll their child.

  • “The willingness to spend on kids versus adults is further apart than apples and oranges. Parents know what is best for their kids and are willing to spend on them,” Lani said, adding that it has made selling their kids’ program significantly easier than they ever would have imagined.

The big picture: When it comes to both finding an easy-to-sell and significant source of revenue for the business and to improving health, offering a kids program at your gym is a no-brainer, the Bangay’s say. 

  • Starting with kids is “perhaps the best way to reach adults,” Lani said. “There is no known effective format for adults. Nothing we have done so far is working if obesity is our marker. A new format needs to be written into our youth.”
  • Kids, on the other hand, “are sponges,” he said. “Their bodies adapt very quickly. They hold much less fear of failure and are willing to set goals.

Thus, when it comes to big scale change, “You have to start with the kids,” Karina offered.

“That’s how you’re going to change the (health) trajectory in the US…It’s the pinnacle of where health begins,” she said.

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