How a Gym Owner Escaped the Rat Race

The Great Resignation has opened the floodgates to the Great Creation. With more and more mid-career workers being motivated by burn-out, and less than ideal working conditions, there has been a major increase in entrepreneurship. In fact 55% of new business owners are 25-34 year olds who quit their job to start a business of their own.

Among them is Nick Palladino King. A now 40-year-old Gym Owner who had enough working his way up the corporate ladder. After a life changing near death experience at 23,  he was forced to take a step back and say “If this was the end, would my life have been worth it?”. The answer– a resounding no. We asked Nick how he knew it was time to leave his job, and how we made Tribe Fit a success.

 What were you doing before you decided to leave the corporate world behind?

I started my career in corporate sales. I wanted nothing more than to be an executive, to be wealthy, to be powerful.  After a couple of years, I found myself to just be a pretty big jerk. Being unhappy, being unfulfilled, being stressed. I was making a lot of money. I was on track to be an executive at the company. At that point I had gotten into yoga to deal with my own stress and unhappiness and was just doing it for myself. After a year or two of practicing yoga I started to look around and ask if the corporate world was what I actually wanted.

Was there a turning point where you knew it was time to shift your career?

I was coming home from a company meeting one night at 2:00 am in Newport Beach California, a super nice area, and I was mugged by 3 guys in the streets. Luckily, I’m 6 ‘6, played college basketball, and was able to fight these guys off enough to be okay.  But, I woke up the next day, and at the office I was trying to type an email and my heart just said to me, you’re done. I asked myself if I would have died would my life have been worth it?

A month or two later I quit my job and sold everything I owned.

From there I traveled the world for 3 years to figure myself out. I lived in Thailand, I lived in Mexico, I lived in Korea– used to speak Thai. I came back to the States in my late 20’s and just thought “what do I do now”. I started teaching people the things I learned through yoga, personal training, life coaching– an all around wellness coaching practice (That grew to six figures).

How did you come to own your own gym from there?

I worked for a couple gyms, I managed a YMCA,  and was a managing partner of a gym in San Francisco called Body Mechanics for about two years. That’s when I realized that I could do this on my own. I have the skills, I have the experience, I have the clients.

You can learn from anyone if you pay attention to them. For any entrepreneur in the health and wellness space: You don’t have to go fully into being an owner right away. I think it’s important to learn and build before you make that jump.

Once I discovered semi-private I realized I could scale this thing. That’s when I started talking to my brother about opening a gym.

How did you and your brother get the brick and mortar gym up and running?

A couple of different ways. Some personal capital, about $10k each, and 0% financing on the equipment (Shoutout 360 Superstore in the Bay Area). We were the ones doing all the training for the first two years so there were no expenses in terms of payroll. So combined with the low rent, and low costs we bootstrapped it and were profitable within the first few months.

When did you decide to join Gym Launch, and how did you know you needed help?

As soon as Covid hit, we lost 50% of our business overnight. We were almost doing $40,000 per month and overnight we’re at $20,000. The only reason we saved the other half is because we went online. Mid 2021, I was ready to shut this thing down.

We didn’t know about online marketing, acquisition or ads. We went from thousands of people walking past our location to no one in downtown San Francisco. Our only acquisition skill was location and being in the right place at the right time– that changed.

I was run-down. I was unhappy. We were making a couple grand each per month. I had this moment of– either we die or we grow.

Let’s give it one more shot. Lets see what happens if we go all in one last time. That’s when my brother Billy found The Gym Launch Secrets book. We started doing some of the stuff in the book and were like “this is working!”.  This was the first time in two years we were acquiring members and we had some horrible online marketing company running ads for us.

One of my good buddies had done Gym Launch and I asked what he thought and he said “If you don’t double your business in a year with Gym Launch you should shut your business down because you don’t know what you’re doing”.

How did Gym Launch change your business?

Before Gym Launch we had about 30 members. Today as were talking we have over 160 group fitness members, plus 40-50 challengers at any point, so about 200 total members. We went from 10 leads a week to 100 leads per week. We’ve tripled the business in the last year (with Gym Launch).

It’s insane, it’s wild. Sometimes I have to pinch myself. We’ve gone from not knowing how to acquire clients, taking home $5k/mo,  to averaging $80,000 a month in revenue.

Our profit margins are now over 40%. We’re making more, we’re saving more, and we’re making more impact all at the same time– and it’s a lot more fun.

If a struggling Gym Owner is reading this, what advice would you give to them?

 You can get really siloed in this world. It can get really lonely being a gym owner. One thing I realized was what got me here was great but can’t get me any further. I couldn’t get further without help. Find coaches and mentors and people in your life that are going to give you feedback that you can grow and get to the next level. That’s what coaching and training are about. Really be willing to go out there and find people who can help you get to the next level. I didn’t realize how stuck I was until I got around people who just knew way more. Be humble and be willing to learn and grow.

Thank you to Nick Palladino King for participating in this interview. Be sure to check out Tribe Fit in San Francisco for a holistic approach to fitness.

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