Jonathan Stuart: “A Life Worth Living”

Jonathan Stuart: “A Life Worth Living”

OPEX Gym Owner Jonathan Stuart

Jonathan Stuart had been running a successful gym for a while. 

It wasn’t enough.

“The gym was making a profit, but I didn’t see a future doing what I was doing, knowing I had so much more to offer,” he said of his days owning and running a CrossFit gym that largely followed a group class model.

“I had a long conversation with my wife about what our future looked like. I could have kept running the gym in my sleep, but it wasn’t challenging me, and it wasn’t providing me anything more than just being a cheerleader for my clients,” he explained. 

After coming to this realization, Stuart, who was already an OPEX CCP coach, decided to transition his CrossFit affiliate into an OPEX-licensed gym and pursue an individual program design model of fitness. He did this in August 2018 when he opened OPEX Mount Sinai in New York. 

What sold Stuart the most on the OPEX model was the concept of developing one-on-one relationships with clients, where the coach can tackle the clients’ individual needs and help them figure out their true intention. Get and free education on the same model here.

“I knew there was so much more value in this than what I was doing before: watching clients come for six years and sweat it out every day, but never really accomplish anything,” he said. 

The Transition to an OPEX Gym

Stuart is the first to admit making the transition did cause short-term pain. In other words, he lost clients. A number of them. 

“I did a full town hall meeting and people were crying because they liked the (status quo). I had people actually say they just come here during the week and work hard so they can eat bad on the weekend,” he said with a laugh. 

All this did, however, was convince Stuart he was doing the right thing. He didn’t want a gym full of fickle clients, who just wanted to dabble and hit random workouts. He wanted to work with educated clients who saw the value in a personalized, long-term approach to improve health and fitness.  

This is what Stuart has created today.

A year-and-a-half making the transition, and Stuart has just half the number of clients he used to have, but each of them is paying two or three times as much as his old group class rate. In return, they receive a premium service that is finally getting them the results they have always wanted, he explained. 

(Coach Resource: Learn how you can charge more and deliver a premium service in this free coaching course.)

Stuart credits OPEX’s emphasis on finding your intention with much of this success.

“When the client’s intention is aligned with (their actions), the process is night and day. Before, the intention was misaligned. People would just come in for a good hard dose of fitness without a purpose,” he said. 

With intentions aligned, Stuart’s client retention is soaring. And from the business owner’s end, this means he no longer has to spend all his time hosting campaigns to bring in 50 new clients each month.

“It’s way better than sending out a drip campaign and bringing in 100 new people, but then 30 of them leave within a month and another 30 get injured within three. Then this other person wants to put their membership on hold because they’re on vacation for two weeks,” he said. 

Personalized fitness has also helped Stuart provide a more realistic approach to fitness to his clients, he added. 

In the past, people set unrealistic goals for themselves to learn a movement like a muscle-up by the end of the summer, just because they saw a couple other girls at the gym doing them. Without a personalized program and coach in their corner, it was challenging to put them on the right path for success.

Now, Stuart is able to educate his clients to help them recognize where they’re at, where they want to go, and what they’re willing to do to get there. It’s a more responsible and long-term approach to fitness, he explained. 

“Before, we were fast-tracking people, but (health and fitness) is actually the opposite,” he said. Long-term change is slow and steady.

So today, instead of his clients deciding to follow a strict Paleo diet out of the blue one day and then quickly failing, Stuart meets them where they’re at and starts small. 

“I might just get someone to focus on eating two healthier meals this week than last. …We can’t just throw things on clients without understanding where they’re beginning,” Stuart said, adding that OPEX helped him grasp this concept. 

Though Stuart’s running a self-sufficient business in New York, Stuart said the OPEX community continues to play a role in his life, and will continue to help him improve his business in the years to come. 

“Just having the weekly coaching calls, where we go through case studies, and the ability to reach out to other OPEX gym owners who are in the same scenario doing what you’re doing goes a long way,” he said. “And there’s no sense of scarcity—you know, nobody is trying to steal each other’s members. There’s actually a sense of plentitude.”

The monthly calls with (OPEX CEO) Jim Crowell—where they cover various topics from what’s new, to key performance indicators for the gym owner, to marketing to sales—have also been incredibly valuable to him, as has (OPEX founder) James FitzGerald’s Knowledge Series.

“To be a part of this community as a gym owner: I couldn’t ask for anything more,” Stuart said.  

Because of OPEX, he now has a business and a “life that is worth living,” he said.

Learn the same business model that has impacted Stuart’s business and more than 10,000 coaches world wide with our free Coach’s Toolkit. Sign up today and create your own life worth living.


CrossFit® is a registered trademark of CrossFit, Inc. OPEX Fitness’s uses of the CrossFit® mark are not endorsed by nor approved by CrossFit, Inc., and OPEX Fitness is in no way affiliated with nor endorsed by CrossFit, Inc.

Professional Coaching Cycle