How to Grow Your Practice with Workshops, Part 1

“All the great speakers were bad at first.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

When I moved to Atlanta to open Athletes’ Potential, I pretty much knew no one. My wife has some family who live here, but they had no involvement in healthcare or the niche I was focusing on. I grossly underestimated how much work it would take to build my reputation in the city.

Before I had transitioned from the Army into private practice, I had started working as an instructor for the MobilityWOD group. I had been teaching for about six months at that time and one of our other instructors was Theresa Larson. Theresa and her husband own a successful cash practice in San Diego called Movement RX. One piece of advice she gave me was to start teaching workshops at gyms. She recommended teaching the MWOD style approach to gym members for common injuries.

Theresa was spot-on with this recommendation and I credit this with how we built our reputation in Atlanta.

So what do you do when you know very few people in a new city and you’re trying to build a reputation? My solution was to teach a crazy amount of workshops basically anywhere someone would have me. By “crazy amount” I mean, at least one workshop per week for the first six months I was in business. Overall I taught over 40 workshops in the span of six months. I did this mostly at CrossFit gyms, but I also taught at personal training studios, running stores and local businesses. I would drive as far as an hour away just to teach a workshop. Here’s the power of this:

With no other marketing plan in place, just doing workshops took me from 0 to averaging 80 patient visits per month by the 6th month in business. I had gone from 0 to well over $10,000 in monthly revenue by that 6th month. Workshops are a great lead generation option. To this day, we still do at least two workshops a month.

Here’s why they work so well and how you can follow our three-part approach to running a successful workshop:

We live in a digital world. Everyone walks around with a computer in their pocket. They’re ultra connected via social media and have access to more information than someone can consume in a lifetime. One thing that hasn’t changed is that we’re all still humans and human interaction is memorable.

Think of the last concert, football game or comedy show you’ve gone to. Sure, you can watch these things on TV or listen to these bands on any number of streaming devices. The difference is the experience. No one has ever said, “Hey, remember when we were sitting in the car and that Dave Matthews Band song came on Spotify.” But I’m sure plenty of people can vividly remember a live concert where they’ve watched their favorite band play.

The difference is the live experience. This difference is the same for in-person events versus digital content. The power of life events and experiences is what makes workshops convert so well and makes them very much worth your time.

them very much worth your time.


  1. Setting them up.
  2. Teaching the event.
  3. Following up after the event.

Sometimes the hardest part of setting up workshops is getting people to say yes to hosting. This is a problem I ran into when I first starting putting on workshops in Atlanta. Very few people knew who I was or what kind of information I could teach. They didn’t know how I could be beneficial to their gym and I got turned down a lot.

Here’s the honest truth: You need to get very used to being turned down. You need to get used to people not wanting to work with you and the fact that some people aren’t going to like you. This was very difficult for me when I started Athletes’ Potential and I still struggle with this today.

Everyone wants people to like them. If people say they don’t care what others think, they’re not being honest. It’s the ability to deal with rejection that really matters. The only way to get used to being turned down is to get turned down often.
Here’s the approach that has worked the best for me when it comes to getting workshops set up:

First, try and get warm introductions to potential workshop sites. These can be gyms, training studios, yoga studios, Pilates studios, government offices and local businesses. It doesn’t have to be the owner. It can be a coach, trainer, admin personnel or even someone who is a member of the facility you’re trying to build a relationship with. You can teach workshops at any number of different locations. These warm introductions are key.

By warm introduction, I mean get someone you do know to introduce you to someone else. This could be via email, phone, text or in person. Early on, this may be asking friends/family or current clients if they know anyone who fits what you’re looking for. It’s all about getting those first couple locations, it will snowball from there.

You’d be surprised how powerful your network is. The problem is, no one ever uses it. They just sit in their office by themselves hoping people will come, but they never ask for help. Plenty of people will want to help you; you just have to ask them.

Once you’ve gotten an intro to a potential workshop host, it’s time to meet them. Don’t go in and right away ask to run a workshop in their facility. This is just like marketing. You’re trying to move people from cold, to warm, to eventually hot. Rushing this can ruin the relationship.

This is where your ability to communicate with others will come in handy. Some people may be very interested in doing a workshop with you from day one. These are the hot leads. But most will not be like this and you’ll need to further the relationship. The best way we’ve found to do this is to work with that lead one-on-one to show them your skills. This is about the only time I’ll ever give something away for free. Comping a potential key relationship a few visits can have a huge return on investment in the long run.

The other great way to further the relationship is to show a willingness to learn and train. Think of a CrossFit gym. If you show up at a CrossFit gym and talk to the owner about running a workshop to stop people from getting hurt, they’ll probably want nothing to do with you. If you show up at that gym, train with them and talk to the owner about how you can help improve movements with a workshop, they’ll be a lot more likely to say yes. Sometimes you’ve gotta walk the walk to get them to say yes.

Once you’ve got some established relationships, you can then use those to leverage other potential workshop locations. Let’s say you’ve just run a great workshop at a CrossFit gym. Afterward, make sure to ask the point of contact for that workshop if they know anyone else who they think would benefit from this workshop. This will eventually turn into a growing group of highly qualified contacts where you can teach multiple workshops.

The second important part of setting up workshops is getting people to show up. Having 10 to 30 people in a gym ready to go through a workshop is a fun experience. If the energy level is high and people are interested in what you’re saying, it’s amazing. There’s nothing worse than showing up to run a workshop for one person. This has happened to me. But even so, it’s not a total bust. That one person may end up being an amazing client of yours for years.

There are a few different ways to help improve the show up rate of your workshop.

First, communicate with the workshop point of contact (probably the gym owner or coach) on what you’re talking about. This will give them a really clear idea of how to present it to their members and why they might want to come. You can also put together a one-page flyer explaining the workshop and send it to this person. They can put this up in their gym or email it to their list. They can also use this one page as a Facebook post. Most gyms in particular have their own private Facebook groups. These can be really interactive and are a great place to have the workshop host put out information.

Almost all of the workshops we run are closed. That means they are for the facility and its members only. This makes it very difficult to market if you can’t get the host to help. You want to make sure the host understands this and you help them as much as possible. We have found one really interesting tweak to a workshop that has helped us get as many as 45 people to workshops at one time.

Adding a small charge for the workshop is a strategy we have found to be very successful. Usually this is $10 per person, but it could be whatever amount you want. Here’s why this is effective…

  1. It weeds out people who are the absolutely wrong fit for our style of practice. If they aren’t willing to spend $10 on a workshop, they’ll definitely not willing to spend $200 for a visit.
  2. It creates a sense of inherent value. Not only do people have more perceived value to what you’re teaching, but they’ll also pay attention more. They have some skin in the game at this point.
  3. We let the host keep whatever revenue the workshop generates. This is one of the huge reasons hosts will market to their members. If they get 25 people to show up, they make an extra $250 that month. We teach an awesome workshop their members rave about and they make a little extra money that month.

You can also host workshops at your own facility if you have one. This can be a great way to get people exposed to your location and your staff. These become a little more difficult to get people to. The marketing efforts fall on your shoulders. Because of this, we prefer to do workshops at other locations. It allows us to get more people to show up and expose our brand to new parts of the city.

We also love the opportunity to help generate some extra income for our partner gyms. If we can use our skill set to teach something impactful and they can make some money in the process, we will develop a really strong relationship. They’ll have us back to do more workshops and tell more people about our business.

So much of local service businesses like ours is having strong relationships. If you’re like me and aren’t originally from your area, this can be difficult. Workshops are a great way to get in front of the right people and cultivate solid relationships with complementary businesses in your area. If I could only pick one marketing tool to start my business over again, it would be workshops.

In Part 2 of How To Grow Your Practice With Workshops we’ll talk about running the workshop and following up effectively.

** How To Set Up Workshops…That Actually Generate New Patients **

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