Dunbar’s Number is a theory that provides a guide for the ideal number of members for a fitness business, specifically a personal training gym.  This week Matt and Rick discuss Dunbar’s Number and why it’s critical to the success of your fitness business.  

Robin Dunbar was a British evolutionary anthropologist who suggested there is an ideal number of people who can maintain stable social relationships in a social circle. He found that the ideal number of people that could maintain a deeper than surface level relationship with was 150. So Dunbar’s number is also known as the Rule of 150.

 Why Dunbar’s Number Means Success For Small Fitness Businesses

Alloy Personal Training Franchises have industry-leading retention rates because of the smaller training gym model as Dunbar’s Number suggests. At Alloy clients tend to stay longer, which leads to a higher retention rate and a higher lifetime value of a client. This allows us to focus on fitness success rather than sales.

This even held up during COVID where the difference could be seen with the small footprint model with a small number of people  as compared to the big box gyms that were shut down. The smaller the model, the better off the fitness business was during the COVID. In additions, with smaller groups of people, there’s inherently more trust in the relationship as Dunbar’s number suggest.  They maintain not only a relationship with the owner of the business and the personal training coaches, but with other clients as well.  It just boils down to trust and tight relationships. 

Malcolm Gladwell uses an example of Dunbar’s number in his book the Tipping Point. He talks about how the GoreTex company used Dunbar’s number to heart. If they have a department that gets larger than 150 people, they will create another group.  They have followed this practice as they’ve grown over time. They constantly rank as one of the most efficient and productive companies to work with a high trust.  Check out why trust is important in the Alloy podcast Why Building Trust Is Important For Franchise Success

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Tune in to learn more about this interesting concept and how to apply it to your fitness business

Key Takeaways

  • How the Dunbar’s No applies in the personal training business (02:15)
  • Why the smaller training gym model fared better during COVID (03:58)
  • Examples of Dunbar’s number working in businesses (08:04)
  • Building a small tribe of people that trust and like each other (09:53)
  • The larger the model, the more time you spend on acquisition (10:58)
  • Why Alloy has higher retention rates (11:36)

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Mentioned in this episode

Matt Helland

Rick Mayo 

Alloy Personal Training Franchise


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