How Profit First Has Changed this Norfolk Fitness Business for the Better

Case Study for Austin Mitchell

This week, I wanted to share another case study with you. I am so happy that I was able to connect with Austin Mitchell in recent weeks and listen to his success story. Before I share his successes though, let’s learn a little more about Austin. 

Austin is the owner of Somnium Fitness in Norfolk, Virginia, right outside Virginia Beach. He fills the role of CEO at the gym. He looks at the bigger picture every day and how he can increase profitability and growth. His team handles many of the day to day tasks of Somnium. While his core fitness focus is CrossFit, he switched the name of the gym to Somnium Fitness to target a different clientele than regular CrossFit. His gym currently has 250 members and he thinks everything’s going great!

Somnium Fitness opened back in May of 2015, so they have been open for five years now. 

Austin has four full-time team members, as well as one part-time social media manager. His social media manager creates the one voice of their brand for consistency. The acquisitions manager does all of the sales and memberships, as well as assessments. The manager also makes sure that everything is being tracked in house. 


The three coaches on the team do so much more than coaching. They all maintain a high retention rate by making sure they check in with members weekly. Austin realizes he has a small team, but they all work together to check off all of the day to day stuff. 

Now that you have the background on Austin’s fitness business, it is time to check out his numbers. This past July, I happened to notice that Austin’s business had a $10,000 increase in revenue. I thought this was slightly strange with how this year has been going. So, I decided I had to talk to Austin about what happened a few months earlier to hit this revenue increase. 

The increased revenue started with steady growth Somnium Fitness saw back in February. The team had set goals during their weekly meetings. They had projections of the goals they wanted to hit during the first quarter of 2020. Everything had been on track, and their momentum was amazing, until everything happened in March. 

They didn’t let the shutdown affect them though. Instead, they managed to get everyone online in a week. Somnium Fitness didn’t lose any members and their business stayed steady. 

It was easy for Austin and his team to create the online platform, because they had that type of structure in place beforehand. They had always checked in with each and every member every single week. They began the shutdown with Zoom workouts, but after a few weeks, they began to send out personalized workouts as well. They knew that those personalized workouts were what their members needed to stay engaged. 

Somnium Fitness was able to reopen their doors towards the end of April. Between that time and the beginning of June, they had 125 new members sign up. Every one of their new members are what Austin considers annual members, so they will be around for a while. 

Austin attributes those new members to their marketing and the systems they have always had in place. Austin was in the marketing game for five or six years before he opened the gym, so he knew that he had to match the marketing with what the gym provided in house. One specific marketing model will never work for everyone, because not every gym offers the same things in their gym. Austin is very aware of that and he focused Somnium Fitness’s marketing model on what they are offering and staying consistent. 

It is important to note that Austin is not focusing on one specific person for his marketing. While he does know that demographics are important for marketing, he understands that everyone at his gym is different. So, he focuses on people who want to live their best life by working out and adjusts his verbiage accordingly. Past that, he doesn’t like the micromanaging that would be needed to cater to all the different people who walk through his doors. 

Austin implemented Profit First into his business back in February of 2019, because his business was basically bankrupt in that month. It was at that time he started to take financials very seriously. Once he discovered Profit First, it’s been like night and day. 

I would like to point out that Austin didn’t have a background in fitness when he started Somnium Fitness, nor did he have any finance training. He actually went to Old Dominion University to study engineering. He lasted for two years before realizing that he didn’t want to do that job long term. He switched to exercise science and knew that he could spend the rest of his life being the best trainer he could be. He got all of the degrees, all of the certificates, and everything else he could think of at the time. Austin even did one semester of grad school before he realized he didn’t want to continue with that. Instead, he decided to open the gym and dropped out of school. 

Most fitness businesses open in the same way Austin’s did. The owners simply like to train and they love helping others on their fitness journey. However, not all businesses make it past the five year mark. This is where Austin has marked a major milestone and that milestone was only possible because of Profit First. 

Austin remembers implementing Profit First into his business. While he says it wasn’t that hard, he does say that it wasn’t as easy as he remembers. He had to make some difficult decisions like raising his rates and letting go of some staff members. Austin also had to cut a lot of expenses. Those three things were not easy, but he knew if he didn’t do it, the gym wouldn’t survive. While Austin did collect a paycheck before implementing Profit First, it was not the paycheck he would have liked to be getting.

Prior to implementing Profit First, Austin was getting between $1,700 and $1,800 bi-monthly. Now, he is taking home around $2,800 bi-weekly plus his profit distributions. The first quarter provided about $4,000, while the second quarter was around $7,000 in profit distributions. The third quarter looks like between $7,000 and $8,000. According to Austin, his $42,000 from last year will increase to $85,000 this year and that doesn’t include any fourth quarter distributions. He is predicting a $130,000 quarter with a 13% net profit, so he will get another $8,000 there if everything goes as planned. 

Austin knows that Profit First has changed his business for the better. He can easily share his quarterly projections with certainty, instead of not knowing how much money he has available. He meets with his team every week to go over the financial statements and continue to look for things they can improve on. At the same time, these meetings allow them to always know their profit margin, gross margin, revenue, and even expenses. 

Austin just took everything out of his profit account at the end of June and distributed it between all of the team members and himself. He knows how hard his team members work to keep the gym successful and he wants to reward them accordingly. 

So, now that you know all about Austin’s success, I would love to hear your thoughts! Share what you love about Austin’s journey and what you might have done differently for your business. Let’s learn from each other and celebrate everyone’s ideas! 

About the Author Shannon Simmons

Shannon has been consulting with small businesses for over 10 years. After 2 years in public accounting she saw a need to work for small business owners to teach them how to grow financially healthy businesses. She has built on her Master of Accountancy degree from Manchester University by becoming a Certified Profit First Professional and a Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor. When she’s not meeting with entrepreneurs or assessing their businesses, she enjoys time with her husband and 2 children serving in their community, playing and watching sports, marveling at nature or reading a good book.

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