Register for GSDCON | #1 Conference for Gyms & Fitness Studios | June 1-2

Iron Tribe Fitness CEO Forrest Walden

29 Locations & Counting: Winning At Positive Gym Culture Development With Forrest Walden of IronTribe

Iron Tribe Fitness CEO Forrest Walden

29 Locations & Counting: Winning At Positive Gym Culture Development With Forrest Walden of IronTribe

Iron Tribe Fitness CEO Forrest Walden



Click any of the icons below to listen

Subscribe or Listen On...


Show Notes

Forrest Walden is the founder and CEO of Iron Tribe Fitness based in Birmingham, AL. With over 29 Iron Tribe Fitness studio locations across 8 states and roughly 110 franchise employees, Forrest has become an expert in driving positive gym culture development and marketing. 

Employee Retention

With multiple employees staying with his company for over 10 years and the average employment duration being 6.5 years, Forrest is clearly doing something different than the majority of the fitness industry to establish gym culture development practices where his team and his customers thrive.

“I don’t want to create the same thing I went through. You only get paid when you have a client. You only get paid when you have a session. You don’t have a real job. You take a day off, you don’t get paid. If it snows, you don’t get paid. If you go to the beach, etc. All the normal pitfalls of being a trainer. From the very beginning, we started with W2 salaries and benefits.”

Each location’s gross revenue is a regular topic of conversation. Managers, coaches, franchisees, and trainers are all in on the big-picture conversations so they have a clear picture of their impact on studio benchmarks.

New Semi-Private Training Program

Part of their success is knowing what the team actually wants. Coaches shouldn’t be required to be promoted to a job that they don’t want to do. And yet, what’s the standard process? Make them a manager, start their own location, etc. Not everyone wants to do that. 

Forrest created a new semi-private training program to give his coaches the opportunity to participate in the upside of the business. Keeping their interests aligned with the interests of the business fosters a different level of productivity and personal investment from his team.

gym culture development

Positive Gym Culture Development

When your team and your members tell you that they need more nutritional support in the gym, what should you do? Forrest put the whole team through Precision Nutrition Level 1 certifications as part of their standard internal training. 

Finding ways to invest in his team and keeping open lines of communication keeps everyone connected and on the same page. Coaches are better equipped, his members are better served, and his team knows they’re valued. 

“Our people are our product… We understand that we don’t serve a cup of coffee or a great-tasting sandwich. We serve people, we’re a relationship business. We can’t be transactional in this space. We have to build lasting relationships.”


“Marketer of The Year” is a title Forrest Walden actually has so it’s no surprise that this is one of his gym’s strengths. He’s used every fancy software, custom software, and all the options in between. 

He’s since developed a long-term, detailed marketing and sales funnel that supports every facet of the customer journey. This is where Forrest spends his time, his money, and where he invests in his own education. 

“Don’t outsource your marketing. Always own that…You can have all the tactical information and still be scared to make decisions. I think as a marketer, you have to be willing to test and fail, and test and fail.”

Having an effective marketing plan in place is necessary if you want to excel in the fitness industry, click here to get a few marketing tips!

What’s Next?

Forrest has even bigger plans in mind for IronTribe. Their next evolution is to further develop the corporate footprint and expand to 100 locations. We expect to see many more great things come from Forrest and his team over the next few years so stay tuned!

To learn more about how Loud Rumor can help you grow or begin to expand your fitness studio to more locations, schedule a free strategy call by clicking the button below!

Get FREE growth resources sent straight to your inbox.

We’ll send you something immediately, plus more each week such as industry trends, data, how-to’s, case studies, frameworks, etc.

100 Leads in 7 Days

Stop wasting ad spend! Get 100 new leads in 7 days with this simple and free strategy!