How To Run a Charity Boot Camp

The Beastliest “How To Run a Charity Boot Camp” Post EVER

Guest Post by Luka Hocevar

What’s up mofo’s?

Luka Hocevar here from The Pack here.

I’m psyched up right now!!!


Because I get to help you be the super hero in your community and bring in the best type of leads possible.

Referrals that have heard about how great your program is and are coming in to try you out while you’re helping out a local cause and helping others.

Tell me you don’t want to be this Super Hero yo?!

Let me back up for a second. What am I talking about?

I’m talking about “Boot Camps for A Cause” (or charity boot camps for most of you).

This post is gonna lay out exactly how to run charity boot camps in your training business

Beyond that, I’m going to show you how to connect yourself and your business to the local community and other causes you and your members believe in and change the way you do business and how you are viewed in the community.

You’re in the fitness industry, helping people is what we do so why not live your core values (I always ask myself, honestly, can I do more?) and help people who need it more than you while grow your business at the same time.

As your business grows, deliver more results to more people and help the community out even more. It won’t be a coincidence that you will earn more money, be happier, and be on super hero status.

Still not convinced this is what you should be doing?

Fuck it, all I have left for you is a swift ninja kick to your coccyx.

In case you don’t know where that’s at…

There are so many ways you can help out the community and bring quality leads into the business. I will break down some things that you can implement now, that we have done and are doing with great success:

1.   Boot Camps for a Cause

We call them boot camps for a cause because of legalities in our state and you should check into your states laws so you don’t have any issues (rather than “charity”).

We have a “Boot Camp for A Cause” every Saturday for a drop in fee, which goes towards the cause we are donating to at that time.

EVERY Saturday like clockwork.

Anyone can come and we announce what we are doing it for and people bring in friends since it’s a great workout, it’s community based, fun, challenging, and there is no commitment (no selling period).

We just ask people to sign in and put down their name, e-mail and phone while they fill out waiver.

We politely follow up with a “Thank You” for helping the cause and offering them a trial week of our programs. Many people just ask us because they love the program. Others keep coming every Saturday and end up joining somewhere down the line when they realize doing just that won’t get them results. Either way we get a lot of people through the doors and help people and causes in need.

I can actually say that on a consistent basis, Boot Camps for a Cause bring us in more leads than anything else (unless we have a Transformation Contest or run a Deal of the Day)

If you feel like you cannot implement a weekly boot camp because of your gym schedule, then do it once a month and make it an EVENT.

Fuck it, I’ll over-deliver like you should in your business and give you almost the whole enchilada….

(This is actually a part of our Charity Boot Camp Track in the Mixtape)



Running a successful event doesn’t just happen, though. It takes some planning and preparation. Because who wants to run an okay or good event?

You want to make it EPIC and have people wanting another more and getting connected to the charity events!

I’m in no way saying that the way we have been doing our camps and events is the only way to make an event successful, but we have been able to make charity boot camps a weekly event that has become its own entity, bringing in anywhere from 40-80+ people every Saturday. So, if you follow the steps below, you are sure to throw an amazing event that will benefit people in need and help you grow your business….so you can help even more people!


If you’re thinking “Huh?!” then don’t run charity events and rather focus on something else. You need to be involved and have your heart in the right place.

For any event to be really successful, you really have to be genuine about reaching out, helping and wanting to make a change. If that is your purpose, everything you do will have more of a genuine drive behind it, which will make the event more successful.


When you are planning an event, it is important to get the word out early (at least 2-3 weeks ahead of time) and let your members know that you have something big happening that is really important to you.

Talk about some of the things that you will have that will be special (vendors, DJ, etc.) as well as how the workout will be crazy. This will get the members excited without giving everything away.

Talk about this through all available communication channels such as e-mail newsletter, text messaging, Facebook, Twitter, and mention it after all the boot camp classes leading up to the event.

It’s important that you tell your members to save the date and bring as many people as possible from family, friends, and co-workers including people they don’t like that need to get their ass kicked. Remember, the event is a big deal because you said its a big deal. This is your tribe, your community, and your members are connected to things you’re connected with.


Some other things that will create a buzz are:

Put up a notice on the front white board where people walk in and see there will be an epic charity event happening soon. This will have the members asking and talking about it.

Prepare custom designed flyers and hang them in bathrooms and everywhere else members can constantly see them. This will just confirm that it is a big deal to you so it will be a big deal to them.

Have some sort of giveaway to attract more people. We announce prizes for things such as the participant who brings the most people with them to the charity event. The giveaway prize could include items such as a t-shirt, Kindle, free training, gift cards, etc.). People like prizes, period.

Announce some cool things that will be going on….for instance live DJ, food, etc.


This is a crucial part of the process in running a successful event. The why!

I’ve done a large number of charity events, and anytime I related my purpose for running the event, my feelings and emotions about why I want to help out, and why this is so important to me, the event was so much more successful.

People are connected to you and they want to know why you are doing something, as they will feel more connected to it, too. Tell your members stories, show them a video, etc. that connects them to what the event will be for/supporting.


“Thoughts create feelings, feelings create actions, and actions create results.”

Make sure your members think and feel about the charity and why you are doing it.


A thing I found really effective is creating a video, almost like mini- documentary showing the charity boot camps with uplifting music and visuals, as well as talking a little about what you are doing the event for.

The goal is not to get a ton of YouTube hits but rather to post it on Facebook and send the link through your newsletter. This way you will get targeted views and guaranteed sharing of the video through your members.

People like to see and feel what things are about and put a face to who is doing it and why.


Have your assistant or someone in your network that is good at writing put together a press release announcing the charity event.

Submit it to the online press release sites as well local news stations, etc. Go through your network to see if you know anyone at the news stations and what you would need to do possibly get a feature. You may not get it the rst time but I promise if you continuously work on this, you’ll have success with it.

Here are some paid and free press release sites:

You can also check out more free press release sites here:

This won’t necessarily get you more boot campers, but it will give you an opportunity to be seen by the media as well as helping out your online SEO.


We all know people like to hang out (often times live) on Facebook. This means if they follow you, when you say something important it will get the attention of your “friends.”

Creating an event page makes the event official and gives you the possibility to invite everyone in your circle of influence (personal, groups, etc.) to it as well as being able to tentatively track how many people have committed to coming. This is important so that you can be ready if there is a huge amount of people attending, as well as possibly limiting the amount of people that can attend and creating some scarcity (I usually don’t do this at charity events as my goal is always to raise as much money/resources for the given charity).

It is also easy to remind people about the event through Facebook, not to mention your friends being able to “share” it, and others seeing who is going to the event. After all, when your friends go, its cool for you to go, too.

Don’t skip this step as it is sure to get some more people to your event.


You can make an incredible event without having vendors and sponsors BUT we’re talking about making an EPIC event and I know you’re not going to settle for anything less.

This is where you have to reach out to your network as well as local businesses. If you have personal relationships with people that have a business or service that complements yours, then this is easier as you won’ t have to sell them as much on why they should contribute.

For businesses that you do not have a relationship with, let them know how many people will be attending and how this can benefit them a ton as they can expose their business to people who are directly related to their market. Help them structure a way to generate more business for them as well as offering them a free month of your services.

Basically approach it from a standpoint of what is in it for them. I know that helping out a great cause should be enough but most people may not think the same as you.
There will be some that will be happy to help because they will be connected to the cause and that is great. Venture with them and build a relationship for future charity events.

This is a great way of marketing for them as you will be promoting them to your customers who trust you. The only expense for the business is giving away their free product or service at your event to show its value. A simple word of advice here– get only vendors with products/services you believe in.

To give you an idea of vendors we’ve had out our events (sometimes all at once):

– Local supplement store

– Muscle Milk (regional reps provided over 100 shakes)

– Vitamin Water

– Organic healthy chocolates (local business)

– Chiropractic/Active Release Therapy/ Graston Technique specialists

– Local running specialist store

– Photographer/Videographer

– Club DJ/Hype-man


This is another great way to make the event special and attract more people, as you can promote it as an event where you can meet “xyz” and get an autograph, pictures, hang out with them– all while contributing to a great cause.

A great way to attract local celebrities (athletes, TV, etc.) apart from training them, having a personal relationship or having the connection through someone (which if you do, you should use), is to run the event supporting their charity of choice. Do some research to see which cause the celebrity supports or find out which celebrity is associated with a cause that you chose to support.

You will be surprised by how many local celebrities will be willing to help out when it comes to a charitable cause– especially one they’re associated with.
 Work on getting a commitment ahead of time so you can also press release with all the details that the celebrity will be attending your event. This will also raise the possibility of being featured in local media or even having the media at your event doing a feature on the event, taking pictures, etc.

In our gym in Slovenia, we focused solely on bringing in celebrities for our charity event. Soccer and basketball stars, singers, and actors that we were able to reach through relationships and connections were all recruited. We ended up creating enough buzz to have paparazzi at the gym, being featured in the news as well as two national trend magazines. Everyone had a blast, we raised a lot of money and got huge exposure……so make sure you do not rule out contacting local celebrities.


I already talked about creating a “buzz” ahead of time, BUT it is imperative that the last week (especially the last three days) you remind everyone about he event and really make people feel like they can’t miss it.

Send the reminder in your newsletter, post it on your Facebook page (link to the event page from step #2), consistently remind after your boot camp classes and other training, make the flyers in the gym visible, remind your JV’s to mention it and for your clients to share it with others including on FB.

One thing that always brings in more people is sending out a text the night (not too late) before the event. Although you could send texts personally, its tedious and your thumbs would be done after sending hundreds. I use a software called Contact Formula (there is no affiliate link, I just think it’s a great software for your business) to text our members so I can send different messages to different lists and still personalize them. It is awesome, as I’ve tracked this and always get an extra four or five people to come that would not have otherwise come.


This is the time where you don’t want to leave anything out and you want to give all the energy that you have while running the event!

All the extras are great, but you still have to bring the energy and make it epic so that people will remember it, talk about it, and not only see you as a leader in the community (because you care and actually take action on being a Go-Giver) but also as the top fitness professional in the area because the training, energy, and environment are unmatched.

Have a meeting with your team before the event so you make sure they’re all bringing their top energy levels and delivering a “WOW” experience.

Have a sign-in sheet ready and make sure everyone writes down their phone, e-mail and address (make at least the phone and e-mail mandatory). This way you can not only input the new participants as leads but more importantly to follow up with them and thank them for helping out with the cause where you were able to raise “x” dollars.

If you receive their address send them a thank you card as well. This is imperative as it shows true appreciation and builds a relationship between you and current clients as well as people that have been exposed to your program for the first time.


You have changed the world! Remember every drop of water creates as ripple and, in effect, a change. Everything you do to help make a change and a ripple that can start a movement. More importantly, it can and will inspire people to take more action.

A lot of ripples can create waves!

What’s even better is that you are paying it forward and making this change while also growing your business the right way– through showing the quality of what you do, showing you care and are involved in the community, and creating a incredible experience.

I just ask you to think bigger, dig deeper and think of what you can really achieve and how much you can help if you let down the walls of limits.

Damn! All that was #1?

Yes mofo’s, yes it was.


2.   Food, Clothes and Toy Drives Throughout The Year

Depending on the time of year, we will do different drives for clothes, food and toys. We will always do toy drives around Christmas, focusing on local organizations and showing our support in the community.

Every time we have a transformation contest (and we have quite a few throughout the year) we will have people donate the clothes that they cannot fit anymore since they are getting results and losing weight and inches.

We’ll do a food drive for Thanksgiving and Christmas and many other times throughout the year and work with the local food banks and homeless shelters.

To get more people to donate we will set up workshops, extra training for current members or even weeks or a month of training for free for new members to encourage people to bring things in. This brings a large number of leads throughout the year and they are mostly referrals from people already members of the gym, which makes them great prospects.

There are so many other ways you can generate leads and up-sell programs from this:

–  Bring in toys, clothes or food and all semi-private sessions are 30% off for month of “xyz”

–  Whoever brings in the most pounds of food in “xyz” month gets a free month of a certain program you offer (follow up with everyone else and offer them a trial week). This is great for filling up new programs with trials.

– Every toy brought in gets you in the raffle to win training and other prizes. Open to everyone. Have to put name, e-mail and phone number into bucket to be picked.

I hope you see how many possibilities you have from these drives.

Every local organization that you are helping and is supporting this cause will be more than happy to have flyers, gift cards or anything else with your special offers (have some front end, low cost offer to get people through the door) on them. At the end of the day it’s also building local micro-branding, showing that you support your local community and spreading the word.

3.   One for One

I’m a big fan of the company TOMS who donate a pair of shoes to a child for each pair of shoes you buy from them. I read the book “Start Something That Matters” and got inspired to do more than what we were already doing so for 2013 we have committed to donating a month of food to a child for every person that signs up for a Vigor Ground membership (one out of every seven kids in America go without food daily). At the moment we’re working with a local organization to put this into place.

Honestly, I could list another list of ways how you can implement this into a lead generation strategy; but I won’t.

Being a Go-Giver is part of my and our team’s core values. I want to live it every day and lead from the front.

People want to connect to real businesses that care about issues. Genuinely care. Not just because it’s a fucking lead generation strategy all the time. Feel me?

Will this grow our business? Yes it will. Are we doing it because of that? No! Would I still do it if I knew that it wouldn’t bring a lead in the door? Yes.

See, I knew about TOMS shoes for a bit and I thought they looked “aight” but not something I’d spend $60 on since my grandma from Slovenia could make those motherfuckers with $3, a needle and a thread.  Then I read the book and dug into why they do what they do. When I was done I went and bought five pairs of TOMS right away; because I connected to the brand. I connected with their “Why”!

So think about your core values and what you believe in and connect them to what you do in a way that will help others, with the only goal to help others. Period. Then watch what happens….

4.   Giving Your Time

This is another avenue of charity you should be doing in the coming year. Gurus talk about how time is more valuable that money. Damn right!

So why only devote money to causes when we should reach out and give something even more valuable; our time.

Our team will devote time every month to different causes and projects, everything from Habitat for Humanity, youth initiatives, river clean up, homeless shelters, etc. We’re working on connecting with a ton of different organizations, charities and initiatives.

We’ll post and announce to members and invite them to come and help us out. Everyone is wearing Vigor shirts and we also arrange to have all other participants get a $100 gift card that they can use for a 2-week trial.

Most importantly this is building retention as we’re working together with members towards a cause bigger than ourselves!

Think about and write out all the causes you would like to help out in your local community, what is close to your heart and that of your members and start contacting these organizations to find out how you can help them out and get involved.

5.   The BIG(GER) Ideas!

I have a big whiteboard at home that is just for thinking BIG about how to do something epic that hasn’t been done before.

You can create a huge event that is charity based that can bring in hundreds (yes 100’s) of leads and get your name out there as a gym that cares about the community and their health. Think about the media opportunities and PR!

A couple of weeks back on a regular Saturday Boot Camp for A Cause that we promoted with a partner, we had an attendance of 130+ people of which 70-80 had never experienced our gym. We got almost everyone’s name, e-mail and phone number. That’s 70-80 qualified leads in 45 minutes!

Strategize one BIG event for charity in the next 3 months using the checklist from above to create an epic event that will bring you into the forefront of the community, generate a ton of leads and most importantly help people in need.

We’ve created a whole section of the business that is dedicated to giving and helping others called the Vigor Giver program. You should create a line of thinking dedicated to your core values of giving and see how it can take your business to the next level.

Someone, who’s readings have been very influential in my life and passed away a couple of days (Rest in Peace Zig Ziglar) said something so simple yet so profound; apply it:


“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people

get what they want.”

Please don’t make it an “I’m gonna do this” and then not do shit scenario!

I’ll unleash Steve Krebs with a ninja sword if necessary.

Enough said!

If you’d like more strategies, tips, tools and tactics to grow your training business, check out the Fitness Business Mix Tape HERE

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About the Author Big Chris McCombs

Big Chris McCombs helps coaches, personal trainers, fitness gurus, gym owners, and entrepreneurs who are the face of their business build cults of devout clients and customers who pay, stay, and refer

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Leave a Comment:

Tammy Durbin says January 5, 2013

Do you have a “suggested donation” for everyone who comes to the event? How long is the “work out” portion of the event? (We have a guy in our church who has colon cancer and I’d love my first PT Charity Boot Camp to benefit he and his family and help their massive medical expenses. ) Thank you so much!

Jesse Stoddard says April 9, 2014

This is a great post, thank you!
We used to do charity events every two months and even in a small town had a hundred people show up, so I know these strategies work. Our suggested donation was always $15 and it worked great. We’d always have people donate way more than that.
Even though I have a lot of experience with this, I still got some great new insights and ideas from this article.

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