Breaking The Fitness Business Rules ( Advanced )

Another Beast Mode Sized Fitness Business Post By Big Chris McCombs

How To Stop Trainers Who Steal Clients And The Anti-Rules of Running a Fitness Training Business… For Renegades, Rule-Breakers and Self-Proclaimed Down-to-Earth Loveable Knuckleheads Like Me (=

A Sizeable Portion of This Post Is For Advanced Fitness Training Business Owners … Newbies May Wanna Start HERE  And then come back to this post after you’ve absorbed what’s in that one

Hey there, I hope you’re doin’ great and  you’re dishing out some great results for your clients in mammoth sized portions…

Clients who get results = happy clients = more referrals and better retention… no big secret there

This blog post is for the rule breakers… from training, marketing, sales, goals, business structure, hiring and dealing with employee and contractor trainers, what to do about trainers stealing clients and a whole bunch of other cool stuff…

I even identify the trainer most likely to try and steal your clients, and you’ll never guess who it is…

Plus I’m gonna cover what I call the anti-rules for owning a successful fitness training biz, some of this stuff is basic and some of this stuff gets pretty advanced… even the most seasoned business-savvy trainers will learn a TON here…

Abiding by these fitness marketing and business anti-rules can change EVERYTHING for the better in your training business and FAST

If you haven’t reached your goals yet and they seem like a distant star in the sky at this point, there’s a good chance the answers are here in this blog post somewhere …

Now, do you need to follow all this stuff have success? …

Absolutely not… and being a rule breaker by nature, like a lot of us fitness entrepreneurs happen to be… there’s just about nothing I love more than breaking a good rule or two, especially if it means succeeding in area where someone told me I couldn’t succeed…

So break-away… these are only some suggestions from my years in the industry.

But I strongly urge you to consider each of these anti-rules as they apply to your own business, because the more of these things you plug-into your own business, the better your chances of owning a highly successful fitness business

And what’s cool about THESE RULES, is that many of them break the rules of the training industry status quo … I don’t like the status quo anyway, never did, and if you’re a reader of this blog I doubt you like it either…

I’ll steal from two guys much smarter than me here regarding the good ol’ status quo…

“Whatever the majority of people are doing, under any given circumstance, if you do the exact opposite, you will probably never make another mistake as long as you live” – Earl Nightingale

“Most people tiptoe through life, hoping they make it safely to death” – Bob Proctor

Screw That…

Now if you DO prefer to follow the standard industry rules… like standing around holding a cute little clip-board, counting to ten, wearing a snazzy little red polo shirt with your name on it… punching a time-clock… focusing on endless functional training and building client’s core… when your clients want something entirely different… like fat loss… or yapping about your weekend between sets of checking yourself in mirror, than this post is not for you…

Your best goin’ back to the comfortable $15 an hour and idolizing Jillian Michaels… nothing against her… but this blog post ain’t for you… I’m sure you can find a blog by some other guy to better suit your needs

I’m completely aware that not every fitness trainer and training business owner will respond positively to my message and that’s GOOD… because this blog is NOT for most trainers…

You see… MOST fitness pros bitch and moan about the current state of the economy, while secretly cower in the corner snuggling up to the latest episode of Biggest Loser and all the while fret in the back of their mind about losing clients, making less money and not having anything saved for the future.

Most fitness pros CLAIM they want to earn more money, but prove otherwise by settling for an average income at best

And if they’re busy, they then say they want more time to enjoy the things that are important to them…. like spending time with their friends and family, but prove otherwise by wasting WAY too much time getting caught-up in the seemingly never-ending day to day minutia… living in the mindset of trading away hours for dollarsstaying “busy” doing the things that do absolutely NOTHING to drive their business forward…  like sitting around the gym talking to other unsuccessful trainers

And they are more than content to have one of those dreadful things that immediately disqualifies them from enjoying what the whole Kick Back Life philosophy is about… they are content to have a boss.

That is the majority of the industry right there.

And it’s no wonder the industry average is like $15 an hour… hell that’s just a few bucks more than cooking up fries.

Now putting in work, just about any kind of work is a noble thing to do.

But if having a day job, working for someone else, living by someone else’s rules…. or trading your hours away running around town 12 hours a day doing in-home one-on-ones is your idea of a dream business…. or you enjoy the way the clipboard feels in your hand and you count to ten in that monotone voice as you split your attention between Ms. Jones set of machine isolation curls and checking yourself out in the mirror, then this post has nothing to do with you

This post is for the 2% or 3% of the industry who long for something more… who LOVE training people hard… love the smell of a gym… love pushing people beyond what they think they’re capable of… who love fitness, AND want to have a business created around their ideal life… trainers who question things, and think that weekend certs and training for a big box gym is a complete waste of time.

Now, in this post there are no absolutes here, even if words like always and never are used, these are more like strongly suggested anti-rules

Without further ado… here are some of the main fitness business anti-rules that die-hard fitness trainers and training business owners can learn a TON from… enjoy (= ….

Damn it feels good to be a gangsta

- Be a rule breaker … rules are for people who prefer to live 40 hours a week of their lives in a little cubicle and stressing-out on TSR reports and answering to some guy named Lumbergh… for trainers who enjoy the cute and secure little amniotic sac of  training for a large corporate gym.. like 24 Fitness, LA Fitness, Ballys, Fitness First in AU, and so on.

Seriously, if you want to have a successful training career, you’ll need to be a rule breaker

Paradoxical to say break rules in a post about rules?

Life is a paradox

I’m not saying be a bad person… be a good person that’s for sure

But toss most of society’s rules and the industry norms right out the window with any half-assed weekend cert you may hold..

- If you got your training cert at a weekend cert course, get a real cert..

Letters after your name won’t impress 99.9% of your clients and potential clients, even though many trainers think they will…. they might impress other trainers… but that really won’t do you a lot of good except for maybe your ego

However, know your shit

Don’t be one of these trainers who puts little frail old grandmas or 450lb dudes on walking lunges in the first workout, or take people from machine to machine while you count to ten… or 15 for that matter… or kills their clients with a regular rotation of forced reps

Know the difference between a squat and a good morning

Do not have people doin’ deadlifts of any sort unless you thoroughly know how to teach it

Same goes for barbell squats

Don’t put people on those crazy looking locked knee, rounded back stiff legged bouncy ass deadlifts I see so many non-educated trainers doin’ time and time again... I think it’s their favorite exercise for some reason… it’s like they saw one trainer do it and it made it’s way into every weekend cert. and they got everyone doin it

And if you don’t know how to properly teach something like a squat, you have no business being a trainer… maybe the front desk is hiring sales reps

If you’re gonna train… Be a KICK ASS TRAINER

- If anything in your business is already working for you, DO MORE OF IT

I’ve had my fair share of mentoring sessions where a trainer will tell me about something he does on a small scale to get clients that works like magic, but then he or she will want to immediately learn more methods for getting clients, when the first thing they should be doin’ is more of what’s already working

- If you’re at the point in your biz where you’re hiring other trainers to work for you, remember these simple hiring anti-rules…

- Only about 3% – 5% of the industry are worth a damn when it comes to hiring them

- It’s better to hire a GREAT person who’s just a pretty good trainer, then it is to hire some trainer who kicks ass at training but is an asshole … you can always mold a cool open-minded person into being a better trainer… but it’s hard to turn an asshole inside out… usually that takes some kind of serious life-changing spiritual experience, and I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting around for that to happen

- Hire trainers who are technicians and NOT an entrepreneurial by nature, meaning they love training, but don’t have that entrepreneurial gene in them… the self-starter business-minded-ones tend not to stick around too long as they typically end up wanting to go do their own thing… and often times your client base is their first place to start getting their clients from

- Only hire someone who’s punctual, a trainer who runs late can wreak havoc on your biz quick.. test em’

- Make them jump through a bunch of hoops before hiring them... make them meet you at 5am and 7pm a few times to see how they roll, make them shadow you, make them train people with you… be quick to fire but slow to hire

- Check their Facebook … what kind of stuff are they up to? What’s their attitude and mindset about life? Is what they tell you congruent with what you see?

- Often times the best people to hire are right in front of you … within your client base… many of their jobs suck and they think what you do is awesome… like that guy who never got a date in his life and you helped in lose 50 pounds and now he’s with his dream girl.. that dude friggin’ worships you and thinks what you do is the most awesome gig in the world… or that one or ten of your clients who asked you about how you became a trainer... I had so many clients who would trade in their career to be a trainer in a heartbeat… molding a few of your best clients into kick-ass trainers is a GREAT WAY to build a loyal team of trainers who live and die by YOUR TRAINING PHILOSOPHIES… your client base is often times a great place to build your team of trainers from the ground up

- Now, if and when you have trainers working for you, like many readers of this blog do… PROTECT YOURSELF and PROTECT YOUR BUSINESS... I’ve worked with, been friends with, and coached quite a few trainers in my mentoring program… and I’ve seen it time and time again….

…One day that trainer of yours who you trust like a brother and walks on water also happens to walk off on that same water with a huge chunk of YOUR business, as he goes out and starts his own training business down the road with YOUR TRAINING CLIENTS

No matter what kind of legally binding contracts you have your trainers and clients under, trainers stealing clients is a HUGE PROBLEM in the the fitness industry…

And your a trainer not a lawyer, so I doubt you enjoy spending your time in court tied up in the double sided tape of the legal system ( ughhh)

The sad truth is, stealing clients is how a lot of trainers start their business… I’m not talking about aggressive self-promotion… I’m talking about stealing from the gym or person they work for or train for.

It happened to me…

One of my most loyal trainers ( or so I thought) walked off with 21 clients… a year before he actually was training 67 people for me, until I started having nightmares of him walking off with all those clients… realizing that’s WAY TO BIG OF A CHUNK OF MY BUSINESS to let hang out on the chopping block like that… even though this was a great guy who everyone loved, myself included ( I had the realization about a week after giving him all those clients to train)

So I started funneling clients to other trainers….

Fast forward a few years…

One day out of nowhere I here he’s telling all of the clients he was training for me to break their contracts with me and sign up with him and come train with him at this new spot


Even though the papers we’re legally binding, where I live you can’t have “no compete” clauses, I think, but there was verbiage an attorney had written up making it to where trainers would have to buy clients out or something, I can’t remember, it was kind of a gray area…

Didn’t matter, could have been black and white and clear as day

No matter where the laws stood though, it was wrong of him to do that

The clients had been training with him and not me, most didn’t even know me.. so the loyalty was with him

What was I gonna do?… Go to court for months and fight this stuff, all focused on a big negative court battle and take my focus off my goals?

In the end, he kept a few clients, I kept a few, but most wanted nothing to do with the whole thing and just left

One good thing DID came out of it though… we forgave each other and are once again friends

I honestly thought this was the LAST dude who would ever do it to me… he later told me he had been holding a resentment against me for some time…

And part of it was that he was doin’ the training while I made half the money... didn’t matter that I paid my trainers good $$$… a 50/50 cut

I get the clients via my marketing and funnel them to the trainers…  a simple business model… like this program shows you how to do

Now remember, even though these were clients that he never would have gotten in the first place, because he did no marketing himself, in fact I gave him every client he had, with the exception of maybe one or two… and he was training like 6 people at a time making around $100 an hour, not bad for 19 year old kid who had only made like $10 an hour before…

Nevertheless that resentment against me sunk in

And this is a GOOD DUDE, that I’m still friends with today

Even good guy trainers steal clients.

Let me say that again…

Even good guy trainers steal clients.

It’s just business as usual in the training industry.

In fact,I remember when I used to train as an independent contractor in the gym of guy who was at one time half an owner in a well-known quickly dying boot camp franchise model , this guy had a pretty dynamic personality and used to hold group meetings with local trainers from all around our county… Orange County California…

In the meetings he would teach and encourage trainers from all the big box corporate gyms to steal their current client base from where they worked... usually the local 24 Hour Fitness and LA Fitness Big Box gyms… and bring the clients over to HIS gym, Next Level Fitness… even to the extent of letting the clients train for free at his gym for a while if they’ll break their training contracts with the big box gyms and come on over to train at his place… cuz the more clients the better right? No matter what lengths or depths you need to go to get them…

Hell, trainers stealing clients from where they work is so common no one really thought there was anything wrong with this business building method… in this industry it’s just the way it is… fair competition right?

I’m not here to judge… those meetings actually helped a number of trainers get started on their own successful little businesses

This isn’t about what’s right or wrong

It’s about WHAT IS

Many owners of small gyms and training businesses rationalize that it’s ok and normal and no big thing when it comes to stealing clients from a huge corporate big box gym, but it would NEVER happen in their small gym, because it’s more personalized… and there’s a person behind it… no just some big evil corporation… all the trainers know the owner, like him ( or at least act like it ) and hell “We all go out and drink beer together on friday nights… and I usually buy”

Well, just like employees steal from huge corporate stores they work for, employees ALSO steal from cute lil’ ma and pa stores, often times right out of the register

And remember this very important fact:

Resentments are easy to get ….  take me for example

Part of the reason I work for myself is that if I work for someone, NO MATTER HOW COOL THE DUDE IS… within 2 weeks I can’t stand the guy cuz he’s telling me what to do…. he could be as cool as Fonzi, Samuel L. Jackson and Mathew Mcconaughey all rolled up into one … but if he’s telling me what to do, he no longer vibes with me… it’s just how I’m wired… it’s an ego thing, and I’m working on it…. doh!!! 0=

You never know when one of your trainers has secretly decided that you’re taking advantage of them and that you no longer have the right to profit off of their hard earned money for the training hours they put in… and once that shift occurs, THEY WILL SCREW YOU OVER

Taking all that into serious consideration… here’s a few ways to protect your fitness training business you’ve spent so much hard work building to the level it’s at today...

- Keep the clients loyal to your service/program and NOT your trainers – trust me, in most circumstances, when you have the same trainer train someone three or four days a week, your client becomes loyal to THAT TRAINER and not your service or program – One solution is what one of my long time closest friends in the world, 6’8″ 320lb Larry Clay ( Larry has black belts in 8 martial arts plus he’s a Krav Maga master … we used to toss drunks out of a bar together on pretty much an every night basis in Lubbock Texas… but that’s a story for a different day ) … Larry has some gyms around Dallas Texas now, and he mixes up the hours/groups his trainers train -  he has like 16 trainers working for him, and rotates the hours/groups they train weekly so people stay loyal to the program and not his trainers.… because once your clients have loyalty to your trainers and not your training program, it’s sooooo easy for trainers to walk off with your clients … BTW, Larry’s trainers actually PAY LARRY to train for him, it’s genius how he does it, maybe I can get him to do a blog post on it for you… it BLEW AWAY the KBL Mastermind members when he shared how he does it… one of the most brilliant things I’ve ever heard

- It’s the trainer you think will NEVER screw you over who will inevitably screw you over… I’ve been work with and coached trainers for a few years now, and one of the most common stories I hear over and over again is how a trainer just walked off with a bunch of their clients…. and guess what? It’s almost always the trainer that a few weeks or months before my coaching client told me WOULD NEVER DO IT… be it best friend, brother-in-law.. or Sunday School teacher… yep, that’s the one… almost every f*cking time… so protect yourself and don’t put any of your trainers up on any kind or moral pedestal… because it WILL come crashing down

- Structure your business so no trainer can walk away with more than 10% -20% of you clients/business/income … How? Well, if rotating your trainers around isn’t practical, and say you have 100 clients, don’t have 2 trainers training 50 of them, have 5 trainers training 20 or have 10 trainers train ten clients each… because having someone walk away with half your client base WILL HURT

- Use Secret Shoppers .. and tell your trainers they WILL BE TESTED by clients offering to pay the trainer to train them on the side… tell your trainers this isn’t a personal thing, it’s business… hell blame it on me… I tell my coaching clients to say their business coach is making them do it… tell your trainers that to scale your business you need checks and balances and this one of them… and then have them tested… and more important than testing them is that they are expecting you to test them (=… it works great at keeping them on their toes…

- Check up on trainers and keep them close -  You get what you inspect, not what you expect…. so inspect

- YOU bill the clients and pay your trainers, not the other way around…. the one with the money has the power

- Keep it in the agreement – Your agreements with your clients should say that you have the right to change trainers around on them at any time

- Have clear and concise written goals AND… see em’ in your mind, tell other supportive people about em’ and feel good about it all, DO NOT STRESS OUT that you haven’t reached your goals yet…. be ok with the gap of where you are now and where your goals are… enjoy the damn journey… keep trudging on helping people… ACTION ACTION ACTION ( I’m not talking some woo-woo airy-fairy stuff here… I’m talking about what works time and time again

See it in the mind ( feeling great about knowing it’s on it’s way) and then here’s the key.. TAKE MASSIVE ACTION HELPING OTHERS IN THE DIRECTION OF YOUR GOALS

The DVD ‘The Secret” missed that last part IMO… about action and helping people

- Swipe Good Marketing, Don’t Steal It – Meaning take ideas from good marketing that’s proven to pull for other trainers… but don’t steal some other trainer’s marketing copy or campaigns … here’s an example of what  happened to one trainer who did… ouch… at least he made good after the post on my man 7-Figure Sam’s blog came out about him, but ouch…

- In 2012 and moving forward in 2013, fake and hypey marketing is working less and less … sure, we all know that a huge part of marketing is about making your programs sound like the greatest thing since sliced Ezikiel Bread … that’s just marketing..  now… your programs better be damn good and deliver first class results and you need to be able to look at yourself deep in the mirror and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are delivering the absolute best you can…

But stay away from the uber-hype type of marketing… for example headlines with ten exclamation marks after them reek of hype from a mile a away… in most cases if you need a bunch of exclamation marks after a sentence, you didn’t use the right words to get your point across !!!!!!!!!!!!

We are moving in the direction of trust based marketing direct-response and relationship-building type blogging is one of my favorite forms of trust based marketing… people want to get to know you and be able to trust you and see that you’re a real person… for me personally it’s worked better than anything else I’ve tried.

People trust people more than they do big corporations with Fat Cats hiding behind the scenes at big oblong tables

That said, except for the trainer who loves to write or do videos, or wants to outsource an SEO blog for getting clients from Google, I would say that in 19 out of 20 cases blogging should be reserved for the more advanced training business owner who already has some of the more popular lead gen systems dialed in like I’m gonna get into in a minute

There ARE cases though where blogging is one of the BEST things you can do... like the trainer who wants to get into fitness information marketing and is ready to do whatever the f*ck it takes to succeed in the world of fitness info marketing… because it really takes diving in headfirst to become a success info-marketer … unless of course your good buds with the top guys and smooze up to them and/or give them a bunch of money… usually that circle of fitness info-marketers stays pretty tight, and they don’t really like letting new people in their circle or promoting people too far outside of the circle

And 9 out of 10 times you can find better info for free online on blogs and YouTube and strength training sites than in the infinite number of little ebooks about Ab Secrets or Tornado Training or whatever..  and people are becoming wiser and wiser about it... and guess what?

People know THERE ARE NO SECRETS TO ABS… eat less, move more… they know there’s no f*cking secret to this stuff ( Except in Middle America… where having abs or even anything that resembles a fit physique seems to be a long lost f*cking mystery)

INFORMATION IS EVERYWHERE… and I’d say less than 1 in 1000 people who want to be a successful info-marketer and give it a go actually become one.

It’s MUCH quicker, easier and more-surefire to build a successful training business, WAY EASIER

However, once the business is built, I’d say there’s far more freedom being an info-marketer… even though none of us really know where next years paycheck is coming from

MUCH MORE security in owning a fitness training business… it’s far more predictable… more work goes on in the day to day running of one… but with a training business, unless your just relying on Google or Daily Sites or that one client of yours who’s just a referral machine, you can pretty much predict where next years check is coming from

Not so in the fitness info marketing biz

Great biz, but it ain’t an overnight thing like a training business can be if you just follow the right steps

So if you’re gonna stand out in the age of information overdose… it’s far beyond overload at this point… you better have some pretty damn good stuff to say.

And blogs, video blogs and YouTube videos are some of the best places to start, along with writing or doing videos for the top sites in your niche

About half of the people who join my mentoring program inevitably want to build a successful training business AND a successful info-marketing business … I make them pick one or the other, usually the training business since it’s so much more of a sure thing… do this, this and this and you’ll succeed, info-marketing is a whole different beast

In fact, I talk MANY OUT OF IT… they thought it would be something they could dabble in and make a killing at

Not so…

That said, info marketing ( along with blogging ) is my favorite gig in the world… only job I would ever trade it for would be Chris Hansen’s gig on “To Catch a Predator”

- When building your fitness training business don’t try to re-invent the wheel, do what works and is proven to work time and time again

At least when your getting started… if you want to re-invent the wheel later on after you’re helping a bunch of people and having some decent financial success at it, then go for it

And if you’re the super creative type, by all means, have at it… but for most fitness trainers, if they want success, there are plenty of things PROVEN TO WORK when they’re just implemented ( In fact many are in a free blog post I write HERE )

I’m not saying don’t differentiate, you wanna stick out, for sure

But if you’ll just stick with what works, and keeping moving forward no matter what type of adversity you face, YOU WILL SUCCEED

49 out of 50 times when I see trainers try to create a completely original business model from the ground up, they fall on their faces

But hey, you never know… I HAVE seen a few hit it out of the park, but it IS pretty rare ( I’ve actually had the good fortune of doin’ it myself before, but a lot more good fortune doin’ what is already proven to work)

- Train Groups - Seriously, If your goal is to make good money, like enough to not have to worry about money… and you want to be able to retire someday, or at least have some breathing room in your life…. TRAIN GROUPS… either semi-private or medium, large or HUGE boot camp type groups, or whatever you want to call it

If you still wanna train mostly one on one, like a HUGE PORTION OF THE INDUSTRY DOES , that’s cool, but be prepared to barely get by financially LIKE A HUGE PORTION OF THE INDUSTRY ALSO DOES

Now, if one-on-one is the way you really want to do it,  I highly recommend either getting someone else to train the groups for you or doin’ some kind of group workouts as well as your private stuff, like a weekend boot camp ( NOTE: something to keep in mind, while I recommend training large groups and I keep referring to the phrase boot camp you don’t need to call them boot camps, in fact you might be better off to call them something completely different to help differentiate yourself… a little more on this later… ), or a few hours a day designated to training groups or SOMETHING where you can help a bunch of people at once and pull in a few bucks per hour

I can’t tell you how many 35 to 55 year old one-on-one, often in-home, personal trainers I know who make great money per session, but in reality they end up only making  so-so money for the week/month/year…  cuz’ they bust their ass driving around to one-on-one sessions all over town… or they see one client at a time, all damn day long… while the guy with groups or boot camps is seeing 3, 30, 90.. you name it… in the SAME amount of time as the one-on-one guy

And one-on-one trainers who do in-homes all day don’t have a good way to simplify things or maximize their efforts in terms of annual income… and on top of that, it’s really hard to create an exit plan when your time is spent driving around dishing out one-on-one sessions, working 6am to 8pm pretty much every day of the week

With a little bit of a better business structure, they could make SO MUCH MORE MONEY, helping a lot more people AND have some time in their lives to do the important personal stuff, like spend time with family, just chill, take care of themselves, whatever it is… instead of driving all around the planet training people

I know a lot of these guys who’ve been training people for 10, 15, 20 YEARS…. and most want to change things SOOO bad, but they just can’t seem to find a way to without losing a huge portion of their income… cuz it can be difficult to move a bunch of longtime, pampered and entitled in-home one-on-one clients into one location, and then train them with other people in groups, it’s doable, but it requires some savvy

On the other hand, I know a ton of trainers who have only been in business for a year or two and make a GREAT living training groups of people primarily in one location and are easily able to have others train a portion of their clients for them… because they set up a “business” with a game plan and future, not a day job driving around doin’ in-home training

And like I said, I know quite a few who have only been training for a year or two and make very good money… we’re talking six-figures here…. AND they’re able to help a whole bunch of people at one time… unlike the one-on-one trainers who are a dime a dozen, and in all honesty rarely make more than $20K to $40K a year…

Hey, delivering pizzas in between sessions might not be a bad idea for future in-home trainers… train a client, drop off a few pizzas, train a client, drop off a few pizzas

And even if all the training is done at one location… one person per session for say $65 total for a session doesn’t even come close to say…

6 people for $35 each = $210 per session ( I charged an average of $40 to $50 each for groups of 6, and most of my clients said I was the by far the best personal trainer they ever had… not to toot my horn, cuz you might be better than me… all I’m saying is many of my clients had one-on-one trainers before and preferred my workouts and training and I charged only a little less per hour than most one-on-one trainers did in my area )

It’s as easy for me to train 4 to 6 reasonably healthy people as it is for me to train one, and the time flies MUCH faster and is so much more fun, for me and them

Or 25 ( in like a boot camp) for $10 each = $250 an hour

Or 100 people paying $10 each with 3 assistant trainers helping out that you pay $25 each to = $1000 an hour minus $75 for the 3 assistant trainers = $925 an hour ( I know trainers who do this)

If you still train one-on-one, then the way to go is either be a celebrity trainer or a trainer to the super-affluent, then you can charge a few hundred an hour.. there’s a guy in my area who charges $1000 an hour, and he is in demand… and I bet he’s not really any better at the training stuff than many of the trainers reading this blog, but HE IS great at positioning himself

Plus he’s located in area where millionaires and Ferrari’s, beach front property, plastic surgery and rich old ladies with little dogs are the norm… however, there are tons of $65 per hour one-on-one trainers all over that town ( Newport Beach / Corona Del Mar)

$1000 an hour or even $100 an hour isn’t the case with most one-on-one trainers

Seriously, it you want a future… more free time for self-development and relaxation, a life and a business you can one day maybe retire from or automate most of, then I HIGHLY recommend training groups

And with groups, you end up with a MUCH bigger client base

And a huge client base that you’re treating right = A lot of referrals

It’s A LOT easier to get referrals from 100 clients than from 10

- Stick with minimal locations for yourself, it’s not bad to have others training clients for you at other locations all around town…

But along with the in-home trainers I know who’s job closely resembles that of a high paid pizza delivery guy with a TRX strap and training cert… I know a handful of trainers who train at this gym, that gym, this park, that park, this beach, that beach, this persons home and that persons home… all in the same day… and they wonder why they don’t make anything and hardly have any time

They travel so damn much… and again, they make decent money per training session, but rarely good money per week/month/year

If you want to make a good living, stick with minimal locations, one is ideal, but two or so is not a deal breaker, above that you’re running around like crazy just to make a decent living …

If that’s your kinda gig, you might prefer being a courier or bike messenger or UPS guy or something, that way you can drive around all you want

But if you want to build a business, have a helluva lot of fun and have freedom and a future… train groups… it’s really that simple

- Focus on the 3 ways to make more money in your business… seriously, there’s only 3 ways…

1. Get more leads … right now as of the writing of this post the top ways that work for financially successful trainers are…

- Strategically getting referrals from your client base as well as getting referrals from the local community

- Running contests and challenges ( Here’s a great blog post about running fitness contests )

- Daily Deal Sites when done strategically…. many trainers hate these sites, and they have definitely helped boot camps to become a low value commodity in many peoples eyes, but some trainers kill it with these sites… in fact quite a few do… the ones who do it right, done wrong, they can be a nightmare

Perksville??? To use or not to use … please let me know your experience with it

- Facebook viral stuff like daily pictures and video taking of fun and or crazy challenging workout sessions with your group training clients…. and running contests and challenges with points for liking, commenting, tagging, sharing, posting and so on. I hear some trainers like tracking this stuff with Perksville ( if you use it, LMK how you like it, I haven’t gathered enough data yet to know how well it’s working for trainers to decide if I should officially promote it or even refer trainers to it)

- Google Organic and Google Places are still goodies ( Here’s a good post about the Google Organic stuff, using these exact tactics got me enough clients all over Orange County California to feed clients to 15 trainers, the post is a *little* outdated, but most of it still applies and works for getting sites high in the big G for the organic stuff, and here’s a good post about the Google Places stuff )

- Getting in the Local Media as a Featured Fitness Expert - Getting on a popular local television news show is by far the best, but magazines and newspapers and local online news sites are good too – One of the best things about this strategy is that it’s free

- Doin public speaking gigs like lunch and learns and corporate talks can also be great ways to get clients

- Misc: Some trainers have great results getting clients from flyer drops, direct mail, print ads, trade shows and using lead gen boxes… results have mixed with these… often times it comes down to the way it’s done

For the most part if you just stick with 2- 5 of the following: Strategically getting referrals from your clients and community, running fitness contests and challenges, Google Organic and Google Places, viral Facebook stuff and maybe daily deal, local media appearances and/or some public speaking gigs to boot… plus anything else that’s ALREADY working for you, you can build an extremely successful training business… true story

2. Convert a higher percent of those leads into paying clients - The Automatic Sales Formula is a great resource

3. Maximize the amount of money you make off each client ( By adding more value to their lives in ways that help them reach their goals better … examples are retaining them longer so you can help them more, partnering with a good and healthy meal delivery service, promoting good auto-ship supplements that can help them, offering group talk sessions .. like a mandatory or voluntary group talk session done in a class-type environment to help them reach their goals… like Carrie Kukuda’s Gap Sessions, where she helps those clients fill in the gaps and charges a reasonable monthly fee, other examples are offering semi-private training to boot camp clients or the other way around, or offering other valuable upsells and ascensions to your clients)

Here’s a post that get more in depth in each of the 3 ways

- Deliver the most kick-ass fitness training service possible – Seriously, don’t become so focused on marketing, sales and automating things that your training or service slides… remember, retaining your current clients and getting referrals from them is A LOT easier and more cost effective than the other marketing stuff is

Plus you’ll have happier clients to work with, and feel a lot better about yourself


While it’s true that too few trainers really market themselves properly, if they deliberately market themselves at all ( great news for trainers who market)… because everything you do in your business is actually marketing in some form or another, but I’ve also seen a ton of trainers get WAY TOO much into the marketing and sales stuff and let their delivery go to sh*t

- Work for yourself – nuff said. ( if you’re working for some else and want to break off on your own my friends 7-Figure Sam and Kaiser are giving away a free course to help with this called Dump The Gym that you might wanna look into)

- Use recurring billing – Unless of course you enjoy being a bill collector and making it super easy for people drop out of your programs without needing to contact you in any way, shape or form

- ALWAYS IMPROVE YOUR SKILLS, but not just your training skills – For every hour you spend learning how to become a better trainer, spend at least one hour on business, marketing and sales stuff… if your reading this post right now great… your on the right track. Mix this stuff in with your Mel Siff, your Alwyn Cosgrove, your Mike Boyle, your Paul Chek and your Zatsiorsky and you’ll be good to go.

- Incorporate – LLC…. S-Corp… I’m not the one to teach you the specifics, this is where my ADHD kicks in HARD…. So I highly recommend you speak to a lawyer or someone who knows this stuff, but just be sure and protect yourself. If you accidentally hurt someone real bad in your workouts or get sued for any reason, having something like this can often protect your personal assets. I recently had a mentoring client of mine have someone DIE right there in her workout… one of her top success stories, and she’s a GREAT trainer, top notch… the dude had a heart attack, right in front of a ton of her campers… she even got bashed in social media for it pretty hard too by some people… I really felt for her, it can happen to the best of us.. seriously, no matter how good you are, this kind of stuff just happens, so protect yourself… capiche?

- Have someone else do the admin, – If you want your biz to grow, learn the whole Technician, Manager, Entrepreneur E-Myth  model, and get that busy-work management stuff off of your own plate as quick as possible

- Contribute – Make sure your business is about contribution in some way or another – Make your goals about helping people and not just money, take on some PURE pro-bono clients… asking nothing in return from them and don’t tell a soul about it… give to a good cause… the more your business is about a higher vision and not just money, the better off you’ll be in 1,000,000 different ways, trust me on this… I know sometimes it’s easy just to see dollar signs, but those dollar signs can blind you from truth and real long term success and happiness

Money is great, but make your training biz about something more.

- Position yourself  in a way that benefits you financially – For example, don’t call your workouts a “Class” unless you’re cool with people putting very little financial value in them… and now with the great commoditization of boot camps, Daily Deal sites and $5 boot camps on every corner, the phrase “Boot Camp” has very little value as well, unless of course your bad ass at positioning and have a reputation like Kelli Calabrese in her Adventure Boot Camp location  out in Texas, charging like $400 something dollars each… doin’ the $24k a month for 5 hours of training a week thing… however in many cases, if you don’t have long term brand equity built up in your boot camp like she does, I HIGHLY recommend NOT calling it a boot camp… DIFFERENTIATE DIFFERENTIATE DIFFERENTIATE

- Adapt – Things change, FAST… in fact, a wise man once said the only thing that doesn’t change is change itself… Google changes, Facebook changes… remember Myspace? … My what?…  Craigslist changed A LOT… the mass perceived value of boot camps has changed, the economy has changed, the way we communicate changes… EVERYTHING CHANGES… I might be the only one to admit this, but in my line of work… info marketing… a lot of us rely on email to make money… and if email changes, which it will… we will all need to adapt… who knows if email will even exist in a few years… remember Faxing? Dial phones? Pagers?

- Never Relent... Life will kick your ass if you let it… and we all take a beating once in awhile… sometimes you’re the windshield and sometimes your the bug, but like Rocky said in the awesome flick Rocky Balboa…

“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get it and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! Now if you know what you’re worth then go out and get what you’re worth. But ya gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain’t you! You’re better than that!”

- Never Ever EVER Forget How Great You Truly Are…. Here’s a link to probably the greatest motivational video I’ve ever seen, it won’t allow embedding, so I can’t slap it up in this post for you, be here’s a link to it instead, check it out here:

Alright, I’m pooped.. this post has taken me well over ten hours to make it the way I wanted to make it for you... I hope you enjoyed it

And on that note, if you got anything out of this post,  I would LOVE to hear your comments below….

Talk soon,

Big Chris




  1. Killer post, thanks for taking the time to write this!

  2. Thanks AJ, you’re a true inspiration… looking forward to what you and Dustin are about to unleash on the industry… (=

  3. I am in the position of the trainer leaving a gym and starating my own. What do you recommend I do so I’m not that trainer?

  4. Hey Nikki, answered you above in the Facebook section (=

Speak Your Mind


* Results are not typical. Advertised results are only typical of people who worked their tails off and followed every one of the fitness marketing strategies and personal training tips that I outline on my site to really explode their fitness business. Also, if you click on a link on my site to someone else's product, there's a good chance I'm makin' a profit off of it, probably even a steep one.