Traditionally, personal training and fitness coaching are considered a “young man’s game.” The stigma is that it’s a job someone does in their early 20s for a couple years. And then realize they should probably go get a “real job.”
To some degree, CrossFit and the rise of functional fitness, has helped with this misconception. However, one thing I have noticed in my 14 years in the industry, is that long-term coaches are generally also gym owners.
In other words, there aren’t a whole lot of 10-year coaches who don’t own a fitness business, be it group classes, remote coaching or individual design.
My name is Emily. I’m a coach and a writer. I’ve spoken with hundreds of other coaches over the years. And I work alongside five other coaches at Madlab School of Fitness in Vancouver, BC (formerly CrossFit Vancouver) who’ve been there for 18, 17, 16, 11 and five years.
I believe we’re an anomaly, and I like to think we’re also a gym owner’s dream.
Why Personal Training is a Hidden Revenue Gem.
Developing coaches takes time and energy. It’s an investment, and it’s exhausting for a gym owner to have coaches coming and going like a revolving door.
So why do I say that my fellow coaches and I are a gym owner’s dream? Because we’re intrapreneurs within an entrepreneurial business in a competitive industry.
An intrapreneur is someone tasked with developing an innovative idea, product or service, within a company. While we may not assume the risk of running the business, we are invested in the success of it.
As it applies to personal training and personal coaching specifically, let me put it this way: If I were a coach (part-time or full) getting paid by the hour, or with a monthly salary, I would not still be coaching. Not only is there a ceiling for earning, I would’ve gotten bored of coaching group classes each week.
Instead, I have the opportunity to build and nurture my own book of personal coaching clients within our gym, just like a gym owner would. And I’m compensated based solely on my ability to retain and bring on clients.
How Intrapreneurship Works in the Fitness Industry.
Let me break down what this model looks like for the coaches at MadLab.
I earn approximately 50 percent of the revenue my clients generate each month. A majority of my clients are hybrid clients. This means they attend group classes and do one-on-one personal coaching sessions with me. Others are predominantly attending group classes.
Still others pay for additional high-ticket gym services like individual design. I earn a percentage of what they pay, which averages out to be around 50 percent. That percentage depends on a variety of factors, such as being referred from another client.
In this sense, I am 100 percent invested in my book of personal training clients, and in ensuring they’re being serviced properly. But here’s the thing. For me, it’s not even really about the money. After all, coaching is only a part-time job for me.
My book of clients consists of about 20 people, and I’ve been working with them anywhere between five to 12 years. Therefore, we’ve developed strong relationships and that, more than anything else, keeps me coaching.
As an aside, the full-time coaches at my gym have books of approximately 45-65 clients each. They earn a professional wage (six figures) as full-time, career coaches.
From the Gym Owner Perspective...
For gym owners, I know it’s incredibly important for you to create - and protect - the ultimate member experience. So you may be concerned about your clients being limited to taking only classes with their personal coach.
Let me ease your mind by explaining that members can still attend any coach’s class. For example, four people in a class of 12 on any given day might be my clients. And my guess is, most of the class wouldn’t be able to guess which four are part of my tribe.
Ultimately, I still get to know other coach’s clients. And the coaches actually work together, as a co-op of sorts, to look after each other’s clients. However, our personal book of clients are the ones we’re invested in behind the scenes.
Pro Tip: Use PushPress Grow to automate the ultimate member experience and save yourself time! Book a demo with our team today to find out more!
Does Personal Training Require Coaches to Be Salespeople?
I can’t tell you how many times a gym owner has voiced concern over their coaches’ ability to “sell” or the fact that they’re the only one who cares about the business.
My rebuttal to that is asking, “What’s in it for your coach?”
Perhaps you’ve offered them a one-time commission for bringing on a new client. But that’s not the same as knowing you’ll nurture that client for the long term and be compensated for it.
For the gym owner I work for specifically, the gym is basically a turn-key asset. He hasn’t coached since 2014.
First, his payroll is directly tied to revenue, so he’s not paying out money that the gym hasn’t made. Second, us coaches do our own scheduling and billing. So we collectively handle some of the other duties a gym owner traditionally would. These are things such as personal training, sales, programming, marketing and other duties. Which makes us intrapreneurs: Owners of our own clients within the bigger business.
So this means that we sell. And we care about the business just like the owner does.
In Summary: A Different Approach to Longevity in Coaching.
This “intrapreneur approach” is just one coach’s take on longevity in personal training and coaching in general.
Are there coaches who have been around for a decade or more, making an hourly rate for a handful of classes each week? Of course.
However, it’s only human nature to assume that you’re going to be more invested in something when you own it. When your livelihood depends on it and you feel you’re making a difference in people’s lives, it changes the game. You care, you’re more invested and you work hard to build strong personal relationships.
So if you’re a gym owner, consider providing your coaches the chance to be intrapreneurs in your space. It could be a great opportunity to increase gym revenue, retention rates and an even more connected community.