Breaking Free From the Dollar per Hour Model for Long Term Success

Billy Cowell Articles, Entrepreneur, fitness professional, Marketing, Motivational, Personal Trainer Leave a Comment

The BEST trainers are the ones that work the most hours. At least that was what I thought when I got started.

Then it was the BEST trainers are the ones that charge the highest per hour rate... Believe it or not this may actually dig your hole deeper.... 

How about increasing your fitness professional salary and income by 

Giving up the "Per Hour" Model.

I remember "stealing" a paper from a colleague's mailbox in the first gym I worked as a personal trainer. The paper was that trainer's year end results and I knew he was one of the best in the company. My entire business plan for the following year was to match his session count (just under 2000). I divided it by 52 as the amount I was planning to work each week. This was a great plan for me because at 24, my only career goal was to generate a six-figure income.  

The plan worked and worked well but there does come a time where a fitness professional needs to break out of the "now" and bridge the gap between an hourly employee and an entrepreneur. Especially when hourly personal trainers are not likely to get sick time, vacation pay or retirement.

This article is going to cover how to build your reputation in the wellness space, take your career to the next level and maximize your outreach at the same time as changing your career model.



Let Us Start By Surrounding Ourselves With Mentors

I humbly understand what it is like to be the best trainer at your facility. It is such a confidence booster when every challenging prospect that comes across the club manager's desk gets dished off to you because you have good coaching skills, sound physiology principles AND you can SELL.  In many big box gyms, with the high turn over of talent in the space it is easy to fill your schedule, excel to the highest pay tier and just be the "man" in the facility.

With some hard work and people skills you will quickly be the big fish in small pond, even if that pond is the biggest facility in the city. A quote by Grant Cardone:

"If you are the smartest or highest paid person in the room, you are in the wrong room."

If you are reading this blog post, you are taking steps in the right direction, as my goal with my outreach is to create a community of fitness professionals to share ideas. Connect us all together to inspire and motivate one another and even create business partnerships. The potential impact of multiplying your impact is tremendous as your network expands both in breadth and depth, quality and quantity. 

When I was a trainer in the box gym where I worked at for over eight years, I attempted to forge business relationships of all kinds, from trading clients so we could truly work with people that better fit our niche, to partnering for independent style boot-camps to building sales funnels to bring new prospects into our gym. It was always challenging to find other fitness professionals that were entrepreneurial as I was and I had a limit of the six or seven other trainers where I worked.

Some fitness professionals are fascinated by exercise physiology where creating workouts, periodization and balancing performance with injury prevention and diversity in the challenge that motivates them.

For me those things come very natural and are not as interesting as the psychology in working with a person to maximize their potential.

Particularly mentoring trainers that are far better than I in their niche and helping them connect with their target audience.

I appreciate the marketing side of fitness and finding other fit pros online has allowed me to use my skills in a complimentary way but even better find other trainers that are driven and succeeding in leaps and bounds beyond where I have yet to travel.


What Are the Options?

Over the years, I have heard some crafty ideas in this space. Here are my top five plus one and I am open to learning about others.

  1. Some big box gyms offer six month PERSONAL TRAINING MEMBERSHIP and the trainer needs to find a substitute or replacement for the client if they cannot make a session. With this model, the trainer gets paid a salary for 6 months regardless of whether the sessions happen or not. 
  2. GROUP EXERCISE is also a way to hedge and create more control but often the pay rate is less. This idea still requires you to get paid for each hour you work, you just side-step the problem of controlling your time but you do add an alternative stream of income while exposing yourself to a new group of people.
  3. ONLINE PERSONAL TRAINING looks like it can be a good option and although I am not an expert in this space, I have watched a couple businesses grow over the years doing this. It is much more affordable that one-on-one training sessions and it will maximize the skills of a professional in terms of workout schedule, program design and exercise selection without having to be face-to-face for an hour. The trainer may even be able set the session up and the client can do it out of time synchronization which creates scheduling flexibility.  With the right client-trainer relationship, this can truly be a great situation. 
  4. OUTSOURCING your clients... ok, this will require a very professional model because personally, I have seen it done very well and very poorly. Nonetheless, as you are truly crushing your space, there will come a point where you will be approached to work with more clients then you can handle. If done well, this can become a somewhat passive income source. Although, this may not be an option as an employee personal trainer in a big box gym and it could be an ideal set-up if you own the facility. 
  5. The fifth method to break out and change your financial situation is in developing an AFFILIATE NETWORKING for supplements, fitness related products, information or even life-related products. One tremendous perk is that your exposing yourself to build fitness business from you new affiliate network as well as benefiting by creating additional revenue from  your current client base. Depending on the product, your clients may even have better results in response to the products you choose. 

Plus One

All of these will work and allow you to create alternative income sources that will far exceed what you can achieve training 30 to 40 hours per week but as you BUILD YOUR BRAND, you will be much more valuable to your target audience. As you learn attraction marketing, your fitness business will grow, your group exercise classes will grow, your online businesses will grow and your affiliate or network products will grow.  That is a lot of growth! All because your followers will learn to like and trust you and will support what you support. This is the direction I am guiding this entire community but it is not specific because the only person that can be your brand is YOU!


Establish A Great Network Of Colleagues

This is what I am about. Few things in life will bring a level of satisfaction and success than surrounding yourself with powerful colleagues. This includes consumers of your service as well as all the coaches, instructors and trainers that you meet along the way. (The FitPro Lifestyle Facebook Group is a great place to start.)

You will always have an influx of new clients, media opportunities, co-book writings deals and even the idea of partnering in facility as they open. Welcome competition as it will come, so embrace it especially as your prospects are also someone else's prospects. There are some fit pros that think others are the enemy and they need to tackle this solo and then there are others that know when the water rises, all the ships go up with it.  


Get Writing

This message needs to resonate in everything about marketing yourself. The more you get out there, the more you will be heard. The more you WRITE, the better you will become at articulating your passion both to yourself and target audience. 


Certainly this is just scratching the surface of this topic and there are many other strategies to help take your business to the next level. As they come our way, I will share them with this community and if you wish to share with the group - reach out and I will open it up to you.


How are you taking your business to the next level? Comment below or reach out to us. We are always looking for influencers to grow the space and improve the community. 

Check out our Facebook Group and continue to follow along. 

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