Personal Training Is Dead? Nobody Told Me….

A Guest Post By Zach Cahill

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Hey there, I hope you’re doin great and kicking ass in your training biz… below is a guest blog post by The Fitness Artisian Zack Cahill about doin personal ‘one on one’ training sessions and how to make it highly profitable

After years of just focusing on the business side of things, working with mentoring clients and creating info products for trainers,  I personally started training clients again ( in groups).. purely for fun… and have had the best week, in terms of personal fulfillment, that I’ve had in a LONG TIME

I love the money of driving my businesses forward through high powered strategies, but I RALLY missed kicking peoples asses…. SO glad to be back at it

Zacks post is not only about being in the trenches, but how to maximize profits with actual PERSONAL one-on-one fitness training , enjoy…

If you’ve been reading fitness business info for the last few years you could be forgiven for thinking that the successful people in this industry do everything except actually train people.

If we look at the people with the highest profiles most of them seem to make their money from

– Selling info products
– Bootcamps
– Business coaching
– Owning semi private training facilities
– Sell supplements and courses to trainers
– Speaking

All of these can be fantastic income streams and if you’re passionate about them and can do a great job at them then more power to you.

But Is it me or are there any people who actually make a great living from …gasp…. Personal training?!

Well , yes there are! It’s just that over the last few years we’ve all gone a little crazy with the whole four hour work week thing. I’m here to show you that there is an alternative to what everyone else is talking about. Understand that I’m not saying those methods are bad, just that they’re not the only way to success.

A few years back when bootcamps were becoming popular I decided to set one up. My motivation was to take a “mini-retirement”, an extended holiday to Australia. So I set up a bootcamp and within a few months I was able to fund my mini retirement and get paid to lie on the beach. The experience taught me two things-

1- Bootcamps can be profitable

2- I have zero passion for bootcamps.

Seriously, and I really don’t mean to offend any of my friends out there providing an amazing service with their bootcamps and helping tons of people, but they’re not my thing. And no matter what is the new cool thing in town I don’t believe you should jump on board if you’re not passionate about it.

Now I’ve read “you need to work on your business not in your business” so many times I probably mumble it in my sleep, but you know what? I love working IN my business!

In fact the more time I spend working with my clients the more I love my job and the better I get at it. Seriously, if you got into personal training to further your writing career , or to become a business coach, I question your motivations.

Training people (in whatever format) is the core of what we do and I feel like over the past few years the message has gotten away from that, to the point that we have trainers aspiring to be “so successful they no longer have to train anyone”. Shit man, if I won the lottery tomorrow I’d still train people! Sitting at a computer all day is what normal people do!

Screw that.

Where am I going with this..

I think in the industry you have two equally valid routes,

1- You take books like the e-myth as your bible and work to make yourself replaceable in your business, hire people to do the training for you and work to replicate yourself over and over. Then if you like you can teach other trainers how to do what you’ve done through seminars, info products and so on. Your business is not about you, its about the brand. Awesome. Alwyn Cosgrove is the master of this and is the perfect guy to learn from if that’s your goal.

Option 2- You keep your business lean and your overheads low. You work to position yourself as the go to guy in your niche and charge a lot for what you do.

Your business is all about YOU. In many ways this is a business model closer to that of an artisan tradesman , and your USP comes from being able to do what nobody else can.

At that point you can leverage your position within your niche to sell more scaleable products and services like online programs or e-products either for other fitness professionals or for your niche. But these products all stem from your credibility and expertise as an “in the trenches”, high-end , elite trainer.

Not only that, but you will have created a priceless network of highly successful, well connected people outside of the fitness industry. Namely, your clients. No other method, not bootcamps, not semi private, nothing can compare with personal training in terms of networking with high net-worth individuals.

My colleague Graeme Marsh has coined the term Fitness Artisan to describe this route to success. And honestly when I look at the people I know in this industry who are making the best living, and I’m talking a out guys who might not even have a Facebook page but charge £200 an hour and have a waiting list, this is the model they follow. Sure you’ve never heard of them but would you rather be the guy with a million Facebook friends and no clients , or the guy nobody’s heard of but whos making 6 figures?

Again I want to stress: it’s not that one method is better than the other, or even that you can’t use elements of both (for the record that’s what I do), simply that there is more than one route to success. And if you love being in the gym training people don’t let anyone tell you you should be spending more time at your laptop.

My three tips for becoming a fitness artisan-

1- Niche yourself as soon as possible and become the go-to guy. If you worry about competition as a fitness artisan you’re either not good enough or haven’t niched yourself properly.

Example- weight loss is not a niche! Weight loss for busy female lawyers in the city of London is.

2- Start to build credibility and reputation in your niche by speaking in front of them and writing for them.

Example- talk to every single one of your current clients about giving a talk at their office or place or work.
In my niche of female lawyers I would make sure that talk is laser focused on weight loss for busy females, and would specifically address the typical problems of that group. At the end of the talk I would offer them an ebook or report, again tailored specifically for them (in exchange for money or their contact details, or both) which helps to even further establish me as the go to guy.

3- Network like a true professional. One advantage personal training has over other fitness business models such as bootcamps is you will build close relationships with highly successful people. As much as its important to network within the fitness world, don’t forget that if people can afford your services they’re probably very successful and influential within their own industries.

Now, it goes without saying you need to be over-delivering and treating your clients like gold. But you should take a genuine interest in their work, what they do, and how they have become successful.

Do this and Two things will happen, you will learn a lot about business, but possibly more importantly your clients will start to think of you not just as their trainer, but as a fellow professional.

All of a sudden they will be thinking of you when they come across opportunities in their world that can help your business.

Bottom line, you got into this because you love training people. Don’t let anybody tell you you shouldn’t be doing that or that you can’t make money from it!

Zack Cahill is running a one day personal training business success seminar in London UK in February limited to 20 people. For details on the seminar, Becoming A Fitness Artisan go here HERE

This is his London Personal Trainer Blog

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  1. Great Post bro!
    I have to agree with you. People still need that one on one coaching and you can make a nice living with a small team of qualified clients. Plus hiring trainers becomes a better situation because you’re not just paying them to teach an hour of bootcamp, they’re actually making a nice living also working all day with you and will stay with you longer.

  2. I love this article, this couldn’t have come at a better time for me.
    Even though I’m fairly new to the pt game (only about 7 months) I know that I won’t ever want to stop training people.
    I will have others taking classes (of which there will be an 8 person limit so everyone can be checked on properly), and will hopefully be doing some of what you listed above, but I’ll be at the forefront taking the cream of the crop.
    Those 8 who train with me will be getting the best that money can buy, they’ll get great results with the trainers under who take them also, but they won’t be paying for that, they’ll be paying for the experience that I alone can provide =)

    The day will come soon.

  3. Chris,
    thanks for posting this! It’s nice to see that change and not always about BIG group training. I think we STILL will always need one on one sessions, big group classes are just not the same to give that personalized one on one attention that is needed most days (everyone has something wrong as far as posture with compensating etc), after all we are at the computer age of generations. I also believe like Zack that in order to make yourself a highly profitable trainer for you clients, you NEED to keep educating yourself that is what makes you a specialized NICHE trainer!

  4. Awesome post. Biggest struggle is getting into your niche but not pissing off clients who come in to your businessnot in the niche.

  5. Hey Chris, Great post! I agree that personal training is not dead. I just recently stopped doing one hour sessions and switched to half hour sessions and just chrarged a little less than what my hour sessions were. So far it has been successful. I also group training but like you still love doing one on one training. I agree with you greg that one on one training may be better for keeping clients longer becuase you build a stronger relationship with those clients. Your awesome Chirs! Thanks for sharing your passion and helping other fitness pros.

  6. Hey Chris, great post! The trouble with most trainers whether it’s one on one of group is that they chase the money. Chasing money makes people make bad decisions, if you are trying to start a bootcamp because you want the cash and aren’t passionate about helping people, you will get crushed by a good one on one trainer who has that passion!

    Inspiring stuff as always


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