How to Quit Working for Your Boss at the Gym
At one time or another, we all had to get one. A J-O-B.
Before I landed a position as a fitness instructor, I sported three odd jobs. One was a labourer (lasted 1 week). The other was some random agency work. And for another, I got to actually play semi-professional football.
We all have to start somewhere.
Before our first jobs, we have no real experience. We take what they give us. We take it because we need to pay bills, make ends meet and survive.
A stubborn mindset is then created: a job is our safety net.
This mindset becomes downright gospel, whether it’s a job scrubbing toilets at McDonald’s or one in the fitness industry where you presumably belong.
Is this mindset a good or bad thing?
It depends on your situation.
Right now, I see widespread panic amongst personal trainers who work for large gym chains and small private personal training studios. They are freaking out because management decided to cut the amount of money trainers can earn from training “their” clients.
Want proof? Check out these statistics I found on a Chris Collora post over on the Exercise Science Guide website.
In short, commission ranges from 30% – 60%, depending upon your experience, education and credentials. If by the grace of God, you’re allowed to train clients who aren’t members of the fitness facility, the percentage may drop to as low as 15% – 20%.
I found this table over at the Exercise Science Guide website. The following table is a general guideline on how much personal trainers make at several popular gym and fitness chains. Full props and credit are given to Justin Pierce of the Bodybuilding.com forum for making this research available.
Pay Rates at 5 Popular Gym Chains
Please note rates may vary according to location and other circumstances. These figures are meant to give a general idea of what you can expect to earn at these places.
If you find yourself in this position, I hope it’s not too late.
Let me be frank. This was inevitable. A job for life? That ship has sailed, my friend.
This is supposed to light a fire up your arse. Accepting those kinds of pay rates suggests that you weren’t thinking big enough or far enough into the future.
Will your current income allow you to properly raise a family and treat your beautiful partner to all the best things in life?
More to the point, are you okay with not being able to wake up with your wife or tuck your kids into bed, on account of you enslaved to your clients at all times?
What would you like your life to be like when you reach your 30s? Or 40s? Or 50s?
In hindsight, I really wish I had someone challenge me this way in my 20’s. Now that I have the perspective and experience, I’d like to help you avoid these same mistakes:
- You are happy to accept building someone else’s dream.
- You are comfortable being owned. Your boss makes thousands of dollars a month and you get a salary that barely enables you to survive. Actually, you get 22 days paid holiday (excluding bank holidays, as you have to work these whilst he sits at home)
If this is you, right now you are not serving the world.
Are you just biding your time working a job? Jerry Gillies says it best:
“You will recognize your own path when you come upon it, because you will suddenly have all the energy and imagination you will ever need.”
In all honestly, who actually enjoys an early start after finishing a graveyard shift the night before? Plus weekends?
Some gyms reward such sacrifice and great talent. Most do not.
This might sound harsh, but it shouldn’t be anything new.
Yet you are easily attracted by something that offers you safety, gratification, security and comfort, even if that means settling for less than you want or deserve.
It comes down to what type of person you are and what is most important to you.
Will you continue to stay a freelance personal trainer (working for someone else or on your own somehow) or will you own a personal training studio with a team? Hint, Core Collective helps you with the latter one.
Do you work yourself up against the current career ladder or do you own your own gym, set your own rules, look after clients the way you want to, and – most importantly – pay yourself what you are worth?
TBH, you’re never in control of your own destiny when you work for someone else. It’s a delusion to think otherwise.
I created my own career and destiny.
So did the Core Collective Personal Fitness Trainers below.
“I wanted to work for myself and take care of my clients with them and myself in mind - without a company agenda attached to them. That’s when I found Core Collective. Now, I make more money than ever and am now looking at how to do it by doing less” - Evan Button
“Core Collective is a great place to make more money far beyond working at a normal gym and you get to create your own rules.” - Lawrence Cartwright
“I haven’t seen a gym environment like the one we have at Core Collective in all my career (coaching and using gyms in 30+ countries). I feel great here as I get a lot of support and I see a very nice future…” Matej Mihelic
We want you to feel great as well.
It will take boldness, bravery, confidence, risk and quite possibly embarrassment when you fall on your face in failure a few times.
Try these three steps to set yourself up for success:
1. Design your own future. Take control of your own fate.
It’s not about changing from a J-O-B to a snappy business owner; rather, it’s the bigger picture: how much change will you make in the world.
In a nutshell, be prepared. Do your homework. We’ll be writing about what type of gym will you open up in future blogs. Sign up to our newsletter so you don’t miss.
What kind of company are you looking to create? Continue down the route as a freelance personal trainer, free from the chokehold commercial gyms have on you? Or own your own studio?
Whatever you choose, build a business based upon your values, and link it to your strengths and personal story. The key to getting ahead is knowing what will make you different from the millions of other personal trainers out there?
Here’s how to hack your value quickly. Answer these questions. Who gets the best results or positive change when you help them? Why would they choose you over someone else, what differentiates you?
2. Do not ditch your job at the gym too early.
When finding out the shitty news that your gym is cutting your commission, the worst possible thing to do is to react stupidly and hand your notice in. Do not quit your day job too quickly.
When I decided to open my own gym, first, I worked every goddamn hour possible to gain new clients, so that I could then cut my hours employed by the gym by half. I could do this because the extra clients covered the secure income I was going to lose. I continued working 50/50 until I had enough clients to go completely freelance.
After several months, and the rent adding up, it made total sense to find a proper location and move into my own studio.
I despised working for the gym. I knew it had to be done.
Here are a few more tips if you are thinking about making this kind of jump:
Pay all of your personal debt off or don’t get into debt. That might require stopping the car lease, the mobile phone contract, having no overdrafts, cutting up your credit cards, and so forth. Trust me on this one. I’m not trying to turn you into a bore. Don’t worry. There is a strategy to still have fun…but first we have to get our principles straight. And remember we’re planning for the future, perhaps 10 years from now. These things can come later if you actually ever need credit again!
6 months personal expenses in your savings
Have a plan in place to have a marketing budget ready available as you won’t be able to rely on the gyms marketing for you this time around.
“If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.” - Dave Ramsey
Seek out a Consultant
You will need three elements: market need, competency and passion to ensure success upon leaving your job.
Most of all, you will need clarity, perspective and objectivity.
This is best when it comes from conversations with someone who isn’t invested in you emotionally, who can provide you with perspective well beyond your years, and do so with total objectivity. And let’s be real for a minute here: you ain’t getting any younger. If you would like clarity and reassurance that what you are about to (creating your own gym) is the right thing, then pop down or book an appointment here to meet either myself or Phil.
The question that’s usually the most difficult to answer tends to pop up here. It comes from the uncertainty that one might have, both in themselves or the fitness industry that they’re about to pour their blood, sweat and tears into. Am I good enough?
This is why Core Collective was born. We’re a very different kind of personal trainer platform and entrepreneurial space. Whether your goal is to continue as a personal trainer in order to extract all the money possible from your business, to maximise personal income, freedom, and well being, or it’s your ambition to become a studio owner with other coaches to someday sell the business, #thecollective is here for you. If you are good enough, you’ll discover solidarity. If you could be good enough, we’ll get you there.
The biggest mistake most personal trainers make is thinking that they need to immediately own their own place. This is not always the best option.
What does your gut say? Which one do you want to be? Have a think about it.