In this blog I wanted to take a little bit of a different route than I normally do.
I recently reflected on the past few years and how my business has grown. I want to go over some tough times I went through to make this happen.
Hope you enjoy!
I have always been into sports and being active my entire life.
When I was younger I grabbed a pair of dumbells from an old weight set my dad had. They were the dumbbells that you had to screw on.
I would rep out as many curls and push-ups as I could.
Then I started to lift more in high school for sports. A friend and I really got into squatting and were usually the only ones in our weight training class doing them.
We would then finish up with curls.
I wasn’t really into working out during my high school years but I sort of just did it because I had to.
Then college came along and I got my first gym membership and started to get into it a bit more. But I always had to go with someone. As you get older it gets tougher to match up schedules with someone so I eventually put my big boy pants on and started going by myself.
Eventually, I got to the point to where I was going 6-7 days a week by myself. It became a part of who I was. It gave me more confidence (which is needed badly).
Working out has been a HUGE part of my life. I never thought I would be working in fitness though.
When I graduated from college I got a job as an assistant gym manager. I was pumped. It was my first full-time gig and I was making a decent salary for the first time in my life (even though it was about 30-35k).
This job required you to get people into the gym and sign them up for memberships. It was essentially a sales job. I never did anything hands-on with people who signed up.
I did that for a little over a year and then I was promoted to be the general manager of another location. This role required a bit more in terms of hiring and then leading employees, but ultimately the goal was to bring in more memberships.
At this point, I was 25 making OK money. For a 25-year-old it wasn’t bad. But I wasn’t happy. I knew there was more to life. I didn’t know what it was yet.
Then in the midst of that, I went through a rough breakup.
I felt terrible. I felt like I had nothing to fall back on.
But it was a wake-up call for me. Why was I so invested in someone else?
This is when things started to change for me. I decided to invest in my personal development.
I started to read. I remember the first book I read was “7 habits of highly effective people”
I started to listen to podcasts. One of the first ones I listened to was Lewis Howes’s “School of Greatness”.
All of this led to more. I started to read anything I could get my hands on when it came to personal development. Another instrumental book was “Think and Grow Rich”. I started to write down what I wanted to improve and what direction I wanted my life to go.
I recently looked over my notebook rom that time and some of the things I wrote was “I want to be the top fitness professional”. “ I want to be making 100k by age 30”.
One other principle I took from all of these books I was reading during this time was taking responsibility for your life.
At this point, I was still working as a gym manager. Still not happy with what I was doing. But I was starting to see things more clearly. I knew there was more but I still didn’t exactly know what that was yet.
I started talking to other trainers at my gym and the area supervisor for the training company in the gym I worked at.
(A little context: the gym I managed had another company do the personal training, and all the trainers were independent contractors).
I wanted to make the switch from managing to training, but it came with a lot of risks. Since the trainers were independent contractors, you only made money when you trained clients.
So this switch would see me making a salary to relying on clients.
Since the personal training company worked within the gym we weren’t sure if they would allow me to switch over. From what I can remember no other manager had made that switch before.
One Thursday night I was talking with one of the trainers/my good friend and I’m not sure exactly what was said but that night I had one of those moments where I was like “Ok I’m doing this”. I’m not sure what came over me that night but I made my decision then and there.
The next day I called my boss and said I was putting in my two weeks and I was going to train.
Right after I got off the phone with him I called the training supervisor (who I had been talking to about making the switch) and I told him what I did and his response was “Oh man, ok ill call you back”.
That didn’t make me feel great, considering I just put in my two weeks for a job with a full salary.
The gym did try to entice me to stay by sending me to a better location, but I declined. I knew this was what I wanted.
At this point, I still didn’t know If I was going to be able to train with the company.
I heard from other managers that many higher-ups were like “what the hell is Jeff doing quitting to become a personal trainer?”
Fast forward a few weeks (it was now the end of December), still in limbo, I just received my last paycheck, I get a call from the supervisor and he says “so I have some good news and some bad news”.
“The good news you can make the switch, the bad news, they are making you wait until March 1st to get started”.
I was happy but I also very disappointed.
How did they come up with that decision? Why did I have to wait? I was angry about it. The only response I really got was “well it was a busy time of year and you are leaving us hanging”. What I took out of it was this was my punishment for leaving.
It made me realize this was a good decision to leave that company.
To me, it seemed like they were trying to force my hand, either I:
- Stay with them as a manager.
- Just get a new job somewhere else.
- Or not make any money for months.
I decided I was going to stay the course. I was angry now and I had something to prove.
I went 2 months without a paycheck. I lived off my savings and luckily I lived with my parents who supported me.
Instead of focusing on the negative, I decided to focus on the positive. This allowed me to spend more time studying for my personal training certificate.
I also had one of the trainers from the gym I managed mentor me during this time.
So I used this time to continue investing in personal development and to get ready to become a trainer.
I could have let it steer me away from what I wanted, but I didn’t, for whatever reason I knew this was what I wanted.
I could’ve gone somewhere else to train but being an independent contractor and setting your own hours was very enticing to me.
Those were a long two months. I questioned my decision multiple times, actually every day. I almost gave up multiple times but I stayed the course. For whatever reason.
Finally after months of no paycheck and just thinking about training I was finally able to start in March of 2017.
While it sucked waiting, I was able to continue to really focus on my personal development and learn more about training.
For anyone who is in this industry, you know that you learn by doing. You can learn everything in the books but you don’t really learn anything until you actually get to train people. During those few months I couldnt train it felt like I was wasting away almost.
One thing that really bothered me during this time was that you only make money when you train clients.
This particular gym had it set up where when someone signs up they get a free session with a trainer.
For the trainer, you make $8 for this free session. Nothing to write home about.
I remember after working my ass for two weeks, working well over 60 hours per week. I got my first check.
It was $200.
I was crushed. I went months without a paycheck and my first check was $200. My savings account was on its last leg.
I was talking to the manager of the new location I was at and he was talking about his big paycheck he just got. Man that just dug me even deeper that I already was. Again I asked myself if this was the right choice.
It took me over a month to get my first client. For me, it takes me a little bit to get started with things. I think I was under a lot of pressure to make money and I was probably pushing a ibt more than I needed to. But I had to start making money.
It takes time to build a consistent income with training. I still was not making anywhere near the amount I was before and the worst part is it was inconsistent.
I wanted to quit multiple times, but I never did. I kept going for some reason. However, the business slowly grew and I was making enough money to be OK and pay my bills.
I was still paycheck to paycheck though.
Switch to online training
I had a mentor who was adamant about online training. I had only been training clients in person for a few months so I didn’t feel like I could do that. But luckily he continued to stress to me the importance of getting this started,
Luckily I listened and put some time into it.
All the trainers knew I was putting time into this online thing and their reaction was “this is never going to work”
But for whatever reason, I kept putting time into it and kept going.
I kept putting time into my online business while growing my in person business. It started to become a nice cushion for me.
When my monthly income from online training became 1k a month I knew there was something to it. But it mostly gave me a peace of mind.
Fast forward to now and I’m finally at a place where I feel very comfortable with my business.
I only train 3 clients in person and the rest is online. I have the freedom I wanted. I am happy with what I do.
My social media presence is growing, my podcast is growing, my blog is growing.
While this is all great I am still far from where I want to be.
However, I just had my first 8k income month. So I needed to take the time to reflect on what has transpired over the last few years. I needed to reflect for myself, but I also felt I needed to share this story with more people. While what I do isn’t about the money (I want to help people but I also LOVE learning about this stuff), I wanted to share this with people because it shows that if you believe in yourself you can make anything happen.
My goal with this isn’t to brag, It actually makes me uncomfortable telling this story but my goal is to inspire you. To not give up, even when people doubt you.
I wanted to give up so many times, but for some reason, I kept going. And I will continue to do the same with anything I care about.
When things start to go well I tend to take my foot off the gas pedal, so for me its important I continue to push forward, as I feel like there really is no limit.
The biggest thing for me was that I simply started even though I could’ve had a millions reasons not to and have stayed consistent and the rest is history. This has been an important principle in my life, I can thank fitness for teaching me that. Anyone who knows me knows how consistent and persistent I am (just ask my girlfriend).
I hope you enjoyed this story!