SO, You Want To Be A Personal Trainer, AND Own Your Own Business?
When I first started working full-time in the fitness industry, before I started Iron Body Studios and operated my own facility, on Fridays I would come home from work, so physically and mentally spent from my work week that I would shower, eat and then lay my ass on the couch and watch marathon Bravo trash TV that I had saved up on my DVR or from On Demand, in order to tune out from the world. Some of my favorites included the Rachel Zoe Project, the Housewives of New Jersey, New York City (only when Bethenny Frankel was on it), Beverly Hills, Bethenny Ever After, and Flipping Out with Jeff Lewis.
Oh yes, this trash TV, the ear piercing voice of Bethenny Frankel, and Rachel Zoe-isms like “I Die” and “Bananas” are my secret (not so secret anymore!) pleasure and relaxation therapy.
At the time I was working 6 days a week, 5 of them 6 a.m. until 8/8:30 p.m., at two commercial gyms, one as a group fitness instructor and personal trainer, one as a group fitness instructor only, and training private clients outside of these positions. Not only was I teaching multiple spin, kettlebell, and body conditioning classes AND on my feet training 1/1 clients, but I was also running around like a maniac between three commercial gym locations and private client homes, schools, and community centers for my private clients.
I was hustling to build my business.
My job is still 24/7, and I’m still hustling to build my business, but in a different way.
At that time I could watch marathon TV on Friday and Saturday nights without worrying about the work I wasn’t getting done because I was not operating my own facility, writing a blog, running my I Am Not Afraid To Lift Workshop series, and I did not have any distance-coaching clients in addition to my in person clients.
Now with my current hustle I spend Friday and Saturday afternoons and often evenings catching up on the aforementioned administrative and marketing tasks that I do not get to complete during the week while Iron Body Studios’ doors are open for classes and personal training clients.
On Friday afternoons when I come home I am still mentally and physically spent from the work week and I still have a strong desire to sit my ass on the couch and watch marathon Bravo TV but I don’t. Instead I work.
Except for last Friday.
I just couldn’t do it. I needed to tune out.
All I could think about last Friday was to complete the following tasks:
- Come home.
- Pass out on couch and take a nap.
- Watch the entire Season One of The Girlfriend’s Guide To Divorce that has been saved on my DVR for months.
I accomplished these very important tasks in that order and continued to complete task number 5 on Saturday night.
Eric is such a good sport that he even watched my trash TV with me.
Being a coach is a very rewarding, but also challenging job. You are your clients’ coach, sometimes therapist, sometimes business consultant, you have to motivate others on days you can barely motivate yourself, you have to smile on the outside on the days that you are not smiling on the inside, all often sleep deprived at 6 a.m. and here in Boston in relentless below zero temperatures with 100 inches of snow.
This is me on most mornings… on the inside anyway 🙂
Owning and operating a small business is extremely challenging. So challenging that you don’t see enough written about the deep down, dirty challenges that small business owners deal with on a daily basis.
It’s easy for me to say that being a coach is very rewarding because it is and I used to work in a job that was not rewarding for me. So, at the end of the day, working as a personal trainer and coach is worth it even if it started out as a day that I just wanted to crawl back into bed.
Is being a business owner rewarding? Yes and no. Yes because you have complete control over your business model and operations, and if you do things right there is a lot of potential. BUT, it’s a lot of hard work and it’s not for everyone. It takes a certain kind of (crazy) person with strong will and determination who is willing to make many sacrifices to run a business.
I have a client who has an opportunity to own and run her own business and recently she asked me,
“What’s the one thing that helped you the most with your business?”
“Not having a nervous breakdown.”
I laughed and then said,
“Actually, that’s not true because I have had nervous breakdowns, many of them. I just don’t let losing my shit run my life AND I don’t give up on the days or even weeks that I think it’s time to throw in the towel and go back to consulting.”
I went on to tell her that there is not just ONE thing that helps with running a business. There are many things.
Owning a small business is really fucking hard.
Yes, I just said fuck because it’s actually harder than fuck.
- You have to be willing to go into an insane amount of debt, unless you have access to cash money to invest in your own business.
- You will wonder how you can possibly get everything done that needs to get done and actually find time to sleep, shower, eat, and even go to the bathroom.
- You will wonder how you will pay your lease and your business utility bill AND pay yourself so that you can pay your mortgage, go grocery shopping, and buy gas.
- Just when you think you are getting on top of things financially something will come up and rip that money you thought you had right out of your hands and you will be back to where you were.
- Forget vacations and little luxuries like shopping and eating out because every extra penny you have and you don’t have will go right back into your business.
- You will have close, personal encounters with mentally unstable people and flat out certifiable lunatics who will either deliberately or inadvertently wreak havoc or try to bring down your business. These people may be a client, a business associate, or even a landlord. These crazies wear all sorts of masks. Beware.
- You will lose your shit.
- You will want to give up.
- You will think that you’re not going to survive and it’s over.
BUT, if you are passionate about your business, and built to own a business then you won’t give up.
Instead a successful business owner will find a solution.
A successful business owner is resilient and resourceful.
A business owner who fails will give up.
A successful business owner has,
- Strong Will.
- Incredible Work Ethic.
- Willingness to find a solution.
- The ability to say “NO.”
- The ability to not take things personally.
- The ability to not dwell on situations or people who do not help the business move forward and have success.
- The ability to evolve and change as your business grows and needs to evolve and change.
I would list positivity here, but it’s not realistic to say that you will always be positive and optimistic because you won’t. You are HUMAN so you will have your days of negativity. HOWEVER, a successful business owner does not dwell in the negativity.
Rather you will have your moment and then let the negative roll right down your back and you will celebrate your growth and accomplishments and THAT will motivate you to not give up.
For example, it has been an extremely tough winter here in Boston to be a small business owner. In less than 3 weeks almost 100 inches of snow fell halting business operations, and public transportation, and damaging houses.
As small business owners our livelihood was in jeopardy and as a small business, it takes time to recover from that. Like months.
Even though we had to close the gym on several days and business was not what it should have been, we focused on the aspects of our business that were not affected by the weather.
For example, my workshop I Am Not Afraid To Lift.
I have 4 workshops scheduled right now, Ohio, New Mexico, Connecticut, and New York City and Connecticut completely sold out in less than three weeks!
Our online training platform through WeightTraining.com.
We launched our online Level I Kettlebell Instructor Certification Prep Program and we received an incredible response!
Eric’s Kettlebell Fundamentals Workshop scheduled for June 7, 2015, that is geared towards rehab professionals and health care professionals.
These are all aspects that we did not have one year ago and that therefore indicate growth and expansion.
All very positive things!
We also had the opportunity to teach an inservice to the coaching staff at Cressey Sports Performance in Hudson, MA.
6 years ago I met CSP Strength Coach Greg Robins when he and I worked together at the same commercial gym and he hired me as a coach to learn more about kettlebell training.
Now Greg is not only a strength coach at Cressey Sports Performance but he is also a leader and an integral part of CSP.
It’s amazing to see how far we have both come over the past 6 years and that is because we did not give up and instead put in our time with a lot of consistent hard work, dedication, teaching, and learning.
Both running a business and being a personal trainer and coach can suck the life right out of you especially if you don’t take the time to tune out, re-charge, and manage your stress.
For those of you who think that running your own business is so great because “You can make your own schedule!” (what??); and working as a personal trainer is glamorous and easy and that all we do is “work out all the time” and parade around in a spray tan, bedazzled bikini, and stripper heels taking selfies of ourselves to post on Instagram, then hopefully I just de-bunked those myths for you.
In a similar conversation with the same client I also talked to her about how you always have to look forward. If you are going to take the leap and start your own business, you cannot look back. You should be aware that you can go back to your previous career if you absolutely must, but it’s more important to look forward and put all of your time and energy into building a successful business.
When I left my job as a consultant, I always looked forward. I always filled my time with tasks that were directly related to my success in the fitness industry.
As a result, 7 years later, despite all the naysayers, I own my own business, lease and operate my own facility, I am a national presenter, and I suppose that I can say that I am an entrepreneur as much as I find that word elitist.
Hopefully this brief detour from writing about strength training and nutrition gives you a window into my world as to what it is like to be a business owner and coach and helps you to see that even though I may have superhuman strength ;), I too am human and have to work hard for my accomplishments as well.
Artemis, I say this with the utmost respect, you’re an incredibly beautiful woman! Paul
Date: Fri, 6 Mar 2015 23:36:29 +0000 To: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Thanks for the awesome post. It is good to hear that others have the same struggles as me! 🙂
Thank you for your kind words Paul! 🙂
Moses, you are definitely not alone! Not enough is written about the struggles that small business owners have. More is written about solutions, which is GREAT, BUT I also think it’s helpful to write about the challenges because it helps other business owners know that they are not alone in their fight and hard work to build their business and make it successful. ~Artemis
Nicely Written Can Totally Relate
Chip, Thank you! I’m glad to hear that this post is resonating with so many people.
Definitely an awesome blog post! I personally experienced all the points you listed down why owning a small personal training business is freaking hard. Somehow people get the impression that by owning a business means you must be financially successful. Thanks for sharing your experience. Somehow, it has made me feel a little better. Btw, i stumbled upon your post via PTDC newsletter.
Thank you! I am glad to hear that it resonated with you. Success does not automatically mean that you are financially successful, especially when you own a small business. It has potential but it takes a lot of SMART hard work and time!
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