Did You Start a Business or Buy a Job?

A frazzled gym owner answers the phone while vacuuming and typing on a laptop.

A potentially deadly trap is baked into the fitness industry:

Passionate trainers often open gyms to make enough money to create careers that support families.

Why can this be deadly?

Because passionate trainers are not skilled business owners, and the low barrier to entry is followed by a very steep learning curve.

The curve is so steep that it’s very common for amazing trainers to open businesses, grind for years and then quit to “get real jobs.”

I know this because I lived it, and I was very close to disaster.

The only thing that saved me: Finally realizing that being a great coach isn’t enough to float a business. You must be a great business owner.

Buying a Job Vs. Running a Business

Opening a gym seems like a great idea when you’re sick of coaching classes for $20 an hour or don’t want to accept a revenue split that doesn’t allow you to support a family.

The problem comes when you open a gym and plan to do everything in it yourself.

Don’t get me wrong: The owner-operator model can work.

We have a business model that lays out a path to a six-figure income with minor contributions from one staff member, but this model is very fragile. Holidays are rare, illnesses are disastrous, 60-hour weeks are common, growth is often impossible due to a lack of time, and burnout is always looming.

If you plan to wear every hat in your business, know that you are buying yourself a job.

If you follow our owner-operator model, you might earn good money, but you’ll still work a lot, and at some point you might want to get home for supper with your spouse.

If you don’t follow our plan, or if you make mistakes, you will eventually feel stuck in a low-paying, high-stress job with a really cranky boss (yourself).

You might be a great trainer who gets spectacular results for clients. But your business will fail if you’re A+ when it comes to working in the business but D- when it comes to working on the business.

Remember, I’ve lived this, and I’ve seen the scenario play out far too often over the years.

These are facts:

  • New clients don’t just appear because you know lots of squat cues.
  • Your training credentials don’t move any numbers on a profit/loss spreadsheet.
  • Your gear collection doesn’t help with retention.
  • A clean gym is great but your choice of floor scrubber won’t generate more revenue or improve retention.

Only business skills make a gym survive, grow and thrive. So if you want to run a gym, realize that you are trading the opportunity to be a full-time coach to help more people as a fitness business owner. You’re going to need new and improved skills.

It took me over a decade to realize this.

If you realize it today, you could be earning $100,000 annually in about two years, and you could become a millionaire a few years after that. (This isn’t hyperbole—we track these timelines for client progress in our mentorship program.)

At that point, you will have all the options in front of you. You’ll have increasing freedom once you’ve built a stable business that helps clients achieve goals and runs without your constant oversight.

Can you still coach classes? Of course. And you can even coach a lot of classes if you want. Hire a CEO and teach muscle-ups every day! Or open another gym, invest in real estate, travel the world, learn to speak German—whatever you want.

Whatever you do, don’t make the mistake I made.

If you want to run a great gym, improve your business skills and become a true business owner, not a just a great coach with a struggling gym.

We can help: Book a call.


One more thing!

Did you know gym owners can earn $100,000 a year with no more than 150 clients? We wrote a guide showing you exactly how.