Ready to hear something harsh?

The reason you haven’t yet designed the life and fitness business you desire isn’t that you don’t know the “secrets” to building a successful fitness business. It’s not that you need more time and money. It’s your irrational fear.

Irrational fear is the reason you’re not making as much money as you’d like. It’s why your schedule seems chaotic, and you aren’t able to spend the time with your family, travel, or exercise as much as you’d like.

You may think that you simply need more clients or more money in the bank until you can be “free”. Or maybe you’ve thought that if you just get through this one rough patch or do this “one thing", then everything will be okay.

And maybe you’re correct. Maybe doing these things will help you...for now. But here's what I think: you don’t truly have a clear vision of what you need to do to get what you want from your life or fitness career.

In this article, I’ll show you how to get clear, but also, I understand it’s not easy to see past your fear initially. I know because I’ve been through all of it.

Success isn’t always what it seems

Back in 2009, I was a motivated fitness professional brimming with youthful energy and training back-to-back clients. I had been in the fitness industry for five years and created a system to keep my client schedule fully booked at all times. But after years of working my butt off to build what many would consider a successful personal training career, there was just one question that constantly clawed at the back of my mind:

Where do I go from here?

The money was good. I couldn’t complain about that, but it was more this nagging feeling that the options to progress my career started to look bleak. I already worked as many hours as I could fit in a day; any more and I may have simply collapsed. For most personal trainers, the next step up from being a foot soldier in someone else’s gym is to open his or her own gym.

“You know, if you ever wanted to start your own gym, I’d fund you,” a client of mine told me one day.

He was about six feet tall, barrel-chested. A businessman.

My client--let’s call him Ted--had just offered to build a gym for me. It was an incredible deal and one that most personal trainers would jump at.

So Ted offered me a gym. Taking him up on his generous gift would have been the obvious move. I’d be a total bozo for not taking up his offer.

“No thanks, Ted,” I said, “I don’t think gym ownership is right for me.”

Yup, like I said, a bozo.

At the time, I didn’t know what the next stage of my career was going to be. Ted had handed me an amazing opportunity on a silver platter, but I knew that I had to give myself an opportunity to figure out what I wanted instead of jumping headfirst into what seemed obvious. It took a lot for me to turn him down, but this refusal was the kick in the butt I needed to think about what I really wanted.

Gym ownership is right for some, but it wasn’t right for me. Yet I couldn’t tell you what was, what with the 14-hour days I was working at the time. My “successful” schedule never gave me a chance to step away and think about what I wanted.

What I did know, however, was that I wanted to meet a girl, fall in love, and have a family. I also wanted to travel--not just be a tourist and go on week-long vacations, but truly fulfill my wanderlust; to spend months in different countries and absorb different cultures, all the while not having to worry about how to help Jane train her shoulders or Ted with his chest.

I love training clients, but the answer to being able to take back control of my time and schedule was the very thing that shook me to my core.

Stop taking on so many clients and train less, I thought to myself.

Basically, that meant making less money. The answer was so simple it was scary, but looking back now, I can say with confidence that my fear was irrational.

Irrational fear is keeping you from freedom, but there’s a way to silence it

This fear you have (that I also once had) limits you. Self-limiting fear is nothing but an irrational response to the unknown.

You fear things because you don’t understand them or haven’t defined them.

You don’t take action because you’re afraid of the scary “unknown".

It only makes sense that if you wish to reduce fear, you must make the unknown known. I didn’t come up with this. I learned this when I read the work of the famous Stoic philosopher Seneca:

“If you wish to put off all worry, assume that what you fear may happen is certainly going to happen." - Seneca

Seneca advises that in order to overcome the paralyzing effect of fear you must first define the absolute worst-case scenario. Once that becomes known, it’s an easy decision to move forward or not. Most often, you will recognize that the worst-case scenario is acceptable and not that terrible, even though the chances of it actually happening are slim to none. Once that’s out of the way, you can take action.

In other words, what you probably fear the most right now, when faced with the prospect of freedom, is whether you’ll sink or swim; whether you’ll make enough money; or whether there really is a sustainable and satisfying life beyond training an endless number of clients.

Shortly after I turned down Ted’s offer to fund a gym for me, another client named “Bill” shared with me something I now call the Freedom Number.

My Freedom Number took me only minutes to fill out and gave me perfect clarity on what I needed. More importantly, it eliminated that irrational fear that was holding me back from figuring out what I really wanted and taking the steps to make whatever it was happen. It was Bill and Ted who had started me on my excellent adventure (has a nice ring to it, don't you think?)

For you, the Freedom Number gives you a crystal-clear vision of how much you need each month to survive and support your loved ones. It works on a similar principle to what Seneca advised all of those years back.

How to calculate your Freedom Number

What follows is a direct excerpt from my textbook, The Fundamentals of Online Training.


To calculate your Freedom Number, start by tallying up the amount of money per month that you need to fulfill your basic needs: rent, food, funds to care for others (if applicable), and a small amount for extravagance (which I call my “do something special for my beautiful wife” fund.)

When I first created my Freedom Number, here’s what it looked like:

* Rent = $1,900/month
*Food = $500/month
*Extravagance = $200/month

My Freedom Number was $2,600. It was low because I didn’t have any dependents. Yours may be higher, and that’s fine.

Figure out what your number is. Don’t worry about anybody else’s.

Next, calculate your “continued funds.”

Continued funds refer to the money you make either passively or by doing what you love to do. In other words, it’s money made through work that you don’t have any intention to stop. For example, suppose you still want to train 10 ideal clients in the gym. You would calculate how much you make from those 10 clients each month and use that as the “continued funds” number.

Don’t worry if you don’t have anything to list for continued funds right now. In my above example, I didn’t have any continued funds. At the time, I wasn’t doing any revenue-generating activities that I wanted to continue regardless of whether or not I was getting paid. I do now, and you probably will find something for yourself later, too.

Putting it altogether, here’s what the final calculation looks like:

Keep the “focus” the focus

It’s easy to get wrapped up in our day-to-day jobs, always thinking that if we just make it through this period, then things will get better in the future.

But if you do nothing today, how do you expect tomorrow to be any different?

Find your Freedom Number. Put 100 percent of your efforts into achieving your Freedom Number with revenue derived from training. That’s your focus. It’s the first step and don’t let anything else distract you from it. Keep the focus the focus.

Once you have your Freedom Number, you have made the unknown known. Once you have achieved your Freedom Number, your self-limiting fear can be put to rest. You now have a defined goal, which is the monthly income you need to make. You now have the opportunity and focus to take the time and energy necessary to figure out how to design the business and life of your dreams.

Photo Credit: Featured Image by Pexels, image 1 by Pexels, image 2 by Pixabay