A lot of well-intentioned personal trainers want to serve people who can’t afford them.
I hear it all the time. It’s frustrating.
They want to help people with lower incomes.
They want to help special populations with chronic illness or disability.
Or they want to train young athletes who don’t make a lot of money.
The details change, but the problem is the same: Personal training is expensive and not everybody is affluent.
Most personal trainers in this situation think they have three options:
- Get better at sales so they can talk their ideal clients into paying for something they can’t afford.
- Lower their prices to a level their ideal clients can afford.
- Only train rich people and ignore the rest.
The first option might get you a few clients, but you’ll struggle with retention, and you’ll never be able to sell them on higher-end programs. Somebody who doesn’t have money doesn’t have money.
The second option is a race to the bottom. Eventually you’re in the same boat as your clients, and you’re all struggling to pay your bills.
And the third option doesn’t help the people you want to serve.
What most trainers don’t know is that there’s a fourth and better option:
How to pursue your passion and serve the people you want without going broke
Here’s one of my favorite analogies:
Let’s say you’re really passionate about dental hygiene, and you realize a lot of people in developing countries can’t afford toothbrushes.
The most obvious thing to do would be to start a business that sells low-priced toothbrushes to people in developing countries.
That would take a long time, and you’d never solve the problem—the people who need them most still can’t afford to pay for them.
A better idea: Build a profitable business that does something else and makes a lot of money.
Then use some of your profits to buy toothbrushes and give them away to the people who need them.
You get around that problem, and help the people you’re most concerned about.
You don’t need to make your money from the people you want to serve. You could make your money from anywhere, and use it to serve the people you want to help.
Here’s two examples from our Online Trainer Academy alumni who put this theory into action:
Create a new personal training program
Ben Mudge is an online personal trainer fitness model who has cystic fibrosis—a congenital disease with no cure.
He had his first surgery when he was two days old and wasn’t expected to live past his teens.
Understandably, he’s passionate about helping others with cystic fibrosis.
Unfortunately, few people who live with a chronic illness can afford a luxury like personal training. Treatments are expensive, and it’s hard to build a high-paying career while managing the condition.
So when Ben asked for my advice, I told him he doesn’t need to make money from the cystic fibrosis community just because he wants to serve them. Our team helped him create Athletic Muscle Blueprint, a premium, high-ticket coaching program where he’ll take on 20 to 25 clients at a time.
The program is a huge success both because of the six-figure salary it generates and that it only takes up half of his time. As a result, it gives Ben the time and resources to help people in his community, where he’s regarded as a superhero.
Adapt an existing personal training program
Frank Benedetto, DPT, is a physical therapist and strength coach whose specialty is preparing MMA athletes for fights. He’s really good at it, and he’s in high demand.
Problem is, the athletes who need his services don’t make much money. It’s a common problem in non-team sports like MMA. Once you get past the top 10 or 20 competitors, most of the athletes are barely getting by.
But his hard-earned reputation in MMA opened up a new source of income.
A lot of people who aren’t fighters want to train like fighters.
Some of those people make a lot of money. They’re in high-paying fields that reward competitiveness and aggression like investment banking, which naturally draws them to MMA. Many of them jump at the chance to train with the guy who coaches their favorite athletes.
So Frank now runs two programs through his company, CounterStrike: performance coaching for combat athletes, which is largely automated and inexpensive, and Train Like a Fighter, which is high-ticket, for fitness enthusiasts who want to use the same systems and tools in their own workouts.
Both coaches successfully figured out what to do when your ideal clients can’t afford training: You find clients who can.
The key is to approach your online training business in terms of first principles. Here’s what I mean.
How to create your unique business recipe that aligns with what you love
A cook starts with a recipe. A chef creates the recipe.
Very few of us are true chefs. We rarely set out to create something the world doesn’t yet have. Most of the time, we know what we want, and we look for a recipe to follow.
The problem with that, especially in your personal training business, is that the recipe you find is rarely the recipe you need.
That leads to coaches who tie themselves in knots because they choose the wrong starting point. Example: You want to know how to make money while training a specific population.
But that’s like a cook asking how to bake a cake while using a recipe for a pie.
If you want to think like a chef, you go back to first principles and start with a more basic question: How do I make a living as a trainer?
Like Ben Mudge and Frank Benedetto, you’d look for a population who can afford training. Then create a new program for that population, as Ben did, or adapt an existing program, as Frank did.
Questions to get you started creating your business recipe
To get to first principles, ask yourself this question, which is one of the guiding principles of the Online Trainer Academy:
What would this look like if it were easy?
How would you build your business if you were starting over today?
How many of the constraints on your business are self-imposed?
How many truisms do you accept about the fitness business that aren’t really truisms at all?
You’ll be surprised what you can accomplish when you stop overthinking and overcomplicating your business.