The first step to transition from in-person to online personal training is simply figuring out the minimum amount of money you need to make each month to meet your needs.

Seems obvious, but lots of people don’t do this.

I call this your Freedom Number, and it gives you a clear target. A goal.

In life as in fitness, identifying your goal is the first step to building a great plan.

Once you have the goal, the steps to achieve it become clear—so you’re able to take action.

Don’t freak out if you don’t like math. This is a really simple calculation.

When my mentor passed it along to me, it changed my life.

It’s basically the reason I’m talking to you now. Otherwise, who knows, I might still be training clients in a gym, overworked and unfulfilled.

Or, to be honest, I’d probably have given up by now and left the fitness industry if I had never received this advice.


Calculate your Freedom Number

Step 1: Add up all the expenses you need to fulfill your essential needs: rent or mortgage, food, gas, car payments—basically your budget, with a little extra for an occasional extravagance.

Step 2: List your “continued funds.” This is money you earn either passively (like investments or book royalties) or by doing what you love to do. This could even include a few in-person training clients who you’d keep on even after going online. Add it all up.

Step 3: Calculate with this formula:

Essentials – Continued Funds = YOUR FREEDOM NUMBER

That number is the amount of money you need to be “free” to take a step away from your current daily grind.

That Freedom Number is now your target—it’s the amount you’ll try to earn through online training.

Most people are pleasantly surprised to find that their number is smaller than expected. It puts their irrational fears to rest.

(You might even get a negative Freedom Number. That's okay! That just means you have enough income coming in so you have more freedom to take risks and experiment with your business.)

The idea of transitioning to online training suddenly becomes realistic. It’s doable.

And when you hit your number—or more likely surpass it—you’ll be on solid ground to pursue something even more ambitious, maybe something that requires some development time.

The transition to online is a process: step by step by step.

But you can do it confidently because you now know the amount of money you need to make to reach freedom. And then you can make the big step.

Here’s the precise pathway I followed once I figured out my Freedom Number.

Let’s look at a case study: me. This is how I went from 40 clients a week to 25 to 15.

It was never my goal to step away from the gym completely. But I did the math and said, well, I know I need X dollars every single month. That’s my Freedom Number.

I was a single guy, by myself, one-bedroom apartment, no dependents.

My Freedom Number was quite low, and I realized that I could hit that number in just 25 hours a week. Just 25 gym sessions.

So I consolidated my schedule. I divided my clients into three buckets:

BUCKET A: Clients I love training, who are dependable, who train two or three times a week, have been with me a long time and always renew.

BUCKET B: Clients who I enjoy but are a little less dependable.

BUCKET C: Clients who are a little wishy-washy and maybe I don’t enjoy so much, let’s be honest.

I was wanting to spend more time on my new business—this business, the PTDC—and needed blocks of time to focus on it. So I rejiggered my schedule so I didn’t have to be in the gym on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

I did all my sessions on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and some on Saturday. I chose these days because it’s when the highest concentration of Bucket A clients had reserved slots.

Everyone in the first bucket not already booked in those days got top priority in my new schedule. Then the second bucket could take what was left. I was down to 25 hours.

I did the same process when I went down to 15 hours a week. My business was making a bit of money and I was closing the gap on my Freedom Number.

Soon I was taking Monday and Friday mornings “off”—that is, not going to the gym.

Now I was spending all of Tuesday, all of Thursday, plus Monday and Friday mornings on my online business. And it has grown over time.

Making a change and building something for yourself doesn’t have to be scary. You just need a good strategy, step by step.

Learn more: Get answers to more online trainer questions.