How to Make This Fitness Career Thing Work

How to Make This Fitness Career Thing Work

“You’re a WHAT?” my friends and family ask.

“A full-time strength and conditioning coach,” I answer.

Normally how the conversation goes.

Or, it goes down in a completely different manner: I tell them I wear sweat pants, train kids, and worry about my pull-up game more than my love life for a living.

Flabbergasted is one way to describe everyone’s reaction. I mean…this is still considered an “offbeat” path, and perceived as more of a hobby than actual career.

Little do people know, a lot of work goes into making it in this industry. It’s far, far from being a hobby. In fact, I tweeted the other day:

On a side note: if someone pulls the hobby card on me one more time, I’ll handcuff them to a chair for 5 hours, make them stare at a full accounting report of my expenses spent on graduate school, certifications, and conferences, lecture them on the biomechanics of the serratus anterior, while blasting the theme song from Jaws on my sound system.

You’ve been warned.

To that end, I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: it’s tough to make this a long-term profession, let alone be successful. 

People either:

1) Burn out.
2) Piss off their spouses.
3) Fail to innovate.
4) Live in their egos.
5) Realize posting perfectly staged yoga photos to Instagram is a faster way to earning money, so they quit.

It’s cut throat out their for a fitness professional.

Everyone is getting certified. Everyone is blogging. Everyone is training. Everyone is reading Gary V Crush It. Everyone is social media-ing. And everyone is saying “lumbo-pelvic stability” way too much.

So how do you make this whole fitness thing-y work?

Taking the conversation back to money, no one is making millions here. And people who survive this industry realize this truth.

Personally, I’m not poor, nor am fending for myself in the streets in Baltimore, MD and appearing on the next season of The Wire.

Nor am I rich or partying like a rock star on the weekends or tossing $100 bills in the trash for shits and giggles.

I’m comfortable and live a fairly simple life. What’s more, is I’ve found ways to innovate and do well beyond just coaching on the weight room floor and on the pitch. And may I add, I’m not married with kids and paying for diapers and a mortgage.

With that said, here are some unique tips on how to make this career work:

1.) Affiliate marketing.

If you’re a strength coach or personal trainer, chances are, you blog.

If you’ve been in the online space for over a few years, you should consider blog income. Given you’ve garnered a solid following, affiliate marketing will help you to earn some extra money on the side. For example, if you’re an Amazon.com affiliate and link a book in an article, and people click it and buy it, you get paid commission.

This could be an extra $50, $100, or $1,000 a month, depending on your following and how much you hustle. This is an easy way to share amazing books, while making some extra cash.

2.) Sell a book or product.

Once you’ve gained a following as well as appropriate in-person experience, it’s time to sell a product.

This allows you to showcase your expertise and provide more detailed information on a certain topic.

Strength coach, Meghan Callaway, as an example, created her Ultimate Pull-Up Program and had tremendous success with getting sales, as well as gaining new in-person clients.


And the best time to sell a product, you ask? After years of real life experience and passion for your niche. Oh, and the whole “it’s time to grow a pair of balls” thing. ;-O

With that being said, stay tuned for my first product to drop this year.

3.) Speak at a conference or host a workshop.

Speaking engagements are a fun way to connect with others, share ideas, and travel. 

This month, I’ll be speaking at my first ever conference for InspireEd and I couldn’t be more excited to chat alongside some studs in the soccer industry.

On the other end, you can host a workshop in your neighborhood, or to take it even further, do a “tour” and speak on your niche across the country, if not world.

4.) Write for others.

If you’re a good writer, take advantage of it.

There are plenty of fitness and strength and conditioning publications and sites you can write for and get paid to do it, as well as continue to expand your network.

When I look back to my college career, the only thing I was good at was writing. You bet I’m honing this talent today.

I’m sure most people reading this are stellar writers, but in case you want to know my favorite sources on how to write better and captivate your readers, check these out:

Writing About Your Life – William Zinsser
The Making of A Story: A Norton Guide to Creative Writing – Alice LaPlante

Notice how none of the points above mention actual coaching. Sure, coaching is the meat and potatoes of what we do and takes up 90% of our time, but it’s not the only means to making income.

For the other 10% of your time, you can use the strategies above and express your creativity. I’d be remiss not to mention that these aren’t just about extra money. They’re a way to add variety to your career and to explore your imagination a little.

A long-term career in fitness is about coaching and creativity, which is both fun and fulfilling.

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