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Personal Training Costs Less Than Starbucks (coaching costs even less)


There is a price to pay for health. While most people will say that price is too high. These people would rather not hire a personal trainer or even get a gym membership. What they do not realize is the cost of not being fit is even higher.

Do you understand the price you pay for that coffee you buy every morning is great? The price of a short latte is $2.85 at Starbucks. You know you could brew that cup at home, but it will cost you. Let me explain.

The IHRSA Trend Report highlighted price as the number one barrier to joining a gym (58% of non-members cited this reason).

Gyms, personal training, and health, in general, has a price to it.

Rates may vary, from low to high, for a number of reasons (location, amenities, education and experience).

When your health is concerned, you should be doing the math based on “cost” and not “price.”

I am going to coach you on the difference between the “price” versus “cost.”


“You Get What You Pay For.”


Conceptually, we know what it means. However, this was not my experience, as a personal trainer, when it comes to health and fitness.

People want to pay as little as possible while getting the best results.

Sorry, it does not work like that because “you get what you pay for.”

People join health clubs for one reason – to improve themselves. The reasons people quit are varied, but the economic aspect, “price,” is the reason 44% of people cancel their memberships.

For the purpose of this article, I am going to drill down use personal training as my constant variable (or a cup of coffee).

There were 55.3 million health club members in 2015, but only around 13.5% use personal trainers. While both, memberships and training rates, vary the cost of personal training is significantly higher than most services and products.

Prices vary so much; I will use three levels of rate:

  • $20-$35 is the lower end
  • $50-$75 is the average
  • $100-$300 and higher is the top end

NOTE: I am excluding celebrity trainers who can charge thousands of dollars for their time on an hourly or daily basis.

Up to certain point, you get what you pay for.

There is a difference between these three levels of personal trainers. What you think you are paying for are education and experience. Why you actually pay for it, is based on your values.

Uncertified or New Trainers

When a trainer first starts out, they may have one or the other or neither. So, get a one who at least has some education (college courses or certification) or clearly has experience – the “eye” test. Even if you get a trainer who is credentialed and chiseled, understand what you are paying for if they only charge you $30 a session.

Seasoned Professional

If you are paying about $60 an hour, you got yourself a professional. So you should expect more. You will know right away you are working with the right person by the consultation process. Every trainer should conduct baseline assessments (questionnaires, body composition, movement screen, etc.), at this price it is a must.


When you are paying for a top tier trainer, it is probably because you have probably felt, first hand, the cost of working with an amateur. You signed up for a 10-pack of sessions, thinking you got a deal only to realize your new trainers is always late, on the phone, or sitting down. At this rate, think “quality of quantity.” Even working with a trainer once or twice a week can ensure you set proper expectations, learn correct exercise programming basic and technique, and have someone you can refer to when you get stuck.

Health Is Not A Luxury


Economists would say a “luxury product” is an “item that people purchase in disproportionately greater amounts as their income increases.”

For the average person, a luxury product is something else. Exotic cars, high-end fashion, and expensive restaurants are luxuries. The mind quickly fills with images of Rolls-Royce Phantom vehicle, Hermes handbag, Patek Philippe watch, and personal training.

People think personal training is a luxury expense or only “rich” people can afford it. After ten years in the industry, that has not been my experience. NOTE: from anecdotal evidence, the average personal training client makes an average salary – maybe a little more or less depending upon the person and situation.

It is a fact that both manufacturers and trainers may be expensive. While I think people assume goods are of a higher quality than their less-expensive counterparts, I am not always sure that is the case with health.

What is the connection between the price and quality of fitness goods and services?

It makes sense to make this association. Price directly correlates with labor and materials. However, at some point, prices that are too low or high should be signals of exclusivity and not the actual value of an item or service.

For example, I love sneakers. I regularly swing by Moda3, a local skate shop in my neighborhood, and check out their gear. I have contemplated buying an of shoes over $150. Is that shoe nicer than the one I could get for $50? Maybe. Is it nicer than the one I could get for $100? Maybe not. If you are curious, I rather pay more than $100 for a pair of sneakers because I do not see the value in it.

We all know there are many people, they are called “sneakerheads,” who do buy that $150 pair of shoes. Is it because they are assuming the shoe is of better quality? Alternatively, is it because they want an exclusive brand and that signifies prestige to other people?

When we buy stuff – even if we are not aware of the mental math – it is because we value spending the extra cash.


The Difference Between the “Price” and “Cost” of Losing Weight


Everyone does not have the goal to lose weight. This is an example. You can substitute any quantifiable health or fitness performance indicator. Meaning, if you can assign a number value to it (weight, body fat, strength, speed, etc.), you can check the price versus the cost of your particular goal.

Let’s imagine the following scenario:

  • Three clients (A, B, and C)
  • Three fitness professionals (A, B, and C)
  • All clients want to lose about 50 pounds
  • All trainers say it is going to take about one year

Price per session

  • The price of personal trainer A is $30 per session (there is no minimum amount of sessions)
  • The price of personal trainer B is $60 per session (there is a two session/week minimum for three months or 24 session minimum)
  • The price of an online coach C is $179 per month (12-month commitment)

Total price of services bought

  • Scenario A = $300 (10 sessions)
  • Scenario B = $1,440 (24 sessions)
  • Scenario C = $2,148 (0 sessions) NOTE: this trainer is an online coach


In scenario A, the trainer and client meet irregularly over the course of a few months before the customer loses motivation. One year after the last session, the client reaches out to the trainer asking to redeem her last three meetings. The trainer lets the client know the sessions were only good for six months, but they can buy another pack if they would like to. Because the trainer is more experienced it is going to now be $60 per session with a two session/week minimum for three months, or 24 session minimum. NOTE: this happened to me.

In scenario B, the trainer and client had completed a few assessments before the client decided to buy. They also have scheduled to meet every Tuesday and Thursday for the next four months. Because the client travels, the trainer has written a few workouts the client can do on their own and extended the program for another 30 days to keep the client on track. This relationship continues until the client gets a new job and has to move. NOTE: the total price for training is $4,320 – or 8 months.

In scenario C, the coach has an online platform that keeps track of all his client’s questionnaires and assessments. In fact, the platform hosts everything the client prescribes to this client like daily habits, weekly lessons, webinars, notes, and exercise programs. The client never sees the trainer face-to-face, but can buy sessions for $150 a la carte. Over the course of one year, the client implements 20+ lifestyle habit changes. She also walks away with a database of information, feedback, and workouts. NOTE: the total price for the coaching is $3,498 – client bought monthly 45-minute personal training sessions.

Client results

  • Client A gains 5 pounds one year later
  • Client B lost 16 pounds one year later
  • Client C lost 38 pounds one year later

What’s the cost of personal training for each client

  • The cost to client $60 per pound gained
  • The cost to client B is $270 per pound lost
  • The cost to client C $91.82 per pound lost

You should know this…

  1. All three scenarios are the same fitness professional, me.
  2. Each client represents one real client of mine.
  3. Each pricing model is a representation of my own business.

Early on, my clients paid way more to lose (and sometimes gain) weight. Even when I got pretty good, there were circumstances outside of my client’s or my control that lead to underperformance when compared to projected success. However, now, when I get someone to fully commit to their health and fitness goals, the cost is lower, and the results are better.

Price is a one-time thing. Cost is a lifetime thing.

Make sure your number goal when working with a professional is efficiency. When you pay less upfront, other costs (time and money) usually go up. When you pay more up front, cost (return on your investment) is more efficient.

The best deal is based on your expectation or results.


“I Understand, It Costs Less to Work with the BEST but…”


Yes, I went there.

I charged a few bucks a session because I had low self-worth. Now, I have higher self-awareness. If I had more self-awareness when I first started training, I would have been able to explain the process of getting healthy and fit with more confidence. What I would have said would have been the same, but my level (and my client’s level) of understanding with have been more congruent.

I am saying you have to get a personal trainer to be a success. I”m also not saying you should ditch personal training and hire an online coach. What I am saying is you have to think about what the investment as a whole.

What’s the return on “x”? Moreover, “x” can be whatever it takes for you to be successful.

Here are your options:

The Non-Gym Option

If you live somewhere warm, you may be able to train outdoors year round. Alternatively, you could already pay for amenities like a gym or pool at your apartment complex. Lastly, there’s this place called the internet. It has tons of free articles and videos explaining how to get in shape.

Price: $
Cost: $$$$$

It is going to take you a lot longer on your own. Remember, the cost is the “price” divided by the result. In this case, the price is “time.”
Gym Membership Option

I do not care where you are. You can find a way to invest $10-19 a month in yourself. There are so many gyms with dirt cheap rates right now; there is little excuse. You will find everything you need here and sometimes a few perks like bagels and pizza.

Price: $
Cost: $$$$

Yes, it is cheap. However, remember – you get what you pay for. You are not going to miss $10 a month (FACT: that is why this is an ingenious business model), so if you do not go, there is no big deal. If you do go, maybe find the right workout buddy, it is a steal.

Health Club Option

A gym membership can get up there in price. My gym is about $50 a month, and I have paid upwards of $80. However, that is me. What you will find at these gyms, at no extra cost, are pools, saunas, and group classes you can join.

Price: $$
Cost: $$$

Paying a little bit more is usually an incentive to be more active. It also affords you options to switch things up, so you do not get bored. Still, you are going at this mostly alone. Group instructors will not be able to pay you personalized attention. Nutrition will also be a “no fly zone” for anyone working at this facility.

Small Group

My favorite. After personal training for three years, my clients wanted to continue working with me but couldn’t prioritize the investment. So paying $199/month instead of $320/month was a deal. They got an extra session for almost half the price and met a bunch of cool people with similar interests and goals.

Price: $$$
Cost: $$

Small groups have many benefits. It is cheaper, so you can keep doing it and spend your extra cash on nutrition or body work. The downside is classes are usually really early or late. If you miss a session, you still get charged. Moreover, depending on the trainer, there may be no nutritional support or just supplementation recommendations.

Personal Training

Again, I am not bashing personal training professionals or the industry. I am calling a spade a spade. If you the right client and good trainer match and the key word are “if” you can have a great thing. Trainers are going to drastically reduce your learning curve. You pay for it, but it is worth it. In the short term, you do not get injured and learn how to train properly.

Price: $$$$
Cost: $$

As you know the price and cost may vary. That is not just on the shoulders of the trainer. You have a lot at stake in this partnership. Understand what you are paying for – instruction – and maximize your time by doing everything you are supposed to do outside of the gym. You know, drinking water (not booze), sleeping enough, eating healthy food, and of course doing your cardio.

Online Fitness Coaching

A nutrition coach may or may not have any experience with prescribing exercise. In my case, I do. In this option, you are focused on building habits that will last long after you stop working with me. It is not the sexiest options, meaning you are not going to be running around with a bunch of teammates. There is not booming playlist or high fives. You set a goal, and you are held accountable – every day. At the end of the program, you already know what to expect.

Price: $$$
Cost: $

It is a no fluff, no frill approach to getting results. However, hey, it works. Of course, you get to have fun too. Some coaches, like me, hold Skype sessions or private video sessions for members. At the end of the day, the person who reaches their goal is going to be having the most fun.


Value is the Most Overlooked Factor


The price is the same for everyone who buys a cup of coffee. But the cost depends on each person’s values.

  • Some people value low-maintenance. There are no supplies to buy or machine to upkeep.
  • Some people value their time. You can run in an out of a coffee shop in minutes.
  • Some people value recognition. It’s cool to be seen in the shop and on your way to work with a branded cup of joe.

It’s no different when people choose which gym they belong to or personal trainer they work out with.

Value is the key factor.

While the value of price should be low, the value of cost should be high.

Remember, the reason you work on your health and fitness is to improve yourself.

  • If you want to spend extra time and energy, go with the lower price. Your cost is time and energy.
  • If you want results quickly, you are going to pay a little more but the cost will also be a little lower.
  • If long lasting change is what you value, the best deal may be hiring a coach.

When you work with a good fitness coach, the cost is lower than personal training and the return on the investment is a lot higher. Commitment is the real cost.

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Fire Your Personal Trainer And Hire A Health Coach

I became a personal trainer because I wanted to train athletes. The athlete’s creed I lived by was: bigger, faster, and stronger. While I did get “BFS,” it knows I left a lot potential on the table.

I struggled to go from high school to college football. Eventually figuring out I had no idea how to eat to compete.

After I graduated, I immediately began coaching football at the high school level.

I wanted to teach young athletes what it took to compete at the next level.

When I started, I was not aware of the average person’s condition. Either physically or mentally.

Yes, I quickly learned 90% of people wanted to lose weight, get fit, and live healthier lifestyles. I’d come to experience that was just scratching the service of why people seek help from fitness professionals.

Working at a big box gym, I also realized my clients didn’t want to learn how to be healthy or fit.

My clients had no interest in being a student (or athlete-minded). As they saw it: they paid to do my job. Which involved two things:

  1. Telling them what to do
  2. Making them do it


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I was surprised. As an athlete, I was always strived to perform my best. I never thought of my coaches as drill sergeants barking out orders. I wanted to be there, and I wanted the knowledge they had. I knew with their guidance and support from my team; I would become not only a better athlete but a better person.

There were more assumptions on my part.

I assumed people hired personal trainers for a period, to learn what they needed to get to the next level, and continued training on their own. However, I learned trainers seek a long-term relationship (also called retention), and clients pay as long as they can, regardless of results (if they like you enough).

People believe they need “someone to push” them. They have tricked themselves into thinking “I don’t have enough motivation” to do it on their own.

I use to think the fitness industry and personal trainers were at fault for reinforcing these false narratives.

Now I know this limiting belief system doesn’t start or stop with the personal trainer. It’s the reason why the Personal Training industry has $10 billion in annual revenue and a projected 2.5% growth (IBISWorld 2015) in 2016.

People do not believe they are worthy of changing their lifestyle.

Because of this belief, people have invested large amounts money, since the late 1980s, in hiring people to tell them what to do and make them do it.

The average relationship between a personal trainer and client involves the trainer asking the client these questions:

  • “How was your day/weekend?”
  • “What did you eat [recently]?”
  • “How many reps was that?”,
  • “What do you want to do for cardio?”

Of course, there’s a little more to it than that, but not for the normal trainer-client relationship. This is what you are paying $0-$150 per session.

Once a client’s perceived helplessness is reinforced by their trainer, the trainer can continue comfortably growing their clientele with like-minded people. By like-minded, I mean people do believe they need a trainer.

Why would the client expect anything different? Why would a trainer start to help clients lead healthier lifestyles through a more self-directed approach?

Where Does This “Trainer” Mindset Come From?

Becoming a “certified personal trainer” is not hard. It can be done in a few months. You order the book, you study the material, and you take an exam. If you pass, you are a certified personal trainer. The whole process can be done with a few hundred dollars.

What does not happen during the process is:

  • Talking to anyone (not even a real personal trainer)
  • Evaluations
  • Apprenticeships
  • Research projects

You don’t even have to be fit yourself before you accept your new title.

To continue as a personal trainer, or maintain your certification, all you need to do is keep up with continuing education courses (CECs) by sending in money to pay for them (and answering a few questions on a quiz or course).

To be fair, some certifications hold higher standards than others.

Like myself, a lot of people who get started in the industry, are athletes. Today, you will find trainers with master’s degrees in exercise science and physiology.

Whether you’re an athlete, highly educated, or extremely motivated to help people, no one signs up for this job to become an overpaid rep-counter.

The trainer mindset is heavily influenced by your education. I’d argue even more than your experience. Once certified, gym culture starts to shape you and finally it’s reinforced by your clientele who come to you without knowing much about how to work with a fitness professional.

NOTE: most personal training certifications spend little to no time teaching nutrition. In fact, most trainers are taught to refer their clients to a nutritionist, dietician, and now – nutrition coaches.

When Is Personal Training The Right Fit?

“When” is easy. If you know that you will not go to the gym without being accountable to someone else, that’s the right time to hire a personal training. Hopefully, that’s before your health fails and you reverse or prevent future damage.

I think the question is, “How long is personal training the right fit?

This goes for you, as the professional reading this and the person looking to hire someone to help them get in shape.

I knew right away that I was not going to be a glorified ‘rep counter.” It took me a little more time to actualize and evolve as a professional. That’s real because I had bills to pay.

I knew I wanted to move towards a more sustainable model, group training, and eventually coaching, but it takes time.

It wasn’t that I minded counting reps or that my clients lacked motivation. The personal training model does work. At the same time – it was not efficient.

My clients made progress. But their success always seemed to be short lived or not substantial enough for either of us. Why?

Because people don’t know what to do when:

  • They move away
  • The trainer moves away
  • They hire another Trainer
  • They hire a bad Trainer
  • They can no longer afford training rates
  • They don’t want to keep paying fees to be fit for the rest of their life

You know – life – does happen. When it does, the luxury of having a personal trainer is one of the first things to go.

Asking yourself how long can I work with a trainer, budget-wise, is smart. It’s going to give you a sense of urgency to get in, get motivated, get some practical knowledge, and get results too.

What’s An Alternative to Personal Trainer

Fitness Coaching.

You don’t have to hire a personal trainer. You don’t have to love to exercise.

You get a fitness coach when you want a long-term, holistic lifestyle-focused approach to optimizing your health and fitness.

Everyone forgets fitness is not the ONLY exercise. Inherently, we all know this as true. But when you hire a personal trainer, you are paying zero dollars to change your eating habits. All of your time and money is spent on how you move your body.

This is the number reason, coaching (specifically nutrition coaching) should be considered. If not first, early, and if not early, as soon as you stop getting results.

Isn’t a fitness coach the same thing as a personal trainer? No. Personal Trainers don’t teach people not to need them.

Teaching people to become self-sufficient and responsible for their health would leave trainers unemployed. How can big box gyms survive without getting a slice of that $10 billion industry? I don’t know, Planet Fitness does. Sorry, I’m digressing.

The primary job of a fitness coach is to teach. Once clients have learned what they need about exercise, nutrition, and mindset, they are empowered to continue on their own.

Yes, on your own.

I understand this a scary thought, and not just for trainers. But, I’m sure you are an accomplished person. You’ve already done many things, big and small, in your life like:

  • Learning how to walk
  • Going to school
  • Riding a bike
  • Graduating college
  • Buying a house
  • Getting married
  • Being promoted

How does learning how to take care of yourself compare to this list above? You had a goal, tried, failed, got help, and finally succeeded. Right?

Taking ownership of your health and fitness is no different.

How Do You Start Working With A Fitness Coach?

Step 1: Talk with a coach to discuss your goals

Personal Trainers talk about short-term goals. Fitness Coaches discuss life goals. See the distinction? It’s significant.

Of course, you can go on a crash diet. You also know when you lose weight quickly, it comes back quickly. In some cases, you put on more than you initially took off.

Quick fixes are not a good way to give people what they need for the rest of their lives.

How does a fitness coach accomplish what a personal trainer cannot?

The linchpin is matching the person with the right activities, as an individual. The personal training approach is focused on the activity. It’s almost always done in a gym and under the close supervision of a trainer. Fitness Coaching does use strength training, but it is not the only thing.

Coaches are always there, and they aren’t going to tell you what you have to do or make you do it. Instead, you and your coach work together to find an activity you enjoy that you will actually do.
Compliance is the foundation of an effective coach-client relationship.

Here’s a short list of activities if you are thinking about it:

  • Adventure racing
  • Basketball
  • Biking
  • Bodybuilding
  • Canoeing
  • Dancing
  • Disc golf
  • Geocaching
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Martial arts
  • Rock climbing
  • Running
  • Soccer
  • Triathlon

I don’t know about you, but all of these activities are more fun than recalling what you ate for breakfast as someone counts the reps of an exercise you hate.

Most People Have The Same Goals

After asking thousands of people what their goals are, I can name the top three for you:

  1. Look better
  2. Feel better
  3. Perform better

No one should have to settle for one or two. Everyone can have all three. And while most people are so focused on being satisfied with the outcome, a coach can help you enjoy the process. The top three areas addressed to reach these goals are:

  1. Exercise
  2. Nutrition
  3. Mental skills (stress management, productivity, habits, etc.)

A fitness coach will teach you how to integrate movement, eating for health, and making healthier lifestyle choices. The key factor, most people overlook is: you HAVE to learn to make being fit and healthy a lifestyle.

The goal should be to take care of yourself. Coaches can help you do this.

A Fitness Coach Collaborates With You

When you work with a Coach, you both are responsible, for the success of the relationship.

For instance, if you were my client, we’d explore the facts and myths about nutrition. You’ll learn the M.E.D. (minimally effective dosage) to avoid burnout. And you’ll spend some time being physically active. Whether that’s in the gym, on the court, or on the trail is to be discovered.

No matter what, I will not teach you how to swim or ski. I’m not very good in the water, so those aren’t skills I practice myself or help others perform. In the case a client wants to practice a skill that a coach has too little or no knowledge around, the client just finds another coach. If my client still wants help losing weight and keeping it off, they can usually learn to adopt the basics of a new skill in about eight weeks, while continuing to work with me on nutrition.

The idea is that this process of learning never ends. Not even when you eventually become your Coach.

Become Your Own Coach

If you have ever worked with a personal trainer, this may seem like I’m talking crazy. I get it – they are the experts, what do you know? Well, nothing if you are working with someone who does all of the work. On the other hand, you’ll know enough to maintain your gains and continue to improve if you have hired the right coach.

And if for whatever reason you find yourself stuck or on a plateau, you know who to reach out to.

Within a few short months, you will find yourself on a whole other level.

If you are still questioning your ability, stop. You are insulting yourself. You are neither unmotivated or stupid.

What Does A Good Coach Do?

Think for a moment about the best Coach you’ve ever had. When I do this, I think about martial arts, football, and track. You can think about dance, swimming, soccer, or whatever comes to mind. If you did come up with a good coach, you would agree: good coaches help people reach their potential.

A good coach will:

  • Give you a direction to aim towards
  • Provide objective feedback
  • Encourage you along the way
  • Be knowledgeable

They do everything they can as a part of their job. The athlete, or client, then does everything they can do as part of their job. Together, they accomplish more than the average trainer-client ever could.

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Why I Quit My Career As A Personal Trainer

why i quit personal training

Somehow quitting and failing have become synonymous.

I know that I grew up thinking in very binary terms: you either a) succeeded or b) failed. That means we only have two states of being during our existence: we are either a success or a failure.

To quit something, does not mean you are a failure.

In fact, my company just won an award for Milwaukee’s Best Personal Trainers before I decided to hang it up.

When you do something, anything, just to say you did not give up, you may be holding onto something that no longer serves you or missing new opportunities that will serve you better.

I’m not going to tell you when or how to quit a job you hate. I never hated being a Personal Trainer. What I am going to do is share with you, my experience pausing, evaluating, and fixing my career path in health and fitness.

Quitting is an option.

What led me to a career as a Personal Trainer

To get a better idea as to why I quit, I’m going to have to go back.

I’ve always been an athlete. At my highest level, I played NCAA Division-1 Football in the FCS subdivision for the Valparaiso Crusaders. I was a Defensive Back, for Coach Pete’s “Hit Squad.” After winning the Pioneer Football League Championship in 2003, I found myself in financial troubles. My grades slipped just low enough that I was no longer eligible to receive grant money I depended on to pay for school.

I paused summer workouts to work full-time at Wal-Mart. I also made trips to the financial aid office looking for help almost daily. After my last plea, I was able to complete my fourth and final year of college.

I ended up with two degrees: Sports Management and History. I thought I would teach history and coach football. Maybe someday running the show as an Athletic Director.

The summer prior to graduation, I ended up losing about 20 pounds of hard-earned lean muscle. Even though I knew I wasn’t in shape to fight for a starting position, I thought I could provide some leadership from the sidelines and in practice.

It didn’t end up that way. I opted out of my fourth year, quitting football.

One of my former teammates and roommates was coaching high school football and asked if I was interested. Coach Pete was the Head Coach. He agreed and brought me on a Special Teams Coordinator and Defensive Backs coach.

It was incredible working with him in this way. A big part of me couldn’t believe he said yes because I wasn’t the most coachable athlete. I had a good start as a redshirt freshman, moving up to the travel team and starting quicker than anyone else from my class. But I ended up as a role player on special teams and backup cornerback.

Pete always said how “You need to play cocky. Not arrogant. There’s a difference.”

It was “imperative.” Everything was imperative, or vital, essential, and urgent.

Out of all his sayings, the one that resonates the most, then and today, is, “you have to play with a turtle shell.

He meant you have to let things roll off your back. Don’t get stuck. Keep moving. Things are not always going to go your way. It’s how you respond that matters.

It was sound advice that t would come in handy as I moved into adulthood, looking for a career.

I was feeling like Al Bundy

Al Bundy is a simple, shoe salesman, always regretful of the hand he was dealt. After being the star fullback on his football team, he broke his leg and found himself “married with children.” He’s left to feel sorry for what could have been if he was able to accept his scholarship and play college football.

One side of Al is s cheap, unsuccessful, unhappy, and scheming. The other side is witty, self-sacrificing and resilient in times of crisis.

At this point, I’m living my Ma’s basement with my husky, Blew.

[Note: I failed to get a job after 43 job interviews before this point in time.]

I also joined the coaching staff at my old high school as the Defensive Coordinator.

I didn’t do it to make money, I did it because I enjoyed it.

A lot of kids, like myself, grow up without sound coaching from well-intentioned adults.  For example, my high school coach knew how to get kids strong and my college coach’s understood the “x’s” and “0’s” of the game, but no one taught me how to gain lean muscle mass. I had to learn that myself.

This is why I decided to get a personal trainer certification.

It made sense. It was the best way to grow and help the people I served. Athletes need to move and eat appropriately. Even though I was coaching the game of football, I knew what would separate an athlete from the pack.

I went into my freshman year at 158 lbs but played in my last football game at 192 lbs during my junior year.

There was a HUGE piece of the equation missing – nutrition. I had to increase my daily caloric intake to well over 5,000 calories to put any significant mass on my body.  Eating a frozen pizza, a pint of ice cream or four PB&J’s every night is what worked.

From my experience and education, I knew I could give a head start that I wish I had.

“You Are Too Smart to be Just a Personal Trainer.”

I had a job, three in fact: retail, football coach, and personal trainer.

I picked up a part-time gig at LA Fitness after getting certified. I wanted to apply what I learned, and it was close to the high school.

One day, my Ma interrupts me from a nap, “Are you depressed or something?” I remember responding with a resounding “No!

Before I could situate myself, she followed up with, “…you are going to have to move out at the end of the month.

Turtle shell. Water off your back. Keep moving.

I did move out. I was already working as many hours as possible at the shoe store for $8.25 an hour, so I looked to pick up as many hours as I could at the gym so I could pay my rent.

It’s the first time I got cocky as a professional. I created my first business plan: MSB Marketing & Promotions.

Every day I’d walked 6 miles to work. On those walks, I saw so much potential. While the streets were cluttered with trash and broken glass, I saw tons of businesses with little to no branding. Nothing they projected said, “Come in here and spend your money with us.”

I wrote a 14-page business plan, for the shoe store. I wanted to create and launch an e-commerce website for my employer.

For context, in 2007 online shopping, while trending up, wasn’t familiar with most people. The market of urban shoppers was untapped.

My manager took my plan, and after two weeks of following up, she basically said the owners never will look at it, and I quit my job.



I got lucky. The guy who was mentoring me was deciding to leave his job as a personal trainer. I was able to pick up most of his clients. My schedule was jam packed. After I realized coaching youth football was a just hobby for most coaches (another story for another post), I couldn’t do it anymore and I quit coaching football.

I put my attention on getting people stronger through fitness.

One day, my client said, “You are too smart to be just a personal trainer.” I thought he was trying to get a rest between sets of squats. But he was serious. He was asking me what I was going to with my life.

At that point, I realized I was getting comfortable again. I had more learning and growing to do if I wanted to maximize my potential.

He wasn’t telling me to quit or give up. He was letting me know there was more opportunity if I wanted to take it.

Sometimes We Have To Create Something That Doesn’t Exist Yet

My client, a developer, had connections with local franchise gym owners. He made the introduction and I took it from there.

For the next five years, I hustled harder than I ever knew was possible. I had only one goal: to be the best personal trainer.

I graduated from the big box gym to working with local franchise gym owners. I was the cocky kid who went to all the Snap and Anytime Fitness gyms in the area and convinced the owners to let me run their Personal Training departments. It worked.

Until it didn’t. And I quit that too. It was good while it lasted.

Eventually, I got tired of the hustle and bustle of working with clients one-on-one and realized my client’s spending habits were changing along with the economy. Personal training was expensive.

So I started offering “small personalized group coaching” programs, a.k.a. boot camps.

To backtrack for a moment, my Ma was right – I was depressed. I just didn’t know it. And my client was right too – I wasn’t living up to my potential. I wasn’t aware of it. In both situations, I was too comfortable. It was time to quit so I could continue to grow.

The first month out on my own, with no money to pay next month’s rent on the first, and before I left the big box gym, I mind mapped my vision and came up with three words: mind, spirit, and body. I then took those three words to create a new word “MISPIBO.” Lastly, I tacked “fitness’ on the end of it to give people some context.

Sometimes you have to create something that doesn’t exist yet.

That’s what I did in 2006. By 2008, I was ready to make it official when I set up my business, MISPIBO Fitness, LLC.

That vision is still pulling me forward until today.

Which leads back to the point of this article.

On Quitting Personal Training

It was horrible. You should never quit the way I did. Lesson learned.

Even though my company, along with a 6 others on my staff at the time, won that award, I knew it was bullshit. I was very well connected, knew a little bit about marketing, and pushed the hell out of that campaign to win.

I already felt like I achieved the status of “best” years prior. I could walk practically anywhere in my city and be met by a client’s  smiling face, someone from one of the many gyms I serviced, or a random person who recognized me from Facebook.

I unlocked the riddle of how to make money doing it back in winter of 2008 when I started my company, generating six figure revenues in less than one year. Not to brag, but to say, it put in in an elite bracket of fitness business owners, not just locally, but nationally and internationally.

Even still, I was different: I did it all without ever owning/leasing my own gym space. I did it my way.

Up until that point in the spring of 2013, I had my head down and worked hard for seven years on an idea that not only served thousands of client, but it served me. I must say, at its beginning and end, personal training was for me.

I had some skills. I gained some knowledge. Most of all,  I practiced my face off. I also messed up a lot. Learned. Screwed up again. And I kept going. Eventually, my “good” got better, and I became a version of best self.

Regardless of what anyone else says, I know I gave my 100%. There was nothing left to prove or do.

At the time, though, I didn’t know it. As soon as the contest was over, all hell broke loose.

  • I broke up with my business partner first and sooner their after my life partner and I broke up. She was also my best female trainer so you can imagine the problems that caused.
  • Two of my other trainers got opportunities to move on that they couldn’t pass up (and wouldn’t have let them if they wanted to).
  • And my youngest coach, mentee, wanted to start his own thing. I gave him my blessing.

Despite all of this – I was arrogant.

Everyone left, and I kept my personal assistant. I moved downtown, got a few high-paying clients ($150/session). One of which happened to be a developer. After a few meetings, I had a potential gym space. The key word is “potential.”

I got comfortable. Again. This time the universe shook me up. It wasn’t my Ma kicking me out, or a client giving me a compliment. It was life. I lost everything. All the money I saved, and a loan from my parents, my assistant and eventually, the gym space too.

“Okay!” I thought I hear you loud and clear. It was time for me to move on.

One day, regretfully without much thought or coaching, as I wrapped up a morning group session, I told my clients I was taking a “break.”

If you’ve even been in relationships where you have been dumped or dumped someone, it was like both of those multiplied by 30.

More than half of my clients banded together and immediately went to one of my competitors. Another small group asked for my recommendation, which I gladly gave, and another group heard me out and stayed with me until the holiday season came.

At this point, I knew I wasn’t a just a personal trainer anymore.

Why I Quit Being A Personal Trainer

Let me go deeper hear before I conclude this post.

I never set out to be a Personal Trainer.

I definitely wasn’t set on being just a Personal Trainer. It all started out from a gut feeling I had to help young men become the strongest version of themselves.

It was not cool to be a business owner in 2006. I didn’t even know what an entrepreneur was back then. When I got started personal training, people thought I was wasting my time. They thought I should go to law school (and I almost did). Along with other careers like military or law enforcement.

After working in the weight room as a Strength and Conditioning Coach a local high school for four years, a lot of my athletes got scholarships for academics, sports, and other activities. The thing I had set out to accomplish happened. I was content.

My agenda was not matching with others.

One of my mentors tried to explain to me that all good partnerships start off at 50/50. I couldn’t understand that.

As funny as it is to say now, I thought gym owners created some arbitrary split (usually 60/40 going either way) for working with personal trainers. I didn’t realize I was creating my own split, just as random (as good as 90/10 with 90% going to me). I wasn’t being the partner I needed to be to make the relationship with gym owners work in their favor.

Today, everyone wants to be their own boss. I never wanted to be my own boss.

As a business owner, responsible for the livelihood of a team, I didn’t see how I could grow a business predicated on a team. It was evident newer trainers wanted to take what I taught and did their own thing.

I understand it. I don’t blame anyone for it. It’s the way it is, and I couldn’t continue to grow that way.

People can be mean and vain.

I didn’t take a picture with my shirt off until the winter of 2010. That’s four years into the game. Now, everyone is showing their transformation from day 1 to get support, accountability, but mostly attention.

It’s always been about health for life and fitness for performance.

So as soon as I realized some of my clients were “mean girls” and using my system for vanity only, I knew something was going to have to change.

Ultimately, it’s not why I quit, but it made it easier. I don’t want to serve people who aren’t getting “fit” for a purpose. Fitness is both emotional and social.

I’ve always tried to use my platform to bring people together. I think feeling good in your body and being confident is important, but somehow I missed the part about what being a real human is during the development of new members as my business grew.



I wasn’t happy, and I knew I could do better. Looking back, that seems to be a trend in my life. It’s a slap in the face, kick in the ass, a paradigm shift that comes around and goes around.


  • In high school, I tore my quad, and my vision of playing football came to a halt.
  • After college, I thought I was going to live the American Dream until I found myself unemployed.
  • In 2013, what I was doing was no longer serving me and I needed to find my purpose.


I was at the top of my field and for the first time, I didn’t enjoy punching the clock at 5 am to help people reach their goals. It was hard to get understand this and felt impossible to explain.  I would be processing what happened for about 2 years.

Call Me “Coach”

Have you ever heard that famous interview where Steve Jobs says you have to have passion and love what you do?

I disagree.

I never had a passion for personal training. I didn’t love personal training. It started off as an idea, and quickly turned into my job, a business and eventually a tool.

Don’t get me wrong: I loved every minute of it. I have the best clients in the world. A lot of them I see as friends and even family.

Coaching has always been what I did.

It was exercise early on. And later on, nutrition. For the past three years, it’s been about mindset. It’s always been right there in the name, MISPIBO. It all starts in mind.

I’ve been a mindfulness practitioner now for three years. I teach schools (students, teachers, administration, and community members) targeted breathing exercises to manage and control stress.

As I continue to get ideas, learn, and work, I’ve come to a place where I now know what I do. I coach.

I coach.

I have a few areas I work in, three of which I’m pretty good at are exercise, nutrition, and mindset. But the main tool to build stronger mind, bodies, and spirits is coaching.

If you’ve made it this far, I really appreciate you. The main reason I quit:

I Believe Everyone Deserves A Good Coach

Now, as a coach, working mostly online, I’m able to help more adults than before and work with children in a way I once thought would be my career. My calling, as a coach, has been right there the whole time. I just had to experience life before I recognized it to be true.

If you’re thinking about quitting, I think Steve Jobs was onto something with this quote:

“I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

What about you?

If today was your last day, would you want to do keep living how you are living?

I can’t help you change professions unless you want to become a Personal Trainer, but it’s my mission to help as many people get healthy and fit.

If you’re struggling to eat appropriately for your goals, or you’re stressed out, join my free, private facebook group Fit for Purpose.

Every month, I’m hosting a 100% free exercise, nutrition, or mindset challenge.

Click here to join the Fit for Purpose group and take the challenge.

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