How to Stand Out as a Fitness Coach

How to Stand Out as a Fitness Coach

How to Stand Out Among the Masses of Fitness Coaches

Though it’s tough to get the exact number of personal trainers and fitness coaches in the United States today as there’s no regulatory body that counts, we do know fitness coaches and personal trainers are on the rise.

This article estimated that in 2011, there were 231,500 trainers in the United States, while others estimate that number will soon hit 300,000.

In comparison, according to The United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 210,900 physical therapists employed in the U.S. in 2014. The same source says there are currently around 60,000 chiropractors in the U.S.

The point is: Being a personal trainer or fitness coach is a competitive career. To a certain degree, trainers are a dime a dozen, and the general population has become more discerning when selecting a coach. Looking super fit on your Instagram feed might have worked for a little while, but that’s not the way to long-term success.

So what is the way to long-term success if you’re looking to be a professional career coach?

Offer the best service, of course, so you not only attract new clients, but also keep current clients. And charge enough money so that you can live a comfortable life.

Let’s talk about the available options out there today for clients:

1. Personal training studios:


Personalized training for the client. If the coach is knowledgeable, the client can receive a training program that works moderately well for his unique needs and goals.


Expensive: Generally the client pays $65 to $120 an hour for one-on-one time with a coach. That can easily add up to $1,500 a month, which isn’t affordable for most and not all that sustainable long-term.

Dependent: Personal training clients are usually dependent on their coach. Often they only work out when their coach is present, so it usually means 1 to 3 workouts a week at the most.

Unfulfilling for the coach: From the coach end, burnout is quite high for personal trainers because they have to work too many hours to make ends meet (there’s absolutely no opportunity for the coach to make a professional wage), and it’s fairly tough on the energy level to work 8-plus on-floor hours a week and not very fulfilling as the coach feels like he’s babysitting more than he is coaching.

Not a full spectrum service: Generally, personal trainers are there for one hour a day, two or three days a week, leaving no time to consider other factors in the client’s life, such as nutrition, sleep, stress levels, etc. Thus, their training program is essentially created in a vacuum without considering any other factors beyond the client’s physical ability in the gym.

Lack of community: Personal training studios tend to be fairly anti-social places. Often clients only get to know one person there: Their coach.

(Coach’s Resource: Learn how you can avoid all of these deficits in this free course.)

2. Group class (Yoga, spin classes, Orange theory, Bootcamps, Pilates, etc.)


Affordable: Unlike personal training studios, clients pay a more sustainable rate—generally around $150 to $200 a month.

Social: Group classes can be fun and social. People make friends, which helps keep them accountable and showing up for a while at least.


No individual coaching: Clients are at the mercy of a group training program. There’s zero consideration to their wants and goals, let alone what else is going in their lives, so they don’t see the results they want, or worse still, they get injured and drop off. Learn the basics of individual coaching for free here.

Unfulfilling for the coach: See above. Coaches spend more time cheerleading than coaching. Burnout is high.

Not enough money: Coaches generally get paid by the hour and can’t make a decent living. 

Client retention is terrible: Because clients are basically just dabbling with a group, they don’t see continued results, or they quickly get injured, or they just eventually lose interest in the latest fitness fad, so they don’t stick around long. On the coach end, this means you’re constantly having to chase new clients to replace the ones that are quitting, which is pretty stressful for the coach. 

3. OPEX Coach or OPEX Gym


Technical knowledge: The OPEX coach goes through the Coaching Certificate Program (CCP), which many OPEX coaches say was more valuable than a four-year university degree (For example: “CCP exceeded my college education. By a lot,” said 26-year-old Abby McCormick). They learn how to assess clients, how to design effective programs, and how to consult with clients on an ongoing basis.

Personalized fitness: The OPEX coach offers a personalized fitness program that takes into consideration not just the client’s physical abilities, but also what else is affecting their lives: nutrition, sleep, stress, etc. This allows the coach to offer a full-spectrum, personalized plan to get the client results fast.

Nutrition and lifestyle coaching: The OPEX coach acts not just as a trainer, but also as a lifestyle consultant. This means instead of hiring a trainer, a nutritionist, and a life coach, the clients get all three services in one coach.

Community vibes: Clients tend to work out at similar times and get to know and become friends with likeminded health-conscious people, creating a supportive environment in a way that doesn’t happen at a personal training studio.

Affordable: OPEX clients pay between $250 and $400 a month for their personalized training program plus a monthly lifestyle consult with their coach—much more sustainable than $1,500 a month for personal training. Not only that, they can now work out more frequently and without their coach present, and can take their program with them if they’re away for work or on vacation. 

Clients stick around: Clients stick around. Period. Because they’re receiving proper care and value. From the coach end, he/she doesn’t have to worry about massive marketing efforts to drive more clients each month. OPEX coaches report their yearly client retention rate to be above 90 percent.


There are none. But don’t listen to us, listen to OPEX clients. Here’s what three of them had to say:

“I used to try something new every three months, but it has been a whole year and I’m still enjoying it. The excitement is still there. It has been an incredible journey and I look forward to carrying on with it for a long time.” – Jane Zanganeh, OPEX Gatwick client

“If I were to break it all down, the amount I would have to pay to get what I’m getting—a personal trainer, access to a facility, someone to support me emotionally, a business coach, someone to hold me accountable to all my goals, and someone to help me with my nutrition—it would be so much more than that. It’s absolutely worth it to me. I will dye my hair out of a box, but I won’t get my fitness out of a box.” – Tiffany Wolf, OPEX Regina client

“This really is what provides the best long-term health results, and not just in the gym, but also your lifestyle, sleep, nutrition. It helps you tackle little things one by one and implement new habits for a more fulfilling life. So it’s really not just about the workout. It’s about the rest of your life.” -Janice Hardwick, OPEX North Scottsdale client

OPEX Fitness does one thing, educate coaches. Get an introduction to our coaching principles and take the first step towards creating a sustainable career for yourself with The Free Coach’s Toolkit.

Fitness Assessments for New Clients