Kayla Smith was burnt out.
“There were days I was coaching five or six classes a day, coaching the same stuff over and over and repeating myself over and over,” she said of her five years managing a CrossFit facility.
“At one point a couple years in, I would be there from 5 a.m. until 9 o’clock at night. I coached every single class,” she said.
On top of this, she didn’t feel like she was helping the group class clients as much as she could. In fact, it felt more like babysitting, she explained.
“I was so over babysitting adults,” she said.
It became very clear to Smith there was no long-term win for the coach being a group class instructor.
“That system doesn’t set the coaches up to win, so there’s so much turnover because it’s just not sustainable for them as a career. It’s fine as a part-part-time job or maybe for a college student just starting out, but there’s no long-term win,” she said.
Smith, however, wanted to have a long lasting career in the industry, so it was time to figure out how.
It didn’t take long for her to see that the answer was to open her own OPEX gym. So she signed up and completed the OPEX Coach Certificate Program (CCP) in the summer of 2018 and opened OPEX Morgantown in West Virginia in March 2019. After being open for just two weeks (at the time of the interview), she already had 26 individual program design clients.
On top of feeling like she now has a business model in place that has been proven to work, Smith said the biggest thing she got from CCP was about the importance of connecting emotionally with her clients. Learn how to build trust with your clients in this infographic.
“I understand now how much the psychological side comes into play with clients, and how much your relationships with them matter,” she said, adding that learning about OPEX’s monthly lifestyle consults “was the most eye-opening for me.”
“The program design parts of the course I was also really into, but I knew going in that I’d really enjoy them. But learning about how people work and why was new to me,” she added.
What she learned about getting to know her clients psychologically has helped her develop more effective relationships with her clients already, she explained.
“I realize now not everything is so black and white, and to really dive deeper in knowing their purpose and the reasons they’re using fitness in their life,” she said.
Having closer relationships with her clients means client retention improves dramatically. In the old days, client turnover was fairly high. Today, Smith feels like she’s grooming clients she “can keep forever.”
Not only does Smith feel like she’s better able to serve her clients now, she said she feels like her business, and especially her coaches, have a much better chance for success now too.
Smith currently has one coach going through CCP and she hopes to develop one or two more in coming years—coaches who will have the opportunity to develop long-lasting, professional careers in the fitness industry.
“Being on an incentive-based service means the more clients they have, the more money they make, so you’re setting them up to be a professional, and offering them continuing education too. When you do the math and compare it to being on an hourly rate per class system, it becomes clear (which system is better),” Smith said.
“In the group training mode, it doesn’t matter if you have 30 people in class, the coach makes the same amount,” she said. In the OPEX model, the more clients a coach has, the more he makes and the more the business benefits.
“When the coach wins, the business wins too,” she said.
Get an introduction to the same education that changed Smith’s career in our free coaching course.