Mischa Jemionek couldn’t do it any longer: She couldn’t work in a system that went against what every fiber in her body was telling her was right.
“I have a sports science background, so coming from a rehab place where I wanted to fix people, it just wasn’t happening in a group class,” she said of her experience owning and running a CrossFit gym in Pennsylvania.
People would come and see her with injuries and she’d write them a rehab program, but then they’d join a group class and all hell would break loose.
“It’s just what the group mentality does. They’d be like, ‘But I have to do this because it’s written on the board.’ On a fundamental level I couldn’t watch people do that and not get better, or get worse even. It got to the point where I felt like I’d have to sacrifice my own morals and values every day if I continued,” she said.
It took her a while to reach this tipping point.
In 2012, Jemionek became acquainted with OPEX because she specifically wanted to learn more about program design concepts, and how to program effectively for a group class.
“But I came away kind of realizing there was no way to do that,” she said. “When I went through CCP (The OPEX Coaching Certificate Program), I realized I was working in a broken model, and it was always going to be broken, not to mention a broken business model, where the return on your time is zero, no matter what you do,” Jemionek said.
Still, she tried to make it work even after finishing CCP.
“We tried all kinds of things, like offering different levels of programming, and we tried educating people about training, but it was like I was just beating my head against the wall,” she said.
“As soon as I came out here, I was like, ‘Whoa, this makes so much more sense,’” she said.
It makes more sense for the client, who reaps the many benefits of personalized fitness coaching. It makes more sense for the coach, who has the chance to have a fulfilling career earning a professional wage. And it makes more sense for the business owner, who gets to live a much more manageable lifestyle with a business that actually turns a profit, she explained.
(Coach’s Resource: Learn the fundamentals of the OPEX model here.)
From an equipment standpoint alone, the business is better off. In a group class model, the more your membership grows, the more equipment you need to buy, often negating the increased revenue from the new clients you picked up. In an individual program design model, this isn’t the case.
“The need for more equipment doesn’t go up and up because not everyone is doing the same thing,” she said.
Further, in the group or personal training model, the only way for Jemionek to make more money was to take on more personal training clients.
“And I was done counting reps and putting weight on the bar for people. That’s not how I want to spend my days,” she said.
Jemionek added: “Now I can actually get to know my clients by talking to them on the floor and actually coach people through things, instead of the mind-numbing lifestyle of coaching eight classes in a row—the same workout over and over.”
It can still be tiring at times, she admitted, “but you’re not brain dead at the end of the day. You’re actually fulfilled,” she said.
And it’s possible to help way more people in this model as well, she added.
“The coach is able to have 100 clients once they get good. I can program someone’s week in 10 minutes at this point. And we’re teaching them to be self-sufficient and to ask educated questions. We expect more from our clients, but they get a better experience because of it,” she said.
Though individual design creates more independent, self-sufficient clients, Jemionek was quick to point out this doesn’t mean you’re not in touch with them on a regular basis.
“I’m in touch with my clients every day, still,” she said. But that time is much better used for higher-level coaching, mentoring and educating them, as opposed to babysitting them through a workout, she explained.
What this means for the coach is a better lifestyle with more financial rewards.
“Coaches can go on vacation and their paycheck isn’t affected. Or they can have kids and a family and program from home. As long as they’re in touch with their clients and their client retention is good…they can work remotely when they’re not on the floor coaching or doing consults,” she said. In the OPEX model, most coaches only coach two to three hours a day on the floor.
As for the financial side of things, the coach is finally able to make a professional wage earning around 40 percent of the revenue they generate (depending on the gym and the experience of the coach at most OPEX gyms).
“If you have 100 clients (paying around $300 each a month, which is typical for an OPEX Gym) at 40 percent, you do the math. That’s a pretty good living,” Jemionek said.
“So there’s definitely a better quality of life for the coach,” she added. “A better quality of life for everyone actually.”
If you’re a fitness professional or want to become one, you need an education grounded in principles. One that prepares you for a career in the ever-changing landscape of the fitness industry. Enter the OPEX Coaching Certificate Program (CCP), the gold standard of education for individualized coaching and program design.
Written and taught by James FitzGerald, a 25-year coaching veteran, the OPEX CCP has educated over 3000 coaches. This education not only bridges the gap between the classroom and the gym floor but also gives you the opportunity to develop your own coaching flair under the mentorship of James himself. Apply to join the next OPEX CCP cohort today and become the coach you’ve always imagined.
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