When we think about fitness coaches and personal trainers, we often think about young, fit 20-somethings. And if we’re being really stereotypical, we think about the super muscular, borderline meathead dude, who finds clients just because he has big muscles and looks like he knows a thing or two about fitness.
The reality is, by the time that super muscular dude is in his 30s, he’s no longer personal training.
Because he eventually realizes he had to work way too many hours as a personal trainer to make a decent living, and he likely got bored or burnt out from babysitting clients and counting reps eight hours a day, so he left the industry (only to be replaced by the new crew of 21-year-old fitness enthusiasts eager to try their hand at coaching fitness).
Alas, Jim and Julie Migliaccio, the owners of OPEX Gold Coast in Norwalk, Connecticut, are bucking the trend and proving if you have a solid business model, you can indeed flourish as coaches and gym owners, not just in the short term, but as a lifelong career.
Jim is 56. Julie is 51. And together the pair, who have been married for 30 years, run a successful OPEX Gym and live a balanced life in the process. They diligently take care of their long-term clients, all the while escaping to Florida during the colder months of the year in Connecticut.
Julie’s career in fitness started 15 years ago when she owned a small studio gym that offered personal training and group classes at various times. In 2009, she started competing in CrossFit and hired James FitzGerald as her personal coach. Pretty soon, her husband followed suit and also started working with FitzGerald.
“We started making pilgrimages out to Arizona to hang out with James,” Julie said. “We just liked everything he stood for, and I found myself moving my business in a similar direction.”
Eventually, Julie started converting most of her personal training clients to individual program design, which she thought would serve them better.
“It was easy for me because lots of them were paying $400 to $800 a month for personal training, so it actually was going to save them money and they would get more of what they needed,” she said.
Jim and Julie found this model started to attract more motivated, coachable and low-maintenance clients.
“And the highly motivated ones we started getting—where you don’t have to pull teeth to get them to commit—are the clients that bring us the most fulfillment too,” Jim said.
Needless to say, when OPEX Fitness introduced licensed OPEX Gyms it was a no-brainer for Jim and Julie. The pair jumped on board and became OPEX Gold Coast in 2017. Today, their gym has more than 100 individual design clients and six coaches, who are all paid on a percentage of revenue basis.
Not only are their clients better served today, Julie explained, her life is much more manageable than before.
“Honestly, I barely have to be there. When I’m in town I spend about two days during the week on the floor and a few hours on Saturday. Before, I would have to be at the gym at 7 a.m. and would be there all day. I was chained to my business back then,” Julie said.
She added: “I hadn’t scaled it in a way that allowed me to have other coaches I could rely on, and there was a ceiling on what I could do. There was no way to grow the business, not just financially, but in any way. And I had found myself losing motivation and losing my passion.”
This isn’t the case anymore. Julie is eager and fresh when she’s at the gym, and when she and Jim are away in Florida, the couple can continue to text and do Zoom video calls with clients to stay connected, all the while enjoying a much-deserved break from the cold weather.
Not only is the OPEX system better for them as business owners, as well as for their clients, it’s also better for their coaches, they explained.
“The potential for them is limitless. If they’re entrepreneurial and they’re hungry and passionate about it and see the big picture, then it’s way better for them,” Julie said.
For some coaches it was a transition, Julie admitted.
“When we first transitioned, our first two coaches had been CrossFit class coaches and they were used to getting paid by the hour, and you could see they were trying to do the math,” she laughed. But the entrepreneurial ones see the big picture, and see how they will be better served, not just financially, but in terms of lifestyle, in the OPEX model, she explained.
Jim added: “The coaches see there’s freedom in the independence they get, as opposed to just punching the clock all the time. They don’t need to be tied to the gym all the time. They can be at home with their coffee, programming and using TrueCoach, and still continue to build their book of clients. It’s almost as if they’re running their own business so they become passionate about their business and its growth.”
“But yes, they do need to be entrepreneurial for this system to work,” he added.
As a result, today, with the right entrepreneurial coaches in place, and highly motivated and committed clients, Jim and Julie are living the life they always wanted, they said.
Julie added: “It’s a slow growth model, but it really lays the foundation for long-term success.”
The OPEX System of Coaching is a revolutionary way to look at fitness coaching. This system encourages a client’s success while creating a sustainable and fulfilling career for coaches. Learn the OPEX System of Coaching with our the nee Free Coach’s Toolkit. Sign up today and start building a career for your future.
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