From $40,000 a Year as a Group Class Coach to Six Figures-Plus - Sam Smith

From $40,000 a Year as a Group Class Coach to Six Figures-Plus - Sam Smith

Five years ago, Sam Smith coached at a CrossFit gym and had some remote clients and sport teams on the side, and was in the process of becoming a physiotherapist because he didn’t know if it was possible to make a professional wage and pursue a full-time career as a fitness coach.

And then he had a conversation with OPEX founder James FitzGerald, “and he kind of brought it to my attention that I could coach for a career,” Smith explained, and “that discussion kind of opened my eyes that being a full-time coach was something I could do and I could make a career of it," said Smith, who today is a remote coach with the Big Dawgs with 100 individual design clients. 

So he pivoted his plans and signed up for the OPEX CCP, and within two years, he was making six figures, more than double what he had made as a CrossFit coach, and it has only increased since then.

Today, Smith’s 100 individual design clients pay an average of $300 a month—his rates now are $355, but some older clients have been grandfathered at lower rates—for individual design, monthly lifestyle consults, video feedback, and nutrition coaching.

Smith's niche is very much with competitive CrossFit athletes all around the world, from the United States to Canada, to Asia, the Middle East, Australia and Europe. Sixty percent of his clients did the CrossFit Open last year, for example, and 58 of them qualified to the Quarterfinals.

He prides himself in helping his competitors gain more “self-confidence” and more “self-reliant” to handle the stress that goes along with competition. He’s particularly passionate about this because he used to be a college level and later professional golfer and struggled with this.

He said he became too dependent on others and not confident in himself “and it weakened me, and it took me a few years at my peak in the sport to realize that I needed to shift my frame of reference and how I looked at dependency and what I was capable of,” he said. “So I really think it's important to help my clients build autonomy and self-confidence, especially in those who compete.”

When he learned this as a golfer, it empowered him, “that led to some really good (success) at the tail end of my career,” he said. “That experience has brought itself on me to then share that with those in my world who are in the same boat, where they need somebody who can help them see their own strengths so that they can overcome the challenges they’re facing.” 

Two Keys to His Success

1. Being Organized and Structured

The only reason Smith is able to juggle coaching 100 clients is because of how structured and organized he is.

He has found a routine and rhythm that works for him, and if you can't do that, you probably won’t be able to coach 100 clients. “I’m super super OCD about schedule, consistency and organization, which is why I think I can handle so many clients,” Smith added. 

Smith’s typical Monday to Friday:

  • 4:30 a.m.: wake up
  • 5:00-7:30 a.m.: programming and messaging/providing feedback to clients
  • 7:30-8 a.m.: breakfast
  • 8:00-9:00 a.m.: consults with international clients
  • 9:00-10:30 a.m.: more programming
  • 10:30-noon: drive to the gym and workout
  • Noon-1:00 p.m.: lunch
  • 1:00-2:30 p.m.: reviews/comments/message/emails with clients
  • 2:30-5 p.m.: consults

Though a long day, Smith said he does finish a bit earlier on Wednesdays and Fridays and takes every Saturday and Sunday completely off. 

2. The Coaching Certificate Program (CCP)

Smith credits CCP for providing him the tools required to be successful in the real world. 

When he was coaching group classes at a CrossFit gym, “it would have been a lot more challenging (to make it as a full-time career and make a good living) with the tools I had at the time," Smith said. The CCP changed this for him, he explained, as it gave him the “confidence and competency in my field, and I felt equipped to help people...and make it into a sustainable living,” he said.

A lot of this comes down to how both comprehensive and broad the CPP is, he explained. 

“It’s not just looking at movement, or how you cue movement, but you know, how do you communicate with people, how do you help people with nutritional challenges, how do you design a program that’s individualized, how do you help people change do you look at your business from a fitness perspective, how you assess people effectively? There are all these aspects that it covers,” he said.

Smith's advice to any coach looking to be a full-time career coach is not to hesitate to invest in the CCP. 

“I'm, of course biased,” Smith said, “but how broad it is with how it teaches coaches how to coach, how to look at humans...there’s just so much value in there that it’s going to equip (you) with every tool you would need for a career in fitness,” he said.

He added: “It was the best investment I have made thus far for my career.”

Note: Sam offers both remote coaching for athletes and remote coaching mentorship for coaches.


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