What is a Professional Fitness Coach & Why We Need Them

What is a Professional Fitness Coach & Why We Need Them

Professional coach is undoubtedly a buzzword that has caught on in a big way. But what exactly does it mean to be a professional? Does it just mean you’re able to make a professional wage?

We’ll break it all down in a minute, but here’s our definition of what it means to be a professional coach.

What is a Professional Fitness coach?

A professional fitness coach is educated and experienced in delivering consistent success and results to their clients. Delivering unique value to each of their clients ensures a professional fitness coach earns a full-time wage, making it possible for coaching to be a full-time career. A professional fitness coach is consistently teaching, learning, moving, and creating. What’s more, professional coaches move the profession forward by teaching their coaches and clients how to be autonomous in and out of the gym.

Why is it so important we have more professional fitness coaches?

It’s no secret we’re facing a health crisis today. From obesity to Type 2 diabetes to hypertension and heart disease, a large chunk of the population suffers from life-threatening, yet reversible, health conditions.

  • We have known for a long time how to both prevent and put these health conditions into remission: proper nutrition and fitness. And the solution to helping people do that isn’t through more medication prescribed by doctors; it’s through experienced fitness coaches who consider human individuality and prescribe solutions to their unique problems.
  • The bottom line: People need coaching to keep them accountable, and an app isn’t the solution. The solution is real life coaches. And in order to keep those coaches in the industry, they need to become professionals, meaning they work a sustainable number of hours a week, they earn a good living financially, and they make a true difference in their clients’ lives. 

The problem: Today, when we think of professional careers, things like engineer, accountant, lawyer, physiotherapist come to mind. But Fitness coaching doesn’t. 

  • Why? Because there isn’t a consistent view of what it means to be a professional fitness coach, nor is there a consistent service that is offered between one coach to another. But considering the importance of the role the coach can play in people’s lives, this needs to change: Coaches need to be able to become professionals. 

Some of the keys, as laid out by OPEX Fitness CEO Carl Hardwick, to turning fitness coaching into a true professional carer include:

  • The coach has a neatly laid out purpose and principles and stays true to those purposes and principles. You need beliefs to be able to stay within an appropriate lane and develop consistency in your service. This is also one of the keys in building trust with your clients.
  • The coach is ultimately a full-time coach, as opposed to coaching being a side hustle or a hobby in exchange for your gym membership (or at least be working in a system where you can be on the path to becoming a full-time coach)
  • Competence: It goes without saying, the coach needs to be educated and competent (aka they need to know what they’re doing.
  • The coach practices what he preaches and is committed to their own personal fitness
  • The coach needs a personal understanding of what success means to them (not what the market says makes a successful coach)
  • The business model the coach works in must be aligned with their purpose and beliefs

Money talks

The key performance indicators that need to be tracked (and are required for the coach to earn a professional wage) include:

    • Client count (the coach needs a certain number of clients to be successful financially, but also has a limit on how many clients he can work with without burning out, so it’s about finding a sweet spot)
    • Client retention (the higher the client retention the better, as it’s much easier, and takes less energy, for the coach to work with existing clients than having to recruit new ones each month)
    • Average price point per month (the higher the better, and if the client is willing to pay the price, they’re evidently seeing the value of the service)
  • Monthly RAC’s (sales consultations)
  • Expenses
  • Revenue
  • Profit

Check out this podcast with OPEX coaches Carl Hardwick and Georgia Smith for more on becoming a professional coach.


Are you a fitness instructor or interested in becoming one?

Helping people reach their goals through exercise and nutrition is a fulfilling experience.

It is also a skill that can be learned.

In just six months you can become an independent fitness coach, running your own small business and dramatically impacting the lives of those around you.

Sound intriguing?

Download our free curriculum guide today and learn exactly how you can become a fitness coach with our Coaching Certificate Program (CCP).


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