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How to Rebuild Your Fitness Career, Part Three

Coach helping trainer rebuild fitness career

How do you step up your sales game after a challenging time to rebuild your fitness career? Self-doubt looms large when you need to determine pricing. If you’re anxious to earn more or make up for lost revenue, you might think that lowering your price and playing the volume game is the best option. While this strategy might be a quick win, you’ll have to think more strategically if you want to build a sustainable business.

In the last installment, we discussed the sales cycle process and how rethinking what you do, how it’s packaged, and the role trust and credibility play in your business strategy are a must. Developing a diversified sales cycle will help you attract the right clients, and it makes pricing and selling much easier. Let’s look at how to reframe your thinking and set new goals.

See also: How to Rebuild Your Fitness Career, Part One

Mindset is Everything

First, you’ll probably need to adjust your thinking. It’s easy to fall into a poverty mindset, especially after the setbacks the industry has recently experienced. A poverty mindset can come from two places:

  1. You don’t believe that someone will pay a premium for what you do because it comes easy to you.
  2. You sell from your pocket, which may or may not have the funds to cover the prices you’re quoting, thus leaving you feeling a bit uncomfortable.

To move past the poverty mindset to rebuild your fitness career, lean into this principle:

People do not purchase based on price; they purchase based on value. 

When you solve a problem or provide something that’s sought after, the potential client has a different relationship to the money exchange.

What are the deep-rooted benefits your clients receive from working with you? Determine this early on and consider less apparent benefits  (financial, emotional, physical and spiritual). These are outcomes you provide directly or indirectly. The following questions will guide you:

  • How long will what you provide be a productive, helpful resource?
  • How much pain will you relieve, or how much pleasure will you create?
  • How are you helping your clients connect to their purpose or spirit?
  • Will your work create substantial and long-lasting peace of mind?

Now that you have a better sense of what you’re worth, let’s talk numbers.

Set Goals to Rebuild Your Fitness Career

To back into the value you will (and should) place on what you offer, you must decide how much you want to earn! Instead of determining a price, selling your heart out and counting the coins in your piggy bank at the end of the year, start with how much you want to earn (set the target) and work backward to determine how you should price your services and how much you will need to sell.

Get clear on how much annual profit you’d like after expenses are deducted from your earnings. Then, calculate how much each of your billable hours is worth by dividing that amount by the total number of hours you will work in the year, accounting for inevitable sick days and time off.

The above calculation will give you an average hourly billable rate, and you can begin your pricing strategy. While you may not charge that amount for every hour you offer (private training session, consultation, group sessions), this gives you the hourly average you need to meet your goals.

See also: Top Tech Strategies for Fitness Business Success, Part One

Consider Your Sales Cycle

You may have guessed by now that it’s neither smart nor possible to fill every working hour with a face-to-face interaction that commands your determined dollar amount. Instead, your goal is to average this amount over all of your working hours. How? By developing a solid sales cycle.

In the last installment, you learned the benefit of having a sales cycle and how it builds trust and credibility. Let’s now shift the conversation to pricing the stages and delivery methods to help you achieve your earning goal.

Stage one, you learned, is typically free. Keep in mind, however, that if it’s free but requires you to be face-to-face (i.e., a session or consultation), that’s a nonearning hour you’ll need to make up for elsewhere. Explore free offerings that don’t require you to be face-to-face with a potential client but that also offers value and the chance to get to know you. You may still decide to offer free sessions as part of your sales cycle. People who take you up on this offer might be well-qualified to purchase services if there are other ways to learn about you without the initial in-person interaction.

If stage one is free, then your last stage will be your highest-priced offering, most likely above your average hourly rate. How much higher will depend on how many other stages you have, how much face-to-face time is required to deliver the different stages and how many people you can serve in an hour. When you include services that don’t require you to be present or that allow you to see more people at one time, it’s easier to stick to your desired work hours and make the money you want. Consider including information products (webinars, e-books), on-demand offers (workouts, programs), and group training offerings.

For example, with a three-stage sales cycle, you could offer

Stage one: free session

Stage two: $30/hour per person—group training

Stage three: $55/hour per person —private training

Going a step further, look at what happens when you meet the following goals:

Stage one: five sessions (5 hours / $0)

Stage two: four people per session, three sessions per week (3 hours / $660)

Stage three: 15 sessions (15 hours / $825)

In the above scenario, you’d work with clients approximately 23 hours per week, which leaves plenty of time to work on your business prospecting, promoting and planning. You’d gross roughly $1,485 per week. Your average billable rate would be approximately $65/hour.

Compare this average to the earlier calculations, and adjust your product options and amounts as needed. Make sure you provide enough price differentiation between stages because, first, the value should increase as the perceived barriers rise. Second, you want to leave enough space in between stages if you decide to add a product or service.

Beyond these formulas, don’t forget to research pricing for your products and services. Look at comparable products and services, including professionals in your area and the industry.

Pricing Strategies to Rebuild Your Fitness Career

Now it’s time to cover pricing strategies, of which many models exist for service professionals, detailed below.

Time for Money Trade:  a set rate for a predetermined amount of time (1-hour training session = $75)

Fixed Price for Pre-Set Result: a simple, flat rate (4-week program for $250)

Recurring Fee: a recurring payment (monthly) for a certain amount of work

Flexible: the same service at different prices

Sliding Scale: based on need

Bundle: a combination of products and services (packaged four group sessions + one private for $300)

Penetration: begins with very low pricing and increases once you’re established

Loss-Leader: services offered at a very low price point to have clients buy additional services at a higher price point

Economy: offering the lowest prices in the market on purpose and making it your brand

Prestige: pricing services higher than is typical for the industry to create a sense of prominence

When determining which pricing model to use, consider your objective. Your default approach should be to maximize long-term profits, and you want to build your sales cycle and pricing to last a lifetime. Apply any of the pricing models to achieve this objective. When you need to make money fast and maximize short-term profits, if you are established, use prestige pricing. Bundle pricing or aggressive loss-leader pricing may also help. When starting a business or introducing a new product or service, to gain market share, try loss leader, economy or flexible pricing models. And when times are hard and you need to survive, employ whatever strategy you think will get you through to the next quarter.

See also: Tech Strategies for Fitness Business Success, Part Two

Sales: When the Time Is Right

Understandably, you may not think of yourself as a salesperson. You’re in the business of helping others, and the sales process may feel contradictory to your core purpose. To become comfortable with sales, you must let go of any limiting beliefs about being worthy of the money you’re earning—and practice, practice, practice!

A solid sales cycle can eliminate haggling, negotiating, overcoming objections and selling at all costs. When you have diverse options, it’s easier to offer a service (and price point) proportionate to the amount of trust the prospect has in you. Beyond trust, remember that your clients buy when it’s right for them—when something occurs in their lives that compels them to hire you. When trust and timing come together, you’ll book the business and help rebuild your fitness career.

When it’s time, trust is present and a prospect has expressed interest in working with you, adapt the following simple four-part formula to having a basic sales conversation:

Part One: Open with a simple question such as, “Remind me what you’re working on?” “What’s your goal?” or “What are you trying to achieve?”

When you understand what the prospect wants to accomplish in what timeframe, move on to the next stage.

Part Two:

Ask, “How will you know when you’ve achieved it?”

You’re encouraging the prospect to think about results, feedback and feelings associated with your services.

If you’ve clearly articulated the benefits and the prospect is in a hiring frame of mind, move to the next step.

Part Three:

Next, ask if the prospects would like help in meeting those goals.

If they say, “no,” wish them the best of luck and keep in touch over time. If the answer is “yes,” progress to the final part.

Part Four:

The final question is “Would you like that person to be me?”

Follow up the question with why you think the prospect is an ideal client. Share the qualities you admire and that allow you to do your best work.

Don’t ask these questions verbatim—use them as a jumping-off point to prompt a sales conversation. Engage in a dialogue, not a one-sided monologue about how great you are. Ditch the script, and make it about the potential clients and all the reasons you want to work with them.

In our final installment, we’ll discuss how to get the word out about what you do and who you serve. You’ll learn six core self-promotion strategies and how to activate them.

See also: Three-Step Sales Success

Note: This is the last issue of IDEA Fit Business Success, and we hope you’ve found value in this member benefit. To access the last installment of this series, please contact executive editor Joy Keller, [email protected]


Concerned about your place in the new fitness industry? We have 40 years of experience supporting pros just like you! Let’s create a new wellness paradigm together—IDEAfit+ is the extra edge you need. Once you team up with IDEA, be sure to take full advantage of all the benefits of membership.

Shannon Fable

Shannon Fable is a sought-after speaker, author and thought leader in the area of fitness business development and strategic innovation. She has spent more than two decades helping impressive brands such as Anytime Fitness, ACE, FIT4MOM® and BOSU® with business and program development. Fable served as chair of the ACE Board of Directors and is the co-founder of GroupEx PRO®, a cloud-based group fitness management tool that she successfully sold to Daxko in 2019. As a certified Book Yourself Solid® business coach, she helps fitness professionals navigate the industry to build scalable and sustainable careers.

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