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Trainers: 30 Ways to Make More Money

by Sandy Todd Webster, Ryan Halvorson and Joy Keller on Aug 23, 2012

As IDEA’s editors, we’ve learned a thing or two about profit centers from the sharpest minds in the industry. To celebrate IDEA’s 30th Anniversary, we decided to collect the best (somewhat passive) revenue-stream ideas, all in one place.

We hope these ideas will inspire you and launch you into the next three decades with a new perspective on how success can be yours without it eating up all of your time, energy and financial resources.

Sell a Membership Model and Adopt Auto-Payment

Are you still selling your clients 10- and 20-pack sessions and then chasing down the money every month? If so, you’re wasting your most precious resource—time—and killing your productivity by selling the same clients the same products over and over. Instead, consider adopting a personal training membership model that you sell and contract once; then you set up client payment through electronic funds transfer (EFT) or auto-debit for an agreed term. According to ACE-certified fitness professional Troy Fontana, chief executive officer of Freedom Fitness Unlimited in Sparks, Nevada, you’ll increase stable cash flow by eliminating missed sessions due to vacations or cancellations. You’ll also strengthen client dedication—and therefore success—by providing an uninterrupted training loop.

Become a Weight Management/Nutrition Specialist or Coach

As the fitness industry has matured over the past 30 years, so have the world’s challenges with food and nutrition issues tied to obesity. More than ever, people have trouble knowing what and how much to eat, and why they’re failing. If you’re interested in food and nutrition and believe it impacts your clients’ success as much as—or perhaps more than—exercise, explore established and emerging specialty certifications (for example, ACE’s Lifestyle & Weight Management Coach Certification, Precision Nutrition’s Nutrition Certification and NASM’s Fitness Nutrition Specialist). Amass the knowledge you need to help clients achieve healthy-lifestyle and behavior change while remaining grounded in your scope of practice.

Specialize in Ergonomics Assessment

Every day, the world’s workforce faces injury and health risks from jobs requiring repetitive motion, heavy lifting, vibration, cold and the dangers of sitting hunched over computers in workspaces that are not optimal for the human body. Consider getting specialized training to acquire expertise in ergonomics job analysis, quantifiable assessment tools and an ergonomics toolbox with practical solutions. Combine that with your knowledge of physical fitness assessment and corrective exercise and you may be looking at a whole new revenue stream or career direction.

Create Online Workout Subscriptions

Savvy fitness professionals are taking advantage of technology’s continued breadth by offering online workout subscriptions. Jill Coleman, MS, owner of JillFit Physiques in Asheville, North Carolina, says her subscription service brings in additional revenue, allows her to help more people and frees up time from in-person training. To satisfy her customer base, she updates her subscription with new workouts three times per week. “If you have the know-how, putting something like this together does not take much time at all,” she says. However, if you are inexperienced, you should look to experts to create an appropriate website and customer management system, she advises. And simply offering a subscription isn’t enough. “You have to build your following, build their trust and cultivate your niche.”

Become a Product Affiliate

An easy way to generate income without much effort is to sell affiliate products and services. “Becoming an affiliate is a great way to earn a bit of extra income because it is free, easy to join and easy to get started,” says Neil Johnstone, coordinator of digital marketing for TRX® in San Francisco. The organization is one of many in the fitness industry that offers an affiliate program. “Once your affiliate account is active with us, you can start earning 15% cash commission on qualifying sales immediately. You send (customers) to our site through your TRX affiliate Web banner or text link, and they browse through our online store until they find the product they want. Once they complete their transaction, your affiliate account gets credited 15% of the total.”

Offer 30-Minute Models

Express classes have been on group exercise schedules for a few years and have proven quite successful. Many personal training studios have started to adopt this model for their small-group classes. Bird Rock Fit in La Jolla, California, bases its small-group programming on the 30-minute workout, and it is a moneymaker. “By offering 30-minute classes we are able to bring twice as many people through our studio in 1 hour,” says Ethan Kopsch, owner and performance specialist.

A robust list of helpful resources for ideas presented in this article can be found on the IDEA website at

For many other money-making ideas, please see “30 Ways to Make More Money: Win the Leverage Lotto!” in the online IDEA Library or in the July‚ÄďAugust 2012 issue of IDEA Fitness Journal.

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About the Authors

Sandy Todd Webster

Sandy Todd Webster IDEA Author/Presenter

Sandy Todd Webster is Editor in Chief of IDEA's publications, including the award-winning IDEA FITNESS JOURNAL and IDEA FOOD & NUTRITION TIPS, the industry's leading resources for fitness, wellness and nutrition professionals worldwide. Sandy joined IDEA in 2001 as executive editor of IDEA PERSONAL TRAINER and IDEA FITNESS MANAGER magazines and was promoted to lead the editorial team in 2003. More than 20 years in magazine publishing, marketing communications and creative services have shaped her straightforward approach to multi-channel communication. Early experience in Los Angeles as a sports writer/reporter, and then enriching years as a managing editor in allied health care publishing have pulled her across a spectrum of stimulating subject matter. Fitness, health and nutrition reside at the perfect center of this content continuum, she feels. A Chicago native, Sandy grew up fully engaged in various competitive sports. Her drive and dedication as an athlete translate to a disciplined work ethic and unwavering approach to challenge in her career. Shortly after graduating journalism school from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, she was recruited to L.A. for her first post in magazine publishing. After two decades of working on magazines--and now in the throes of applying the unbelieveable multi-media content delivery options available in the magazine 2.0 world--she is still "completely in love" with the creative process it takes to deliver meaningful, inspirational content to end users. She is an accomplished home cook and gardner who would love to combine those skills and passions with her health and fitness background to continue educating readers about a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle.

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson IDEA Author/Presenter

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor. He is a long-time author and presenter for IDEA Health & Fitness Association, fitness industry consultant and former director of group training for Bird Rock Fit. He is also a Master Trainer for TriggerPoint.

Joy Keller

Joy Keller IDEA Author/Presenter

Joy Keller is executive editor of IDEA Fitness Journal and IDEA Fit Business Success, and is also a certified personal trainer, indoor cycling instructor, yoga teacher (RYT 200) and Reiki Master. Joy joined IDEA Health & Fitness Association in 2002, and brought with her a wealth of information about how to fine-tune communication channels, after having spent her formative career years specializing in business-to-business journalism. Before she even graduated with honors from the respected University of Georgia journalism school, Joy was offered a job at one of the most successful trade publishing companies in the southeast, Shore Varrone, Inc. She made her mark in the automotive aftermarket industry as a creative thinker and journalist with an intuitive knack for researching and understanding niche audiences. Joy has worked on several titles, including Auto Trim & Restyling News, Truck Accessory News, Digital Output Magazine, Retail & Construction News, Miata magazine, Ford Racing, and many more. Her passion, however, lies with health and fitness. She was the associate editor of ACE Certified News while working at the American Council on Exercise, and transitioned that publication from a newsletter to a magazine. She has enjoyed 17 years at IDEA, where she has launched several publications, including the award-winning Inner IDEA Body-Mind Spirit Review, IDEA Pilates Today and IDEA Fit Business Success. Joy is a content creator and media 2.0 advocate who takes pride in discovering the unique information needs of qualified audiences, and she is dedicated to serving those needs while following the highest available standards.