Do you worry about the financial impact of getting sick or injured? Does taking a vacation mean a financial loss for you? As a studio owner or fitness entrepreneur, you have only so any hours in the day to market and run your business and focus on your own professional education and development.
Take a few minutes to think about what you want your career to look like in 5 or 10 years. Do you see yourself continuing on your current path, or do you dream of more time freedom, greater flexibility and growing income opportunities? Developing multiple revenue streams will enable you to expand your reach, avoid burnout and possibly take a stress-free vacation. Explore ways to boost your income and learn what’s needed to make these new revenue options a reality.
Amanda Vogel, MA, fitness presenter and owner of FitnessTestDrive.com, a blog that candidly reviews the latest health, fitness and wellness products and programs, says that extra money-making opportunities offer career options. “Adding additional revenue streams can help safeguard against burnout,” she says. “The extra income provides more freedom to focus on those classes and clients you enjoy most without worrying about a dip in regular revenue. Having additional revenue streams to fall back on also acts as a safety net.”
Aimee Nicotera, MS, a fitness entrepreneur in Marstons Mills, Massachusetts, agrees. “I would caution any fitness professional against pigeonholing yourself into only certain categories,” she says. “By remaining open to opportunities slightly outside your area of expertise and comfort zone, you can push yourself to grow, expand your knowledge base, build your resumé and add to your income.”
Small-Group and Virtual Training
You may sometimes feel like you’re trading hours for dollars, especially if you’re a business of one. If you’ve ever missed a week of work due to the flu, you know what a major financial hit you had to take as a result. Consider adding these options to your schedule:
Do you enjoy working with older adults, athletes or teens? Expand beyond exclusively offering personal training by focusing on delivering small-group training programs or specialty classes to a niche market. Consider obtaining an additional certification to further differentiate yourself from the crowd.
Will a client be out of town for the summer? Instead of clients missing your training sessions and you taking a loss in revenue, look into virtual training options to help your regulars stay active. With a little planning, technology can enable you to provide private training sessions to your clients using Google Hangouts, FaceTime or Zoom.
Here’s what you’ll need for virtual training:
- a laptop, tablet, phone or computer with a good camera
- a strong and stable internet connection
- a clear, well-lit area to demonstrate movements (You may need to move your mobile device or camera when transitioning from standing exercises to floor work.)
- an uncluttered background to maintain a professional look and feel
If you want to offer virtual training to your current clients, use in-person personal training sessions leading up to your virtual training sessions to prepare them for the movements you will be guiding them through. Feature exercises that are predominantly focused on body weight; add in free weights and a large fitness ball for variety.
Your clients are probably already asking you what they should be eating, how much they should be eating and when they should be eating. Generally, time constraints don’t allow you to run your business or sessions and coach nutrition at the same time. However, a conversation at your business site or during a personal training session does give you the opportunity to ask your clients a few questions about nutrition and open the door to the idea of a dedicated nutrition coaching session. With the right education, you can help support your clients beyond their fitness goals and create an additional revenue stream and referral source.
Here’s what you’ll need for nutrition coaching:
- a nutrition certification or degree
- ongoing nutrition education
- evidence-based nutritional information and guidance
Nutrition coaching may give you an opportunity to diversify your client base and a chance to experience a different environment. You can provide nutrition coaching in person, over the phone or online through a video. A structured nutrition-coaching program that includes motivational interviewing and small, attainable goals can help your clients achieve success in both their fitness goals and their overall health.
Using your client email list and/or your social media following, you can organize and lead an online fitness accountability challenge. Online challenges I’ve heard of range in price from free to $149, depending on the experience and what you provide to participants. Online challenges can last anywhere from 1 week to 2 months. You can run your challenges at no additional cost to you through a private Facebook group.
An online challenge can include a fitness or nutrition focus, have a specific timeframe and provide regular posts from the host or moderator. Posts can include challenges, recipes, questions/polls, inspiration and an educational livestream.
Affiliate and Direct Sales Programs
Taking advantage of affiliate programs can be as simple as signing up as an Amazon Associate, and then and sharing your link on your website, through social media posts and with your clients in person. When a client asks you for a recommendation for a yoga mat or a water bottle, find a product you like on Amazon and send your Associates link directly to your client to purchase it. Or, if you are working with a fitness apparel or product company, ask if the company offers an affiliate program so that you can refer your clients with your own unique link. This may seem like a small revenue stream, but it can add up if you are intentional about how you share products.
You may also be interested in direct sales. Direct sale companies offer everything from hair care and skin care products to nutritional products to aeroponic growing systems for fruits, vegetables and herbs. Top leaders in direct sales build their business through existing relationships. Word-of-mouth marketing is a powerful tool that can help you expand your reach beyond your family, friends and clients. The key is to find a product you believe in, a company you trust and a business plan that doesn’t limit your earning potential.
Mary McQueen, an ACSM-certified personal trainer and the owner of Baby Boot Camp® in Oakland, California, recommends partnering with a product-based company that is in line with your values. “It is important to find ways to diversify your income streams, while also providing added value to your clients.” She adds, “In addition to my fitness business, I have partnered with Juice Plus+® to provide my clients with foundational nutritional products and education.”
What else can you do to make money? In addition to running a business, you may want to explore other aspects of the industry, says Nicotera. “This may include consulting for new programs, creating content, compiling research, writing articles, presenting and public speaking, mentoring new fitness pros, being the talent in fitness videos, or representing various companies or brands. Being versatile and open is also a great way to build industry relationships and network.”
Building Your Business
Speak to other fitness and business professionals to learn what has worked for them. Research the options and determine which ones are a good fit for you. Don’t expect to be an overnight success. Diversifying your revenue streams will take time, commitment and, most importantly, consistent activity. Although some opportunities may flourish quicker than others, maintaining focus on the big picture will help you avoid getting frustrated and overwhelmed. The additional income can be worth the time. As McQueen says, “Multiple revenue streams have become a significant part of my fitness business and long-term vision.”