Fitness Coaches: Identify and Stop Overworking and Under Earning

If you’re overworking and under earning, this is for you. Whether you’re overworking because it’s still a side-hustle for you and you can’t let go of that “real job” with real benefits or you’re overdoing all the social media posting and getting no traction anyway, or… you’re making money and seeing profit margin grow but still working constantly .. this is for you. It’s a wake up call. 

Overworking and under earning feel a little too like you? I get it. 

The excuse that you love what you do isn’t enough. Not if,you have to pay the bills, or you really had to prove to someone this isn’t a hobby and you could actually sustain your living doing what you love. 

There are dozens if not hundreds of fitness presenters that you know like and trust, that can’t make a living doing what they’re presenting on. They are telling you how to create group training programs and often have never solely earned a living doing it. They’ve coppled together half a dozen jobs, teaching at multiple sites, teaching at universities, and still aren’t earning the kind of revenue they want, need or deserve. 

So, how do you? How do you break this cycle and stop seeing what appears superficially to be such a cool position to be in, and really create a life where you have free time, a family or travel and leisure ways you spend time? 

Feeling like you have to do more…

True confessions, I’m not proud of this one. And it still plagues me to this day. 

Even though I have 6-figure months. If you’re trying to make your first $1000 month or $10k month, I get it. I have been there. One month at a time, one sale at a time, is the only way any of us gets there. And.. not only have I done it, I’ve done it with high stakes. At 49, 11 years divorced, with a son starting college, I started over. When others were thinking about a corner office and a convertible, I committed to the dining room table and to driving my Lexus until the wheels fell off. (I pretty much accomplished that) AND, I said, if I’m not where I need to be in a year, I’ll sell the house. As it turned out I had to. 

Pro or Con?

Fortunately, I had no debt before I started all of this. 

Unfortunately, I had no debt before all of this… because I didn’t understand calculated risk. I didn’t understand the feeling of creating a responsible debt in order to create something scalable. Well, I learned. You know, present the problem and the teacher shows up? All that. 

I have always worked a lot when I had a responsibility, a goal, a deadline. It wasn’t only the urgency of staring at 50 living in a bedroom – with my dog – of my niece while paying college tuition that drove me. So, I share this with you in case you too are driven to do well. 

You may be putting off taking the leap. I did. For two years I’d been thinking about leaving my job and doing something with a bigger reach. Then during a trip to Cozumel during Thanksgiving week – it’s easy to dream and plan out of your environment, I sketched out all my ideas. At the end of the year, I intended to give notice. I didn’t. January 15th I intended to. I didn’t. On January 16th I finally did it at lunch with the boss. I formally turned in my resignation letter the next day. 

Leaving is Hard

Leaving that job was hard. I had the flexibility and freedom to work in a way that got the job done, hit and surpassed my numbers every month, cared more than anyone else about the numbers, and wanted to do better and better. But I was beginning to see I had done with the people there and the systems there I was reaching an upper limit. I wanted to take the systems I’d created and share them. It’s what I used as framework for Flipping 50, and it’s what I use to coach trainers and health coaches in our mastermind (DIY and Live coaching) how to do it too. 

I still work hard, but I love it. I love the freedom to take off for 10 days and be in Colorado, working in the morning and later in the day, and spending the day hiking, and strolling Pearl St in Colorado. I love the flexibility of blocking out days when I may be shooting videos for a program, or… I may be on a trail in Moab creatively allowing ideas for a business plan to take on a life. 

And yet, that entire 6 weeks when I was still locked into a regular paycheck and benefits, it was hard to face the reality that it would all be up to me. 

So, I still work hard. It’s become a habit. 

I am better. And it takes discipline to stay better. 

I meditate on this. I use discipline and accountability with friends. Because I still need it. 

When I began Flipping 50, in 2013. There was a lot of research, a lot of work and testing, and very little revenue. 

That gave me anxiety. I began overworking and under earning.

I had been in a very comfortable mid-six figure earning range for several years, with no debt, owned my own house, drove a Lexus, belonged to the country club and the women’s sorority and all the things. 

And then 11 months later, I’d withdrawn from my job putting me in front of audiences regularly, on the radio regularly, leading teams and without an income that covered expenses, beginning to make me very uncomfortable. 

So I worked. I worked from rise to bedtime sometimes and I vividly remember not getting out of my pajamas some days. I remember starting at my dining room table at 6am and finishing not before 10pm. 

And there was online learning, coaching sessions, developing copy, creating offers, learning tech, and online commerce, and Facebook ads. 

I hadn’t been afraid of hard work before that. In fact, I joked before and during my resignation that I was going to spend my flexible 60+ hour work week on my own business and thought I could be at least as successful as I was running a program and have a bigger reach in an area that needed it.

[I was targeting trainers. Some of you may be here because of the Profitable Programming for Personal Trainers program that was my first offer and coaching that was a part of that for those that chose it. [And the Planned, Profitable Promotions masterclass is launching soon. This model has evolved but still works today to plan every month, quarter, and year.]

And I was right. 

For a few years it was scary AF. I was the epitome of overworking and under earning. And I wasn’t even making enough to cover my rent, utilities, grocery needs, let alone the cost of investing in my business skill development. 

But I did. 

I invested 100k in programs and masterminds because I needed a guide who had done it, and a community who didn’t look at me like I had 3 heads (to this day my relatives don’t really know what I do). 

And.. instead of making 5-7k a month (with no debt/mortgage/car payment) as I had when I left safety and security in January 2013, I hit 6-figures in more and more months every year. 

AND, I don’t need to work as much.

I don’t need to work as hard.

BUT I do sometimes. 

So what is that about? 

That’s really what this episode is about. 

If you’re just starting and this feels like, there is no way I can relate to you. I can. 

I promise. 

My rent was $3000 a month in the mountains after I’d sold my house because I needed the money. My bank account was so low I got a $13k loan from a relative. 

I know exactly where I was sitting that night talking to him on the phone accepting his offer for a loan. I know I was in tears and felt like a loser and so helpless. 

And the tears I believe looking back were less about hopelessness than they were pride and inability to ask for help. 

Once I sold my house, about 5 dicey months later while living in the basement bedroom of my niece’s home, I invested $20k of it into a mastermind 2 months later. 

And it made me feel both vulnerable and supported all at the same time. I knew I had found someone who had been there. And who could help me accelerate what I needed to do, eliminate what I didn’t need to do, and get out of my own way. 

You, by the way can simultaneously be coaching someone to do something you know already and be reaching out to someone to coach you to do something you don’t know yet. 

If you are a good coach, you are coachable. 

Once you establish habits, even if they aren’t serving you or you aren’t getting results, habits are hard to break. 

Cigarettes for instance, are making it hard for the smoker to walk upstairs, to catch her breath, but it’s such an addictive habit that it’s hard to break. 

If you’ve always received praise for hard work, (and it’s pretty likely if you’re in midlife or older you did), then that is really embedded in your fiber. 

It might be weird for you to hear this, but you have to unlearn the “hard work pays off” mantra. 

If you’re overworking and underearning, you’re at least partially to blame. 

You have to start considering, what if it was easy? 

Even sayings like, don’t make it easy, make me stronger, can backfire on you. Because, think about it, what are you telling the universe? Give you something hard to do. 

And if you pray or hope for patience, what’s going to happen? You might get stuck in traffic or delay success. Because you asked for these lessons. 

What do I do to avoid overworking and under earning ?

Let me clarify that overworking at first may give you traction. Like it did me. This is IF you are doing the right things. However, at a point, you will find you hit a place where your ROI has hit a threshold. It will be true that working more rewards you less and less. Not only in money. But many of us though we need and want to make a living and have a lifestyle, we want something more than money. We want quality of life, freedom, flexibility, and we want to make a difference. We want a legacy. 

That’s in part both egoistic and altruistic. Both parts exist in all of us. 

So depending on where you are… 

Overworking and under earning because you just got started and want to get there faster (like I did) …

overworking and under earning because you’re not doing the right things….

Or you’re overworking and under earning because while you’re making many times over what you did once, you’re continuing to pour into it out of habit, and the idea that YOU must. 

Here’s how I’m working on this:

I start my day very differently than I have before (different choices produce different results)

I tap into my most creative time of day to do work. 

I know when to pull away because I lose my attention and focus. 

And I tell a friend who won’t let me off the hook for it and keeps on me. 

I feed my brain and soul with the right books, podcasts – like this one, exposure to friends and coaches doing the same but maybe in different ways so I can explore ideas for my customers.

At bedtime, I mentally practice again what I did in the morning. Just for a few minutes before I sleep. 

Every day. Not sometimes. Every day I do these things. 

Every month I break out of routine for 3 days. Some months that is a mastermind event I attend, others that I host. And sometimes is a staycay and others a go-away stay. 

Then, I take a trip every quarter for a week. These last two trips have been to Colorado. These are trips where I do what I want to do when I want to do it. There isn’t an agenda. There may be family, there may be friends. If for instance there’s a retreat (I’m hosting or attending) or I’m flying in for a private half day with a few clients, I add time before or after it. The work time is not my break.  

Too many fitness professionals are overworking and underearning. Too many health coaches are doing the same. 

Whether you’re overworking because it’s still a side-hustle for you and you can’t let go of that “real job” with real benefits or you’re overdoing all the social media posting and getting no traction anyway, or… you’re making money and seeing profit margin grow but still working constantly .. this was for you. It’s a wake up call. 


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