Do you want a certification, or do you want a career?



Post Category: For Coaches


The average fitness professional earns $19.57 per hour.

Hardly a number you can confidently buy a home/car or raise a family on, and if you’re a coach struggling to make ends meet without having a second or third side gig, you’ve probably gone searching for something to help you make more money. 

That’s why there’s a booming fitness certification industry worth billions of dollars.

There’s a glaring problem.

The fitness certification industry has existed for decades, yet 95% of fitness professionals cannot make fitness their full-time career.

More certifications have long been equated with making more money; unfortunately, that’s an inaccurate assumption. 

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are about 65,500 openings for fitness trainers and instructors each year, and “many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace works who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.”

How many fitness professionals do you know who have gone straight from fitness into retirement?

Very few, if any, right?

No, those 65,500 yearly job openings aren’t coming from retirees; they exist because coaches/trainers are burning out and leaving the industry despite there being literally thousands of certifications claiming to provide the education and tools necessary to make more money doing what you love. 

Where’s the disconnect?

Fitness has the solutions to some of society’s most vexing problems, so why aren’t fitness professionals with all the available credentials able to make a living?

Let’s start with 2 of the most glaring issues. 

Low-value problems

The fitness industry, including most certifications, is focused on solving lower-value problems. 

Wait, didn’t we just say fitness has the solution to some of society’s most vexing problems?

Fitness as a solution is incredibly valuable. 

Fitness, as an industry, is a mixed bag. 

Go type fitness into the search bar of your favorite social media platform and look at what comes up.

Shredded physiques, bikini bodies, competitive athletes, and impossibly lean people who all seem to be living on a separate planet from the rest of us mere mortals. 

That’s the imagery of the fitness industry. 

Those are the “problems” the fitness industry is currently solving.

“Don’t have the abs, ass, or ego you want? We can help!”

To put it bluntly, the fitness industry is repelling the people who need fitness the most. Most certifications cater to those who want to work with people who have either aesthetic or performance goals, and those goals have become commoditized. 

Leading from the bargain basement

The next problem is that the certification industry leads from the bargain basement. 

What does that mean?

Go look up the website for any certifying body and look at the language they use to sell their certifications. 

“95% off for the next 10 minutes.”

“Get 75% off your certification and free CEUs for the next 12 months if you sign up today.”

“Get certified online in 2 weeks for 50% off and make a living doing what you love if you sign up within the next 20 minutes.”

What does that language lead you to believe about the certification?

That it’s cheap.

Intentionally or not, that cheapness gets baked into the product and teaches the people who buy those certifications to discount their services in the same way. 

“What I’m doing isn’t good enough to charge full price.”

“I’m overvaluing my services. I need to drop prices to get people in the door.”

“If I don’t offer a discount, my clients will think I’m being greedy.”

What’s the alternative?

Focus on the problems that, when solved, will provide a meaningful impact on the lives of your clients, things that will open doors they thought were closed forever. 

Maybe that’s getting out of chronic back pain, or perhaps it’s taking their kids backpacking in the woods when they thought they’d never be fit enough to do something like that again. 

It’s not the specifics of the problem that matter; it’s the level of impact it has on their lives.

If the certification you’re considering pursuing doesn’t give you direct access to solving that kind of problem, it’s not worth your time or money. 

Furthermore, when you’re solving those kinds of problems, it’s infinitely easy to avoid the race to the bottom with your prices. 

You know the value of your services, and so do your clients, and they’re willing to pay for them. 

When you’re solving problems, and you know your value, you’re on your way to a real career. 

To learn more about how we teach our Active Life Professionals to solve meaningful problems and stay out of the “bargain basement,” click below to schedule your discovery call: 

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