I received a phone call last week from an S&C coach whose intention was basically to suss out my services and trying to figure out what I offered, and how I could justify charging $120 for an hour of coaching.
I spent 20 minutes on the phone to him answering every question openly and honestly.
I was asked about my time in the US and Russia, my time working with first grade Raiders and Brumbies, what my formal education was etc etc
I continued to fill him in on everything from the periodization models I was using with my groups to the internship program that I’m running and my current staff at the facility.
“You must be doing alright down there, $120 an hour, that’s more than a doctor charges!” he said.
I have to admit that he caught me off guard with that statement, I responded with some mutterings about supply and demand, and that essentially I have not much time for PT these days so of course my prices will reflect that scarcity.
While he was fairly polite and inoffensive, what he said really ate away at me for the rest of the night. I knew I was reacting weirdly and that there was a reason, I believe it is because I have always had a hard time with the financial side of being a PT/coach.
When I first started as a PT in 2007 at Elite Physique, I had 1 PT client, I was charged out at $60 and I got about half of that.
I was so awkward about taking money from clients that I would leave them at the reception desk after our session and practically run away so that the reception staff could take the money without me being around.
I never attached a lot of value to the service I provided people, this is probably because I already trained all my friends for free, simply because I loved it. I had been training for about 5 years at the time, and I had never hired a trainer myself. I also figured people could probably do what I did and figure it out for themselves. Never mind that I would have saved myself a few years if I had known the value of seeking out a coach in the beginning.
I also didn’t take into account that I had a keen interest in learning everything I could about training, which most people do not, but I digress.
I never attached value to the service I provided so I was weird about charging people money for it.
This same thing continued for a very long time, in fact , the only time I would raise my prices was when I was practically forced to by friends, bosses, business coaches, etc, and I think that’s pretty much still true to this day.
It has been a constant battle to see the value in what I provide, despite the constant encouragement and support I receive from the people around me; clients, friends, family, and colleagues.
The reality is, I have been training for 15 years, and training people for nearly 10 years. I have severely injured myself more times than I can count, and rehabilitated myself (with the help of numerous health professionals) to be stronger and healthier today than I have ever been.
I have spent well over $150,000 on my own education in that time on books, dvds, workshops, consults, internships, training at gyms overseas, being part of coaching networks, and being coached by other high level industry professionals, not to mention the time and energy I have invested into meeting with other coaches/physios/chiros/osteos/acupuncturists etc. to constantly refine my craft.
I take pride in having been able to help people who had been dismissed by the medical profession as permanently broken, by the doctors that I supposedly charge more than.
I’m not writing this post as a brag or to boast, actually the opposite Even with everything I have done over the last 15 years, I still struggle to be comfortable charging what I do.
It comes down to my sense of self-worth, and it’s ironic that the very thing that drives me to be a good coach (never believing that I’m good enough/that I know enough/have done enough) also makes me question the value that I bring.
Why am I writing this? Because I know I’m not the only one. Almost every good coach I know did not get into the industry for the money, they did it because they love training and they love making an impact on people’s lives. It is precisely because they just want to ‘help people’ that they are constantly doing free sessions, or giving discounts to people. Now don’t get me wrong, when I first started, I was giving away so much of my time for free it would make your head spin. I did this for 3 reasons.
Firstly, because I had so much of it, and virtually nothing else to do.
Secondly, because my time wasn’t worth as much back then; my skills were minimal, my experience as a trainer was almost non-existent, and my results were subpar.
Thirdly, I knew that the more people I could speak to/experiment on, the faster I would improve as a trainer.
The issue is, I have spoken to some good coaches recently who are on the verge of giving it away because they aren’t making enough money to get by. How many people are you going to be helping if you have to quit and get a different job?
Doing free and discounted sessions sends the wrong impression about the service you offer. It devalues your time, and it subconsciously causes the client to actually place less value on the service. This means less effort in training, less adherence to nutrition plans, and worse results. I want the young PTs and strength coaches reading this to understand that trying to ‘help people’ by charging less than you are worth is actually doing the opposite.
If you aren’t charging what you think you are worth then ask yourself why.
If it’s because you are trying to help someone, ask yourself; how much it is actually helping?
If it’s because you aren’t confident in your offering, invest more money in yourself. I guarantee you will be more comfortable charging an extra $10 per hour after you’ve spent and extra 10-20k on your own education, as the saying goes; learn more to earn more.
It’s not about trying to rip people off, it’s just basic psychology.
In the health/performance world, effort and consistency are key. Who do you think is going to put more effort in, and be more consistent, a person paying $50/week or a person paying $250/week? At the end of the day people are NOT paying you for an hour training session, they are paying you for a RESULT, who cares if it’s cheap if it doesn’t actually work? It’s like buying a car for $100 with no engine, sure it’s cheap, but you’re kinda missing the point of the car.
No-one has EVER gotten an amazing result and then complained about how much it cost them. Think about that for a second, because it’s important.
The bottom line is, I understand what it feels like to come from a place of undervaluing the service I offer, and how quickly I can be transported back there by one phone call from a total stranger.
I implore you to consider that under charging for your training is not the way to advance your business, and it’s not going to encourage the level of adherence you will need to get awesome results for your clients.
It’s a constant journey, and I know I’ve still got a long way to go, but I hope this can help some people out there who are going through the same thing.