Part 2: 14 Years, 14 Costly Mistakes: How to Profit from the 14 Lessons I Learned As A Personal Trainer turned Gym Owner

Welcome back to Part 2 of my 3-part blog (If you didn’t catch Part 1, then go here and read this first), written to help you avoid all the mistakes that I made, so that you can step-up in your business and life faster, stronger and better than the 200 guys next to you. The market is fierce and certainly won’t let you dominate your niche without a fight.

Mistake #5: Choose carefully who you date

In a gym environment, it’s only natural to garner attention from the ladies (and sure, in some cases, men). As a human being, this is supposed to make you feel good. And no matter body type or gender the attention comes from,  flattery tends to give you a mini dopamine rush, no different than, say, checking your Facebook or Instagram and seeing how many people liked your latest swole pic.

Harmless enough, though Gary Vaynerchuck’s trainer, Jordan Syatt, has some very strong opinions about this how Personal Trainer’s abuse social media, recorded in a recent Fit Man Collective podcast.  

Just because there are cookies in the jar doesn’t mean you should eat them. Even if they are your favourite flavour. Especially if they are your favourite. I’m not talking about dating a client. This shouldn’t even cross your mind. That’d be like a teacher dating their student. Creepy. I’m referring more to dating an employee or a member of the gym who isn’t and will never be a client.

Dopamine is nice. Cookies are nicer. You may be the big swinging mac on the block, and can rub them all the right way. But. But. But. It can take years to build a dominating personal brand and it can be destroyed in an instant. Piss off the wrong person, rub them the wrong way, and snap, it’s all gone.

So, if you plan on dating another employee or another member of the gym, than do so only if you have the sincere intention of making things serious between you both.

I’ve done both.

I’m not with them now. I got lucky. I was a jerk. When things didn’t workout with these escapades, things remained more or less amicable. They could have chosen the nuclear option. You may get lucky too, but it’s not worth the risk.

However, I have witnessed some serious shit going down when that special someone pressed the red button. Clients got an ear of their alleged negative stuff towards women, and that was the end of many profitable client relationships. It doesn’t even matter if the stories were true or not.

On a more practical level, you certainly don’t want to make a name for yourself as the trainer “who sleeps around.” When people think of you, you want them to think of your skills as a trainer and not as some sweaty gym casanova. It doesn’t matter how good you are as a Personal Trainer; too many extra-curriculars on the side can overshadow your real legacy.

If you’re out on Saturday night, it’s all good, but make sure you go to another city where you can play more anonymously. That way, your decisions have less of a chance of harming your business and personal reputation.

Plus, giving out free sessions is a critical component to your sales funnel. Hard to do that well when you’re boozing it up.

Mistake #5.5: Don’t get into a relationship when you know she isn’t the one.

How do you know she isn’t the one? I answered that one in this blog post.

The “wrong one” will:

  • Cause you too much distraction
  • Cause too much stress
  • Limit you
  • Slow you down
  • Mentally fatigue you
  • Create an unnecessary annoyance
  • Add an extra burden

Subconsciously, you become trapped. If two or more of the above bullet points describes your current relationship, it’s time to have a serious conversation with yourself. Then her.

Mistake #6: Not saving any money and having to work until you die

I briefly touched on this in another blog post.

I made the mistake of spending whatever I made as soon as I made it. Put a dollar in my pocket, and it was already burning a hole. In some cases, it was burning a hole before I even had it.

I had this carefree, delusional attitude: it doesn’t matter now because later I will be rich anyway.

How wrong was I?

Seriously, if you take just one thing from these 14 mistakes, make sure it is this one.

Save 10% of all your income.

And it doesn’t matter how small of an income it is.

You earn £1, save 10 pence.

Over time, this will compound to something quite significant.

For example, how long have you been in the fitness industry?

Let’s say you saved £100 per month.

And you’ve been in the fitness industry for 12 months. That’s £1200.  

5 years in the fitness industry makes it £6000. 10 years makes it £12,000.

How much easier would life be if you knew you had £12,000 in the bank?

Put that into a saving account at 5%. That’s £600 free cash. Depending how you compounded this.

But there is something else more important here, and that is forming a great habit, so that over time, it becomes easier. It becomes your new norm.  

I regret not doing this when I got my very first job as a fitness instructor 14 years ago.

It would have looked something like this…

Gym Instructor at North Warwickshire and Hinckley College Gym

£80 per month for the first 2 years = £1920 banked

Gym Instructor/PT at Balance Health Club

£195 per month for the next 2 years = £4680 banked

(Note: for every pay increase, increase percentage of saving by 3%)

Gym Instructor / Personal Trainer at Greens Health and Fitness and Women’s Fit Camps

(Cringe, how young was I?)

Man, I was going this 10 years ago…

Anyway, this made £320 per month for the next 4 years = £15,360 banked

PT Studio

£760 per month for 6 years = £54,720 banked

Added all together over 14 years, and that totals £76,680 in savings.

This post isn’t about investing, interest rates, or assets, but just think what you could do with that amount of money. There is freedom and power in making the money work for you rather than you working for the money.  

Knowing what I know now, I’d have compounded that cash over the years into triple or quadruple the above amount. In hindsight, I really wish I discovered these two books sooner, from Dave Ramsey and Tony Robbins, which taught money and numbers to a guy who absolutely hates long division.

So, newsflash: start saving, regardless of how small or insignificant you feel it is, because over time it will all account for something. Nobody wants to reach 50 and have no savings, no pension plan, and no retirement money.

Plus, in the meantime, it helps to have a stash of money in the bank for when you have those inevitable downtime moments in your business. It would be delusional to think otherwise.

Mistake #7: Neglecting myself

I was an idiot more times than I’d like to admit. Back in the day, you could definitely find me passed out on the lay down sunbeds, catching up on much needed sleep after a rough night out.  

That would be after my ten minute blast of course. Don’t worry it never ended up like Ross from friends.










Let’s not forget the late night junk food snacks after returning home at 10pm from a

16 hour work day. And that was relying on food from the gym canteen all day.

I found myself too tired to workout, and all the other things they don’t tell you when you become a trainer, as myself and Celebrity Personal Trainer Scott spoke about on this recent episode of the Fit Man Collective Podcast.

I would GLADLY sacrifice taking on another client if that meant getting home earlier. And I suggest that you do the same. At the end of the day, if you are not healthy and well, how do you intend to help your clients?

Mistake #8: Looking too desperate

How many times has your client said, “What times do you have available next week?

And you go, “…anytime, what’s good for you?”

With me, I thought I was doing the client a disservice if I didn’t have availability just for them. And what a lovely added benefit for the clients. They never had a challenge booking in.

Forget that. Never again.

I learned my lesson when I took on a cheap-ass client, who wanted a 6am time on a Monday morning and, get this, an 8pm on a Friday night. Wow.  

He never showed, or if he did, he showed up late. More often than not, I’d receive a text message 5-10 minutes after the session was scheduled to start.

So, the easiest way to combat this insanity:

  • Never show your client your full schedule
  • Only give her two options to pick from
  • When she books, make it clear that these will be the times and dates going forward because consistency and structure is what is going to make her successful.
  • Remind her of her personal fitness and life goals, and remind her that you won’t let her cancel these.

Your clients never get the luxury of selecting when they want to book an appointment at the doctor, dentist, or even hair dresser. You are no different. You’re a business, so start acting like one.

Mistake #9: Taking unnecessary courses just because everyone else was

Man, I did “boxercise” when it first came out. A word of caution: don’t ever pair up with a semi-pro boxer; they don’t know how to not to take things seriously. And serious hurts.

Kettlebells. I never had blisters like that in my whole life.

RPM. I actually hate this song by Coldplay because of that weekend long course. I must have heard this terrible earworm a thousand times.   

Guess what? I never use these in my programming, with the exception of the odd kettlebell for metabolic finishers or because they offer a different option when it comes to handling the weight.

A side note: As a trainer please don’t add boxing into your workout … just because. If anything pisses me off it’s seeing this. That and fidget spinners.

Seriously, there are only a few people I would study from when it comes to programming and nutrition.

Alwyn and Rachel Cosgrove, Gray Cook, Eric Cressey,  John Berardi, Ben Coomber, Charles Poliquin, Paul Chek, Mike Boyle, Mark Verstegen, Lyle McDonald, Leigh Peele, Personal Training Development Centre, Dax Moy and Ian King

And this, of course.

Now, that would be a wise investment.






Prefer to send me a direct message first? Message me privately here.

Next up, in Part 3: Why your ego is the enemy, how the best thinking 5 years ago is your baggage today, why you’re replaceable, why you have more to worry about than a personal trainer being your competition and much more.  Go here to read Part 3 (Mistakes 10-14)

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