In 1986, I opened AYC Health & Fitness, the first personal fitness training center in theKansas City area. During the past 22 years, I've built my business by establishing long-term relationships with my clients. My average client tenure is 18-plus years, and it's my belief thatclient retention equals cash flow. Our focus isn't on a "quick-fix" program, but rather lifestyle changes that allow for long-term success for our clients.
When I opened my business in 1986, there weren't any business models for me to follow, and I was told many times that personal training would never work in a conservative market likeKansas City. In August of 1986, I was a guest on a local radio (710 AM) show talking about my new business — the host, Mike Murphy, made the comment that I should move to Los Angles or New York because personal training would never work in Kansas City. I think that those comments actually motivated me to work even harder to prove him wrong.
I was just out of graduate school with no job and no money, so I guess I had nothing to lose. I had a brochure put together that told about my qualifications and services I could offer, and I literally went door-to-door looking for business. You know the story from there: I got one client, and they told someone about what I did for them, and so forth. Still to this day, word-of-mouth dominates the growth of individual training businesses.
I think the most important strategy regarding success in the personal training industry is to have a sincere love and respect for what you do. In the early days, I didn't have any business experience because I spent my seven years of college studying exercise science, never taking a business class. I made lots of mistakes early on, but the key is to learn from those mistakes and not to repeat them over and over.


What is your average annual income for your fitness-related work/business?