Making Money Coaching

I’ve started this thread to hopefully help coaches out there make a living at what they love. This is for all those who slave away every night and weekends and get paid very little or nothing at all. Others out there doing similar to what I do please add to what I post.

First, a little of my background:

52 years old
Coached college football in Canada (equivalent of a Division II or III) from 1979-1991, 2000
Now help out at the high school level (our JV’s won the City for the first time since 1968) and on gameday for a Pro team.

When I was coming through the coaching system there were very few opportunities to make a living coaching unless you could be a professor as well. (me as a professor – I can hear friends laughing now) So, like many of you I had to earn a living doing something else. I started coaching businessmen in local clubs back in 1984 long before personal trainers and certification. I now own a private gym.


Businessmen age range 35 to 62
Most are athletic (some top notch) - Many play hockey and all of them golf
Most come and see me 2x per week for 1 hour plus they stay and stretch after
Cost: $60 per hr if 2 are in the gym at one time. Therefore $120 for me.
All my clients are by referral. I don’t advertise. I don’t have a fancy name for my gym. I make it very clear. I call all the shots. If they don’t want to work hard they can take a freakin’ hike. I don’t have the time or patience.


30’ x 16’
2 Power Racks plus Oly bars and plates and chains (clients love the chains)
45 degree Back Raise that I elevate to add difficulty (my clients would have a hard time on a proper GHR)
Lat Pull
Inverted Body Row station I built
Dip-chin-knee raise station
Circle board, wobble boards etc
Ab boards, ball
Make-shift hurdle (plastic plumbers pipe clamped to lat pull)
Step box with risers
Ragged old sofa (no matter the age boys still like to hang out and talk sports)

Gym Programs:

Dynamic Flexibility
Mach drills (these guys love them)
Powerlifting based strength programs and heavily modified to each client
Static Flexibility

Other Programs:

I plan all of their conditioning/sports away from my gym.
Daily-Weekly-Monthly-Seasonal-Yearly-Multi Years

There’s a start to thread. Please add and help young coaches out.


Football Coach,

Sounds awsome, i never thought about trying to attract a client base of that age!! Always looking for the young guns!!!

Football Coach, I see that you charge $60/hour. Do you schedule sessions individually or do you set up time blocks for your clients, i.e. monthly, bi-monthly, six-month, or yearly contracts? I would be interested in hearing more on how you got started and what mistakes were made early on and what things you found to be successful. I guess what I am saying is that I don’t want to try to reinvent the wheel, as they say. I have always enjoyed reading your posts, your knowledge and insight is truly appreciated by all of us.

Nothing wrong with the young. From what I see in the gym where I do my cardio the personal trainers there train more young people than older. And parents nowadays are more than willing to pay to have their children coached.

Many of my clients have grown older with me. Some of them have been with me for 10-15 years. There’s a trust between us. At 52 I understand what someone over 40 goes through in terms of aches and pains, job and family responsibilities.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t coach the older athlete. Bring to them what they don’t get from a personal trainer. Bring to them what you are an expert at: strength, mobility, athletic skills (many parents would love to be able to throw and catch a ball or shoot hoops with their kids but don’t know how), running skills etc. etc.


Sample workout is free. After that clients only have to pay for the workout they are doing that day. That way there is no money commitment on their part. Pay as you go. It’s a selling feature for me. Brings people to try it that normally wouldn’t if they knew they had to lay out big money. However, once they commit most pay for 10 workouts at a time $600.00

I require them to book their appointments and commit to a day and time. This is a must. If you don’t do that some of them will tow you all over the place and you won’t be able to structure anything.

I start at 10:00. With the age group I coach I want them to be awake for 3-4 hours before they come and see me for the strength training. Having said that I don’t understand how any age group can lift heavy weight or do any kind of speed/power movement in the early morning. I know college strength coaches love it, but they and their bosses (re: football coaches) seem to think their training for a commando mission instead of playing a game. I understand how that happens since we football coaches tend to be a little demented at times.

Example: Mondays and Thursdays

10:00 John
10:30 Larry
11:00 Barry
11:30 Patrick
12:00 Mike
12:30 Jack
1:00 Frank
1:30 Rick
2:00 Chris

(3:00 – 5:00 football practice)

5:00 Joe
5:15 Ken
5:30 Ron

(Finished by 6:30-6:45 when I do my own workouts. Home by 8:30)

Repeat the same thing on Tuesdays and Fridays. Where I have clients that come in 1x a week I match them off. Rob comes at 2:00 on Tuesdays and Lloyd comes at 2:00 on Fridays.

As far as mistakes go. I’m always looking at better ways to do things. If I was coming through now I would be a personal trainer in a club and build up a reputation for being top-notch. At some point I would move out on my own. It might take 5 years and you will have to suffer through the b.s. of the personal trainer world to reach that point but it would be worth it.

Ask any questions you like.


Hey Football Coach, i was just wondering what highschool team do you coach?

Football Coach,

I know that workouts are individual but when training your people twice a week do they perform; two total body workouts, one upper body and one lower body, one ME and one DE or RE, or is it too complicated to make such generalizations? Obviously, you stick to the basics (which are the best) but how many exercises per session do you use as a general rule? And do you follow the basic template of WSB or is yours a hybrid (such as Joe Kenn’s Tier System) using the basic principles of the WSB template? Looking forward to your response.


I will post a more detailed program for you in the next week or so.

The difficulty is trying to fit everything in to 2x week for 50-60 minutes at a time.

Warm-up prior to warm-up sets includes dynamic flexibility and sprinter drills for about 10 minutes with hurdle mobility worked during the rest periods of the warm-up sets (of which I do 5/30 5/40 5/50 3/60 1/70 1/80 as a minimum).

One of the rotations they go through over 4 weeks:

Mon: ME Squat 5/70-80 x 2-3 sets rest interval 3-4 min
Thurs: DE Bench 3/40-60 x 6-8 sets rest interval 1 min followed by RE Bench 8-10/60-70 x 2 sets rest interval 2 min

Mon: DE Squat 3/40-60 x 6-8 sets rest interval 1 min followed by RE Squat 8-10/60-70 x 2 sets rest interval 2 min
Thurs: ME Bench 5/70-80 x 2-3 sets rest interval 3-4 min

Mon: ME Squat 3/80-90 x 2-3 sets rest interval 4-5 min
Thurs: DE Bench 3/40-60 x 6-8 sets rest interval 1 min followed by RE Bench 8-10/60-70 x 2 sets rest interval 2 min

Mon: DE Squat 3/40-60 x 6-8 sets rest interval 1 min followed by RE Squat 8-10/60-70 x 2 sets rest interval 2 min
Thurs: ME Bench 3/80-90 x 2-3 sets rest interval 4-5 min

  • I may test max anytime if they feel strong that day (when dealing with 50 year olds one never knows when we will feel good and when we will feel like crap)
  • chains are rotated in by cycle
  • assistance and prehab/rehab exercises follow for about 20 minutes
  • as for stretching they have to do much of that on their own or they can stay and stretch out in the gym. I do make sure during the workout that the piriformis and hip flexors are stretched.
  • we also make use of that hard foam yoga roller thing - an amazing little tool

Another rotation would have DE Bench followed by ME Squat on the Monday and DE Squat followed by ME Bench on Thursday. The DE primes the CNS and I get good results from it.

Some of what I do may break some coaches rules but with limited time I have to get creative. Plus the guys stay healthy, love it and the results are excellent.

I’ll post some more when I get a chance.


Football Coach,

I’m very interested in becoming a strength and conditioning coach, and I was wondering what kind of education would help me get there. Would I need a full blown Kinesiolgy Degree from a university? Or a simple certification just to get me started.


If you want to be a strength coach at the college level I would think a Kin degree would be the way to go. Whether it is required at all places I’m not sure. They do require CSCS. When choosing where to do your degree make sure that they have advanced courses in strength and conditioning applying it to all populations with practical experience as part of the courses. I know countless numbers of Kin grads who have no clue about strength and conditioning or sport for that matter. A degree just opens doors. Hard work and experience takes you beyond the door.

If starting your own business the degree isn’t necessary. What counts there are results. However, having said that you must have a sound understanding of strength and conditioning and the ability to apply it to your target market. I also have a sound understanding of injuries, nutrition etc. but I do not get heavily involved in that area with my clients. I have a physical therapist, massage therapist and sports nutritionist that I refer my clients to. The PT is extremely valuable. She sees my clients within the week and tells me what they can and cannot do.

Hope that helps,
Football Coach

US Schools require a degree to coach and to qualify as CSCS (or is it BS-BS: a BS in BullS#@t!!) you have to be senior level in an exercise science related degree plan. I wouldn’t worry too much about getting your real sport science info from your professors. I’ve learned more from the likes of Charlie and Clemson on this board then I’ve ever learned from the strength coaches at my school.

Strength and Conditioning is a tough field…and i suggest an internship with pro baseball to get you started. They don’t pay much but getting into the field at the lowest end will make you carved out of granite. The books are important because it is better to learn from Charlie and other greats in order to leap ahead without making mistakes from experience.

On your own is tough and I am still learning how to make a living at it without selling out and doing balance videos. There is nothing wrong with making good money…so if someone gives up trying to do both, avoid them like the plague.

Another angle…

You could become a PE teacher at a HS and build up a nice track program. Get some good kids to states and volunteer to do speed stuff with the teams in the local schools. If you are good, the word will spread and people will start to look for you. Another thing is to go to the local health club and pitch the idea of starting a speed enhancement program in the gym…

my 2 cents

Agreed. It is oftentimes the case that the smooth talker will get the job rather than the person with common sense and an education.

The smooth talking ass kissers always get the job. Eventually they will fall flat on their faces. Unfortuatley its like that outside of athletics too… Ever seen office space :slight_smile:

I own a small private training facility outside of Philadelphia which caters to athletes and serious weight lifters. I took a slightly different approach and never went the formal internship route with a sports team. After a degree in Kinesology from Penn State and spending a small fortune on self-study (books, videos and seminars) I started a private sports training and injury management business focusing on weight training and have not looked back.

In my case I ended up seeing as many local athletes and powerlifters for injury managment as much as for strength development. Word gets around locally if you are good at what you do and are an honest business person.

On the business side of things your have greater potential to earn more working for yourself, however your income is based on your training knowledge and legit marketing of yourself. A steady paycheck is nice if you have a slow month! You need to find a niche, for me that is ART/Injury managment in conjunction with strength development. The funny thing is sometimes you don’t know what direction your business will turn.

This is the key.

Chris P. has found his niche with athletes and lifters. My niche is predominantly with the over 40 athlete.

However, paying the bills is the key. You can open a private facility and train non-athletes on simple programs. There is a huge market with people who don’t want to go to public gyms. Particularly overweight people. I think it’s great that these people have a place to go. And the serious ones are every bit as appreciative as the athlete. Don’t rule this group out.

In general, the populations that I have seen who have the money to pay for private or small group lessons are:

Business Professionals (make sure they understand you call all the shots)

Adults who want to play a sport better (even just to play with their children)

Parents with athletic kids (stand your ground with the parent)

Parents with overweight or underweight kids (good feeling here)

Parents with kids who have been bullied (for you MA people and good feeling here also)

Women who won’t join a club (guys - you cannot be alone 1-1 behind closed doors)

If you have a dream pursue it. The biggest problem coaches have is not the actual coaching it is the business part of it. I’m an excellent coach and an average businessman. I’ve made it in spite of that but it took alot longer than it should have. Make sure you understand business and marketing if you are starting your own facility.

Football Coach

Excellent list, the toughest thing I found out through trial and error was you cannot be all things to all people. For example, if you have a reputation that your facility or training programs cater to overweight women (such as the curves franchise) you just are not going to get any men to show up at your gym.

Vice versa, my gym intimidates a lot of people who walk through it because it is stacked with equipment from Dave Tates elite fitness line. As much as you may want to work with all types of people, it just won’t happen. So focus on your area. I know some of you may read that and disagree. I used to think that I could be all things to all people, but I was wrong.

These are WORDS OF WISDOM, so read them well. You must understand basic business principles. It doesn’t matter how well you know reps and sets, make sure you know things like how to read a profit/loss statement and a balance sheet. I am sure all of us know trainers who don’t even know the fundamentals of training thoery yet make a good living. Some make a nice 6 figure income.

Obviously it’s even better to be good at what you do, but I highly encourage any of you planning on starting your own business to go out and buy a basic financial book. One that has worked for me is Accounting and Financial Fundamentals for Nonfinacial Executives. However just do a search on and you will get a ton of responses.

As a final thought, even though we do it on this site, I would recommend not discussing politics or religion with your clients. Certainly on your own you can donate to groups you feel advance your points of view, but getting into political debates with someone who pays your bills is not a good idea.

I agree with Chris that you can’t be all things to all people. Even large clubs can’t pull that off although they like to think they do. The Curves line of gyms is an excellent example of hitting a target market. I know a number of women who love going to Curves who would never join a coed club and would never come to my gym. Do we think they do enough? No. But, do we think at least they are doing something which is far better than nothing? Yes.

Chris’ gym and my gym target a specific market. And our clients are our best advertising. When you are a sole-proprietor word-of-mouth is your best marketing tool. And the beauty of it is this: when you are a good coach and you get results the news spreads fast. I have a reputation for getting people strong and mobile and correcting injury problems. I also have a reputation for no bullshit. You come to my gym you work. You don’t work you get lost and keep your money. And I do this with my Irish ancestors sense of humour. While torturing my clients I make them laugh as well. It helps them get past the pain.

That leads me to Chris’ final point. And Chris’ words are WORDS OF WISDOM. No politics and no religion to be discussed at any time. Sports, business and the stock market (you can learn alot from clients on the latter two). Clients particularly like to talk about themselves and not you so focus your attention on them. If they ask advice about their kids playing sports that is usually OK but NO, NO, NO marital discussions of any kind.

Fantastic advice guys! Thanks a lot!