Investing in Yourself: What’s the ROI?

Return On Investment (ROI) is a measurement of the profitability of something. We try to predict it before making an investment and then we measure afterward to see if it was profitable.

In the fitness realm, businesses invest in equipment, programs, people, etc. in the hopes that the investment more than pays for itself in the end. Members and clients invest in their health and wellness by joining clubs, programs, and hiring personal trainers with the intent that it will pay off with added health and a better quality of life.

Pretty much everything we do has an ROI. Even donating or volunteering for a charity has the ROI of making us feel better about ourselves for having done so. Our ROI decisions aren’t always a conscious thing, but maybe we should start to make these decisions more consciously.

For fitness professionals, I’ve seen too many underinvest in themselves and their careers because “they can’t afford it”. “I can’t afford to go to that conference, take the course, hire that coach, or pay for that system.” But what if you actually looked at the return on those investments?

I had a personal trainer that used to work for me who would complain about doing paperwork(reporting client sessions and payroll) when she could be training and making more money. My suggestion was to hire someone to do it for her. If she paid the individual $15 an hour and the trainer could fill that hour with a client then if the trainer makes $45/hour (just picking a number) she still comes out $30 ahead and saves herself from a task she didn’t like doing. She never did hire the help.

What about conferences, certifications, a programs? What’s the total cost? Would what you learn help you get more clients? How many client sessions would it take to make it profitable? Let’s just say that the personal trainer makes $45/client session and the event or program could yield 2 additional client sessions/week. What kind of income are we talking?

  • 1 wk = $90
  • 2 wks = $180
  • 3 wks = $270
  • 4 wks = $360
  • 8 wks = $720
  • 52 wks = $4,680

How much was that conference, certification, or program again? What’s the ROI on it? Was the return higher than the investment? Rather than just looking at the investment number and letting your gut reaction stop you from making the investment, figure out the potential ROI and let that guide your decision.

Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself and your career if it’s going to give you the return you want.

What Are Fitness Professionals Missing?

It’s not uncommon for struggling fitness professionals to believe that acquiring more fitness information is somehow going to help them build their business. If they don’t have a degree in exercise science or a major certification, maybe it will, but… once you have the basics, building your business isn’t going to come from another training certification. I know. I’ve held 20+ certifications over the years and while they added tools to my tool belt, they didn’t teach me anything about building my business. That, I had to learn on my own.

Now, if you wanted to build your business, where would you go to learn about business? Take a look at what is offered for certifications and certificate programs by a few of the major organizations and see if there’s anything missing.

NSCA:
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS)
Certified Personal Trainer (CPT)
Certified Special Population Specialist (CSPS)
Certified Tactical Strength and Conditioning Facilitator (TSAC-F)
Certified Performance and Sports Scientist (CPSS)

ACSM:
ACSM Certified Personal Trainer
ACSM Certified Group Exercise Instructor
ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist
ACSM Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist
Specialty Credentials:
Exercise is Medicine
ACSM/NCHPAD Certified Inclusive Fitness Trainer (CIFT)
ACSM/ACS Certified Cancer Exercise Trainer (CET)
ACSM/NPAS Physical Activity in Public Health Specialist (PAPHS)

NASM:
Certified Personal Training (CPT)
Certified Group Fitness Instructor (CGFI)
Performance Enhancement Specialization (PES)
Corrective Exercise Specialization (CES)
Nutrition Certification (CNC)
Behavior Change Specialization (BCS)
Virtual Coaching Specialist (VCS)
Weight Loss Specialist (WLS)

ACE:
Certified Personal Training
Certified Group Fitness Instructor
Certified Health Coach
Certified Medical Exercise Specialist

ISSA:
Certified Glute Specialist
Weight Management Specialist
Exercise Recovery Specialist
Bodybuilding Specialist
Certified Indoor Cycling Instructor
Corrective Exercise Specialist
Group Exercise Instructor
DNA-Based Fitness Coach
Strength & Conditioning Certification
Exercise Therapy Certification
Performance Enhancement Certification
Lifespan Coach Certification
Senior Fitness Certification
Online Coach Certification
Nutritionist
Certified Yoga Instructor
Transformation Specialist
Kickboxing Instructor
Youth Fitness Certification
Powerlifting Instructor

SCW:
Group Exercise
Personal Trainer
Aquatic Exercise
Active Aging
Active Aging Nutrition
Aqua Barre
Barre
Boxing
Career Crash Course
Core Training
Corrective Exercise
Functional Flexibility
Functional Pilates
Group Step
Group Strength
HIIT
Kettlebell Training
Kids in Motion
Meditation
Mind Body Fusion
Moms in Motion
Nutrition Coaching for Fitness Professionals
Nutrition, Hormones & Metabolism
Performance Stability Training
Pilates Matwork
Pilates Small Apparatus
Practical Approach to Recovery & Rolling
Program Design for Fitness Professionals
Small Group Personal Training
Small Group Training
Sports Nutrition
T’ai Chi
WaterinMotion
Weight Management
Yoga 1
Yoga 2
Flowing Yoga

ASFA:
Personal Trainer
Advanced Personal Trainer
Master Personal Trainer
Health & Wellness Coach
Advanced Health & Wellness Coach
Master Health & Wellness Coach
Advanced Cycling Instructor
Advanced Water Aerobics Instructor
Advanced Group Fitness & Bootcamp Instructor
Advanced Pilates
Advanced Senior Fitness Instructor
Advanced Yoga
Advanced Sports Nutrition
Water Aerobics Instructor
Senior Fitness Instructor
Pilates
Sports Nutrition
Yoga
Functional Fitness Training
HIIT
Dance Fitness & Hip-Hop Aerobics
Barre
Self Defense Instructor
Kettlebell Instructor
Sport Specific Training
Youth Fitness Training
Running Coach
Speed & Agility Instructor
Stretching Instructor
Women’s Fitness Instructor
Bodyweight Training
Step Aerobics & Cardio Kickboxing
Martial Arts Fitness Instructor
Tai Chi
Health Club & Gym Manager*
Core Fitness Training
Competition Bodybuilding Trainer
Olympic & Powerlifting Coach
Balance & Stability Instructor
Golf Fitness Instructor
Triathlon Coach
Foam Rolling
Fitness Professional Kit

Now, there are some very interesting options listed above and I believe that you should never stop learning, but where were the business certifications or certificate programs? Out of all of those listed, only ASFA had any business offerings. They do offer a Health Club & Gym Manager*. However, you can take their True/False exam immediately and only pay if you pass. Do you think it’s easy? You can bet on it. So, how much do you really learn and how much is this really going to help your career? ACSM used to offer a very challenging Health & Fitness Director certification (which I achieved), but then they stopped offering the program after a few years.

What’s left? Having been a personal trainer and health club manager since 1980 and a business owner off and on throughout those years, I wrote a business book for fitness professionals, The Business of Personal Training that was published in 2018 by Human Kinetics. I also spent nearly 10 years on the NSCA Personal Trainer Exam Development Committee. Putting these two together, on April 5th, I’ll be launching an exam-based fitness business certificate program, the Fitness Business Specialist. Find out more at https://fitnessbusinessspecialist.com