If you want to know what it takes to build a 6-figure fitness coaching business from scratch, then read on.
Because I’m going to be talking about IFBB Pro champion, AJ Ellison, client and friend of mine who I recently did an interview with.
Over the years, AJ has successfully helped a wide variety of clients all around the world lose a total of 53,075+ LBS.
His clients come from all walks of life, people with different body requirements and body types.
So in this article, you’re going to get behind the scenes on how AJ Ellison was able to go from a normal corporate job in a telecom company all the way to becoming part of the 6-figure club in the fitness coaching industry.
What It Takes To Win In Both Fitness & Entrepreneurship
For a while, AJ worked at Sprint which was a major telecom company and it was set up like an entire city in itself.
They had three cafeterias, a doctor’s office, a flower shop, a dentist, dry cleaning, a gym, everything.
“They want to keep your ass there and want you to be more productive. You can do all these things, run your errands, but they keep you there so you work longer hours”.
He traded his time and services for comfort and a paycheck every Friday.
However, when AJ left corporate and started his fitness coaching business, it was a complete mindset shift.
What he found was that entrepreneurship, just like fitness, can be very unpredictable.
You don’t just go from point A to point B to C.
If you want that kind of predictability, then you’re better off being an employee.
The employee trades their time for a predictable paycheck.
But in entrepreneurship, however, you need monk-like patience.
You work today and you don’t get paid today.
You might not even get paid till months later.
But it’s all about trusting the process and moving forward despite the uncertainty of not knowing when you will get paid.
For example, “launching a program takes a long time. It takes a couple months of planning. A month of prepping to keep up the launch. There is a lot of work that you won’t get paid off of now. And that’s what entrepreneurship is! That’s the mindset shift”
So you’ve got to put in the grind because there’s going to be a lot of mishaps, messes, trials and errors.
There’s no set blueprint for creating a successful business especially when you’re starting from scratch.
But no matter what, you pick yourself back up and try it over again.
This is why, just like Fitness, it’s all about cultivating not just many habits, but the RIGHT HABITS that will propel your energy towards your goals.
Despite all of that, there’s no greater feeling than the freedom and unstoppable confidence that you get when you make it through to the other side.
How To Combine Your Health, Family & Business
Entrepreneurship can become super busy to the point where you forget to take care of yourself.
So what AJ does is use his workouts to break up his day.
“I use my work to take a break. I use my workout to get out of that zone and do something else…I schedule everything. I schedule work and workout. And I schedule the time with my girls and my family. I make sure I’m not one dimensional and get stuck in the work mode”
At the beginning of AJ’s entrepreneurship journey, when he was too caught up with the work…
He had more stress in his relationships.
And any entrepreneur with their own family will know how pivotal relationships play on your energy and your ability to stay on top of your game in your business.
Today, AJ has equal time for his work, family and himself.
Here are ways he was able to balance that.
“AJ with his wife Nicci Ellison, 3 daughters and little boy Courage”
Be honest about your time
You can always have more work.
But at the same time, it’s important to know that your family needs your time too.
Providing for them is not enough.
You got to get involved with them, nurture and grow with them too.
You have to be an active participant in their lives.
This will only come through proper time management.
It’s a constant dance until you find that sweet spot, that balance between your work and your family time.
AJ puts on the alarms, sets notes, sets boundaries, and works with his kids and partner to find that balance.
Self-awareness is key
Doing one to one sessions with clients has taught him a valuable lesson:
The more you know about yourself, the more you know your shortcomings, and the more you can hold yourself accountable.
This is how you start improving yourself, your business, relationships, and your mindset.
“I think that’s where most people are stuck with. They don’t have a higher self-awareness or they don’t have the ability to criticize themselves”
And this is where self-awareness ties into fitness.
Because “getting better isn’t always about getting slim or gaining muscle… your mind is the center for everything”.
“AJ spending time with highly self-aware monks in Taiwan”
As AJ describes.. “I’ve always had a knack for finding challenges that were physical. I realized that about myself sooner and started working on that. Self awareness has got me to where I am. It’s helped me manage my business and it’s also helped me manage my family”.
Fitness Entrepreneurs: The Only Key Principle You Need To Go From Zero To 6 Figures
You’ll probably roll your eyes at how simple this is, but it’s the one principle that even the biggest gyms fail to master…
DELIVER THE RESULTS
As AJ described, this is a problem even for the “big bucks gyms”.
They keep selling their clients packages as big as $1500-$3000 even if they don’t help a lot of people physically.
Aside from that, “one hour of exercise is NOT enough when you aren’t there with them in the next 23 hours”.
What actually gets results goes way deeper than the nutrition plans and workout programs.
It’s about expanding the client’s mindset.
And this deep level of coaching comes with experience and getting to know the root cause of your client’s roadblocks.
“You need to dig deeper into their life. Go beyond the usual questions like injuries, elements, and diet history. Ask how their day was. What is their work like? If they have significant others. You need to know their pain points, their weakness, and everything. And then you have to help them to re-engineer their goals and help them get better. You got to find and tap into their motivation so they stick to their program…Cater the program to your client in a way they like best. They should not fit your program. Your program should fit them”.
This is what creates a SUSTAINABLE business.
The better your results, the more credible you are.
The bigger and more varied your portfolio, the better the trainer you are.
Social proof goes a long way.
“These are just a handful of the thousands of clients AJ has helped collectively lose more than 53,075lbs.”
The Two Best Business Decisions Ever Made
1) Taking the leap of faith
When AJ left the corporate world to go ALL-IN on his fitness business…
There was nothing but uncertainty ahead of him.
Employees get used to being employees because of the steady paycheck that they know will arrive at their bank accounts every week.
Entrepreneurs, especially the ones that are just starting out from scratch, have no idea where their next paycheck will even come from.
For weeks, AJ didn’t have paychecks coming to him.
But despite crashing on his friends’ couch and having that uncertainty linger in his head on the daily…
Quitting the corporate world was the second best decision he had ever made.
Not only did he get used to the uncertainty, but for the first time in his life, he truly felt that he “believed in himself”.
There’s a sense of integrity that comes with believing in yourself enough to take the leap of faith, quit your job when you feel the calling to do so and go ALL-IN on your dreams.
Besides that, the only other decision he had made which propelled him to the successful 6 figure business that he has today is…
2) Teaming up with the right people
At first, AJ didn’t like the idea of working with other people.
“If you are working on your own, you can’t let yourself down. But others can do that”.
He was averse to giving up control of any part of his business.
But he started to realize that if he had kept trying to do everything himself, it would affect his service and his business.
So he had to think differently.
He started to “open doors” for reliable people to work on his team.
These were the two qualities he looked for:
- The Skills
- Work Ethic
And the more he started to “let go of some control” to build his team, the more he “enjoyed” growing his business.
“There’s a marketing team involved. And sales team handling the sales and creating funnels. This way I can pay more attention to my clients, take more calls, design more programs and help more people…you are going to have to let go of some control and have professionals help you”.
Making the decision to delegate allowed him to automate his business and explode towards a 6 figure empire.
Because In the world of business, you can’t do everything by yourself if you truly want to scale.