Alignment, Discipline & Flow

How I Quit 1:1 Personal Training and Created a 50k+ Per Month Online Business (Part One)


2007 was a big year for me. Looking back it was in many ways one of the best years of my life, as it was the year I began creating the business that has now led to me living my dream life and enjoying over 50k per month of online income, all from doing what I love.

But at the time? It kinda sucked for the most part!

I was going through a lengthy and messy divorce, learning to be in complete charge of my own money and life, and had also ignored all my friends and family’s dire warnings about timing and ‘needing a proper break first’ and had started on a new relationship with the man who would later become my lifelong partner and father of my children.

At least on the career side of things, everything was going well – my Personal Training business consumed my time and energy from 6am until 9pm on weekdays, with just enough breathing room in between clients for a killer workout and a short black or 5 πŸ™‚ Now 6 years into life as a Personal Trainer I was ‘all over it’ when it came to signing up new clients and getting them great results. The other trainers joked that my day was like a well-oiled procession chain – one in, one out. I booked myself back to back with up to 20 sessions in a day, and I was bringing home over 5 grand a week in exchange for my efforts.

Not bad for a girl who walked away from a potential and long-planned career as a lawyer to become a gym instructor at age 19!

Of course if you’re a 1:1 trainer or coach yourself I don’t have to tell you how relentless the life can be.

If you don’t have enough clients it’s stressful and worrying (as well as disheartening to spend time on free trials with tire kickers or people who don’t respect your time) and if you DO have enough clients it’s absolutely exhausting and you start to resent the feeling that you no longer control your day, let alone your life.

And as much as they money is GREAT in 1:1 – or can be – it requires that ongoing effort. As soon as you stop, the money stops as well. Not exactly the dream business, right?

For me, I already knew I couldn’t keep going for much longer like this. Not only were the days much too long to sustain, but I was suffering severe insomnia (a ‘good’ night was 1-2 hours sleep) since my marriage break-up, and couldn’t seem to shake it. My impressive income seemed to disappear as fast as it came in as I scheduled near-daily Shiatsu massage, Acupuncture, Network Chiropractic, Kinesiology, sessions with my Psychologist/GP who was helping me try to shake off the bulimia I’d reverted straight back to post-marrriage end, and basically anything else that I thought would help me either sleep or feel like I would ever again be able to smile.

Like a machine I moved through my days, eating a bare minimum of ‘fuel’ in between clients then collapsing into binge-eating oblivion at night.

As fast as the dollars rolled in my spirit and enjoyment of life faded into nothing.

And certainly a big part of how I felt despite my Personal Training business ‘success’ was due to the mess that was my personal life.

But an equally big part was the unshakeable reality that I did NOT want to stay bound to 1:1 forever.

A couple of things happened around that time that caused me to make a decision eventually leading me to where I am now – which is makingΒ waaaay more than double what I used to on even my most chock-full PT weeks and in about 1/10th of the time. Plus – completely on my terms.

Dreaming of being a 6-figure trainer NOT just through 1:1

The first thing was I went to the annual fitness conference Filex, and attended a presentation on being a ‘6-figure trainer’. Well, I already was a ‘6-figure trainer’ but this presentation was about leveraging your time and knowledge and creating income outside of just 1:1. I wasn’t so interested in the idea of doing group sessions/bootcamps but the concept of bringing in big money for doing corporate health presentations or perhaps running some kind of subscription based email and phone coaching program fascinated me.

It was my first insight into the concept of online marketing and selling.

I joined a coaching program with the presenter from that day, and started putting together flyers and packages to tempt my clients and their companies with – ideas for ways to reach more people at once and create a higher hourly wage. I was able to book a few speaking gigs and it looked like maybe this was ‘it’, the way out of 1:1.

I was pumped! And more than ready to step into living my ‘real’ purpose and passion. If only I could fully figure out what that was πŸ™‚

Around the same time one of my long-term clients started to question why I didn’t have a website yet or at least a newsletter. I remember saying that I was going to but at the same time thinking ‘ugh, sounds like a lot of work’. I certainly had no idea just how powerful an online presence – even a basic and pretty ugly one – could be.

But my new business mentor had also been touting the benefits of having a client newsletter and so I decided to set one up. The added bonus was that I loved to write – in fact had studied Professional Writing & Editing briefly at Uni after halting my pursuit of doing a Law degree. I had no strategy or purpose for my newsletter other than to position me as more professional with my clients. Really I was just doing it because my coach said I should πŸ™‚

Screen Shot 2013-09-17 at 11.23.26 AM

My first ever client newsletter – the intro section

My clients loved the newsletter and my fumbling attempts at writing helpful health and fitness articles, but they complained about how long it took to download it. When it came to inserting images my philosophy was ‘the more the better’ and email servers weren’t thanking me for it πŸ™‚

Going live online in 2007!

It was time for a better solution, and clearly this internet thing was where it was at. I purchased a ‘website in a box’ and went about building my first website under my proudly displayed new business name ‘Kikasslife Training’. I wanted the name to encapsulate living your best life and not being just about getting in shape, and was really happy with what I’d come up with.

Building a website was fun! And really quite simple. I felt like I was seriously moving into the big-time and if I do say so myself I was pretty impressed with what I came up with, which was a black background with a dizzying array of highlighter-pen type colours and white writing. Ouch πŸ™‚

I started posting articles and so on here, but the site was clunky and difficult to use, so when someone told me I could set up something called a ‘blog’ for free and that new articles would be updated instantly that seemed the way to go.

I came up with the new business name Play Life Health & Performance Coaching, and the tagline ‘Life is Now. Press Play’ (which I still proudly use today!), had a logo designed and I was good to go.

My new site went living around mid 2007 and it didn’t take long for me to become seriously addicted to blogging.

I just found out a month or so ago that that site is till live – I thought it died years ago, but you can actually still go check it out –

Screen Shot 2013-09-17 at 11.26.58 AM

My first ‘real’ blog, which also gave birth to my tagline ‘Life is Now. Press Play’

It’s funny reading through my old posts as I feel like I’ve pretty much just been repeating myself ever since. I guess I haven’t really changed my message πŸ™‚

Initially I had no concept of making money online. The way I understood it, the main benefit of having an online presence was to build my offline business and more firmly establish me as an expert for when I propositioned businesses to become their in-house training and health guru. I’d also put together some higher-end packages for ‘Flying First Class’ personal training programs, which involved additional services and support from me outside of training, such as nutrition and life coaching, and I’d written an ebook called ‘Stress Less’. I wrote it because my coach said I should write an ebook and set it as a homework assignment, but once written I had no idea what to do with it and so it kind of just sat there gathering dust. Eventually I used it as a free ‘optin’ gift on my website.

The Entrepreneurs Weakness: Bright Shiny Ideas

Something you might have noticed about me if you’ve is that I can’t seem to sit still and stick with one idea. This is not exactly a new trait πŸ™‚

Once I mastered the hang of regular article writing and blog posting, I started to become a little bored with my fairly basic free site. I’d been reading about successful bloggers online and stalking their website and I started to get it into my head that I needed to create something a little more spectacular if I really wanted to make a name for myself and get my writing out there in a bigger way.

Only problem was I just couldn’t come up with a business name! For literally 6 months I remained inactive as I journalled and brainstormed almost daily with possible name ideas. I wanted something that I felt would be amazing, that I’d feel incredible proud of everytime I saw or referred to, and something that would of course sum up what my work could do for people. I honestly think I spent more time coming up with the name for my first ‘real’ website/blog than what I spent battling to decide on a name for my first child!

But eventually I had it, and it was perfect. ‘Body Incredible’ was born, and I was so excited. Deciding on the name was just the first part – launching this site was a really big deal to me, it was my ‘coming out’ as a real writer or at least as someone who fully intended to become a real writer and become known for it. This had been a dream of mine since my childhood years and so I did everything I could to make sure my launch into the online world was perfect.

For another 6 months I worked on collating and editing past articles, and writing new ones. I wanted the site to go live with at least 40 blog posts on it. Articles aside, it had to have the perfect logo and banner, all the right and essential pages, and everything had to work just as it should.

My entire focus was still around my writing, and sharing my message. At no point in my nearly 12-month preparation for Body Incredible did I think about how to make money from it. It was definitely there in the back of my mind, but more as a vague and ‘someday’ thing, something that seemed very tricky and mysterious and I was quite sure was best held off for the future, when I knew what I was doing.

This was one of just several significant early-on ‘would cost me thousands’ mistakes in my online business. But more on that later.

The birth of my first ‘money making’ site –!

It was mid 2008 by this point, and my partner Enzo had opened a brand new restaurant in February of that year. It was a small and beautifully laid out traditional Italian restaurant with food that was to die for, and after it’s first few weeks had established a name for itself as the place to eat in Melbourne’s Eastern Suburbs. It wasn’t unusual to have queues for a table going out the door, like a nightclub, and even on a Monday or Tuesday night!

This restaurant was really where Body Incredible was born. During the days I’d train personal training clients from 6am through to 7 or 8pm, stopping on and off for a workout or a snatched half hour on my computer, but it wasn’t until 8.30/9 when I reached the restaurant that the magic really begin. Night after night and month after month I sat at the bar or at the high stools in the window, a glass of Organic Shiraz on one side and a bowl of warmed olives and almonds on the other (not so great for my computer keyboard!) and I wrote and wrote and wrote.

Regular customers would ask why ‘that girl was always alone in the window on her computer’. The restaurant would empty, fill again, empty and fill once more, a distant hum of noise just behind me but feeling as though it was miles away as I lost myself in my work. My woodfired roasted duck with amareno cherries and spinach would arrive and without really noticing what I was doing I’d eat it. When I wrote, my entire focus and being was consumed by what I was doing. Hours would pass, the restaurant would empty for the last time and the staff clean up and suddenly Enzo was there saying it was closing time. Often past midnight, I’d have had no sense of the time that passed. It was during this time that I really knew – if I didn’t already – that writing was what I was born to do.

One night in August 2008 I sat at the bar, half talking with a couple of Enzo’s friends who were eating there that night, and my normal focus not quite as strong as I was used to. It was ready. There was nothing left to do, I’d triple checked everything, and it was time to open the doors to Body Incredible. I remember being equally elated and also a little letdown that my all-consuming project was now complete.

body incredible screenshot

I was committed to growing this blog and to eventually making something of it from a business perspective. I stuck to a strict blogging schedule, making sure I pre-wrote posts when we were going to be away, and diligently answered every comment and email. The first few times I received an email from someone I didn’t know, often sharing their story and thanking me for how I’d helped them, I felt invincible. It was so exciting to be making a mark beyond my own little world!

But despite all of my efforts and diligent work, my little blog grew from having around 80 subscribers after launch (which was my at the time Melbourne network of clients and friends; pre Facebook days!) to having a not-so impressive 109 subscribers by July the year after.

I’d been blogging for a year, was 5 months pregnant with our first child, still personal training full time, and getting frustrated. When was it going to be my time?!

I’d even released my first ebook during this time, Secrets of Lasting Weight Loss Revealed – a missive which totals 246 A4 pages and took me over 2 years to complete. I made over $400 the day it launched – 11 sales at US$37 each, and I was blown away thrilled. I thought it was the start of huge things for me – and I guess looking back now it was πŸ™‚ – but the ball that I thought would start rapidly rolling after my releasing an ebook stayed stubbornly stuck after that first effort. I felt like I’d done everything, followed all the rules. I’d voraciously read websites like Problogger and Copyblogger from top to toe, enrolled in a Blogging Mastermind and implemented everything like the perfect student I’d always been, and yet I just couldn’t break through.

Screen Shot 2013-09-17 at 2.34.07 PM

As much as I still loved my writing I was becoming fed up with feeling like I was surgically attached to my laptop, with being the trainer who spent every 5 minutes between clients writing and studying and trying to get ahead while the other trainers kicked back, went for coffees, mucked around in the staff room or had interesting jaunts around the city.

Was it ever going to be worth it? What did I really think I was trying to do anyway? Maybe I just didn’t have what it takes.

The Breakthrough

It was around this time that I was extremely lucky to win an online competition whose prize was a half hour ‘my blog is broken’ consult with one of the biggest names in online marketing at the time, Jon Morrow.

The advice he gave me would quite literally set me on a path that would change my life, and lead me to where I am today, although at the time I had no idea of the power of what he was saying me and how it could set me on track to making not only hundreds of dollars online each month, but thousands and then eventually tens of thousands.

In just 30 minutes and with just a few simple lines of notes taken I had a plan for my success that was – although I didn’t yet know it – going to result in me ending up where I now am today, making over 50k per month consistently online by doing what I love.

In Part 2 of this series (which I have nearly finished so it won’t be long, don’t worry!) I’ll share exactly what Jon told me, and how I implemented it and succeeded as a result over the coming months. Read Part 2 here.


5 responses to “How I Quit 1:1 Personal Training and Created a 50k+ Per Month Online Business (Part One)”

  1. Chris Mattice says:

    Hi Kat
    What a great story and I can relate on so many levels as I have followed you and watched you grow over the past few years. Having the same career path as you have and some of the same mentors (Poliquin) I felt every emotion with clients and the like. Your story has probably pushed me to finally get moving in this direction .
    As always – thank you for sharing.
    Warm regards