PERSONAL TRAINING AND CASH FLOW – Looking at the Business Roles of a Personal Trainer:Where do YOU fit in???

Posted on 14. Feb, 2009 by in Marketing Fitness, Personal Trainer Marketing, Personal Trainer Sales Systems

girls-gone-wrongHey, have you heard the saying “books aren’t meant to be read, they’re meant to be re-read”?

Well anyway, I dusted off my old copy of Rich Dad Poor Dad’s CASH FLOW QUADRANT by Robert Kiyosaki …

It’s a monumentally valuable book by the way – ignore the fact that it’s more commercial than Britney Spears.

Whoa – this time around the book hit me upside the head – it really gave me a lot of insight into how I do business and it’ll probably do the same for you: how your work life is organized, your views on, and passion for, Personal Training, and the debate on the different roles of a trainer.

In the book, they talk about the 4 different Quadrants through which people earn money- lets get into them and see how they relate to Personal Training, with some specific examples:

cash-flow-quadrantE (EMPLOYEE) QUADRANT – Just like it says, you’re in this quadrant when you’re an employee, for example if you work for a gym or a training studio. The view Robert takes, that I agree with 100% is that you should only stay in this Quadrant to pick up skills. Once you’ve learned what you need to know, get out.

I feel the only exception is when your job allows you to learn at a rate that is significantly faster than you could on your own. This is the role I look to take as a leader for anyone that works for me. Another way to get the same benefits without being an employee is through masterminding.

S (SELF-EMPLOYED) QUADRANT – this is where most trainers that have dumped the gym find themselves. This is the INDEPENDENT TRAINER for the most part, at least in the beginning. Being here is much better than being in the E Quadrant. Robert actually speaks highly of it in some ways.

People that are self-employed and good at it are perfectionists – they’re highly motivated and fiercely independent. These are the characteristics of most Personal Trainers.

Here’s the insight I had:

This is also the reason many excellent Personal Trainers refuse to give up the reigns to their Personal Training businesses. They continue to put in tremendous hours. My buddies Rivak Hoffman and Jim Hart come to mind, both exceptional trainers who work themselves into the ground. It’s because of the personality of the person in this Quadrant. Although I’ve learned to cut back and leverage, this describes me too. It’s the passion and personal investment in their work that sets them apart, but also keeps them trapped.

Here’s the very, very, funny irony. When someone is doing really good in this quadrant, and are among the best at what they do, is when it can actually become their prison! They’ll get great results for the work they do, and then just add on more work, and become very attached to it. If they weren’t as strict about quality as they are, they’d let someone else do the work for them, or set up a business system – but that’s not good enough!

houseWant to know another irony? Consumers demand services from these types of people. The example Kioysaki makes is, if you’re going to a brain surgeon, you want this person to be a perfectionist. The same example holds true for trainers.

People in this Quadrant can often earn very high incomes. But you have to be careful because like I said, this can become a trap. As Personal Trainers, another reason many of us stay in this Quadrant for so long is because most of the people we know, including our clients, are high paid people in the EMPLOYEE QUADRANT. Since we’re better off than most of these folks, are earning good livings, and have the stubborn personality traits I described, we find it hard to make the jump into a higher Quadrant.

Regardless of the downsides, this is a Quadrant that any new Personal Trainers needs to spend at least some time and master. Every trainer that’s made the jump to bigger things mastered this part first.

B (BUSINESS OWNER) QUADRANT: Ok, here’s when you start to get into some more interesting territory. This is a person who’s created systems and standards so that other people can do the work. With these systems in place, the business can essentially run on its own with minor supervision. This is the whole “make money while you sleep” phenomena. Even if you’re an Independent Trainer and you’re business is incorporated, if you’re still doing the training, you are not in this Quadrant.

The ultimate poster boy for the B QUADRANT is another one of my buddies, Chris McCombs (who Michael Duivis just did a killer interview with for the blog – post coming soon). Chris is fiercely devoted to spending his time only in the B Quadrant, and revels in the fact that he has a gut and bad habits that now prevent him from being in either of the previous two Quadrants. If you have an online PRODUCT like me, or have a training studio where you have other employees in addition to yourself, you are only dabbling in this Quadrant, not all the way there.

I (INVESTOR) QUADRANT: This is the highest leverage of all Quadrants. This is the Quadrant where you put in the money and let other people do all the work – even creating the systems and thinking of the ideas. If you own any stock, it’s pretty self explanatory.

This isn’t devoid of work however – there’s some analyzing of risk and other factors involved (actually, you can pay people to do that part for you too!) Seems you can never really avoid work, but this is a different kind of work. It’s on your terms, doing what impacts you directly, and is very high leverage. A few smart decisions can have a very high return.

Being at this level gives you true perspective on what’s going on around you. The only person I know in the fitness business who really explains how trainers can get up here is Bedros Keuilian. Bedros talks about strategically deploying your time among the different Quadrants as part of his seven-figure formula. That is what you’ll find most savvy people doing – learning how to deploy their time in the Quadrants for maximum effectiveness.

angieA very interesting example of this is a member of my Advisory Board, Gunnar Peterson. He is a very devoted trainer that puts in a ton of hours, but for him it’s almost a loss leader because of his other business ventures and endorsements. You could say this for entertainers as well. They might be employees due to the nature of their contracts with their recording labels or movie studios, or self-employed when performing, but it’s all for the bigger goal of growing their BUSINESS side, which is where the real money comes from (and then putting this money into investments, as well as toys and botox). We can learn a lot from entertainers in this way, because they have professional managers whose job it is to take the talented individual (a trainer qualifies as one of these) and then deploy them for maximum returns.

Understanding these different personality traits also explains some of the different views on work in this business. The hard-nosed, in the trenches trainers can’t stand the business and marketing guys because they look at them as sell-outs. And the business and marketing guys can’t understand why the trainers are continuing to stay in the trenches. But Kiyosaki’s explanation says a lot: when you love something and are good at it, it’s hard to let it go.

But I’d have to say that most trainers are seeing the light and trying to maximize their effectiveness by dabbling in the B Quadrant these days. John Izzo, one of the most passionate and perfection oriented trainers I know, is very active in business in his limited free time. I know in my case I had a very hard time allowing my training practice to grow into the B Quadrant, but I am finding other ways to do it, and I dablle to a small degree in the I Quadrant as well.

My main advice for trainers like me still in the trenches? You have to eventually make the transition to giving more time and energy to the B and I Quadrants, no matter how hard you might find that to be. I know from personal experience that giving responsibility to employees is like giving away your baby. But just like every parent has to let their kid leave the nest one day, every trainer at some point will have to let earning money through the S Quadrant go as well.


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Michael Duivis

15. Feb, 2009

Kaiser, this is one of the best posts so far – It’s good to put people in perspective like this, it really clears up the haze that’s caused by the many ways you can conduct a Personal Training Business nowadays.

Working hard to get to that B Quadrant.

Hello Kaiser,
I was at a dining out last night for V-day when your e-mail came in on my I-Phone. I was so entranced by what your posting I drifted far away from my date. Boy was she pissed! I would have responded, but my I-phone was confiscated and I severely reprimanded! lol
Anyway, this is one incredible post and thanks, but no thanks for mentioning me. It was nice seeing my name in print, however, realizing ,and now admitting that I am in the “S” quadrant, is a hard one to swallow. Yeah, I am still pumping out 75 contact hours per week. I like the money, power, fame it brings, but always worry about loosing clients in a piss poor economy. So I overbook myself! Yes, this needs to change, but am not sure when it will happen or how it will happen. I get bombed with daily e-mails and tinyurl videos from Chris McCombs, Beudros, Jim Labadie and Pat Rigsby but still am resistant to taking the plunge and spending money on their fluffed info products or Seminars. My impression, is they are all full of sh– and are desparate for the money. You on the other hand, I have grown to respect and admire. I can see eye to eye with you and many business and psychological facets in the industry. Your honesty and sincere desire to give to other personal trainers, is unyielding. I respect and believe you more than you know.
The rest of the forementioned peanut gang, actually inhibit me from entering into the the “B” quadrant. I feel somewhat burnt out, but comfortable making 250K. and do delegate to other trainers.

I’d like to see the peanut gangs profit and loss statements, otherwise in my analytical mind, their products are just pure bunk! My intrepedation, is based on the fact that they are NOT true trainers. I know all the great ones, they have never been on the top 100 list.

Another interesting point that you made about “S” quad people is they work with “Employee Quads” This is so very true. My typical client is a fortune 500 CEO, CFO,CSO or President who travels 3 out of seven days, and sees me during their limited windows, they are habitually on conference calls, and work 100 plus hours per week. They like knowing their PT lives and understands their lifestyle.
Anyway, Kaiser, I like what your doing here, but keep it simple and “niche” I don’t believe you need to be riding the coat tails of the “Peanut Gang” to be successful. ( I have been watching you very carefully) In my honest opinion, I believe in what you are doing is humble and sincere, and this ALWAYS manifests big success’s.


15. Feb, 2009

I read that book a long time ago but completely forgot about it and never thought about where I stand in the quadrants. Thanks again Kaiser for thinking outside the box and helping us focus on our success! You already know how much I respect and appreciate what you are doing for all of us. I wish you great success man!

Doug Groce

15. Feb, 2009

Yeah I read that book in college, and it had a big impact – aside from all the bs about real estate..

In my first year out of school, I’m in the E-quadrant, but I went out of my way to choose a job, like you said, to learn at a fast rate. I ended up leaving everybody and everything I knew to take a job where I knew I’d have the opportunity to train and schedule my own clients and keep them happy – something an independent trainer must know how to do.

While it still sucks living here, I’m now very confident in my abilities as a trainer. The tricky part is, now after 9 1/2 months, I’ve reached a plateau in my learning and I’m bored out of my mind.

It’s funny, because I’ve got a couple raises and have just started to make a decent living, but now I’m actively looking for a way out, just so I can keep building my skill set and get into the S and B quadrants.

It’s a different way to play the game, but I think it’s the smart way – I don’t want to depend on other people for my paycheck for the rest of my life – that’s for damn sure.


15. Feb, 2009

Hey Rivak – never one to hold back – thanks for the splash of cold water – HAHA – did everyone read that?!?! That is EXACTLY what the post is talking about – glad to see I know my dude – did you know you look a lot like Dr. HOUSE too?

Your comment made me re-evaluate some of motivations and activities over the past month – here’s what I concluded:

I admit with you that the passing back and forth of URLs can get a little tiring – are the fitness mailing lists the only ones you’re on? I’m on a few more, and after a while you become jaded and know that you would never buy anything from anyone in the info business. That’s funny to say since my own URL has made it onto the lists. Just like in any industry and any field, it’s always a case of buyer’s beware. This isn’t more true anywhere than on the Internet.

You’re right – through my blog I have gotten in touch lately with some of the people that are not training any more, but are strictly in the business of selling information to the training market – among them are the guys I’ve mentioned in this post, Chris and Bedros –

They aren’t trainers but on a certain level they open the door for trainers to think on a higher level – that’s why I have respect for these guys – they have a right to sell information – we have a right to ignore it if we chose –

We are all trainers, but above that we are all Men and Women –

I’m a trainer, but above that I’m a “Man” – I have a responsibility to myself that goes beyond the profession, my clients, or what everyone else does around me.

I realized the burning out as a trainer wasn’t be for me. What was the last straw? After one FRIDAY night of running semi-private sessions booked from 3-11pm (with a break where I worked out hard, showered, and scarfed down some steamed Chinese) where I saw at least 20 clients, I was so burnt out I went home and bought a pack of cigarettes and smoked a few – it was the only way I knew how to relax from something like that – this type of day replayed many times over a month – ironically, this is when I was my most “successful” – needless to say this experience taught me a lot about work, values, income, and priorities –

I transitioned into a different type of training – less clients, never more than 2 on 1, and very private, stress free environments – and I sacrifice the urge for an extra 50 grand a year by keeping my schedule to the ultra-loyal people, and occasionally add anyone that can convince me to train them – btw, I get contacted several times weekly since my website’s number one on google in my area, but I haven’t accepted a new client in six months –

I did start a BOOTCAMP, mostly to impress the Super-Trainer readers, which was a poor motivation – I closed that down after less than one month – finding clients and making money wasn’t the problem – it sounds ridiculous but for me training’s not about the money any more –

So that’s the path I took with my product – and what I tried to teach – put yourself and your lifestyle first – sell that part of the fitness experience to your clients – that’s the message on this blog –

But again, like I said in the post – Rivak is one of the die hard S Quadrant people and things won’t change – I got an almost eerily similar email like this from Jim Hart too – same reason for letting it all alone – sick of the scam mentality behind all of this – anyone hear of MASS CONTROL? One of the most popular products on the Internet, known and followed to some degree by anyone selling anything on the web – it’s a course on how to psychologically trick people into buying –

My advice to you bud? Give up the 250K salary – cut it back to 100K – and cut back the work hours even further – get rid of the CEO clients – you don’t have to burn yourself out to keep up with them –

In that free time you can evaluate what you want – because what you’re doing now won’t get you there – you don’t have to pass back and forth URLs – for you it can be something else – the URL swapping business is all actually very positive, constructive, and harmless – Dr.s do the same thing, but do it with people’s lives – want to see people getting taken advantage of? Go look at any well run, highly profitable business –

You’ve excelled at hands-on training for a long time. But unlike what F. Scott said, there can be a second (and third or more) act in American life – you can find another way to share your knowledge

I’ve never promoted anything on the blog before, but through it have gotten in touch with some of these guys –

Chris’s product, besides it’s high price tag is one of the only places you can get such a condensed education in the web as it applies to our job – Yes I have 10 books on SEO, Landing Page Optimzation, Adwords etc that cost me $150 bucks total, as I’m sure you do – but to me time and effectiveness are much more valuable than money, so I do begrudgingly hand my credit card over to the BLOATED products – sometimes you have to – I think you take for granted the level you’re at – the marketing you do, your website, message – etc – most trainers want this education in a much shorter time –

These guys are in the info business – sometimes when you see a marketing tactic at work it’s off putting – it’s just because they’re not as slick as Madison Avenue – putting a celeb’s botoxed face next to a handbag to mark it up 100x? – are you sending them any hate mail?

I will focus on getting some trainers on here that can relate to your situation and have made their way out – but are still TRAINERS – I think then you’ll start to see the light –

I feel what you’re going through – you’re actually much better than me because you didn’t BREAK under all of it – but wise up man – there’s a better way and you know it!

Kaiser, this is a very timely post. Now more than ever we all have to be aware of where we fall in the “quadrant game” and where we’re headed.

@Somagenesis, I can understand your position. In fact I was in your exact position in late 2001 early 2002 when those two planes hit the towers in NY and the economy went to hell.

I was operating my personal training facilities right there in San Diego – San Marcos, Vista, and Kearny Mesa and I was stressed to the gills because people all of a sudden stopped spending money personal training (or so I thought).

I still had rent to pay, employees, bills, and mounting debt. It was about that time that I figured out that I can either overload myself (which I did for 13 months and got ulcers, lost 30 pounds *of muscle*, and could not sleep at night), or I had to figure out a way to start generating revenue that was not tied directly to one-on-one 60 minute sessions.

That’s when I started doing small group sessions, budget friendly 30 minute training sessions, and started offering online training (basically we were typing out workouts in an excel doc and emailing them to clients who could not afford ‘traditional’ training.)

I guess you can say that this was the genesis of my seven figure formula that Kaiser referred to in this post… the same formula that has helped me, and hundreds of my coaching clients achieve (and get on track to achieve) seven figures IN THE FITNESS INDUSTRY.

So, while it kinda hurts to be lumped up by you as one of the “peanut gang” members as you so eloquently put it, I can hear from the tone of your comment that you HAVE to believe what you believe in order to justify your mindset of scarcity, the crappy economic condition, and reason for your LONG hours worked.


I live and work in Chino Hills – about an hour from you. Consider this an open invitation for you to come out to my office, meet me, let’s talk about YOUR business, let me introduce YOU to some local trainers who I have helped achieve seven figures and show YOU how YOU can get on track to do the same in less hours than you are putting in today.
(And since I can see you are skeptical I’ll do one better than showing you my balance sheet – I’ll go one further and show you my actual assets and toys since it seems that you want REAL proof that someone out there is the REAL deal :) )

Because you’re right… on the internet it’s hard to distinguish the fly shit from pepper. And since you asked for proof… I’ll gladly provide it. Come spend a few hours with me :)

Oh, and you mentioned that you get emails from me and all the other ‘gurus’ in the industry on a daily basis. You know… you can always scroll down to the bottom of the emails and unsubscribe from the messages that you believe are fluff and bunk (again your words).
But, I’m guessing that somewhere inside you, you know that maybe one or two of those emails have some truth to them and deep down inside you want the freedom and certainty of a reliable fitness business.

ANY WHO… Kaiser has my email and phone number. So if you want to take me up on my invitation get a hold of him.

Bedros “the REAL deal” Keuilian ;)

James Dixon

15. Feb, 2009

Great post Kaiser! I own 7 of Robert Kiyosaki’s books including the Cashflo Quadrant. Good to hear that I am networking with people that use similiar reaources

Hello Beudros!

Didn’t mean to hurt your feeling… by lumping you in the “Peanut Gallery” I enjoyed you response, and will take you up on your offer.
As you deduced, I do find some credance mixed with all that the fluff in the e-mails, and tiny url videos. They are just very vague, as I do understand the need for you guys to bait the trap in hope of gaining a conversion.
Yes, we all desire the simple life and big bucks, but being from Kaisers neck of the woods, i tend to analyze and doubt much of the marketing hype that trickles into my In box on a daily basis.
With this in mind, I will contact Kaiser, get your number and see what up with you guys in Anaheim Hills and Chino Hills.

Michael Duivis

16. Feb, 2009

Bedros that’s a great offer. It would be cool if you could do a blog post on Rivak’s visit.

@Rivak, by the way the name is BEDROS not Beudros… attention to detail…lesson #1 of marketing. Looking forward to meeting you and changing your life.

@Michael D. blog post for sure ;)



16. Feb, 2009

Yeah be sure to shoot some videos guys – hey Michael – why don’t you go as kind of an impartial correspondent? HAHA! This one was an absolute classic!


16. Feb, 2009

Im definitely not one to buy into ANY type of online marketing but am definitely looking forward to Bedros’ summit coming up in Cali. I am looking forward to it taking me to the next step!

Chris McCombs

16. Feb, 2009

Re: Rivak – I appreciate the time you took with your comment ( you do that a lot on this blog… which is awesome)

you said “I get bombed with daily e-mails and tinyurl videos from Chris McCombs, Beudros, Jim Labadie and Pat Rigsby but still am resistant to taking the plunge and spending money on their fluffed info products or Seminars. My impression, is they are all full of sh– and are desparate for the money.”

Rivak, quick question, why are you still on those lists if you feel that the “peanut” gang is bombarding you?

you can always unsubscribe ya know, it’s super easy

Especially if you think they ( oh I mean “we”) are all full of shit and desperate for money.

Trippy, but good times… I’m sure you have a great reason for it

And where you said: “The rest of the forementioned peanut gang, actually inhibit me from entering into the the “B” quadrant.”

Wow, duuuuuuuuuuude… if you’re letting me ( or ANYONE else) INHIBIT you from entering the “b” quadrant… or do anything else in life for that matter… you give WAY too much of your own personal power away.

That’s a reactive way to go through life… that must suck man. Sorry to hear it’s like that for ya.

Keep following Kaisers blog, I’m sure things will get better for you Rivak… you’re right about Kaiser, his info is top-notch and he knows what he’s talking about

On that note, I commend you on your quarter million a year net profit… there’s a lot to be said for that Rivak… it takes a certain kind of individual to do that… congradulations

I second Bedros’s comment to Rivak ” I can hear from the tone of your comment that you HAVE to believe what you believe in order to justify your mindset of scarcity, the crappy economic condition, and reason for your LONG hours worked.”

Rivak, I’m sure if you take Bedros up on his offer he could improve tons of things in your business… nice of him to offer that ( he’s a much nicer guy than me)

Maybe I’ll catch up with you guys for lunch of something though, since he’s right down the street

See if can get Bedros’s broke ass will work with ya at his two million dollar house in the office of the detached guest house.

For a broke dude, he’s got a really nice f*cking house

Oh shit, that reminds me… I gotta get back down to the freeway exit and beg for some more change

Chris dude,

Your funny as hell! I have Bedros number and will be calling him very soon. I’m sure you guys are not broke, since there are tons of gullable guys out there willing to buy info products. Like PT Barnum always said “There is a sucker born every minute” I’m one of the Mavericks and a skeptic, but am open to hearing what Bedros has to say.

I also know that 30 Second Abs on the infomercial circuit grossed 121.8 million the first year. Conversely, i also know you will never get ripped six pack using that product alone.

BTW I don’t define success by material goods at all. I know a hand full of Trainers here is San Diego who drive MBZ SLs who have recently foreclosed on there beach front homes. Go figure.

Michael Duivis

16. Feb, 2009

I feel you guys meeting up would provide great material. Let’s hook it up. We’ll go to Johnny Rockets and have one of Fitconcept’s Chicken dishes.

Then a killer blog post can come out of that, if that’s cool with you guys.

Yavor Marichkov

18. Feb, 2009

I remember this was one of the first books I read back in 2005 when I decided I wanted to know about being successful in marketing. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

I had just gotten back from a job interview as a sales person for some random internet service. I didn’t get the job – they tested me by getting the president of the company on the phone and telling me to sell stuff to him. No training, no instructions, no nothing. Here is the president – sell him on some services. Boy did he sound intimidating. The interviewers themselves were kinda afraid of him, even though the guy tried to play it cool.

I now think it’s foolish of them to not have at least a simple sales script system to show me how it’s done.


I was very pissed at them. I looked up stuff about how to sell on the internet and got a few books – stuff like Kiyosaki’s books, etc. So that’s where it’s started for me.

Regarding said info products – I am not acquainted with Bedros’ stuff, but Chris’ product will save you a lot of time and money in the end.

Yeah – you can learn it on your own. Like he did. In fact, he is really open and transparent about exactly where he gets his info from – Kern’s marketing sequence/internet persona strategies, the Stomper SEO fundamentals, Pagan’s business/time management etc. insights and so on and so forth. So you can go ahead and track each of these sources and learn to do what he does. Maybe you will even achieve greater results. But it will not be cheaper and it will definitely take longer.

As for Kaiser – his telling it right like it is what got me here. I think I somehow found a post by him. And it hit me right where it was hurting. So did the next one. And the one after that.

What a great discussion guys! Thanks for hanging out here.


19. Feb, 2009

All I have to say is Woooh!Somebody better watch out! I sense a lot of schooling about to go down…. I can’t wait for the after blog!!


19. Feb, 2009

Yeah, the most interesting point from the book wasn’t the financial advice –

It was this insight into the psychology of the person who excels at being self-employed –

The book speaks highly of this person in some ways and admires their independence and tenacity –

But it’s these same qualities that keeps them stuck in this quadrant and very skeptical of those who say otherwise –

And you just have to take a look above – you see all the different sides of that point fleshed out in full detail right here!

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