Derek Goff has been coaching at Treehouse School of Fitness since 2011, and became a full-time coach in the MadLab system in 2012. Today, he has 65 of his own clients and has increased his pay each year.
We caught up with him to see what it’s really like to be a MadLab coach:
What has the journey been like for you?
Goff: My journey has been amazing, I consider myself very fortunate to be where I am. Before I was lucky enough to meet Dave and Tara Picardy and join their gym back in 2009, I had no idea what I was doing with my life. I was going to college full-time, without a declared major, and working in retail full-time. The semester after I joined North Shore CrossFit (now Treehouse School of Fitness) with Dave and Tara as my coaches, I switched my major to Sport and Movement Science and started my journey to become a professional coach. I had no clue what that looked like or how I would actually be able to make a career out of it, but I knew I was on the right path.
What about the apprenticeship program you went through?
My apprenticeship Program started in early 2011. I was mentored by Dave Picardy for almost 2 years before I became a full-time coach in the Summer of 2012. There were tons of shadowing hours with classes and one-on-one sessions. Also, way too many hours of meetings with Dave on anything and everything related to coaching, sales and running a business. During this time, I still didn’t know what the MadLab Group was. It wasn’t until early 2013 that I was introduced to the MLG. I attended one of the first MLG summits in Vancouver, met Patty (MadLab Group CEO) and his team and learned as much as I could in those three days. After that experience, my entire outlook and perception about a professional looks like changed. I switched my focus from being a CrossFit coach, to becoming a Coach For Life and building my own business.
Dave and Tara Picardy
Financially, what has the journey looked like?
I don’t have the exact numbers from the first couple of years, but I would say my take home (after tax) was maybe $1,000-1,500 on a good month. 2014 was a game changer, and I could actually start saving money and planning for the future. I am now planning to buy my first house early next year.
What role does personal training play in your career?
One-on-one personal training is so successful because it allows you to build relationships with your clients. That is more important than anything in this business. If your clients don’t trust you, then they won’t stick around long term. Some of my clients have become my best friends, and I am always hanging with different clients outside of the gym. You build such amazing bonds with people of all walks of life. That is the best part about being a Coach For Life. Having a love of training is one thing, but you also have to have a love for people.
Coaching is all about relationships…
What’s it like to work in a career where you’re essentially an entrepreneur—compensated based on a percentage of revenue earned, as opposed to by-the-hour like so many other coaches and trainers in the industry?
Not making an hourly wage can be intimidating at first. Your paycheck is solely based on your performance and ability to bring in and retain clients. You can be a great coach, but not so great at selling. You have to do both if you want make a living as a professional coach. Some months are great, especially when your schedule is full and you are on point with retaining your clients. But there are months when it is slow, you lose a couple people, and all of sudden your pay is down. It’s a challenge to maintain consistent momentum month after month. You have to find new ways to get outside of your comfort zone and go talk to people. Clients aren’t just going to come to you. If you want to build a business, you need to get out of the gym and go find your clients.
Being an entrepreneur has challenged me in so many ways. I was never someone who was comfortable talking and presenting in front of groups. That’s something I now do daily, whether it’s in the gym or outside. In order to grow your business, being comfortable in front of people is key. It just comes down to having the confidence and practicing over and over.