Road to Mastery: The Franchise Gym Coach Versus the Professional Coach

Before I get into being a coach in the franchise or commodity model versus the Madlab model, let’s consider the concept of seeking mastery.

Mastery: The continued pursuit of knowledge, expertise, and growth in a chosen area of your life. In our case, the coach.

In his famous book Mastery, George Leonard outlines the path to mastery as a long one with many peaks, valleys, and plateaus. The only way to get there is through diligently and gracefully remaining committed to the long-term journey in all its ups and downs.

Leonard argues that most people never achieve true mastery because one of three different personality traits get in the way: The Dabbler, the Hacker, and the Obsessive.

The Dabbler: He loves the high of beginning something new, be it a career, a sport, or a relationship. He dives right in and tells everyone about his new hobby or pursuit, and is willing to work hard for a while. However, when trouble arrives—often a plateau—he loses interest, quits, and moves on to something else to dabble with, never becoming a master at anything.

The Obsessive: The obsessive lives for results. Unlike the dabbler, when a plateau or challenge comes along, he ups his efforts and continues to push. But his pushing is misguided and forceful, like trying to stick a square object into a round hole. Eventually, he starts looking for shortcuts and cheats—he starts skipping steps—in order to continue getting those all-important results, effectively undermining himself. Once again, mastery is never achieved.


The Hacker: He begins his journey well and starts progressing, but he eventually loses interest and stops caring about improvement and growth, as he feels he is good enough. He is comfortable with the way things are, comfortable living on cruise control. Mastery is of little interest.

When it comes to becoming a master coach—a true professional coach who is pursuing a lifelong career in coaching—personality and a willingness to embrace the long-term path to mastery matters, but so does the system under which the coach works.

Consider this graph, which highlights skills (aka mastery) over time in the Franchise Model or Commodity Model—gyms such as Orange Theory, Zumba, Curves, F45 and other various group exercise facilities—versus the MadlabProfessional Coach Model.

Franchise/Commodity Model:

The Franchise model starts off hopeful for the coach, who is excited to begin a new career at a beautiful new gym, with all the bells and whistles, that has already pre-sold 300 members before they even opened their doors.

These coaches go through a few days of in-house training at the franchise, or maybe they get hired after taking a weekend personal training certificate. Then they begin earning in the range of $15 to $20 an hour to coach classes.

It works for a while, but their excitement begins to wane as they realize there’s a ceiling on what they can earn, and it’s nowhere near enough to ever be able to own a home or even save for retirement.

At the same time, the job itself becomes less and less exciting. They find themselves coaching the same group class over and over, which starts to feel more like babysitting adults and time keeping than actually using their coaching skills or education. Soon, they stop caring about gaining more coaching expertise at all, because they’re not even really using what they do know, coaching five group classes a day.

The result: Coach churn at franchise gyms is between 9 and 18 months, meaning most coaches don’t last even two years in the industry. Suffice to say, mastery is never achieved.

Looking further down the graph in time: After approximately five years, investors have made their ROI and pull out of the business, putting the gym in a more precarious position in the process.

Now, it becomes harder and harder to attract coaches for $20 an hour. Those they do hire are often looking for part-time jobs or summer jobs. These people usually never have the intention of sticking around and honing their skills to become a professional coach. They churn even faster than the first group, and the cycle continues.

Bottom line: Regardless of personality type, or how hard you’re willing to work, it’s impossible to become a master coach coaching group classes for an hourly wage in a franchise or commodity gym.

The Madlab Model:

The Madlab model—the road to becoming a professional coach—is a three-plus year journey, where coaches are strategically taken through all of the steps required to become masters of their trade.

Through the Professional Coach Development Program (PCDP), which includes formal education via our online school, our coaches receive:

  • One-on-one mentorship
  • Technical education
  • Sales training
  • Marketing training
  • Business training
  • Personal development

Read more here about the professional gym here.

The end result: True self-sufficient professional coaches—who earn a professional wage year-after-year—who have the expertise, as well as the respect from the medical community, and are actively bridging the gap between the traditional medical model and fitness. Read more about why the future of fitness needs to be about preventative medicine here.

Madlab coaches are pursuing fulfilling careers, not as babysitters and clock starters of a group of dabblers, but as lifelong coaches helping their clients put diabetes into remission, fix their chronic pain, and ultimately get fit and healthy for the long-term.

They are true masters of their craft.

Recent Posts

Leave a Comment