What the Road to Becoming a Professional Coach Looked like for Coach Tom Sarosi

At the age of 21, Tom Sarosi knew working in a union environment as a pipe fitter, which he had done since graduating High School, wasn’t for him. 

“I wasn’t interested in working in the rain, in the dirt and on job sites near and far the rest of my life. I wanted structure, consistency and control over when and how I did my job,” Tom said.

He was passionate about fitness and thought gym ownership might be a better path for him. So in 2012 he flew across the country to Vancouver to go through the fast track apprentice coaching program at Madlab School of Fitness. His intention was to spend four months in Vancouver learning the ins and outs from our experienced coaches and then return to Uxbridge, Ontario to open his own gym.

But after four months, he realized there was more opportunity to pursue a coaching career at MadLab in Vancouver than there was in returning home to open his own gym.

By January, 2013, Tom started working with his own clients and earning 20 percent of the revenue they generated (30 percent if they were a referral from an existing client). He also took on some part-time construction work as well, and became the official handyman around the gym.

That year was a grind, to say the least. Tom put in more hours than any other coach. He spent his days working in construction and his evenings and weekends at the gym. It became the running joke that Tom slept at the gym. 

But he accepted this life in the short-term, knowing he was laying the foundation for long-term success.

“I knew and still know nothing comes easy, so for me to expect it was going to happen right away was a dream, but I was well aware of the reality (that it would take time).

It would take time, but he knew it was possible, as the other experienced coaches at Madlab School of Fitness were all earning professional wages as full-time career coaches. 

“I knew I could make a living doing this the moment I met T-Bear (Trevor Lindwall) and the other coaches at Madlab. I knew they had been doing it for many years and didn’t need to supplement income from other sources,” he said. 

Tom was patient, but he was also determined and pushed himself along at a faster rate than many others do. And one of the perks of hanging out at the gym as much as he did meant Tom was able to snag a whole bunch of walk-ins as clients, which helped him start to really grow his book of clients quite quickly. 

He also took initiative by developing a specialty program in his first year—Weakness 101—where he wrote programs for people who had specific weaknesses they wanted to fix and could come in at designated times to work through their programs.

The following year, Tom took on the role of the head coach for the competitor’s program, now called the Development Program. Today, his development program has 15-20 athletes depending on the time of year, each of whom pay an additional $135 on top of their regular membership. Tom earns 60 percent of the revenue from this program, so between $1,200 and $1,600 a month for 6 hours of on-floor coaching work (three 2-hour sessions per week).

On top of his development program (as of 2020) Tom has 90 clients. He has been making well beyond a professional wage for the last three years (we consider $75,000 + to be a professional wage) and his take home pay has increased every year since his first year in 2013. More impressive is his annual client retention sits at around 90 percent.

As an associate coach, Tom earns between 40 and 50 percent of the revenue his clients generate (they pay between $225 and $500 a month depending on how much one-on-one training and/or individual program design they do).

The breakdown of Tom’s coaching weeks are as follows: 

  • Group classes: 8 classes per week
  • Development program: 6 hours per week
  • Personal training with new clients and hybrid clients: 12-14 hours per week
  • Remote clients: 1-3 hours of programming hours per week
  • Individual program design: 6 hours per week
  • Gym program design: 2 hours per week

This works out to approximately 25 on-floor coaching hours per week with the rest of his time being dedicated to program design, communicating with clients and other administrative work. 

Yeah, Tom works his ass off—the biggest key to his success—but his job satisfaction is about as high as it gets because he’s actually making a difference in his clients’ lives. And despite his workaholic tendency, he makes sure to take 3 to 5 short vacations a year.

As a result of the life he has created for himself, Tom has no intention of leaving Madlab School of Fitness to open his own gym, which is, of course, best case scenario for his clients, for Tom and for the business.


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