At the age of 21, Tom Sarosi knew working in a union environment as a pipefitter, 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. He intended 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 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),” he said.

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 the moment I met T-Bear and the other coaches at Madlab. I knew they had been doing this 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 faster 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 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.

Tom Today: Tom has 60 clients and has been making six figures—well above the average household income in Vancouver—for the last seven years. And in fact, his take home pay has increased every year since his first year in 2013. More impressive is his annual client retention sits around 90 percent (more than 99% per month) 

To earn this, Tom is paid on performance and not dollars per hour. This means he is compensated based on client retention, average client value and finding new clients. If he was paid by the hour plus a percentage for personal training, he would make less than half of what he does today (and probably wouldn’t be in the industry anymore).

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

Group classes: 7 classes per week
Speciality program: 6 hours per week
Personal training with new clients and hybrid clients: 12-14 hours per week
Gym program design: 3 hours per week

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

Yeah, Tom works hard, but his job satisfaction is about as high as it gets because he's actually making a difference in his clients' lives and is well compensated to do so. Further, the system means he won’t burn out, and he’s able to take three to five 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, the best-case scenario for his clients, for Tom and for the business.

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