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Let me tell you a real-life story, about the ugly side of being a PT at the start of an 18-year career. It will be more or less something that a lot of you have already been through, and if you haven’t, something most of you will experience in the next few years.

I remember the first training session I had about 18 years ago. It wasn’t really in a gym setting but relates to being a trainer. I was 16 years old and trained in martial arts like there wasn’t anything else in the world that mattered. I put so much time and effort into it, that my Sensei asked me to take over a children’s class for the first time. He knew I was good with kids, so it was a reasonable leap for him to make. The feeling I had back then was just amazing.

Being able to give away some of my knowledge to others and being able to help them improve, was the most satisfying feeling I had ever experienced. After two years of kiddy classes, I began to teach the older ones. I spent my own money buying tatami mats to be able to train even more on my own.

I remember going around the family, asking for a couple dollars, so that I would have enough money put together to attend seminars in Germany with the US Sensei’s that were invited there. Both my cousin and I slept in a car. My dear mother prepared food for us. We ate out of our Tupperware boxes for two or three days (thank god the seminars were in winter and the food didn’t rot).

After my first seminar, I decided that I wanted to become a professional trainer. I knew without a doubt this was my calling. I wanted to live for helping others develop a better quality of life for themselves. It was my honest desire and still is to this very day. I opened my Dojo when I turned 20 and was one of the youngest Senseis around. However, the market wasn’t open for this. Even with 50 clients, I struggled to get money in to pay rent or even to make a decent living.

I’m sure most of you went through this, working your ass off and not being able to pay your bills. I’m not going to sugar code it, it sucks! BUT, I kept on doing what I loved.

Unfortunately, life had other plans.

Now, you might be wondering where i’m from – well i’m from one of the smallest countries in the world, Slovenia (yeah, where the first lady Melania was born). I had to move to Austria and took a job in the mobile industry. I didn’t have much time to train. I gained weight and my ex got pregnant. Things got complicated. To cut the story short, I got offered a better job. I moved back home with a big desire to reopen the Dojo. Since I gained some weight and was now a father (at the tender age of 23 years), things weren’t easy. I quickly realized I had to make some changes fast. So, I jumped back into fitness.

The gym had always been a part of my training. I fell completely in love with it again. It helped me get through tough times. I started to read more about training. I had always invested my money into seminars and books, specifically for martial arts or training. I continued to do so.

I budgeted a portion of my earnings for education and to be able to afford new books, certifications for nutrition and fitness, and to access the “internet knowledge base”. In the past 10 years, I’ve spent over $200,000 on my education. I worked a lot of overtime to able to afford this. While working full time at my gym, I also did PT sessions early in the mornings and late in the evenings. It was a struggle, but well worth it.

It was around this time I began to follow a very important person. He became my best mentor and today, is a dear friend and business partner. Since the first podcast and seminar I attended, he gave me the motivation to get better in what I do every day, to invest in myself, to grow, to thrive on.

Since 2013, I have been a gym owner and in 2014, I started to give small seminars to provide my experience and my knowledge to other trainers.

I don’t want to talk about my earnings today, because it doesn’t really matter. The important thing is I make a nice living from what I’m doing. The numbers that I want you to have are the ones that matter, since those numbers are the reason I am here today.

In my career as a trainer, I worked with more than 2,500 clients. Up to this day, I’ve had more than 20,000 training sessions and more than 6,000 consultations with clients regarding nutrition. I have been through over 20 different international certifications from our field (I don’t know the exact amount because I don’t count anymore) and attended more than 60 weekend seminars from different parts of our industry to gather the knowledge I needed to succeed.


It took me 18 years to get where I am now. It has cost me a lot of effort, time and money. It was a struggle for many, many years before things got better and I’m still investing in myself every single day of my life, trying to learn something, attending seminars. Even if I’m lecturing, I still listen to those that can give me any additional information.

Something I see a lot in our industry is the need for INSTANT GRATIFICATION. Everybody wants to succeed in one week, one month. The business coaches, that never have run a successful business on their own, market themselves with “becoming a six figure PT in one month” and are the best examples of fraud out there and giving the industry a bad reputation.


Real work, investment, unwavering commitment, and the very much needed, proper mindset, is what is required to be truly successful. We often learn by experience. You will fall many times, stand up many times, just to fall back down again. This is how we understand what it takes. We must have both UPs and DOWNs to appreciate what we have.

Having a DREAM is nice but being prepared to do what it takes to make it real is what divides those who succeed and those who fail. Work hard, invest in yourself, learn and never regret what you have done to get your DREAM to come true.

For the very end, I want to give you the words my mentor wrote to me after the most important training session of my life: “WHAT WE DO IS NOT ABOUT GETTING PEOPLE SHREDDED, IT IS ABOUT CHANGING PEOPLES LIVES, WHICH IS ABOUT THE WILLINGNESS TO LEARN AND GET BETTER IN WHAT WE DO.” Phil Learney, 2015

Written by

Ales Potrc,

FIT Tovarna

IFPA Affiliate for Slovenia