Body by Boyd
How one man left computer programming and turned the hobby he loved into a lucrative profession.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Boyd Myers left home in Texas, and a solid job as a computer programmer with the Air Force, to become a personal trainer - and that's when his career really skyrocketed.
After joining the Air Force out of high school in 1994, Myers got stationed in Montgomery, Alabama in 1996. There, he spent so much time working out at Gold's Gym that the gym finally offered him a part-time job in exchange for a free membership.
Myers, now 30, said he was happy to help others with their workout, but soon, "people started asking me to train them on the side," he said, so he insisted he would help them free of charge.
Soon he was working with clients 25 hours a week while trying to balance personal training with his programming job in the Air Force. That's when he decided to get certified, Myers said, and start charging for the services he provided.
After being discharged in 2004 with an annual salary of around $42,000 and 10 years of experience under his belt, Myers decided to become a full-time personal trainer instead of pursuing a career in computers. "That's what I liked," he said.
But when General Dynamics (Charts) offered him $350,000 to spend a year in Iraq as an independent contractor working on tracking program, Myers decided he couldn't turn down the opportunity. But he didn't want to put his budding career as a personal trainer on hold either.
Instead, he used his computer skills to build his business online. "I kept an online personal training journal," Myers explained. While in Iraq, He charged clients $300 to $400 a month to provide them with a full nutrition program as well as training tips and general advice via email and message boards.
And when the 12 months were up, Myers immediately returned to his wife, Kristen, and his personal training career.
Starting from scratch
With the money he made working for General Dynamics and the client base he had built up, he rented a studio in San Antonio, Texas for $2,500 a month and hired two full-time trainers.
That was "a big risk," Myers said, "I had never paid rent on a place or hired employees or anything before."
Again, he put his computer skills to work building a Web site and mastering key words and cues used by search engines. "When people search (online) for trainers in San Antonio, they find me."
"The first two months we were open, we grossed $70,000 a month." Now, Myers, who charges $75 to $90 an hour, says he brings in approximately $250,000 a year through his studio and plans to open another one in the area soon.
"My goal is to open 20 studios or franchise."
While independent personal trainers can make about $50 to $100 an hour depending on their location, according to Ron Clark, CEO of the National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT), Myers said he was more driven by his love for the job. "I believe in what I do," he said.
With his income, Myers has started a college fund for his two-year-old son Peyton (name after Peyton Manning) and invests in small caps and oil refinery stocks, like Valero Energy (Charts), through E*Trade.
He says he has about $250,000 in savings and a $900 monthly pension from the VA that covers most expenses, including phone, Internet, electricity, cable and gas.
Myers says he spends conservatively but doesn't save obsessively, "I would rather enjoy life."