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Get Paid to Work Out with a Sweaty Side Hustle

Get paid to work out and lose weight with your own side business.

Did you know that wages for physical labor and skilled trades are rising in the United States? If you don’t believe me, ask any plumber. But it’s not just certified trades that are becoming more lucrative.

Because there is a large gap between the demand for physical labor and the number of enterprising people willing to provide it, you can make better, cash wages working with your hands here and there than you can by earning a paycheck from the man at your day job.

From junk removal to gardening, and from pet care to catering, the money is there. Add on to this the extra benefit of how great you’ll feel from the additional exercise, and the case for launching what some people call a “sweaty startup,” or its smaller cousin, a sweaty side hustle, has never been stronger.

But just how much money are we talking about here?

Here’s what I mean when I say you can get paid to work out. My full-time landscaping business began as a weekend side hustle, where I charged $50 an hour for lawn cleanups. This is a job that involves mostly raking leaves, trimming a few branches, and dragging brush around. It doesn’t get any more basic than that.

I showed up with a few tools and a willing back, and I left at the end of the day with a satisfying ache in my muscles and $400 in my pocket — and customers were thrilled to pay me so little!

At least half of my clients were visibly surprised at the price and even told me I was not charging enough. I learned later that established operators charge between $500 and $1,000 a day for yard cleanups. My heart nearly burst with avaricious glee.

I started doing this on Saturdays, one day a week. Who couldn’t use an extra $400 a week, especially if it comes with a great workout?

Now, this was in New Jersey. Before you dismiss the numbers, let’s put this in perspective. Friends my age in their twenties, also in New Jersey, were making $15, $17, $20 an hour at their wage jobs. I made $50.

We all ate and drank whatever we wanted, because that’s what you do in your twenties. But I lost weight, then gained five pounds of muscle over the landscaping season, while they gained a different sort of mass.

Melodrama aside, I have nothing against desk jobs. It’s a great privilege not to have to depend on your body for a living. Sedentary work is a wonder of the modern age: when else in human history could a person spend an entire day doing absolutely nothing but twiddling his fingertips over a keyboard and receive money to buy every necessity of life? I’m doing it right now. It’s amazing. 

The problem arises when sitting is all we do. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather get paid $50 an hour to exercise; that’s a lot more exciting to me than spending several hours a week clomping along on a gym treadmill squished between a bunch of other miserable, sweaty people who smell at least as bad as I do.

Anyway, wherever you live, you can expect to charge at least twice as much for gig work as a wage-earning employee would make for the same labor in your area, sometimes even three or four times as much as you gain experience. Especially for physical work that requires any degree of skill (commonly called trade work), or if the job you’re doing is especially undesirable to other people.

How else can you get paid to work out?

“But I don’t want to rake leaves, Dan. What else can I do?”

I’m so glad you asked. The term “sweaty startup” or “sweaty side-hustle” applies to any business endeavor which requires physical effort or discomfort — exactly the kind of effort most of us modern Americans have no desire to exert (full-time, anyway). 

This required discomfort is why sweaty hustles pay so well, both in cash flow and in health dividends. If you want to make money working out, intentionally choose something you enjoy and which will get you physically moving, but which lots of other people don’t want to do for themselves.

And if you really want to make a lot of money, choose a hustle that almost nobody else is willing to do, either because it’s physically demanding, dangerous, or just unpleasant.

Do you know how much chimney sweeps make? How about barely-certified welders? Not to mention dog groomers and pet-poop-picker-uppers (yes, that’s a real business). It’s insane. And don’t get me started on politicians. If ever there was a dirty job, it’s that one, and they get paid through the roof. Too bad you can’t do that on the weekends.

Don’t worry too much about how physically demanding a job is. In fact, the more strenuous it is, the better! How many people can say they get paid to work out? Fulltime physical labor can really wear you out (be kind to the tradesmen you know!). But on Saturdays. . . a sweaty side hustle is a blast. It’s invigorating. And most of all, it’s deliciously lucrative.

If you don’t have an idea forming already, I recommend you take a look at this list of hustles at Sweatystartup.com. And if you need more help getting started with your project, check out our side hustle section. Get out there, get moving, and get paid!

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