Monday, November 1, 2010

"Trainers" and Trainers That Actually Train People

In this day of the Internet, so many fitness enthusiasts have been deemed "gurus" on the simple premise that they have packed on 30 pounds of muscle on their frame; or they have dropped 30 pounds of fat following a strict diet. Those are two very impressive notables in this age of sedentary-ism; but what happens when you apply those same principles that helped you achieve such a feat to a DIFFERENT person in a DIFFERENT body? Its a big difference.

Fitness marketing has been around for years. Muscle & Fitness magazine ran articles monthly on the newest type of bodybuilding workout the current champ was using and printed it. Almost in unison, every reader started that workout the next day at the gym.

Today, it seems everyone is a personal trainer. If you have a great physique and like to wear tight shirts, you are deemed a personal trainer. Think about it...what happens when you announce you are a personal trainer to a stranger? The stranger looks the trainer up and down--scanning the physique. Its our first line of advertisement. However, what has worked for you may not work for someone else.

You see, we live in an age where seeing is believing. And there's alot of fitness marketers out there that spend alot of time bragging about all the money they make (cough*cough* bullsh*t) and developing recycled products every other month. Each product touts a new workout program that promises to be better than the last. And when you uncover the content of the latest product; it reminds you alot of the LAST product! They seem to have plenty of time to create long sales lists, long marketing campaigns, and find their way to many online forums.

They have alot of free time to hit the gym too. That's a good thing, right? Sure is if you want to maintain optimal health and lean body mass to simply function better and live a quality life. But what if you want to develop products or maintain an online presence? Shouldn't you walk the walk? The Internet is scoured with photos and testimonials of gurus with their shredded physiques overlooking the ocean side at a Hawaiian resort, so I guess I can believe that they are in great shape. I see that and I believe that.

But where do they find the time to do all this if they are training clients for a living? I mean, shouldn't they be walking the walk of "helping others achieve results" and using that as their main credential? It beckons me to ask: are they really training anyone at all?

Someone once said that if you are not "paying the mortgage with your training career, then you are not training many clients". A career is a full-time endeavor...not part-time, not per diem. You pay the bills doing what you love in the career you chose. Remember the 10,000 hour mark to measure experience? I am reluctant to believe that many of today's gurus have acquired 10,000 hours of actual face time with a client. I have an easier time believing that they have achieved 10,000 hours facing a computer screen working on the latest SEO program.

Does it really matter that a fitness professional actually trains person? Does it matter that a surgeon has a steady hand? Of course.

Well why can't I simply market my ideologies, opinions, and my personal workout and make money off of that?

You can do that too.

Face to face time with a client forces a few things to happen:

You coach...You don't lecture - many gurus that spend 90% of their time with online clients miss out on the human condition. Relating to a person and bringing out the best in them. How do you do that with words typed? There has to be a visual and auditory stimulation to really reach into someone and pull out their best effort. There has to be a reciprocal communication of data that includes spatial awareness, cue accentuation, stress, and command. Can you really do that with words all day long?

Notice the difference in stimulation in the following videos contains verbal speech and words typed:



Which video grabs you more? Hopefully if you are breathing the same oxygen I am, you said video number 2. Face to face training carries a stimulation that is mentally beneficial for both the coach and the recipient. Most gurus that spend 90% of their time on the Internet, spend their time lecturing you on what you 'need' to do and recycle information that has already been available. If you are a visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learner (and most of us are a combination of all three); you want a coach in the room learning about you, and then mapping out a plan of success based on what they are working with.

Learn, See, Do... and Trouble shoot - I have mentioned many times that my first 2 years in the business, I may have committed more errors in program design with my clients than ever. I was young and I was still learning. I knew what my body was capable of doing; but when I commanded my client to perform certain movements, they struggled. I couldn't figure it out without having to observe them -- taking in information from what I was SEEING -- and correcting or modifying my original design. No exercise program is written in stone. NONE. All will have to be modified. All the great coaches will tell you that. You cannot write a one size fits all program and expect optimal results. Each program has to be tailored towards the individuals' goals, capabilities, and medical history. However, many programs sold online are promoted as they are the END ALL, BE ALL and will 100% work for you. That is not true.

There are certain coaches that sell products online that I admire...alot. They are smart and use test studies to warrant feedback on a program. Once they have gathered the info needed; then the product is packaged and sold. That is concreteness.

Get out there... - it takes alot of guts to call yourself a fitness professional. People expect you to be a marathoner, cyclist, parachuter, power-lifter, and deep sea Navy diver--all rolled up into one. Truth is...I am a fitness professional and I sometimes get sick of going to the gym. I sometimes get sick of talking about fitness. I rarely feel the need to talk about fitness when I am out. I like to talk about LIFE. Physical fitness is a component of life. And it is what defines my career. The path to becoming the best that you can be has many routes and doesn't only include fitness. 

Is there really a difference between training others versus training yourself and expecting the same results? 
Sure there is. Training others is a complex process of applying modifying principles indicative to a person's relative response. A trainer learns how to SPEAK, GESTURE, MIRROR, and DEMONSTRATE when working with another individual.  A guru who spends 90% of her time "working online" misses those actions. So how can you deem a guru credulous when they have not tested their expertise in the real world? Am I implying that the online world is not the real world? Yes.


  1. Thanks for this John! As a trainer who actually trains people face to face for a living (for over 2 decades now) I resent the fact that uncertified fitness models with no ability to teach and very little knowledge of biomechanics get the publicity, when more than half the time their advice could hurt people.

  2. Great stuff dude! I actually had one of these "online fitness gurus" tell me at a workshop once that I wasn't a real trainer because I didn't have a big online presence. When I told him I was too busy training "real clients" to spend all my time online he smirked and walked away. Apparently if you're not ripping people off and driving a Ferrari, you're not a real trainer in this guys eyes.

  3. John,

    Just give me $10,000 and meet me in Vegas, where I will share with you how to live the internet lifestyle... Dont worry about your wont need to EVER train another client again after you hear my methods to getting rich on the internet. haha

    Great post by the way.

  4. Keith: Gotta love the 'pyramid scheme' these guys use and NO ONE see it! Thanks for actually inspiring this blog post!
    Andy: Dude...seriously. if you read between the lies; these guys are about as fake as the Easter Bunny.
    Lyndia: Something had to be said!

  5. Great article John! It's comforting to know you are one of the few real trainers out there making it happen for your cliets!

  6. oh cracked me So fact I see the internet marketers fitness gurus actually telling you to stop training..delegate it all...hey, I'll do that when I'm ready,not as a prerequeset to success...I'll do it cuz I'm getting old...phasing out. Please don't get me started on the so called mastermind groups..are they actually how to undermine all the other fit pros on that market to trainers and sleezy marketing tactic parties for 75% of the time.
    ooooh John I can kill always post something that lights a fire under are one of the few who does this. Phil Kaplan just did it on last months call...I came on call late and he was being as facisious as Kieth was...and I was stunned until I realized what he was actually doing..Anyway, don't think a lot of trainers are as fooled as you think..It's just the groupies. Oh and speaking of Phil Kaplan, 6yrs ago he wrote me a 6 page typed answer to a question I asked him...and the only phrase I can quote from all his great advice was:"Do you want to be an internet markeer or a trainer?" ..smack!
    I did market to bootcamp trainers back then (and still do) and now every body and their brother is a bootcamp expert..uh some of them never even ran a camp..ever.
    Maybe I should stop now...or do my own
    thank you for great post.

  7. Georgette: Awesome comments. Its sad that in today's industry, you can be lured to paying $4000 to go to Las Vegas and simply get access to someone's sales list. Thats what these mastermind groups are really about...getting access to 30,000 email addresses.

  8. Great post as usual, John!

    I just "divorced" my boot camp business partner...needed to happen for a good while now. Aside from other differences of opinion, more and more she seemed to be turning into one of those "make money off of other trainers while posing as someone who actually trains people all the time" types. When she signed up as a Beachbody coach, I knew it was time for me to get away!

    On a somewhat-related note...what's up with all of these people who are coming up with their own certs? It's like there's a new type of cert every day. Apparently anyone and everyone can come up with their own system and sell it to other trainers. I don't see anything wrong with this, if you have a legit philosophy and system...but i'm thinking it's only going to lead to more and more people jumping on the bandwagon and coming up with their own certs. They of course are holding hands with the "cool dudes" who make SO much money behind a computer screen (and drive Ferraris, speaking of which, I think I know who the Ferrari dude mentioned above is...and have to say that anyone who makes their Facebook profile pic a headshot with a Ferrari in the background is a douche). Georgette said, another post that gets me on my soapbox!

    Funny because earlier today, I commented on a colleague/friend/fellow triathlete's FB page, saying: "It's time for us to get crack-a-lackin' on our 4D/Rippel Effect Most Kickass Fitness Certification...I think we can crank out the methodology, workout templates, "secret" exercises, and a buncha bogus gibberish that sounds really smart in prolly a week...then turn around and sell it to numbskull trainers for $1299! Remember, this is just the cert...they must renew every year for $799! Let's get goin'! :D"

    Keep up the good work, as usual! I hope to be back on my soapbox blog posts soon...the "divorce" has freed up a lot of my mental energy, so it's about time!


  9. just figured out I have 26.400 hrs of experience, wow I must be a expert?

  10. Bill, The second thing you need is confidence!


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