Personal Fitness Professional Sep/Oct 2016

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HAVE THEM FROM ‘HELLO’ The Fitness Professional’s Lifeline: A PFP 2016 6-part special series

JOURNEY TO SUCCESS Robert Linkul Asking why and shaping change



president & publisher

chad griepentrog | audience development manager

rachel spahr | national sales director

susan malmanger | editor

lindsay vastola | managing editor

mike beacom | creative director

kelli cooke |

A medical fitness facility checklist Create a 5-sense experience in your gym Don’t be content offering just good workouts. By David Crump

POLL RESULTS Which do you integrate with your clients most often?


3.4% 26.2


Jump Start

by Brent Gallagher



Editor’s Top 10

b. Meditation c. Pilates e. Other mindfulness practices

Career Builder by Josh Bowen

What media do you frequent most for updates in fitness education?


Functionally Fit by Brian Schiff

a. Academic journals b. Social media c. Books d. Online resources e. Other


10 start-up fitness businesses mistakes By Lindsay Vastola


NEXT POLL Visit: to participate

Visit our website or YouTube channel to view weekly instructional videos from some of the most respected names in the fitness industry.


a. Yoga

d. Tai Chi

VIDEO Exercise of the Week

18.7% 38.8%

7 considerations before opening a medical fitness facility. By JR Burgess


pfpmedia pfpmedia pfpmedia

contributing writers

brandi binkley, brian grasso, sean greeley, melissa knowles featured columnists

michelle blakely, greg justice, phil kaplan, jason karp, bedros keuilian

RB Publishing Inc. 2901 International Lane Madison WI 53704-3128 Tel: 608.241.8777 Fax: 608.241.8666 Email: Print Subscription Information Subscriptions are free to qualified recipients: $36 per year to all others in the United States. Subscriptions rate for Canada or Mexico is $60 per year, and for elsewhere outside the United States is $80. Back-issue rate is $5. Send subscriptions to: By mail: PFP, P.O. Box 259098 Madison WI 53725-9098 Tel: 608.241.8777 E-mail: Fax: 608.241.8666 Website: Digital Print Subscription Information Digital Subscriptions to PFP are free to qualified recipients and may be ordered at Reprints For high-quality reprints, please contact our exclusive reprint provider. ReprintPros, 949.702.5390, All material in this magazine is copyrighted © 2016 by RB Publishing Inc. All rights reserved. Nothing may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher. Any correspondence sent to PFP, RB Publishing Inc. or its staff becomes property of RB Publishing Inc. The articles in this magazine represent the views of the authors and not those of RB Publishing Inc. or PFP. RB Publishing Inc. and/or PFP expressly disclaim any liability for the products or services sold or otherwise endorsed by advertisers or authors included in this magazine. PFP is published six times per year (Jan/Feb, March/ April, Spring Resource Guide, July/Aug, Sept/Oct, Nov/Dec). PFP (ISSN 1523-780X) [Volume 18, Issue 6 Published by RB Publishing Inc. 2901 International Lane, Suite 100 Madison WI 53704-3128, Tel: 608.241.8777 Periodicals postage paid at Madison WI and additional offices. Postmaster: Send address changes to: PFP | P.O. Box 259098 | Madison WI 53725-9098.



Lindsay Vastola |

Tanya Slusser |

The book you never read There is an abundance of wisdom about the concept of application. Winston Churchill spoke about how much easier it is to discover and proclaim general principles than it is to actually apply them. Isaac Newton credited his success to application, although his “powers were ordinary.” Author Christopher Crawford poignantly claimed that “knowledge without application is a like a book that is never read.” The importance of application for fitness professionals runs in the exact same vein. Application is about doing; the “doing” that is a requirement for growth and progress. As we’ve been taught since childhood, we constantly seek new knowledge with the intent to become better: certifications, courses, webinars, conferences, training manuals and mentors. However, it’s only when we apply that new-found knowledge, learn from it, adapt to it and then repeat that process over and over that we experience the momentum and progress that elude so many, most often because of fear of the unknown. Though a relatively broad concept, I felt it appropriate for us to devote this PFP issue to the importance of application. Whether training principles, business strategy or career development, our mission in this issue is that you find insight and inspiration on putting application in motion. In this issue: } Melissa Knowles gives important clarity around an issue that is often misinterpreted: make sure you correctly classify contractors and employees. } Are you offering more than just a great training program? Brandi Binkley breaks down how to rise above your competition and offer a second-to-none experience. } Robert Linkul, respected fitness professional, studio owner, speaker and writer, inspires us to ask “why” in our Journey to Success profile. Application gives us the opportunity to win some and fail some. Either way, it gives us opportunity. Opportunity that otherwise would have been left undiscovered. Much like that book we’ve never read. Committed to your success,

Applying passion to education PFP Trailblazer Award Winner Tanya Slusser shares how her focus primarily on clients with spinal cord injuries has rewarded her with a meaningful career where she can apply her knowledge, education, creativity and passion.

What population would you consider your primary focus in your training? The majority of my clients are currently those with spinal cord injuries. Most of them are high C-level quadriplegics. More recently, I am seeing more and more stroke, cerebral palsy and traumatic brain injuries, as well. When did you realize this was a population on which you wanted to focus? When I accepted my position at The Claremont Club my manager asked if I would be open to working with spinal cord injuries and I told her absolutely. I found that I was able to use my creativity, be challenged every day and also feel rewarded for helping someone in need achieve a small milestone. I loved it! When I was asked to work for Project Walk, I knew I had found a job where I wouldn’t “work” a day in my life. What advice would you give to a fitness professional who is trying to focus on a specific population or audience? Do not be afraid to try new things and step out of your comfort zone with special populations. Your out-of-the-box creative thinking will benefit your audience/clients more than you know. I always tell my clients, “We are going to try something new, if it works GREAT! If not, then now we know.”

Trainer of the

Year 2016




Application: the lifeline of success


OTHER Columns 08 Treadmill Talk

The magic is in the overlap of personal and professional By Greg Justice

09 Boost Your Business Vision first, application second By Bedros Keuilian

10 Top-Notch Training Clients’ struggles mirror our own By Michelle Blakely


Journey To Success: Robert Linkul

Asking why and shaping change One man’s mission to elevate an industry By Lindsay Vastola

11 Education Connection Knowledge (alone) is not power By Jason R. Karp

30 Be Better

Why are you here? By Phil Kaplan



What is your trainingto-business ratio?


How to balance three key roles as your business grows

05 Letter from the Editor Is your independent contractor truly independent?

Protect your business with proper classification

By Sean Greeley

By Melissa Knowles


2016 SPECIAL SERIES: Client Attraction and Retention Have them from “hello:” a client experience like no other By Brandi Binkley



The book you never read

23 The Message Lauren Brooks

24 Education Trends

Mind matters most: trends in mindset coaching By Brian Grasso

28 New on the Market 29 Events Calendar




of the

Year 2017




MAY - Farel Hruska

Tyler Travis LECOM Medical Fitness & Wellness Center Erie, PA @tylergtravis


APRIL - Jim White

Julie Luther PurEnergy Greensboro, NC @julieluther2008


AUGUST - Kurt Gillon

JULY - Sharan Tash

JUNE - Scott Keppel

MARCH - Ashlee Alfred

FEBRUARY - Stephen Holt

JANUARY - Lisa Dougherty

APPLY TO BE A 2016 TRAINER OF THE MONTH! The 2017 PFP Trainer of the Year will be selected from the 2016 Trainer of the Month winners. Visit to apply and for contest details.



The magic is in the overlap of personal and professional The “practice” of personal fitness training is equally science and art, and the magic is in the overlap of personal and professional. What is it that creates and sustains a longterm relationship in our industry, and how does a trainer achieve greater-than-average client retention? You begin by creating a special world just for them, a place that is enriching and nurturing. By listening to your clients, you will learn their likes and dislikes - what makes them tick. From there, you can create an environment in which they can thrive. If we try to fit each of our clients into a one-size-fits-all mold, it won’t work for anyone. Each of your clients is different, and the world you create for them needs to be uniquely theirs. Here are three crucial steps to creating magic in the overlap of personal and professional: 1. Work together to clearly define the objectives 2. Communicate openly and effectively 3. Be honest and realistic Work together to clearly define the objectives: Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else.” You must know where you’re going with your client, and what you’re trying to achieve with them, before the journey can begin in earnest. When you work together to define objectives, you’ll create the roadmap to navigate the most efficient path toward to success. Communicate openly and effectively: Communication is essential in any relationship. In today’s fast-paced world there are many ways to keep in touch, from phone calls and texting, to emails, to social media and even old-fashioned handwritten notes. It’s important to be available to your clients, even if they’re not right in front of you. A prompt and polite reply is always welcome and appreciated, and can go a long way in nurturing the client-trainer relationship. Be honest and realistic: Relationships work best when both parties are honest and realistic about the process. If you mislead your clients about how much weight they can lose, or how much strength they can gain in a certain period of time, there will be disappointment and the relationship will suffer, as will the client’s self-esteem. Always set realistic goals, and let your clients know what to expect from you. Then they can build trust in you and your ability to deliver what you promised. Finding the perfect combination of personal and professional is the formula to lasting relationships in your personal training or fitness business. Working together with your clients, using open communication toward a realistic goal, is the best way to make magic happen.

Greg Justice, MA, CPT, is the founder of AYC Health & Fitness ( and the Corporate Boot Camp System ( He has been actively involved in the fitness industry for more than a quarter of a century as a club manager, owner, personal trainer and corporate wellness supervisor.




Vision first, application second In the world of live events and business coaching, there is a common metaphor people use to describe a really good talk or seminar. They talk about “taking a drink from a fire hose” to capture the overwhelming experience of having so much advice and information thrown at you at once. It is more possible now to bring the fire hose home with you. Even if you live in the middle of nowhere, you can still hop on the Internet and have access to an endless list of magazines, audio recordings and videos, all of them packed to the brim with excellent business advice. For many of us, this can lead straight to panic. How do we sort through all this information? How do we know which pieces of advice to follow and which to leave on the table?

VISION FIRST This is such a simple idea in theory, but 80% of small businesses never go through with this and therefore end up shutting down within five years. You need to write down the vision for your fitness business. Now, when I say “vision” I mean more than just a business plan. Sure, you do want to get down to the nuts and bolts of your staffing, training modality, etc., but those things alone are not enough. In fact, if you do not have definitive, specific answers to these three questions, you can go ahead and toss the rest of your plan out. The first question: “Who is my business going to serve?” The second question: “For the people it serves, how is my business going to change their lives?” The third question: “Who do I need on my team to reach those people and create the change I envision?” Answer those three questions, in that order, and you will have the foundation for a real business. APPLICATION SECOND Once you have your vision clear in your mind (and only at that point) you can go back to the firehose and start taking other people’s advice seriously. At that point, your vision will do half the work for you. When you operate with a vision, your gut will often tell you which advice is relevant to your business and which is not. That still leaves certain grey areas, but you can sort through those by testing out the advice yourself. If it works, keep it. If it does not work, toss it. It’s that simple. Bedros Keuilian is the founder of the franchise Fit Body Boot Camp and an online fitness marketing expert. Between his information products and his live coaching programs, he has helped many fitness professionals build 6- and 7-figure businesses. Visit his website at

TOP-NOTCH TRAINING Michelle Blakely |

Clients’ struggles mirror our own We see it daily. Potential clients seeking solutions to their healthy living struggles. They buy gym memberships, consider our services, read about new diets and listen to the latest fitness fad hype. The average Jake or Jane is not lacking access to information or resources; they are lacking the power of application and habit. Reading about how to work out does not translate into actually working out. Aren’t we just like many of our clients? We may have the healthy living aspect nailed, but what about the business side of our careers and training practice? Aren’t we slow to take action just like they are? How many of us have said “I’ll have everyone sign a Par-Q this week” after getting great advice at a continuing education conference? One week turns into two, two into three and months later that unsigned protection is still sitting in the bottom of our locker. In the end, we arguably miss out on thousands of dollars in income and less security in payments from clients. Implementation and action are the power pieces. We know what we should do, it’s the doing it (or lack thereof) that causes problems. The day-to-day obligations keep us busy enough. Here are my three secrets for busting through a delay of game: 1. Information: Get the right advice. Seek out accountants, attorneys, communication experts and share their best tips for success as it relates to personal training and small business ownership. Just as we don’t expect clients to understand hypertrophy, relieve yourself of the pressure to have all the business or career answers on your own. Many of us never had formal business training. Having the right information makes it easier to take action. 2. Systems: Look at what you repeatedly do in your training. Do you have a process for those aspects of your training? Wouldn’t it be easier if you did? Consider the recurring nature of new client correspondence, initial assessments, reassessments, requests for testimonials, logging baseline measurements, waivers, training agreements, a uniform (whatever you decide that should be), a set weekly schedule, a marketing schedule (however simple), and a clear and positive process for saying goodbye to clients that leave. All of these pieces are so much easier when they are structured in a repeatable process and ultimately free up your energy for other things. 3. Good and perfect: Striving for perfection is a fantastic tool for procrastination. Don’t let the perfect get in the way of the good. Let it go. Get the information you need, a few systems in place and then announce, “OK, good enough. Time to move forward.”

Michelle Blakely’s company, See Jake and Jane Train, cures the business headaches of personal trainers and studios. Twice named the city’s best trainer by the Chicago Reader, Michelle pens columns, speaks at training groups, and gets tapped as a go-to source by media outlets like Good Housekeeping, Prevention and Enjoy a complimentary gift at




Knowledge (alone) is not power A number of years ago, I applied for a job as a personal trainer in a gym. During my interview with the manager, he called me “book smart.” It wasn’t a compliment, since he was suggesting that I only knew the information in books, and that what really mattered was a person’s experience. “We really want someone who has been doing this for a while,” he said, before sending me on my way. Ouch. I left the interview frustrated, because it seemed as if my education precluded the gym manager from seeing what I could do. Or perhaps I hadn’t shown him. I had not yet proved to him that I was more than just book smart, that I could actually use my education to train someone to get fit and lose weight. Knowledge alone is not power. One must be able to apply the knowledge one has. This is where a formal education fails us. I have met many brilliant scientists who have no idea how to train someone. (I once spoke to the scientist who studied cyclist Lance Armstrong for years in his laboratory at the University of Texas, and when I asked him about Lance’s training, he acted like a deer caught in headlights.) Universities do a great job of supplying us with knowledge, but a poor job of showing how to apply that knowledge. That part is up to us to learn on our own. Too much of the knowledge gained from the great research done by my academic colleagues remains in academic circles, never reaching the fitness professional or the general public. Academic conferences are nothing more than scientists communicating their research to other scientists. Scientists need to do a better job at communicating the results of their research to the people who can benefit from it and showing them how to use it; fitness professionals need to do a better job at acquiring and applying the education. It is not enough to know how muscles contract; we need to know how to design and administer resistance workouts to help our clients’ muscles get stronger and look better. It is not enough to know how the heart works; we need to know how to design and coach workouts to help our clients’ improve their cardiovascular systems. Wouldn’t it be great if all fitness professionals were required to have an education that consists of book knowledge and practical knowledge? The latter can be obtained from “rotations” akin to those in medical school. We would all spend a couple of years taking the science courses and then do rotations in health clubs, like medical students do in hospitals, to learn how to work with different populations and conditions. Upon graduation, we either become a fitness general practitioner or choose a specialty. I choose running. But you already knew that.

Jason Karp is the creator of the REVO2 LUTION RUNNING™ certification, 2011 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, and recipient of the 2014 President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition Community Leadership Award. A PhD in exercise physiology, he has more than 200 publications, mentors fitness professionals, and speaks around the world. His sixth book, The Inner Runner, is available in bookstores and Amazon.


Journey to Success

By Lindsay Vastola

Y H W G N AanSd KshIaping change e t a v e l e o t n o i s s i One man’s m an industry



obert Linkul. Whether you’ve heard him speak at an industry conference, read an article he’s shared industry-wide, interacted with him on social media or have worked with him as your trainer and coach, there are several memorable characteristics about him that are immediately obvious, even from your very first encounter. Robert is constantly connecting, extending opportunities and lifting others to greater heights. He oozes passion for fitness and he has an intense commitment to raise the standards of our industry; the kind of commitment



that you see in people who can’t sleep at night because they are constantly thinking about what more they can do. However, as is true with each of us, it’s only when you dig a little deeper to learn what shaped Robert Linkul beyond what we see at the surface, that you begin to really appreciate the journey to his reputation and success.

EARLY LESSONS SHAPE THE JOURNEY In 1999, Robert started as a YMCA trainer with an internal-gym certification. In an environment where his manager was focused more on meeting quotas and training himself than he was on

helping the staff become better trainers, he quickly learned that his certification was lackluster at best and did not prepare him for the responsibilities of the job. It was far from the way he wanted to start his career. He felt lost in terms of where to look for resources or assistance. Serendipitously, he found his way to the kinesiology department at California State University, Sacramento. One of his most impressionable instructors told him that he should never have a client perform a movement without having a reason for doing so. This single action of questioning “why” has since had a significant impact not only on his approach as a trainer, but on how

ROBERT LINKUL CURRENT TITLE: Certified Personal Trainer, Owner of Be STRONGER Fitness


CERTIFICATIONS: NSCA-CPT *D, CSCS*D, AlphaStrong Master Sandbag Instructor

EDUCATION: BS, Kinesiology, California State University of Sacramento; Masters in Personal Training/Sports Science, United States Sports Academy

FAVORITE EQUIPMENT: AlphaStrong Sandbags! Multiple use, durable, portable and challenging for our clients.

FAVORITE QUOTE: “A part-time effort equals a part-time result.” We need to be all in on our career path as fitness professionals and remember it’s not a job, it’s a career.

CONTACT INFO: Facebook: /robertlinkul

he approaches his career and greater purpose. In his own words, “I saw a system that forced me, as an inexperienced and unprepared trainer, into a position that ended in failure and asked myself “why.” Why did I start my career this way? I knew there must be a better way to development myself as a professional.” Realizing that his poor introduction to the industry was an experience that is far too common, Robert has made it part of his mission to change the way fitness professionals conduct themselves as professionals, from ensuring trainers work within a professional scope of practice as well as how to implement proper

business strategies. He has since mentored hundreds of personal trainers and students on taking the proper steps to start off their careers. At the core of all advice he offers, he always returns to the value of asking why. He affirms, “[Asking why] places emphasis on the task at hand and instills a deeper purpose to their actions that is not easily forgotten.”

CHALLENGES SHAPE THE MAN The more impressionable benchmarks of Robert’s success may not be his success with his Sacramento studio, Be STRONGER Fitness, or even how he’s earned himself an international

reputation in some of the most reputable organizations. The more extraordinary part of his story is how he’s challenged the question of “why” when faced with personal challenges. In 2008, he ruptured a disc in his back that required surgery. Having never been injured, the experience was eye-opening for him and drastically shifted the way he trained his clients. The following year, he was diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer (carcinoid tumor) that had been growing in his chest for eight years. A massive surgery removed half of his left lung, followed by more than ten punctures in his lungs (pneumothorax) and over two months in the


hospital. As if those two years weren’t challenging enough, in 2010, he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer that required its removal; much worse than doctors anticipated, he spent an additional week in the hospital. In his own words, “All three of these experiences changed the way I trained my clients as I almost lost my ability to work with them entirely. I placed more value on connecting with my clients and learning to appreciate them as individuals. Prior to these experiences I trained my clients like I trained myself, with a mindset that injury could not occur. I quickly



discovered that it could and I developed much more empathy for my clients and the physical limitations they were experiencing.” Robert hit a stride the next four years. He won the NSCA’s 2012 Personal Trainer of the Year award and his business was growing and thriving. His cancer and lower back experiences developed into areas of expertise that attracted many of his now current clientele. The year 2014 brought yet another physical challenge for Robert. Both of his labrums in his hips had severe arthritis and deterioration from 10 years of over-lifting while train-

ing as a competitive hammer thrower. He had two surgeries at that point to prolong the need for hip replacements. He since has had both hips replaced, neither of course without the proverbial bumps in the road to recovery. Robert’s 10 surgeries and countless medical procedures to date are certainly not anything he boasts about. Rather, it’s with his shift in perspective that Robert has used challenge as an opportunity to shape who he is as a fitness professional, reinforce his why and enrich the experience, education and training methods he provides his clients.

THE MAN SHAPES AN INDUSTRY Possibly because of the way he is wired or how he was raised, but certainly as a result of his personal experience, Robert undoubtedly has a perspective of gratitude and finds purpose in giving back. He follows a personal mission statement: “To improve the quality of certified personal trainers;” every visible action he has taken in his career certainly illustrates his fierce commitment to this mission. In addition to holding himself to the highest standards of training and business practices, he has aligned himself with opportunities to follow through with his mission to do the same for other fitness professionals. He began pursuing volunteer positions within the NSCA and eventually became the Northern California State Director and later selected as the Southwest Regional Coordinator among other prestigious positions he continues to serve within the organization. Recognizing the need for more access to career development presentations and re-

sources, in 2010, Robert, along with a small group of NSCA certified personal trainers, was successful in making CEU-qualified presentations accessible. In 2012, he was the first career development presentation at the NSCA Personal Trainers Conference, eventually becoming its own CEU track requirement for all NSCA events.

by-step process of developing a personal training program. He continues to share his education, experience and advice on career development, business strategy and best practices as a prolific writer for some of the most prestigious journals and publications and as a sought-after speaker, both within the U.S. and internationally. This is a man who you want on your team. There is never a question of his commitment, whether to his wife Keagan, his daughter Payton, his clients, his colleagues, or to an entire industry. He inspires each of us to ask ourselves “Why?” and further, “What can I do to make our industry better?” Robert, who, to his own admission, wears his emotions on his sleeve, has a reverence for our industry that would be difficult for many to rival. Shaped by early lessons and countless challenges, his personal mission to raise the standards of our industry is taking shape… and with two new hips, we certainly haven’t seen the last of Robert Linkul!

“To improve the quality of certified personal trainers;” every visible action he has taken in his career certainly illustrates his fierce commitment to this mission. Robert has played a key role in the development of the NSCA’s first-ever personal training model, “The Foundation of Fitness Programming,” teaching trainers the step-


By Sean Greeley

What is your



How to balance three key roles as your business grows

f you’re going to work for yourself, balancing working in your business versus on your business will be an ongoing journey you must learn how to navigate. Over 25 years ago, Michael Gerber first wrote about this topic in his best-selling business book, The E-Myth: Why Most Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It. The “entrepreneurial myth” is the mistaken belief that if you understand the technical work of how to train and deliver results to clients, then you understand the business.

YOU DON’T. THAT’S A VERY FALSE (AND PAINFUL) ASSUMPTION. The education and skills required to grow and manage a business are very different from the technical work of getting results when working with clients. In every business there are three



critical roles that must be played in order for the business to continue growing: The technician… does the labor. In this case, working with the clients. The manager… looks after the people and systems that allow work to get done efficiently. Things like scheduling, billing and making sure all operational systems and people are working together smoothly. The entrepreneur… creates the vision and defines the strategic objectives required to fulfill the vision. They’re responsible for leading the work that allows the business to continue growing. Which of these roles is the most important? Every role is critical to the continued success of your business. Your responsibility is to understand each role, know how and when to play them and learn to multiply others who can join your team to continue growing (and winning) the game! The following six stages of fitness business

growth and development demonstrate your evolution at each stage; your role and the balance you (and eventually your team) must manage between training clients, managing the business and leading growth.


Just starting out Revenue: Less than $1,500/month Challenge: You’re still new to the industry and aren’t sure how to grow and follow your passion. Goal: You want to discover if you can make a business out of your passion and if it’s something you truly love doing. Success factors: Mindset, vision and community Training vs. business ratio: At this point in

the journey, you are everything. You’re working 100% in your business. That’s what you should be doing. Invest time working with clients, honing your craft to deliver value, and creating remarkable results for those you serve. But you must also begin developing relationships with others that can help you develop a powerful vision for what success looks like as you continue growing in the industry.



Revenue: Greater than $7,500/month

Revenue: Greater than $40,000/month Challenge: You’ve achieved your initial goal and now have a bigger dream that you aren’t quite sure how to make happen yet. Goal: You want to be inspired and challenged to continue growing by engaging with other elite entrepreneurs and having fun along the way. Success Factors: Mastermind and fun Training vs. business ratio: Depending on your vision, you may spend your time anywhere and everywhere at this stage. Many entrepreneurs often decide they want to build something “from scratch” again and go after a dream that fulfills them on an even bigger scale. Perhaps your time will be spent on developing new products and services to create value for the world. Perhaps more time spent in leadership. The most fun and exciting part about this stage of business growth is that whatever you want to do you can do it and it’s fun when you’ve got an amazing team around you!

Committed to long-term business success Challenge: You’ve got a business, but you’re still struggling with putting all the pieces together to hit targets, earn a profit and make it all work. Goal: You’re ready to get serious and committed to developing a long-term business


Want to work for yourself Revenue: Less than $3,000/month Challenge: You love working with clients, but are struggling to fill your schedule and charge premium rates for your services. Goal: You want to grow your client base so that you can make a comfortable living as a fulltime fitness professional. Success Factors: Mindset, vision and sales Training vs. business ratio: Here you must begin splitting your time. Begin with 80% working in the business, and 20% working on it. Invest time in learning how to best package, price and sell your services. Master salesmanship and how to effectively communicate the value of the services you deliver.

plan, achieving consistent profitability and growing your personal income. Success Factors: Mindset, vision, strategic planning, sales and marketing, personal and professional management, finance strategy and operations Training vs. business ratio: Congratulations! You’ve got a real business now and it’s growing! Here’s where the ratio starts to flip. Now you’re working 40% in the business, and 60% on it. That ratio might fluctuate a bit as you work through some of the inevitable challenges and learning curve of bringing on your first group of staff members. But refining the work you do on the business is what will allow steady revenue growth and consistent profitability in the months ahead.


Lead a team that grows your business with you

Revenue: Less than $7,500/month Challenge: You’ve started to grow a business, but aren’t consistently producing the revenue required to reinvest in continued growth. Goal: You want to build upon your initial success, accelerate growth and create the opportunity to work on the long-term growth and success of your business. Success Factors: Mindset, vision, sales and marketing Training vs. business ratio: Here’s where you begin feeling stretched (and in some cases really stretched). While you have to keep working in your business (you can’t back off), you must now devote even more time to working on your business. But you won’t be able to spend less time working with clients. This is where you’re going to have to work harder and longer hours if you want to breakthrough to the next level. Expect 50+ hour work weeks. The faster you push through to the next phase, the easier things will become.

Revenue: Greater than $25,000/month Challenge: You have a successful business but haven’t yet achieved your personal financial goals, and your business still depends too much on you to run and hit targets each day. Goal: You’re ready to step into a leadership role and develop a team that allows your business to continue growing while getting the freedom to do more of the things that you love to do. Success Factors: Mindset, vision, strategic planning, sales and marketing, personal and professional management, finance strategy and operations Training vs. business ratio: Now your time is spent leading and growing a team. Less than 20% of your time is best spent on training, and 80%+ on growing and developing a powerful team that will do a better job playing the technician and manager roles than you. This is where leadership skills become essential to develop an organization that makes a bigger impact on the world than you ever could alone.

Ready to open and grow a business

Achieving your goals and ready for the next challenge

Balancing working in your business versus on your business will be an ongoing process you must learn how to navigate at every stage of business growth. Just don’t ever think that because you know how to train clients, you know how to manage and grow a business. The technician, manager, and entrepreneur are each critical roles at every stage of business growth, and you can’t do them all by yourself and get very far. By learning to understand each role, how and when to play them, and the keys to multiplying people, you will achieve what most businesses never do. You will have earned the opportunity to continue playing (and winning) the game!

Sean Greeley, CEO of NPE, has an unrelenting passion for supporting entrepreneurs and growing businesses. For nearly 10 years, NPE has grown to serve over 21,000 fitness business owners in 95 countries. The company has offices in Orlando, London and Sydney and has been listed six times on the Inc. 500 list of fastest growing, privately owned U.S. corporations. You can find out more about how NPE is helping fitness business owners across the globe at www.


Melissa Knowles




ne of the most egregious misclassifications too frequent in our industry is the 1099 “employee.” The fact that many refer to their independent contractors as 1099 employees is a true tell that these employers are getting it wrong. A person is either an independent contractor or an employee. These two classifications aren’t intended to be blended.

HERE ARE THE THREE COMMON LAW RULE CATEGORIES AN EMPLOYER SHOULD REVIEW CLOSELY: 1. Behavioral. Does the company control or have the right to control what the worker does and how the worker does his or her job? Do they have freedom in determining how their tasks are performed? Do they wear a company uniform? Are they free to explore other contracts/jobs? Is the person given training? 2. Financial. Are the business aspects of the worker’s job controlled by the payer? Are they providing their own supplies? Paying for their own liability insurance? Are business expenses being reimbursed? 3. Type of relationship. Are there written contracts or employee-type benefits? Will the relationship continue and is the work performed a key aspect of the business? Is the relationship going to be short-lived or



a one-time project? Is the position one that the business requires permanently? Is the business proving health insurance, a retirement plan or paid time-off (PTO)? Assumptions to avoid: 1. The worker wanted, or asked, to be treated as an independent contractor. 2. The worker signed a contract. 3. The worker does assignments sporadically, inconsistently, or is on call. 4. The worker is paid commission only. 5. The worker does assignments for more than one company.

THE IRS WANTS ITS MONEY. Generally, an employer must withhold income taxes, withhold and pay Social Security and Medicare taxes, and pay unemployment tax on wages paid to an employee. The IRS frowns heavily upon 1099’ing someone to get around these taxes. Well, they do more than frown. They fine. Heavily. This is serious stuff. Along with penalties, an employer would be held liable for all the employment taxes of the misclassified employee. Suits have totaled in the hundreds of thousands to millions for businesses in violation (Orange County Register, FedEx, etc.). Penalties can go back as far as three years. Here’s a breakdown of what a misclassification may cost you: UNINTENTIONAL MISCLASSIFICATION: } 1.5% of the employee’s wages.

Protect your business with proper classification

} 20% of the employee’s share of the FICA taxes + entire amount owed by the employer. } No rights to recover from the employee what is due to the IRS. } Failure to file Form 1099 doubles the percentages: 3% for federal income tax and 40% of the employee’s portion of the FICA + employer’s share. Intentional misclassification: } The full amount of income tax that should have been withheld. } The full amount of both the employer and employee shares for FICA. } Interest and penalties. } Criminal and civil penalties may be issued. In addition to civil penalties, the IRS may levy criminal penalties of $1,000 and/or one year in prison for failure to properly classify and withhold wages. If the IRS obtains a felony conviction against a person or company for “attempting to evade or defeat tax,” the fines are up to $100,000 ($500,000 in the case of a corporation), or imprisonment not more than five years, or both, together with the costs of prosecution. The penalties may extend beyond the ownership, as a responsible person (including corporate officers and employees or members or employees of a partnership) with authority over the financial affairs of the business who willfully fails to collect and pay taxes may be held personally liable for the total amount of the uncollected tax up to 100% under the provisions of

the Internal Revenue Code, as well as subjected to criminal prosecution. Ultimately, one in three companies fail a worker classification audit and 46 percent of independent contractors reviewed by the IRS are found to be misclassified. The government is starting to pay much closer attention to instances of misclassification and audits are becoming more frequent. Meanwhile, class action lawsuits by groups of independent contractors requesting employee status are becoming increasingly common; reports suggest that this is one of the hottest areas in employment litigation. Contractors claiming that they were effectively employees may successfully sue a company for employee benefits.

Worker Status for Purposes of Federal Employment Taxes and Income Tax Withholding, with the IRS. While waiting for a determination from the IRS, the employer should treat the worker as an employee, withholding all necessary taxes. Seek out advice from your accountant or attorney to help you properly classify your staff. Understanding the difference between independent contractors and employees and classifying accordingly will keep your business compliant and protected.

Melissa Knowles is the Vice President for Gym HQ, A ClubReady Company. Her knowledge spans strategic operations, development of staff training materials and programs, cost-savings analysis, reporting development and implementation, fitness department overhaul, client retention systems and corporate management. She also specializes in operational and HR focused areas.

WHY DO EMPLOYERS MISCLASSIFY WORKERS? In most circumstances, the reasoning comes down to money. By classifying an employee as an independent contractor, an employer avoids paying: the employer’s share of the social security and Medicare taxes (hence the penalties document above); overtime pay; employee benefits such as sick leave, vacation and medical; unemployment tax compensation and workers’ compensation insurance. SO HOW DOES AN EMPLOYER KNOW WHICH WAY TO CLASSIFY? The IRS says, “Businesses must weigh all factors when determining whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor. Some factors may indicate that the worker is an employee, while other factors indicate that the worker is an independent contractor. There is no “magic” or set number of factors that “makes” the worker an employee or an independent contract, and no one factor stands alone in making this determinations. Also, factors which are relevant in one situation may not be relevant in another.” Clear as mud, right? After going through a full review of what the person does and how they do it, an employer still may be left scratching his head. Here’s a simple way to approach the issue: if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. Or in this instance, if the position requires the person to be directed as to how, when, where and with what to do the job, he’s an employee. Fill out that W4 and file those taxes! If after thorough review, an employer still is unable to make a classification decision, he can file Form SS-8, Determination of SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2016 | WWW.FIT-PRO.COM | 19

Part 5 of PFP’s 2016 Special Six-Part Series: The Fitness Professional’s Lifeline: Client Attraction and Retention

HAVE THEM FROM “HELLO:” A CLIENT EXPERIENCE LIKE NO OTHER lient experience is crucial. From the initial sell to retention, we must create an unforgettable experience for our clients. If you want to stay in this game it’s more important than ever to set the standard. You must set yourself apart and the only way to do that is to deliver a world class training experience. It’s not enough to design “stellar” programs. In all honesty, our clients rarely care about the program as much as we like to think they do. It really does come down to how they feel when they enter and leave your presence. Experience begins with self-awareness A clients experience starts with you! If you ar-



en’t capable of motivating yourself you will never be able to motivate someone else. You must be in a constant state of self-awareness. As coaches, our clients want to look up to us and this means we must set a personal fitness standard. Not taking care of yourself decreases your self-awareness, isn’t motivating to your clients, decreases your energy level, how you coach, and more importantly it’s bad for your brand! Know what they want; give them what they need People are miserable and now more than any time in history we have an opportunity to change that. From the time they decided to take action to actually contacting you and

walking through the doors of the facility, there is a ton of hesitation. They often come to us with preconceived notions of what they think they want or what training with a coach is like. Be intentional and wise enough to know what they want, however be smart enough to give them what you know they need. First session, first impression You must be open and welcoming. Ask about them and any previous training experiences; what they like and dislike. They must always leave the first session feeling successful. High-fives, fist bumps, whatever it takes to let them know you are already proud of

Here’s a glimpse into what to expect in our exclusive six-part series: Part 1 (January-February)

Out of the gate: Strategies to attract and convert your first clients

Part 2 (March-April)

Your funnel to your success: Create a predictable sales funnel

Part 3 (May-June)

Keep the momentum: Continually attract, retain and get referrals

Part 4 (July-August)

Understanding psychographics to attract and retain clients

Part 6 (November-December) Marketing systems made easy

By Brandi Binkley

them. If you can make this first session a success you are well on your way to winning them over.

responsibility lightly. No phone, no interruptions, no exceptions.

Listen If you’re the one talking, you’re the one losing. Remember that our training time with clients is a precious commodity. Giving your client 100% uninterrupted attention is crucial. You must constantly learn about them, and you must know when to stop talking. Get to know them by asking them questions about themselves, their families, work and anything else they seem to light up about. For most clients the time they spend with their coach is the most focused attention they will receive in their day. Don’t take this

Smart progression Early on you must be cognizant of when to progress the difficulty of their training program. It’s important to save the more difficult stuff for later. Once you really know their physical abilities and their psychological capabilities you can more effectively progress them. Let us be honest, none of us really know someone’s capacity for training after one assessment. This takes time and if we crush their bodies the first day we could potentially crush their spirits. We don’t want them to hate working out even more than be-

For sponsorship opportunities of this Six-Part Special Series, contact

fore. The goal is to make them feel so amazing that they can’t wait to come back. Ethically it is your job to do what’s best for them, not what you think makes you look awesome. It’s not about you, it’s about them. How you do one thing is how you do everything Keep that gym clean! Dirty training facilities are one of the most common reasons clients leave. Keeping your training space clean is an absolute non-negotiable. When clients see that you take pride in your space it automatically translates to how you will treat them. Remember how you do one thing is how you do everything.


Teach, learn, measure and celebrate It’s not enough to be self-aware with a clean space. As coaches we must constantly educate ourselves and surround ourselves with others who believe that learning is necessary. It is impossible to continually create that wow experience if we aren’t educated

bering things about your client that you can later ask about. Celebrate the wins and make a big deal out of every goal they accomplish. Bottom line is, take care of them. They must leave your presence better than when they came in – no exceptions, ever. Make it last Creating lasting relationships is key to both their success and yours. Our society has become so self-serving it doesn’t take much to set you apart as “that coach who really cares,” but you have to actually care. You must take a vested interest in their personal life. You don’t have to go too deep in the beginning, but know what matters to them. Simple things like a handwritten note go a long way. Go out of your way to remember anniversaries, birthdays and other important dates. Use these dates to go the extra thoughtful mile to let your clients know they matter. Don’t just say happy anniversary, find out where they are

You don’t have to recreate the wheel but it is imperative that you take maniacal notes. enough to know what we are doing. Don’t spend time teaching them everything you know. Teach them enough to keep them safe and curious. Having a means of measurement matters and will give your program validity. Make sure your training systems are in place. You don’t have to recreate the wheel but it is imperative that you take maniacal notes. Your notes are not only movements and data, but they will serve you in remem-



having dinner, call ahead and pay for their wine or dessert. In our industry we have an amazing opportunity to really touch lives and if we do it right it will impact more than our clients; we can impact their families and friends as well. Any trainer can help someone lose a few pounds but if you want to change someone’s life you need to create lasting relationships. In most situations you will spend more time with your clients than anyone else; make it your primary focus to inspire them. Creating an experience like no other for your clients ensures your long-term success, and theirs.





and operator of PhysioFit Nashville. She has been an exercise



over 15 years. Her company specializes in exercise prescription and active wellness development for both the individual and the corporate setting. She is the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s 2015 Personal Trainer of the Year.

THE MESSAGE Website: | Blog: | Facebook: @LaurenBrooksFit Instagram: @laurenbrooksfitness | Twitter: @laurenbrooksfit | Youtube: @kbellqueen

With the perfect blend of fierceness and grace, Lauren Brooks has a knack for getting people motivated to move, change and challenge. As one of the most recognized authorities on kettlebell training, she is the founder of On the Edge Fitness, Inc. and creator of an internationally-recognized collection of training DVDs. Here’s how Lauren Brooks shares her message of strength and empowerment… My ideal client understands that becoming a better version of themselves takes commitment, dedication, practice, consistency and, most of all, patience. My message is you don’t have to slave away in a gym all day to achieve a healthy fit body. Instead, I teach people (a) how to hone-in on skill building rather than mindlessly and painfully going through the motions; (b) set training goals to move better, develop real strength (i.e. 3 pull-ups or 10 proper push-ups) and approach sessions as practice and; (c) to practice new skills and/or improve on existing skills as part of a fun training program. The fit looking body is a byproduct of consistent practice. If I had only one way to share my message it would be through video. Creating DVDs and my online streaming membership program “Lauren’s Playground” has allowed me to share my highly motivating instructional videos to thousands of people around the world. Successful messaging sparks something very deep inside the individual so that they take action and make a change. The transparency I’ve shown with my own struggles, sharing real stories that are easy to relate to, has given others hope that, with action, their goals are achievable! People follow me because I’ve been known to magically motivate even the most unmotivated people by breaking down seemingly overwhelming tasks as part of a very effective, simple and fun approach. This alone has successfully transformed thousands of people around the world.


Mind matters most: trends in mindset coaching Brian Grasso, perhaps one of the most recognized authorities in mindset and performance, shares insight into the growing need for fitness professionals to integrate mindset coaching alongside fitness training. Taking advantage of these emerging opportunities allow fitness professionals to maximize the impact of physical training through a better understanding of how the human mind works. What are some of the newer trends you’re seeing in health and mindset coaching? For nearly four decades, fitness has been about exercise, programming, physical assessment and nutrition. These factors are naturally necessary in the fitness matrix, but a trend we cannot deny is that as our education has increased on those four base components, the worldwide epidemic of obesity and inactivity has also increased. Exercise and nutrition are not the answer. Understanding what drives human behavior is.


How can fitness professionals take advantage of this trend and help it grow their business or career? The easiest and most obvious answer is to simply look at the “life coaching” industry. The U.S. Census Bureau has shown that life coaching is the second fastest growing industry in the world. If you examine life coaching at large, you’ll see an incredible overlap in terms of what people seek from a fitness professional and a life coach (specifically, self-esteem, self-worth and life transformation). What fitness professionals must understand is that people are coming to them for a solution, but then walking out the door to pay a different professional for a corresponding solution. Get educated. Get certified. Build an augmented part of your business that offers “coaching and mentoring” as part of the fitness journey. The marketplace is huge and the opportunity is immense.


What type of fitness professional do you think would most be interested in pursuing further education in health/mindset coaching? Fitness professionals who see each client as a systemic organism. Fitness itself is part of a greater solution to most people’s needs. Fitness professionals who see that vision clearly and want to become part of the revolution in this industry would be the ones most successful in making this education part of their professional credentialing.


self-sabotage and non-sustaining habits are the root cause of why so many clients fail to achieve or maintain their fitness goals. Education related specifically to that should be considered essential. Are there any resources you might recommend that will help give more insight on this trend? The Mindset Performance Institute (MPI) has recently been purchased by PTA Global and continues to offer cutting-edge education to fitness professionals around the world on all aspects related to mindset, human behavior and the practical implementation of mindset-related coaching into an existing fitness business. Other areas of study and research would include understanding the unconscious mind and how it impacts actions and habits; neuroscience factors related to learning and how that effects the ability to understand our own motivation patterns; and the role ego plays in decision making and how patterns can be interrupted rather than intervened upon.


An 18-year veteran of the sports training industry, Brian Grasso founded one of the largest youth development educational organizations in the world, served as its CEO for nearly eight years and co-created one of the fastest growing fitness franchises in the United States along with it. Grasso is an international lecturer, high-level coach, prolific writer and author of “The Audacity of Success” and “Mindset Matters Most.”

Certification and continuing education organizations American Aerobic Assoc. International (AAAI)

National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT)

American Council on Exercise (ACE)

National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)

What questions might you suggest a fitness professional ask themselves when deciding whether this trend is right for them? What percent of your clients seem to face obstacles no matter how fantastic your training and nutrition advice is? How many clients do you feel challenged by because no matter what you tell or give them, they never seem to take consistent action? Quite simply, we must begin to open our eyes to the fact that





Functional Aging Institute (FAI)

SCW Fitness Education

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National Strength and Conditioning Association The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) is the worldwide authority on strength and conditioning, supporting and disseminating research-based knowledge and practical application to improve performance and fitness. Founded in 1978, they set the standard for strength training, conditioning and injury prevention. The NSCA offers four respected credentials of distinction: Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), Certified Special Populations Specialist (CSPS), NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT) and the Tactical Strength and Conditioning Facilitator (TSAC-F).

Functional Aging Institute Are you missing out on training the most lucrative population in history? Don’t be left behind, grab your Functional Aging Starter Kit today for FREE! Learn tips to reach and train the population most in need of your fitness services, with the greatest financial resources and free control of their time.

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AAAI/ISMA-American Aerobic Assoc. International/International Sports Medicine Assoc.

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AAAI/ISMA has been certifying & educating fitness professionals for 36 years. AAAI/ISMA is one of the original, largest and most recognized International Fitness Certification Associations, with over 180,000 members worldwide. To ensure quality education our faculty trainers have a Ph. D., M. D. or Master’s Degree. Modeled after a university system, students pre-study and attend a hands-on live workshop. The certification exams are written & practical. With 26 certification options, we help you build a CAREER! The certification workshop & exam is $99.00.

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Improve Client Programming with Foot to Core Sequencing The decision to become a Barefoot Training Specialist® is the first step towards joining our community of in-demand health and fitness professionals from around the world who have a solid understanding of foot function and barefoot science. In the Level 1 Certification, you explore how to prep the body for movement by tapping into the nervous system with barefoot science, foot to core sequencing and reflexive stabilization via fascial lines as the foot is the only contact point between the body and the ground. This complex structure plays a critical role in the way our body stabilizes during closed chain movements.

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Expand Your Knowledge – Maintain Your Certification Give your clients, athletes, and group class participants the customized programs that address their needs and help them achieve results. Browse our hundreds of continuing education courses for field and lab assessments to guide your exercise prescription, specific exercises for all abilities/conditions, novel training protocols, and proven motivational strategies. Visit the DSWFitness/Human Kinetics Continuing Education website to search by price range, certifying organization, subject area, or product format.

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Personal Trainer Certification NFPT has been certifying personal fitness trainers since 1988 and provides an NCCA accredited Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) program. NFPT takes a foundational approach to its program, with an emphasis on knowing how the body functions and how to apply that knowledge to goal-oriented fitness training. The focus is on-the-job trainer skills that produce an understanding and confidence to safely and effectively implement exercise. Whether in clubs or private studios, CPTs are preventative healthcare providers with the ability to effect positive change.

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Run-Fit Specialist Certification The Run-Fit SpecialistTM certification, developed by running expert and IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year Dr. Jason Karp, provides education for personal trainers, group exercise instructors, and coaches. Offered as either a home-study course or one-day workshop, it covers everything about running, including physiology, technique, workouts, injuries, nutrition, and women-specific training. Becoming a Run-Fit SpecialistTM enables you to teach Run-Fit Training classes and shows you how to design training programs for weight loss and for 5Ks to marathons.

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For information on how to get listed in the Education Resource Center, please contact

NEW ON THE MARKET The latest trends in fitness equipment

VICORE HAM/GLUTE With patent pending Air Infusion Technology, the Vicore Ham-Glute makes every part of this machine dynamic and three-dimensional, allowing you to workout harder and longer, with zero stress points. Hip flexors, shins, Achilles, glutes all float on a cushion of air, eliminating the pain. With it’s quick-trigger adjust, it can quickly be positioned to fit any body size or type while the Vicore Terra Grip surface makes for a safe and secure dismount.


Lindsay's Review: Lebert Equalizer XL Profile

Lebert Fitness has once again proven that simplicity and versatility are the secret sauce of creating the most valuable additions to the world of fitness equipment. The recent release of the Frank Medrano Signature Series Lebert Equalizer XL adds three inches to the original Lebert Equalizers, ideal for people taller than 6’1” and allows fuller extension, intensity and challenge. With its sleek, chrome finish it is still as portable and spaceefficient as the original. The XL is a perfect addition to any studio or club.




This foam roller has a unique patented design that cradles your body for quick results with more comfort and ease. Rollga bypasses the bone structure, such as the spine, shins and hips, to unlock hard-to-access trigger points. Rollga also allows for muscle displacement to ensure the muscle fibers are guided and protected from the damaging shifts and pressure. At 18 inches, Rollga is big enough to treat your whole body and small enough to fit in your backpack.

As standing becomes more common in the workplace, office workers are now facing new troubles: standing fatigue. Just as sitting all day is bad for your health, so it standing statically. That is where the Active Office Board comes in; by simply adjusting this simple platform you can subtly adjust movement in the board. By changing the position of the foam legs, you not only provide cushioning for your feet, ankles, knees and legs, you build balance and stabilizing muscles.

The new PowerBlock Adjustable Kettlebell has an extremely compact design and replaces four kettlebells (18, 22, 26 and 35 pound) in a single unit. Its contour is designed for maximum comfort and control. Experience the advantages of an adjustable kettlebell with the feel of a solid iron kettlebell with steel selection pin and magnetic lock.


EVENTS CALENDAR October - November

OCTOBER 2016 Fitour: Group Exercise and Personal Training Certification Workshop October 8 – 9 l Youngstown, OH

NSCA Personal Trainers Conference October 14 – 16 l Jacksonville, FL

Functional Aging Institute Specialist Certification Workshop October 20 l Orlando, FL

AAAI/ISMA One World Conference October 21 – 23 l Baltimore, MD

Functional Aging Institute DC Event October 28 l Washington DC

NOVEMBER 2016 Fitour l Primary & Advanced Personal Training Certification Workshops November 5 – 6 l Watkinsville, GA

YogaFit l YogaLean Mind Body Fitness Conference November 9 – 13 l Dallas, TX

SCW Fitness: Boston Mania November 11 – 13 l Boston, MA

AFAA – Personal Fitness Trainer & Group Exercise Workshops November 20 l Fullerton, CA, Wantagh, NY, Austin, TX

For a complete listing, or to submit your event, see our online Events Calendar at


BE BETTER Phil Kaplan |

Why are you here? If you read the title and believed this was an esoteric exploration of our reason for being, you’re mistaken. By “here,” I’m referring to the chosen profession that led you to view this magazine as a tool to learn more about helping people through fitness. There are the knee-jerk answers to the “Why are you here?” question. “I love helping people.” “I have a passion for fitness.” Those are the answers you’ve learned to give. They’re so ingrained into our industry culture, when we utter them we believe in some way they pinpoint uniqueness. If everyone in our field coughs out those responses, there must be something deeper, specific to you. I don’t pretend I can prompt the deeper answer in a short article, but I can inspire you to delve a bit further inside; to question what your true power is, and yes, I said “power.” Our industry is fragmented, and in this case I don’t say that critically. Perhaps fragmentation offers opportunity to fully align with purpose. Meet two trainers I know. Zack is 38, 205 pounds, 7% body fat, with a respectable bench, deadlift and squat. He wears fitness clothing, attends fitness events, eats clean and swallows 16 different capsules they sell in the fitness section of the health food store every morning. His blood pressure un-medicated is 170/100. He’s on thyroid meds to compensate for adrenal overload. He admits to using testosterone as he was diagnosed with Low-T. He uses over 1200mg of caffeine a day and has a recurring prescription for sleep meds. Zack is a top producer for a regional health club chain. His clients range from 20-somethings looking to beef-up to women pursuing fitness and figure competitions. He isn’t always forthcoming about his “supplementation” (he uses that term loosely) but those who he trains to compete know they’re going to have opportunity to gain every edge. Trevor is 44 with a 33 ½” waist, 18% body fat. He runs in 5K events, has extensive training in muscular imbalance identification and trains men typically 45 and up seeking health, function and longevity. His blood pressure is ideal and his blood profiles reflect health. Ten years earlier he was diagnosed with metabolic syndrome. Today he is medication-free but religiously takes his coconut oil and probiotic. Considering Zack and Trevor, perhaps one resonates your story m ore than the other. Without moral judgment, here’s what we know. Both are capable of wearing the moniker “personal fitness professional.” Who has the easier job? My opinion. Zack. Much easier. With the proper training, it’s relatively easy for us to guide someone in good health toward anabolism and training to prompt growth. Trainers close to the world of physique development as an aesthetic learn tricks of the trade that can turn a muscular body into a lean body, most of those tricks integrations of training strategies and nutritional shifts.



It’s much harder to take someone who has progressed along the disease continuum and create a strategy, a discipline and a program to literally reprogram a body that’s already developed some maladaptation. Both Zack and Trevor love what they do. They’ve aligned their lives with their avocations and believe they’re offering guidance to people with desire or need. Zack deals more with expressions of desire. Trevor deals more with expressions of need, and in that lies some of their individual uniqueness. “People who want to be super heroes” touches a part of Zack, as he was a skinny kid with a long history of being bullied. “People who don’t realize they don’t need drugs but feel a need to get well” is the market that Trevor lights up for. Clearly, while Zack and Trevor are both capable of steering their own careers, the dichotomy illustrates the breadth of choices we have. I’m suggesting that many personal trainers make their choices based on imposed limits rather than that inner spark within, that true desire that brought them to this place. Regardless of what “the industry,” “your career experience,” “the health club you work for,” or “your mentor” taught you to do, recognize the freedom you have in this moment to decide what you’re here to be. I know many trainers (many people) choose “the easier” path, and in the “cookie-cutter” take-a-client-through-a-workout-for-money” paradigm, many may miss out on their true calling. We live in a world where we have the technology to turn regular folks into modern-day superheroes, but we also live in a world with the technology to bioengineer food, to poison a population with toxins that quietly and insidiously move into human cells, and to limit movement so the biomechanical wonder of the human body is slowly erased. If you find within you, upon careful introspection, a sense of being capable of more, then learn more! Practice more. Study more. Step into a new arena as a student, an apprentice or a trainable practitioner. If every personal trainer connects with the true inner heart of “why,” our industry becomes a boundless catalyst for restoration, for giving people back the lives they didn’t know they were capable of living. The largest segment of our adult population is the not-quite-healthy market being failed by medicine. They look OK, work, smile and party, but “the doctor said” they need medication for cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar or anxiety. That’s the ripe market for those with the heart to help them. This takes nothing away from those who love training athletes, Olympians and warriors, but it widens the scope of what our industry can provide and opens the door for a personal trainer to find reverence as a true catalyst for change with global potential for human betterment. With a link to your newly discovered or re-discovered purpose commit to a path of helping others at the highest level possible, and a sense of reward, gratitude and fulfillment follows you everywhere you go. Phil Kaplan provides resources for consumers and fitness professionals alike. Visit and







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