Personal Fitness Professional Winter 2021

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VOLUME 23 | ISSUE 4 president

chad griepentrog |



josh vogt | editor

erin eagan | audience development manager

rachel spahr | national sales director

josh vogt | creative director

Finding Hormonal Balance Are You Asking Your Clients the Right Questions?

Nutrition plays a key role By Dr. Oemil Rodríguez MD

kelli cooke | contributing writers

Gail Bannister-Munn, Dr. Meredith Butulis, Eric Chessen, Justin Hanover, James Patrick featured columnists

Dean Carlson, Vito La Fata, Sean Greeley, Nathalie Lacombe, Kelli Watson

Behavior change is the underrated element for creating long-lasting healthy lifestyle changes By Brittinie Wick

cover photo

James Patrick Photography

P.O. Box 259098 | Madison WI 53725-9098. Tel: 608.241.8777 Email:


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Lindsay Vastola

Greg Justice

Farel Hruska



The clear breakout segment in the last year is online/digital fitness, as it: • Had the

Visit our website to view for instructional videos and other training tips, including Exercise of the Week, Fitness Business Insights and Functionally Fit by Brian Schiff.

 Had the highest growth during the pandemic (76.7%)  Is expected to take over nearly a fifth of the fitness industry market share going from 7% to in 2021 to 18% in 2028 Source:

Tel: 608.241.8777 E-mail: Fax: 608.241.8666 Website:

Joey Percia

SOCIAL MEDIA pfpmedia pfpmedia pfpmedia pfpmedia

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Digital Print Subscription Information Digital Subscriptions to Personal Fitness Professional are free to qualified recipients and may be ordered at Reprints For high-quality reprints, please contact us at 608.241.8777 All material in this magazine is copyrighted ©2021 by MadMen3 All rights reserved. Nothing may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher. Any correspondence sent to Personal Fitness Professional, MadMen3 or its staff becomes property of MadMen3. The articles in this magazine represent the views of the authors and not those of MadMen3 or Personal Fitness Professional. MadMen3 and/or Personal Fitness Professional expressly disclaim any liability for the products or services sold or otherwise endorsed by advertisers or authors included in this magazine. Personal Fitness Professional (ISSN 1523-780X) is published quarterly: Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. [Volume 23, Issue 4] Published by MadMen3, LLC C/O Chad Griepentrog 708 Mohawk Trail DeForest WI 53532-3035 Tel: 608.241.8777 Periodicals postage paid at DeForest, WI and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: Personal Fitness Professional | P.O. Box 259098 | Madison WI 53725-9098.




Looking Ahead to 2022

Read his advice on the Trainer of the Year page of our website. Expand your online fitness service

PFP Advisory Board Member Farel Hruska has over 20 years of experience as a personal trainer, group fitness instructor and educator. She is presently the Director of Education & Culture at Chuze Fitness. Farel also helped grow FIT4MOM from 2002-2018 as Global Fitness Director and Pre/Postnatal Director. She has presented at fitness conferences around the world including AFC (Bangkok), MEFIT PRO (Dubai), IDEA China and US and has been featured in CNN, New York Times, WebMD, Women's Running Magazine, and Farel’s most meaningful accomplishment, however, is being mom to her three daughters.

Thank you, Alexis Batrakoulis, 2021 PFP Trainer of the Year, for your innovation, thought leadership and purposedriven mission!

It’s the age-old question: Where do you see yourself in __________? What are your short-term goals? What are your long-term goals? Where do you see yourself in 1 year? In three to five years? What’s the 10-year plan? Want to stop reading yet? I don’t blame you… this “tried and true” way of planning for the future and goal setting has definitely been “tried,” not super clear that it leads us to our truth though. As we look ahead to what’s next for our industry and where we see ourselves, let’s press pause for a moment and do a pulse check: How are you? Truly, how are you? What aspects of your career are draining your energy? What aspects of your career are bringing joy? Light? Abundance? Sit with these questions and see what comes up for you after a bit of time... don’t rush the answers. Don’t answer based on what has been. Think about what could be. Stay open. To say that humans are “having a moment” is a profound understatement. To admit that you haven’t been OK, is more than OK (and necessary). We have been and continue to be in an unprecedented time (yes, I said it). Our lives have been in flux with new and continued challenges layered on each day it seems. It’s OK and important to see and feel that reality. Take a deep breath. Now, where do we go from here? Times like these that force the question: “Who am I now and what do I truly want?” are integral to growth and ultimately, abundance. Abundance in mental, physical and emotional joy/satisfaction/ meaning. As we look ahead, think about your role in this incredible industry that we get to be a part of. What is your role to play? Where do you feel joy? Contribution? Your greatest impact? Now is the time to plug into that individual, personal path you are meant to travel. If not now… when? I encourage you to spend some time in pursuit of what lights you up and drive into your next chapter with that light! YOU GOT THIS!

Make continuing education a top priority


Volume 23 | Issue 4





Trina Gray Pouring her heart and soul into helping others By Erin Eagan

5 digital marketing strategies fitpreneuers need to know By James Patrick





Which one are you training, and what does it matter? By Dr. Meredith Butulis

Shifts are happening… we can either evolve or be left behind By Justin Hanover


IS TRAINING ASD FOR ME? LET’S SEE Given the number of those affected by autism, this is a burgeoning specialty area By Eric Chessen






Looking Ahead to 2022

It’s high time for a fresh look at compensation in fitness

By Farel Hruska

Nathalie Lacombe




How to make 2022 your best year ever in the fitness industry

Sean Greeley


Creating a valuable 2022

Dean Carlson



97 Display





The possibilities are endless

Kelli Watson


ONLINE TRANSFORMATION The future… the freedom frontier

Vito La Fata



Philadelphia Insurance Companies (PHLY)



The latest trends in fitness equipment


DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION No longer checking the diversity box, but bringing awareness to inclusion

Gail Bannister-Munn


How to make 2022 your best year ever in the fitness industry


021 has been ANOTHER crazy year in the fitness industry! It’s been a wild ride with great challenges and great opportunities. The lockdowns came and went — and came back in some areas. Clients switched their fitness habits. Many fitness professionals and studio/gym owners shut their doors. Others adapted and saw record-breaking growth in their careers and businesses. Now, as the year closes out, if you’re still here, it’s mission critical to plan for 2022. Regardless of what’s happened in the past, 2022 could be your best year yet, just as 2021 was for many! Just don’t get overwhelmed by what MAY happen. Keep your planning simple, and chart a direct course of action to your goals. Here are the 3 powerful questions I recommend spending time with: 1. Where are you right now in your career and business? Take stock right now: What services did you offer this year — and how successful were they? What were your biggest successes? Where were your biggest challenges? Right now, the fitness industry is “feast or famine.” How are you at risk for losing your client base and revenue? Take a clear-eyed look at the year ahead and decide what you want to build on and what you need to let go of. Write it down and get ready for the next step. 2. Where do you want to go in 2022? How do you want 2022 to

Do you need to upgrade your online presence, reviews, and more ... so people who are ready to buy can find you when they’re doing their research? be different from this year in your career and business? What do you want your career and business to look like when the 2022 New Year's Eve ball drops and you hear the countdown starting? Create and write down your goals about your income, your expenses, your team … and whether you are taking on too much risk. Do you need to up your game online? Do you need to offer hybrid services? Can you adapt some sessions for outside? Do you need to change WHO you serve? Many of our most successful studio/gym owners went hard on personal training and providing high levels of service. There’s no business as usual.

3. How do you get there? You need a strategy and plan … not just a business strategy and plan, but a learning strategy and plan. What do you need to learn? For example, do you need to learn more about lead generation? Do you need to upgrade your online presence, reviews, and more ... so people who are ready to buy can find you when they’re doing their research? Come up with your business strategy and your learning strategy, and you’ll be ready to chart a strong course to your goals in 2022. The time to get started on your 2022 business planning is now. Don’t get overwhelmed by the process — keep it simple and focused. Begin by taking stock of where you are now. What have you succeeded with in the past year that you want to build on? Next, take another look at your goals — where do you want to go in the next year? What do you want your business to look like on New Year’s Eve 2022? Finally, ask “How do you get there?” and chart your path. That way, when the ball drops at midnight on December 31, 2022, you’ll be able to look back at a year of powerful growth!

Sean Greeley, Founder and CEO of NPE, has an unrelenting passion for inspiring fitness professionals and business owners to realize their unlimited potential. Since 2006, NPE has helped over 45,000+ fitness professionals and business owners in 96+ countries grow their client base and income to the next level. Take this EXCLUSIVE 15-point Diagnostic Assessment and get instant access to your Fitness Business Growth Scorecard™. Learn where to focus your energy where it will do the most good to Increase your revenue, profit, and team capacity. Start assessment here:




Nathalie Lacombe

Dean Carlson

It’s high time for a fresh look at compensation in fitness

Creating a valuable 2022



e have a relationship problem in our industry. Business owners and managers are struggling more than ever in finding the right staff and fitness pros aren’t working WITH them to build the compensation they want. Let’s not waste a crisis and use the current employment climate to break away from traditional compensation models. Some food for thought: Fitness professionals hate being seen as staff who just come in to train their client, and then leave. They are paid as such; an hourly rate that compensates them for the time they are in the facility serving members/clients. They want to be seen as an integral part of the staff, as key to bringing in new clients and renewals of memberships. Is this justified? Yes, IF they walk the talk. That means putting on their entrepreneurial hats regardless of their title, or position, or type of contract and understanding how to feed the needs of the business owners and decision makers. Looking for win-win involves getting comfortable with the risk and reward of compensation that differs from a “steady” hourly rate. Fitness owners and managers struggle finding fitness leaders who are engaged and loyal to their business. They want them to participate in overall business sales, retention and success including social media campaigns, member recruitment, atmosphere and culture in the facility. Is this justified? Yes, IF they are compensated as such. That means looking at new ways to negotiate compensation and understanding that their time and skills go beyond what they do inside your walls. Sharing business goals and making them part of the bottom line. Selecting and coaching beyond the minimum standards of certification and fitness skills and looking for key players that will impact member service and business success. Inspired by how the food industry is trying to lure workers back, here are a few ideas both sides can consider:  Phenomenal company culture  Profit sharing/compensation based on performance  Health benefits  Financial support for education  Growth and development plans It’s high time for a fresh look at compensation in fitness.

Nathalie Lacombe, M, Sc. blends her 25 years of international fitness experience with her degrees in psychology and exercise science to passionately connect with fitness professionals. Nathalie dedicates herself to coaching fitness professionals and leaders towards incredible success in their careers and businesses. Visit for your FREE access to Top 10 Tips to Better Coach Through a Camera and improve the impact you have on clients today!



hen you read the word “money”, what comes to mind? Wealth, greed, more, enough, evil, rich, poor, savings, necessary, freedom, stress? All of the above? Investopedia defines money as “an economic unit that functions as a generally recognized medium of exchange for transactional purposes in an economy.” Bor-ing. Is that how you think of money? Perhaps that definition is better applied to the word “currency.” And yes, it matters. Because how you think about money is more important than how much you have in your pocket right now. Perhaps the most useful definition of the word money is “an exchange of value.” And that’s where the rubber hits the road when it comes to making more. Let’s be careful here. Your value as a human being has nothing to do with the amount of dollars in your account. On the other hand, the more value you provide, the better chance you will receive more value back. In our economy that means more “money.” This principle applies both to the business owner and the employee. When you start thinking about money as an exchange of value and understand that creating more value is the way to earn more money, the next logical step is figuring out how to create, communicate about, and deliver more value to your audience (your clients or your employer). Business is about solving problems. What problems can you solve that would be valuable to your customers? What do they want that the marketplace (and you) are not currently giving them? Love them or hate them, the most valuable companies in the world are the best problem solvers. Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Disney — all problem solvers. What did all this problem-solving lead to? More value, more money, more profit. At the end of the year when you review your profit and loss statement and balance sheet, understand that it shows more than just dollars and cents. It reflects your company’s current value in the marketplace. Are you satisfied with what you see in that mirror? Hint: Great entrepreneurs never really are. Evaluate (root word: value) everything; service offerings, quality of delivery, pricing, team dynamics, systems — all of it. Work at creating more value in every facet. Evaluate, rinse, repeat. Instead of wishing you a more “profitable” 2022, allow me to wish you a more “valuable” year. The rest will follow.

Dean Carlson is a Profit First Advisor and in 2016 founded Fit For Profit, providing fitness business owners with the coaching and tools they need to manage their cash easily and keep more of their hard earned money. His experience as a gym owner came full circle in 2018 when he sold his award-winning gym Get Fit NH for seven-figures. He is passionate about helping fitness entrepreneurs stop worrying about finances and start building the business of their dreams.



How 97 Display Can Turn Your Website Into Your Greatest Source of Revenue Our leading experts in digital marketing for the fitness industry want to help you grow your business the right way.


ell me if you’ve ever felt this way before: your fitness business is primed to make a real impact on the people in your community, but you’re frustrated because you can’t get many clients in the door. Sound familiar? Well, we at 97 Display want you to know that we absolutely refuse to let that happen to you. We believe your local community needs your help, and it’s our goal to bring them to you. As one of the foremost leaders of digital marketing in the fitness industry, we’re positively obsessed with helping local, brick-and-mortar fitness businesses get leads and grow so that they can change people’s lives. So how do we do it? Here’s the good stuff:  Lead Generating Websites — our platform brings a steady flow of leads to your business  Locally Optimized SEO — you’ll own your Google rankings and be your market’s leader  Lead Nurturing CRM & App — you can walk leads all the way through to becoming long-time customers We’re also unlike your standard website provider. Our software platform builds upon the performance of thousands of fitness websites to optimize yours with the latest data, keeping it up to date and future proof. That means that no matter what the winds of change bring to digital marketing, your website won’t lose a step. This turns your website into a consistent, reliable source of leads and helps your business:  Stand out in a crowded market  Rank above your competitors consistently  Get discovered by your unique audience  Evolve with knowledge from industry experts And we don’t just hand you the tools and wish you luck, either. We’re your partners, advocates, and biggest fans waving that “you’re number one” flag in the stands as you grow. We pride ourselves on having the best customer support in the industry, and provide business consultation to all our customers at no extra cost.

This all amounts to your business becoming a clear-cut leader in your market, all without you having to lift a finger for your digital marketing. Our team helps shoulder that burden so that you can focus on helping your clients, not on getting them in the door. Imagine your website becoming your greatest source of revenue for your business. We’ve seen it happen for hundreds of fitness businesses and we’d love to make it happen for yours. Come chat with us today, and for a limited time get 60% off your start-up cost just by mentioning this article!



Kelli Watson

Vito La Fata

The possibilities are endless

The future: the freedom frontier



n a recent Marie Forleo broadcast, she made the comment that this is a time of “Great Reassessment.” She was referring to this moment in history where we are grappling with a worldwide pandemic and sorting through our experience. Slowing down and adjusting to high levels of uncertainty sets the stage to view life through a different lens and also gives us the stark reminder that time is precious. It also provides us with an opportunity to reassess where we are, what we want and where we are going in life. So, where does that leave us today? It leaves us looking ahead to 2022 through an open door of opportunity. Yes, in fact, the year ahead is full of possibilities, and as a result, now is a perfect time to take stock of your business and your life. If there is a skill you’ve always wanted to learn, this could be the time to learn it. If there’s a book you’ve always wanted to write, now is a good time to write it. If you want to expand, or perhaps downsize your business, now might be a good time to do it. To reassess your own situation, spend some time writing out the answers to these three questions: 1. What is something you are doing right now that you wish you didn’t have to do? 2. What is one thing you really want in your life that you don’t currently have? 3. Where do you envision yourself 3-5 years from now? As fitness professionals, we understand that it is resistance that makes us grow stronger. After all, muscle needs to break down before it can rebuild. And so it is with life. The challenges we meet set the stage for growth, innovation and progress. As 2021 comes to a close, we can look back on a year that changed everything. And as we look ahead to 2022, the possibilities are endless.

Kelli Watson is a best-selling author, coach and presenter. She coaches fitness professionals and business executives through the Todd Durkin Mastermind Group and the Todd Durkin IMPACT Coaching Program. In 2017, she co-founded Scriptor Publishing Group, a publishing company dedicated to helping people share their stories and publish their books. With more than 15 years of industry experience, she specializes in business and personal development, helping fit pros and business owners discover their keys to success. Email



hat do you want more of in your future? Money? Time? Growth? Impact? Luxury? I believe most people want more FREEDOM. Getting more freedom in the 5 key areas below is an exercise in intentional design. The same way you work to intentionally design your body and fitness, design a map to get more freedom. Here’s a quick rundown of the 5 Freedom Roadmap we coach our clients to design. 1. Time Freedom. Want more time for kids, family, vacation, health, travel or whatever you desire? Figure out a way to earn money without getting paid simply by the hour. As long as you only earn for your family by working hour by hour, you are never going to have true time freedom. 2. Location Freedom. Want to live wherever you want in the world? Want to be able to work from wherever you want in the world? Get taught how to earn without having to physically be present. Online and mobile businesses have freed a lot of souls. 3. Financial Freedom. Want the kind of money that gives you security and peace of mind? Meaning you no longer live in fear and anxiety of what can happen next. Invest in learning more about pricing, offers, sales, marketing, and most importantly business models. It’s sad how many people live in archaic business models, like trading dollars for hours, when there are models that can generate wealth. I didn’t know how to make $5k, $10k, $30k, $60k, and now even $200k offers without investing time, money and effort to learn them. Because I did, my family and I live a very different life than the norm. 4. People Freedom. Are you excited about who you work with? Who is around you for support, mentoring and growth? If you want to feel true freedom; choose to end working with people who do not take action, the cheapskates, penny pinchers, nickel and dimers and the do-nothing dreamers. Choose to work with the 4% of the market that do not price shop; they take action, value transformation and are willing to invest for results. You can work with a higher quality of people and create a deeper impact by working with people who actually execute. 5. Purpose Freedom. Would you like to know that one day your work can outlast you? If so, changes need to be made to how you do your work. If you only create change by physically showing up, have no process, have no systems, have no ability to pass on what you do, your impact dies with you. Today, you can learn how to systemize your process of change and package it into a business that can be passed on for others to pick up the mantle.

Vito La Fata is the co-creator of The Legacy Brand Creator, Vision In the Vineyards and Fitness Profit Systems. For a free training video on The Simple ‘Legacy Loop’ Formula to Escape Trading Time For Money & Attract High Quality Clients or Patients, visit:



Why Settle for Anything Less Than the Best?

When choosing insurance, choose tailored coverage, exceptional customer service and higher limits


trong fitness trainers need strong insurance. As a personal trainer committed to health and fitness, you work hard to provide the absolute best instruction to your clients. So why settle for anything less than the best personal trainer insurance? Health and wellness is ingrained in both the culture and business at Philadelphia Insurance Companies (PHLY). The company has been offering insurance to personal trainers, fitness studios and health clubs for more than 20 years. Fitness is both part of our business and part of our lifestyle. PHLY supports its employees through several wellness programs, provides incentives for participation in athletic events, and every employee receives an extra 15 minutes at lunch to exercise. Because we practice fitness in our personal lives and have specialized in this growing industry, we understand how to provide comprehensive insurance including fitness- and wellness-related specific coverages for health clubs and studios, fitness trainers, yoga and dance studios, salons and day spas across the United States.

Any injury resulting from an exercise under the supervision of a personal trainer could result in a lawsuit — and the personal trainer could be held legally liable. PHLY designs, markets and underwrites Property/Casualty and Professional Liability insurance for more than 120 niche markets. We understand the unique needs of our customers who give us a 96% overall satisfaction rating. We know from experience that lawsuits are an increasing concern for trainers across the country. Any injury resulting from an exercise under the supervision of a personal trainer could result in a lawsuit — and the personal trainer could be held legally liable. A single claim from a client can be enough to put an insufficiently insured personal trainer out of business. For this reason, industry authorities recommend all trainers get some form of personal trainer liability insurance like the policies offered by PHLY.

PHLY offers comprehensive general and professional liability insurance coverage. Every PHLY policy also includes abuse and molestation protection. If you are counseling clients on nutrition and diet in addition to providing training, PHLY provides full coverage at no additional cost. There is also no added charge for working in multiple gyms, instructing classes in parks or training at clients’ homes — coverage is provided on and off premises. Additionally, trainers can apply online or on a mobile device and receive coverage in minutes. Customers have the ability to renew coverage, pay online and generate certificates of insurance with PHLY’s easy-to-navigate, mobile-friendly platform. We have more than 50 offices across the country, with our headquarters located just outside Philadelphia in Bala Cynwyd, PA. PHLY maintains an A++ (Superior) rating from AM Best, A+ rating for counterparty credit and financial strength from Standard & Poor’s and is a member of Ward’s Top 50 since 2004. When choosing insurance, choose tailored coverage, exceptional customer service and higher limits. Learn more about why PHLY is the best training partner for fitness and wellness instructors.




By Erin Eagan



lthough Trina Gray holds degrees in Journalism and French from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with a background in legal writing and reporting, as a former high school and collegiate athlete, she turned her passion for fitness into her career. She started teaching group exercise classes 20 years ago at a local gym and has never looked back. In January 2006, what was once just a vision became reality when Trina opened Bay Athletic Club — an award-winning full-service health club located inside what is now the Mid-Michigan Medical Center in Alpena, Michigan. Since that time, she has assembled a team of 30 personal trainers, group exercise instructors, fitness assistants, an exercise physiologist and a doctorate in physical therapy. This unique medical alliance is focused on creating a healthier and happier community through fitness. She also founded Team Rockstar Fit, a mastermind online coaching team of fitness professionals or fitness enthusiasts who want to grow a career in fitness, and in her spare time she is a national fitness presenter. Trina, a proud mom of two teenagers, took a few minutes to share her journey with us and hopes to inspire others in the fitness industry to follow their dreams.

How did you get started in the fitness industry? I got started in the industry when I was an out of shape, somewhat lost 21-year old college grad. I joined a local, family-owned gym in Madison, Wisconsin to get in shape for my sister’s wedding. I started in the back of the group fitness studio. I was self-conscious and out of shape. I loved the music, the supportive people and the time flew by. As a former high school athlete, I had found a new groove. The group fitness director noticed me. She changed my life by inviting me to get certified. She thought I had a spark. She complimented my drive and consistency in classes. I had great results, losing 22 pounds and finding a new passion. I never looked back. I got certified as a group fitness instructor in many formats — from RPM to Body Pump to Body Flow. I was working a full-time job as a journalist during the day and was teaching classes in the evening. It was my happy place. It was where I came alive. I met great friends; I poured my heart into sharing fitness with others. I always anticipated it staying a hobby job. My degree from the University of Wisconsin is in Journalism and Mass Communications. Have you had a mentor or someone you’ve looked up to? Todd Durkin has been a mentor and friend in the industry for more than a decade. He is


Journey to Success

equally supportive of my business growth as my personal happiness. He’s a workhorse and knows that I am, too. We are wired to achieve and accomplish; that can lead to burnout. He has encouraged me to find “mellow yellow” time and time to work on the business and not in the business. He given me tools to write, reflect and plan my life. Was there ever a time in your career where you felt like you were just spinning your wheels? If so, how did you get through that and on to something better? I have always been in forward motion, but sometimes in too many directions at once. Years ago, I attended a high-performance conference and learned to evaluate and prioritize my “roles” in life and found that I was overcommitted, spread out and not able to be my best. From the being on the board of Chamber of Commerce to coaching kids’ soccer to presenting to owning a business to coaching to corporate wellness, I was everywhere and often felt nowhere. What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made? How did you remedy that mistake and how has it made you better? Fitness is an industry that can give you life and also steal from your life. The biggest mistake I ever made was sacrificing too much of my own life for the sake of growing the business in a way that was not smart or strategic. Early on as a club owner, I was trying to be everything to everyone. I was teaching classes and boot camps non-stop in my own club and said yes to everyone. I started teaching off-site classes at night in communities an hour north and south simply because they asked. I felt compelled to take all opportunities. I was scared to say no. I missed out on time at home with my young kids. I was constantly on the go, eating in the car and tired. It only lasted a couple of years until I brought my focus, time and energy back “home” to my own health club. I focused my time and priorities and learned to be okay not doing it all. How do you balance the demands on your time and the opportunities that come your way with family time, time for yourself, time to work out, eating right, etc.? We know that we must put our own oxygen mask on first in order to serve others. Sometimes it takes an injury, illness or meltdown to bring this to the forefront. I opened my full-service health club at 29 years old with two little kids under two. Burnout, fatigue were inevitable. I loved what I was doing. I justified the imbalance because I felt purposeful.




Over the years, a knee injury, nodules on my vocal cords and strains in relationships brought balance back into perspective. For the past decade I’d say that I have really nailed my own nutrition, fitness and mindset. I do regular personal development (books, podcasts). I drink a lot of water, I eat healthy, eat mostly at home, enjoy splurges and never stress about nutrition. I strength train, go on long walks, paddle board, teach Pilates and boxing classes, work out at home with Yoga and meditations from Beachbody. I have found a love of variety and movement beyond just torching calories. What is one principle you have always lived by? I have always believed that success is not convenient. That is true for parenting and business. It’s not convenient to have tough conversations, create expectations and set boundaries for our kids. It is not easy to be a good role model and make tough decisions that are not popular. It is not easy to encourage them when they are hurt or struggling and not fix the problem for them. But all of this extra inconvenience leads to a better, more successful life for them. My teenagers were just babies when I started my career. They have amazing work ethic and drive. They have a strong head on their shoulders. Likewise, it’s not convenient to own a health club, face all the struggles that are inevitable in employees’ lives, manage demands from members, teammates and the community. It’s not convenient to work nights, weekends and be at the whim of others’ lives. It’s not easy to run an online coaching team of thousands of people coast to coast. However, I like being a servant leader. Creating thriving, successful businesses leads to a life of more choices, freedom and purpose. I have been able to travel the world, pay off debt, meet amazing human beings and contribute to the best industry on the planet. If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self — 5, 10, or 20 years ago — what would it be? I would warn myself at all those stages that there are tough roads ahead and assure myself that I am built for it. I can do hard things. What do you think is the greatest opportunity in the fitness industry right now? What do you think is this industry’s biggest deficit? People need connection and community now more than ever. We have so many ways to create that — in person, virtually and (even better) both. Fitness professionals who create fitness communities, tribes of people supporting each other, will thrive. We can help people in the

We know that we must put our own oxygen mask on first in order to serve others. Sometimes it takes an injury, illness or meltdown to bring this to the forefront. community get to know each other and cheer each other on. Those who insist on selling the same packages, delivering the same services in a vacuum will suffer. Our deficit is looking at the past; what used to work. I used to just teach group fitness in person, expecting 20 to 30 people per class to show up in my studio without a doubt. These days, in the pandemic world, all of our classes are “hybrid” both live and virtual. A normal class for me now is 10 people in the studio with me and 15 on virtually. I teach to them at the same time. I make the people at home feel like they are with us. They are up on a big screen in the studio. We see their pets, home decor, porches and living rooms. Instead of leaving them out, we brought them in the fold. We

evolved our classes and our technology. I created formats that are easier to follow, use less equipment and small amounts of space.

What is in your future one year from now? Five years from now? A year from now, I’ll be where I am. Running my clubs, coaching my Beachbody team, raising kids, visiting my daughter at college, cheering on my son in football, and enjoying lake life with my fiancée and her three young kids. I have slowed my trajectory a bit. I love what I do and I am happy with doing less and doing it better. I have created a life of freedom and want to enjoy it. Bigger is not always better, better is better. Five years from now, I can envision a different role. I could be ready to work in my clubs and not own them. I will always want a way to contribute locally, even as much of my career is online and virtual. I like having my feet planted somewhere and making a difference there. I will be dropping in to see my kids at college, taking them out for brunch or going to a football game, whatever they are up for. I hope to be an author by then, or maybe a podcaster. I have always wanted to share my message and connect with people about life, parenting and business lessons. But I am taking my own advice for now and not taking another role before I’m ready to give one up.




Shifts are happening… you can either evolve with the changes or be left behind By Justin Hanover


feel like a broken record when I keep saying this past year has been a wild one, but it is simply the truth. It has altered quite a bit when it comes to how we run our fitness businesses. So, as we move forward establishing new practices it’s important to understand why these shifts are happening. A common concern we are seeing across the board the past 8-10 months involves marketing. Many fitness professionals are not seeing the response they used to see for their marketing promotions. That can be very frustrating especially if what you were doing before was working.


That is the nature of business. Either evolve with the changes or be left behind. A great example of what happens when you don’t adjust your marketing message for changing times is seen in the story of Kodak. They thought the changes with digital cameras coming out wouldn’t affect them and they stayed their course. As we know, that didn’t hit home with their customers. Their customers wanted the new digital cameras and it showed with Kodak’s dwindling revenue to the point the once powerhouse in the photography world was no more.


Are you seeing the underlying issue here? It was in the lack of understanding their ideal client. As the market changed they didn’t re-evaluate what their ideal client wanted or cared about. So, by sticking to their original message, that did work, it cost them more than they realized. Their unfortunate story is your success story! How does this help you? It clearly highlights why it is so important to know exactly who your ideal client is so you can understand how this past year has affected them.


What I want to highlight for you is to make sure you understand the value of not only having an ideal client, but to make sure you keep evaluating based on life changes. In other words, this past year has altered your clients’ behaviors and values. With those changes, if you keep coming at them with the same marketing message you used prior to this behavior change, it just won’t land the same way. Are you at this place where you just feel like everything you put out there isn’t clicking, the leads are getting harder to come by, and you feel like you are in a fight or flight mode? First just take a breath. This has been a lot, but when armed with the right tools and perspective everything is figure-outable. Second, stop the random approach to see what sticks. It’s only causing you more frustration, and isn’t going to change the situation. Third, let’s pull up the google doc from a year or so ago when you outlined your ideal client. We need to start here first and see if this original outline still makes sense. Some areas to look for when evaluating the current outline:  Does it clearly define a specific person? (not an age range)  Does it highlight their big problems?  Does this person have a natural desire for your solution? After making sure the original plan was clear to begin with, now we need to make sure it is still relevant to current times. What does that mean? It means you need to talk to your ideal client. That ideal person you outlined is the source of your marketing material. So, reach out to people that fit this description and ask them if they wouldn’t mind answering a few questions for you. I want to quickly be clear about something when it comes to marketing. The more YOU try to inject your thoughts and feelings the further away your message lands. This is about your client, and there is no better way to understand what they want and need than to ask them directly. We can sit around a table

all day speculating what might trigger them, and we could get some things right. But, it’s a lot faster to go to the source. A few questions you could ask them are:  Over the past year, has your value of health changed? If so, how?  What matters to you more: being in an environment to work out or the ability to access it anywhere?  As of today, what would be your biggest obstacle with hitting your health goals?  If you were going to join a health program, what would you look for and how would you decide which is the right one for you?  If I were to offer you (share your core offer for your ideal client) do you feel that would be the right solution for you? Why or why not?

Let’s walk through a recap of your action steps:  Look at your existing ideal client outline and make sure it is a good starting point to begin with  Go to 8-10 people that fit your ideal client description to ask them the questions outlined  Take the new information you learned and update your ideal client outline  Adjust your marketing message based on the information you received  Go back through this process every 6-8 months That last one is a crucial part of this. You don’t have to wait for a pandemic or any other major situation to happen to constantly keep a pulse on your ideal client. I’d rather go through this entire process and find out I am on point than to make assumptions, not do it and continue missing the mark. Understanding your ideal client is the life source of your business. The more you understand them, the better your messaging is and the more you can serve them. In other words, you should be spending a decent amount of time in this area, it’s that important. Marketing isn’t this mysterious thing. It’s having a deep understanding of who you serve and paving the way to the solution. Times change, people change, and therefore, your marketing message also needs to change.

It’s no secret why some of the most successful businesses in history are also known to constantly poll their audience. You can certainly add a few more questions to this, but the goal is to understand how they think and perceive things now. That is the key to getting the right information. The past doesn’t matter; we need to know where they are right now to speak to them where they are at. It’s no secret why some of the most successful businesses in history are also known to constantly poll their audience. Meaning they are always mining for data to deliver what their customers want and need. Trying to figure that out yourself is a fool’s journey. There is a much better way and it involves actually talking to people over guessing. Those companies know they have no business trying to figure that out; they would much rather have their customers tell them directly.

Justin Hanover’s mantra has always been “Create An Impact” and he does this relentlessly. That’s why, in 2008, he started a fitness business from the trunk of his car. Over the next 10 years he grew it into a 6,000-square foot facility with over 350 members and 8 team members. After moving on from his business in 2019, he’s been creating an impact as a Success Coach with Fitness Revolution and has been helping other gym owners create their own impact, as he helps them build businesses they love running. Justin understands how so many lives are impacted by one successful gym owner, so it is his mission to help create as many as possible.



HOW TO REALLY STAND OUT ONLINE 5 digital marketing strategies fitpreneurs need to grow By James Patrick


et’s face it — it has become nearly impossible for fitness professionals to stand out online. This is due, in part, to the pandemic forcing everyone to move their brands online and also, in part, to the natural evolution of consumer demand for online services. Regardless of the reasoning, it is imperative to find new ways to stand out to the right audience and the following five digital marketing strategies can help. 1. Lead Generation The “algorithm” is not suppressing you or your posts; in fact, it does not even care about you. The primary focus of Instagram or Facebook is to keep users on the platform as long as possible. Your mission is not just to grow your audience or follower size, but to attract relevant leads into your ecosystem. Whereas an audience member is passively watching your content, a lead is fully engaged and closer to becoming a client.


To grow your audience while understanding the algorithm requires you to:  Create content worthy of sharing or saving. These are the only insights you should care about. Are the posts you are doing engaging your audience to share your content to their followers, thus marketing you and your brand or are your posts so valuable that your followers want to save them for future reference? The posts that get shared and saved the most are posts that are entertaining, informational or inspirational.  Earn media features or digital partnerships. Tap into your target audience where they already are and give them a reason to enter into your ecosystem. These could include magazine features, podcast guest spots, digital publications or social media accounts that have the right audience for your brand. Pitch the various outlets with potential value-driven content you could contribute to their channel, which in turn positions you as a subject matter expert worth following.


2. Content Marketing Plan To succeed at content marketing is not to invest every waking hour into creating content. Primarily focus on no more than 1-to-2 channels so you can have more impact instead of spreading your efforts too thin. Also seek ways to repurpose content whenever possible. For example, taking a single video and taking just the audio to make a podcast, take the transcript and make it your blog and newsletter, etc. Your goal with content should be to add value to your audience’s lives as you nurture those relationships. Ask what problems your audience has that you are amazing at solving and that becomes the content you create. 3. Engage Your Audience Before a lead is ready to purchase from you, they must have an established trust and rapport with you. With so many options and so little attention, your goal is to focus on nurturing your audience with such great value that you stay top of mind when they are ready to invest.

Photo by James Patrick


BEFORE A LEAD IS READY TO PURCHASE FROM YOU, THEY MUST HAVE AN ESTABLISHED TRUST AND RAPPORT WITH YOU. It is not enough that your audience knows you exist. They have to clearly articulate why you matter to them and how you can serve their needs. This is achieved both from your content marketing strategy as well as having one-toone engagement with your leads. The more you invest into your target clients, the more likely they are to invest in you. 4. Build a List You Own As an entrepreneur we have two types of audiences. There are audiences we rent and audiences we own. Our social media followers are rented. If Instagram and Facebook crash, if your account gets hacked, if the platform shuts down, you will lose your audience. Also, you are never in control of how much of your audience actually sees the content you create. An audience you own is one where you have complete control such as your email list, SMS list or traditional mailing list. No algorithm exists that will prevent subscribers from getting your emails, your texts or your letters.

In order to build a list you own, create a lead magnet which is a free offer you provide in exchange for the audience’s permission to contact them. Examples of lead magnets can include e-books, printed books, downloadable templates, courses, webinars, events, group sessions, challenges and more. If your lead magnet provides great value and solves a problem for your potential client, they are going to want to opt in to receive it. When that happens, that is a signal back to you, which says that they are interested in learning more about how you can support them. It indicates that they are a warmer audience and much closer to becoming a client than someone who is not interested in your lead magnet. 5. SMS Marketing Email marketing works and when done right, it is highly beneficial for many business owners. However, the average open rate for email marketing is around 18%. Meanwhile, SMS (text marketing) has shown to have an open rate going as high as 98%.

There are now a bevy of affordable SMSbased text services making it far easier for entrepreneurs to build a list and communicate with their leads. When someone signs up with their phone number, compared to their email, they are proving to be an even warmer lead and prospect, as we tend to be very protective of our numbers. Growing a SMS list is very similar to growing an email list. If you create a lead magnet or offer an incentive that is valuable to your audience, they are going to want onboard.

James Patrick is an award-winning photographer with more than 500 published magazine covers, entrepreneur coach, podcast host and best-selling author of Fit Business Guide: The Workout Plan for Your Brand. He is the founder of FITposium, an annual conference and online education network for fitness entrepreneurs to thrive in their careers. His work can be seen at or you can text him your business questions to (480) 605-3254.


FEATURE ARTICLE Dr. Meredith Butulis

FLEXIBILITY OR MOBILITY Which one are you training, and why does it matter? By Dr. Meredith Butulis


an everyone learn to do the splits? Coming from a background in sports medicine, dance medicine, strength & conditioning, yoga and Pilates, this is a question people often ask me. The short answer is “no.” Not everyone can attain this range of motion. Now, let’s look at not only the “why” behind this, but also the bigger picture. Do you coach clients on flexibility or mobility? More importantly, what is the difference, and how does this affect a client’s movement abilities? With the rise of niche marketing and social media, the lines of “flexibility” versus “mobility,” have become blurred. Let’s begin


with what each word means, and how they are not the same. The delineation can shed light on which your client needs, so you can then select methods to help your clients set realistic goals and an efficient path toward success. FLEXIBILITY Flexibility is the ability of muscles and their surrounding soft tissues (fascia, ligaments, tendons and nerves) to passively lengthen. Passive means that a force outside of the client’s own body creates the motion. Forces could come from body weight against the floor or another object, stretch straps or a fitness professional’s use of hands for assisted stretching.


Flexibility is not the same as stretching. Stretching represents a variety of exercise methods to increase flexibility. Flexibility is the soft tissues’ internal response to stretching exercises. Biomechanically, the main component of flexibility we target with stretching is extensibility. Extensibility is the soft tissues’ ability to lengthen when stretching force is applied, then return to resting length. Effective stretching requires lengthening the soft tissues across all of the joints that the tissues cross. This makes stretching positions to increase flexibility fairly specific. For example, when stretching hamstrings, a client is often on his or her back with the hip flexed, knee extended and ankle slightly plantarflexed. When stretching the rectus



femoris (the only quadricep that crosses the hip and the knee), the hip is in extension and the knee is in flexion. The concept of lengthening across all joints is not limited to single muscles or muscle groups. Instead, one could improve flexibility of a myofascial line. For example, the yoga downward dog completely lengthens the deep longitudinal sling system. The deep longitudinal sling system refers to the connection of the paraspinals, sacrotuberous ligament, lateral hamstring and peroneals. Notably, the client feels sensation across the lengthening side of all involved joints. Improving flexibility requires effective stretching exercise prescription. Effective exercise prescription includes not only spe-

cific positioning, but also selecting frequency, intensity, duration and type.  Frequency: Daily  Intensity: 3/10 (meaning a gentle pain-free line of pull in the proper alignment)  Duration: 30-60 seconds for static stretches for 3-4 sets  Type: Static low intensity, long duration (30 sec +) stretches generally improve tissue extensibility. Type selection, however, may depend on client goals. Even with regular stretching efforts, different clients will have varying results, as genetics also play a role in how quickly and how much soft tissues can change. Key point: Low intensity 30-60 second

passive stretches in specific positions that lengthen the target soft tissue across all of its joints can improve flexibility. MOBILITY Mobility, in the traditional healthcare provider sense, is the ability of joint surfaces to move on each other in roll, spin and glide motions. These are subtle motions within the joint. No amount of stretching or exercise will change limited joint roll, spin or glide. The term mobility, in the fitness sense, has taken on a slightly different meaning, however. General internet searches reveal a broader definition of mobility, as the ability of a joint to move actively or passively. Active movement implies that the client is


a major role in the neuromuscular factors, allowing greater mobility and flexibility. Other factors:  Scar tissue: Scar tissue from previous injuries and surgeries is not very mobile. It can limit both flexibility and mobility.  Effusion: Effusion means swelling in a joint. If a joint is swollen, it should not be mobilized.  Synovial fluid: This fluid is inside of the joint capsules around each major joint. At rest, it is like thick mud that doesn’t move well. With warm-up or joint mobilization exercises, the fluid decreases viscosity, flowing more like water.

moving his/her own joints by using his/her own muscles. Passively implies that an outside force, like the floor or another person, is providing the force. Flexibility influences joint mobility, but it is only one component. For example, if you lie on your back and perform a hamstring stretch, chances are you are not able to keep your knee straight and get your hip to flex more than 90 degrees. However, if you bend your knee and hug your thigh toward your chest, you can probably attain more than 90 degrees of hip flexion. This illustrates the difference between hamstring (and posterior thigh soft tissue) flexibility versus hip joint mobility. If flexibility is only one factor, what else can limit joint mobility? Rigid structures:  Bone: We are not all built the same. Bones and joints have slightly different shapes and angles in each individual. Hip joints, in particular, have high structural variability.  Age-related changes: Bone surfaces change with forces upon them over time. Generally, as age increases, joint space narrows, offering less motion. Cartilage:  Youth have components of bone still made of cartilage; cartilage is softer than bone,


so youth often have more joint mobility than adults.  Older adults often have cartilage degeneration; this creates irregular joint surfaces that do not glide as well as they once did. Inert structures:  Capsule: Capsules surround each major joint; they blend in with the ligaments.  Ligaments: Ligaments connect bones to other bones.  Fascia: Fascia is like a soft tissue cobweb that intertwines with muscle fibers, bones, organs and even the nervous system. It has high levels of sensation, but it does not stretch like muscles do. Extensible structures:  Tendon: Tendons connect bones to muscles; they are extensible, but not to the degree that muscles are.  Muscle: Muscles are extensible tissues; their level of flexibility may influence joint mobility. Neuromuscular factors:  Bones, cartilage, fascia, ligaments, tendons, and muscles all have sensory endings. The way the brain and spinal cord receive and process information influence a client’s perception of attempts to improve flexibility or mobility. Deep breathing can play


With so many factors influencing joint mobility, it can be hard for fitness professionals to know where to begin. Fitness professionals can instruct clients in dynamic warm-ups through various motions to increase synovial fluid and fascial mobility and neuromuscular control. Examples include deep body weight squats and arm circles. If these dynamic warm-ups involve passively lengthening a muscle or myofascial group across all of its joints, the selected movement is focusing on the flexibility component of joint mobility. A common example is the yoga sun salutation. If a client is moving toward his/her end range of a joint motion and feels “stuck,” “pinch,” or “pain,” (especially on the closing side of the joint) fitness professionals should encourage the client to back away from this sensation, as opposed to pushing through it with force, bouncing or momentum. Adding a physical therapist and/or chiropractor to the client’s team can help differentiate the underlying sticking point. If the underlying limitation is a capsule, ligament or deep scar tissue, these professionals may be able to help. If the underlying limitation is bone or cartilage, the client may need to adjust movement goals to embrace structural limits. Key points: Mobility drills are generally part of a dynamic warm-up to increase ease of joint motion. Mobility drills generally do not fully lengthen muscles across all of their joints, since the goal is increasing ease of movement at the joint surfaces. Numerous


factors (such as bone shape, cartilage integrity, ligament and capsule health . . .) influence joint motion, and fitness professionals should not try to force a client past points of joint stiffness. FLEXIBILITY OR MOBILITY: WHICH IS BETTER? In conclusion, neither flexibility nor mobility are better. Your client’s goals, however, can help guide priorities. If your client wants greater range and ease of motion with activities that do not require passively lengthening a muscle or myofascial line across all of the joints that it crosses, mobility drills are likely the answer. Outcomes look like a deeper squat, or more rotation in a golf swing.

If your client wants more motion that requires passively lengthening muscles or myofascial lines across all of the joints that they cross, flexibility is likely the answer. Outcomes look like ability to do the splits, a higher straight leg raise when lying on the back to stretch hamstrings, or achieving a wheel pose in yoga. Flexibility and mobility, however, are not mutually exclusive. A shortened muscle can limit joint mobility. If this is true, the client will feel limitations on the lengthening sides of the joints; performing a stretch can increase the joint mobility immediately. Conversely, limited joint mobility can limit flexibility. Joint mobility drills (often part of a dynamic warm-up), may or may not help. Many factors influence joint mobility. Limited

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Publication Title .............................................................Personal Fitness Professional -PFP Publication No. ..............................................................1523-780X Filing Date .....................................................................September 14, 2021 Issue Frequency...............................................................Quarterly: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter 5. No. of Issues Published Annually...................................4 6. Annual Subscription Price .............................................Free 7. Complete Mailing Address of Known Office of Publication (Not Printer) MadMen3, LLC C/O Chad Griepentrog 708 W Mohawk Trail DeForest, WI 53532-3035 Contact Person ...............................................................Rachel Chapman, (608) 446-6200 8. Complete Mailing Address of the Headquarters of General Business Offices of the Publisher (Not Printer) .....................MadMen3, LLC C/O Chad Griepentrog 708 W Mohawk Trail DeForest, WI 53532-3035 9. Full Names and Complete Mailing Address of Publisher, Editor and Managing Editor Publisher ............................................. ...........................Josh Vogt, MadMen3, LLC C/O Chad Griepentrog 708 W Mohawk Trail DeForest ,WI 53532-3035 Editor .................................................. ...........................Erin Eagan, MadMen3, LLC C/O Chad Griepentrog 708 W Mohawk Trail DeForest, WI 53532-3035 Managing Editor............................................................Erin Eagan, MadMen3, LLC C/O Chad Griepentrog 708 W Mohawk Trail DeForest, WI 53532-3035 10. Owner (If the publication is owned by a corporation, give the name and address of

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(Full Name) (Complete Mailing Address) Chad Griepentrog.................................................. MadMen3, LLC C/O Chad Griepentrog 708 W Mohawk Trail DeForest, WI 53532-3035 Josh Vogt ................................................................ MadMen3, LLC C/O Chad Griepentrog 708 W Mohawk Trail DeForest, WI 53532-3035 Ken Waddell .......................................................... MadMen3, LLC C/O Chad Griepentrog 708 W Mohawk Trail DeForest, WI 53532-3035

joint roll, spin or glide cannot be fixed with exercise. These limitations feel “stuck,” or “pinching” on the closing side of the joint. Fitness professionals should not encourage clients to barge these barriers, but rather partner with the client’s physical therapist and/or chiropractor to assess underlying causes of the joint restriction.

Dr. Meredith Butulis is a licensed Sport/Orthopedic Physical Therapist, Certified Exercise Physiologist, Strength & Conditioning Coach, Personal Trainer, and Yoga/Pilates Instructor practicing since 1998. She is the creator of the ISSA Fitness Comeback Coaching Certification, author of the Mobility | Stability Equation Books, and host of The Fitness Comeback Coaching Podcast. Learn more on IG @Dr.MeredithButulis or visit

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IS TRAINING ASD FOR ME? LET’S SEE… Given the number of those affected by autism and the need for professional fitness services, this is a burgeoning specialty area

By Eric Chessen 24


Is that hip tracking properly? Is he planning on flopping down to the mat after this next hurdle? Does Adam know what exercise is after these forward hurdle steps?


The most current statistics from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) show an autism diagnosis occurring at 1 in 68 children. The statistics for teens and adults with autism are more difficult to find, though many individuals have been diagnosed retroactively as the criteria for diagnosis has changed/ broadened with the DSM V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illness Vol 5). Some of the most common, if not readily discussed areas of deficit for those with ASD, are gross motor deficits and low muscle tone (a catch-all phrase).


hese are the series of questions that reverberate in my head as Adam completes the set of low hurdle steps as part of his warm-up. They’re the same questions that need to be mentally noted and checked off throughout a session with an individual on the autism spectrum. Fitness for special needs populations, particularly the autism and neurodiverse demographics, is gaining awareness, and more professionals are entering the sphere of practice. Some still overlap the autism spectrum disorder (ASD) population with other neurobiological disorders, such as Downs Syndrome. But they are different. And they need to be approached accordingly.

Fitness for special needs populations, particularly the autism and neurodiverse demographics, is gaining awareness, and more professionals are entering the sphere of practice. By way of intrepid professionals and dedicated parents/caregivers, the field of fitness for individuals with autism has grown in the last few years. As is the case across the fitness/ wellness arena, programs and practices vary with no official standard or code of practice for those providing exercise programs to individuals with ASD. Given the number of children, teens and adults affected by autism and the evident need for professional fitness services, this is a burgeoning specialty area. While sport-specific, even vocation-specific, training has existed in the fitness profession for decades, fitness programming for the ASD population is new and requires some important considerations.

Working with the autism population in a fitness capacity requires being a specialist turned generalist turned specialist. Allow me to expand on that. A fitness professional working with the ASD population, ideally, has a conceptual background and practical skill set to assess movement skills and provide appropriate progressions and regressions for various exercises. The adaptive/behavior challenges inherent to autism require more than a great fitness program “on paper”/in theory. Not only are the previously noted movement and strength deficits significant considerations, but behavior issues (off-task, maladaptive) must be addressed. The “Greatest Program Ever” is no match for a 17-year old who refuses to budge from lying face down on a yoga mat in the corner of the room. So here we move from specialist to generalist; gaining an awareness and working knowledge of how different challenging behaviors present in the autism population, how to effectively manage those behaviors within scope of practice, and then how those behaviors may present with specific individuals. Some of our athletes (term used universally) with ASD may be off-task, wandering around the room for 94% of the session, while others are cooperative to a remarkable degree. Understanding motivation and reinforcement both generally and with specific application to each individual is a necessity here. Cognitive deficits are another hallmark of autism that requires both global and specific understanding and working knowledge. Our athletes with autism tend to be literal thinkers, having a great amount of difficulty with abstract concepts or directions that include analogies. “Run as fast as a Cheetah” won’t have the same connotation for an individual with ASD as it does for the neurotypical population. With respect to cognitive functioning we have one priority: ensure that our athletes are able to follow our directions to the best of current ability. Fitness and medical fitness professionals considering working with the ASD population



 Don’t add variety where it is not needed. Keep programming as simple as possible. Adaptive:  Let the athlete know what they’ll be doing and what’s coming after that. Anxiety levels tend to be high among those with ASD. Providing a “what’s happening next” can deescalate.  Provide opportunities for choice; “Do you want to do push throws or overhead throws first?” This establishes that the athlete will be doing one of those two throws AND they get to choose which one.  Use contingencies; “First hurdle steps, then you can take a break for a minute.” This creates a natural timeline and enables the athlete to know the specific beginning and end of the sequence and what the expectation is.

may find that the instructions, cues and even the exercises they rely on with most clientele don’t quite work for individuals with autism. While the general best practices approach to strength, stability and motor planning still apply (strengthen the large muscle groups first, build a healthy movement pattern before adding load), the path towards success may wind a bit. In our Autism Fitness™ Certification; Level I, we have a consistent cornucopia of professionals with backgrounds in fitness, occupational and physical therapy, behavior therapy, pediatrics, recreational therapy and education (not to mention parents of individuals with ASD). Each attendee brings in their own knowledge and experience with autism from their professional vantage point. The keys to success are taking the best practices from each area of ability (physical, adaptive and cognitive) and having strategies that have wide-ranging application. Again, specialist-generalist-specialist. Odds are that if you’re reading this or have been researching fitness programming for autism, a parent or school has approached you about running a 1-to-1 or group program. You may be starting next


month, or next week, or in two hours. So I’ll spend the last of this article providing some practical, go-to strategies within each of the physical, adaptive and cognitive (PAC Profile™) framework.

Cognitive:  Label the exercise and demonstrate. Avoid extraneous language.  Teach exercises one at a time. Use a lot of repetition. Fitness is a life skill, one that is tremendously needed by the autism population of all ages and ability levels. For those professionals who choose to offer fitness services to those with ASD, it is imperative that best practices, all around, be used. When we know what we are looking at, what outcomes are realistic and what strategies to employ, we can meet our athletes where they are at and enhance quality of life.

Odds are that if you’re reading this or have been researching fitness programming for autism, a parent or school has approached you about running a 1-to-1 or group program. Physical:  Focus on basic, essential movement patterns (pushing, pulling, crawling, squatting, carrying and locomotion).  Have appropriate progressions and especially regressions for each exercise.


Eric Chessen, M.S., is the Founder of Autism Fitness. An exercise physiologist with an extensive background in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Eric has spent nearly two decades developing and implementing fitness and adapted PE programs for individuals of all ages and ability levels. Eric is the creator and Lead Instructor for the Autism Fitness Certification and has presented at TEDx on the subject of fitness for those with ASD. He is also the Co-Founder of strength equipment company Stronger than U. He is New York native and resident of Charlotte, NC.

SUBSCRIBE TO PFP HERE NEW ON THE MARKET The latest trends in fitness equipment


SP-43 SELECTORIZED SERIES A new series of selectorized strength equipment from Spirit Commercial Fitness will give fitness business owners even more sleek, durable and high-value options to choose from when building out their strength training sections. The SP-43 Series focuses on building strength while keeping stability and comfort, and consists of 24 new products that are each designed with: adjustable platforms to keep users in a comfortable and optimized position, top-quality seat pads that provide safety and a well-aligned seated position, an integrated rep counter to help users keep track of their workout, and built-in storage on the top cap.

FITBENCH YBELL The FITBENCH YBell is the all-in-one workout bench that is functional, safe, and innovative. Teaming up with YBell Fitness, FITBENCH has created a new, smart training solution that saves users space. The FITBENCH YBell fits five sets of YBell Neos, which are four-in-one training tools (dumbbell, kettlebell, double-grip med ball, and push-up stand), neatly into one of FITBENCH’s patented design. Simple to move, yet incredibly durable, the FITBENCH YBELL works in commercial and residential settings alike.


Now available for preorder! A functional and stylish surface upgrade on the popular wooden Power Systems 3-in-1 Plyo Box! The textured PVC surface adds traction and durability to all 6 sides. Two sizes: 16”x20”x24” and 20”x24”x30”. Order now – limited stock available!



The BoBo Balance Board is connected to an interactive app and allows users to train with a wide variety of dynamic and creative workouts that help improve balance, strength and coordination, and decrease chances of injury. The BoBo app offers a wide and constantly updated selection of interactive games, and athletes can track performance and progression, and view real-time data. The app seamlessly connects with any mobile device, tablet, so users can work out anytime, anywhere.

A new Insta-Pulse® heart rate monitor for fitness professionals helps to assess fitness level instantly and accurately with a simple touch. Insta-Pulse® model 106 is maintenance-free, weather and water proof. Use it indoors, outdoors or even in water. Its non-corrosive body sustains shocks and falls. It monitors maximum heart rates in two seconds and continues to monitor heart rate recovery. Simply grasp the Insta-Pulse® with both hands, it turns on automatically and continuously update a heart rate.


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No longer checking the diversity box, but bringing awareness to inclusion


hen I started in this business, “certifications” didn’t exist. Back then, we were all “aerobic instructors.” Our profession was never considered a job. We were a bunch of part-timers bopping around from class to class. Female instructors were Jane Fonda lookalikes in tights, legwarmers and headbands. You may be laughing remembering those moments, but the truth is, women of color had a difficult time finding success in this era. Many of us had curves and believed we had to fit the mold in order to be hired. The first facility I was hired at was LivingWell Lady, but my career truly kicked off at Jack LaLanne, which later became Bally Total Fitness. I was fortunate enough to find a director who could look past my curves and the way I dressed in my baggy pants and loose-fitting t-shirts, and recognize the talent I brought to the table. Though getting hired was a feat in and of itself, I knew that the true hard work lay ahead. My national director, Suzette Samaroo-Fennell, was also a catalyst in pushing me forward into this career. Suzette hired me as her group exercise regional director for the Long Island, Bronx and Westchester regions. In this position, I made hiring a diverse group of individuals of all nationalities, orientations, abilities, shapes and sizes a priority. Though this resulted in a great deal of pushback from many people at the time, I took to the task with passion, commitment and dedication. In doing so, I created some of the most loyal and faithful instructors to this day and encouraged members who expected those Jane Fonda lookalikes to be open-minded and inclusive. Every year since, I’ve set goals for myself. My heart was set on becoming a presenter and an educator. Then, the opportunity came. Carol Scott of ECA World Fitness hired me to be an aerobic instructor for her fitness facility in Long Beach, New York. She was the first person who trusted me enough to give me a chance in presenting. Carol coached, mentored and guided me. She gave me loads of encouragement and feedback — all of which has resonated with me to this day. When I first began presenting, I was one of the few women of color at the time. There were many presenters I was inspired by and aspired to be (Calvin Wiley, Clay Grant, Patrick Goudea, Pepper Bon, Monique Dash and Madonna Grimes). Working my way to the top was challenging and fulfilling.



The next opportunity that arose was with DCAC Fitness Conventions, when founders Shannon Elkins and Jamie Nicholls invited me to present. At the time, there was still not much diversity within the presenting community, so it was an enormous achievement to be represented at any fitness forum. Perhaps one of the biggest eye-openers for me was when two women of color thanked me for portraying them in an amazing, positive light. That was the moment I realized that I was no longer checking the “diversity” box, but bringing awareness to inclusion, giving hope to aspiring presenters of color, and breaking glass ceilings for future generations. Each and every time I hit the stage, I feel a sense of great responsibility. In later years, I became the flexibility and soft tissue specialist for the New York Jets. Additionally, I became the regional director for multiple locations of Bally Total Fitness, New York Sports Clubs and XSport Fitness. I am currently a group exercise manager at three of Crunch Fitness’ New York facilities. Most importantly, in 2009, I opened a private practice of my own, and have been one of the fortunate ones to expand during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. I would not have accomplished all of this without the support, guidance and mentorship of those mentioned. I remain passionate about upholding diversity, equity, inclusion and education in each of my roles. I pride myself on paying it forward with any opportunity I receive to ensure others can receive the same opportunities. Inclusion helps all. I’m proud of the progress we have made in creating a more diverse, inclusive and equitable fitness community and look forward to the strides we will make in the future. I’ll leave you with this: one of the keys to success is to be a forward thinker. Learn from mistakes of the past and be open to change. Change will always make you look at everything in awe.

Gail works as a flexibility, yoga, and Pilate’s coach with the NY Jets football team and pro hoops basketball. She currently holds certifications in several different disciplines, including NASM, AFAA, Fascial Stretch Therapist L3, Yogafit 500 hours, AFAA, STOTT PILATES® Mat 1 & 2, Powerhouse Mat Pilates I & II, and is an NASM and AFAA continuing education provider, which enhances her coaching abilities to her athletes, staff and her classes.