How to Stay Alive in the Fitness Industry for 2 Decades

This is my 20th year of being a Personal Trainer/Coach. During those 2 decades, I’ve worked with many-a-different personalities. Some are still in the industry and some are not. Occasionally when I talk to someone who has moved on, they ask me some version of how I was able to make this work successfully for so long. They’ll speak to the challenges of inconsistent income (there aren’t many jobs with guaranteed minimums), cost vs benefit of being an employee, contracting, or running your own ship (there are benefits to all 3 and no reason you can’t be in all 3 categories), combating the misinformation juggernauts that exists & the subsequent stigmas that come from them (first, much of this is in your head, but also I’m certain we’re not the only industry to deal with this).

These and other hurdles are absolutely true and we could mull over the strategies to overcome them all day;
1.) Prospect daily.
2.) Plan where you want to be 1, 3, 5 years & beyond.
3.) Continuing education for writing programs & how to coach people through change.

Now, these are thirty thousand foot views & as I said, other obstacles exist, but could this be put into an overarching theme?

Well, I was sitting with my 2-½-year-old son watching Aladdin and I think this movie gave me the (or at least an) answer: Be like the Genie with Aladdin, just not like the Genie with Jafar.

The Genie executed Jafar’s wishes without guidance or input, he simply executed even though you can see the disappointment on his face. With Aladdin, he asked leading questions. He coached him to make better decisions, even though Aladdin was in charge. At one point, he even “assumes” a wish that saved Aladdin’s life. I don’t know why the Genie coached Aladdin to make good decisions and not Jafar; Maybe he believed that Jafar wouldn’t listen, maybe he saw more potential in Aladdin, maybe it made for a better story flow.

Now, we are not slaves to our clients & perhaps some view it this way. That is a sure way to grow animosity in spite of being in an industry that can be very rewarding. So if someone approaches me and says, “I want to lose 20 pounds for my wedding in 2 weeks.” I’m likely not going to take on that task. I could draw up a plan that may deliver those results if followed to a T. But would the person be better for it? Would their health be improved? Would they be more able to enjoy what is supposed to be one of the happiest days of their lives?


So if a person were to propose a goal that strays from a healthy path, I’m going to spend some time trying to nudge them in the right direction & explain why. Understand that there exists a full spectrum of possibilities in between that we can land on and both sides are happy with, but if they are committed to a target that I truly believe is juxtaposed to their wellbeing, then I will tell them I am not the right person to partner with. This also holds true if I’m not the right guy for the goal. I’ve had a handful of people ask me about training for a stage/figure competition. I have no experience or interest in the arena. In these cases, I have referred people to my network that I trust for such a goal.

So here’s the long and short of it; Align with people who have goals you agree with. Seek to fully understand their ambitions & if it’s something you agree with, serve them to the best of your abilities. This is what the Genie did with Aladdin & for it, he was set free. I’ve run my business the last few years with minimal marketing, growing mostly from referrals. And I am grateful for each and every one.