Working in the health and fitness industry

Riley O'Neill

Triple-Digit Post Count
I do not work in the fitness industry but I have friends who have. I do however work in the fine art reproductions industry, European Deli Industry, and have worked in print sales and "the business of business" industry. Now, while it may seem that these industries have nothing to do with fitness, in detail yes, however in the big picture they are all the same.

The big picture is sales. Can you convince people to give you money in exchange for your product or service? There are plenty of trainers out there who are completely unqualified, who have junk science protocols, however they are exceptionally good at selling themselves and their services. Its the same in the art world, plenty of bad artists who are good at sales will out perform good artists who are terrible at sales. If you have a great product and are great at sales and the right market for it you just need persistence. You do need to assess your community and how people in your community currently pay money for training.

I am going to give a bit of advice here that I have learned over the last decade or so doing my businesses.

The first of all, the commodity you are selling is you. You are first selling yourself. You should have an instagram account with a new post every single day. These photos need to be interesting, well composed, and tell a story of interest. Learn how to take good photos and videos using minimal equipment. YouTuber Casey Neistat gained millions of subscribers by doing this on YouTube with what he called "coming to work every day" via his daily vlog. Every day you should also like 200-500 (although split them up throughout the day) posts and perhaps a few dozen comments on people's photos within an hour drive of where you live. The closer the better. You mentioned that you have issues with the hard sale, that is fine. Just focus on interacting with local people on one hand and general fitness on the other. Its much harder to build a following and a marketplace than it is to build the product. YOU are first and foremost the brand. This makes you valuable to any commercial gym. If you can drive attention and interest to their gym you are valuable.

Second. Look at who the trainers are in your community. Do they run out of garage gyms or rent commercial space? Know who they are and what they specialize in and do not try to copy them. If they post a daily video of a yoga post with a sunset, don't do that. You want to see what they are doing and then be unique. I will give you an example. Right now there is a guy in my city (Riverside, California population 330k) who is dressing up like Forest Gump (when he was running all over America. Same red hat, running clothes, and fake beard) and running all over town. People take snapshots of the guy, he was featured in the news paper. Local groups are talking about him. People are taking photos of him and posting it on social media. I thought to myself after seeing it this afternoon "wow... what if this guy was a running trainer... this is like the best marketing ever even if it is a little gimmicky".

Third. Look at how kettlebell training can work with existing businesses that could use the service. The one I would personally target? Yoga studios. Kettlebell training does not have the 'meat head' sterotype attributed to it that intimidates people. Plus kettlebells and yoga go together exceptionally well. You may want to position your business as something which several local yoga studios could have as a weekly feature. This could be one more valuable thing that they could offer to their members that they may be unqualified to teach now. Or you may want to position it to train law enforcement. I would think that the SFG would help you considerably as much of the heritage of Hardstyle lifting comes from martial arts and law enforcement. This may be a better idea rather than going after individual customers.

The friends I did have who were trainers, some of them quit, the reason was that they could not get people to buy their service. They worked for a gym where the gym marketing brought them customers but when they left the gym they figured getting the customers would not be overly difficult. They were wrong. But they also had no media presence or interest. It was just a simple "hire me, I know my stuff" type deal. I would consider the book "4 Hour Workweek" by Tim Ferriss as he goes into great detail about how to make a brand for yourself and how to give marketplace legitimacy to this brand you are creating.
 

Chrisdavisjr

> 1k Posts
I do not work in the fitness industry but I have friends who have. I do however work in the fine art reproductions industry, European Deli Industry, and have worked in print sales and "the business of business" industry. Now, while it may seem that these industries have nothing to do with fitness, in detail yes, however in the big picture they are all the same.

The big picture is sales. Can you convince people to give you money in exchange for your product or service? There are plenty of trainers out there who are completely unqualified, who have junk science protocols, however they are exceptionally good at selling themselves and their services. Its the same in the art world, plenty of bad artists who are good at sales will out perform good artists who are terrible at sales. If you have a great product and are great at sales and the right market for it you just need persistence. You do need to assess your community and how people in your community currently pay money for training.

I am going to give a bit of advice here that I have learned over the last decade or so doing my businesses.

The first of all, the commodity you are selling is you. You are first selling yourself. You should have an instagram account with a new post every single day. These photos need to be interesting, well composed, and tell a story of interest. Learn how to take good photos and videos using minimal equipment. YouTuber Casey Neistat gained millions of subscribers by doing this on YouTube with what he called "coming to work every day" via his daily vlog. Every day you should also like 200-500 (although split them up throughout the day) posts and perhaps a few dozen comments on people's photos within an hour drive of where you live. The closer the better. You mentioned that you have issues with the hard sale, that is fine. Just focus on interacting with local people on one hand and general fitness on the other. Its much harder to build a following and a marketplace than it is to build the product. YOU are first and foremost the brand. This makes you valuable to any commercial gym. If you can drive attention and interest to their gym you are valuable.

Second. Look at who the trainers are in your community. Do they run out of garage gyms or rent commercial space? Know who they are and what they specialize in and do not try to copy them. If they post a daily video of a yoga post with a sunset, don't do that. You want to see what they are doing and then be unique. I will give you an example. Right now there is a guy in my city (Riverside, California population 330k) who is dressing up like Forest Gump (when he was running all over America. Same red hat, running clothes, and fake beard) and running all over town. People take snapshots of the guy, he was featured in the news paper. Local groups are talking about him. People are taking photos of him and posting it on social media. I thought to myself after seeing it this afternoon "wow... what if this guy was a running trainer... this is like the best marketing ever even if it is a little gimmicky".

Third. Look at how kettlebell training can work with existing businesses that could use the service. The one I would personally target? Yoga studios. Kettlebell training does not have the 'meat head' sterotype attributed to it that intimidates people. Plus kettlebells and yoga go together exceptionally well. You may want to position your business as something which several local yoga studios could have as a weekly feature. This could be one more valuable thing that they could offer to their members that they may be unqualified to teach now. Or you may want to position it to train law enforcement. I would think that the SFG would help you considerably as much of the heritage of Hardstyle lifting comes from martial arts and law enforcement. This may be a better idea rather than going after individual customers.

The friends I did have who were trainers, some of them quit, the reason was that they could not get people to buy their service. They worked for a gym where the gym marketing brought them customers but when they left the gym they figured getting the customers would not be overly difficult. They were wrong. But they also had no media presence or interest. It was just a simple "hire me, I know my stuff" type deal. I would consider the book "4 Hour Workweek" by Tim Ferriss as he goes into great detail about how to make a brand for yourself and how to give marketplace legitimacy to this brand you are creating.
Thanks, Riley, for such a carefully considered and well put-together post. I'm continually astounded not only by the wealth of information and personal insight that people on this forum have been providing but also by the quality and clarity of their writing.

I am sincerely grateful to everyone who has offered advice and suggestions on this thread and feel no small amount of regret that my own plans to move my own career into this sector have been put on hold as I have more pressing personal matters in need of my attention. That being said, I would encourage anyone wishing to contribute further to this discussion do so as I've no doubt that this thread will prove invaluable to anyone looking to follow a similar career path.

My thanks again, everyone. Stay strong!
 
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wespom9

More than 500 posts
Certified Instructor
Lessons I've learned from working in the gym for 5 years.

- If you can't sell yourself, nobody cares what knowledge you have
- you need to effectively and logically explain your ideas and concepts. If someone doesn't know why they are doing something, they won't do it.
- always highlight what people CAN do, and explain why improving a deficiency can help. Don't focus on the deficiencies.
 

rawpersonaltrai

My Fourth Post
Take time to improvise on your skills. It is the same as going through a theoretical course and thereafter looking for opportunities for practical industry exposure. Health and fitness industry is a thriving industry. Certified Personal Trainers have a good scope of getting employed in a fitness studio or gym.
 

vegpedlr

More than 500 posts
Great thread, I’ve been thinking about getting a cert and giving it a shot as well, so this discussion is super helpful. My dad showed me a Wall Street Journal article that discussed changes in the PT business. Seems the aging population combined with the trend of outsourcing various needs has led to quite a demand for PT. But the typical PT is young, with a bodybuilding mindset that doesn’t reflect many older trainees wants and needs.

It appears there’s some opportunities available.
 
Great thread, I’ve been thinking about getting a cert and giving it a shot as well, so this discussion is super helpful. My dad showed me a Wall Street Journal article that discussed changes in the PT business. Seems the aging population combined with the trend of outsourcing various needs has led to quite a demand for PT. But the typical PT is young, with a bodybuilding mindset that doesn’t reflect many older trainees wants and needs.

It appears there’s some opportunities available.
I think the turnover is high. I also think a lot of the easy employment opportunities are thru clubs and franchise like Orange Theory, LA fitness - always hiring...Getting a gig where you can more or less structure the progression your own way would be the ideal.

My mother in law is 76, her trainer (when she uses one) is male in his late 80s. She likes the older guy trainers cause they're dealing with all the same joint and age related issues she is.

I've been giving a lot of thought to training older and younger, ultimately you have to be able to tailor what you're doing to the clientele. I made a promise to myself that I'd be able and ready to take the NSCA cert by/before the end of this year and I believe I will be capable of just that. Have been holding off as I still don't see myself making more or equal $ doing PT than what I do currently, and once I get the cert the clock starts on the continuing credits.
 
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