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3 Tips to Make It In the Fitness Industry

1. Get Respect, Not Money

It seems in the industry today that the tide has shifted, at least on the surface. The old school way of doing things was to train people for years to establish your credibility. After this “10,000 hours to get good at a skill” of learning the ropes, then you ventured into creating a product. At that time you had something to say that people wanted to listen to. Now, it seems, this mentality has changed. Young coaches and trainers just starting out, begin by creating a product without the experience. In my opinion they are trying to get that money too quick.


Now, I’m not telling anyone not to make money or preventing anyone from selling anything. But let me offer some clarity.

They have the sequence all screwed up, right? Well, yes and no.

Just because they created a product right out of the gate, doesn’t mean anyone is going to buy it. No one knows you and you haven’t built your online reputation, i.e., social equity. It is sort of like building a successful blog. You might have the best content, videos and the coolest hair – but it doesn’t mean anyone if no one is going to see it.

If content is king, traffic is the dude that oversees the king and tells him what to wear when he wants to feel pretty.

You need to build your reputation and develop a network. Your circle of influence determines everything. Who do you know and what do they say about you when you’re not around?  What is being said about you on social networks?

That is huge.

Reputation comes with years of training clients, training yourself, being awesome to people, writing good material, influencing others and making a difference.

First you get the respect, then you get the money, then you get the power! (ahahahahaha – evil laugh)

2.  Creativity and Inspiration

People want to be inspired, and the fitness industry is no different.  I mean how many posts about push-ups can you really take?

I’ve built my reputation on being different.  Not doing the same stuff everyone else is doing – and you should do the same.  If you want to stand out and really turn people’s heads, inspire them with your creativity.  Also, you need to align this with your passion.  If your passion is the fitness industry, then get creative in the weightroom.  I’m not talking about dancing on bosu balls while juggling snakes.  I’m talking about learning how the body moves and not restricting yourself to ONLY conventional training.

If your passion is working with kids, get outside of the “textbook” approach and inspire them like no one else ever has, just by doing it YOUR way.

This means not just copying what everyone else is doing.  Because let me tell you something really honest – insincerity will show through immediately.

Think about this…

Arnold changed bodybuilding forever and millions of young men wanted to be him.  But unfortunately, even if they copied his bodybuilding routine they would never get to his level.  They would just be a poor copy of the original.  Trust me, you were never going to get that lead part for Kindergarten Cop bro.

Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. Just be who you are.  That’s what’s really cool.

3.  Give, Don’t Take

You are my br…you are my bro….you are my brother…

I have a little advice for you young fitness professionals.

You have to give and give and give…stop trying to take.

Everyday I get 5-10 emails asking if I’ll promote a new product from complete strangers.

It usually starts off like this,

“Hey [fill in my name],

I love what you’re doing on [fill in my site] and I’d like to tell you about the new fitness program I just created.  I was hoping you would put in on your site or send it to your newsletter.”

Obviously, it is a form letter and obviously they’re completely insane.

I don’t know you or anything about you.  Why would I suggest your program to my newsletter subscribers?  These people count on me for the best fitness info I can give them and they count on me to be honest with them.  I would never promote your product or anything about you if you come at me like that.

The fitness industry (and life) is about building relationships with people.  If you know me, you know money is not a driving factor – it is people.

If someone promotes my product that means they are my friend and I have spent time with them at their facility, at seminars, on the phone, in emails and collaborating, i.e., I have known them for years.

If your goal is to alienate yourself in the industry, ask someone you don’t know to promote your product.

How about this?

Send an email asking if there is anything you can do for me?  Need a guest blog post?

Or, “Hey, I just wanted to say I appreciate your work and hope you are having a great day.”

You need to go back and look at #1 above about developing your network and circle of influence.  It takes years and it isn’t something that happens overnight.

If you focus on what’s important like building your knowledge base, building relationships and building your site – everything falls into place.  Focus on the laying the foundation, not on the outcome or money.

That is how you get respect.

By on January 12th, 2012

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Comments (25)

  1. Posted by - Jgiggo69 on January 12, 2012

    Hitting the nail on the head as always.
    Thanks Smitty.

    • Posted by - Smitty on January 12, 2012

      Thanks John!

  2. Posted by - Flipaaa on January 12, 2012

    In that case….. Let me start by thanking you for making that YouTube shoulder rehab protocol a while back. Although it has no sound that protocol has helped me better service at least 3 clients better!!!!! Just thought this would be the perfect time to show my appreciation even though we’ve never met!!!! 🙂
    Flip Aguilera

    • Posted by - Smitty on January 12, 2012

      Thanks Flip, very glad it helped!

  3. Posted by - Athfact on January 12, 2012

    Really like your approach to training and your right, nobody believes in paying your dues these days, great article.

    • Posted by - Smitty on January 12, 2012

      Thanks for reading and commenting Athfact

  4. Posted by - George Mahoney on January 12, 2012

    Great Post. This is exactly what I needed.

    Your innovative techniques is what made me study your work, but your passion to help people is what keeps me coming back.

    • Posted by - Smitty on January 13, 2012

      Thanks George, very humbled.

  5. Posted by - Eloi Pereira on January 12, 2012

    James, this is the PURE truth ever!!! Thanks for helping me realize what and how to be a awesome trainer in the fitness industry, it not different down here……I live in Brazil and I’ve been following you for a long time.

    Keep up.

    See ya

    • Posted by - Smitty on January 13, 2012

      Thanks Eloi.

  6. Posted by - Todd Hudson on January 12, 2012

    Good stuff Smitty…actually very usable over most fields in life, not just training. Puttin’ in the time is very important.

    • Posted by - Smitty on January 13, 2012

      Very true Todd, thanks for reading.

  7. Posted by - Kylebpcoach on January 12, 2012

    Great stuff smitty!!!

    • Posted by - Smitty on January 13, 2012

      Thanks Kyle!

  8. Posted by - David Claiborne on January 12, 2012

    Great post

  9. Posted by - David Claiborne on January 12, 2012

    Great post. Especially number 1. I’m not sure if its because of my upbringing or what my definition is of quality compared to others, but I didn’t even feel like I had enough to write about consistently in a blog until after training athletes for 5+ years and running my own business for over 2. I am blown away to see how many people have a product out and don’t even train people daily or even have a clue what they are talking about.

    I wasn’t going to send you a form letter asking you to promote my product, I actually need to email you to see if I could grab another copy of Amped, as my last copy from about a year ago finally bit the dust and the binding fell apart and I’ve lost half the pages… Guess that’s what happens when it never leaves the weight room and all my interns and coaches are forced to read and use it when they first start. 🙂

    • Posted by - Smitty on January 13, 2012

      Thanks for checking it out David. We appreciate the kind words about AMPED and your great support. We’re really proud of it.

  10. Posted by - Charles on January 13, 2012

    This is another great example of 3 simple common sense rules that seem to not be “common sense” to very many people.

    I do love the work you do here as well as Frankie, Mike(T.Nelson), David Tate. I just don’t comment often b/c I’m not a “fitness professional” 🙂

    • Posted by - Smitty on January 14, 2012

      Comment anytime Charles, thanks!

  11. Posted by - Leon on January 25, 2012

    Great one! As a newcomer and about to start my own “small” facility, this one really came with a perfect timing – thanks!

  12. Posted by - Justin Kaye on January 27, 2012

    Hey man. Nice post. I’ve been training people for over 10 years and I’m just now getting to be good. Patience is key. But we are a culture of people who want instant gratification. I never was focused on money. I always wanted to provide a top quality service first.

  13. Posted by - Troy Pesola on January 27, 2012

    Smitty, so true and not just in the fitness industry. Build relationships, give, give, give. Then lo and behold others start giving back with the support you would have asked for in the first place.

    BTW I’m still loving the softball pullup grips. Not that I can do many in a row hanging from them. I think the most I’ve been able to do is 4. Get creative! Love it.

    • Posted by - Tatianna on January 27, 2012

      Glad I came here to read this article, I enjoyed it very much. Thanks Troy I found it through Discus :). And of course thank Smitty :), just as Troy said, it is with everything in life not only fitness, building relationships that is.

  14. Posted by - Pete on February 7, 2012

    Absolutely true, the only way to be really successful in this industry is to have a good reputation, if people are talking about you and what you do in a positive way it is all good. It takes a while but when you do make that change in someone’s life then all the hard work is positive. I’ve been in this industry for almost 5 years and each year it keeps on growing, through hard work and positive feedback it will continue, the only way to do that is not become stagnant, you have to evolve as well. As far as I’m concerned 1 client going out there and shouting all about how you did this and the change that it has had in their life is worth more than one advert in the local paper.

  15. Posted by - Malou on June 17, 2013

    Great Stuff.. Nice .. Thank smitty for sharing this to us !!

    Hitting your fitness goal is never an easy task that’s why ultimatefatburner. com to help by providing sensible information.

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