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How To Be Part Of The 20%

Nov 10, 2017


After surveying top managers at Equinox, 24-hour, and Crunch, the results indicated that only 20% of trainers will still be training a year after they're hired.

The average personal trainer quits within 12-months.

Read those two statements again.

Why is this? Why are so few people successful in the personal training industry?

It comes down to one word: Education.

The fitness industry is HIGHLY unregulated, filled with charlatans, wanna-bees, and Instagram celebrities spreading fear and misinformation.

First off, you don't even need a certificate to train people. Other than purchasing insurance coverage from K&K for $150-200, there's nothing preventing your next-door neighbor, the stock boy at the local grocery store, or your degenerate uncle from signing up clients to train.

Second, if you do choose to get a certification (which you'll need to work at a corporate gym like Equinox, 24-hour, or Crunch fitness), good luck figuring out which are valuable since there are over 200+ of them.

Third, with so much unregulated bull shit out there, it's very difficult to know who to trust, and very hard to know which professionals you should put your faith in.

Even commercial gyms like Equinox, Crunch, or 24-hour have a hard time finding fitness professionals with the dedication, drive, and education to have enduring careers. I had a meeting with an executive from 24-Hour Fitness and he also estimated that only 20% of personal trainers stay beyond one year. I asked him why he thought the number was so low. His answer?


Anyone considering a career in the fitness industry should ask themselves one simple question:

“Do I want to be part of the 20% of fitness professionals that make it?”

The difference between those who quit and those who make it is education.

I have no doubt that most of the trainers who quit were self-taught. They studied at home and passed NASM, or NESTA, or ACE, or one of the other B.S. certifications. Then they went out into the world totally clueless. They didn't know the intricacies of being a complete trainer and didn't understand the realities of the profession.

Those who made it had passion. They chose a good school and studied movement, anatomy, nutrition, and probably had a hands-on internship.

According to a consumer report by the International Health, Racquet and Sports club Association (IHRSA- SEE HER, there are 8-million personal trainers in the United States. I've worked at a commercial gym, I've graduated over 750 personal trainers from my own academy, and I've consulted with management at the gyms I've sent my students to, and I've only personal met ONE self-taught personal trainer who's currently making it.

His name is Dave.

Dave from Santa Monica Equinox.

I had the pleasure of meeting this Louisiana southern gent one day while I was crushing 315 for reps on the bench press (That's a complete lie, but it makes the story better.) He smiled, said hello, and asked me if I was from Texas (I was wearing a Texas shirt.) Dave hit every attribute from the acronym I wrote about in my book, How To Be A Successful Personal Trainer. Dave personified H.E.L.P. N.I.C.K. He was Hungry, had Energy, the Look, Personality, he Networked, he was Interesting, he was “Concocky”, and he was Knowledgeable.) He was also positive, inquisitive, non-threatening, and didn't ask if I had a trainer or If I wanted a free comp session. It takes roughly 10 points of contact to convert a potential client. He had no idea who I was or any of my accomplishments, but when he approached me that day, he was being genuine. From that moment, I've seen Dave grow from constantly wearing the Equinox “Blue shirt” (blue shirt = prospecting clients on the gym floor), to training over 25- sessions a week and constantly wearing a “Black shirt” (black shirt = training client). Now he's full time at Equinox and is killing it. He continues to learn and has developed his own style of training – he's not tied down by classifying himself as a NASM trainer. I'm proud to say, I've not seen any of his client's balance on a BOSU ball or do any circus exercises. He trains each client according to their goals and applies the principles of progressive overload and specific adaptation to imposed demands (SAID).

Trainers like Dave may have a difficult time acquiring clients because of an intimidating physique (he's got 17-inch pythons and jacked!) But his demeanor and positive disposition breaks down any barriers because he's constantly smiling, greeting clients, taking yoga classes, and offering free stretching to anyone who's working out. He's constantly getting out of his comfort zone.

Through Dave I met Logan Cahoon, an Equinox Yoga Instructor who has partnered with Show Up Fitness Academy to teach a 200-Yoga certification. Logan and I met because Dave convinced me to take his class. If you want to be successful trainer, mimic what Dave's been doing- he completely immersed himself into the role of a trainer.

Dave is the exception. Most trainers are getting ripped off, taking classes that are a waste of time, or not getting the benefit of a comprehensive education. That's why I started Show Up Academy, and it's why I'm so passionate about promoting, teaching, and guiding trainers through the growing pains of a career in the industry.

Let me tell you,

It ain't all sunshine and rainbows.

As with any job, there's a possibility of burn out. Let's go back to Dave.

As a new trainer, Dave has encountered hurdles all trainers face – client vacation, attrition due to finances, and slow months. I'm sure there were even times when he contemplated going back to sales (where he previously worked), but he didn't. He forced his mind to focus on the positive. We all have negative voices and rough patches telling us we can't succeed, but Dave continued to SHOW UP. He challenged himself by waking at 4 am, meditating, reading, and focusing on growing his brand along with his mind. He constantly tested himself by getting out of his comfort zone. This is why Dave is among the 20% of personal trainers who make it past a year.

December 2017 will be Dave's first year bench mark. There's no doubt in my mind that Dave will be a top trainer helping many people achieve their fitness related. In my classes at Show Up fitness academy, I use Dave as an example of what it takes to succeed, and supplant my student's education with real life stories, on-the-job internship training, and the resources they need to have a start like Dave's.

I'm too harsh on the fitness world.

“All you do is knock personal trainers,” says the average snowflake who comments on my Social Media page.

False. I'm on a mission to eradicate misinformation from the personal training industry, and if that means being hard on the fakers and B.S.-ers out there, so be it. This is my passion, my profession, and I'm tired of seeing prospective personal trainers being set up for failure.

I know from my own experience what it takes to make personal training a career, and I want people to have the same success as people like me and Dave. Successful personal trainers go to school, intern, gain tons of experience by training people in all walks of life, maintain a positive mindset, and constantly read, learn, and grow.

If you want the sleaziest and easiest personal training certification that'll have you unemployed in one year, then study at home and take the NASM certification. If you want to pursue personal training as a career, you need to go to school to learn movement, intern, and practice the art of selling your services. You need a school like the Show Up Fitness Academy.

The Sleaziest and Easiest method&Study At Home.

Would you rather spend $500, or $5,000* to become a trainer? When you compare numbers on paper, the answer is easy – $500. The better question should be, do you want to make personal training a career and still be employed 1,5, or 10 years from now? Or do you want to be among the 80% that quit?

If you want to be among the 20%, invest in your education. Understand anatomy, physiology, nutrition. Be quick to sign up for seminars to listen to top names in the industry. People want to get to the top and become the best, but aren't willing to put in the hard work.

Before doing anything, here's a start: Read the following books:

1- Shoe Dog, Phil Knight

2- Elon Musk, Ashlee Vance

3- Titan & Grant, Ron Chernow (biography on John. D. Rockefeller and Ulysses Grant)

4- The Everything Store, Brad Stone (Jeff Bezos Amazon)

5- The Snowball, Alice Schroeder (Warren Buffet)

These books are about some of the world's most successful entrepreneurs and they all have five things in common:

1- They worked hard & Showed Up every damn day.

2- They acted fast, and learned even quicker.

3- They lived out of their comfort zone.

4- They didn't blame others for shitty circumstances.

5- They didn't give a shit about what others thought.

Let me leave you with this – if you got an email that said, “You've just won a million dollars, click here for more information,” you should probably be referring back to the old adage, “If it's too good to be true, it probably is!”

Don't settle for a self-study shortcut when launching your career. Unless you’re the Dave’s of the world (1/10,000), I’d suggest investing in your education and join me in changing the fitness industry for the better.

*$5,000 is the cost of the Show Up Academy, but relatively cheap compared to 6-month schools like NPTI, which is $7,000, or Southern California Institute of Health (SoChi), which is 9-months and $16,000, or 20k+ for a degree in Kinesiology. If you're interested in going to school, make sure it's comprehensive (teaching science and movement, not doctrine aka NASM) offers an internship training clients, not other students, and the instructor has a proven, diverse, training experience.

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