5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Working In Fitness
I never thought I would be in the fitness industry. In fact, I went to school to be an attorney and finally, after years of pushing paper and working with people who dreaded their job, I decided to switch it up a bit. It was actually the death of my father that pushed me toward fitness. After he died, I decided that I wanted to help people live healthier. It all started with my family. I wanted to see them live long, vibrant lives. I couldn’t stand the thought of losing another loved one to cancer or diabetes or obesity. So I dedicated all of my free time to starting a fitness brand, Keep It Moving Fitness, LLC. It eventually catapulted into a well known fitness platform and I was able to walk away from the career in legal that I hated. The work ethic that I had day in and day out was a result from my passion and my desire to help people live better. I wanted my brand to be about the people instead of about me. Often times clients and readers of my blog would tell me that they loved my workouts because I was so authentic and my workouts were actually doable. But, even with a dedicated following, I made plenty of mistakes and there are things that I wish I would have known before deciding to work in fitness.
Knowing these things at the start of my career would’ve help me avoid loads of disappointments and, perhaps even, shifted me sooner to helping people in a different way:
- The Fitness Industry is Saturated With Narcissistic People Who Are In It to Brag on Their Own Look. I got into fitness for one reason only and that was to help people. I was devastated by the death of my dad and I blamed his illness on his health. I wanted to save my other family members and help people all over the world avoid a preventable death. Though I was slim and “fit”, I never wanted my looks to be a distraction as to what I was trying to do. I didn’t want to brag on my body to shame people about theirs but I found that in this social media frenzy world, many of the self-proclaimed fitness expert make it all about themselves. It was more of “Look at me, I bet you want to look like me,” then “Here are actionable things that you can do to reach your goal.” The girls who were placed on the covers of the fitness or lifestyle magazines were often times those who won a fitness competition for looking great in a bikini than those who are out there pushing for real change in America’s obesity epidemic. It seemed as if the fitness industry was more about sex appeal and good looks than transformation. I am not saying that one who loves their own looks should not become a fitness expert; do what you want in life. I am simply saying that this is what turned me off about the industry. Personally, It wasn’t about me and if I had known this when I first started then maybe I would’ve chosen another avenue of helping people.
- Fitness Clients Aren’t As Serious As Professionals Want: This truth was the most annoying thing about working in the fitness industry. As I stated above, I wanted to help people. However, people must want to help themselves and unfortunately many people see fitness and working out as a luxury instead of a necessity. They will book their sessions with you IF they have enough money or they will show up for a class IF they didn’t hang out to late last night. I would always tell my clients to treat their workout like brushing your teeth; you should try to do it at least once a day. If you can get it in twice then you are amazing but you probably don’t want to skip an entire day too often. I would be so upset when clients wouldn’t show or when clients would sabotage our efforts by eating a pound of cake and wondering why they haven’t lost inches. It was difficult for me to put my all into it when they didn’t. Unless you are purely in this industry to take peoples money, this will most likely bother you. In order to offset the lack of commitment to my programs, I had to implement policies to up the stakes with clients, like a no refund rule or added late fees. I also made sure my itch to help people was fulfilled in other ways, like through my writing and speaking.
- Authenticity From the Beginning Will Take You Very Far: It took me a while to get this. Although I grew a large online platform for fitness, in the beginning I was so busy trying to look perfect in the videos or in my articles that I let the perception overshadow realness. It took me a couple of years to finally say, “You know what Screw it.” I stopped editing out the moments in my videos when I was tired or out of breath. I started posting days when I didn’t eat so healthy. I started talking about my real life struggles and frustrations with my fitness goals. It was at this point that my brand exploded. People were so happy to see the “trainer” say she was tired or to see the “trainer” fall flat on her face mid burpee. That made it all real. The media is good at highlighting the perfect trainer but they forget to humanize them. So many people never even start a workout program because it just looks impossible. If you want to be a trainer in the fitness industry, be sure to shed light on all the things that make you human so that people can relate to you and build the trusted needed to follow your advice. You don’t need to be perfect. Don’t try to be.
- Social Media is a Must: As much as I hated social media, I knew from the very beginning that I wanted to reach many more people than training locally at the park would allow me. A very smart man once told me, “Go where the people are” and unfortunately, but fortunately, the people are online. I have met many trainers who refuse to get on social media. “I am not into it. It’s not my thing.” You sound stupid is what I always wanted to say. Not only are you hurting your pockets but you are hurting your brand. I hate that social media sort of waters down the really passionate people who are into fitness for good reasons, but we have to accept the bad that comes with the good. Utilizing social media will expand your reach and your business. You don’t have to post pics of your dog chasing his tail or your baby crying but post about your brand and only that. Technology is fast paced and people want quick results and replies. If they can’t find you they won’t spend more than a half of a second searching until they are on to the next trainer. So, if you were series about being successful then make social media apart of your business plan. Sorry not sorry.
- Pick Multiple Streams of Revenue: We’ve all heard the saying “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” That is very true in the fitness industry. Technology has made it so that fitness professionals can make money in various ways. Don’t limit yourself to just personal training and bootcamps. Branch out to writing blogs, online videos, webinars, books, speaking engagements, and the list goes on. You want your well to continue to run over with cash flow. You don’t want to have to depend on one area because one shift in the market could bring your business crashing down.
I will always have a deep love for the fitness industry. My hope is that if you choose to be in it you do it with the integrity that the industry deserves and not purely for self indulgence. So many people need help and we need more fitness professionals to dive in and challenge themselves to make real change.
Do you work or desire to work in the Fitness Industry? Have you experienced some of my truths yourself? What can you share about your experience. ?
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