Stronger Sundays

Dominate your fitness business with this weekly collection of strategies, tips, and tricks.
By trainers, for trainers.


Quote of the week:

"Creating knowledge without sharing it is elitism. Sharing knowledge without creating it is marketing. Creating knowledge for the purpose of sharing it is thought leadership."
                                                                      - Organizational psychologist Adam Grant on Twitter
Watch for this newsletter from the Personal Trainer Development Center each Sunday.

In this issue:

  1. Make the most of what you have to offer
  2. Two new ways fitness pros can use college savings
  3. Why flexibility research stretches the truth
  4. Muscles in fiction
1. Make the most of what you have to offer - Jonathan Goodman

Very few people who enter the fitness industry actually are going to be exceptional trainers or coaches.

It requires a very precise type of psychology. Me, if I’m around somebody for more than an hour or two a day, I want to hide in a room by myself to recharge.

So I shouldn’t be a coach.

There’s a lot of opportunity in the industry aside from coaching. Unfortunately, few trainers see those opportunities. Many leave before they discover how many there are. Any skillset you have, you can use in health and fitness.

Maybe you can create a company or build a personal brand, but you could also be a project manager for someone else’s company or brand.

If that’s your ambition, you have to be good at copywriting. You have to understand email marketing, and how automation and branding work. These are basic transferable skills. No matter what business you’re in, they’re going to amplify anything you do.

But if you decide you’re not cut out to be an entrepreneur or a marketer, and you only want to be the best coach you can be, that’s awesome. Just do yourself a favor, and find people who can amplify the work you do.

Any business, but especially a fitness business, works best when everyone on the team is doing what they’re naturally good at, and what they’re passionate about.

These comments are adapted from an interview I did with Sam Pogue of TrueCoach. Check out the full video for more from Jill Coleman, Pete Dupuis, Markus Gerszi, Jim Crowell, Mark Fisher, and me:

--> Tips from Fitness Industry Titans (YouTube video)
2. Two new ways fitness pros can use college savings

Continuing education, as every trainer knows, can be expensive, especially if you’re struggling to pay off student loans.

So we were intrigued when financial planner Patrick Darby told us about two changes to the U.S. laws that govern college savings plans.

First, the funds can now be used to pay for some non-college education, including apprenticeships and professional credentials. It’s too early to know if or when certifying organizations will become eligible to accept money saved for college, but it’s something to keep in mind when you’re ready to pursue a new credential.

Second, family members can now use their own funds to help someone pay off up to $10,000 in student loan debt. So, for example, if your parents saved money for a sibling who didn’t go to college, they can use some of it to help you out.

3. Why flexibility research stretches the truth

You’d think that all the big questions in exercise science would have been answered by now, especially when it comes to something basic like flexibility.

But you’d be wrong. That’s according to Dean Somerset, who worked his way through 400 studies on all things "related to how to become more bendy."

The human body and the scientific method are fundamentally incompatible, at least when it comes to stretching and mobility. That’s why, he says, you see a ton of studies with huge variations in outcomes.

The takeaway: "Most research in stretching and mobility has to be taken with a really big, crunchy grain of salt," Somerset concludes, "as the methodologies are often kind of all over the place, and the specific outcomes can be really varied from one study to another."

So what’s a trainer to do? Keep your clients moving, and help them have fun with it. What works for them is all that matters.

Go deeper:

--> Should Personal Trainers Stretch Their Clients?
4. Muscles in fiction - Lou Schuler

Few things in life are more surreal than seeing something you know a lot about portrayed in popular culture. Especially if what you know a lot about is strength and conditioning.

Take the original Conan the Barbarian, which came out in 1982. Even before I knew much about training, I knew the movie’s depiction of it was insane, as I wrote here:

"[Young Conan] is taken as a slave and chained to a gigantic wheel. He and the other slaves apparently do nothing but push that wheel around and around. Somehow, that boy grows up to become Arnold Schwarzenegger.

"How did that work? How would a single exercise—done all day, every day, with no time for recovery and who knows what maggot-infused gruel for nutrition—allow someone to live long enough to reach puberty, much less develop the physique of a champion bodybuilder?"

It’s not just movies. Magical physiology is common enough in fiction to get the attention of New Yorker satirist Jeremiah Budin. Here’s a sample from his humor column, "A Fantasy Author Describes Getting Physically Stronger Despite Having No Idea How That Would Feel":

"Lukas had abs now. He could feel each one protruding from his stomach, like a big, flat stomach toe. He wiggled his smallest ab with pleasure. …

"Mining was hard work. But, as he toiled away, Lukas could feel his growth hormones activating, stimulating the uptake and incorporation of amino acids into protein, which synthesized into cells, causing hypertrophy. Mmm, he thought. Hypertrophy."

The takeaway: Although this one’s just for laughs, it does suggest an untapped market. Somebody needs to show screenwriters and novelists how training works.

**Thanks for reading. What to do next**

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