Stronger Sundays

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


Quote of the week:

"That inspirational workout quote I saw on the internet really motivated me to go to the gym and get my life together’ … said no one ever."
                                                                                          - An oldie but goodie from Ben Bruno on Twitter
Watch for this newsletter from the Personal Trainer Development Center each Sunday.

In this issue:

  1. The problem with persistence
  2. How much is enough?
  3. When to say no, and how to say it nicely
  4. Why I’ll never be mistaken for a fashion icon
1. The problem with persistence

"There are many great things to be said about persistence," writes Christian Finn in this Facebook post. "It can often take you further than genius, education, or talent."

But not every roadblock is worth pushing through. Finn offers the example of his own futile attempts to increase his deadlift max. He’d already pulled 2.5 times his body weight—well beyond the point when he was objectively strong. (More on this in the next item.) And he had no intention of becoming a competitive powerlifter.

His quest gave him one injury after another, until he finally stopped doing barbell deadlifts altogether. It’s a prime example of why, paradoxically, persistence can often take you farther from your goals.

The takeaway: Finn endorses the view of author and marketing expert Seth Godin, who says the most successful people are the fastest to give up when they see a new venture isn’t likely to work out.

"Persistence in the face of difficulty is highly valuable when the road from A to B is long and hard," Finn writes. The trick is recognizing when it’s better to cut your losses and find a better use for your time and resources.

Go deeper: We’re big fans of Seth Godin, and recommend several of his books here:

--> The Best Business Books for Personal Trainers
2. How much is enough?

We’ve all seen those lists of strength standards on fitness and bodybuilding sites. They’re invariably aimed at guys, and it’s tempting to read between the lines to see if the goal is to inspire readers or shame them. Or perhaps the entire project is a way for the authors and their friends to feel good about themselves.  

The standards they come up with are usually in the range of two times body weight for the deadlift and squat, and about 1.3 times body weight for the bench press, notes personal trainer Brian Gwaltney in this article.

For an average-size guy, the standards represent about 30 to 40 percent of the world records in those lifts. The pattern drew his attention, and made him wonder what else we could extrapolate if we searched for 30 to 40 percent of the highest achievable total.

Consider income. Because there’s literally no limit to how much wealth an individual could earn and accumulate, Gwaltney chose a more reasonable ceiling: reaching the top 1 percent. In the U.S., that means earning at least $400,000 a year. Thirty percent is $120,000.  

"For that vast majority of us, that is enough to do everything we want," he says. We won’t be taking our private jet to our private island to hang out with our fellow oligarchs. But outside of a handful of zip codes, we can afford a nice house and a comfortable lifestyle.

The takeaway: Achieving 30 percent of what we consider the best is plenty," Gwaltney concludes. In school, 30 percent is "a solid F." But in life, it’s more than a passing grade.

Go deeper: Speaking of income, we recently updated and republished one of our favorite articles: "How to Make $100,000-Plus Per Year as a Personal Trainer."
3. When to say no, and how to say it nicely

Those who get to the top, or close enough to be in high demand, face a challenge they never anticipated on the way up: too many opportunities.

Your younger, virtually unknown self would’ve jumped at the chance to create products, speak at events, or contribute articles. But your older, objectively successful self doesn’t have enough time or bandwidth to even consider most of the offers that come your way.

John Berardi, PhD, addresses the dilemma in this article, which is adapted from one we published last year at the PTDC. The article appears at the site he launched in conjunction with his new book, Change Maker: Turn Your Passion for Health and Fitness into a Powerful Purpose and a Wildly Successful Career. (It publishes November 5, with a foreword by Jonathan Goodman.)

As Berardi sees it, there are five stages of saying "no." At the first stage, "everything’s a yes." You get progressively more discriminating until, if you’re very good and very lucky, you reach the fifth stage, and don’t even have time to look at the offers. "Other people say no for you, unless it’s too big to pass up."

Continuing with this week’s theme, most of us would feel pretty good about ourselves if we reach Stage 3, when we can "choose the ones that pay off financially or emotionally" while saying no to the others.

The takeaway: That still leaves us with the problem of rejecting an offer without rejecting the person, or burning a bridge. Berardi says to start by expressing gratitude and showing respect for the project. Then come through for them by recommending someone else who would probably jump at the chance to help them out.
4. Why I’ll never be mistaken for a fashion icon - Jonathan Goodman

I own three pairs of New Balance 860v9 sneakers, along with nine Unbound Merino V-neck T-shirts in black, gray, and blue. That unimpressive wardrobe has accompanied me, along with my wife and son, on close to 100,000 kilometers of travel this year.

The two things aren’t unrelated.

Wearing the same things every day preserves my cognitive resources for the decisions that really matter to me. And believe me, when I spend half the year abroad, and run my rapidly growing business from completely unfamiliar countries where I don’t speak the language, I have to make a lot of decisions.

All the time, every day.

Here’s what I wrote about decision making in Habits of Highly Wealthy Online Trainers:

"I find it useful to view willpower as a muscle, with similar qualities.

It gets weaker when you use it too much, diminishes without adequate rest, and performs poorly when you’re hungry.

Using choice minimalism can prevent you from overusing your willpower so it’s available when you need it."

Go deeper:

More on willpower and how to eliminate as many small decisions as possible from your life here:

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