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Change the Game, Don’t Look Back

May 6, 2014

A Revealing Perspective for Personal Trainers Seeking Excellence

It comes as no surprise to you that in 2014, fitness is a hot commodity.  While many find the fitness ideal elusive, it’s certainly NOT due to a shortage of options.

There are high end fitness centers, $9 per month big box fitness centers, personal training studios, Pilates studios, yoga studios, CrossFit, and of course 240,000 certified personal fitness trainers swimming in the mix.

If the desire for fitness is oh-so-great, why aren’t all personal trainers writing their own tickets to the Land of Hope and Dreams?

I’ll tell you why.  Because the waters are bloody and the trainers are so deep in it they’re missing the greatest opportunity our industry has ever seen.

The question that begs to be answered by those personal trainers ready for the proverbial leap forward is, “Where is the Blue Ocean?”  I’ll explain the impact of that question and show you precisely where it is . . . if you’re willing to step outside of the current paradigm and open the doors of your mind.

Rays of Light Beam Down on a Blue Ocean Sunset

Years ago I read a fantastic business book called Blue Ocean Strategy (2005 by W. Chan Kim).  Although I highly recommend it, there’s no need to go out and read the book now.  I can share the gist of it very quickly.

The idea is to create your own market space, to render competition irrelevant.

In short, change the game and don’t look back.  I’m in the process of changing the game and I’m inviting you to come along.



When an innovator brings to the market a new business or business concept and it proves to meet the sweet spot between supply and demand, a spot with a need that hasn’t yet been filled, that someone, with the right set of actions, quickly demonstrates profitability and success.  The explosive success of an innovation serves as the trigger for a feeding frenzy.  I’ll explain.

As an innovation thrives, the watchers are watching.  The watchers aren’t necessarily innovative, but they are hungry, and they each keep an eye on the doers and offerings that are commanding attention.  When someone steps into a new market space and with that step comes evidence of profit, and when that profit begins to show early signs of being a windfall, watchers stop watching and en-masse start imitating.

The watchers-turned-imitators become hungry, wanting to grab their share, and before long there’s a chaotic frenzy as competitors battle over a finite market.

SharkThe Blue Ocean is a metaphor, and the metaphor of hungry sharks feeding in the busy waters is perfect.  The sharks fight over the same food supply, and the waters turn bloody red.  A seemingly endless stream of sharks come flooding into the red waters ignoring the blue ocean that hasn’t yet been exploited, and the innovative shark who swims to that Blue Ocean becomes the new market leader.

The fitness industry is no longer in its adolescence, although the personal training field is still young and wanting.  Following the parade into the blood red waters assures, at best, a chance at capturing a fragile clientele and the need for your radar to be constantly set at “client acquisition.”  That doesn’t mean you can’t be successful in the established marketplace.  You can.  It simply means you’re limited by the ceilings imposed by a highly competitive landscape.

The opportunity is in the waters that haven’t yet been exploited, but it isn’t enough to find blue waters.  The rules of supply and demand still hold true.  It isn’t only finding the ripe market that’s important, it’s meeting the right market’s needs with the right offering.  The food supply has to be there for the innovative shark to find conquest.

The fitness industry today is missing the blue ocean, and for that, in this moment, I’m thankful.


Statistics allow for some insight, but they can be studied, analyzed, and explored to realize that polls and surveys aren’t always fair measures of reality, nor are they always predictor gauges for success.  As an example, the health club industry reports near a 20% penetration rate (it’s a bit less as the actual number appropriates 58.5 million, but we’ll use the 20% number for the sake of discussion).

20% penetration suggests that 20 percent of the American population (discounting children under 6) has or has had a health club membership in the past year.

As soon as we look at that number we can extrapolate that 80% of the population doesn’t have a health club membership, but that’s barely a glimpse of whether the business is in the business of meeting the true demand.

Of the 58.5 million health club members what percentage of them would you guess show up more than 40 times in a year?  We can easily (and conservatively) shave off half.  With less than 40 visits a year, the odds of “results” are radically diminished.  Let’s dig further.

What percentage of those that remain exercise with the proper intensity, frequency, and recovery to elicit positive change?

What percentage of those still left with the possibility of thrilling results modify their food intake sufficient to bring about the changes they seek?

We’re getting to a much smaller number.

As we whittle away and get to the question, “what percentage of those 58.5 million people have found true value in their membership by achieving what they set out to achieve?” the outcome is low in the single digits.



There are roughly 320 million people living in the U.S.  Assuming the “20% penetration” is near reliable, 20% of those in the measured demographic went to health clubs, and a tiny tiny percentage of those people found the value they sought.

  • That 20% is the fought-over market.
  • That 20% includes the wanderers who move from diet to trainer, from membership to program, from studio to bootcamp.
  • The entire fitness marketplace battles to feed off of that 20%.



For the moment, let’s get a glimpse at another market, one that’s made up of 166 million people, over half of the U.S. population.  I’ve learned to call them the unwell. 

The unwell aren’t necessarily sick and in need of hospitalization, but they have been diagnosed with at least one chronic condition (disease).  In 2014, chronic disease is so prevalent the moment of diagnosis barely sounds an alarm. The purported solution is delivered with a pen and a prescription pad.

The paradigm isn’t fueled by the thought “rush to the health club.”

The paradigm says, “get to the doctor and get some medicine.”

If the prescribed meds were curative, this would be an ideal scenario for the chronically afflicted consumer, but . . . think about this carefully . . . if the prescribed meds were curative we wouldn’t have 166 million unwell people.

Most of the medications prescribed to treat chronic disease do one of three things:

  1. They reduce the prevalence of symptoms (the disease still exists but for the time being is less visible)
  1. They alter the biomarker (the disease still exists but the measure is altered to provide the illusion of betterment)
  1. They slow movement along the dis-ease continuum (the disease still exists, and progresses, but at a reduced rate)

While these may all have their virtue, they are not fixes, and in that, reliance upon them leads to a continuous and unending reliance upon solutions that are anything but true fixes.



The health club industry, the personal training field, Crossfit, sports exercise offerings, mainstream specialty group programming, martial arts studios, and bootcamp operations target two primary markets, the “fit” market and the “near-fit” market.  They all clamor over the same “20%” of which the great majority will fail to experience fair exchange of value.

Restated, in most cases the consumer experiences financial output, energy output, and failure to obtain the desired result.

Sharks fight over the 20%, satisfying few, thrilling even fewer.

The unwell remain out there, growing in number as baby boomers continue to age, seeking solutions in a medical arena that leaves them reliant and wanting.

Personal Trainers, let’s grab a clear perspective.

Half of our population is being ignored by those who have steered their careers toward fitness!  No, not intentionally, and yes, I’m sure you’ve attracted some individuals with hypertension or pre-diabetes, but that’s a tiny scratch on the surface of a market that remains wholly untapped.

I’m suggesting when you redirect the focus, when you speak directly to the marketplace in need in a language they respond to, you change the game.



The unwell market is the Blue Ocean.  The unwell are wildly exploited, but not by our field.  The medical field has them tight in their web and the pharmaceutical industry locks them in so they stay connected.  Big Pharma has learned to monetize the problem, and fixing it would be detrimental to their mega-business model.  If the problem (chronic disease) goes away, so too does the bulk of the pharmaceutical revenue.

Imagine, just imagine, you had the ability to cure chronic disease, to help people find their way off of the medications that they believed were life sentences.

Let’s take that further.  Suppose you had the power to rescue all of those health club members who failed to see the payoff they’d hoped for.  Suppose you could attract the fit and near fit markets, but you became a magnet for the unwell (remember, that’s 1 out of every 2 people and if we look at the rate of escalation, unless something is done we’ll be looking at 1 out of 1 over the age of 50!).

Consider the “what if.”  Consider it carefully.  The time to enter the Blue Ocean is now.  The prosperity factor is immense.  The opportunity to thrill a hungry near-desperate market is staggering.  Few personal trainers will heed the call, but many will wish they had.

Would you like to learn to capitalize on the Blue Ocean?  Join the handful of fitness professionals finding new insight and perspective in my Be Better Reignited program.  It’s already underway but I’m holding two spots open.  It will impart an entirely new thought process, an enhanced skill set, and insight into how to capture the market I’ve identified as the blue ocean.

Want details?  Send me a simple email with the Subject: Blue Ocean and share a paragraph about your career and your career desires.  I’ll reply.

For the right two people, I’ll invite you to sit in, live, on select portions of our next two teleconferences, one specific to the Blue Ocean, the other introducing a vital concept that allows us a far greater power to dramatically improve the health of anyone who has started movement along the disease continuum.

Send your email to

I wish you well . . . and wish you the foresight to see the “well” paradigm that lies ahead.

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