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What Business Are We In?

October 23, 2015

What business are we in?  It should be a simple question to answer.

Are we in the Health business?  Hmmmm.  If so, are we then in the same industry as medical professionals?  If so, why are we omitted from the list of “Allied Health Care Practitioners?”

OK, so maybe we’re in the fitness business.  That would put us in the same category as health clubs, infomercial product offerings, and exercise books.  At a glance, it certainly appears as if we’re in that realm, but when we look at the abysmal success (failure) rate of this industry as a whole, the association would lump us into a field of impotent promises.

I got it!  We’re different than medicine, different than general fitness, because we specialize on the individual, right?  Where medicine views patients as commodities, and health clubs see members as dollar signs, we care!  We work with people, devoting time, energy, and attention to every one of our clients.  We are self-improvement specialists, aren’t we?

When judging the “personal training industry” as a whole, it’s hard to conclude all trainers deliver true betterment.  Maybe we shouldn’t judge the industry as a whole.  Maybe we should look at the 3%.

My friend, Dr. Daniel Pompa, an expert in cellular healing, has identified solutions to reverse chronic illness, but his solutions require responsibility and stick-to-itiveness among his patients.  He’s learned that most of the people who are exposed to curative nutritional, lifestyle, and nutraceutical solutions will reject the programs or abandon them.  Based on that experience, he zeroed in on 3%.

Three percent isn’t a random number.  It’s historic.  We’re taught that back in the 1700’s we had an emerging nation of patriots fighting against the restrictions of the English monarchy.  We watch movies that lead us to believe we were a land united by a want for freedom.  The truth is, while freedom sounded like a pretty good idea to most, it was only 3% who picked up arms and battled for that wish they saw as the future of a nation.

If there’s a lesson there, it’s that the inspired few can initiate massive change. To expect 100% of the certified personal trainers to represent true excellence would be unrealistic, especially in a field where mediocrity seems acceptable.

Taking people through workouts, prescribing safe and effective exercise, and designing fitness programs are all wonderful descriptions of what the trainer does, but if we live by those limits, we will never as an industry emerge as revered professionals.  Perhaps we have to rely on the 3%.

Perhaps we should look to those few fitness professionals who not only deliver results, but deliver the agreed-upon results with the great majority of their clients.

Perhaps we should look to those few fitness professionals who recognize the greatest needs of our population and employ strategies related to true lifestyle change.

Perhaps we should look to valuable fitness professionals willing to charge fees in line with their true value.

Perhaps we should look to those who not only value education, but strive for higher levels of mastery in delivering outcomes.

Perhaps it’s time we move away from trying to fit ourselves into an established field, and we establish true identity, and if such is the desire, know that roughly 3% will take the lead.

I believe it is in fact time for leaders to lead, not only by sharing best practices at industry conferences, but by stepping out as role models evidencing the existence of a professional that shatters preconceived notions of what a personal trainer is.

A Google search for “Self-Improvement” yields over sixty million results.  As you begin to explore those books, programs, and courses, you’ll find they’re all expansions or reinventions of the classics, As A Man Thinketh and Think and Grow Rich.  The world doesn’t need another self-improvement expert lumped into a sea of redundancy.

Know that the medical field is swallowed by a pharmaceutical industry that generates hundreds of billions of dollars by not only recognizing the epidemic of chronic disease, but sustaining it.

Know that the fitness industry is, much like the diet industry, a money-dump for most who do not presently fit into the fit or near-fit markets as the absence of true strategies for compliance ensures those who have moved along a metabolic decline require extensive lessons in lifestyle the industry fails to provide.

We are the misplaced professionals with the opportunity to facilitate global change, but a few . . . roughly 3%, need to step up and challenge the current.  In that lies the question I ask you to contemplate.  Are you more comfortable in the mix, striving to find your place in an existing model?  If so, good for you.  You have clarity and should maximize your education and experience to be a front runner in the existing arena.

I predict 3% or so will shudder at that scenario.  Outliers will hunger to rise above.  If you are in that small percentage, I urge you to recognize the new realities, and consider the true opportunity that awaits you.

  • 65% of American adults have been diagnosed with at least one chronic disease and while they’re being medicated, they are not being cured.
  • Exercise as a modality of change and a disease intervention is more evidence and validated than any 21st century medication aimed at lifestyle-related illness.
  • While our industry caters to what we perceive as a price-sensitive market, functioning American adults (meaning not the sick and dying) spend near $40-billion annually on Complementary and Alternative medicine aimed at two simple ends . . . being fit, being healthy. Undercharging hurts not only your financial situation, but also the public perception of the value we deliver.

See the opportunity.  Make some important shifts away from convention.  Become the betterment professional who stands as a true outlier.  Be a three-percenter.

Phil Kaplan ( conducts programs aimed at those few fitness professionals seeking extreme growth.  He is conducting his Be Better program, a “best kept secret” of personal training icons, for a handful of up and coming leaders.  The next program begins November 5, 2015.  For details send an email to with the Subject: Be Better and a brief paragraph describing your present business and future aspiration..

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 27, 2015 6:11 pm

    Phil, I always enjoy your commentaries because they are so clear and simple! Once again, you tell it like it is too a very lethargic market lulled into contentment to cull out the 3%ers. I applaud your persistency, professionalism, and ability to communicate with our industry. I hope to see you at one of the upcoming conferences, ABC /MFA/ IHRSA this year. Regards, Rob Rideout, VP – MicroFit, Inc.

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