The 3 Biggest Business Lessons of a 10 Year Fitness Professional.

Well probably only the last 4 I could call myself a professional

Lets go back, way back into time.

10 years ago after an alright football career and 4 years spend studying in America whilst still trying to live the dream playing football full time, I returned back to the greatest city on this planet, which is Manchester if you didn’t know this. I looked at my life long and hard. Well, I might have spent 10 minutes thinking what to do next whilst scratching my arse, the exuberance of youth is an envy of mine sometimes.

Anyway, as I was checking myself out in the mirror at the gym I pondered, that I did spent a lot of the time in the gym and always enjoyed helping people who had asked me for help or to answer the call of “will you spot me bro.” so, how could I make a bit of cash helping people get in shape?

“Become a personal trainer I suppose” was my conclusion, so I booked the course, turned up 4 weeks later and after 10 weeks of studying full time, there I was, standing in the middle of JJB Sports gym in Bury, 20 minutes from the city centre, wondering how the bloody hell am I going to make this work.

This was back in 2004 when “personal training” wasn’t really heard of but I got by through those first two years with sheer charm and my good looks plus I had nothing else to do that tickled my fancy, so personal training it was.

There was no plan B and as with most of us when we were young we don’t really give a shit about the immediate future, so I just got on with it, no fear and no real plan and without much of a care in the world.

The only thing I did know for certain was that spending 40 years working at an office in a suit whilst being managed by someone else was not an option for me.

That was 12 years ago now, Usher (the legend) was top of the charts with Burn, United had just bought Wayne Rooney, and Janet Jackson’s tit popped out at the Superbowl. Good times.

A lot has happened in my life since then.

  • I’ve loved and lost: Twice
  • Moved house: Twice
  • Spat my dummy out and said “I’m done with the fitness industry”: Twice
  • Then went and Managed a gym horribly: Once
  • Watched some of my closest friends get married: Twice
  • Watched the rest have Kids: Six times
  • Punched a horse because it stood of my foot: Once
  • Watched Man United win a trophy: 15 times
  • Been in trouble with PC Plod: 2 nights

That’s just a short list, what I have learned from all this and more is contained in the following ramblings of a 10 year fitness professional.

Part 1: Professional Learnings

Knowledge is NOT power.

There is such a difference between spending forever as a student gathering knowledge and taking action to create experience.

One will make you an absolute boss at the pub quiz the other will build you a thriving business and a life you are in complete control of.

Taking action is the process of applied knowledge which in turn will create experience.

Information without action is as useful as a chocolate tea pot.

Knowledge is NOT power, so next time you’re in a meeting and the brown nose utters the phrase “knowledge is power” in an attempt to level up politely tell them to “fuck off” and proceed to educate them that it is in fact the application of knowledge that is power. Then take a slow and deliberate sip of your coffee to hammer home your victory.

My biggest learning so far in my 32 years on God’s green earth, (other God’s are available) is that you are not, I repeat not going to build a life or successful business sitting in seminars, workshops, reading endless books and blogs without, and this is the game changer, creating a definite plan of action from what you have learned, putting your big boy or pants on or taking your training bra off and then going out into the big bad world and getting your hands as filthy as you can.

“Take what is useful, disregard what is not and add what is uniquely yours” these are the words of Bruce Lee.

Take the red pill dudes.

Today, as in right now take the information you’ve already accumulated, develop a definite plan of action for the next 6 weeks then go and act it out. Take guidance from the temporary failings you will encounter then refine your plan and go again.

Gary Vaynerchuck puts it best “test and learn.”

Take action, assess the damage, learn, refine, go back at it and repeat. As you do doors will open and new choices will be presented.

Give a shit.

“Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care” Mr Theodore Roosevelt spoke this sentence and it’s a belter, when I first read it, it was a game changer and It came just at the time I needed it most.

Here’s the quote with a picture so you know it’s true.

How I grew to interpret this was “Give more and you shall receive more”

Leaning this lesson as was a steep learning curve.

The story goes a little something like this.

I was 3 years into my career and it was all about me, my time in football had taught me to be selfish, to work as hard as possible and take as much as you can at the expense of everything else.

Winning was all that mattered.

I was the emperor, king kong of the gym and in my mind everyone shall do as I please.

My only focus was cash, how much I could make and how quickly. When it came to my clients who were paying me I would always go that extra mile, however, if you were not a client and not coughing up the queen’s pounds then you got nothing and I mean nothing, hardly even a hello.

Eventually I hit the first wall with my business, the new leads dried up and even as I was prospecting for new business very few people would want to sit down with me to hear how I could help them even though the results my clients were achieving spoke for themselves.

At the time I thought I had lost my MOJO, but what really happened was I didn’t give a shit about other people and because of this they did not give a shit about me no matter how much I could help them.

Man down. The ego took a right bruising and that was the first time I thought “I’m done with the fitness industry,”

Available at all good book stores and some shit ones too.

so, I went to America for 2 weeks, got drunk for a week and yelled at the world to fuck off.

The second week I spent time reflecting and my good friend I was staying with gave me a book called How to Win Friends and Influence people by Dale Carnegie, this is where I came across Mr Theodore Roosevelt’s quote. The penny dropped almost immediately I picked my ego out of the bin, brushed it off and got right back at it with a brand spanking new plan.

I had learned that my arrogance had distanced myself from a lot of members and because I didn’t show them care, they in turn didn’t care what I had to say, what I knew or how I could help then, even if it was all going to benefit them.

What a lesson that was.

The new plan consisted of two actions.

  1. Say hello to as many old members and new members that i did not know, stike up a converation, ask their name and why is exercise a priority to them. I would then write their name down in a database with a memorable fact next to each name. The following day I would take them through a 10–15 warm up or improve something in their workout. The aim was to build a relationship, provide value and do this in a genuine and sincere manner.
  2. Ask the following question, “what can I do to help”

I really learned to love providing value to a people each day it was sincerely satisfying, everyone was winning.

My challenge to you is ask somebody today or tomorrow in conversation, “what can I do to help” and sincerely mean it. The results will suprise you.

Put yourself at the bottom of the ladder.

If you are the smartest and most successful person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.

Just before I learned this lesson was the second time I thought to myself “im done with the fitness industry” this time however it was a new challenge I was seeking and not because i was blaming the world for my lack of self and social awareness.

Right on cue, I received a voicemail from an old mentor who I had not seen in over 5 years inviting me to interview for a position as a personal trainer in a spanking new gym in Manchester City Centre.

The more I watch this film the more it blows my mind

The universe, god, the magic fairies, whatever it is you chose to believe in always have a habit of presenting you with an opportunity not necessarily when you want it but when you are ready for it.

Here’s my dude Morpheus again to paint you the picture.

I took the interview, was offered the job and 2 months later found myself along with two other lads as the Team Leader of the team. We grew the team at the peak to 32 trainers all smashing it and changing lives.

On the team we had guys who were regarded amongst the top coaches in the country and two who are known worldwide in their circles.

I was no longer Emperor or king kong and to my amazement I absolutely loved it.

I have been steadily climbing that ladder for the past 4 years and what I have learned both in training theory as well as business acumen has surpassed anything I ever thought I was capable all because i was at the bottom of a new ladder, the right ladder for me to climb.

The guys I work alongside to this day as well the lesser experienced trainers I mentor, teach me new things every day, which in turn motivates my arse to keep ahead of the curve.

Jim Rhone said that we are the average of the 5 people we spend most time around, however I do prefer the way my colleague and friend Lloyd Gordon puts it.

“You cannot do epic shit around average people”

The team at Lifestyle Fitness Personal Training Manchester push me every day and it’s an honour to be part of the management team there helping new faces to the industry build a life they desire, how they want to whilst learning from old timers like myself, the dumb shit we’ve all done, the mistakes we’ve made and for that I am thankful.

The call I received for the invitation of an interview presented me the door, I walked through that door and have solidified my passion and purpose as to why I get out of bed each morning, work 12–14 hours a day whilst loving almost every minute of it.

Now i know what i want, if doors are not presented I’m learning to walk up to the suckers and smash them in, this is my new challenge.

My three biggest Professional learnings.

  1. Knowledge is NOT power.
  2. Give a shit.
  3. Put yourself at the bottom of the ladder.

Thanks for reading, if you liked it it would mean a lot to me if you hit the heart or socilal media share button below. It would also help others to share in the story.

PS: This article first appeared on my website.

Yours in Health

Rick