“The other piece of advice I can’t emphasize enough is to find yourself a great internship and mentor. Volunteer wherever you can to get the experience, there’s no substitution for hours perfecting your craft. before I was with Stanford football I spent four amazing years as the head strengthening coach with Mission high school football. In those four years we turned a failing football program into a championship team winning the first back to back championships in over 80 years. There’s no courses or books I could substitute that experience and repetition I had working with those athletes and amazing coaches.”
I had the pleasure to interview Ross Steiner, founder of Steiner Strength in San Francisco
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”? How did you get into personal training?
Thank you for the opportunity to chat and share my story with you. Interestingly my background originally was not in exercise science or coaching but was in studying music. I moved out to California in 1999 in pursuit of a music degree and have the unique opportunity to study with some Jazzmasters such as Pat Martino and Bruce Forman. I graduated from San Francisco State University in 2001 and play professionally in the city for years. Even as a music student at San Francisco State I was always drawn to the kinesiology department and spend some of my lunches checking out the facility playing basketball or weightlifting in the gym. I always love playing music but felt my heart wasn’t into doing it for money and one Thanksgiving I met an amazing personal trainer Chelsea who challenged me to a pull-up competition and some other various exercises. Being in pretty good shape at the time I left a good impression on her and she mentioned that I should consider becoming a personal trainer. Long story short I inferred what credentials I would need and I was on my way. Six months later I was knocking at her door at crunch fitness looking for a job. That’s really where I learned the basics of my trade working at crunch fitness and learning from the veterans there.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?
I would have to say the most interesting story that stands out in my memory is actually how I met my wife. It was my first year as a trainer at crunch fitness and one of the main responsibilities for trainers was to take new members through a couple free workouts and hopefully sell them on personal training. I was given a lead of this girl roxanne who wanted to train with me. Just like I did with every new client I took her through a full body program showed her the basics and gave her a cool down and stretch routine. I still remember her being super cute in her blue shorts and how nice she was I tried my best to sell her on training but she was not having it. Throughout our two training sessions we got a chance to know each other and she found out that I actually was a guitar player and asked if I would consider teaching her private lessons. You could say the rest is history but the guitar lessons did not last too long and we started dating. 12 years later and 4 years into an amazing marriage Roxanne finally admits that she was the one seeking me out :-)
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I feel very lucky to have such a successful business and to train at one of the best facilities in the bay area, DIAKADI Fitness. The owners Billy Polson and Mike Clausan have been the most supportive cast in my business career. They have encouraged me to expand my business in many directions. For the last two years I have developed a Steiner Strength methodology and system of training that I teach and develop young and new coaches who want to break in to their private sector of training. I feel very fortunate to have five excellent coaches i’ve developed and helped grow their independent business. I’m always excepting new mentees and look forward to helping young coaches as much as I can.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
Throughout the years have been very lucky to work with such great clients. From general fitness to pro athletes I feel honored that people trust in my system and have gotten great results across the board. I would have to say some of the most interesting stories I have is when I was with Stanford football in 2012. Not only did I had the unique opportunity to work with athletes like Andrew luck, Coby Fleener, Shayne Skov Ty Montgomery and so many other talented athletes, I had the opportunity to work with the most talented coaches in our industry. Head sports performance coach Shannon Turley and assistant coaches Andy Ward and Hans Straub truly took me under their wing and developed my coaching skills. I wouldn’t be where I am today without their expertise guidance.
What would you advise to a young person who aspires to follow your footsteps and emulate your career? What advice would you give?
I would say my main advice is to immerse yourself within the field of training and strength and conditioning. Really take your studies serious and absorb as much information as you can as an undergraduate and graduate student. Anatomy physiology and biomechanics are the foundations of building excellent programs, Study your ass off and master the basics.
The other piece of advice I can’t emphasize enough is to find yourself a great internship and mentor. Volunteer wherever you can to get the experience, there’s no substitution for hours perfecting your craft. before I was with Stanford football I spent four amazing years as the head strengthening coach with Mission high school football. In those four years we turned a failing football program into a championship team winning the first back to back championships in over 80 years. There’s no courses or books I could substitute that experience and repetition I had working with those athletes and amazing coaches.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I am a firm believer in giving back to society, I would have to say as a younger coach it was when I was coaching for Mission high school for sometimes little or no pay. coaching for that team was not about the money it was about the camaraderie the relationships and the team I truly feel blessed that I had that opportunity.
I still am contacted by a young athletes and coaches looking for training programs and love to help out in anyway I can.
Is there a particular person that made a profound difference in your life to whom you are grateful? Can you share a story?
I would have to say the most profound influence I had in my life was from my family, my mom dad and especially my sister. I have to admit I was a troublemaker growing up And even though I was constantly in trouble my family always had my back. My sister Jen Who is an amazing educator always was my biggest fan and cheerleader. She always made me feel like I could do anything and I guess it rubbed off. With the confidence I developed over the years I’ve had the amazing opportunity to work with professional guitar players like Pat Martino amazing coaches like David Shaw and all-around amazing people like my colleagues and coworkers. I sometimes Lament on what would’ve happened if I went down the other path and I truly feel blessed to have so many amazing people in my life such as my family and friends.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
At Stanford we had a quote of the day on every training card we gave our athletes. I continue this tradition working with Mission high school football and one quote that always resonated with me was
“ I can except failure, everyone fails at something. But I cannot except not trying.”
- Michael Jordan
This quote has been kind of my mantra. I wouldn’t say school came easy to me, I’ve taken classes multiple times to get that passing grade. I’ve trained for SFG kettle bell certification and stumbled along the way but kept at it until I passed. I build and rebuild my business multiple times but the one thing I’ve never done was give up and quit. I feel our society has Taken on this avoidance to adversity. Kids are always told now that they’re the best and their special, everybody gets a prize no matter if their first or last. But adversity builds resilience, stamina and determination. I honestly don’t think I would be where I am today if I didn’t struggle with some aspects of my life. I look back at these lessons with much appreciation.