If you’re reading this, chances are you either own a fitness business, or you have dreams to someday.

Good for you!


Famed business guru Dan Kennedy has said for years that you need one core competency to make you valuable in the marketplace.


For me, personally, that core competency is coaching.

I’ve dedicated the last 15 years of my life learning everything I possibly can about program design and coaching.

If you want to be successful as a fitness business owner, though, you better have one of these two core competencies in your back pocket:


You better be a kick-ass trainer or coach


You better be a ninja assassin businessperson.


There’s really no way around this. If you’re a great coach, sometimes you can get by with being a bit more average as a businessperson.

(Side note: This was me for years. Bill and I simply got by because we were that much better than everyone around us. But at some point, it behooves you to become better at business, so keep doing what Pat tells you to do!)

On the flip side, if you’re a ninja with the business piece and just average as a coach, you can probably get by for a while, too.

But I would argue that the best thing to do is get really good at both.


Dedicate your life to being a great coach, and a great business owner.


It’s not easy – but it’s worth it.

If you’re serious about becoming the best trainer or coach possible, here are a few things that I’ve done along the way that have helped me immensely, and that I think will be invaluable to you as well.


The Value of a System

When I started learning about program design and coaching, I was all over the place.

While there were some great resources out there, it was hard to pin down and figure out a coaches entire philosophy.


So if you can’t take someone else’s, you’re forced to create your own – which is exactly what I did.


I read everything I possibly could.

I attended seminars.

And I would listen to audio files and watch VHS (yes, VHS!) tapes to get my learn on.

And over time, and alongside a ton of mistakes, I started to get pretty good at my craft.

But this is a key point – you need a system, or philosophy, that you can fall back on.

What do you truly believe in?

What really works?

These are questions you have to ask yourself, as they will help you filter through everything else going forward.


Streamline Your Program Design

About two years into starting IFAST, we hired our first coach.

And thank goodness! I had been pulling 10, 12 and 14 hour days for approximately five years (if you include my previous in-home training job) and desperately needed a break.

However, our new coach wasn’t ready to write programs yet, so I took the brunt of that workload myself.

I distinctly remember sitting down at a Borders with a cup of coffee, and realized I had to write 20 programs in 2.5 hours before I went on shift.

I realized then and there trying to be “cute” wouldn’t cut it. In fact, I needed to write these programs with ruthless efficiency if I wanted to get these programs cranked out.


And what I found was that as I tightened the screws and really started to streamline my approach to program design, the results I got were consistently better as well.


Again, I would ask you, do you have a system for creating your programs?

Or are flying by the seat of your pants?


Smarter Coaching

Last but not least, you could have the most awesome system in the universe, with the best programming to back it up, but if you can’t coach your clients well, you’re not going to get optimal results.

And we’ve all seen this, right?

Imagine the guy or gal who just picked up the latest issue of Men’s Health and read about how awesome deadlifts are.

Heck, it even comes with a deadlift specialization program by a World Record holder!

But when they go to the gym and deadlift, they’re picking the weight up with a rounded back and straight legs!


Smarter coaching is a combination of knowing what most people can (and can’t!) do well, and then making educated guesses.


But that’s a key distinction, too.

That first program is largely educated guesses. If the guess is wrong, you need a system of progressions and regressions that you can call upon to get someone doing things correctly.

Which brings us back to the system.


If you can systematize everything you do, in coaching and in business, it will simplify your life and make everything easier.



If you’re reading this, you want to be great at business.

And again, I applaud you for that.

But I always come back to this key point:

If you own or operate a fitness business, it behooves you to be a kick-ass trainer or coach.


Because when your clients are getting awesome results, they are the greatest marketing and selling tool you could ever create.


Quite simply, take the time and dedicate yourself to becoming the best possible trainer or coach you can be.

The results will be worth more than you can ever imagine.

By Mike Robertson