Thursday, January 12, 2017

Time, Money & Happiness for the Physical Preparation Coach

I was sitting having dinner in North America in October last year with a large group of industry professionals, all accomplished in their own right. One of them was talking about the conference he had presented at during 2016 and I asked the question ‘What was one of the key things that stood out to you about the conferences or the trends evident?’ I didn’t expect the answer.

He said ‘The number of how to make more money presentations. At one of them there were 20 presentations, and 16 of them were about how coaches and trainers can make more money.’

This got my attention, as whilst I don’t believe in the blind following or need to conform to trends, I find value in studying trends to understand human behavior and direction of thinking.

There is no other way to say this - physical preparation as a profession is a relatively low income earning profession. Statistics suggest the average western world income is about $50,000, and the stats I have been exposed to suggest that the average physical preparation coach (all disciples) earns less than $50,000. (Remember this is not gross income, this is take home pay).

So it’s no surprise that the industry has gravitated towards solving this problem. I certainly did, back in the 1990s. More on this later.

So I became more focused on this trend towards the teachings of ‘how to make more money in this industry’. I came upon enough web sites to support the trend, and enough ‘trend spotters’ who were ‘fat loss guru’s’ in the early 2000’s and have now morphed into the dominant trend of financial and business educators for the physical preparation industry.

And I came upon an excellent article from a professional organization who seek to be one of the dominant go-to bodies for professional development. An organization with its fair share of peer-reviewed editorializing. I have concluded that this article is an fair reflection of the dominant thinking of the industry. That there is a need to earn more money, that there is a growing interest, and that the solutions suggested were indicative of the current solutions offered industry wide.

I might be a bit old-fashioned but there is nothing like a written article to provide clarity and confirmation about dominant thinking, as opposed to attempting to objectively assess the message in say internet marketing. So I am thankful for the author of this article for his efforts, and stress that any comments relating to this article should not be interpreted as being critical of the person or derogatory of their work. I am truly grateful for their efforts.

But at the same time I have serious concerns for the receiver of the message.

Back in the 1980s when I took on athletes as clients the majority of them had never done any physical preparation work before – they were for the most part clean skin and easy to shape in their values and beliefs about what they needed to do in training, as well as easy to shape physically.

Now most athletes have not only had prior training experience, the majority are broken physical and in some cases mentally by the time they are in the late teens. In the spaced of 3 decades I have gone from picking up ‘clean slates’ to doing damage control. I believe that the contemporary elite athlete (my market) would be better off if had they had kept out of the physical preparation training they have done during their teens and so on. Just like the 1980s and earlier athletes.

It can take years to salvage the bodies of these athletes. If they can be salvaged. The majority of talent identified athletes who have been in ‘high performance’ training squads from their early teens will be injured and out of the sport by around the age of 20 years.

So how does this relate to you?

The athletes I refer to have been trained by physical preparation coaches whose influence has included the post 2000s period, where unsubstantiated yet highly marketed training information and influences dominated the professional development landscape. I say this from a unique perspective. I watched too many key board warriors, who have never trained with any success, never trained anyone else with any success – in fact some downright failed to attract any client base of athletes at all (don’t believe me – I can show you emails….) – reinvent themselves with skillful internet marketing sprinkled with the license to create a perception of their ‘experience’ and ‘success’ that, well, was simply not true. And people bought it.

I have one such physical coach in a professional development course with me in the mid 2000s. I had them write a program for an athlete, and then analyzed the program. I could see the influences – it was after all the ‘most’ were doing at the time’ and I asked them – ‘Why did you write this?’ I followed this up with ‘Have you ever done these exercises?’ To which the answer was ‘No I haven’t’. Once the student coach acknowledged his source, I said ‘Guess what – the ‘author’ hasn’t done these exercise either!’.

The 2000s witnessed an explosion of made up crap, aimed to give a leg up to those seeking to become ‘experts’, for personal ego and financial gain. Some who bought into this said ‘Well what’s wrong this with?’ Let me say this – if you adopt and share methods that are a product of a desperate yet creative individual lacking in integrity, how do you have to add value to the life’s of others in a meaningful and substantial way? Your influence failed to and therefore turned to bogus and oft-times plagiarized content through they usual e-book delivery method etc.

If you need any further help understand why selling things that lack value or have less value than claimed, study the sub-prime driven financial crisis in the US between 2006 and 2010. The world was left with absolute clarity that selling fraudulent overvalued mortgaged backed security that really didn’t have the claimed value will result in collapse.

From what I have seen the ‘financial education being taught currently in the sport and fitness industry has the same absence of value and integrity that the post 2000 internet-guru based information has. And the risk shifts from damaging your body, to wasting time and effort seeking ‘financial freedom’. It’s one thing to arrive in your golden ages physically broken. Its and additional burden to reach the end of your working life to realize you have been led down the garden path.

So what are the alternatives? Let me share with you a time-tested perspective, from a person who reputation has been established on under-promising and over-delivering, straight shooting, to hell with marketing, no bullshit, tell it as it is.

In the early 1990s I realized the limitations as outlined in the article I refer to (reference below). I became a student of money, time and business. Nearly a decade later, in the late 1990s, I wrote a book on the subject (Paycheck to Passive – Going from working for a living to having a life) and began teaching anyone who would listen about money. This has helped a lot of people financially. I won’t make the claim as one of our Internet gurus has – (“…we’ve been helping millions of men and women.…”). Suffice to say there are people who have publicly credited us for moving their financial education forward substantially. What I am saying is its real.

I also provided some excellent business development guidance in my book ‘So you want to become a physical preparation coach?’ (2000), again which served a lot of industry personal.

From 2000 we set out to mentor our coaches and other business partners in financial education. We did so quietly and personally, as opposed to loudly and mass-produced.

However now that financial education for physical preparation coaches in now a trend subject, with our strength experts one day, fat-loss gurus the next, and business and financial educators the next – the message stands to be lost amongst the bogus claims of rags to riches, multiple 7-figure income business etc.

Now I know there will be some who say ‘So what Ian, any information being shared is good; leave them alone’, as was the typical response to previous alerts to the bogus ‘bibles’ of training. My message is not for you.

My message is for those who firstly realize there is a problem surrounding money in their working lives, seek a solution AND have the intuitive realization that the market is full of land-mines full of bogus ‘experts’.

Now let me clarify – the article I referred to above contained excellent, fundamental concepts. I was actually impressed and happy to see these concepts being taught, such as the limitation of selling your time for money. My concerns go beyond the accuracy of the fundamental.

In relation to anyone teaching financial freedom to our industry, my questions include:

1. What level of mastery in financial freedom does the ‘teacher’ have?
2. What reproducible by others business success do they have?
3. What is the true long-term upside of the strategies they are teaching?

Lets touch upon these three briefly.

1. What level of mastery in financial freedom does the ‘teacher’ have?

For example, how long could this person walk away from their business and not experience much of a downturn of income? Do they typically spend a few months a year on holiday, travelling and enjoying their ‘financial freedom?’

2. What reproducible by others business success do they have?

Who are some of the ‘millions’ of people they have helped transform their life financially – what is the answer to these same questions to their students?

3. What is the true long-term upside of the strategies they are teaching?

Do the strategies they recommend really result in ‘financial freedom’? How many people have you met in your lives that have achieved financial freedom from these strategies? E.g. selling e-books and other information on the internet?

Lets ask this simple additional question – how many first generation, self-made multi-millionaires from physical preparation have you met in your life? (not the internet perception – the reality)

Now I appreciate that at different stages of your career you have varying levels of interest in this subject. In my ‘Money and the Physical Preparation Coach Course’ (2016) I dedicated a unit to identify and discussing the concept of ‘stages of career’, sharing the following ‘stages’:

Phase 1: Blinkered and gullible - Years: 0-10 years into their career
Phase 2: At the crossroads - Years: 5-15 years into their careers
Phase 3: Embracing or denying change - Years: 10-20 years into their career
Phase 4: Living with or without the fruits - Years: 20-40 years into their career
Phase 5: Retiring in comfort or destitution - Years: Last 10-30 years of life

I go into more detail about these phases in that course. None-the-less, I imagine that only those in Phase 2 are still reading, and have concerns on this subject.

However, rather than assume this, I have some questions for you:

1. Firstly, do you believe there is a problem, at least in your life, as it relates to your financial future?

2. How many years have you been in the industry?

3. What are the frustrations or challenges you experience?

No I know it’s tough (especially for us males and our alpha sisters), to acknowledge we have a ‘problem’. Let me share a key paragraph outlining some key ‘problems’ as identified by the article I referred to earlier (1):
“The life of a personal trainer can be great, but trading time for money inherently limits income possibilities with only 24 hours in any given day. Furthermore, only so many of those hours are even available to work with clients. In an effort to make more money in that limited time, personal trainers are often forced to sacrifice personal priorities, service quality, and relationships. This can sometimes lead to frustration, burnout, and ultimately, career changes. 
The average personal training income in the United States is thought to be between $35,000 – $45,000 per year… These numbers seem great for passionate personal trainers starting out, but what about years down the road? Those who want to support a family, retire at a decent age, or create freedom in their career must take steps to rise above these industry averages.” (1)
Does that help? Great, here’s what can happen. Participate in this ‘survey’ and see where it can lead. Send your responses to with ‘Ian, here is my MTH&TPPC survey response’.


(1) Drake, J., and NSCA Personal Training Quarterly, 2016, The training trap – building financial freedom in an appointment-based career, NSCA December Issue Member News

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