T Nation

Aspiring Gurus

This thread was inspired by a recent Dan John article, “Strong Eye for the Weak Guy”.

I see many aspiring “gurus” on the T-Nation forums looking to get in to the fitness industry. I’d be interested to hear from like minded individuals looking to make their primary income, as a; nutritionist, personal trainer, strength coach, rehabilitator, pharmaceutical expert, sports psychologist, etc… anything related to fitness, or health.

My questions are:

What special niche are you looking to fill?

What have you done thus far? Do you have a place of business, website, articles in print, etc…?

Have you written out your goals, and have a plan for their attainment?

Any stumbling blocks along the way?

Any words of wisdom?

Even if it’s a number of years away, I’d still be interested in others thoughts. I’d enjoy hearing from people that are currently working in their respective field as well. Your experience would be invaluable.

As for me… my current research interests are; nutritional diversity among populations, evolutionary medicine, and psychology. I’m more or less on the cusp of getting my business in gear. I’ve spent the last number of years in research mode and schooling, and need to get the ball rolling.

I’m hoping to get some key distinctions from others that may help with a smoother transition to “gurudom”. :slight_smile: Hopefully we can all help one another out.

ps I’m not a fan of the word guru. It reminds me of a snake oil salesman. :slight_smile:

My plan is to pursue a career in the Sport and Exercise Psychology field. As far as what specifically I am not sure because I am just in undergrad. I will need graduate and possibley doctoral school to pursue most positions. As of now the consulting field seems most promising (working with high level athletes hopefully) so that’s what I’m working towards.

EDIT Thought I should add something about the original poster. Professors of mine have drilled into my head over and over that the correct term is sport and not sports psychologist. No one will notice it but thought I should let you know since I saw it.

Niche; I train a few athletes, motocross, soccer, football, baseball, golf. What I REALLY enjoy is the everyday person, middle aged, little to no or even BAD previous workout experience. Take a person like that, teach them to squat, press, deadlift, clean etc. Teach them that you don’t need fancy equipment and that pushing some heavy iron 'aint just for the 25 and under crowd.

Place of business; Derek Richardson Strength Systems in Whitman MA. can be seen here; http://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=898077

I’ve written a few articles. One for BIGIRONPOWERLIFTING.com

I am writing one for the AAU site on training injuries and re-hab.

I will be submitting a few for DIESELCREW.com
I have more on weight training for the elderly and one on the deadly consequences of our modern lifestyles.

I will be co-teaching a night course on S&C at the local highschool.

I hold a “Strongman Saturday” workout every weekend with tires, sled, stones, sandbags, farmers walk, kegs etc.

I don’t really write down my goals, I have a great memory!

No real stumbling blocks. I’ve been extremely lucky to have the loyal client base I have. I worked out of Golds Gym for eight years and when it came time to leave, they ALL left with me.

Words of wisdom; You can have great knowledge and great insight but if you lack the social skills to interact with the public, you’ll fail miserably in this field.

[quote]derek wrote:
Niche; I train a few athletes, motocross, soccer, football, baseball, golf. What I REALLY enjoy is the everyday person, middle aged, little to no or even BAD previous workout experience. Take a person like that, teach them to squat, press, deadlift, clean etc. Teach them that you don’t need fancy equipment and that pushing some heavy iron 'aint just for the 25 and under crowd.

Place of business; Derek Richardson Strength Systems in Whitman MA. can be seen here; http://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=898077

I’ve written a few articles. One for BIGIRONPOWERLIFTING.com

I am writing one for the AAU site on training injuries and re-hab.

I will be submitting a few for DIESELCREW.com
I have more on weight training for the elderly and one on the deadly consequences of our modern lifestyles.

I will be co-teaching a night course on S&C at the local highschool.

I hold a “Strongman Saturday” workout every weekend with tires, sled, stones, sandbags, farmers walk, kegs etc.

I don’t really write down my goals, I have a great memory!

No real stumbling blocks. I’ve been extremely lucky to have the loyal client base I have. I worked out of Golds Gym for eight years and when it came time to leave, they ALL left with me.

Words of wisdom; You can have great knowledge and great insight but if you lack the social skills to interact with the public, you’ll fail miserably in this field.[/quote]

Well said Derek and all the best in the future…
Kerwyn.

[quote]kerwyn wrote:

Well said Derek and all the best in the future…
Kerwyn.
[/quote]

Thanks, K!

Can you elaborate and/or give some advice regarding the social skills part?

This is a pretty cool thread. You guys sound like you’re already accomplished, and will do great things. I aspire to do the same.

I’m 21, and am currently training clients in Whitefish, MT. It’s a higher scale ski-resort town; think Aspen, but not as pretentious.

While most of my clients are just average guys and gals looking to lose weight/gain muscle, I’ve had a blast working with a few select players from the NHL. I’m currently also training the pitcher for the UCLA baseball team. He’s only a sophomore but is really catching the eye of a lot of scouts.

I’ve been in Tae Kwon Do for over 15 years and received my black belt at age 9. I currently teach a couple private martial arts lessons per week.

On a local level, I currently volunteer some days at the high school and have worked with the football, basketball, volleyball, soccer, and softball teams.

I’m on the Advisory Team for Maximum Fitness Magazine and will have my first article published there in the next issue. TC has been kind enough to let me have my own series in the Random Acts section entitled “Nate Green’s People”.

Here was the latest article: http://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=1221898

I’ve also been published on EC’s newsletter found here: http://www.ericcressey.com/letitflow.html
and the now defunct Rugged Magazine.

I do have my own website ( http://www.thenategreenexperience.com ),
but am in the process of putting together a more user-friendly site with a ton of more info and cool things. It should be up in the next couple of months.

Although I’m just starting out and am in no way accomplished, I think the best tips I can give are:

  1. Aspire to be great at what you do.

  2. Get published.

  3. Ask industry professionals whom you look up to for advice (be courteous and professional. EC and Cosgrove have helped me out immensely.)

  4. Attend seminars (I’ll be in LA and CT for the Ryan Lee Bootcamp)

  5. Give back.

  6. Read anything you can get your hands on. (check out EC’s Recommended Resources on his site)

Ok, enough rambling from me. I’m interested to hear what anyone else has to say. Thanks for reading.

‘Nate is everything you?d want in a trainer: He?s enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and constantly in search of new and better ways to help his clients reach their goals.’

Lou Schuler
Former Director Men’s Health magazine

“Nate Green is a diamond in the rough in the fitness industry. Rarely will you find someone who so effectively combines book knowledge, “under the bar” experience, and a genuine passion for helping others. Keep an eye on Nate, as he is going to be doing great things in our field for years to come.”

Eric Cressey
Performance Enhancement Specialist - Boston, MA
www.EricCressey.com

-Nate

[quote]El_Animal wrote:
Can you elaborate and/or give some advice regarding the social skills part?[/quote]

Well, one thing to remember is that clients will tell you about thier most intimate experiences. You must be descreet and trustworthy with that information especially when you train husband/wife pairs.

You need to make people laugh, think, learn in addition to exercising.

You need to play to client’s strengths and downplay (but improve) weaknesses.

You need to figure out how to deal with the individual’s “hot buttons” in training and conversation.

One client may respond extremely well to you saying “In this set, you need to hit 8 reps, you got 6 last time. But I doubt you’ll even make it to 7”. While another may take you seriously and get upset.

You need to learn about client’s life. Married, children, likes, dislikes, what they told you they were doing this weekend etc., etc. When you remember these details and discuss them with the client, it makes the feel important (they MUST BE IMPORTANT, you cannot fake it!) to you.

But remember, social skills must be combined with extraordinary knowledge of kinesiology, anatomy, medicine, current states of sports training, rehab, handicaps both physical and mental etc., etc.

Derek, that was a great post.

I agree completely.

Gotta have those lifetime value clients.

-Nate

BUMP to a great thread.

Thanks guys for chiming in… great stuff!

Nate,

That’s incredible what you’ve achieved thus far considering your age. Great website as well. The layout works well and is unique. Did you design it yourself?

I’m currently designing a website as we speak, although I’m learning as I go, so it’s not too spectacular. For people that currently have one… did you design it yourself, or have someone more specialized do it for you?

Great job as well Derek. I agree, social ability is among one of the top skills one should have in these fields. Sad but true, most of marketing yourself is not how much you know but how to present yourself. There are probably a lot of geniuses out there that never got their work out in the mainstream due to not being good with people.

On the opposite side of the spectrum there’s a lot of idiots in the field that are successful due to their exceptional charisma and drive. Although maybe they’re not idiots afterall since they’ve found what works. It’s relative.

[quote]Bri Hildebrandt wrote:
What special niche are you looking to fill? [/quote]
Ideally, I’d be working with MMA fighters. But I seem to be headed toward training more teens and recreational lifters right now.

http://www.bodyfuelfitness.com - My primary site, with online training which I’ve used to work with folks in California and Oklahoma.

http://www.paintballfitness.com - A niche site I just started last month, due to a surprising local demand. It’s still quite new, and will be getting more content soon.

I designed them both myself using register.com. It was surprisingly easy and quick to do.

I’ve had articles published at www.f-heit.com, here on T-Nation, and on www.martialartsplanet.com, where I also volunteer as a health & fitness topic mod. I’ve also studied martial arts for over 10 years (damn…Nate has me beat? Isn’t he, like, still in high school? That just ain’t right.)

Funny you mention this. Just a few months ago, I started jotting down all my business thoughts and plans in a marble notebook. Just a collection of random thoughts on advertising, product ideas, training concepts, miscellany.

I went too easy on clients my first few years, and tried too much to be their friend. I think it was a lack of confidence, as well as not wanting to “tell them what to do”, so I really underplayed the importance of nutrition in general, and the importance of what they do the 23 hours a day they’re not with me. I’m still pissed at myself, because I know I could’ve gotten some of them phenomenal results if I was the trainer I am now.

Nope.

Kidding…

1 - Read a whole bunch. I actually find ebooks the easiest, because I seem to be on the computer so much, but I also subscribe to close to a dozen e-newsletters. Read stuff from other trainers, read the “classic” training stuff, read stuff from fitness marketing guys, read stuff period.

2 - I think what goes on in the weight room for that 45 or 60 minutes is the smallest part of your role. The program development, the assessment, the sales (yikes) and marketing, the research and planning…that’s what takes the most time and energy.

3 - Something I’m just starting to work on…have more to offer clients than just a warm body to count reps. Products (ebooks, videos, audio tapes, whatever), affiliate programs for equipment retailers, anything else you can provide to clients will be a valuable asset.

Best of luck.

Oh, shameless plug for a thread I started last month that quickly faded into oblivion…Trainers Talking Shop:
http://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=1214749

Very nice Minotaur. Good stuff.

[quote]Bri Hildebrandt wrote:
Thanks guys for chiming in… great stuff!

Nate,

That’s incredible what you’ve achieved thus far considering your age. Great website as well. The layout works well and is unique. Did you design it yourself?
[/quote]

Thanks Bri.

Nah, my best friend is a web designer. I’m going with something a little more basic and user-friendly on the next round.

PM me if you want his contact info. The guy is a genius and doesn’t charge that much at all.

Thanks for the compliments, as well.

-Nate

[quote]Minotaur wrote:
I’m a pimp.
[/quote]

Good stuff, man.

And, no, I’m not in high school.

I done graduated.

:wink:

-Nate