Are You A Personal Trainer Or A Life Changer?

21 comments written by Kristina

First let me preface this post with a distinction in terms.

When I refer to “Personal Trainers” such as those who follow the RenEx protocol I am referring to “Instructors”.

Personal Trainer


If you haven’t read the article Differences by Ken Hutchins click here first and then read the post below.



I often get asked by clients or friends “How do you sit there and do the same thing day after day?  Don’t you get bored?”

To the outsider looking in I can appreciate their perspective.  They think I just take a client through a workout and press a stop watch.

In fact, other personal trainers who have observed us on a daily basis may come to the same conclusion.

They think, “Oh that looks easy. Just get the client to move slow, press a stopwatch and clicker and take the client to failure. I can do that!”

Little do they or anyone who has never engaged in this type of training appreciate all of the meticulous detail and knowledge that goes into what they see on the surface as “Boring/Easy”.

I can understand how exercise instructors can get bored or burned out. Just like anything in life, if you are not fully engaged and passionate about what you are doing then you will lose interest.

In fact, I’ve heard trainers referred to as over paid friends, gym caddies or even pin pullers.

This is may be the reality of some but it is NOT mine or my staff!

Our exercise instructors are NOT just instructors.



We just happen to do this through exercise instruction.

I don’t know about other trainers, but to me that is PRICELESS and fulfilling.

When I meet someone new and they ask me what I do, I simple reply with “I improve the quality of people’s lives”.

They will inevitably then ask me “How do you do that?”

I reply with “I do that through one on one exercise instruction and nutritional consulting.”

At that point I have their attention and they are intrigued.

Now that is a little networking trick I use to engage people but it is absolutely true!

“Are you bored with Life? Then throw yourself into some work you believe in with all your heart, live for it, and you will find happiness that you had thought could never be yours.”

– Dale Carnegie

This is how we keep our trainers engaged and retained.  They appreciate the greater good they do for people.  This only gets reduced to pulling pins if you let it. (We’ve also found that the more the instructor knows about the Renaissance protocol, the more interesting their day becomes)

In John Di Julius’s book What’s The Secret?  To Providing A World Class Customer Experience we writes:

“Let’s talk about the toughest job in the world, nursing.  Most hospitals today will tell you how nurses are underpaid, understaffed, overworked, and as a result, many are burned out.  What if we called them “Daymakers”?  Because that is what they actually are.

If they were constantly referred to as Daymakers and they had to introduce themselves as Daymakers, wouldn’t that make them reconsider their role and the sensitivity they must have with every patient and family member they come in contact with?  Who do you think are happier with their jobs, nurses or Daymakers?” 

I tell every new potential employee we interview that working here is NOT a job.

This is a career and if you are not passionate about changing lives and helping people then this is NOT the right place for you.

I then tell them that the day you wake up and come to work and think this is just a job and you are dreading it, then this is the day you need to tell us so we can develop an exit strategy.

I appreciate that trainers come and go.

I’m not ignorant to that fact.

Nor do I believe that they will stay with us forever UNLESS they are constantly engaged with their passion and they fully appreciate the outcome which they provide to clients.


I can’t tell you how many times we have clients tell us that they have dropped their blood pressure medication or can walk up the stairs without getting winded or just recently we had a client walk out of the hospital the day of his total hip replacement.


I could go on and on and I’m sure you could too.  This protocol CHANGES LIVES!

However, this profession is NOT for everyone.

And High Intensity Training is NOT for everyone. We all know this to be true.

Perhaps burnout comes from not necessarily the repetitive nature of “doing the same thing” BUT taking on the tremendous responsibility of being a trainer and a business owner.  That is of course if you own a business.

Are you a Technician or an Entrepreneur?

Let me make this CLEAR!

In order to run a successful business you can only do so much yourself.  At the end of the day to succeed, you must learn to work ON your business and not IN your business. (Read the E-Myth by Michael Gerber if you have not. In my opinion it is required reading for any entrepreneur).

As a fitness business owner, most of us all started out as technicians.  We had what Gerber calls an entrepreneurial seizure and thought “Why should I work for a gym when I can do it myself and do it better”.

So we quit our job and open up our own personal training business.  Then we quickly realize that we own a job NOT a business.

If you are working IN your business you own a JOB.

If you are working ON your business you own a business.

Now, I know what you are thinking…I have to train 15 people today and do the bills and get some new clients in the door and clean the facility and on and on.

You are a one man show (or you have some limited help) and you are stuck doing it, doing it, doing it.

Trust me, I’ve been there and I do still work IN my business BUT I spend the majority of my time working ON my business.

Now this wasn’t always the case.

In the beginning it was just Josh and I seeing 80-90 sessions a week each until we got smart and started hiring help!

As we have grown our company we have put all profits back into the business in order to get to the position we are currently in.

We have evolved from trainers to business owners.  This requires a shift in your thinking.

Ultimately you have to make a decision.

Do I want to own a business or a job?

Getting back to my point about burning out.

If you are a trainer who owns a business and you are DOING EVRYTHING, then yes, burnout maybe just around the corner.

It is at that point you must decide if you want a job or a business.

Owning a business is not for everyone and there’s nothing wrong with that.  There is NO shame in just being a trainer.

In fact, it is the trainer that drives the business!

I personally believe that people should play to their strengths and NOT spend so much time improving their weaknesses.

For example, most people think that in order to be “successful” in their career they have to move up the corporate ladder.

They think, “I’m a trainer now so the next step is manager and then the next step is owner”.  Unfortunately more people fail when they are “promoted” to a position that does NOT suit their strengths.

Managers need to be able to manage people and projects. This is a far different skill set than training a client.  BUT it doesn’t mean that if a trainer doesn’t progress to a manager that he/she is less of an employee/person.

You should think of the hierarchy more on a horizontal line rather than a vertical climb to the top.  This is the culture you need to create within your business. Without my trainers, I am NOTHING!

If the trainer doesn’t train the clients and get them results and retain them then you have no business.  The front line employees are often the most undervalued and unappreciated. When in fact, if it were not for them the business would not prosper.

So you must take a deep look at what your ultimate goal is in life.

If you want to own a business then you better start working ON it and hire others to work IN it.

Otherwise, burnout maybe right around the corner.

To prevent burnout for those you hire to work IN the business you must keep them engaged and help them to grow within your business.

You’ll be amazed at what happens if you just let people evolve!

Lastly, you must hire those who want to be Life Changers NOT personal trainers.

As always, go ahead and post your comments below and we will personally answer them!

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Travis Weigand March 2, 2011 at 11:04 am

As a current business student, this article really speaks to me. It addresses lots of the thoughts and questions I have on a daily basis. Great read!


avatar Jeff Tomaszewski March 2, 2011 at 9:20 pm

I’m glad this post resonates with you. I’ve never had any formal business training but as a business owner you learn very quick what it takes to be successful. You either change and adapt your mindset or you perish.
Best of luck to you on your journey!


avatar Travis Weigand March 3, 2011 at 9:40 pm

The most worthwhile, insightful advice I’ve received in my studies nearly always comes from a practitioner, not an academic. This is interesting because I can make the same claim about everything worthwhile and insightful I’ve learned about exercise.


avatar David Fellenbaum March 2, 2011 at 12:22 pm


Fantastic blog! Keep them coming.
I always knew that there was more to Personal Training than pushing pins, adjusting seats and counting reps, and as a matter of fact, I’ve always been concerned that the title is not what it really means as a whole, and instructor or even technician is a better title, imo , and that describes what the trainer is actually doing.
Perhaps the word ‘training’ has a negative impact on some people’s perspective about exercise too. It may sound to much like a discipline to them, instead of a preventive measure to take better care of themselves, or to make a change in their lives towards better health, for a longer healthier life.
It’s _so much more than being ‘personal’.


avatar Jeff Tomaszewski March 2, 2011 at 9:30 pm

You make a great point. Our perception of what other’s think is not always accurate. This is why we constantly engage with our clients and ask for their feedback on several topics.
Sometimes the answers are shocking but it just proves that our perception of what our clients think is not always reality.
Also, you should constantly be finding ways in your business to differentiate yourself from the norm. Anyone can find a Personal Trainer but Instructors are hard to come by!


avatar John Tatore March 3, 2011 at 10:03 pm

“This is why we constantly engage with our clients and ask for their feedback on several topics.”


What are the questions that you ask your clients to get their feedback on these topics?


avatar Jeff March 4, 2011 at 7:07 pm

We survey our clients at least twice a year to make sure we understand our clients better.
Two questions you should always ask your clients:
1. What do you like about doing business with us?
2. What don’t you like about doing business with us?

1. This will give you instant testimonials which you should always be collecting.

2. This will let you know any areas of your business you need to improve. My suggestion with any complaint is to address it immediately and go above and beyond the request. Consider a complaint a gift! Without them you will never know what is wrong.

These are just a couple of the key questions you should be asking your clients to grow your business.


avatar Jeff March 5, 2011 at 7:28 pm

You’re welcome.
This is just the tip of the iceberg if you will. Most business owners in our niche focus so much on the training that they forget at the end of the day they run a business.

If you own a business your #1 job is Marketing! Unfortunately, most of us have NO training or skill set in this area and have no idea where to start.

This has been my mission for the last 3 years with Overload Fitness.

More to come….

avatar David Landau March 2, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Sorry – be careful of calling one a “Life Changer” – A bit steep if you might – see the Fitness Infomercial Fantasy of ” Change Your Life” – I engage in a practical efficient service that allows one to make better use of an already present “lifestyle.” Less time in the gym and a bit less wear and tear – BTW – my personal pursuit has been nearly 35 years and no burnout in sight.


avatar General Tso March 2, 2011 at 5:07 pm

I enjoyed your article. Another point that should be addressed is the similarity in methods that professional instructors employ. If a client of Al Coleman’s were to train with another qualified instructor, who had never met Al and perhaps lived in a different part of the country, the training would be of a very similar nature. Were the equipment the same the differences might be too small for the client to notice. I say this because to a large extent protocols are equipment driven. This speaks volumes toward the professionalism of what you do. Obviously new techniques are always being developed and there are many ways to accomplish the goal (inroading) but the similarities would far exceed the differences.
Contrast this with the norm of “personal training”. Nothing is similar, most of it is made up as we go and no 2 trainers agree on much of anything. While disagreement certainly exists within what we do, the arguments tend to be on technical aspects and not larger goals.
I’ve referred to this as representing the technology. It centers on education of the trainer who in turn educates the client. If your instructors can do this to a high degree and on a regular basis, you have definitely accomplished a major objective as a trainer and a business owner. Thanks for writing your thoughts; your blog is quickly becoming a valuable resource for HIT trainers.


avatar Al Coleman March 3, 2011 at 9:04 am

Long live the General!


avatar Jeff Tomaszewski March 2, 2011 at 6:53 pm

Thanks for the comment but don’t be so modest. I’m sure you have changed people’s lives for the better. You do more than “engage in a practical efficient service that allows one to make better use of an already present “lifestyle.” Less time in the gym and a bit less wear and tear”.
That I’m sure is exactly why you are still at it after 35 years. You get it!


avatar Doug McGuff, MD March 2, 2011 at 9:37 pm


Fantastic. When I was in my Emergency Medicine residency, my department chairman and I were shooting the breeze one nightshift when he said… “Doug, you can’t be truly professional until you have become bored and then risen above it”. This has proven to be very true in my career. Even in the emergency room, after a period of time you definitely get that “time to make the donuts” feeling. But making the donuts is what generates the revenue and is the backbone of a career.

Training clients can definitely become a grind. In emergency medicine I do get a chance to save lives every now and then, but I gotta kiss a lot of frogs to meet that prince. To a very large extent my work in the ER is an exercise in futility that serves only to perpetuate the welfare state. When I look at the results of the clients at Ultimate Exercise, I realize that THIS is where I make the biggest difference in peoples’ lives. Clients regularly throw down their canes, or go of their statins, hypoglycemics or blood pressure meds.

For instructors out there that are starting to get bored, please understand that this is where the good stuff starts. It is just like training in that the best results come AFTER the point that you develop the overwhelming urge to quit. Keep going. Pay attention to the details and focus on your client. You are changing lives. What you do matters.


avatar Jeff Tomaszewski March 2, 2011 at 11:49 pm

Thank you for your insight!
Coming from someone who has paved the way for so many of us and is a pioneer in this field your remarks are truly appreciated. Thanks!

We tell all of our trainers that whether it is you first or 20th session of the day you have the opportunity to have a positive affect on someone’s life. Each client that we train has their own unique experience and it is our obligation to give them 110% of our knowledge, attention and passion every second they are training.

Very few professions can give such a return on investment as ours.
So perhaps instead of approaching the day as “Time to make the donuts” we approach it as “Time to change a life”.

This also goes beyond the training as well. One of our core values is to OVER DELIVER to a client. In other words, we aim to give them more in value than they give us in payment. If a business can make this part of their culture the return will be priceless.

Thanks again for your comments and keep fighting the good fight!


avatar Gus Diamantopoulos March 2, 2011 at 11:24 pm

Jeff: Your post is a call to arms for instructors everywhere. It asks all of us to accept the responsibility of helping others in the one area of their lives that can be so easily derailed. Between the risks of injury and the myriad of fads, most people will toll endlessly and with enormous confusion at the very least. Our mission, should we choose to accept it, is to help steer people in the right direction within the extremely confusing world of physical improvement. In the process, we may actually be able to help them also become healthier and dare I say, happier.

Doug: As we continue to learn more about how we do this thing we call exercise, it is so heartening to be encouraged by you. Your experience, wisdom, guidance, and contributions have been at the very source of so much of what we do and we are all very grateful. In my humble opinion, this is the most exciting time to be involved in all of this.

I ,for one, have never been more enthusiastic or passionate about exercise and nutrition as I am now.

Onward and upward. Life changes abound.



avatar Al Coleman March 3, 2011 at 9:03 am


Thanks for your comments! You just gave me fodder for my next post: Boredom.



avatar Scott Springston March 3, 2011 at 2:19 pm

I personally believe that people should play to their strengths and NOT spend so much time improving their weaknesses.

I often hear on certain exercise forums that you must spend more time on your weaknesses than your strengths but I tend to agree with the notion to play to your strengths. In my line of work I have reached a level of performance that is considered tops. People always ask me why I haven’t moved up the ladder to a loftier position and I tell them I like what I do and I do it well. I know I wouldn’t be as happier in an upper level position so even if it paid more I wouldn’t be as happy so why do it?
The same thing goes for exercise. I know I have no special abilities to lift very heavy weights yet I have pretty good genetics to look fairly strong so why bother putting tons of time into lifting more and heavier weights when in the end I would only have sub par strength anyway? I lift hoping to get stronger but really my goal is to do so with the intention of getting bigger. As Clint Eastwood said, “A man’s gotta know his limitations. I know mine and keep that in focus when doing what I do.


avatar Ed Hovanik March 6, 2011 at 4:12 pm


Great article!! You are absolutely correct in that any business that attempts to OVER DELIVER to their customers will keep them forever. Many businesses do not do this. As George Carlin once mused, “most people are paid just enough to keep them from quitting, and they work just hard enough to keep from getting fired.” Continuing to deliver greater value to your clients than they are paying for is the best way to increasing prosperity. And from what I have observed first hand by training there, you guys are exceeding that goal.

Ed Hovanik


avatar Jeff Tomaszewski March 7, 2011 at 9:24 pm

Thanks for the George Carlin muse. I will have to use that one.
OVER DELIVER is one of our core values as a business.
It has become the fabric of our culture and we have and continue to work hard to keep this elevated standard.


avatar Andrew Shortt March 7, 2011 at 5:25 pm

It’s scary how on the mark you are here Jeff, good post.



avatar Jeff March 7, 2011 at 9:33 pm

This post has been our reality and evolution over the last 6 years from technicians to business owners.

What a whirl wind trip its been and yet to be!

We are truly excited to share our experiences with this community and learn from everyone as well. That is why we truly appreciate all of the feedback and comments on our blogs.

Keep them coming!


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