Perspective in the Fitness “Business” by Sam Leahey

The following is a guest-blog by my friend Sam Leahey, a 23-year old rising star in the fitness field. Sam has interned under Mike Boyle and Eric Cressey.

Recently I was afforded the luxury of attending a 3-day fitness business conference. The conference was one of those “big time” events that people fly from all over the world to attend. So much networking and innovative thinking was going on there that it was overwhelming for a young buck like me. However, I’m a pretty pensive person, and I did notice some things that put a new light on my perspective of the “fitness business/industry.” Though not exhaustive, here is a batch of discoveries I made:

It is WAY easier than you might think to make money with the internet. In fact, it’s so easy ANYONE can do it.

There are TONS of personal trainers and strength & conditioning coaches out there making TONS of money. Literally, TONS!

Most of those personal trainers and S&C coaches lack real and/or long-term results with their clients/athletes.

Most of those personal trainers and S&C coaches have tremendous gaps in their knowledge of exercise science and performance training.

Most of those personal trainers and S&C coaches are a bunch of scamming affiliates who care nothing about the people to whom they’re marketing.

It is easy to get so focused on the business side of things that the quality of your products and results you get with your clients/athletes starts to decline.

Now, if you go through these statements and take them to their logical extensions, the natural questions arise – “what about the ones who DO get real and long term results with their clients/athletes?”, “what about the personal trainers and S&C coaches who DO care about the people they’re marketing to because they sincerely want to enhance the level of quality knowledge out there and are not just looking for affiliate sales?”, “what about the ones who never lose focus of quality content and never let greed take over?”, “are all these guys/girls scammers too?”

I watched person after person present and even more people stand up in the crowd to testify how successful their fitness product was. In many cases the audience got an “inside look” at the product itself (videos, ebooks, etc). By the end of day two, I naturally found myself looking over at these individuals and saying to myself things like, “You don’t deserve to be selling that. It sucks, and no one is going to get results with it,” “That is the worst cookie cutter program I’ve ever seen,” “Your advice is going to get a lot of people injured. Please do some research before sharing your knowledge with others!”, and “SHUT UP AND SIT DOWN!” As I reflected on the experience during the ride home yesterday, I realized I learned a lot of what not to do and how not to be a scamming-low-quality-affiliate-seeker like the people I just encountered. However, I also found that I naturally was qualifying these individuals on some kind of imaginary continuum. They key word in the previous sentence was “qualifying,” as in, QUALITY!!!!!!!! Ah-Ha! So that’s the difference. Hopefully this depiction below will give you the reader the same epiphany I also had a on the ride home. If not, I’ve failed as an author. 8)

So, using this standard I think we can all agree that if you’re going to be putting products out there you better be at least on the far right third of the Quality Continuum. In other words, not on the far left and not just in the middle. In case you forgot, we should ALL be striving to be at the extreme end of the right side in our profession anyway! If you’re not, then please pick a new profession, we have enough low quality “professionals” and “half-effort folks” out there already. Please don’t consider putting any products out there.


Me (left), talking to a D1 strength coach (right) I met there. This was taken during one of our “speed networking” sessions.

I need to be clear here. The information I learned this weekend is very useful and CAN be used for good to enhance the general pool of knowledge out their regarding personal training and strength & conditioning. How many trainers and coaches out there do you know that would benefit tremendously if they got a hold of an E.Cressey, M.Boyle, A.Cosgrove, S.Mcgill, or M.Robertson product? Do we believe that we can change mainstream methodology of personal training and strength & conditioning? I KNOW we can. And one of the many great mediums to do that is by distributing top quality products from the aforementioned big timers.

One night after the conference I took a drive over to meet my good friend Anthony Renna for dinner. We discussed this very idea of quality and how far too many people are focused on making money and less on the quality of product their putting out. Even more disturbing is often times these individuals care more about creating products then they do about their actual profession!!!!!!!!!!!!!! One idea that kept being preached this weekend was “over deliver,” yet many products I saw were just piling on extra crap that made it even worse. All in all, this fitness business conference left me with an even higher respect for guys like Coach Boyle, Eric Cressey , Mike Robertson, Dr.Weingroff, Dr.McGill, and so many more. Our appreciation level for these leaders should be of upmost report because of the quality information they provide us all through various mediums. In the ideal world of personal training and strength and conditioning, professionals would be known for the quality they bring to the profession and not much else.

Does this represent your way of thinking. . .

Or does this?

I’d love to know how the readers feel about this topic too. Leave a comment below and we can discuss it. . .

10 Comments

  • Dave says:

    Welcome to the world of internet marketing where everyone is an expert. I am in the investment world and one of my best friends is in internet marketing. We talk all the time about how many people/products are basically just scams. The funny thing is that if you build a good product you can still make a lot of money, except for now you can go to bed at night.

    One great scam example is that 99% of online “review” sites are affiliate scams. If you do a search for a product and the first few results are “reviews” they are 100% biased due to profit. The site is built, the reviews are written, and then they site is SEO’d to rank high in Google. Once that happens they can get you to buy whatever supplement or product that they want.

    That is one of many “businesses” that are nothing but scammy/spammy shiz.

    Another classic is the long sales page. I don’t know who buys stuff off of those letters but I know that they do buy it. In the investment space there are a lot of publications that will send out 5 page long letters full of BS and they make a lot of money. I have a direct competitor that has over 3,000 subscribers at $500/year and his product is total crap. In my space there are about 50 services and 3 that I think are quality, 5 or so that are OK, and the rest absolutely suck.

    Rant off 🙂

  • Sam says:

    I hear ya Dave. I hope one day to create quality S&C / personal training products that are backed by science and professional experiance, not just some fru fru crap! Keep up the good work my friend.

  • Kevin Carr says:

    Sam, awesome stuff again. It’s truly amazing how many people make a living pushing nonsense merchandise with no real solid professional education or experience. It’s actually scary. On the brighter side thankfully guys like Mike and Eric are putting out quality material that trainers and their clients can actually benefit from in addition to teaching young coaches (like us) the correct way to train someone.

  • CHris Po Po says:

    Sam,
    Great post bud, enjoy reading your material as you make valid points!

    I will play devil’s advocate here for once though…

    Who wouldn’t want to make thousands and thousands of dollars by being able to sell a product or cookie cutter program? Is it the person’s fault for wanting to earn money, feed their stomach and pay mortgage or is it the systems fault?

    Is it the system that ALLOWS for these type of people to call them qualified professionals or the person merely taking advantage of people who can’t decipher the difference?…Both?

    In any industry, you will get these “product” guru’s ie. medical, sport and self-help…It is absolutely a major concern for anyone who is looking out for the best of the client, it is their job however, to market just as well and better than the “product guy” and in turn will be successful, yes Boyle, Cressey, Cosgrove and etc have leagues of knowledge but they also do a phenomenal job of marketing themselves and getting results ON TOP of that.

    Who is to blame here?

  • Sam says:

    Chris, as i alluded too, I see nothing wrong with any aggressive marketting campaign by guys like Coach Boyle, Eric, Cosgrove, etc. why? Because they SHOULD be trying to get their stuff out there because its not only way better than the average crap that permiates the industry but more so because the information they have to offer pushes the quality of our whole profession (S&C / personal training). Heck, sometimes i get so excited about the phenominal educational programs Anthony Renna puts out it makes me wish i had a marketting degree just so i could help him spread the word, its THAT good! Guys like Coach Boyle and Eric SHOULD make money off their stuff. If it wasn’t for their products then MANY, and i mean MANY, people would be way behind the knowledge curve that their afforded through those mediums.

    Essentially though i understand you’re overriding point. It seems to be the “system” that is the problem more so than the scamming affiliates, even though they are at fault. Im not sure we’ll ever find a way to weed out crappy products and trainers from good ones, even “results” with clients is scewed sometimes and its hard to believe things sometimes.

    Thanks for sharing Chris, don’t ever hesitate to speak out my friend.

  • Trevor Adams says:

    Classic….classic….classic article Sam! Nailed it! i cant tell you how many people I see working with trainers who have them benching and squatting to parallel or drinking soda during their workouts. Its time to send all trainers to Training 101! I am fairly new to the training community but at least I am aware that I am a novice and am seeking to grow. I also live in the Boston area and was hoping that i could shadow you one day at your internship. I feel like you have had the benefit of such incredible mentor’s and you would thus be an outstanding resource for someone such as myself. Alas, I realize that the internet cannot always be trusted as a medium for networking in person 🙁 Maybe one day, however, we can communicate and develop our friendship to the point where you feel comfortable being with me (in a strictly professional way hahahah). Alright keep up the good work.

    Trevor Adams, Boston, MA

  • Tom W. Lavern says:

    To Sam,

    First and foremost, this is the best article you have ever written. I have taken notice of your progress over the last few months and it is inspiring to see trainers “get it”. In terms of “getting it”, you just do what many others cannot. As you noticeably thirst for the best content, others have let their inflated egos cut off the learning center of their brains. With the scarcity of trainers available that aren’t money-hungry pigs, it is breathtaking to find ones that do it for the mere love of it. Sam > Douglas Zimmerman (The USA’s best personal trainer via BodyByDouglas.com) in my opinion due to the extraordinary attitute you possess. As I closely monitor these blogs, my heart fills with hope for the future of the profession. So long as there are young trainers with your attitude out there, us weightlifters might be OK as the world shifts to bicep-hungry morons that refuse to squat. Keep up the great work and stay on the path you’re on! I have seen far too many trainers get set in their ways….What a shame!

    Cheers,
    T.W. Lavern

  • Sam says:

    Thanks Trevor & Tom!

  • Good stuff man! Excellent points.

    I will be the very first to admit that I spend waaaay more time reading research and trying stuff than reading marketing.

    That does not mean marketing is evil or does not work at all.

    My goal is to only support products that I believe in 100% and that I have tested and use myself. While this severely limits what I promote, I sleep very well at night.

    Hopefully the tide is turning and we will see better products being released. I think for this to happen, we need to educate the end consumer.

    Rock on
    Mike T Nelson PhD(c)

  • florida01 says:

    Great post, very interesting concept. You make a good point that all the factors need to come into play.Fitness is essential part of our life.It depends on the service you get.You can visit to our site for more information.

    Play Fitness

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