Phil Kaplan on Fitness Professionalism
is an excerpt from one of the "classic" issues of
my Health & Wealth Newsletter. By that I mean it's an
issue that has been often requested in back orders and people
at my seminars often refer to it. Although I wrote it years
ago, every word hold's true today. You'll find, as you go
through this, the thought process that lead me to develop
ProgramĒ and write my Personal
Training Profits book.
A trip back in time . . .
Excerpt, Health & Wealth Newsletter,
A few months
ago I wrote about my frustration in interviewing trainers.
Forgive me if my renewal of this topic in this monthís issue
appears repetitive. Itís just that this interviewing hell
Iíve often been subjected to is symptomatic of an industry
which, in some areas, comes pretty close to a free for all.
I mean, for some reason, this fitness field plays homage to
a bunch of idiots running around claiming some astute level
of greatness not recognized by anyone but perhaps those who
come into my office for interviews.
surprise you by saying, from a selfish standpoint, and for
all of you who are subscribers, I donít think this fitness
field mayhem is such a bad thing. Why? Because the cream will
rise to the top, and for those who maintain high levels of
professionalism, along with of course the proper marketing
skills and people talents, the idiots en masse make up an
easily passable wall, one which offers great reward for those
who have the initiative to make it to the other side.
to share with you a statement Iíll use to describe professionals
and leaders. Before I do, let me clear up the meanings of
some of the words Iíll use. It seems many people are using
these words with far different definitions than those Iíll
relay. I want to make sure weíre all on the same page before
I make this profound statement. Here, then, are the definitions.
Professional (pre fe jen ul) adj. maintaining
a standard or conduct showing sound workmanís command. engaging
in some activity as a renumerated profession.
Qualify (kwo li fai) v. to be considered
fit or competent to perform a specific duty or function.
to reach a required standard.
Excel (iksel) v. to be superior in
quality, degree, performance
Leader (li der) n. someone who holds
the foremost or front position. one who sets a standard
or holds a position for others to follow.
is my statement:
"To Qualify as a Professional in the Fitness Field, I
believe itís important to maintain a standard of excellence.
To qualify as a leader, I believe itís important to take
the qualities of a professional and use them to continuously
provide service above and beyond the expectations of customers
and clients. A leader should help others to grow by multiplying
acquired and inborn skills and talents continuously with
a strong concern for maintaining a morale code of the highest
At the time
this Newsletter is being mailed, Bruce, my sign maker,
is making that into a sign thatís going to hang outside my
office. Maybe that will minimize the use of the words "professional"
and "leader" among the many who come into my office
for jobs with less professionalism than an orangutan might
display put in the same position.
they come in straight from the gym wearing grubby sweats and
torn up rag tops. Sometimes tattoos jump out of holes in these
rag tops. Sometimes they smell worse than the orangutan might.
Sometimes I think hiring an orangutan might not be such a
they sit for the entire meeting putting down everybody and
everything in the world outside.
you know so and so? Heís an asshole. I worked for him for
a few weeks but he wanted me to help him get clients. Thatís
bullshit. Iím professional (at this point I wish I had a
button to open the trap door and send him down into the
pit of alligators below) enough so that I should just get
clients handed to me. Back home (whatever planet that might
be), I used to get $1500 a month from some of my clients,
even if they didn't get results. I know how to workout."
do you want to be a trainer?"
all the time people are asking me how I got this great body.
I figured if Iím gonna keep telliní Ďem, I may as well get
paid for it. Beats the hell out of construction."
you have a construction job now?"
do you feel youíre qualified to be a Personal Trainer?"
Iím more qualified than any of those bozos on ESPN. Did
you ever see that one chick who does those aerobics? Man,
I donít think anybody would want to look like her. Whoíd
she do to get her own show? Now, Kiana, sheís a different
story. Sheís smokin. If I had her for one night, Iíd tear
you misunderstood the question. Why do you feel youíre qualified
to be a Personal Trainer?"
I was gettiní from my clients $1500 a month without haviní
no stupid certification, its pretty obvious I got somethiní
special." (At this point Iím wishing
a hairy ape is sitting in the office outside for the next
you are not certified by any agency or organization?"
a waste of money. I know this guy who spent like five hundred
bucks on a certification and I made ten times more money
than him. He didnít even look like a bodybuilder. One day
maybe Iíll get one, just to do it. Your girl out there told
me that you only hire certified people, but I figured thatís
so you know these people know what theyíre doiní. I think
you can tell by the way I look that I know what Iím talkiní
about (Sure, youíre talking about digging a grave
for yourself so deep, I wonít even need alligators). Anyway,
she said you thought the best one was ASCM
(ooh,all this and dyslexic too!). I could pass that one
question, one I didnít ask, but should have:
werenít you in a few movies with Clint Eastwood? Was it, Clyde?" (If you donít get it, bring this issue to the person
behind the desk in your local video store. Heíll explain it
If you think
Iím exaggerating, run an ad for Personal Trainers in the Help
Wanted section of your newspaper. Put it under the heading
of "Professional." Lay out specific requirements
such as "certified." Youíll then realize that if
anything, Iím understating the case.
of course, some good ones that come in. Itís just that youíve
got to weed through lots of mud, dirt, and sewage to get to
the true "professionals."
Professional, if you read my definition and statement,
to me is more attitude than achievement. Iíve been fooled
and disappointed many times by trainers who appeared "professional"
but were simply experienced and educated. Experience and education
hardly guarantee "professionalism."
what makes finding trainers that I am comfortable allowing
to wear my name on their shirts so difficult. Education is
important, but is not enough. There are a lot of qualities
I need to find in a single living breathing thinking human
animal before I get anywhere near the "Eureeka, Iíve
found it," that I hope for every time someone stops in
to fill out an application. I believe, to be a "professional"
Personal Trainer, requirements include:
- Extraordinary People Skills
- An Acceptable Level of Knowledge
in Exercise Technique
- An Acceptable Level of Knowledge
in Exercise Theory
- An Acceptable Level of Knowledge
in Human Physiology
- An Acceptable Level of Knowledge
in Human Nutrition
- An Exceptional Knack For Applying
That Knowledge To Bring About Changes in Other
- A Willingness To Keep Abreast
of New Developments
- Exceptional Communication Skills
a lot to look for in a single person! Does that mean Iím being
too strict, too careful, or too unfair in my qualifying of
potential trainers? Does that mean that Iím too discriminating
in my search for "professionalism?" Does that mean
Iím being unreasonable?
someone who does not have all of the above qualities picks
up a copy of this Newsletter, reads it, and says, "Wow.
This is tough. I thought a training career would be fun. Iím
giving up." Should I be blamed for jading the outlook
of a fitness career hopeful? Well, Iíll take the blame!
that working to change bodies is some pretty serious business.
I think itís time to stop people from getting ripped off and
to truly educate our pathetically unfit society on the simplicity
of health and fitness. I think we need a level of "professionalism"
with the capability of meeting that end. I think if I discourage
someone by simply listing the qualities I feel vital for a
rewarding and morally sound Personal Training career, that
person needed to be discouraged.
point of all this for you. Firstly, if you're looking to hire,
donít settle. Iíve made that mistake and paid for it many
times over. If youíre looking for professionals in this industry,
you have to find people with the qualities of professionals
and then raise them to the next level. Leaders can do that.
Professionals in fitness, at least by my description, are
hard to find. They do, however, exist, and when you find one,
you realize it may have been well worth the wait.
looking to excel, live as a professional and maintain the
highest standards possible. That sometimes puts you in a small
minority and you may feel isolated in the large field until
you establish the "elite" status professionalism
allows. Youíll then find comfort in being part of a much smaller
field, a field with which youíre thrilled to associate and
proud to have found your way into.
did a radio show I called "The Expertís Round Table"
with three highly respected professionals, all on the cutting
edge of fitness, bodybuilding, and sports nutrition. You might
recall my announcement of my desire to do this show in the
January 1995 issue. Joining me were, Dr. Michael Colgan, John
Parillo, and Anthony Almada. These three professionals had
never, to my knowledge, been brought together to discuss the
realities of nutrition, supplementation, and physique development
and the response to the program was phenomenal!
protein quality, protein need, single nutrient supplementation,
vanadyl sulfate, MCT oil, steroids in sports, and more. Itís
hard, honest, unrehearsed conversation.
the experts agreed on the basic technology behind getting
lean, muscular, fit, and healthy, there were some areas in
which they chose to respectfully disagree, and at the very
least, some excellent questions were raised.
testimony to the expertise and professionalism of my guests
(who by the way donít need my provision of testimony to their
expertise and professionalism), they put out quality in an
industry where, as you by now know, quality is in great demand
and short supply. If you donít already have them, get Dr.
Colganís books, Optimum Sports Nutrition and The
New Nutrition, Medicine For the Millenium. Parillo is
the pro bodybuildersí guru and his manuals are on the shelves
of more pro and amateur bodybuilders than we can attempt to
count. If you donít have them, get them. Anthony Almada, aside
from writing valuable articles for many publications including
Muscle Media 2000, is the esteemed biochemist behind the release
of what I believe to be the first true supplement that lives
up to its claims for increasing muscle, Phosphagen, Creatine
Monohydrate. If you havenít tried it, try it!
THE WRAP UP.....
you to work hard to maintain a professional standard of excellence.
Love what you do as you deliver a higher quality of service
than people have come to expect. Donít get stuck behind that
easily passable wall. Rise to the top and together, weíll
continue to make a difference in the biggest way possible!
Most of all, STAY FIT AND KEEP GROWING!
Note: The "Experts Round Table" program is available
on line for free by visiting the archived menu of my Mind
& Muscle Fitness Hour Radio Broadcasts.
Additional Note (March 9,
2004) - For the past six months I've had the development
of the Personal Training Industry's representative trade
association under wraps. The American
Association of Personal Trainers (AAPT)
is now open for membership.
The AAPT will strive to maintain a standard that earns true
fitness professionals the success, respect, and recognition
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