The Key to Fitness Industry Success?

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Cue small rant now.

I’m writing a little later than usual today partly because I slept in today and had a later start than usual** and also because I had a Skype date earlier this afternoon with Matt Pack (of Primal Fit Miami) and Ted Ryce for the brand spankin new podcast they’re releasing soon.

Note:  it’s not available yet, but they’re currently interviewing a TON of trainers, coaches, and other fitness professionals and asking their insight on everything from entrepreneurship and business to developing training niches and program design, and using that information to target other new and upcoming fitness professionals trying to get a leg up on their competition.

I was honored to make their short list of people to interview.

Without giving away all the juicy details, one of the running themes of our talk was how trainers and coaches can get better.  Namely, drawing from my own experience, what words of wisdom did I have to offer? What, exactly, did I do to go from the “starving artist” type corporate (and commercial) gym trainer to the co-founder of one of the most successful (and well known) training facilities in North America?

Furthermore:  how did Tony Gentilcore become Tony Gentilcore?

With all the glitz, glitter paint, sparklies, glow sticks, and stuff.

Because it’s all about me me me me, and me.

Truth be told:  I don’t feel as if I’m anything special or that my story deserves any special attention.

It’s not like I’m Louie Zamperini or something, defying all odds in not only reaching the pinnacle achievement in amateur athletics – becoming an Olympic athlete – but also surviving a plane crash into the Pacific Ocean, AND surviving POW camp during World War II.

Not even close.

FYI: I HIGHLY suggest reading the book Unbroken. I’m 98% confident you’ll feel like a major pussy afterwards.

Nope, I’m just some dude who was given his first weight set at the age of thirteen, fell in love with fitness (and Mariah Carey.  It was the early 90s, don’t judge!), saw it as an opportunity to do well in high-school (and college) sports, and that somehow blossomed into a career.

I mentioned to Matt and Ted that there’s no real secret to my “success.” Almost weekly I’ll get an email from a trainer asking me what he or she needs to do in order to do well in this industry. As if there’s some laundry list or magical formula I can offer that will take them from point A (recent graduate/commercial gym trainer) to point B (the strength and conditioning equivalent of Gandalf).

And, well, I don’t have the answer.

At least one that’s not the most boring answer in all of human history.

At a time where entitled trainers are more concerned with when they’re going to write the next great e-book – despite never having actually trained anyone – and where many suffer from grand illusions of four-hour work weeks and six-figure salaries, I sometimes want to throw my hands up in the air and/or shake the shit out of people (which is just a not-so-nice way of saying “giving people a dose of reality”).

Unfortunately, I’m not kidding.

We have trainers out there who, when asked to name the muscles of the rotator cuff, will stumble over their words (that’s like, in the shoulder, right?)…….yet, feel they’re ready to grace the world with an e-book.

WTF ever.

Here’e the cold, hard truth.  The golden answer on how to do well in this industry.

Hard Work and Time.

I’ve been doing this for over a decade, have logged thousands of training hours, have read hundreds of books and articles, have watched countless DVDs (ahem, Star Wars), and have developed numerous, interpersonal relationships with clients, athletes, and colleagues.

I’m 37 years old.  And while I still have a lot of growing to do (both personally and professionally), it’s only been within the past year or two that I feel I’ve finally hit my stride, and that I actually know what the hell I’m talking about.

It’s taken TIME, and a ton of REAL-WORLD experience to get to this point. Whatever you’d like to call it.

In the same vein, I’m also asked by many aspiring fitness writers how they can go about getting their name out there and becoming more recognized.

F***ing write!  It’s that simple.

This isn’t to say that I don’t offer some further insight or words of encouragement – I do! – but I also don’t shy away from giving a little tough love.

I didn’t just wake up one day and decide I was going to write for T-Nation or Men’s Health Magazine.  I had to spend years writing for what was seemingly an audience that consisted of me (hitting the refresh button), my mother (thanks mom!), and a handful of close friends and clients – and for FREE no less – before I noticed my name gaining any semblance of traction.

I put in my dues (so-to-speak), worked my tail off, tried to write consistently good content on a daily and weekly basis, while attempting to keep total volume of hate mail at bay. Lather, rinse, repeat x Infinity.

Lou Schuler said it best:  when the fitness industry is ready for you, it will let you know.

So I guess in the grand scheme of things my advice is this:  be patient.

Put in the time, work hard, get good (really good) at what you do, and (hopefully) good things will happen.

It’s not a sexy answer, it doesn’t involve magical 4-hour week unicorns, and it’s definitely nothing to write home about, but it’s the truth.

Smoke bomb, smoke bomb, exit stage left.

** = and I decided to watch the season finale of The Walking Dead this morning.  It’s about priorities, ya know?

Did what you just read make your day? Ruin it? Either way, you should share it with your friends and/or comment below.

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

I don’t share email information. Ever. Because I’m not a jerk.
  • naveed

    hell yes! Love this one Tony! Too many of my peers I see taking shortcuts and looking for an easy buck. Keep up the great work man

    • TonyGentilcore

      Thanks Naveed

  • Absolutely agree and exactly what I plan to do. Put in the hard work, learn loads by writing and reading as much as I can, all while enjoying the time I spend with my athletes and clients.

    • TonyGentilcore

      Can’t go wrong with that approach Nathan.

  • Rusty

    Great post Tony. I think I had written 250 articles by time I released my first little ebook. Still have a ton of room to improve…even after 7 years of solid writing. On my way to 10,000 hours in 3 years I’d estimate. I think this is what it takes.

    • TonyGentilcore

      That’s no joke! 250 articles!?!? Whoa.

  • Great post Tony! Mentioning podcasts, which ones do you listen to? Would love to hear your fun ones and educational ones!

    • TonyGentilcore

      FitCast, Evidence of Strength. But honestly, I don’t listen to podcast nearly as much as I should. I listen to a lot of books from in my car though.

  • Ted Ryce

    Haha Great article! And thanks for the plug Tony! Had a great time learning from you and hearing your thoughts about all those topics we discussed. It was a real pleasure man!

    • TonyGentilcore

      Thanks Ted. I had a blast chatting with you guys, and look forward to listening to all the others who two have lined up!

  • Charley Fraser

    Nice, Tony! I’m reading Never Eat Alone right now and its blowing my mind!! Stuff that should be common fucking sense is hitting me like Iv’e been in a dark cellar rolling dust balls for 23 years.

    • TonyGentilcore

      That’s a great book for sure!

  • George Kalantzis

    I always think about that inservice you did on becoming a good trainer, and it helps me re-gain motivation on the long days.

    Thanks for this post!

    • TonyGentilcore

      Thanks George……appreciate the kind words.

  • Jen

    As I read this I was reminded of the general publics idea of “getting in shape.” What’s the secret? What supplements should I take? Is there a magic pill? Oh man I’m so discouraged because I went to the gym every day for two weeks and I’m not seeing results. I quit! They don’t want to hear the truth: “hard work and time.”

    • TonyGentilcore

      Very true. VERY true. CONSISTENCY is key is just about every endeavor.