Functional Training Zones

TD’s Top 41 Tips for Success in the Fitness Field

By Todd Durkin, MA, CSCS

"The only dumb question is the one not asked" is a statement so very true.  And just recently, the 2012 Perform Better 3 Day Conference series came to a strong close in Long Beach, CA. 

There are many great things about the Perform Better shows.  Chris Poirier and his  stellar team do an amazing job creating a world-class experience for all the attendees.  And one of the many unique things that they do at these shows is a Q&A with all the top-notch presenters at the end of each of the first 2 days. 

Yes, they gather all the presenters that spoke that day and put them on stage.  And then the packed audience gets to ask any or all of the presenters ANY questions that they have. 

I think this is brilliant.  First off, in any conference, there are often several presentations going on at the same hour that you want to attend and can't.  So at least you get to hear from a little of everyone at the Q&A.  Additionally, it's great to get different opinions, viewpoints, and strategies from some of the thought-leaders in the industry all at the same time.  This promotes "thinking" and shows you no one way is always the right way to do something.

And I love to listen to the questions from the attendees.  There are always some good ones.  And Long Beach did not disappoint.  So I wrote them down.

Here were some of the top questions that the approximate 250 or so delegates in attendance at the end of the day asked to the panel or a specific presenter:

  • What are the top books you have read on business & leadership and would recommend that we read?
  • How do you keep "balance" in all that you have going on?
  • What trends do you predict in the industry over the next 5 years or so?
  • Why are trainers often so hesitant to talk about making money?
  • How important is breath in performance?
  • What are some of the quotes/mantras you live by?
  • How do you keep your energy so high?
  • How do you hire good trainers, what's your hiring process, and how do you grow a team?

Perhaps the deepest question came from a middle-aged man who identified himself as someone "new to the field."  He asked the panel:

"What one question should we be asking you that we aren't asking you?"

I thought this was a brilliant question.

When it was my turn, I responded with:

"What are 4 or 5 of the top lessons each of you have learned or tips that you could share that could save us tens of thousands of dollars and help us fulfill our dreams as fitness professionals."

That is the question that I would ask the panel if I was in his shoes.

So that's what I'm going to answer today.  In my upcoming blog posts, I will answer the other burning questions asked above because I think they are great ones.  But not today.  Stay tuned to my blog for those.

But this question is deep.  And if you tune in to my many lessons/mistakes/tips, I truly believe it will help you create both a ton of time freedom & a bunch of money freedom.  So here I go with my lessons learned (in no particular order):

TD's Top 41 Tips for Success in the Fitness Field

  1. Take Calculated Risk.  So many times your head prevents you from doing what you want to do.  Anything GREAT you want to do with your life is going to involve risk and fear.  As a matter of fact, if you ain't scared, you're not playing in the right stratosphere.
  2. Surround yourself with GREAT people.  As Under Amour founder Kevin Plank once told me, "The bigger your dream, the more important your team."  Make sure the 5 closest people to you in your world are folks that elevate your thought-process, inspire your mindset, challenge you and support you.
  3. One quick "NO" is better then 10 "I don't know's" or "maybe's."  Thank you Randy Hetrick (TRX creator) for teaching me this gem.  Learn to say NO.
  4. Listen more.  The answers are all around you.  Just like I listened to the questions being asked in the audience which spurred on the idea to write this article. Keep your eyes and ears peeled to your clients, members, and guests for the answers.  They have them.  It's about THEM, not you.
  5. The way you do one thing is the way you do everything.  Excellence speaks in ALL you do.  Thank you Tom Davin (former CEO of Panda Express).  The way you dress, how you speak, how you conduct yourself, your energy, organization, cleanliness, etc.  It ALL speaks!
  6. Grow organically.  Growth is strategic.  It's methodical.  It's not rushed. 
  7. Ready….FIRE…Aim instead of ready, aim, fire.  This means take ACTION.  Yes, growth is organic.  But it comes from steadfast, consistent hard-work and you must be willing to pull the trigger when your gut says so.
  8. Training is a merging of the science and the arts.  You need to have both.  The better understanding of anatomy, exercise physiology, biomechanics, and "corrective exercise" the better.  Likewise, training is an ART.  Like Picasso effortlessly creating a beautiful painting, we need to be artists that have outstanding people skills, world-class customer service skills, and a knack for putting OTHER people first.  Combine the SCIENCE and the ART and you get WOW.
  9. Focus on delivering outstanding VALUE and the money will follow.  One of my coaches, world-renown author and speaker Robin Sharma calls it "A.B.D.O.V."  Always Be Delivering Outrageous Value.
  10. Work on your Business and not always in your business.  Game-changer.  Sounds so cliché. But are you doing it?  3 days EVERY quarter.  I am talking creating strategy for where you are going.  This has been instrumental for me personally as well as my company's growth over the past 12+ years.  The most successful business entrepreneurs that I have worked with live their life backwards—they know where they are going and they create a plan to get there.
  11. Write more…and speak more.  Even if you don't like doing it.  Like a client not liking to do squats, deadlifts, pushups, or pull-ups, they NEED it.  And so do you.  The only way to get better at something is to do it.  So start a blog…create a content-laden newsletter…hold a workshop or seminar at your business for your clients… do a YOUTUBE video.  Keep honing your craft.  But writing and speaking will allow you great professional growth.
  12. If you are going to create a business…write a business plan.  This could be for brick & mortar, an on-line business, or a product you are creating.  I didn't do this in the beginning.  It cost me thousands and thousands of dollars of mistakes.  You can bet your bottom dollar I do it now for any "business" I get involved with now.
  13. Do 90 day Wonders.  I learned this from a mentor who has greatly influenced me, Wayne Cotton.  Every 90 days, write down these 3 questions and then answer them:

  • What have you accomplished in the last 90 days?
  • What are your present challenges, issues, or obstacles?
  • What are your goals for the next 90 days?

This constitutes both personal and professional life and I usually spend about an hour answering these questions, every 90 days.  Start with even 20 minutes.  Another game-changer.

  1. Focus on what you can control….not what you can't control.
  2.  Hire slow…Fire fast.
  3.  Invest time with your team.  Set expectations, provide feedback, acknowledge them, make them feel special, empower them and inspire them.  TEAM = Together Everyone Achieves More Mo-Mentum.
  4. Get MO-mentum in your life.  MO-Mentum leads to MO happiness, MO harmony, MO results, & MO MONEY.  GET "MO" IN YO LIFE.
  5. Read at least one book per month.  This month, I'm reading Richard Branson's "Screw Business As Usual."  If you don't have time to read, then listen to the book on audio when driving or when out doing cardio.  The average person drives 312 hours per year.  Imagine how much "reading" you could do if one listened to books on tape just half the time you were driving.
  6. Don't show ‘em you're having a bad day.  Hey, we all have bad days.  But don't bring it into the sanctuary.  Check it at the door when you go in.  And smile a lot when you're not in a great mood.  Before you know it, you WILL feel great.
  7. PROTECT YOUR HOUSE.  Similar to #19, protect the culture of your business.  Regardless of your role or title on the team, you play as important a role as anyone in creating a positive, energetic, culture.  And culture is king in creating a successful business today.  Cultivate your culture like a garden and protect it at all costs.  No gossip, no drama.  Focus on your clients and focus on GIVING way more then receiving.  Watch what happens!
  8. Develop your LIST.  Business coach and on-line expert, Ali Brown, taught me this in 2007 and it changed my business and life.  It's why you are even getting an email today.  Because you are on a list.  You need to do the same.  Every client that walks through your door, make sure that you get them into your "list."  This could be in Constant Contact, i-contact, Mail Chimp, Infusionsoft, Kujabi, or even a Mind-Body Online.  But get them into a system where you can regularly educate, motivate, and inspire them.  Like I do, protect your list, don't spam them, and keep delivering great content.  It can help drive your business.
  9. Marketing is about educating and connecting…not selling.  And while word of mouth is still the #1 form of marketing, you must ask your clients for referrals and drive referrals to your business.  And then REWARD them when they refer you a new client.
  10. Social media provides you the ability to CONNECT with a large audience.  Have a strategy with social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Linked-In, etc.) and don't "sell" through social media any more than a 1:10 ratio.  You want at least 10 quality posts, quotes, thoughts, insights before posting anything you are promoting or selling.  Connect, connect, connect.
  11. Interact on Social Media.  It can't just be a one way street of you dumping information.  Reply to questions and posts on Facebook, Re-Tweet and respond on Twitter (I love Twitter!), engage in conversation on any YouTube comments.  This develops a relationship with your followers.
  12. Do what you do BEST and hire the rest.  Man, this has been big for me.  Write out a list of all the things you absolutely love to do.  Next, write out a list of all the things you don't like to do or even despise doing.  Look into hiring an "expert" in the things you don't love to do.  For example, I have had a virtual assistant (VA) for 5 years.  She helps me website and technology items (newsletter look and feel, sales pages, rotating banners, affiliate links, web updates, etc.).  And I've never even met my VA.  When I first hired a VA, I had the excuse "I don't have the money to hire a VA."  Now I realize that the work my VA does accelerates my results quickly and helps me create additional revenue.  Mindset.
  13. Keep it SIMPLE.  Sometimes we make life and business so complex.  Do what you do well remarkably well.  As a matter of fact, do it so well that people can't take their eyes off you. 
  14. Invest in a coach.  World-class athletes hire coaches.  I have had a ton of business and life coaches.  Heck, I recently found out the Dali Lama has a spiritual coach.  That's crazy.  Just proves we all need the accountability.  This could be private or through a Mastermind or Mentorships. I have done both.  I conduct both.
  15. Invest in at least two (2) continuing education workshops a year.  No excuses.  Do it!
  16. Invest in one personal development workshop per year.
  17. Know the difference between INVESTMENT and EXPENSE.  This is critical because your clients NEED to understand this also!  Is training with you coming from discretionary income (expense) or is it an investment with a great R.O.I.?  You must make yourself a non-negotiable for someone.  INVESTMENT!
  18. The best form of any communication is always LIVE.  Not a text, not an email.  Phone is OK.  Live, in-person is best.  If you have a problem, resolve it LIVE.  You want to really learn something, attend LIVE events.  LIVE allows us to listen with our eyes, ears, and keen kinesthetic sense.  All the rest of the forms of communication leave room for error.  Be careful!
  19. Take care of YOU.  Yes, YOU!  Are you working out as much as you want?  Do you need to clean up your own nutrition?  Are you getting in your bodywork/massage?  How is your mindset?  Are you surrounding yourself with the type of people you want to be like?  What do your centers of influence look like?  Are you getting in your quiet time/prayer time/meditation time?  Call it what you want but get this "inner self" time in.
  20. Permit yourself at least 2 weeks of "mellow yellow" time per year.  This is time on vacation.  Vacation time and time away is critical to restore and reenergize your spirit.  Book it in advance and don't change it!
  21. Big A-HA's come when you are away…not when you are IN your business.  They happen when you are hiking in the mountains.  Lying at the beach daydreaming.  Or away at a meeting or conference removed from your ordinary environment that you work and live in.
  22. Stand-up for what you believe in.  Even when no-one else does.  Never compromise your core beliefs and values.
  23. Filter what you allow into your brain.  What you read, what you watch on TV, who you listen to on a daily basis.  Feed your brain positivity everyday and watch how it affects your mindset.
  24. Define your PURPOSE in LIFE.  Easier said then done.  But once you crystallize it, it allows you to stay focused on what you need you to do and WHY you need to do it.  My purpose is to "Create IMPACT and inspire millions worldwide to greatness everyday."  Everything I do MUST relate to my purpose.  It took months and years to define that but it sure is nice to wake up everyday and have clarity on my life's purpose.  What's your purpose?
  25. Always remember WHY you do what you do.  In Simon Sinek's book "Start with the WHY", he shares the "HOW" and "WHAT" we do may change.  The WHY should not change!
  26. EVERYONE has a life worth telling a story about.  Make sure you take the time to discover and listen to other people's story.  It is amazing what is all around us and we don't even know it.  And make sure YOU LIVE A LIFE WORTH TELLING A STORY ABOUT. 
  27. DON'T WAIT.  My late, great friend Ken "Sawman" Sawyer said, "DON'T WAIT" to be great or to do things you always wanted to do.  Do it NOW. What can you do to "BE 1% BETTER EVERYDAY."  And then do it.  What trips do you want to take?  What projects do you want to accomplish?  There is nothing like the NOW.
  28.  AND THEN SOME.  Always over-deliver.  Just like this initial question when I responded to the gentleman that asked "What question should we be asking?"  I replied with "What are 4 or 5 of the top lessons each of you have learned or tips that you could share that could save us tens of thousands of dollars and help us fulfill our dreams as fitness professionals."

You now have 41.  Not 4 or 5… but 41. 

Hmmm. 41.  Not quite sure WHY 41 but what a great number.  Business and life have taught me a ton thus far and I'm humbled and honored to be called your colleague.  Let's continue to inspire the world to greatness and create IMPACT everyday.

If you liked any of my lessons and tips, please go to my Facebook LIKE page and share your favorite lessons and tips:  www.facebook.com/todddurkinfq10.  I will be sure to respond and reply to you and CONNECT with you over there. 

Thanks so much.

Peace and health.

Todd Durkin



Todd Durkin is an internationally-acclaimed performance trainer, author, and speaker who is committed to creating maximum IMPACT in all his programs and products.  His next 3.5 Day Mentorship for fitness professionals is Oct 11-14, 2012 (early bird special until August 29th).  Additionally, he has a world-class Mastermind Coaching Program that he leads personally.  This is an on-going coaching program that is conducted primarily virtually for fitnesspreneurs world-wide.  If you would like to attend his 3.5 Day Mentorship, be part of his Coaching program, or learn more about Todd, visit www.ToddDurkin.com for more information.