Functional Training Zones

10 Ways to ‘CREATE AN EDGE’ in the Fitness Field

By Todd Durkin, MA, CSCS

One thing I always tell my athletes is they must "create an edge."  It could be developing physical strength, blazing speed, or incredible power.  Or it could be time spent in game preparation, studying the tendencies of an opponent, or the attention to detail in film review.  Right now, in the midst of the NFL Lockout, I am telling football athletes to keep the "edge" so that when they report they are physically and mentally ready to perform at their best and have an "edge" on the field.

We as trainers are no different.  We need an "edge" also.  Let's take the same lessons I share with my clients everyday and see how they apply to the life of a trainer and fitness professional also.

#1 Stay Hungry
The best of the best desire to be on top.  And to stay on top.  It's not easy to stay "hungry" when things are going good.  Find deep intrinsic reasons why you NEED to perform exceptionally everyday.  Find areas of weakness in your "game" and strengthen them.  Stay passionately focused on your mission and your purpose and never be satisfied with just being "good."  Be YOUR best!

#2 Outwork Your Competition
I use this one all the time on my athletes.  I tell them that "so-and-so" (their completion or foe) is over on the East Coast working harder than they are.  If they have any sense of PRIDE, they will not let that happen.  You create an edge by "outworking" everyone.  Than you have a physical and mental edge. 

#3 WIN - don't defend the title
Y'all know what happens when you play "Prevent Defense", right?  It prevents you from winning.  This is because you let up the intensity and get soft.  Do not get soft and get beat because of a passive mindset.
The minute your systems in your business get weak, you will get beat.
The minute your team becomes mediocre, you will get beat.
The minute you stop paying attention to the little things, you will get beat.
The minute you stop innovating and evolving, you will get beat.

Bottom line, play aggressively.  Try new programs.  Try new classes.  Don't believe what happened 3 years ago will necessarily allow you to win today.  Tighten your systems and enforce them.  LEAD your team.  Play to win!

#4 Sweat the Small Stuff
Greatness is 100 little things done well.  Make sure EVERYTHING you do has your stamp of approval on it.  Walt Disney said, "Everything speaks."  I love that!

#5 LOVE the PROCESS, not the PRODUCT
Coach John Wooden used to talk about how games are won and lost in the practice sessions.  Vince Lombardi is legendary because of his preparation from Monday-Saturday.  It's easy to love the games.  Will you practice like you NEED to be GREAT on game-day?

It's no different in the fitness industry.  You must embrace your journey.  We often want things ‘now.'  But they don't always come now.  Sometimes it takes months.  Sometimes it takes years.  Sometimes it takes many years.  The 10,000 hour rule states that you need to do something for about 10 years or about 10,000 yours to be great at it. 

So you might as well enjoy the ride.  Find joy in the process.  Love the process.  And be ready to take detours along the way.

 #6 WIN the DAY
Do what it takes to WIN the DAY.  Each and every day.  Athletes become great because they develop routines and have the discipline to follow those routines even when they don't feel like it.  And then they challenge those routines again to continually get better and better.

Trainers are no different.  Each and every day, put down 5 things on your "To Do" list that you must do (this is you Daily 5!) and do them.  Life coach Brian Tracy calls it "Eat that frog."  Do the things that you MUST do early in the day.  Call the people you NEED to call, not WANT to call.  

Suck it up.  Leave any "baggage" at home.  Be the most positive person you know.  Find a way to make each & every day a "winning" day.   Then watch how you get Mo-mentum in yo' life.

#7 Challenge your own Routine
The best of the best are always looking to improve.  You can not get complacent.  The best want to challenge the status quo and find better, more efficient ways to get even better results.

How can you improve your own personal routine? 

• How about your early morning "holy-hour" routine?
• How about your own personal workout routine?  Are you being serious with your workouts?
• What about your nutrition?  Is it time to challenge your own eating habits?  Is it time to give up desserts, breads, and processed or packaged foods?  Need to supplement more consistently to get that slight edge?  We are just talking a 1% edge.
• How about at work?  How can you be a better leader?  What can you do to more consistently bring out the best in others?  Can you improve your lead-generating systems, your sales systems, your assessment system, or other systems?

Regardless of title, occupation, or your role on the team, what can you do to challenge your routine to elevate your energy, your focus, your clarity, your leadership, and your success?  And then DO IT!

#8 Be a "Game-Changer."
High level athletes often thrive on being an "IMPACT" player where they know their performance can change the face of a game.  They are not afraid to make mistakes.

How about you?  What is your game-changing move?  What are you going to do to stand-out in a crowded field?  How can you maximize YOUR talents to make the biggest difference for the most number of people?  Are you ready to be a game-changer?

#9  Get the Job Done.
The best athletes aren't always the athletes that win.  Some athletes are very gifted but never win a championship.  There are often many reasons for this but I always find it interesting when I find "less" athletic athletes playing and winning at high levels.

The bottom line is that the race does not always go to the biggest, the strongest, or the fastest.

The big box gym does not always win.  As a matter of fact, I am not sure they win very much.

The high-end gym or studio that sprouts up in your neighborhood doesn't necessarily make it if it moves too quickly.  What I mean by that is if the owner has sunk a ton of money into start-ups and making it "pretty" and the systems and people can't support it, it will be belly-up within 9-12 months.

The bottom line is that regardless of your "size" or your "strength" or your "speed", find a way to get the job done.  Surround yourself with people as smart or smarter than you.  Never stop reading and learning. Attend workshops and conferences. Be part of a Mastermind group or attend a Mentorship program.  Be relentless in your pursuit to make EVERY customer happy everyday.

I had to say it!  I love saying "And then some!"  Why?  Because it's true.  Everything you do, over-deliver.  Customer service.  Customer experience.  Value-adds.  Giveaways.  Teleseminars.  Culture.  Leadership.  Results.  AND THEN SOME!

There you have it. 10 great ways for you to create an edge in the fitness field.  Regardless of your title or role on your team, commit to excellence and continue to create IMPACT everyday.  Train hard.  Eat right.  Live inspired!

"10 In—10 Out."

Todd Durkin, MA, CSCS, is an internationally recognized performance coach, personal trainer, massage therapist, and author, who motivates, educates and inspires people worldwide.  He is the owner of Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego, CA, where his wonderful team of 35 focuses helps transform the bodies, minds and spirits of a broad clientele.  Todd trains dozens of NFL and MLB athletes, including 2011 Super Bowl XLIII Champion Aaron Rodgers & 2010 Super Bowl XLIV Champion and MVP Drew Brees.  He is the head of the Under Armour Performance Training Council, serves as a consultant to Gatorade, and is a featured presenter on the Perform Better educational circuit.  He is a two-time Trainer of the Year (IDEA & ACE) and has authored 35 DVDs on strength and conditioning, functional fitness, massage/bodywork and business/personal growth. 

Todd also recently wrote his first book, The IMPACT! Body Plan.  It is a 10 Week program designed to create world-class fitness and life performance for all people.

Men's Health named his gym, Fitness Quest 10, one of the Top 10 Gyms in the U.S. for the 2nd year in a row.  Todd has appeared on 60 Minutes, ESPN, NFL Network and has been featured in Sports Illustrated, USA Today, Business Week, Prevention, ESPN the Magazine, Men's Health, Men's Fitness, Men's Journal, Stack Magazine, Self, Shape, Fitness, the NY Times and Washington Post.

To stay connected with Todd on an on-going basis, you can also sign up for his FREE, award-winning Ezine newsletter, the TD TIMES, at or You can follow him on Facebook on his LIKE page at and on Twitter at