It’s easy to fantasize about the end result — speaking at a huge event, teaching a workshop of your own methods that you used to get your clients amazing results, mentoring others on how to build their own fitness business. But if you’re doing the work you’ll be known for one day, why isn’t anyone asking you to be a guest on their podcast, speak at an event, or teach a workshop?
Being on stage and presenting to your peers means you have done something exceptionally well that others can learn from. Sure, you have people who pop on the scene because they have a big social media following and they’re asked to show their face publicly on a regular basis. However, do you think these people are getting asked to be a public speaker because of their influence in the fitness industry or because they have a big following?
When you’re a coach, you’re lightyears ahead of your clients in their journey. You’ve been eating, breathing, and living the life of health and wellness. Everything your client is going through, you have already done thousands of times, and you’ve helped many others go through the same experience. But to be a presenter where you’re educating peers and mentees? It takes a little bit longer to arrive at that position.
Think of it this way, if you went to a conference and listened to someone who is 10 years behind you in their career, do you think you’ll be very receptive to learn from them? The hard truth is, there are thousands of others doing the same exact thing as you are and they probably even have a similar success level as you do, so to get to the top and become a leader in the industry, you have to accomplish big things and stand out.
Mark Fisher, who is arguably the best presenter in fitness, didn’t find his way to the stage because of his fun costumes or his playful gym but because he built a business from the ground up with a different message, which grew to a level of success that most traditional gyms hope they will achieve someday.
Joe DeFranco had an entirely different approach. He went from training local New Jersey Athletes in a 500 sq foot closet to opening up one of the top performance gyms in the country. Prior to Brian Cushing, which was Joe’s first big break with an athlete, he had been putting out solid work, getting results and building his business. So when the time came for him to receive the fame from training an athlete like Cushing, he had already gone through the necessary journey that would earn him credibility in the fitness industry.
At the end of the day, finding yourself in the front of the room comes down to three questions: Is your method proven to get results? Do others look up to you and respect your work? Have you done something unique or different that others can take and use to improve their businesses? The thing about being a speaker or educator is that people HAVE to want to hear you speak or teach. If you’re not being asked to present, it’s not because you’re not doing good work, it’s because you haven’t built your credibility up enough yet.
Public speaking and educating aren’t about fluffing your own ego so you can take a cool Instagram picture and get tons of “likes.” It’s about sharing your successful perspective that can only come after challenge and pain. Furthermore, doing something different doesn’t mean you have to reinvent the wheel. It’s more of a refinement process. What do you see that could be done differently? What works and what doesn’t work? How can you come up with your own successful version?
Start by asking yourself what you want to be known for — networking, business development, culture, marketing, media, specialization with athletes, etc.? What is your niche? Notice the people on stage have typically built a system of unique results within a specific field, like helping top-tier athletes reach the next step, health or fitness research, or giving advice on how to run a successful wellness business.
We know it can be frustrating to watch people receive praise, reward, and success when they do less work than you, are less qualified than you, and most of all, are not great coaches, leaders or business owners. You must be patient, regardless of the success you see around you.
Here are nine tips for turning yourself into a leader in the fitness industry.
1. Focus on doing high-quality work that gets results.
Both your training and your business should be thriving and doing well. That won’t happen unless you’re putting in the time and effort. This sounds like a given, but we all need reminders that success doesn’t just accidentally fall into our laps. We need to work for it.
2. Put yourself out there
You want to start speaking or presenting? Start doing it. Begin with your local community and see what kind of events you can host. It’s sexy to daydream about standing up on stage and telling everyone about your story and how you were up against all odds yet you became successful. But that doesn’t mean everyone wants to hear it. The more you practice, the more you’ll give people a reason to want to hear you speak.
3. Learn how to tell your story
Whether it’s your personal story or your business story, take people on a journey that is exciting, inspirational, and educational all at the same time.
4. Practice, practice, practice
Check out our friend Mark Englund over at Procabulary. He will be instrumental in your presentation skills. Set up a camera and give a mock presentation, and you’ll notice all sorts of strange habits and how often you say “um.” As you practice more and sharpen your speaking skills, you’ll make yourself a more desirable candidate to present.
5. Start presenting at other gyms or communities
Not even Tony Robbins had instant success as a presenter; it took him time to spin up his business as well. Start small and look around your local community to see how you can offer your expertise.
6. Find a mentor
Everyone needs their own Yoda. Perspective only comes at the cost of time, energy, money, and pain. It’s helpful to find a guide that can assist you along the journey and nudge you in the right direction when you’re lost. A mentor doesn’t give you the answer outright — they give you the tools to discover the answer on your own.
7. Build a local network
Whether or not your business is worldwide, having a local network is always a smart move. If you’re a coach this should include massage therapists, chiropractors, physical therapists, and photographers, but should also include other business leaders in your community. Don’t underestimate what kind of power a good handshake and smile will do for your business.
8. Build a fitness industry network
In addition to your general local network, network strongly inside the fitness community. The more trainers, coaches, wellness consultants, and fitness business owners you know, the more you’ll learn and the more likely you’ll find worthwhile collaborations.
9. Be willing to sacrifice
Anything worth doing comes with some level of sacrifice. If you want to be a speaker at an NSCA conference, it might be a good idea to start attending the conferences on a regular basis, making sure to shake hands and connect with people that work with and for the NSCA so that your name comes up when they’re looking for their next set of experts to present. This might mean you have to cut back on other things in your schedule in order to make this happen. But a little sacrifice goes a long way.
At the end of the day, in order to be a leader, you need to lead. That doesn’t just magically happen. Why are people going to follow you? Why are you the person that is the beacon of light for others to follow? What makes you worthy and how are you going to help others repeat your process? Being a leader is much more than receiving all the fame and glory. It’s about the journey you had to go through to achieve that fame and fortune.