People who weigh and measure food, purchase organic produce and avoid food additives are now going to “wellness spas” and injecting hCG, botox and Lipostabil so they can look better. Are you kidding me? People buy devices that promise to passively develop “great abs” because infomercials compel them to. Are you kidding me?

Personal trainers get certified online in minutes for $69 and they are led to believe they’re competent. Are you kidding me?
I’m amazed by the absurdity of human nature in the 21st century. I realize, in most cases, they aren’t kidding. They’re serious, but misled. The
AYKM response (not yet a clinical term) is all that I can muster when I meet trainers filled with “as soon as” and “when I get” excuses. A new crop of personal trainers believes that there is need for TRXs, an attachment apparatus, kettlebells, heavy bags, etc. The living need list keeps “as soon as” at arm’s length.

Know What You Need
You need a location and money to open a studio? You need to limit yourself to the equipment in the gym? You need to attend workshops until you have a dozen certifications? Are you kidding me?! Without understating the simplicity, once you’re competent, there is a formula that works if you want to earn money in personal training and love the process:

  • Get clients.
  • Train clients.
  • Get paid.
Now if you want to achieve excellence and prosperity, add a few bullet points:
  • Deliver extreme value.
  • Be justly compensated.
  • Focus your energies on thrilling clients.

Should you explore all of the equipment and training aids that are available today? Sure, but do you need them? Beyond preparedness, you need movement, and you need a strategy; everything else is an option.

Make It for Less
Years ago, I was told by “consultants” that I’d need $45,000 to bring my vision of a personal training business to fruition. I was young, determined, passionate and broke. The consultants were older, supposedly wiser, and they didn’t realize they were stuck in a rusty, old box.
I built a personal training business, and I didn’t invest $45,000. Actually, I invested about $44,900 less. In my very first personal training business, I had water jugs, towels of varied lengths, jump ropes, strips of garden hose with rubber cylinders serving as grips and a rope apparatus that my uncle put together with $12 worth of pulleys and handles from Home Depot. I also had two-, five-, 10- and 12-pound dumbbells, a stopwatch, an old leather medicine ball that smelled like a baseball glove and a 10” step I bought from K-Mart. That was the predecessor of my first personal training studio.

Get Some Fresh Air
Yes, this primitive array of equipment came with me as I visited with clients in their homes and offices, and in the great majority of cases, we left their homes or offices and went outside. The clients jumped, rotated, pushed, pulled and ambulated, and their muscles managed to contract, assist, stabilize and antagonize. Their joints managed to flex and extend, they breathed clean air and had fun.

Years later, I owned a health club and a number of well-equipped studios. Marty the builder, Lucia the executive and Connie the wife of a professional athlete would meet me at my studio, and we’d walk, jog or run the half-mile to Pierson Park. I’d bring a backpack with bands and minimal training aids, and the workouts had clients moving through space, balancing, resisting, assisting, stabilizing and working to improve oxygen uptake.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the array of equipment offerings that exist today, and I use kettlebells, the TRX, Gravity machines and more, but don’t perceive them as a need. My ex-wife perceived a closet full of shoes as a need. I counted her feet; I counted her shoes. There was a massive mismatch. I’m reminded of that when a novice trainer tells me she needs to be able to afford some device, machine or training system. I’m reminded of that when a hungry-for-more trainer, working in a health club tells me he needs $100,000 to open a place of his own.
I remember when Reebok launched the Step. Imitators grew like weeds: “This is the step that locks into place”; “This one can be used underwater”; “This is the only one that comes in neon colors.”

There is value in providing a user-friendly way for groups of people to rhythmically change elevation in their training as they contract, flex and extend the muscles that act at the hip and knee joints, but nobody needed 100 variations. That was innovation followed by imitation and a skewed perception of need.

Try taking on a handful of new clients and getting creative. Use towels, ropes, human resistance, adjustments in center of gravity, changes in speed, angle, force, activity spurts, rest intervals and resistance to stimulate results. You’ll fully connect with the realization that what worked years ago works just as well today, and everything else becomes an option.

Today I received an email telling me if I rub cream made from green tea extracts and acai berries over my fat deposits, they’ll dissolve. I wanted to reply, but the email came from an address that could not be replied to. Since I have this forum, I’ll post my response here: Are you kidding me?!!

Phil Kaplan is a personal trainer with over two decades of in-the-trenches experience. Today, he’s committed to helping personal trainers find career growth. His newest book, Commanding Yes: The Science of Compelling People, is available at


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