Success in the fitness industry means many things to many people. For some it may mean being able to give a high level of service, for others it is financial independence, and for others it may mean developing a famous reputation as one of the top trainers in the industry.

What you may not realize is that regardless of your goal there is one specific way to achieve long-term success in the fitness industry.

I used the words "long term" for a reason because anyone can make a quick buck by offering a severely discounted coupon or service or inheriting another trainer's clients. However, those types of fast success formulas most always end where they began, and that's with you at square one looking for clients again ...

To truly be great at what you do and be compensated fairly for your work you must earn it the old fashioned way by using a tried and true formula for award winning success.

The success formula goes by many names, but for our purposes I will refer to it as the IDP Formula. Let's start with the first part of the IDP Formula:

Without being truly inspired to become successful in the fitness industry you'll never make it. I don't want to sound negative, but there are far too many obstacles to becoming a full-time fitness professional if you are not 100% inspired to help other people and be of service to them. Too many fitness pros today get duped by slick online marketers into believing that they can get hundreds of clients in just 1 month and never really have to put in any effort.

The second part of this formula revolves around your attitude as a fitness professional and business owner that takes care of his or her own clientele. Determination is what makes the top fitness professionals in the industry great. They never settle for second best and they're motivated to stay at the top of their game by continuing their education on a daily basis. 

I can tell you from my own experience that not a day has gone by in 15 years that I haven't put in the time to read a book, article, or journal in order to improve my knowledge and further my understanding of how I can improve my client sessions. This type of motivation to better yourself will add more value to your work and will really enable you to stand out from a sea of mediocre trainers.

If you were looking for me to sell you on a quick get rich scheme it isn't going to happen. You certainly can get rich and make six-figures per year as a fitness professional, but you will need to put a little "sweat equity" into building your client base and maintaining it in order to have a reliable monthly income.

The truth is that you can become successful very quickly over a period of 3-4 months if you have the right systems in place to market yourself, but you still to need to put in the pre-requites of developing the knowledge to help your clients, as well as help your business get off the ground.

I have found the goal of aiming to add 1 client per week to my new fitness team member's schedule to be a reasonable one. I tell them up front it’s going to take a little effort and they're going to have to do some marketing, but after 3-4 months they'll have a full-time clientele doing over 120 sessions a month. After that we just fill in any openings when they are available. In the end, the new fitness pro is happy, their new clients are happy, and I'm happy too.

There's no reason you can't achieve the same great results if you're willing to follow the IDP Formula. Your success in this industry really does hinge upon the fact that if you know what you have to do ahead of time you won’t get discouraged and give up too soon. Remember, you will be tested along the way and those that preserve and are inspired, determined, and are willing to put in the work will be rewarded in the end with a full-time career as a highly paid fitness professional.

I look forward to seeing you at the top!

Stephen Cabral has consulted for MTV, Maxim, Men's Health, NutritionData, SELF, Women's Day, as well as dozens of others. He was named the PFP 2011 Trainer of the Year. He is also a fitness writer, author, studio owner, and the founder of Personal Training Business School. His free fitness business video series, proven strategies and tips can be found at


How much of your time would you estimate you spend growing your business?