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The Blog

Growth Beyond You!


By Todd Durkin, MA, CSCS

When I started Fitness Quest 10, it was a one-man show…me.  I was scared as heck in the beginning. Worse yet, I had no clients, no money, and no business plan. I had a ton of passion and enthusiasm and I believed in the “Build it…and they will come” philosophy. Fortunately, I had 3 months rent free from the time I got the keys to my modest 2,000 square foot studio. Thank God!

I remember working out like 3-4 hours a day the first month or two and thinking, “Man, I’m not sure I’ll be in business long… but I’m going to be in great shape.” Again, I didn’t have ANY clients in the beginning. Worse yet, my studio was a “non-membership,” predominately 1-1 model. This was an anomaly at the time. In the year 2000, there weren’t a whole heckuva lot of small training studios around. It was different than what people were used to.

And then people started showing up. And word spread quickly. There was no real sophisticated marketing. It was a lot of grass-roots, getting out in the community, shaking hands, and getting to know people. Social media did not exist. There was no Facebook. No Twitter. And no YOUTUBE.

What we did though was get great results. And we cared. We fostered a family-like atmosphere. It was fun. It was small. It was simple. And we took care of people as if they truly were family. And when I say “we”, I mean “I”.

News got out in the community about what I did. And I got busy. Within 3-4 months, I was doing about 40-45 sessions per week, teaching 4 classes, and working 7 days per week.  And life was good.

But then I realized I made a mistake. I was so worried about ‘survival’ in the beginning, I sold ME all the time. I told people how I could help them. I enthusiastically shared with people that I could help them reach their goals.  I, I, I, …

To grow my business, I knew I needed to hire another trainer. And I did.  But everyone wanted to train with ME.


Because I always sold ME.

Not my system. Not my methodology. Not my programs. I sold ME.

I was talking with a trainer this past week at the Thomas Plummer Conference who is in the same boat as I was 12.5 years ago. He’s stuck. He’s as busy as he can possibly be. He owns a 1,200 square foot training studio. He does 1-1 training. He does small-group training. He does boot camps. And he does about 45—1 hour sessions per week.

And he’s stuck.


Because it’s all about HIM. And he’s maxed out.

He can’t work ON his business because he’s too busy working IN his business. He can’t hire someone because he doesn’t even have time to interview another trainer. Or recruit another trainer. Heck, he hardly as time to go to the bathroom he’s so busy.

So he’s majorly stuck.

Or is he?

Here is what I told him:

“First off, congratulations for being busy. Not everyone can get busy and booked with sessions.

But it’s time to get over YOU. You don’t really have a business when it’s just YOU. If something happens to YOU, YOU have nothing.

You need to hire another trainer. Even with a 1,200 square foot studio, you can easily have 3 or 4 other trainers in there training. But you’re stuck right now.”

And he said, “Yes, Todd.  I know that. I have tried hiring a trainer once but I couldn’t get him busy.”

To which I replied “Yeah, because IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU right now. You are selling YOU. You don’t want it about YOU. That’s just EGO that wants it to be about you. Get over that. Until you get over that, you will never grow.”

And I outlined to him what I would tell any other young, passionate, fired-up “successful” trainer and studio owner looking to grow beyond him or herself.  This is what I said and outlined:

  • I need you to take at least 2, 4 hour chunks per week to work ON your business (and this doesn’t include Sunday which should be a day off).  And in this particular case, your time should specifically be spent on hiring someone. Yes, you might lose income for a few weeks.  But man, what small thinking in the big picture. Think about what another trainer can do for your business. Maybe you “lose” $400 per month because of you not training at certain hours. Maybe it’s even $800. Do this for 3 months, hire the right person, and all of a sudden things will start to turn around. In the big picture, this change could mean $4,000 more per month. Or $8,000 per month. Or $20,000 per month. That is called an INVESTMENT!
  • Write your job description. What do you want to attract? Who do you want to attract? What are your expectations? Put down on paper what you want and then go get it.
  • Start the recruiting process. Call your local university located just a few miles from where you live. Volunteer to speak for their Exercise Science Dept. Contact the Career Services there and be part of any career days. Post your Job Description on the bulletin board in that department.
  • Post your job opening. On your website. On Craig’s list. On Linked-in. On a job board on one of the major national trainer certification’s websites (;;;;
  • Are there any clients that you’ve been training for a while that know your ‘system’, know your culture, and believe in you, that are interested in becoming a trainer?  Yes, they would need to get a certification and spend some time apprenticing with you. But being a client is one heckuva an apprenticeship for becoming a great trainer.  As a matter of fact, one of my best trainers at Fitness Quest 10 now was a client for years before giving up her corporate job and becoming a trainer. Additionally, my current General Manager of 7 years was a client first also. Bottom line, don’t overlook who might be right under your nose.
  • And then take ACTION. Sometimes one takes these steps and then  gets scared in the end and does nothing. “I’m not sure how to hire them. I don’t know if I should make them a contractor or employee? I don’t know if I want to offer a benefits package. I don’t know if I can get them as busy as they want. I don’t know IF…”.  If, if, if…. Man, these “if’s” are killing you. It’s like a disease. A bad case of the IF’s can severely limit you. Get over the IFS.A bad case of the IFS are just excuses. Because you’re scared. You don’t know what to do so you resort to doing nothing.  Complacency!Hey, it’s good to be scared. As long as you let fear drive you to take ACTION and figure out how to get the job done. Pull the trigger!
  • Hire your “new” trainer. Sure you need to determine if they are going to be an employee or contractor. Simply call a payroll service like ADP and they can step you through the process of how one becomes an employee. Consult the 20 point checklist on the difference between an employee and independent contractor. Simply Google “20 Point Checklist, Employee vs. Contractor” and see which one best fits you.
  • Train your “new” trainer.  Once you hire your new trainer, that’s not enough. You have to set expectations. You have to train them on your culture. You have to teach them your system (hopefully you are working on your systems!). And you must provide on-going feedback. Feedback is truly the breakfast of champions and strong leadership is going to play a key role in the growth and success of the organization.
  • Sell your “Great, fun, awesome, fired-up, passionate” trainer that is going to help your clients get great results. You want to use that language when talking to all YOUR clients that you think only want to train with you.  Of course, they’re comfortable with you. After all, all you’ve done is sell YOU to them.  And now you are going to sell someone else. YES. And you really need to mean it.  (Get over the fact that they don’t need YOU to be successful. They really don’t. That’s just EGO again).Here is an example of a script you can use with your existing clients that just love you. And adore you. And they say something like this to you, “Jimmy Trainer, I just want to train with you. You’re my guy (or girl).” You want to say, “Joe Client, I need to talk to you. You know I love you too right?  And I know you like me. But if you really like me that much, I need YOU to HELP me. I just hired a new trainer to our team and I would really like you to try him/her. She’s really good and I know she can help you JUST LIKE I help you. I would like for you to work with her one time a week and me one time per week.  I will NOT leave you. Here’s WHY I’m doing this Joe Trainer. I’m really trying to grow my business and I’m trying to build a small team that can help me fulfill my vision and execute my system. I want to spend some more time empowering my team that can help me grow our brand. Now, I’m not asking you to be married to this new trainer. I’m simply asking that you try her/him. And then we will chat.  If you like her/him, maybe I can have you work with him once or twice a week instead of me 3 x per week. If you don’t love the session, you give me the feedback and I will provide some specific coaching to her/him and help tutelage them to a standard you are used to. I don’t think it will come to that but I give you my word that I will never just leave you. Joe Client, you know I love you. And I really do appreciate you for all your support. Are you willing to help me and give her a shot?”

A script like that still makes it about them. You are demonstrating that you still care for them. That you will not just drop them like a bad habit. Noone likes to feel like they are being passed around or dropped.  Or even dumped.  Noone wants to feel like they are not working with the best trainer for them. And they sure don’t want to feel like you are breaking up with them.

So pump them up. And really truly mean it. And then do it. And then stay “involved” in the sessions and the communication.

Sound easy?  No.

Scary?  Yes.

But you HAVE to do it.  So go do it.  Enough pumping you up and giving you the plan.  Take ACTION.

It’s part of your natural evolution from a one-person show to having a “team.” It’s the price you pay for growth. And it’s natural and normal. But DO IT!

And then hit me up and let me know how your conversation with your client goes.  Don’t worry…I won’t leave you either!

Much love,



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Todd Durkin is an internationally recognized trainer that coaches athletes, kids, fitness enthusiasts, and fitness professionals to world-class performance. 

If you want to be part of his exclusive 3.5 Day Mentorship coming up Oct 11-14, now is the time. 

There are only 10 spots left for Todd’s most intensive event of the year. Take advantage of his $100 OFF and FREE “Trainer Pack” Bonus ($99 value) for applying by September 24 th.  It is a GAME-CHANGER!

Check out all the details at








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