Top 10 Business Books for Personal Trainers

I’ve spent over the past ten years making business a specialty of mine. I started learning as much as I could on the topic because I recognized the lack of understanding in the personal training and fitness industry. The books I’m listing are just a few of the over 100 books that I’ve read on business. They are ones that I think could have the greatest impact on growing a personal trainer’s business. I’ve given just a short description of each. Click the photo to get more details. So… here we go… (in no particular order):

(1) E-Myth Mastery by Michael E. Gerber

One of my favorites for anyone contemplating leaving their current job to go off and start their own business. The myth is that you can go off and do what you love to do, forgetting, of course, that you also have to spend time on the business itself and not just delivering the product or service. A must read.

(2) Start With Why by Simon Sinek

As Sinek states, we all pretty much know what we do, probably how to do it, but often don’t think about why we do it. The “why” is the driving force behind what we do. It’s the, “I want to help people become healthier and lead more fulfilling lives.” that is at the heart of personal training.

 

(3) To Sell is Human by Daniel H. Pink

This is a great book on how we are already salespeople and how sales (fitness, personal training, or other) can be a natural, comfortable act that leaves both parties happy and excited to work together.

 

(4) The Experience Economy by Pine and Gilmore

When a product or service is rote, predicable, run-of-the-mill, it’s lowest price wins. However, the consumer is happy to pay more and more often when it comes to buying an experience. This is a book that will open your eyes as to how you can turn the mundane into an experience.

 

(5) Shark Tank: Jump Start Your Business by Michael Parrish DuDell

I know… this one sounds hokey, but it is, in fact, a really good book that covers most aspects of starting and building your business.

 

 (6) Selling the Invisible by Harry Beckwith

This is one of the first books that I read that focused on selling services (vs merchandise). The idea of selling something that is intangible, such as the future benefits of health and fitness programs, can take a different technique and this book offers a great prospective on it.

 

(7) Crushing It! by Gary Vaynerchuk

No recommended business reading list would be complete without at least one Gary Vee book on it. This one, his latest at the time of this writing, tells the stories of entrepreneurs that have overcome obstacles and attained success through passion and perseverance.

 

(8) The Power of Cult Branding by Ragas and Bueno

Ever wonder how CrossFit, Tough Mudder, and even Zumba got their kool-aid drinking followers. Ever wonder how you might create that same kind of following? This book gives some great insights into creating a “cult” brand.


(9) The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle

Once again, I thought the discussion of culture should be addressed. This is another good look at the importance of culture and particularly when looking at building your company. The belief system of the whole and how to work toward a unified vision.


(10) The New Rules of Sales and Service by David Meerman Scott

This is a good look at marketing and sales in an age where you have to first engage and build a relationship before trying to acquire your target audience as a customer.


(11 bonus, there are too many good ones for just 10) The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman

This is another really good book on overall business principles. Kaufman’s premise, is that, unless you want to work for some big company, you don’t need to spend your money on an MBA. Save your money and learn the skills that will lead you to success.

This should at least get you started in your business education. It is, just like the exercise science, an area that demands ongoing learning to reach and stay on top of your game. I hope you enjoy and learn from them.

P.S.

(12 double bonus) The Business of Personal Training With Web Resource by… well, me. I know this seems a little self-serving, but I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention that this is the culmination of all of my study and experience.

The Secret Sauce of a Fitness “Cult”

If you look at what’s happening in fitness industry, you’d be hard pressed not to have noticed the “cult-like” following that surrounds some brands such as CrossFit and Zumba.

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CrossFit is “Forging Elite Fitness” though constantly varied, high intensity activities that includes everything from Olympic Lifts to kipping pull-ups. Zumba, on the other hand, wants you to “Ditch the Workout and Join the Party” a Latin dance based workout system. Could these two styles of training be further apart? While they are very different (and Crossfitters even make fun of Zumba participants), what they have in common is the blind devotion of their followers. How does that happen?

zumba1

In The Power of Cult Branding authors Matthew W. Ragas and Bolivar J. Bueno present the Seven Golden Rules of Cult Branding:
1. Consumers want to be part of a group that’s different.
2. Cult brand inventors show daring and determination.
3. Cult brands sell lifestyles.
4. Listen to the choir and create cult brand evangelists.
5. Cult brands always create customer communities.
6. Cult brands are inclusive.
7. Cult brands promote personal freedom and draw power from enemies

Think about CrossFit and Zumba.
1. They are very different than other modes of exercise.
2. The creators were committed to their way of training.
3. They are absolutely selling a lifestyle through various branded products, and shared experiences. Zumba even has a magazine called Z-Life.
4. The participants feel a part of the organization, feel like they are appreciated and are encouraged to spread the gospel.
5. Crossfitters and Zumba enthusiasts are all about their community. This may include their own language (WODs, poods, and ”Uncle Pukie” in CrossFit) or outfits, bags, and other apparel as can be found in the Zumba store.
6. Both are inclusive. Everyone is welcome to drink the Kool-Aid, including kids and seniors.
7. Both CrossFit facilities and Zumba classes are as different as the instructors. They are free to structure them as the individual instructors see fit. Differentiation from the competition is often an integral part of the marketing plan. “We are not…”

This type of community can be yours too with whatever type program you offer. Think about how you can utilize these rules to create your own fitness cult.