Health & Fitness Business Ideas [Complete Guide]

This is it! This is the year that you finally follow through on your desire to be your own boss. But you don’t have to be an entrepreneurial Lone Ranger, nor do you have to reinvent the fitness business wheel.

Take a few moments to read what the seasoned and successful exercise professionals of have to say about starting, developing, expanding, and maintaining a thriving health and fitness practice.

How do you manage your time between working on your business and working in your business?

  • Mark Fisher: I have a great team. I also teach time management, so that is helpful. In fact, one of the things I teach through Business for Unicorns, which is our other company, is time management. So I think I’m pretty proficient at setting up my days in ways that really work for me. There are a lot of pieces to that. One that immediately comes to mind that I think I’ve used to great effect that has been very helpful to allow me to be productive at a very high level is simply knowing my own body, my own rhythms, knowing when I’m most effective, and really being meticulous about setting up my day so that when I’m at my highest energy levels, I’m most creative, which for me is pretty much between 7:00 and 10:00 AM. That’s the time I’m doing my most cognitively demanding, highest possible impact things that are really going to move the business forward. So for me, that’s going to be things like writing, email copy, creating courses, creating content, working on presentations that I deliver at seminars throughout the country, throughout the world. And that has been incredibly helpful. I think the other thing that has been very useful for me to get a lot of stuff done is learning how to effectively delegate, which is I think both a mindset and a skillset. I think the mindset piece is just trusting that you can find people to do a lot of the things that you’re doing and being willing to give people the trust and the ability to do things for you, and then learning the skills of delegation management.
  • Scott Schutte: Luckily, we’ve gotten to a size that I could get off the floor. My main time on the floor, it’s Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday morning. So that gives me a lot of other time that I can work on the business. Really, that’s the key. If you want to be in this and you want to run a business, you can’t be on the floor for 40 hours. And it’s really, it’s a weekly task in a sense of, like, it’s not easy. I mean, budgeting the time, it’s easy to have that sneak away. It’s easy to, kind of, just do busywork. For me, it’s more of prioritizing what are my big rocks? What do I need to take care of? And I have a good team, too. That’s the other thing that’s super important. I had a business partner on the gym side. I have two partners on the RedEfit side and then I have a staff that really helps me with support in a sense of we have two assistant managers. We have trainers. It really… The team is where it’s at.
  • Kara Palley: Well, I’m going to have to get back to you. It’s really hard. I mean I, just, I always, people always say, “Oh, you’re so organized.” And I am, but when I worked, I worked where these were the hours, here was my office, here was what I had to do. And now, I have the kids and I have the house and I have the business, and it’s not structured. So it’s forcing me to become structured and I’m working on it…Flowing with my clients consistently, trying to add more things in. I get up really, really early to do my own workouts, which frees up time, and, of course for me, going to bed earlier so that I’m not doing whatever, fooling around or eating or scrolling on my phone because I know I have to be up, so I have to get to bed. So that’s where I’m starting, and I’m going from there.
  • Leigh Peele: Lots of organization. In fact, it’s funny. I have my bullet journal right here. Every day, I get up and—most days I get up and I try to map out my plan for the day: what it is that I have to do, who it is I have to consult with. I map out my research, my writing, all of the things that I need to get done. I used to be more, “It’s cool. I’ll get to things. The day will happen as it happens.” But as life has gone on or as I’ve gotten older—I don’t know which one it is, or maybe as I’ve worn more hats, I’m not entirely sure—that whole laid back, Californian style response to business is no longer working for me. So I’ve found that I have to be a lot more rigid and organized and methodical. I will say, it’s made for a far higher quality of work as well and a better response in the content and the way that I articulate and the way that I produce information for my clients and for my members and things like that. It’s a lot of organization, like a lot. But I’m happy with it. I’m happy.
  • Andy Luukkonen: Well, over time, I’ve learned to incorporate systems, policies and procedures, and I kind of take it like a franchise mentality. And that’s what helps run the business day-to-day. And we spend a lot of time on training our staff, and we don’t micromanage. And that allows us to take time off or work with clients and to keep our flexible schedule.

How did you establish a brand that is unique?

  • Anthony Balduzzi: I really think it’s probably three things. The first thing is we have a very specific person we’re talking to. As fitness professionals, as medical professionals, there are so many people we could help. But we honed down and became the Fit Father Project early before anyone here. And that was huge because that means that the conversation that we could have online in our marketing and in how we designed our programs, we could be hyper-specific.
  • John Wolf: You know, one of the things that I think we do really well is, rather than tell everybody what it is that they’re supposed to do, we empower them with a framework that allows them to kind of critically think about the whys. You said context is king, and I think that’s really important for people to understand, that we aspire to be a platform of education that creates thinking coaches…We need to be able to connect with them as human beings, validate their experience, their presence, and where they are on their journey. So there are so many of these soft skills that really are of utmost importance: being self-aware and empathetic and able to be empowered to think on your feet. Realistically, that’s what we do, I think, really well. Secondarily, that process and this kind of open framework that we empower individuals to build something uniquely them on our education platform. So it’s been a long journey to get where we are now, but we’re starting to see the acceleration of people being able to not only be a good representation of our common belief system but to be able to contribute something uniquely them into the body of work…We have to be able to deliver something that’s holistically beneficial for the people we work with. But we should also be able to inspire them through the expression of the coach as well as the individuals themselves. And creating a culture around that is something that I think we’ve done relatively well and we’re trying to do better.
  • Niccole Hendrickson: Yeah, so the number eight has—I’ll start there. The number eight has always has been a super significant number in my life. It was my jersey number for a lot of years, but the reason why I had chosen it back then was I loved what it meant. It’s infinite, it’s connected, and it represents all the facets of my life and all the preparation that went into that. At that time, my focal point, obviously, was competing as a collegiate athlete. And so I loved that number. And oddly enough, when I met my husband, that was a number that he wore. It was a significant number in both of our lives. And so I just really—as you navigate and learn a little bit more about my business, I am more of a lifestyle business. I’m more of an all-inclusive as far as how your nutrition, how your fitness, how your lifestyle, your mindset all comes together. So, when I was thinking of a brand when I first moved to Colorado… I wanted it to have a little bit of that athletic, strong background, but I also didn’t want it to be something so intimidating that when I later launched a sub-brand that’s more focused on females or the other sub-brand that’s more focused on brides, I didn’t want it to be something that was—it didn’t include all of those things because it’s a lot about me and so I wanted something like that. So I knew I wanted the number eight because again it connects all those facets of life and everything that I find to be extremely important in order for you to achieve that physical goal. Something I always share with people is people come to me oftentimes for maybe like a physical aesthetic goal or maybe like a nutrition coaching goal, but really it comes all together. How we’re going to be successful in the long run is connecting all of that.
  • Mark Fisher: At Mark Fisher Fitness, our specialty really is helping people that don’t like and/or hate working out in gyms, finding a fitness home that they actually enjoy, they love, and that they’re willing to do for the long haul. So because from day one, coming from a background as somebody who had been a professional actor, working with other actors, people in the Broadway community, various people that didn’t identify as athletes and they were often off-put by traditional fitness culture. I wanted to speak to them in a way that was aspirational, that was interesting, that would draw them in. There are two benefits to that. One just from a branding and marketing perspective, it was differentiated. It was different because everyone else was doing similar gym stuff, which is cool. I like gym stuff, but it certainly stuck out, creating what Seth Godin called Purple Cow marketing. But outside of the marketing piece of it, I think also signaled to the people that were looking for something different. I think everything we’ve attempted to do with the brand, with the iconography, with the color, with the images is to create—to make it clear what a kind and inclusive and nurturing and supportive space Mark Fisher Fitness is. Because our passion is to find the people that are afraid of gyms and people who don’t feel like they fit in. People that maybe were picked last for the sports teams, people that perhaps ate lunch alone in middle school in the bathroom stall. Those are our people. And I just—we felt that by speaking to them and having something a little bit more aspirational, something that captures their imagination, it would really help people self-select into our culture if they were the right fit, and that has borne out to be pretty true.
  • Brad Baker: I think a big thing for us is—and it’s something that we’ve kind of learned or tried to build on—is just not being afraid to fail. Not being afraid to be wrong, right now, to ultimately learn what’s best later. Taking risks in that way. And then just using our logic of the years and years of background we have in this space of trying to find what is most efficient for people. A quote that I love is: “The only failure is quitting. Everything else is just gathering information.

What have you learned that you wish you’d have known when you first started your business?

  • Tom Broback: Well, there are a lot of things I wish I would have known. I guess the biggest one is to have that end goal in mind. When an event changes, that’s fine, but you always got to know what you’re working towards so you’re not just trying the shotgun approach and going a million different directions. Having that endpoint [in mind]: “Where are we trying to take this? Who are we trying to impact and how are we trying to help the people around us?” Having that always centered is going to get you to where you want. So, keeping that in mind through the whole journey, it can definitely make a difference.
  • Jayme Limbaugh: Be patient and don’t micromanage. Be patient, don’t micromanage, and just don’t stress over the things you can’t change.
  • Steve Cotter: Scheduling time. Laying out the use of my time is really important, and that’s something I didn’t do for a long time.
  • John Bezerra: If I would have looked at the entrepreneur part of my life, the actual business part, or even the fitness part, the business fitness part, if I would have just—and I got this a while back—if I would have just put the same program together that I did for a bodybuilding show, I would have had success. And it’s basically just having your roadmap written out, having the right education, the right frame of mind, and just making sure you get from steps A, B, C, and down the line without stopping. I mean, literally, business is just like that…That’s what I’ve learned: just have a good game plan, have a good mentor, make sure the people you’re listening from are people that you want to emulate, make sure that they have the things you want. You’re not going to become a trainer day one and ask your friend that became the trainer the same day as you. You want to make sure you’re listening to the right people. I think that kind of goes for everything in life.
  • Colleen Goethals: That it’s not easy. Because I think everything’s easy. I’m one of those people that just dives in head-first. Like, I got it. I didn’t think about—I would work for free if I could. And that’s a problem for me. You know, I wish that I would understand the business concept of you do need to charge people, you do need to do this. You can’t do everything for free. I guess that part because when you’re in a healing business, you just want to help people and you can tell when people need help, but you’ve got to help yourself first. And I guess I didn’t anticipate that part of it. So that’s a struggle for me.
  • Victoria Wickett: Oh, my god. So many things. Even [something] as easy as “do you need building permits to do certain things?” We really came into it with an open mind, and I think that really helped, but I think if we had had a coach at the beginning, a lot of these little things that we’ve learned along the way would have been so much easier. I think the biggest thing that I wish that I knew back then that I know now is on the fitness side, people just want to be somewhere where they feel good… I guess that would be another thing that I should have done sooner is just listened to what people actually want, and then give it to them. Things get easier from there.
  • Pauline Juhle: That it is hard. I mean, I knew it was hard. I didn’t kid myself into thinking that it was going to be easy, but I think sometimes in our heads we think it’s going to be a little bit more intuitive than it is. And it’s not. There’s a lot of aspects of business that I wasn’t prepared for because I didn’t have any kind of education in it. I literally just decided I was going to go out on my own and start a business. And so I think had I known how difficult it was, I would have done a little bit more research into the process, and maybe looked for a mentor instead of just jumping into it without looking and just kind of going, “Oh.”So I’ve learned a lot on the fly. So, I would maybe recommend finding a really good mentor and doing some planning before you jump in. But it’s worked out well for me. And so, I guess I can’t complain.

Grow and manage your fitness business better with

How do you use social media and technology to promote your business?

  • Haylin Alpert: We rely on it pretty heavily. I mean, word of mouth and social media are how we help get the word out. But one of the things I know that we try and do really well—and I think we do—is we’re really transparent about who we are and what we do. Any social media representation of Core Principles shows who our clients really are. We use real pictures of our people in any paid Facebook advertising or any of that blog writing that we do, or anything that shows up on your social media is our real people because we’re super proud of our people—A. And B: We want to attract more people who are just like the people we have now.
  • Josh Bowen: Well, we blog. We send out different types of articles on nutrition and fitness to a variety of different people. Social media, obviously, is a huge driver of getting your word out and your mission out, who you are, what you’re about. I’ve hired a virtual assistant, and she has taken some of these things off my plate and then enhanced it because while I’m sleeping, she’s working. It’s helped with creating an online platform for me to garner some clientele online, to help with some of the social media, to help with the technology things that I’m okay with but not great at. I can go ahead and put that on somebody else’s plate. So, that answers your question.
  • Tyler Carpenter: I would say, I would put those in two totally different realms. I would say social media, the athletes definitely love the little bit of a pump up that they get from seeing themselves on our social media account, the retweets, and the likes and all those things of them hitting a heavy squat or doing something with an agility drill. So that’s really fun and we like to get them charged up through those methods. But at the same, on the flip of that though, the technology piece, we’ve been fortunate here at Pitt to make some serious investments. Whether it’s Sparta, the software that we’re running for our force plates, that’s been a huge tool for us. We’ve got multiple teams here that are using Catapult. It’s able to do some great things with GPS and we’ve got a couple of teams that are using Polar and Firstbeat [Editor: See GPS watch comparison video below], some different heart rate technologies.
  • Ally Diamond: I use my personal pages to try to educate as much as possible, but I also have the privilege of being the social media strategist for the Channelside location (Orangetheory). So I get to create the content for our Facebook and our Instagram page. And I just think that there’s so much to look at on social media, so I think that we’re able to stand out and promote a little bit better because we provide education in our content. And I think it’s a good way, too, to connect with our community and our members. Because that’s part of it too, the relationships.
  • Geoff Girvitz: I don’t have much of a strategy to be real with you. That may change. For now, where I’ve landed—We’ve tried in the past and there’s some, there’s value in that for sure. But where I’m at now is simply to go look, “Do I think this is meaningful or do I find this funny?” Then it gets posted. That’s about the only strategy that exists right now. I know part of marketing is just let people know you exist, their knowing why you’re good at what you do and hopefully show your culture. So show your personality so that the right kind of people find that and if it resonates with them, those are the folks we hope to see.

What has been your biggest challenge and your biggest reward as an entrepreneur?

  • Geoff Girvitz: I think the freedom component answers both questions and I kind of mentioned that before. Some days I really wish I could just show up and someone would say, “Hey Geoff, here’s a list of stuff. Get through this. You’ll get paid the same. Everything will be cool.” And there’s no guarantee. So a lot of times I have to sort of take a leap of faith or say, “Okay, I believe in this, let’s flesh it out.” And these things don’t always work. A lot of the experiments do not work. So I have this tremendous freedom to be able to do that, but I also live and die by that same stuff. This is the stuff I support my family with. So that can also be nerve-racking. That can also be really scary.
  • Calvin Richard: Ego. Ego is one of the biggest things. Ego and not having systems. When I first started out, I was a good fitness coach. I didn’t know how to run a business at all. And so one of the things was: I put everything on myself and I didn’t have any systems and structures in it. I finally had to start investing in business structure and different programs to really get my stuff organized…[As for most rewarding,] I’ve been blessed that all of my coaches that I’ve had over the last four years or so, they’ve all come from being clients. I saw leadership on them—it wasn’t that they were just awesome, amazing—I saw leadership on them and coached them on the system, so now, I’m not at the trenches as much. I coach some, but I don’t coach as much as I used to.
  • Jayme Limbaugh: The biggest challenge, I think, would be getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. So with that being said, marketing, I can talk to people all day long, I love talking. I can’t imagine having a job where I can’t talk. But being able to go out and kind of toot your own horn and be like, “Hey, I’m actually good at this. I really want to help you.” That’s been the hardest part, is getting other people in front of you to come into your business. So I would say marketing has been the hardest. The most rewarding is that I get to be my own boss and I get to make my own schedule. And I work a lot and I enjoy that. It’s nice, though, that in the middle of the day last week, I got to go chop out apples at my kid’s school. So the rewarding part is that I finally get to utilize my time management skills so that I can accomplish everything that I want to do in a day.
  • Mike Doehla: I think the biggest challenge is a kind of knowing where to spend your time. As your business grows, and it grows pretty quickly, you get distracted and you don’t really know what to focus on. So I think, internally my struggle is trying to figure out where the best time is spent, what projects are the best to spend time on, how to grow without affecting customer service. One thing we’re really proud of is, as we grew, our customer service ratings have improved. We might have to play catch up internally, but our members don’t feel that. Then the biggest reward is really changing thousands and thousands of lives. You get text messages and emails all day long that’s like, “This thing changed my life.” It’s a daily occurrence. That is the best thing in the world.
  • Jake Eisenhut: The first two things pop into my mind is one, leaving my gym. I obviously had to leave some clients and stuff behind. So, losing those relationships essentially was hard. But I would say just from a running a business standpoint, at a gym, I was just a trainer. As a business owner, I’m a trainer, I’m the marketer, I’m the bookkeeper, I’m the janitor, I’m the equipment guy. I wear lots of different hats now. That was challenging to learn all those roles.
  • Kevin Hollabaugh: So, as an entrepreneur, the biggest downfall is you don’t have somebody telling you what to do. So always making calendars that kind of hold yourself accountable and following through with that, especially with social[media], that’s helped a lot.
  • Josh Bowen: The biggest reward for me is just being able to impact people. I know that’s so cliché, but that’s so true. Just people. I love to just impact people in any which way possible. They may not have gotten any results with me as a trainer, but they’ve improved themselves and they’ve gotten better. They’re a better version of themselves, and I think that’s a win. Biggest challenge? There are so many challenges in business and so many challenges in being an entrepreneur. I think probably everyone’s challenge is time. How do you use your time? And how do you leverage your time? We all have the same 24 hours, and how do you use it is what your result is going to be. I think that’s a huge challenge for me. I think it’s a huge challenge for everybody. To answer your question, the best thing is, is the impact I’ve had on people, and the hardest thing is just utilizing my time in a way that I can be the most impactful.

What resources have you benefitted from that you would recommend to our audience?

  • Kevin Miller: Yeah, I think there are so many coaches out there right now willing to help each other out, which is fantastic. The field is growing. I think everybody is starting to challenge each other in a good way, and I think you see the trend moving in the right direction for the field of strength and conditioning. Some podcasts that I listen to, I already mentioned his name, but Mike Boyle The Strength Coach Podcast. I think is a fantastic resource. He’s one of the leaders in the field. He’s been doing it for so long. That’s just a tremendous resource. Just Fly Sports Performance is another really good podcast that gives a lot of information on speed training. I think the host does a fantastic job. Zac Cupples is a coach who I have not personally met, but I think does a really good job of bridging strength and conditioning and from a physical therapy standpoint together. He does a fantastic job with his podcasts. Mike Robertson on The Physical Preparation Podcast is excellent. And then, I also think there’s—I think that conditioning coaches and sports performance coaches need to look outside the field too, and look at some podcasts that can help them with mindset or business. Like, one podcast I just started recently listening to is called Life Coach School podcast, and it’s really good because it talks a lot about your brain and how you form habits, from changing your habits, and I think that is really important for coaches.These are just some of the podcasts I’d recommend—those five or six are really good. Eric Cressey is a coach whose fantastic as well. So, those coaches are the coaches that I tend to follow on a daily or weekly basis.
  • Brad Baker: Well, number one, of course, is Bold Based Performance podcast. But really the first things that come to mind for podcasts I’d say the TFC Audio Project. That one’s put on by The Foot Collective and that’s just really great for anybody in this space. I really liked Gary V, Gary Vaynerchuk, he’s got some great content. And Tony Robbins as well. And then some books that I really like are You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero. That’s where that quote that I mentioned earlier came from  Find Your Why. Finding your why is crucial.
  • Breanne Celiberti: So I am a big podcast person. I like to listen to them while I’m driving and working out sometimes. So one of my favorites, that I know is a really popular one, is How I Built This. Sometimes it features fitness entrepreneurs like SoulCycle or Peloton. But just in general, how hearing the stories behind these entrepreneurs it really leaves you feeling motivated and ready to make progress in your own life or to just do something bigger. So I think that’s a great podcast. And then there’s obviously a few fitness business podcasts that are out there that are really helpful. I think everyone just needs to find whatever helps motivate them, whatever genre that is.
  • Niccole Hendrickson: A book that’s been super inspirational to me and that I love, it’s called 12 Rules for Life: An Anecdote to Chaos that has given me like huge perspective on just a balancing of adulting and career and motherhood and just life. Really great perspective.Another book that—everyone in most relationships is going to laugh at me when I share this with you—but has been extremely helpful for me as a business person is The Five Love Languages. Having a better understanding of each of your clients and how they operate and what their—how they respond. That’s another really great one.And I would say as far as nutrition-wise, there are all kinds of really awesome people out there. I love—there’s a gal here local in Denver, PaleOMG Juli Bauer, who’s phenomenal and just really upfront.And then—a friend of mine. I’m lucky to call her a friend. People know who she is, but—Jen Widerstrom has been really inspirational in my life as a mentor and she’s awesome. Everybody should follow her and get inspired by her as well.
  • Scott Schutte: Yeah. With this kind of recommendation, I usually keep it more broad and fundamental. Because there’s a ton of books I can recommend if we’re just talking marketing if we’re talking time management or something like that. But my number one is the Dale Carnegie, How To Win Friends & Influence People. That’s something that I think everybody can read and have a positive impact. Now, my others are more philosophical like Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. And then I really like a lot of Ryan Holiday’s work because it’s kind of modern-day to its philosophy and he does a lot of American history stuff in there too. His Daily Stoic is something I do almost on a daily, and I’ve done for the last few years. His two books, Ego Is The Enemy and Obstacle Is The Way, both just phenomenal books.

Take Advantage of Collective Wisdom

The journey of the entrepreneur can be a lonely one, cant’ it? When you decide to start your own fitness business, there will be many challenges that arrive, both predictable and unforeseen, that will threaten to further isolate you from success.

But you don’t have to go it alone. Learn from the successful fitness professionals featured on They have already traversed the terrain that you’re now traveling and have made many of the mistakes you can hope to avoid. Their experiences, knowledge, and honesty will assist you to create and maintain a successful fitness business of your own.

If you’re ready to grow and manage your business better, schedule a demo today.

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Interviews: The Life of Fitness Experts [Can’t Miss Tips]

Tis the season to be jolly. As the holidays and new year approach, we often take time to reflect on those people and things that matter most to us. It’s a time to celebrate. It’s a time to spend with loved ones. It’s a time to make new friendships and to renew old ones. The holidays and pending new year offer us the opportunity both to meditate on past and present blessings and to envision future achievements.

We here at were pleased this year to introduce you to some of our friends and family through the Fitness Experts Hub. We trust that the insight and wisdom that they shared with you have assisted you in pursuit of achieving your fitness goals. These exercise professionals have dedicated their lives to helping others improve their quality of life by giving purpose and direction to healthy living: body, mind, and spirit.

So, if you may have missed one or two of our past interviews, here’s a sampling of your fitness experts have to say.

If you’re ready to grow and manage your business better, schedule a demo today.

How did you develop a love of health and fitness?

Yeah. I do believe this is probably very true for many trainers, but my passion for training others kind of organically inspired from the passion of training myself. During the darkest time of my life, fitness was my saving grace. It was my escape, and it really changed me from the inside out. I do just believe that to be able to share that with others now kind of just became my calling in life.
Ally Diamond


Actually, my background is—I was the 4’7″, 82-pound freshman in high school. The little guy, the small dude in school. It was kind of one of those things. All I knew was the work ethic. I’m going to—I’ll outwork you in a classroom, I’m going to outwork you on the basketball court, the football field, the tennis court—those are the three sports I kind of grew up playing.

Calvin Richard


Like a lot of people, as a teenager, my first foray into exercise was the cheap little weight set in the garage when I was in eighth grade probably. Working out at the Y, and like all the other teenage guys who would do bench press and bicep curls, that kind of thing. Throughout my whole childhood, I was very active in doing different sports. Sort of found my sports niche in martial arts. [First,] through wrestling and later through mixed martial arts.

Colton Tessener


Well, I’ve always kind of been into, I guess, healing and helping. I started as an obstetrical nurse about 15 years ago and since then retired from that and was a stay-at-home mom. During that time, I was actively working out, running marathons, putting my body through the gauntlet of stuff that we do.And I ended up with some injuries and it was actually massage therapy combined with some other modalities to include chiropractic that healed me and helped me avoid having to have surgery. And so I thought this is what I want to do. I want to help people the way that it helped me.

Colleen Goethals


My fitness goals started out like self-esteem and confidence and I think just trying to feel better about myself. I was not super athletic growing up, I played some Head League soccer and that type of thing but exercise and fitness wasn’t a cornerstone of my upbringing.Then it was in high school, I got dumped and I wanted more confidence and I started going to the gym on a spare period, and it kind of combined my love of problem-solving and spatial sense and built discipline and it all just clicked and went from there.

Ben Pickard


I think it’s something that was instilled in me in a very fun and natural manner from when I was a young girl. I think this radiates on my biography and about me on my website, but my dad is retired from the Marine Corps. He’s a retired strength coach and football coach. And so just from a young girl, we were always really exposed to activity in a fun manner.I quickly just became obsessed with the whole culture of it and even though I’m only in my early thirties, it was still fairly new as a young athlete, a young female athlete for strength conditioning to be a heavy presence in your athletic career. And so I felt really lucky to get exposed to that at a young age just with my dad’s background.

Niccole Hendrickson


What sports did you play growing up?

Yeah, growing up I played soccer and cheerleading—those were probably my two main sports. In college, I played intramural soccer. But now, I just stick to the gym.

Breanne Celiberti


Badly, yes. I participated poorly in a few sports. I never really did anything very serious. I mean, I played roller hockey, and I kind of played basketball. I probably wasn’t terrible, terrible, but I certainly was by no means a naturally gifted athlete.

Mark Fisher


No, I am not very coordinated, so I think that’s why I really gravitated towards running because it doesn’t require a lot of hand-eye control. So, nope, I pretty much just run. I do weight lift. I love to weight train, but those would be my two big passions right now.

Pauline Juhle


Softball, volleyball, basketball, dance, cheerleading, track—ALL OF IT—but I focused on softball and played at Black Hawk College in Moline, IL. I still play slow-pitch softball and participate in CrossFit competitions to do this day.

Michelle Richards


Football is pretty much the sport that is my passion. That’s what I grew up playing. Really, I didn’t get a chance to start playing until I was in eighth grade. I grew up in a single parent [home] with five kids. Just couldn’t afford it.Didn’t play an organized sport until eighth grade, which is when I started playing football. Then, through high school, I did wrestling. Played tennis for one year, but got kicked off the tennis team because I went from football to wrestling to tennis. It wasn’t a good combination.I played a little bit of everything. I swam. Like I said, I played tennis. I’ve always been active and try to do different things. Now, I mountain bike and I do jiu-jitsu. I think it’s something that’s important. Sports are important. It breaks down a lot of barriers. It’s always something that I’ve just kind of craved and had to have in my life.

Ron McKeefery


Absolutely not. I have three sisters, and organized sports weren’t an option for us. I tried to play in school. Got kicked off the volleyball team and the baseball team both when I was super young and never thought of it again.

Victoria Wickett


Have you used a strength coach or personal trainer?

I actually had, after my youngest child was born, I had a personal trainer and I’d never done personal training before that. And then I started to really think about it.And then, definitely, I had it where I went to for personal training. The owner of that gym (Kathryn Applewhite), I consider to be one of my earlier mentors. And then as I went along, I always sought out people that I thought were really good at what they did, that I really knew what they were talking about and they were able to communicate that and sort of pass on that passion and knowledge and expertise.

Kara Palley


I’ve actually never had a coach, a formal one. I’ve had numerous people do one-off assessments and things like that with me. But yeah, I’ve never had a coach long-term.

Sam Spinelli


 For me, aside from playing team sports, I was always very independent. I had no problem being alone. And so most of what I did, whether it was running or exercising or anything pertaining to physical fitness and training, was by myself. I would certainly glean from things like health and wellness magazines or watching things on TV or reading.But I never really had any particular mentor. What I will say in a lighthearted but a genuine way, and you know this well, I grew up, my favorite fictional character of all times is Rocky. And I started watching Rocky early over and over again.So, to be honest, because those movies were so focused on not only the character’s development as a boxer but really his development as someone who conditioned himself very particularly and passionately for every stage and step of his life and journey.

JD Lomanno


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Did/Do you have any mentors in the health and fitness profession?

Yeah, I mean there were so many coaches out there. There was so much information to learn. From coaches like Eric CresseyMike BoyleKevin Neeld, Mark Verstegen—all these coaches who, you know, at the time were starting to build up the sports performance industry and those coaches just had a big impact on me.Now, only a couple of them have I personally met, but just trying to learn as much as I can from reading and videos and going to seminars and learning from them. So, you know, those coaches—Mike Robertson—are coaches who I really try to learn from, from a young age and still learn from to this day. Bijresh Patel, who’s a fantastic conditioning coach at Quinnipiac, and at that time, they were the coaches from whom I tried to learn as much as I could and learn from them and develop my own system.

Kevin Miller


Yeah, I would actually probably lean on the fact that they were just generally sports coaches initially. So going back to when I got to Ohio State as an undergraduate, I started working for the football team and kind of a manager in an intern role. And again, in that position I was exposed to, you know, the impact that guys, like a former football coach Jim Tressel could have or you know, or Darrell Hazell, who would go onto Kent State and obviously to Purdue. Coach Luke Fickell who is at Cincinnati now—and some of the impact that those men were having on other young people. So those were some of my mentors or, at least, people that I would look to in terms of how they kind of conducted themselves in life and then the impact that they were trying to have on others.And then once I got into strength and conditioning, my next stop actually was at the University of Tennessee and I was introduced to Heather Mason down there and one of her assistants by the name of Holly Frantz.Heather and Holly are, to this day, two of my biggest mentors. I am on the phone with them frequently in contact with them pretty regularly and they’re outstanding. And then there are all kinds of people that are connected to them. Again, Clare Quebedeaux, who is now the director at Ohio State and then my boss at Ohio State when I was there, Coach Anthony Glass (Now, he’s the Director of Strength and Conditioning for Olympic Sports at Appalachian State). Those would be some of my mentors.

Tyler Carpenter


The music industry is so apparent here, and I started working out at a personal training gym here. And then I wanted to get back into the sports realm, so I was in a personal training gym, and then I moved into college strength and conditioning, which was the total opposite, but I’ve gotten a lot of mentors through the college strength and conditioning team. They’re just—a college strength coach can be so valuable because the training is so much more dynamic than just personal training. So I did the college strength and conditioning thing for about three and a half years, and I got a lot of great mentors out of that, but a lot of local ones here, but the one I always refer back to is Mike Boyle.

Matt Grimm


All my life I was coached, starting at a young age in swimming. So I guess you could say I was coached my entire life. But when I retired from my sport, I did hire a trainer in my early twenties, and he actually became my greatest mentor in the industry.I hired him to train me for two back to back bodybuilding competitions in the bikini division, but what I really got out of it was the man who really redirected my life and helped me completely change it… His name is, my mentor, Matt O’Brien. He’s a health and fitness coach, he’s an author and a nutrition specialist. He’s based in Largo, Florida. He’s helped me so much and definitely inspired me to chase my own dreams in this career. So he’s amazing.

Ally Diamond


The way my parents and my grandparents raised me, is they raised me to find mentors. So I was lucky enough to learn that at a very early age. The guy that I hired for my rehab, his name was Joe DeAngelis.At the time, he was Mr. AmericaMr. Universe. He’s passed on now, a few years back. But I learned everything the right way from him. He kept me from going down the wrong path. He ended up being my coach throughout my whole competitive career. Yeah, I just owe everything to him, because he was a very, very smart, educated bodybuilder, not just a garage bodybuilder. He was very educated. I learned quite a bit from him.

John Bezerra


Sports performance, Gayle Hatch is one that comes to mind. He was an Olympic strengthen conditioning coach back in the ’90s. A lot of his predecessors trained us in Northwestern State. And so, from there, that was one of the big guys that I followed with programming.And then as I became more educated, Mario Jeberaeel was the head strength coach. He’s no longer doing strength conditioning. He’s an offensive line coach at Division II. But he instilled that scientific approach and really allowed me to begin my journey diving into the actual nuts and bolts of sports performance training. And so, that was one.Once you start to research and learning, of course, the Mike Boyle’s always come out. One of my big guys that I like to pull a lot of training tips is Cal Dietz. I do a lot of Triphasic Training. I like to implement that with our athletes. I actually was fortunate to go up and attend his RPR (Reflexive Performance Reset) certification back in January in Minnesota. So, that was a little bit shocking going from South Louisiana to Minnesota in January.

Zachary Case


When you’re not coaching/training, what do you do for fun?

Another good question there. I do like sports a lot. I watch a lot of sports. My fantasy football team’s not doing well this year, so it’s kind of a bummer. But also, I’m really close to—my family and friends like to have some cabin weekends here in Minnesota, like to get together for birthdays, holidays, and things of that nature. So I spent a lot of time with my close family and friends, but definitely try to keep sports as part that as much as possible too.

Tom Broback


What else do I do for fun? Well, I’ve got a three-year-old and a one-year-old at home, so that keeps me pretty damn busy. Running around with them is probably how I spend a good chunk of my time. Truly, I love running around the backyard with them and it’s one of the most fun things I can do in my life for now and look forward to…I don’t consider myself a runner. But I do enjoy running a little bit. I try and get one or two runs in per week. Not with any specific mileage objective, but I just really enjoy the headspace it puts me in to go out there and run. And also to challenge myself.

Haylin Alpert


I love playing with my kids and then I’ll craft. I like knitting, which is the really complete opposite of running, but it’s very nice. So, I’m usually doing one of those two things or at the same time when I get home, but my family is really important to me.

Jayme Limbaugh


I’ve got a five-year-old kiddie that takes up some of my time. I still play football. I like to watch football, particularly when the English season starts. I watch a lot of football. I like to go out to dinner with my wife and just chill out, really. Go and have a couple of beers, have some folk over, take my kid out. I just took my kid out to dinner today. I tend to—and you know maybe I’ll read books. Read books and listen to music, I would say generally are my main spare time things.

Chas Cook


Yeah, this is something I push my clients a lot into because one of my first questions is like, what do you do for fun? I think it’s super important that people are doing that. Now granted, I love learning. I love the business side, so I consider that fun.But I think there’s also good to do things outside of that so you can have that balance. Really, I go to jujitsu classes a couple of times a week. I like to go shooting guns. I go to yoga. I’ll do Acroyoga if you’re familiar with that. I’m big into like a handstand and gymnastic practice now.You know, what I consider like really good, fun activities are, when you’re doing them, you’re not thinking about other things. And so, almost all those activities I listed off, when I’m doing, I am fully present and so that just gives me the break from the work or any kind of life stressors or anything like that. So I really push a lot of people to find stuff like that.

Scott Schutte


I’m a musician. That was my first love. I’m a trumpet player, and I play in a ten-piece party band called TRAINWRECK here in Toronto. It is more fun than any adult should be able to have.

Victoria Wickett


We hope that you have enjoyed learning some of the backstories and histories of some of the fitness professionals featured on Though they all have different upbringings and experiences, they all share a passion for promoting healthy living and exercise. They have devoted themselves to educating and empowering others through exercise.

For a healthy lifestyle is the gift that is fit for every occasion. If you’re ready to grow and manage your business better, schedule a demo today.

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Need best practices from Fitness Pros? [Interview, Tips, + More]

With the holiday season in full swing, hopefully, we all have been enjoying lots of good food, good music, and a good time of sharing and caring with family and friends and all of our loved ones. In many cultures and customs, these holy days are noted for the exchanging of gifts and the setting of goals for the coming year.

And for many of us, one (or more) of those goals we set is health-related. With a new year on the horizon, it is fitting to make fitness a priority. And with these helpful tips from the fitness professionals of, you can make sure that this year is the year that you not only set some exercise goals but that you also achieve and exceed them.

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Describe your philosophy and methodology of training in one word.

At MFF, we broadly often talk about “Ridiculous Humans. Serious Fitness.” Which for us means to have fun, be irreverent, but be very good at the actual fitness piece. Another thing we often say is: “Have fun, don’t get hurt,” which is to say that the first rule is: do not hurt others, do not hurt yourself, know enough about the body to understand what is injurious to joint function… So I tend to be pretty agnostic about what people do. I certainly have my perspectives about things that are going to be more efficacious, but, ultimately, for me, it’s really, “Find stuff you like and don’t hurt yourself.”

Mark Fisher


I feel like the first word that comes to me is overused, but empowerment, is empowering people. I just think any opportunity to grow somebody and grow their knowledge, grow their strengths, grow their mental mindset and their mental strength and physical strength. So I would say empowering them, achieving the best version of themselves is something that I often say. So I think the word that captures that is empowering.

Niccole Hendrickson


I would say either fun or safe, and both for the same reason. If people aren’t enjoying what they’re doing, and they’re not getting better at it, then they’re not going to keep it up.

Victoria Wickett


I’m going to cheat and use two words… Critical thinking… I think that understanding how to look at things, question things, analyze things, and to critically assess things is just one of the best gifts that you can give yourself.

Leigh Peele


One word’s a tough one, man. I would say progression. That’s the universal underlying thing no matter what you’re training for, no matter what the particular physical goals are.You’re not really training if you don’t have some sort of plan of progression. That’s also the only way to sort of gauge is the training successful. Is it actually leading to what the goal is? Is there a progression over time? That’s the principle that guides everything I conduct and train.

Colton Tessener


That’s a great question. Let’s see. Hmm. In one word, one sentence. I would go with what I kind of use now. I think a lot of my programs, I name them, I use “Inspire. Motivate. Empower. Elevate.” Those would be the four—I don’t know if you want to call them methodologies… First of all, inspiration has to come from both of us. Motivation has to come from you and I have to be able to get you motivated. Empower: I got you motivated enough, now you’re able to go teach somebody else. So you’re showing other people exercises. And then elevating your lifestyle, elevating your game, elevating your performance. That’s my world and my methodology right there.

Ashton Roberts


Strategic. I think you have to be strategic with it. You can’t just follow a certain set of rules. You have to follow a certain set of behaviors.

Mike Doehla


Efficient. To elaborate on that, now I believe that creating an efficient mover, especially at a young age—we train a lot of athletes that are eight, nine years old—and really if we can get them to do the essential movement patterns, your hinge, your squats, push, pull, all the basics at that age, then, whenever they get to middle school or junior high where they start manipulating weights and they start using things at school, we are really ahead of the curve.So, they’re able to progress and really grasp onto the training concepts a lot better. And so, if we can create an efficient mover, I believe at a young age, then we can create lifelong efficient movers and efficient athletes as well.

Zachary Case


I think I always, whenever I speak, I talk about that I’m a principle-based strength coach instead of a philosophy-based strength coach. I would say principled is probably my one word.Early in my career, I had grown up kind of, I grew up down the street from a very accomplished weight lifter coach that coached several people to gold medals. I grew up around weight lifting and traditional periodization. When I went to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it was almost traditional high-intensity training. One set to failure.I saw the results of both and how they both worked. That was a really important part of my process is learning that there are lots of ways to skin a cat. There are lots of ways to train athletes. There’s always a cost-benefit ratio that exists, and you have to evaluate that. You also have different environments and different tools available to you that you have to be able to use.You got to have lots of tools in the toolbox. You got to be able to call upon that. Being principle-based, having a set of principles that guide your training allows you to adapt to different situations.

Ron McKeefery


What is the relationship between strength and conditioning, injury prevention, and rehabilitation? How do you help your clients to be proactive in their training and in their recovery?

Kara Palley: So, I think if you’re starting off with no injuries, and you’re lucky, then you just need to know how to do all the movements properly. You want to make sure you’re doing everything in the right form, and you’re using your muscles the right way, and you’re not using your joints primarily, and you’re doing things in an intelligent way, that you’re not going all out and using weights that are too heavy or too many repetitions or too many classes in a row. If you already have injuries, then it just becomes all the more important too to do things intelligently and not to jump in, but also not to rest too much, also.

Niccole Hendrickson: Yes. So it’s integral to connect all of those because first of all, you can’t get stronger, you can’t get more powerful, you can’t become more dynamic if you aren’t either catering to different injuries or making sure you’re properly warmed up or you have a proper understanding of what your form and technique looks like. Although it’s really catchy and beautiful to talk about the art of strength and conditioning, before you can get strong and before you can condition at a really intense level, you have to make sure that your base is really a well-oiled machine I would say. So I think that functional movement, so I always tell people we’re going to play around with all different equipment, whether it be barbells or kettlebells or all those different things. We’re in push sleds, we’re going to use battle ropes, but you’re going to also have a really solid understanding before we do any of that of how your own body moves. So that’s how we’re going to prevent injury by having an active, by having good body awareness, by connecting your breath and making sure your mindset is connected to those movements… So I think the huge tie in is making sure you’re priming your system and your mental mindset is connected to your physical mindset and you’re willing to do all of the steps leading up to that end result.

Kevin Hollabaugh: For us, it’s a balance. So our high schoolers and middle schoolers, when they come in, everything’s done in a group setting. So they’ll come in, they’ll have their individual workout sheets. We have their correctives or pre-work. We’ll do that before the session starts. Then we’ll warm up together as a group. They’ll go through speed and agility. They’ll come back over. They’ll go through their individual lifts.And then we’ll condition at the end. So it’s finding a balance to—Most of the kids enjoy having the extra correctives and free work at the top because they know it’s helping them. It’s specific to them, once again, so they’re more bought-in versus the mass mentality.It’s not getting too heavy into it is what I found. In a day, [concerning] injury prevention, most kids are just weak, right? Just finding out where they’re weakest and where their movements are leaking energy the most and then helping them by creating a program around that. Versus like some of the kids that come in, they’re fresh off surgery, they’re in like a return-to-play program.

Ally Diamond: Speaking from an Orangetheory standpoint, we recommend—it’s kind of your multivitamin if you will; it is what our owner actually calls it—that you need three to four times a week. And the recovery days in between are, I mean, at least by me, very encouraged.I think it’s really important that you allow yourself recovery time so that you’re coming in for your next training session ready to give it your all. I don’t want them to be coming in and dragging and feeling exhausted, because again, I think that overtraining can lead to injury.

How do you incorporate nutrition as part of your training with clients?

Jayme Limbaugh: So, I have a slow and steady approach. I think that’s been the greatest gift of having a second career built on the first one, is that I’ve already worked with people and behavior change and that it’s long-term sustainability.Nowadays, we want things now. We’re not willing to wait. We want to lose five pounds tomorrow. So really just going slow and steady and being like, “No, we’re just going to change two things over the next four weeks. Once those are accomplished, we’ll build on them and build on them and build on them.”Because my biggest thing is that your nutrition needs to be something today that will be the same five years from now. You’ll have some changes because we all age and have different nutritional needs, but the lifestyle, the behavior habits, they need to be built slow and steady.

Matt Grimm: Well, we will meet with everyone individually. Since we’re a smaller gym, we will meet with each person individually, go over what their kind of low hanging fruit is. It could be soft drinks, it could be something really simple. Start working on them with that, and that’s where we approach it from, but we will hit it, like I said, when somebody first walks in, you’ll normally address it while they’re foam rolling…I’ve done the plans in the past, and for the clients I have, it just doesn’t work. They just look at me like I’m crazy, and I’m telling them they should be prepping lean proteins and chicken, and fish. And they’re like, “When am I going to do this? I have no time to do this.”It’s just addressing it and being very consistent… but don’t overload them because then it just kind of becomes gibberish.

Melissa Morris: I’m going to go back to the nutrition because I think there’s so much information out there that’s really not true or not completely true. You know, you can Google things and find a wealth of information, but whether it’s based on science and [sound] research is always another question.I think everybody should take a basic nutrition class: just learning what your plate should look like, learning how to calculate calories, learning what nutrition does for you. I think there’s so much personally that you can benefit from [taking such a class].I have my students do an activity where they actually track four days of their intake and they put it into a diet analysis software like MyFitnessPal. And they get kind of a comparison of what they should be eating versus what they are eating. It’s really eye-opening when you do that.

Andy Luukkonen: Well, for us, it really depends on the clients. We’ve run a lot of challenges in the past where we’ve provided them with complete meal plans, and with others, it comes with just talking with them and reaching their goals and how much effort they want to put into it.One of the things we always do discuss is water consumption. So it really depends on the clients. As far as our practice goes, or our scope of practice, we’re not nutritionists, we’re not dietitians, so we have to be careful about how we go about that.But, when it comes to specifics on how it’s going to affect the strength training, what they’re missing, and then we can offer them advice that way.

Dustin Hassard: It is an absolute necessity. I mean, it really is. You’ve heard the whole 80/20. Fitness is 80% nutrition, 20% exercise. It seems to hold true, and the way I translate it to people when they hear that quote is, if you’re eating three meals a day as a standard, that’s 21 meals a week.Let’s say you work out four times a week, the score is now 21 to four. So, even if you have four of the most amazing workouts, you still have 21 meals that are going to either contribute or take away from those workouts. So, it is absolutely a necessity and I think everyone knows that too, but we tend to ignore it.I ignored it significantly because I just, no matter what I did, I just looked the same. Same physique for the most part. You could probably nitpick here and there, but I was just the slender guy and that’s just the way it was no matter what I ate. Whether I was eating clean or just eating complete garbage.

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How do you motivate your clients? How do you motivate yourself?

Josh Bowen: I accidentally got myself into a graduate-level sport psychology class, and the entire class was about something called emotional intelligence. I had absolutely no idea what this was, but the class basically was teaching you how to read people’s emotions and thus their behavior patterns, it would come after that. I think that was probably the most impactful class that I’ve ever taken in my life because, as a trainer and dealing with people one-on-one, you have to be able to read their emotions, the tone of their voice, in order to be able to help them.And then through that, there was also this concept that they taught us called motivational interviewing. I was able to be able to redirect and reframe people’s mindsets in order to help them motivate themselves, not me motivate them, but they get motivated or inspired or whatever, to accomplish whatever goal that it may be.

Calvin Richard: Part of it is, I think, really working on creating leaders to become leaders, to teach other leaders. So I want to bring new leadership roles out of that, not my clients. I tell them, I unapologetically want you to reach your family and neighbors and clients that I’m never going to see. And I don’t want you to just to go through the motions of this. I want you to ask questions and be educated and understand what you’re doing.You’re kind of my Fitvangelist. I need you to be able to go and share the message of wellness and health and strength and tell that to other folks. So yeah, part of it is really, being a leader myself and just really tried to get other leaders to do the same. That’s the message, to pass the torch on.

Pauline Juhle: That word motivation sometimes gets me, because I don’t know that I truly believe in motivation. Like, I don’t wake up every day and go, “I’m so motivated to go work out.” Some days I don’t want to. So I, for myself, am just like, “Do it.” Just do five minutes, 10 minutes.If you still have no interest in working out today, then your body’s telling you something and you need to stop, and I’ll let myself have a rest day. But I do that for myself because I’ve been working out for so many years that I kind of know myself and what’s going to work and what isn’t.So to motivate my clients, I really talk to them about consistency and how important that is to reach their goals, but I also highly encourage them to take one day off a week and let themselves do whatever they want. If they want to exercise, great. If they don’t, just sit on your butt all day on the couch and watch TV.It’s one day that you can kind of let yourself just relax, and I think that mentally that can help us in, help us keep going the other six days of the week. And then you start to find that exercise feels good, so even on that seventh day, you find [that] you’ll go out for a walk, or you’ll do something.

Michelle Richards: I stay passionate. I am not perfect and I have off days—well many—but when you get me talking about movement, my eyes light up and it shows. People respond to that and I will stop teaching the minute that fire burns out! I do not want to put anyone to sleep!

Eric Gremminger: Well, I focus on—I feel like I just hold up a mirror so that the client could find intrinsic ways to motivate themselves. I don’t think I could motivate you, but I could put you in a position and help to evoke what [already] is inside of you that motivates you. So that’s really, I believe, my job.As far as myself, what’s my why factor? When I’m doing it for a higher purpose, when I know that there’s a higher cause that I’m serving, like with Enlightened Recovery, it’s about so much more than me and that will allow me to get up at 4:30 and exercise and do what I need to do so that I’m in a position to contribute at the level at which I expect myself to contribute. So, it intrinsically drives me every single day.

How do you measure progress/success for your clients? For yourself?

Dustin Hassard: I’m just taking a guess. Haha. No, absolutely not. Everybody is on a program and through those programs, everything is measured. What gets measured gets managed, so it doesn’t matter what I think, but what I see on paper tells the true story.And a lot of times actually it’s instinctual for my athletes. They know when they’re getting stronger, they know when they feel better. So, they can simply answer that question for themselves without me having to say anything. But if they don’t have that intuition or if maybe they’re a little self-loathing or have doubts about it, the numbers on paper don’t lie.Every single workout is tracked. I have stats for every single thing they’ve done, from the first time we meet to every single workout. And when I see improvements or something that shows measurable progress there, whether it’s more reps, more weights, more advanced exercise progression, anything can be measured.I use that for ensuring that they get progress. They don’t have to wait for weeks or months or years to find out if something is working or not. I know every single workout if something’s improving or not. And if it isn’t, I make changes. I love it because it’s a lovely science. I don’t have to actually leave it up to guessing.

Eric Gremminger: Yeah. I’m a huge proponent of smart goals. I set goals. I try to be, of course, I always try to be, no matter who it is, just try to be a little bit better version of [myself] than [Iwas], but you need tangible items so that you could see the progress. Abstract concepts just don’t do it. So when you have some goal: “My goal this week is to bench press five more pounds than I did the day before,” well, that’s a measurable goal. It’s specific, it’s measurable, it’s attainable, it’s relevant, and we could do it within a certain amount of time. That’s usually the system that I use for measurement.

Sam Spinelli: So it can be a very tricky one. I don’t love the “It depends” answer in interviews, but it kind of does depend. In that, when I’m working primarily more as a rehabilitation professional—in the setting—it’s often looking at this person has x goal or is dealing with x issue, and so we will create some sort of agreeable goal based off of a few identifying factors that we will try to achieve.Whether that be that a person needs to acquire a certain level of strength on a back squat before they return to x level of activity, something like that. Or, I might be using some form of an outcome measure tests, a standardized outcome measure that’s been assessed and shown validity.And I’ll use that for consistency and have the person fill out forms or do some sort of measuring tests where I’m as far removed as possible or possibly, I might be doing something from—I don’t love the term injury prevention—but maybe if we’re doing an injury risk reduction work.

David Amundson: So for success for my clients, it’s very goal-dependent. So what’s successful for one client, might be unsuccessful for the other client. Last semester, I had a client who was new to the weight room and it was perfect because I got him fresh and brand new. So, we got all those newbie gains and he was gaining weight and gaining muscle. So for his goal, I would measure his body measurements with a tape measure and then also doing weights to monitor his weight, making sure that’s going up, so he’s eating enough calories…So it’s very goal specific, whether it’s losing weight, losing inches on their hips or gaining biceps or triceps or whatever exercise or getting stronger, too. Because I had one client who wanted to work on their deadlifts, and so the goal was deadlifts. So it’s finding out early on and even, I’ve had clients where we’ve shifted from, “Oh, I want to gain muscle, but now that it’s summertime. So I want to start cutting.” So we’re going to have a new focus.And then for [me personally], what I consider success, is I still love learning, so I’m glad I’m learning. I’m having fun doing everything so, and then I’m making money doing what I love.

What common trait is shared by those who’ve achieved the most success under your tutelage?

Chas Cook: Well, number one, or the biggest one I think by far as common trait, consistency. Most common trait. There’s this one lady who has lost lots and lots of pounds. She’s done very, very well. And even now I don’t coach her anymore. She still sends me photographs of her food every day.

Ben Pickard: Oh, that’s a great question. I think a huge one would be open-mindedness or willing to set their ego aside. People who come in and are like, “Oh, that’s not what I used to believe to be true but I’m happy to try it because you guys are the experts.” Obviously, I’m being a little sarcastic about it—too lazy for conversation—but when they’re open to trying those things, that’s a huge, huge benefit.Contrary to that, if somebody comes in and they’re like, “I want to get to this goal but I want to do it this way,” it’s really hard to help that person succeed.Another big one would be, I guess, compliance. Even though it’s kind of got a negative connotation but if we’re working on a mutually agreed-upon plan that you’ve sat down with Kat, you’ve hashed out the details that these are your action steps on a daily or weekly basis and then you’re not doing them or not filling out your check-in or not having good communication, it makes it really hard to work with you through your goals. Having that willingness to do the work is crazy, crazy important.We’ve got a client who, crazy life circumstances that he was going through, he’s now at the, I think nine- or ten-week mark, give or take. Under three months and he’s down 30 pounds. We’ve been doing, I want to say, fundamental stuff but just executing it perfectly. He nails it on a regular basis. That’s why he’s getting such good results.

Breanne Celiberti: I think that the most common traits would be that they’re very mindful of themselves. Self-aware, I guess. Knowing what’s going to keep them from getting to their goals.They might know the specific schedules they need to train on. Just being aware like, “Okay, I need to go to the gym every Tuesday and Thursday and get my training session in.” Where people who are more lackadaisical, they probably aren’t going to have as much success because they might be coming to me to train, they might be canceling, sometimes be late and it’s going to hinder your progress.

Keri Heickert: Wow, that’s a great question. I love analysis. So I’d like to say that everyone who’s successful is a professional in the corporate world. But I have some stay-at-home moms that are really successful. They have their own little corporation they’re managing.But I think there’s the sheer will. I can’t make you want to do this anymore. Believe it or not, I’m your coach, I’ll support you, but I’m not going to drag it out.So you have to have some sort of internal will or some internal motivation, whether it’d be very small. Because the biggest internal motivation, you’re doing it yourself. You just have to have some sort of will. Perseverance, because it’s not always perfect. It’s being able to go with the ebbs and the flows and be able to change. So you want to be adaptable.So perseverance, adaptability, and they’re really good at communicating. Some of my favorite clients are the ones that articulate everything. And I say everything because that means they’re listening. So they want to know about a lot and they have lots of questions and maybe they don’t understand or our points don’t even align.

Get More Helpful Tips and Tidbits

This was just a robust sampling of the motivation, mindset, and methodologies that our exercise experts have been providing to you, our audience. If you missed any of our previous interviews or if you wish to gain more wisdom on specific tips and techniques to help you along your fitness journey, visit our Fitness Experts Hub and get caught up.

The start of the new year is just around the corner. Goals are being set as we speak. But you don’t have to wait for the dawning of a new calendar year to begin receiving helpful hints for a healthy lifestyle. Incorporate some of these best practices shared by your fitness professionals and exceed your fitness goals.

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Winter Weight Loss Mistakes | The Leaf Nutrisystem Blog

Winter Weight Loss Mistakes | The Leaf Nutrisystem Blog

Weight loss experts used to warn us that on average, Americans gain seven pounds over the holiday season from Thanksgiving to New Year. Fortunately, more recent studies have dialed that number back to what looks like a more manageable pound or so.

For example, one 2016 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that in the U.S., we put on an average of 1.3 pounds after the holidays. (For those who are already overweight, other studies have found it can be as much as five pounds or more.

We are not alone. The researchers, from Tampere University of Technology in Finland, found that packing on pounds over the holidays isn’t a uniquely American problem. Germans gained 1.8 pounds and the Japanese put on an extra 1.1 pounds over Christmas. Everyone also overdid it on national holidays, such as Thanksgiving, Easter and Golden Week, a Japanese holiday that occurs in May.

But it’s actually worse than it sounds. A full half of the pounds that Americans and their friends put on over the holidays, the study found, stick to them like super glue. After dropping half their holiday weight gain, they stopped losing weight, so they still weighed more than they had before the holiday meals and festivities began.

Now, multiply that by years. That’s one answer to the age-old question, “How did I gain so much weight so fast?” We make all kinds of mistakes in the winter months that sabotage our fat loss diet goals, and not just over the holidays.

25 Weight Loss Wins That Have Nothing To Do With The Scale

Read More

Here are seven winter weight loss mistakes you might be making and how to avoid them:

1. You stick to traditions.

holiday meal

You always have turkey with all the trimmings, sometimes twice during the holiday season (an average of 4,500 calories, according to research from the Calorie Control Council. You always bake gingerbread men with the kids or grandkids (at 158 per man, according to one homemade recipe from for this holiday treat). And it wouldn’t be the holidays if you didn’t make your famous Buche de Noel, a delectable concoction of sponge cake, chocolate and heavy cream (484 calories—most from fat—according to Bon Appetit magazine’s recipe). You warm up cold winter nights with comfort foods such as mac and cheese (one cup made from a mix is 405 calories a cup, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)) , and thick, beefy stews (at least 210 calories a cup, depending how you make it according to USDA).

Solution: To lose weight in winter you’ll need to change up your traditions. Choose your favorite foods from your holiday meal and take one serving of each. Focus less on food and more on experiences. Trade the annual cookie bake-off for a day of crafting or ice skating. Skip your fancy calorie-laden dessert and become the life of the party by bringing board games to play after dinner. Feed your cravings for comfort food by indulging in Nutrisystem’s creamy mac and cheese, Chicken Pot Pie and Hearty Beef Stew—tons of comfort, fewer calories.

Get perfectly-portioned Nutrisystem weight loss meals to ensure you stay on track. >

2. You use busyness as an excuse for unhealthy choices.

holiday busyness

One Cornell University study, published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, found that having a busy schedule was the number one reason families made unhealthy food choices. In winter, to your already busy days, you add holiday shopping, decorating and delays caused by bad weather—so of course grabbing a bucket of chicken or ordering a pizza seems like a good solution…until you step on a scale.

Solution: Even if you can’t slow down your life or offload any of your daily tasks, you can be prepared for those times when you used to turn to the drive-thru. Make sure you have your Nutrisystem snacks with you so when you hit a snag finishing up your shopping at the mall you won’t be so hungry that the temptation to binge out is too great to resist. Keep your kitchen stocked with the fixings of healthy Flex Meals—veggies all cut, simple recipes at hand—or do some binge-cooking on the weekend so you have microwave meals in the freezer.

Get your Nutrisystem snacks right here. >

3. You drink too many calories.

holiday drinks

Alcohol at parties, hot chocolate drinks after a day of skiing, sledding or even shopping–those liquid calories add up. Alcohol has almost the same amount of calories per gram as fat (seven vs. nine according to a study conducted by Middle Tennessee State University), and a typical hot chocolate with whipped cream from a major national chain is 400 calories (before you start adding the syrups according to Worse,  liquid calories may not be filling, so you could put away 400 calories at a sitting and still want more. Not only that, alcohol can chip away at your willpower so you’re likely to have more.

Solution: Wise advice any time: Drink in moderation. According to Berkeley Wellness, A five-ounce glass of wine is only about 100 to 190 calories; a 12-ounce bottle of beer is as little as 55 calories and up to 200 calories or more; and a 1.5 ounce drink of liquor 90-165 calories or so. Stick with one, and make sure it’s not “supersized.” Many bars serve six to eight ounces of wine, and your cocktail might contain two or three times the amount of alcohol recommended for one serving. Your bartender can tell you.

You don’t have to give up those delicious hot chocolates and creamy lattes either. Just be smart when you order. Ask for skim milk and turn down the whipped cream. Love those seasonally spiced lattes? Order a small with nonfat milk and without that swirl of whipped cream on the top!

Grab a few protein-packed Nutrisystem shakes to curb the liquid craving. >

How to Bounce Back After a Day of Overeating

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4. You don’t eat as many vegetables and fruit as you do in summer.

Fresh fruits and vegetables

Yes, the farmer’s markets have largely closed down. No more fresh lettuces, juicy tomatoes and fresh-off-the-tree peaches. You miss those fresh salads the abundance of berries and fruits so your intake slacks off.

Solution: Expand your produce repertoire. There’s still plenty of cold weather produce to choose from, like Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, turnips and carrots, that can be shredded into salads or roasted to sweetness. Some fruits, like clementines, apples, and pears, are most abundant when the weather turns cold. Don’t turn down frozen and canned versions either. You’re not losing any of the health benefits. Studies have found that nutrient content of frozen and canned veggies doesn’t vary greatly from fresh.

 5. You’re too “nice” to regift Christmas cookies and turn down party treats.

Christmas cookies

It’s hard to say no to the party-giver who spent days preparing a ton of food and keeps running plate after plate of delectable goodies under your nose urging you to “just take one,” or assuring you that “it’s just once a year.” It’s even harder—no, impossible—to give back your sister-in-law’s chocolate chip banana bread or your neighbor’s cookie tray.

Solution:  At parties, you can avoid temptation—and insulting a solicitous host—by bringing your own healthy appetizers or desserts and always keeping something you know you can eat on your plate. Then it’s easy to say, “Oh, I’d love to, but I don’t have room.” Or you can come clean: “It looks amazing, but I’m committed to sticking to my diet, even at parties.” The food gifts you receive are a blessing in disguise. They’ll save you some time and money: One less gift to buy or make!

Grab your favorite Nutrisystem desserts to satisfy your sweet tooth while remaining on track. >

6. You hide under layers.


Sweaters, layers and coats are a place to hide from a body that makes you unhappy, but you’re dieting. You’re working on a body you can be happy with and that you don’t want to hide.

Solution: You may be able to hide from others, but there isn’t enough outer wear in the world that can hide your weight from yourself. And you don’t want to. Let it be your weight loss motivation, and certainly don’t be afraid to show off your hard work in a shirt or dress you’ve been eyeing up at your favorite store.

 7. You don’t exercise because it’s cold, rainy, snowy, windy, dark. . .winter.

lack of exercise

According to a Gallup poll, exercise frequency drops off precipitously the minute the weather gets little cold and messy. This can cause problems when you are trying to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle throughout the holidays.

Solution: This is the time to pay for a gym membership or a few pieces of exercise equipment—like bands, kettle bells or a step that will let you exercise indoors during inclement weather. But winter offers you a unparalleled opportunity to burn more calories in less time. By being a bit cold—enough to start shivering—you can burn 300 more calories a day, according to George King, MD, of the Joslin Diabetes Center. Cold burns more calories by activating brown fat, a special kind of fat that acts more like muscle to torch calories.

Need a little help to get on the healthy track this winter? Get started with your Nutrisystem meal plan today to avoid the winter weight gain! >

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Grain-Free Sweet Potato Banana Nut Muffins

Grain-Free Sweet Potato Banana Nut Muffins

Leftover sweet potatoes and ripe bananas come together to create these healthy Grain-Free Sweet Potato Banana Nut Muffins.

A fluted tin tray filled with Grain-Free Sweet Potato Banana Nut Muffins on a medium gray surface.

Sweet Potato Banana Nut Muffins aren’t just any ol’ muffin!

I love all kinds of freshly baked muffins. I’m not too picky about the flavor, I just love sinking my teeth in a freshly baked warm muffin slathered with butter. Are you with me?

In fact, back in my college days, I worked at Perkins and any broken/deformed muffins (and other baked goods) were fair game. I definitely had to use my willpower not to go too crazy with the baked goods, otherwise, I’d end up with a carb crash and stomach ache city. While I do love me a good mammoth muffin from Perkins every once in a while (yes, the whole thing), I also know that they’re made with way too much sugar, white flour, and really no beneficial nutrition provided. Bummer, I know!

Close up of two Grain-Free Sweet Potato Banana Nut Muffins stacked on top of one another (with chocolate chips and walnuts on top).

But I’m here to save the day with the solution to this muffin dilemma. While these Sweet Potato Banana Nut Muffins may not be as mammoth as Perkins muffins, they’re MUCH more nutritious, have about an  of the amount of sugar (and not the white stuff), made with only whole food ingredients, high in fiber and also include an option to boost the protein with your favorite protein powder. In addition, they’re gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, and paleo-friendly.

By adding a little protein powder to this muffin recipe it helps to balance out the nutrition and provide an adequate source of carbs, protein (10 g) and healthy fats. This results in better fuel for your body and a longer-lasting source of energy. If you don’t have protein powder on hand, no worries. While I recommend it, I’m all about sharing simple substitutions so feel free to substitute almond flour in its place.

Enjoy Sweet Potato Banana Nut Muffins for breakfast, as an afternoon or post-workout snack, or a tasty lunchbox addition that kids will love.

I love that these muffins not only provide a good source of quality protein but also great nutrition thanks to the sweet potatoes, banana, and walnuts. In addition to the ingredients called for in this recipe, feel free to add additional flavor with coconut flakes, dried cherries or cranberries, raisins, mini chocolate chips or change up the chopped nuts with pecans or almonds.

You can enjoy the muffins as is or top them with some banana slices and slather them with a little butter, almond butter OR…

A grain-free sweet potato banana nut muffin topped with banana slices and almond butter.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links that won’t change your price but will share some commission.

Drizzle ’em with coconut butter! So good.

To drizzle with coconut butter, melt the coconut butter until drizzle consistency. If tackling this task in the microwave, microwave in 30-second increments until drizzle consistency is achieved. You can also melt the coconut butter on a stovetop. What’s nice about topping baked goods with coconut butter is that it’s low in sugar, hardens nicely, tastes delicious and a little goes a long way.

Fun fact: Coconut butter is simply a spread made from the meat of the coconut. To make your own coconut butter you can process unsweetened coconut flakes in a food processor until a butter is formed. 

Close up of a Grain-Free Sweet Potato Banana Nut Muffin that has been sliced in half revealing the delicate crumb.

Sweet Potato Banana Nut Muffins are freezer-friendly too.

It’s always nice to stock the freezer with a few re-heatable items – and muffins are great for that. Simply remove from the freezer, pop in the microwave for 30-60 seconds or in the oven set at 300ºF until heated through.

Are you ready to sink your teeth into these Sweet Potato Banana Nut Muffins?!


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Let’s Get Cookin’

Sweet Potato Banana Nut Muffins

Leftover sweet potatoes and ripe bananas come together to create these perfectly textured, high-protein, Paleo-friendly, Grain-Free Sweet Potato Banana Nut Muffins.

  • Author: The Real Food Dietitians
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 17 mins
  • Total Time: 27 mins
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x
  • Cuisine: Grain-Free, Dairy-Free, Paleo


  • ½ cup cooked sweet potato puree
  • 1 banana, mashed (~⅓ cup)
  • ⅓ cup almond butter, room temperature (may substitute any nut or seed butter of choice)
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 3 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  •  cup coconut flour
  •  cup almond flour
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt (decrease to ¼ tsp. if nut butter contains salt)
  • ⅓ cup walnuts, chopped
  • ½ cup optional add-ins – chocolate chips, dried cranberries, dried cherries, raisins, or coconut flakes.


  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners or grease with oil.
  2. In a bowl, combine sweet potato, banana and almond butter; stir until smooth.
  3. Next add the whole eggs, maple syrup, and vanilla; stir until smooth.
  4. Lastly mix in the coconut flour, almond flour, ground cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and walnuts.
  5. Divide the batter evenly, filling each of the 12 muffin wells about half full.
  6. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes before transferring to wire rack.


  • Serving Size: 1 muffin
  • Calories: 130
  • Sugar: 7 g
  • Sodium: 210 mg
  • Fat: 8 g
  • Carbohydrates: 12 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Protein: 5 g

We’d love to hear if you give this recipe a try – comment below!

Pin it now to make ’em later!

Photo Credit: The photos in this blog post were taken by Jess of Plays Well with Butter

All photos and content are copyright protected. Please do not use our photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this recipe, please rewrite the recipe in your own unique words and link back to the source recipe here on The Real Food Dietitians. Thank you!


About Stacie Hassing

Stacie is a Licensed and Registered Dietitian from rural southern Minnesota where she and her husband reside on 5 acres with their two pups, Walter & Lucy. She’s a creator of simple and wholesome recipes, a lover of nature, a crossfitter, a seasonal runner, and she’s on a mission to inspire as many as she can live a healthier and happier life from the inside out.

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