The Fitness Field: An Insider’s Keys to Success in 2016

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By Rob Ziruolo, Site Manager

A new year is upon us, and once again it’s time to engage in the annual self-reflection that most of us embark upon this time of year.  Looking back, was it a good year?  Is your 2016 starting point a stronger position than where you stood a year ago?  Did you reach your goals for the year?   Your foothold in the fitness world, whether in competition, personal training, writing, sales, photography, or something else… Is it stronger than it was a year ago?  Have you grown your opportunities, wealth, and long-term outlook in this muscle realm over the past year?   Or, do you feel you’re just running in place, spinning your wheels with lots of ideas but nothing tangential to show for another year of effort?  Whatever your position, let’s dive into some ideas you can employ to make 2016 your strongest yet in the fitness world!



We’ve been taught from a very young age never to put all of our eggs in one basket.  If you trip and fall, you’ll have a protein-rich pile of broken dreams, and nothing to fall back upon.  Likewise, your career options should never sit in a single basket, dependent upon one employer, company, or client for all of your income and opportunities.  The market, our industry, and life in general is just too volatile.  Keep options open.  Develop new services, products and marketing offerings in your spare time.  Even if you’re not running full speed ahead with these ideas, you’re preparing them so you can hit the ground running if your personal training gig dries up overnight because your gym changes management or an economic shift makes your role one of the first to be cut from most household budgets.  Always have a Plan B, Plan C, Plan D and beyond.  You may just stumble into an opportunity along the way that you never saw coming.  Possessing alternate options also puts you in the driver’s seat in your current positions.  You’ll always have more bargaining power thanks to additional career possibilities at your disposal.  Split your time and grow your alternative career options on a regular basis.


Improve. Daily.

Many of us finish high school, college, or other industry certification or training, and we just stop learning.  We found our groove and built up our skill set…  It’s time to earn, right?  Yes and no.  Of course, it is always nice to move from paying from an education, to being paid for your efforts.  However, like any vehicle, home, or Zubaz collector’s item, depreciation applies to your degree, certification, or skill set as well.   The degree you earned in 2015 is current and modern.  In 2025, that same degree will be a small footnote on a resume which had better have improved since then.  The key to longevity in any industry – and in particular the fitness world – is to add to what you offer clients, what you know, and what you can do – on a daily basis.  You don’t have to spend three hours each night cramming with the physiology books to become a better personal trainer – but a few minutes each day spent studying a wide variety of topics of industry-relevant interests, will allow you to continually grow and improve. This makes you more marketable, more desirable to clients, and will allow you to move up your income bracket at the same time.  A little bit each day goes a very long way!



If you’re working in the world of muscle, fitness, figure, powerlifting, supplements, promotion, competition and beyond… there’s a very good chance that you already don’t fit into the 9-5 box which encapsulates most people around you.  More likely, you’re used to odd hours, working weekends, and enduring 8 to 10 “mini-shifts” each day.  You laugh at the idea of a 40 hour work week.  However, with this unconventional approach to planning a work week also comes the tendency to spend TOO MUCH time on certain aspects of your work world, leaving inadequate amounts of time for family, friends, relationships, faith, school, and beyond.  Or worse, you’re never able to leave your work world behind, and you’re texting clients and setting up show contracts while at romantic dinners or during pre-school dance recitals.  Compartmentalization is the key to solving this problem.  Imagine a dresser containing all of the aspects of your life.  Open one drawer (work) and spend a few hours tackling it with great intensity.  Then close that drawer and open up the next drawer, whether it’s family, school, household, or anything else.  Give that new drawer your very intense focus – then close it and move to another.  Keeping multiple drawers open at the same time means you cannot focus on any of them with optimal attention, and all of your clothes get mixed up as well!



It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.  In the past, this meant you had a trusty Rolodex on your desktop, containing the telephone numbers of a few dozen friends and industry allies.   In 2016, your Rolodex is a collection of Facebook friends, Twitter followers, and a few thousand friends, clients, competitors, and complete strangers you’ve LinkedIn to over the past few years.  While this makes contacting anyone simple (due to greater communication and more data), it’s made creating actual connections (proper use of information to see tangible results) much more difficult.  The fitness world is everywhere, from personal training clients in Florida, to supplement store owners in Texas, to fitness training manual authors in New York City – connected more than ever, despite the ever-growing crowded nature of the industry.  Find ways to break through the social media haze of relationships. Run into someone in person.  Send someone an actual gift.  Deliver a hand-written note by courier.  Stand out from the bunch, and you’ll be the first person on the minds of those in need when something new crosses their horizon.


Watch the Trends.

Timehopping can be fun.   Look at that haircut you wore 3 years ago.  What were you thinking dating that person?  Wow, did you really look that skinny before having kids?  Yes, looking back can be entertaining, but it also helps to reinforce a lesson we’ve heard many times, but rarely apply: Look forward.  Scanning back over the online bulletin board world of 2003, or the “Wild West” style of muscle message boards of 2007 and you’ll see plenty of signs and clues of trends that would be mainstream a few years later.  Imagine getting in on CrossFit at the ground level.  Contemplate knowing the ups and downs of the pro-hormone market before it happened.   Wouldn’t it have been nice to sell your stock BEFORE the brick-and-mortar supplement store world took its downward turn?  The signs are all there, in plain sight, with chats and conversations openly discussed.  The key to your success in the fitness realm of tomorrow is being able to identify which idea, product, training style, publication, or information delivery system is going to be most attractive to customers in 2016, 2017, and beyond.  Use past historical data, and of course your own base of experience to determine where you should devote your resources in the coming years.


Be Right. Once.

Going beyond the day-to-day growth and improvement of your foothold in the fitness field, you should always be cognizant of massive opportunities, ideas, and creative endeavors which may hit you at any given time.  Always keep an eye out for the diamond in the rough, that once-in-a-lifetime invention, brand, or product/service offering that the industry would love, but just hasn’t been offered (yet!)   Many Joe Sixpacks have quietly retired to a lifetime of whey margaritas simply because they came up with a clever idea, and had the audacity to run with it!  Sure, they may have started out just like the rest of us, but intellectual lightning struck once (as it does to all of us eventually), and because they were able to spend a few hours each weekend developing an amazing idea, they were able to promptly cash in and retire as a result.  Stay consistent with your daily drive and continual improvement, but always keep an open mind to that one big idea which only a person with your unique set of skills, experience, and creativity can develop – then RUN with that idea.  Success is out there, you just have to think of it.  Once!

We all have our own unique paths in life, and in business.  Make your mark in the fitness world in 2016 by maximizing your opportunities, improving your organization, and putting your ever-improving skill set to work.  A year from now, your competitive foothold in your lane of the fitness industry will be stronger, provided you choose wiser steps…..each step along the way.  Good luck!

One of the most experience marketing and media professionals in the fitness industry, Rob is responsible for designing and programming more than 500 industry websites spanning an entire decade, with a portfolio that expands to multimedia production, editing and strategic planning. Rob is also a lead designer here at DigitalMuscle!