Are Low Cost Memberships Worth It? | You Get What You Pay For

June 11, 2021….that’s how long it’s been since my last post on this platform. Trust me, getting the message out there has only evolved.


Since then I have done a few public speaking events and live interviews (which you can all find on my social media).




This one needs to be put on here as I believe this is the best way to give a perspective that goes deeper than a 60-90-second video.

Besides…reading is fundamental.


That being said…


Is it me, or is it that when people pay for “low entry cost” gym memberships, they have a harder time staying committed to their goals?


The benefit of coaching for 16+ years is observing the evolution of people and the business of the fitness industry. Recently, I had a consultation with an individual who was “looking for coaching” while they had a “$30” membership to a local chain gym.


I even remember back in the day I had a client who I worked with, that had a whole ass membership at another gym in the area.


Realizing they had spent over $700 over 8 months for a family membership NO ONE was using.


This was the reason for the success of a lot of “express gyms” that were prevalent before 2020.


Fast forward to today… a LOT of those gyms are not in business anymore. Mostly from poor management, yet, another reason I’ve noticed is a lack of VALUE.


The reason why luxury things are so desired isn’t because of how expensive it is. It is because of the attention to detail that goes into providing a solution to the inconveniences of life.


In general, that is why some of the best things in life ARE NOT free. Especially when it comes to services that people provide.


From starting out charging $80/mo. for unlimited training (I know ??‍♂️) to 4 figures a month for personal coaching, has taught me a lot about quality AND the opportunity to achieve results:


Higher Cost Yields Higher Driven Clients


Truth be told, my highest-paying clients have been the hardest workers and the most consistent. The correlation is not causation, yet it is a very curious observation.


Check out these stats pulled from an article from (sources are listed).

It’s all about how much skin you have in the game. At a certain cost point, it seems like it goes from something to have (I.e. a gym membership) vs an investment.


Yes, people who do have appointments and a purpose for how they use their time, tend to get what they want out of the situation. In other words: get a Coach ?


Low Budget Memberships > Paid Gym Services


It’s also been my observation that the majority of people who pay for coaching services/classes at the gym get the best results. Aside from the accountability factor, paid services legitimately allow you to maximize your time with minimum effort.


I’m talking about paying someone to help strategize your workouts and your meals for you.


While the cost is higher than a simple gym membership, waking up and going to the gym and getting straight to work rather than figuring out what you need to do is incredibly valuable.


How do I know this? On average, it takes me 20 minutes per client to write 1 week’s worth of workouts. Now, that’s me talking as a seasoned professional. Imagine the average gym go-er figuring out how to program for their next PR in the gym or train for a specific event.

Even those who want better for themselves, know themselves well enough to admit they NEED someone to keep them going to the gym.


Right now, I have clients that are both 9 and 10 years in. Consecutively. That is without “taking a break” or “trying something new.” When you have a coach who is constantly learning and growing, this may shock you, but so does the client.

The gym is one of the few places where the majority of the patrons are there to accomplish the same goal:


Natural self-enhancement.


Like teachers and educators in school, coaches are guides to help you decipher information that will help you achieve your mission.


Every day you have a session or a follow-up call, you have an opportunity to fine-tune yourself through the eyes and experience of a professional.


That kind of service is life-changing. Who wouldn’t pay for that?


You Save Money Paying For A Coach


Outside of saving time making up your own workouts or perusing the internet for a program that “sounds good”, you end up saving cash on avoiding situations that would occur if you didn’t have a Coach.


A common example is the average American experiencing back pain.

(National Center For Health Statistics)


Arguably, sitting down is a culprit of many people having back pain due to lack of glute engagement. However, lifting or moving with poor posture in the gym, can and does happen as well.


Having a Coach will give you the knowledge and guidance you need to move well AND get stronger safely.


Imagine, sitting out of work or events that would benefit you because of an injury. Taking time off at a time of need could make a huge impact on your life.


Especially when that injury is going to break the bank.


I have had clients in the past who have had surgeries that could knock them out for weeks, maybe even months. Since they have been training consistently, their recovery was a lot faster than their healthcare provider anticipated.


I can say, this is the case with all my clients and those who live a healthy lifestyle.


You’ll Learn More About Yourself Quicker


Understandably, one thing that is missing from a lot of people’s lives is perspective.


In order to gain perspective, you have to open yourself to learning from others. First, you have to be honest with yourself in the way you communicate with the world.

Even driving in certain areas of the city you have yet to discover may shock you to see certain living conditions adjacent to your own.

Perhaps observing someone in public who may seem young enough, is having difficulty moving about the world due to their perceived physical health.

When you are working with someone close by on a regular basis, you’ll begin to learn about what you can do. More so, you’ll learn what type of communication you need in order to get the job done.

I cannot begin to tell you have I have been able to change the way I communicate with people in general. Simply because some of my clients require lots of words and descriptions of movements and exercises. Instead of turning that “feature” on and off, I’ve learned that others may require a certain level of communication as well.

You see when you invest time into a Coach, you’re also paying it forward.

Each and every opportunity you have to work with a professional, they’re always in the process of understanding people.

With the right one, this also allows you to be open and transparent about certain details of yourself at the moment while you’re training.

A good Coach asks questions to help you get the job done.
A GREAT Coach asks questions to you understand yourself.

To learn more on how to find a “Top Level Coach” in your area, click the link to read my FREE E-BOOK.

For Coaching, click the link to apply today.


Self-Care vs Doing For Self

I’m not going to lie, folks.

It’s been a minute since I’ve written one of these.

So I’m happy to be back giving you all value.

So why now? What’s so special about this topic to bring me to write again?

For those who have worked with me know I do what I do to the fullest. Going above and beyond for my clients is GP (general practice).

The other day I had a video call with a remote client who’s going through it. Understandably, they took time off the training program to handle their situation and did what they needed to do to keep it going.

Some days it meant ordering pizza; yoga, stretching, gaming, binging some movies, etc.

Yet. The anxiety still remained.

Upon our conversation, they understood their actions were self-described as “self-care”. Even though deep down, the lack of satisfaction remained.

Now I’m no therapist (even though going through my own therapy and 14+ years in the biz certainly makes me a mental health advocate), however, it seemed they were “doing what they needed to do”.

NOT what they wanted to do.

This was a breakthrough and a newfound understanding of what needs to happen arrived.

So now that you have a better understanding of where this is coming from. Let’s dive into it.

Instagram: train_with_donovan


As a health and wellness advocate, I hear this term thrown around a lot. It doesn’t matter what it is (as long as it’s not hurting anyone), if you need to do it then you should do it.

All of 2020 has pushed people into therapy, coaching, and lots and lots of YouTubing and reading for self-help/self-improvement.

If you’re reading this and that’s you. I salute you.

However, observable reality has shown me that “self-care” is merely a spark to the flame that allows you to keep doing what you need to do.

In the conversation I mentioned earlier with my client, they took the actions needed to go to work and function.

For them, self-care meant having the ability to go to work.

Going to work allows them to have an income.

The income is used to have a sustainable lifestyle and fund their training and provide security.

Makes sense to me! No doubt, that’s foundational.

But there’s more to it than that: Doing what makes you HAPPY.

This leads me to my next point…


It might sound strange, but self-care isn’t necessarily what will bring you happiness and satisfaction.

It’s important to understand,

Doing what you want for yourself that you look forward to is essential to a fulfilling life.

You’ll notice when you do what you want for yourself on your own time.

With little to no effort.

With excitement.

You just feel different.

You feel fulfilled. It’s no amusement park necessarily, but you almost feel like…you’re having fun.

So when you do for yourself, your whole energy changes.

THAT’s how you know you’re truely doing [what you want] for yourself.

The Take Away

Make no mistake. Self-care is essential. So think of it like this:

INVEST in self-care so you can SPEND time and energy doing what you want.

That being said, to have a fulfilling life you absolutely need both. To have a good balance of these requires work and getting into uncomfortable situations of the unknown.

With so much going on, one of the most important things you can do is simply prioritize.


Credit: Next Level Gents

When you opt to go with what’s comfortable, you lose at the end of the day.

You must be a risk-taker.

You must get out of the house.

You must go and do what you know and feel is necessary to reach a different level in your life.

To do this, you must move with urgency and arm yourself with enough information to make calculated decisions.

This is how the most successful and happiest people move (regardless of what your definition of success is).

Thank you for reading. Share with a friend who might need this read.

Do the work.

Inquire about personal training or remote coaching

Here —->

What Training Businesses Should Have Learned From Shopping Malls

Ah, shopping malls.

They once were the place where you could meet up with your friends.

It was a place where you could get some new swag, get your nails done, have a soft pretzel, Christmas shop, eat lunch; hang out, watch a movie at the attached movie theater, etc.

Shopping malls, in other words, were the shit.

These days they’re looking more and more like a scene for the next season of Stranger Things with portals randomly appearing in front of Orange Julius. Kiiiiiiiinda creepy.

Starcourt Mall (Stranger Things, Season 3)

Sounds a lot like what’s going on right now with gyms and training businesses, eh?

To quote a scene out of the Matrix, ” everything that has a beginning and an end”.

Sounds grim I know. Though from this side of the fence, that simply means you must adapt to survive. The key is to also start sooner than later. Fortunately, the nature of the fitness business pushes you towards finding other ways to acquire clients.

Courtesy of The Matrix Revolutions

Like the many shops in malls everywhere, training business fail. Only catering to walk-in customers places you in a box (not the Crossfit kind).

Much like training centers and coaches, many already rely on person-to-person business interaction. Sometimes on an hourly basis.

This is where providing services online comes in.

Recently, I shopped at a local grocery store and they announced they’re providing curbside service and more recently, online ordering. It sounds like something everyone should be doing, but they’re not.

Understandably, the “old school” business owners looked at online services as a hassle and not as personal. Which in many cases is true. However, what is true is not always correct.

Being different and holding on to what’s old can simply leave you behind. You simply must do what it takes to stay in the game. Even if that means you have to get out of your comfort zone with how you’ve done things in the past.

As they say: “it’s not too late to teach an old dog new tricks”.

]As a trainer and a coach, I am my own business. This gives me a lot of freedom, yet a lot of responsibility. The truth of the matter is, not everyone is ready to take on that kind of heat.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have coached clients online over the last 10 years plus. As you can imagine, it’s serving me and others who do online coaching well. The clients I currently have can easily transition to getting the same quality programming…with a different workout view.

That being said, the most important lesson out of all what is going on right now is simply this:

Dig the well BEFORE you’re thirsty.

I recall the week before everything was about to shut down, I was already being asked: “what are we going to do moving forward”? Of course, I already had this online coaching system setup.

All I had to do was explain how they can pay. How they’re getting their workouts. From that point on, it’s simply business as usual.

I’ve even begun doing Skype/ZOOM sessions with my clients to add to my services. I can’t believe how fun and easy it is. However, none of that would be so simple if I hadn’t dug that well ahead of time.

The Take-Away

Become more customer-focused.

Do what you can to give your clients the best experience when working with you. Yes, the fitness industry is different from a retail store.

However, when a client wants to continue their progress all the while their situation changes, your value as a coach/trainer is based on your ability to adjust and adapt to the circumstances.

If you’re able to come out of this alive, begin building other ways to provide services to your clients/members all at the same time when things are good.

If you’re interested in getting coaching and getting yourself set up for when you can get back out into the wild, fill out the questionnaire below.

Home Gym Starter Kit: Quarantine Edition

If you’re reading this and you’re stuck indoors and/or your gym is temporarily shut down, you’re left with the “home gym”. You know, the equipment you may or may not have neglected for a year or 10. That treadmill or elliptical that’s currently your glorified coat hanger is your saving grace.


Ah yes. Tough times are upon us.


However, if you’ve been training for a while, you’re probably not going to give up that easily. After all, “training” is far more than getting after it in the gym and working on your physical. The process in itself is also training your mind. The situation has changed. But YOU remain the same.


Now, looking around the house you may not have a lot of equipment. Or more like…no equipment at all. Well, there’s good news and bad news.


The bad news: If you need toilet paper, you’re probably going to run to the store and not find any.


The good news: gym equipment is likely still on the shelves!!!


Health and fitness are key to living a life of abundance and happiness. You’re simply giving yourself the ability to have access to many things life has to offer. Right now, tons of people are working from home. Some are advised to stay in completely given their particular situation.


If you know me, MOVEMENT IS MEDICINE. Because right now, strengthening/maintaining your immune system is far more important than ever. You see, training was never meant to be about looking good in your clothes or boosting self-confidence. It’s a real thing and yes, those things are BYPRODUCTS of living a “healthy” lifestyle. The truth is, training is designed to help you live longer. Along with getting adequate sleep and proper hydration and nutrition.


Let’s get nerdy for a sec.


There’s a thing called Telomeres which is responsible for keeping track of how we age. These bad boys protect our DNA. How can you tell how old someone is by analyzing their DNA? Peep the telomeres, son!

Telomeres are the caps at the end of each strand of DNA that protect our chromosomes, like the plastic tips at the end of shoelaces.

Without the coating, shoelaces become frayed until they can no longer do their job, just as without telomeres, DNA strands become damaged and our cells can’t do their job.



So these guys shorten as we age AND can be shortened by things like stress, smoking, obesity, LACK OF EXERCISE, and poor diet.


So while they can’t grow back, we can certainly maintain what we have.


All that being said, some of you are working from home [with your kids around perhaps], dealing with current health issues and keeping yourself from new virus(s).

Stressed? Pfffft. Nahhhhh 😉


Okay, so you’re wanting to workout and want more options than bodyweight. I gotcha covered.


Here are some items I think are the best bang for your buck without breaking the bank. Now, if you have some of these, great! If you have none of these, you can do some serious work with even just 1 of these pieces of equipment.


I’m going to rank the equipment based on affordability, ease of storage and versatility. 


So let’s get to it.


Home Gym Equipment #1: Yoga Mat

One of the easiest, inexpensive and versatile pieces of equipment you can have in your home. Simple and easy to clean, too. From yoga to pilates to strength training and perhaps the “no pants” party. The yoga mat is a foundational piece of equipment every residence should have.


Price: $12 and up.


Home Gym Equipment #2: Stability Ball

It’s inflatable therefore super practical to move around. Also called a Pilates ball, I’m a huge fan of this one. Primarily used for core exercises, this guy can toast your legs as well. Seldomly will I use these for upper body movements for my clients, but that depends on their current fitness level.


Its unstable nature presents limiting exercises. Meaning, if balance is an issue or limited strength you’re forced to work on your balance by doing pregressional. In other words, the stability ball is humbling AF!!


Price: $9 and up


Home Gym Equipment #3: “Super Bands” Resistance Bands

When it comes to improving the immune system, strength is king! You can legit get a full-body workout from head to toe with these. 


In my opinion, they’re an accessible version of dumbbells or a barbell. In other words, the same movements using dumbbells and bars can be done with a band. You may need to hook it around something sturdy or close it in a door. This strength equipment is probably the best bang for your buck equipment on the list solely off of versatility.


Price: $45 (for a pack of 4). Bands these days come in backs and varying strengths. Another reason why this is a great buy for the home gym.


Home Gym Equipment #4: Kettle Grip

Now, I could talk about dumbbells and getting a set of them. Even the adjustable kind. That’s a no brainer. Now if you can get kettlebells, that would be a solid buy. However, kettlebells are NOT cheap. So, I’m going to meet you halfway.


Enter: The Kettle Grip


You can have a small dumbbell set AND with this, turn them into kettlebells. Genius.


Price: $34.99. Will you have to buy dumbbells first? Yes. At the same time, you won’t have to buy kettlebells!! BOOM!


Home Gym Equipment #5: Jungle Gym Suspension Trainer

Wrap it around a tree, a solid pipe in your basement, or even in your door.


But why not the TRX, Coach??!


The goal here is to get the best bang for your buck, right?? Well, the Jungle Gym Suspension Trainer is just as good, if not better. What is it? It’s a piece of equipment that you can have a total body workout with and “make the world your gym” (I think that’s TRX’s slogan, but whatever).

You can even hook it up to something like a sled or a plate and drag it.  I’ve used it for many workouts in the hotel and even at the park. Suuuuuper versatile. Great buy. Good long-lasting materials.

Price: $69.99. Is that inexpensive? Well… a base TRX runs for $150. You be the judge.


Hey D, where can we find these items?!

Let’s be clear here. You can buy just about anything on Amazon. We all know that. BUT. I highly recommend you do your homework and search for local stores and support the small businesses in your area before looking elsewhere. It’s better to get it now, than wait till it comes in the mail for you to get started.


Well, that completes the list, folks. A super simple and inexpensive guide to building you a solid home gym. In case you haven’t noticed, practicality is my M.O. When you’re able to leave the house, you can take these just about anywhere you go.


When you’re ready to level up, hire you a coach or a trainer to build you a solid program for your particular situation. Here’s a link to my questionnaire to get you started.

Keep moving and be safe out there folks!

My very first Podcast Interview!

What’s up y’all!

Obviously I don’t post much, but when I do, you know it’s something you SHOULD read.

Well today, there’s not much to read. However, there’s plenty to listen to.

Recently I was interviewed on the A News You Can Use Podcast that “highlights black-owned businesses, events, services, music, and products.”

I talk about how I came to be as a business owner and Personal Trainer. We discuss how to monetize your business and a bunch of other knowledge bombs that can help move you forward. This is a syndicated Podcast that will reach across the country and overseas.


I’m incredibly grateful for this opportunity. Give it a listen for over 2 1/2 hours of great digestible content. Perfect for a plane ride or commute to work!

You’re Not Fat

Right off the bat, this article is inspired by the latest Dave Chappelle standup on Netflix. At the end of his show, he talks about getting advice from his dad. Growing up he didn’t have a lot of money as a child and therefore he didn’t have a lot of things other kids have (things haven’t changed much these days, eh?). 


One day he got frustrated and told his dad, “I hate being poor!” His dad slammed down the newspaper he had and walked over to him with a stern look on his face. He said calmly, “Oh Dave. We’re not poor. 


You see, poor is a state of mind…you, my son…..are broke.”


It was hilarious. You have to see it. Though of course, I see things differently and are always thinking critically. For some reason, this got me thinking about some of what I hear quite a bit from clients and other people when they say:


“I’m Fat.” 


Saying, “I’m” means that you’ve taken ownership of some sort of behavior/personality/identity.


Here’s the deal. You’re not fat. You HAVE fat. There’s a difference.


And if what you HAVE defines who you are, when we’re all in a lot of trouble.


It’s like when people say they’re rich, yet they don’t have a lot of money.                       


Whatever you say you are, you’re correct.” -Henry Ford


Saying “I’m fat” is just as much of a mindset as saying “I’m poor”. It’s not reality. The reality is you can improve your body as much as you can improve what you think and say about yourself. 


To show how powerful a mindset is, there are people who have gone from clinically obese to being physically healthy. 


These individuals still own the idea that they’re “fat.” 


Yes, you may have excess body fat or bodyweight that you want to get rid of and that’s okay. It means you know you can do better. Be better. That’s way healthier than believing you can’t do anything about it and will just accept it. 


Again, what you have is not who you are. It’s simple and easy to say, yet it’s upon you to believe it or not. So, be careful about what you say moving forward. It can have an effect on not just you, but those around you. 


You are not your fucking khakis.” -Tyler Durden

Looking The Part ABSOLUTELY Matters

Anyone who tells you different hasn’t been in the industry long, at all or is just ignorant to human nature. As people we gravitate to the things that relate to us. Whether it is a goal that we have set for ourselves to how we choose the people we hang out with or the job we have that supports the kind of lifestyle we want to have.


In the fitness field looking the part matters. Reading this there might be some scrunched up eyebrows and frowns, but in truth that’s a very very general statement.


Way back when, I had a coworker who was a tall guy. Built like a lineman who no longer played football. Because. He was.


Smart as hell too. At the time he was getting his masters in Exercise Science, had 2 kids and worked part time as a trainer with a full-time job elsewhere. Sure he didn’t workout much, but did what he could given he also had bad knees from his old glory days as a starting lineman.


A member at the gym sheepishly says to me close by “I wouldn’t want him as a trainer. He doesn’t even look like a trainer!”


Was it a bit of a rude statement? Yes.


Were they right? Yes.


Because to them, he was not an example of someone who would understand HOW to get to where they wanted to be.


If you’re an aspiring Powerlifter, you’re naturally going to want to seek out someone who is proficient in coaching Powerlifting. More than that, you’ll likely want someone who has been/currently is a Powerlifter. Same thing with a wrestling coach or a perhaps a golf coach.


In the world of Personal Training, the general population want to look and feel better. They want to hire people that has experience doing this. It seems like it’d be that simple


Though we have to be real about this fact: In a lineup of fitness coaches, if you were to choose one based off of how a coach looked, from how they dressed to level of their physical fitness, you’d choose the one the looks the MOST “fit”. By that I mean they pass the eye test; with no regard for whether or not you think they’d be a total asshole or has a PH.D. in BroScience.


         This is a real thing, folks


Again, we tend to gravitate towards the people whom we can relate to whether or not we can currently fit in or want to be associated with them so we can eventually fit in. Remember back in high school when you sat at the same table with friends who were just like you? You probably see this at work too.

You probably get along with coworkers who have kids because you have kids.

Or dogs.

Or a Siamese fighting fish.


                       Majestic, aren’t they??


As a trainer, when you begin to understand this it becomes all the more important to work on yourself as a marketing tool. More important than that, you’ll need to know WHO you want to market to.


Because being physically FIT doesn’t mean you’re going to get all the clients you can handle. In my experience watching the evolution of the fitness industry, more and more people are wanting to work with people that either look like them or look similar to where they want to be. I know it doesn’t sound any different from what I’ve been saying so I’ll explain further.


My coworker, the former football player, had a good amount of clients who were built like HIM. Today we call his body type “the dad bod”; a bit softer, not too muscular, beer belly, relatively small legs in comparison to the rest of the body. You get the idea.


These guys gravitate towards him because that’s where he was at the time. So his clients felt like he UNDERSTOOD them where they were at. Which is the underlying key here:




Lot’s of coaches and trainers think they can get by with their “looks” but the fact of the matter is if you have no personality or show that you care about your clients they’ll eventually leave because of that. It’s that simple.


I had a client who told me to my face that my “body was made of granite” and that I “looked like a superhero”…while standing next to his wife.


Was he scared? No. Was I physically intimidating? Sure.


And yet we spent to years training together because I knew how to connect with him other than me standing there looking pretty.


I know people who have changed their lives through fitness and very soon became a fit pro themselves because they felt compelled to help others once they had a breakthrough. It didn’t matter whether or not they were actual good movement coaches or that they looked like they lost a lot of body fat.


The basic level of training they got was good enough for their clients right away because there were people who knew their history of struggle. These trainers could have been 20, 30, 40lbs overweight. To their demographic, they were the perfect coach. They wanted someone who didn’t make them feel like they were being “judged”.


Now there are plenty of coaches who look physically “fit” and have clients who don’t look like them and have great success. This happens because once the trainer got to know who their client is as a person, a human being, they didn’t pose as a threat.


As a coach, if you’re seen as a threat, you won’t be approached by someone who could benefit from your resources and knowledge. So, “looking the part” is more than wearing clothing that makes you look like a greek god or being able to lift massive amounts of weight.


In the 21st Century, you must have a digital look or image that is favorable to your audience. What you do, what you say, who you support. This all factors in how you look to people. Like training, consistency is key.


End of the day, knowing yourself. Being true to yourself and being able to connect with whoever you’re coaching is what makes a successful coach. So don’t just rest your  “looking the part” idea to get ahead in the fitness business.


Focus on BEING the part.

How To Ace Your Internship

2016 showed there roughly 300k “trainers and aerobic instructors “in the U.S. alone, with a projected 30k increase in 10 years. That’s a lot. Needless to say, the market is spread thin thus allows for a better opportunity for someone to pick just about any trainer they want. Which leads me to make this very important statement:

We as trainers should be grateful to have clients. They don’t HAVE to work with you. They can easily decide to work with someone else.

Let that sink in for a minute.

The moment you let up or decide to become less invested in your own professional development is reason number 300,000 and 1 for them to move on.

If you’re reading this and looking to get a great start in the fitness biz, you’re already ahead of the curve. The best way to start your training career is to follow those before you and forge your own path standing on the shoulders of giants.

For me, I was fortunate enough to be thrown in the wolves; crawled through 500 yards of crap and come out on the other side squeaky clean (Shawshank Redemption anyone?). But I didn’t do it alone.

Back in 2007, I heard of guys like Mike Robertson, Mike Boyle, Eric Cressey & Tony Gentilcore (The CSP version). I trained a lot of women so I began learning a lot from women in the field as well as Molly Galbraith and the badass ladies at Girls Gone Strong. I was a sponge that soaked everything I read and watched and I’m glad I did.

One thing I could have benefited from was having an internship. For me, I knew I wouldn’t be where I am if I hadn’t put in the hours training real people. Who knows how better I’d be if I had an internship at a world-class facility like CSP, Defranco’s Gym or Results Fitness.

Sometimes when you’re applying for an internship at different gyms you don’t always know what is expected of you. So I wanted to get some insight from some of the best for all the noobs of what some of the best gyms around are expecting of YOU.


Tony Gentilcore (CORE), Mike Robertson (RTS & I-FAST) and Chad Hobbs (Crossfit Bloomington-Normal & The Bloomington-Normal Athlete Factory) weigh-in.


What Are The Benefits of an Internship?

Tony GentilcoreHow else is one going to figure out if this industry is right for them? I liken an internship to an “ooch,” which is a phrase I learned when I read the book Decisive by Chip and Dan Heath. An ooch is an experiment or a way to test a hypothesis.

– Do I really like working with a wide variety of people?

– Can I see myself training/coaching people on the gym floor as a career and not just a hobby?

– Am I cool with wearing sweatpants or shorts to work everyday?

An internship allows for a brief period of getting one’s toes wet and helps them figure out if this is really something they enjoy doing? I mean, if you accept a job out of the gate and two weeks in you’d rather be jumping into a live volcano that sucks.

Imagine one, five, ten, or an entire adult lifespan of feeling that way towards your job.

An internship, hopefully, will prevent that from happening.


Mike Robertson– “Probably the biggest benefit of an internship is having the ability to take what you’ve learned over the course of your collegiate career and really get mentored in the process of coaching. It’s different when you have to go in and teach somebody. It’s an art and a science to what we do; trying to get people to do what you want whether it’s coaching and cueing of an exercise or what they need to do outside the gym.”


Chad Hobbs– The benefits of an internship are endless given the intern applies themselves and emerges themselves into learning as much as possible (both good and bad) with their time at a facility. Questions are paramount, usually, if an intern is eager to truly learn no question will ever go unanswered.


What do Gyms Expect of the Interns as they start?

TG- When I was at Cressey Sports Performance we tried very hard not to put too much weight into someone’s resume.

A piece of paper doesn’t speak to someone’s work ethic, willingness to learn, openness to new ideas and ways of doing things, ability to follow direction and take constructive criticism, initiative, or whether or not they’re just an uppity jerk who thinks they know it all already.

We gravitated towards people who wanted to learn, showed up on time, and could be a team player.

It’s as simple as that.

I think most gyms are looking for that.


MR- As far as expectations go, it’s basic stuff. We want somebody that wants to be a pro; show up early, dress appropriately, ask great questions which is such a huge portion. Having the curiosity. We want people that are curious and ask questions respectfully.

So on one side, it’s about being professional, to asking great questions and constantly learning more about what it is we’re doing.


CH- This varies. It is up to the gym to lay out their guidelines for the intern to follow. A clear understanding of conduct, punctuality, and standards should be followed.


Where and how do you look for interns; what makes them stand out?

TG- Recommendations help. If another colleague of ours reached out to us and said “so and so is an amazing human being and would make an awesome intern” and then personally vouched for him or her, that would almost be a guarantee we’d take them on as an intern.

Outside of that, at CSP, 95% of the interns were/are taken on via the internship application process.

First and foremost, the first “layer” or “test” is whether or not people can FOLLOW DIRECTIONS.

– Do they send in all the requested material by the end date?

– Do they send in all the requested material period?

– Can they write well? When you have dozens if not hundreds of applicants, first impressions matter. If you misspell someone’s name, write in the wrong facility on your application, can’t differentiate between you’re/your, and/or it’s readily apparent there was zero effort put into the cover letter, then it doesn’t matter if you graduated Magna Cum Laude, have every certification under the sun or read Supertraining to orphaned kittens on a weekly basis, you’re likely not going to be considered.

As far as what makes interns standout?

The ability to make connections with people. Knowing the x’s and o’s of program design and how to break down deadlift technique are splendid skills to have. However, the ability to connect to people, talk, and develop relationships is often what separates the masses.


MR- As far as finding them, the biggest thing is to find them through the internet. We have a fairly decent presence, but reaching out to local colleges; can you be on site. It comes back to meet the expectations. If they can’t they’ll probably stand out in a negative way.


CH– Interns apply through their universities most of the time. Resumes are great but I look for the in-person interview as the standard if someone will be joining us. They have to be personable without that you are not fit to coach at this facility.


What should interns do to get the most out of their internship?

TG – Show up, smile, ask questions, train with the staff, fail, fail again, be open.


MR- I would say to strive to constantly not only meet but exceed expectations. It’s not enough to just show up. Ask questions about things that aren’t clear to you. You need to constantly be a sponge; constantly taking notes after every session as to what you saw that day, which drives the next round of questions. Constantly evaluating yourself as a coach, as a practitioner to see what’s working. The failures are what drives us. Going through those with either your mentor or on your own is what makes us better as coaches.


CH- Ask Questions


How did you develop the process at your facility and has it changed?

TG- Well, in terms of CSP all I can speak to are to the years I was there (2007-2015). We kinda winged it to be honest. Our first intern was Brian St. Pierre (of Precision Nutrition fame), who just kinda showed up one day to say hi and it turned into him interning for us.

He was then eventually hired.

As our notoriety grew, so did the interest in people wanting to intern with us and learn.

When I left we had more or less three intern classes per year (four months) that entailed a pretty detailed onboarding process (rules, expectations, etc), weekly staff meeting, and consistent one-on-one “check-ins” with staff to discuss strengths/weaknesses/favorite He-Man characters.

I believe now there’s an even more extensive curriculum – exercise library required reading the material, in addition to weekly in-services, interpretive dance-offs, etc.

I think the establishments that do internships well are constantly evolving the process…tweaking this, changing that, it’s never a set thing and there’s a consistent pattern of honing the systems involved. And while I was kidding, I think interpretive dance-offs should become a staple…;o)


MR- When it started, it was just Bill and I. You used to just come in and chat with us. Now, we’re not the only people here so we have a way for you to come and speak to our interns and bring up topics for you to talk about and then teach us those topics you bring up. The changes are constant. We have a document of things you need to go through which spans across 16 pages now that came out of necessity. For instance, we had a kid who swore he didn’t smell after he worked out and didn’t shower. We said ‘no, you need to go home and shower before you get back on the floor.’  

We had another kid that would show up at start time and would proceed to go into the bathroom and comb his hair for 30 minutes. So all these things are now expectations that we weren’t clear enough on. We have documented these expectations so that way we have a clear understanding and therefore making our business consistent and smooth, and I feel like that is what has helped us evolve over the years.


CH- It is in the process of changing. We need a comprehensive online “packet” to feed to the interns that cover all expectations, standards and coaching ed. This is a current project.  

What’s great about interviewing these pros I have a profound respect for, is seeing the similarities in their answers. Here are the key takeaways from the write up:

  • Be a professional- this is about showing up on time [read: early], dressing appropriately and not coming to work smelling like a wet dog.
  • Be coachable- are you the type of person that can follow directions well? Great gyms have their brand and own way of doing things. You as an intern are going to be an extension of their gym. Learning how they do things and following their direction is a really great way to solidify your spot on their roster.
  • Always ask questions- gym owners love an inquisitive mind. If you can show that you care about what’s going on around you by asking questions and taking notes, you’ll stand out amongst the group of others trying to get a job.
  • Immerse yourself in the process of learning- learning is indeed a process: Learn under a mentor. Go home and read. Come back with what you learned. Discuss. Repeat


If you’re new to the game, go straight to the top and learn from the best. We are standing on the shoulders of giants. The more you know, the better you become to help serve your clients and give them the results they need and deserve. Best of luck. Go get em, rookie.