This Article Was Originally Published in

The Bodybuilding Biz
By Phil Kaplan

Do something you love and get paid for it? What a dream! Sure enough, a few of us truly enjoy a career in the health-and-fitness field and gain financial independence in the process. Here's a road map to get you started, provided you're equipped with desire, a fitness passion, and the willingness to face a few challenges.

One potential obstacle is an unclear definition of what constitutes a fitness professional. Sure a pro bodybuilder is someone who gets paid for winning physique contests and multiplies his or her worth with endorsements and guest appearances. In 33 years, though, you can count only 10 Mr. Olympias, so while nobody should discourage you from chasing your dreams, the likelihood of finding financial security as top pro bodybuilder is indeed a lofty desire.

To become a fitness professional, you'll have to decide precisely what that term means to you. If it simply means procuring employment with a fitness-based business, opportunity is everywhere! This leads to a second challenge: not having a clear-cut career path. Unlike financial, medical, and even legal arenas, if you strive to establish a fitness paycheck, the path is anything but clear.

The good news? If you enjoy helping others achieve health and fitness, a chance to find financial gain doing something you love is within your reach. We'll glance at both conventional fitness avocations and a few less popular but quite solvent paths for "loving what you do and getting paid for it."

Personal Fitness Trainer (PFT)

With more than 300 certification programs in the United States, the number of individuals calling themselves certified grows monthly while the array of certification offerings becomes more confusing for the aspiring trainer.

Anthony Abbott, PhD, President of Fitness Institute International in Lighthouse Point, Florida, recommends exploring the credentials of the instructors if you want to become certified. "If, for example, exercise physiology is being taught, it should be taught by an exercise physiologist with a minimum of a Masters Degree." Abbott also advises inspection of course materials. "Look for legitimate textbooks recognized by professionals in the industry."

While Abbott admits that many of the certification programs have some value, he firmly believes that two stand alone as measures of competency. "There are only two non-profit professional certifications which are governed by a board of directors and officers elected by the membership, the National Strength and Conditioning Association and the American College of Sports Medicine."

As should any entrepreneur, the certified trainer must explore marketing, networking, and public-relations avenues to attract clients. Successful trainers collect fees ranging from $35 - $75 per hour with the training elite commanding more.

Teaming up Trainers and Health Clubs

Opportunities for trainers to work with fitness centers abound. Consider the exponential growth of obese and overweight Americans; what's clear is a greater need for personal training services that extends beyond the physically fit in search of motivation.

According to Dr. Sal Arria, Executive Director of the International Sports Sciences Assocation, "Over the course of the next 5 years, personal trainers will take over health care in this country. While sick care can be left to doctors, health care belongs in health clubs and prevention is the key to changing the poor outcomes we're seeing in the current system. Successful trainers will thrive by diversifying themselves to address special population groups from seniors, to kids, from pregnant women to the physically challenged."

Begin by getting a credential through a respected organization, then network with health-club owners, medical professionals, and others who might offer a referral system for building a clientele. Speaking with existing trainers can offer insight into the realities of the profession as well.

Health-Club Owner

Among those who harbor the desire to own and operate health clubs, perceived challenges are usually financial. If you have the financing, the licensing opportunities offer instant name recognition, a built-in retail profit center, and a network of owners who can act as models for success.

Ed Connors, President of Gold's Gym Franchising Inc. in Venice, California, entered this industry with two partners purchasing the original Gold's Gym twenty years ago. After Gold's established 530 locations, Connors sold his share and is now President of Gold's Gym Franchising Inc. Connor's story illustrates both, the legitimacy the health club business has achieved, and the opportunity for rapid growth. While most start-ups require $800,000 to $1.5 million, Connors explains that money is only one factor, and not always the most important. "In sorting through applications, we look, not only for financial strength, but also for fitness passion and the desire to be in a service business. John and Kirk Galiani, current owners of Gold's Gym Franchising, Inc., started with a single club nine years ago. Their commitment, dedication, and business sense were vital in their growth and expansion."

Opening a fitness center without firstly conducting a feasibility study and developing a business plan would be like jumping into the Niagara without testing the current. With the market becoming as sophisticated and competitive as it is today, careful analysis is essential before designing your first membership special. That shouldn't scare you, but rather encourage you to apply due diligence. While the U.S. market may appear saturated with more than 14,000 commercial health clubs, trends indicate a continuously growing need and with it, an ever increasing opportunity.

Rick Romeo, Director of Licensing for Powerhouse Gyms International based out of Farmington Hills, Michigan, says interest in gym ownership is growing, but those who are most prepared with the firmest grip on the state of the industry are going to succeed. Powerhouse Gyms receives 200-300 ownership information requests each month and continues to expand steadily with 3-4 clubs monthly.

The numbers tell the story. From 1997 to 1998, U.S. health-club membership rose from 20.8 million to 22.5 million members. John McCarthy, Executive Director of the International Health Racquet and Sportsclub Association, based out of Boston, explains the impact this will have on career opportunities, "The American Fitness Industry intends to reach 50-million health club members by the year 2010. Assuming that happens, this will create 50,000 new full time and 150,000 part time jobs in the next decade."

Other Health Club Options

Some entrepreneurial opportunities offer many of the benefits of club ownership without the need for start up capital. As real-estate developments, hotels, and resorts are all building and upgrading their fitness amenities, many will want to convert their previously unmanned exercise areas into operational, profit-making health clubs. Steve Kass, CEO of American Leisure Corporation, in New City, New York, has been responsible for more than 250 such clubs. "In the real estate and hospitality industries, developers often need a fitness amenity to meet market demand but rarely have expertise in our specialized field. This allows individuals with management, fitness training, and facility design experience to negotiate arrangement for managing full scale facilities without the capital expenses required for club ownership.

Health-clubs used to offer few true career positions, but that's now changing. Terry Dezzutti, Chief Operating Officer of Baltimore-based Merritt Athletic Clubs, is enthused. "Careers for management and department head level positions have increased dramatically. When I started 22 years ago it was hard to find a club management career path. Today, many of the large chains and management companies offer growth opportunities with large salaries and equity potential. As a COO, responsible for 12,000 members, I always have my eyes open for upbeat associates who want to further their health and fitness education and fast track their way up the management chain."

Health club middle managers generally work for competitive wages and have the opportunity to advance. Some positions include fitness directors, aerobic directors, membership and sales managers, and varied other specialty positions. While health club jobs are not typically located through conventional job seeking channels, recruiter Linda Pechjar started H&F Solutions, now based out of Lincoln, Massachusetts, to meet the vast fitness career need. H&F Solutions is an international recruiter for management personnel in the fitness and wellness fields.

Joe Cirulli, owner of Gainesville Health & Fitness in Gainesville, Florida, is the proverbial success story who started as a gym employee. Cirulli suggests immersing yourself in the field if you want to succeed. "If someone has a passion for this business and they're contemplating making a career switch they have to go to work in a club and work every job that company has for as many hours as possible. They should attend all the conferences and the dedication and networking can't help but pay off."

Exercise Equipment Sales

One of the simplest ways to enter the exercise equipment business is to establish yourself as an equipment broker. Affiliation with local retailers or national manufacturers allows you to develop a catalog of products you can supply. Establish a broker's discount which allows you to sell the equipment without a price markup and walk away with a nice profit.

The opportunities also extend into both retail and commercial equipment sales arenas. Phyllis Dannin, East Coast Director of Sales, for LifeFitness, with her home base in Providence, Rhode Island, started in the fitness industry working in health clubs. "I learned how health club owners think and came to understand that they are buying equipment with the end goal of selling more memberships, creating new revenue streams, or keeping members happy." Dannin was driven by her personal connection to fitness. "I'm so passionate about fitness, it never feels like work. I love helping others and exercise equipment is a product with very broad appeal." Dannin explains that as the industry grows, the strongest companies expand and compete for their share of the market. "It's a competitive field with great income potential, and as the big players broaden their scope, it makes for more legitimate opportunities for individuals willing to start in the trenches and commit to success."

Nutrition & Supplements

Despite the growth of health-food superstores, many entrepreneurs are capitalizing on the public's interest in supplementation with specialized nutrition shops and concessions. If you don't have the capital for a conventional store, creativity can spark success. Jack Owoc, President of Vital Pharmaceuticals in Pembroke Pines, Florida is the owner of two retail outlets. He began with $2,000 and a commitment to succeed.

"I was always giving advice on supplements, buying at discount prices and ordering products for friends. I knew I could prosper with a store, but couldn't afford the conventional route. I found an out-of-the-way location for a ridiculously low lease price and talked some of the distributors I'd been buying from into extending a few products on credit. I was a teacher at the time, and my dad would watch the store while I worked. It wasn't easy, but it paid off. My stores now make as much money in a month as I brought in in an entire year teaching school."

A few years ago Jack brought his own protein supplement to the marketplace. Vital Pharmaceuticals now has 9 products and commands sales of $80,000 monthly.

Fitness Publishing

The opportunities for offering information in print range from reaching specialized interests such as the bodybuilding magazines, to more general readership bases such as the City Sports publications. A growing range of publications means more jobs for writers and editors. Conventionally editors work their way through the ranks after establishing positions as writers and journalists, positions which are often filled by college graduates with communications or journalism related degrees.

Debbie Baigrie of Tampa Florida initially aspired to be a Personal Fitness Trainer and believed a few natural bodybuilding competitions would get her some exposure. She amassed a number of titles and soon wound up promoting her own competitions. Frustrated by the absence of a forum for drug tested bodybuilding, Baigrie decided to develop her own. The first issue of Natural Muscle, 16 pages in its entirety, was published in November of 1996. Three years later Baigrie's magazine has grown to more than eighty pages per issue with a circulation of over 60,000 in Florida and California. She is careful to warn aspiring publishers that success doesn't happen overnight. "The fitness industry is cluttered with people who have grandiose ideas, but success is reserved for those who understand the concept of slow and steady growth and who are not willing to give up."

Conrad Swanson, Associate Publisher of Personal Fitness Professional used his fitness passion and his love for business to convince a trade publishing company that a need wasn't being met. As a Personal Trainer with a degree in Physical Education, Swanson was frustrated by the lack of available career information for the fitness specialist. His first pitch to a publishing company was turned down, but a chain of events led him to RB Publishing and within months the first issue hit the press. Today Personal Fitness Professional reaches over 40,000 certified fitness trainers. Swanson offers advice to anyone seeking a fitness career. "You have to take responsibility and meet people. You can't sit and wait for things to come to you. Successful individuals who have opportunities to offer are attracted to desire and drive."

Massage Therapist

Massage therapy is a truly emerging field and anyone with a knowledge of anatomy and muscle function is of course going to have an advantage in Massage Therapy training. As alternative medicine grows in popularity, Bodywork, a specialty area of massage, has become the number one modality of treatment.

Dirk McCuistion, C.M.T/ N.M.T is a certified Massage Therapist and Neuro-muscular therapist in Boulder, Colorado. His interest in massage therapy arose out of his career as a competitive cyclist. "As an athlete, I reaped such incredible recovery benefits from massage therapy that I decided to explore it as a possible career. The pay is good, people are always happy to see me, and the hours are flexible." McCuistion offers advice to anyone considering a Massage Therapy career pursuit. "Get your feet wet with an introductory class at your local massage school. At the very least your training in massage therapy will increase your own self knowledge of mind and body, physiology and function. This will be a valuable tool in whatever health related field you decide to pursue. In the best case scenario you will find a rewarding career both financially and personally."

Required qualifications for Massage Therapists vary from state to state. Some states require licensing. The most recognized organization for the massage therapy profession is the American Massage Therapy Association. Since the course offerings and requirements vary, McCuistion suggests seeking a program through a COMTA (Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation) approved school, with a minimum of 1000 hours of training to ensure a strong foundation and valid credential in the field.

Advanced Education: Related Careers

Sports Medicine - An athletic history and fitness passion have laid the groundwork for many medical professionals with specialties in Sports Medicine. If you have the desire to put in the time and effort required to make the most of a medical education, the Sports Medicine fields opens doors for doctors to specialize in working with athletes.

Dr. Kevin Kessler, the Director of Sports Medicine at Imperial Pointe Medical Center in Broward County Florida, was an athlete up through his early college years with an affection for soccer and tennis. When he felt he had to back off on his athletic participation to commit fully to his academic curriculum, he went on to Medical School and became an Orthopedic Surgeon. Today he actively participates in physical activity and continues to connect his fitness regimen and his career. "The better acquainted I personally become with athletics, the better I become at understanding the mindset of the athletes I have as patients." Dr. Kessler suggests that anyone with an interest in pursuing a career in Sports Medicine invest a good amount of time investigating the field. "As an individual progresses toward the level of surgeon, there are opportunities to use acquired knowledge to find careers in related fields. One step along the way is to seek internship positions with team physicians on the sidelines. This may appear to be a glamorous endeavor. In reality, you have to have a true passion for the field to enjoy the work."

Chiropractor - The link between fitness and medicine has grown stronger than ever and a great many chiropractors find their foundation in fitness or athletics.

Dr. David Yachter, a chiropractor in Plantation, Florida was very involved in exercise in college and became very distraught after an auto accident left him injured. "I couldn't walk. I crawled into a chiropractor's office and walked out! I was 20 years old, looking for something in the physical sciences, and not only was I improved, but I was hooked. I knew this career was for me." Yachter believes that the time to enter the field is better than ever. "When I got out of school people were uncertain about the validity of chiropractic. Today the public has become not only accepting, but is embracing the value of chiropractic, and those with a commitment to fitness realize the value at an even greater level."

The bond between fitness and chiropractic is age old. Franco Columbu, of Mr. Olympia fame, was one of the first fitness stars to wear the title, Doctor of Chiropractic. The Arnold Schwarzenegger Fitness EXPO now features exhibits and programs by the International Chiropractic Association which further illustrates the increasing link between fitness and chiropractic.

The profession does require at least 2 years of college credit (state requirements may vary) and 4 years of Chiropractic college. To find out more about chiropractic career pursuits, contact the American Chiropractic Association, 1701 Clarendon Blvd, Arlington, VA 22209, Phone 800/986-4636 (

Physical Therapist - This profession also offers a strong link between fitness and medicine. Dean Eberle, PT, ATC, (Physical Therapist, Certified Athletic Trainer) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida says, "A background in sports or fitness provides a great entry into a Physical Therapist's required education. I don't just spew off scientific info, but have learned to relate to patients on an individual level."

Eberle cautions those pursuing PT careers that the industry has become saturated and both starting salaries and opportunities have dropped in the last few years. "When I received my Masters in 1994, finding a PT job was as simple as contacting a recruiter. Today, because of managed care and modifications in insurance regulations, the field has narrowed." Eberle advises anyone pursuing a PT career to reinforce his or her credentials by achieving additional certification in a related area of endeavor. For those who find frustration after completing the educational requirement for a PT career, which includes a Masters Degree, they can continue their schooling and pursue careers as Physicians Assistants, Nurse Practitioners, or medical doctors.

Coach - The passion so many fitness enthusiasts have for their field of specialty can position many of them for careers as Coaches. The coaching opportunities range from the high school level up through Professional Sports. If you aspire to become an athletic coach as a career goal, a 4-year degree in teaching or athletic management is a prerequisite usually followed by a volunteer or assistant position at the high school or college coaching level.

Brian Smith, Head Wrestling Coach, University of Missouri, explains that coaching has to come from the heart. "Sure, some coaches earn six figure incomes, but they are a rare few, and all coaches get involved for the love of the sport or the love of the game. Throughout high school and college, my coaches were my role models and I don't think I could have made it through school without them in my corner. As a coach you're a friend, guidance counselor, and psychologist to these athletes. I couldn't imagine doing anything else. Success in this area stems from the close bonds you create, the people aspect of what a coach can do for kids or athletes."

Athletic Trainer - The opportunities for Strength & Conditioning Coaches and Athletic Trainers range from starting salaries of $22,000 at the high school level up to over $200,000 in the NFL or NBA.

Kerry Rosenboom, Strength & Conditioning Coordinator at Wichita State University (Kansas), suggests that anybody interested in this field of endeavor speak with someone already in the field or with a guidance professional in a University setting. They can gradually accumulate experience as they test the waters to see if it's really for them. "I have many student assistants who volunteer their time to get acquainted with the field. Some Universities even offer college credit for internships. The educational foundation along with networking helps to secure a comfortable position in this field." Rosenboom started his own independent consulting company and has many professional athletes as clients. This has proven so rewarding he's turned down a number of offers from NFL and NBA organizations. "This is what I was meant to do. I take my own athletic background along with the knowledge I've acquired and use it to better the performance of athletes of all levels. I couldn't imagine sitting behind a desk for a living. This is a fantastic profession for anyone who is willing to work hard, has an undying devotion to working with others, and would like a professional position where, as I do, they come to work in sweats and a T-shirt."

As the Athletic Training field has increased in scope, so has the qualification demand. While a B.S. in an Exercise Related field is the underlying requirement, most employment ads read, "B.S. required, Masters preferred."

Nutrition Careers (R.D.) - The nutrition careers are varied due to the wide scope of medical and non-medical applications for nutritional expertise, yet the term "nutritionist" is not legally defined on a national level. If you are looking for a credible career in the nutrition field, it certainly would be a benefit to explore University courses leading to a nutrition-related degree with the goal of obtaining the credential of R.D. (Registered Dietitian).

Keith Klein, founder and owner of Klein's Eating Management Clinic in Houston Texas, has become a well respected nutritional counselor as well as a consumer activist that petitions the FDA, FTC, and USDA in response to deceptive claims made by food manufacturers. Klein explains that when he was eight years old his father used to take him to the gym and he'd sit and read the muscle magazines while his father worked out. It obviously had an impact. Keith's father was murdered when he was 13 years old and he believes that his father's influence at an impressionable age was a spark for his career.

Klein advises college students seeking nutrition careers to look beyond the standard Nutrition curriculum. He emphasis that obtaining the knowledge is only a part of the necessary preparation for a career in today's nutrition field. "A study of Psychology and Journalism would strengthen any nutrition degree since it's difficult to bring about physical change in others without understanding the mind. The Journalism obviously would better equip someone with nutrition knowledge to communicate the information in an impactful and effective manner."

Now more than ever, the fitness industry has opened its doors to allow motivated fitness enthusiasts to profit and prosper and this article was intended to offer a sampling. It is, by no means, a complete list of the careers that can sprout out of an interest in or passion for fitness. While the genetically gifted and dedicated iron warriors will continue to vie for the few Professional Competitive opportunities, nothing can stop you from collecting your share of the billions. A bit of effort, some creativity, and the pursuit of the opportunity that most excites you seems to be the proven formula for those who choose to live their dreams.

* * END * *

Phil Kaplan has conducted seminars and programs for over 5000 aspiring fitness professionals and is the author of the newly released, Personal Training Profits. He is a fitness and health club consultant and lives in Fort Lauderdale Florida. (954) 389-0280

Certification Programs

These agencies are some of those that have achieved some level of recognition within the fitness industry. This is by no means a complete list, but should provide enough information to begin exploring your options.

American College of Sports Medicine
Certification Resource Center
1 800 486-5643

National Strength & Conditioning Association
Certification Commission
888 746-2378

International Fitness Professionals Association
800 785-1924

American Council on Exercise
5820 Oberlin Drive
San Diego, CA 92121
800 825-3636

International Sports Sciences Association
1035 Santa Barbara Street 93101
800 892-4772

Fitness Institute International
Provides vocational schooling for individuals who want to become certified by the most credible organizations (ACSM and NSCA).
954 786-1442

For Health Club Employment:

The following are health club chains and management companies that have entry level positions with opportunities for career growth.

24-Hour Fitness
5020 Franklin Drive
Pleasanton, CA 94588
(925) 416-3100

American Leisure Corporation
(Based in NY with clubs in NY, NJ and Florida)
2 New Hempstead Road New City, NY 10956
(914) 638-2201

Club Sports International
(club management nationwide)
1700 Broadway, Suite 1900
Denver, CO 80290-1901
303 866-0800

(clubs in New York City)
895 Broadway, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10003
(212) 677-0180

Lifestyles Fitness Centers
(clubs in Tampa, Florida)
3018 North US Highway 301 # 950
Tampa, FL 33619
(813) 622-8755

Merritt Athletic Clubs
(clubs in the Baltimore area)
2064 Lord Baltimore Drive
Baltimore, MD 21244
Fax: 410 298 6456

Tennis Corporation of America
3611 North Kedzie Ave
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 463-1234

H&F Solutions
Specializes in recruitment of management personnel in the fitness industry
P.O. Box 266
Lincoln, MA 01773
(781) 259-1010
Fax (781) 259-1152

Licensing Opportunities

Gold's Gym
358 Hampton Dr.
Venice, CA 90291

World Gym
2210 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA 90405

Power House Gym
24385 Halstead Dr. #2000
Farmington Hills, MI 48335


The following organizations host international conventions which offer trade shows, seminars and networking opportunities for the health club industry.

International Health Racquet and Sportsclub Association
1 800 232-IRSA

Club Industry
800 927-5007

Sara's City Workout

International Dance and Exercise Association

Fitness Jobs and Careers

Personal Fitness Trainer (independent)

First steps: Explore certification options, speak with existing trainers, formulate a plan for marketing and attracting a clientele

Personal Fitness Trainer - (health club)

First steps: Explore certification options, prepare a resume and/or business plan, meet with health club owners/operators

Health Club Owner

First steps: Conduct a feasibility study and prepare a business plan. SCORE can be of assistance at no charge in determining if this is a viable option for you.

Health Club Manager

First steps: Prepare a resume, decide on the type of club you'd like to work with, and set up appointments to meet with owners. Accept an entry level position with a company that offers growth potential. Contact the Human Resources Departments of health club chains and management companies and express your interest.

Exercise Equipment Sales - Retail

First steps: Study the home equipment options, prepare a resume, dress your best, and arrange interviews with Exercise Equipment Retail Stores

Exercise Equipment Sales - Commercial

First steps: Prepare a resume and contact the Human Resources Departments of the national exercise equipment companies. Attend a trade show and network with others in the field to establish contacts.

Nutrition Outlet / Health Food Store

First steps: Design a business plan, contact manufacturers and distributors and establish purchasing and credit terms. Look into the franchising possibilities. SCORE can be of assistance at no charge in determining if this is a viable option for you.

Product Spokesperson, TV, print, radio

First steps: Put together a promotional video, professional photos, and a bio. You can begin by alerting local merchants who do advertising that you are available. Appointments with advertising agencies, and media distribution avenues such as Home Shopping Network and QVC can open doors.

Fitness Model

First steps: Prepare a promotional kit and visit the modeling agencies. Network at fitness competitions where several agencies and companies seek out new talent.

Fitness Director (health club or corporate)

Most such positions require a Bachelors Degree in an Exercise Field. Experience in the field and viable certification might allow you to move into this position without a degree. An entry level position in a club or organization with career growth opportunities can be ideal for learning the business and moving into management.

Aerobic Director (health club or corporate)

Experience in designing, coordinating, and managing exercise classes is imperative. This does offer an ideal opportunity for an aerobic instructor to advance into the management ranks.

Health Club Membership Sales

The opportunities to earn $25,000 - $50,000 in membership sales are growing more commonplace. If you have sales experience, a passion for fitness, and an outgoing personality, visit some of the health club chains, set appointments with some management companies, and visit some independent clubs to find the variety of positions available.

For Free Business Advice and Assistance SCORE, the Service Corps of Retired Executives, is a division of the Small Business Administration that offers free assistance to entrepreneurs beginning in business. For the telephone number of the SCORE office nearest you, call 1-800-634-0245 or contact your nearest SBA office. Mail inquiries may be directed to: National SCORE Office 409 3rd Street, S.W., 6th Floor Washington, DC 20024 For the SBA office nearest you call 1-800-U-ASK-SBA

Related fields and careers that require specialty certification and/or completion of degree programs:

  • Sports Medicine
  • Nutritionist
  • Registered Dietitian
  • Chiropractor
  • Physical Therapist
  • Athletic Trainer / Strength Coach
  • Sports Psychologist


Jim Sayih - 911 Fitness

During his military service, Jim Sayih became involved in power-lifting, strong-man competitions, and bodybuilding. In 1987 he joined the City of Miami Police Department to serve as a police officer and he became eligible to participate in the Police Olympics. Jim entered the Toughest Cop Alive competition and won a number of medals in the Police Olympics. He pursued his fitness interest by obtaining certification as a Health Fitness Instructor through ACSM, the Cooper Institute and the National Council on Strength & Fitness and soon after started providing fitness presentations to his police department. Although his chosen career was a Police Officer, Jim knew for self satisfaction he'd have to maintain some connection to being a Fitness Leader. When Met-Rx approached the Miami Police Department to conduct a field study, Jim was selected to direct the project. At the conclusion of the study, he was asked to direct the same project throughout the country. Jim explains how that sparked his entrepreneurial interest and led to the incorporation of his company, 911 Fitness. "I conducted body-fat reduction field studies for Police and Fire departments in Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, St. Louis, Cambridge, Dallas and Miami. My involvement brought a genuine satisfaction in that I witnessed, first hand, many positive lifestyle changes for some participants who were heart-attack prospects. I saw the opportunity to build a career and shortly thereafter, 911 Fitness became incorporated." Jim, as President of 911 Fitness, now conducts ongoing training programs for Police Officers and Firefighter nationwide, operates a nutritional product distributorship for Labrada Nutritional Systems, and conducts seminars and appearances to further spread his important message of physical fitness.


Joe Cirulli - Owner, Gainesville Health & Fitness

Gainesville Health & Fitness has received unprecedented recognition from the icons and governing bodies of the fitness industry. With far reaching reputation as a top business man, motivator, and achiever, Joe Cirulli remembers his humble beginnings and shares his success secrets:

"I don't think we've done anything spectacular except to deliver what we promise. That means with each other, our members, and our vendors. Then we work every day to become better than we were the day before. It seems that if a company can keep doing the right things day after day, week after week, month after month and year after year people will eventually hear about it. For us it's almost 27 years. My passion began at 7 years old. I grew up in Upstate NY and I saw some high school football player lifting weights. I asked my parents for a weight set and Christmas brought me a 110 lb. set of Mighty Mouse weights under the tree. Two weeks after I started I brought five of my 9 year old friends into my house and taught them how to lift weights. Thirty six years later nothing has changed except I have almost 20,000 people doing it with me now."

Joe had his challenges. In his first five years in the business he worked for 6 health clubs that went bankrupt. He set some goals for himself, the first being to own a health club in Gainesville. With goals, passion, and a desire to succeed Joe forged toward his goals. "I borrowed $6700 because that's all I could get and I took the leap of faith. The rest is history."


Sara Kooperman, President of Sara's City Workout

Sara Kooperman started teaching group exercise classes to pay bills during law school. Today, Sara's City Workout is one of the largest Fitness Instructor Training organizations in the world.

"Twenty years ago I had a vision that group exercise would become extremely popular. I was surprised by the money I could generate teaching classes and decided I wanted a fitness career. There weren't many business women in our industry back then and I found that people didn't expect aerobic instructors to have business savvy. It was often hard to be taken seriously. After law school I took all of my savings, borrowed some money from my family, and opened an exercise studio. I lost every penny!"

Holding tight to her dream, Sara found that conducting workshops for exercise instructors could earn her more money in a day than she had previously been earning in a month. "After three years of conducting workshops, I organized my first conference with four credit cards and a prayer. I knew there was a chance I'd fail, but experience proved that I can survive failure and come back stronger. That conference was a success and today we get at least 1000 fitness professionals at every conference with five conferences throughout the U.S each year.

"Being an attorney has helped in that people perceive me with a greater level of respect, but it was my passion and determination that brought my dreams to fruition." Sara recommends a similar prescription for anyone with a fitness career dream. "Hold on to your dreams and don't give up. Problems that you encounter are simply your education, and every failure paves the way for the great success to come!"

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If you haven't been there yet find other archived articles:

Creative Marketing Strategies from Personal Fitness Professional
Cable Hookup from Muscle & Fitness

Achieving Professional Status and Pay
Supplements (from Personal Fitness Professional)

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