2023 marks the 20th anniversary of my personal training business, and I have had the privilege of helping change lives.Today is the day.

Twenty years ago on August 24, 2003, I received my official notification from the Colorado Secretary of State’s office that:

“Core Fitness and Nutrition, LLC has complied with the applicable provisions of the laws of the State of Colorado and on this date is in good standing and authorized and competent to transact business or to conduct its affairs with this state.”

I officially owned a personal training business, and I had no idea what to do or how to make it successful.

But I was ready for the challenge. Twenty years later, I can say with the utmost confidence, that I did build a successful business. And it continues to thrive.

According to an article I found online, there are currently 31.7 million small businesses in the United States, which make up 99.9% of all U.S. businesses. Many small businesses start up every month but the failure rate is high. As of 2021, 20% failed in the first year, 50% within five years, and 65% within 10 years.

I think I bucked the trend with my personal training business.

I remember a buddy telling me when I decided to leave the legal field and become a trainer that most personal trainers don’t make money and eventually quit. And he was exactly right. I have seen quite a few trainers come and go over the years because they didn’t know how to build up their clientele. I hired a few of these trainers, and some of them quit helping me because they wanted to start their own businesses.

Not a single one of them is still in the profession.

What did I do differently? First and most importantly, I didn’t get into this for the money. Yes, being a trainer can be financially rewarding. However, I started this personal training business to help people. If you solely get into it for the money, then you are doing this for all the wrong reasons.

In college, I knew I was going to pursue a career where I was going to help people. At first, I thought that would be something in the financial sector since I have a BA in Economics. But it actually started when I was in the legal profession. After that career wasn’t professionally or emotionally satisfying, I knew I had to find another outlet to help people.

I have always been involved in fitness in some fashion since the age of 14. And educating myself about nutrition was also something that I enjoyed. So after a few months of figuring out what I wanted to do to help people, personal training fit the bill nicely.

Secondly, I invested in learning the business. I followed other trainers across the country who were successful, and I learned from their success. It’s that old saying “Don’t reinvent the wheel.” I looked at what they did and tweaked some of their elements to fit my business. I always tell people that I am a business owner first and a personal trainer second.

Finally, I learned to pivot over the years when things were going south. In the fall of 2010, I lost eight clients in the span of two months. I was really getting scared that this was it—the business was going to fall apart. However, this is when I reinvented the business. I completely revamped my website, switched to half-hour sessions (best idea to date), stopped offering packages and switched to contracts, and joined a networking group. By January 2011, business took off again.

Another pivot came when Covid hit. As we all knew, meeting in person was going to affect businesses like mine tremendously. We all saw what happened to gyms. But my business was set up perfectly to go online. And that is exactly what I did. Almost all my clients stuck with me, and we ventured to the online realm and kept everyone going. 2020 was a small down year for me, but Covid did not put me out of business. And since 2020, I have had the best three years ever, all because of online training.

Over the years, I have always tried to deflect what I have done with this business. I didn’t really take credit for what I had done. But people kept telling me I should be proud of what I have accomplished. Over the last three years, I finally came around to look at what I have built and have reason to be extremely proud. I have built a very successful, sustaining business where I get to help people become healthy and live their best lives. What an exciting and humbling experience.

What does the future hold? I am not sure. Believe me, I still get goosebumps when I look at the success my clients have had and the lives that I have helped change over the last two decades. It’s hard to give that up anytime soon. I am extremely lucky that I have quite a few clients who have been with me for a long time, and they continue to trust me with their health and fitness goals.

In any event, thank you to those of you who have followed me along this journey over the last two decades.

Thank you to those of you that I have not had the privilege to work with but continue to read this newsletter every month. I love sharing my knowledge and hope that you have found some inspiration in my newsletters to work on your own health and fitness goals.

Thank you to all my current and former clients for letting me be a part of your journey. It’s been my honor and privilege to work with you. It’s humbling that you have entrusted me to help you with your fitness journeys. What a gift and a blessing.