by Michael Keeler

[Originally Posted October 2016, Updated June 2018]


Dear Fitness Industry,

Am I invisible?

Every day I see your ads online, on TV, and in the street, but none of them seem to be for me. I can see you, can you see me? I know you are a big industry with lots of opportunities to make money, but I think you are missing out on a huge market — people like me.

To be fair, I work in the fitness business, and I know all the reasons the industry functions like it does. It’s an industry full of truly amazing personal trainers and nutrition professionals who get up every day motivated to change the lives of their clients. It’s also in an industry (like most) where the largest fitness companies are often driven more by profit than by people. They design marketing and sales campaigns based more on what sells than what actually helps people.

And here’s the thing, I get it.

As a business owner, I understand the need for a business to actually make money. The industry is full of good people who are put in the tough position of balancing the need to give clients what they want (what will sell) with the need to give clients what they need (what will get results).

So, let’s start with that understanding. I don’t think you are evil, dear Fitness Industry. In fact, I think your work is vital and important, and mostly being done by incredible humans trying to make a difference in the lives of their clients. However, when I put my aside my knowledge of the industry and experience running a fitness business, my personal relationship with you feels very different.

Personally, I feel like most of you don’t see me or speak to my needs at all. And if I’m being honest, it kinda hurts. As a gay man in my late 30’s who was never an athlete (I chose ballet slippers over soccer cleats), I’m not sure where I fit in. Big box gyms just bore me. CrossFit-type-stuff just feels way too hardcore. I’m too old to be enticed by all the trendy shit, but adventurous enough to want more than a series of staid personal training sessions.

Sure, I’ve found some places that work for me, but why is it so hard? Why–in such a huge industry–are there so few fitness companies speaking to people like me?

What did I do to deserve to be cast to the sidelines?

Let me tell you a little about what things look like from my perspective.

I see tons of fitness companies that want to help me achieve elite levels of fitness and performance.

But what the f*ck do I need that for? I’m not an athlete. I don’t need to jump really high or run a six-minute mile. In fact, I kinda hate sports. They remind me of all the jocks who were jerks to me in high school because I was a theater geek. I’m old enough now to have gotten over that shit (mostly), but still, the fitness companies that only talk about sports and performance tell me instantly that I do not belong. That is not my tribe.

I see tons of fitness companies that want to help me get a six pack.

Apparently having a six pack is the holy grail of human aesthetics. Who decided that? I honestly don’t give a shit about having washboard abs. I’ve just never wanted to look like that. Thin, yes. But ripped? No. Let’s just say for a second I did want a six-pack. I’ve been in this industry long enough to know that, for my body type, the kind of lifestyle I’d have to live to obtain and maintain visible abdominal muscles is not appealing to me in the slightest. Whenever I see fitness professionals promising crazily ripped abs it tells me instantly that they don’t understand what’s important to me. That is not my tribe.

I see tons of fitness companies who seem obsessed with wanting to teach me about their unique approach to fitness.

They want to explain to me (in excruciating detail) why they do the type of exercises they do or all the science-y minutia about how they designed my particular workout. I hear phrases like High Intensity Interval Training, Muscle Confusion, and Intermittent Fasting. And on one hand, that’s amazing. I want my fitness professionals to be well educated and up-to-date on all the latest tools and techniques. But on the other hand, I’m sorry, I don’t give a crap about learning all of that. Teach me what I need to know to get results and nothing more. If I wanted an education in exercise science or nutrition I’d go back to college or read a few dozen books.

I’m also not interested in the latest bullshit fad or trend.

I’m smart enough to know that most of the industry agrees on 80% of the exercise strategies that are proven to get results, so save your cleverly branded, focus-grouped, split-tested, fitness strategies for someone else. Give me the meat and potatoes workout, please. Ultimately, when a fitness company seems obsessed with cramming fitness and nutrition knowledge down my throat it tells me that they are more interested in educating me than listening to me. That’s not my tribe.

I see tons of fitness companies that appear to care more about getting me laid than getting me results.

When I see ads for these places I literally laugh out loud. You know who you are. Your marketing always features barely-clothed fitness models who are ridiculously tanned, glistening, and posed in a way that says “you know you wanna f*ck me, so what are you waiting for?” Now, I like a sex as much as the next person, but why does my gym have to be a thinly veiled hook-up club? Shockingly, I’m not looking for my next one-night-stand at my gym. There’s nothing wrong with that, but at this point in my life, I’m just not. In fact, the vibe created by all that cruising and posturing makes me feel like I’m on display — like I’m a slab of beef hanging in some meat market. Again, that environment is probably preferred by lots of folks, but it doesn’t work for me. That’s not my tribe.

So, that’s where I’m at.

I’m like most Americans: overweight, overstressed, and under-inspired by the fitness industry.

Geez, that sounds pretty grim. Sorry, I don’t mean to be a negative Nancy. But that’s what it feels like from my perspective, and I know that I’m not alone.

Here’s the thing, Fitness Industry. I want to help you. I want to help you help people like me. So listen up.

I don’t care about elite performance, but I do care tremendously about living long enough to know my grandchildren.

I care deeply about having a solid quality of life and aging gracefully. I want my later years of life to be filled with beautiful memories of close friends and family, and not full of doctors visits, endless bottles of pills, and long hospital stays. I want to take long walks on the beach when I’m 80 holding hands with my husband without being afraid of falling down. I want a tribe who cares about that.

I don’t care about having six-pack abs, but I want to feel comfortable in my clothes.

When I go shopping for new pants I don’t want to worry if each store will actually carry sizes big enough to fit me. When I sit down I don’t want my belly to hang over my belt and leave a red mark that stares at me in the mirror when I take off my clothes at the end of a day. I want to know that if I happen to be running somewhere without my shirt on people aren’t going to be disgusted by seeing all my fat jiggling. When I fly on a plane, I don’t want to be that big fat guy that takes up too much room. I want a tribe who understands that.

I don’t care about bullshit fads or super science-y fitness jargon, but I do like learning new things.

When I’m introduced to a new exercise it feels great when I can learn it quickly and have some success on the first few tries. So, skip the super advanced stuff you just learned last weekend and feel free to never teach me anything that requires more than a five-step learning process. Let me learn by doing rather than talking me through every painful detail of proper biomechanics. I promise I’ll get better at it, just let me get started. I want a tribe who teaches and learns like that.

I don’t care about getting laid and working out with super hot fitness models, but I do value being part of a community.

I have a strong desire to feel supported and to feel like I belong. Instead of creating an environment where I’m judged by how I look, create space where I can feel included and celebrated for my efforts. Cheer me on when I show up and nudge me to come back if I don’t. I want a space where I can fail and someone will be there to help me try again and remind me that failure is a part of this process. I want to be surrounded by fitness professionals who demonstrate empathy and lead by their own example of caring and kindness. I want a tribe who makes me feel like I belong.

So Fitness Industry, is that too much to ask?

I don’t want to sound greedy, but those things feel like reasonable requests. I know I might not get everything I want, and I’ll be okay with that. I know neither of us has all the answers, and I’m also okay with that. I know that you are a big, diverse industry that couldn’t possibly change overnight, and I’m okay with that.

But really, all I’m asking is please see me. Please don’t forget about me. I need your help too.

Thanks for listening,


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[00:00:00] Hello, fitness business nerds. What’s up? Welcome to another episode of the Business Phen Unicorns podcast, and today I’m super stoked to be back here again with Ben Pickard. Hello. Hello, friend. Thanks for having me. I’m so glad you’re now a regular on this podcast because I just love picking your brain and we get to work together on a regular basis, maybe more than I work with anyone else on the business Unicorn scene.

You and I get to work together, so when I get to share what we’ve been thinking about on this podcast, it feels we’re really pulling back the curtain to show behind the scenes of how we think about our work at Business pH unicorns. So anyway, thanks for being here, my friend. Before we dive into today’s topic, which is gonna be about how to use a business coach, which I’m really excited for, I wanna do a quick little, just shout out a little mini commercial because we are now in, we started enrollment for Unicorn Society.

And if you’re listening to this, when this podcast was released, we’re in the middle of our early bird enrollment for Unicorn Society, which means we have a few spots left. We have a spew few spots open to join our unicorn society. And Ben, do you wanna tell him a little bit about how early bird enrollment works?

Yeah, a hundred [00:01:00] percent. So early bird enrollment for Unicorn Society will launch on May 29th, and typically we only open enrollment twice a year, once at the end of the year for a January start, and once in the middle of the year for a July start. Because we don’t wanna, honestly, we wanna focus on serving our members, not be constantly selling.

So early Bird, you get a bit of a savings. And some perks. And then early bird will close on Sunday, June 12th, which is also my birthday. For my birthday. Join you to Unicorn Society. Oh, what a gift. What a gift. And then registration officially ends on Sunday, June 19th. Got it. So if you wanna save some money, and we’re talking about like saving literally hundreds of dollars, sign up before the end of the enroll period.

And even if you’re not sure if you wanna join Unicorn Society, then just fill out the damn application, follow the link down below, fill it out, and then we’ll have a conversation. And frankly, you’ll probably have a conversation with Ben as your first tip to decide whether it’s a good fit, so you don’t have to have major mind up.

When you apply, applying does not mean we take your credit card and you’re in [00:02:00] applying means you have a conversation with us to see if you’re a good fit for us and we’re a good fit for you. It’s like a first date, and you’ve heard us, I’m sure on this podcast if you listened to any of them at all.

You’ve heard us talk at length about what Unicorn Society is, but Ben, just in a nutshell, who is Unicorn Society ideal for you? Unicorn society is ideal for training gym owners. Who offer a mixture of one-on-one small group or team slash large group training. Ideally, you’ve got a, a couple of team members in place.

You’ve got a handful of clients, radius, semi established business, and that doesn’t mean you have to be making 80 grand a month semi established. This means like it’s not your first rodeo and you’re looking to grow your business, not just I want 10,000 more leads, but you’re looking for like, how do I improve my leadership?

How do I get. Operationally efficient. How do I standardize client experience across the board? How do you like plug all the little holes that often end up on our to-do list but don’t become a huge project? So we’re really good at helping. And I say this cause I’ve done a ton of interviews now and I was a member of helping people who are like already established, have their feet under them, [00:03:00] but are really now trying to make the leap to, let’s make this a real business, so to speak.

A grown up, yeah, a grown up business. And that means like someone other than you is gonna answer. Member phone calls and emails, but you wanna have the same beautiful standard of customer service. And there’s a lot going on with, yeah, beyond just how do we grow revenue? It’s how do you get the pieces in place so that you can grow revenue more easily.

Yeah, said my friend. We’ll leave it there. So friends, click the link down below on the show notes. Visit and click the link to learn more about Unicorn Society. Apply. Have a conversation with Ben. See if it’s a good fit for you, and if not, we might have other ways we can help you. So just be in touch.

This leads us to today’s topic, which is funny. We actually planned this topic before we were going to talk about Unigram site enrollment, but it dovetails beautifully with today’s topic. So today we want to talk a little bit about. How to use a business coach, like how to actually get value from working with a coach.

Cause a lot of you out there have never worked with a coach before, and many of you out there offer fitness coaching and sometimes nutrition coaching. But [00:04:00] working with a business coach is a little different. And so I wanted to talk about what we’ve learned in terms of the clients we work with that really get a lot out of our services.

So maybe let’s just start with this. Who do you think. Business coaching is ideal for Ben, and actually it’s not that different, the question we just asked, but just maybe talking a little bit bigger picture, not just about unicorn society, but generally speaking, working with a business coach, who do you think should consider finding a business coach?

Yeah, it’s a great question. I’m heavily biased that I want to go so far as to say, like almost everybody knowing that yeah, business coaching is an extremely broad spectrum. That is an unregulated profession. So instead of my super coppo answer, I do think it’s really a good fit for people who are like open to having their ideas challenged, know they wanna get to some sort of destination, even if they haven’t perfectly clarified that, but aren’t really sure of how to get there.

And possibly even if they believe that they can get there as I like, yeah, true coaching as we, [00:05:00] me and you have to discuss, but maybe not for everybody. Like we’re not just, it’s not just saying do this and this. It’s not like on the consulting end of the spectrum, so to speak. It’s helping people get clear on their goals, helping identify obstacles and helping commit to consistent action and stay accountable.

So, Even if again, cop out answer, even if you don’t have a crystal clear goal, a really good business coach, case in Point U, that’s why I was a member of her so long. Helps you actually clarify the goals. What do you really want and how can you get there? Because there’s the obvious stuff of business coach can help give you better referral strategies or help you get more testimonials or help you get more leads and those are kinda like checkbox items to a certain degree.

But like really good coaching is getting not just one layer deeper, but I think I’ve actually worded your skills to people like you just cut right through everything I say and get right to the heart of the matter and be like, it sounds like you’re struggling with this and it’s holy shit. I didn’t even realize I was struggling this, I was operating on the assumption that once I get X, then I’ll have Y.

What I’m really looking for is, is this business a ref [00:06:00] accurate reflection of my amazing vision I have for my community? Yeah. I wanna go back and repeat something you shared, but I think is a great paradigm for our listeners to think about, which is, you mentioned fifth three things that great coaches do, and this is not just unicorn, sorry.

This is, we’re talking about coaching as a whole and the great three things that great coaches do is help people identify what they want. Whether that’s goals, a vision, a clear vision of what you want, help them identify and overcome obstacles. Notice what’s getting in the way and get it out of the fucking way as soon as possible.

And number three is to commit to consistent action. So ideally when, if you’re thinking about getting a coach, that you are someone who you think would benefit from ha being more clear about where I’m heading. Having a thought partner to help identify and overcome obstacles more quickly and hopefully more efficiently.

And I want someone to hold me accountable to taking consistent action. So number one thing we hear when working with clients at all is that they mainly want a coach to help hold them accountable because as the owner of your own business, You’re not accountable to anyone. You got no boss. You got no one to report to.

And as coaches, we’re not your boss, but we get to be a [00:07:00] really powerful mirror to you to say, Hey, this is what you said mattered. This is what you said you’re gonna do about that thing that mattered. So did it happen? And if not, we’re not here to judge you. We’re to help you get curious about your own behavior, your own mindset, your own habits, right?

And get curious about how they might change if you’re not getting the outcomes you want from the way you’re working. So I just wanted to re highlight that. Those three things you shared I think are so, I. Critical, Ben, and let’s dive into a little bit. So once someone decides to work with a coach, how do you see people really extracting value from that experience?

Certainly, we’ve already listed a few, but just going a little bit further, maybe give some examples of ways that you extracted value from coaching, or you’ve seen people extract value from our coaching. So yeah, dive in a little deeper. Yeah. I think the first one that comes to mind is what you said about being a thought partner.

Because owning your own business is lonely. Yeah. It’s definitely not all that it’s cracked up to be. Don’t get me wrong. I love that I’m self-employed and there’s all sorts of perks with that. But it also comes with [00:08:00] some things that could easily be perceived as cons, and one of those cons is you don’t have someone in your office building who’s like your co-manager or whoever, corporate works where you can just be like, Hey, can I run this by you for a second?

Because you can’t always run everything by your team. And sometimes even with their best interests, even with their, even if they’re trying to give you their best interest on it, like sometimes they just don’t have all the right information for it to be valuable feedback. Sometimes the thing you wanna run by them has to do with it.

Yeah. It’s about them. Exactly. My trainers have tons of ideas on lots of things, and many of them are great and many of them are not. And oftentimes it’s when it’s like outside of their lane, then it gets a little bit. Blurry and it’s less their hearts for that, but someone at peer, at your level who you can have those deep conversations with to be like, I’m really struggling with X.

Can we talk about it? Like those are some of the best coaching calls I’ve had is when they come in with, I’m struggling with this thing and I’m open to discussion about it. And having that thought part and be like, as you said, I heard you say [00:09:00] it, you’re interested in X, but it looks like you’re doing Y.

How do we help you navigate that? And even if nothing else, just having that person to. Like sometimes all it is reinforcing that does sound like a good idea. What’s the next step? But in that case, you’re still taking something that could have been you mulling it over for three weeks before doing something on it and be like, cool, I’m gonna make sure that’s done tomorrow.

Like you just gained three weeks of progress time and that happens multiple times a year. So anyways, first one is a valuable thought partner because it’s lonely as fuck at the top, so to speak. Yeah. The second piece I’ve found really valuable for having a coach is, And this is like how to use a coach, but it’s not a great use of coaching time to be like, can you tell me about x?

Especially at Business for Unicorns when we have so many done for you resources and videos and courses already created, but using a coach in a way where you’ve absorbed information from one or a couple different places and you need to like it’s jumbled and give you through [00:10:00] it all in a bucket and it’s just a cluster fuck and you want to bring it to the meeting and be like, Hey, I’ve got this bucket of stuff I think is useful, but can we help get it organized?

Yeah. Synthesize, organize. Yeah, exactly. For some reason I have image in my head about a kid’s beach bucket full of like different toys and we need to get them in some sort of order for the benefit of the sandcastle. Not sure. Yeah, I think the thing you mentioned before, I think was a great example of the kind of thing that people bring is, I think you mentioned a few minutes ago, or maybe I just made up in my head, was referral structure, referral and strategy that I would love for, the best way to use a coach, and this is true for example, for us, is that someone comes to say, here are the last three referral programs I had.

Here’s one I just saw on the Facebook Live. You all did, or from our retreat, I got that idea, and then here’s two others I read about. How do I take all this information and decide which one do I do next? Perfect example of how to use a coach as a thought partner and to help streamline like your synthesizing of information.

We’re not there to reverse, which I think you said is not. The way to do is come to a coaching call and be like, tell me about [00:11:00] referrals. Help me understand referrals. That’s not the best way to use their time with a coach. Come with some ideas, and if you really have never done a referral program before, maybe you can start a call like that.

But if every call is about, tell me everything you know about this topic. The knowledge is not the best way to, to use a coaching call. You can Google us, listen to the podcast, read our blogs, go to Mark’s YouTube, take one of our courses, especially if you work with us. There’s so much done for you stuff, and that’s the way most coaches work these days.

Yeah. The knowledge is free. It’s the processing of that information and right sizing it for you, then that’s what a coach can do best. So I just wanted to like Yes. End your answer. So keep on. Yeah. That’s not the antithesis of how we’ve been taught in school. Like you wait for the teacher to give the lesson.

So the method of content delivery is a human telling it at you. And coaching is best served for like the. Area where the two area, the two circles of the Venn diagram, I overlap. And then figuring out how you can roll out that initiative in a way that fits [00:12:00] your business and your values. So a hundred percent.

Yeah. So I said having a a thought partner, super valuable. Having someone to synthesize information for you. And the third one, where we’re gonna get a little more deep here is putting it on just having the emotional support. I can’t say enough how valuable it is to have somebody who you know is just like in your corner.

And I’m not texting when I was a client. It’s not like I was texting you every day or something, but it was really n nice to know if I really am struggling with something that like somebody’s got my back. Because it often feels the government doesn’t really have your back as long as you pay your taxes.

They don’t really give us your tax money and shut the fuck up is basically the message that I hear. Again, you can bring some stuff. And you’re, and for the context, you’re even in Canada and think that, so in the US it’s even worse. You’re even more on your fucking own. Sorry, keep going. Yeah, that’s a good point.

But like I said, you can sometimes bring some stuff to your team, but I don’t know. There’s a boundary there, I think, with a lot of things. [00:13:00] But you can sometimes bring things to a spouse or a parent. I know I’ve talked to a few, be a few members who they’re a family member is basically like, they’re like, CFO or FI or financial officer.

But even then, yeah, I know if I bring work stuff to my wife or she brings it to me, like we’ve both got a lot of biases for each other’s behavior. So it’s not like I’ve even trained myself to some, I don’t do it as much recently, but if she brings me something, I’ll sometimes pause the conversation, be like, Are you looking at for advice or do you just need to feel hurt?

And more often than not, it’s actually the latter. Mm-hmm. So you still got emotional support in other areas. But I know I started my business when I was 24 and I’ve been self-employed since I left school. And like, and we have a son who’s now 11. I’m 33. So the reason the li, the reason this has been so beneficial for me, and I’m imagining there’s other people out there with similar, yet different.

Past of life that this will resonate with is I’m three years into a business learning everything I can, trying to scrape things together to make it work in like the [00:14:00] scrappiest fucking business ever, as many gyms are. And then the friends are in life situations where, yeah, I’m not sure, like my job, I think I’m gonna quit, but I might go on vacation.

And it’s like that peer network, at least when I started out, wasn’t to the same degree. Yeah. Like there was misalignment there and it wasn’t for better or for work. They just can’t relate. Yeah, they just can’t relate. If you have a corporate job, you work for someone else. It’s hard to relate to someone who works for themselves that, and we wake up at early as hell in the morning, so it’s like, I don’t really want to go drinking, which is when most good conver like you, it was hard to go your way.

So this is my roundabout way of bringing it to like having that emotional support from someone who you know has your best interest in mind. Whether you like the thing that just came outta their mouth or not. I know it’s. Best interest in mind and but can also see the whole picture from an unbiased point of view.

There’s like true coaching, as you’ve told me many times. There is no agenda. Obviously we want the person to get to their goals, but how we get there is not set in stone by any stretch. So having that person who’s got your back and you can bring them pretty much whatever, knowing that [00:15:00] even though to a.

An observer. These might feel like completely different buckets. Like we know that work and life don’t completely separate. Yeah. We’re not two separate people. No. Yeah. Unless we’re in the Apple TV show severance. And then you are two separate people. Have you watched severance show? No. I really like, I like Apple people.

Well, we’ll go on a tangent. I wanna start a new pod, a new podcast about severance. So listeners, if you. Haven’t watched the episode, the TV show Severance on Apple tv. Go watch it. It’s wild. It’s about this topic. Okay, so yeah, I’m gonna add one more thing to your list cause I, I think that’s a fantastic list, right?

Like emotional support, thought partnership, et cetera. Those are, I think, all fantastic reasons to, people can benefit from coaching or ways people can benefit from coaching. The other thing that I think is really important, I’ve come to this after having. Been a business coach for many years is I think the best kind of business coaching offers you, dear listeners, both coaching, which Ben described here as a non-agenda, open-ended question, motivational interview [00:16:00] approach to helping you explore yourself.

Get curious about your choices. Get curious about your mindset, get curious about your habits, get curious about what’s working and not working for you. There’s a pure coaching element that I think business coaching has to offer. Then I think also really good business coaching also offers some mentorship and consulting.

I think business coaching has to do all three, and for me, mentorship is working with people who’ve also done what you’ve done. Let’s actually have some subject matter expertise and experience running the kind of business that you’ve run. And so that’s one piece of it. And that way, as a business coach, I can not only help you explore what’s working and not working for you, but can I also, I can also say, here are three ways that I’ve tried to attack this problem and three ways I’ve seen other people try to attack these problem.

Let’s work through all these different options and find out what’s best for you. I’m bringing some mentorship. To the conversation as well. And the third piece, consulting is exactly what it sounds like is someone who’s actually has enough expertise, they can help you diagnose problems and actually offer some solutions.

[00:17:00] Right? And sometimes I offer solutions that are not things that we’ve done at Mark Fisher Fitness that are not things that I’ve seen other. Unicorn society members do. They’re things I just thought of because I’m an expert in some areas and I have a brain that works and is thinking about these things a lot, right?

And that’s just straight up consulting. I’m gonna bring all the data I have and experience I have to the table and help you diagnose a problem in your business and offer some solutions. And I think all three are really important for business coaching. These days. I don’t think it’s enough and back. I think if you would’ve asked me this six or eight years ago, I would’ve probably said that the first bucket was enough.

That just offering pure coaching is enough, and I think it can be depending on the kind of person you’re working with, et cetera. I can talk a lot about that, but I think for most of you, dear listeners who own gyms, the kind of thing, the kind of value you want to extract from a business coach is someone who can offer you all three, who can offer you those big picture questions and those motivational interview open-ended questions.

Someone who can offer you [00:18:00] examples from their experience and some mentorship. Yeah, someone who’s maybe 10, 15, 20 steps ahead of where you are in your business and someone who has some real subject matter expertise and can be a real consultant in helping you solve problems, gain knowledge, et cetera. So yeah, I would say I.

I guess what I’m suggesting there is that you will get more value from a business coach if they are well-rounded in all three of those areas. Does that, is that tracking? Yeah. I’m just gonna reinforce that if you didn’t clarify it, because on the pure consulting end, it can be like, Hey, we’re not converting enough of our members from a low Bay area offer to a membership.

What do we need to do? A consultant can go in, review what they’ve got and be like, this is good, this is, fuck. Just do that. And on the other end of the spectrum, a coach can be like, What makes you wanna approve your conversion? There can, obviously, that’s a bad question, but there can be some good open-ended questions.

Yeah. But the marriage is beautiful because then you can have someone who has the industry expertise to be like, yep, this is the step that’s missing it. It needs to be changed. But then they can factor in the other stuff around like, how does this fit into [00:19:00] your time? How does this fit into your capacity?

Because I’ve seen some coaching programs out there where it’s like, you just need to do A, B, and c. And so, but if you have a kid at home and you’re coaching 30 hours a week on the floor and you’ve also got a laundry list of other to-dos, it isn’t so much the question of like, everybody knows they need to try to convert people.

There isn’t a magic script for this. The obstacle is often a capacity or a limiting belief or a mindset thing, which is where that coach being able to shift gears until, let’s talk about the big picture here for a minute, is so much more valuable. We’re not just a dictionary of answers. It’s how does like life and business fit together in a way that.

At the end of the week, hopefully your bank account is bigger, but you’re also more fulfilled and not burnt out. Yeah. Yeah, I think it really well said. Cause there’s some plenty of times where, you know, both of my work with business coaches and then me in my own work as a business coach, like it’s very clear that the topic just requires some expertise.

Who has some knowledge. If someone comes into a call and I’m stressed about finances and I pay all of my coaches, 80% of the revenue they generate per hour. I don’t need to [00:20:00] ask you any open-ended fucking questions. I don’t need to explore. I don’t, I just, we need, I need to tell you that is wrong. We need to.

Fix that. This is a, this is a bad choice that was made. And we can, I can acknowledge and validate all the reasons why you may be made that choice, right? But ultimately I don’t need to explore. Whereas if someone comes to me and says, they’re just feeling really burned out, they have too many plates spinning and they don’t feel good about the.

Father that they’re showing up as in their life, then I need to have a real coaching conversation. That’s a real chance for me to switch gears and dive into what’s working and not working in this person’s life. And that’s a whole different skillset. So I, I think those are two very extreme examples of very different conversations, and I think the, you can get more value from a business coach.

If they’re able to put on those different hats, and as we both suggested, a lot of business coaching out there only offers one. And again, this is not a commercial for us. Of course, we think all of you should work with us. That’s not a hidden agenda here. But at the end of the day, if it’s not us, we wanna make sure that you’re finding people out there to work with that can put on these different hats for you.

That I would say [00:21:00] run away from the programs that tell you they have some secret formula to success. If you just follow their formula, everything in your life will be fantastic. Bullshit. I also want you to avoid the ones that are also gonna just be like, we get together every month and, and drum circle and write poetry about our business problems should also run from that as well.

I think the reality is you need, I think business coaching should be a mix of those things. I love a drum circle, I love poetry, but it doesn’t solve all of our problems. It solve a few. Yeah. Yeah. And even just to, yeah, you made it sound like those were two opposite questions, which there are, but even on the, Hey, you’re paying your coaches 80% of gross revenue or per session rate.

There’s probably a PDF out there that is, yeah, just fire everybody and pay them 33% or 40%. And coaching can then dance that line between, here’s the problem that needs to be solved, but here’s how we actually roll that in out in a way where your coaches don’t all fucking quit and it takes you three months to get new ones.

And there’s an impact of that. And yeah, the, we can’t stress enough. It’s the marriage of all the, it’s being [00:22:00] able to walk the whole spectrum. That is a strength. It’s not a is better than B, it’s, they’re all useful at different stages. Yeah. Yeah. So I think that’s it. I think people can get more. I think our whole hypothesis here, this podcast episode is people, you can get the most value from a coach when they have a big toolbox, right?

And a proven track record of helping people using more than one. Tool and the tools we think matter are straight up coaching, consulting, and some mentorship. A combination of those things that are really valuable. Maybe let’s just wrap it up with what are the kinds of results you’ve seen people get working with a business coach?

Maybe just thinking about yourself, certainly some of our insider members or just anyone else working with a business coach out even outside of us. What are the kinds of results you’ve seen people get who’ve been able to work with a business coach successfully? Yeah, the most obvious one. Is revenue cuz I haven’t yet to meet a gym owner who doesn’t want to increase the revenue.

Like we just had a testimonial recently from one of our members who through working with us, no, did he get through Covid [00:23:00] relatively unscathed. He also tripled his gross revenue. So that’s a monster win. So yeah, there’s the obvious answers of, yeah, we will help you make more money. And we have tons of case studies and testimonials of how, going back to the emotional support piece, I, I don’t wanna name names on the podcast, but.

Like a laundry list of members who, it’s like that thought partner and that support partner. Really huge. Even if all I did was validate their ideas, which is not how every coaching call goes, but sometimes it is. Having that person where it’s, yes, we’ve, I’ve got these systems in place and we held you accountable to doing that thing.

I feel more confident in my ideas. I improve my team meeting structure. We’re. Not running around like chickens with their head cut off. I don’t think anyone’s actually verbatim said that to me, but that’s my interpretation of how they were operating before. Yeah, and there’s something to be said for not just, Hey, yeah, you’ve got more money, but it’s also, yeah, you’ve got more freedom and you’re more organized and expectations are clear.

Like when A happens than we do B, than we do C. And having that in place would a gym owner can then go on vacation. Or another [00:24:00] person can do consultations or someone handled sessions while you were away. The list goes on of all the benefits for that, but it really is coming around like freeing up time, which is not just your time as the owner, because we work with your entire team.

We treat your business as the client, not you as the client. The whole team is, oh, that’s so much better. That works easier. There’s a better structure for everything goes. Yeah. Said. Yeah, I think that’s it. I don’t think I have much to add is that I think the main benefits I’ve gotten from working with business coaches, I’ve seen people get is that we are able to identify our challenges more quickly, build systems.

To help our business run more efficiently, more effectively, with a less effort over time. And because of all that, I’m more clear and strategic about how I spend my time. That is a thing I’ve seen over and over again, and that all of that has a ripple effect into my personal life and my family, to the team members I work with.

So having those systems in place that make expectations clear, makes everyone more efficient with their time. And because of that, We can have more life outside of work, [00:25:00] which is why we work to begin with for many of us. And I think that’s great. I think let’s leave it there, my friend. Again, this dovetail beautifully with enrollment for Unicorn society, even though we weren’t planning this.

So again, if you wanna work more with us and you’re a gym owner who wants a business coach? We can do all the things we talked about here and more. And so go learn more about unicorn sided. Click the link below, fill out the application, have a conversation with Ben, and let’s see if we’re a right fit for each other.

And if this podcast was valuable, leave us a five star review everywhere you listen and let us know what you want us to talk about next. Ben’s gonna be a regular on the podcast now, so email him ben business Email me mike lip Let us know what guests you want us to have, what topics you want to cover, and we’re excited to.

We’re excited to serve. Yeah, so let us serve you. Awesome. Thanks for a great conversation. Thank you, Ben. I’ll see you on the next one.



  1. Alyssa weishaar

    Wow! Amazing! Great writing. You have just opened my eyes up to the majority of my clients. Having a background in gymnastics, I would have never not thought about someone not wanting to be an “elite” performer. I am so thankful for this honest& open letter. I think it will help me to dial down my volume knobs; in regards to things I obsessively mention when interacting with clients & people in general. This blog post is going in my brain Rolodex and I thank you! Side note: i read every word you write and look forward to getting these post. So much so that I plan on signing up for the coach in consultant program you guys offer!


    • Michael Keeler

      Thanks for much for sharing Alyssa! I’m glad to know my experience resonated with you and could help you in building better relationships with your clients. So excited to work with you on some coaching — let’s do it! 🙂

  2. Maggie

    I have so many FEELINGS and thoughts summed up so perfectly in this post.

    I have always felt that as a curvy (also strong/badass) lady entering a new class, I am met one of two ways:
    1 – “Let’s ignore the chubby girl in the back row who has probably never been in a gym before.” (false)

    Basically, I am met with being completely ignored or completely patronized, and that SUCKS. Of COURSE I’m at the gym to try to get better/healthier/hotter/whatever I want…that’s why we’re all there! I wish more gyms would just see the people walking in the door as *people*, ask what *their* goals are instead of making assumptions, and don’t ignore the people who are working their asses off but aren’t “elite” (like you said so beautifully).

    We all have our own Everest, and all of our goals are valid.

    I also can’t stand fitness professionals, organizations, gyms, whatever who don’t take into account that fact that people are HUMAN. That we will all screw up, we will all eat the cupcake, we will ALL drink a full bottle of wine while we watch Netflix, and we will all have days when getting to the gym feels next to impossible. I think a major failing of so much of the fitness world is that it *looks* perfect. When you don’t acknowledge the fact that there will always be slip ups and little mistakes and setbacks, your clients feel like total failures when they happen and they don’t feel like they’re worthy of your time.

    Instead of focusing on the perfection, welcome the vulnerability. Welcome the idea that we will all need help getting to where we’re going. Acknowledge that there will be days that are really, really hard!! But that they won’t *all* be that hard, and that one bad day doesn’t destroy your goals.

    I guess all I’m asking is that the fitness industry challenge itself to ask more questions and actually listen to the answers instead of making assumptions.

    • Michael Keeler

      Thanks for sharing so beautifully Maggie. It sounds like we share some common experiences. Working on ourselves physically and emotionally can be tough, and it’s really valuable when you can find a group of people who support you without judgement. We can all use more of that 🙂

    • rebecca

      Maggie. You spoke to my heart. As a fitness professional who struggled and still deals with (not so much a struggle now, self-compassion and understanding are huge) all kinds of human-ness, your words hit home. I feel like with my 20 years of experience as trainer, yoga and pilates instructor, and life coach, I try to be open and compassionate, but your words summed everything up so perfectly, so true, so understandable. Thank you – I will be putting your words up on my board as I coach my “wise women”!

      • Michael Keeler

        I’m glad to hear that my words resonated with you, Maggie. Thanks for sharing these ideas on your “wise women” board!

  3. John Bellos

    Thanks for this post, the transparency, and the reminder. I’m coming to the same realization after attending BFU (that’s business for unicorns, not butt f*ck uranus), and observing those around me everyday. The majority of us don’t want to be athletes, we just want to feel good (whatever that is).

    In fairness though, I do believe there is also an issue with perception of the fitness industry. For the most part, an employee of the fitness world has to LOOK like an athlete all the time or they’re just not taken seriously – yes I know that’s not case overall. As a result, it’s hard not to get sucked into pushing that mindset, or to be perceived as pushing it. I’m in the middle of reading “Ignite the Fire” on Coaching (recommended by MF) and it throws that reality at you right in the beginning.

    • Michael Keeler

      John, thanks so much for posting. I agree 100%. Trainers are held to an understandable, but unfair standard. Often clients pick a trainer because they want look like them. The thinking is something like “that trainer is super ripped, so they can help me get ripped too.” It makes sense that clients feel that way, but we both know there are better criteria for choosing the best personal trainer. This is probably fodder for another post entirely because there is so much to talk about, but in the short… I suggest that trainers work hard to let potential clients really know who they are and why they chose a career in fitness. In addition to a hot trainer, clients also want someone they can TRUST. So work hard sharing your thoughts and ideas with clients so they can learn to TRUST you. Ultimately, they make even start to pick trainers for their BRAINS over their bodies 🙂

  4. James Hardy

    The same goes for fashion and beauty industries. Dumb childlike marketing. Lowest common denominator, lets not bother thinking through our customers eyes, just make something pretty and they will be hypnotised , marketing. But like horny pavlovs dogs people follow. I always wonder this about fitness advertising (also junk food):

    Do people follow this sh*t because it speaks to their base immature desires even though it’s unrealistic OR Do they follow this sh*t because it’s the only thing there?? Everyone always says “sex sells” or such like as a post-justification for lazy marketing. But everyone’s doing sexy/cool/airbrushed, it’s everywhere, it sells because it’s there.
    If marketers grew up, would the market grow up?

  5. James Coscina

    Thank you for sharing your story. I love to here the opinion of potential clients. One of my goals as a fitness professional is to listen to what the client needs. For a long time I would plan a workout and system before even understanding what the individual was looking for. Now I create and collaborate with the client and make a program that fits them. Even if that means sending them to another tribe.

    • Michael Keeler

      Awesome post James! Thanks for sharing. Your approach shows so clearly how much integrity you have in your work. Keep it up!

  6. Joe

    This is fantastic. I agree, the fitness industry has gone from the big “we have everything” boxes to the super niche “we count your arm hairs” studios. I think there is a lot of pressure in the industry to go down the super niche path; because you know, “the riches are in the niches”. Great post!

    • Michael Keeler

      Hey Joe! So glad you brought that up. I didn’t mention that in my letter, but there is absolutely money to be made by listening to and serving individuals who are not currently served by the fitness industry. In fact, I would argue that the (roughly) 80% of Americans without gym memberships are alot like me. They don’t have a gym membership because we’re not speaking to them. We’re not talking about what they care about and we’re not serving them in a way they want to be served. So, while I think it’s fair to treat them like a series of niches, the reality is that they are the majority and the 20% of Americans who are our current clients are the niche 🙂

  7. Noam Tamir

    Thanks Michael for such a refreshing piece of literature. People have a variety goals and your goals can’t be their goals. Building a community where clients are like family and we can all celebrate their different achievements together.

    • Michael Keeler

      Thanks for sharing Noam and for building such a great community at TS! 🙂

  8. Radha Agrawal

    Michael – This article is so beautifully written and has opened my eyes in ways you cannot imagine. I honestly never saw your perspective before until now and I’m frankly…ashamed. To Maggie’s point in her comment above, when I taught fitness, I was definitely that instructor that must have made her feel like this when I didn’t mean to at all…
    This lack of sensitivity has to change. Thank you again for opening my eyes.

    I do think whether you are fit or not, there is definitely still body shaming that we all do to ourselves. I’m thin but I often think I’ve “put on a few pounds”. And I just had a conversation with a woman a few weeks ago (she is also thin and has an eating disorder) who hates herself when she eats anything and asks herself “did I eat too much?” and then when she chooses to skip lunch to “stay thin” she hates herself for starving her body of nutrients.

    Even gyms for thin people are not serving thin people. I’m certainly bored by most gyms too!

    Let’s keep unpacking and thank you for sharing and being so vulnerable.

    You ROCK!!!


    • Michael Keeler

      Radha, I’m so touched by your comment and I agree that the shame we can all feel about our bodies plays a huge role in our experience of “gym culture.” I’m thrilled that brilliant and compassionate people like you are influencing the fitness industry for the better. There is so much great work we can all do together! xo

  9. Jill

    We’re out there, Michael! You’re tribe, but we like being outside the box gym! If you’re on Instagram, check out #movnatchallenge to see a whole bunch of differently shaped and differently capable humans doing fun things to be fit.

    • Michael Keeler

      Keep up the great work Jill! We all need more fitness communities like yours <3

  10. Katie

    Michaels letter to the fitness industry really resonates with me. From my perspective as a female coach, working with women, I see the extremes pushed on us on the daily.

    We should all be striving for that perfect ass and six pack that we see on Instagram. (as Michael pointed out, this isn’t our main goal is anyways).

    My clients (including myself) actually want FREEDOM from all these extremes. We want to experience peace with food and not be obsessed about it. We want to be able to still practice self care when life gets hard. We want someone to remind us it’s okay not to be perfect and we want to learn how to release this quest for perfection. We want to stop the all-or-nothing mind games.

    I enjoyed the reminder that I need to keep sharing these teachings and to continue guiding women to find their inner freedom and happiness. In an industry that can be extremely superficial I myself sometimes need the reminder to stay grounded, true to my teachings and that women are craving this tribe I call the Fit Tribe.

    • Michael Keeler

      Beautifully said Katie! So glad my letter resonated with you.

  11. Dawn B.

    This was an awesome post.

    • Michael Keeler

      Thanks so much Dawn! You’re awesome for reading it! 🙂

  12. Dan DaVeiga

    I’m also in the fitness business and I couldn’t agree with you more.
    I understand that sex sells, and that the pain of being dissatisfied with your body can be motivating, but at some point I feel like these marketing angles are doing people a disservice.
    For most of us who don’t care about single digit body fat or how much we can bench it makes it difficult to relate.
    Worse it’s lead to an overemphasis on the superficial benefits of fitness.
    Meanwhile we now know that there are measurable psychological and cognitive benefits to exercise. Exercise has even been compared to drugs like Prozac, but I believe that thinking of it as a medicine is the wrong way to look at it.
    Exercise is an essential nutrient for the brain and body–The benefits are only so profound because our modern lives are starved of it.
    So why does the focus remain skin deep when we know that fitness can change lives in far more significant ways?
    It’s our job as industry insiders to help people to understand the power that fitness has to transform them from within. We’ve got to do a better job of making people realize that fitness is more then just a necessary evil for staying thin, and that getting healthy doesn’t have to take the joy out of your life–Getting fit is the key to maximizing it.
    Keep up the struggle!

    • Michael Keeler

      Great thoughts Dan! Love your site. Keep spreading the love dude!

  13. Dustin Schlichting

    Thank you so much for sharing Michael. As someone who admittedly struggle with awareness of others perspective, I dig this hard. Thank you.

    • Michael Keeler

      Thanks Dustin! Glad I could help you see a different perspective. Stoked to work with you soon 🙂

  14. Ellen Carmichael

    Inspiring blog and in my opinion, your are 150% correct and right on the money. If you want to make a profound impact with people like you who are in the majority, then hopefully you’ll find our tribe interesting?

    It doesn’t matter if you’re big or small, young or old, fit or unfit. When you walk through our door, you’re one of us!

    If we float your boat, make contact and we will find a way to open in your city!


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