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Becoming a fitness leader is a growing career for many, as nearly anyone can post videos, tips, and tricks with the hope of attracting a following. However, the most successful fitness leaders have built their following slowly and diligently, building trust that the information they provide is going to help the individuals putting in the work. So, how did they do it? Well, they have a few habits in common - and owning a gym is not one of them.
We decided to look at two very prominent figures in the fitness industry to find out what these habits are: Ben Bergeron and Laurie Christine King.
Ben Bergeron is most widely known as the coach who continues to build the fittest men and women in the world at the CrossFit games, but his experience runs deeper than that. Once an Ironman and triathlete, Bergeron became a coach and founder of CompTrain, a free site for programming in the CrossFit community, as well as developing his own podcast, “Chasing Excellence.”
Laurie Christine King is an educational blogger, focusing on nutrition, athletic performance, and hormones. As a former gymnast and CrossFit competitor, King now helps run Paragon Performance Training, an aesthetics-focused training program for people who want to look and feel great but don’t have hours to dedicate at the gym daily.
Both are highly respected, valued members of the fitness community, so what do they think defines success in the fitness industry?
The five habits (owning a gym is not one of them)
- Taking your own classes/ doing your own programming:
This is important, but not everyone does it. Bergeron explains this happens because a lot of coaches believe in their programming, and this is something he noticed a lot during his time in personal training. This creates a disconnect between clients/members and you, the coach, because why would someone follow your programming if you aren’t following it yourself? He draws parallels between a chef not eating his own cooking, or a designer not wearing their own design. You can’t expect people to follow you when you aren’t showing confidence in what you've created.
- Pay attention to your body:
This is one of King’s biggest motivators in her research. With a focus on hormones, King hones in on the importance of paying attention to your body to know what’s going on with it. This means paying attention to energy level, sleeping habits, nutrition, aches/pains, and for females, symptoms associated with their cycle. Your body can tell you what’s going on if you know how to listen, and there are causes for whatever symptom you’re experiencing. Specifically, women with tough cycle symptoms don’t need to endure that through most of their lives—they can address the issues and stop the symptoms.
- Treat people like the individuals they are:
Another aspect from Bergeron’s podcast: He stresses the importance of the individual, as he relates it back to his experience at another gym where he went months without anyone taking the interest or initiative to learn his name.
Treating people like they’re just another person can be frustrating and isolating.
When you use generic names for people like buddy or bro, it sends the message that you don’t care. Using someone’s name and looking them in the eyes shows that you do care. It’s a way to build trust and relationships.
Adapted from both leaders, what you are putting in your body is one of the most important aspects of growing as an athlete, or overall healthy person. Bergeron tells a story about someone who worked in his gym ordering a pizza that he (Bergeron) ended up throwing away. He states he would have handled it differently now, but the takeaway is that as a leader, you’re asking people to make huge sacrifices and lifestyle changes, so bringing in these kinds of temptations into the gym isn’t fair to anyone.
With a degree in Dietetics, King stresses the importance of clean eating for so many different reasons. It’s not just aesthetic, but simply how good food fuels your performance and makes you feel good.
They both agree that treating yourself on the occasion isn’t wrong by any means, but consistency is key.
“Never complain, never whine, never make excuses” -Ben Bergeron
Straight from his podcast, Bergeron says that complaining is “a disease that erodes everything.” He stresses the importance of calling it out for what it is, so the negative can stay in the dark where it belongs.
Where do excuses take us? Not to success. Be honest about your life and what you feel, but don’t get bogged down by the negativity.
Before you go
Adopting these five habits has worked well for these fitness leaders, among many others in the industry. Think about what you can do to change your lifestyle so that you can also be a better leader.
Are you a coach, training people, or are you currently owning a gym?
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