Miracle Success

by admin on October 15, 2012

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Fitness entrepreneur Nate Miracle has become one of Cleveland’s top fitness buffs by combining hard work with ingenuity and excellent marketing.

Thanks for joining us, Nate! Tell us a little bit about how you got into personal training and what it’s like to live and work in Cleveland?

I have always had a love for sport and fitness growing up, so in college I majored in exercise physiology to pursue a career in a exercise related field. After graduating, my first job was at a local commercial gym, where I worked as personal trainer. I really loved the helping people reach their fitness goal, but realized there was something big missing from the commercial setting – customer service. People were just being treated as a number, being passed around from trainer to trainer. It was also then when I realized there were a lot of bad, uneducated trainers out there, and new there was a better way to do business.

I branched out on my own and started my own one-on-one personal training company. I was going to do just in home personal training, but then thought to myself, what If I could bring an entire gym to someone’s home? I came up with the idea of putting a fully equipped gym into a 24ft box truck that had heat/ac, treadmill, bike, free weights, and multi-gym systems. It was one of only a couple mobile gyms in the country. I did that for about 5 years, but found that I had hit a ceiling with how many clients I could see each day, so started a boot camp company called “Cleveland Fitness Boot Camp”. With the group personal training model, I could train more clients at a time but charge 1/6 the cost of one-on-one training, and still make more money per hour. After 2 years in the boot camp business, my partner and I wanted to expand our business into other cities, so we bought into the franchise “Fitness Revolution”, to help us put better systems in place so we could grow more efficiently.

What are some of the obstacles you face living in Cleveland as opposed to say LA or NYC? What are some advantages?

One of the biggest obstacles in Cleveland is the economy. Its hard to charge the hourly rate that we feel we deserve here. One way we got around that issue was by offering group training, which benefited both us and our clients. Another obstacle is that Cleveland is not necessarily know for being the most health conscious city. I think one reason for that is the weather – people can keep things covered up for 6 months out of the year here, so there’s less motivation to stay fit.

What type of non-monetary goals do you set for yourself as a PT. This is a tough-enough business just to make a few bucks, but there has to be more, right?

With my background in exercise physiology, i really like to stay up to date on the all the latest research on fitness and nutrition.  There are a lot of trends out there that are not based on any science whatsoever, so it is a goal of mine to stay ahead of the curve.

Another big goal of ours  is to give back to the community and “pay it forward”. We try to regularly hold events to raise money for charities in our area, and give away tons of donations in the form of free memberships to schools and fundraisers. We recently held a big charity event that raised over $13,000 for a local cancer charity.

As business owners, it is definitely a goal to grow the business and make more money, but we realize there are more important things out there and strive to be leaders in our community and give back whenever we can.

When it comes to making money, how are you at keeping your books? Marketing? Have you felt the need to earn more certifications? 

The main reason we wanted to become a Fitness Revolution franchise is so we could be better at the business side of things. Having systems in place for everything from managing clients, billing, marketing, sales, and even facility cleaning has helped us run our business a lot more efficiently.

We have an online client management system that bills all of our clients membership by credit card automatically so we don’t have to be bill collectors. Most of our marketing efforts are based on referrals and word of mouth, so we have systems in place to help encourage that among our members. We spend very little money on any form of paid advertising that way.

As far as education and certifications go, I think the most important thing is a 4 year degree in an exercise related field. Nothing can prepare you better to be a great trainer than having a in depth knowledge of human anatomy and physiology, fitness testing, exercise prescription, and strength and conditioning. After that, a highly respected training certification from associations like the NSCA, ACSM, or NASM are good. Unfortunately, there are definitely too many “online” certifications out there, so anyone without any education or experience can become a personal trainer now very easily.

Discuss what makes your job challenging sone days, but a pleasure others? 

The most challenging part about the job is the long hours. I get up every morning at 3:45am to get the gym by 4:30am, and work until 4pm or 7pm most days (i used to work until 9pm until I hired another trainer to run my evening sessions!).

A downside of running a group personal training business is having to manage and stay in contact with more clients. I have around 150 clients, so that involves tons of emails, phone calls, texts, and daily interaction with them. Most of my non-training hours are filled with staying in touch and answering questions.

Despite the long hours and lots of busy work, I love what I do and it definitely beats a 9-5 desk job. Helping clients reach their goals and change their lives is a very rewarding experience.

If you could give three pieces of advice to young PT’s what would it be? Any mistakes that you believe most will make, but should try to avoid?

My first advice would be to find a mentor or coach, not only for the training part but the business part as well. Go through an internship program or become part of a coaching/mastermind group. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, learn from guys who have been doing it a long time successfully and model your training/business after them. One of my favorite quotes is “if i’ve seen further its because I’ve stood on the shoulders of giants”.

My second word of advice would be to pick one area of expertise and be great at it, don’t try to be a jack of all trades. Be know as the go to person for fat loss,  or building muscle,  or sports performance,  or injury prevention – but don’t try to do all of them. Find something your passionate about and build your niche around it.

Third – never stop learning. Read the blogs and books written by guys who have been successful in the industry. Stay up to date on the latest science on nutrition and training methods.

The biggest mistake I think young trainers will make is trying to set themselves apart by being too fancy with exercises to try to “wow” clients. Workouts don’t have to be complicated to be effective. There is no need to have a client do squats on a bosu ball while throwing a medicine ball at them because it looks cool. They are better off keeping their feet on the ground and be able to squat with a heavier load – it is more functional and they will burn more calories that way. Keep it simple.




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The political parties are always fighting, and yet the budgets keep getting fatter and deficits wider. Adrien Cotton saw that she might not be able to trim budgets, but she knew she could trim fat and established FitnessOnTheRun.

Thanks for joining us, Adrien. Tell us a little bit about your education and how you came to be a PT in Virginia.

I was raised in Southern California. I was always outside. I was active and an athlete. Everyone was. When I moved to the East Coast for a career in politics, I was hugely disappointed in the level of health and fitness of Washingtonians. So I wanted to help. I have wanted to help people with their fitness for years, yet my career path took me to high levels of political and public affairs work on Capitol Hill, trade associations and corporations.  In 2004, I had had enough of politics and had a small group of friends and my husband convinced me to take the leap. I wish it had been years before!

How would you describe Fitness on the Run (FOR)? Is there a driving philosophy?

Fitness on the Run is a unique private studio serving over 200 clients. We provide excellent fitness and wellness training as well as nutrition consulting.

What are some of the advantages clients receive when they sign up at FOR?

The number one advantage is we become part of your daily life. We must in order for clients to achieve total wellness. We prove fitness, expert referrals, nutrition counseling, meal delivery and protein shakes and bars to help educate about the importance of pre and post workout nutrition.

Do you have any certifications? Which ones?

I am certified through International Sports Sciences Association and the Russian Kettlebell Certification. I am, like all personal trainers, CPR certified.

Do you feel it’s necessary for every PT to have a certification?

Absolutely. Personal trainers have to take rigorous courses and exams and maintain their certifications through Continuing Education. We continue to learn new science, new trends and data on the human body and how it responds to fitness challenges. Clients surprise us daily with new challenges: bum knee, heart conditions, back difficulties, really everything. We must be prepared.

What are some challenges you’ve found in working as a PT and having to do your own bookkeeping and marketing? Any hints?

Successfully running a personal training business, like any small business, is all about managing the books, the client communication and everything BUT personal training. If you don’t manage those well, you have no business. Fitness on the Run has had a Business Manager who maintains all of the financial and the schedule for all of our clients. Without her, we would do nothing but books and schedule.

I am lucky. I have both an amazing business partner with whom I share all responsibilities as well as a very skilled and dedicated business manager. We need all three of us to keep the business running. Sometimes, even the three of us wonder if we need another one of us!

If you had one piece of advice for an aspiring PT about salary and expectations what would it be?

Fortunately, Personal training has improved in terms of the consumer’s respect. We needed to. However, people are still very unwilling to pay for the real value you get in personal training, like you find in cities like New York and Los Angeles. Making a good living on personal training is very difficult. It takes years to develop a clientele and unfortunately we are years away from becoming equal with others in the wellness space.

Thanks for your time, Adrien and best of luck!

Thanks to you!


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