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Learning From the Best: Why All Fitness Trainers Should Have a Mentor

From NESTA CEO, Dr. John Spencer Ellis:

From my own decades of experience as a fitness entrepreneur, I can truthfully say that the business gets challenging from time to time. Even if things always seem to work out favorably, you’re at the head of a blossoming client-base, and you’re moving forward faster than expected – we all still face those haunting doubts that something could go wrong. And, my friends, that’s completely normal.

It’s a business, fair and square. Every business has to deal with managing risk, because no business could exist without it. (But the sweet rewards….. ahhhhh!)

However, I’ve discovered that there’s a bulletproof way to ensuring that you can avoid getting grey hairs over the little things. You actually can stave off those predictable hiccups and make your road to success an enjoyable, exciting experience. Here’s how it’s done: find a person with seasoned experience in the fitness industry, and politely ask that person to be your mentor.


It’s probably the best thing that I’d ever done during my years in the fitness business, and I’m positive that you’d find this to be the case as well. Many fitness trainers work from home, and aside from their interactions with clients, we work alone. There really aren’t too many opportunities to ‘talk shop’, and get good advice just by running the company, day in and day out.

There’s No Point In Riding Solo (When You Don’t Actually Have To)

Because of this, it can feel like you’re constantly riding solo; and when problems start heading in your direction, this can become extremely discouraging -even if these problems aren’t actually that bad in the grand scheme. There’s a very good reason for this.

Psychologically speaking, humans are relational creatures. One way to tell that we’ve not gone completely mad is to bounce our thoughts off other humans, and when they validate our thoughts by agreeing, then we’re reassured in our own perception of reality. According to a post from Psychology Today, finding someone that will let you ask questions (or even do a little venting) can give you a more enlightened point of view:

“There will always be problems in our lives, but sometimes we don’t have the capacity to handle them all by ourselves. Getting a 360-degree view is impossible when all you can see is what’s going wrong. And talking with another person can give you perspective.”

If you’re feeling like you’re just not getting anywhere, then riding solo will only work if your resolve is still intact. However, finding a mentor could add a point of view from the invaluable perspective of seasoned experience.

Hindsight truly is 20/20, so you might as well confide in someone that sees where you are with clarity, rather than fumbling around on your own towards a future that’s out of focus.

They’ve Made the Mistakes, So Why Repeat The Ones That They’d Tell You How to Avoid?

With that said, a mentor will not only help you avoid insanity and the burnout that follows, but much of their benefit will even translate into dollars made on good ideas …and dollars saved from bad ones. Take it from Richard Branson, probably one of the most successful entrepreneurs to have ever lived -this was his take on the topic of mentoring:

“I have always been a huge believer in the inestimable value good mentoring can contribute to any nascent business. As a young man entering the mysterious and somewhat scary world of business for the first time, I was lucky enough to be taken under the wing of David Beevers, a friend of my parents.”

Beevers had apparently met with Branson once a week, teaching the future-billionaire about accounting. Had Beevers never assisted him before his days as the CEO of Virgin, then there’s a good chance that we might never have come to hear of the brand -or the name of Richard Branson for that matter.

Because the Market’s Saturated With Wheel (Re)inventors

Mentors offer guideposts on a road that’s traversed by an astonishingly low percentage of people, which means that it’s a path that’s not very well-beaten. Even now, in an era when entrepreneurship appears to be at an all-time high, still only 13% of people in the US have the guts for such an ambitious undertaking.

We already know that only around 20% of business started will remain in business over the long haul, which means that truly reliable guideposts are absolutely rare and invaluable commodities for those that are newly on the path of entrepreneurship. However, one of the biggest problems amongst new entrepreneurs is one of lacking a sound business perspective on the viabilities in new strategies. What do I mean by that bit of jargon?

Basically, there’s absolutely no shortage of new entrepreneurs that are in the process of attempting to reinvent the wheel. And let’s face it, there’s just no point in inventing a better one. Why? Because you really can’t improve upon something that’s been around since written language. Sure, new ideas are fantastic, but business/trade has been around roughly as long as the wheel itself, so reinventing the way a business should operate is basically a complete waste of time that will bring you full circle into …well… just purchasing an existing wheel.

The beauty in asking a mentor to evaluate your ideas and strategies will help you determine if you’re reinventing a wheel -or if you’re truly filling a market need in a better way than your competitors already have. That’s called innovation, and a mentor will have a better understanding of the difference between the two.

So What’s In It For Them, Anyway?

“The true aim of everyone who aspires to be a teacher should be, not to impart his own opinions, but to kindle minds.” -Frederick William Robertson

Mentors go out of their way to help newbie fledgling startup fitness trainers, because it’s actually a two-way street. In fact, you might not even realize just how much a mentor learns from her or his mentees. Hey, I’ve experienced this first-hand from the new fitness professionals in my coaching program, and I can tell you that I’ve probably learned just as much from them as they have from me.

Actually, this concept has evolved into an actual thing with a name: ‘reverse-mentoring’. It essentially provides the mentee with an opportunity to teach the teacher about the newest trends in tech and business, and here’s why this is an absolutely fantastic idea, as describes,

“– it has to be beneficial both ways and there has to be a “what’s in it for me” (WIIFM) for both mentee and mentor. If not, the relationship loses its appeal and soon pressing matters and other priorities usurp the mentorship sessions off the mentor’s schedule.”

Fitness trainers should find mentors, not only because it’s a way for them to learn, maintain their mental sanity, and avoid disaster -but also because it’s one of the few ways that everybody can grow and become better in what they do. This can give you an opportunity to contribute and bring what invaluable knowledge you have to the table, because mentors are people that also have a desire to learn continually as well.

When everybody wins, then everybody wins.