Effortless Prosperity and the Identification of "Your Market"

An article on shifting marketing mindset for Personal Fitness Trainers

By Phil Kaplan

Effortless Prosperity – a sense of self-gratification balancing financial, emotional, and physical excellence in a manner that feels as if energy is abundant – Phil Kaplan 

I'm a personal fitness trainer. That's not only what I do, it's become ingrained into who I am. There was a time, shortly before my 30th birthday, when I resigned from an executive position with a generous salary, a secretary, and an expense account, to pursue my personal fitness training passion, armed with little more than ambition. That ambition was fueled exponentially when one of my then peers laughed. I don't mean giggled. I don't mean chuckled. I mean he gave way to an all-out face-turning-red belly-pumping deep-from-the-diaphragm display of near hysterical amusement.

"You . . . you're . . . . you're (ha, ha, ha) . . . going to be a wealthy trainer? You're walking away from this company to be a fitness trainer?"

I walked away, not embarrassed, but inspired. I've learned to channel emotion, to use experience, and that experience took me from an inner sense of doubt to an absolute certainty. There wasn't any turning back. I decided right then and there I MUST find prosperity incorporating my passion for helping other people find fitness.

Prosperity is probably an overused word, but that's only because its definition varies with the individual. Unscientifically, from my own observation, true prosperity is far less prevalent than most who seek it would suspect. Of course, that's based on my own definition of the word. I've had enough miserable yet affluent clients over the years to recognize that financial abundance was not synonymous with the state of being prosperous. I've been to enough of the country club dinners to see behind the cosmetic enhancements, the tuxedos and gowns, and the air of having it all. For me, prosperity has a disctinctive connection with freedom. It comes with a sense of having the freedom, not only to acquire those things you long for, but also the freedom to user your inner uniqueness, your inner good.

From behind the eyes I see through every day, prosperity is a sense of relevance, power, and an abundant energy that allows you to put out more and more of your energy, to impact greater and greater numbers of people in positive ways, and to find extreme reward, financially, emotionally, spiritually, and joyously. Prosperity is not a destination, but an ever-evolving experience, and as you tap into higher and higher levels of feeling prosperous, you realize your potential is far greater than you imagined even days ago.


I'm aware and comfortable with the fact that many trainers and aspiring fitness professionals will find this article disappointing. I'll stop you from reading further if you're searching for "the amazing promotion that drives clients to your door" or "the miraculous email trick that puts you on a pedestal with Donald Trump and Bill Gates."

You won't find amazing promotions herein, although those who are open to a new perspective may find new doors being to slowly open up. There isn't any "amazing promotion" that makes you successful, but if you connect the dots between "your work," your power, your passion, and your love of life, the new success you'll find will almost miraculously attract "success secrets" that are so simple they seem to fall into your lap one after another.

For over a decade I've shared practical real-world promotions and strategies with fitness professionals, and I'm certainly not going to stop, but this article is not the forum for tactical ideas. My workshops, seminars, and programs have more "how-to meat" than most career curriculums could ever promise. This article is different. I've written it for fitness professionals ready to take responsibility for their own futures.

Before you begin to digest and understand the perspectives I'm aobut to share, it's vital that you accept four specific attitudinal perspectives required for operating professionally and enjoying that elusive sense of prosperity without effort. Don't let their brevity dissuade you. They are, in fact, vital pieces of the prosperity puzzle. 

1.         Be a part of something bigger than "what you do a for a living"

2.         Approach your "work" fully engaged

3.         Recognize and monitor your self talk

4.         Make a difference 

When you've accepted and internalized those four perspectives related to your career, you can begin to find growth by reframing your business operation into three elements that make up the backbone of continuous growth. 

Let’s begin with an insight: 

Growth can only come from reaching greater numbers of people with your valuable message, funneling prospects into clients utilizing a forum that optimizes the value of your time, and continually building the number of thrilled customers with a spillover mechanism that prevents excessive drain on your energies or your time.

I can whittle that last paragraph down to three words, each one representing one of the three growth elements: 

·        Reach

·        Funnel

·        Spillover 

You now have three words that without further explanation leave you no closer to finding fulfillment.  Don’t worry.  I’ll explain the virtues and relevance of each of the three words, and then I’ll delve into the first of the three, the Reach.   

The Reach is marketing, but don’t mistake marketing for advertising.  To expand your reach requires that you expand your sphere of influence, send ripples out that touch greater and greater numbers of people.  Marketing should be thought of as anything that puts your name, message, image, or voice, in front of the universe of potential clients. 

The Funnel is the step between attracting interest and linking a new client with an ongoing win-win relationship, a business strategy that allows you to find fair compensation for communicating your message to groups of people and funneling those who are qualified clients into your prosperity net. 

The Spillover is the element of your business that allows you to continue to attract, maintain, and provide exceptional service to ever-growing numbers of people who make it through your funnel but cannot realistically fit into the boundaries of your schedule or time restraints. 

If the goal is to find financial and emotional reward by bettering the lives of others, all three of these elements must be developed and refined, and if you have a passion for personal training, it is not only possible but likely that the combination of focus, commitment, and strategy will ultimately take on a sense of “flow,” a sensation equating to effortlessness.  Don’t mistake effortlessness for the unwillingness to expend energy.  Instead think of energy as an investment of calculated effort that provides a momentous return, and as a part of that return energy reserves are fueled endlessly. 

In future articles I'll reveal the intricacies of building the funnel and spillover, but the importance of "Reach" is paramount.


Time out for a short detour and an absurd response . . . 

Imagine you own a plot of land.  You have the land cleared and hire a landscaping company to beautify the project. Three months later you visit the property and find it’s a mud pit.  You call the landscaper to an urgent meeting and ask, “What happened?”   The absurd response . . .  

“Nothing happened.  I planted seeds but nothing grew.  It isn’t my fault.  I did my part.” 

Absurd, right?  Unfortunately it’s the same mindset that plagues personal trainers who fail to identify a primary weakness.  They plant seeds by getting certified, printing business cards, getting a business license and purchasing insurance, and they attract their first handful of clients.  Three months later they decide “it isn’t working.”  Some of the clients dropped off, nobody else is interested, and “you can’t earn a living as a personal trainer.” 

Here’s the mistake.  Just as a landscaper must go far beyond planting seeds, just as a beautification program must include cultivation, care, and response to issues that interrupt a garden’s potential to grow, a personal training business requires a commitment to nurturing, to responding, and to cultivating an ever-expanding base of people the business touches. 

Marketing doesn’t have to cost anything.  In its naked form, it’s nothing more than talking to people about the value you offer.  A commitment to speak with five people each day about what you do is a guarantee that your reach takes on a life of its own.   

Can you create impressive direct mail campaigns, drive traffic to a website using online marketing, or use innovating networking strategies to gain a perceived position in the marketplace?  Sure, but those options incorporate risk, expense, and a stream of variables that make anticipated return a best guess.   

As basic as it seems, speaking to five people a day is a scientific approach, a pure numbers game.  Five people per day amounts to over 1500 people per year, 1500 people you’ve personally touched, 1500 people who serve as evidence of your reach. 

How, you ask, can this commitment, over time, lead to exponential growth in Reach?  It’s simple.  This year, a percentage of the 1500 people you connect with will take a follow up action with you.  A percentage of those people will become thrilled clients or impressed advocates.  Next year, in addition to the 1500 people you will bring into your sphere of influence, you’ll have your army of allies driving people toward your funnel.   

You’ll find that connecting with 1500 people brings you power. Some of them will work for or own companies with scores or perhaps hundreds of employees in need of fitness.  Some will have connections with media.  Some will know people who know people, and the expansion of your Reach becomes a habit fueled with contagious enthusiasm. 

I am not discouraging you from launching promotions and ideas that excite you, but I am suggesting that Reach becomes effortless only when the action you take becomes an enjoyable habit and the continued ripples outward expand without any further investment of your time.  Rely on promotions and you’re certain to have more of those roller coaster ups and downs.  Rely on your own power, develop the Reach habit, and you ensure a sense of control, a recognition that you still haven’t hit your prime, a realization that your potential is greater today than it was last week and greater next week than it is today. 


What segment of the market is in fact your “universe?” 

That question is the key question in tens of thousands of marketing books, articles, and business-building protocols.  As the personal training field matures, a great number of trainers are accepting common business practices, thus, trainers everywhere seek to answer the question in their respectively unique marketing universes. 

Whether you call it your “target market,” your “main demographic,” or your “field of prospects,” marketing companies worldwide invest hundreds of hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars in refining the marketing scope. 

I’m going to suggest that for you, for a personal trainer with an established level of competence and enough of a dose of confidence to “Reach” five people a day, the key question need not be answered.  I thoroughly understand the reasoning behind “identifying your market” before beginning any marketing campaign, but the reality is, as personal fitness trainers our potential goes far beyond “training” a given market.   

If you opt to zero in on a niche, if you find extreme reward training athletes, find a thrill in getting deconditioned seniors back to previous levels of functionality, or if you find the gratification you attract from helping obese men and women lose weight, of course it’s sensible to direct your marketing toward your specific passion.   

Why then would I suggest stepping away from the business norm of “finding your market?”  Because the opportunity for strategic growth is vast, in fact, it’s greater than ever . . . . and limiting your marketing to a segment of the universe may hinder your potential.  Your funnel and your spillover will allow you to “recruit” areas of specialty, so even those clients who fall outside of your preferred demographic can become a contributing and appreciating part of your client stable. 

Time for a clarity check. 

If you think Phil said,never choose a target market,” I’ve failed to communicate effectively.  There are those who can and should find their target and capitalize on a specialty, but if you spend days, weeks, months, and ultimately years trying to figure out “the target,” you’ve missed all of those circles around the bull’s-eye. 


Seeing the universe as a target, each circle is valuable.  Although the bulls-eye will represent the smallest number of prospects, it may in fact represent those who are most likely to commit.  As we go outward, the willingness to commit may diminish, but the raw numbers and the actual need increase significantly. 

In the middle of the bulls-eye might be the physically fit, or near-fit, who enjoy the health club experience, and, with subtle coaxing, are open to connecting with a true expert. 

The next ring is “the people who have joined gyms and feel they’ve failed to achieve the results they seek.”  The number of people who inhabit this ring is astonishingly high, and although their enthusiasm has likely diminished, the unachieved goal can serve as motivational fuel. 

Ring number three would include people who find excuses not to devote time to exercise but periodically attempt a diet, an exercise regimen, or a trendy “solution.”  If you recognize that we’re looking at well over $75 billion dollars spent annually on ineffective technologies, you’ll understand why in terms of opportunity, there’s clearly greater opportunity in the third ring than the middle. 

Ring number four includes the deconditioned and overweight, the Syndrome X, and the metabolically challenged, the busy, the stressed, the fast-food plagued drive-through-ers and those who wish but have trouble believing physical change is possible for them. 

The outer rings are growing, and growing, and growing. 

As we get outward from the center, the market becomes less pinpointed, less definable, but clearly more needy, and as we move toward the center, as we look at the piece of the universe inhabited by the physically fit, we find a proven commitment, an elevated sense of “the norm” in terms of physical prowess and functionality, and a want to be better with each successive year.  

The inner circle, the physically fit, are targeted by many trainers who find comfort in the health club environment, but that slice of market is often dismissed by trainers who feel they need to present a health club alternative.  I’ve heard the self-discouraging line uttered repeatedly among personal trainer limited by their hindered sense of potential.  “But these people don’t want trainers.” 


For two years I operated a retail store which served as yet another portal into my funnel, my seminars and programs sharing “the fitness truth.”  My staff knew the mantra.  “Nobody wants a fat burner, people want to burn fat.”  I’d lend the same mindset to you.  Nobody wants a trainer.  People want an outcome, and if they believe you can deliver that outcome, they attach themselves to you with a fervor and spirit that knows no bounds. 

If you can help any person inhabiting any ring in the circle find that a trainer is a vehicle to transport them from the physical place they live in now to the physical place that represents what they’d like to be, the trainer is no longer an option, it’s a must.   

So, the message I most want to communicate in this installment of the four-part series is: 

Commit to tell five people per day, every day, about what you do, and approach “the Reach” without boundaries, recognizing that in the long run, every person you touch can become a source of new business.  At first the commitment asks for discipline, but within 90 days the discipline is traded for enjoyable habit.  After all, you love talking to people about fitness and you have an absolute passion for what you do. 

Personally, while my own customers and clientele fill the entirety of the target, I believe the greatest potential lies in the masses, in the outer ring.  How do you optimize your Reach making certain you touch the outer ring? 

Dismiss the perceived need to “target” your market, and recognize that your universe ultimately has few borders or barriers.  Find “outer ringers” wherever you find people.  Think of throwing a net out into an ocean, then throwing it out again, and again, and again.  Consider that a pole with specialized bait appealing to a prize fish will attract few catches, and casting a net will bring in volumes which, by the rules of statistical probability, will pull in some genuine prizes in greater abundance than a single baited pole. 


Fifteen years ago, I found a leap in revenues and appeal by learning to combine my Reach and my Funnel, although I hadn’t yet perfected the process.  The leap came primarily from understanding how I could, using the media, seminars, and group gatherings, position myself, not as “a trainer,” but as “an expert.”  If I were to offer “position yourself as an expert” as advice with extreme value, I’d be selling you short, as the terrain has changed over the last 15 years.  The phrase has been passed along and the methods have been so watered down the phrase itself almost appears impotent. 

I’d encourage you to get into the media, to speak at public forums, and to appear in front of a group whenever possible, but in today’s marketplace it has to go way beyond the same “expert” approach so many trainers are muddying the water with.  The idea is to stand out.  The terrain is changing, trainers on 5-minute segments on the regional news discussing new years resolutions or diet scams is commonplace, thus simply getting into the media is no longer going to make you a stand-out. 

Get into the media with a hard line, a challenge against convention, and the willingness to exploit problem and solution.  Think of yourself not as an expert, but rather as a rescuer, as someone who holds the formula to success, and then learn to present it so it comes across as bold, confrontational, or even absurd. 

Love what you do, do what you love, but do it with thought, direction, and in appreciation of your unique gifts, and effortless prosperity is more than a dream.  It’s your destiny.


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