Home Blog 5 Reasons to Be Excited About the Future of the Fitness Industry

5 Reasons to Be Excited About the Future of the Fitness Industry

Written on March 8, 2012 at 5:18 pm, by Eric Cressey

Growing up, my mother always told me that I had a remarkable ability to spot the good (and bad) in people; I generally could get pretty quick reads on what kind of folks I was encountering, and then choose my friends/colleague accordingly.  As a result, as I think back on it, this is probably why I never had "bad" friends: people who got into trouble or rolled with the wrong crowd.

More recently, my wife has commented on how I always seem to find the good in people. I shrug off not-so-positive nuances in their behaviors and can become friends with just about anyone.  I think this has helped me a lot as a coach, employer, and presenter.

So, I guess you could say that I'm an optimist.  In my eyes, this glass is half full.

This applies to not only my interaction with other people, but also to the way that I view the fitness industry in which I make my living.

Every day, I hear people pissing and moaning about how many things are wrong with the fitness industry:

1. The barrier to entry is too low and most personal trainers suck.

2. Heart disease is still on the rise.

3. People use too many machines and not enough free weights.

4. The functional training revolution has turned many personal training sessions into a circus act.

5. Crossfit butchers exercise technique and ignores periodization.

Cry me a river.  If you're so down on our industry, do something to change it – or just pick a new one.  I've met thousands of trainers over the years, and there is no bigger turn-off to me than when someone goes on and on about how terrible the industry is and how awful the trainers they're around are.  I've also heard people bring it up in internship and job interviews, and it's a huge turnoff that puts them in the "rejected" pile instantly.

As I've said in the past, "small hinges swing big doors," so if you're frustrated with where the industry is headed, start with yourself and what you can change to make things better.  For me, that starts with optimism.  I look at the quotes above and think:

1. That low barrier to entry has also opened doors to some ridiculously outstanding personal trainers who are changing lives every single day.  And, having more terrible personal trainers has afforded more opportunities for others to show just how good they are, comparatively speaking.

2. That means more cardiac rehabilitation jobs are opening up.  Plus, all the research on cardiovascular disease has taught us a ton on how to modify training, nutrition, and supplementation approaches for our otherwise healthy clients.  There's no way that we know as much about low carb diets nowadays if cardiovascular disease and diabetes research hadn't received so much attention and funding over the past 20 years.

3. If other facilities are relying heavily on machines, but I'm not, it's an opportunity for me to show one more stark contrast that makes Cressey Performance training a better fit.  It's one more way for me to educate someone and win them over.


Additionally, the heavy reliance on expensive machines in the 1980s and 1990s likely gave rise to an entire industry of portable training devices like the TRX in the 21st century (remember the old business advice: if you want to be successful, do the opposite of what everyone else is doing).  Were it not for the TRX and other devices that provide similar portability and versatility, we might not be able to pull off semi-private training and bootcamp set-ups on the level that they take place in the fitness industry today.

4. The functional training revolution has also produced some outstanding coaches who effectively bridge the gap between corrective exercise and high performance training.  It's brought about more collaboration among fitness professionals and rehabilitation specialists.  And, on an industry-wide level, it's helped us to inform clients that exercise should enhance quality of life and improve the way you move, not just make you stronger, more muscular, and less fat while you suffer through pain.

5. Crossfit has also created a tremendous camaraderie among thousands of athletes, and motivated loads of people to exercise when they might have otherwise become sedentary.  They've created a competitive outlet for a lot of former high school, college, and professional athletes.  And, there are some Crossfit franchisees who actually do an outstanding job with coaching technique and catering programming to each individual's needs.  You can't just judge them all based on the garbage you see on Youtube.

I could go on and on all day, but the truth is, the folks doing the criticizing often ought to take a look in the mirror, as they're usually in need of a lot of improvements in their own right.  I'm not perfect, and neither is anybody else – and that's a great thing, as we can always find ways to get better.  To that end, in the spirit of optimism, here are five current fitness industry trends that bode well for those of us looking forward to where the next few decades will take us.

1. New fitness research every single day – For the longest time, all researchers seemed to care about was aerobic exercise, but then, in the 1990s, there was a big boom of resistance training research that continues to this day.

It's exciting to be in such a dynamic field, as it keeps you on your toes and guarantees that you'll be constantly improve if you simply attempt to stay up-to-date with new research.

2. Increased communication across disciplines – There are more opportunities than ever for professionals in the health and human performance fields to network and learn from each other, and collaborate on treatments/training for patients/clients/athletes.  Look at professional sports teams; they've gone from just having an athletic trainer in the old days, to now also having strength and conditioning coaches, physical therapists, massage therapists, nutritionists, chiropractors, sports psychologists, acupuncturists, you name it.  This same "team-oriented" approach has extended to the private sector, whether it's under one roof or simply in collaborative efforts in similar geographic areas.

3. Improved business resources – In years past, personal trainers were supposed to work long "floor hours" at big box gyms in the hopes that they could bully gym goers into personal training with them.  It pissed most people off, made the trainer look like a super sketchy used car salesman, and didn't exactly give this fitness professional an opportunity to demonstrate his expertise.  Plus, in the past, people would open gyms simply because they liked to exercise and thought it'd be cool – and most of those operations went belly up pretty quickly.  Nowadays, there are much more solid resources available to fitness professionals if they're looking to do a better job of not only building a business, but managing it.  So, without having the actual numbers in front of me, the success rates are probably higher – especially if you have #4…

4. Sustainability within a niche – As you probably know, I train a ton of baseball players; it's about 85% of our clientele at Cressey Performance.  I'm not sure that this would have been possible ten years ago.  While early youth sports specialization has been a terrible idea in the context of injuries, it has given rise to increased specialization in training to prevent injuries, and management of the injuries that are already in place.  The end result is that it is more feasible for a fitness professional to make a career out of his/her true passion.  In my case, it's been baseball.

5. Accessibility to training information – Let's face it: you probably would have not have heard of Eric Cressey (much less EricCressey.com) if it wasn't for the internet.  I'd likely still be training loads of baseball players in Hudson, MA – but I don't know that I would have as many guys coming from across the country to train with me if it wasn't for the internet.  It's made our expertise easier to perceive, and working with those players has made me a better coach faster.

That same ease of information gathering is available in a wide variety of formats.  In the old days, you had to hit up a library, buy a book out of a catalog, or visit a coach locally to observe.  Nowadays, you can order books, DVDs, webinars, podcasts, and video presentations completely online.  You can easily apply for an internship across the country, email a coach or facility you'd like to visit to observe, or pick out a seminar of interest – and then instantly book a flight, rental car, and hotel to make it happen.  You can hop on pubmed.com and search thousands of journals for specific information you want.  You can read free blogs, newsletters, and articles in areas of interest to you.  In short, you can get better faster than ever before.  A while back, I jokingly tweeted "Using the phrase 'I'm bored' is synonymous with saying 'I'm too lazy to read to educate myself in my free time.'"  The truth is that I wasn't joking, though; you can always be doing something to improve yourself professionally if you're willing to put the time and effort in.

This is one reason why I'm so psyched to be a part of Elite Training Mentorship, the online resource we introduced almost two years ago.

You get frequent updates from several contributors – Mike Robertson, Dave Schmitz, Tyler English, Vaughn Bethell, Steve Long, Jared Woolever, and me – all industry professionals who are running successful facilities.  The information covers several facets of the industry, too. You get everything from videoed staff in-services, to webinars, to sample programs, to coaching demonstrations, to articles from the contributors.  And, you get it conveniently, as you can access it from any computer, iPad, or phone.  There's no need to book a plane ticket, hotel, or rental car like you would with a regular seminar. To learn more, check out Elite Training Mentorship.

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23 Responses to “5 Reasons to Be Excited About the Future of the Fitness Industry”

  1. Chris Pine Says:

    I see a lot of potential in the industry as well.

    You’re especially right with regards to the Internet. It is going to continue to change everything.

  2. MB Says:

    Great post!

    I used to be a trainer with a kinesiology background and after a few years of rehab and PT work I’ve semi retired and am now studying medicine, but I still teach a bootcamp class here and there for fun. I’ve been keeping up with your posts for over a year and they keep me engaged and thinking. I completely agree with the points you raised, I think the fitness industry has never been so exciting.

    Thanks for the great work that you do and please KEEP IT UP!

    All the best


  3. Greg R. Says:

    “He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.”
    Abraham Lincon

    Fantastic post Eric! Thanks!

  4. Conor Says:

    I see a lot of optimism as well. I’m always excited and motivated to read new information about the industry. I never visit my staff room at school because I use my breaks to read. Thanks for another intriguing post.

  5. Rahat Says:

    Absolutely wonderful, as always.

    And must say, Elite Training Mentorship has me excited!

  6. Drew Says:

    I disagree with cross fit because I’ve participated in a class where I could do more regular pull-ups than everyone else could do kipping pull ups.

    Other than that I agree with everything.

  7. Jason Says:

    It is an exciting time to be in the fitness industry. There is so much to learn from so many different people and the need for our services is greater then ever.

    All in all it is an exciting time for everyone.

  8. Thomas Lam Says:

    This post was brilliant! Kudos. Waking up to this is an absolute breath of fresh air. Thank-you.

  9. Tim Peirce Says:

    Fantastic post Eric. I’ve been in fitness for over 20 years and doing training for over 10 and my favorite part about it is that there’s ALWAYS something to learn from every single trend and fad both good and bad out there. Thanks again.

  10. Jim Says:

    This truly is the best time to be in the fitness industry. We have so many brilliant minds in this industry and just being able to use the internet to learn from so many others is a great benefit!

  11. fitness Says:

    Thanks for the well developed thoughts in this post. I have worked in the gym with a degree in exercise phys. and now work with patients as a physical therapist. I have always enjoyed and continue to enjoy the collaboration between fitness and rehab professionals to help a clients/patients reach their goals.

  12. Daveprunedale1 Says:

    I started out as a bodybuilder in high school in 1984. The overall industry is much better now. Ask anyone who went to gyms in the 1980’s. It was stupid Joe Weider magazines or a couple, fair, underground magazines you had to subscribe too to obtain their information. If it wasn’t for teenage testoserone and naivety; I would have lasted less than a year.

  13. Daniel Wallen Says:

    Great read, Eric. I’m nervously jumping into the fitness industry myself, so this post took away some of my worries.

  14. Gary W. Pitts Says:

    Great Article Eric !

    Would you give me permission to reprint it (with your bio etc.)in my upcoming book for Personal Trainers? (You can check me out with Mike Boyle who knows me well)
    Gary W. Pitts,
    Sports & Risk Management lawyer,

  15. Annie Kuhn Says:

    Thank you Eric! I am 57 years old but have only been training/coaching for less than a year. I love what I’m doing and I appreciate your positive outlook as I have already heard all of the “negatives” you mentioned.

  16. Eric Cressey Says:

    Hi Gary,

    Please email me with more info: ec at ericcressey.com. Thanks!

  17. Jim Horn Says:


    Outstanding post. I’ve been following your writings/blogs/videos for about 6 months now, and I’ve learned a ton. Most glaring is your passion for what you do. The world can use more optimists like yourself. Keep up the great work, and thank you!


  18. jerry pearl Says:

    I’m relatively new to the fitness industry, but from what I’ve seen so far, I agree completely with this article.

    At one time we had the family physician who had to diagnose a wide range of conditions. As science progressed and we became more educated, specialties developed. It’s impossible for one person to know all that there is to know in the medical field. Similarly, the field of fitness has gone through and is still evolving into more specialization as we learn more and more about staying healthy and improving our quality of life (that after all..is the point).

    There is and will continue to be a crossover between the “fitness industry” and “health professionals”. I believe that one day we will all be under the same umbrella.

    Keep studying and thanks for the well informed article.

    Jerry Pearl.

  19. John D Says:

    I always love your stuff Eric. I am not a coach or trainer, but I still learn an awful lot.

  20. ronell smith Says:


    As usual, the points you make are spot-on. As someone who watches the training industry closely, I’m excited as well about the opportunities ahead for the discipline.


  21. GiryaGirl Says:

    Its great to read a post like this, hopefully it will lead to less whining across the industry… why whine when we can all contribute to making things better and better.

  22. Eric Cressey Says:

    Well said, Jerry!

  23. Eric Cressey Says:

    Thanks, John!

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