Home Baseball Content Aspiring Fitness Professionals: You’re Already Coaching Inspirational Athletes

Aspiring Fitness Professionals: You’re Already Coaching Inspirational Athletes

Written on March 4, 2014 at 9:17 am, by Eric Cressey

Today's guest post comes from Pete Dupuis, my business partner of seven years at Cressey Performance. In addition to serving as our business director, Pete oversees our internship program and has a great perspective on how many aspiring fitness professionals see themselves, and where they want to be.


Now that your “busy season” is coming to an end, and all of your pro athletes have reported to spring training, do you guys basically throw it on autopilot and count the seconds until next September when the minor league season wraps up?

An intern applicant asked me this question earlier this week.  His mentality actually wasn’t all that far off from that of many other previous applicants. In fact, I ask every single candidate what his or her long-term career goal within the fitness industry is, and the response is almost universally inspired by this attitude. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that at least 90% of the responses I receive when asking the career goal question specifically mention working with either “elite” or “professional” athletes. 

I get it.  Professional athletes are living the dream.  Why would you want to coach soccer moms?  General fitness population is boring you to death.  The lawyer you train isn’t concerned with getting in to “beast mode” every time he hits the gym.  Seriously, I get it.

Before you go and make a career change to coach professional athletes, or abandon a successful personal training business at your local commercial gym, I have a question for you: have you made an effort to REALLY get to know the people surrounding you every time you go to work?  More specifically, do you realize the goldmine of networking opportunities you are letting pass by on a daily basis as you dream about prepping a D-1 athlete for the NFL combine?

I’m not here to tell you that you have to “pay your dues” before you can start setting the bar that high (although, you do).  I’m here to tell you that in some cases, the least interesting clients we have at Cressey Performance can be the professional ballplayers.  In short, the season is so long and draining that when the off-season rolls around, most of them really don’t want to talk about baseball – which is the stuff you may find “cool” and discussion-worthy. While their in-season periods are very much abnormal as compared to “typical” jobs, they’re normal people in the off-season.

So, what do I tell an intern applicant when he or she asks me what the best thing is about working with so many professional athletes? 

Sometimes I’ll tell them that we have one client who dresses up as Santa Clause and jumps out of an airplane with multiple other Santa impersonators every December to raise funds for charity. 

He also happens to own one of the most successful roofing companies in Massachusetts, as well as property in Costa Rica that he kindly offered to EC for his honeymoon trip in 2011.

I’ll occasionally tell them that we once prepared a client for the FBI entrance exam, and he demonstrated the art of subduing a suspect by taking Tony Gentilcore to the floor and handcuffing him in less than 4 seconds…in the middle of a crowded gym…while dressed in a Halloween costume…in between his sets of deadlifts.


Maybe I’ll tell them that we have one former intern whose favorite part of his time with us was the hours he spent coaching and socializing with the 7th employee at Facebook. 

Sometimes I tell them to look across the gym where we have not one, but three engineers from Bose who like to soak up the unique training environment while they’re not at their office designing some of the best audio equipment the world has seen.

Most importantly, I tell them that they’re going to miss out on a truly amazing learning experience if they spend their time with us (or at any other gym) only concerning themselves with chasing the “elite” athletic population.  There are some amazing stories just waiting to be told right there on the training floor.  You’ll inevitably find yourself on the receiving end if you step out of your comfort zone and appreciate the fact that many of the “average” people you interact with have experienced some pretty amazing things.  The clients who show up for training sessions on a year-round basis, as opposed to during an off-season, are the ones with whom you have the chance to make a life-long impression.

There will be times in the future when you’ll need to consult the people around you as you encounter difficult decisions.  Some of your best career, life, and business advise is likely to come from the network of individuals you’ve worked hard to develop in this gym setting.  This type of insight is almost certainly NOT going to come from the guy who has spent the last six months riding buses around the country and surviving entirely on sunflower seeds and fast-food.  It is also unlikely to come from the ones who are accustomed to bypassing airport security to step on to their chartered flight to the next MLB stadium.


Whenever it is that my CP days are behind me, I’m obviously going to look back fondly on seeing close friends make big-league debuts, or maybe even compete in the summer or winter Olympics.  What I’ll absolutely cherish, though, is the fact that a couple of casual Saturday morning conversations with one of our general fitness clients eventually led to an introduction to the girl who is now my wife.  It’s a good thing I didn’t pass on chatting with her so that I could spend more time watching the pro guys argue over who had next on the ping-pong table.

Looking for more fitness business insights?  Check out the Fitness Business Blueprint, a detailed "how-to" guide for those interested in starting up their own businesses in this industry.


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9 Responses to “Aspiring Fitness Professionals: You’re Already Coaching Inspirational Athletes”

  1. john twinem Says:

    Great post! Love it; everyone has a story.

  2. Danny McLarty Says:

    Awesome. Just awesome! Well done, Pete!

  3. Jamie Says:

    Wow…simply wow. This may be one of my favorite articles and it does not contain one “favorite exercise” or new benefit of the deadlift(both of which are great in their own right). great post!

  4. Hafiz Omar Says:

    Thank you so much for this much needed topic. Thank you.

  5. Teddy Willsey Says:

    Great post! Invaluable information that can only be learned through experience…

    The most satisfying work is with people who want to get better and are proactive in the process… it doesn’t matter how much weight is on their bar.

  6. Tesla Says:

    Thank you for this. It’s always great to know that while none of my “athletes” made it to the 2014 Sochi games this year, my “weekday athletes” have worked just as hard, been real, vulnerable, in pain, injured, were feeling strong, and able to rock off a new exercise like a pull up or full push up or bench hop just like professional athletes. It is their “realness” that keeps me going back every day and inspires daily to continue with my occupation. I appreciate the professional athletes as well as my non – professionals who struggle to get to a higher level. Great article!

  7. Lee Anderson Says:

    WOW Pete this post was one of the best I have read in months! Thank you for that.

    I left my home country where I trained professional athletes, Olympic medalists and upcoming athletes to go live with my wife in the states. Now I train the “average” joe and jane every day and I’ve got to say they are just as exciting if not more exciting to train than my athletes.

  8. Michelle Says:

    I really enjoyed this post. thank you !!! insightful and a great reminder for all of us, in all walks of life .

  9. Penny Says:

    This is exactly the reason I stepped out of the Division I athletic training world and into Physical Therapy. I loved my job and the elite athletes I worked with, but I am so much more fulfilled getting to hear about all of the other heroes who are educating our youth, keeping our streets safe, running our businesses, and finding ways to be special off an athletic field or court. Thankfully I get to balance the two but if I had only ever experienced the elite/professional ranks I would be missing out on so much more.

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