Random Thoughts on Long-Term Fitness Industry Success – Installment 9

About the Author: Eric Cressey

It’s been a while since I posted a new installment on this series, so here are two thoughts that have been rattling around my brain on the business side of fitness.

1. It takes time and many exposures to build top of mind awareness and, more importantly, trust.

I had a chat with one of our free agent minor league baseball players a few weeks ago. He moved down from New Jersey a few months ago to train with us all offseason.

Two years ago, his agent encouraged him to check Cressey Sports Performance out. He didn’t act.

Then, he played with one of our guys in independent ball and again heard our name, but didn’t follow up on it.

Later, he heard my name mentioned twice on the Tim Ferriss Podcast. While intrigued, he still didn’t act.

Then, last summer, he read the New York Times article about our work with Noah Syndergaard, and he finally reached out.


This #tbt is a video of alternating serratus slides on the @trxtraining suspension trainer, with a great demo from #mets pitcher @nsyndergaard. Some thoughts: 1️⃣One of the things we worked a lot on with Noah this offseason was differentiating between glenohumeral (ball on socket) and scapulothoracic (shoulder blade on rib cage) movement. Most pitchers get too much motion from the upper arm, and not enough from the shoulder blade. Notice how the scapula upwardly rotates around the rib cage – which takes stress off the front of the shoulder. 2️⃣ serratus anterior also helps to drive some thoracic flexion in a throwing population that often presents with a flat/extended thoracic spine (upper back). 3️⃣in a general sense, you could call serratus anterior the “anti-lat.” The latissimus dorsi drives a gross extension pattern and can be heavily overused in throwers; the serratus anterior works in opposition (scapular upward rotation, intimate link with the anterior core, accessory muscle of exhalation). 4️⃣add a full exhale at the “lengthened” position on each rep 5️⃣you could’ve observed the shoulder blades better if he was shirtless, but I figured Thor has already hit his weekly quota for shirtless social media cameos.😜 👍💪#cspfamily

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Top of mind awareness isn’t enough anymore. People need to know, like, and trust you. And it takes longer than ever to get to that trust point. I recall hearing that the law of repeated exposures used to be seven interactions with a marketing message. Now, it’s probably a lot more.

If you want to be perceived as a go-to expert in your chosen field, it’s not just enough to do a good job. People need to be made aware that you’re doing a good job from a number of different angles; you have to make your expertise easier to perceive.

2. Don’t compare apples and oranges in the fitness industry (or any industry, for that matter).

As you probably know, we have Cressey Sports Performance facilities in both Hudson, MA and Jupiter, FL. The systems and overarching approach to coaching are very comparable – especially because I spend part of the year at both locations – but there are actually many differences between the two facilities.

Our professional baseball clientele comprises a larger portion of our yearly revenues in Florida, whereas Massachusetts derives more from high school athletes (especially because the high school offseason is longer in a warm weather climate).

Our Massachusetts facility is larger because we have to do more throwing and sprinting inside during the winter. Conversely, Florida weather allows us to do more of this work outside.

We have different staff members at each location. They have unique expertise and personalities.

CSP-MA opened in 2007, and CSP-FL opened in 2014. Massachusetts is a more “mature” business, which gives us a better picture of norms that allow us to compare how things are progressing from year to year.

I could go on and on about the difference, but the important takeaway is that if I sometimes struggle to compare two facilities with virtually the same name and training philosophy, why should you ever compare yourself to another gym?

What Mark Fisher Fitness has to pay for rent in New York City far exceeds what a personal trainer with a small studio in Alabama would have to pay.

Ben Bruno can train a lot more celebrities in Hollywood than a trainer can in North Dakota.

Gross revenues for a giant commercial gym in San Francisco are going to be substantially higher than what a semi-private operation in Minnesota can take in. Meanwhile, the owner of the MN facility might actually make more money and sleep better at night than the owner of the big box gym.

The point is to have a filter when you look at all the “success” you see around you in the fitness industry. There are gyms grossing millions of dollars that are scraping to get by, and others that only do a small fraction of that amount while having a huge community impact – and allowing a fitness entrepreneur to live the life he wants.

Just like you would never encourage your clients to compare themselves to other clients, supermodels, or professional athletes, you shouldn’t compare yourself to any other trainer, business, or facility. All that matters is that when you compare yourself to what you were days, weeks, months, and years before, you’ve progressed.

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