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063: How to Make Money Online as Personal Trainer with Jonathan Goodman

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Personal training seems like something you’d always have to do in person, but our guest has figured out how to make money online as a personal trainer. And he’s here to share his expertise!

Jonathan Goodman is the founder of The Personal Trainer Development Center and online trader academy certification. He is an expert at showing fitness professionals how to take their business expertise and influence online and create a steady stream of business and income in today’s marketplace.

Jonathan got started in 2010 and shares how different it was to have a blog, a web site or any other kind of online presence then. He had to teach himself how to code and how to use Photoshop – and any kind of blog or web site costs thousands of dollars when he was starting out. So there wasn’t as much competition, but it was also a lot harder!

On today’s episode of Awesome Health Podcast, Jonathan also tells us what prompted him to make the jump to online marketing.

When he was in his early 20s, Jonathan was a personal trainer who did the usual personal trainer routine of getting up early to see clients, working hard with them and then repeating the next day. At a certain point he maxed out his time and his income so he managed a small group of trainers and made a commission in the process.

But again he capped out his time and his income. He was charging as much as the Toronto market would bear so he considered his next option: opening a gym. He had never wanted to go that route, somehow he always knew it wasn’t for him.

Instead, he looked into residential real estate investments. He read all the books (you couldn’t go online and find resources like you can today) and along the way he came across the term “infopreneur”.  It peaked his interest and opened up a new path for him, which he explains in more detail on this show.

We also talk about how influential his clients have been on his mindset and why making a million dollars before you are 30 isn’t necessarily a good thing. We finish up with a chat about his personal trainer development center – just one piece of this fascinating conversation you must hear! So join us for all of it on episode 63 of Awesome Health Podcast with Jonathan Goodman.

Episode Resources:

Read The Episode Transcript:

Wade Lightheart: Good morning, good afternoon and good evening. It's Wade T Lightheart from Awesome Health Podcast from BiOptimizers, and boy, we are excited and delighted today because we have none other than Jonathan Goodman, who is the founder of the personal trainer development center and online trader Academy certification. He's authored 11 books, lived in 10 countries. He's originally from Toronto just like me, and has lived around the world just like me, was a personal trainer just like me, and wrote one of the coolest books that I've actually been exposed to, which is called Viralnomics.

Wade Lightheart: In fact, I saw him at another friend's event a few years ago. Yuri Elkaim for those of you who don't know, everybody knows Yuri, but the bottom line is Jonathan gave what I thought was the best talk and the best book and circumstances have just conspired to have him join us on the podcast today. And it's so great to have him on here because for those who don't know both Matt and I, the cofounders of BiOptimizers, we started as personal trainers. We started as nutritionists. And in fact, if it wasn't for Matt Gallant, my business partner, who came to me in 2004, and said that he was doing, making money online in the fitness industry. And I looked at him and said: "I don't even own a computer. You're crazy, no one's making money online". He didn't believe that I didn't have a computer, because I was using internet cafes at that time. Long story short, we started a business in that eventually, you know, it's been 16 years later and Jonathan is an expert. And how you, as a fitness professional take your ordinary fitness business, your expertise and influence, and how do you capture an audience so that you have a steady stream of business, a steady stream of people coming in that can know you, find you in today's world. And this is a skill that every single personal trainer fitness professional, and there's a lot out here listening to this podcast needs to know. Jonathan, welcome to the show.

Jonathan Goodman: Thank you very much. And I mean, when I started on the internet, I actually, for the first five months head checks sent to my parents' house because they didn't believe that it was possible to make money on the internet.

Wade Lightheart: When was this? I got to know.

Jon Goodman: This would have been late 2010, 2011.

Wade Lightheart: Oh, wow. So I feel like an old veteran because I've been around this game since four. And the funny part is I think I'm the only person in history that actually had a successful online business and didn't own a personal computer. So I don't know if there's anybody out there

Jonathan Goodman: Pristine, isn't it? I mean, I started a blog without knowing what a blog was. Right. And it wasn't that long ago.

Wade Lightheart: Yeah. 10 years. Right?

Jonathan Goodman: 10 years. 10 years people didn't know what blogs were.

Wade Lightheart: That's true.

Jonathan Goodman: That's how much things have changed and the advantages and disadvantages to that. You know, one of the main advantages of course is back then there wasn't as much competition. One of the main disadvantages is it was way harder to get started.

Wade Lightheart: Oh yeah.

Jonathan Goodman: I had to teach myself basic photoshop. I had to teach myself how to code. I had to teach myself how do these words get on the internet? And it wasn't put, I mean, there were resources out there, but it wasn't dust in your face. It wasn't particularly easy to figure it out, you know, to set up a website was thousands of dollars. And you had to maintain and code that website for the most part yourself. Getting started, which means you had to learn those things. Now, I mean, you get a template website like for full year, for like 10 bucks and you could publish on the internet with your phone. You've got a better film studio, photo editor, video editor, then even the best video editors had back in 2010.

Wade Lightheart: Right. I, so I got a million questions in around us. So let's give a little bit of background story just for people who might not be aware of you and what you're doing. So how did you move into this? Because I remember you talking about this at Yuri's event and I was really interested in the story, but I want to get to the second part after. I want the backdoor because I think one of the things that really struck me is your insight around what goes viral and also how does a person position themselves in the new modern world based on everything. So can you share how you got started, how you went forward and then what you, guys, are doing today?

Jonathanan Goodman: Sure. I'll be really quick and succinct and then you can dive into any part of it that you're interested in, your listeners might be. I was a personal trainer. I worked the 6:00 AM. You know, I got up at five, so tired that I thought that I was going to throw up. I trained clients 6 until usually 9, 9:30 PM with a couple of awake in the middle of the day where I'd try to do a workout. You know, usually not. Sometimes I did it. It was funny, you know, I loved going to the gym until I worked there.

Wade Lightheart: I asked to squeeze the workouts in when, on the cancellation quite clients were they would cancel, I would jump out and do my workout then.

Jonathan Goodman: I would definitely do that. I would try to eat. I became really good at calorie dense foods to just get them in me as quick as I could. Cause' I mean, I would do 9, 10 clients in a row, like one on one clients.

Wade Lightheart: That's physically taxing. Yes.

Jonathan Goodman: But it was fine, when I was like, you know, 21, 22, 23 years old.

Wade Lightheart: Right.

Jonathan Goodman: But by the time I was 23, I was doing pretty good. I was earning as much as you could own basically in Toronto at the time, I was charging as much as you could, about a hundred bucks an hour per client, we're folding my overload of clients to other trainers, earning a commission from that. And even managing a small group of trainers, just put 10 of us doing some of the hiring, the onboarding, some of the continuing development, only a salary from that too at 23 years old. And I kind of got to that point where I'm like, okay, this is kind of cool. I'm kind of at the top of like where you could get to when in the fitness industry, right.

Jonathan Goodman: The next stage is opening a gym. And for some reason I always knew that I didn't want to do that. Not that it's bad thing. It just wasn't for me. AndI was like, is this what my life is going to be like? You know, I didn't particularly like the answer because it didn't seem like there was much room for growth and you don't get to a point like that. If you're not going to handle it was scary. And then the tipping point for me, the catalytic point was… I played ice hockey of course, because I'm Canadian and that's what we do. And I still played after university and everything like that. And I got tripped, popped hamstring, was two weeks off of my feet and didn't make money for two weeks. And that was the point where it was real for me. When I was like "this cannot be a viable career as it is". Fine for me now, but if I have a family, cause' I want a family, at some point, I want to be able to travel. I want to be able to take time off. I gotta make money somehow, other than pushing the training. And I never wanted to leave personal training, but I started to dive deep. You know, I studied residential real estate investing, right. I stowed in built two business plans for smooth operations.

Wade Lightheart: Right.

Jonathan Goodman: Was just looking for anything. And this was when, keep in mind, you couldn't just go on the internet and get like the magic money formula, fed G 27 Facebook ads every single day for it. So I would go to the bookstore and I'd look through the business section of all the bestselling books on like multiple streams of income. I drew out the names of the authors and then I go across the street to the library and check them out. And I just basically learnt. And learnt, and learnt, and learnt, and learnt and came across something called infopreneur, which now everybody's like "oh yeah, of course you can make your money, some information." but…

Wade Lightheart: Right, it was radical back then, though. Nobody like I said, no one, not only were very few people doing it, no one even believed it was possible.

Jonathan Goodman: It was an underground movement.

Wade Lightheart: Yes.

Jonathan Goodman: You know, there were, tell a MOCA, it was like Tony Robbins type, you know, they were around, but it certainly wasn't in your face. Ain't nobody was proud. You know, ain't, nobody was proud to say that their son or daughter was an entrepreneur. It wasn't like, you know, the glorification sex suffocation of entrepreneurship that I think has been largely shut down now that COVID has happened had certainly not started. And selling information was just kind of this weird underground thing like people would do in it. And I later found Toronto was actually a bit of a hotbed for it, which was interesting. But I didn't know at the time, anyway, I mean, you know, this all was contingent upon basically, it was like this diagram and one of these books called multiple streams of income by Robert G. Allen. And it had this so-called middle to denote, like the center of the universe. And then all we were on the outside were all of the income students you could make from the center of the universe, in the center of the universe was write a book.

Wade Lightheart: Yes.

Jonathan Goodman: And the idea of that image was once you had a book, all of these things around it, you can basically build off of that, right? You can do partnerships, affiliate deals, you can let your mail list, you can create other products, you can speak, you cando everything.

Jonathan Goodman: And so the advice was write a book about what you know about. And I was like, I know about personal training. So I wrote about personal training and at 24 years old, my first book came out called "Ignite the Fire: The Secrets to Building a Successful Personal Training Career". And I was so ignorant, I self published it. I found I was so ignorant about the whole process. And I think that's part of the lesson of my story, is perhaps we know too much about things these days and it stops us from taking action.

Wade Lightheart: I really think that's true.

Jonathan Goodman: So I knew so little, like I didn't even, I had no qualms. I emailed, I called everybody who I could think of. Like, I would go to the bookstore and look at books, at fitness books. And I would call, email the authors and ask them who the editor was. That's how I found my editor. It was Brad Schoenfeld's editor. I didn't know about at the time. Now he's a friend, but like, I didn't know him at the time. And he introduced me to his editor and like everybody got back to me. So anyway, you know, I self published the book and published it through what was then Create Space now is Amazon KDP. And that book has gone on, I mean, still that book actually right now we're talking is number one at exercise and fitness on every major, Amazon worldwide.

Wade Lightheart: Amazing.

Jonathan Goodman: And this is what? Nine years after its release, it's in Chinese, it's in Spanish. It's used in certifications in India, mentorships in Norway, colleges across North America. And like all of it, because I was just stupid enough and ignorant enough to not even think about why I shouldn't write the book.
Wade Lightheart: You bring up some really funny because, you know, Matt and I are going from personal training to online education, to eventually having a nutritional supplement company and still sticking with our roots and why we bring people such as yourself in is to kind of stay on the cutting edge of the industry. And I think personal trainers are like the frontline soldiers today of that movement to nkind of call back the tide of dysfunction disease and obesity and all that stuff. And we need more and more of them and being relevant in that. But I always say we were either too stupid or too stubborn to quit. And in the early years, and eventually despite ourselves, we ended up you know, and ended up with a certain level of success. Was that the same for you? Or did you just naturally have that knack or entrepreneurial flare that you just kind of went from one thing to the next and never really looked back?

Jonathan Goodman: I don't know. I have realized now that I'm gloriously unemployable and…

Wade Lightheart: Me too.

Jonathan Goodman: Yeah. And I, you know, that was always the case, but it wasn't by virtue of my upbringing, like I, you know, I'm a from a reasonably affluent Jewish family in the suburbs of Toronto. Every adult I ever knew was a lawyer, doctor, dentist, accountant, a teacher, a business posting of some sort of. You know, my dad's a businessman. My mom's a teacher. I have three siblings, they're a lawyer, a teacher and a businessman. Right. And so it was every single one of my friends is a lawyer, doctor, dentist, teacher, accountant, a businessman, every single one. And so I don't really know. I feel like it was natural and I kind of went with it. I had a bit of success early on, but for some reason I'm able to have this weird amount of pig headed discipline and stubbornness. If I believe something is right and I think you're wrong, I'm just going to keep going. And that's not really a positive attribute.
Wade Lightheart: It depends. It depends. If you look at the people, you know, that quote of the unreasonable man quote: "the only people that actually make a difference in the world as those who are actually unreasonable to those around them". Right. And so I think if we look at the Steve Jobs kind of molded, they were unreasonable men. And you, if you look the autobiographies of very many successful entrepreneurs, they had that characteristic. Now I have another question, I think, which is relative, because it's stirring up my own journey as well. Cause there's a lot of parallels here. And one of the things that I noticed when I was personal training, because basically I was from a poor family and East coast to Canada, got to the West coast through my athletic career, had some, you know, I looked a certain way. So that got me in the door past my marketing limitations. My marketing card was me, my physique, and then the ability to produce results. And that's how I built a business. And then Matt brought in this concept of, you can actually market this through that, which just blew my mind, but having exposure to say a group of people that I would not normally have access to people that you couldn't get an appointment with who were then paying me to be their trainer and advisor, and eventually cultivating relationships. I can think of the, my, five clients. I didn't butter. People in Vancouver are all today. Deep close friends who are now what I would consider peers or advisors to my current business stuff. Was that something that you experienced well as a personal trainer that influence that you might not have got you chartered conditional traditional career?

Jonathan Goodman: That is by my estimation, that is the most underrated, most important aspect of a personal trainer. It's actually why I think that if you really want to be successful in whatever you do later on in life, you should be a personal trainer when you're young. Simply because how else do you… These are people who you couldn't even buy their time for any amount of money. And yet they're paying you to spend a lot of time with you. And I have lots of instances of that. It's also like a good networking tool. I mean, I have access to a lot of really powerful people because I know their personal trainers because I have such a good network of personal trainers. I can get connected to like basically any celebrity or business icon. I shouldn't say any, but a lot of very major ones.

Jonathan Goodman: And I mean, I don't like, you know, you only got like so many bullets in the gun, you know, I'm not going to go out and ask for these, but if I needed it. And so, yeah, I mean, I'll tell you one very powerful example. I like a lot of personal trainers, you know, when I was younger, didn't think personal training was a career. It was just like, I was always going to go back to school, like any good Jewish boy, I was going to be a doctor. And then when I was in school, I figured PhD and muscle physiology. I was really interested in how to potentially would do so offset or decrease the decline in satellites, L atrophy in aging. And so I applied to master's programs and I asked one of my clients who was the associate Dean of medicine at the university of Toronto.

Jonathan Goodman: How else do you get the associate Dean of medicine at the university of Toronto to spend three hours a week with you? One on one. And so I asked him. I trained him for a number of years and his wife and his daughter and his daughter's friend. And like I asked him for a reference lab and he said, a hundred percent happy too, as long as you can tell me why you want to do a PhD. And I said, what's interesting is this was the first time I'd ever thought about it. And I said, because I want to write a book. And he just looked at me and he said, so write an F book. And what's what I love about that story is that I would have finished my PhD if I went all the way through was the year my first book came out.

Wade Lightheart: Wow. That's and writing your first book for people who haven't done, that is both a psychological and emotional journey because you instantly know, as soon as it comes out, number one, you're, you're, there's going to be things in the book that you're probably going to get away from later on. So you're, or are going to be incorrect. Number two is it's inherently, and number three, you're taking a position out there. And anytime you take a position someone's going to attack you and you have to be able to manage those things, those first level of criticisms, which everybody's a troll nowadays, and everybody can't wait to throw arrows or stones at the guy in the ring, that's doing their best armchair athlete in it, as opposed to actually, you know, there's, there's objective critique with respect, and then to just critique. And we've gone away from objective critique and to just, you know, cancel culture. And that wasn't necessarily the case when we started out, maybe, but the experiences, I'm sure.

Jonathan Goodman: It, you know what it does when you put out a piece of work that you believe in, doesn't necessarily have to be book, but something that you work on by yourself because of sure belief, purpose, legacy, whatever you want to call it, that you put everything you have into and work when other people don't, when you should be sleeping, when you should be seeing friends or going out to the bar or whatever, and you do this for long enough. And then that piece of work comes out. It's this feeling of "and I can accomplish anything".

Wade Lightheart: Absolutely.

Jonathan Goodman: And getting that first book out, I have no fear now taking on projects. Cause' I know I'm going to figure them out. And every project that I do, everything that I ship, whether it works or whether it doesn't work, gives me more and more courage to do the next one.

Jonathan Goodman: And yeah, I mean, there are a lot of trolls and people out there, but going back to, like me not listening well to people it's always been a problem. I've had to almost give myself a textbook education on empathy, which has a bit of a joke amongst our team. Cause' I largely like, especially for the people who are coaches, who want our programs, we've got 13 different coaches. I think who is working in our various programs with our students and 13, maybe 14, I think it's going to be 20 soon. Cause' we're bringing on six months anyway, it doesn't matter. But, but I hire empaths, you know that? You need to be a great coach. And so I've kind of taught myself that, and it's this idea of like, you need to, you need to listen to other people, but you first need to gauge their believability. You first need to gauge their intelligence. And I actually look forward to people. I disagree with that. I considered to be highly intelligent.

Wade Lightheart: Here to that. I just want to say acknowledge it because I actively seek out opinions that conflict with my own mind, because I remember reading I think it was Charlie's Almanack or Warren Buffett. I forget which one it was. Cause they're kind of like synonymous between the two of them. And one of them said: "I don't give myself the luxury of an opinion until I've considered it's opposite", And, and in today's world, what I find interesting is like as soon as I reached some kind of opposition, I either completely dislike. I'm not saying me per say, but what seems to be in Vogue as I'm going to just viciously attack that person, or I'm going to ignore that person, or I'm going to project some sort of discount or diss culture. And I think it's, I think we're seeing it play out in the world today. And this is a very dark place because number one, people are more fearful to take a position because of the conversation that that's going to ensue. And number two, we're really, that's how you hone your presentation. When you, when you go against something, that's pointing out some of the biases that you might have or things you haven't considered in the ideas to refine that knowledge and information so that you can better serve the mission. That's, that's powerful. I don't want to take over here, but…

Jonathan Goodman: No. Yeah. I love those conversations. It's one of the things that I really, really enjoy is comedy. I listened to a lot of comedy. I study a lot of comedy. And if you ever listened to our podcast, The Online Trainer Show, you'll see it's a comedy podcast, masked as a business development podcast.
Wade Lightheart: Beautiful. That's the highest form of education in my opinion.

Jonathan Goodman: It really is. And what I find fascinating and sad about comedy these days is how comics are treated. I mean, comedy… Comedians are highly intelligent. Some of the most intelligent people. And comedy, the best comedy are comments or observations about the world, about society, about the weird stuff about society. And so comedians, have to walk that line.

Wade Lightheart: Yes.

Jonathan Goodman: That is how they illuminate issues. Yes, comedy. They talk about issues. They bring up issues, talking points. They help you see things in different ways through comedy. That's one of the main ways to storytelling. Comedians are great storytellers, too. That's how we communicate, but they are handcuffed now because they can't tell, they can't test the material in the way that they used to be able to, for fear like Kevin Hart tweets from like eight years ago or being back and they, and the Oscar, he was going to host the Oscars and he made tweets like 10 years prior. I don't remember the exact timeline that somebody dug up. And the Oscar at the Academy told him that he had to publicly apologize for these tweets. He made a decade ago or else he couldn't host it. And he said, screw you I'm not hosting. Like that's how we get better. That's how we learn. That's how we test. And they can't do that. It's not that they necessarily mean these things it's that they feel it's important to have some sort of a commentary on these things in doing that. You're going to, it's a pendulum you're gonna, before you can figure out what that pendulum sits down in the middle, you're going to bounce it back and forth and back and forth and back and forth and have a conversation about it and have a discourse about it. You can't even do that now because the second you do any, you say anything. If it's considered off kilter…

Wade Lightheart: Yes, you're canceled. With devastating effects. And of course we live in, I think we've moved from the, and we're going to, this is a segue into what you do is we don't live in the information world. We live in the attention world. And how do you get attention to what it is that you're doing? And I, of course I was fascinated when you had your talk at URIs and I got your book Viralnomics, and talking about that sort of thing. And going back to the comics by the dark side of that, well illustrated in the Gulag archipelago by,Alexander Schultz, sonnets and of how they, they canceled first. They took out the comics because comics relieve the anxiety and tension of uncomfortable salts topics in a nuanced way so that we can re examine ourselves and have a giggle. And then, you know, maybe come home on the drive home with my wife was like, yeah, maybe we ought to talk about some of these relationship things.That is how they illuminate issues. Yes, comedy. They talk about issues. They bring up issues, talking points.

Wade Lightheart: Now that we've kind of alleviated this.
Jon Goodman: Why did we find that funny?

Wade Lightheart: Yeah, exactly. Right. And those are both important spectrums to create this internal self examination. As they say, the, the unexamined life is not a life worth living. And of course in this kind of Facebook world where it's all about me to project my message out, there's very little coming in other than a comparison analysis of how do I, you know, kind of usurp that, but let's talk about, cause I could go down this all day long and I know you got a time thing. I want to talk about personal trainers out there. My favorite people in the whole world, they're in the gym, they're working in the trenches. They're trying to offset the tide that is coming at us, which is widespread obesity. You know, health spans being crushed in North America. There's never been a time that's more important for personal trainers. I know that you help personal trainers, get their message out, get their information out, brand themselves, promote themselves and get the skillsset needed in today's world to build a business. Can you talk about why you started that? What's the mission and how you're going about this, what I think is one of the most essential business? Cause' I'll tell you what I would not be here today if it wasn't because of the partnership I had with Matt Gallant, I had no business being in the online world. I didn't own a computer. And over the last 15 plus years, he's always been the initiation as I've kind of brought my chops up a little bit, bit by bit. And I don't profess that I'm an expert in these areas, but I've got a team of people that are expertised. Tell me how did that, how did you make that a business model? And of course it's so important today. It's so important for a personal trainer to understand this today.

Jonathan Goodman: It is. I mean, we'll go back to me being blissfully ignorant. I like the word - optimistically, ignorant allowance, around business. A lot of businesses have a product or a service. And then they say, okay, I've got to build a marketing channel in order to promote this product or service. Right? So they build a content platform or whatever it is. I was too stupid to do that. And so what I did is I built a content platform having no idea what I was going to sell. And then I realized that it was, it was probably a good idea instead of trying to make up what the community wanted or needed to just ask them. So we did. Back in 2012, we collected over a million data points. I did 151 on one phone calls with our community.

Wade Lightheart: Wow.

Jonathan Goodman: And I basically buy…

Wade Lightheart: Was this a board's community or a social media community? What was it back then?

Jon Goodman: Yeah, I mean, you know, we had a growing Facebook page. We had a glowing email list where you can put the content out for awhile. The personal trainer development center blog was always collaborative. I mean, we have over a thousand articles on there. Now at that point, I don't know how many people were going to the website, 20, 30,000 a year. Now we're getting a few million a year, but you know, enough hat we had, and it was early adopters who found us, cause' it was all organic, the growth. So it was a very stable, foundational growth. It was good people that found us. And so I was able to drill down the problem into one sentence by the end of all of this work, which is "personal trainers that want to succeed in their career, need to figure out a way to make a bit more money in a bit less time with a bit better schedule".

Wade Lightheart: Beautiful.

Jon Goodman: That's literally it, if we can figure out how to solve this problem, almost all of the nonsense in the fitness industry actually goes away. Because personal trainers are the connectors. And so if they can't, if they're in this kind of abusive business dictating fitness business model where there's all of these constraints around how they offer their service, they're trading their time for money. There's all of these things where they're kind of kicked around a fair bit and they're still not offering people really good service because a perfect workout was never 60 minutes long exactly. A perfect workout doesn't start at 6:00 PM on the dot. You know, our job as trainers are to reduce stress in our clients' lives. Not add to it, not give them another appointment that starts at a specific time, like, that's sorry, the associate Dean of medicine at a major hospital in one of the biggest cities in the world, doesn't need to be told by a 21 year old that he's late and he's losing 10 minutes of his workout because of it.

Wade Lightheart: I always found that so interesting. I always thought about that so interesting. Every sitting there with a Titan of industry and I've got to, you know, they're 15 minutes late because they were making a, you know, a billion dollar decision or something…

Jonathan Goodman: Or like saving somebody's life. And you're like "sorry, you didn't give me 24 hours cancellation".

Wade Lightheart: Yes.

Jonathan Goodman: And you know "I'm charging you 80 bucks" or whatever it is. So you know, it's ridiculous. And then a lot of the schemes where people are selling stuff, they shouldn't be selling, you know, scammy six pack workout, scammy supplements, like all of this stuff, a lot of that nonsense would go away because really, all that it is when you drill it down, is just trainers who's trying to figure out a way to do what they do and make it work for their life. And so anyway, so back in 2012, we were basically like, okay, now we've got the problem, right? What's the solution? And in one of those surveys, I still have it screenshot. I think it was number 60 survey response. Number 64 mentioned online training.


Jonathan Goodman: I never thought about online training before. I didn't even know it existed. Looking back, now I know some people who were doing it back then, back in 2012. I know some people did it like 2007, but it was literally like they know to call for teenagers. This is all of the stories of people doing it. Like back in like 2010, there were an articles for teenage son. Somebody emailed them saying "Hey, can you write me a workout? I'll pay you". They were like, "sure, send me a check in the mail". So they'd send them a check in the mail and then they would email them an excel template.

Wade Lightheart: I remember those days. Well, my first experience with my original bodybuilding coach was Scott Abel and was a well known name in the bodybuilding industry. And I hired him at that time for some nominal fee. It seemed like extraordinary amounts for me. Is sort of the expertise… And that was exactly it. I had to give him post-dated checks and he would email his workouts back and forth online. And then when I got to meet him, he was actually the reason I got into the personal training business. Cause' I remember coming to Toronto and he was living in this gated, vertical community. Like I'd never seen before in a condo. And he had a great life and he had all these tags and I was like, wow, you can make a living out of this industry. And a pretty darn good one. I'm going to do that.

Jonathan Goodman: Any of those post dated checks.

Wade Lightheart: Yeah. And a year later, that's exactly what I was doing. So how does that change today? And what's the upside and the E's or what are you teaching people to make that transition? Because there's a lot of people that are getting certifications, let's say as a personal trainer, but okay… You know how to tell them how to do a bench press and a pull down or whatever it happens to be maybe, and then that's not the business skills to kind of can develop consistent clientele coming in, offering them a, what I call a world class service and process, and then retaining those clients and creating a system of, you know, a feeder system. Is that what you're kind of doing?

Jonathan Goodman: Particularly online, online, you've gotta be a different level communicator.

Wade Lightheart: Correct.

Jonathan Goodman: It's very, very different, not just for selling in the marketing, but how you take care of the client and how you assess the clients is completely different online. I mean, getting ahead of ourselves, but like assessments in person, you kind of want to be as valid as possible… Assessments online… Even though most assessments and posts, not very valid anyway that's just a whole another conversation, but like particularly body fat assessments in gyms are pretty much for the most part, not even worth the scale that they're on or whatever it is like bioelectrical impedance is just not accurate, which is what most of them are based on. But online you want to flip the gears, you have to favor reliability over validity because you can't expect your client to have valid assessment tools.

Jonathan Goodman: And so you have to choose different types of assessments and check in with them and monitor their progress differently. Understanding that as long as your assessment is going to be valid, or sorry, reliable from, from assessment to assessment, to assessment, to assessment how valid they actually are because you can't really be sure of that matters much less. So we're kind of flipped. So you've gotta kind of think about it differently and how you train the person. But you know, continuing on the story. So back in 2012, so we figured it out. That was problem. So I built a business model from scratch, how to build an online training business. I literally sat down. I think I was living in Hawaii at the time and I sat down and I'd like on a piece of paper, like low down a business model and I beta tested it with two dozen people just to have an audience. So it was just like "Hey, 200 bucks, like whoever wants to basically test this, I have an idea". 22 finished it, some good, some not so good, took in all of those results. Basically we jigged the business model and turned it into a course, which at that point was called OneCare Extra. Was the first ever course teaching how to be an online fitness trainer came out in September, 2013. And that course, I think there was something like 500 people who signed up for that day one. And over the years, it's just a matter of like, like we've helped over 30,000 people in 87 countries. Now I don't mind training and we've done eight variations. You know, the textbook is in version three. We evolved it into the first ever certification in 2016 now in version three of the textbook. And it's just new.

Jonathan Goodman: Right? And we have such a massive information of, you know, everybody's running to online training now. Cause it covered. We're like, yeah, we've been doing this for seven and a half years with 30. Like, we don't need to guess what works. We know what works, we know what doesn't work. We know the pitfalls, we know what to avoid. And so it's been pretty cool to see how it's evolved and what are the major things. I think that is really important to know is social media comes and goes, techniques, tactics come and go. You can always try to jump on whatever the trend is or whatever, whatever the fat is. But like the fat is going to come and go. And if you jump on it, you may be able to catch it right at the right time. You may be able to ride that wave a little bit, but it's going to fall off. And then you're going to have to start new. And after one or two or three cycles of that, your audience isn't going to cave in. Cause you're going to keep telling them to follow you in different places and look at different things. You never gonna get particularly good at one type of media at one type of business model, because you're always going to be jumping into different things and you'll never have built your foundation. You know, we've learned that this is the whole crux of Viralnomics. Buttons change, people don't.

Wade Lightheart: Correct.

Jonathan Goodman: Why people exercise, why people interact with media? Why people spread messages, talk to others, recommend services, why people buy services, it doesn't change. So you got to learn that first. You've got to really maximize that and get good at that. And that's what we teach people. And then of course it comes down to the actual training of the clients, which what's interesting about the fitness industry is that the training of the clients to work at that you give them is actually secondary to the psychology.

Wade Lightheart: Funny. You should say that. One of the things I used to say to my clients when they would come in to see me was I said: "you know what? We're going to get you in shape now. That's the only thing that's going to require that is adherence to the program that we're going to develop and cultivate and the timeframe that you're going to have to say consistent to get to your goals. That's easy". I said: "the part that you're really going to pay me for is to figure out what you think that you're going to gain from achieving this ideal physiology that you, that you've acquired, that what does that you think you're going to be more attractive? Do you feel you're going to be more confident? Do you feel you're going to be healthier? Whatever that, whatever that unconscious payoff that you're willing to shell out your money is that's the piece that I'm most interested in". And it's probably why I have still great relationships with those many of my best clients today.

Jonathan Goodman: That's what matters. Yeah. That's about it. And that's what gets people we always want to do and lasting results too. I mean, get somebody an overnight result. What are you going to do next?

Wade Lightheart: So it's like the bigger loser, the biggest loser syndrome. If you look at what's happening, these people who have been successful in that and that the rebound effect that's been going on, because again, there, maybe the motivation is, is too much of an externalization as opposed to truly an internal recognition. And if you don't address that subconscious aspect, you default to the old program.

Jonathan Goodman: And that's kind of the same, it's funny. Cause it's kind of the same phenomenon in business. You know, the biggest gain of it's relatively easy for any trainer who has any kind of a history of getting results, clients to pick up a few, you know, like at like a reasonable amount, like 10 to 20 initial online training clients, the pay, the money that they're like, Oh my God, you know, you see all these ads. It's like, Oh, I made $5,000. My first three weeks are like, somebody's promoting. They're like I can make five, whatever. The issue is what do you do next we know from if using paid advertising, right? The people closest to you are going to be relatively cheap to obtain scaling outside of people who know he was, becomes much more expensive. The same thing with organic client acquisition.

Jonathan Goodman: It's relatively easy with a littlest bit of marketing knowledge and understanding how to make a compelling offer, to basically ask in the right way and take out the low hanging fruit. The problem is that. And so it seems like everybody's moving so fast and getting all these results. But if you actually look at like all of these testimonials, they all talk about what happened in the first month. Now this happened in the first year, you know, I do something in a community group or like interview some of our students and stuff like that. And it's like, no, for the last four months he's been consistent at 30 or 40,000 a month. Right. COVID hit. And he lost all of the income from his gym. And then the next month he did twice as much with his online. And then you maintain that for three months. That's what, that's what matters. But a lot of the time what happens is people have like that quick hit new avenue, similar as like the biggest loser and they spend it or that becomes their new normal. And then they can't maintain that. And then they've taken all these expenses and then it hits them almost home too. It's like this weird kind of rebound effect with, with business gain, the same type of like fizzy gain. Right?

Wade Lightheart: It's so, so ironic. I remember listening to Tai Lopez, is a big influencer, and he says one of his business mentors told them the worst thing that could possibly happen to you is that you make a million dollars before your age of 30. It was because you might not be able to handle it. Like you might be able to think I've got this figured out. And there's so much more that you don't know. And I think most of us who have had a certain level of success early on in our careers have also oftentimes gone through some sort of collapse about what we don't know. And if we stuck around in that industry, we fought through our ignorance that got, we got shut down on and then ended up into becoming a more robust business model. Would you say…?

Jonathan Goodman: I'm thinking back how old I was. It was… I was close to 30 and a hundred percent. I think it was a couple years younger think it was 28, 29. But I, you know, it was one of those I have, and I did gain a false confidence. You know, I hit on something early on, largely out of luck. It was a lot of skill involved, but like largely out of luck. And I believe that I was better than I was. I believe that I was immune and I took my foot off the gas. Right. I'm always fascinated by stories and like seemingly inconsequential, like asides that stick with you. Cause' I think that those have a lot of lessons. So Kevin Hart did this Netflix special. Basically like cameras followed around him, his life. And I dunno, I watched like two episodes. It was episode one or two and it was his personal trainer who was talking about Kevin's work ethic and everything like that. And he's just like one thing, one job is to keep pushing Kevin. Cause' he's at the top right now. And when you're at the top, you don't settle down. You gotta work harder. Cause' when you're at the top, everybody's coming to get you. It's not a time to take. And I took my foot off quite honestly. There have certainly been some downs where we missed opportunity because I was just… My ego got high and I'm lucky because I don't particularly like spending money. I don't really, you know, like I have a $20 Casio watch that I love showing off. Cause' it's just the best watch. I don't particularly like expensive things. I never, probably because I grew up and money was never really that big of an issue.

Jonathan Goodman: You know, it's never been a goal of mine which I readily admit, I think if I'd been through different adversity, it might've been different. But I had been able to put a bunch of money in the bank early on. That gave me an opportunity. Then when things maybe didn't go good. You know, we started to get into the red for the first time ever. It's like, alright, we got some space to figure this out. Now we don't have to be reactive. I think the worst position you could ever be in business is a position whereby you're reactive. And you are forced to make decisions that are short term that go against your personal values and morals because you got to make ends meet this month.

Wade Lightheart: That's terrible. That is a terrible position. I think a lot of people paint themselves into that corner unknowingly and, and make false assumptions. And that's oftentimes the first big obstacle that happens as an entrepreneur. You get too high on your early success and, you know, eventually those seasons change and all of a sudden the guys that navigate the winter part of their business and survive it, or the girls as well, like they're the ones that become the balanced and longterm business entrepreneur. So related to…

Jonathan Goodman: I know the true self could take it out of the game. That's the best piece of advice. It's like, no matter what don't ever make a decision that if it goes horribly wrong, you're taken out of the game. It is simply not worth that risk. And so when you're looking at risk tolerance, to me, that's the God. You can take risks. You can make bets. You should make educated bets, but you can make bets. But never make a bet that's gonna take you out of the game if it doesn't go well. Which means never invest in like a really expensive, in our business, like a really expensive coaching program that you put on three credit cards. I don't believe that that pressure will make you work harder. I believe that that's risk that you should not be taking. If it goes well? Great. But if it doesn't go well, you're finished. And that's not okay.

Wade Lightheart: I know you're on a tight schedule. Can you talk about, specifically, what the personal trainer development center, this mission is, what your goal is? How do you help people and how do you take people from "Hey, I want to be a personal trainer and get into this field" and really turn them into an active professional in today's world and what that takes?

Jonathan Goodman: For sure. I think you hit the nail on the head. I think a lot of people who become personal trainers become personal trainers because it's kind of like a fun thing to do. They like fitness. They don't quite know what they want to do with their careers. And it's also a new industry. You know, how many retired personal trainers do you know? It's a young industry and for whatever reason, a lot of people who enter in the fitness industry start as personal trainers. And it's not yet clear enough. The path hasn't been illuminated enough on a public scale. And this is a lot of what we try to do that you don't have to be a personal trainer for the rest of your life. In fact, many of you won't, and that doesn't mean you have to leave the fitness industry.

Wade Lightheart: Right.

Jonathan Goodman: The fitness industry needs project managers. The fitness industry needs administrative assistance. The fitness industry needs data analysis, experts, website, developers, coders, salespeople, every skillset you could possibly imagine that if you want to, if you want to build, if you're passionate about fitness and health, we help you. We help you move along your career. We take you from even before you become a trainer, help you figure out how to find the right job, get the right certification, get yourself set up the right way, and then move along those steps of your career to wherever you want to be. And in some cases, it's actually outside of the fitness industry, which is perhaps the most interesting. You know, we've got the online trainer Academy certification and largely what that does is it helps trainers who are perhaps overworked, find the freedom to make a choice of what their next steps up.

Jonathan Goodman: Maybe that's a little bit of income, so they can still work in the gym. Maybe that's they want to travel more, volunteer more, maybe that's that this fitness thing should really be a side hobby. Cause' a lot of people who and know I kind of made a joke. It's like, I used to love going to the gym before I started working there. That's kind of the reality for a lot of people that once a passion becomes a job, it ceases to become a passion. So a lot of trainers become trainers because that's a passion and then it becomes a job. And they're like, I don't really want my livelihood and my family's livelihood to depend on this. And so what we do with OTA is we kind of help people figure that out, right? By giving them a bit of space, a bit of, of financial freedom and also time freedom.

Jonathan Goodman: You know, you'll still kind of be trading time for money, but at least you're doing it on your own schedule. And some people, we kind of base it on, like, we're going to help you make your first thousand dollars extra a month with online training. That's our guarantee within 90 days. If you're not doing that, we'll give you your money back. But some people are like: "yo I'm good thousand bucks, extra a month. I'm happy keep training. My clients, give away there was two I don't like. I'm good." Other people say: "now it's time to blow this up". And then we've got level two of our program, right? Then they can scale. Those are the people who are doing 40, 50, 60,000 a month. And they're just going up and up and up and up. And then other people are like, you know, now that I have some space to think about this, I'm going to keep training these people online.

Jonathan Goodman: The extra income is fun. It keeps my foot in it. You know, these are people that I can do and doing traces with whatever. But actually I think I'm going to change careers. I think I'm going to go back to school. I'm going to become a nurse, become a physiotherapist, become a real estate agent, right? And so we help people find that, that we help people figure out what the steps are and navigate those steps of their career. Because unfortunately the fitness industry is largely guided by for profit independent companies that are fractured, that don't speak to one another. Those are most of the certifying bodies and their profit model is contingent upon them, not letting you out of their reach to keep buying courses and programs for them. Right. And staying a trainer. And what we do is we kind of established ourselves and we're like, yo, Switzerland, we'll talk to anybody, we're worldwide. We don't care whether you're CrossFit or bodybuilder, whether you do Zumba, whether your orange theory, it doesn't matter. You're all, everything works. Everything's for different people. It doesn't matter whether you're in Australia, the United States, Dubai, right? Nairobi? Doesn't matter. Whatever it is, like we'll help you take that next step. Based off of best practices based off of what is actually out there. And if we're apart of that? Great. And if we're not apart of that? Awesome.

Wade Lightheart: Beautifully said. I know you gotta go. So I'd love to continue this conversation cause it's so nuanced and there's so many levels to it. And your experience as an entrepreneur, moving through all levels of this industry. And what you're saying is how that can be a trajectory into these other careers that I think is really phenomenal. Where can people reach you find out more about your company, you know, get inside this? I would highly suggest and recommend it to anybody that listen or know somebody that is a personal trainer or as a personal trainer or someone considering that field to get exposed to your thought. I think your thought leadership is in, everybody's talking about thought leaders, but you know, I instantly recognize that a number of years ago, when I saw you and read your Viralnomics books. I was just mega impressed by them even more so that we get to have direct conversation. Where they get a hold of you? How do they find out more and all that sort of stuff?

Jonathan Goodman: That's super kind. That's super, super kind to hear. If you like podcasts, we've got a podcast called The Online Trainer Show. It's education, it's comedy. It's fun. It's silly. We talk about poop. So if you offended by that kind of thing, don't listen. But if you think it's funny, like I do, then definitely listen and you'll learn some stuff about business. So that's onlinetrainer.com/podcast. If you are interested in online training, onlinepersonal training, if you're a nutrition coach, personal trainer, gym owner, and you want to know how to do that the right way Online Training Academy, that's our certification. It's also mentorship if you offer the mentorship.And that's onlinetrainer.com/academy.

Wade Lightheart: Beautiful. Thanks for joining us today on the Awesome Health Podcast. Again, the personal trainer development center. Jonathan, I love chatting with you. I hope I can get back to you again and maybe with a little bit more time, cause' I'd like to get into some more of these nuanced conversations. I think it's really important that we start sharing these things in the online ways and this sort of cancel culture craziness that's kind of emerged and getting into real topics and real things that have nuanced. Buy one of his books if you're not a personal trainer. I really like Viralnomics. I think it was one of the best books that I've read in the last five years, in my opinion. And I really appreciate you taking the time to be here. Thanks so much.

Jonathan Goodman: Thanks Wade.

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