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The Space Between Fitness and Medicine: Where “the Good You Do For Others” Brings the Reward you Deserve | Part 3

If you’ve been following this article/series since Part 1, here’s what you now realize:

There is a massive market of adults in “need” of exercise and nutritional interventions to rediscover the health they’ve moved away from.
Although the conventions of the medical field are poorly equipped to reverse chronic disease, and the conventions of the fitness field primarily offer protocols for training healthy individuals (even the “special pop” certifications address safety more than an aggressive approach toward dis-ease reversal), there is MASSIVE OPPORTUNITY for you to prosper in working with this “unwell” market.

Senior woman with help of physiotherapist

The Space Between Fitness and Medicine: Where “the Good You Do For Others” Brings the Reward you Deserve | Part 2

In our first part of this three-part discussion, in addressing the topic of financial reward, I asked you to ponder the value of restoration.  What, I prompted you to consider, is the value of helping someone who has moved along the dis-ease continuum, gradually leaving health in the proverbial rear-view-mirror back toward divine health?

It isn’t an easy question to answer.  We can tackle it by considering all of the dollars those who incur inflammatory issues, chronic challenges, and cellular degradation will have to invest in maintaining function and comfort.  We might also attempt to place a monetary value upon lost quality of life.  We might even consider the simple question, “what would someone pay to rediscover health” considering their fear and apprehension of the alternative, and from that extrapolate the value.

If you are willing to believe that personal trainers with advanced education and the development of a complementary skill set can have immeasurable impact upon “the unwell population,” one perspective becomes clear.

The trainer versed in restoring health commands a far greater value than the personal training mainstream.

That’s important.


As in any field, a specialist with enhanced value will serve his or her marketplace best by finding a direct line of contact with those in need of their specialty.

In the sentence above, “need” is the key word.

While it’s oft been said that personal trainers are a luxury or a privilege, with an appropriate adjustment in perspective, those who have slipped into the largest segment of our adult population, the unwell market, might consider any therapeutic resource, if wellness is a goal, a “need.”

Now that I’ve mentioned it a few times, I’ll provide a general description of the market I’m referring to as “unwell.” Then I’ll help you see the opportunity to step up, to meet this population in an arena where they “need” you.  I’, to command a value in line with a well-justified fee, and . . . here’s the biggie . . . to provide them the service they will truly benefit from.


Let’s be really clear here.  I’m not suggesting the opportunity lies in training “sick people.”  I’m suggesting the largest, most opportune market share is made up of many American adults between the ages of 35 and 65.  They aren’t “sick” in a clinical sense.  They work.  They drive their kids to school.   They shop in the malls and grocery stores.  They eat in the neighborhood restaurants.  They pump gas in the same gas stations you do and they frequent Starbuck’s, Chipotle, and the local pizza place.

They don’t have need for hospitalization or chronic care . . . but they’ve slipped, moved along what I’m calling the dis-ease continuum.  They’ve begun a process of maladaptation, a movement away from healthful homeostasis, and while many haven’t yet been diagnosed (many have), their bodies have become imbalanced.  Whether it’s a hormonal imbalance, thyroid irregularity, blood sugar elevation, hypertensive condition, hypercholesterolemia, or chronic inflammation of one or several bodily systems, they have moved into a place where innate homeostasis is no longer their “norm.”

Not sick, at least not clinically, but not well.  What’s alarming is, I’m describing near 65% of the adult population over the age of 45.  Yes, the market is vast.

If the unwell were being cured of their ailments or remedied by the conventions of medicine, I wouldn’t see the “need” as being this opportune.  All I need to share is a single statement to help you see why there’s a desperate need for a new type of health practitioner, one who masters the exercise and eating intervention.  Here’s that statement.

In a society where chronic disease is most treated with pharmaceutical intervention, there isn’t a single medication that will cure any chronic disease.

Read that again.  While there exists a wild array of meds to manage conditions and change biomarkers, there isn’t one that will cure the plight of the unwell.

Conversely, there is an extensive body of evidence to demonstrate the power we have over shifts in blood sugar, blood pressure, and hormonal disruption when we strategically employ a variety of exercise modalities and guidance in the realm of supportive nutrition.

If the demand is great, the “need” remains unfulfilled, and the greatest potential lies in the skill set we, as fitness professionals, have access to . . . our value escalates above virtually any conventional yet impotent “cures.”


If we consider a “Level 1” trainer someone who is qualified, credentialed, and able to provide safe and effective exercise prescription to a healthy population, let’s consider a “Level 2” someone who can effectively target this Unwell niche and deliver improvements in biomarkers, condition, and quality of life.

The Level 2 trainer can identify his or her “ideal client avatar.”  Moving forward I’ll refer to the Ideal Client Avatar as an “ICA.”

In establishing a presence and a track record with the Unwell, the enhanced personal trainer (enhanced with a higher level of education than the standard and an ability to implement positive change in the unwell) can justifiably command fees in line with other health practitioners, medical practitioners, and specialists.

In setting a fee structure, there should be a professional standard, a relationship-based fee that is consistent, one that exceeds “an industry standard.”  Remember, if you deliver above the standard, you deserve reward above the usual.


Marketing, for the Level 2 trainer targeting this niche is not as haphazard as “pass out cards, talk it up in the gym, and talk to everyone about what you do.”

In order to establish your position, you’ll want to have four.  Four strong successes.  Four living examples of the value you deliver, and finding those four requires a bit of front-end work.  Once you have your four you have a sound foundation upon which to build.  The question, therefore, that merits consideration is . . . how do you “break in.”  Where do your “four” come from.

I’ll make it step by step.

Note that everything that follows is based upon the assumption that you have received extraordinary training, that you’ve established a level of education complementary to your base credential, and that you’re positioned to initiate and maintain a practice with a revised focus on empowering clients to reverse the imbalances inherent in chronic disease.  This is a prerequisite of paramount importance and although I won’t invest any more time in addressing it here, don’t allow my failure to repeat and reiterate this point as an indication its any less than vital.

STEP ONE: Define your Ideal Client Avatar.  If you have a personal connection to a given condition or population (i.e. a relative with diabetes, a personal history with thyroid issues, etc.) and you have a passion for helping others who you feel are kindred spirits, that’s where you should best direct your marketing.  You can’t “market well” until you define your ICA.  This is a “must” in turning your ambition into financial security (and it’s the step most who seek to elevate their careers miss or ignore).  Your ICA may not be based on your personal experience, but rather on where you see the greatest opportunity or where you have the greatest inroads.  Devote time to getting clear on your ICA.  It’s the true key to successfully “Stepping up to Level 2.”

STEP TWO: Determine your fee structure, your promise, and your offer.  You don’t want to approach each prospective client with an open negotiation, nor do you want to exhibit uncertainty.  As any business owner, design your foundation.  What, precisely, are you promising each client?  How are you compensated for that?  What, precisely, is the person considering retaining you, supposed to do now, as a point of commitment.

STEP THREE: Choose a location, an affiliation, a network, and a social media platform where you can “meet” your ICA and spread the word.  This is far simpler than it sounds.  In outlining your ICA, simply as the question, “where do I find him (her)?”  This is marketing at its core.  Don’t think “medical.”  Think real life.  Where can you do a talk, a workshop, a presentation, knowing your ICA sits in the audience.  I realize this is the intimidating step . . . but it’s also the one that brings  you to human connection, and ultimately to commitment and money exchange.  Perhaps in the future I’ll share an entire article devoted to “finding your ICA in the real world.”   For now, accept that you have the answer to the question, you have the ability, and all it takes is a bit of courage and determination.

STEP FOUR: Create your Four.  Do your thing.  Work your magic.  Use your skill set.   Bring about change.  Documentable change.  Once you have your first four successes, you begin to build what I call an Arsenal of Evidence, and from that point on, the marketing challenge is replaced by magnetic appeal.

STEP FIVE: Build your business confidently, massively, professionally, and without limit.

This 3-part piece is intended, not to be a complete primer for business building, but to give you a sense of both the opportunity and your ability.

In creating a distinction between the progressive trainer willing to study, learn, and elevate, I’ve used the term “Level 2,” not to suggest any elite status, but to demonstrate a clear escalation in earning potential.  Before I conclude this second part of the piece, I’ll outline a few elements of what I’m calling The Level 2 Trainer.


  1. You are a specialist among a given population
  2. You command fees above the norm
  3. You have a consistent promise and offer
  4. You have a track record and consistently grow a marketing / referral base
  5. You understand and recognize the value in the potential you have as a guide to empower others to move away from chronic disease and back toward divine health

Is there a level above the Level 2 trainer?  Yes.  And the sky’s the limit.  Literally.  More to come in Part 3!

This is 3 part series. Read part 1 here, and part 3 here

Phil Kaplan has been a fitness leader and Personal Trainer for over 30 years having traveled the world sharing strategies for human betterment.  He has pioneered exercise and eating interventions documented as having consistent and massive impact in battling chronic disease.  His dual passion combines helping those who desire betterment and helping health professionals discover their potential.  Email him at phil@philkaplan.com

personal trainer showing stopwatch time to senior client

The Space Between Fitness and Medicine: Where “the Good You Do For Others” Brings the Reward you Deserve | Part 1

This is part one in a three-part series.

In every field you find the big earners and those who are “paying the bills.”  In every field you find excellence and mediocrity. In every field you find those who fully engage and those who invest just enough to play in the arena.

Here’s one of the many challenges that keeps the personal training field in its own aura of uniqueness. The delivery of extreme value isn’t always met with what we might consider just reward. In other words, an investment of attention, energy, discipline, and devout practice ensures nothing more than a fair attempt at turning human interaction into revenue.

I think its time to change that.


Great surgeons command great remuneration, as do great quarterbacks, great attorneys, and great architects. We can judge them by the effectiveness of their work, by their “wins,” or by their track records.

Do great work. Make great money.

A peripheral glimpse of our field might lead to the perception that the big earners rely more on personality, social skill, and media exposure than expertise, but that’s only a glimpse. Whether it’s an accurate or flawed conclusion, I promise you this. It can be changed.

In this 3-part series, I want to change the way you think. I want to give you control over your future, your position, and… your income, not by sharing marketing tricks bur rather by giving you a willingness to accept an important truth.

You are an entrepreneur.

I know. Some of you gagged, some fought back the vomit reflex, and others considered it might best to stop reading. Entrepreneurs have to have some business expertise, they have to deal with finance, and they have to… ready for this… sell!!!


I’m not finished turning the screw. I’ll make it, for the moment, even harder to swallow. As an entrepreneur you are FULLY IN CONTROL of the value you deliver, the number of lives you touch, the number of lives you change for the better, and the number of dollars that make up the balance in your bank account. Nobody will do it for you. It’s all on you.

Here’s another truth.   Most personal trainers pursue their professional commitments out of two complementary driving forces. They love helping people and they have a passion for fitness. That’s good. It’s both, their greatest strength and their source of vulnerability . . . because “making money” falls somewhere lower on the list than “finding reward in gratitude.”


As a trainer you LOVE when a client says thank you. You melt when a client says, “you changed my life,” and you puff up like a blowfish when you read the text that says, “OMG, lost 20, feel great!  Thank you.”

This innate deep-rooted altruism allows you to work for less money than you deserve and to justify the financial deficiency with “I’m helping people.”

Let me share another insight. You are wired more like a doctor than you are like the proud and hungry entrepreneur. Doctors are driven by the same altruistic inner calling, at least when they decide to sit for the MCAT’s and pursue intensive study, knowing it’ll be followed by an internship and residency before they even earn their first dollar.

So why do doctors earn what you perceive to be “the big money” while trainers settle for per-session fees?  One reason. They’re given permission.

The medical paradigm is polarizingly different than the one you operate under. The medical student doesn’t “set” his future pricing, the paradigm does.

The fees for an MRI, a bypass procedure, lab tests, and cosmetic enhancements are established. The medical student simply steps into the universe where value already exists.

You, whether you emerged your educational prep with a degree or a certification, stepped into a universe where the paradigm is based upon “training sessions,” not upon true delivery of value.

I might not share these perspectives with an audience of trainers at a general fitness conference. I’m sharing them with you because you’ve demonstrated interest in or become connected with the Medical Fitness Network. This demonstrates that you have an interest beyond “training sessions.”  At some level, you have interest in helping people rediscover health. There’s value in that. Extreme value.

Let’s do a quick comparison.

Where is there more perceived value?  In a training session promising to make someone sweat, contract, stretch, and increase respiration, or in the undoing of a chronic condition?


We dare not suggest we can cure any disease, but there’s a massive and-ever growing body of evidence demonstrating that shifts in eating and movement can create shifts in biochemistry and physiology moving people away from physical compromise and back toward health.

I’m suggesting that if you become a practitioner delivering human betterment to those who live in compromise, you’re standing on the cusp of establishing a new paradigm. You’re potentially moving into a position where you can claimpower over the impact you have upon your clients and concurrently upon the fees you command and the reward you deserve.

I want you to see yourself as somehow different than “the rest of the field.”  Without ego playing a role, consider that you have the ability to elevate, to accept a position of greater responsibility, and with it, greater reward.

In the next two parts of this three-part article, I’ll share what I call “The Three Levels of Profitability” and show you how you immediately leave the income ceiling behind when you stop up to Level 2, but for now I simply want you consider movement. I want you to realize, if you opt to pursue a “specialty,” to offer a solution to a market that is bound by pain, discontent, or limitation, you have a far greater value than a practicing workout expert.

No longer will you be “in the fitness field.”  You won’t leave it entirely, and you’ll still carry your fitness passion and wield it as a weapon, but you’ll move into a space that’s the open sea, a space where earnings will escalate for those who master the skill set allowing them to find a new level of comfort in entrepreneurship. We’ll consider it the space between Fitness and Medicine. It’s the space where a massive segment of our population will rediscover their own power to live in health, regardless of their past or present level of compromise. It’s the space where guidance is lacking, the space where ancient wisdom will marry scientific discoveries, the space where you can prosper and thrive.

If you hunger to be in this space, stay connected. This is simply the eye opener. I’m about to share insights that will completely shift your recognition of your own potential. Stay tuned.

This is 3 part series. Read part 2 here, and part 3 here

Phil Kaplan has been a fitness leader and Personal Trainer for over 30 years having traveled the world sharing strategies for human betterment. He has pioneered exercise and eating interventions documented as having consistent and massive impact in battling chronic disease. His dual passion combines helping those who desire betterment and helping health professionals discover their potential. Visit Phil’s website, philkaplan.com; you can email him at phil@philkaplan.com