Thomas Plummer: You Were Born to Change the World

The Soul of a Trainer Excerpt—Introduction

Thomas Plummer

You were born to change the world.

Few people in your life will have the right perspective to tell you this, because few will ever be in a situation to touch as many people as you will.

Most of your friends and your support group would laugh you out of the room if you had the nerve to openly admit this is what you believe about yourself, that you are passionate about a career few others understand and many mock. It is hard for them to grasp that you are living your dream and wearing funny clothes every day, while they toil away in an office or driving a truck, doing work that matters little to them or to the universe.

Your mother might say she believes you were born to change the world, but she is also the one who still cries in the closet because you never became a famous doctor and secretly wonders why you only own one nice outfit, yet you have 50 tee shirts. Someday, she hopes, you will grow up, get a real job, and be like your older brother, who hates his career and envies your willingness to live your dream.

The reality is no one but you has to believe you were born to change lives. If you believe being a fitness professional is your life’s work, then you were born to change the world by making those around you healthier, happier, and more functional in life because of your help, guidance, and willingness to care.

In our business, we often get so busy, we mentally lose sight of what we are getting done in the world. Your day starts at dawn; you slap down food as best you can, standing at the kitchen counter while the rest of your house is asleep, and then you’re off to work starting with your first client before most of the city is awake. Most of you will still be standing in the same gym smiling and sweating at 9:00 o’clock that night. One-on-ones, small groups, teams of 20, athletes, wannabe athletes, old people, professionals, spoiled housewives, and even the occasional superstar are all part of a coach’s day, but this endless stream often dulls the perspective that you have the strength and talent to make whomever is in your face for that session a better person.

Because a trainer cared, an older lady was able to pick up and hug her granddaughter.

Because a trainer cared, a guy got promoted because he had new confidence in his body.

Because a trainer cared, a couple had sex for the first time in a long time and felt good about taking off their clothes in the light.

Because a trainer cared, a woman rode a bike with her daughter for a half an hour, wearing a bigger smile than the kid.

When you are tired, hungry, and have had enough of your clients this week, remember that because a trainer cared, the world is a much better place, and because you care, you are helping change the world one client at a time. Make it a good week and take pride in giving a damn about what you do and whom you touch.

You exist to change lives. That is the soul of a trainer, and that is the mission of a professional coach. You are not here to build wealth, although if you are a true master coach, that will happen. You are not here as a simple employee paying your dues while learning your craft, although this is where many of you will begin. If you’re a true professional, you are not there wasting a few years of your life waiting to grow up and get a real job, although sadly, too many coaches with immense potential leave the industry too soon because they never figured out what it takes to survive such a tough business. You are there every day to change the lives of those around you; this is a heavy responsibility few others can understand.

We often think of other careers as the ones that matter, but few have the potential to affect so many lives as deeply as a master coach. Schoolteachers do noble work, but only touch a small handful of children a year. Police and firemen are dedicated professionals doing often dangerous work with little respect, yet they too only touch relatively few people. Perhaps medical professionals are the only ones who reach as many people as a coach can during a typical week. We may dress funny, and we can certainly take credit for inventing the meal eaten standing up and served in plastic bowls, yet the world is a better place because people like you choose to help others live better lives.

You cannot reach your potential as a master coach without understanding the foundational fact that what you do matters, and what you do makes a difference in the world around us. If you understand this, you are on the right path to build a long and profitable career as a true fitness professional.

It takes years to become a master coach, and while many new trainers often use the term, few have earned the title because reaching that elite status takes more work than most are willing to put into their careers. “Master coach” has many definitions, but perhaps one of the strongest is when you finally reach the point when you understand you don’t know everything, and never will.

Becoming a master coach is about the journey, and never about arriving at a single destination. There are master coaches in the field, such as Dan John, Mike Boyle, Gray Cook, Greg Rose, Alwyn Cosgrove, or Janet Alexander, and the next-generation masters, such as Charlie Weingroff, Justin Grinnell, Rick Mayo, and Ali Gilbert, who just seem to get better with age. They never fail to amaze those around them with their never-ending search to be better, learn more, and keep growing.

Your goal is not to worry about the title, but to concentrate on becoming the best you can be over time. It’s an adventure that will not end as long as you choose to grow and progress.

This long process toward becoming a master coach is about lifelong learning and studying the lessons from those who have gone before you. This book is about those lessons, but you probably won’t find these anywhere else in your search. There aren’t any training tips here, no ideal workouts, or ways to coach a better swing.

The ideas and concepts in this book are about how to create a fulfilling career, sustainable over time, doing work that matters, and being able to make a decent living in the process.

Being a fitness professional is one of those rare careers where if you have the passion and want the dream badly enough, you can make it happen. You can be the coach who, at the end of his days, looks back and says, “I made a difference, and my clients and those around me are better today. I did my job as a true professional.”

Working in fitness used to be something you did until you moved on and got a real job. The average fit pro usually lasted less than eight years and was gone. But that is changing. People now realize fitness can be a life’s work, and they can spend the rest of a working career doing what they love. The day you declare to yourself and everyone in your life that this is it, this is my choice, and this is what I am going to do until you pry that last kettlebell out of my cold dead fingers will be the best day of your life.

The challenge is to keep moving forward and up so there will be enough money to pay for your family and your life. Increasing your business skill set, advancing your knowledge, and trying different aspects of the fitness world all combine to keep you funded and mentally growing, which is vital to stay alive in this field.

Many people waste their entire lives searching for a perfect place in life. Maybe you have already found yours, but you just haven’t yet told the world you are exactly where the universe thinks you should be.

Knowing what you want, who you are, and where you are going makes for a very happy person in life. I hope that is you living a life in fitness.

Thomas Plummer

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