Podcast Episode 7: Jon Goodman

Learn About The Possibilities Of Online Personal Training, With Jon Goodman

Communication is easier than ever before. Computers and the internet allow us to reach out to people around the globe from the comfort of our own homes and offices.

Traditionally, personal training has been confined to the gym in face-to-face sessions or in the privacy of a client’s home. More and more personal trainers are turning to online training as a way to build up nationwide and international client bases.

However, many trainers make the transition to conducting online courses without a clear idea of what this involves. What if there was a way to gain the necessary knowledge to become a world-class online trainer?

The Online Trainer Academy provides just that. The creator Jon Goodman aims to equip trainers with the tools that they need in order to create a successful online training business, allowing them to avoid common pitfalls. The course is fully certified, which gives online trainers legitimacy in the eyes of potential and existing clients.

“I teach people the business aspects of gaining clients online and building up a solid business structure” – Jon Goodman

About Jon Goodman

Jon Goodman loves to exercise, hates bad socks, and considers himself a key lime pie connoisseur. He is the creator of the Personal Trainer Development Center (the PTDC) and the Online Trainer Academy.

He has sold tens of thousands of copies of his books, training programs, and courses. He has also been featured in Men’s Health, Schwarzenegger.com, Muscle & Fitness, and Forbes amongst others.

He writes about personal training and enjoys philosophizing and experimenting with new media.

Originally from Toronto, Jon spends his winters exploring the world.


  • How The Online Trainer Academy helps people to become online trainers
  • The benefits of online training for clients, trainers and gym owners
  • Why face-to-face training and online training is completely different
  • The difference between seeking out a mentor and hiring a coach



“Being able to say to clients that you are a certified online trainer immediately puts you ahead of somebody else who just says that they can train that person online”

Connect with Jon Goodman

Website: www.theptdc.com/ota

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theptdc/

Email: https://www.theptdc.com/contact-us/


Interview Transcript

VOICEOVER: Become a better personal trainer by becoming a better man. Become a better man by applying knowledge from others who have walked across the fire, and have a thing or two to say about it. Listen to Joe as he delves into some of the greatest minds of the best coaches in the world. Who bring inspiring stories and powerful insights to share about the human condition. Hear about how the fitness industry goes only muscle-deep and how a new breed of trainers are using emotional and mindset hacks to improve as men, evolve their game and make the competition irrelevant. Trigger your pathway to greater fulfilment. With us, stand in the face of fitness. Welcome to the Fit Man Collective.


JH: Hey guys. Joe Hanney here, welcome to another show. I’m your host and founder of The Fit Man Collective and thank you for being here and listening to my podcast show. This show is about becoming a better personal trainer by becoming a better man, a fit man. On today’s show I am pleased to announce that I have a great guest by the name of Jon Goodman.

Jon has created one of the best communities for personal trainers. This covers absolutely everything that trainers need so they can have amazing careers that are both personally and financially rewarding.

Before I give too much information away, Jon and I will be talking about his Personal Trainer Development Centre on the show, as well as taking a look at his latest creation The Online Trainer Academy. Stay tuned.

Jon, just for the audience could you give them a quick introduction to who you are and what you are about?


JG: My bread and butter is the Personal Trainer Development Centre. We’ve been doing that since 2011 and I think that we do a pretty good job.


JH: How did that come about Jon?


JG: It came about because I was at the upper limit of what I could achieve as a personal trainer, training as many hours as I possibly could. I figured out that I needed to make a little bit of money while I wasn’t on my feet.

That would serve me if I wanted to have a family in the future. To promote the book I started a website that was only going to promote the book.  I figured out that after building the website for personal trainers, there were other subjects as well. The idea grew to bring it all under one roof.


JH: At the time of you being a trainer, did you want to compile all the information that had been useful to you and put it all under one roof for trainers who are getting into the industry or searching for it themselves?


JG: It wasn’t so much that, to be honest. Maybe it was in the back of my mind, but it was not consciously. I realised early on in my training career that the actual workout didn’t matter that much, but how much the trainer motivated the client in wanting to do the workout.

This involves a lot more psychology and marketing principles as well. How do you sell somebody on an idea and make them want to do it over and over again, pushing harder? At its core, that’s what marketing really is. So, that’s the information that I couldn’t find. I realised that a lot of new trainers coming in who are not experienced were just missing that element. There was a lot of focus on the best workout to do, how to fix injuries and how to get stronger.

I thought “I don’t care whether you do six, seven or eight reps”. Is a trainer’s job really to count reps? Whether you do 8, 10, 12 or 15 reps, consistency matters. There wasn’t a lot of good information, and that’s what drove me to do it and set me apart in terms of the information that I was putting out.


JH: I think it is fantastic advice that you have offered there. The advice today seems to be focused on exercise prescription and nutrition advice. The game changer is how do you influence that client to make a change? Was there anything that was your go-to at that point? Or did you learn a lot yourself? Were there any people that you went to?


JG:  Early on I had to seek out the information. I have always been obsessed with human behaviour, even before I knew that it was an obsession. I would try to walk-back conversations that I had with people: “I spoke to my friend today about Jello, how did we get to speaking about that? We started talking about math”.

I became really interested in the intersection of conversation. How did a conversation get from A all the way to E? I thought that an extension of that was how I could manipulate those intersections and therefore take control of conversations. I was doing this back in high school, for some weird reason, and just trying to figure it out. I never really knew what I was doing at that time, even into university I would just study people.

One thing I love is sitting in coffee shops and pubs and making up backstories about people. There are lots of people who have pioneered research in that field, of why we do what we do. It’s irrational, it’s how humans operate. Humans are not logical beings, so I dug into that and started to understand it. Those things are so powerful that even if you know they are happening to you, they still work.


JH: I suppose, even just having that awareness is going to have a greater impact on you as a coach. The challenge is that as a trainer in today’s society, they assume that they only have that hour to train their client. Trainers need to be aware of that during the hour, and they can create another model where it allows them to have a different coaching element to their package. This would be even more powerful.


JG: Let me ask you something. What is the top reason that someone hires a personal trainer? What’s the problem they want to solve?


JH: An emotional, deep-rooted problem.


JG: Maybe. So what is that?


JH: It could be many years of self-sabotage, where they don’t understand why they self-sabotage. This could go back years. To understand that kind of behaviour, you have to ask very specific questions and get them to answer that for you.


JG: Exactly. You know that and I want to return to that. Why does someone come to a personal trainer, and from the client’s perspective what do they want to do?


JH: Lose weight.


JG: Exactly. So what’s interesting about this is that there is a pretty serious disconnect. What they are telling you is not what they want to achieve. If they actually wanted to lose weight they wouldn’t need to hire a trainer. If you want to lose weight, you Google on the internet how to lose weight. You can get fifty methods for free within a quarter of a second that are going to be good enough methods for losing weight.

Pick one, follow it and you’re going to do well with it. So what is it that a personal actually hires a trainer for? There’s a big disconnect between what people say they want and what they actually want. They will never be able to verbalise that and they won’t even realise that it is missing. This comes down to self-doubt and a lack of confidence.

There are a lot of barriers to overcome. As a trainer you need to understand that on the surface you might be giving somebody a workout, but under the surface you are giving them what they actually need, which is the reason why they haven’t been able to achieve what they want with that workout. You can’t go to a client and say “you want to lose weight, so here’s how you do it. But actually, you have pretty serious confidence issues, so we are going to deal with that”. What you have to do is intuitively include these methods into your programme.

As an example, instead of giving somebody a programme that has a phase two of fat loss, where we’re going to ramp up the volume, you say that it is time for the “red dress workout”. This is because the client told you that a couple of years ago they wanted to wear a red dress but that it didn’t fit anymore. This workout is to get them to wear the red dress again.

Now the trainer is addressing the key emotions that connect back to what they want to do. The client doesn’t really know what you are doing. You’re not explicitly communicating what you are doing. You are intuitively working in what they want to achieve into your programme, That is how you become the “no brainer coach”. Every other coach offers Phase 2 fat loss – “we’re going to do big squats because it works big muscles and burns a lot of fat”. In contrast, you are doing the Red Dress Workout. They don’t care what’s in the workout, they want to fit into the red dress.


JH: That is superb advice. I got into the habit of saying “what you’re coming to me for is not exactly what you think you are coming to me for”.  It opens up a can of worms in their coaching journey with ourselves. There is another point that you made which I want to highlight for the trainers that are listening. It might be that you have to help them lose that weight, that they think is going to help them gain some confidence. However, you need to show them that they could still lack confidence even when they have lost the weight.

Just going to the opposite end of the spectrum, I want to bring up the technology that is becoming ever more popular. Things like Uber are based around convenience and quick access. What kind of impact do you think that this will have on personal trainers? Do you see it as an advantage or a disadvantage?


JG: I see it as another piece of the puzzle that we are trying to solve. This is getting the majority of people more active and keeping them active for a longer period of time. Uber and other apps are different because that is talking about crowdsourcing. I don’t know if that applies so much to the fitness industry as much as the “quantified-self movement”. There is a lot of talking whether this is the end of personal training? The answer is very clearly no.

Picture the fitness industry as just a big pie. If there are 100% of the people that we want to get active, at the moment we are only getting 15% of them active. The fitness industry as a whole is not doing a good enough job. This is not because of a lack of information or passion. It is lacking different ways to serve the market. Different people react to different stimuli and people like to encounter situations differently and benefit differently. There is a certain type of person in this world who loves one-to-one training. There are other people who like Zumba. There are other people who like small-group exercise. Other people thrive with CrossFit. It doesn’t matter what it is, but what matters is that you find what works for you.

The person who loves wearable tech and the quantifiable-self movement is going to jump to the next piece of quantified-self. You are not going to get someone who is into one-on-one training buying a FitBit and not wanting their trainer anymore.

That person was not right to be with the trainer in the first place. I think that is all there is to it. You are never going to be able to replace people. If anything, this world that is becoming increasingly impersonal is going to push people towards more personal services.

It is going to push coaches to be better and to appreciate this more. Where wearable tech does come in is that it provides a very good selling platform for large gyms to differentiate themselves. There is a lot of marketing power in that. If a gym is able to get a contract for wearable tech in their region, that they can use to build a programme, then that acts as a hook. That is nothing more than a marketing hook but it could be an effective one. But you’re still talking about group exercise. If you look at group exercise from the fifties through to now, it went from low intensity to high-intensity and swung back again.

The pendulum keeps swinging. Now it has fallen down in the middle. CrossFit was very high intensity and now it has become controlled, and for the most part taught pretty well. This is the way that things will always go.


JH: This leads me onto a question about something that you have created: the Online Trainer Academy. Would you mind sharing in a nutshell what that is? How much of a game-changer will that be?


JG: To give some background, the Online Trainer Academy is a business-building course for personal trainers who want to do online training. This can be done as a hybrid by combining personal sessions. It can be done solely online as well. It is a certification course that is the first one ever for online trainers. It has been wildly successful so far.

We have a full textbook and digital portal. I look at online training as a win-win-win for everyone. It’s a win for trainers because it solves the big problem that every trainer hits: they need to make more money and they need to add more time to their schedule. It solves a big problem for gym owners because they lose a lot of money by clients moving away and they lose a lot of money by trainers leaving. They need other income streams without having to expand their space and their staff.

It is a win for the client because they can pick the best trainer for them, regardless of location. This allows clients to pick the person that they believe can help them the most. There is a lot to be said as to how much people will commit themselves to their workouts when they can make this choice. In addition, it will cost less and there are no time constraints.

If you want to work out at 6.04pm, you don’t miss 4 minutes with your one-on-one trainer.  What I do is teach people how to do this responsibly. I teach people the business aspects of gaining clients and building up a solid business structure.

I teach how to assess clients properly. When it comes to assessment it is important to realise that reliability trumps validity. It doesn’t really matter what the client’s body fat is, but what matters is that you can measure reliably from each test to the next. In personal training, if you are very close to a valid bodyfat test, it would be much more valid.


JH: I suppose the assessment side of it was a pretty hot topic amongst trainers when you first brought this out to the market. Surprised is the wrong word, so I am actually very excited to hear that you tackled that. Was that a difficult job or did you find it pretty straightforward?

JG: Putting together the programme as a whole was a difficult job, for no other reason than that nobody has attempted to do this before. We had to make it up as we went along, and the way to do that is a lot of R&D.

I have been teaching online training to trainers, originally as a course that I called 1K Extra. We took in thousands of students who did that course over the course of 2-3 years and took feedback of what worked and what didn’t. We had all of this data from people who are already doing it. What that also enabled me to do was build up a huge network of successful online trainers across the world with different types of clients and with different types of specialities. Everything from top performing aerobic athletes to seniors.

Mine and my team’s job was to compile a tonne of interviews where I spoke one-on-one and recorded these calls with people doing online training successfully. The goal of those calls was to pick out the golden nuggets of what they do.

Lazarus Ross owns Major Gainz Fitness and has a lot of trainers working for him online. What he does is use Facebook and his existing community in order to get more clients. I was able to pull that system out of them and I was able to use psychological research to make that system better. I was able to make sense of it so that I could explain it to other people. Phil Harrison is a coach in the UK. He took his boot camp model and brought it online. He called it a guinea-pig trial. I changed that to a guinea-pig experiment because I didn’t like the word trial. We were able to use what he was already doing online.

There are so many examples of stuff like that of pulling the one golden nugget. Alex Viada of Complete Human Performance has a seven-figure online coaching company of high-performing athletes. These people win CrossFit competitions and world championships in track and field. He coaches them online. His assessment techniques were better than anyone I have ever seen for online coaching. He was willing to give me information about how he does it. It was a case of not getting carried away because what he does is not what most people need.

It is again a case of understanding that validity over reliability. If you are training a runner or a cyclist, there is a very simple test that you can do. You can compare from test-to-test to gauge performance increase. You are looking at 2k time-trials, but not doing blood-sampling. It was a case of pulling out the golden nuggets and then it was simplifying those and making sense of them.

Often people that are doing something brilliant don’t know why they are brilliant. It was up to my team and I to make sense of it all.


JH: You have the world experience and the research behind it.


JG: That’s the idea. I think that is the differentiator between what I have done versus a lot of people who will teach online coaching. I will be the first to tell you that they haven’t taught anyone online.

My job is to figure out the best systems for training people online. A lot of other people who teach this kind of thing do a great job with their clients and businesses in one specific way. If you are an online coach or want to, you’re probably going to go to someone who does it in the specific way that you want.

The reality of it is that you have no idea what is right for you or what isn’t. Is a membership site right for most people? Probably not, but it sounds very appealing. If you know that you want to do a membership site then there are people out there who teach you to do a membership site for online.

The problem is that they will teach anyone their method and they won’t do a smart enough intake to determine if you are actually right for this method.


JH: Is that why you created a certification to be the first in the market? To give trainers more confidence in what it is that you are delivering. It sounds very intricate and detailed. No stone has been left unturned.


JG: I think with any new market, especially one that is unregulated like fitness, it is important to have a measure of legitimacy, Having a certification, having a textbook and getting well-rounded ideas means that you are going to encounter the business much more responsibly.

Being able to say to clients that you are a certified online trainer immediately puts you ahead of somebody else who just says that they can train that person online. Who is the client going to pick? It communicates that you care enough about what you are doing to become educated in that field.

A lot of people with online training will go into the business and say that they can do it. However, working online as an online trainer is an entirely different business to working as a personal trainer. How you set up your business, organise your time, communicate with clients and the way that you deliver workouts are completely different. It is learning a new business. A lot of people don’t respect that and as a result, a lot of people fail at it and a lot of people burn out.


JH: Speaking in great depth about this, you have really done a lot of research and you have thought about how this is going to work. You have identified the process that is already good to go, as long as trainers are willing to immerse themselves in the information that you are providing. They then become that certified online trainer.


JG: What I am really proud of is how we are able to walk a trainer from start to finish through the process of building the perfect kind of business for them.

My opinion is that there is no wrong way or right way to do this. There is only a right way and a wrong way for the individual trainer. Throughout the textbook and the workbook, there’s a whole bunch of material that explains the videos.

You are working through exercises in the workbook to make sense of what the perfect type of business is for you: how it will be structured, how you will deal with clients and what you are going to charge, before determining how you are going to market your business.

Once you have worked through the book and figured this out, you then transfer the information onto a Snapshot Worksheet. The worksheet is a snapshot of your business. This will allow you to overcome distractions.


JH: So this brings them back to the core values?


JG: You can always go back to your core values and you can say that you made these decisions after a lot of thought and knew exactly how you were going to structure your business.  I have no clue as to how we were able to pull that off, but I think that we did a pretty good job and the initial response has been very good.

I thought that we were going to have to make a lot of changes after we put out the first version of the textbook, but we have been able to guide people really well in terms of what it was they should be doing or shouldn’t in terms of them.

Maybe you want to do transformation programmes that last for 8 weeks online. Maybe you want to train people one-on-one. Maybe you want to have a free Facebook group. All of these things can’t be done at once. If you try to do all of it you are going to fail. How do you know which is the right one for you? That is what we are able to guide people towards and give them the confidence that what they are doing is right and to focus on that whilst ignoring everything else.


JH: It runs true from the Personal Trainer Development Centre through to the Online Trainer Academy that you are giving trainers confidence because you have built a community of experts. Doing your own research has carried through to the Online Trainer Academy.

The trainer can feel confident that there is a genuine guy behind this that has really put a lot of thought into it to ensure that the people are supported on their journey.


JG: That’s the hope.


JH: You have answered a tonne of my questions already, which has opened up the opportunity for trainers to search for more information about this. If you don’t mind me asking, where could trainers who are listening find out more about the Personal Trainer Development Centre and the Online Trainer Academy certification?


JG: It is pretty easy. The Personal Trainer Development Centre is www.theptdc.com and it does have the t-h-e before. The Online Trainer Academy certificate is www.theptdc.com/ota.


JH: I will obviously have that in the show notes, so people can just access the links there. Just one last thing, how important do you think it is that a personal trainer seeks out coaching for themselves so that they can gain a perspective and understanding of what coaching actually does for them so they can pass it on to their clients.


JG: I think that it is very important, but I think that there is a lot of confusion of the terms. There is a big difference between a mentor and a coach. A mentor is someone who believes in you, who chooses you, who takes you under their wing and who really guides you.

They are not someone that you pay. A mentor doesn’t hook you with a Facebook ad, get you to go on a strategy call and then you pay them money and then they involve you in some group calls. That’s not what a mentor does. A mentor is someone who believes in you and takes their time to work with you. A mentor doesn’t have a lot of time to work with lots of different people at once.

I’ve taken on a couple of people in my day, but it is always one at a time. It is a deep relationship.

A coach is different. A coach is someone who has a piece of information that you desire to have. If I want to know or achieve something, I will break that down into components. There may be 8 components. I can do 5 but I don’t know how the other 3 can be done. I am going to pay whoever I have to as much money as they possibly need to tell me those 3.

It then becomes a search to find those people, and my only goal is to obtain those 3 pieces of information. I don’t need to coach with them. I’ve paid people $1000 an hour for a phone call, and I’ve paid people $10000 for an hour of their time.

I will never pay anyone to be part of a $1000-a-month mentorship, because the whole concept behind that is false. I am someone who doesn’t need accountability, which is a big element. If you need accountability then it becomes a little bit different.

My point is – don’t just hire someone because you like the idea of it. A lot of the time when you hire a coach, it’s because you don’t have the guts to take action on it yourself. That comes first, so work through everything that is stopping you from taking action first. Figure out what you need to know and find the person who knows that and pay them whatever they need to give you that information.


JH: That’s a great point. That is great advice which I have never heard put in that way. So thank you for that Jon, I really appreciate your time and I appreciate you as a person being on the show. Thank you very much, my friend.


JG: Thanks.


Again, thanks to Jon for helping me to produce such a great show for you guys. Now in the meantime, if you have any questions about this show, then head over to The Fit Man Collective Facebook group at www.facebook.com/groups/thefitmancollective where we will have deeper conversations about this. To get all the show notes and links for today’s show, head over to www.thefitmancollective.com.

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