This culture of instant gratification has caused us to forget the concept of paying your dues, and this is most obvious in the younger generation entering the workplace. I interview a lot of people for internships. Most who make it through to the part where they can intern usually take a job at another gym. Then I get an email that says, “Thanks for letting me train with you and your staff. I learned a ton, but I need a job that pays, so I'm taking a job at blah blah gym.”

I was at Westside for six months before Chuck Vogelpohl even said “hello” to me. I didn’t walk in there expecting everyone to pour their hearts out to me with all their training information. I kept my head down and busted my ass. Only after I had put up some big numbers did Chuck help me with my deadlift. The thing these kids I interview don’t understand is that when someone teaches you a craft, he's giving you a skill for the rest of your life. That isn't something that should come without a price. I look at that price as paying your dues.

We all know that you can be a very financially successful personal trainer without paying your dues. There are tons of incompetent people who make a nice living because they have clients who don’t care about results and just want to say that they have a personal trainer. I’m not even knocking these people. There is a place for them. If they do their thing and serve that market, more power to them. I sure as hell don’t want to train their clients. I have a hard time with lazy people who are just looking for a counselor or friend.

However, I start to have a problem with these “professionals” when they think that they're good trainers just because they have a bunch of clients. Having lots of clients just proves that you're a good sales person, not a good trainer. I know trainers who have tons of clients and have been training people for years but couldn’t have an educated discussion on training. This is okay unless they start to think that they're good trainers. Case in point, Dave Tate doesn't have one personal training client, but I don’t think there is a reader out there who wouldn’t love to have Dave train him. The problem is that some of these trainers who haven’t paid their dues would tell you that they're better trainers than Dave Tate because they have more clients. I want to punch these people in the face.

So why take the time to put in your dues and become a great personal trainer? Pride. I always want to be the best at what I do, and if you have any pride, you do too. For the most part, everyone I interview knows what a squat is. They know that a bar goes on your back and you go down and up. This isn't mastery of the squat. This is just an awareness of what it is. I have an awareness of how a woman has a baby but that doesn’t mean I can pop one out.

To me, if this is your profession, it should be your passion. If it isn’t your passion, find another job. There are plenty of easier ways to make money. If this is your passion, don’t you have the pride to be the best trainer possible? Whether you've been doing this for five minutes or five years, if you've never learned from and trained with an expert trainer, you need to block out some time in your schedule. If you say that you can’t afford to take time out of your schedule to learn from people who are experts, this isn't your passion, so refer to my earlier suggestion. The fact is the average person doesn't need a great trainer. They just need a modified babysitter. If you're okay with being that person, I hope that you're successful. If training is your passion, how can you not want to be great and be the best trainer possible?

Yes, I know more than anybody that paying your dues sucks. You'll have to give away a lot of your time without monetary compensation. Hell, if you go to seminars and conferences, you'll be paying money to learn. The kids I interview just don’t seem to understand how many thousands of dollars I’ve spent on seminars, conferences, books, travel to other experts, and internship hours. That doesn't include my own blood, sweat, and tears of over twenty years in the gym. Maybe they do understand and are okay with not being great trainers. If these kids do understand and they think that I won't expect a huge commitment from them before I ever turn this information over to them, they truly don’t understand what it is to pay your dues.

I can’t make you want to be great at what you do, but if you're reading this site, I assume that you at least have a glimmer of wanting to be great. If that is the case, start paying your dues and, in ten years, you'll be great. I'm not selling a certification that tells you that you'll be great in three months. Just like changes in your strength and body composition only happen after hours and years of work, becoming a great trainer takes years of paying your dues. So, get out there and start paying your dues.