Since my first Under the Bar article and now after the release of the Under the Bar book I have been asked one question more than any other. This question is;

“Dave, I am looking to start my own gym (or personal training center). Where do I begin?”

Where do I begin?

This is the same question I ask myself when addressed with this question. Do I begin with the 7 main systems of business?

  • Lead Conversion Systems
  • Lead Generation Systems
  • Marketing Systems
  • Leadership Systems
  • Management Systems
  • Client Fulfillment Systems
  • Financial Systems

Do I start with the process of the business plan, marketing plan, employee development or one of the other specific aspects of business?

This question is much like being asked “How do you get strong?”

How do you get strong?

There is a great place to start. We all go into the weight room for a very specific reason, much like we start a business. The real question is not how do you get strong but why do you want to get strong in the first place? It is not about how you start a business but why do you want a business in the first place? What is the driving force behind why you want to do this? What are the real reasons for taking this huge step?

When I ask people this they don’t know what to think. They have not thought about why. They have not given thought to what their primary aim is. The primary aim is intensely personal. It is all about you. There is no right or wrong answer to this question. There is only what is true for you.

So how do you establish your primary aim? The best way I have found to do this is with a process I used while going through the E-Myth Mastery Program. First you determine what you do and do not want in your life. Then you prioritize and bust barriers followed by writing your own eulogy. When you finish these you will have clear vision to determine what your real aim in life is.

What you DO NOT want in life

The first thing that has to be determined is what you DO NOT want in your life. When you begin to look at those things you do not want you begin to see what you really do what in your life. You also begin to see and discover all the self imposed limitations you have placed on yourself up to this point. It is not about money, fame, power, possessions, winning or loosing. These are not the real reasons behind anything. Just as your max bench press or total is not the main reason you strength train. It is much deeper than this. This deeper place is where you need to look if you really want to have success in business, training, coaching or anything else in life. You primary aim is about the real world, not some made up make believe place we imagine the world to be.

By understanding your aim you begin to understand your essence for life. It gives you the power to live life on your terms. It gives you the ability to make things happen instead of having things happen to you. It helps you place real priorities in your life. Not priorities someone else thinks you should have, but real ones that will steer the direction of everything in your life. It gives you life purpose. It gives you the ability to better serve this purpose

So make a list of all the things you DO NOT want in your life. Make this a brain storming activity and write as many things as you can. Try to make a list of 50 different items. Go crazy with this. Try not to think about it, just write. Think about what things you value in life. Think about whom you do not like and why you do not like them. Think about what matters most to you and how you would like to feel on a day to day basis. Think about what you have done in your life that you wish never happened. Think of things you have said that you wish you never said. Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses.

When you complete you list go back and circle those things you most what to not be a part of your life. Do not go crazy with this. Only circle those things you feel are the most important to avoid.

What do you want?

Just as you did with those things you do not want in your life, you will now make a list off all the things you do want in your life. Try to stay away from material things and money. They have very little to do with the development of your primary aim. They also come with success. If you live according to your primary aim you will always have more than you will even need.

Once again, go back and circle a few things you most feel should be a part of your life. No more than 5 items should be circled.


Go back to your two lists and pull all the circles items to a new list. Now look at these items and take some time to really think about each one. Think of why they are on your list and how they rank according to each other. Prioritize these items from most important to least important. When you look at each item think of what could stand in the way of accomplishing them to the degree you wish. What gets in the way now? What could get in the way later down the road? What barriers could keep you from each item? Make a list of these barriers and more importantly what you will do to overcome them. What are you self imposed limitations and how will you address them? What are your fears and how will you over come them? What habits do you need to break? What new habits do you need to create?

Write your eulogy

Sit back, relax and think of the day when you will no longer be with us. Think about all those people who are most important to you assembled at your memorial ceremony. You now have the chance to write your own eulogy. What would you like it to say? More importantly what do you what those in attendance to remember you for?

Will it be how much money you made? How much you dead lifted? How many touch downs you made? I don’t think so! What will it be?

What if you left us today? What would be said? Is it what you would write if you wrote your own? I call this the gap. We can’t control what would be said today BUT we can change and control what it would be later in life. The most important this to understand is you have 100% total control of how you would like to be remembered just as you have total control of your own life. The choice is yours to make.

Your Aim

You know have all you need to know to determine your primary aim. Try to write a single phrase or sentence that describes what you really what you life to be like.

You may be asking what does this have to do about business, training, or coaching. If this is the case then maybe you should pick up a pencil and do the work. If you really do the work you will never have to ask this question.

If you liked this article then check out my book Under the Bar: The 12 Lessons of Life from the World of Power Lifting. Under the Bar