The fitness industry can get pretty slimy.

You know what’s out there: Pyramid schemes, magic detoxes, and fat-melting shrink wrap. You and I could spend all of our time writing about myths. But that wouldn’t help our clients.

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To help your clients, you need to earn their trust, and then tell them the truth. You already knew that. But how do YOU stay above it all? How do you avoid reacting to their lies, confronting them when they copy you, and avoid spending all your time fighting?

In late 2015, Dave Tate was one of the first guests on my new podcast. I recorded it in the locker room of one of my gyms. My recording software broke, and we had to start over after 35 minutes. And I turned off the recorder way too early.

When the interview was done, I asked Dave: “How do you deal with all the people who rip you off?”

I asked because I was already dealing with copycats. Industry “experts” were copying parts of my first book into blog posts and YouTube videos almost verbatim and then shared the content as their own. It was driving me crazy.

Here’s what he told me.

First, be better. This is a war of attrition. Dave said, “Three years from now, none of those guys will still be around. All you have to do is outlast them.”

Second, remember this: If they’re copying you, they’re already behind you. You’re not going to run out of good ideas. They already have. They can’t hold your pace for long.

Third, know that people are smart. You’re not the only one who sees them copying you. Your clients want to associate with people who make them feel smart and successful. The best way to do that is to model the person they are trying to be. Does that person respond to every little annoyance? Do you appear calm, happy, and professional? Your clients will know the difference.

Fourth, never stop teaching them. I’ve always said that we want our gym clients to know more than any trainer in town. But Dave taught me to repeat myself: No one has heard even 50 percent of what I’ve said over the last 20 years. No one’s going all the way through my back catalog of podcasts or blog posts or videos. But all of my clients have read or watched SOME of them. It’s important to revisit your main points every couple of months.

The only way to really keep your clients away from the snake oil is to teach them about it.

The only way to get them to listen is to earn their trust.

And the only way to earn that trust is to be around in a few years.

Don’t give up. We need you.

Header image courtesy of Dmitriy Shironosov ©