I know it’s been over a week and I’m a little late with this post – to make up for it this one’s VERY LONG and SUPER-GOOD …

FITNESS ENTREPRENEUR – that’s a term that gets thrown around A LOT, and is used to describe every Personal Trainer, anyone that’s ever written an e-book, or tried to make a buck in any way in fitness.

But I recently had the pleasure to speak to a guy that’s taken the term to a completely different levelJohn Spencer Ellis.

If I sound like a fan, it’s because the things John’s involved with will blow you away! He’s broken the mold and branded himself to a point where he has no competition, and set a new standard for making money in fitness.

Looking at John’s projects will make your head spin and open your mind up to a new way of thinking about fitness revenue. He’ll give you an entirely new idea of what’s possible when it comes to making information products, creating a passive income, and creating business systems. I mean, he just produced a movie with some of the all-time biggest names in the success industry – that’s info-marketing at a totally different level!!!

You’ll notice that all of his projects are built around the idea for massive time leveraging (more money, less time) either for the consumer (you) or himself (naturally). He has a largely “passive income” business, but not in the way we’re used to seeing out there. And he’s not like every other hustler, because he’s got the tremendous academic credentials to back it up, including two bachelors degrees (business and health science), a doctorate in education, and an MBA.

But if it sounds like he’s a goody-two-shoes academic born with a silver spoon in his mouth, you’re wrong – he knows about tough times and having a slow start in the business too. His story starts in a tiny apartment nearly flat broke. But through incremental improvement and a passion for fitness, John’s gotten to where he is today, as a celebrity in this industry.

Instead of listing all of the projects John’s involved in which will really make this post long, you’ll see some of the major ones talked about in this interview. And I have links to John’s sites at the end of this post so you can pour through his different online businesses and probably get lots of ideas yourself.


Hey Whatsup this is Kaiser on another issue of Super-Trainer Radio – my guest today is the big dog in the personal training industry – and beyond that the fitness industry in general, and you’d have to say the success industry as well – I’m talking to Dr. John Spencer Ellis – thank you for coming on with me John.

Thank you for having me – I’m glad to be a part of it.

I’m sure most of my readers are familiar with you or at least your work, but I don’t know if they’re aware of how many things you’re involved in. Rather than go through the list I’m sure they’ll come up as we go along – but the brands I’m sure they’re most familiar with are the NESTA Certification that you’re the head of and also the Adventure Bootcamp program that you’re very well known for.

Now the first thing I wanted to talk about was the certifications. Beyond the NESTA Personal Training certification you offer many others, and looking through the list (John has certs and development programs in everything from success coaching, to Neuro-Lingiusitic Programming, to becoming a Personal Fitness Chef) they don’t look like the normal boring stuff we see out there. It’s a list of credentials that are actually usable – were they created with this in mind?

Well everything was done intentionally and specifically for the success of the trainer. Some things have to be fundamental – for example the NESTA personal fitness trainer certification. It is NCCA accredited; it is accepted at all the major healthclubs around the country and around the world. Things like that need to be fundamental – they need to have a structure because that’s what is required.

And after that fact, after you get the fundamentals …

… it’s like the foundation of a house: you have to start with that, and after you have it, you have to ask yourself “what’s most important to you?” “What do you like to do?” “What really excites you every morning?”

And I listen to people and think about what excites me about the fitness industry – and then those are the programs that scientists, researchers, physiologists, phd’s and everyone in between helps us develop.

I think sometimes the thought of what the Personal Trainer or fitness professional is; that focus or that thought is too narrow.

That’s what I’ve seen after developing NESTA – that’s when I created the SPENCER INSTITUTE FOR LIFE COACHING and created that opportunity, and then created the ADVENTURE BOOTCAMP and that business model. What makes NESTA and what we do at JSE as a whole different, aside from the science which is from the leading researchers from the top universities and the latest information, is we teach you applicable communication, sales, marketing and personal development which allow you to become successful once you understand the fundamentals of the science – and that is genuinely lacking.

Yeah that’s what I see here in what you offer – the science and the strong foundation, and also products that are highly usable. Now you got into it a little bit, but tell me what you feel the role is of a certification. Because that’s one of the interesting things about the industry, that trainers do have the potential to make a lot of money and have a strong career, but all that’s required is a certification to get started, which isn’t the same as a lot of other careers. I find that to be a positive by the way, but then what do you feel is the importance of a certification for a Personal Trainer?

I think it is essential to have a certification. There are some people that may have a degree and disagree with what im saying – but here’s the distinction: with a degree you learn more in-depth science, and it takes longer so you’ll have a wider base and greater depth of knowledge. The difference is it doesn’t teach you the application of the knowledge as well as a certification. And although there have been leaps and bounds in standardization and requirements in our industry such as the NCCA accreditation, there still is room to improve who we are as an entity, as an industry, and that’s one of the things we teach; that if you want to have the same respect and clout as an accountant, an attorney, a doctor, then you need to act it, you need to get the education, and you need to present yourself in a manner that allows people to perceive you as a professional of that level.

Certification is essential, but one thing I think is missing is that people think if they get 12 Personal Trainer Certifications its gonna make them the best trainer in the world. Yes there’s different methodologies to the teaching, yes there are different approaches, but …

… there’s only so many ways to do a squat, there’s only so many ways to do a bicep curl, and how many ways can you throw a medicine ball? So what is important is at a certain point stop and then say “what else?”

I need to learn marketing, I need to learn physiology, and then I need to learn about the internet, and then I learn about nutrition, and then I learn about public speaking, and then I learn about pre and post natal, and then I learn about creating information products. It has to go back and forth and the education needs to be well rounded and we have to present ourselves in the best possible light as a true professional if we want to be perceived as such.

I love it – we’re always talking about the same things on the blog – about breaking the mold of what it means to be a trainer, and look at yourself in a much larger light. I feel that’s essential for a trainer – if your view is too narrow you’re almost screwed from the beginning. And on this subject, and going back to your business programs, let’s talk about Adventure Bootcamp – tell me about it and what makes it different.

The Adventure Bootcamp actually started in the year 2000 and I started it in Orange County California. It is the fitness bootcamp that many have seen on Bravo‘s show The Real Housewives of Orange County. That brought it to the national spotlight, however it was actually quite successful preceeding that time. We have over 350 licensed authorized, certified locations in 9 countries – and there’s still room available for other people to get licensed. It is not a franchise – there are no ongoing fees – it’s a complete turn-key business system from beginning to end. It is the largest fitness bootcamp system and it is the most successful, and by successful I mean that we have more success stories from participants – and we also have more career success stories from the fitness pros – and that’s all equally validated.

There are other bootcamp instructors that are not part of Adventure Bootcamp – I’ll be the first to say that. I’ve seen some incredible structures Ive been very very impressed with – but what works for Adventure Bootcamp is that it is a complete system – from, business, to practice, to marketing, to structure, to planning to execution, and all points in between.

I’ve made some mistakes and I’ve lost a lot of money – and now I know what it takes to be successful as a bootcamp instructor and I work with Kelli Calabrese who you you know – she is very intelligent lady and she and I together have created a wonderful program.

It’s so funny being an internet entrepreneur – you’ve seen other internet entrepreneurs make the claim that they teach other people to be successful in the fitness business – some are true and some are not.

What I can tell you is we teach fitness professionals to the extent of people quadrupling their income within one year – paying off their debt, buying a house, putting their kids in a private school, and being able to become a leader, a true leader, in the fitness industry in their community. I would say we have had 40 of our camps or more get on ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, and other cable networks as well. And we teach you how to do that – it’s really incredible and the stories you hear about people’s success is very very rewarding.

Yeah John I can vouch for the effectiveness of the bootcamps – I know several trainers that have done really well with your program, and they’re top tier trainers, so when you see them sign-on for something you know it’s got to be of the highest quality –

Getting back to boocamps, this is one of the debates you see going on in the industry about what’s a better business model for a trainer and whether bootcamps are the wave of the future – what’s your opinion on that?

If someone thinks that personal training is more time effective I would have to strongly disagree because the numbers speak for themselves – if you have people that you’re training and they’re each paying you $15 for that hour, and you only have to work one hour, think how many hours would you have to work during the day to earn that much money?

But there’s a system to it though – a lot of camps start up and they fail because they don’t have a system. They don’t understand the marketing, the promotion, and there are a lot of nuances that really, really make a difference between success and failure and if you goof up you’re going to waste your time money and effort, and it’s disappointing and frustrating.

I know some other camps that have opened up near ours and they had good instructors with good qualifications and they were fit and attractive people – they had what you think it would take to make it and they failed miserably and it’s because even though they were good people and had the proper qualifications they just didn’t know how to run the system and it’s unfortunate, because you imagine how much money they spent – and then to go back to what they were doing.

Yeah that sounds to me like a vital part that you hear about in books like The E-Myth and from other business coaches – that it’s all about the business system – that’s the advantage of your program, right?

I have made a lot of mistakes and I’ve had some successes as well and I teach you about all my failures first because I think it’s important. People just talk about the positives – yes, but if you don’t know the negatives – if you don’t know the errors, then you have nothing to compare it to. You need that contrast – you can’t move toward something without moving away from something else, so you must know both – definitely, there’s no question about that.

You know a lot of trainers still do Personal Training and still do a bootcamp – sometimes the bootcamp feeds their training business. Sometimes they do so well with camp that they don’t want to teach Personal Training anymore, and spend more time with their family. What we do also is I teach you how to leverage your bootcamp into making you a celebrity in your town or regionally, nationally, globally, and develop your brand. The Adventure Bootcamp gives you the platform to do that and also give you the time to be able to develop your program and information, dvds, and so on.

So I think the trainers, the message I want them to get is it has to be a continual process – if you do not work on you as a person and your business on a regular basis you will never be ultimately successful and I’m sorry to disappoint you if you think otherwise. There are people who are far more successful than I am who have taught me a great deal. I just had lunch Friday with T. Harvey Ecker, many of you know who wrote the New York Times best selling book Secrets of the Millionaire Mind. We sat down here in a hotel in San Diego and talked for two hours about doing some work together. He’s in my new movie and I learned so much from him – I mean he’s REALLY successful – and so guess what, I shut up and I listened to him. I was able to teach him a few thing which was great – I was able to help him – but he has had tremendous successes, and I shut my mouth and listened. That’s why you have two ears and one mouth – so you can listen twice as much.

That’s some good advice – I like the part you mentioned about growing yourself personally along with your business – I always feel they both go hand in hand – that all your business is really is an extension of yourself personally.

Now the last thing I wanted to talk to you about – until now we’ve been talking about Personal Training and fitness, but you reach is actually much wider than that and extends deep into the success industry now as well – you mentioned your movie, The Compass – what other projects do you have on your burner that are cooking right now?

Haha – the burner is always going, and I invite everyone that reads your blog to be curious like a kid. That curiosity and that hunger for knowledge is essential.

Always be a student – always, always, always be a student – that’s what’s really important – so take that and put it in a safe place and retrieve it later.

Yes I have had a long career in the fitness industry since when I was 12 years old – and personal development and life coaching and those sorts of things. I was asked recently when I was on an Australian TV show about a week ago, how the heck did you get into doing what you’re doing now when you started in fitness?

I think it was a transition of when I used to watch the Olympic power-lifters as a kid with my father who was a bodybuilder and we’d watch them on TV in the Olympics or whatever it was. And the psych-up process and the mental alertness and distraction control and all those things, that psychology, started my transition into personal development. What’s so fascinating is that everyone at that level is a tremendous athlete – what separated them was someone’s ability to ask more of themselves with the right questions.

So that was my transitionary phase – what it has evolved to is The Compass which embodies all of my life’s work. The Compass is a documentary film, and also a book that I co-authored, and im the creator and executive producer of the movie and it’ll be out February 8th of 2009 and will world premier here in Orange County. There are three parts to the movie – one part is about a parable journey, a novel of sorts where it takes someones journey through life with all these lessons and experiences and these teachers and the knowledge gained and it tells a story – it’s what guides them through life – it’s the compass. And then there are more stories that are told from plenty of people that have these tremendous compass movements – where their life shifted and the needle shifted and the needle changed direction. And then we also have commentary from the world’s leading experts on personal development – one who you know is Kelli calbrese who’s in the film. We also have T. Harvey Ecker, John Aseroff, Dr. Joe Vitale, Dr. John Dimartini, Tony Geery, Brian Tracy narrates the movie, and the list goes on. It’s unbelievable the cast we’ve been able to get – what’s most astonishing to me is that I was able really to get all of these people to be in my movie!

Hahaa – yeah because the people you’ve mentioned are really a who’s who, an all-time who’s who of people that have made money in the success industry that you’ve mentioned there –

Yup, im truly greatful to all of them – and there’s an online community, and Harv and I are in talks to do some live events – and it’s going to be abslolutely incredible. What we want to do is be able to give guidance and a path. And movies like this have been done in the past where there’s more of a spiritual overtone to it. And there is a component to that – but people get excited, and motivated, and pumped up and visualize and all of that is important, but if you don’t have the tools, the resources, a direction, and if you don’t listen to really what’s happening inside your body, and all the clues and cues that you have available to you you’re going to be motivated and jump up and down and run around in circles – it means nothing. But when you have the tools and the resources and the teachers to guide you then you will truly make progress in your life – and the whole “Compass Community” that was created allows that to happen.

That sound real cool and can’t wait to take a look at it – John I wish you a lot of success with it. You shared some great information here for my readers so on behalf of all of them, thank you.

Thank you so much.


The bottom line when you listen to John is the man thinks big!

When it comes to info products he’s not thinking e-books – he has a wide range of certifications. And he’s not thinking DVD programs – he has a turn-key fitness program that’s making money for trainers nationwide.

You can find John’s home page here: www.JohnSpencerEllis.com

You can find the home page to the Adventure Bootcamp Program here: www.AdventureBootcamp.com

And to see all of the programs that are part of The Spencer Institute, check here: www.TheSpencerInstitute.com

It’s important for us to pay attention to him so we can learn how to take our own careers and lives to the highest level – if not, why bother, right?!?!


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