At my barbershop recently I observed an interesting phenomenon. All the barbers there will cut the hair of anybody that walks in the door. Every new customer is an adventure in haircutting for them, and I think that’s what holds them to $12 per haircut and such long hours – it’s the lack of specialization.

Personal Trainer Brian SchiffA lot of trainers are the same way; they’ll train anyone that walks in the door. For that reason, most of them probably earn much less than my barber. They train whoever they’re assigned, and it could be someone different every hour. They think this allows them to see more clients and add to their incomes, but what it really does is hold them back and leads to their failure.

Brian Schiffis a trainer who’ll never leave you questioning his specialty. He’s one of the most well known and accomplished trainers in the country (named one of Men’s Journal‘s “Top 100 Trainers in America”) , and his specialty is Sports Specific Training. Also a physical therapist, he’s accumulated so much knowledge and credentials in this area that he’s developed a tremendous leadership position.

Brian is also very successful in the business of training, and you can’t imagine him achieving this success if he was happy being a generalist. Here’s a clip from of our conversation where Brian talks a bit a about his niche, and how it relates to his training of the general population and other fitness projects:[youtube Q7896pEzyGo nolink]One thing that’s clear from our conversation is that the general training is an afterthought with his skill base, but one that his skills still allow him to take advantage of. And with the huge popularity Personal Training is seeing these days, why not? But he hasn’t lost sight of the core specialty that establishes his credibility and brings in the additional business, and that’s Sports Specific Training.

To find out more about Brian and his training business and publications visit:

How hard is it to chose a specialty? Not hard at all – all it takes is a decision. Once you’ve made this decision about what to make your specialty, it then becomes the focus of all your future work. It guides the knowledge you accumulate and the clients you take-on. It becomes the basis of your success image, how you describe your job to others, and all of your promotions and marketing. Needless to say, it’s a pretty important decision to make.

It’s also essential for your job satisfaction and well-being. If you don’t specialize, you’ll find your job-satisfaction begin to diminish. We all need growth in order to be happy, and you’ll find mastery hard to achieve if you don’t specialize. This then makes it hard to move on to anything greater in the future. Just like any professional, your career and personal success are closely aligned. Therefore, it’s not only important for your happiness, but also one of the most crucial things you do for your success as well. You’ll either burn-out or find your training practice die-out one day unless you make this choice early on. You’ve been warned!