Growing From a Local Coaching Practice to a Thriving Online Fitness Business

Passionate about health, personal improvement and physical challenges, Joe Bauer spent over a decade coaching others into peak fitness. Then one day, he stopped. Joe decided to focus his energy online where he can make a bigger impact – so he created his website, and now inspires people around the world to love fintness, love health and love life.

Joe coaches through his website, and spends the rest of his time training himself to be the fittest and healthiest he can possibly be. This involves a healthy dose of Ironman competitions, CrossFit training, ultra-marathons (because the boring ol’ marathon isn’t enough for this guy!), rocking climbing, skiing, swimming, along with some good-for-the-soul meditation and relaxation, which is one of his keys to great health.

Always keen to share his wisdom, Joe sat down for a chat with me, and we lapped it up, hoping to learn a bit more about the concept peak fitness.


1. Joe, can you tell us a bit about yourself? I know you've been coaching fitness for over 12 years and have recently stopped to focus on your own training and internet marketing. What ultimately led you to make a lifestyle change?

As a personal trainer I wasn’t able to impact the number of people that I wanted to. One of my major goals is to decrease the obesity epidemic that we have on our hands in the US. And I’m not talking about a few hundred, but I want to leave my mark on thousands-millions of people. We are SO under educated on fitness and nutrition by the current public education system (and media) that it’s frightening. To accomplish this goal I started exploring the internet, and the impact that a popular blog can have. With a good audience a blogger can impact thousands of people per post. That’s why I’ve moved online, and continue to work at growing my online credibility. It’s hard work, but I’m up for the task!

2.Your website is now your personal coaching business; What kind of growth have you experienced since going online? How do you market yourself?

The website ( has had pretty consistent growth over the last 4 years (except when Google has updates). We’re around 6-8k visits per month, and growing with each post. As for personal coaching, I’m actually only taking people when my time allows, or when it’s clear that someone is a great fit for online coaching. My personal marketing is exclusively through the website. I don’t pay for any marketing.

3.The power of the website means you can connect with many people through your words without needing the time to communicate directly; ? Don't you miss however the eye contact and personal conversation of working one on one with clients as an offline personal trainer?

I definitely miss the personal contact of being an offline trainer. In order to have some personal contact, I’ve been coaching 2-3 hours a week at my CrossFit gym. These 2-3 hours are the perfect amount of time to stay excited about the process. I feel like way too many personal trainers work as many hours as they can, and only give about 50% of what they’re capable of. It’s really not their fault, because I believe if they had an additional income stream, they would coach/train less often, and produce better coaching/training results. If you’re a personal trainer reading this… start a blog!

4.It seems you’ve tried almost every physical activity every invented 🙂 Can you pick a favourite sport/outdoor endeavour and tell us why you particularly love it?

Haha! I definitely love physical activity! Over the last two years my favourite sport has become CrossFit. My reason for picking CrossFit is because it always seems to find my weaknesses, and force me to improve. CrossFit is also interesting in that it can prepare you for other activities without doing specific training for that activity. For example, I can easily rip off a great 6-12 mile trail run with friends even having not done any trail running for months.

5.You have a fairly long list of qualifications – which one of those degrees or qualifications has helped you the most in coaching?

You know… they have all contributed to my learning process in some way. My Kinesiology degree from San Diego State University was definitely the most complete training, and the CrossFit Level 1 was the most fun. It’s hard for a certification to compete with a university degree, or class for that matter. When you spend a whole semester in an anatomy or physiology class, your brain grows if you want it to or not.

6.What would you say to other people who are keen to turn their love of fitness into a career?

Great question! There are several good certifications out there. I would checkout,,,, and Read through their material, and if it jives with you, take the certification. You can also go the university route, which I highly recommend if you love fitness. Just like the certifications above, check out a number of exercise science programs to find the one that most interests you. As far as employment is concerned, you will get an interview at almost any fitness facility with an exercise science degree, and NSCA CSCS, or ACSM CPT. That being said, all you need is one of the certifications above to start training people.

7.One of your favourite shoes is the Vibram Fivefingers TrekSport; have you used them for long? Have you noticed any significant results?

I’ve been using the Vibram Fivefingers for almost 1.5 years. I was really turned onto the barefoot running craze after reading Born To Run. This book talks about how the shoes with high heels have been promoting us to land on the heels of our feet, which is very inefficient for our bodies. When you look at the biomechanics of our bodies it’s very clear that we aren’t meant to land on our heels. We should be landing on the front of our feet because it naturally transfers the impact forces to our calves (which is what they’re designed for). So, taking a full circle back to your question… the Vibram Fivefingers are like a glove for your feet. They allow you to feel the same thing that you would barefoot without tearing up your feet, and if you’re running barefoot, you will not land on your heels because it will hurt, bad! The results I’ve seen from wearing Vibram Fivefingers are stronger feet, increased running efficiency, and decreased lower back tightness. I highly recommend them. But for people not used to barefoot activity, be careful. I suggest starting off only wearing them a few hours a week at first. Most of us are so deconditioned that we need to rebuild our feet very slowly.

8.If you had to name just one health supplement out of those you recommend, which one couldn’t you live without?

This is actually tough to answer. If I have to only pick one supplement it has to be a quality protein powder because that’s the main component to recovery. The best protein powder that I’ve found is Progenex Recovery. It’s expensive, but works. If I could have 2 supplements... The second would be creatine monohydrate. Creatine just increases strength and recovery (after a great diet, and protein powder) better than anything else I’ve tried. Creatine is also showing very positive long-term health benefits.

9.So you quit your coaching job to work through your website; are you making as good a living through your website as you were before?

I’m definitely not making as much money as I was when coaching at a gym, or coaching for my own business, but my quality of life is so much higher! And my income increases every year. This is not a short-term play. Now I work when I want to, and where I want to. I’ve also created other businesses with my internet marketing skills. I’m a huge advocate of the Internet, but it’s hard work.

10.What is the most common reason people give you about why they want to get fit, and why they need your help to do it?

Most people want to get in shape for aesthetic reasons. They want to look good on the beach. This is a very valid reason for wanting to get fit, but what I’ve found is the people that stay fit are doing it for performance reasons. To run marathons, climb mountains, go hiking with the kiddoes when they feel like it, do a triathlon, etc. And these people get the aesthetics as a side effect, and look good all year round.

11.Do you find it more of a challenge to train people through phone or email, rather than face to face?

It’s a little harder to motivate people when you’re not face to face, but I’ve found that it’s more about the client, and them actually wanting to change (improve themselves). If they truly want it, the method of communication doesn’t matter. I’m currently training a woman name Beth via email, and she’s almost 20 pounds down, with a goal of over 100 pounds to lose. Beth has a big goal, but in talking with her, I can tell you that nothing will stop her from reaching her goal. I’m just here to help her get there. You can follow Beth’s progress on my blog. We’re posting weekly updates.

12.What do people use your website for the most – inspirational stories and motivation, fitness information, or healthy recipes and tips?

The posts that get the most hits are usually the product reviews, but the posts that get the most “likes” and “shares” are the race recaps. People seem to love reading about what professionals like and recommend (product reviews), and they also like a good story (race recaps). This is a little bit of a surprise to me because I feel like my best posts are on fitness advice, and how-to. I hope that as my audience grows, I will get more people reading the advice, and how-to’s because they are very beneficial.

13.You say that relaxation and meditation can help with fitness; can you explain how that works?

I’m glad that you asked this because I feel like rest and recovery isn’t understood by the average gym goer. When we have a good workout, we’re actually breaking down our bodies. All of the improvement is taking place during the rest and recovery. If we’re stressed too much, and don’t take the time to relax, we will not get 100% of the results from our hard work in the gym, period. Meditation is a great way to clear the mind, and a clear, focused mind is good for our whole being. For endurance athletes… getting good at meditation can transfer into your sport. I’ve been able to meditate while running. Your mind is completely calm, and your sub-conscience takes over. It feels like you’re recharging your batteries without stopping or slowing down. It’s an amazing feeling!

14.What have you found to be the most powerful motivator for people to dramatically change their lifestyles and eating habits?

I’ve found the biggest motivator for any life goal is finding your “why”. You have to know why you want to achieve your goal. Your “why” has to move you, literally! When you don’t feel like getting off the couch, your “why” has to motivate you to get your butt up and move. Everyone’s “why” is different, but equally powerful. It could be to play with your kids (or grandkids) without getting tired, to feel awesome all the time, to show your kids what healthy looks like, to run a marathon, to motivate others to be healthy, to have that six pack of abs. It’s whatever drives you. Once you find that “why”, write it down, and post it where you’ll see it. I’ve also found that it’s helpful to rewrite your “why” regularly. Daily if it helps. Don’t let anything stop you!

15.What's next for you? Can you tell us about some of your future projects?

Personally I’m training to be a top 30 CrossFit athlete in the NorthWest division in 2013. I’ve been training my butt off, and seeing amazing results thanks to my coach Cj at CrossFit Invictus. Professionally I’m continuing to post to my blog as often as possible, and am putting together a CrossFit course for, which will hopefully be ready in the next couple months. I’m also taking any opportunity I can to get on stage and improve my speaking abilities. The better I am at presenting myself, and teaching, the more people I’ll be able to connect with online and offline.

Thank you Joe!


Joe Bauer is an athlete, coach, and a blogger at You can also find him on twitter at @Joe_Bauer

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Tal Gur is an author, founder, and impact-driven entrepreneur at heart. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His journey and most recent book, The Art of Fully Living, has led him to found Elevate Society.

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