Johnny August – ISSA – Show 485 – Full Transcription

[0:00:06]  Dori Nugent: We are so grateful here at the Fitness Business podcast for all of our sponsors. So when one of our sponsors comes onto the show, I’m getting super excited. And I get really excited when the one and only Johnny August from ISSA comes on to the Fitness Business podcast. Johnny, thank you so much. Great to have you here today.

[0:00:33]  Johnny August: Thanks, Dori. I appreciate being on again. I really enjoyed our time together last time and looking forward to spending some more quality time together today.

[0:00:41]  Dori Nugent: All right, we’re going to get started right off the bat. Maybe possibly not everybody out there heard your last episode, so will you take a minute or two, introduce yourself and let everybody know who you are?

[0:00:55]  Johnny August: Yeah, absolutely. I would love to start with who ISSA is first and foremost, and then I’ll talk about who I am because I think that’s a better order to go in. So for those of you who don’t know, ISSA is the International Sports Sciences Association. We were actually the first company to create a personal training certification back in 1988. So we’re aging ourselves a bit there. We’ve aged very well. We’re like a fine wine and we’re thriving today.

[0:01:24]  Johnny August: Another fun fact is we’re the number one rated and reviewed fitness education company in the industry. We’re currently certifying the most fitness professionals in the United States, which is a very exciting statistic. This is probably the most jaw dropping one. We have over 500,000 students in 176 countries. I think it’s fair to say that a handful of folks out there didn’t even know that there were 176 countries out there.

[0:01:50]  Johnny August: There’s certainly more, but we are working on a way through the world and helping people live and lead healthier lives. So that’s a little bit about ISSA. I’ll move on to me dori as you mentioned, my name is Johnny August. I am the manager of strategic and business partnerships here at ISSA. And that is a long, fancy way to say that. I engage with our commercial fitness clubs to build partnerships around education.

[0:02:14]  Johnny August: And the more exciting topic, recruiting. Trainer recruiting is a hot topic. I’m sure we’ll talk about it later today, but those are my two primary focuses on how I serve more than 10,000 gyms across the US today.

[0:02:26]  Dori Nugent: Well, I’m sure you’re very good at it. You’re very personable, and like I said, when it was time to have anybody from ISSA come on. I’m like, we need Johnny August to come on. You do such a great job representing the brand and before we started recording, I love that you humbly admitted you’re like, I’m a company guy. I love that.

[0:02:49]  Johnny August: Yeah, you know, it’s it’s a thing of pride and loyalty for me. This industry has given so much to me in the last 15 years. It’s only right if I do my best to to represent this brand. And I’m proud to be wearing the shirt and proud to be repping ISSA today.

[0:03:05]  Dori Nugent: Yeah, the shirt is good. The shirt is really good. I like it. Thank you. I’m going to get myself an ISSA T shirt. I’m going to have to ask Dan and Ursa. Or maybe you could spread the word and hook me up with a T shirt.

[0:03:18]  Johnny August: We can work something out. I’ll be at IHRSA too. You can come find me.

[0:03:21]  Dori Nugent: Oh, fantastic. All right, so when it is ISSA’s sponsor month, I always like to look on your website, see what you have new, what exciting certifications, because I always try to plug one or two of them. But I’m going to give you the mic here, and I want you to tell all of our FBP family what is new with the certifications at ISSA.

[0:03:44]  Johnny August: Dori. When you ask me this question, I think about where do I even start? And not to be overly dramatic, but I think since you and I last talked, we’ve probably changed and grown more than any company can within a realistic speed. So I have quite a few things to share. I want to start with our health Coaching certification and programs. We currently offer three custom health coaching programs that fit the student’s interest, but also the clients in which they’re going to serve. There’s a variety of different courses that go into those programs, but health coaching is an emerging channel for not only personal trainers to grow their career, but also folks who are interested in wellness and wanting to serve others. So health coaching is absolutely one that is growing at a really rapid pace, and we are happy to be supporting our students with multiple programs to help them grow in their careers.

[0:04:40]  Johnny August: The second exciting thing is the launching of our Yoga 200 program. I’m very excited to announce that this is the only fully online yoga course to be approved by the Yoga Alliance. A lot of hard work went in behind the scenes, and I’m just excited that we are now offering this today. So for all the yoga enthusiasts and those that want to help people through movement and yoga, please visit our website and check out what we have. It’s really exciting and so well put together.

[0:05:10]  Johnny August: The third thing is some recent acquisitions. ISSA is growing, as I mentioned, at a really rapid pace. I’m excited to announce that in the last few months, we have acquired the Functional Aging Institute as well as Revolution Running. Traditionally, I think ISSA has been known as a certified personal training company with a hint of a bodybuilding background. I think you’re going to see in the very near future that we’re going to be expanding on the number of students that we’re able to reach by the courses we’ll be offering. So these two are really no brainers in adding some really high level courses to how we serve our students.

[0:05:48]  Johnny August: Another topic within that is our recent joint venture agreement with Train Fitness. This is another opportunity for us to continue to expand on how many courses we offer more than 50 specializations now. And it is just such an exciting feeling to know that we are reaching everybody and anybody to help them spread wellness. So excited about that one. Last but not least, our recruitment solutions. As I mentioned in the beginning, one of my primary focuses here is trying to build really clear pathways for our students to find careers. And I like to redefine and reiterate careers, not jobs.

[0:06:27]  Johnny August: Right? We live in a pretty interesting ecosystem around job boards and job job. But really what we should be focusing on, especially with our target demographic, those that want to help others career is the right way to build them up into a stable environment, show them places that they can learn and grow and expose them to opportunities very early in their learning journey so they can map out the next steps and feel really good about achieving their goal.

[0:06:55]  Johnny August: And as I like to say, doing good and doing well. And those two things should go hand in hand. So I’ll be excited to share a bit more about our recruitment solutions, but those are the updates for ISSA. I know it’s a lot to take in, so much exciting stuff, but we’re here to answer any questions if anybody out there is curious.

[0:07:14]  Dori Nugent: Well, super smart about the yoga certification. Yoga has always been popular. I just feel like it’s really spreading its wings and I see it the most in the athletic department in the sense of so many of the sports teams are starting to incorporate yoga, which you never saw that in the sports teams before. I know my daughter played college sport and they would have yoga a couple of times a week and you’re seeing it in the pro sports as well. So smart move on your behalf there at ISSA to add the Yoga 200.

[0:07:51]  Johnny August: I’m glad you mentioned that because on a personal note, I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to work with some professional athletes prior to joining ISSA in a variety of different sports. And one of the things that stood out to me the most when I was working with those athletes and those teams was, I guess from a really young age, I don’t know that we do the best job in sharing the importance of flexibility, mobility and kind of joint integrity, if you will. I don’t want to get too much into the specifics, that’s not what we’re here to do today. But it was really interesting to learn how little I guess it was valued previously. And I think we’re doing a good job to move in the right direction to educate young athletes and building a base of value around mobility and flexibility.

[0:08:38]  Johnny August: So for me personally, I’m glad that we can continue to share the education and like you mentioned, we’re starting to see different modalities pop up with professional sports teams. That are focused on recovery and ways that athletes can take better care of their body. So good call out.

[0:08:55]  Dori Nugent: Yeah. And then functional Aging Institute. My gosh, I’ve been following them for probably almost my entire career in the fitness industry, which I won’t even go into how many years that is, but great organization.

[0:09:08]  Johnny August: Yeah, absolutely. We’re excited to work with everybody there. And again, I’m just excited to see what’s possible now that we’re going to be reaching so many more folks with these subject matter experts that have spent, to your point, a lot of time building course material that can really help somebody truly get into the world of watching folks get results. And that’s what we’re all here for.

[0:09:31]  Dori Nugent: All right, well, you guys definitely have pedal to the metal. A lot of new stuff since we talked the last time.

[0:09:38]  Johnny August: Yeah. Excited.

[0:09:40]  Dori Nugent: Let’s talk about personal trainers, right? Because it’s a big part of your business and I’d like for you to answer this question. Are you seeing an increase in demand for personal trainers and are your partners in need of personal trainers?

[0:09:55]  Johnny August: Yes, in need would be an understatement. And again, I play such an interesting role in being right between partners, commercial facilities and students. And we’re seeing this interesting dynamic, and I may have shared this on the previous episode, but we’re seeing the trainers again who are expressing an interest in learning more about career opportunities and what’s next. At the same time, those owners and operators are struggling to find qualified trainers, right? So there’s this intersection and the lines are not necessarily communicating. That’s where our recruitment solution really comes in because we connect those two lines.

[0:10:33]  Johnny August: And I want to talk more about some industry trends and why partners are needing trainers, but there’s a few things that really stand out. I want to just point out one of the leading job boards, and I know I mentioned job versus career, but I want to be referencing this correctly. There’s currently 11,243 job vacancies on one of the leading job boards for personal trainers across the US. That is an astronomical number of vacancies.

[0:11:01]  Johnny August: And what comes to mind for me is how many members are not getting the help that they need because those jobs aren’t being filled. How many individuals have spent time and effort and getting educated and learning how to help people and they’re not able to get it done. So I’m really passionate and have been maniacal about solving how we can connect those two things. And ultimately I’d love to see that those vacancies are much less and more certified trainers are in front of members and helping them get results. So that’s just a staff that continues to stand out to me and we want to build the base of this conversation and we’re solving a real problem.

[0:11:40]  Johnny August: It’s not something that we think is going to help folks. We know that there’s a demand for it and one of the primary reasons is the few stats I’m going to share with you now, turnover, let’s just talk about that for a second. Turnover in the industry is reported to be at or above 80%, and at the surface level, as a fitness director, fitness manager, club manager, however that gets viewed, it’s more than just a missing person, right? Because when that turnover happens, you have clients that get connected to those trainers.

[0:12:12]  Johnny August: And although most companies are selling training, not the trainer, there’s still a really hard transition. I’ve been a fitness manager in my past life in the clubs, and it’s the hardest thing when one of your trainers leaves and you have a client who’s been emotionally connected to that person and relied on them for much more than just movement. And they have to find a way to keep them reengaged with their goals because they almost connect their ability to achieve their goals with the person who helped them.

[0:12:40]  Johnny August: And so that is like one of the hardest things. And turnover is one of those stats. Again, that’s just, it’s mind blowing when you think about how quickly people can come and go and the effect that that will have on the culture of any club. So turnover is one major thing, and that obviously creates demand for the trainers. And turnover leads to revenue contribution, right? Other than just helping members, the PnL, the numbers behind the scenes, on average, a high volume personal trainer can generate anywhere from $8,000 of revenue per month.

[0:13:13]  Johnny August: If you have five open trainer positions, for example, in your club, that could be up to $600,000 of revenue. I don’t know any owner operator out there that wouldn’t like to see an extra $600,000 pop into their training revenue line. And headcount is where we start to solve that problem. The last thing I’ll share about why trainers are so high in demand and how it’s impacting the clubs is again, I have the honor of working with some of the biggest brands out there and I’m learning these stories. Unfortunately, in which some of the clubs are resorting to having to refund clients because they don’t have enough trainers available. Especially during those prime time spots, those peak training hours where the gym is packed. You just don’t have enough trainers to serve these members. So this scenario is you have a member who’s coming to you saying, I need help, I want to be helped, I want to reach my goals, I need a professional to get there, and they’re being turned away because, I’m so sorry, we just don’t have enough trainers to service you.

[0:14:13]  Johnny August: That is something that should cause a little bit of heartache and everybody who cares about watching clients get results. And so, again, I tie all this back into we’re solving a real problem by getting our graduates and students connected to career opportunities. So to directly answer your question, is there a demand? More than ever is it going to continue to grow? Absolutely. Because more and more people are taking part in fitness again.

[0:14:39]  Johnny August: They’re comfortable getting back into the clubs. Their lifestyles have shifted in a direction away from who they want to be, and they’re rushing through the doors of gyms everywhere. It’s the beginning of February, which means we’ve seen the first full month of 2023. Everybody that I’ve talked to today and over the last few days has said January was record breaking for memberships and those members should become clients.

[0:15:04]  Johnny August: But that’s only possible if there’s enough trainers in the club. So I’m getting fired up about it because I just love this stuff and excited to continue to help all the listeners out there find certified trainers.

[0:15:17]  Dori Nugent: Johnny, I feel your passion. That’s amazing information. Crazy good numbers. All right, so how is ISSA helping to bridge the gap for gyms?

[0:15:33]  Johnny August: Good question. We talked about the why. Let’s talk about the how so on the front end for students, and this is going out to anybody who’s thinking about becoming certified. One of the reasons that ISSA has been extremely successful in educating folks is that we have a job guarantee with our certified personal trainer program, which should give you a bit of confidence that we’re going to be able to help you start that career. That’s something that we’ve really built our reputation, and Brandon, is that, again, we don’t just want to give you the certification and say good luck.

[0:16:03]  Johnny August: We do such a great job of caring for our students from the day of enrollment all the way through them signing that employment agreement and starting their career. We want to be there for that and beyond. The job guarantee is a great way, I think, for folks to know that there are going to be resources available to them. And more than ever, I’m interested in starting the conversation around what do all the career paths look like?

[0:16:29]  Johnny August: If I’m a trainer, what are the things that I can go do? It’s not just about where I can go work, but what can I do with this accreditation, what can I do with this education to really help people? And there are so many paths. So we’re doing a great deal of work behind the scenes around building career path so that each student is really customizing their experience and they leave the end of it not only educated, but with resources in their hand to be successful, because that’s what we care about here.

[0:16:56]  Johnny August: We want to see the world a healthier place, and we believe that it starts with education. And so our recruitment solutions from the club or owner and operator side is that gap that gets bridged by how do you communicate with our students. And so, without going into too much detail about how the process works, we’re able to create and curate short lists of candidates and get them into the hands of the clubs based on a few factors like geography, skill set being what certifications they think would best serve their member base, and the relevance of their opt in date. How fresh are they on the job market?

[0:17:34]  Johnny August: And so with those few variables, we can get candidates into any club across the US. We’re really growing in that right now. And I’m happy to say that we have over 28,000 students who are available to be hired today. So if you’re looking for trainers, look no more. We’re absolutely the stop for you. And also, you can trust and know that we’re going to build something really sustainable. It’s going to be a funnel that’s going to help you solve this problem for the foreseeable future.

[0:18:03]  Johnny August: And I think it’s a great lifeline and resource to help you grow in that department.

[0:18:08]  Dori Nugent: Well, you get delivered a lot of great information today. Johnny, thank you so much. Besides all of our FBP family going on to the website, where else or how can they find out more about your education and your partnership programs?

[0:18:29]  Johnny August: Yeah, great question. I think there’s there’s two different resources. For those out there that are currently trainers or aspiring to become trainers, I highly encourage you to visit Our website is just beautiful and done a fantastic job of giving it a facelift, for lack of a better term. It is really beautifully designed and it’s such a great experience for prospective students to go there and learn about the path that’s meaningful to them.

[0:18:56]  Johnny August: And for owners, operators, fitness managers, anybody out there that’s looking to learn more about how we can help educate your staff or help with that recruiting piece, I encourage you to go to There’s going to be a good source of information there for you to get that information over to me. And I would love to connect with everybody who visits that site as well.

[0:19:20]  Dori Nugent: But Johnny, I completely agree. When it comes to your website, I’m on your website a lot, just being a sponsor and a partner, because I always want to know what’s new, what’s going on with ISSA so I can help promote. And you guys have done a beautiful job. It’s very easy, it’s very clean, and I really encourage all of our listeners to go check it out. I love a good website.

[0:19:42]  Johnny August: Hey, you can’t go wrong. I mean, with today’s day and age, with technology and resources, it takes about 3 seconds to turn somebody away. So if they see those vibrant colors and like you said, that easy to use, clean, feel, it at least opens their mind to learning more. And that’s what we’re here to do, is help educate.

[0:20:01]  Dori Nugent: All right, FBP family,, they are to help you go check them out and telling you you’ll love their website. Johnny, thank you so much, not only for coming on today and educating all of our FBP family, but for being an integral part of the fitness business podcast as a whole.

[0:20:25]  Johnny August: Thank you so much, Dory. Always a pleasure, and I look forward to seeing you again soon.




With nearly 1 million downloads, The Fitness Business Podcast is the most practical podcast in the world.  Subscribe to the show notes now for all the resources guests share delivered to your inbox.