Why You Should Start at the Bottom

The year was 1999. The scene was the computer lab in the Kinesiology building at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. I remember it was a bitterly cold January day. Big fat snowflakes were falling gently outside.

It was just me and Andrew in the computer lab. He was the IT guy, seemingly there 24/7, and always at the odd hours when I stopped by to check my email. I didn’t yet have a home computer or laptop of my own. Sometimes I’d borrow my geeky engineer roommate’s computer, but it was easier just to check my email in the lab.

My career goal was to become a Strength and Conditioning Coach in the National Hockey League. That’s what brought me to the lab. But in reality I’m a nerd at heart, and am drawn more to writing than I am to training. I’d rather be be at a desk, reading, writing, and researching, than in the gym, motivating, coaching, and demonstrating.

On that cold January morning I wrote my first email newsletter. It was terrible, just a long list of workout facts and nutrition stats. It was sent to exactly 25 colleagues at the gym (where I was a personal trainer), personal training clients, and fellow graduate students (I was doing my Master’s Degree in Exercise Physiology at the time). 

You can read it here.

Over the next two years I wrote 123 newsletters to my email list that grew, through referral, to over 3,000 names. Each week I would send out the newsletter from a Hotmail address, copying and pasting 50 names at a time (all that Hotmail would allow) into the BCC address space. It was taking an hour to manually send the newsletter by the time I finally switched over to an automated service.

I started from the bottom…now I’m here.

In 2000 I sent issue number 34 to Lou Schuler, then the fitness editor of Men’s Health magazine. He had posted a job ad on a trainer web board. The magazine was looking for new contributors. I was arrogant enough to think, at age 25, that I knew something about training.

He was also convinced, and introduced me to Adam Campbell, now the Fitness Director for the Men’s Health brand. Adam and I have been working together for almost 16 years.

For the next two years Men’s Health published dozens of my articles and workouts, and paid me to be an expert on their workout forum. That’s where I found my first online training clients. They asked for a manual. I created Get Lean, my first shot at an e-book. It contained my best workouts for building muscle and losing fat, and it was sent to customers as a word document (not even a PDF!) after they sent me $49.95 via Paypal.

I started from the bottom…now I’m here.

In late 2004 I turned pro. It was when Turbulence Training — my flagship program first created in October of 2001 — officially went on sale at the whopping price of $9.95. It too was a simple word document. There were no photos. The next month I added pictures, and the price increased to $19.95. The month after that I added another 4-week program to the manual and raised the price to $29.95. I repeated that one more time, and the program went on to sell tens of thousands of copies at $39.95 to men and women in over 100 countries over the next decade.

It was fun journey for this introverted nerd. I wasn’t cut out to be a high-energy bootcamp trainer, or a college strength and conditioning coach, let alone one that was responsible for an entire NHL team. I was fortunate to find my calling early in life.

My articles have since been published in over a dozen magazines, I’ve written a couple of books (and have two more coming out soon), and my half-naked fitness model photos have been stolen from my website and used by other gyms and equipment companies (and even GQ magazine) and plastered on t-shirts and kettlebell boxes.

I’ve done work for movie companies (creating a workout for The Rock’s character in the movie, No Way Out), gave nutritional advice to Darth Vader in his on-set RV (Hayden Christiansen), and trained a Hollywood starlet to do her first chin-up.

I started from the bottom…now I’m here.

So what’s my point?

You gotta start somewhere.

That’s the big lesson.

And there’s a big opportunity for you to get involved with a big website — www.EarlyToRise.com.

We’re looking for content creators.

We don’t pay much. Heck, there’s a 99% chance we won’t pay you at all. At least not for now. But you get your work out there, your name in front of a lot of eyeballs (we usually get 4000 to 10000 views of an article), and readers will share your articles.

Yes, you’re starting from the bottom, but soon you’ll be here.

If you’re interested in writing for us, please contact contribute@etrhelp.com

We’re looking for profile writers, business gurus, personal development coaches, nutrition experts, recipe writers, personal trainers, and even folks willing to film videos for our website and Facebook pages.

We want to share your valuable content with the world so that it’s a win-Win-WIN situation for the reader, for ETR, and for you.

I started from the bottom…now my whole team is here.

Looking forward to working with you, and seeing you start from the bottom and work your way up to the top.

Let us give you the helping hand you need.