Trainer Rewind

by Sean White on Jan 01, 2003

What's New

Lifestyle coach and personal training veteran Beth Rothenberg walks her talk.

Her ability to coax clients to take responsibility for their strengths and weaknesses has been seasoned by experience and fortified by living out the four main commandments that she professes: Take risks, move out of your comfort zone, challenge yourself and be creative. This is the gospel according to Rothenberg.

One of the primary steps in her coaching formula is to help new clients identify their uniqueness and use those talents or perspectives to emerge from the safe womb of the familiar and into uncharted worlds that lead to personal and professional success. Rothenberg has managed her own talents very successfully in a career spanning 27 years as a trainer, 13 years as a business educator and the past 8 years as a lifestyle coach. After you meet this woman, it takes just a few moments to understand that she is well acquainted with her own uniqueness. She is truly one of a kind.


Think back to Gerald Ford’s presidency, the early days of Saturday Night Live, John Travolta, the Bee Gees and the questionable fashion of the mid-1970s. While others were busy learning how to dance the Hustle, Rothenberg hustled between L.A. classrooms and gyms to learn more about anatomy, nutrition, exercise, training and business. She was an oddity in what she calls the “macho” gyms of the time but didn’t care.

“Women didn’t really go into gyms then, but I would hang around in the boxing clubs to learn all I could about exercise and training and to bring variety to my own exercise,” she recalls. “My education was eclectic, and that was a tremendous advantage to me.”

At the time, she also taught a “strength aerobics” class in Santa Monica. “It was unique, the only thing like it in town,” she elaborates. “There were waiting lists for that class, and it was so different that other would-be instructors would sit in the back of the room and furtively take notes. I would just say, ‘Take out your notebooks! Take this down! I’ll tell you anything you want to know.’”

After one of these classes, a woman approached Rothenberg and asked how much she would charge to come to her house to work with her sister. She quickly negotiated a $10/hour fee, and her personal training business was born.

“In the beginning, I had to be extremely creative. I had no role models but myself, guys in the gyms and information I got from classes,” she explains. “But I was in the right place at the right time. I quickly developed a very elite L.A. clientele and continued with it for 27 years. It wasn’t necessarily talent or a good business plan, which are now absolutely necessary because of the competition.”

Fast Forward

Rothenberg phased out of training in the mid-1990s but still weaves into her lifestyle-coaching business the lessons of nearly three decades as a trainer, a business owner/expert and an educator. She is also still on the faculty at UCLA Extension.

As a lifestyle coach, Rothenberg has two specialties:

She considers the challenges that PFTs face today much greater than those in the genesis of her career and stresses that they have to strategize from the beginning. She suggests that one way to do this is to recognize values before goals. “What’s important to you?” she asks. “Often, people do it the other way around. They go for the goal and, once they achieve it, find they are not happy.”

Pearls From the Rothenberg School

Advice for Young Trainers. “You start below zero and come up to zero when you get certified. Now you face a lifelong process of growing professionally and challenging yourself to learn more.

“I tell my students and lifestyle clients to find their passion and specialize in that to create their uniqueness. When I ask students and clients what they find unique about themselves, they don’t have an answer 90 percent of the time. Even with veteran trainers, it’s common to find that they haven’t identified their uniqueness. My first step as a coach is to help them find their uniqueness. I ask two questions:

1. What is your character as a person?

2. What are you passionate about in training?

We take the answers and develop their identity.”

Strengths, Weaknesses and Business. “I don’t believe in improving on weaknesses. It’s much more productive to focus on strengths and build on those. If you can’t do something in your business, either hire someone to do it or forget about it. If you’re not creative, find someone who is and have that person help you become creative. Find a mentor. Don’t be afraid to look stupid or seek out more talented people to help you.”

Education for a Lifetime. “Continually raise the bar for yourself. There’s always a way to become better-educated and more creative to give the utmost attention to clients. You can never stop learning. You cannot do and learn everything, but become the best you can become. Take it to the next level!”

Training and Coaching. “As with personal training, I landed in coaching early. In the mid-1990s, coaching was called ‘consulting’ or ‘mentoring.’ Now it’s a recognized profession. Trainers can develop the coaching skills and competence needed to move clients forward and have greater and broader impact.

“You can increase your revenue-generating opportunities by adding this service; it will be the choice of many clients. Unlike training, coaching is not about being the expert. Coaching is about asking questions and giving people the opportunity to really think about their answers. This process gets people back in touch with themselves.”

Parting Shot. “Develop your passion, decide where you want to take it and offer this uniqueness to your new and old clients. The possibilities are exciting and endless!”

Reported by Sandy Todd Webster

IDEA Personal Trainer, Volume 2004, Issue 1

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About the Author

Sean White

Sean White IDEA Author/Presenter