More Than Luck
Use these basic guidelines to make the transition from terrific teacher to paid presenter.
By Petra Kolber


he number one question I get from convention participants is “How do I become a presenter?” Oprah Winfrey said it best: “Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity.” Although I was lucky to partner with Reebok early

in my career, I had paid my dues long before this relationship began. When I worked in Manhattan, I woke up at 4:30 AM every morning to open a gym. I taught 18 to 22 classes a week for several years and trained a press agent four times a week at 6:00 AM in exchange for free representation. I also bounced a rent check once so that I could have a press event catered (I don’t recommend this).

Supplement to June 2003 IDEA Health & Fitness Source

Sometimes I look back and wonder how I was able to manage the constant early hours and compromises. In the end it all came down to one thing: passion. If you are truly passionate about what you do and “walk the talk,” there is no reason why you can’t become a presenter. Beyond the need for passion and integrity, certain steps can’t be overlooked.

Start by doing nothing. Take some time out for yourself. Close the door, turn off the phone, have your spouse take the kids out to dinner and be alone for a while. Then write down your answers to the following questions:
Am I prepared to leave my family and travel on the weekends?

graph. Apply for continuing education credits and units (CECs and CEUs) for more than one workshop because the first application is the most expensive, ranging from $125 to $150. Any application after that costs about $25. In addition, the more workshops you are able to present, the more valuable you will be as a presenter. AFAA requires CEU providers to be AFAA-certified. ACE prefers its CEC providers to be ACE-certified but also accepts a graduate degree in physical education or other fitness-related discipline. (For more information, go to and
Am I a businessperson?

nities will come your way. Administrative details are probably the one area that keeps most great teachers from moving to the next level, because we tend to be more right brain than left. We can create the most amazing workshops, but paperwork often overwhelms us. To have a lasting career in this industry, you need to stay current and creative. It takes research, effort and time to keep reinventing yourself, your workshops and your ideas. Take a moment and look at your daily organizer. Is there time for you to devote to this new phase of your career?
Do I have an elephant hide?

Think of yourself as a business. The more you can offer, the more opportu-

If you join the presenters’ circle, attendees will evaluate you. I believe this is the hardest part of our industry. Every

If not, then you will probably want to reconsider becoming a presenter, because most conventions and workshops are booked on weekends. Think about it. When was the last time you attended a convention mid-week? Even if you decide you want to present only locally, the bookings will more than likely be on Saturdays or Sundays.
Do I know my strengths?

Tips From Successful Presenters
“Treat each event like it is your last, meet every person with a sincere look in the eye, and dance like everyone is watching.” –Jon Giswold

“Be prepared . . . prepared . . . prepared . . . and then be prepared for the unexpected!” –Joy Prouty

“Present only what you are passionate about. By trusting your heart, your gut and your feelings, you will stay in the present moment of your creativity. There is no fear or rejection when you are passionately speaking your truth.” –Scott Cole

Perhaps cuing is one of your strong points. Maybe another is developing creative, logical combinations. Or maybe you are known for your communication skills or motivation techniques. You need to establish your strong points, because they are going to be integral to the first two workshops you offer. You already have the material for those workshops in your mind and body and have been doing it naturally for years. Now it’s just a matter of putting it on paper.
Do I understand the CEC/CEU process?

“The most important thing for a new presenter is to not try to be like someone else. Be true to yourself, what you do, and let `you’ shine through. Just be you and be the best you can be–that will surely make you a successful presenter.” –Franny Benedetto “If you really want an audience to understand and learn from what you are saying, the first step is believing it yourself. People listen to and are motivated by those who speak from the heart. The information must be credible, relevant and interesting, but it must also be heartfelt. You can captivate any audience if you feel what you communicate and are present in your delivery.” –Jay Blahnik

“Donate your time and talents wherever and whenever you can. Be prepared to work for the exposure alone initially. The reward will outweigh the effort, but the monetary gains upfront will be few.” –Mindy Mylrea

“Find the passion, follow your heart, and your message will always be well received.” –Rob Glick

You may have noticed I referred to your “first two workshops” in the above paraJUNE 2003 1DEA FITNESS EDGE

NEVER read your evaluations during a convention. Always wait until the end. Nothing is worse than reading a negative comment right before you teach.

time you step on that stage, your peers are judging you. You can gain a lot of insight into how to improve your presentation, but some comments will offend you. Leigh Crews, Reebok program developer and master trainer from Rome, Georgia, says this best: “Develop an elephant hide. People write evaluations for many different reasons, not just to evaluate. Only apply the constructive, acknowledging that we all have room for improvement. Discard the destructive, knowing that it will only drain you of your energy and take time away from doing the things that count.” Note: NEVER read your evaluations during a convention. Always wait until the end. Nothing is worse than reading a negative comment right before you teach.

The next step is to put your package together in an organized press kit, which should include the following: A R E S U M E . Include your complete educational background, your certifications and your industry-related experience, plus a head or full-body shot. When you have photos taken for this purpose, wear clothing that portrays a professional image and will stand the test of time in fashion terms. You want these shots to last.

Under each title provide a brief (approximately 35-word) description and say how many ACE CECs and AFAA CEUs the event provides.

You will already have this from your CEC/CEU application.
A V I D E O TA P E O F Y O U R P R E S E N TAT I O N . If you’re doing movement, remember to present the workout in mirror image. When you face the camera, cue right when you’re doing left, and vice versa. Include your name and contact number on every single piece of written material, and label your videotape. Companies receive endless applications, and your package may get separated from your video.

The Product: Packaging and Potential
If you answered yes to the questions above, it is time to move on to packaging yourself. Being able to present yourself professionally is very important. Start by organizing your game plan.