Fitness Professional Online

Fitness Professional Online Show : 026 – Chris Gellert

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Announcer: Welcome to the Fitness Professional Online Radio Show where you get access to fitness industry news, tips and insights from professionals around the world. Visit us at and now, your host, Doug Holt.

Doug Holt: Hello everyone and welcome to Episode 26 of the Fitness Professional Online Show. I am your host Doug Holt and I’m happy to be with you here today coming right out of sunny Santa Barbara, California. Of course our show guest today is another East Coaster. We got a lot of East Coast people on. We aim for those West Coast people to step it up a little bit guys, come on. We have Chris Gellert on.

Chris is of course the CEO of Pinnacle Training & Consulting Systems, many of you have read his articles on Fitness Professional Online. Chris and I will go into what got him into the industry, where he sees the industry going and I’ll throw a few curveballs his way. But before we get into that today, I’m getting a lot of questions about our mastermind group so I’m going to try to answer a few of those, right here for you.

Yes, we are still accepting applications. This will be a revolving process. We’ve gotten so many amazing fitness professionals, those that have had over 20 years of experience to those just entering the industry. Yes, I do personally interview each person and know not everybody makes it and we don’t do that just to exclude people but we really want the best-of-the-best and what I mean by that are those people that have high integrity that really are willing to push not only themselves to grow but also want everybody in the group to grow as well. That’s really critical for a key mastermind group.

Another question I get asked a lot or asked a lot over here at our team is am I directly involved in this mastermind groups and the answer is, yes. I’m intimately involved in the mastermind groups helping facilitate the conversations as well as growth and showing people how I’ve done in the industry both from my brick and mortar personal training studio and as well as my online businesses. So yes, I’m there and I’ll show everything under the hood and answer questions directly so you do have time to communicate with me.

The real magic that happens in this mastermind groups is not me, it’s actually the other fitness professionals and everybody sharing their knowledge. You can only learn so much yourself as we all know and it’s really allowing everybody to grow through that synergy that’s so special and that’s what really gets me excited about the groups.

If you had your computer right now, go ahead and shoot me over an email at any other questions you might have. If you’re listening to this in your car or while working out, when you get home, feel free to shoot myself or our team any questions you might have, happy to answer those as we move forward. This group is getting momentum and I’m lovin’ it.

Without further ado, let’s go ahead and jump-in to the call with Chris. Again, Chris is the CEO of Pinnacle Training & Consulting Systems, a continuing education company that provides educational materials in the form of home-study courses, live seminars, DVDs, webinars, articles and many books. Teaching in-depth the foundation science functional assessments and practical application behind human movement that is evidence-based.

Chris is both the dynamic physical therapist with 14 years of experience and a personal trainer with 17 years of experience with advanced training. He has created over 10 courses and is an experienced international fitness presenter at various websites including ours (Fitness Professional Online) and international publications. He consults and teaches seminars on human movement. Without further ado, let’s go and jump on to the call with Chris.

Alright Chris, thank you so much for being with us today. I really appreciate it.

Chris Gellert: Thanks again, Doug. I really appreciate your time today.

Doug Holt: Well those listening obviously got a taste of what you’re up to in the fitness field from your bio but of course let’s dive a little deeper. How did you get where you are today and why did you start Pinnacle Training?

Chris Gellert: Just from a summary point-of-view, I used to be in advertising years and years ago. It was an injury to my back that changed my life for better and I had to go to physical therapy, didn’t know what the school therapy was. Long story short, I injured my [03:58] and the ligament that attaches to that lower back. After going through therapy and rehab and just reflecting in what that therapist had done for me, it was an incredible experience, it changed my life and made me look at what I was doing.

Long story short, I decided to deep down and go in and maybe make a core change which was challenging. I went back to school to cover the required prerequisites and then decided to become a trainer and do what I could to get into PT school. Got into school 1997 and then I graduated 1999 and through that process to now, I’ve always had a passion for educating and probably less 5 years more or so of just really trying to see a more of a difference in the change in the industry.

I’ve been working for the last 14 years, now going 15 next year and I love helping people and almost see like those out there listening out there. What we do is a big difference in a lot of ways we can do it but I think there are similarities with the physical therapy and personal training for instance that we both are helping people in different modality, different ways of doing it. But we need to know what we’re doing and we also need to know the science, we need to know a little bit about obviously the person in and use obviously a very personal as approach. That’s a little bit of how I’ve got into where I am today and where I’m going and my passion for the future.

Doug Holt: We’ve had a lot of talk offline and your passion really shines through. As an entrepreneur and educator, obviously, we face a lot of challenges and you’ve been incredibly successful. But those listening, a lot of people haven’t done yet or not quite there, can you tell us about a time where you felt you hit a wall where it’s just impenetrable but you found a way to push through and make it a success?

Chris Gellert: Definitely. It happen a couple of time, number one, I think everyone who’s gone through and taken exams, it’s a requirement of either a school or a course or whatever you had to do. In our world, we had of take our Physical Therapy Boards which are national boards and personally, I had a lot of my plate. I had too much I think cluttered and in my personal life, it was successful the first time and it really hit me.

So I had to take a step back and make a plan of how am I going to do this and pass and get my license and so I can make a living? And I think that was a lot of reflecting that had some help. I did some soul-searching and most importantly looking at where my weaknesses where and then I passed and absolutely that was about 14 years ago.

Another time was when I was really overweight. I was 52 lbs. overweight about 20 something years ago. I was not even completely done with Business School, I was in Business School just starting. Eating poorly, working out very little at all from not anything, doing all the bad things you done, calzones on the weekend with chicken wings and all the things that you do as a freshman and setting in a freshman 15, I felt like in the freshman 30. And I looked at myself and said, “You’re a fat rotten person in the mirror,” and I thought that something I need to do.

And so a friend of mine, back in the days and who knows out there listening maybe remember cybergenics, it was back in the 80s, the “no product” those who had almost like an 8-track tape back now a days. He has introduced me to cybergenics but I really just listened to his concept and what it was but working out. I’ve never workout really. I was just kind of walking, didn’t know what weight training was and it was Hill’s motivation. He wasn’t a trainer, he was my roommate and he was a catalyst that started the wheels-in-motion.

I then started to change my eating habits and I started to really start eating better. Long story short, I started to do a slim fast eating better and it took me about 7 months in 52 lbs. later and now, 20 years, I’ve kept it off and it’s been one changing the paradigm, changing the way I eat and most importantly working out with weights and being consistent with cardiovascular and just keeping active and then obviously from that, being consistent in changing every 4 to 6 weeks.

So that are two major things that happened to me I would say that were insightfully eye-opening and 20 years later, I still am the same weight and I’m a little bit a few pounds overweight but according to the people out there, I’m obese because it was really silly because according to the scales in the BMI, I have to make it like everyone else enough for which is harder at 43 and I think for 43, I feel pretty good, I look pretty good. A couple of injuries have not slowed me down but it kept you moving and you have to take care of those injuries as well and the interest of passion that keeps burning. That’s what kind of what help me and that’s kind of a little bit of a preview what I’ve done for now.

Doug Holt: I think you said, “feeling good”. If you feel good, that’s really the key, right? Looking good is always a bonus and we all want that but feeling good is always the apex of what we’re trying to achieve as fitness professionals for clients and ourselves.

Chris Gellert: Exactly.

Doug Holt: And also you said something I thought was interesting, Chris. So when I interview or talk to fitness professionals and I’ve been in this industry for almost 20 years now, this seems like people come into this industry, generally speaking one of three paths. So either they are an ex-athlete that rolls in because they like the industry or they’re overweight and so they’ve looked for a solution for that and want to show other people which you did or they come with that injury and get fixed and then want to help people. So you have two of those three which makes it really interesting. I’m assuming to relate to a lot of people that are coming in to your practice and people that you work with.

Chris Gellert: It does. And I think uniquely, Doug, well we’ve talked about you’ve known in my background for those out there listening, I’m both a physio for 14 years, that’s a physical therapist and a personal trainer for 17. So I’ve worked with clients from 8 years old to 92. And I think that’s really been challenging, it’s been great. It’s been great with the 8-year-old so the 92-year-old where a hip replacement went through chemo or absolutely cancer and some other frailties that are very serious and frail neck as such.

So my change is really come from the last of doing the training and working clients to more of teaching and development of courses and educating, getting more involved at a conference level both at the national and the international fitness conference and learning that also not going to school possibly again for a fellowship degree. So as a help professional, it’s never ever done to stop learning as you know.

Second of all, I feel it’s one of my things and it’s my passion and I love and enjoy it. So when I’m out there talking and speaking at different places and conferences like idea where nationally, as well as internationally, I love to talk with those fitness professionals to ask questions, what they can learn, what they need to learn to get better, how to help them become more successful or work with a client that maybe is very challenging, that they don’t know what to do or they’ve seen this but they’ve read and they’re very confused. And I think the physical therapy industry still needs to do better to work together with fitness professionals, I think number one. I feel like I’m trying to bridge that gap with my business and my passion. Number two is that respect, the respect is still not there. I tell my friends who are physio’s and PT’s to try and work with fitness professionals to respect them. And I think respect is earned and I think the knowledge that you can inquire to become better as a fitness professional both to help your clients or to help yourself, it exudes when you communicate to a physician, a physical therapist or anybody and I think that’s what’s really important. So I think bridging that gap and that term “bridging the gap” is really important. It been earned a lot and it’s getting better and I feel that’s where we need to continue on and work together to help the client.

Doug Holt: I think that’s fantastic. I love what you said especially for somebody coming from a fitness or trainer background, coming into a physio, you have the eyes to bridge that gap and to see how fitness professionals can bridge it, as well as physio’s or physical therapists can help trainers do so. Now with that said, tell us a little bit about some of the courses or some of the educational systems that you’ve been putting out there lately.

Chris Gellert: Sure. One thing, I graduated from school in 1999, I realized that absolutely the profession is going to change and has it’s gone from bachelors to now masters to doctorate level. The fitness industry has changed. It has gone from functional training in 1980s from [11:54] they all know and I’m sure you do.

Doug Holt: Yeah.

Chris Gellert: …who was amazing pioneer. [11:59] and Gary Gravin have very influential piece of both physio’s or physical therapists as well. I think now, the last in my kind of view with the world in terms with the trends with Kettlebells and the TRX is more a movement-based training. And so when I look at that, I look at as a therapist movement but I look at from a movement from static and dynamics.

So I thought, “The industry is changing, modalities are changing but one thing is not changing is we still have injuries.” We still have science. We still have to understand what the person is going through whether the goal is to lose weight to get faster like you said with the athletes whether it coming from therapy and they’re trying to get done from there in transition of the gym after a knee replacement or an ACL is the science and understanding that science and how to take that science and apply it.

So I thought, “Okay, listen. Let’s create courses that make sense.” So I created a course called Synergy of Human Movement. It’s a 5-unit course that it kind of bridges that gap, teaches the foundation of science, functional assessments (very important), as well as application (how to apply that). It’s in chunks to units and it’s a home-study. And then, I took that further and then made it into live seminars so now we can take that information with the seminars I’ve been meeting for the last 10 years and you can apply that deeper.

And now, what I’m doing is I’m doing some e-learning courses and those e-learning courses are on the shoulder, on the hips, spine, knee and ankle. So if someone says, “Chris, I want to learn more about the knee,” we have an e-learning course that we’re developing and it’s actually a video-based. It’s actually audio, it’s through fitness learning systems, it’s going to be ICET-credited and they can get see and use with it so they can they can do it when they want as well, so there’s that convenient factor.

And then the last part is we’ve tried to create a platform that is a complete learning system, it’s like Home Depot where you can get one-stop shop and get everything under the umbrella where you have home-study, you have live seminars, you have webinars, articles, we have videos. We have videos that complement what the systems have created this. So if someone doesn’t understand what fascial slings are, there’s a video that explains this part of my course or how to assess the lumbar pelvic girdle or looking at movement and what is normal versus abnormal.

And then, DVDs and more people, I feel, trainers and fitness professionals are becoming more tactile and they need to see the cognitive part of it which is to learn the knowledge, the visual (to see it and then do it) and then the psychomotor is the hands-on. So it’s like cognitive learning, the visual seeing it and the second motor is doing and that’s really the system and platform we put in place. And that’s what we’re trying to do and we’re making a lot of nice relationships and your listeners out there, I hope they hear and see that that we have to evolve and continue to learn and grow and that’s what we’re trying to do at Pinnacle Training & Consulting Systems.

Doug Holt: It’s great stuff. I know because from my training studio, I have all my staff. We go through always continuing education but we also take physical therapy continuing education as well. Now of course, we don’t place ourselves as physical therapists but it’s neat to see you or someone like you bridging that gap between ours because it’s such a huge gap when somebody comes out of physical therapy, they have no clue what to do after that generally speaking. Their sessions were up with their physical therapists and they’re just told to go back to the gym or go workout and they don’t have any guidance. So providing that for trainers is huge.

Chris Gellert: Yeah. And I think it all goes back to working together and communicating. We are faced as physical therapist with last visits it’s where you nail the dog, as well as the insurance industry is getting tighter. So I think that’s going to change. I think the bigger thing for those out there listening whether you’re going to college, whether you’re entering the profession, whether you’re doing it for a long time is just never stop learning and never say, “I know everything,” because I don’t.

And even with two masters, I want to go back and get more training because I want to be an expert in orthopedics and I love orthopedics but the thing that gets me going is my [15:55] I love to see people and to be inspired and move by teaching and from the information I teach. So I think you have to keep that going which is really important.

And I think there are a lot of good things out there to look at and I think obviously time is important, money, time (in terms of what you can and can’t do) and I think where we off that flexibility. If you want to do a little bit of time, you can do that. You can take one piece or one chunk at a time but however you are with your visual, auditory perceptive, I think to match a mirror of those ways to what’s out there is really key to make your learning that much more enhanced, enjoyable.

Doug Holt: I couldn’t agree more. Alright Chris, I’m going to throw you a curveball but I’m going to set a scene for you.

Chris Gellert: Sure.

Doug Holt: You’re downtown, you’re walking around. I must say you’re downtown Boston, I know you’re in Massachusetts right now. You’re in downtown walking in Boston and you turn in the corner and you see a time machine, it’s sitting there. You’re able to go back and talk to yourself during your first year as an entrepreneur or fitness professional or physio, what advice do you give to your younger self?

Chris Gellert: That’s a good question. The advice that I would give to myself is probably, I would have gotten distractions out of the way that I had that would have affected in taking my board, number one. I think I would have probably also studied harder in high school and not closing before that time machine but only taken the science seriously.

And number two, I think I would have really gone a little bit deeper in terms of my understanding of human body and had more people to work with us mentors and had people to work that could shadow and help me to understand what I need to do to be the best physical therapist that I could be.

And now, fast forwarding in the future like in the movies or such or like back to the future, I would say, my thing is I’d like to mentor, I’d like to teach and try to give and help an insightful, and I’m actually doing it now with the trainer now in Boston and I’m mentoring here. So I think mentoring will be one of the things that I would have really liked. It would have made me better. It would have made me more solid and probably more confident and shape me more to where I am today.

Doug Holt: I couldn’t agree more. And I think we see that a lot from people that are successful like yourself talking about getting a mentor or taking an apprenticeship or internship program. What would you say to the person listening right now that says, “Okay, I want to do a mentorship or apprenticeship or whatever the name is but basically follows someone like Chris around and learn from them” but then they’re hesitant and they’re saying, “Well gee, they’re not paying me to do this work or they’re not paying me to help them out while I’m learning.” What would you say to that person?

Chris Gellert: That’s a great question. Actually, in my company, we’re going to be setting that up in the future. We’re going to actually have a mentorship program. Live a different thing, Gary [18:29]. Gary graced on something that’s probably the gift program that’s 10 months of the year. Mine is going to be a bit different or ours because I’m hiring trainers that are all master level degree train. That means, they have to have a masters degree with their CSCS and that have advanced credentials may it be a 5 years of training, gone through my course, they have to pass my exam.

Also, enrol practical clinic case study, so pretty rigorous like the CSCS. So I take examination seriously but I would say the biggest thing is don’t be afraid in that right now. I’m not charging to be a mentor. I would be open for those out there listening. If someone wants to come and reach to me say, “Chris, I don’t have $10,000 to pay you to be a mentee. Could you do it for free?” and I’d be like, “No problem”.

Now obviously, I couldn’t do that to 100 people because my time is thin and I wouldn’t be able to extend myself but I would say if someone want to write to me and write not even as if they’re applying for the Biggest Loser and why should they be selected but what their story is and how they could benefit and earn and really get that from this, I’d be happy to do that. I think that’s that bridging that gap piece.

Second of all, they’re going to learn more about the body. That means they’re going to become inspired with knowledge and be able to take that. Even though it might be seemingly overwhelming but when you break it down in chunks, it will actually make sense. And then thirdly, they will be able to apply it which means, they’d be able to get more clients to make their clients better. They’ll help them the goals faster and that where the mouth will spread.

So it actually impacts them from sales, from marketing, from a confidence and from a future growth perspective in their business while they’re working for a gym or working for themselves or combination of both. So for those listening, that’s what I would recommend highly. And that’s something I think a lot of us need to do out there because that’s what helped me get to where I am today.

Doug Holt: Absolutely. I hope you’re really, you’re about to get a thousand emails and phonecalls.

Chris Gellert: That’s great.

Doug Holt: Got to grow that to have a lottery system to narrow down the choices. Chris, what can we expect from you in 2015?

Chris Gellert: I think, a lot. Number one I think Doug is that you can see I’m still learning and I’ll never going to stop learning. So I got some goals to do on fellowship in 2016 but specifically 2015, I will be speaking in Idea, I’ll be speaking at Fitness Fast and maybe speaking some local conferences. This past year was pretty good. I’ve see [20:48] Can-Fit-Pro. We’re really going to try to really refine our courses to make the best they can be.

So the synergy and the movement course is done. We’re going to be re-launching it with DSW in Human Kinetics. We’re going to be doing some other things like I said those five e-learning courses. I’m working on some other projects as well but my goal is to get out there and do more seminars and develop relationships with health clubs which we’ve got very much as solid-based and be more mentoring to trainers and fitness professionals that need that help.

And I think the other thing too is we’re looking at the future of more collaborative in making it kind of a one-stop/the holistic approach to helping everybody. So our website is going to be changing. We’re going to have more of an integrated, with more articles, with more webinars.

You can go to our website. You’d be seeing articles and the hip in the ankle or shoulder impingement or videos from YouTube, from LinkedIn. I think there’s a plethora of information of out there that your audience can access on via Facebook page or Arlington page, our website that they can go for resource information and if they need clarification that they can get that help, I’m going to be hiring some staff to help me because I’m only one person and I’m getting pulled a million directions as everyone sounds like I am almost like an octopus. And I think lastly to say is to continue to grow and to be the best that I can be. So that’s a little stint about what we have ahead in 2015.

Doug Holt: Small goals.

Chris Gellert: Yeah, small goals.

Doug Holt: It’s a little bit here and there. The people listening to the Fitness Professional Online Show are avid readers and they’re always trying to grow otherwise, they wouldn’t listen to a show like this. What book for you has made the biggest impact in your life and why both professional and personal? It could be either way.

Chris Gellert: I think the one professionally is probably going to be the Boring Guild Orthopedics and I mean in the sense of redefining somebody’s conditions that I’ve learned and going deeper. And some of the other, I would call the movement-based books which are [Sherlock Sourman?] and I can take some other experts and are professionals or the PT’s that are the pioneers, the PhD’s. In chronic pain, the David Butler is known mostly, so that would probably the professional.

I think personal is what you Call as Your Parachute. It goes back to the day when I met a core change when it does a lot of self-reflecting and 7 Habits of Highly Successful People and doing what I call is “medi-cognition” which is kind of reflecting on myself in where I’m at and where I see and where I need to go and kind of do a reassessment and I try to do it every 6 months of relooking, assess my goals and personally professionally.

I’m kind of nerdy, I read a lot of clinical articles but when I have some down time, I do like to read something that’s not so boring or dull with and equal zone so in depending verbals and randomized control trials and such but to be in the top of your game when you’re working with a client, a customer, an attorney, a doctor or someone in blue-collared I have to be there so I feel that’s important to me as I strive more knowledge and certifications I’m trying to refine in professional settings. So I try to find that balance but that’s what I’ve been up to and reading and I’m trying to continue on that process.

Doug Holt: Great books. Well, Call Your Parachute was still out. I remembered that books.

Chris Gellert: Yeah, you probably had a couple of this.

Doug Holt: That it has. I’ve had it out. And 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, it’s one of my all time favorite Steven Covey. Somebody that actually studied success at the university level is great. Now, I haven’t read the Orthopedic book, I’ll have to check that out but I’m not sure it’s going to be of the top of my reading list and that kind of why but it sounds like for your profession, it’s perfect. Chris, if someone learns to learn more about you and about what you’re up to, where do they go.

Chris Gellert: Sure. My website is You can also email me. I access my email all the time, it’s They can check our Facebook page, just type-in the word, our company, Pinnacle Training Consulting Systems. Also go to YouTube, same thing type-in Pinnacle Training Consulting Systems, there’s several, right now I think we have 40 or probably almost close to 45 videos that I’ve done on shoulder, on the knee, on various parts within the foundation course, fascial slings on assessment. I’m looking at core test and core breakdown and I called the four horseman.

So I think there are a lot of avenues where you could find more information about what we’re trying to do. If you have questions, email me. If you have concerns, our phone number is there as well or anything else I could reach out to do, please contact me.

Doug Holt: Chris, thank you so much for being here today. I really appreciate it. I know our listeners got a lot out of it as well and your articles on Fitness Professional Online are both informative, technical and extremely well-written so thank you.

Chris Gellert: Thank you very much for your time and I thanks Doug and I appreciate for you taking time of your day to talk to me and thank you for your listeners as well.

Doug Holt: Alright, what a great talk with Chris. It’s so rare to have a physical therapist that’s been a personal trainer talk about what it takes to bridge the gap between rehab and going back into exercise. A huge market I know from my business at conditioning specialist and as well as for a lot of other fitness professionals that are out other. And something we talked about in last year’s mastermind group, it’s something that everybody is planning on killing it in 2015 moving on. So I’m sure, you are as well.

Definitely go and check out Chris’ website, he’s got a lot of great information on there and makes himself so available. Definitely, read his articles on as well. That’s it for us today. So on behalf of all the staff here, this special shout-out goes to Darcy for making sure this all gets to put together as well as Carol. Those are two women on my dream team that make this all happen for us. So from all of us here, thank you again and have a great week.

Announcer: Thank you for listening to the Fitness Professional Online Radio Show. You can share your thoughts and join the discussion on this episode by going through our website or on Let us know what you’d like to hear on future shows and please feel free to contact us via e-mail or give us a call at (805) 500-6893. We look forward to hearing from you.

Links & Resources Mentioned In This Episode:


Synergy of Human Movement
Conditioning Specialists
Chris’ Website – Pinnacle Training & Consulting Systems


7 Habits of Highly Successful People by Stephen R. Covey


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The FPO Crew is made up of a number of skilled, fit, intelligent, and beautiful people who love overall wellness as well as helping people. Everyone in The FPO Crew has a true passion for working with Fitness Professionals all around the world to help grow the industry and thus help more people on a larger scale.
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