In 1988, the industry research group IDEA Health & Fitness Association held a convention for personal trainers, which was keynoted by noted bodybuilder-turned-action hero Arnold Schwarzenegger. Only a thousand people attended the event.
If the association were to hold a similar convention today, then not even the Rose Bowl in Pasadena would be big enough to accommodate all the personal trainers we have today. There are currently an estimated 400,000 fitness professionals registered in the United States alone. Of this number, around half are considered as personal trainers.
Personal trainers are fitness professionals directly involved in prescribing personalized exercises and instructions to clients. Celebrities do not get their looks through their natural gifts alone. A lot of workout is also involved. Cameron Diaz has Teddy Bass to thank, while Eva Longoria can be forever grateful to Patrick Murphy for her fabulous body that has attracted men much younger than her. Gunnar Peterson is the personal trainer responsible for Jennifer Lopez’s booty and Ramona Braganza should be credited for Jessica Alba’s quick return to sexiness after giving birth.
Training celebrities can bring a trainer both fame and fortune due to the popularity and fat wallets of their clients. Here now is a list of the richest celebrity personal trainers.
1. Jake Steinfeld – at least $600 million
Jake Steinfeld is regarded as the father of personal training because of his role in establishing the personal training industry in the 1980s. He got into the business by accident. He came from Brooklyn and moved to the other side of the country with the Mr. America competition in mind. Unfortunately, he only placed as first runner-up in the Mr. Southern California contest.
Not one to be disheartened immediately, Steinfeld persisted in Los Angeles when he met a small-time actress who wanted to receive personalized training at home to get fit for a movie role. The acclaimed director Francis Ford Coppola of “The Godfather” fame was there and saw Steinfeld do his work. One thing led to another and before long, Steinfeld found himself training stars like Harrison Ford and big-time producers like Steven Spielberg. Ford had tapped Steinfeld to bulk up for the second installment of the Indiana Jones movie entitled “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.”
Steinfeld then established Body-by-Jake, one of the most successful businesses focused on fitness products. The business experienced rough sailing at first due to a recession and general skepticism on the new idea. Rather than give up, he took a step back to analyze what went wrong and how to improve his product. He showed his faith in the business by taking out a second mortgage on his home and by appearing in infomercials that he had so abhorred for being cheesy in order to promote his product. It paid off big time as Body-by-Jake now counts more than 2.5 million clients.
He did not stop there. Steinfeld made business ventures in other media formats. He established Global Fitness Media, the company responsible for popular fitness websites like FitPlanet and Good Food Near You. He also raked in money with his best selling book entitled “I’ve Seen a Lot of Famous People Naked and They’ve Got Nothing on You.” The book reached the best seller’s list of both The New York Times and Wall Street Journal.
But what really made Steinfeld rich were a trio of business ventures. He is the man behind Exercise TV, the first television network that offers fitness-training programs on demand. Among his sponsors are Comcast, New Balance and Time Warner. FIT TV was also his brainchild. The station was so successful that the Fox Network of Rupert Murdoch bought it out for $500 million. He then turned it around to help establish Major League Lacrosse. While the sport far from rivals the major sports of American football, baseball, basketball and ice hockey, Major League Lacrosse still earns for Steinfeld a cool $600 million in indirect sales for his Body-by-Jake brand.
Steinfeld has had acting roles as well. He played bit parts in movies like “The Money Pit,” “Coming to America,” “Into the Night” and “You Can’t Hurry Love.” He even once had his own sitcom entitled “Big Brother Jake” and voiced the character of Git in “Ratatouille.” He has also used his celebrity status to good use by creating the “Don’t Quit” foundation that educates the value of fitness to the youth and provides state-of-the-art equipment to schools.
2. Tony Little – $200 million
He appears on television an average of 6,000 hours each year. You can’t help but to either be amused or annoyed by his favorite lines like “Always Believe in Yourself,” “Conceive, Believe and Achieve,” “It’s Technique!” and “You Can Do It!” Known as much for his hyper enthusiasm as for his long, blonde ponytail, Tony Little is “America’s Personal Trainer.”
A former Mr. Florida and Mr. Junior America, Little’s career was almost done before it got even started when he got involved in a car accident. It resulted into a crack vertebra, herniated discs and dislocated knee. It was during his recovery that he developed his training programs that turned out to be extremely successful. His products that he promotes through infomercials have generated more than $4 billion in annual sales.
3. Tracy Anderson – $110 million
She has gyms in Los Angeles, New York, the Hamptons and London. Her clients include Courteney Cox, Ashley Greene, the Gylenhall siblings, Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow and Shakira. Known for her very own “Tracy Anderson Method,” this personal trainer offers at-home training through her DVDs. She also has a regimen for women who are about to and who have just given birth.
4. Billy Blanks – $30 million
Known for his tae-bo exercise program, Blanks created the training exercise by combining boxing and the Korean martial art of tae kwon do. His skill has its roots in karate, however, as he had idolized Bruce Lee during his younger years. He had taken up martial arts to help correct a problem with his hip joint. Tae bo was practiced by celebrities like Paula Abdul and Blanks leveraged this by releasing exercise videos that turned out to be huge hits and brought him millions of dollars.