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Trainer Talks: Cori Lefkowith Embraces Online Fitness, Social Media

Trainer Talks: Cori Lefkowith Embraces Online Fitness, Social Media

Cori Lefkowith, owner of Redefining Strength, has evolved from being a gym owner to a trusted online fitness source

Cori Lefkowith, founder of Redefining Strength, Mission Viejo, California, is passionate about empowering clients through health and fitness.  She opened her dynamic, in-person training facility in 2014, and then started carving her own niche in the industry. Her career growth involved taking traditional gym concepts, making them relatable and extending her influence into the digital realm.

Her journey from launching a local gym to becoming a digital fitness pioneer is a testament to her dedication to her craft. Lefkowith’s philosophy revolves around making fitness accessible, enjoyable and effective for everyone — regardless of their starting point. Her approach goes beyond workouts; it’s about cultivating a supportive community and fostering a deeper understanding of wellness.

Athletech News spoke with Lefkowith about how her original vision of a fitness community evolved into a diverse and expansive operation, and how her personal values and professional strategies have shaped the lives of countless individuals.

This conversation has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Athletech News: You began with an in-person training facility, which rapidly evolved into multiple successful ventures. Was this always your goal, or was the evolution more of a surprise?

Cori Lefkowith: Initially, my goal was purely the in-person gym. My vision was to create a space where clients could feel empowered, enhancing their health and fitness in a supportive community environment. And I was keen on doing it my way, hence the gym. As a bit of a control freak, I quickly realized that seeing clients for an hour, even up to 5 or 6 days a week, wasn’t quite cutting it. I wanted to extend my support beyond the gym, addressing more than just their workout routines.

This is what led me to start writing blogs, making YouTube videos and developing digital programs. I aimed to provide them with resources and support around the clock, to facilitate change whenever needed. Observing the effectiveness of these tools with my in-person clients, I began to broaden their accessibility online.

At the onset of building the online aspect of the business, I focused on offering ready-made digital programs. However, I soon noticed that I lacked the means to ensure clients were actively using what they purchased. This realization prompted me to create my coaching program. As it grew, I saw an opportunity to help my trainer friends secure fulfilling jobs while providing my clients with the support and attention they deserved. It was a win-win for everyone involved!

ATN: What are the primary obstacles or mistakes that prevent trainers from succeeding?

CL: As trainers, we have a passion for exercise and nutrition. However, not all our clients share this passion, at least not initially. Many come to us feeling overwhelmed, intimidated and bombarded by fad-diet clutter.

A common mistake I see among trainers is attempting to sell these clients on a lifestyle drastically different from their current one, sometimes even instilling guilt, which I believe hinders clients from making a change. This isn’t done intentionally; it’s more about prioritizing what’s “right” over the client’s immediate needs.

Trainers often push standards that don’t seem realistic or sustainable for those just starting out, creating a disconnect that can impede meeting clients where they currently are. This not only limits business growth but also the potential to help people change. The more focused you are on the individual client’s needs, rather than an ideal or where you want them to be, the more effective you’ll be in facilitating their embrace of change.

credit: Cori Lefkowith/Redefining Strength

ATN: You’ve successfully harnessed social media. What resonates with your audience about your content?

CL: The most frequent compliment I hear, which I also strive for, is that I’m “real.” I don’t shy away from being vulnerable or sharing my experiences, nor am I afraid of criticism for my opinions, which may deviate from some industry standards. But I also don’t make my content about me. It’s about normalizing the difficulty of the journey and showing that change is achievable. My approach combines education with a genuine presentation that reflects all facets of the experience.

ATN: Do you have any tips for trainers looking to succeed on social media?

CL: For trainers starting their online journey, I suggest focusing not on themselves or their achievements, but on what they can offer others. Share your knowledge generously, don’t hold back and address the real questions your clients have. Use their language to connect with them, meet them where they are and educate them further as they gain confidence and trust in you.

It might feel like giving away too much for free, but this generosity is what convinces clients that you are the right fit for them. Want to stand out? Give honestly and earnestly of yourself, wow them and show them you can truly be the support they need.

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credit: Cori Lefkowith/Redefining Strength

ATN: Is functional fitness still a primary focus of your programs? What about this approach appeals to most people?

CL: Functional fitness remains a central focus of my programming. My aim is for clients to not only look their best but also feel and move their best throughout their lives. I advocate for quality of movement and independence in daily life. However, my definition of functional fitness has evolved. I no longer limit it to specific training methods but see it as an intentional approach to movement and quality. The mind-body connection is crucial. We emphasize proper form and movement patterns, as well as muscle recruitment patterns, to ensure correct execution of movements. While I incorporate specific movements tailored to each client, I do so in ways that align with their preferred training styles.

Consistency is key to results, and people won’t consistently engage in activities they dislike. This approach makes the sessions enjoyable, built on fundamental movements that are beneficial, combined with diverse techniques that keep things interesting and engaging. My goal is to empower clients, ensuring that part of their workout experience is not just about performing exercises but also understanding why they’re doing them.

credit: Cori Lefkowith/Redefining Strength

ATN: Looking forward, can you share any insights on your plans to expand or offer new services?

CL: Our business is in a constant state of evolution, always aiming to align with what our clients need. For 2024, we’re particularly excited about introducing new nutritional programs, developed in collaboration with our expert dietitians, like Michelle Alley.

We’re also planning to extend some of our internal training programs for coaches to trainers outside our organization. I believe being a coach is one of the most rewarding jobs, with the potential to profoundly impact others’ lives. Our focus is to reach clients in ways that genuinely help them achieve lasting changes, and we’re continually adapting our offerings to ensure this.

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