Alumni/ae spotlight – Andrew Eppinger (EHS Class of 2008)
Personal trainer and entrepreneur, Andrew Eppinger has a thriving fitness business.
For Andrew Eppinger, Eagle Hill School graduate from the class of 2008, it was evident early in his life where his passions lay.
“I knew I wanted to become a personal trainer when I was at Eagle Hill. We had daily exercise after school, and I didn’t want to play sports, so I started lifting weights. I quickly fell in love with it and knew I wanted to become a trainer at 16 years old. Not many people can say they knew what they wanted to do with their lives that early. I also ended up herniating two discs in my spine when I was 17 and subsequently back surgery at 18 because I was born with degenerative disc disease.”
Though unfortunate to incur such injuries at a young age, Eppinger’s experience and knowledge from those injuries have set him up on a course for amazing success for both him and his clients. Based in Lexington, Massachusetts, Eppinger started his business, Eppinger Fitness, over ten years ago with clear goals in mind – helping everyday people in a one-on-one, specialty fitness setting overcome their back injuries.
“I work with all kinds of people. Everything from middle-aged people trying to lose 50 pounds to teenagers prepping for basketball practice to 90-year-old men who want to make it out of bed in the morning. The majority of my clientele, however, are people with bad backs. One of the best pieces of advice is to figure out what separates your business from the competition and lean into it. For my business, it was my background with back injuries. I have had every back problem/pain in the book, which led to meeting all kinds of physical therapists, chiropractors, and doctors. Even in the year 2020, they can’t fix everyone’s backs. Often, doctors will settle for just a 70% reduction in pain, and you have to live with the rest. After living this way since I was a teenager, I have learned to adjust my workouts in a way that doesn’t put any extra pressure on the back. People want to have a trainer that understands what they are going through and understands how each movement will make them feel.”
This close relationship and individualized approach with his clients has built a strong foundation for his business and earned him praise from his community. Along with many other accolades for him and his business, Eppinger recently was chosen as the Wicked Local Readers’ Choice Award Winner for Top Fitness Studio in his area, a prominent award and a testament to his work ethic and drive.
When asked what separates him and his business from the many studios and gyms he competes with, Eppinger attributes his differentiation and attention to detail.
“I have been in the fitness industry for over ten years now (it feels like I was just at EHS yesterday!). The number one thing that separates me from the competition is my entrepreneurial drive. For some people, it comes easy, and for others, it is like pulling teeth. You need to wake up each day with the drive to always want more, almost on an obsessive level. It’s the people that are never happy with what they have that always strive to improve. Don’t be afraid to try new things and learn from your mistakes.”
When considering the industry's competitiveness, Eppinger laid out some clear steps and pieces of advice for young professionals interested in pursuing a similar path to his.
“Specifically for personal trainers, I would say you need to figure out a game plan to be self-employed as soon as possible. Start off working at a gym and learn everything you can. Then try to go and find the wealthiest market you can and open up shop there. Never get comfortable, because there is always somebody younger than you who is willing to work harder and take your job. You need to approach your job every day knowing that is you! You are the one who everyone else should be worried about because you are going to work harder, and they need to step up their game to keep up with you.”
“I think most people get into the fitness industry for the same reason. Your life was somehow impacted by fitness, and you want to share that experience with people. Personal training is a great field to get in, and I always recommend you start with a NASM personal training certification. They are considered the second-best in the country; the only one better requires a degree in a related field. From there, like most jobs in the health and fitness field, you will have to do continuing education credits every two years to keep your certification. This is actually great because it helps you remember never to stop learning.”
Through all of his success early in his career, Eppinger still fondly remembers his time at Eagle Hill School. Specifically, he remembers the amazing teachers and the unforgettable experiences he enjoyed.
“To this day, I have always been a math and science guy. I will never forget Mr. [Andrew] Ward’s biology class because he was such a great teacher. He was able to use humor to connect with his students on a level that is unachievable by any other teacher I have ever met. I still tell some of his jokes to my clients. I also remember my trip to Australia was unforgettable. There is never another time in your life where you are going to get to travel with 60 other people you know to a foreign country and tour around for two weeks. We got to snorkel at the Great Barrier Reef, and I will never forget that sight.”
Longtime Eagle Hill School science faculty member Andrew Ward is not surprised at all by Eppinger’s success, as he saw it very early on during his time as an EHS student.
“Andrew was one of those students who was intrinsically motivated to know everything about human physiology. His insatiable curiosity for musculoskeletal anatomy in particular holds clear in my memory even 13 years later. It gives me great pride to see him succeed in a field that he’s been passionate about for so long.”
When reflecting on his path to being a successful entrepreneur, Eppinger has many recommendations for students looking to start their own business and overcoming the obstacles they may face.
“One of the best pieces of advice I have for opening a gym is to start small. I started out of a 198sq foot room in my house. I made a website, learned how search engine optimization worked through a series of Youtube videos, and dominated the three-pack on Google results. Make a website and use stock photos until your facility looks better than stock photos, then take your own photos. You always want to start small because you need to control your overhead. There is nothing wrong with a business bursting at the seams because you got too big too fast, you can always expand.”
“The bottom line is being self-employed is the best feeling in the world. When you work for someone else, it’s hard to see the direct impact of your work. When you work for yourself, everything that you do has a 100% impact on your business. Start small, think big.”
Learn more about Eppinger and Eppinger Fitness, visit www.eppingerfitness.com.