From Elite Swimmer To Elite Coach - Men's Health Magazine Australia

From Elite Swimmer To Elite Coach

Maik Wiedenbach’s Success Shows A Path For Athletes

Photo: Maik Wiedenbach

Does a professional athlete’s career have to end with their participation in top competition? Or is there a path that allows smooth transition to another season of the journey? Discussing a moment of great psychological and economical importance, NYC’s top coach and ex-world cup swimmer Maik Wiedenbach shows how athletes can elevate their career way beyond competing years.

Maik Wiedenbach came to the United States on a scholarship from Fordham University after representing Germany at the swimming world championships. Despite performing at the highest levels, both in his time swimming and also after getting into bodybuilding later on, the athlete-entrepreneur always made sure he didn’t put all of his eggs in one basket.

While he graduated Fordham university with a Bachelor in History in addition to an equivalent degree in German Literature from Germany, his aspirations were in economy. Today, Maik Wiedenbach’s Personal Training gym in Manhattan, New York City, is a state of the art institution exclusive to his clients and coaching team.

When we asked the multi-successor at what time he started to prepare for a transition into a new chapter of his career, his answer was surprisingly honest:

“Since neither swimming nor bodybuilding generate much income, I was never under the impression that I could retire early. Initially, I did not want to have my own business but work in an investment bank on Wall Street.”

And it was Wall Street, where Wiedenbach would learn skills that, in his opinion, were decisive for his later success in business. New York City is an extremely competitive playground for businesses, it always has been. So this makes Maik Wiedenbach’s story extra impressive.

“Had I not worked on Wall Street before opening my business I would have failed. It was there where I learned how to sell, generate leads, manage cash flow and the like. Most trainers do not make the cut because they are lacking on the business side. I started with zero capital in 2007. What I did was to continuously invest into my brand, whether it was education, PR, competitions or buying equipment.

If you want to be successful you need to create a mosaic . Every piece of press, every title you win, every client success story is one small stone. It is a frustrating process at times but at some point the flywheel effect kicks in and you take off.”

However, skills from the previous chapter are anything but lost in the new chapter. On the contrary, traits such as resilience, forged during years of hard training, overcoming hardship and tight schedules, gain a new meaning when the competition days are over. In his case, habits developed during the time of balancing training for competition with education were extremely helpful for Maik Wiedenbach when facing the challenges of entrepreneurship.

“As a competitive athlete you have to be very organized, since you have to combine school work and several hours of practice during the day. That type of time management is priceless in a business setting without a boss telling you what to do.  Coming from high level sports, you are used to setbacks which naturally occur in business. You are much less likely to quit if you have experienced failure before.”

Lastly, you do understand that it takes time to achieve big goals. In order to be able to compete internationally, you need to invest at least two decades. The same goes for building a seven or 8 figure business.”

Photo: Maik Wiedenbach

Since 2007, the industry has faced many changes, challenges and innovation. Whether it’s the availability of information and a global audience, or tools such as online coaching, the opportunities are more abundant than ever before. Maik Wiedenbach believes that “everything has changed and nothing has changed at the same time. You are still working with real people who have hopes and dreams about their bodies and it is your job to lead them to the promised land.”

Acknowledging the scientific and technological progress, he adds that “what has changed is that we know so much more in terms of nutrition, training and recovery. We also have access to much better equipment. take our machines here in NY, state of the art, custom made to mimic the movement of the human body thereby reducing the risk of injury while improving results dramatically.“

Speaking about the chances and doors opened by the world of online coaching, New York City’s best personal coach agrees that “social media, for all its faults, gives you a bigger platform to help more people. I personally have a love / hate relationship with it but you can’t avoid it. Online coaching, if done properly, is another great tool which did not exist 20 years ago and allows you to service people out of your ZIP code.”

Photo: Maik Wiedenbach with seminar clients in Dubai

And the possibilities that are realized in the fitness industry through online platforms and social media are endless. In Maik Wiedenbach’s case for instance, they are currently allowing him to expand his brand way beyond the borders of the United States. With a focus on providing education in the Middle East, the athlete-turned-entrepreneur and his team are “currently doing a big push in Dubai and Abu Dhabi” where he teaches the business side of personal training. “Currently we have contracts with some of the major education providers there and are looking to build further. Eventually, we plan to replicate our NY gym there.” Incredibly exciting, and an example for the different approaches, products and niches within the industry, that are yet to fulfill their full potential. With a strong and creative eye for business, passion and knowledge can take on many different forms, in many different places.

Men’s Health Australia editorial staff were not involved in the creation of this content. This article is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for professional medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, please consult a medical professional or healthcare provider. 

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