Transforming Setbacks into Comebacks: Todd Durkin’s Fitness Philosophy

In this exclusive interview, Todd Durkin, MA, acclaimed strength and conditioning coach, motivational speaker and best-selling author, shares his unique journey and profound insights into the fitness and wellness industry. 

His career, which began unexpectedly after a bad injury during his professional football days, showcases a remarkable transition from athlete to influential trainer and coach. Durkin’s narrative is not just about personal achievements but also about his strategic contributions to the wellness of others, from NFL MVPs to everyday fitness enthusiasts.

With a deep commitment to both physical and spiritual wellness, Durkin details his approach to mentoring, his philosophy on fitness and life coaching, and his predictions for the industry’s future. His insights are particularly valuable for those looking to understand the evolving landscape of fitness, the importance of personalized training, and the integration of mental and spiritual health into physical routines. 

Through his responses, Durkin provides a comprehensive look at his methods for achieving elite performance and lasting impact, offering inspiration and guidance to fitness professionals and aficionados alike.

How did you get started in the fitness industry? 

In 1995, my professional football career ended when I sustained a severe back injury. Despite that setback, it became the setup for my fitness career. With certifications from ACE and NSCA, I became a personal trainer and massage therapist to Michael King, producer of the Oprah Winfrey Show. 

That opened doors for me as a personal trainer and eventually led me to open Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego in 2000. At the time, my goal was to combine personal training and massage therapy under one roof, and it eventually became so much more. FQ10 became known as the “Magic Kingdom” of gyms and was rated one of “America’s 10 Best Gyms” seven times by Men’s Health. But don’t take the awards as a sign of what makes it extraordinary. It’s really the people and the energy that light it up. It’s a special place.

What are some other accomplishments you’ve had as a fitness professional?

I’m humbled that I’ve had the honor of winning some of the industry’s top honors including being named Personal Trainer of the Year by both IDEA and ACE. In 2017, I won the Jack LaLanne Lifetime Fitness Award. I’ll never forget doing fingertip pushups with Elaine LaLanne on the stage when she honored me with that award! In 2018, I won the Canfitpro International Presenter of the Year. I’ve also been fortunate to train many professional athletes including LaDainian Tomlinson and Drew Brees, who became NFL MVPs and Super Bowl champions. 

Mentoring others in this industry is also a passion and in 2007, I started the Todd Durkin Mastermind Program, a personal and business development program for fitness professionals. I’ve coached hundreds of the top fit pros in the world to help them get better in business and life! 

In 2010, I became a published author when my first book, The IMPACT Body Plan, was released. After that, I wrote two other books—The WOW Book and Get Your Mind Right. This year, I am releasing my memoir titled True Strength, which will be published in June.

Where do you see things going in the fitness industry? 

I see exciting times ahead. For a long time, I’ve said that life coaching is going to become an integral part of the industry. Fitness is an entryway that opens a door to dreams and opportunities which can transform someone’s life. While fitness is a start, life coaching is ongoing. 

I also think there will be increased emphasis on recovery. We haven’t knocked it out of the park yet in this arena. There are many businesses dabbling in it, but very few are getting it right. I see a lot of potential here. 

Although I love group exercise, it’s a great option for many. I also still believe highly in  customized, 1-1 training for people who have specific goals or want individualized attention. Also, if COVID taught us one thing, it’s the importance of community. To serve their communities better, I see fitness entrepreneurs having their own podcast or writing a book to share their story. They might even create collaborative books to highlight their members.

Ultimately, I think we are all seeking more meaning and soul in our lives, and these opportunities make for a very exciting time of growth in our industry. 

Coach360 is filling a gap in the industry. Why do you think there is a void of resources for fit pros, and what kind of resources do you think we need?

Today information is very fragmented. The industry needs more resources for coaches in business development, entrepreneurship, and also personal branding. Some of that has to do with social media and 15- to 90-second “snippets” of ideas. It’s how people are digesting content, but it doesn’t provide the depth and breadth of education. Coach360 provides a hub for education, knowledge and information. This is essential for fitness professionals to be able to access everything they need in one place.

What advice do you have for fit pros looking to build their career?

First of all, find mentors. Learning from people who have “been there and done that” is crucial to success. I’ve had so many incredible mentors in my life starting with my high school football coach, Coach Wolf, who taught me the importance of discipline and staying true to my principles. Larry Indiviglia, one of my close friends and advisors, taught me that “iron sharpens iron.” When you surround yourself with people who challenge and teach you, it helps you grow.

You must also immerse yourself in reading, listening to podcasts, joining mastermind groups, and attending conferences. Learning never ends, and you must keep evolving. Wayne Cotton, a good friend and mentor, taught me the importance of developing routines and systems for lifelong learning in business and life.  

Finally, remember to say “YES” in order to get as much experience as possible. Ultimately, this career is about helping people. The harder you work for people’s results, the more success you will have.

What does faith mean to you and how does faith connect with fitness? 

Although I grew up with a belief, it wasn’t until my father passed away in my 20s that I grew deeper in my faith. It has become part of the fabric of who I am, and I try to make decisions based on my ultimate divine purpose. For me, it’s not about religion. It’s about a relationship. 

In my 30s, I didn’t talk much about my faith publicly, but as I became more comfortable and confident in who I am, I began to share more about my beliefs and what drives me. My faith is where I get my energy and how I get through the tough times. It isn’t about trying to convert people. In fact, my client, Pastor David Jeremiah, one of the most notable pastors of our time, tells me, “Todd, just keep serving people from the inside out and let your actions do the talking.” I’ve always loved this idea because I believe the best thing we can do is live a life that is congruent with the highest of standards. 

As far as how faith connects with fitness, I believe the trinity of the body, mind, and soul represents God’s word perfectly. Most people are searching to reach a level of fulfillment that brings joy, happiness, and peace. That happens when the body and spirit are aligned. It’s hard enough to survive when you have faith. I can’t imagine going through life without it.

Any final thoughts?

I stand for an acronym in my business and personal life that is IMPACT. 


MASTER your craft. 

PLAY at world class. 

Take ACTION every day. 

CONDITION for greatness. 


If you do these things consistently, you will live a life of IMPACT! And to me, that is what it’s all about!

Todd Durkin, MA, is an internationally acclaimed strength and conditioning coach, motivational speaker, and best-selling author renowned for inspiring people globally. He coaches top athletes across various sports, including NFL MVPs, Super Bowl Champions, and Olympic Gold Medalists. Durkin founded Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego, where he has earned accolades such as Personal Trainer of the Year twice and the 2017 Jack LaLanne Award. Additionally, he’s a member of the Under Armour Training Team and was recognized by Greatist as one of the Top 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness multiple times.

Durkin excels in enhancing the performance of high-level performers and teams, delivering over 300 keynote speeches across five continents. His four best-selling books—Get Your Mind Right, The WOW Book, The IMPACT Body Plan, and What’s Next—have profoundly impacted thousands. His newest book TRUE STRENGTH comes out in June this year and shares 31 hard-earned lessons of how to overcome turbulent times in life. He also hosts the award-winning Todd Durkin IMPACT SHOW podcast and sends out a weekly motivational newsletter, “Dose of Durkin.”

Through his various coaching programs, including the Todd Durkin Mastermind Program for fitness professionals and his IMPACT-X coaching program for high-achievers, Durkin is committed to expanding his network of IMPACT coaches to inspire and empower a broader audience to live passionately and purposefully.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Powering the Business of Health, Fitness, and Wellness Coaching