Alex Fine Has Trained Everyone from Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cast of 'Riverdale'

‘So one day, I get this email from Jennifer Aniston...’

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Courtesy of Alex Fine

Physical trainer and wellness personality Alex Fine, age 25, has had many identities. He played D-I college football—a defensive back at Central Michigan. He’s been a competitive bull rider. He’s (basically) a cast member of Riverdale: He trains the cast (his twice-daily, 90-minute interval-heavy sessions are what got Archie Andrews super jacked), so on group outings he’s often mistaken for a cast member.

Like many social media savvy fitness instructors, Fine’s focus is positivity and self-dependence, but he also works todemystify the process of self-improvement, preaching that everything you mentally want is something you already have.

“I took one kinesiology class and I was like, ‘This is way too fucking hard,’” Fine says, laughing, aboard an Amtrak bound for Boston. “And I was like, no, I’m going to graduate with the easiest degree I can find, and it was entrepreneurship.” But that didn’t stop Fine from finding a lane for his own fitness career to take off.

While his first office was a humble one—the Sea Sprite Motel in Hermosa Beach, California, a 300-square-foot space he lived in with another person and a dog—he had a big advantage over his competitors: the beach. Fine knew thelocation would be a draw for clients and that if he just kept pitching people his vision, it would end up working out. After a six- or seven-month stint in Hermosa, he’d gained a loyal client base.

To Fine, all you have to do is come from a real place. “No one cares if you’re a nerd or whatever you do as long as you are who you are,” he says. “That’s the biggest key to building your brand […] It’s a false illusion that you’re just going to wake up and be great. Because at the end of the day, if I tell you something or someone else tells you something about how to be great or how to be motivated, that goes in one ear and out the other.”

In our latest #Face2FaceTime interview, ONE37pm talks to Fine about his come-up story and his approach to business. Sometimes, all a business breakthrough takes is an email from a Friend.

Fitness and wellness is an incredibly crowded space right now. It seems like everyone on Instagram is a trainer. How did you find space to build your own business?

Alex Fine: I was out [in California] before my senior year season at Central Michigan before I was supposed to graduate. And I was calling a bunch of people for jobs. I knew I didn’t want to work at Equinox or LA Fitness, ever. I was watching American Sniper and I found out who trained Bradley Cooper for it. So I tried reaching out, but there was no number. So I ended up calling the yoga instructor at the studio and then I sent him my résumé and said I wanted an internship.

They called me back one week before I was supposed to graduate and take my final exams. And I ended up flying out, missing my final exams. But I got the job and started that week, and I lived in South Central L.A. Ended up getting a full-time job there, and then after about a year I wanted to do my own thing, so I started my own thing from there. And now I’m pretty much branching out, so like, I’m starting wellness centers.

As someone with extensive sports experience, what are the biggest lessons you’ve taken from bull riding and college football into your career? 

Fine: So the biggest correlation between sports and business or sports and pretty much anything is the competition. And the self-motivation. You’re not going to be great at any sport if you’re not motivated or competitive. And that’s the same idea behind a business.

That’s what I pretty much take out of anything from football to bull riding. In football you have to rely on the 98 other guys on the roster. It’s not really realistic unless you’re, like, a Fortune 500 company and you have to rely on everyone else. But in my case, it’s more on me, so bull riding definitely is more about focus and no distractions and self-motivation more than anything.

When you started your business, what did that look like at first?

Fine: I was living in a beach motel at the time. Sea Sprite. To put this in perspective, the room was 300 square feet,and I lived with another person and I had a dog there too. So it was 300 square feet on the beach and it was mostly used for, like, adult films I found out later. So that’s where I was living. I didn’t have to really rent out space—I used the beach since that’s where I was. I used the beach, and then that platform to get clients was all referral based. I knew that if I just worked with that place and the people I knew, I knew that over time it was going to work out. So I ended up staying there for six or seven months and then things started working out from there. But yeah, it was just you’ve got to start out somewhere low and then you just trust in the process. Then every dollar I got I ended up investing in myself, whether it was cameras or whatever.

So that’s pretty much the biggest thing when you start. It’s going to suck. You’re going to have to miss meals and eat ramen noodles and live in beach motels. But if you invest the money that you make in yourself, it’s definitely going to pay out in the long run.

In a really short amount of time you went from founding your business to training celebs like OBJ and Cole Sprouse. How did that escalate?

Fine: So one day, I get this email and it’s from Jennifer Aniston and it was about her wanting to train. And I was 22 at the time. I thought it was fake. I was just like, “Whatever.” And I ended up taking [the appointment]. And I had to do all this stuff to prep and I thought, “Oh, this might be real.” 

How did she find you? Did you work with somebody she knows?

Fine: I rarely know how people find me. I never ask. So I have no idea. But that was pretty cool, especially since I was so young at the time. I never realized how Instagram is a powerful tool for endorsements and marketing and everything. I always thought it was a joke, and I still kind of do.

There’s a lot of noise in the influencer realm and a lot of people giving advice. What are the messages you hope to spread? 

Fine: They’re making money and everything, so congrats to them on finding that niche. But here’s my problem with it: All they’re doing is saying things that people already innately know about themselves. And they might be adding expletives or they might be adding whatever to make it original. But if you listen to the base, just the core of it, it comes down to one thing, and it’s self-motivation. Everyone is meant to be great, but not everyone is meant to be famous, and not everyone is meant to be CEO of a large company.

Everyone can be great at their own job, whatever that might be. And it’s the false illusion that you’re just going to wake up and be great. Because at the end of the day, if I tell you something or someone else tells you something about how to be great or how to be motivated, that goes in one ear and out the other, whether it’s one week, whether it’s one day, or whether it’s even a month at the longest. The only thing that can sustain a hard-working person is self-motivation. If someone needs to tell you to get up out of bed an hour earlier and do better for you or do better for anyone else, then honestly, you’re not going to do great things in life.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

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