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YouTube Creator Jeff Cavaliere

Creator Voices: Jeff Cavaliere

We asked one of YouTube’s leading fitness creators to share some of the things he’s learned while helping millions live stronger and healthier lives through his YouTube channels.

Pro athlete trainer, strength coach and physical therapist Jeff Cavaliere (MSPT, CSCS) is one of the most authoritative voices in the fitness world. Earlier in his career, he served as head physical therapist and assistant strength coach for the New York Mets during the team’s National League East Championship 2006, 2007, and 2008 seasons. He has also coached some of Major League Baseball’s most accomplished players, including Tom Glavine, Pedro Martinez, and Carlos Delgado.

Jeff’s primary ATHLEAN-X channel recently crossed the 12-million subscriber milestone, and for good reason: His exhaustive collection of training videos -- receiving nearly 2 billion views -- uniquely combines no-nonsense science with playful humor. We recently asked Jeff to give his thoughts about the lessons he’s learned on his YouTube journey since launching ATHLEAN-X in 2009.

Twelve years ago, I uploaded my very first video to the ATHLEAN-X YouTube channel, and it’s been an incredible journey so far. Looking back, with a total of more than 16 million subscribers across five YouTube channels, I’ve learned some important lessons about YouTube and myself as a creator.

When I first started the ATHLEAN-X channel, I was focused on using my physical therapy expertise to help professional, semi-professional and aspiring athletes use strength training to improve their performance on the field, just as I did as a strength and conditioning coach for the New York Mets. 

My first uploads focused on things like how to throw faster, how to hit the ball harder and how to jump higher. But as I started seeing a wider audience benefitting from my content, I quickly realized that I could use my knowledge and this platform to help regular people build muscle, get stronger, perform better, and feel better by applying the same level of detail and attention to their training as today's premier athletes. In other words, you can look, move and feel like an athlete without having to be one of the select few who actually get paid to be one.

YouTube has been the best vehicle for building a worldwide community of people who are dedicated to becoming the strongest they can be. It’s allowed me to develop multiple types of content, even in multiple languages, and expand my global reach far beyond what I could have ever imagined when I filmed that first video.

And it’s this global community that challenges and motivates me to continue to deliver my best content every single week!

Here are the three biggest lessons I’ve learned during my 12 years on YouTube.

Be yourself

When I started the ATHLEAN-X channel back in 2009, I wasn’t looking to be like the other trainers that were already on YouTube. I think some people feel they have to imitate someone who’s already found success. Or they think they need to develop a persona for their YouTube channel that is different than who they are in real life when they’re not on camera.  But there’s going to come a day when you can’t or don’t feel like putting on the act. Constantly being someone you’re not not only takes up a lot of energy that could be better channeled into taking your YouTube content to the next level, but it is easily detected by your viewers and they’ll tire of your “act” before long.

It’s much easier to just be yourself! Stand in front of the camera and talk about the stuff you’re passionate about. Your passions are the essence of who you are at your core, and that comes through in the excitement people can hear in your voice when you’re speaking. Your audience will really connect with your authenticity and that unique perspective that only YOU can bring.

Serve your audience

You may be the star of your YouTube channel, but at the end of the day, your success comes down to delivering the content that your audience wants to see. When people find real value in what they learn from you, they’ll return again and again and become loyal, engaged members of your community.

That’s why I have always strived for content first, and listen to my viewers’ feedback to develop new content and improve upon what I’m doing every single day. My community is the most important element of my channel, so I don’t hold back in the content I provide. I give them my very best, and I’m always looking for ways to make it even better!

Find YouTube/life balance

As any YouTube Creator can attest, creating great video content several times per week (generating ideas, writing, filming and editing) takes a LOT of time. But off camera, there’s a lot of "content development" you don’t see!

I’m a coach first and foremost. All the knowledge I share on my YouTube channels is applied every single day in a one-on-one setting with my professional athletes and clients. I also dedicate time every day to my own training, which is where the techniques and workouts I share with you are created, tested and refined. As you can imagine, between working with clients, my own training sessions and the training you see me doing on YouTube, I train a LOT. So, when you hear me say recovery is crucial to building muscle, it’s coming from firsthand experience!

That being said, one of the most important lessons I’ve learned in these 12 years is that outside of YouTube and work, you have to make time for what nourishes you. In that way, it’s just like training your muscles. If you don’t make time for recovery, you just can’t grow. You need to dedicate some time to yourself in order to be the best you can be for your audience and everyone else you care about.

For me this "self-care" means spending time playing with my 5-year-old twin boys (even though I usually need extra recovery time after that!), getting some cherished one-on-one time with my wife, and taking my four black labs out for a walk or to toss the tennis ball out in the backyard.

Whether your passion is building muscle or anything else, the goal should always be constant improvement over time. If you focus on that and taking care of yourself in the process, you’ll reach your goals and be able to make fresh new ones!

If you're looking to be the strongest, best version of yourself...I'd love the opportunity to help get you there. Helping others reach their goals is what motivates me to keep raising the bar on my own goals.

Can't wait to see you in the comments of my next video!

Jeff Cavaliere