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  • Writer's pictureOvercomer's Podcast

Episode 8: Sara Kooperman – Trial by Fire

Updated: May 19, 2021

Sara Kooperman

Sara is a visionary leader that has transformed the fitness education community. She is the CEO of SCW.

SCW Fitness Education has been in business for 38 years and is the largest provider of continuing education conferences in the world focusing on Group Fitness and Personal Training with an emphasis on execution, leadership and management.

Sara is a successful business owner and advisor, she is a keynote speaker, published author, webinar host, podcast presenter and sought-after industry trail-blazer. Sara has a unique ability to share her passion and devotion towards fitness education through her humor, enthusiasm and her effervescent no-nonsense personality. Sara serves on the Gold’s Gym Think Tank, is on the canfitpro Advisory Panel, was a founding board member for the Women In Fitness Association (WIFA), and is a proud inductee into the National Fitness Hall of Fame. Sara currently serves on IHRSA’s Headlight Committees for Facility Standards and is also a Co-Host of IHRSA’s Talks & Takes Monthly Talk Show. Sara has left an indelible mark on the fitness industry as a whole.


I have been presenting in the fitness industry for almost 10 years now. A few years ago while presenting at the IDEA World conference I met Sara Kooperman. You might say I got discovered by Sara Kooperman. I think she was on a scouting mission at a session I was presenting at and she came up to me afterwards to tell me that I should present for SCW. A few years and a few SCW conferences later here we are today.

I am always honored to take part in the SCW conferences. Their diverse education and awesome support TEAM makes every conference amazing.

Sara has achieved many things. She is a successful business owner and advisor, she is a keynote speaker, published author, webinar host, podcast presenter and sought-after industry trail-blazer. SCW has been in business for 38 years. Sara is in the Fitness Hall of Fame. That being said, wherever there is success there is also struggle and that is why we asked Sara to be a guest on the Overcomer's podcast.

In this episode Sara shares about her first business failure, lessons learned, losing everything in a fire and how she overcame these things. Sara shares her stories in ways that are sure to make you laugh.

One of my favorite parts of the interview happened when Sara shares about bouncing back from losing everything in a fire. As I listened to her tell her story about rebuilding in silence I was reminded of the Rudyard Kipling poem "If". Here is the excerpt that I thought of

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

And never breathe a word about your loss;

Sara demonstrates what it means to be an Overcomer. She does this with her persistence, resourcefulness and Never Give Up attitude.

I hope today’s show brings you hope, inspiration and wisdom. If you enjoyed it, please make sure you share it with your friends, co-workers, and family on your social media.



7:36 - 8:14 - Sara gets shot in the butt by Macaulay Culkin

9:43 - 10:35 - In this clip Sara shares how SCW originally got its name. It's a great story on the humble beginnings of small business.

10:45 - 11:45 - You just never know where your inspiration will come from. Sara Kooperman shares in this clip that there is bar crawl in Chicago called Midnight Mania that was the inspiration for naming the conferences which she founded Mania Conventions.

17:14 - 20:17 - Many business owners have suffered losses especially in this past year but do you know that it is always part of the process? SCW Fitness Education was founded by Sara Kooperman and has been in business for 38 years. It is the largest provider of continuing education conferences in the world but in order to still be in existence that had to overcome a fire that literally took everything from them.

21:31 - 22:35 - What would you do if you lost everything and you did not have the money necessary to keep your dream alive. Sara lost her entire Mania conference business in a fire and did not have the money necessary to rebuild but she did not give up. Instead she got resourceful and figured out how to do things on her own and with the help of her TEAM.

29:16 - 32:22 - The person with a strong enough why will always figure out the how. Viktor E. Frankl who survived a Nazi Holocaust prison camp said it this way 'Those who have a 'why' to live, can bear with almost any 'how'. Sara of SCW shares in this clip her why for being the Overcomer that she is.

36:30 - 38:01 - Sara of SCW says it can be kind of fun with the struggles. You have to learn to enjoy the Journey even the adversities and stay on the path that you are supposed to be on despite the obstacles because no path is without obstacles and on the wrong path the obstacles could be worse. "It may be raining today but it will be sunny tomorrow"





Before Travis Barnes became a best-selling author, international presenter, founder and franchisor of Journey Fitness 333 he spent a decade of his life in prison for a nonviolent drug offense. Upon returning home to his wife and daughter he worked hard to grow himself in the fitness industry so he could buy his family a home of their own. 2 months after buying their home Tropical Storm Lee caused it to be flooded to the second floor. Approximately 1 year after the flood while still rebuilding their home and during the Christmas holiday season Travis was let go from his employment as COO for a local fitness company. After he and his wife spent 6 months as traveling trainers and while still living on an unemployment check and in a FEMA trailer, they began what is now a fitness franchise . Most recently and with the rest of the industry Travis has overcome the obstacles of the pandemic by redesigning his business. Travis has used the pandemic as an opportunity to instead of returning to business as normal, he has returned to business as better than normal. Travis is an Overcomer.

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