Success Stories

What ISSA Certification Means to Brian Theiss

Dr. Arria was operating a chiropractic and sports medicine clinic in Santa Barbara, Calif., in 1988 when he partnered with Dr. Frederick Hatfield to establish the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA), the first organization in the United States to certify personal trainers.

Impressed by the commitment to excellence in physical fitness that he saw in a young man named Brian Theiss, who was one of his patients, Dr. Arria suggested that Theiss take steps to become the first ISSA certified trainer.

Theiss took the advice, put in the work and forever can proclaim that he’s No.1. To say that he set the bar high is an understatement.

Thirty years later, with over 19,000 documented cases across the United States, the 51-year-old Theiss is widely considered the premier health professionals in the country.  He was named the ISSA No. 1 Personal Trainer of the Year numerous times.  If that wasn’t enough, added to his impressive bio, Brian Theiss was awarded the No.1 Executive Health and Wellness Consultant in the world in 2016.  This award among 250,000 competing professionals in 93 countries, operates a successful business, written a book and answered the call from Hollywood stars, premier athletes, CEOs just to name a few. But he’ll balk should anyone refer to him as an expert, because he knows he’ll never get to the point where he knows everything about fitness and health. There’s always more to learn.

Theiss recalled being at a private event at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, where one of the biggest names in country music was to perform. Theiss was sitting with the star’s wife, another singer. He asked her if he could go backstage and watch her husband warm-up for his show, and she said that wouldn’t be a problem.

“I watched him play his guitar and sing for about 15 minutes, and he never made a mistake,” Theiss said. “I asked him if he ever got tired of playing the same songs and he said, ‘Never, because each time I play a song I learn it a little more, I connected to it a little more and had a better relationship with the song.’

Theiss learned something from that experience. We all have heard the adage; practice makes perfect, but from that moment on, Theiss realized that; practice make perfect, but perfect practice makes mastery. This star has mastered his craft because he has perfectly practiced over a lifetime.

Guess what Theiss has  done in 30 years?” He has been perfectly practicing for most of his life, and without question, he has mastered the field of executive health and wellness.

Theiss’ passion for fitness and wellness stemmed from his own health struggles.

“I was born with a weak immune system and two weak lungs, so I was constantly sick,” Theiss said. I” grew up learning how to suffer. The prognosis wasn’t very good, and there were several significant incidents when I didn’t think I was going to make it.

“I should have been dead a long time ago. But I survived, and it made me want to find out how I could live my life to the fullest. I had to learn how the human body works.”

Theiss was well into his pre-med studies in college with a goal of becoming a doctor of sports medicine when his life was again turned upside down when he was involved in a serious accident. He decided not to pursue a career as a doctor, and from his hospital bed developed a business plan that would allow him to begin a career as a personal trainer.

Theiss is reluctant to talk about his health issues because he doesn’t want his struggles to overshadow his mission to change and save the lives of others “The way I look at it is, it doesn’t matter what I can do for me, it matters only what I can do for others,” he said.

In 1986, at the age of 20, Theiss began operating American Build Bodies out of his Southern California home. Every space in the home except the kitchen and master bedroom was used for the business, with the house functioning as a commercial gym. By the time he was 23, he had made his first million dollars in the industry.

“I was so determined to save and change the lives of others that I taught myself everything I needed to know to run a business,” Theiss said. “And I met great people who could and did help me and still do to this day.”

Theiss credits the ISSA in playing a critical role in his success.

“They’ve been phenomenal to me,” he said. “I couldn’t be where I am today without them. I don’t want to sound like a commercial for them, but I love them with every cell in my body. They’ve given me so much; I’ve traveled the world, I’ve met incredible people.”

Included among them is Starkey Hearing Foundation founder William Austin and his wife, Tani.  Since 1984, the foundation has been providing free hearing aids for people in need all over the world.

Theiss connected with the Austins through a client who was a friend of Mrs. Austin.

“My client, Drew, was suffering,” Theiss said. “His doctors told him that if he didn’t take care of it, he was going to die. He heard about me and became a client and a family member. When you couldn’t get it done anywhere else, you came to me. When Mrs. Austin saw how Drew had made such a drastic change, she asked him what he did, and he told her about me and how I had given his life back to him. She said she wanted that for herself, but he told her no. He said, ‘When you are serious about making a change in your life I will give you the contact information.’ Five years later she went back to him and said she needed that contact information.

“She called me and said she wanted to get started. I told her I would like to do an interview first and she said, ‘No. I am ready to start. I am getting on a plane right now.’ She said because of her travel schedule she could only see me for four days. She ended up staying for about two months.

“I took this young lady from a size 18 to a size 8 in about two months, so of course it changed her life,” Theiss said. “And she’s still working at it. She’s doing better than ever, and is a role model of force. She’s the busiest professional woman on the planet.”

Thrilled with the results, Tani Austin told Theiss she needed to get her husband out to see him. Austin came to California to meet with Theiss in 2002, but he made it clear that he did not want to be there. But before long he was on his way to becoming another of Theiss’ success stories, and from there a lasting relationship that continues today was born.

Austin asked Theiss if he could work with some employees. Theiss began working with eight people, and after two and a half months the group had collectively dropped 610 pounds. He collaborated with a group of 40 people, and after four months, they lost 1,000 pounds. In all, Theiss said his efforts allowed members of the organization to lose 4,000 pounds and eliminate thousands of dollars in medical costs.

Theiss went on to serve as president of the Starkey Foundation from 2005-2008.  Then he became a wellness consultant for the Starkey Foundation in 2013 and since that time has traveled to over 40 countries to work with clients.  

“I’ve connected with billionaires and incredible people of business and industry, and I have been able to bring the human side out of them,” Theiss said. “I bring the people part out of them. I see them in a light where they are just like you and me. In the end, we all want the same; we want to enjoy life, we want to contribute, we all want to love and be loved.”

Dean Spiros