In the 3rd part of our 4-part client spotlights, I’m joined this week by one of the strongest fellas at RevFit: Ken Klika. His story has inspired me since he started here over 5 years ago and it’s been a honor to work with he and his wife, Jen. Tune in to hear what led Ken to us, how he defines strength for himself and what continues to inspire the work he does.
When I started my business, I didn’t know anyone in the town I started in and had to build the clientele from the ground up.
It was difficult and it required me to do a lot of uncomfortable things at the time like putting flyers up all over the area in different businesses or put my business card under windshield wipers, etc. just to get my name out there.
Little by little, as business grew, I was able to forge relationships and get referrals that helped my clientele grow faster.
At the heart of it was me continually doing things that I was not comfortable with. It was new skills I had to learn, that I was resistant to learn, and stepping outside of whatever self-imposed box I had created for myself to be successful because I refused to fail at business ownership.
Throughout that time I chose to learn new ways to put my marketing out there. I’ve had no shortage of options either. There were blogs, there was YouTube, there was Twitter, there was Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, etc.
I would try and learn new platforms because I wanted the presence of the business out there and, while I could have hired someone to make these platforms work for me, I wanted it to be “my” touch on the marketing message.
Blogs worked well for me because it gave me a chance to let my rambling thoughts breathe a bit and I could talk about things that I saw my clients go through and ways I saw them succeed with their goals. However, if I wanted my blogs to be well received, I had to be consistent with writing. As a result, I made a vow to myself to write a new blog every week. That was 6 years ago. Now, there are over 300 articles on this site alone. (There’s a lesson there about consistency)…
Then I wanted to get better at Facebook marketing but I didn’t want to pay to boost ads. So, I started promoting the weight loss success and personal bests of my clients and I absolutely annihilated my personal Facebook page (and still do). As a result of that, I started getting more word of mouth referrals from friends of my clients who would inevitably ask about this business. That was also, coincidentally, about 6 years ago that I started doing those posts. (Another lesson in consistency)…
When Instagram came out, I truly didn’t understand it, nor did I want to. It was one more place to spread my attention and I didn’t think it mattered. However, once I came to understand the platforms and the algorithms, I had a change of heart. It also forced me to think about marketing in a different way: How do I craft an impactful 30 second reel? How do I write a caption that sparks action or inspires reflection? What (or how many) hashtags should I use? (A lesson in learning new skills and adapting to things that can change at a moment’s notice)…
Most recently, I came back to Twitter because it was another skill to learn. How do I make my rambling mind (that can easily write 500-1500 word blogs) pivot and have an impact to less than 150 characters? For the record, this is REALLY hard for me to do because it requires a complete reframe for how to get my point across.
What does any of this have to do with you and fat loss?
If you want to succeed at fat loss, you have to learn new skills, uncomfortable skills and you have to find ways to do them repeatedly. You have to change the narrative about the box you’re in or you will remain confined there. You can pay someone all the money in the world for the tools to succeed but ultimately, it’s YOUR work that makes the impact.
With social media marketing, I could pay someone to do all of that work for me: they could stay on top of algorithm changes, they could choose which ads to boost or not boost, they could craft all of these really nice eye-catching graphics to get your attention and drive more interest to my work.
Fat loss isn’t like that, no one gets to do the work for you while your body takes the benefit. Even if you elect to have surgery for weight loss, you still have work to do to adhere to a new way of eating and, potentially, new dietary constraints.
For me, I like learning new skills, I’m willing to fail (over and over again), I expect to have some efforts be well-received and some to fall on deaf ears (er, eyes), and I have rarely, if ever, been an early adopter. I’m the kind of person who needs a lot of exposure to something before I can understand the value and apply it for myself.
This is where we have a lot in common with fat loss. Reframe all of that last paragraph and apply it to you:
–Learning new skills: from meal prepping to food tracking to food measuring to embarking on a new exercise regimen, if it’s unfamiliar to you, it’s a new skill and perhaps a valuable one. Take the time to learn what you need, discard what you don’t and apply what works.
–Be willing (and ready) to fail: I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve screwed something up with my marketing. Whether it’s something small like a typo or something more significant like not being as sensitive as I could be to what a reader might perceive in my messaging. Keep trying, keep learning, and keep moving forward.
–Don’t expect immediate results/gratification: Sometimes, even doing all the “right” things won’t net the results we expect to see and this is true for marketing and certainly true for fat loss. You’re always playing the long game.
–Maybe it isn’t what you hear, but when you’re “ready” to hear it: Much like my exposure to different marketing tactics, some things just didn’t click immediately for me. When they did, I jumped “all in”. Your path with fat loss is similar. You probably don’t need to hear more about energy deficits, protein intake, better sleep habits, increasing your step count or cutting back on ultra-processed foods. You just need to have enough exposure to those truths before you embrace them, apply them and succeed as a result.
Pictured below, an updated look at our coaching staff. In spirit of this post, I’d love for you to follow these accounts so you can keep up with our mischief (Click on the name).
In our next client spotlight, I welcome Stephanie Duffy onto the show. We talk about the events that led to her starting at RevFit, the changes she made in her life to see weight loss success, how she sees her journey in strength training and what goals she has set for herself next.
I noticed some really weird patterns about myself several months ago.
Normally, each weekend, I’ll visit my Mom and we’ll spend time catching up after our busy weeks at work. She usually has different types of snack foods around on her kitchen counter: chips, crackers, nuts, etc.
The way that I make entrance into her house has something to do with what I’m exposed to as well. I’ll come through the garage (as opposed to her front door), and that leads me through a utility room and directly into her kitchen.
Out on the counters, easily accessible, is all of those foods that are within reach and, despite not necessarily being hungry, or bored, or stressed out, I start picking at them.
Next thing you know, I’ve put back hundreds of calories in snacks within just a few minutes of time.
It’s not just her house, sometimes it’s my own.
Where I’m most vulnerable is after dinner when I’m washing my dishes. I’ll put them in the sink or the dishwasher and then wander around looking for something else to nibble on, typically one of Sebastian’s snacks or treats that’s within sight.
What I know is that this isn’t remotely uncommon, especially with my clients looking to lose fat: they’re constantly picking and grazing and snacking even if hunger isn’t the problem they’re struggling with.
So, how do you change it?
Well, that’s a bit harder to sort through but it starts with changing the environment and reducing temptation to the best of your ability.
I’ll put myself under the microscope to make my point.
Let’s assume that fat loss is a goal of mine and I’ve recognized the patterns mentioned above.
I might say something to my mother about how important it is for me to lose weight and that, while her snack foods might not be problematic for her, they’ve presented a problem to me.
I could ask her to put the snacks into other places in her home: in cabinets or otherwise out of plain sight. While this doesn’t remove the snacks completely and there’s nothing stopping me from opening a door to the cabinet, it’s one potential barrier that gives me pause and can remind me that I’m not hungry.
In addition, I could ask her to give me a verbal cue when I come into her home so that my kneejerk reaction to entering her home isn’t to find something to eat. Perhaps, upon entering, she says: “Hey Jason, come into the living room, I wanted you to see something in here.” This changes my pattern of stopping in the kitchen to start looking for food.
Mind you, no tip or strategy is foolproof. I’m not asking my mother to stop buying snacks altogether, I’m just trying to minimize temptation.
Now, what about my own home?
Unlike my mother’s house, many (not all) of the snack type foods are in the pantry or on top of our fridge. What my wife and I try and do is to buy snack foods for Sebastian that we know he’ll enjoy but will be less tempting for either of us. This can be trial and error as well. There are certain things I might buy for Sebastian that Marissa has had to tell me are too tempting for her, so I’ll make a mental note to try something different. The same thing applies for me.
However, since Marissa and I are frequently eating dinner together, I can ask her to give me a verbal reminder as I’m heading to the kitchen to wash my dishes that I was trying not to eat anything afterwards.
Never mind the fact that my body hasn’t even had a chance to digest dinner and register feelings of fullness before I’m off to graze on something.
Ultimately, what I need is verbiage that doesn’t sound like it’s nagging. So, I would need to determine what that verbiage might be so that my wife can use it when the time is appropriate.
Keep in mind that we’re practicing better eating habits not perfect eating habits. Improvements can be made and there can still be occasional slip-ups. Again, this is normal. Treating the behavior as if it’s a character flaw is not only incorrect but also not remotely helpful.
Of course, the easiest way to reduce temptation is to not buy the tempting foods to begin with. However, that’s much easier said than done, especially when our children are frequently the ones who may be asking for the tempting foods. So that we don’t get caught in a trap of demonizing foods to our children, there has to be some give and take.
-Make tempting foods less accessible by putting them out of plain sight.
-Consider putting these foods in areas they aren’t normally at to reduce a pattern of checking the same places (pantry, freezer, etc).
-Where possible, eliminate the purchase of tempting foods or find substitutes that are less seductive by comparison
-Have a “safe word” or “safe verbiage” that a friend or a loved one can use that prevents you from mindless grazing while also not making you feel like rebelling.
-Forgive yourself for the occasions when you still feel the need to snack despite putting plans in place to reduce the frequency of the behavior.
Side note: Certain dietary philosophies give you the flexibility to eat whatever you like without judgment and allow your intuitive senses to put a limit on the amount of those foods. I think this is perfectly fine assuming you benefit from this approach. That being said, not everyone is in position to trust their intuitions when they eat hyper-palatable foods and may need to utilize other tools until and if an intuitive approach works better.
It was time to take a small detour in our regular programming and get some of our RevFit family on to the show for another series of client spotlights. This week, I welcome Amy McNair who some may recognize as her husband, Don, was on the show last year. Amy’s story is extremely inspiring and very unique from the motivations that got her here and what’s changed along the way that has led to her current weight loss success of 55 pounds.
The first time Marissa and I recall dancing together was on a boat in New Orleans. We were on a family vacation and the music and the mood seemed right.
It strikes me a bit funny that this moment took place nearly 3 years after we started dating and my wife has been dancing since she was younger than Sebastian is now.
The next times of note were at weddings, first when we were invited to a destination wedding of her friends in Mexico and shortly thereafter at our own wedding in 2014.
Something I’ve made mention of over the last couple of years is that after Sebastian was born, my wife and I began hitting our own impasse in the relationship and so, dancing was not often on the radar.
When we took a step back and recommitted to what our marriage meant to us, dancing came back into our lives.
And of all places, it transpired in our dining room.
Now, dancing means something different to us.
Dancing is connecting.
It’s become something of a calming force.
It’s something we do “just because” and it’s something we do when times are stressful.
Sometimes, my wife has to remind me that we haven’t danced in a while.
Sometimes, I take her hand and she follows the lead.
The music might be jazz or it might be a ballad that means something to us.
We normally don’t speak when we dance.
We just dance.
No matter what was happening in our worlds prior to dancing, no matter what stress was bothering us, it slips away for those moments when the song plays and, by time it ends, the focus is back on us and back at that present moment.
I can watch a complete shift happen in Marissa’s demeanor after we dance. So much so that, if we were to dance daily it would probably lose its emotional power.
Of course, sometimes we get an intrusion from our four year old. It’s a picturesque scene until real life occurs and Sebastian comes running into the room to show us something he thinks is completely amazing on YouTube.
Hey, I’m all for romance but we’re still parents…
And, if we can get Sebastian redirected, we’ll come back to our dance, or simply pick another song and continue.
Whoever you are, whoever you’re with, you’ll need something to bring you back to center: maybe it’s a hike, or a walk around the block, or a quiet evening on a deck with a fire.
Life won’t slow down for you. Life won’t always be kind just because you’re kind. Life will frequently be unfair.
Find your place, your force, that brings you back to center.
It’s a sentiment that is probably more “woo” than I generally like to be.
But I know what this one particular activity does for Marissa and myself.
The picture below was taken nearly 10 years ago, admittedly one of my favorite pictures of us dancing, and one of my favorite pictures of us in general.
While the dancing we do at home is more reserved and less animated, it also serves a different purpose.
Now, when we dance, it’s to remind one another why we’re here for each other, why we matter to one another, and it’s a comfort that there’s no better place to be.
In the final episode of our 4-part series together, Dr. Bo Babenko wraps up the series with me this week. In this one, we discuss the technology and methods he uses to assess clients and make them the best versions of themselves (your host included) and where he feels the physical therapy profession can make advances despite a health care system that is problematic to say the least.
I posted most of this on Facebook last week on my personal wall. I’ve had some time to think about it and add some more to my original post.
I got certified as a trainer at the tail end of 2007 when I was 32 years old after being in retail and retail management since I was 16 years of age.
My degree is in business management not exercise science so I’ve always felt like I was behind the ball when it came to knowledge of the human body, nutrition, psychology of change, etc.
However, I had a some things I felt were working in my favor when I had the opportunity to open RevFit in the spring of 2009. I’ve tried my best to compile 13 of my random thoughts into things that helped us reach the ”Lucky 13” year anniversary.
-16 years of retail experience taught me a great deal about customer service, something I believe is not covered well in Exercise Science programs. We try our best to keep that in mind at RevFit. I don’t wag my finger at my coaches and say: “You should do this, you should do that.” Instead, I just try and mirror what I hope are mostly good practices of taking care of people who are investing their hard earned money into themselves and our establishment.
-13 of those 16 years were spent in management where I was responsible for hiring, training and (when needed) terminating staff. You learn a great deal about the importance of your team when you go through this process over and over again. I hear a lot about the problems other industries go through with staffing and I have been genuinely fortunate to have coaches who are punctual, considerate and respectful of myself and others.
-10 years of my personal life was spent with a very costly and very damaging addiction to drugs. Much of this could have been avoided if I had better coping mechanisms for my stress and emotional challenges at the time. As a result of getting clean of my own accord, I had a better grasp of “lifestyle change” than most “wet behind the ears” trainers who come into the industry (that’s not a knock, just an observation). Where I didn’t have the experience of being the coach who experienced change due to weight loss efforts I understood what self-destructive tendencies look like and I try to keep in mind that everyone’s battle is uniquely they’re own. We’re here to help them fight it.
-I do not “love” exercise but exercise is a non-negotiable in my life. That includes strength training, a high step count, and low intensity cardio. If you are a trainer who loves to exercise and you are trying to cheerlead your way into your client’s hearts that they should love exercise as much as you, you’re going to struggle.
-I have more “competition” now than I ever have but, to be honest, I have no competition. That is not my ego speaking. All of the other fitness options in this area are different from RevFit. I cannot replicate what they do, they cannot replicate what I do. Even if one of my coaches left my business, stole training plans out of our binder, and tried to run a carbon copy of this business around the corner, they would not succeed. That has less to do with me and more to do with the community here. It is virtually impossible to replicate a community. You have to build something that resonates with you, who you are and your core beliefs. The community that forms around us complements all of that. I could not have built a better community if I had tried and, much of it was out of my control. I just had to open my doors, open my arms, and do the best job that I could to give people a welcome space to thrive. I believe that I owe this sentiment to Alwyn Cosgrove.
-If you want to get into this industry and be successful (financially or otherwise) be prepared to work. Seriously. I am away from home/family 60-70 hours a week every week, nearly 40+ hours of which are directly on the training floor. It is not an easy schedule and it is physically very demanding PLUS I have to prioritize my own training. Having a great staff with me helps tremendously but they can’t shoulder all of the load. I am busier now than I have ever been and while I know that busy-ness isn’t everything it does make me feel like I’m doing enough of the right things for the right people. Some might read this and say: Well, it sounds like you need to work smarter, not harder. I believe it’s important to work smarter and harder. It’s challenging and I have to constantly tweak the way I operate to do the work I need to. I make mistakes, I am not perfect but I am improving. I never wanted, nor would I have appreciated, an easy life. I have a purposeful life. That is invaluable.
-I have very little social life. This is a conscious choice. It’s not that I don’t want to see friends and enjoy time away from work, it’s that I am in bed early so that I can wake up early. It does not lend itself to a party lifestyle (and to be frank, I got most of that out of my system in my 20s). Now, it’s about building a business that pays my staff well, that supports the lives and goals of my clients and allows my wife and my sons to have the things they need in life.
-Turnover in the personal training industry is extremely high because I think those who want to get into the industry don’t understand how long they have to struggle and grind before they start to see the light and the profits. I have been watching the evolution of my coach, Mike Roder, and it almost makes me emotional. My.guy.is.grinding. He is working 30+ hrs a week at a hospital in cardiac rehab and 3 nights a week he comes here and gets his ass kicked with his youth athletes. These kids love him and they should, Mike exudes passion in his work and if I have someone looking for sport-specific training, that’s where I send them. But Mike will be the first to say, the schedule is not for the weak. He’s young now…he won’t be young forever 😉
-I have been very blessed by the fact that year after year since 2009, this business has grown. I know what kind of an achievement that is and I don’t take it for granted. I have made, what I believe were some very sound and wise decisions for this business and I have made catastrophically poor decisions. Thankfully, I’ve learned from both but poor decisions can certainly turn your head on a dime and make you change your behavior.
-Like our clients, it’s easy to get lost in comparison traps: How does my body look compared to other coaches? How does my business perform against comparable studios? None of this stuff really matters. All that matters is that I focus on the experience my clients get and that I do the very best I can at prioritizing my health. The rest will sort itself out.
-If you’re going to make it work in this industry consider that you will need to hire these people and in roughly this order: a business banking specialist who you can call/email at a moment’s notice about your accounts and lending opportunities, an excellent accountant with expertise in small businesses, a therapist to help you cope with demands on your time and your mental health, a coach who can design your training so that you can understand what it feels like to be in the client’s shoes.
-Traditional marketing methods likely suck. You’re going to have to embrace the old fashioned way of meeting people and making a good impression on them, delivering a great service that people want to return to and understanding enough about social media that you know which platform to be on and how to target your ideal demographic.
-I said this on a podcast recently and I’ll reiterate it here. Obviously, the lifeblood of RevFit is our clients. We do not exist without them. Outside of our clients, having a great staff is paramount to success. I have had to rely on my family heavily (especially in my early years) to help me start and maintain this business. It is the hardest thing I have ever done and it was completely worth it. All of this aside, the person who has paid the greatest price for the work I do and the time I commit here is my wife (and by extension, my sons.) When the day is done, it’s to come home to them and have something left to be grateful for. I work for all of you (my clients) but ultimately it’s for Marissa, Jackson and Sebastian. My wife has been my rock and I could not do what I do without her commitment to how we navigate our marriage and responsibilities.
Thank YOU to everyone who has made this a possibility. And thank you for helping us acknowledge 13 years of business.
Dr. Bo Babenko is back with me for Part 3 in our 4-part series together. This week, we tackle his 5 Pillars Of Health namely: Movement, Recovery, Nutrition, Connection & Mindset. While an episode could be made for each of them, Bo and I try to cover each pillar as succinctly as can to give you something to consider and execute on after tuning in.
Late last year, I reconnected with Dr. Spencer Nadolsky. He and I had been connected through social media for several years and when I first started my podcast, he was one of the first guests to join me.
Spencer was about to launch an exercise program called LiftRx where he partnered with a physical therapist and exercise specialist (Alex Bryce and Alex Sterner, respectively) to build an affordable exercise platform for his followers to participate in. It allowed those who have access to gym equipment or minimal equipment to follow along with new monthly workouts to incorporate a training plan into their lives.
As a component of LiftRx, Spencer also had his eyes set on a nutrition program and selected myself along with four rather talented ladies (Shout out to Michelle, Rachel, Alja and Sarah!) to help him launch it.
If you know anything about Spencer’s work, you’ll know that in all of his years of practicing family medicine as well as being an obesity and lipid specialist, he cuts through the myriad of b.s. that’s entrenched in diet information.
Spencer manages the delicate balance of having a considerate bedside manner as well as a sense of humor to approach how he coaches nutrition to his patients and social media followers. Over the years that I’ve been connected with him, I’ve been inspired by his work and shared vast amounts of it with my own clients.
When the opportunity came to join forces with him, it was a no-brainer.
Last week, after a couple of months in a beta format, Spencer officially launched Big Rocks Nutrition Coaching.
I wanted to take just a few moments to take some inspiration from it to craft this week’s article.
Specifically, what exactly do we mean by Big Rocks?
Well, a lot of that depends on your goals and what you bring to the table in terms of diet history, medical challenges, philosophies around food and more.
While not exhaustive, “big rocks” to progress can be:
-Making sure you get enough protein to achieve your goals and complement your training
-Helping you understand how and why a maintenance break can be helpful for psychological and physical reasons
-Understanding how medication can work for and against you with fat loss (Spencer oversees any prescriptive advice)
-Helping you break free from overly restrictive and inflexible diet approaches
-Encouraging your movement to support fat loss efforts (whether that’s raising your step count or making sure you’re fueling your workouts.
-Offering you judgement free coaching, so that no diet approach or food choice has a negative reflection on you
-Fostering tracking methods in the short term to get realistic views of calorie intake and how to modify to to see progress
-Knowing when to dive into the nuance of calories and macros and when to pull back
-Reminding you to drink more water!
-Supporting your efforts for better sleep hygiene so that your diet doesn’t pay the price
-Ultimately, helping you have a better relationship with food than you did when you began
I’m also proud to announce that the initial launch was more successful than we imagined and, as of this writing, potential new clients are on a waitlist for the next opening.
Speaking for myself, it’s been a great experience. Aside from the clients I’m working with face-to-face at RevFit, I get to work with clients from across the globe within the Big Rocks platform.
And, it helps me to work with such a talented group of coaches that I can learn from as well.
If you’re interested, consider getting on the waitlist. Whether you work directly with me or one of my colleagues, we’ll help you figure out what the Big Rocks are so that the change you deserve to see is finally within sight.