Last year, I had the pleasure of joining a group of fellow fitness professionals looking to understand how to maximize their mailing lists to help their clients. Tara Arndt led the way and she definitely knows what she’s doing! Tara is the wife of Tim Arndt who made an appearance on the show way back on Episode #161. If you are a fitness professional tuning in, I highly recommend checking out how Tara helps me dive into my own mailing list strategies. If you are not in the industry, the conversation might help you understand why you are marketed to the way you are within the industry. Tara has even provided a free link for a boot camp course below.
Sometime before I started RevFit, I was working under another trainer for a short spell of time. He had a personal training model very similar to the one I would be inspired to build on my own when I opened this business.
I was taken under his wing and was only newly certified having had my training certification for less than a year at that point.
Like a lot of wet-behind-the-ears trainers, I had a head that was swimming with knowledge and no reasonable filter for what was appropriate for any given population.
The coach I was working for had stepped away from the studio for a shift and he let me take over for his clients that day. There was a woman working with me who I knew was very strong because I had seen him take her through some sessions in the past.
With an eye on giving her a “great” lower body workout, I proceeded to have her do a brutal session of Smith machine squats. I can’t tell you exactly how many reps she did but I can say it was well beyond something like 3 sets of 8.
She was perspiring, she was huffing and puffing, she was walking sort of funny, you name it. Every indicator was there that I had given her legs a wake-up call that day.
Two days later, the coach called me and asked: What did you do to “Client A”?
In my excitement and, what I assumed was a reflection on my great training skills, I told the coach about her squat sequence.
He listened carefully, didn’t interject and said: Well, her husband called me. She’s barely been able to walk over the last two days because her legs have been so sore. He was NOT happy.
I was devastated. I thought clients wanted soreness, I thought perspiration and being out-of-breath were a badge of honor. Not because that was how I trained myself, mind you, but because I “thought” that I knew how to push someone and it would be a sign of how smart, intuitive, and talented I was as a coach.
That could not have been further from the truth. I was completely embarrassed. I apologized to the coach. I apologized to the client (and her husband). It was, and remains, one of a handful of the most embarrassing professional circumstances I’ve gone through since 2007 when I first got certified.
Since then, I have taken on an almost polar opposite stance on training. I love strength. I love making people stronger. I love taking someone who probably has no earthly idea of how strong they are, fleshing it out and making them strong as nails. It is one of the most satisfying, gratifying and inspiring things about running this business.
But strength, and gaining it, come from a certain amount of restraint and respect. You have to know when to push and when to pull back. You have to know when there are reps in the tank and when “just showing up” is the best you can do.
I even tell potential clients now during our consultation: I am not the type of trainer who is here to crush you. The program is not designed that way. I operate under a “live to fight another day” approach. I want you here, fresh and ready to tackle the workout. I want you to feel good when you leave and not as if the workout wrecked you.
We can forget sometimes that our 20-yr old bodies were capable of amazing things and could survive on poor nutrition, shitty sleep habits and enough caffeine to choke a horse. We could wake up, go to the gym or go to work and put the time in with hardly a negative drawback.
Fast forward 2 or 3 decades and something as simple as a hangover can be debilitating the day after, a nagging injury can take weeks/months (not days) to recover from, and a night of bad sleep can turn the next day of work into a foggy nightmare that not even caffeine can fix.
The bodies we, as coaches, are trying to build demand respect. The results come from the push, the challenge, the stimulus and also, the recovery, the proper nutrients, and the right head space to know how to make progress.
Our clients pay us their hard earned money to know when to check the ego and when to apply both “the art of” and “the science of” strength to their own circumstances. We have to respect that too.
I’m just over 13 years certified and nearly 12 years as the owner of this business. I’ve learned a lot, I’ve forgotten a lot, I’ve screwed up a lot and I’ve seen a lot. I am nowhere near as great as I want to be and nothing will stop me from learning how to get better.
It’s the same philosophy I want to impress on my clients too: Find ways to improve, carve out a path, celebrate the victories, take care of your body/mind and let’s kick some ass.
Recently, a newer client of mine shared a sentiment that made me happier than she will probably ever know. She said: I want you to know, this is the first time I’ve worked with a trainer since 2008 that I haven’t ached right down to my bones after a workout.
That was high praise indeed.
Every client has their own motivations and foundations to succeed and work from. It’s our job, our duty, our obligation as coaches to know how to work with that.
Pictured below, is our very own Faith G, executing a 310 pound personal best on the squat. She got there because we spent the time learning how to work with her, her body, her goals, her schedule, her life and her aspirations. And every week, people like Faith inspire the rest of us to get better too.
I welcome Chris Kershaw a.k.a The Heavy Metal Strength Coach to the show this week. In this episode, Chris and I talk about coaching philosophies, thoughts on writing words that have an impact, how grief informs the work that we do, how he helps his clients thrive and how the UK’s response to the pandemic made him a better coach.
In 2010, shortly after my father was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, the pain he was experiencing in his body kept him from being able to work full shifts at Goodyear.
Throughout my life, when Dad wasn’t travelling for Goodyear, he would be working, on average, 10-12 hour days in the office.
However, when the pain from the bone marrow cancer became more than he could tolerate, he had to condense the amount of time he spent at work and try to get more done in less time.
I remember him making the comment: “It’s amazing how productive you can be when you have to be.”
That sentiment has continued to resonate with me ever since.
My schedule, my own relative sense of productivity, and how I manage the 24 hours I have in my day (like you have in yours) has been the subject of more than one conversation.
When I’ve been a guest on podcasts, I’ve been asked about it and even clients of mine have asked: How do you get it all done?
I don’t claim to have all the answers when it comes to productivity and I maintain that much of what I do is due to a reaction of how business and life mold together.
I am also kind of nuts.
I would never encourage you to follow a template like this. It’s just what works for me and sometimes my own sense of habit and routine have to ebb and flow depending on how much is on my plate.
If you struggle with finding enough time to do what you need, maybe there are some hints in my day that can help you as well.
Monday through Friday, my schedule looks very similar to this:
345am: My alarm goes off. I never, ever, hit snooze. That’s non-negotiable for me. If I hit snooze, I lose time and time is not something I have the luxury of losing. I’m up to let our boxer, Dempsey, out and to get him fed. I start coffee and spend about 30-40 minutes checking email, Facebook and my messages to see if there are any scheduling changes I need to be on top of. Sometimes, I read while drinking coffee and lately, I’ve been working on my continuing education (more on that later).
430am: I get cleaned up and dressed for work. I’m typically out the door en route to work which is 20-25 minutes away depending on which roads I take.
500am: I arrive at work and get the studio in order to start seeing clients.
515-6am: Clients begin arriving for the first training block of the day. This block will go until approximately 10am.
10am-230p: I shut down the studio during this time. It’s during this block that all other business is handled for RevFit. This includes responding to emails, writing client programs, recording my podcast, working on this blog, working on my continuing education, my own training, lunch, doctor’s appointments (if necessary) and any other errands I need to run for the business.
230p-5/6p: This is our final training block of the day where we see the remainder of that day’s scheduled clients.
6-7p: I head home for dinner with my family and try to wind the day down.
8-9p: We are normally getting cleaned up, ready for bed and on most evenings, are asleep by 9p.
On Saturdays, I keep the same waking schedule but I only train for a small window of time on Saturday mornings. Anything that happens after that short training block might be another consultation or sometimes a scheduled podcast.
The rest of Saturday is spent with family.
Sunday is the only day that I turn off my alarm and just let my body wakes when it needs to.
Over the last several years, I’ve tried my best to make a point of picking up new certifications so I can continue to learn areas in this industry which interest me. Last year, I started Mac-Nutrition Uni, which is a year-long nutrition course based in the UK. It is, without question, the most I’ve spent on any one certification. It is also the one that has required the most work, between each week’s lectures, quizzes, and homework. It all comes to a close for me at the end of March when our exams are scheduled.
Since we are coming to the end of that course, I’ve been spending more time over the last several weeks re-watching lectures from the beginning of the course. This takes place during that segment of the day when the studio is closed, so each week, I’ve been watching 3 older lectures plus whatever that week’s current homework is.
I still spend a fair amount of time reading for both pleasure and work interest. Due to the Mac-Uni work, I’m not able to commit as much time to that but I’ll pick that up again when the course concludes.
For me, it helps that my wife understands all of my commitments. While she doesn’t necessarily share my enthusiasm for the blog and the podcast (they aren’t her preferred mediums), she knows what each means to me and how they have become extensions of my business.
It’s a pace and workload that, quite honestly, I’ve brought on myself so you won’t hear me complain about it often. Times like now, when the studio is very busy plus all of my extracurricular work added in to the mix can make me run at a furious pace from bell-to-bell.
My wife asked me recently what I planned to do once the course wrapped up.
My response: I’m going to relax my mind for a little while.
Of course, my idea of relax just means that I probably won’t jump into another certification with much haste.
To be frank, I still find myself wasting more time in a given day than I’d like to: Too much mindless scrolling on Facebook and Instagram, too much leisurely article reading on the internet and don’t even get me started on the YouTube holes I can vanish into if I get carried away.
Somehow, I get most everything I need to done in a day. By time I come home, my mind is spent and I’m not quite human after a day’s work.
But, it’s what I do, it’s become who I am, and I feel like I’m barely scratching the surface of who I want to be, what I want to learn and where I want the business and life to be.
Here are three quick tips I can leave you with if you’re trying to accomplish more with your 24 hours:
1-Realize that everything you do requires sacrifice: Any new area you want in your life (think meal prep, exercise, meditation, etc.) will take up time. This means that something else will temporarily or permanently take a backseat. If health is your priority, meal prep may need to take precedence over Season 8, Episode 3 of whatever show you planned to watch that day.
2-Routine/Habits matter but shit happens: All the best laid plans don’t mean a thing when you get your first curveball thrown your way. You may have had the perfectly scheduled day until you get a crisis thrown your way you hadn’t anticipated. This is normal. Look at the rest of your week and see how you can still stay relatively close to “on course” as you can.
3-As life evolves, so must your schedule: My day today is not the same as it was 6 months ago or 2 years ago. Little changes have been made along the way that required small pivots and a rearranging of priorities. Things that may have been important then may not be important now. Take a look at the things that not only provide YOU what you need but also have the least amount of detrimental effect on those in your close circle.
Much like health, fitness, and our continual search for self-improvement, there are always ways to progress, always new things to learn/teach, and I remain fascinated with all of the things available to help me get there.
Susan Niebergall joins me for the third time on the show (see Episodes 94 and 231) and this time around, we get to talk about her excellent new book, “Fit At Any Age: It’s Never Too Late”. We discuss the pitfalls she experienced with her own weight loss journey, how she had her “a-ha” moment and what we see affect our clients in practice. Susan’s story never ceases to inspire and I know you’ll love the episode and her book.
To find out more about Susan and to order a copy of “Fit At Any Age” for yourself:
On the afternoon of October 9, 2020, my wife, Marissa, and I were leaving Glenns Creek Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky. We took a trip down starting the day before to celebrate her birthday which fell that week and our wedding anniversary which would be two days later.
We were making our way through certain parts of the “bourbon trail” that weekend and Glenns Creek was our last stop that day. We were fortunate to have a tasting with the owner of that distillery and it would prove to be one of our more memorable stops for more than one reason.
We did our best to pick up mementos from each distillery we could, whether it be a bottle to bring back home, a tumbler or something of that nature. At Glenns Creek, there were bourbon staves available for sale and I asked for one of those to add to our transaction. The owner was kind enough to sign it and I asked for a special request after his signature.
“Could you please write your tagline on the stave as well?”
As Marissa and I were leaving, I handed her the stave and said: “Read it.”
Alas, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Something I’ve made mention of more recently, via this blog and my podcast, is that Marissa and I have had an interesting history together. None of it has been traditional or orthodox, none of it has been what I think either of us ever considered normal.
As I’ve said to her, I feel as if we’ve spent the better part of our 11 years together going from one challenging circumstance to another. The upside being, that you get to be really good at solving problems and overcoming those challenges; the downside being, that you can (as we did) lose sight of actually having a relationship.
Readers of mine who have been in a long term relationship of any note know that nothing is ever perfect and as the adage goes “marriage is hard” and we’ve seen a lot of that in our time together.
The first 16 months of our relationship, Marissa was still a performer at DisneyWorld in Florida. We would see each other once a month, me in Ohio trying my damnedest to get RevFit off the ground, and she, 1000 miles away in Orlando. What we didn’t have in quantity of time, became a focus on quality.
It was within the first 7 months of those 16, that my father was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. He would leave this world nine months later. Marissa had to see me through all of that and I can’t imagine it was easy for her to do.
Her contract ended at Disney shortly before my Dad passed and after 5 years living in much warmer climates, she moved back to Ohio to be closer to me and her family.
Sadly, her parents were soon to be separated not long after she moved back. So, we transitioned from the trauma of losing my father to the trauma of watching her parents split.
We were both in these strange phases of our lives. RevFit kept growing and as it did, the demands on my time increased which meant, less time to spend with her. Marissa did her best to balance whatever degree of support she could provide to not only our relationship but the one with her parents too.
Due to the circumstances of losing my father and how it affected my mother and the way that Marissa’s parents were handling their divorce, our time became even more compromised, each of us children trying to step up in efforts to support the women who brought us into this world.
As my business continued to grow, it fed into my workaholic nature and I not only threw more of myself into the business, but it took more away from what I could emotionally give to my relationship. As one could predict, this began to create friction between Marissa and I.
Nevertheless, our relationship continued to move forward, and in October of 2014, we married.
“They” say that your problems don’t go away once you get married and those wise people would be correct. Our problems, no matter how they manifested, would only simmer and explode or be swept under the rug, waiting for a cleaning that never wanted to arrive.
August of 2017 brought the arrival of our son, Sebastian. Marissa’s first child, my second, having Jackson in my first marriage. The year before, Marissa and I had the opportunity to take over another business, a performing arts/dance school where she could let her creativity continue to grow.
But, the addition of a child, plus the demands of a new business proved to be more than she or I could handle, and the stress of that business only compounded the stress we brought into our marriage.
And so, each of us fiercely stubborn and independent in our own way, began to focus on the things we felt control over: RevFit for me and motherhood for her. Resentments, continued friction and a growing inability to communicate only furthered our problems.
When the dam finally broke, and it did, there was little left for us. We had nearly become strangers in our own home, two people passing like thieves in the night, trying to maintain composure for the sake of our son and not really succeeding at anything.
So, we had to step back, both of us coming to the conclusion that we each needed a therapist to sort through what was happening.
There were times when I think neither of us quite knew how to step forward or even if we could.
Slowly, that tide began to shift. There was no one catalyst. There were so many forces working for and against us that it felt as if we were speaking two different languages trying to work towards the same truth.
In many ways, it was an approach of “burn it all down and build it back again.” (Not a method I would recommend to others).
Little by little, our communication changed, the way we looked at each other changed, the way we said “I love you” changed, the way we actually showed love in our house changed.
It had to.
Too much damage had been done and it was our own way of reinventing the wheel.
That trip last year was a pivotal shift for us. It was our first time away together without Sebastian and we needed time to talk without interference, without fear of reprise, laying all of our cards out on the table.
Today, we are not the same. We could not possibly be. We deserved better than that.
And when I gave her that stave, the tagline from Glenns Creek, written on the stave by the owner said: “A little different, a lot better.”
Marissa read it.
I looked at her and said, “Like us.”
Her eyes started to well up with tears and she said, “Yes, just like us.”
And it’s been our mantra to each other ever since.
Derek Saunders of Macros Inc. joins me this week for his debut on the show. In this episode, we talk about his journey into the industry and how his own story of weight loss informs how he coaches clients to this day. We also dive into the importance of better habits with weight loss, focusing on what we can personally control in life, trigger foods, and the dangers of comparisons in dieting.
On any given week, I respond to a number of questions from my clients who are constantly trying to improve their physiques for either health or aesthetic purposes (frequently both).
As the adage goes, there’s “no such thing as a stupid question” and I generally agree.
A question that a client might ask is in reference to where they feel they’re currently stuck. As if, in finding the solution they’ll achieve the results that have been eluding them or they can overcome a given plateau.
However, many of the questions I get don’t actually get to the heart of the problem. It’s not that they’re bad questions or stupid questions or anything of the sort. They just aren’t the types of questions that can give you the sustainable solutions or make the dramatic shifts clients might be looking for.
For instance, these types of questions might be:
-Are artificial sweeteners keeping me from losing weight?
-Should I be doing fasted cardio for better fat loss?
-Is inflammation the reason I can’t lose weight?
-Is my metabolism broken?
-Why is my neighbor seeing such great results and I’m not? (I’m doing way more than she is!)
-Should I do a juice cleanse to reset my body?
-Do I need a probiotic to lose weight?
What many people tend to forget is that the solution to better weight loss results depends on factors that are less sexy to talk about, terribly hard to market and actually require self-awareness, candor and “homework”.
I wanted to spend some time this week to offer you better questions, more effective questions and ultimately more enlightening questions that can help you with your weight loss goals.
I’ve opted to break down the questions into a handful of different categories. You may need to revisit these questions from time to time if your weight loss has stalled or before you jump to the next ill-fated diet.
Below, you’ll find questions relating to food intake, stress management, your social/support circle, mental/emotional status, sleep habits and methods of exercise. The list of questions is by no means exhaustive and you may find that a question I fail to ask below leads to a question better suited to your particular set of circumstances.
There is no one question that will solve the riddle of weight loss for you. You will likely have to answer several depending on where your life, body and mind are right now. It might even be helpful for you to answer as many of these questions as possible on the first go-round and then see where changes might need to be made.
Due to the nature of some of these questions, in some places, I’ve combined several questions under one bullet point to help you drill down for more specifics.
It’s my kind suggestion that you write the answers down to the questions you feel speak to you the most, date them, and refer back as needed. Life continues to evolve and questions you need answers to today may be different six months from now.
Questions About Food Intake
-Do you know how many calories you need to eat per day to lose fat? If so, how many?
-How many days in a week/month can you successfully hit that caloric goal? If that total is lower than you’d like, is your calorie goal too low? Have you considered raising it by 100 calories per day for better overall adherence?
-If you’re not currently tracking your food (as this method is not conducive for some people emotionally) have you tried taking pictures of your food for a visual daily journal?
-What is the easiest change you can make to your diet that would almost guarantee fat loss?
-Aside from water, what drinks do you consume which have calories? (Don’t forget to include creamers and sugars in coffee/tea, alcohol, protein shakes, juice, pop, energy drinks and tonic water).
-Do you currently measure your food using measuring cups/spoons? Do you need to start doing so for better accuracy?
-Do you currently weigh your food using a food scale? Do you need to start doing so for more accuracy than cup/spoon measurements?
-What time of the day do you find it more likely that you will snack, graze or nibble at foods? Do you track that? How many calories would you estimate occur at those times?
-How frequently do you get second or third helpings of food? How can you reduce that number?
-How frequently do you eat dessert?
-Do you currently measure your alcohol intake? Can you calculate how many calories that is on a weekly basis?
-How many times per week do you eat “fast food” or purchase food through drive-thrus? Can you reduce that number?
-How much water do you drink on an average day?
-Do you have any trigger foods in your home/office? Can they be removed?
-What foods do you find you have no control over when you eat them and are more likely to overconsume? Does your family or the primary grocery shopper in your family know this? Are there substitutions?
-What foods can you successfully moderate in your diet?
-What foods do you need to temporarily/indefinitely abstain from?
-Do you ever sneak foods? If so, what foods do you typically sneak and how often does it occur?
-When was the last time you intentionally ate “at maintenance” and not on given ends of a spectrum of either dieting or “splurging/cheating/bingeing”?
-Do you find that best-selling diet books and food documentaries easily sway the way you choose to eat? What leads you to believe these are accurate sources of information?
-On a scale of 0-10, with 0 being “Not noticeable” and 10 being “Intolerable”, how is your stress level currently? Why did you select that number?
-When you’re highly stressed, do you use food/alcohol as a coping strategy?
-What other skills, hobbies, distractions can you use not related to food or alcohol when you are highly stressed?
-Have you considered speaking with a qualified counselor to help you with your stress levels?
-Take stock on the areas of your life that contribute to your stress. Is it professional? Is it personal? Is it possible to change those areas so they can provide you less overall stress?
-Do you frequently find that your stress level “deserves” a food or alcohol reward? Why do you feel that way and what do you use to reward yourself? How often does that happen?
Your Social/Support Circle
-Can you make a list of the 5 people you spend the most time with?
-Do all 5 of these people know how important your weight loss goals are to you?
-Of those 5 people, who is the MOST supportive of your goals?
-Of those 5 people, who is MOST likely to sabotage your efforts?
-How can the most supportive person be of more help to you in times of weakness related to your goals?
-How can the person most likely to sabotage you be more aware of their actions?
-What specifically is done in your circle of 5 that is most likely to sabotage your efforts? How can that be reduced?
-Do you currently feel emotionally prepared to diet for weight loss?
-Why do you feel you need to lose weight at this time? Is that your goal or something an external source has asked of you?
-How frequently do you weigh yourself? Is that a positive indicator that you are making progress? If you were to weigh yourself less frequently, how else could you determine that you are on the right path according to your goals?
-Do you often consider other variables to your health that may be affected by your current weight? For example, do you consider having more energy, sleeping better, having an improved libido, feeling less joint pain, or not feeling out of breath when you take stairs as indicators that things are moving in a positive direction? Do you celebrate those non-scale victories?
-How does social media (Facebook, Instagram, news outlets, Snapchat, YouTube) affect the way you perceive yourself?
-Are there any people/sites you follow that make you feel unworthy or unattractive? Have you tried unfollowing them?
-How often do you find that you think about food, read recipes, share recipes on social media, and compare your calorie needs versus someone else’s? Does that seem like a healthy/reasonable amount of time? Do the recipes you share align with your specific goals/needs?
-If you have a history of dieting or cycles of yo-yo dieting, have you spoken to a qualified therapist to see why you have not been able to succeed at weight loss and weight maintenance?
-How does your upbringing influence your relationship with food?
-What is the narrative you tell yourself about how your cultural heritage affects your relationship with food?
-Do you frequently find that you blame others for your food choices? Do those people know that you feel that way? How do they respond to your feelings?
-Do you have a consistent sleep schedule (Going to bed and waking up at the same approximate time each day)? If not, what would you attribute that to?
-Do you sleep in a cool, dark room?
-Do you give yourself 30-60 minutes without electronics before you go to sleep?
-Do you take any sleep aids? If so, what do you take and do you find that they give you restful sleep? Do you know that certain sleep aids may need to be discontinued temporarily because the body can develop a tolerance to them?
-Have you tried a “brain dump” before bed? (This is simply a few notes of things that are pressing on your mind which may need to be done the next day).
-Have you considered that alcohol intake is preventing you from deeper sleep? (Many people claim that alcohol helps them fall asleep but they are unable to achieve deep sleep after drinking).
-If your partner/significant other mentions that you snore, have you considered being tested for sleep apnea?
-Did you know there is a correlation between a poor night’s sleep and poor dietary choices the day after? How can you improve that?
Methods Of Exercise
-How do you currently exercise? How many days per week do you do that?
-Do you find that exercise leaves you energetic or do you typically have a lot of soreness and fatigue afterwards?
-How often do you perform high intensity exercise?
-How many calories do you believe you are burning when you exercise?
-Do you have a tendency to eat more on the days that you exercise as a reward for a hard workout?
-How do you currently scale up your method of exercise? Do you have quantitative data to show that you are getting stronger, or faster, or that you have an otherwise measurable proof of better endurance?
-Do you feel that exercise is an efficient fat burning tool? If so, do you use your diet to complement that?
As you can see, when we (as coaches) talk about successful fat loss, the advice of “eat less, move more” is accurate but nuanced. Our relationship with food, our social circle, the way we handle stress, the way we manage our sleep habits and how we train all have a direct effect on how we eat, what we eat and how much we eat.
These questions are designed to help you understand where the pitfalls may be and ultimately carve out a more specific and more successful path to your fat loss goals.
A.J. Morton, of FitPro Mentorship Review, joins me this week on the show. In this episode, we talk about the origins of his Mentorship group and why it might matter not only to fellow fitness professionals but to those who hire us for professional services. This was a fascinating conversation and I think A.J. has done a fantastic job keeping this group of the highest value and caliber around.