The Gym Owners Blog/Podcast/D.J. Murakami: Should You Be A Gym Owner or Personal Trainer?

D.J. Murakami: Should You Be A Gym Owner or Personal Trainer?

Friday, January 05, 2024



coach, people, gym, clients, personal trainer, work, fitness, feel, training, money, dj, fun, trainer, owners, move, semi private, learn


  • Fitness trends and the importance of focusing on client needs. (0:00)
  • Prioritizing client results over fitness modalities. (8:02)
  • Fitness assessments and mental health. (14:16)
  • Fitness philosophy and training methods. (18:33)
  • Personal training career longevity and prioritizing client needs. (23:51)
  • Fitness coaching and knowledge sharing. (25:14)
  • Fitness coaching and prioritizing fun for young clients. (29:48)
  • ​Personal training, gym ownership, and income. (33:24)
  • Semi-private training challenges and benefits. (38:24)
  • Fitness career paths and gym ownership. (42:50)
  • Sales techniques for personal trainers. (49:11)
  • ​Fitness training and communication skills. (56:43)


TTyler 00:00

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to this week's episode of the gym owners podcast. I'm your host Tyler stone over in the middle there we got John Fairbanks How are you doing, John?

John Fairbanks 00:07

I'm doing excellent.

Tyler 00:08

And today we got a special guest DJ Murakami at strong camps on Instagram. How're you doing? DJ?


Doing great.

Tyler 00:14

Guys, we brought DJ in. DJ is a personal trainer, fitness enthusiast, all around bearded regular dude, I don't know. So check all the boxes,


trainer, trainer, old fat, not a movement coach, not a

Tyler 00:31

trainer? Is it a kind of is it? Let's go right in with that. Isn't that nice? That's the thing that you differentiated, right? There's, as everybody as we all get smarter, or learned more in our coaching journey, just on the coaching side of things. We want to start to attach new titles so that people don't just think you're a personal trainer or something. And like, the fuck is wrong with being a personal trainer one and two, like, just so people know, for those of you out there being like seeking a trainer is what the client base in your area. That's the terminology that they use. This is why I don't like it when people say, well, we don't do it, we don't work with people's diets. You know, intuitive, nutritional blah, blah, blah. It's like yeah, but they think they need to fix their diet because they have a normal brain. And they're not weird with fitness tourism. You know what I mean? So let's talk about that right away, we'll get right into this, like, you embrace that. What is that like? And what is that, like in the face of a lot of the other trends that are going on in fitness? Generally coaching? Yeah,


it feels like it's, it's the language, right? When you I think social media is a big part of that. Because when you surround yourself with this elite class of fitness professionals, you begin to like niche up, like, what's your expertise, you're pretty much I feel like you're impressing your peers more than the customer base, which doesn't really care about any of that right

Tyler 02:05

Now, I would say alienating your customer base at the expense of attempting to impress your peers who will never give you $1. That's the best part. Your peers will never pay you. I mean, it's very difficult to know, you're not getting clients from some other coach from Timbuktu.


Right, I mean, I empathize because that's how social media is created. Those likes are like, Okay, I'm doing I'm following that. But you can't take likes to the bank. You know what I mean? It's really just status and ego in this realm of people who aren't going to pay you. Like that's not the ones you want to impress.

Tyler 02:44

Yeah, well, it's, it's, it ends up being this fitness version of Keeping Up with the Joneses. You know what I mean? It's like, I buy a nice car and the neighbor guy's got a nice car and I don't know if you guys have ever even dipped your toes into the like, lawn wars shit, like Midwest folks do let's do is move the shit out of some grass here right in the summertime. And there's always some guy with a lawn. That's insane. You know, I mean, it just doesn't make any sense. Same thing, you drive a nice car, you cannot get into that battle of really liking, feeling like you're keeping up with somebody else. Because there's always somebody with more clout, more money, more disposable income, more time, or even worse in the fitness space, especially when it comes to chasing clout like an audience, whatever. What you're seeing from them, oftentimes, those people aren't doing what you're doing to make a living. And that's the toughest part is I see a gym trying to spout off like their movement specialists and wizards and geniuses and gurus and shit. And it's like, Hey, man, like, people in your area are the people that need to be coming to you. And they're chasing, they're mimicking something that has no relevance to their own situation. And when you wonder why your gym doesn't work, or why you're not making enough money, you're struggling to get clients like well get your head out of some gurus ass and get the fucking work on the people that are standing in front of you here. It should be really simple and I think that there's I work with a gym owner who one of the things he mentioned about hiring personal trainers and bringing him in as he said his exact words were there's a lot of fucking hubris that comes with personal trainers more so than you would think you'd think there's a lot of like good meaning people but so many of them are part timers that it's just like I'm a fit person I have another thing but I'm like a fucking better than all these other people when I get into the gym and they end up with this narrow part of their lives like really inflating that stuff and but a lot of these people when it comes to fitness influencers if you will, especially on the coaching side, they don't make any money selling like actually helping people or training or coaching people almost none and very few though I know I've ever run a profitable business, let alone successful. Most of them never paid the fucking light bill in their own place. You know a lot of them living off of daddy's money, mommy's money, wife's money, husband's money. So if you're trying to mimic what they're doing like those, you're gonna get the same outcomes they have. Except you don't have somebody else floating your bank. You know, it doesn't make any sense to me.

John Fairbanks 05:11

Well, Tyler, you and I have run into issues where we've seen even gyms, like gym owners, yes, that have kind of, they've established themselves as a major player in their corner or their niche of the market. And yet the majority of their money doesn't actually come from anything they do with their brick and mortar. Yeah, ended up being all this hybrid, she had all this stuff that was online, or all this stuff that was like Uber hyper specific to a very specific, like, coached group of athletic type individuals. And yet everyone then establishes like their brick and mortar, or the business as the standard where it's like, oh, wait a second.

Tyler 05:50

I'll say some names as a good example. Because I think when people chase a facility or things like this, or social media presence or brand building, they need to understand that the physical location is secondary, mayhem, Invictus, a lot of those brands around CrossFit, like, those facilities might be profitable, even though there's been a little bit of retraction, right. But the income that's coming from those places is national and global. You know, it's other things than just like, their bread is not buttered on, people coming in and getting coached. While that may keep the lights on, if those of you that don't have the audience, the cloud, the following, whatever it is, and you start mimicking that kind of stuff, that style of training, that type of communication, it's just you end up playing the wrong game. And I think people chase the wrong outcomes and outcomes that don't exist for the inputs that they put in. So I want to talk to you though, about like, you do a really good job, I think, avoiding the dogma I've got, how long have you been coaching?


Hmm, boy, over 15 years,

Tyler 06:56

and that's about the line, I think, 1215 years takes 10 years to really get good at anything, everything else, you're just better than you were the year before. But 12 Or so I think you can get to the point where like, you can speak pretty clearly on the ins and outs of a lot of things with this line of business line of work. A lot of trends come and go. You get a lot of people in the fitness market that come in and say they want different things kind of because of what the social media trends are across. It became very popular with people on functional fitness stuff. But a lot of that stuff still misses the overall general fitness population. You know what I mean? I knew so many people when I opened a CrossFit gym at CrossFit peak, right at the peak of national brand recognition. But so many people were like, I don't want to do that. That's stupid. Like the vast majority still didn't give a shit, right? That it was just still pretty narrow in their perception of the fitness world. How do you avoid a lot of these things that pull you one way to another and just kind of be yourself and work with you and a client in there?


Yeah, I mean, I made all the mistakes, I think about every trend, because I hopped on all the trends. Yeah, me too. Me too. Yeah, I thought I was, I thought it was doing the right thing. I thought I found the way. And I almost think in the end, the modality of your training doesn't really matter. Like if you get people moving, get people stronger, it's going to work. I think the thing that took me a long, long time to figure out was the relationship with the human being in front of me. So things like listening skills, personality, you know, the stuff you guys talked about in place of, you know, what I'm offering, what I'm selling, selling, how do I communicate? That's something that flew over my head. And I think that's the basic, like, can you form a relationship with this person in front of you. And at the end of the day, if you, you know, I kind of look at what I'm giving someone as an experience. And if that's a good experience, you're already ahead of them. I think a lot of people who are pushing them, their KPI is not so much the client's goals. It's like the stuff I learned at this workshop.

Tyler 09:22

Yes, and I believe that and the thing is I saw it because we did a lot of those workshops and seminars. Yes, we do. What I found is people that didn't take these things as tools, you go to continuing education to add things to your toolkit to give yourself a new perspective on things and then to go work with your people on their goals. And the amount of times man we see people come back over and over. We had to go through locked all the barbells up last half its members so we're never doing barbells again so the fuck are you doing dude? So now all those people now hate what you do with them, just because you know just because you decided to do something different than that. And that's a thing we saw a lot where people then put modality first and dogma first. And like, you would see these guys practically tank their own business. And it's like, you know, there's a way to just be like a fucking dude about this. And that's what I saw. That's one of the things that started getting frustrating is as you spend a lot of time with people that are focusing on educating themselves and developing their skill set, and their toolset their knowledge base, which is important, like it's the most commendable thing, but guys, I've known we've done a lot of people in a lot of different trades, a lot of different lines of work. And there is a point where you can get your fucking nose out of the book, please, and go work with some people. You know what I mean? You're gonna be an electrician, at some point, yes, to maintain your license. You know, you gotta do a little continuing education from time to time. But if you uproot your bullshit after every fucking little thing, you go see, you're out of your mind and your business will sink go then why are some goddamn houses get better, get faster, get more efficient, get better at the things you do deliver your service may get less about concepts, so much concept and dogma, at the expense of client results, especially client experience, even worse, you're giving somebody something they don't want to do. The amount of times I've heard people are like, I just, you know, I'd like to do something other than fucking sandbags. You know, when you get into like, functional trains, like, well, we're the most functional, it's like, okay, you know what I like to you know, what I did when I went to the gym just now, I was quick. So I was like, I don't want to think about this. I went through all eight sides of the upper body machines, there's eight upper body machines. Okay, I did five sets of 10 of every machine, I just moved down the fucking line was fun, and I got the fuck out of there. I don't know what training protocol that's all about. I got a pump, I didn't have to think I moved left to right. It was easy. It was fast. I was done. There's nothing wrong with that. But if I had to go, Well, this is like the least functional thing that you could have done today. Fuck off. It's crazy. But that level of keeping your clients first and client results. Results are the thing. And what I find and I think you see it too, man is people end up using these modalities as a way to convince people to rearrange their goals, move the goalposts, because a lot of these coaches are the ones with the biggest fucking brains that know all the stuff, couldn't get somebody to lose 20 pounds to save their fucking life. And the fact is, if you get in the business of getting people to lose their first 20 pounds, and then their next and their next, you can really, really make a tremendous impact on all the other things, movement quality, pain mitigation, overall health, your community's health, the health of the families around you, like, this is how you really have a big impact. And instead, people get their heads so far up each other's ass, and they just start talking about concepts. It's like, alright, you fucking dorks. Like this guy had a goal. And now you told him, it's about something else. And he's gonna tell you to fuck off, or he's gonna think you're weird. And that's the biggest thing is you end up like, the more you learn, the more, the more you learn, it's okay. But the more you put what you know, first, the more you just sound like a really pretentious


or even worse, they believe you? Oh, yes. Like, it's like the dark side, you know you because of a lot of these systems, they give you an assessment, in the assessment, you give anyone a FMS, like a movement screen, something they haven't done before, they're not going to score very well. And then you are able to pathologize them and say you are broken, there's something wrong with you. Now I have the solution, in value, to fix you and make you better. And this is something they didn't, no one cares about 20 degrees of internal rotation of their shoulder. By

Tyler 13:45

the way, it's all if you ask them when they start though, before they start, I want to lose some weight, man, I know, it's all I want to lose some weight, I want to look better. It really is very, it's either that or people who are really at their wit's end, and it's a rehab case. You know what I mean? But the fact is, very often, you gotta get more regular fitness results before people are going to come to you for fucking rehab. Because when they think pain, they don't think some fucking dipshit with ABS down the street who talks weird? You know what I mean? Like, like your last on the list of people when my shoulder has been hurting for a long time.

John Fairbanks 14:16

But what do you think of it? If you would just be willing to go a layer deeper? It's like, it's my shoulder hurts or My knee hurts or fill in the blank? And it's like, okay, yeah, that's what they're saying right now. What they're saying. It's like, if you'd be like, what does that have? What has that been keeping you from doing? And when you can go just like one or two questions deeper, and you don't just immediately become like, Oh, I'm the I'm the shoulder fucking dork. And I do all the shoulder shit. So as soon as they say the shoulder fucking thing. You're like, yes, shoulders. I can talk all about the shoulder thing. We'll fix it. But at the end of the day, like, No, my shoulder has been hurting. It's like I will. What has been keeping him doing? Well, I've been able to exercise the way I used to and then I've gained a few pounds or I don't like what it's like, it's like you can go a couple layers deeper. People really do just get they are quite simple of whatever it is they want. And when

Tyler 15:07

you get into like the way you describe the movement screening and the use the term pathologized. And that's really important. Because as a coach who works with working people over a long enough timeline, eventually people do have injuries, things like that, whether it's with you or in life, or whatever. And very often when you see people who are not fully committed yet to fitness, to working out to training, and they have like a little back thing, and the moment a doctor gives them a diagnosis, you have degenerative disc disease, which is not a real thing, just so you know, my face gets old, it's not called degenerative facet disease. It's just that's what the things that get used happen, they get worn down, it's not a fucking disease, you're not gonna die from it. It's whatever, but they get that stamp, and they go, Oh, thank God, I can unload all my responsibilities onto this thing. And now I can just waste away into Jabba the Hutt land fuckin physically for ever, because I've been assigned to this condition with which I can fucking give it I'll give all the responsibility to and I think that coaches tried to do that manipulative coaches tried to do that in a lot of these assessment processes. Someone joins a gym that maybe they don't even tell you this when they start, right. But when someone takes a first step towards fitness, let's say this all the time, there's plenty of reasons that people train but I don't know what America you're living in. DJ you do live in what I would describe as a probably fitter place population wise than I do. But I can tell you this. The difference to be made in your community is in like weight loss, getting people fit and just losing fat and building some muscle and then getting people moving more and enjoying it and, and when somebody comes in and takes a step towards that, and you just redirect it, because you set you set a new goal for him. The fact is, if they had to choose, do I get to like get better internal rotation, can I hinge a little bit better this is like, or 20 pounds off the body, they would fucking trade 20 pounds off the body all of the time. And even worse, when we get into the fucking mental health guru bullshit that people start pulling with a lot of this is nothing I hate less than hate more than fucking mindset training and fucking all this stuff. It's like, you know, if they just got more awesome, people feel better. And they always put the I don't like it when people put the cart in front of the horse with a lot of this stuff, is because you can very much have a tremendous impact on somebody's mental health by making them feel better, and make them feel more capable and make them proud of the way they look and proud of the things they accomplished. Instead of like, the crafting workouts to make sure that they fuck and connect with their dad, or whatever the fucking bullshit is that this stuff is going on. I hate it. It's anti training is what it really is. It really is. And it's in it's a, it's a cancer for good coaches who have a passion for knowledge, because they get in and it's a fucking mind virus. It just chews up their brain and goes, Oh, this is the thing this is important. Mental health is the things like listening, if everybody who was fat as shit, got their shit together and got in shape and could move and accomplish things. The rate of depression and anxiety and those people if they eat better, and also dramatically improved, because those are side effects. And we do the same thing that the pharmaceutical industry does when we chase these things directly. We're just treating symptoms, bitch. That's all we're doing. Yeah, fucking fixing anything, you're just treating symptoms, you're just allowing a person a fucking emotional outlet? Well, let's actually fix the problem here by getting them in shape, getting them feeling accomplished, like, let's go. And I just, I think the more attention you give a thing, the more that thing will grow. Right? If I focus on just how my wife is just a little crabby, from time to time, I promise you the more mental attention I give that the more that's going to grow in my world, versus if I just appreciate the good things that she does all those things. I'm gonna appreciate more of that. I'm going to notice more of that in my work. And I think if you make more of your training, be like hey, all this other stuff that's going on. These are side effects. These are roadblocks along the way. To us getting you the real reason that you came in here for the results. That's it, man. Take a fat man and make him fucking Jack dude. That's that that man moves the world for you. It's crazy. It's like the greatest gift you could give somebody?


Yeah, it goes from trainer to coach to therapist to life. Coach and Guru. Yes. The trend.

Tyler 19:32

Yeah. And the problem is I don't think that I don't think of a word other than the guru thing. I believe there's a place for some partial crossover and some because people do lean on you for some of those things right? You are with someone for long enough somebody unloads some stuff on you, you got to be there for him conversationally and things like that because you're with these people for a long time. But anyway, your job description Well, yeah, well you for you know,


like you're saying I think being just a standard personal trainer is one of the most important jobs, there is your your, all those things you want to do, like you can do through their, what they want their goals, you can improve that internal rotation by helping them do what they want to do, you are going to talk to them about what's going on emotionally in their life. Like you're touching them more than their general physician more than their therapist, your point of contact. And yeah, I think you make a big impact on someone's life by doing the very thing that's helping them get to their goals, like you're talking about the basic stuff, your

Tyler 20:45

tools are not your entire training. And I think that's the thing is like these are all of these things are tools. And if you're like, wrapped up in something that you're kind of working on and fleshing out, absolutely experiment on this stuff with your new people, but don't make it your whole thing. And that's my thing, I'll, I've got some stuff where there'll be an exercise or a machine that I think is dumb that I can't figure out before I tell them to throw it in the garbage I go, I'm going to try this myself. I'm gonna put a bunch of my clients to try this and be like, Hey, I think this machine is fucking stupid. Let's see if we can figure this out with our five minutes at the end of sessions. Those are fun little learning experiences. But it doesn't mean a thing where it's like, I have to go. This is trash. We're never using this stuff, or I make my whole life about these things. All of these things are things that we're just trying to throw at the problem. I will use sandbags machines, I've had people who didn't touch a bar, who then all sudden will like want to learn to deadlift, I'm like, fuck yeah, I wouldn't put it on. I wouldn't put learning to deadlift heavy as a high list of priorities in my coaching philosophy. Because I kind of believe that it's a high risk. And for a lot of people and teaching them to manage I can get them to workout. I don't need the risk of hurting them over some lift. They don't give a shit about. But the moment someone asks, I'm like, dude, let's go. That sounds like fun. Yeah, but like, give them what they want. Man. This is. I just think that and I think that's the thing that you've done pretty well. And you what is the name of your project with you're one of the other coaches. Does it move boys? You still run on that project? Yeah. So just talk about the project. Yeah. It's just a blue boy mo ve boi S on Instagram. But it's fucking hilarious because it is it's just as soon as these over toes guy came out, everybody who followed his stuff for, let's be honest, 90 days, okay, there's just a blitz in 90 days. I'm sure he's been doing this for a very long time. And yeah, I'll be putting in his 10 years, but it became popular overnight. So everybody who jumped on his jock after three weeks, and made like all of their physical training philosophy about that stuff is a fucking poser, in my opinion. And that doesn't mean the stuff that he's doing is wrong. It just means now. I fucking hate you dorks. I just fucking hate it. And now everybody's doing fucking Nordic curls, which by the way, I do too. I have my clients do them a lot. I love them. I think they're really effective. But to act like I got some new gold. And I think when people see a new thing, they try to like it, make it all about them. Because now it is their philosophy. And they're on board with this new thing. And it's like, listen, bitch that and what is what was the thing you guys are repenting for? Like, heels over metatarsal. So there was this as long as you continue to convolute the fucking boundaries of the thing. I just think that that was really, really, really funny. So you guys do the most like anti fitness dogmas, stuff that I've seen out there. And I think the world needs that type of humor in the fitness industry. So those of us who are just regular people here can go, you're right. That type of stuff is pretty lame. But let's just zoom out here and just be dudes about this stuff. But

John Fairbanks 23:51

what's so fucking important is that while that becomes a joke and becomes a project, it's not. Now all you do with your clients as a personal trainer, correct, like you're still a fucking personal trainer first. And I think that's like It's wild. That becomes no matter what you are like, you can list off all the things that you are, right, all those roles that all those hats that you can wear as a personal trainer, but first and foremost, your personal trainer, and the person that you're working with, it's about them. It's about what they want to do. And I'm interested in 15 years in the industry and you're still and please fully appreciate the air quotes that go with you're still just a personal trainer 15 years like why why not? Why not get at like why not go do something more because I think there's so many people that are gonna listen to our podcasts that are very early in their journey. They're thinking about or they're getting started with coaching and there may be a future vision or goal of theirs to own a gym. Jim, and yet we're talking to you, and it's 15 years, and you're still just a personal trainer. Like, you know, quote, unquote, I would be, I would be curious as your thought process kind of through that, and especially over the last 15 years.


Yeah, owning a gym is something that I would not want to do. Personally. I've seen, I've seen most people actually, I was gonna say, I've seen some people do it well, but it's very hard. I wouldn't put that on myself. I mean, the liability, the overhead, I'm in a great spot now because I run out of space. I train my people there. It feels like I have a gym

Tyler 25:42

space. You rent time or space at somebody else's place. I rent a space. Yeah. Oh, yeah.


Yeah, and I know that if I do that, I'm no longer a personal trainer, which is what I love to do. I'm a gym owner, that comes with a lot of responsibility and different things I'll have to put my work towards. So yeah, I've just, I'm happy doing this. I actually one of my dreams was to be like an online Coach and Trainer, which I do a lot of that's a big part of my business. But there was a time before the pandemic where I wasn't trading with anyone in person anymore. It was all online coaching, online education. And I was not happy doing that. Funnily enough, during the pandemic, is when I started training people to live and bring him to the gym again. Like

Tyler 26:41

Bredon disease brother, I


I like it. Oh, yeah. became the hub for contact, but

Tyler 26:49

super spreader my man. You


I also realized, you know, we're talking about move boys, that is us making fun of ourselves in stuff we got nerded out about. And when I was doing the online training, I became pretty disconnected from reality. And when I started having that Gen pop come in, I got, you know, I got grounded really quick. And that's something I never want to lose.

Tyler 27:19

How many times in this, especially as you go back to coaching. And you mentioned the general population after being really immersed in what you mentioned, like online coaching, but you really were also doing a lot of things, on the knowledge base side of things, not just training people who are training but like, training trainers and training, right? Yes, exactly. So this becomes an informational transaction very often. And if there's one thing I've learned about training trainers and coaches is, by the time they're at that point, a lot of them are like not fucking working hard. And they're kind of just being distracted from their need to just worry about their business, worry about their clients and just work hard in the gym, just go do something, I don't even care that it'd be terribly productive, just work. And I find very often people use knowledge seeking as a distraction from the things that they're trying to do. It becomes your mistress. And it's like, alright, well, this is going to take away from everything else. Like trust me, you have all the tools you need to help these fucking people. But you're going to just go this way to sequester yourself away and wisdom land and but when you first got back to coaching people, I want to tell you a quick story cuz I want to see if there's something you can relate to when I got into like, running higher concepts and things like this, I did what everybody does, I tried to rush it into my into implementation within my gym, just like everywhere, made it too fast, too much too much about shit that people don't give a fuck about. Which is very embarrassing in hindsight, right? But everybody's been there, you've done it, everybody's done it. And when you do that, there's a moment. And this moment, when I'm telling somebody a thing about the thing that I need them to do, or that I need them to know, these fucking guys just glaze over. And it's the same moment I would get when I would explain to a customer when I was in their house as a service technician, about why their air conditioners were running. So well, this pressure is wrong here. And the superheat is not here and the capacitors are bad here because of this, this is this. And he wants to just pay you to know those things. Not to fucking tell me those things. Your car mechanic doesn't tell you fuck all about how anything works. It goes, We're gonna get you up and running. What do you want to know? And I'll tell you that and we'll give it how much is it going to cost? When can I get it back? Get it on the road? And how did you have some of those types of experiences? What do you get back in the general population that probably doesn't know how many followers you have on Instagram. Does it know that you're fairly well respected amongst other well respected people? Who just goes Listen, dude, I don't know what your bearded ass is trying to say. But did you have any of those moments where someone just like hey, what the fuck?


I've had those for 15 years, right? Yeah, that was more in the beginning because I was So sure, I knew Yeah, what I knew and now became less and less as I go on. But yeah, even now and when I'm because you can look at any trainer, what they're interested in will probably be what they're giving their clients. It's just gonna happen. But now when I'm interested in exploring something, I will experiment with it with the people I have not made it the whole thing, but like, hey, let's try this out. I'm not explaining it. I'm just saying like, mixing in a little bit of vegetables with them. Yeah. You know? And if I guess the biggest difference is if it helps in work, and the outcome improves, I will follow it. If it doesn't, I can let it go easily. Yeah. And that's kind of where I'm at. Now, I still want to learn, I still want to add tools. But the It stops with, does it help the person in front of me yes, or no

Tyler 30:58

context, it's all context does this application work in the context of Person A, person B, Person C, person D. And that's the thing you can try, you can abandon a tool for a guy pretty quick for a client pretty fast, and I will still try it on another person, if I understand what it's for. But the last you know, this is you try to teach somebody something or go through a thing, and they just don't like it because they don't like the movement or they don't like, there's just no reason to go forward any further with some unpleasant shit. Like all it's like dealing with children, it's like, I coach a coach a fair amount of like a handful, like high school students. And one of the things about them to most is I, it's, it's not 8020 or 9010, it is 50%, the stuff that I think they need to do, and 50% whatever the fuck they want to do, that's gonna make it fun. Because the thing that coaches Miss over the long haul, we talk client results. The big picture for John and I with what we want gym owners, coaches and personal trainers to do is deliver for somebody's lifetime fitness journey. That's what we use for this stuff. And for that people need to be enthusiastic about it, they need to have fun. Because if you want to spread health, fitness, wellness, whatever in your community, for your members, for your clients, whatever, what they need to do, is be consistent over a long enough duration of time, not optimized optimization is for fucking confusing dorks. And fucking it doesn't. It's not, that's not a thing that matters for you. Nobody out here listening to this is performing on a level to where optimization matters for your clients. I just don't believe it. But getting them to do some work consistently that they enjoy, because showing it will mate will breed consistency over a long enough timeline. And that is what's up. So for young kids, my priority is vastly shifted. Young kids, it's like, I don't get what you guys want. Do we get a pump? Let's do this game. We got to make this fun. And we will do something that I don't care whether you like it or not, because you are a kid, which by the way maybe won't do with an adult and won't be shut the fuck up and deal with this because you're 14 Fuck off. Here's what we're doing. But like you will get it wrapped up completely and like a really frickin cool fun experience. What do you want to listen to? Let's make it louder shit. Like, Let's jam like you need to make the vibe I think for people. Something that you need is a light , a fire where fitness can take space in their lives. Yeah, and so many coaches fuck that up. But just making it about shit that they already don't care about. Like, do you know how far you have to pull them along? Then if we're just dragging expertise in front of them and wisdom? Can you meet some of these people's like you can tell a lot of coaches and personal trainers, especially in the CrossFit space, because a lot of high performing CrossFit athletes and people were never any fucking good at team sports ever. And you can really tell because they're just not dudes about things. You know what I mean? It's just like Where the fuck did you ever have fun in a room with people like this is you can tell they're just the least interesting human beings in the goddamn world. And it's a wonder why they just dork their way through coaching. Instead of like, can you have fun in the weight room? Like I and I like to use the term weight room especially when I'm talking to kids and younger people because I want you to learn like a weight room vibe and it's for his weight room vibe is different but like diversity here the old like It's like Jocko shit with it was like he'd go to like at the Navy SEALs camp they go and they had like three Metallica albums in the disc changer. And someone went in and just tack welded a rod right in front of it so it just wouldn't come off. So every time these guys trained forever, they got to choose between one of three Metallica albums. There's something to be said, depending on your coaching culture, for just " can we get some tunes? And can we like to rip and have some fun? Like I want to yell I want to fucking laugh in the gym. I'll throw some shit around like this. It's fun and it's different for every client. But I think that like making sure like you mentioned an experience that they're having is an experience that they want to have. Because then they'll keep coming back. They'll keep paying for it, they keep delivering. And that's how you're gonna get somebody healthy over the long term. You're not gonna ride them harder optimize their fucking training better in eight weeks or 12 weeks. It's like, if you have fun, and you're getting results, and we cover the bases, man, we're gonna light a fire that's gonna burn for a long time.


Yeah, I think if you maybe can optimize for experience, that would be the thing to go for. Because then you get the buy in, then they come back, like you can't help someone if they don't show up. No, if you want consistency, adherence is number one in someone's program. And then yeah, if they're in a good environment, where they're all in there trusting they like you. They want to be there. It makes all the other stuff you want to do so much easier. Yeah.

Tyler 35:46

Yeah, I fully agree. So you've taken I think your idea, and I think this of staying back, now staying back, staying in your pocket where you're where you want to be also like you, you are training people, you're a personal trainer. But you are also simultaneously building a following online so that you can do other things to supplement your income. But you can absolutely live and feed yourself off of personal training. And I think that that's very important for people to understand is that being a gym owner is not leveled up beyond being a personal trainer. And when I opened my gym, I was barely coaching anybody beforehand. And in hindsight, what I would have much rather dump, I would have made so much more money if I had six clients as a personal trainer, and then then when I had 150 clients in my gym, hands down, I take home, I take home more money now than I do as a gym owner. I've got seven clients a fucking it's so much easier, so much easier for them. And I think a lot of good coaches get caught up in this race, they want to, they're gonna just gonna level up or very often, it's a status thing. They want to be just a personal trainer. It's like mother fucker. There's so few where I'm at where people are real, like grown up professional personal trainers that are really about it. Like they actually care. There's frankly, almost none. I'm sure there's more. I'm sure there's more where you're at DJ, but they're all here. They're all here. They're all.


All it's very, it's a very saturated market.

Tyler 37:19

Yeah. But in that you mentioned something about this like, because opening a gym comes with, you have to do so much more business, fucking personal training, the money goes right to you. If there's ever a process I like the most it's money going to me, and not with a bunch of bullshit in between me in it, by the way, because it's just so much easier to figure out to manage the price. I think it's more valuable for every person along the way. And it gives you a lot of flexibility in your time. Because I wasn't pulling hour for hour out of the business. When I owned a gym like I do now. It just didn't make any sense. But at this point here, when you're settled into this spot, what am I getting out here, you can go, you can go through this whole thing, where it's you, it's your clients, you're building a brand, and it's yours. And there's just not all of the other bullshit in the way. How do you adjust your income, you want to make more money? And you know, you get to a point where like, should I be as busy as I can be? What does it do for you as opportunities to level up your income?


Yeah, so I mean, I'm pretty tapped out with in person training at the moment. So you know, all it was private, I mess around with a semi private kind of group, which I don't enjoy as much, but that's a thing. But I'm concentrating primarily on the online space, which is like, that's a room I have to grow. Yeah. Yeah. So I'm trying to diversify in that sense. But yeah, I do. Personal training is what I love. And for me, it's always going to be the bread and butter. Yeah, because it helps with everything else.

Tyler 39:03

We should talk about semi private stuff real quick. Because your struggles I think are similar to a lot of people that get it if people that thrive in the one on one start to feel like we describe like maybe why you've you're a little sour on it, or just with some growing pains with that.


Yeah, why? Yeah, because I can't offer the same service and the same quality. I do one on one. So I'm making more money for my time, but I feel like I'm having to sacrifice what I was previously offering. Yeah, I mean, so so it's a trade off is

Tyler 39:41

cheaper for each individual. Right. So if there is an understanding, and this was like, this is cheaper, because inherently it is less valuable. Right, right, though. One of the things this is like the biggest when we work with a lot of gym owners that have run into this issue when they start launching semi private coaching, a lot of it depends On the coach. The other thing is, it really depends on the group. Yep. And doing semi private, as, as a scattered way of bringing in different I'm saying this how you're doing. And I'm just here, as a way of just bringing in different personal training people in together on the same hour is tricky. But it is a fucking awesome way to bring in a group of people who want to train together, I, I assembled a team, yeah, the I have to do people and it's like, hey, sometimes you'll have people that I'll try, I'll coach one person. And when they maybe can't afford it to continue, or it just goes on and I have fuck, maybe I want to go back to two times a week instead of three or whatever. They can bring in a friend, they pay less money, essentially get the same amount of stuff. And it's more fun. So it's like, I like doing it with crews of people that kind of know each other. And my wife, that's been her probably single most profitable group, it's like four to a rotation, it's like four to six, ladies, three to six. But it's a group of six. Not all can make it all the time. But they just come in and they're their friends and colleagues and some of them are related. And so it's just like, it's like a, it's truly as like a private class as opposed to an in that. That's where you can really go back to, like we've described, like crafting or optimizing for a fun experience, when everybody's there to have fun with the group. God does that rule. But I struggle. Same thing with that you describe when I got people that are all on different pages, you're like, does this suck for everybody? It sucks for me. And there's such a learning curve to that. And I think coaches that coach with pretty high connection standards, like if there're coaches that do very well being distant with people, when they are coaching them, which I think is okay, they'll come and say, hey, get to this, you kind of give them their space to work. There's other coaches that are more high contact, which is you're intervening more frequently in sets, reps, things like this, just more feedback, I tend to be that as a what's the word habitual over communicator. But in doing that, a person who's a very disconnected coach and can do a good job was saying less, is actually pretty good about bringing in people from different types, like just kind of three different personal training clients can come in onto this semi private hour, and they do a pretty good job because they're all like, kind of getting sent everywhere they're used to it and that person's vibe is that if you're a constant connection guy, you're gonna feel it and then they're going to feel it and so that's, that's at least our experiences, we've implemented semi private training with a lot of different gyms. And some of them we always move slow because it hinges on skill level and learning curve coach to that type of training and it won't be for everybody, but it's my favorite type of groups like I got I got a group at an office that I coached it's like two to three dudes that work together and they just want to disconnect from work and just talk shit for an hour and just dunk on each other and like it's fucking awesome. And so that's how I would send my private sours audio but also you don't want to try it. This is the tough thing gyms and coaches want to optimize for money. They go all right, we're all full on one on one yeah, let's start moving some semi privates so moving semi private. I use semi private as a down sell for people that want to stop. I can't afford to continue. I say How about we pull another person in? Do you have any ideas? That's kind of like an option for them out the door which then kind of levels up that hour for me otherwise if I try to box you try to we've tried to box and Jim like okay this is now a semi private off the coach and equipped for it. It's rough but I think you're a high effort high energy fairly well connected coach.


I did my best to put my hands on people. So that's and then I have to step back during semi private but I think you nailed it the social element, I think is what one of the biggest values of that is because you get a crew together who has a friendship and they enjoy seeing each other and that you know helps retention with like, I want to see my friends I can't get that out of the place. And not

Tyler 44:00

only that it's you're not running a full a true group fitness class you kind of are but they're paying way more money. So it's like it's just a way nice profitable hour and you can put in a little extra planning legwork for them and like it's nice you can it also gives you more room to gamify things it's weird to try to you don't get any competition even playful competition when you're just one on one with somebody you know so it's kind of nice to like pit some fools against each other. And that's kind of fun. The days get long and you have a lot of hours. Coach a lot of hours you gotta shake it up sometimes you gotta you got to turn it into Fight Club or whatever you know

John Fairbanks 44:39

that DJ You were always so really so confident in what you wanted to do is saying hey, I do you want to just be a personal trainer. This is where I want to stay. I want to stay right in this pocket. Early on in as you become a coach and as you look at the landscape. Did you have that side? We're in this call that drew you towards gym ownership. And then something stopped you, as opposed to just saying kind of where you are, where you were always as confident. This is what I want to do. And this is where you stayed.


Yeah, I don't, I never had the desire to open a gym. But I worked at so many gyms that went out of business. So I knew the owners and I saw the stress. I saw essentially people who enjoyed working out thinking it's a good idea to open up a gym, because they enjoyed working out themselves. And

Tyler 45:36

That's passion. That's what's tricky, right? Because that is what I am going to pursue my passion, I want to make my passion, my profession. And that's novel, it's or it's noble, it's the thing that we kind of advocate for, except can be fucking delusional about what those things are.


You don't, you might probably get to work out less. And for sure, I see it I like, right now I see personal training and gym ownership as two completely different businesses. Yeah, it's as different as someone who's a painter, wanting to get into manufacturing paint, like, you're doing what you're doing a different business, you're not going to do the same thing that you probably enjoy. So I think, I'm not saying it's good or bad, I just kind of think that's not something I desire. I

Tyler 46:28

think though this that's the trap is so many people fall into, because you're you're all of us out there, whether you're a gym owner, or a personal trainer, whatever it is, your career is your career, whether you're working for somebody in a gym, whether you're going to go kind of rent some time at some other spot, whether you open your own gym, your career, whether it's as a coach or whatever, it's yours, we have the responsibility for it, that poll to level up, it's just for those of us that are like a little ambitious, we just kind of lean into the next thing, instead of doing better at the thing that we're doing now, or being more effectively one of the things that I've seen a lot of good, passionate coaches, open gyms, and just eat shit. Just just eat shit, and it got some and then they get fat and they kind of sour on the industry. And they really don't like customers and clients and the whole process. They just got to, and it's just that it breaks them. It breaks the thing that they were passionate about. It takes it right out of them. And you mentioned something we talked about the other day, like what percentage of people that opened up boutique gyms in your neighborhood? What percentage of those are still open today?


Oh, I wish and it's nearly

Tyler 47:36

zero over.


I want to say for sure. Before the pandemic 75% went out of business in two to three years. Yeah, if you made it past that it was impressive. After the pandemic, I really didn't see many last things.

Tyler 47:53

Yeah. And I think that for those of you out there that are coaches know you can make a lot of fucking money as a coach, my wife makes more money as a full time personal trainer. It's more than I ever did, owning a gym, by the way that I ever probably could have with the structure that my business had. And like, probably made more than she might make more than I made as a real technician working for somebody else at a big boy job too. So you can really like it if it's about helping people and being in charge of your own time and not getting pulled all these other directions that happens when you own a larger structure. So many good coaches would be better served if they just got better at coaching at the job of being a coach, not just coaching. And that becomes marketing yourself. It becomes delivering client experience, it becomes treating your coaching business, your one to one or private personal training business as though it really is a gym, there's still issues that you need. There's lead acquisition, there's data, there's, there's scheduling, there's collecting, there's there's all this stuff, there's sales as all that stuff exists when you're a personal trainer, the amount of personal trainers that never get any good at that and then open a gym and then wonder why they can't get clients blows my fucking mind.


Yeah, yeah, yeah, that's why I started off at a Globo gym, and didn't have to do any sales because I was terrified and horrible. Like, I had no experience. They didn't then teach me that. Of course. It took a lot of self development and growth, to learn that skill on my own and, you know, develop that over time. But that was something I didn't think of like, oh, yeah, I like personal training. And then when I kind of went independent, I like oh, there's a sales aspect is the marketing aspect. So that was something I didn't enjoy. Now. I kind of enjoy that part that

Tyler 49:54

What were some of your Do you have like a story or a big aha moment when it comes? So like, jelly, like a first big sale or something like this where you go, Oh, this wasn't so bad. Was there a moment where it turned around for a little bit? It's


Something that stands out is there was a moment where I was doing better, you know, filling up my schedule, and I didn't feel the need or the desperation to get people and I started telling people, you know, I don't think we'd be a good fit. Or I could refer you out to someone else if these people wanted to train with me more than ever after that. I think it was just that I was no longer pushy, or, you know, I was just kind of desperate. Yeah, and that was something I don't know if I could have learned that confidence earlier. But it helped me learn. Yeah, learning styles and how I present myself and selling where if you just don't put too much pressure on the other person or yourself and you're like, This is what I have. If it's a good fit, great. If not, I still want you to know, you can find what you're looking for, then, yeah, that usually works out better. I

Tyler 51:10

I also think that as a personal trainer, as your own person, I think that's the best time and opportunity to actually work on a sales process in fitness. Whether that if you're gonna then go on to having a gym, you got discovered now, right? You know, this, like if you needed to that skill has been developed within you, DJ. And I think that that's really important. If you just went I'm coaching now shit, I'm not making enough money personal training, or let me just follow if I had 100 clients instead of 10 and just have a gym, let's just get a gym, and then you realize you suck at selling you hate it. And this is the fitness story for people that don't treat fitness gyms like an actual business. When Megan first started, she had never heard the coach before. So her first two clients, we built full offer stacks where it's just like, we've just built packages for her. So she didn't have to go in and go. It's this much procession. Usually we give some crutches right. And it's the stuff that we always sell, just give people the choice, right, top options, most expensive option, it's 12 week commitment, these sessions, nutrition coaching, we'll do some, you know, I'll check in with you on your food every day, you'll log in your shit with the app, we'll do the food or the regular training sessions. And we'll do body scan measurements every couple of weeks or whatever, right? This is the whole commitment up front, we have these other options that will be whatever right so it's just kind of some basic tiered options. Fortunately, she had never sold any other way before. She went in and she just sat down. This is like her very first sale. And we collect at the time people can pay money, there's monthly options, but someone picked the top option right fucking away. The first person she ever sat down with she came home with a check for like $2,600. Yeah, by the way, this is three hours a week. You know what I mean? This is like nothing, and you're like, Oh, shit. And so all of a sudden that confidence is and I think it's really important for people to treat. Those skills are as important as the things that you're trying to do in the gym. Because that sets the tone. It sets the expectation. And it really allows the client to be in charge of their own journey if they don't ever get a choice, or they don't ever, if they just feel like they're coerced into a thing, right? The upsell we fucking hate the most, if they feel coerced into that their commitment is tenuous at best. You know, it's really tough for them to hang on to that commitment when they feel nudged into it, because they got to recommit to you guys every day, they got to recommit when they go home, they leave the gym, to not stop at the fucking buffet on the way home himself. Do you ever have Pizza Ranch? These people are gonna say, Oh, you can eat pizza. And so there's just a type of thing where like, you need these people to commit every time they drive past McDonald's, they got to be committed. So if we nudge them up, it doesn't work. But if they make that choice, and they invest, it makes them more successful. And four to wrap the whole thing up that makes the client's results still the centerpiece of that sales process. It's not there, because it makes us the most money. It's there because they better be fucking bought in, and they know what they got. And if they didn't want that they could choose something else that we have, or they could not they could go anywhere else. But giving them some semblance of choices based on their results and their and their habits and their needs and their budget. Man, it's just treating those skills as though they are your coaching skills, because they're not unrelated. Man does that just it really changes the game for a personal trainer and for a gym. And that's the concept we want for. We like to use DJ stories, these other people's stories and situations to drive some of these concepts home. And I think in your case, it's like making it about the client, not about yourself. You know, make it about their results, make it about their outcomes, make it not about your wisdom and make it about what they want to do today. They want to have fun today. And I think that I think that you do such a great job of it and I think it's really commanding. But I like seeing somebody that's not chasing ambition for ambition's sake because when we level up as a gym owner we jump or from a trainer to owning a gym too fast. It's usually because we just want the status of moving up. You know what I mean? It's so I don't have to say I'm just a personal trainer. But now when I say I'm a personal trainer, and I go, I fucking work 11 hours a week. Fuck off, dude, what do you do all week? That's so hard. You don't go to hell. It's a dope job and it pays really well. So I think it's, I think it's an awesome profession. I think that more good coaches should consider that as the system that they live in and really develop and develop their influence in the capital B business,

John Fairbanks 55:45

right? Capital B business, even at the whether you're a coach to a personal trainer, and just like you've seen DJ, where it's like, listen, I was I was at a Globo gym, I made the jump to being independent, and then running my shit, like a bit like, like a business like a professional. I don't need that leveling it up, like leveling up from where I was, as a personal trainer, quote, unquote, at somewhere that fed me to then being able to run my own shit as an independent to where now I can feed myself. And treating that as professional, there is no level higher for me, like this is exactly where I'm meant to be, and where I want to stay. And then I can develop out of that one range where there's no aspiration to do more. And while we call the gym owners podcast, I think this is the biggest piece for Tyler and I. It's being a professional. Right? It's capital B business no matter what you do


So you said it, Tyler, but developing that part of the business and sales, I think comes down to maybe like interpersonal relationships and communication, right? Communication. That was the biggest thing that helped me as a trainer in the gym with a client as well. In what you're saying, you know, the people who aren't dudes, you know, these are trainers to come in. And I can relate. I think a lot of people who become trainers are autistic guys who like fitness. Yeah, right. And then you have this social element in which I had zero of that coming in talking to other people that didn't have that. But I was really like, I know about working out. I'm good at that. And I thought that would get me on but then I would see a lady at the gym who would know wasn't the the most it was basic workouts are whatever they're doing, but they were connecting with people on a deeper level. They were likable. Nobody wanted to work, they were doing their best. And I used to get upset about that. But then I realized no, like, as a professional. That's a skill that's functional, and she's helping people who want to come back. They want to work out with it. They're consistent, so that, you know, I had to learn about those skills, which in the end, I think made me more effective at helping people.

Tyler 58:18

You feel like it got you out of your own way to once you're gonna do once you come to those turn once you have that thing you're like this chicks, just just some Jazzercise bullshit in this fucking gym for 75 bucks an hour What the fuck? And you're like, Why are these people so happy? You're mad because you tried so hard to get good and know the best way and we said optimization is the dumbest thing in the world for you to worry about. And instead Yeah, you sit there and look at this. Fuck I just need that if I'd if you just do that with the skills that I have in there, like you can have your cake and eat it too. And yeah, so I think that's that's awesome DJ Thanks a ton for coming in. We really appreciate your follow DJ at strong camps on Instagram. He's got some online coaching and some just What else we got with the group go to his link tree that's on his Instagram at strong caps on Instagram. We won't fucking convolute the whole thing there but go there go if you listen to this, and you like DJ Khaled likable guy, go to strong camps, Instagram, check out his link tree you owe it to us for that. You owe us that. So thanks a lot for listening. Everybody should follow us at the gym owners podcast on Instagram. Follow John at Jay banks FL follow me at Tyler reference. Don't miss out the EFF ion zone go to gym owners also the link in the description here. We'll get you to the Facebook group, gym owners revolution. Thanks a lot for listening to everybody. We'll see you next week.

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