Mike: [00:00:04] Welcome to episode 26 of the How to Become a Personal Trainer podcast. We’re your hosts, Mike Vacanti.
Jordan: [00:00:09] My name is Jordan Syatt. And in this episode, the first 30 minutes, we go really off track. Mike and I went on a “secret mission,” if you saw on my Instagram. We had a blast. It was super fun. We tell you about it.
We tell you what the secret mission was about, and that was the first literal 30 minutes of the episode. So, if you want to skip past that, by all means, go for it. The second half of the episode is part 2 of the 10 things we wish we knew when we first started personal training.
Mike: [00:00:39] Enjoy.
Jordan: [00:00:49] Hello, Michael.
Mike: [00:00:49] How’re you doing?
Jordan: [00:00:51] Doing well, man. Doing well. How are you?
Mike: [00:00:54] I’m great. We just got this audio thing figured out so that a remote podcast should have optimal audio.
Jordan: [00:01:02] How was your lift today?
Mike: [00:01:04] Phenomenal. It was really good.
Jordan: [00:01:07] You had a little pull day?
Mike: [00:01:08] Little pull day, little bent over rows, little heavy hammer curls with a little bit of momentum, some inverted rows, some cable rows, and a lot of soft tissue work between sets.
It was great.
Jordan: [00:01:23] How long was it?
Mike: [00:01:25] Under an hour.
Jordan: [00:01:26] Oh, that’s not bad.
Mike: [00:01:27] I hit some more curls at the end, too. EZ bar, overhand grip. You know, I’m on this push/pull/leg, on day two and feeling real nice.
Jordan: [00:01:38] I like it.
Mike: [00:01:39] How was jujitsu?
Jordan: [00:01:41] It was good. Past couple days have been great. They’ve been going really well.
So yeah, feeling really good about it. Spoke with Mark Cerrone today.
Mike: [00:01:50] How’s he doing?
Jordan: [00:01:51] He’s good, man. He’s good. He’s saying that a lot of people — because the city is just insane — he’s saying that a lot of the people who usually do jujitsu in the city are getting Airbnb’s near him and just staying there.
Just because they care about jujitsu so much. They’re like, “listen, I’m just going to come out here, stay here for a month or two straight and just do jujitsu every day.”
Mike: [00:02:16] Dude, door to door it’s probably two hours each way of commuting from the city and then to get there. That makes sense if they don’t have a reason to be there.
Good, good. I’m glad he’s doing well. I love that guy.
Jordan: [00:02:31] Overall, man everything’s good.
I know We just got back from our secret mission,
Mike: [00:02:38] Top. Secret. Mission.
Jordan: [00:02:40] That was great. And I know we’ve gone back and forth on whether or not we wanted to talk about it — just because, in general right now, everything is so divisive, right? Everything is just so angry and people are just putting their own opinions and beliefs on other people and if they think that they disagree with one thing about them, then all of a sudden, they’re vilified and bad.
But one of the reasons we also started this podcast is so that we could just be open and honest and tell the truth.
Mike: [00:03:18] That was literally the selling point on why I wanted to do this with you.
Jordan: [00:03:24] Yeah. So, I figured if we can’t talk about what we did on the secret mission, then what’s the point, right?
Why even bother?
Mike: [00:03:33] Absolutely. Let’s fill the people in,
Jordan: [00:03:35] So what Mike and I did: we took a course on firearms. Like, a course basically to learn more about firearms. Because, speaking about myself personally, I knew literally nothing about guns. Literally nothing.
I didn’t know how to load a gun, I didn’t know how to shoot a gun, I didn’t know about different types of guns. I knew literally nothing. And the only information that I had been exposed to about guns was from the media. There was literally it.
And I realized that I didn’t know anything about guns and I was like, if someone in the fitness world came to me and all of their knowledge about fitness and nutrition was from the media…it usually was not good.
It was a very skewed perception of what proper nutrition actually looks like. And I was like, “man, this isn’t good. I need to have an educated opinion of guns before I can actually have an intelligent opinion of guns.”
And so, it was really exciting. It was a two-and-a-half-day course learning everything from gun safety, to gun malfunctions, to different types of guns, to how to handle a gun, how to shoot a gun.
And I really enjoyed it. I was scared a lot of it, but I really enjoyed it.
Mike: [00:05:07] Dude. I had a great time.
And we come from similar backgrounds in the sense that I had shot a gun one time in my life. I think I was 17 years old and my grandpa, who lives in Northern Minnesota, took me out and we had a shotgun and I shot it a few times and it basically knocked me over with the kick and that was the extent of my experience. I was like, “okay, this isn’t for me.”
And over the past, probably 10 years, 8 to 10 years, since I quit my accounting job and went on — you could think of it in the context of a hero’s journey — but almost all of my effort over the last eight years has been on fitness and business.
My own fitness, helping other people with their fitness, and the business that grew from those two things. And to put it in the context of a book I’m reading right now, “King, Warrior, Magician, Lover,” that’s a very “warrior/hero” mentality.
He talks about four pillars of the male psyche and that “warrior/hero” side is a lot of ego, a lot of hard work, a lot of sometimes doing things for the wrong reasons, it’s a lot of pure effort, achieve a result at all costs.
And as I’ve gotten older and more mature and into a more serious relationship and started considering having a family and what will that look like? What would that look like when I have kids? What do I want to be as a father? What skills do I think I will need to be a competent leader and father and protector of my family? Part of what was missing from that picture — and by the way, that hasn’t been an easy transition for me.
Like, working hard all the time is super easy for me, but going from prioritizing other values and, in the context of the book, shifting from “hero/warrior” into the “King,” which is the fourth pillar of this square.
And making that transition hasn’t been easy, but when thinking about the skills that I want to move into this next chapter of my life, being able to protect and defend the people I love is something that I’m lacking and that I think that I need.
And so, the jujitsu that we did down in the course — jujitsu with plastic firearms — so if anyone ever pulled a gun out on you, how do you react? Where do you grab them? Where do you grab the gun? What do you do in that situation to maximize your safety and disarm that villain?
We talked about situational awareness and then–
Jordan: [00:08:19] That was fun.
Mike: [00:08:21] That was really fun.
And then the firearm safety and then shooting — accuracy and moving with a pistol and everything from loading to — they really hammered the safety home on us — but by the end of the two and a half days, we both felt pretty comfortable with a gun in the holster and shooting it. Which surprised me because it felt like, in a short amount of time, we really covered a lot. It felt extremely beneficial for me.
Jordan: [00:08:56] Yeah. I think one of the best parts about the course and surprising parts at the same time was how much emphasis they put on not only not shooting, but not even drawing your weapon. They talk about different types of permits you can have, just a permit to have a gun at your home versus a concealed carry permit. And, by the way, the people teaching it, they were all like special forces in the military, they’re all incredible guys.
Mike: [00:09:26] 30 years Green Beret, like Delta Force Commander was one of our instructors. These guys were unbelievable in what they’ve accomplished.
Jordan: [00:09:36] Yeah. Just extraordinary in every way. And one of the things they were talking about was how they hate how a lot of people, when they get a concealed carry permit — which basically just means you can carry your weapon around in a holster as long as no one can see it — they hate that a lot of them feel like they get in any form of altercation and their first response is to pull the gun out.
It’s like, that is not the right way to carry a gun. The gun is a last resort, last resort, last resort.
And so much emphasis was put on not using the gun. Like, it was very encouraging. It was really, really encouraging to see these guys who, you know, they’ve shot every gun you could ever imagine, they’re very comfortable with guns, at every opportunity, talking about gun safety, talking about not using the gun, doing everything in your power to avoid using a gun. It was really refreshing.
And this is, by the way, coming from: my upbringing was the ultimate anti-gun. My mom my whole life was so anti-gun. Like, at every point in time in my entire life, “guns are bad. Guns are bad. Guns are bad. Guns are bad.”
And it was actually really interesting because recently, with everything going on, for the first time in my life, my mom was like, “you know, I’m thinking about getting a gun.”
I was like, “what?!?” She was like, “you know, just to protect myself. Things are getting a little crazy.” I was like, “Mom, my whole life, you have gone above and beyond to instill within me your thoughts about guns being terrible.” And she was like, “yeah, but I think, you know, times are changing.” And I was like, “wow, well, you know, if that’s something you’re thinking about, first we have to get educated in it.”
And so I think this was one of the best parts about taking this course is — I related it back to fitness nutrition before — it’s like, you can have opinion on anything you want, but if you want to have an educated opinion, you have to get educated on the topic.
And it’s very, very cool for me to have at least a base, cursory knowledge in guns now. And it’s inspired me to learn more about it, to investigate it more because there’s so much nuance to it that the media won’t show you. There’s just so much nuance that you can only get through practice and through doing.
It was a blast. I had a lot of fun. I was scared. Holding the pistol, like drawing the pistol, loading, it was scary as hell. Like, I was super scared. Even by the end of it. I was still scared.
Mike: [00:12:19] There are two things that came to my mind in listening to you just now, one of them was: when I got back to Minnesota and my parents were asking me about it, “how was it? What did you learn?” One of them asked what the biggest takeaway or thing I was most surprised by, and it was: taking the course made me never ever want to have to use a gun. I never want to be in a situation where I have to use a firearm.
And so, then my mind goes to additional preventative steps. And this is something that our instructors talked about, which was home security, having the Ring camera on the front door that I was talking to you about, doing different things to your home and with your security system to maximally prevent an intruder, maximally prevent something bad from happening that would require you to, you know, if we were to go on with the process and purchase a gun at some point, if and when it made sense in our lives, to go into the safe and pull the gun out.
Taking the course made me never want that to happen and to do whatever I can to prevent that from happening.
The second thing was — you talk about being scared; I was equally pissing my pants before we had even had it loaded. And, you know, it’s interesting to be a 33 year old man and have an unloaded weapon on my hip and be in the company of one of my best friends who I absolutely trust with my life and then three incredibly trustworthy, competent individuals, but I was still afraid of what that thing could do.
And it made me think about — I think I mentioned this to you, but Carl Jung talked about the integration of the shadow and the difference between good and incompetent. And he talks about how just because a rabbit doesn’t hurt people doesn’t mean the rabbit is good, it means the rabbit is harmless. It means the rabbit lacks that capacity.
He talks about good being, having the capacity to bring violence, to do evil. Having that capacity, but integrating that into your psyche and not using that competence for evil. And in the first couple hours, these were thoughts running through my head, like, it was a weird sense that took over me, like of what I could do with this thing on me. And over time, and I think repetition and getting comfortable with it, it became more normal and I felt more comfortable with it.
But initially, like you, I was terrified. Which, I wasn’t expecting that feeling.
Jordan: [00:15:25] Yeah. Yeah, it was a great course. The name of the course, if anyone wants to look into it, it’s called Sheepdog Response. Cannot speak highly of it enough.
It was just really, really well done, incredibly focused on safety first and foremost, and again, I had never shot a weapon in my life and went from literally going from there all the way to doing a mini obstacle course with a loaded pistol, which was exciting.
Oh, I was just thinking about this when you were talking about different strategies to use at home without a gun to prevent a home invasion type of thing — I was talking to my girlfriend’s grandfather about it.
He told me a funny story. He was like, one of his good friends, what he did, when he went to the shooting range, you know, they have those posters of the silhouettes of people to aim at and shoot at. And he went to the shooting range and, you know, littered them with bullets and he hung those up in his garage.
So, like, if someone was ever going into the garage, they’d be like, “ah, you know, maybe I don’t want to go into this.”
Mike: [00:16:34] “Maybe I’ll rob someone else…”
Jordan: [00:16:36] Yeah, exactly. It was funny listening to one of the instructors talking about how he’s like, “honestly, get a dog. You get a mean dog in your house and someone comes in and it’s like, they’ll think twice before they go in there.”
He’s like, “there are many steps to take. So, so, so, so many steps to take before, nevermind firing the gun, before you should even take the gun out.”
And this is a side that I haven’t heard publicly. I haven’t heard this discussion anywhere about how the responsibility of a gun owner has little to do with using the gun and more to do with not using the gun. The responsibility of a gun owner is to, in any and every situation, do your absolute best to not use that weapon. I think it’s just a side of the story that I haven’t heard brought up and articulated nearly as well as they did at our course.
Mike: [00:17:37] Yeah. Yeah.
Jordan: [00:17:40] So. That’s that.
Mike: [00:17:41] It was a great time. Secret mission, complete.
Anything else we want to hit on before we dive in?
Jordan: [00:17:53] I will say, just for anyone who’s interested, we did, I don’t know, two, three, four hours of jujitsu one morning.
Mike: [00:18:02] Close to four. With a black belt.
Jordan: [00:18:06] And it was very interesting to see the difference in jujitsu when you’re just doing jujitsu with another person doing jujitsu versus jujitsu when the other person has a weapon or if you have a weapon. And it was a big difference in how you approach hand to hand combat when someone, maybe they’re not even holding the weapon, maybe it’s just holstered, whether it’s a knife or a gun, whatever it is like the whole process of being able to sort of grapple with the individual, feel for a weapon, trying to make sure they don’t have anything on them while you’re fighting them. And then if you do find it, how to disarm them and to make sure you and everyone else in the area is safe.
It was a very cool introduction into that type of combat, which I had never done before.
Mike: [00:19:00] Yeah. Yeah. That’s cool to hear from you because you have a solid amount of jujitsu experience. So, to hear that that was even different is interesting.
Jordan: [00:19:11] Yeah. So much of jujitsu is very holistic. It’s a very holistic martial art. When someone has a weapon, the holistic side goes out the window and it’s all about, “get your hands on the weapon to make sure that they can’t use it.”
It’s not about getting them in a heel hook or getting them in a choke, it’s like, you could be choking someone and if they have a weapon, they could be stabbing you, they could be shooting you. It’s like, all of the traditional stuff goes out the window and all of your focus goes to that weapon first and foremost.
It was interesting and it was super fun. It’s definitely something I’ll be exploring more.
Mike: [00:19:53] Yeah, likewise.
And for anyone listening still, thinking, “is that really necessary?” Like, maybe “I’ve been walking on Earth for 30 years or 40 years, and I’ve never had the need for a weapon so far. I’ve never gotten into a scuffle with someone in a parking lot who pulled out a gun. I’ve never been robbed at gunpoint. None of that’s ever happened. Do I really need these skills?”
That’s something that I’m thinking about myself, because the time and effort to adequately prepare yourself for situations like this, especially if you’re going to consistently train a martial art, are massive. It’s a real, real commitment.
You know, obviously to this point in my life, when I’ve just been thinking about protecting myself, it hasn’t been worth it to me. The idea of protecting kids, my kids, obviously makes me rethink my previous thought process.
So that’s a piece of it and then there’s another piece, almost like a naive optimism about the near future of the world. Meaning there are people who seem to think that we have evolved past evil or we have evolved past violence, like that is all behind us. And especially if you’re a millennial or whatever’s right above it, you know, if you’re in your thirties or your forties, people who don’t pay a lot of attention to history don’t have great context for, you know, humans have been around for, I don’t know how long, but a long, long time. And within the last century, like World War II and the Holocaust was less than 80 years ago.
Like, that’s a grandparent away from immense, unspeakable terror and evil.
Jordan: [00:22:07] There are genocides happening right now.
Mike: [00:22:10] Yeah. And that’s another thing like, think about, “oh, I’m safe because I’m in this part of the world.” Like, “this is a safe part of the world and I’m okay because I’m not over there where bad things happen.”
It’s like, the capacity for evil is unfortunately part of us and is everywhere. And so, I think you can make a very good argument, and I think it’s probably the right argument, that being able to defend yourself against that is the proper approach.
Jordan: [00:22:42] One of my favorite quotes — I wish I knew who said it, you might know who said it. I wish I know who said this quote — that really got me to very much focus on martial arts and self-defense was, “I’d rather be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in a war.”
Do you know who said that?
Mike: [00:22:58] Dude, I think we pulled that from a YouTube comment on a Connor McGregor video.
Jordan: [00:23:03] Oh my God. But I think they took it from someone else.
Mike: [00:23:07] Yeah, someone said it.
Jordan: [00:23:09] That quote legitimately impacted me so deeply that it’s — I’m just going to say it again for everyone listening:
“I would rather be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in a war.”
And the way that I think of it as like, number one, what a blessing it is to live in a world in which we even have the ability to think that violence might not be something we encounter. What a blessing, right?
But in the one instance that it might be, I would rather be prepared than not. And if that means spending a significant portion of my life learning and educating myself and preparing for it then yeah, I think that’s worth it for myself, for my family, for my future kids, all that stuff.
And not to mention, even violence and self-defense aside, just the mental and emotional benefits, the self confidence that you get from learning how to defend yourself. Just the confidence that can get waking up, walking down the street, going to the grocery store.
It’s sort of like the most common thing that I hear from people who deadlift is, “it’s so empowering because I feel so strong” when they get stronger deadlifting. That’s the same thing that I hear for both women and men who learned self-defense; it’s so empowering to know that, God forbid I get put in this situation, at least I know how to defend myself. That confidence in and of itself, it’s like walking out of the gym after a good deadlift session you’re like, “yeeeeaaaah, I’m a beast. I’m strong.” That’s the same type of confidence you get from self-defense. But I’d say personally, from having done both at a decently high level, you can be a really strong deadlifter, but it doesn’t mean you know how to defend yourself.
Mike: [00:25:15] Yep. They’re different skillsets.
Jordan: [00:25:18] When I was doing boxing, even now with jujitsu, there are people that I work with, that I roll with, that I fight with that are not nearly as strong as me in the gym, but man, they lay a beating on me in practice.
So, if you like the feeling of getting stronger, you will equally, if not more like the feeling of being able to defend yourself.
Mike: [00:25:40] And I think it’s almost easier to make an excuse as to why that is not necessary or relevant because it is so hard. Like, training is so hard.
I don’t know if it was your quote, I heard it from you. I think it probably is in the martial arts world in some form, but basically, “you spend 10 years getting your ass kicked and then you’re a black belt. That’s what training jujitsu is.”
It’s easy to not want to do it because it’s so difficult, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less important.
Jordan: [00:26:27] So actually, I’m interested in this, because you and I have spoken about it a little bit, but like it seems like you don’t like jujitsu very much. When you do it, you’re like, “Ugh, like, I don’t like it.”
Mike: [00:26:39] Dude, honestly, I’m miss rolling with Dennis. Dennis is our instructor.
Jordan: [00:26:46] Dennis is a black belt, phenomenal, unbelievable fighter who just makes us both look like we’re rag dolls.
Mike: [00:26:52] Yeah. But, no, I actually really enjoyed… yeah, I don’t like it nearly as much as weightlifting. That’s a fact. Not even close. I feel great when I’m lifting, my body feels good. Like I described, I’m getting some active recovery in between sets, I come out of there feeling stronger.
I’m very introverted and so I do a lot of good thinking when I’m lifting by myself with headphones in, like, it’s good alone time compared to, you know, getting whipped and thrown on my back by someone for an hour or two and coming out of there barely able to walk — which some of that is beginner, noob, you know, you get through it after a month or two.
And part of it, you know, to make an excuse, but that is honest, is circumstantial. Like, we had a really good couple of sessions in a row with Mark right before Corona hit and then, you know, it became a two-hour commute to get out to his place in Connecticut rather than going to Henzo’s in the city.
So, I’m definitely not writing it off for the future, but it’s much more likely I smashed push/pull/leg, and, you know, aesthetically recomp my way to maximal gains in the next two to three months here in Minnesota, than drive 45 minutes to Apple Valley and sign up for privates there.
Jordan: [00:28:19] What do you think is your least favorite part of jujitsu? Like, when you’re doing it, what is the thing you hate the most about it?
Mike: [00:28:30] Well, I can tell you the thing I like the most — it’s immediately after the session’s over and the fact of being done with something that’s really difficult.
It’s kind of like writing. Unless you’re in a real flow state, it’s hard to enjoy writing. Most people who write procrastinate writing. But the feeling of having written is a great feeling. That’s, my favorite part.
It’s too early to really know, right? Like, you talk about just getting beat up after week after week, month after month, and not even knowing how you were getting beaten up, and then the incremental learning leads to, “oh, I realize that they did this and I should do this,” and there’s those little steps over time.
I’ve only gone a handful of times and through that process I’m unaware of how I’m getting owned. I just know that I’m getting owned.
Jordan: [00:29:26] Yeah. Yeah. It’s interesting for me watching from a bystander point of view, just because you are very good. Like, you have a very good base.
Mike: [00:29:37] I knew that’s where you were going. I don’t know if this strategy’s gonna hook me in.
Jordan: [00:29:45] This is my roundabout way of trying to get you back into jujitsu.
It’s just so interesting because watching from a bystander point of view, you’re very good. You have very good base, you moved really well, and I also know you don’t like doing it at all.
Mike: [00:29:59] Yeah. I mean, I still can’t really turn my head left, so there’s that aspect too. We’ll see. Once things open back up and we can put the craziness of this year behind us, hopefully, you know, sooner than later for everyone’s sake, and things get rolling in the city again, you know, never say never as the great Justin Bieber documentary is named.
Jordan: [00:30:24] Is that a picture of your dad in the background?
Mike: [00:30:27] Yeah, it is. It is.
Jordan: [00:30:29] That’s a great picture.
Mike: [00:30:30] Someone made it for him.
Jordan: [00:30:33] I like that.
Mike: [00:30:34] Yeah. It’s pretty cool.
This is his office space that he’s letting me use while I’m here.
Jordan: [00:30:40] Did you pick that microphone up just for this?
Mike: [00:30:43] Oh yeah. I don’t want our listeners to have to suffer through these Apple headphones of mine.
Jordan: [00:30:51] I like that.
All right. You want to get into the topic for the day?
Mike: [00:30:58] Are we naming this “Gun Safety with Mike and Jordan,” or are we naming this “10 Things We Wish We Knew, Part 2?”
Jordan: [00:31:05] “Gun Safety, Jujitsu, and a Little Bit of Personal Training.”
Mike: [00:31:08] In the last episode we hit list items 1-5 on things that we wish we knew when we first got into online coaching. We’re hitting 6-10 in this episode.
1-5 were great. If you haven’t listened, you can listen to them in any order. So, once you’re done with this episode, if you want to jump back and listen to the first 5, you’ll enjoy those, but we’re going to pick up with number 6, which is:
It doesn’t matter what other coaches think of you and your content.
Jordan: [00:31:41] You want to take the lead on this one?
Mike: [00:31:44] You know, I don’t know if this is a mistake that I made too badly, for whatever reason. It’s a mistake that we all suffer with at least a little bit at times, but the short and sweet of it is you’re making content for people that you’re trying to help; you’re making content for your ideal future potential client. You’re not making content that Eric Cressey is going to be blown away by and see in his “explore” feed and follow you and then like all your pictures and tell you that you should be the next great shoulder specialist.
Don’t use words and phrases and expressions that hit home with one out of a thousand people and completely missed the mark on everyone else when there are so many people who need what you have to offer.
It’s the equivalent of giving a presentation to a group of fourth graders and you’re literally presenting a Master’s thesis. It’s like, who are you trying to impress here? These are the people who need you, not the people who are going to understand that.
Jordan: [00:33:02] Yeah. And to piggyback off that, I think a lot of coaches are afraid to post at all just because they’re so worried about another coach coming into the comment section and saying “you’re an idiot.”
So many coaches are worried about creating content period, just because they don’t want someone to think they’re stupid.
Now, the mistake that I made, which is what you were just talking about, which was trying to present myself as a coach that I’m not. Trying to present myself in a way that mimicked those I admired, to be perceived as those I admired. So, Eric Cressey was the perfect example and I’ve spoken about it a million times, I admire Eric Cressey more than words can express and he was the coach that I really modeled everything I did off of. Everything from the type of content I posted, how I posted it, where I posted it, how I wrote it, how I spoke, the frequency with which I did it. Literally, he was the guy that I modeled most of the beginning of my career off of.
So if you look back at my early articles, I would write in a way, using big words that I hardly understood or big words that I knew that regular, lay people wouldn’t understand specifically because I remember how it felt to read Eric’s articles when I didn’t understand it and my first thought was, “man, he’s so smart.”
So, I just wanted people to think that I was smart. But it didn’t help anybody. It didn’t help people. It didn’t give anybody tools or tricks or strategies or ideas to improve, it just fed my own ego. So, if you’re trying to create content to feed your own ego, you’re going to be making a huge mistake.
You’re not going to grow your business, you’re not going to grow your audience, you’re just going to be making content in a way that tries to sound smart. And as a result, you’re going to be left not helping anybody or yourself.
On the other end, which is what I was just talking about, is the people who are scared to make content at all. Or maybe they make content every once in a while, but they’re very infrequent because they’re so scared someone’s going to call them out. I was literally just talking with a client about this today. This client of mine, who I’ve worked with for years. She’s amazing. Gyms have shut down and with everything going on, she’s like, “you know what, it’s time for me to finally start making fitness content.”
She made a whole separate Instagram and she’s petrified. She was talking to me about it, she’s petrified. She was like, “I don’t know how you do this. I’m so scared of what people are going to say.” And I think this is very common, but I think what you said, Mike, about number one, understanding that the other coaches that are, that might see your content, they’re not going to be your clients. They’re not going to be paying you. What they think, literally, does not matter. What they think about you literally does not matter at all, in the least, whatsoever.
It doesn’t mean your fear is invalid, but it does mean that you shouldn’t let that fear prevent you from being able to help people.
I think that’s probably the biggest takeaway here — it doesn’t mean don’t be fearful. You’re welcome to be fearful. You can feel whatever way you like or whatever way you feel, but don’t allow that fear to prevent you from making content that will 100% help people.
And be okay with messing up. I think probably the thing that helped me the most with that is be okay with being wrong.
Mike: [00:36:44] Yeah. Be open to getting corrective feedback. Because when you set your ego aside, that’s not a bad thing. That’s a good thing because you’re learning from it. You can take that and incorporate it in the future.
So, being open to the fact that you’re wrong, being comfortable not knowing everything, and saying you don’t know everything, and if you’re asked a question you don’t know, the answer is, “I don’t know, but I’ll go find the answer and get back to you.”
And then on the subject of fear of being corrected, being called out, being made, look foolish, fear of being wrong — the pain of that fear has to be outweighed by the pain of not doing good, of not building a business that is going to support you and your family, of not making content that is going to help people on their fitness journey.
When you weigh those two pains — or you could think of it as the pain of being embarrassed or having your feelings hurt a little bit because you were wrong versus the reward of what happens when you consistently write articles, consistently post, consistently make content until the point where you’ve grown your business to where you want it.
It’s a no brainer when that’s what you’re comparing.
Jordan: [00:38:09] That’s a great one. That’s like the “choose your hard” mentality, right? Where it’s like, working out is hard and the results of not working out are hard, right? It’s like, they’re both hard. You’ve got to choose your hard.
I like that example a lot. That was very well said.
Mike: [00:38:25] Thank you.
Number seven thing that we wish we knew when we first started online coaching is that testimonials are underrated and make sure you’re making your testimonials about your client, not about yourself.
I think if you’ve been a, not even a coach, but if you’ve just been someone who works out, who follows the fitness industry long enough, who’s interested in fitness and who’s involved in the community in whatever way you develop deep cynicism around before and after pictures.
And maybe that phase has passed a little bit. I spend much less time on the internet than I once did, but I think the phase of life–
Jordan: [00:39:15] What a great feeling that is, right?
Mike: [00:39:19] I actually saw you posted something that really made me laugh out loud. On a Q&A someone asked like, “what is the secret to happiness?” And you’re like, “I don’t know, but it’s definitely not Instagram.”
Going back, there’s a lot of cynicism around before and after pictures because they’re so easily doctored, they’re so easily faked, we can do whatever with sodium and lighting and a pump and angles and, you know, pop it this way, flex this way. We know this, but almost everyone in the world doesn’t know that.
And just because you can fake progress pictures to make it look like someone made more progress than they actually did, that does not invalidate the clients, the people who made really good progress. And documenting that progress because, after having spoken with hundreds and thousands of clients, potential clients, testimonials are what pushed the majority of people to sign up for coaching.
Seeing both photo evidence and story of what others have accomplished is what is going to lead to a great number of people to sign up for your coaching.
So, testimonials are underrated.
Jordan: [00:40:48] They are very underrated. And I think this is a topic we could talk about for a long time. I think the biggest mistake that I see coaches making with this is when you’re posting a testimonial from someone, especially a picture. Especially a picture of them.
Written testimonials, I think it’s still the same, but there’s something more tangible about a picture testimonial that I think you really need to pay attention to. I see a lot of coaches posting a picture testimonial and literally just being like, “you can get results like this, too, in my coaching program. There are two spots left, sign up now” and it’s like, ugh. Just, ugh.
Mike: [00:41:30] Yeah.
Jordan: [00:41:31] I want to know who that person is. I want to know the person in the picture.
And even if their face is blurred out and they don’t want you to use their name, tell me about them. How did they find you? What were they scared about when they first signed up? What did they struggle with? How hard did they work? Tell me about the stuff that they did that most people don’t do. Tell me what their perseverance. Tell me about their children. Tell me about all the stuff that they did that helped them get to where they are. Tell me the story of that person. Talk that person up.
Don’t go into your pitch, asshole. Like, I hate that. It’s just gross. And I guarantee the person who’s in that picture feels gross and used when you go immediately into, “you can get results like this, too!” Versus if you spend that entire caption talking about how amazing that person is and how hard they’ve worked and how much you respect and admire them, they’re going to feel like a million bucks.
And they’re going to share that with all their friends and family. And other people reading that are going to be like, “I want this coach to think that way about me.” And then they’ll want to work with you.
Mike: [00:42:47] And the very bottom line is, just from a moral perspective it’s just the right thing to do
Jordan: [00:42:53] 100%.
Mike: [00:42:55] In honor of what that person did.
Jordan: [00:42:58] So don’t make that mistake.
I will say — and it sort of goes against this whole topic, but someone recently asked me in a Q&A, they’re like, “how come I don’t see your page flooded with testimonials like I see every other fitness page flooded with testimonials?”
And I think the reason for that now is because I’m not trying to get new clients. So actually, no, it doesn’t go against it, it goes right in line with it. I’m not trying to get new clients.
If I was trying to get, especially more one on one coaching clients, I would post more testimonials because that would help me get more one on one coaching clients. I think it’s the single best way from a quick turnaround perspective — post this, get new coaching applications. That’s how that works.
I think the long-term strategy is great content, helping people, strategies, podcasts, YouTube videos, Instagram posts, TikToks, Facebooks, tweets, website articles. The long-term strategy to get someone who follows you and then maybe six months, a year, two years, four years later to ask for coaching is through content creation, helpful content.
Short term, you want a new coaching client, want 10 new coaching applications? Post an amazing transformation picture, it’ll happen right away.
So, I think the reason I don’t do it now is because I’m not looking for new clients. And it’s a very unique situation to be in. I think for most people listening to this, you’re probably listening because you want more coaching clients, but I will also say, even though they’re the quickest turnaround, I would say they’re like the rapid fat loss protocol.
They’re like the rapid fat loss approach versus content being the sustainable fat loss approach. And if we want to go back to what Mike and I have spoken about a million times before is: the ultimate sustainable fat loss approach would be writing a long form website articles.
If you really want people to find your content forever and get clients without having to post a new testimonial, without whatever, just make a great website article about fat loss or about cardio or about strength training.
Do that every month, one new article a month. That will be a very sustainable way of getting new clients in all the time.
Mike: [00:45:06] Absolutely right.
I really like where you took that example and, to make a slightly bold statement that I think is true, though, the type of client that you get from posting, an amazing transformation photo, you know, maybe they just came across that transformation photo. Maybe they just started following you, or maybe they don’t follow you, but they got tagged in it and from that tag, they apply to your coaching — that client is going to be, on average, quite a bit more work than the client who is following you, likes your ethos, likes your fitness philosophies, has started to try to incorporate it into their life, struggled for whatever reason, and then decided to reach out for coaching. That client is going to, I guess, at the end of the day, just take less time, be more aligned with you already. Whereas you’re more likely to have some battles early on getting on the same page with someone who just signed up fresh off of a progress picture that you posted.
That is not a reason not to post testimonials. A client is a client, especially if you’re either just starting or in the process of building your business. And those long email conversations early on can be enlightening for a new client who needs that information, but it’s just something to think about when you’re thinking about where new clients are coming from.
Jordan: [00:46:42] Yeah, absolutely. And I think to go along with that, what happens is when someone signs up — not all the time — but generally speaking, on average, when someone signs up from just a transformation picture, they’re going to you being like, “okay, I want these results, help me do it.”
But when someone signs up for coaching with you from understanding your content, understanding who you are, learning more about you, reading your articles, watching your videos, they’re signing up with YOU. Yes, they want good results, but also, they like you, they see you as someone that they want to be friendly with.
It’s a different approach when someone says, “oh, I see that picture. I want those results. Sign me up.” It’s a very transactional relationship. “I pay you, you get me those results.” Period. End of story. Which can be a little bit more demanding, a little bit harder to live up to.
But when someone signs up with you after six months, a year, two years of following your content, getting to know you better based on what you publicly put out, they’re going to be way easier to work with because a huge part of them working with you is specifically because they enjoy you and they like you, they want to support you.
So, it is a very different client. And you might get an amazing client from a testimonial and you might get a terrible client who’s followed you for years, but on average, I think you’ll find that holds true.
Mike: [00:48:16] On average. Exactly right.
Number eight: storytelling and the value of repetition and stickiness.
Now, this is a mistake — this is something that I wish I knew about when I first started online coaching. This is something that I wish I knew about right now, even as I’m saying it, but for whatever reason, I see this in others and I personally have a tendency not to want to have to repeat myself.
And, you know what’s really funny is being at Sheepdog, There were times where one of the instructors would rifle through a few things, maybe in the jujitsu, and he said like seven facts in a 45 second window, and I maybe got one of them and I was like, “okay, we need to keep kind of running through this, running through this until it sticks in my brain,” but I recognize myself, on the other side of him, being like, “I posted about macros in 2013. I’m good.”
And so that’s kind of the repetition aspect.
Like, learning doesn’t happen through one transition, one statement of fact. And that bleeds into the storytelling and stickiness as well. You know, the marketing book “Made to Stick.” Facts don’t stick nearly as well as stories. Facts are much harder to remember and apply than a story.
That’s actually — to go way off topic — that’s an argument for a lot of old religious stories, old mythology, is that these stories teach us values that help us act out those values versus just being told “thou shall not kill” or whatever the value is. It’s much more difficult.
But number eight is just a giant clump of mistake that I continuously make.
Jordan: [00:50:43] You know, it’s interesting — I think we all know that storytelling is good, but most of us don’t do it because it’s hard. Storytelling is very hard to do. Good storytelling. It’s very hard. I think one of the hardest parts about it is — have you ever been in a situation where you’re telling a story, you’re with your buddies, you’re in a group of people, maybe you don’t know them that well, but you’ll be like, “oh, I got this great story.” You’re super excited to tell it. And as you’re telling it, you see their eyes a little bit glazed over and you’re like, “man, this story must suck.” And so then in your mind, what was it going to be an amazing story, you’re just like, “and then this happens” and you just rush it and you finish it and just get to the punchline and there’s like this brief, awkward moment that people are like, “wait, that’s the whole story?” And then in your gut you’re like, “I’m a fucking idiot. Why did I tell that story? I’m so dumb.”
I think that’s why a lot of people don’t tell stories: because they think they suck at storytelling.
And the reality is you probably do suck at storytelling, which is why you need to tell more stories. Because the more you tell stories, the better you’re going to get at telling stories.
I think another aspect of storytelling that is very hard is seeing it through to the end. I think a lot of people get halfway through and they’ll think, “oh, they think I’m stupid” or “this isn’t good,” “this isn’t funny,” “this isn’t a good story, I’m going to rush to the end.” It’s like, well, hold on. Just draw it out a little bit, give me more detail, tell me about it.
Storytelling is very difficult, but it’s so, so, so, so helpful. And I think what’s worth remembering is a long story isn’t good because it’s long. A good story is good because good and a good story that is long, I think is even better, right?
A good story that’s long, you’ll have fewer people reading it or watching it, hearing it, digesting it because the longer it gets, the more people will drop off, but the people who make it to the end of that story are going to be in love with it. They’re going to be in rapture with it. This is the difference between a tweet versus a podcast, right?
You could have a lot of people, retweeting it, a lot of people liking it, a lot of people seeing it, but they have zero connection with you versus a 45, 60-minute, hour and a half long podcast. You’ll have way fewer people actually listening to that podcast, but the people who do listen to it will have a significantly closer relationship with you. And it’s harder to do a podcast than it is to do a tweet, but it’s worth it.
There’s so many aspects of storytelling that are critically important in what we do. I think of it as– I don’t watch TV anymore. I don’t even own a TV, but I remember when I was a kid, I’m sure they still have these commercials — they would have these really sad commercials. They made me feel terrible. These really impoverished youth in other countries, right? And it’s like, “just donate 10 cents a month and you can save a child.”
I remember vividly. I don’t know why this stuck with me, but I remember watching those commercials and being so interested in how they focused on one child.
They would take one child, tell you that one child’s name, show you where they lived, where they slept, what they ate, what they didn’t have available to them, what their parents’ names were, how their parents might’ve died. They take one child and they build a connection with that one child out of the thousands and hundreds of thousands who are impoverished.
It’s sort of like if you ever go to the Holocaust museum in Israel — which I think everybody should — there are many aspects of the Holocaust that stick out to me about this.
When you say 6 million Jews died, it’s like, how can you comprehend that? How can you possibly comprehend what 6 million people is like? You can’t. You can’t. It’s impossible to comprehend that. When you go to the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, number one is they do this amazing thing where you walk in and there’s one candle in the center of this really dark room, this huge, dark room, and there’s just one lit candle. They have all this glass all over the room that makes it reflect so it looks like millions of lights, but it’s just one in the middle, which I really love.
But they also, as you walk in, they’ll have a recording of all these names, the names of people going like every three to five seconds — another name, another name, another name.
And they’ll tell you when you go in, “just remember one name”. “Just remember that one person’s name, because if you remember one person’s name when you leave, then that person lives on.” And it’s so interesting to me in these different scenarios where, out of hundreds and thousands and millions of impoverished youth, or out of the 6 million Jews that died or all these situations, the most sticky stories are the ones where they just tell you to remember one. Just think about one.
Because you humanize them. You can’t humanize 6 million people. It’s so abstract. You can humanize one name, though. One child, one person. And I think a huge aspect of storytelling is: get down to the one.
The one person. Talk to the one person, tell the one-person story and get into as much detail as you can with that one person. Whether it’s like we were talking about before, whether it’s a, testimonial, talk about them. Talk about that one person, what they struggled with, what they loved, what they hated, how they found you. Talk about all of it. Tell the story of that person. If it’s you, tell your story.
People can relate to one, they can’t relate to an abstract. That’s where I think if you’re going to start telling stories, really dig deep into that concept and understand what do people get emotionally attached to? They get emotionally attached to something they can relate to and relate-ability is built on the foundation of emotion and connection and if it’s an abstract concept, they can’t relate to it. So, the more you can build that relation and emotional connection, the stronger it’s going to be.
Mike: [00:56:52] Yeah. The story I thought of was from “Antifragile” with the cab driver versus the banker.
Jordan: [00:57:01] That’s a great story. Yeah. That super sticky,
Mike: [00:57:04] That concept is nearly impossible to internalize in the abstract. Ideas are just hard to internalize and remember. Stories make it easier.
Jordan: [00:57:15] Yeah, that’s exactly right.
Mike: [00:57:16] I think spending time with people who tell stories, both online and in person, and consuming more stories will not only make you a better storyteller, but will also make you more likely to want to tell stories.
Jordan: [00:57:35] Yeah. I think you’re right. I mean, even a sad story can really make you feel so good in an interesting way.
It draws a connection with you and someone else, whether or not that person is real. There’s a connection that’s built. And the time it takes to sit, listen to a story, learn more about that person or that animal or that place, like, there’s something about storytelling that is so innate in our human nature.
I forget, I think we listened to something about this together, where it’s like, storytelling is what we’ve done since the beginning of humans. And there’s research around this, how at night, there would be a fire and we’d sit around and there’d be one leader or elder in the community who would tell stories.
And that was part of human nature, human culture. And before they could even speak, they would grunt, they’d paint, pictures. Storytelling is so innate in who we are and what we love and what we do. It’s a very important skill to practice.
Mike: [00:58:46] Number nine: not enough sense of urgency/work faster/daily goals, daily schedule, plan.
So, as much as we talk about patience, as much as we talk about, you’re not going to build a business overnight, as much as we talk about those concepts, working hard and fast when you’re working is necessary because you don’t have infinite time.
And this is something I’ve experienced a little bit lately. I know over the years, I’ve struggled with spending time in the gray. And I think of the gray as like, okay, I’m working, I’m replying to emails, but after every couple emails I’ll watch a little YouTube or I’ll check Instagram or I’ll be texting buddies or whatever’s going on, that back and forth makes it, you know, maybe two and a half hours of work get done in a four or five hour window and you kind of feel like, “bleh,” like afterwards you’re like, “okay, I got it done, but like, half the day gone, I don’t feel great about it” versus, okay — and there are tactics for this, right? The Pomodoro technique: 25/5 or 45/10, or however you want to do it — but being either in the black or the white, either being in work mode or being in relaxation mode.
And when you’re in work mode, you’re not getting distracted, you have that time set aside, you have specific daily goals, you have specific things that you are accomplishing right then. That’s work mode. And when you’re in relaxation mode, you’re not refreshing email to see what’s going on there while you have a friend that is across the table from you. When you’re in relaxation mode, you’re not feeling guilty about the fact that you’re not working 16 hours a day because you made the decision that what makes the most sense for you and your life is to have some kind of — you know, even if you’re working 14 hours a day, in the two hours, when you’re relaxing, don’t be working. Be in relaxation mode. Be in what you’re doing. Be present in what you’re doing.
But when you’re in work mode — and I don’t care if you’re doing a four-hour work week or four hours a day or eight hours a day or 20 hours a day, whatever it is — while you’re working, work hard and fast and good.
I think everyone can relate to trying to write a piece of content and getting distracted by consuming something else in the process.
Jordan: [01:01:24] Actually, so one with this that I’ve noticed myself, especially a lot, I think in the last year, maybe even two years struggling with this: I spend so much time on social media that I’ll end up consuming and I’ll feel drained after consuming and I didn’t do any work. Like, I didn’t do any work whatsoever and I’ll have spent 30 minutes, 45 minutes ,an hour on TikTok or looking at different people’s Instagram stories, whatever it is. And I’ll get off and I’ll be like, “ugh, I don’t want to do anything.” And I’ll be like, “I did literally zero productive things in the last hour.”
Sort of a happy surprise benefit of taking more time away from social media in the last few weeks has been that when I work, I work and when I don’t, I don’t. And productivity is still been good. I think overall productivity has been lower during coronavirus and everything in general, but I think what’s been great about taking specific time away from social media has been that I’ve been consuming way less than I normally do and I’ve been equally as productive because when I do go on social media, it’s time for me to actually create and to do stuff and then I’m not feeling drained or just awful from spending so much time doing literally nothing.
Mike: [01:02:50] Yeah. If you’re half working during the relaxation period, or even just 10% distracted by stuff and not fully relaxing, then the next day when you wake up and you have that four-hour work block, you’re going to feel less motivated, less engaged, less enthusiastic, less creative about work.
Number 10, 10 things we wish we knew when he first started online coaching. Number 10 is that there is a mass abundance in the fitness industry.
Jordan: [01:03:24] Oh yeah.
Mike: [01:03:25] I can’t tell you how many people over the years have, have DMed me or emailed me or reached out in fear that– what are some of the common terms they use? That the fitness industry is overcrowded, that it’s, over-saturated.
Jordan: [01:03:45] That’s the one that I hear, too saturated.
Mike: [01:03:46] There’s too much competition. And I look at these people like they’ve never read page one of a micro economics book in their entire life.
Jordan: [01:04:00] I’ve never read a page of a micro economics book…
Mike: [01:04:02] Ok, well, your junior year teacher in high school definitely drew a chart on the board that you may or may not have seen, but it has “supply and demand.”
And these people are worried that– what percent of, let’s call it the world. What percent of people do you think are employed as personal trainers? I don’t know the answer, but I want to hear your guess.
Jordan: [01:04:27] Man, I have no idea.
Mike: [01:04:29] Less than 1%, right? And we’ll even go so far as to say people making a living wage. People who aren’t children and aren’t in poverty, less than one in a hundred. It’s gotta be. It’s gotta be something like 1 in 200, 1 in 400. I don’t know.
That’s the supply side of the equation.
Do you want to know how many people are potential clients?
All of them. All of the people. All the humans are potential clients.
Jordan: [01:04:59] That’s a great way of thinking about it.
Mike: [01:05:01] And people are intimidated because they’re following 77 personal trainers on Instagram and so most of their consumption is trainers putting out fitness content and they just think “I can’t compete with this. I’m behind. Everyone I know is doing coaching and I’m just too late to the game.”
We’ve had people in the Mentorship — and obviously this isn’t the norm — but in six months, go 20 plus clients. In one to two years have 20 to 40 clients paying $200 to $300 a month for online coaching.
There is so much demand for help with health and fitness and personal training in the world that no, there isn’t an oversaturation issue.
Jordan: [01:05:56] Yeah. Yeah. I think the biggest thing that you hit on that I think a lot of coaches don’t see is that if you’re a coach and you’re interested in fitness, then you’re probably following a lot of coaches and fitness professionals.
And what I would encourage you to do is I would go to your “explore” page on Instagram because — this is the best way to find out what you’re really interested in — go to your “explore” page and see what posts pop up. And if you go your “explore” page and the vast majority of it is fitness content, fitness infographics, videos, fitness influencers, whatever it is, that’s what’s being shown to you because that’s what you’ve shown the app you’re interested in.
That’s very deliberate and it’s very mathematical and it’s very smart. It knows what you like. Most people are not being shown that. Most people are not being shown so much fitness information, especially so much science-based, high-level fitness information on a daily basis.
And if you don’t believe me, then I would think to maybe either your coworkers or your family or your friends or whatever, what they ask you when they hear that you’re personal trainer, the questions they have for you. When you’re at the Thanksgiving dinner table, what someone says fitness- wise that you’re just shaking your head like, “you idiot. Why would you say that?”
That is the majority of people. That is most people. That is the person that you need to help. Maybe not that individual person, because maybe you hate your uncle and that’s totally fine, but the people like your uncle, that’s who the majority of people are in the world. And that’s who, they’re on their Instagram and they’re seeing, I don’t know, finger painting or, I don’t know what they’re looking at…
But the thought or idea that the industry is too saturated is so flawed and it’s funny. It’s funny because, I’ll say this: there are a lot of people in it. There are a lot of people who are in the fitness industry, but there aren’t a lot of good coaches who are in it. And there aren’t a lot of good coaches who are making good content consistently.
So, I think this is one of the best industries to be in, to be honest with you. If you’re willing to work hard, you’re always going to have a job.
Sort of going to “Antifragile” example: the cab driver versus the person who has what most people think is the “safe” job. If you’re a good personal trainer with good science-based information and you’re willing to work hard, you’ll always have a job. You will.
Your income might fluctuate, it might be more variable, but you’ll always have a job.
Mike: [01:08:58] Yeah. Great episode. This was fun.
Jordan: [01:09:00] That was good. This was good. We hope enjoyed it. Please, if you enjoyed it, we would really appreciate it if you left a five-star review. Thank you to everyone who’s done that already. And if you’d like to join the Mentorship, we will leave a link for that in the show notes, as well, but in the meantime, thank you so much and have a wonderful day.
Mike: [01:09:20] Have a great day. Bye.