The 8th Wonder (8 Lessons From 8 Years In Business)

* The title of this post was taken from the Rose Hill Drive song of the same name*

May 1 marks eight years since we first opened our doors. It has been one exhilarating ride since 2009. I’ve tried to think of everything that has managed to go right and wrong during that time. Since I have always enjoyed a good list, I thought I would try to pull together some thoughts you might appreciate and possibly apply to your own journey.

1) Ready, Fire, Aim

I recently heard my buddy, Jordan Syatt, talk about this as it pertains to fitness trainers trying to branch out their revenue streams. It wasn’t the first time I had heard the phrase but it’s extremely important to remember. As a business owner, my worst enemy has been indecision. There is an assumed risk when you own a business and every day that risk is apparent. Not being able to make decisions on the fly was one of the most catastrophic characteristics I had early on. I wanted everything to be perfect with every choice I made.

However, little in life is perfect. No perfect timing. No perfect choices. No perfect outcomes. Everything works on a continuum and (nearly) everything can be reacted to. For those individuals trying to get their health/physique in a good place, there is no perfect diet or exercise template. Just get started, keep modifying and find the changes that you can stick with. After you’ve fired off some dummy rounds, you can aim later to refine the focus.

2) To Program Or Not To Program?

Speaking of perfect exercise templates, I have definitely run the gamut with how to train clients. When I started, everything was random, no two workouts were the same. I trained clients for anywhere between 40-60 minutes with no rhyme or reason, just randomness. As business picked up, I wanted something I could streamline so I created templates that I felt nearly every client could work within. In many ways, the templates worked great. But what I found was that a fair percentage of clients didn’t like knowing what they were going to be doing when they came in. If a given client knew they would be doing lunges and push-ups on Wednesday, they would start to dread Wednesday. That wasn’t a desired outcome either. Nowadays, I do a little bit of everything. Some clients get random workouts and some get programs. A lot of this depends on their goals but a lot depends on personalities. We’ve also compacted a lot of our training time to closer to 30 minutes. Retention and results have been better than ever so I would like to think that flexibility in approach and time commitment have something to do with that.

If you’re someone who dreads the thought of following a training cycle, maybe you need more randomness in your training to spice things up. You may not make the progress with the weights in ways that you might want, but in all honesty, not every person is looking to set a personal record in the gym. They just want to move and feel better. Taking a less dogmatic approach to training did a lot of good for us.

3) Community Is Everything

I wish I could take credit for the culture of RevFit, but I can’t. Of course, I want it to be a fun and pleasant atmosphere where no one gets judged and everyone feels on the same level playing field to see progress. I believe we have succeeded at that. I’ve also been fortunate to have two great trainers with me who keep the morale upbeat in the studio.

In addition, I started not one but two closed communities on Facebook inspired by some of my continuing education with the folks at Habitry. One group is available for any one with an interest in health/fitness to be a part of. The other is specifically for current clients where we can talk about dietary best practices, recipes, etc.

I believe that the power of pulling everyone together to cheer each other on in the studio and online has been an incredible resource.

If you don’t have a support system to help you achieve your goals, I can’t overstate the importance of it. Then again, I’m very biased to the group that we have so if you want that little bit of “extra”, you know how to reach me.

4) Learn From Others

I read a ridiculous amount of books. I really can’t imagine being in a position where I felt like I couldn’t learn something new. Between books, webinars and both podcasts I’ve had the honor of hosting/co-hosting, I absolutely love learning. Any new trick or tip I can pick up along the way that I might be able to utilize in efforts to help my clients is invaluable. Sometimes I have to sift through a lot of information to get one little helpful nugget but it’s worth it if I can help a client turn a corner.

As you are on your own journey, one great quote I heard from one of my fitness inspirations, Dan John, is: Success leaves clues.

So, if you’re not as voracious of a reader as I am, that’s okay. You also don’t have to soak in podcasts like I do (although I do think you’ll enjoy the ones I’ve been releasing.) You just have to look at trusted sources who have succeeded where you want to be successful and learn from them. You won’t regret it.

5) Consistency Conquers

I mentioned up above that I have a couple of closed communities on Facebook. While they have both been really helpful in continuing to put me in front of current/former/potential clients, I have also made a significant effort to do daily postings. The first closed community was started almost two years ago. Since I started it, rarely a day goes by where members aren’t receiving some type of content, whether it be an article like this one, some fitness inspiration, a podcast or a video. However, that consistency isn’t always easy to hit.

It took a long time for me to find my groove with what I felt worked best. I also wanted there to be more in-depth and valuable content for the current clientele. So, when the second community was started, I began pushing even more good content into that group.

And how could I leave out all of our pictures?

Starting last August, I began posting frequent pictures of clients around the studio. They could be celebrating weight loss, hitting a personal record or just going through their routines.

As business has grown, so has the number of pictures. Last month alone, I posted over 150 pictures of our clients doing great things. I have no doubt being able to share those things has brought a new level of attention to our studio.

But consistency, above all, is what made the difference. I tried lots of things and lots of things didn’t go over well or get much attention. I just kept trying.

That would be my advice for many of you as well. Stay consistent. Keep trying. Keep progressing. Your victories may be slow to come but they will come.

6) Never Stop Teaching

In addition to all of the material I try to consume to better educate myself, one of the most rewarding avenues in the last couple of years has been my Revolutionary You podcast. I wanted to bring as many people on my show who genuinely inspired me and open them to an audience where they could continue to inspire others. In that, I know I have succeeded.

Sometimes, I might give some advice to a client but if I bring a guest on the show, they can offer the same advice with a slight spin or tweak to it. That little change can be all it takes for the advice to flip a light switch.

While there is a certain amount of satisfaction one can gain from teaching a “man to fish”, I’ve always loved just sharing a good book (or podcast episode) with someone so they can travel a journey in their own way.

7) It’s A Family

When I was younger, my mom would introduce me to close family friends and would say things like “Say Hi to Uncle Ernie and Aunt Claire” (even though they weren’t really relatives.)

I always took to it and my parents always had close friends who seemed as good as family to me. Since then, I’ve passed it on to my son Jackson. Except, I introduce clients to him as Uncle Don or Aunt Laura. To be frank, the relationships I’ve been fortunate to build here over the years have cemented some of these people into my life who seem more like family than just friends or clients.

Not only that but many of our clients were present when I married Marissa and they will no doubt be a part of our baby’s life (due in August.)

Maybe that’s just another reason the community here seems so unique.

8) There’s Never Time To Be Complacent

I joke with some folks that I have undiagnosed ADD and while it can be a little bit frustrating when I’m trying to focus on things, I think it’s helped with my business. I get tired of things being too much of the same. I’m constantly looking for ways to improve the business, the experience, the relationships, everything. I just know there are ways that things can get better.

So, I am in a constant state of “How can the experience be more effective or more efficient?”

And true to this pattern, things are brewing at the Rev. Why be complacent when there is so much more to do and so many ways to evolve?

I’ll end this post on something of a cliffhanger. I’ll wait until I can give you more details.

But most importantly, thank you to all of you who have in big or small part made the last eight years possible. I am rewarded every day just being able to interact with each of you and be a part of your journey.

Here’s to the next eight and beyond. 18055890_1501802253165638_807243142826231849_o