This is What Happended When I Went to a Local Studio for a Workout

    It’s going to get to 109 degrees today in Las Vegas. We are officially in the dog days of summer. I compare summers in the Vegas valley to winters when I was back on the east coast. The weather can affect the outcome of your day. You tend to minimize any time outside and it definitely can drain any additional motivational juice you may have. I’m very blessed because, at the studio, we’re still experiencing consistent growth and things are actually busier. Nine months in, and we’re at that point where people have been passing by our store front for months. They have decided to actually stop in, even if it’s just to get in the cool a/c.

     One of the business books I read stated that you need to always be aware of who & what your competitors are doing. I’m fully aware that we’re not the only small group/ semi-private training studio in the area. Last week, I decided to drop-in as a guest and try a workout at one of my local competitors. They are located in a high traffic shopping center and I’ve been aware of them since they opened. I arrived 5 minutes before the workout time ready to go. One of their trainers greeted me once I entered and introduced himself. I’m hoping he assumed I was a trainer checking out the place, because he never told me what to do. After a few awkward minutes of just standing in the corner as I watched people come in, I asked “is there something I should be doing?” He looked up from his phone and said, “no, we’ll start in a few, so just hang out”. I looked around and saw suspension trainers, sandbags, and kettlebells… similar to my place. They also had turf and sleds. The room was probably the same dimensions, if not very close to my studio in size. I watched others gather. In the back, I could see a few who were noticeably scared & clearly expressed signs of anxiety. I see that sometimes at my place. People come to gyms with preconceived ideas that they’re about to be put through hell, and just be crushed. I always try to make people laugh and let them know you’re going to work, but laugh and have fun also. As a coach & trainer you need to show compassion for people. They should be applauded for just showing up. No one approached these people in the back to ease their anxiety.

     The bell sounds and the workout is officially on. The trainer goes to the front of the room and begins to demonstrate 18, yes, 18 exercises, one after another. It was like going to friend’s wedding and having them introduce you to everyone in their family. This is Uncle Joey, Aunt Millie, cousin JP… I’m in the fitness game and I was confused! Then he lined us up. So far I wasn’t impressed with their hospitality or teaching prowess. The next part is what shocked me. They had 3 large screen TVs. I thought this is where they could monitor heart rate intensities like we do at our studio. No. They had 6 video loops playing on each TV demonstrating the exercises. Remember those 18 exercises that we were shown? Well,  there they were. That’s not personal training. That’s P90x. That’s Ripsanity by Men’s Health. Last year when I competed in the Men’s Health Next Top Trainer competition, the 1 large nugget I got out of that experience is that I enjoy teaching & working with people. Demonstrating an exercise on video and hoping a person can watch and follow along is not for me. Workouts on DVD and streamed online is a big market, just not for me. I also never heard Tony Horton market his videos as personal training. What if I’m a kinesthetic learner? That means I learn by doing and feeling and touching, not watching which is visual. I was never told what weight to use or how to adjust yourself in the suspension straps. No coaching. The trainer just blew a whistle and said “Next!”.

     After about 10 minutes, I decided I’d seen enough. I made up an excuse and told the trainer I had to leave for work. As I walked out of the studio, my initial reaction was to do a fist pump. We offer so much more value. My trip was well validated. Then as I drove away a feeling of sadness came upon me. Is that what people think personal training is? I didn’t even observe if the demonstrations of the exercises were correct. That could be a whole other blog post. That’s why when people call or email me for prices, I hesitate to answer. I always like people to have an experience before we discuss price. I like to make the analogy of buying a car. Call a Nissan dealer and ask for the price of a car. They may quote you $12,825 which is the price of the Nissan Versa. Then call a Lexus dealer and ask the same question. If they give you a price over the phone it could be over $50,000. Both dealers sell cars. One prioritizes price, the other “The Best of Quality”. I like to consider myself in the class of the Lexus dealer, that we offer the best, not the most inexpensive.

     Stay out of the heat, drink plenty of water, and if you’re in the vicinity of the studio stop by and say Hi, even if it’s to escape the heat for a few minutes.

-See you at the studio.


     This is a big week for me personally. I celebrate my 46th birthday this Saturday. Like many of you reading this post, when passing another milestone I like to reflect on my current status - physically, mentally, and spiritually. This Saturday I will also be participating in the Dynamic Variable Resistance Training (DVRT) certification, which I am hosting at my studio. Immediately following 8 hours of instruction (on the system behind sandbag training) you have to complete a clean and press test using a sandbag. This is to receive the certification. The weight of the bag is determined by your weight. So weighing a lean 205lbs I will have to use an 80lb sandbag. The test will require me to clean and press the bag 40 times in a time period of 5 minutes. This test is a challenge in muscular endurance, strength and precision. Similar to the snatch test I had to complete when I earned my Russian Kettlebell (RKC) certification in 2012, you have to prepare for this type of test which requires specific skills. One of the reasons behind including a physical test with the certification is to guarantee that participants have spent some time training with the bags. People sometimes think it’s an ego-driven component. Not at all, the people who administer these certifications want to guarantee that people carrying their certification earned it, not just paid for it.

     If you’re not aware, I use the Ultimate Sandbag (USB) as a main tool in my studio. I’ve incorporated sandbag training in my training protocol for the last 3 years. I do not consider myself a master in sandbag training, but I do consider myself competent in the instruction of this tool. Along with learning from the inventor of the DVRT system Josh Henkin, I wanted to give myself a physical challenge. I give myself a few goals annually that force me outside my everyday comfort zone. I wanted something which would require me to plan & prepare. It was in the fall of last year when I started mapping out a few goals for 2016 and this one seemed very appropriate. This satisfies my physical goal in the same manner reading a book a month is currently challenging my mental/educational goal.

     This also fulfills an objective I came up with when I opened the studio. I wanted to become a pillar of education for personal trainers. I’m happy & proud to announce that I will be taking the course alongside 3 of my team members. I think this may the biggest highlight. I’ve successfully conquered physical challenges before, but this feeds my hunger to be a mentor for other trainers. When I entered the personal training ranks early on I was not aware how challenging it could be furthering your training knowledge. I wish at that point, I had guidance on how to invest my educational dollars. The cost of these workshop/seminars/certifications can be in the thousands. Depending on where you live, you may have to travel which can add expenses like airfare and lodging. Finally, the time off from work. For most trainers, you don’t get paid when you’re not working. Add all of these factors up and it shouldn’t come as any surprise that less than 10% of the personal training industry participates in events like this. Along with hosting the event, I’m paying for half of the certification fee for each of my team members. The way I see it, investing in education is a way of investing in yourself. That’s consistent in every industry. I wanted to teach them that lesson early in their careers. If possible, I want to plant a thirst to always want to learn. That’s a lesson that I wish I learned earlier in my career. It’s been crucial in my growth as a personal trainer & as a professional the last 15 years. Another way I view it is that by investing in my team, I’m investing in the studio. Many studio owners say they want the most knowledgeable staff, but do nothing to support that statement.

     There are birthday rituals all over the world. In Mexico they have the Birthday Piñata. The birthday piñata is filled with candy. Grab a blindfold and a broomstick, and let the celebration begin. I don’t know about you, but I certainly would trade my birthday cake for a piñata any day.  Then there’s this Irish tradition I heard about. I think the Irish had a few when coming up with this one? Tradition maintains that a child is held upside down and is “bumped” on the floor, once for every year of their age plus one for good luck. We’re guessing lawyers would have something to say about this in the United States! Chinese birthday tradition maintains that one should symbolize their longevity by eating a plate of long noodles, slurping them in as far as possible before biting. As far as I’m concerned, I’ll stick to cleaning and pressing an 80lb sandbag overhead 40 times this Saturday. Wish me luck.
See you at the studio.

J & D Fitness
4180 South Fort Apache Rd,
Las Vegas, NV 89147