Five Lessons Learned in Five Years of Business

The celebration of my most recent Anniversary Party in late September marked five years since I decided to take the equipment out of my apartment garage and more it to a true brick and mortar gym.  Since then I have grown the business from only having a few clients to seeing over seventy different people a week.  This past summer I moved to a larger location and even have space for complementary services within my facility like the addition of MoveWell Physical Therapy.

Each year I do my best to grow my business so I can better serve the people who come to train with me.  Looking forward towards the future is best but I do not like to completely forget the past; it is there where we can learn from either our successes or failures in hopes to refine what works to be the best I can be.  In this article I will focus on the five lessons I have learned in five years of business to help those looking to start a business with some of my own personal insight.

Lesson One: Do Your Homework First

There is the business machismo idea that you have to simply take and chance and jump in head first and just do it.  I, on the other hand, think of life as a fine balancing act and this applies to business as well.  Too much of one side without implementation or, at the very least, acknowledgement of the other side can be detrimental to your growth.

When I came out of graduate school with a Master’s Degree in Kinesiology I had taken exactly ZERO business courses in the eight plus years I was in college.  I have a bone to pick with college courses but that is for another post.  Sure I might have known the physical aspects on how to do my job but I had no idea how to run a business and questioned if I should just jumped right in?

I do agree that we can analyze things to the point where we are paralyzed and do not do anything and we have all seen that within ourselves or among the talented people around us but jumping off the deep end without surveying the land quickly would be foolish in my opinion.  I spent about 3 months learning about business; reading books and asking people who were gym owners how they did things before I went ahead and opened mine and that seemed to work out so far for me.



Lesson Two: Double the Time, Double the Money

Even with correct research, saving and planning good ‘ol Mr. Murphy likes to show up and sour the party.  The time and money you think it will take to complete a project will simply not be the case.  I had a grandiose vision to open my new location with everything done and ready to go.  Well I am about three months into my new space and the posters are still not hung up on the gym walls and neither is the mirror in the bathroom.  I went from wanting everything completely done before I reopened my doors to simply making sure I had the essentials in place to be able to function as a gym.

When thinking about money always think more rather than less.  I had a budget in mind with the new gym and I have to say I was pretty close to how much it was going to cost me, however there were some unforeseen costs.  One example is that every city has their own way of going about getting a business license.  Mine has an annual cost of about $200 a year for the license and I also have to get a yearly fire inspection, another $200 and have my fire extinguisher serviced yearly at $43.  This was an extra $443 that I had not accounted for and when you are a small business that adds up.

Have a general idea of how long things are going to take and how much they will cost and leave yourself a small cushion in case you get bit by the Murphy bug.



Lesson Three: Stick With It

When you own a business it is not always going to be sunshine and rainbows.  There will be hard times.  My business ebbs and flows around the sports and summer vacation seasons so there are weeks and months when I am down in numbers because of this.  Sure there were days I thought of taking a second job working nights behind the bulletproof glass at a gas station to make ends meet but I believed in my ability to train people and the services I provided so I continued to work on them, be as active in my business as possible and push through the hard times.




Lesson Four: Everyone Needs Help

It’s easy to think that you can do it all yourself whether you think you can do it better than someone else or if you are like me, you really do not like to inconvenience other people by asking for their help.

As your business grows you may think that you will get to the point where you can be on auto pilot and the business will practically run itself, this is not the case.  The business might be getting bigger and the old work running smoother, but there are more cogs in the system now that need attention and they have to be maintained and worked on.  If the business gets too big you can be consumed by the cogs that do not get the attention they deserve.

I like most of the aspects beyond training that help my business with the exception of updating the website beyond the blog and marketing.  I get to the point where I neglect and ignore them and they start to come back to haunt me.  I am now learning that I need help with these aspects and I so not need to be directly responsible for these parts to work.  If I get someone to help who is an expert in that field and knows what I am trying to portray through my business then they can help me save time, grief and some gray hair.

helping hand


Lesson Five: Never Stop Learning

One of the reasons why I decided to open my own business was because I felt it gave me the opportunity to constantly learn and grow.  Working at a commercial health club is great but there was a definite ceiling, especially in terms of personal growth beyond training.

I now no longer just need to worry about learning more about the area of strength and conditioning; I need to keep up with business, marketing and other areas like social media etc.  Having a business that keeps up with the changing industry is perfect for people who are striving to learn and grow as a person by taking on new challenges and not being afraid of not knowing something or even failing at it initially.  This year I plan on dedicating more time to learning about restoration and muscle testing and function to help my athletes but I also plan on learning more to revise my business and marketing plan to help reach more people and grow for 2014.

So those are some of the lessons I have learned in my first five years of business.  I hope this helps you out in your journey through training, business and life.  If you have anything to add feel free to leave a comment down below.

2013 Anniversary Party


Monday, October 28th, 2013 Business No Comments

Interview with Mark Bell of Supertraining Gym

I had the opportunity to interview my favorite weightlifting coaches, The People’s Coach, Mark Bell of Supertraining Gym in Sacramento California. In this interview he talks about the most important thing you need to get strong for the bench press, deadlift and squat. Mark also talks about how to trai in the gym when you are in-season for sports. Check out the interview and check out more of Mark at

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Thursday, September 27th, 2012 Business, Sports Performance Training, Videos 1 Comment

The Elite Training Workshop Recap: Napa 2012

This New Year has been very busy for me especially with my continuing education schedule.  There were several opportunities for me to take classes early this year and stop number two on this education train took me to Napa California for Pat Rigsby’s  Elite Training Workshop.  The level of presenters was top notch.  Dave “The Band Man” Schmitz, Mike Robertson, Robert dos Remedios and BJ Gaddour all gave quality information that could be used right away to help enhance our training protocols and help our clients excel.

Bummed you didn’t go? Don’t worry, as always here are the hi-lights from the event; soak it in.

Dave Schmitz: Getting Better with Bands

Pat was building up “The Band Man” all afternoon Friday and his Saturday presentation did not disappoint.  Dave Schmitz ran us through an early-morning resistance band stretching routine to prime our hamstrings, adductors and upper body.  Once we were loose he touted the key benefit of band training was its ascending resistance training effect.  When the resistance increases along with the range of motion it creates a very unique neuromuscular response and when the muscle returns to its resting length it must decelerate the band tension.

According to Dave, 95% of athletic related injuries are caused by the body’s inability to decelerate the force properly.  Dave states that bands are the “best way to neuromusculary enhance deceleration.”  Performing movements like squats, lateral walks and thrusters teach the legs to decelerate the resistance appropriately with the decreasing eccentric load provided by the band.  This can have a great carryover to sports where you need to decelerate appropriately and use the energy to stop suddenly and change directions.

Bands are cost-effective, portable and can be integrated into any training program for flexibility, strength and conditioning uses.  Dave mentions you can use them during your stretching and mobility warm up, during your strength training sessions or you can group five to ten exercises together and do them for repetitions or time for a great conditioning workout.  Grab a few bands and add them into your workouts and see what happens.

Mike Robertson: Fact and Fallacies of Corrective Exercises

Mike Robertson is very well known in the strength and conditioning field especially when trainers are looking for information about sports performance and corrective exercise programming.

Mike’s topic focused primarily on the myths and truths of corrective exercises.  His definition of a corrective exercise states:

[Corrective exercise] is a holistic approach where an assessment is used to determine specific weaknesses and/or limitations of the athlete.  This assessment drives the programming process, where a systematic and progressive approach is used to reduce the likelihood of injury and improve performance. 

Wow that was a huge meal to swallow, what does it all mean?

Mike made it clear to the audience that when thinking of corrective exercises we should not specifically think of them as only certain movements, nor should we over think how they should be implemented.  He stated that any movement can be considered a corrective exercise:

  • Foam rolling
  • Mobility Drills
  • Strength Training
  • Core Training
  • Static Stretching
  • Etc.

Corrective exercises should be “whatever the client or athlete standing in front of you needs in order to stay healthy and improve performance.”

Mike recommends an initial client assessment, paying careful attention to areas that have limited mobility like the ankle, hips and thoracic spine.   After the assessment, “developing adequate mobility is first and foremost” when designing a program.  Next the program should have components to train both strength and stability which the two are separate entities and should be trained as such.

Generally speaking, Mike states that strength comes from bilateral lifts and stability comes primarily from the unilateral lifts.  Mike quoted Eric Cobb who stated, “Strength training cements your posture and mobility.”  If you have good mobility and correct posture then strength training can help reinforce these two assets.  However, the same thing applies with poor mobility and posture.  Adding strength to lacking mobility and posture will not help these problems get better overtime.

Mike’s formulas for success is based on gaining adequate mobility of lacking joints, and then work the stability of the joints before you can start to load it more to increase the strength.

This was a great topic and one that I will continue to keep in the forefront of my mind and for my athletes.

Robert dos Remedios: Cardio Strength Training

If Robert dos Remedios is ever in your area you owe it to yourself to hear him speak.  Not only is he entertaining but he knows a ton about conditioning programming.  Robert comes in with the attitude that you are “either getting better or getting worse” and naturally we should always be striving to get better in all areas of our lives.

As trainers we have [hopefully] gotten away from the notion that steady state cardio is the best to lose weight, burn calories, decrease body fat etc. but most of the general population still subscribes to it.  Gyms are still filled with cardio machines and people are still on them reading books and talking about last night’s episode of “Mad Men.”  Some of us get into dead-end conversations with clients and loved ones over the topic and it is enough to run your head into a wall.  It seems like Robert has been in the same positions as we have and that is why he has a ton of references to back up what he does to produce better results.

Within his research Robert found:

  • Steady-state cardio is very inefficient at burning calories
  • The body adapts very quickly to workloads and actually burns less calories for the same amount of work when adaptation occurs

In a study by Tremblay et al. two groups were tested.  Group 1 did 15-weeks of interval style training burning 13,614 calories and Group 2 did 20-weeks of steady state training and burned a total of 28,661 calories.  The overall results show that the interval group had 900% greater subcutaneous fat loss when compared to the steady state group in five less weeks and in less than half the caloric cost.

He concluded that for optimal fat loss, strength training intervals that are anaerobic in nature are best.  These training sessions are characterized by short, high intensity bouts of exercise followed by structured rest periods.

Robert basically states that you can pretty much use any type of training movement in an interval fashion just be cognizant to allow for proper work to rest ratios.  If there is not enough rest allowed then it is not true interval training, you will not be able to push yourself without adequate rest and then the training session basically turns into a steady state training session.

Robert likes approximately five different full body exercises, 20-40second work intervals and varying rest intervals of either positive, (1:2) neutral (1:1) or even negative rest intervals (2:1).   Robert concludes that this type of training suits 99% of people whose main goal is to lose fat, look better and have more energy.

BJ Gaddour: Metabolic Training

BJ Gaddour is known for his boot camp training programs and certification.  He gave the crowd a very complete presentation of his system and included many hands-on demonstrations of the exercises he likes to use with his clients.  To be fair to BJ I had to leave his portion of seminar early to attend a work matter so I cannot give a fair evaluation of his presentation other than he had many different slides outlining his system and exercises that go along with it.


If you want to learn more about BJ and his boot camp system check out his Website.

For only being its first time around, Elite Training Workshop was a huge success giving the audience exactly what they were looking for and more.  The information I received exceeded my expectations and I hope to attend more of these workshops in the future.


Friday, March 30th, 2012 Business, Sports Performance Training 2 Comments


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