Author Archives: Luke Scott

This stuff is supposed to be fun, and most people act like it’s a chore!

Matt Owen is a rarity. At just 30 years old, he’s just celebrated his business’s 10 year anniversary. Hockey, Track and Field, Olympic Lifting and Gym Jones – for over a decade, Matt has developed an enormous wealth of experience in both training and the business of training. 

“This stuff is supposed to be fun, and most people act like it’s a chore!”

Whether he’s talking about his wife Emily, his business or his cars, his philosophy to live with optimistic aggression has served him well.

Read on below or hit play to hear Matt’s story.

Jane Erbacher: Hello and welcome to the Your Revolution podcast. The Your Revolution podcast is a collaboration between Revolution Personal and Performance Training in Melbourne and The Me Project. The purpose of the Your Revolution podcast is to inspire you on your mission of betterment. Each week on the podcast you’ll meet game changers who have created extraordinary lives and you’ll listen to stories and lessons to empower you to make the changes necessary to your life. The Your Revolution podcast is committed to fitness, health, nutrition, mindset, community, education, empowerment and betterment, and we hope that you can take what you learn here and apply it to your very own revolution.

Lifting, jumping and running, these movements define the modern functional athlete. The foundation of all of these movements are our feet, which means what we wear on our feet matters. The kind of training we do requires our shoes to have both stability and mobility. And let’s face it, if you’re like me, you’re in your active wear all the day. And that means staying your trainers all day too. Lalo Athletic are the first shoes I’ve found that truly tick all the boxes. Stability for deadlifts, cushioning for running, lightweight and flexible for jumping and agile movements. So what does this mean for you? Well for Your Revolution listeners, Lalo have an offer. Buy any athletic shoe on the Lalo website at 30% off by using the promo code BEBETTER30 at the checkout.

Are you trying to make an impact on people’s lives but you’re too busy stuck in a hamster wheel barely making ends meet without the energy to do anything about it? And no idea where to start even if you did? Six months I started working with entrepreneur and systems coach Jake Lunniss and the advice he gave me changed the way I do business and turned my life upside down.

Jake Lunniss: The reason I chose the fitness industry is that a coach saved my life. Since 2014, I started what became a very successful business and unfortunately the better my business did the worst my health became. I gained 35 kilogrammes, was on a fast track to dead at 50. My chance meeting with a coach called Matt Murphy turned that around and sent my life on a totally different path. Unfortunately, fitness is a hard business to be in. It means early starts and late finishes, it means sacrificing your personal time for the time of others, it means constantly giving away your energy for other people and too often it means struggling to make ends meet, prioritising others over yourself and constantly chasing your tail but never getting anywhere. My way of giving back is to take everything I’ve learned over the years in business and use it to save the lives of fitness professionals, to give you your time back and to let you live your life on your own terms and to make the money that you deserve.

Jane Erbacher: If you’re trying to make an impact but can’t get out of your own way, visit and see how a systems coach can give you more time to do the things that you love.

Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of the Your Revolution podcast. My name’s Jane Erbacher and I’m your host. I’m back in Salt Lake City, I’m bloody obsessed with this place. This is the sixth time I’ve been here and I’ve just got to bite the bullet and move here I think. I just love it so much, but I don’t think I could. I couldn’t leave my little dog [Poppy 00:04:14]. But I’m so excited because today I’m standing with easily the most polite man I have ever met. I know you weren’t expecting that. You’ll like say I’m really jacked or something. But he’s easily one of the nicest men in the whole world and you’re also a very big strong man so, I don’t know if men want to be called nice. I’m standing here with the owner for Project Deliverance, Matt Owen. Hi Matt.

Matt Owen: Hey how are you Jane?

Jane Erbacher: I’m good and I want to tell everybody how I … the very first time I met you, you won’t even remember this. And we were put in the same team for a ski relay here at Gym Jones and it was you, were on my team and you were so polite and you said, “Yes ma’am” to me and I was like, “Is he talking to me?” I remember looking around thinking where’s the lady in the room? Like who’s he talking to? And then I was like, “Wait. No this is how he speaks to all women. This is amazing.”

And then I still remember the moment the workout ended, we kind of high-fived each other it was all good and next minute I turn around and you’re like mopping the floor. You’re like [inaudible 00:05:13] and you are cleaning the room and I was like who is this guy? I have never met a man like you before. So I’m not sure if that’s how you expected to be introduced, probably not.

Matt Owen: Oh man you are too kind. You know, not exactly how I expected to be introduced but I will take it.

Jane Erbacher: But you are such a great man, and you’re having such a great impact on the world and as I said, you own and run Project Deliverance and you’re going to talk a lot about that today. And you’re also actually the longest serving fully certified Gym Jones instructor.

Matt Owen: Yes, yes indeed. And you know that’s been such a big part of me and my professional career. I can’t thank the people here at Gym Jones enough, Bobby Maximus, Lisa Boshard, Jake Hutchinson  for everything that they’ve done in supporting me and Project Deliverance over the years.

Jane Erbacher: And how long has it actually been?

Matt Owen: So we started Project Deliverance back in my parents’ garage back in 2007, in May of 2007. And it’s run basically off and on until 2010, still running though. And then I took it you know as my job after college all the way up until now. So ten years.

Jane Erbacher: That’s awesome, absolutely love it. I want to hear about what your path has been. So are you thirty? Is that-

Matt Owen: I am thirty years old. Yes.

Jane Erbacher: Thirty years old okay. And you’re from St. Louis.

Matt Owen: I’m from St. Louis, Missouri yes.

Jane Erbacher: I was about to say which is Missouri. I’m getting so much better at U.S. geography since this trip because before I was kind of like I couldn’t figure out where everything was and now I feel like I’m a U.S. expert.

Matt Owen: Well it can be confusing as to where everything is because it’s …

Jane Erbacher: And is Missouri south? Would it be …

Matt Owen: Missouri is right in the heart of the mid-west, so right smack dab in the middle of the country.

Jane Erbacher: Right so not a lot of fishing there.

Matt Owen: There actually is.

Jane Erbacher: There is?

Matt Owen: You know you go down to the Ozarks area and there’s great fishing down there. There’s a lot of these lakes that are around that have great fishing as well. So it’s just you know that’s kind of a thing in Missouri, there’s just a whole lot to do there from a nature standpoint.

Jane Erbacher: I love it. Well thank you so much for being on the show.

Matt Owen: You bet.

Jane Erbacher: And the podcast, the show, sometimes I refer to it as a show. I guess it is a show, but I really want to know your path. And the reason that I want you on the podcast, is the last couple of weeks I’ve really been talking about business and passion and how we have this idea these days that if we’re here to serve or we’re here to help people then business is almost like a dirty word. You put it into words really well yesterday when we were chatting and it was how to turn passion into success. And I think that that’s kind of my intention for today’s podcast. I want to hear how someone who’s been doing this for ten years and is only thirty years old had managed to stay so passionate about what they’re doing and also be a really great success. And you’re constantly evolving, you’re constantly growing, you’re one of those people that is not at all, you don’t stand still, but it’s like you’re not at all complacent in any capacity and I want to know how we can learn from you.

Matt Owen: Okay.

Jane Erbacher: So that’s today.

Matt Owen: That sounds great.

Jane Erbacher: I know it’s exciting.

Matt Owen: It sounds good.

Jane Erbacher: But I’m thinking if you can just give us a little bit of an intro on what’s led you to now, what it is you do and like what you’ve learnt over the last few years.

Matt Owen: Okay. So I basically started in athletics when I was in high school, I played football for a lot of years. I ran track for a lot of years. It became a part of me, the training became a part of me. And when I left high school you know the culture was a lot different from a job standpoint here like I had no idea that I could work out and own a gym and train people and make a living. So, really at that point I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, you know if I was going to go into some kind of business or finance or something. It honestly just scared the hell out of me because I didn’t want to sit behind a desk for my entire life. So in my mind it was either become a pro athlete and make money or you’re done. So, the pressure was on and I just wasn’t sure what I was going to do.

And when I was a freshman in college, I had just finished playing football and making the transition to track full time and that’s when I first discovered Gym Jones. And, you know, this was right when Bobby Maximus had started working for the gym and coming hot off of the 300 project with Mark Twight and all those guys. And basically, Gym Jones showed me a path where I could use what I know from a strength and conditioning standpoint, from a sports standpoint, and use that to make a living. And that was the path that I was shown basically through Gym Jones and going into college. So that changed my whole outlook. Anything is possible you just got to really find what you love to do because if you do what you love to do, you’re not going to work a day in your life.

Jane Erbacher: But it’s so interesting because I did, I was talking to somebody about this the other day and I think I may have even posted on Instagram. How do you balance like, you want to do it all the time because you love it, and it’s like but you’re also never feeling like you’re working. I think it’s a really interesting concept that’s happened that really evolved in our era because we do have the freedom to work in the area that we love that much. So are you one of those people that ends up then working all the time?

Matt Owen: Yeah, that’s an interesting question and it’s important to set some time apart for yourself outside of doing the training and training other people and programming and taking some time. Like me for example, if you look at my personal Instagram, horsepowerandbarbells, I will detach from training and go work on my cars.

Jane Erbacher: Yes you love that.

Matt Owen: I got a Corvette and a Camaro that I work on and that’s a good way for me to get my mind away and it will recharge me. I’ll spend like a day working on either car or I’ll you know just go and do car-related things with my dad and I’m ready on Monday to come back and get my head back in the training. So it is important to kind of step away a little bit because if you don’t you’re going to get stale.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Totally. What is your philosophy when it comes to training and what kind of people do you train and work with? And is it all just face to face at Project Deliverance? Or do you do online, remote, how do you do that?

Matt Owen: So we do offer remote training at Project Deliverance. The meat of our training is done on site, it’s one on one. I’ve got two of the best coaches you could ask for. C.J. Jung, who trains high level hockey players, high school players, all these guys. He’s got some general fitness people. He’s just an excellent guy. And Mike Sobol who just started with us. He and I competed against each other in high school and just developed this huge respect for each other even though we were rivals in high school.

It’s just so cool to have this guy with me now that shares the same passion that I do for helping people improve. And his path from a motivational standpoint and from a vocational standpoint is very similar to mine because training is all he knows. And same thing for C.J., training is all we knew back in you know sport. We didn’t want to basically give that up and give up that connection to the sport to go and you know basically work a job that we hated and just live out your life you know kind of rotting away not being connected to the sport and to the training. So you know that sort of where we’re coming from, from a training standpoint. A lot of our training is done and it’s individualised for the clients and we work with a lot of military, a lot of athletes, but we also have a lot of people that come in the door that just want to make their lives better. So that’s the path that we’ve taken for years and so far it’s worked pretty well because we’re you know ten years later we are still hanging around.

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Matt Owen: Yup.

Jane Erbacher: And I know that there’s two girls here at Gym Jones Advanced that you’ve been doing online remote coaching with and one’s from Australia, one’s from Colorado. What kind of stuff have you been working on with those girls?

Matt Owen: So Connie runs the Alpine Training Centre in Boulder. It’s a fantastic gym they had me out a couple of weeks ago to train with them. I was really impressed with the culture and the support system at that gym. She is an endurance athlete so basically, the path that we took with her is we need to get you stronger and we need to increase your power endurance for some of the primary test to become certified, which she is more than deserving of being certified because she’s run this gym for a lot of years as well and she’s been so successful. We just need to get her a little bit heavier now so she can hit those standards because she’s just so light being an endurance athlete. She’s so lean we need to put some muscle mass on her. And [Mithi 00:13:55] out of Australia, I’ve mainly been training her for a lot of weight lifting stuff, a lot of snatch and clean and jerk.

Jane Erbacher: Which is your main thing [crosstalk 00:14:04].

Matt Owen: Now that I’ve kind of stepped away from …

Jane Erbacher: Your face just lit up.

Matt Owen: Now that I’ve stepped away from track and field so to speak, you know I still do it recreationally and I still do a meet here and there as I’m invited. You know training her and getting her ready for competition and also to attain the standard she needs to hit to become certified here as well.

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Matt Owen: So that’s been our main focus and that’s my goal is to help them attain that certification goal here at Gym Jones and use that to basically help them promote themselves professionally and make them better and make their gyms bigger. You know make it so they also don’t really have to work a day in their lives.

Jane Erbacher: Totally. Something I love about you is, and I’ve seen it this week really firsthand, is how engaged you are as a coach with everybody. And in this space you’re extremely professional, like you take it very seriously that when people move well, that people are encouraged to do well and you genuinely do really believe in helping people. And so what I want to know is from that point of view, you’ve got the really really proficient training understanding in a broad area, and your really really important techniques, really important movement everything, you connect with people really well, is there an area of the business that you run that you do find difficult or that you’ve had to work on more?

Matt Owen: So, you know I am a guy that wants to be in the gym, wants to be hands on, wants to be doing that stuff. The business planning is something that my wife Emily, she’s fantastic. She’s basically the reason that I’m here today. She is taking ownership of a lot of the business side, the financial side. That’s something that I can do but it’s not something I really like to do. I just want to come in and make people better and I want to train, I want to throw a heavy weight over my head and I want to really connect with people and help them really just enhance their lives throughout you know using training as a vehicle for that.

Jane Erbacher: Totally, I love that because a lot of people the mistake that they make in this kind of area is they don’t ask for help. They try and do it themselves and then they struggle with it but you’re so good in those other areas, why would you be spending your time in areas that you don’t like when you can ask somebody who’s better at it?

Matt Owen: And that’s why you have professionals, you have business coaches, you have accountants. Go and seek those people out because those are the people that are going to, you know, that’s their area of expertise. Just like training is my area, you know, get them on board, let them help you, they’ll simplify things they’ll make things more efficient for you and it makes your life a lot easier.

Jane Erbacher: 100%. you might be wasting your time.

Matt Owen: Right.

Jane Erbacher: I love it. What do you feel is your purpose in life? I feel like you’ve answered it but I want you to say it absolutely point blank.

Matt Owen: So, my purpose in life is to live with optimistic aggression and to come in and attack the gym, help people improve, engage with them. I feel like if I can help anyone make their life better then if I was to die tomorrow, then everything would have been worth it. So that’s how I view my life purpose as you will.

Jane Erbacher: And it’s really interesting because when you talk to somebody like you it’s so easy to see that you’re living with that. It like oozes out of you.

Matt Owen: Oh thank you.

Jane Erbacher: No it’s true. This morning we did a … it was upper body mass gain and you were there and you were like so there. You were so focused and I think that that’s such a great way to be and if you have this life’s purpose that you’re living out each day, is there anything that you feel like somebody’s out there and they want to start their own gym. Okay, they’re a personal trainer, they’re working somewhere else and they really passionate about it. What kind of advice would you give that person?

Matt Owen: So my advice would be to start small. You do not want to take on a big gym. You don’t want to take a lot of overhead. You don’t want to go into debt and buy thousands of dollars of equipment and not have a client base to support that. Try and find a little small place to start, that’s what I did out of my parents’ garage. We moved up to a little thousand square foot spot. We stayed there for a couple years and really grew the culture and then we’re now expanded into our four thousand square foot space. We’ll be there for about another year and it’s time for the next phase.

You know in addition to that, I would say just make sure that you’re transparent and you’re real with people. Make sure that you’re up front with them, don’t try and do stuff behind people’s backs. One of the things that I learned at a young age is that you want to always say positive things about people when they’re not around, because that’s a testament to your integrity. There were some individuals I was involved with years ago that all they do is talk behind other people’s backs and talk negatively about them. So anytime I’m tempted to kind of engage in that, I think I do not want to be like them. That is something that does not define me, I want to be helping people I don’t want to be tearing them down.

Jane Erbacher: Totally agree with you. And when you put energy into that, even if it is fighting back, you’re taking energy away from what it is you’re here to do.

Matt Owen: Right. Exactly. And just you doing what you do and loving what you do, if there’s people that don’t like you that’s the best way to get at them. It’s not taking an aggressive stance and going after them or trying to troll them down, you just need to be you and forget them. Let them be and you know, those are people that, from a temperament standpoint, they’re literally sick and they need to recover so just get away from them and hopefully they do recover on a long enough time line.

Jane Erbacher: Totally. What’s next for you?

Matt Owen: What’s next for me. I’ve recently been added to the Gym Jones seminar staff here. So I’m really excited about the opportunity to travel around with the guys from Varsity House, Dan Goodman and Joe Riggio, and I think Jared [Sullivan 00:20:06] and I will working probably the closest together out of that whole group. So we’re going to have the opportunity to travel around to teach some people, to really hone in on our craft of being able to teach seminars, and really reach out and help people improve in their fitness and in their day to day lives and their mental outlook of training.

Jane Erbacher: Great. And I if I want to work with you and I live in Australia, how do I get in touch with you? And how can you help me?

Matt Owen: I would, simply just drop me an email at or you can follow me on Instagram @pdeliverance for the gym, and @horsepowerandbarbells. Feel free to drop me a comment, a message, it’s all linked together I think it’ll all end up in the same place anyway. I’d be more than happy to work with people remotely, programming. I know C.J. Jung and Mike Sobol are also looking for remote clients. They’re two very fine coaches. We oversee all that within the confines of the gym so if you’re looking to train with us we would be more than happy to have you guys join.

Jane Erbacher: Love it. Thank you so much for today.

Matt Owen: You betcha. Thank you Jane.

Jane Erbacher: And keep it up you’re really great leader.

Matt Owen: Alright thank you.

Jane Erbacher: Thanks everyone for listening. Bye.

What does it take to look like Wonder Woman?

What does it take to look like Wonder Woman?

“Wonder Woman was incredible for a different reason. It was the first time in Hollywood that we were going to put a group of women on screen that had that physical prowess, together, in an amazing new kind of vision of femininity.”

In today’s Your Revolution Podcast, we meet Pieter Vodden: cast trainer for Wonder Woman and the Justice League, among many others. And now part-owner and founder of one of the coolest and most progressive gyms in the world – Pharos.

Originally from the UK, I met with Pieter as he was setting up his new facility – PHAROS – in Los Angeles. We talked all things fitness, business, movies, motivation and how he feels about the new feminist wave he’s found himself involved in.

Jane Erbacher: Hello and welcome to the Your Revolution Podcast. Your Revolution Podcast is a collaboration between Revolution Personal and Performance Training in Melbourne and the Me Project. The purpose of the Your Revolution Podcast is to inspire you on your mission of betterment. Each week, on the podcast, you’ll meet game changers who have created extraordinary lives, and you’ll listen to stories and lessons to empower you to make the changes necessary to your life. The Your Revolution Podcast is committed to fitness, health, nutrition, mindset, community, education, empowerment, and betterment, and we hope that you can take what you learned here and apply it to your very own revolution.

  Lifting, jumping, and running, these movements define the modern functional athlete. The foundation of all of these movements are our feet, which means what we wear on our feet matters. The kind of training we do requires our shoes to have both stability and mobility, and let’s face it, if you’re like me, you’re in your active wear all day, and that means staying in your trainers all day, too. LALO Athletic are the first shoes I found that truly tick all the boxes. Stability for deadlifts, cushioning for running, lightweight and flexible for jumping and agile movements. So, what does this mean for you? Well, for Your Revolution listeners, LALO have an offer. Buy any athletic shoe on the LALO website at 30% off by using the promo code BeBetter30 at the checkout. As well as this, LALO and I would love to give away some shoes. Simply share the podcast, any episode that you like, on social media and tag me in it @jane.erbacher, then you’ll go into the draw to win a pair. You have until September 22nd to enter.

  Are you trying to make an impact on people’s lives, but you’re too busy, stuck in the hamster wheel, barely making ends meet, without the energy to do anything about it, and no idea where to start even if you did? Six months ago I started working with entrepreneur and systems coach Jake Linus, and the advice he gave me changed the way I do business, and turned my life upside down.

Jake Linus: The reason I chose the fitness industry is that a coach saved my life, and since 2014 I’ve started what became a very successful business, and, unfortunately, the better my business did, the worst my health became. I gained 35 kilogrammes, and was on the fast track to death at 50. My chance meeting with a coach called Matt Murphy turned that around, and set my life on a totally different path. Unfortunately, fitness is a hard business to be in. It means early starts and late finishes, it means sacrificing your personal time for the time of others, it means you’re constantly giving away your energy for other people, and, too often, it means struggling to make ends meet, prioritising others over yourself, and constantly chasing your tail but never getting anywhere. My way of giving back is to take everything that I’ve learned over the years in business, and use it to save the lives of fitness professionals. To give you your time back, and to let you live your life on your own terms, and to make the money that you deserve.

Jane Erbacher: If you’re trying to make an impact but can’t get out of your own way, visit, and see how a systems coach can give you more time to do the things that you love.

  Hello, and welcome to this week’s episode of the Your Revolution Podcast. My name’s Jane Erbacher, and I’m your host. I am so excited, it is the last day of my US tour, and I am in LA. I’m actually in Echo Park, which is a really cool area.

Pieter Vodden: Yeah, it’s amazing.

Jane Erbacher: It’s very up and coming, and I really like it. I found my favourite coffee place around the corner. But, I am sitting here with Pieter Vodden, and I only met Pieter a month ago, but I’ve been following him for, probably, a couple of years. I came across him through Gym Jones, and he is just so great, and I met him a month ago, because I came to his new gym that he’s opening in the next week, or two, Pharos, and it is amazing. The first thing that strikes me about this place is it’s such a beautiful space. It’s like a, I’m going to say it’s an old barn. Is it a barn? Or like a stable?

Pieter Vodden: You know, it was originally an old window factory, and then, we’re not quite sure what it was. It may have been a brothel, at some point.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah. It has story and heart to it. There’s exposed brick, there’s, what do you call these things?

Pieter Vodden: Beams?

Jane Erbacher: Beams, yes. I know I’m not understanding mechanics of anything, but it is amazing.

Pieter Vodden: It’s beautiful. I mean the main thing that really appealed to us when we first walked in was the light. You have so much natural light beaming through, and that was a huge appeal for us, because I’ve worked in spaces before that were either underground, like in the UK I worked in gyms that were underground that were dark, and that, after a while, that kind of space becomes very oppressive.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah. It’s not somewhere you want to go.

Pieter Vodden: It’s not somewhere you want to go, so the idea for us was we wanted to build a space that people would think of as an, “Oh my God, I want to go there. It’s light, it gives me energy.” This is somewhere if I’m working till 6 PM, and I’m trying to motivate myself to go to the gym, I don’t want to go somewhere dark and dingy, I want to go somewhere filled with light, and that’s going to give me energy, and I’m going to have a better experience. When we were looking for spaces, that was one of our main thoughts, and then when we saw this space, it was like, “Oh my God, this is perfect.”

Jane Erbacher: It’s actually perfect, I love it. And, the funny part about it, is it’s the kind of space I actually don’t want to leave. I’m looking around at the equipment, and how many different things there are, and I’m like, “I could spend all day here.”

Pieter Vodden: Yeah. And that was really … Another thing was, we’ve talked about this before, but in LA you had situation where people were going to different spots for different things. So, I’d go to one spot for my indoor cycling, I’d go to another spot for my yoga, I’d go to another spot for my crossfit, another spot for my boot camp style class, whatever. They were going to all these different spots, paying a different premium for every different space, and paying for the travel in between. To us it was just, “This doesn’t make any sense.” Why not build a space that can house all of these things, coach them all to a really high level, and build somewhere that people want to come and they want to stay all day. We have a club lounge, where people can just sit, and work, and chill out, and have juices, and drink coffee, and that kind of thing. Then they can attend a yoga class, then they can attend a strength conditioning class, or an indoor cycling class. You have all these different variations available to you, all within the same space, without any additional cost.

  So, immediately … We’re not a cheap gym by any means. If you look at the cost of the gym, we’re relatively expensive, but we’re certainly cheaper than going to all these different spaces for these independent disciplines.

Jane Erbacher: Exactly, and what you’ve captured is the most important element, I think, in fitness is the community side, and that’s one of my favourite things about you, is that this is so deeply ingrained in you, in having an impact on people’s lives. What I noticed, running in Urban Heartbeat to California is there isn’t any one place you can go to that you can get a membership. Everywhere that we were going really reflects a non committal consumer of fitness. So it’s like you buy a five pack, or you buy a ten pack, and you do your spin here, and you do your yoga here, and you do your strength here, and there’s nobody checking up if you’re coming, and there’s nobody that misses you, and there’s no way for you to just stay and spend time with the people that-

Pieter Vodden: Yeah, which is strange, because America is kind of built on the search for community, just by nature. I think LA’s kind of evolved that way, because it is such a transient place. People come here for a reason, and, once that reason expires, they leave, so it can be a very come and go kind of place. But I think there’s a real demand, need, for something like this that rebuilds that community. I have seen it in some gyms around, to be fair. I think one of the biggest gifts the crossfit community has had to the world of fitness is that rebuilding of the community. Something that was lost in the Globo Gym era has resurfaced, regrown, and our train of thought was always to take the best things that we’ve seen over the years, and put them all into one space. Because, no matter what your loves or your criticisms of gyms, or spaces, or anything that you’ve been to, whether it be a boot camp style class, or whether it be a spin class, or even a Globo Gym, there are good things to take from all those spaces, and if you can just draw on that goodness, and forget about the stuff you don’t like, draw on the goodness, and put it in one space, and just do it as well as it can possibly can be done, then you’re going to have a winning formula.

Jane Erbacher: 100%.

Pieter Vodden: I think people tend to be very negative about things. “This is bad, because of these reasons, this is bad because of these reasons,” without thinking about the positives. Okay, yeah, you can say that these things aren’t correct, or you don’t agree with the principles of this space, but, if it’s successful, and people are enjoying it, then there’s something good to be learnt from that.

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Pieter Vodden: And, often, it goes back to what you’re talking about. It goes back to people having a sense of belonging, a sense of community, a good feeling. It’s one of the primary things of business, is it’s about how you make somebody feel.

Jane Erbacher: 100%

Pieter Vodden: And if those spaces are making somebody feel good, then they’re on to something. So, if we can do that, if we can make people feel good, if we can give them that sensation, and we can give them correct training protocols, and we can grow them in the right way, and we can give them the right information, and empower them with that knowledge, then you have something very special, which is what we’re trying to do here.

Jane Erbacher: I absolutely love it. You’ve touched on everything that drives me in my life, and one of my favourite things to discuss with people is the human element of everything, and I think that we’ve come out of the digital technology age, and people are really craving human connection.

Pieter Vodden: Yeah, for sure.

Jane Erbacher: And you’ve recognised that in even how the space is set up, in the product delivery, but how the absolute foundation and the core of what you’re doing is to make people feel valued.

Pieter Vodden: Exactly. Exactly, and put the emphasis back on them. I think a lot of the time, people get caught up in the sport, or the challenge-

Jane Erbacher: Performance.

Pieter Vodden: Or the performance. And it isn’t really about that, it’s about, like you said, making people feel valued, making people feel like they belong, making people happy on a daily basis.

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Pieter Vodden: We don’t get up every morning, go to work, have an amazing day, go home, go to bed. We all have our troubles, we all have our woes, we all have our problems, but if you can build somewhere that feels somewhat of a sanctuary, like it gives them pleasure, it gives them happiness, it gives them joy, it gives them community, it gives them successful interactions they don’t necessarily get in their daily lives. Some people, they might not necessarily get on with their work associates, or their family, or their time at home might, currently, not be the best, but if you can be a light in someone’s light, if you can be a light in someone’s day, and make them smile about something, make them feel like they’ve achieved something, give them that sense of joy, then you’ve changed someone’s day. What’s better than that?

Jane Erbacher: And you don’t know what, exactly what you’re saying, you don’t know what people have come from to come into this space, and I think that there’s this movement in the fitness industry where we focus on our programming as if it’s an art or a craft, and people just have to follow it blindly, and what you’re recognising is that someone’s coming in here and this is, potentially, the best hour of their day. And results will come from the application. The results will come from them showing up every day, not necessarily it being the most perfect programme. But that’s not saying that the programming is neglected.

Pieter Vodden: Yeah. I think motivation is such a big thing, and that’s why we wanted to offer a multiplicity here, or like a hybrid gym. We want to offer these different disciplines because different people enjoy different things, and, as much as you believe in something, if you try to force it down someone’s throat who’s not into it, then they’re going to give up pretty quickly. But if you can give them different avenues, and say, “This might not be right for you, but this might be right for you,” and then that lessens the barrier of entry, it gives them a way in, and then, once they experience that, it might lead them to experience something else, then experience something else, and, as that confidence builds, they start to grow as a person, and they start to have that more ambitious, more adventurous spirit, which might lead them to different places.

  A lot of what we talked about when we first conceived the project was, how do we reduce the barrier to entry, how do we make people feel more comfortable from the moment they walk in the door? If you’ve been in a gym your entire life, which I have, and I don’t really suffer from intimidation when I walk into a gym just because of my experiences, you have to remember many people do feel that way. They do feel intimidated. If they walk into a space and, immediately, there’s a million barbells flying around, and people are grunting and shouting, and that kind of thing, then it can be a daunting prospect, but if you can reduce the barrier to entry, if you can give them a way in, and then, once you’ve given them a way in, you can show them these different things that helps them just, step by step, grow, grow, grow, grow, grow, and then, eventually, they’ll become something completely different from the person who walked in the door in the first place. You have to give them those avenues. You can’t throw them in with the meatheads at the end of gym, because it’s not going to work for them in that way.

  That whole thing of motivation becomes one of the most significant things in programming. Like you just said, you could write the best scientific programme in the world with all the right percentages, and all the right movements, and all of those stuff, which is, of course, as coaches what we will try and do, but the most important thing, and what’s going to give someone the biggest result, is consistency and motivation. If you can get someone to come to the gym consistently, and you can motivate them daily, then you’re going to have a much bigger chance of success. And that’s what we’re all about, really.

Jane Erbacher: 100%, I love it. And, it was so funny, because, before we started, I was saying how I really love when conversations just go in a direction. And they just go, and it’s funny, because, usually, I would give my guest on a podcast a proper introduction, but I didn’t. We just jumped straight into it, which is kind of what we did when we first met a month ago, because we’re in total agreeance in what we do, and so we get really excited and both of us just keep talking the whole time. But you have a really interesting past, and you have a really interesting story that has led you to Pharos, and I think that that adds even more value to what you’re doing here. You have been training on a bunch of movies, and the most recent one is Wonder Woman. And you’ve also done Suicide Squad and prep for Justice League. What did you learn from those experiences?

Pieter Vodden: You know, I learnt a lot. It was … I’ll backtrack a little bit to how it all started. I originally was working in London for a long time. I lived in London for 14 years. I became a trainer kind of out of … Originally it was my B job. I was an unsuccessful actor in London for about six years, and I’d always trained. I grew up in gyms. I grew up with sport. It was always my passion. It was actually a girlfriend at the time said, “Why don’t you become a personal trainer? Why don’t you go down that road just as a way to supplement your income?” And that’s what I did, and, me being me, when I decide to do something, I throw myself into it completely. Once I did my … In the UK you get what’s called a diploma in personal training, so I had to go to school for the best part of a year. It’s a different system these days, but, then, this was the system. I got a diploma in personal training, and then I just kept studying. I did a lot of stuff with Charles Poliquin, I read all the class texts like Zatsiorsky’s The Science and Practise of Strength Training, Mel Siff’s Supertraining. I was throwing myself into all these incredible old school texts that paved the way for training now. I was always interested in gaining more knowledge.

  I started working at a gym called Gymbox in London, which, at the time, was one of the pioneers of the modern gym, in that it was the first kind of hybrid facility, in that it was originally a boxing and regular gym gym, and then they started introducing more functional cross fit type stuff as they grew, and that became the trend. I saw that evolving, and I remember a friend of what became a friend of mine, Darren Brown, came in for an interview, because I’d build myself up to be the head of personal training at Gymbox, and I would interview different trainers to come and work there. And this guy, Darren Brown came in and I asked him about his background, what he was studying, and that kind of thing, and he mentioned this company, Gym Jones, and I said, “Who are Gym Jones?” And he said, “They’re the guys who trained the actors for The 300.” Now, I’d seen The 300, and a lot of people’s reaction to that movie was, “God, I’d love to be a Spartan warrior,” all that kind of shit.

Jane Erbacher: Every guy I know, yeah.

Pieter Vodden: My reaction to it was, “Oh my God, wouldn’t it be great to train those actors for a movie like that? Wouldn’t it be amazing to be involved in that project?” And that fascinated me, just the process of transformation of taking a bunch of people, changing them, transforming them, and then having this immortal thing on screen that no-one could ever take away from you. Like, you did that. You made that happen, and it’s immortalised on screen. It was an amazing thought for me, at that moment. I remember, straight away, I booked a seminar in London. It was the first time Mark and Rob had come to London. I went to that seminar, and that was the start of my journey with those guys. I just fostered that relationship over a number of years, became the first certified instructor in Europe, and continued to work with them, and, eventually, I’d trained a few actors here and there, while they were in London for various projects for the second 300 movie, and a couple of others, and then the opportunity came up to work on Suicide Squad. I just got a phone call from Mark one day, and I was in Florida, and I was about to go and work on a different project. I’d been hired to open a strength conditioning gym in Kuwait.

  I was always excited by travel. It was a very exciting, daunting, completely different opportunity for me, and I’d accepted it, and I was gearing up for it, and I think I was about three weeks out from moving to Kuwait, pretty much permanently, and I remember I was in Florida, and I get the phone call from Mark Twight, and he’s like, “Look, we’ve got this project coming up, would you be interested?” I’m like, “Oh my god.”

Jane Erbacher: This is what I’ve wanted.

Pieter Vodden: This is what I’d always dreamed would happen with that relationship, and, of course, I accepted. I turned the Kuwait thing down, and, before I knew it, I was training the principal actress, initially in London, then in Australia, then, ultimately, in the States and Toronto. It just was an incredible journey, and it started out just working with one actress, then another actress, then another actor, and then a whole group of actors, and then I ended up training the whole cast and crew who were on the project. We talked a bit earlier about building a community, it was the first time for me … I mean, I’d kind of done it before in Gymbox, I’d build little communities through classes, and group training, and that kind of thing, but it was the first time I really took a project, and was able to build my own team community thing successfully in a space. It wasn’t people who had signed up to a gym. It wasn’t people who’d suddenly thought, “I want to transform into a fitness person,” it was people who were working on a project that it wasn’t their job to train, they didn’t have to train, it was people that just wanted to feel better.

  Usually when you do a film project, you start the film off, and, gradually, you get worse and worse and worse as the project goes on, because you tend to eat worse and worse food, you tend to sleep less and less, you get fatigued, you miss your family. All those different things come in that deteriorate your experience. What we managed to do during Suicide Squad was reverse that process, so people actually got fitter, healthier, stronger throughout the filming process, just by turning up every day and doing something good for themselves, as opposed to turning up every day and doing bad things for themselves, so we managed to reverse that process. That was just this huge sign, to me, of what’s really achievable when you get consistency, when you get good feeling, when you get good people who genuinely just turn up because they want to learn, and they want to improve, and they want to grow. They don’t have to be there. They’re not being forced to be there, they’re just doing it out of the need to feel good.

Jane Erbacher: And you don’t have to do it, either. This is the better part about this story, is you actually did it because you wanted to make everybody’s day better. That sounds so Mary Poppins rainbows, but you genuinely cared enough about people to invite them in on that.

Pieter Vodden: Yeah, because, like anybody, I need motivation, and that motivates me. Having an impact on other people’s lives motivates me as a coach. On a movie project, sometimes, if you’re just seeing the principal artist one or two hours of the day, the rest of the day can be a little empty, unless you fill it with good stuff. My whole thing was “Let’s fill it with good stuff. Let’s open the doors, and give all these other people a journey.” When people think of movies, they think of the people on the screen, and the heroes, and the principal, but, really, there’s all these other people behind the scenes. The stunt people, the producers, the make-up artists, the costume people, everybody involved in that project is on their own journey, and so why not give them a positive experience, as well? So that was that experience, and we went on this incredible journey together. It really was like a family. I felt very emotionally close to those people, and, when the project ends, you’re kind of torn because you got to close to this group. It became such a meaningful thing, on so many levels, that when it ended you’re a little bit empty.

  But, in the back of my mind, I knew the Wonder Woman project was coming up, so I was just treading water until that kicked off. I’d had the Suicide Squad experience, and the positivity of that, so I went into the Wonder Woman project guns blazing. The Wonder Woman thing was incredible for a different reason, because it was the first time, really, in Hollywood, that you were going to put a bunch of women on screen that had that physical prowess together in an amazing new vision of femininity. When I got there and we first started talking to people who we thought would form the Amazons, which they eventually did, we were trying to communicate this sense of, “You are involved in something special. This is the first time this has happened.”

Jane Erbacher: Yeah, it’s really redefined [inaudible 00:25:16].

Pieter Vodden: “Let’s redefine the vision of femininity in Hollywood.” Previously, women had this thing in Hollywood they had to be thin and skinny, and they had to live up to that old stereotype, and this wanted to rewrite the rules, you know, “Screw that, let’s present a different vision. Let’s have strong, powerful women on screen who are going to show the generation of tomorrow that, you know-

Jane Erbacher: What women can be.

Pieter Vodden: “What women can be, what they can really present themselves like, and how strong they can be, how powerful they can be.” When you’re communicating that to this group of women, they’re suddenly filled with this, “Oh my God, this is amazing,” and then you’re all on that journey. As hard as training was for them, and it was very, very hard. We did an eight week boot camp in the beginning, it was full on, and every day they were with us four hours a day of solid training, and then, on top of that, they’d have stunt training, and prescribed diet, and all that sort of stuff, and it was very, very hard on them, but, in the back of their minds, they knew they were involved with something very special. And so all the hardship goes away, because you know you’re involved in something special. As that project grew, and grew, and grew, the same kind of feeling of being involved with something that is building a community, that is building that deeper human connection, that same kind of spirit of change, and transformation, and adventure, and strength just grew, and grew, and grew. We started in London, and then we were in Italy for a period of time. Again, it was just an amazing, amazing group of people, who really came together, and enjoyed this incredible experience.

  You knew you were involved in something that was going to be groundbreaking, just from the way it was being done, the way that Patty was, the way that the women were performing, it was just a very, very special experience. Something that changed me, and I’ll never forget it. Both of those projects, in different ways, revealed to me, again, the power of the human spirit. I know it sounds kind of hippyish, but it did.

Jane Erbacher: No, I love it.

Pieter Vodden: The power of the group dynamic. When you have people that come together on a similar journey, and throw their passion into these workouts, it’s a very special thing to observe and to be a part of. Especially when you’ve had … A lot of these women came from either a dance background, or a gymnastics background, not necessarily the kind of stuff we were doing. A lot of the stuff that we did was new to them, it wasn’t like they were familiar with them. They had to learn, and once they’d learnt they had to actually do it, and see it through. It was all a very positive energy that was created just through this learning process, this educational process, this practise process, and I think we all learnt a lot, both about ourselves and about each other. It was amazing to be a part of. The Suicide Squad thing was great because it was my first time building something, and then the Wonder Woman thing was just an extension of that. I knew what was possible, and then being able to really enhance upon that and create this whole new thing, was an amazing thing to be a part of.

Jane Erbacher: I love it. One of my favourite things about everything you’ve said is one of the cores of what you do is to create connection between you and a person, and them and what they’re doing, which is such a powerful gift to give somebody, and I’d be really interested to know have you stayed in touch with people from Suicide Squad that were more on the crew side of things-

Pieter Vodden: Yeah. For sure.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah, and have they continued what you started with them?

Pieter Vodden: Yeah. It’s amazing. Actually one of the producers on the Suicide Squad movie, Sabine, Sabine Graham, she came to me, and she wasn’t particularly happy, the way her training was going, the way she was feeling. Both from a performance standpoint, but also, to a degree, from an aesthetic perspective, as well, and, when I was there, she went through this amazing transformation, this amazing journey, not just in terms of the way she changed physically, but the way that she changed mentally, and what was the most incredible thing, was the effect she started to have on other people. It was like a pay it forward kind of thing. She went through this transformation. Once she’d gone through this transformation, she wrote to me a year later, telling me about the effect she’d had on her children, her friends, all this stuff. She’s now doing all these different Spartan races, and running events in Canada, and affecting other people, and encouraging other people to go on a fitness journey. It was this great … When you have someone like that, who takes it, and just runs with it, and …

Jane Erbacher: Totally. If you’re somebody who’s here that’s driven and motivated by having an impact on others, what better reward for having an impact on others that other people are then having a better life?

Pieter Vodden: Exactly, exactly.

Jane Erbacher: And that’s what it’s all about, which is so great. I always ask everybody that’s on the podcast, at the very end, usually, what they feel their purpose in life is, but, because we’re, kind of, on this tangent right now, I want you to articulate to us, the best you can, what you feel like you’re here to do.

Pieter Vodden: First and foremost as a coach. I love coaching. But, really, I want to build these communities. This Pharos project is going to be the first project, and then we want to continue to grow it. So, really, it’s to affect as many people as possible in this positive way, give them the tools to give themselves a better life, and a better experience, and keep affecting as many people as possible. Then, hopefully, in turn, they will pay it forward, and they will pay it forward, and they will pay it forward, and this whole thing keeps growing.

Jane Erbacher: Where do you think this came from? What has driven you to have this mission, do you feel, or is it just something you think you’ve just always had?

Pieter Vodden: I think I had a very good mother and father, I had a very good family, growing up. My dad instilled this hard work ethic in me. I’ve always been very hardworking, and that comes from him. He was a very hard worker. He was an engineer. My mom, same kind of thing, she worked every day when we were kids, they provided the best life possible for us, so I had really good role models. I just remember, from a very young age, I liked helping people. I remember kids in the playground that were bullied, that were the unpopular kids, I’d side with them, try and protect them, that kind of thing. I always wanted to be this protector and guide, and I don’t really know where it comes from, but I did. Then I think that’s probably what drew me to become a coach and a trainer. Not necessarily because I love fitness, but also because I was always able to build connections with people. I was always able to find a common ground and communicate with people, and find something tangible that you could work with. I think that helped me build connections, and those connections have helped me build a career, essentially.

  Two people do the same course, and one person excels, and one person doesn’t excel, I think a lot of the time it comes down to communication, friendships, and the way that you relate to people. For me, I think I’ve always had that skill of like I could find a common ground with someone. Even if you come from different walks of life and different places, if you can find just one piece of common ground that makes you relatable to them, and they can see something of themselves in you, and like you, then vice versa, then you’ve got something to go froward with. I think I’ve always had that, and I continue to be inspired by that. The ambition of making, or the ideal of making someone else’s life just that little bit better, is enough to keep you going, and keep you wanting to build, and keep you driven. It’s an incredible rewarding thing.

Jane Erbacher: It’s the best.

Pieter Vodden: Like we said before, what’s better than giving someone’s day that little bit of happiness, that they may not otherwise have had? And yeah, I think, to a degree, as well, the performance side of things still fascinates me. I’m still fascinated by performance, and strength conditioning as a discipline, so I want to continue to improve as a coach. I know a lot, but I don’t know everything, and I want to continue to learn, and learning still fascinates me. We actually are, currently, working on an educational programme, so, as well as Pharos being a gym, we’re also working on an educational programme to go forward with. Because, essentially, what we have here with me and my business partners, Emy and Jeff, we have this mechanic strength conditioning protocol. Everything is built on a foundation of mechanics, right? So I’m only ever going to be as strong as my mechanics are. My wife, Emylee, is a mechanics specialist. Her whole thing is integration, so how my mobility, and how my mechanical structure can enhance my sports performance. You can take old school yoga, and stretching, and that kind of thing as a basis of it, but it’s a lot more than that. It’s how can I prime my body for the movements that I’m about to do?

  At Pharos, we have this repair and prepare kind of system where we prepare people for the work they’re about to do with these sequences, and then we repair from them. And we are only ever going to be as strong as our structure allows. I know from my own staff, my one [inaudible 00:35:36] aren’t necessarily where they need to be. Not because I’m not strong enough, not because of my central nervous system, but because my mechanics aren’t strong enough, and that just comes from years of neglect. Whereas, if I’d have gone through this mechanical correction a lot earlier, my ability would have been a lot better.

Jane Erbacher: Totally. And you can start that now, as in it’s-

Pieter Vodden: And I can start that now. It’s never too late to work on that stuff. We have this mechanical foundation, and then we have an emphasis on strength, because we should all be getting stronger as human beings. That doesn’t have to be in the sense of everybody want to lift a car, but more in the sense of everybody wants to be stronger, because, if you’re stronger, you’re going to have a better life, you’re going to have a longer life. If you have a good degree of muscle mass, if you have strong tissue, you’d have strong ligaments, strong tendons.

Jane Erbacher: And it reduces the risk of injury, like in normal life.

Pieter Vodden: Exactly. Yeah, reduces the risk of injury, healthier, all that stuff with comes with lifting, and performing well, and taking your body through those movements, and being more functional, or whatever term you want to use. Then the conditioning side of it, we also believe in a good deal of conditioning. I think a lot of the time, gyms tend to focus on one or the other. You have those gyms that just focus on strength, which is great. Then you have gyms that are more conditioning biassed. We like to think, again, of ourselves as a hybrid, so we value conditioning hugely, which is why we’ve invested so much money in the SKILLMILLS that we have here from Technogym, the SkiErgs which we love and you love, and the rowers, and the bikes, and all that kind of thing, and we do a lot of running outside.

Jane Erbacher: Those SKILLMILLS are awesome, too.

Pieter Vodden: They are amazing, yeah. So we have a high value on conditioning, as well. We’re currently building this educational programme based on those foundations. We’re going to educate people in mechanics, education people in strength, education people in conditioning, and then education people in how to tie it up altogether, and build this better athlete through those foundations. At the beginning it will start with how we build and train our coaches, and then it will extend into the greater community. But, yeah, that’s an exciting thing for us, because we’re all very, I hate to use the word teachers, but we are all teachers, we love education, and if we find education apparent for us, we know it can be apparent for others. The gym shouldn’t be somewhere you just come, do some shit, and go home.

Jane Erbacher: Exactly, and just do what you’re told.

Pieter Vodden: Yeah, it’s somewhere you come and you learn, and through that learning you can then …

Jane Erbacher: Totally. And people get so excited about that, and that’s something I’ve really noticed in the last few months running my Project Row and my Project Ski, is that people want to know why they’re doing what they’re doing. It’s funny, because I think that it just comes out of laziness, that people aren’t educating, because we care enough to know, and the people that come in the door care enough to know, and that’s what’s going to keep them coming, as well, because then they want to keep getting better, too.

Pieter Vodden: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. I’ve seen it so many times, and I know you have, the empowerment people get from just that little bit of knowledge, and realising that it isn’t rocket science. It’s just a few pointers here and there, like, “This is what you’re doing, and this is why you’re doing it.” The why is important, right?

Jane Erbacher: Yeah, it’s my favourite.

Pieter Vodden: Because a lot of people forget the why. It’s just like, “This is what we’re doing today,” and nobody knows why. But if you can tell them … Me and Jeff sit down to do our programming every week, and our whole thing is, “Okay, what’s our purpose? Why are we doing this? What’s the point of it? What’s the purpose?”

Jane Erbacher: Speaking my language.

Pieter Vodden: Because if we don’t know what the purpose is, then we can’t expect them to know what the purpose is.

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Pieter Vodden: So we talk about that, and we make sure that the workout fits in with that purpose, and that definition. So, yeah, that’s big part of what we do and what we’re interested in doing. The other thing is with this community, Pharos is … We don’t want fitness to exist in a vacuum. We want it to be part of someone’s life, and how it ties into their other aspirations, so we have this club house at the front where we will have music nights, and film nights, and that kind of thing, so people stop thinking of fitness as a completely separate thing, it’s part of their experience. Just as if they’re an artist, if they’re a painter, if they’re a film buff, if they’re a media guru, whatever they are, it’s all part of the same experience, and it all ties in. I think that’s the beauty of my fasciation with film and training, is it’s all tied in. The art of creating a movie is the same as the art of creating a character. My whole thing with training actors was always … Film is the world of make believe, but if we can build these people in the gym that believe they are strong, and believe they are powerful, and believe they are warriors, or whatever they’re meant to be, then that persona on screen is going to be all the more believable.

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Pieter Vodden: If you just build … if just put someone in a gym who can’t really do the stuff, and can’t really move, and doesn’t really believe in themselves, then the character on screen is less believable, but if you can give someone that empowerment that when they get on screen they’re going to feel like a million dollars, then they’re going to be all the more believable. Sometimes people get it, and some people don’t. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. But that should be the ambition, to make people believe in themselves to a degree that they’re just …

Jane Erbacher: Because why can’t they be?

Pieter Vodden: Because why can’t they be? There’s no reason why they can’t be.

Jane Erbacher: Exactly. It’s amazing your passion oozes out of you, I absolutely love it, but one of my favourite things about you, is that you’re so genuine. You genuinely care so much about whoever it is in front of you, and it’s just amazing, I think it really shouldn’t feel so revolutionary, but it really does, meeting somebody like you, and it’s amazing. Just a tiny bit longer.

Pieter Vodden: Yeah, no worries.

Jane Erbacher: One of the interesting things I’ve picked up on, is you said you were an unsuccessful actor, and you came into this career from that, and I think it’s so interesting, like the name of the podcast is Your Revolution, and I talk a lot about people’s turning point in their life, and how you can use a turning point, or a challenge, as a real pre-cursor to success, or failure, and I think it’s amazing that that didn’t work, because part of the reason it probably didn’t work is because your mission in life, and it’s come from a place that you can’t even really define, is to have a positive impact on people.

Pieter Vodden: Yeah. I think, for me, there’s been a couple of big, big moments in my life. The first was that transition where I had reached a very unhappy place in my life with all the acting stuff. I was working at a job that I hated, I felt very insecure, I didn’t really know where I was going to go from there, and then the training thing kind of happened, as I said, on somebody else’s suggestion, and, as soon as I went down that road, it was right. Then there was another point in my life where I had to really dig deep and do a lot of soul searching, and embark on what, I now know, is a growth mindset. But, at that time, those definitions weren’t apparent to me, but a growth mindset was everything that happens to you, you can learn from. Whether good or bad, you can learn from it, and grow from it.

  From that point, I’ve always had that growth mindset of, “Whatever happens to me, I’m going to take what I can from it, and learn, and grow, and improve.” And that can be really, really hard at times, and it can be very scary, it can be very daunting, it can fill us with insecurities and all these ugly things that exist inside of us, but I kind of reached a point of resilience of … And we’ve all had it at times in our life, when we think everything’s against us, the world’s against us, someone doesn’t-

Jane Erbacher: Why’s it so hard?

Pieter Vodden: Yeah. People don’t want us to succeed, or so and so’s against me, or-

Jane Erbacher: It’s because of them.

Pieter Vodden: Yeah. Someone’s trying to ruin my career, or whatever it is, we’ve all been at that point, and we can either sink or we can swim. The whole growth mindset is, “I’m going to be a swimmer.”

Jane Erbacher: Yes.

Pieter Vodden: “There’s no way that this is going to destroy me. There’s no way that this is going to pull me back. I’m going to just take it and grow.” And that’s what I try to do, and, to this point, fingers crossed, it’s going pretty well. But yeah, we’re super excited about the Pharos project. Funny, we’ve kind of touched on this a bit, but I had an interview with a journalist the other day, and she said, “How long have you guys been working on Pharos?” And it’s like, “I think it’s been 10 years.”

Jane Erbacher: Yes.

Pieter Vodden: Because it really is the culmination of all these experiences. Whether it was in Gymbox, back in the UK, whether it was on Suicide Squad, whether it was on Wonder Woman, whether it was everything between, whether it was Emylee’s experiences, whether it was Jeff’s experiences, it’s really everything we’ve learnt in the last 10 years, is going into this space to create this hybrid facility that takes into account people’s needs, people’s feelings, people’s motivation, what people really need to get them engaged in a gym, and to give them an experience that’s fulfilling, meaningful, transformative, all of those positive things. When we started on this project, we all listened to three podcasts a day. Whether it be a business podcast, or whether it be an athletic education podcast, we all went in with-

Jane Erbacher: Covering all bases.

Pieter Vodden: … with our lights switched on, because we need to know this stuff.

Jane Erbacher: 100%

Pieter Vodden: I think, often, the mistake is when you’re a coach, or you’re a trainer, you think it’s all about the training, but it isn’t. If you’re running a business, you’re running a business, and the business has to be successful, and I think a lot of businesses have failed because they thought it was all about the training, and they didn’t consider the business side of things.

Jane Erbacher: And if they just had the best equipment, and they had the best … Yeah.

Pieter Vodden: Exactly, so for us, it was like, “Let’s go in with our eyes open. Let’s really understand the process. Let’s educate ourselves on the business side of things, because we know we can do the training side of things.” But the business side of things needs attention, and it needs to be understood, because, on one side of the equation, you have your principals, and you have what you believe about training, and your ideal facility, and what should happen. Then, the other side of the equation, it’s like, “This has to make money.”

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Pieter Vodden: LA is an expensive place. This is a big building. If the numbers-

Jane Erbacher: Yeah. A lot of competition of all different things.

Pieter Vodden: A lot of competition. If the numbers don’t add up, the business fails, and you’ve helped nobody.

Jane Erbacher: Totally. Exactly.

Pieter Vodden: In order to continue to help people, you have to consider both sides of the story. Yes, it has to be in line with your principals, your core values, everything you believe in as a coach you have to bring in here. But you also have to realise that, on a daily basis, it has to make money, so you have to do your sums. So, the membership, you have to look at how much will a membership cost? What is the value of that membership? And our thing was, if we … We’re making the membership relatively expensive, but our thing is, let’s just put a shit tonne of value into that membership, because the more value I can add to the membership, the less it feels like a hardship, right.

Jane Erbacher: 100%, yeah. And what’s the price someone’s willing to pay to change their life? This is the thing, this is what I’m always thinking.

Pieter Vodden: It’s relatively … It’s funny, because you go out in LA, and you can spend easy $100 on a meal. Easy, in one night.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah. $50 for parking.

Pieter Vodden: Exactly. For sure. So the cost of a gym membership is relatively low for the experience that you get, and the effect it has on your life. Because how much effect did that one meal have on your life? Not much.

Jane Erbacher: Exactly. And alcohol, or-

Pieter Vodden: How much effect can the gym have?

Jane Erbacher: Yeah, exactly.

Pieter Vodden: Or alcohol, or any of it?

Jane Erbacher: It is only a dollar to park near here, I’ve found.

Pieter Vodden: Yeah, Echo Park’s cheap to park in.

Jane Erbacher: It’s perfect.

Pieter Vodden: It’s true. What is the cost relative to the value it adds to your life? And I guarantee, it isn’t much. And it can be, especially if people aren’t used it, they walk into a gym for the first time, and they don’t really understand what it is, or what it can do for you. They just think it’s going to give me some abs, or something, that kind of thing, then yeah, it seems expensive, but if you consider what it genuinely does for you on a daily basis, and how it positively impacts your life, and what that can lead to in your own life, your own journey, then it’s relatively cheap.

Jane Erbacher: And Pharos is a culmination, like you just said, of yours, and Emylee, and Jeff’s learning experiences your entire life. You said the last 10 years, but it’s like what price is that? That’s who you’re training with, that’s who has created this community.

Pieter Vodden: Yeah. I mean, neither of us went on a weekend course then opened a gym.

Jane Erbacher: Exactly.

Pieter Vodden: This has been a, like we said, a lifelong enterprise of education, experience, and, like I said, we have gained a tremendous amount of knowledge from other people’s excellence. Whether it be across a cross fit gym, whether it be Gym Jones, whether it be a Globo Gym, a lot of these people have done things very well, and done things right, and we’ve had the privilege and the fortune of learning from them.

Jane Erbacher: But you’ve opened your eyes up to learning from them, you’re not too proud to.

Pieter Vodden: Exactly, I’m not too proud to, and, like I said before, people can be very dismissive of other people’s projects, or other people’s values, or the way that people do things.

Jane Erbacher: But it’s worked for a reason.

Pieter Vodden: But it’s worked for a reason, and it has value, and you have to draw value from what they’ve done. A lot of positives can be drawn from those projects that have come before us, and we’re very lucky to have seen that, to have witnessed that, and have experiences in that.

Jane Erbacher: It’s so exciting, because I am like, “I have to move to LA and train here.” I’m so excited by you, and I’m so excited being in this space with everything that you are doing, and I cannot wait. We were talking right before the podcast about what you want to be doing in six months, and 12 months, and everything with Pharos, and I think it’s really great, because so many people I talk to that are in the process of, or have just opened, a gym, they open their gym and then they go, “Haa, it’s done,” and you’d find it perfectly with a growth mindset. You’re like, “How is everything that I’m doing going to help me grow, even more?”

Pieter Vodden: Yeah, for sure. “How can I continue to learn from this process? How can I continue to grow as a person?” I think we’re all in that mindset. Our ambition isn’t just to open a gym, it never was. It’s a brand, but it’s not just the brand that’s sits on its hind legs, it’s a brand that wants to continue to educate itself, to grow, to improve, to help, and that’s the way we’ll move forward. Always growing, learning, educating, helping, just always seeking, always moving forward. The whole Pharos thing came from … It was the first lighthouse. Pharos Island in ancient Egyptian times, and when we first opened the gym, everyone was like, “Oh, pharaohs. Pharaohs.” It’s like, “No, no it’s not pharaohs. [inaudible 00:50:53] pharaohs. It’s Pharos, it’s the Pharos island, it’s the lighthouse.” Because we had this image of the lighthouse, in our heads, of being in that kind of guide. That guide is either helping people on their journey, or helping people come back. So, that was our thing, we wanted to be that lighthouse. And then, as you’ll see, the way that we’ll present social media and the website, and all that thing, going forward, you’ll see more and more imagery of this lighthouse thing. The light that comes with the natural light with the building.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah. It’s perfect.

Pieter Vodden: Because there’s this huge analogy, for us, with light, and knowledge, and experience, and we want it to be that influence in people’s life, the lightness coming through. It’s funny that whole Pharos, pharaohs, Pharos, and we were like, “Oh my God,” to the point where we almost changed it, because we’re just tired of people seeing pharaohs.

Jane Erbacher: Didn’t want any confusion.

Pieter Vodden: But it’s Pharos, it’ll stay Pharos now. I think, like with anything, as you grow as a company, and you become more and more well known and successful, it will become Pharos, and people will know it’s Pharos.

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Pieter Vodden: In the beginning, you feel like you have to re-educate people all the time, [crosstalk 00:52:03].

Jane Erbacher: Totally, and you don’t always want to be explaining things, but, do you know what? What a cool story it actually is. Even in a correction of pronunciation, you get to talk about what your mission is, which opens it up. Whereas, if it was a word that people knew exactly the meaning and everything, you wouldn’t have that conversation.

Pieter Vodden: For sure. It’s a powerful image for me, because I grew up on an island. The Isle of Wight, in the UK, and one of the main images of the island is the lighthouse, because an island has lighthouses all around it to protect the ships coming in and out, so, growing up, it was always paramount in my mind, and then, when I was on the island a few years ago, it came back into my consciousness, and when it came back into my consciousness, I started this blog in the UK, called The Lighthouse, and it reached a connection with Jeff, who said, “What about this whole lighthouse thing?” And then we found Pharos, he found Pharos, and we then we were like, “Okay, it’s Pharos,” and that was that. Pharos was the first lighthouse, this is the first gym, this is the first Pharos.

Jane Erbacher: I love it. It is so great. It is so incredible to meet you. I love hearing everything that you had to see, and I’m so excited to see what you do.

Pieter Vodden: Thank you. Well, you too, I’m so thrilled to see everything that you’re doing, and it’s very inspirational to see other coaches doing these amazing things, and travelling so much, and I think, from what I see of your projects, it’s the same kind of thing. You’re travelling the world to help people, and I think that’s incredible. Like I said, it inspires me to continue to learn, and to continue to get better. I’m somewhat envious of your travelling, because I used to travel all the time, and, now I have this space, I can’t travel as much, anymore.

Jane Erbacher: Don’t worry, I’m envious of this, so we can do a little trade for a few months.

Pieter Vodden: We’ll trade at some point.

Jane Erbacher: It’s so great. Thank you so much.

Pieter Vodden: Pleasure. Anytime.

Jane Erbacher: Thank you, everyone, for listening. Oh, one more thing, I want to know how people can work with you. Tell us where Pharos is, and tell us if there’s any capacity that people have to work with you if they’re not in LA, or if they can just drop in when they’re visiting, because I know a lot of people visit.

Pieter Vodden: Sure. Yeah, we love people dropping in, we love to see you here. We are in Echo Park, in Los Angeles. We’re at 1316 Glendale. You can check us out on Instagram at @pharosechopark. Or you can check out my personal Instagram @pvtlighthouse. You can check out our website, Just hit us up. We’d love to see you. We’d love you to drop in at Echo Park, or reach us online if you’re interested in remote prep programming, or need any help with anything. We’re always happy to help.

Jane Erbacher: And one of the first things that struck me is, when I walked in the door, how welcoming everybody here was. Everybody came up, introduced themself, there was … By no means was I an imposition, and I did go into Equinox this morning, because it was right next door to my hotel, and I did not stay long, because it was very interesting, because the people there were just like I was an annoyance to them. And we’ve talked it before in terms of how intimidating a fitness space is, and whether you’re intimidated or not, I still get extremely intimidated going into fitness space, even though I’ve worked in the industry for, probably, 15 years now, and this was not like that.

Pieter Vodden: Yeah. For sure. I mean we said from the outset … I mean in the beginning it’s, obviously me, Jeff, and Emylee are pretty much here all the time, and it’s kind of our baby, so we’re very upbeat about it, obviously, but, in conservations we have about potential employees, we’re always like, “We would rather hire good people, than excellent, really well qualified coaches,” because, to us, it starts with a good person, because a good person you can teach stuff to, you know that they’ll grow, you know that, like you said, when someone walks in the door they’re going to be nice, they’re going to be friendly, and you can really work with that good person, and educate them, and improve them. Whereas, if someone comes in, they’re the best coach in the world but they’ve got a terrible attitude, it’s very hard to change that.

Jane Erbacher: Totally. Don’t care about people. I hear what you’re saying.

Pieter Vodden: Very hard to change that. Our whole thing is hire good people, who are good on the inside, and then help them grow.

Jane Erbacher: Educate them. I love it. You’re the best. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you everyone for listening.

Creating Bobby Maximus – The only way I’ve gotten here, where I am, is by working really hard…

“The only way I’ve gotten here, where I am, is by working really hard… I want everybody to have a chance for exercise to change their life, and to do that, there’s a lot of hard work to do.”
Bobby Maximus was created from the need to be a person who can do anything. A person who has no fears, who stands out and stands for something big. But just like Superman is Superman with or without the glasses, it turns out that even when he puts the glasses on, Rob MacDonald is still a superhero.
When it comes to success, Bobby Maximus stands for something. In this episode of the Your Revolution podcast we explore how his parents taught him about hard work, the impact he plans to leave on the world and the amazing story behind how he got that elusive blue tick.w
There’s more to Bobby Maximus than being a real life superhero. Meet the articulate, generous, successful businessman behind the meat.

Available on iTunes & Stitcher: ‘Your Revolution’ or by:

Jane Erbacher: Hello and welcome to The Your Revolution Podcast. The Your Revolution Podcast is a collaboration between Revolution Personal and Performance Training in Melbourne and The Me Project. The purpose of the Your Revolution Podcast is to inspire you on your mission of betterment. Each week on the podcast you’ll meet game-changers who have created extraordinary lives and you’ll listen to stories and lessons to empower you to make the changes necessary to your life. The Your Revolution Podcast is committed to fitness, health, nutrition, mindset, community, education, empowerment and betterment and we hope that you can take what you learn here and apply it to your very own revolution.

  Lifting, jumping, and running. These movements define the modern functional athlete. The foundation of all of these movements are our feet, which means what we wear in our feet matters. The kind of training we do requires our shoes to have both stability and mobility. And let’s face it, if you’re like me, you’re in your active way all day and that means staying in your trainers all day too.

  Lalo Athletic are the first shoes I found that truly tick all the boxes. Stability for dead lifts, cushioning for running, cushioning for running, lightweight and flexible for jumping and agile movements. So what does this mean for you? For Your Revolution listeners, Lalo have an offer. Buy any athletic shoe on the Lalo website at 30% off by using the promo code BEBETTER30 at the checkout. As well as this. Lalo and I would love to give away some shoes. Simply share the podcast, any episode that you like on social and tag me in it @jane.erbacher then you’re going to the draw to win a pair. You have until September 22nd to enter.

  Are you trying to make an impact on people’s lives but you’re too busy? Stuck in the hamster wheel, barely making ends meet without the energy to do anything about it, and no idea where to start even if you did? Six months ago, I started working with entrepreneur and systems coach Jake Lunnis and the advice he gave me changed the way I do business and turned my life upside down.

Jake Lunnis: The reason I chose the fitness industry is that a coach saved my life. Since 2014, I started what we became a very successful business, and unfortunately the better my business did, the worse my health became. I gained 35 kilogrammes. I was on the fast track to dead at 50. A chance meeting with a coach called Mike Murphy turned that around and set my life on a totally different path.

  Unfortunately, fitness is a hard business to be in. It means early starts and late finishes. It means sacrificing your personal time for the time of others. It means constantly giving away your energy for other people. Too often it means struggling to make ends meet, prioritising others over yourself, and constantly chasing your tail but never getting anywhere.

  My way of giving back is to take everything I’ve learned over the years in business and use it to save the lives of fitness professionals to give you your time back and to let you live your life on your own terms and to make the money that you deserve.

Jane Erbacher: If you’re trying to make an impact but can’t get out of your own way, visit and see how a systems coach can give you more time to do the things that you love.

  Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of The Your Revolution podcast. My name’s Jane Erbacher and I’m your host. So excited, I’m hearing … What do you call this room?

Bobby Maximus: This is the Church of Bobby Maximus.

Jane Erbacher: That’s it. I’m like, it’s not a garage. It’s the church of Bobby Maximus.

Bobby Maximus: No, it’s the church. You can’t park cars in here.

Jane Erbacher: I love it. The church looks a little different this year to last year because we’ve had a pretty key introduction into the world.

Bobby Maximus: Yes, we had a little baby.

Jane Erbacher: A little baby.

Bobby Maximus: Some now it’s filled with baby balls and he’s got a baby octagon.

Jane Erbacher: He has a place in the church. A very integral place I feel.

Bobby Maximus: Yeah.

Jane Erbacher: I’m here with the one and only, I will introduce to you as Bobby Maximus this year. The one and only Bobby Maximus.

Bobby Maximus: Not my government name.

Jane Erbacher: No, but it’s getting closer.

Bobby Maximus: Yes.

Jane Erbacher: I feel like every time I see you, there’s more thing that a Bobby Maximus. I call him Rob MacDonald. He’s one of my favourite people in the whole world. One of my absolute mentors, teachers, and I’m really happy to say that he’s one of my friends. One day, you will be a student of mine. I haven’t picked anything that I will be able to teach you in something yet. But we can think of something!

Bobby Maximus: Yeah.

Jane Erbacher: There might be something. I don’t know, maybe a top knot. Doing a top knot in your hair.

Bobby Maximus: You could teach me that. And, in fairness, you could probably teach me to roll and ski too.

Jane Erbacher: I don’t know. You’re a bit of a weapon.

Bobby Maximus: Just because I’m good at it doesn’t mean my technique’s flawless.

Jane Erbacher: That’s true. And see this is the attitude that I absolutely love from you. And it’s that we can always be better.

Bobby Maximus: Mm-hmm.

Jane Erbacher: And something that is my … That I’m just so in awe of is that you will never settle. You are not complacent at all. And I think that we live, both of us, you live here in the US and I live in Australia and we live in a society where so many people just rest on their laurels and get complacent and don’t keep learning. And you are always looking around at how you can be better in every single space. And I think that that’s amazing.

  So this is the second time I’ve had you on the podcast. The first time, I have to say, I was more nervous than this time. This time I feel like I’ve spoken to you so much and spent so much time with you that I really … You’re more my friend now than a … What’s the kind of word? Someone you put up there on a big pedestal. Which you kind of would hate anyway.

Bobby Maximus: Yah. I don’t like that.

Jane Erbacher: Because you just do your thing. And it’s funny because, last year, I remember I was really nervous and I was like, “I hope I ask the right questions.” And I’m like, “You know what? Today Bobby Maximus is going to answer my questions and he’s going to love every minute of it.”

Bobby Maximus: And I did.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah. You’re the best. Okay so for those of you who don’t know, you probably want to stop the podcast if you don’t know who he is and look him up. But Rob MacDonald, Bobby Maximum. We will talk about who you are and what you are in a second. But previously a UFC fighter. You’ve been a cop. You’ve been a teacher. And now you’re the general manager of Gym Jones, which is one of my favourite places in the whole world and organisations. We’re going to talk a lot about that today.

  But what I really want to say about you is that your work ethic is absolutely like nobody else that I’ve ever met. And it’s a point of conversation with so many people. And I’ve heard you on a lot of other podcasts and a lot of people talk about it because it’s not just in the gym that you work hard. And it’s not just that you’re big and strong and jacked. But you can breathe like nobody else. You were on my team for a ski relay the other day and I was amazed at how … The kind of intensity that you were skiing at and how quickly you recovered. So it’s not just that you can lift lots of weights and you’re strong and hold your own at Westside Barbell but you can really- you can breathe and you can move. Saw you jumping today. You can jump. Like, you’re amazing.

  But outside of the gym, you’re extremely focused on career. You’re an incredible dad. And you’ve got one of my favourite women in the world as your amazing wife. And so I want to talk about today, how you manage to balance all of that stuff. How you continue with that kind of work ethic. And kind of what’s driving you moving forward. So thank you so much for being on the podcast.

Bobby Maximus: Thank you for having me.

Jane Erbacher: My pleasure. And the podcast is called Your Revolution, like I said. And so I don’t want to talk about how you’ve changed the game in terms of your life and all the kind of turning points that you’ve had. So the very first thing I want to talk about is Bobby Maximum.

Bobby Maximus: Yup.

Jane Erbacher: So where did this idea of Bobby Maximus or where did Bobby Maximum himself come from?

Bobby Maximus: So, it kind of grew over time. And, to be honest with you, I’d like to tell you I had some master plan. ‘Cause it’s worked out really good. But that would be a lie. When I was wrestling in university, my nickname eventually just became Maximus.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bobby Maximus: And then it became my fight name, so it was Rob Maximum MacDonald. That was my moniker, if you will. And I had an old website when I was fighting called Ultimate Maximum. And it never sounded great to me. Like it always seemed like it was missing something. But, honestly, at the time it was just to try and get a few sponsors for fighting.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bobby Maximus: Fast forward a little bit and I was doing interviews for Men’s Health, interviews for Muscle and Fitness, interviews for some other publications. My name was starting to get out there and I realised, because I was into Googling myself to see where my rank was and all this other kind of stuff for business reasons, that Rob MacDonald’s a very vanilla, plain name.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bobby Maximus: Like there … You’re from Melbourne. If you went and looked in the phone book, there’s 3000 of them.

Jane Erbacher: Yep.

Bobby Maximus: And so I was kind of harder to find than I should be for my popularity.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm.Bobby Maximus: And there were people in my life at various points that had called me Bobby. And it’s somewhat of a softer name than Robert. You know Bobby sounds like a cute little boy’s name.

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Bobby Maximus: Kind of deal. And so I put Bobby Maximum together. The url was available so I bought and then I got the Bobby Maximum Instagram. And then I started. And it’s something that at the time I didn’t realise what a good business move it would turn out to be.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm.

Bobby Maximus: But now, most people know me by Bobby Maximum.

Jane Erbacher: Yup.

Bobby Maximus: And there’s no one else with that name.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Bobby Maximus: And so, if you’re ever talking, even to the point, just Bobby. Can you name another trainer named Bobby?

Jane Erbacher: No.

Bobby Maximus: Like, you can name … If I said Jillian, you’re probably going to say Jillian Michaels.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Bobby Maximus: If you said Bob, you’d probably think Bob Harper.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Bobby Maximus: But Bobby is kind of non-existent.

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Bobby Maximus: Rich Fronning from cross fit. Matt Fraser. Like Bobby’s just unique. So now even if people say, “Well, I was working out with a guy named Bobby,”

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Bobby Maximus: More often than not, people say, “Oh, Bobby Maximus.”

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Bobby Maximus: So it turned out to be a really good thing to differentiate myself. And also to start getting more publicity because publicity, I’ve learnt, is not just … Or popularity would be a better term of it. It’s something that doesn’t just happen to you. You’ve got to work for it. Especially in this industry. And so every tool you can give yourself to-

Jane Erbacher: Set yourself apart.

Bobby Maximus: Get further ahead. A unique name, a unique logo, a symbol, a podcast, you’ve got to do it.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah. Totally. I think it’s really interesting that you even brought that up because one of the main reasons I wanted to talk to you is, I have been analysing people around me for the last few months about likeability. And this whole concept of likability. And I think that there’s this perception that the term likeable means agreeable and passive. And I would have to say that you’re one of the most likeable people I’ve ever met. And you dispel that myth completely because you’re not passive. And you’re not necessarily agreeable. You’re on your own path. And I think something people don’t understand about likeability is it’s that you don’t sit on a fence and people like that about you. You stand for something.

  So I want to know … I really like that you’ve explained where Bobby Maximus came from. My dad’s name is Robert and every one in his life has a different name for him. There’s Rob, Bob, Bobby … Depending on how- at what point in his life they knew him. And to everybody that knew him when he was little, call him Bobby. So the idea that the term Bobby is like, it is a nice kind of un-intimidating name and then it’s followed by ultra masculine, which is Maximus. So I really like that you’ve…

Bobby Maximus: And I have to soft my image.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Bobby Maximus: Because the reality is is there’s things people don’t think about. So if I was to evaluate you and you said, “I want to buy the domain

Jane Erbacher: Got it.

Bobby Maximus: People don’t know how to spell your last name.

Jane Erbacher: They don’t. It’s terrible.

Bobby Maximus: So why would you pick that?

Jane Erbacher: Exactly.

Bobby Maximus: That’s a … There’s actually a clothing company I was working with called Rhone Apparel.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm.

Bobby Maximus: That wanted because people didn’t know how to spell apparel.

Jane Erbacher: Yes.

Bobby Maximus: And so, even they had to switch. Nike doesn’t want Nike Shoes. They don’t want … Because it’s one more step people have to go to find their site.

Jane Erbacher: Yes. Totally.

Bobby Maximus: They want

Jane Erbacher: That’s so interesting because Bobby Maximus, you can’t not spell that.

Bobby Maximus: No so here’s your name, right. So if you look at Jane Erbacher, you don’t want … Project Roll or Project Ski or … The theme I get was I used to tease you in college.

Jane Erbacher: I knew you would bring it up. Yeah.

Bobby Maximus: But whatever it is. But we talked about the confusion-

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Bobby Maximus: Between theme project and the me project. The way it was written before.

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Bobby Maximus: But the other thing you want to look at is how do you get your image out, I guess, to the masses.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm.

Bobby Maximus: And whether people want to admit it or not, the insanely fit person. The… and if you were to name the top three fittest people in Australia, they might respect me on a colleague level-

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Bobby Maximus: And they might want to come train with me on a colleague level. But I’m never going to monetize off them.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bobby Maximus: And so how do I make myself more relatable to the common person?

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Bobby Maximus: And if you see me with my shirt off flexing all the time-

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm.

Bobby Maximus: 240 pounds, I’m not the most relatable person at face value.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bobby Maximus: So by using something as simple as Bobby-

Jane Erbacher: Yup.

Bobby Maximus: It’s more relatable. And every step that I can take like that, whether it’s a picture of my lovely wife, or my kids, or even… It’s really funny. On completely another tangent, I had posted a picture of me playing with Legos.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm.

Bobby Maximus: And then another picture of me with Magic Gathering.

Jane Erbacher: Yup.

Bobby Maximus: And this person e-mailed me and said that’s the most inspirational type of post you have. And I was literally like, what the hell is this nut job thinking? Started reading on and he went on to say those posts let me know that we’re a lot more alike than I gave it credit for and that if you could do it, I could do it too.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bobby Maximus: So now it’s become a regular part of my thing. And I don’t post things that are fake.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bobby Maximus: But I post things about my life every so often now that let people know that I’m a real person.

Jane Erbacher: I absolutely love it.

Bobby Maximus: Whether it’s a TV show or a soft moment at home with my kids. Because it does make me more relatable.

Jane Erbacher: Yup. 100%. I absolutely love that somebody said that because I guess, from a branding perspective, you have done an incredible job with Bobby Maximum. It’s very clear, I think, from a branding perspective, how well you’ve done with that. But I do like this idea of relatability as well because one of my favourite things about you … When I met you first in Fundamentals, I was so amazed that you were so charismatic and so intelligent. And I don’t want that to come across as the wrong way, but I think that a lot of people don’t realise how seriously you actually take things that you do while you’re also having a great time with everything that you’re doing. Which makes you relatable. You do love Lego. You love comics. You love Game of Thrones. You tell funny stories. You’re a really normal guy who just works really, really hard. And I love that.

Bobby Maximus: Well and I don’t take offence to it because I realise like we’re actually … You guys can’t see at home, but in the garage there’s a bunch of pictures of me up.

Jane Erbacher: Yup.

Bobby Maximus: If I look at a Men’s Health article I’m looking at right now. I look like a meat head. Like if you see me walking across a gym-

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Bobby Maximus: Without a shirt, with a suffering-type look on my face, you’re going to have a certain image of me right away without getting to know me. And I realise, rather than be upset by that-

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm.

Bobby Maximus: I’ve got to work to soften it.

Jane Erbacher: Yup.

Bobby Maximus: Or work to give people another avenue to relate to me with.

Jane Erbacher: Totally. But it works so well because it’s like, when I showed up for Fundamentals, I knew that I had to show up with a game. Like I was ready to like actually show up. I wasn’t just … Someone wasn’t just going to pat me on the shoulder and say good try. I had to bring it to there. And then it was really nice to be surprised with the fact that you were Rob MacDonald as well. You were a really nice guy but you weren’t going to let me get away with not performing to what I could do.

Bobby Maximus: No.

Jane Erbacher: And that leads me into something that I really like about you. And I’ve heard you talk about it a lot. But it’s the idea of a effort over result. And you said it the other day when we were doing the 2k ski for time at the event. And you said, “I would prefer you to hit a seven-oh-two and have done your absolute best. Not to be rolling around on the ground and being dramatic but hope to have done your best and to hit a six-fifty-eight and to not have tried.” And I want to know where that kind of drive has come from for you?

Bobby Maximus: You know, a lot of it is because that’s how I’ve gotten somewhere in my own life. I teach through experience. And the only way I’ve gotten here where I am is by working as hard as I can. Because I wasn’t inherently good at a lot of things. I mean I think I’ve always been bright and had a good head on my shoulders. But, in terms of wrestling, in terms of working out, in terms of business, I’ve had to work for everything. And I don’t have a business degree. I didn’t learn this stuff in school. So anything I’ve learnt about business, I’ve had to read, I’ve had to ask questions, I’ve had to… The same thing with training. I wasn’t an athletic kid and so I’ve always just had a great result from working as hard as I can.

  And it’s something that seems to be one of the universal truths. What ever movie you watch, whatever song you like, whatever book you read, there’s always a moral. And more often than not, it’s that if you work as hard as you can, good things will happen. There’s countless stories about that.

Jane Erbacher: Yup.

Bobby Maximus: And so that, for me, is the real journey with training. It’s not just the end result. Because most people are not going to be Olympic champions. It’s using training, I think, as a tool to further your life outside the gym. And the only way you can do that is by trying as hard as you can.

Jane Erbacher: Yup.

Bobby Maximus: If that makes sense at all.

Jane Erbacher: 100%.

Bobby Maximus: If kind of go in and coast, you don’t get the psychological effect I want from the workout, you’re not going to get life changing results. You’ve really got to work as hard as you can.

Jane Erbacher: 100%. And I really like that you are completely man made. Like you’ve created the life that you live now from hard work and perseverance and consistency. And no one can take that away from you and I know that recently you posted a picture of you with your shirt off, I’m pretty sure you did. And-

Bobby Maximus: I always have my shirt off.

Jane Erbacher: But you talked about how you’re proud of what you’ve achieved and that your body represents that. And it’s that you can’t cheat that kind of thing. And I think that what I love about that is how easily transferable that is to each area of your life. That fitness you can always be better at. But you should be proud of the work that you put in every single day, the time that you’ve set aside. And if people are hating on that, then they’re not proud of what they’re doing.

Bobby Maximus: We live in a society where people are somehow … It’s not okay to be proud.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm.

Bobby Maximus: And, listen, it’s not okay to brag. It’s not okay to put other people down.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm.

Bobby Maximus: But being proud of yourself, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Jane Erbacher: Yup.

Bobby Maximus: You know, I remember a scenario. I’ll actually tell you a funny story. I was out with some people and there was a UFC fight. And I was with a group of people. And one of them said, “You look like you had done a martial art or fought. Have you ever fought?” And I was just like, “No. I did martial arts as a kid but that was it and I just let it go.” Anyway, we were watching the UFC fight and during the fight someone in the bar came up to me and asked for my autograph. And then the whole table were like, “Why’s he asking for your autograph?”

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Bobby Maximus: I actually fought in the UFC. Then the questions started. When did you fight? What fights did you fight in? Why didn’t you tell us?

Jane Erbacher: Yup.

Bobby Maximus: Blah-blah-blah-blah-blah-blah. Answered all their questions. I was polite. Well, it came out later, that I was bragging about being in the UFC. And my response was, “You motherfuckers should be mad at me that I lied to you.”

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Bobby Maximus: “That I tried to hide it. Nevermind I just cordially answered your questions.” And what I realised is it came down to their insecurity.

Jane Erbacher: 100%.

Bobby Maximus: So people have this thing where they want to shine a negative light on you to make themselves feel better.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm. Yup.

Bobby Maximus: There’s a quote I put up like blowing out somebody else’s candles.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Bobby Maximus: Not going to make yours shine any brighter.

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Bobby Maximus: And if you’re successful with your podcast.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm.

Bobby Maximus: You’re going to hear things from people. You’re lucky. You had help.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm. Totally.

Bobby Maximus: You had money I didn’t have.

Jane Erbacher: Yup.

Bobby Maximus: People will put some reason on you. But if you’re proud of it and just answer their questions, they’ll also attack you for some character trait that’s unfair as well.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Bobby Maximus: Because they’re… It comes from an innate insecurity that they didn’t do the work themselves.

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Bobby Maximus: And so this is where I think this thing comes from where people do not like people that are proud of themselves.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm.

Bobby Maximus: But it’s actually interesting. They don’t like a self-assured proud person.

Jane Erbacher: Yup.

Bobby Maximus: They hate that person more than they hate a cocky insecure person.

Jane Erbacher: Yup.

Bobby Maximus: Because they know that person’s insecure. And you’ve probably heard when someone’s kind of being cocky, people will give them a pass and say, “Oh, they’re just really insecure.”

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Bobby Maximus: When you’re self-assured and you love yourself-

Jane Erbacher: Yup.

Bobby Maximus: People really find it uncomfortable.

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Bobby Maximus: And so it’s something people do when you’re generally proud. They try to put you down for it.

Jane Erbacher: Totally. It’s really interesting because I’ve done … I’ve spoken a lot about this the last couple of months because since being in the US, it’s become a lot more stark that … Culturally in Australia we have this tall puppy syndrome. So you’ve probably heard of it. So basically it’s based on this idea that if a puppy grows too tall in the field, the other puppies will cut its stem and bring it down to size. And it is every where in Australia. It’s like how dare you be successful? It’s like, and if I can hold you back, then that some how makes me better. And the interesting thing is that I definitely it less apparent in the US but still-

Bobby Maximus: Oh, it’s still there. The Japanese proverb for that is, the tallest blade of grass gets cut first.

Jane Erbacher: Yup.

Bobby Maximus: That’s the saying. And it does happen here. Where … But it’s only if you’re genuinely proud of yourself. That’s what people have a hard time with. And they’re actually not, it’s interesting, they’re actually not jealous of your podcast. They’re not jealous of Project Roller Ski. They’re not jealous that I run Gym Jones.

Jane Erbacher: Yup.

Bobby Maximus: They’re jealous that you have some form of happiness.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Bobby Maximus: That you seem content.

Jane Erbacher: Yup.

Bobby Maximus: So they could be equally jealous-

Jane Erbacher: Yup.

Bobby Maximus: If you worked at Target and you loved your job. If you worked at Walmart and worked your job. If you were a mechanic and you loved your job.

Jane Erbacher: Yup.

Bobby Maximus: It doesn’t matter what roles … Or you’re just a stay at home mom and you loved your job.

Jane Erbacher: Yup.

Bobby Maximus: They’re jealous that you found happiness. Not jealous of what you actually have or you’ve done.

Jane Erbacher: How do you deal with that?

Bobby Maximus: Oh, I try to: A) Ignore it or B) Use it as motivation.

Jane Erbacher: Yup.

Bobby Maximus: So when people hate me for no reason-

Jane Erbacher: Yup.

Bobby Maximus: I don’t let it work me up. Actually, I shouldn’t say that. There are times it does, if I’m being honest, it hurts my feelings.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm.

Bobby Maximus: It bothers me. But I’ve learnt to either just ignore it or then use it as positive motivation.

Jane Erbacher: Yup.

Bobby Maximus: And I do take some delight in the fact that somebody hates me for doing well. And for me I use it as a measure of success.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm.

Bobby Maximus: Because if somebody doesn’t hate you, you’re not successful enough.

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Bobby Maximus: And so, I actually had an incident where somebody made a fake account called Bobby Minimus. Made fun of me. Said all kinds of awful things. And a lot of people were like, “How does this not really upset you?” And I’m like, no. I’m at the point where I’ve got a fake profile and I’ve got a blue check mark on Instagram because they had to verify me because people were impersonating me. Like I finally reached a certain level of success. And there’s two ways to look at that.

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Bobby Maximus: And I think that, for everybody, it comes along with the job. So if you’re the best sports star in Australia and you’re making millions of dollars a year, there’s a certain something that goes along with that and you know that.

Jane Erbacher: Definitely.

Bobby Maximus: You signed up for it. It just means you’ve arrived.

Jane Erbacher: Totally. That’s, yeah. It’s interesting because that takes me back to my point on likeability is, what makes someone more likeable, I think, with true genuine likability is when they are self-assured and when they don’t let … Like other people don’t like them and they’re okay with it. Because it was funny, we had a really great conversation about this a couple of months ago. And you gave me some of the best business advice that I’ve ever had. And I’ve done a lot of work on business. And what you said to me was, show people how much you love your life. And that was it. And from that was born a lot of the things that I’ve now created. Because I do genuinely love my life.

  And the last couple of months, I spoke to you because I was like, I’m getting a bit of hate and I’m getting a bit of criticism. And part of me is kind of taking a little bit of delight in it because I’m like, if you can be bothered hating me than I’m obviously doing something that’s setting me apart. But I really respect that about you and I think that that’s what makes you more likeable and relatable too.

Bobby Maximus: Well, the other thing too is what are you going to do? Take it personally?

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Bobby Maximus: Like my self existence or my self-assuredness or my happiness shouldn’t be based on what other people think or what other people say.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bobby Maximus: And I work with my sports psychologist, Brian Cain, a long time on this. The 10 most damaging words in the English language are what will other people say and what will other people think.

Jane Erbacher: Yup.

Bobby Maximus: ‘Cause at the end of the day, does it matter? Like as we look out the garage right now, does it really matter what those neighbours who I’ve never said more than five sentences to-

Jane Erbacher: No.

Bobby Maximus: Does it really matter whether they like my truck or not?

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Bobby Maximus: Whether they like my wife or not. Whether they hate that my garage opens up and there’s a gym inside. Or whether I’m lifting weights in the driveway, does it fundamentally alter my life? And it doesn’t because when the garage gets closed and I go inside, they’re non-existent.

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Bobby Maximus: And so, that’s not to be mean, but my value of self-worth isn’t based on what other people think. And I think that’s a really dangerous way to live.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm.

Bobby Maximus: I think there are people who live that way and you’ll never be happy. Because there will always be somebody who doesn’t like you because you have red hair.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Bobby Maximus: Who doesn’t like you because your seminar is more successful than theirs.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Bobby Maximus: Or they just they don’t like your Australian accent.

Jane Erbacher: Yup.

Bobby Maximus: And there’s nothing you can do about it. Usually it’s a reflection on them, not you.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah. Totally. Absolutely love it. I want to know what Bobby Maximum stands for. Like what does he believe in? And this isn’t Rob, I want to know about Bobby. The steak eating, jacked dude.

Bobby Maximus: No, honestly Bobby Maximus is about working harder than everybody else. That’s all it is. It’s transforming yourself, your normal self, into something special. Into something unique. Reaching beyond your limits through hard work. So you can almost look at is as Rob MacDonald is somewhat shy, not athletic, not the most successful guy in all walks of life. But I almost, through the power of hard work, transform into Bobby Maximus.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm. Yup.

Bobby Maximus: And then that becomes my own personal super hero.

Jane Erbacher: Yup.

Bobby Maximus: Like I have my own logo.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Bobby Maximus: I have my own thing. And it’s almost like I believe that person can do anything. And I think everybody needs their own personal super hero.

Jane Erbacher: Yup.

Bobby Maximus: ‘Cause as kids, we all admired Batman, Wolverine, Superman, Spider-Man, growing up. And I think we lose that. And you can be your own super hero.

Jane Erbacher: Yup. I absolutely love it. What is Bobby Maximus’ main super power then? Just hard work?

Bobby Maximus: Hard work.

Jane Erbacher: Yup.

Bobby Maximus: Because that’s the best super power there is. And it’s funny where even in the comics book, whether it’s Superman, Spider-Man, Batman, there’s always some story about they lose their powers.

Jane Erbacher: Yup.

Bobby Maximus: And they have to work really hard or overcome their fears or you know, the obvious one is when Superman’s given kryptonite.

Jane Erbacher: Yup.

Bobby Maximus: And he becomes human. But then he still has to somehow-

Jane Erbacher: Save the world.

Bobby Maximus: Save the day or try. And they never up. And there’s always that lesson in these things.

Jane Erbacher: Yup.

Bobby Maximus: And I think that’s where it’s really at.

Jane Erbacher: Absolutely love it. I want to talk about Gym Jones.

Bobby Maximus: Yup.

Jane Erbacher: What is Gym Jones?

Bobby Maximus: Gym Jones it’s-

Jane Erbacher: I obviously know but-

Bobby Maximus: It’s evolved over the years, to be honest with you. But the real value in Gym Jones is it’s a community of like-minded individuals that have come together to make each other better. And it’s an online, worldwide community. And I say online but it’s more than online. Because obviously we have a more than an online relationship. And you and my wife have more than an online relationship-

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Bobby Maximus: And you and the other seminar instructors have more than an online relationship. But it’s this worldwide community where people can find inspiration in others, people can motivate others, people can lift each other up as opposed to tearing them down. And all for being better in real life. And so one of our big mandates is we’re not just training for training sake, we’re training to be better in the real world. And that does not mean that training’s secondary to your actually task or your real world goal, training actually is primary because it allows you to accomplish that real world goal. And so if you want to be a better father, I think training can help you do that.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm.

Bobby Maximus: If you want to be a better mother, training can help you do that. You want to be a better business person? Training can help you do that.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm.

Bobby Maximus: You want to be the best athlete in the world? Well obviously training can help you do that.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm.

Bobby Maximus: And so we use training as a platform to build ourselves into more in a very supportive community.

Jane Erbacher: I love it. And who do you feel Gym Jones is for? Is it for incredible athletes? Is it for-

Bobby Maximus: No, it’s, honestly, it’s for everybody. And I say this with Gym Jones and I say this with my book, that if you were to get the philosophy section from my book or you would get the philosophy section from Gym Jones, I think it can apply to every body.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm.

Bobby Maximus: You know, if you could distil it down into a children’s book, it would apply to a four year old.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm.

Bobby Maximus: Because it’s all the same lessons.

Jane Erbacher: Yes.

Bobby Maximus: And so, I think everybody on the planet could benefit from it somehow.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm.

Bobby Maximus: And I do think every one on the planet could also benefit from some exercise.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm.

Bobby Maximus: You know they talk about active living. You don’t necessarily have to be a world class athlete but walking can change your life.

Jane Erbacher: 100%.

Bobby Maximus: Kids playing outside can change your life or mould it into a better future.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah. I came along to your Maximus Body, so the book that you’ve just released which is awesome. And I have copies for everybody. But I came along to your Maximus Body seminar, which I absolutely loved. And you talked about … I remember so much that you talked about that day. ‘Cause I went along thinking, oh I know a lot of things you’ll talk about. I’ve heard you speak before. And I was there taking notes. I was like, he’s still got more to tell me. But it was interesting.

  You talked about… One of my favourite things you said was about how if you walked for an hour a night with your wife or your husband, by the end of the year you will have done something like 50-

Bobby Maximus: 38 marathons.

Jane Erbacher: 38 marathons. And so what you just said then about Gym Jones and exercise being for every one is it’s so easy to adopt moving into your life. And you talked about the flow and effect of simply walking with your partner in the night time. You can spend time together. You can actually move. You won’t be sitting on the couch eating junk food. All these different kind of flow and effects that people don’t realise exercise can bring into their life.

  I want to talk about your book. What did you … What was your main goal with that book?

Bobby Maximus: My main goal was to try and educate people and, this is going to sound really corny, but I want to change the world somehow. I mean, we have a very short time on this planet.

Jane Erbacher: Yup.

Bobby Maximus: I really hope that I leave some type of legacy or some type of mark on people. And I lost my dad when I was 20. And it was incredible the turnout for his funeral. Almost everyone in town came. And the stories I heard about my dad were how he would go out and give lesser privileged people Christmas presents-

Jane Erbacher: Yup.

Bobby Maximus: On Christmas morning. Because he was part of a charity. And he helped everybody and he was nice to everybody and kind to everybody. And everybody from all walks of life had a kind story about how my dad had affected them on a positive way. And it’s stuff I still here. And so I realised that, in a way, my dad kind of lives on through those stories and the way that he touched other people.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm.

Bobby Maximus: And it’s something that I want to do. And not just give people something but really positively affect change in their life.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm.

Bobby Maximus: And I realised that my dad did that on a small town level. That everyone in my small town loved my dad. And they actually said that when he died that there was a big hole left in the town. Like it just wasn’t the same.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm. Hm.

Bobby Maximus: I think there’s a lot of people like that across the world.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm.

Bobby Maximus: But if you want to affect worldwide change, you need a platform. And so I want a book, I want a movie, I want a DVD, I want a series on Netflix, I want a YouTube channel. Because that way I can affect that many more people. And honestly, when I hear stories about … I actually recently got one from a woman who lost her husband in the way. And I guess her 10 year old son is a fan of mine. That now says, “I want to be a good dad like Bobby.”

Jane Erbacher: Woah.

Bobby Maximus: And so I’m like, holy shit. Like, okay wow. If that’s the only thing I ever do-

Jane Erbacher: Yup.

Bobby Maximus: I’ve done something good.

Jane Erbacher: Yup.

Bobby Maximus: And then there’s people who e-mail and said, “I was in a depression. I found your book. It really helped me. I’m a better husband now.” That, to me, is worth more than anything.

Jane Erbacher: Yup.

Bobby Maximus: And so I want to, hopefully, have that affect on everyone-

Jane Erbacher: Mmm.

Bobby Maximus: To some level.

Jane Erbacher: Yup.

Bobby Maximus: And so the goal of the book was to help get word out there. Because I can’t just do it from this garage.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Bobby Maximus: Sorry, the church.

Bobby Maximus: I can’t just do it from the gym.

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Bobby Maximus: Because there’s only so many people I can reach or I can touch. And so I want to somehow transmit that to the entire world and the book is a start.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm (affirmative). 100%. And I think that it’s interesting. Because so many people talk about that as in they want to change the world, they want to impact change and make a difference. And it’s … They are sitting in their garage hoping for it. Like it’s … They are just talking about it.

Bobby Maximus: Hope doesn’t get you far. Like you can hope all you want but it’s not going to make your podcast get better.

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Bobby Maximus: Like go to bed every night-

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Bobby Maximus: Get on your knees. Pray, I hope my podcast gets more downloads tomorrow.

Jane Erbacher: Yup.

Bobby Maximus: It doesn’t work.

Jane Erbacher: No. You gotta show up.

Bobby Maximus: And so you gotta show up. You gotta do the work. You gotta do these things. And so writing a book was a massive undertaking but it’s been worth it because now I can give you a copy of the book and you can give it to somebody and hopefully they are positively effected by it. And then that person recommends it to another person and another person and another person, and the result of that can be pretty tremendous.

Jane Erbacher: Totally. And I think that it’s amazing, having experience what you do in terms of educating and bringing out the best. I would say that what you do is you enable people to believe that they can do it in someway. And it’s something that is … Something that you can’t explain how you actually do it. But I remember when I came to Fundamentals and I was in a terrible business situation. I was carrying too much weight. I was extremely stressed. And the moment that it happened for me with you was the 60 second [bike 00:36:04]. Because you just looked at me and you just told me exactly what I needed to do. And the fact that you believed that I could do it when I didn’t and then I did it. I was like, oh my god, that was me. But you brought it out. So it’s an incredible thing to experience that firsthand with you and I’m really grateful for that.

  I want to talk, very briefly, now just about Rob MacDonald. And I want to talk about if you feel like there’s been any turning points in your life that have really set your life in a certain direction.

Bobby Maximus: Yeah, there’s been a few. One, honestly, would be when I got my collarbone broken when I was in grade 9 when I was beat up by some bullies. Because that got me into wrestling and wrestling really changed my life. I mean, if it wasn’t for wrestling, I don’t know if I would have ever gotten to weight training. I don’t know if I ever would have gotten to physical activity. So I wouldn’t be here.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm.

Bobby Maximus: The death of my dad was a turning point. And it’s one of those things that if I could go back and change it, I would in a second.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm.

Bobby Maximus: Because I miss my dad. He was my best friend. But I also don’t know how that would change how I am now.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm.

Bobby Maximus: Because a lot of things that I fundamentally believe in were formed through that pain, through that-

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm.

Bobby Maximus: What I went through with that.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm.

Bobby Maximus: The birth of my son was a huge one. And I … Actually the birth of my 2 sons. Because when you have kids, your life changes, your perspective changes. Your responsible to something frankly much bigger than yourself. And I have 2 beautiful kids that matter more than me. And a lot of people say that you don’t know what love is ’til you have a kid. And you don’t. You can love your spouse. You can love your girlfriend. You can love your boyfriend. You can love your job. But you’d give your life for your kid in a heartbeat. And so kids are a turning point. And honestly meeting my wife Lisa.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm.

Bobby Maximus: That’s been a huge turning point for me too. To actually have a real partner.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Bobby Maximus: You know, somebody who supports me. Somebody who lifts me up. Somebody who challenges me on all my bullshit. Who doesn’t just settle for the status quo either. And so that’s been a major turning point. And you could look at my success in the last 3 years and that also correlated to the same time that she came into my life. That’s not a coincidence.

  And so those would be the main turning points in my life. And it’s funny because will often say they have one turning point. I don’t think that’s true. I think you have multiple turning points throughout your life and lessons that you either learn from or you don’t.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm. Something I love is that you haven’t used any of those struggles or however you want to define it as a reason to hold you back. But each of them have been a reason to do better. And I’ve heard the story … Like I’ve heard that you were bullied in school. Which, since knowing you know, I’m like how did that even happen but that was an incredible drive for you to then use physicality and use fitness to make yourself more confident. And I also see what an incredible impact Lisa’s had on your life and how … One of my favourite things about you is how much you love her and how open you are about that. And I think that your dad … Losing your dad when you were 20 has been such an important reason to why you’re so involved in your kid’s lives. And you have to be one of the best dads I’ve ever seen.

Bobby Maximus: Thank you.

Jane Erbacher: And I love- no but you are. I love those kids so much. And I could just see how much they absolutely adore you. And it’s really cool to watch on. So that’s pretty much everything that I wanted to talk to you about.

Bobby Maximus: Good. We hammered that out.

Jane Erbacher: You were so great.

Bobby Maximus: Thank you.

Jane Erbacher: And I really appreciate it. And stay tuned every body because we’re going to be running some Fundamentals and Intermediate seminars for Gym Jones in Australia.

Bobby Maximus: Yeah, and actually for those of you who don’t know, Jane is one of our seminar instructors in Australia.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Bobby Maximus: And so one of the things that we’ve struggled with is how to get this out because I want to help everybody in the world. How to get the message out and we have to find other great people to teach. And we named Jane and Nathan Tieppo to be our instructor team in Australia. And they’re people that if I had the choice to go to a Bobby Maximus seminar or their seminar, I would probably choose theirs because they’re people I respect and admire and that I’ve worked with otherwise I wouldn’t have named them seminar instructors.

Jane Erbacher: Thank you.

Bobby Maximus: And so I’m really looking forward to what you two are going to do-

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Bobby Maximus: In Australia. And kind of usher in a whole new generation of Gym Jones people.

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Bobby Maximus: I’m super excited about that.

Jane Erbacher: The future is so exciting. I can’t wait. And I can’t wait … Good luck. You have got the world championships this weekend for jiu jitsu.

Bobby Maximus: I do. Jiu jitsu’s something I’m trying out. I haven’t competed in it in a long time. We’ll try that out.

Jane Erbacher: That’s so awesome that you’re doing that.

Bobby Maximus: And then … Yeah, you know what? It’s just going to be fun.

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Bobby Maximus: It’s just another way to test myself. I retired from fighting a long time ago. And it’s something that I’ve been doing it again and I just want to compete. And I think it’s a good lesson to teach the kids too.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Bobby Maximus: That their dad’s actually doing something.

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Bobby Maximus: Putting himself in an uncomfortable position himself.

Jane Erbacher: Completely. That’s one thing I didn’t ask you. What’s next? What’s coming up in the next 6 to 12 months for Bobby Maximus? Gym Jones, Rob MacDonald. Whoever of those.

Bobby Maximus: Honestly to try and built those brands as big as I can.

Jane Erbacher: Yup.

Bobby Maximus: And, yah, part of it is … There’s some selfish reasons there too. Because you talk about that drive to want to take care of your family and your kids and things like that. But from a bigger perspective, I have realised that if you want to help more people you need a bigger platform. And you have to build that platform. No one’s going to build it for you.

Jane Erbacher: Yup.

Bobby Maximus: And so I want to turn Gym Jones to a household name. I want Bobby Maximus to be a household name. And in a good way. Not a notorious way.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Bobby Maximus: Not a TMZ, but- not that there’s anything wrong with TMZ.

Jane Erbacher: Yup.

Bobby Maximus: But I want everybody to have a chance for exercise to change their life.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Bobby Maximus: And to do that, there’s a lot of hard work to do.

Jane Erbacher: Totally. Thank you so much. You’re the best.

Bobby Maximus: Thank you. And I apologise about the noise but you actually do know because of the thunder and the cars driving by that you’re actually in my garage.

Jane Erbacher: I am. I am.

Bobby Maximus: The Church.

Jane Erbacher: I’m looking at some pretty incredible clouds out there.

Bobby Maximus: We’re actually here.

Jane Erbacher: I think there’s going to be a big old storm on those mountains. Thank you everyone for listening. Bye.

Bobby Maximus: Thank you.

Real Life Likes

Listen to Episode 81 to hear how you can win a free pair of shoes from

By listening you might also hear some pretty rad shit on how to create some 

You can listen to this episode below or subscribe to never miss an episode here:

Or download directly to listen on your smart phone for iPhone or Android.

They’re shoes that get this sort of response…

Jane Erbacher: For a while now, I’ve been looking for somebody to work with on the podcast who aligns with our message, and I’ve found them in LALO Tactical. Anybody who knows me knows that I love shoes, and what kind of shoes am I usually in? Well, definitely ones that go with my 24/7 activewear, so trainers, obviously. Well, LALO Tactical have built a shoe that is lightweight, breathable, good looking, and able to be cross trained or run in.

  What I really like about LALO is that they are not just about creating the best product possible, but they are based on the underlying message that we must choose our own path, whatever that may be, and do it with purpose, hard work, and determination. I met LALO through Gym Jones two years ago, and since then, I’ve not only felt and witnessed firsthand the benefits of their product, but I’ve seen their engagement with the community and they are the real deal. They are living with purpose. They work hard, and they’re determined to have an impact. If they weren’t as great as I’m saying, I would not be aligned with them.

The Your Revolution Podcast on Stitcher  So what does this mean for you? Well, for Your Revolution listeners, LALO have an offer. Buy any athletic shoe on the LALO website at 30% off by using the promo code BeBetter30. Their athletic designs put an emphasis on noise reduction, support, and overall performance. LALO athletic shoes really are gear that hit the mark time after time. This offer is valid until October 31st, 2017. Shipping is not included and you must set up a profile for the code to work on the website. It is available only on the US website.

  As well as this, LALO and I would love to give away some shoes, and you don’t just have to be in the US to win. Simply share the podcast, any episode you like, on social media and tag me in it. @Jane.Erbacher. Then, you’ll go into the draw to win a pair. You have until September 22nd to enter. For anymore info on LALO’s range, you can check out I hope that you like the episode.

  Hello and welcome to the Your Revolution Podcast. The Your Revolution Podcast is a collaboration between Revolution Personal and Performance Training in Melbourne and The Me Project. The purpose of the Your Revolution Podcast is to inspire you on your mission of betterment. Each week on the podcast, you’ll meet game changers who have created extraordinary lives, and you’ll listen to stories and lessons to empower you to make the changes necessary to your life. The Your Revolution Podcast is committed to fitness, health, nutrition, mindset, community, education, empowerment, and betterment, and we hope that you can take what you learn here and apply it to your very own revolution.

Want to know the recipe to success?

Jane Erbacher: Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of the Your Revolution Podcast, my name’s Jane Erbacher, and I’m your host. Hope this podcast finds you happy and well and enjoying everything that’s going on. I’ve arrived back in Salt Lake City today, which is pretty exciting, ’cause I absolutely love this place. And I spent last week, the start of last week in Austin, Texas, so I made it back to Austin, and that was where I recorded this week’s podcast, which is with the owners of Of the Lion Fitness. OTL.

That is Dave and Courtney DeLeon. And they are absolute guns. I love them both so much, and I’m really excited to bring you this episode, I’ve been on them for over a year now to be on the podcast, ’cause they’re just those people that you meet that you know are going somewhere, and you know have a really interesting story and they did not disappoint at all with this week’s podcast. We talked a lot about … so last week on the podcast we had Joe and Dan from Varsity, and we talked a lot about how to turn passion into profit, and that seems to be a similar theme with Dave and Courtney because they are absolutely living out their passion in the gym that they run and own, and they people that they’re meeting and affecting, and changing their lives, really.

And so I’ve called today’s episode The Recipe for Success, because it was so great listening to Dave and Courtney talk with absolute surety that what they are doing is what they’re here to do. And they’re doing it with every ounce of their being. I love when you talk to those people and they’re not just killing it in terms of business, and doing great in terms of their career, but they’re in a great relationship. These two are married, and they’re running a great business together. And they have one of those relationships that, you’re around them, and it’s what you want too.

They never put each other down, they don’t bicker. They have absolute respect for each other, and they both think the other person is the greatest person in the world. And you can tell that by the way that they look at each other, and the way that they speak to each other, and the way that they speak about each other. And so, and the other way that they’re super successful is in their health and fitness and bodies, and attitude they’ve got in their bodies. So, I always love learning from people like that about, if there is a system that they apply to each of these areas of their life to make themselves do so well, and be so happy, and feel so good, and look so good. And perform well.

What does it take to run one of the most successful fitness businesses in the world?

Meet Joe Riggio & Dan Goodman, the owners, founders, directors, & the brains and brawn behind the hugely successful Varsity House Gym in New York.

These two are the real deal. To them success is a choice and hard work, effort and passion are what drives them to continue to grow, improve and literally set the tone for the entire strength, fitness and athletic development industry.

Varsity House Gym lives on the border of New York and New Jersey. It is state of the art, purpose built and filled to the brim with buzzing athletes, members and staff and has been the centre point for their new venture: The Business of Strength.

Based on the operational systems the pair have implemented over the decade they have run the business together, Joe and Dan now run an educative program for up and coming strength and fitness professionals and entrepreneurs.

The passion these men have for what they do oozes out of them. Not only is it inspiring to hear them speak of their success so far and the plans they have yet to make a reality, but the conversation will lay the groundwork for you to make the changes necessary to make your life better.

You can absolutely turn passion into profit and it is something to not only chase but be super proud of.

Tune in by searching for Your Revolution on your podcasts app (iPhone) or Stitch app (android) or by jumping across to





The Your Revolution Podcast on Stitcher

Jane Erbacher: Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of the Your Revolution Podcast, my name is Jane Erbacher and I’m your host. I just wanted to do a pre-intro-intro, to this week’s episode because I’m really excited about it and everybody’s getting really used to me being excited, and I guess if I wasn’t excited you’d all think that something was wrong, so it’s lucky that I am excited.

But I’m coming to you, again, from New York, my favourite place in the world. I absolutely love it. I’m heading off to Austin this week to reunite with my friends Dave and Courtney from, Off the Line. Then heading to Portland, Oregon with Project Row, Project Ski, with my friend Nick Eldridge. I’m running a workshop with him out of his gym. His business is called Higher Standards Fitness. I’m so excited to go up to Oregon, I’ve heard that it’s absolutely beautiful.  Everyone keeps saying I’m really going to like it, because there’s great outdoors stuff, and there’s really good coffee. So, I was like, “Yes! I like both of those things very much.”

Then, heading back to Salt Like City, Utah. Absolutely love Utah for the Gym Jones Advanced Course. I’ll also be running my row and ski workshops out of Gym Jones on the 19th of August. Then, head back to LA. Then, I go across to Iowa, Iowa City, and I’m running a workshop out of Alchemy Strength. Really excited to go to Iowa.

Lots of cool stuff happening for me. But this week’s episode really deserved an intro because it’s with, what I would say, some of the best fitness entrepreneurs in the whole world, and that’s Joe Riggio and Dan Goodman, the founders, creators, brains, and brawn of Varsity House. These two are absolutely incredible. When I started this podcast, about 18 months ago or just a little bit over, one of my real missions was to talk to the people that had passion oozing out of them for what they do. They’re clearly getting up every single day, and they’re going for what they believe in. Joe and Dan absolutely epitomise this. It’s not just in business that they’re successful, but it’s in their every day approach to their life. It’s their attitude.

I decided after the episode with them that I wanted to do a little bit of a series this coming month, which is, “How to turn passion into profit.” I think that a lot of us get really scared when we do work in our passion, to actually charge for it, or to take any money for it. What I’ve really come to learn, this year, after turning my passion into an absolute career is that the way to sustain a career in your passion, where you are helping people, where you are trying to have an impact on the world, is to actually be able to pay yourself. If you can’t survive working in your passion, or working in your craft, then you can’t deliver what you need to deliver. If your goal is to impact the world, and impact people, then you need to take care of yourself in a way that enables you to do that on even a small scale, or a mass scale.

Joe and Dan are a perfect example of two people who believe so whole-heartedly in changing the world, and having an impact, and helping people, and educating, and empowering, and inspiring. They do it in a way that takes care of them and their family, as well. They don’t put themselves second to that, and I think that’s so interesting and so important to learn from this. So many us, almost apologise for our part in it. It always comes back to a self-worth thing, “Am I enough for somebody to pay for?” If this is something you’re thinking about, and I get emails every single week from people who ask me about how they can change careers and turn passion into profit, and this is how. Listen to everything they say and this is how.

I really hope that you enjoy the episode, thank you so much for the ongoing support. Make sure you do reach out to me if you’ve got anything to say. I would love to hear from you. My email address is probably the best it’s,

I’ll talk to you soon, bye.

Hello and welcome to the Your Revolution Podcast. The Your Revolution Podcast is a collaboration between revolution, personal, and performance training in Melbourne, and the, ME project. The purpose of the, Your Revolution Podcast is to inspire you on your mission of betterment. Each week on the podcast you’ll meet game changers who have created extraordinary lives. You’ll listen to stories and lessons to empower you to make the changes necessary to your life. The, Your Revolution Podcast is committed to fitness, health, nutrition, mindset, community, education, empowerment, and betterment. We hope that you can take what you learn here and apply it to your very own revolution.

Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of the Your Revolution Podcast, my name Jane Erbacher, and I’m your host. I am so excited! I can’t handle this, though, that we are so technologically savvy, here at Varsity House. We have hooked a full on … I feel like I’m on the radio, this is the best.

Joe Riggio: It sounds good.

Dan Goodman: We are.

Jane Erbacher: It does, we are!

Joe Riggio: We are.

Dan Goodman: This is web radio.

Joe Riggio: With DJ Prophecy in the building, T-Money.

Jane Erbacher: Thank you, Trevor, for hooking this up.

Trevor: Yeah, I’m happy to do this, this is fun for me.

Jane Erbacher: This is the best. So I am so excited. I am at one of my favourite places in the whole world. I was trying to add up on my hands today how many times I’ve been back to Varsity House, and I can’t add it up, but, today’s the first time I’ve driven here. So, congratulations.

Joe Riggio: How was the ride, was it sketchy?

Jane Erbacher: You drive on the right side of the road, which you would think was the right side of the road, it was definitely the wrong side of the road. But, I am so excited to be here at Varsity House, it’s absolutely one of my favourite places in the world. I keep looking for excuses to move here, and maybe I could become your nanny, Joe?

Joe Riggio: That’s it! You’re hired, for sure.

Jane Erbacher: I am here with Joe and Dan, the owners, creators, brains, and brawn. Both of them are brains and brawn. Neither of them is one or the other. I am really excited because we’ve got both of them here for the podcast today.

Joe Riggio: Trevor’s the brains.

Trevor: Yeah.

Jane Erbacher: Definitely. But I’m really excited. It was funny, because I’ve talked to both of you individually about whether or not I would interview you independently or whether I’d have it as a team situation, and up until today I was planning on interviewing you separately because you both bring so much individually to the business, and also to the world, and also as my friends, individually. But I also feel like together as a partnership, you’re an incredible example of how to run a business. So I’ve decided to, first, all to be together, so I’m not gonna ask one of you to leave the room now. You made the cut.

Dan Goodman: You can’t separate us.

Jane Erbacher: No, you’re Joe and Dan. Or Dan and Joe.

Trevor: We’ve been married for 10 years.

Jane Erbacher: It’s true. And I also thought, I did say to Dan, imagine if I put your podcast up before Joe’s. I think I’d be dead to him.

Joe Riggio: That would definitely cause some beef here.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah! But thank you both so much for being here today, in your gym, which I absolutely love. I really, really wanted you on the podcast this time cause I want to talk about Varsity House and what an incredible place it is that you’ve created. But I also want to talk about what you’re both creating with the business of strength. So the loose banner under this … the heading for this podcast is “How to Turn Passion into Profit.” So that’s what I’d like to talk about today. I’d really love if each of you could give us a brief introduction on what’s led you to now. Joe, you’ve been on the podcast a year ago …

Joe Riggio: Sure.

Jane Erbacher: And I still, I don’t know if I told you this, I still receive emails at least weekly about your episode.

Joe Riggio: That’s awesome.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah, it’s really cool. So a lot of people, in and out of the fitness industry, you’ve left a mark on. So I think that’s a real testament to you. So I’d really like to hear from you first, Dan. Just on kind of what your path here has been, cause people haven’t met you in Australia, a lot of them, and I’d really love them to meet the Dan that I know. There is one thing I will say before this though. I still remember when I met you guys for the first time, Gym Jones Intermediate, and we’ve talked about this because immediately I was like “I’ve never met guys like this.” You guys are like big, football guys, and I was like “I don’t know if I’m gonna have anything in common with you,” and I was a little bit scared of you both, and I have to say that you are both two of my favourite people in the world.

Joe Riggio: Oh that’s cool. Thank you. You’re awesome too.

Jane Erbacher: And, I did say this to you in the car though, I haven’t met such engaging, interested, interesting, and proactive people. You’re both doing what you need to do every day. You’re not resting on your laurels. And I think that that’s awesome. I think that the meathead heading, I think that you should wear that as a …

Joe Riggio: That’s a badge of honour for us, you know …

Jane Erbacher: Yeah it is!

Joe Riggio: It just kind of goes with the territory, being Joe from Jersey. What are you gonna do?

Jane Erbacher: Totally. But …

Joe Riggio: It works though.

Jane Erbacher: It totally does. But both of you are so savvy, so intelligent, and such great men, and I’m just excited that people get to hear from you.

Joe Riggio: Well thank you for having us on the show here. It’s awesome having you in Jersey, or New York, yet again.

Jane Erbacher: We’re right on the border.

Joe Riggio: Right on the border.

Dan Goodman: Right on the border.

Joe Riggio: Literally. But we still go with …

Dan Goodman: We’re straight Jersey now.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Joe Riggio: Still Jersey. The residence is still both in New Jersey.

Jane Erbacher: Oh okay.

Dan Goodman: Our story, I mean, I know Joe has been on this podcast before, but for everybody that doesn’t know, I actually train with Joe as athlete, so our partnership really started organically like that, as coach and athlete. I had worked at some other gyms before, and I was still playing football at the University of Rhode Island, and one summer I came back and my little brother started training, and we started bringing some family and friends to the gym, and Joe said “Hey man, I think that we could probably start a business here. For the next couple weeks why don’t you try to bring a kid to the gym every day, and for every kid you bring here I’ll give you $100.” I was like, you kidding me?

Jane Erbacher: That’s the best.

Joe Riggio: Carloads of little kids, with terrified looks on their faces.

Dan Goodman: I was like, man, I could do this …

Joe Riggio: Get in there and work out.

Dan Goodman: Easily. So we did that for a summer, and made quite a bit of money doing that, and when we left, I went back to play my 5th year, I had a scholarship, University of Rhode Island, I said, you know, I’m obviously gonna see this through. All the while though, we put together a business plan, I came home from school mid-year, and three months later, May 1st of 2009, we were in our first space, and the rest is kind of history, where that’s where Varsity House started to form. We started Varsity House number two.

From that point, the first three years was just full on grind. We worked nonstop, tonnes of session hours, we had no systems in place. We really had to find each other in terms of our business partnership. After year three, we really decided we have to hire some help, we have to find some people to help us, really move this business forward. That’s when we got out and got some coaching and started putting some operating systems in place, really without even knowing we were doing it.

Fast forward, we went through the Gym Jones certification process, we spent a lot of time with other business coaches, like I said, spending a lot of money on our development as people and business owners, and we knew that we wanted to get in the educational side of fitness, we just didn’t know what route we were gonna take. We said, “Man, we’re getting a lot of questions about business and business development. Maybe we can start doing an educational programme on business.” And, that in the last year’s been the creation of Business of Strength. I know I can speak for myself, it’s been a lot of fun the last year or so, putting on … we’re gonna have our second instalment of Business of Strength …

Jane Erbacher: And that’s here at Varsity?

Joe Riggio: That’s here.

Dan Goodman: That’s here, and we’re gonna be giving a talk at Gym Jones in two weeks. Then we’re actually going over to London at the beginning of 2018 to give a talk and to give a business another …

Joe Riggio: To do another mentorship with Steve Kolenko.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah, at Reach?

Dan Goodman: Yeah, it’s gonna be great.

Jane Erbacher: Awesome. Everybody in London will have to sign up for this.

Joe Riggio: Yeah, that’ll be fun.

Dan Goodman: So that’s nine years in a nutshell. We’ve done a lot. We’ve made a lot of mistakes, and I’ll let Joe take it over from here cause I know he probably wants to retell the story. He’ll probably have a different take on it.

Joe Riggio: No I mean, look, everything kind of fell into place. There’s a lot of things people could say, like “Well, you got lucky with this, you got lucky with that.” But there’s no such thing as luck in business. We just made conscious moves along the way. Partnering up with Dan in 2009, going to the gym. We did not have any systems, but we had a training plan that I had been using, and I had followed. So the one thing we knew we had was a really good training programme. Before we even knew we had it, we had a really great mentorship programme for developing coaches, before we even knew it. Our first coach was Big Mike, right, he was our first intern. I think I told you this story in the last one, but my Big Mike intern, and we worked him like a savage. 50 hours a week, for $250 every other week, it was terrible. It was definitely illegal, but …

Dan Goodman: He’s still here.

Jane Erbacher: He’s still here.

Joe Riggio: Definitely illegal. But, and Mike had already been training for a long time and was a super strong dude and was really into it, but had no idea how to programme for athletes and stuff like that. So I spent a lot of time teaching Mike. Dan had already been through a lot of training. Obviously through his own training, college, and then years of training with me prior to us becoming businessmen, so he had learned the system kind of by absorption, by osmosis. By being in it and doing it for three or four years before we partnered up.

So we had a good training, and we had a mentorship. Those are two of the absolute fundamental components. Right? You have to have a great product, and you have to have the way to develop great employees. We kind of started that process right from the beginning, without even knowing it. All of that has completely evolved and now we have this giant manual for our interns, and we have weekly meetings, they have tests, quizzes, projects that they have to do when they’re here in the summertime. It’s evolved into a very top-notch mentorship programme for an entire summer, where back then it was just Big Mike, just watch what I do and pay attention.

Dan Goodman: We spent a lot of time and money on the development of our staff. I believe it’s the only way to scale a business.

Joe Riggio: Yeah. We’ve always, this is something I’ll say on the business side, just a little nugget for all the strength entrepreneurs out there is we’ve always believed in paying people’s salaries. We don’t pay people by the hour, because then you get hourly employees.

Jane Erbacher: Yes.

Joe Riggio: You get people who are looking to come work their hour and peace out. You know what I mean? So we always paid somebody as either a full-time salary or a part-time salary, and lock them into specific shifts, times and requirements. And even if you’re a part-time employee, let’s say Leslie at the front desk, right, who’s a part-time employee …

Jane Erbacher: Who I love.

Joe Riggio: Leslie’s amazing right? But she has a specific role. She is the billings department, her job is specific. So I gave her … you know, it’s giving people ownership, it’s giving them responsibility right from the beginning. And it’s paying them salary, and it’s giving them the ability to grow as a person and as an employee.

Jane Erbacher: And security then.

Joe Riggio: Security, everything.

Jane Erbacher: You go home, and you still think about your job. It’s not … you don’t clock off.

Joe Riggio: A lot of gyms want to save money. Crossfit gyms do this a lot. This is no knock on Crossfit gyms, cause it’s not Crossfit, it’s the owners of those gyms, but a lot of Crossfit gyms and smaller box gyms, they want to save money. So it’s like hey, can you come teach two classes a week and I’ll give you $50 per class.

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Joe Riggio: Well, how is that getting an employee that has any investment in what you’re doing?

Jane Erbacher: Totally. And then they’re teaching at the other box around the corner as well for two hours a week.

Joe Riggio: Right. Here you can’t coach anywhere else. If you coach somewhere else, you can’t work here.

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Joe Riggio: You know what I mean?

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Joe Riggio: So that’s kind of been our thing.

So that started right from the beginning and when I look back now, ten years ago, it’s like man, that was pretty damn smart.

Jane Erbacher: Yes I know!

Joe Riggio: And we didn’t mean it to be. It was really like … you know I remember I was sitting down with Craig, our accountant, Craig who’s coming in a little bit. We should make Craig sit down and do the podcast.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Joe Riggio: And …

Dan Goodman: He’d love it.

Joe Riggio: Craig, come here for a second. He’d be terrified, right?

But I remember sitting down with him and Justin and being like, what should we do? How do we pay everybody? Well, just give them what you can afford, lock them into something. You want to build a good employee, you make sure you give them the opportunity to grow and own something. And I don’t mean own something like own a piece of company, but own something within the company.

Mike is in charge … Mike has always been, in a sense, the head strength and conditioning coach. He’s always been in charge of writing athletic programmes. He’s always dealt with the athletes and had a piece of that in terms of when he looks down at the gym floor now, and sees Adam doing what Adam does, Shawn doing what Shawn does, Joey doing what he does, and how Simone’s developed into an awesome coach, he can look down there with pride and say, I helped create that. I helped foster those abilities. I helped foster the gym. The success of the gym is a big piece of his ownership in our training programmes and what goes on on the gym floor. That’s allowed us to do stuff like this cause Mike’s down there training right now and working with guys right now.

That’s been a big part of the development in this story. I think what led us to Business of Strength was like what Dan said. Every time we went to … we’d go to a training workshop and people see our gym and they’d be like, how are you guys getting clients? Alright, what about, do you want to learn how to train athletes? No, no, no, how do you … So, how are you guys doing your marketing? Who does the marketing? Who does the operations? You know, blah, blah, blah, and we get into an hour long conversation about the business. What about training athletes?

Dan Goodman: Yeah.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah. You go like, we want to talk about this.

Joe Riggio: Nobody gave a … nobody cared. Nobody cares here, you know?

Dan Goodman: I think it’s funny too, I think actually on your video you can see this quote I went over with the interns yesterday, and I posted about it, and I wrote the article on Monday about Starbucks, but from their CEO, we just talk about Starbucks is not an advertiser. Everybody thinks there’s this huge marketing conglomerate. You don’t see them marketing on the Superbowl, you don’t see Starbucks billboards. What they talk about is the development of their employees. That’s where their time and money is spent …

Joe Riggio: And client experience.

Dan Goodman: Exactly. And the thing is, is here, we’re not spending $100,000 a month on Facebook ads. We’re not putting in paid advertising in a newspaper. We’re putting in our time, money, and expertise into developing the next great strength and conditioning coach …

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Dan Goodman: The next great head of operations, because that’s enabled us to do the things that we want to do, and further our career as strength entrepreneurs where we no longer have to do 50 session hours a week. And we didn’t have to take a pay cut to do it. You know, where a lot of people are, oh man, I gotta shift gears and I gotta try and do this over here, but am I gonna be able to pay rent? It’s like, no, I know I’m gonna be able to pay rent because we have great people that we allow to do their jobs. I mean, Trevor, who’s sitting in the room right now, he’s our general manager who’s the de facto complaint department. Anytime anyone has a problem around the gym, they go to Trevor, but he’s become a resource for everybody that works here, and by and large, we know that we’ve got great, reliable help at the gym all the time.

Joe Riggio: Putting ownership on people, I think a lot of times also forces them to level up.

Jane Erbacher: Totally, like how you did with …

Joe Riggio: So, as soon as I told Mike … I remember sitting him down and being like, Mike … and this was years ago. We’re talking 2000, I think right after our trip to Westside so like 2011. He’d been working for two years, he’d been doing a great job, totally immersed himself into training and stuff like that. I said, Mike, we’re getting business cards and so I said, head strength and conditioning coach. I remember his eyes lit up like … you know he’s like head strength and conditioning coach? Does that mean I’m in charge of strength and conditioning? Yes, Mike. That’s kind of what that means, right? But you know, it was a prideful moment for him. He’d worked his ass off.

Dan Goodman: Yeah, for sure.

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Joe Riggio: So it’s like great. So there was a little bit of acknowledgement, but it gave him ownership, and he’s like, I’m signing up for these workshops. I’m doing … this summer he’s going to, you know Eric Cressey, he’s a great practitioner. Big in baseball, and shoulder mobility, flexibility, correct effects, stuff like that. Mike trains all our baseball players, so he’s going to one of Cressey’s workshops and he’s super excited about that. He’s always trying to level himself cause he takes a tonne of pride in that title. Hey I’m the head strength and conditioning coach here at Varsity House. He does all of the technical strength and conditioning, teaching with our interns, and stuff like that. Giving him that title has forced him to level up.

Creating a position for Trevor, calling him the general manager has forced him to level up. Trevor was always a super talented IT guy, computer, graphics, video, pictures, art, stuff like that. But going to the other side of the table and becoming a businessman, and a leader, and being able to conduct a meeting at the front desk with the girls, and our front desk staff, and the other coaches, and be like, hey guys, here’s the stuff we have on the table. Here’s what we have to do. Here’s our new onboarding process, or whatever it is, and help to implement those things, has been … That happened because we said, Trevor, when we go to the new gym, you’re gonna be the general manager and I need help with x, y, and z, you gotta make this happen, dude. And that’s it. It’s like, step up. Everybody has, but I think it only happens when you force people to. If you leave it … again if we go back to that part-time employee thing, part-time employee means part-time investment.

Jane Erbacher: Totally. 100%.

Joe Riggio: There’s really little investment. Even with part-time employees, you can really help them stand out and make a difference in your company by helping them, by giving them something that’s theirs to control.

Susan’s in charge of all the clothing ordering and supplements. Simone obviously has our SNAP Nutrition programme and she runs SNAP Nutrition. Trevor’s mom, who also works part-time at the front desk, she’s in charge of all the product ordering. All our supplies and things like that. She takes pride in every Monday when, or every Tuesday rather, when Mama Langsdon, she does all the inventory and stuff like that. So it’s given people something that’s like, hey, this is something that I do every day, it’s nice. Instead of just sitting there at the front desk, waiting for someone to come into the gym with nothing to do.

Dan Goodman: But even more so for the strength entrepreneurs that are listening, that are running their own spaces, is for the coaches that work here, on top of creating a salary system for them and talking about retirement, we also are providing our coaches with paid days off, which does not exist in this industry.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-mm (negative)

Joe Riggio: No.

Dan Goodman: We’ve also provided them with continuing education, an allotment of funds for each person where we have, not just Big Mike, but I know Joey’s going to the Cressey Performance.

Joe Riggio: He’s going too, yeah.

Dan Goodman: Trevor’s going to the WordPress level one and two for the development of our website. You know, Joe and I are headed back to Gym Jones in the next couple weeks, and Adam just went to Bedros’s business summit.

Joe Riggio: Summit, yeah. You know, more like [crosstalk 00:23:33]

Dan Goodman: Everybody here, on a monthly basis, is going to learn. And they feel empowered to come back and share that experience with everybody because, it’s really more of a team like-minded approach as opposed to … I know people have asked in the past, You know, Big Mike’s the head of strength and conditioning, he’s going to this or that, it’s like, yeah. All that does is make our team better. If our team’s better, then I’m better.

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Joe Riggio: Me and Dan can’t go to everything, so it’s like, you know …

Jane Erbacher: Right. And what’s the point? Because it’s like, something that you’ve set up so well in your business, and I think this is why people are so interested to learn from you from a business side, is you don’t need to be in amongst every single operation of the gym for it to be successful.

Joe Riggio: Hell no. I don’t want to be. No.

Jane Erbacher: And it’s crazy to have your … it would be crazy for you too. So the interesting part about that I think is that so many gym owners, I’ve got a couple of questions from things that you’ve said, but so many gym owners have their ego attached to needing to be involved with every aspect of the gym. How have you both separated that? How have you both said, Trevor’s better at all of that than us, and if he’s …

Joe Riggio: Arguing. There’s been some arguing. No, but A, I want to make money. Right? So if you want to make money, you have to let go. You go to Tony Robbins, you go to any major business entrepreneur and the first thing he says, you gotta learn to delegate. You gotta learn to let go. You can’t do everything, and that’s one.


Two, especially for me, and I know I’ve talked to you about this personally, but one of the absolute best moments was seeing Dan and Mike turn the corner as coaches. Seeing Dan lead an entire crew of high school athletes, empower them, train them, write the training programme, train the team, give them the speeches. When they came in the gym they were looking for Coach Dan. You know like, is Dan here? Is Dan here? You know what I mean? And he had made the connection, the bond, and fostered the relationship, facilitated the money aspect of that with the coaches and the parents, and really took ownership. It was like man, that’s the moment for me as the gym dad in this sense, when it was like, wow that’s what I was looking for. That’s what you need.

So its like now with Dan seeing Adam take that leap. Where me and him both helped Adam grow. Dan spent a lot of time with Adam on the business side and the marketing and stuff like that. To see Adam become a phenomenal coach, he’s an amazing coach. And also he’s a really sharp kid with a really good business mind, to walk into our office one day when we’re having a meeting and he’s like guys, I really think I could help you out with this, this, and this on the business side.

Dan Goodman: With finished processes.

Joe Riggio: And for what it’s worth, on that side, he took a chance, and he got shit done. You know what I mean? So it’s like, I can help you out, but you gotta make it happen.

So I think that the ego’s a big part. I get a lot of people in the industry who, I don’t know, they think they’re saving money by not hiring people around them, and they’re really losing a lot of money.

Dan Goodman: And short term they may be. You know?

Joe Riggio: Well yeah. So I mean look, I get that sometimes there is a money issue. But I also see a lot of guys in the industry, they do a lot of travelling, there’s a lot of lifestyle people, you know what I mean? So you got money to travel around the country and do like a …

Dan Goodman: What’s important.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Joe Riggio: So you know, we didn’t go anywhere for a long time. We didn’t spend any money. I went from making good money and running my own gym to barely taking a cent for myself for a few years to put money back in the business to see it grow. We do that today. When we moved here, we cut our salaries, we put money back into the gym, and it was like, hey we want to take this to another level, we gotta hire three or four new employees. We’re spending two and a half million dollars on building a new gym. We gotta make some …

Jane Erbacher: Totally. And it’s an issue of priority then. Cause that’s the thing that I kept thinking, how many people who would own a gym that would say, I just can’t afford to pay somebody a salary. And it’s like, it’s about what you then prioritise. Cause it’s like, how do you develop your gym if you’re in your gym working on everything all the time?

Joe Riggio: Let’s just say too, I think some people get worried about hiring employees. I just think that you’re hiring the … there’s something flawed in your hiring process. If you know personally and you can look introspectively and say hey look, this is definitely, IT is a clear weakness for me. It’s a clear weakness for him. Well, shit we need to figure this out. In comes Trevor, who has a background and a degree in that.

Jane Erbacher: Right, wouldn’t you get the best.

Joe Riggio: So why wouldn’t we lean on him for that? And obviously I want to learn more from him, but I’m not gonna tell him what to do in his own field.

Jane Erbacher: Yes.

Dan Goodman: You could just go back in our old YouTube videos, in the first YouTube videos, the ones that I did myself …

Jane Erbacher: Yeah …

Joe Riggio: And you could see that there’s zero quality or ability.

Dan Goodman: But also what takes him one hour, can take him three minutes. So now what have we created?

Joe Riggio: Yeah, we’ve created an accountant and everything[crosstalk 00:28:36]

Dan Goodman: We’ve created time.

Jane Erbacher: Yes.

Dan Goodman: We’ve put more time back on our plates. If we go out and we hire a great coach, and they go through our internship process, and they go through the betterment programme of being here at Varsity House, it’s like, why do you need to have your finger on that person all the time? You’re just inhibiting their growth and that’s just gonna do that person and yourself a disservice.

Joe Riggio: What was the thing we said the other day, it’s like, can you afford not to train your …

Dan Goodman: No I used it as a quote on my Instagram.

Joe Riggio: Yeah I forget what it was.

Dan Goodman: I’ll read it verbatim.

Joe Riggio: I’ll read it, yeah. It was really great. It’s the truth though. For certain.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Dan Goodman: Hang on a sec. Alright, so I actually used this quote with the interns yesterday when you posted it, but it reads like this, “The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave, is not training them and having them stay.”

Jane Erbacher: Yes. Oh my god that’s so good! Did you write that?

Dan Goodman: What’s that?

Jane Erbacher: Did you write that?

Dan Goodman: No I didn’t write that.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah, I’m like …

Dan Goodman: No, I can’t take credit for that.

Joe Riggio: No, we’re smart but not that smart.

Dan Goodman: I used the quote from [crosstalk 00:29:39]

Jane Erbacher: That is so true.

Joe Riggio: We spend an enormous amount of time in meetings. When I talk to people, right …

Dan Goodman: Dad’s ringing me. Hey Dan, what’s going on?

Joe Riggio: I tell people we have a team meeting every single week. We have an advisory board meeting every single week. We have a leadership meeting every single week. I have individual meetings with almost every person in the gym every single week. You know what I mean? I meet with the interns more than once a week.

Dan Goodman: But you know, what’s the common theme here? It’s education.

Joe Riggio: It’s all education.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm (affirmative) and communication.

Dan Goodman: The hours didn’t go away. People are like, what, are Joe and Dan sipping pina coladas at Long Branch? No. It’s the educational process that instead of taking 40 session hours, now it’s 10 session hours for highly important and scheduled teams. And now it’s 30 hours of development of our team.

Joe Riggio: Yeah. I would say right now for this summer it’s been 25 and 25.

Jane Erbacher: And this is the interesting …

Dan Goodman: Whatever it is.

Joe Riggio: I mean right now this summer, me and Dan, look and I don’t want people to think that we’re still in the thick of it. Me and Dan are doing upwards of 20-25 sessions a week, training hours on the floor. So you know 20 booked hours is more like 30 because of all the before and after time. It’s not like, at three o’clock when I have a session I run down to the floor at 2:59, you know I’m down there for a half an hour before it even gets going. So you have that, we’re training hard, we’re developing processes, we are always trying to streamline the operations and the client experience as much as possible.

I try to treat the business … imagine if you were a coach. A lot of people in the industry are wanting to be great strength and conditioning coaches, so imagine that you were going to take an American football athlete and coach them up for the NFL combine so they can get into the NFL. You’re gonna break down all those drills, their 40 yard dash, their pro-agility shuttle, their broad jumps, their verts and all those things. We’re gonna go back and forth and we’re gonna smash through those drills and we’re gonna break ’em down to the nth degree and I’m gonna create this 16 week plan and I’m gonna work backwards and I’m gonna spend hours obsessing over should they do hammer curls, or barbell curls as their arm finisher or whatever. Should it be a 10 by 2 speed day or 5 by 4 power day, whatever, but when it comes down to their business, they’re running around with their head cut off. You’ve gotta break down every single process. You’ve gotta analyse it. You gotta develop a system for it. Whatever it is, you gotta identify a need, create a solution, create a …

Jane Erbacher: Path.

Joe Riggio: A plan to fix the solution, whatever that might be, and then you gotta implement it and teach it to everybody. So then we’re all on the same page.

Jane Erbacher: Totally. It’s exactly the same thing.

Joe Riggio: So where I used to maybe do 40-50 training hours a week, now I do maybe half that, but I spend the other equal amount of time doing those things and breaking down those systems so that other people can do them, so that I don’t have to. There is very rarely ever a time where I have to go to the front desk to fix something that’s happened with a billing issue …

Jane Erbacher: Totally. What a waste of time for you.

Joe Riggio: Or scheduling, programming. Anything at the front desk it’s like no, I never have to deal with that. The girls are well versed, we’ve gone over everything, they’ve got a giant manual down there, and now they call Trevor for us so …[crosstalk 00:33:24]

Dan Goodman: I think also too, and we talked about it privately, is I think what separates, well I know what separated Joe and I as strength entrepreneurs is that we’re still doing it. We’re still here every day, we’re still … I mean, we may travel for things and we may have seminars, and we are doing some consulting work, but we’re not five or six or 10 years removed from the business where we had a successful business and now we’re just telling everybody what to do. There’s still trials and tribulations here as to what’s working, what’s not working. We just did this check for charity programme. It’s working awesome.

Jane Erbacher: Yes.

Dan Goodman: I spoke to Anthony from Sweden this morning about it and he’s gonna implement it now. And it’s like, wow. It’s worked, it’s working present day. We’re not a lifestyle entre … that’s not …

Joe Riggio: I don’t ever want to not train people too, so …

Jane Erbacher: No, that’s where your heart is as well. That’s something I learned from you last year in the podcast, which is exactly what we’re talking about right now. I actually presented on it in Melbourne a couple weeks ago, well a month ago …

Joe Riggio: You stealing my stuff?

Jane Erbacher: I quoted you and I had a big picture of you and I talked all about you.

Joe Riggio: I hope it was a good one.

Jane Erbacher: It was the back of you. No I’m joking! It wasn’t okay. Something I learned from you was you explicitly said how important it is to work on your business and not just in your business.

Joe Riggio: Yeah, sure.

Jane Erbacher: And I’ve heard that in places before, but we really did talk about it a lot and that’s something that I think that you both do really well. So this whole thing, we come from an industry where you come in and you do an hour or two here or there, but it’s not an hour or two here or there in the fitness industry, it’s everything. I think that the difference between a successful fitness business and one that’s really struggling is people that get caught up working in it all the time just training people. It’s like what you guys have recognised is your heart is in the training side of things, that’s where it all started for you, but your growth happens in the business side of things. So developing staff in the areas where you don’t need to be is working on your business. That’s putting time into those meetings. That is you at work. You’re not here sipping pina coladas on Long Beach or wherever you said.

Joe Riggio: But that allows me to do the higher quality things that I want to do.

Jane Erbacher: Exactly.

Joe Riggio: So now, me and Dan, and I’m not … Look, do I still love training the little kids and stuff like that, yes. I love training my female athletes. I would train my female athletes 10 hours a day. They’re so much easier to deal with than the meatheads. But there’s something that’s … When we’re in … Like last night we got the music cranking, it’s our lower body day, everybody’s squatting and lifting and training. I get goosebumps and shit. We’re fired up and I love that.

But again, I can only do so much training. What systemizing the business has done is allow us to focus on the 20%. I train the athletes, groups, and individuals that I want to train. I’m doing podcasts now. We’re developing other areas of the business. We want to be seen as … I’ve talked to you about our vision boards and stuff like that, we talk a lot about that stuff. Our 10 year goal is to be recognised as a world leader in strength and conditioning. And that means that I want us to be a beacon for other strength entrepreneurs, other strength coaches to see what we’re doing, both on the training side, on the business side, operationally, product development, everything, and see how … man, those guys run a tight shop from top to bottom, from the training … and also that we are seen as great strength coaches as well. So that has always been, for me personally, my number one goal when I got into the business was to be a great strength and conditioning coach.

Dan Goodman: How cool is that? In the next couple days, I mean, you’re here today, we’ve got Ryan and Big Red Jacobs staying at my apartment tonight from Australia.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah, awesome.

Dan Goodman: Tomorrow …

Joe Riggio: Wade’s comin’.

Dan Goodman: For our Friday finish we’ve got Wade. Brady’s coming on Monday, so in the next week …

Joe Riggio: Fishin’ trip at mom’s house on Sunday.

Dan Goodman: We’ve got five or six people from Australia coming to our …

Jane Erbacher: Exactly.

Dan Goodman: In my head it still seems to be like a garage gym because it doesn’t feel like much has changed even though it has. Still, deep down, that’s how I feel about it.

Joe Riggio: Sure. I treat it like that though on purpose. I treat it like … The Patriots, you know the New England Patriots, the football team?

Jane Erbacher: Yeah

Joe Riggio: Right? They’ve won a million Superbowls. They’ve been to every AFC Champion … 15 years I think they’ve been to 13 AFC Championships right, so they’re probably the greatest dynasty in football that’s ever been.

Dan Goodman: Greatest team.

Joe Riggio: Greatest team, right. Tom Brady’s arguably the greatest quarterback. Bill Belichick arguably the greatest coach. Every year Bill Belichick gives his empowered speech to the team when they get back in from the … Here’s what everybody’s saying about us, that we can’t win again. You know what I mean? And they have that chip on their shoulder and it’s like the us-against-the-world mentality and that’s how we’ve always felt because I think the … Look, I’m not gonna put words in Dan’s mouth, cause I know Dan’s a little saltier than I am with some of the [inaudible 00:38:12] some of the people that came up … we came up together, and they treated us like shit. They were people that wrote us off and wouldn’t give us the time of day. And now Dan’s like, and now we’re like … and half of them have gone out of business. So now I’m like yeah, suckers.

Dan Goodman: It’s harder for me.

Joe Riggio: You know what I mean? So for me it’s like, I’m just a blue collar guy. I don’t come from a tonne of money, my family still works. My mom still goes to work every day. My mom’s 73, still works. And that’s just my mentality. I’m gonna come, I’m gonna work, I’m gonna push myself, I’m gonna do the best I can. I never sit on my hands. It’s like, great, we’re doing a million a year, awesome. We could just let it ride. Let me get a operations guy and a couple more trainers, and then cut myself [inaudible 00:38:57] I’ll stop in for two or three hours a day and see what’s going on. That’s not happening.

Dan Goodman: I think another thing with that is that anybody that’s asked us for help, we always provide help. When I was definitely a little bit younger, I definitely would be a little vindictive towards people that I would reach out very nicely or people that I knew, and just talk about, hey can you … ask one simple question, and the people that don’t have time to send an email back or send a text message back, it’s like …

Joe Riggio: No I hate that.

Dan Goodman: Who are you?

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Dan Goodman: Really, you’re not a celebrity, this is … I don’t know. I think that’s what Joe’s talking about. I definitely can … I’m at a point where I’m happy where we’re at, but I definitely feel like we’ve definitely got a lot more to prove.

Joe Riggio: And I love helping people. We’ve had Ryan here all summer. It’s my mission to make sure that he has an amazing experience, that he leaves here with tools he needs to maybe, like he wants to go open up his own gym, and I want to make sure he goes with the tools he needs to make that happen, but also feels like he’s got a real friend in the business, a mentor, somebody he can call, rely on. And I will absolutely be one of the first people on a plane to his place when it opens up. I’m excited for him.

What else brings better karma and energy back to your life than helping other people? You get so much more out of having a lot of gratitude. Seeing him and the pride and the look on his face the first day they cut that ribbon, open that door to his new gym, and knowing that we just had a positive influence. We could’ve just easily been like, when he was like, hey man, I’m lookin’ to come out to the States for a couple months, I’m gonna be at Roark for a few months but I’d love to come out, we could’ve been like, ah man, we’re busy you know. Could’ve just blew him off. And now we’ve connected with Ryan pretty deeply when we were in Salt Lake and I knew he was a great kid and all, but it’d be really easy to be just like, eh.

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Joe Riggio: Way too busy buddy, sorry. I pick him up, he has no car. I pick him up every day. I drive him home every day. He comes over on Sundays for dinner with me and my wife. So it’s like, I bring him to mom’s house to go fishing with me.

Dan Goodman: They’re invading our apartment tonight. [crosstalk 00:41:11]

Joe Riggio: The Aussie invasion.

Jane Erbacher: Oh god.

Dan Goodman: If we’ve got enough food for everybody.

Joe Riggio: My mom’s like, are they big eaters like you? I was like, yeah Ma, we’re gonna have to make a lot of food. Ten pounds of pasta.

Jane Erbacher: So funny!

Joe Riggio: So …

Dan Goodman: No problem.

Joe Riggio: So, and you know, he’s very respectful. Hey man, I don’t want ya havin’ to go … I’ll be like, it’s not a problem at all. I’m doing it because I want to. But it’s also like, look, that time, he won’t ever forget. And I won’t either. Cause I’ll be able to look down there and see him doing great and be like, man that was a really good thing we did for Ryan. It was nice. It gave him a great …

Dan Goodman: Yeah. Forever.

Jane Erbacher: Sure.

Joe Riggio: It’ll give him a great jumpstart. And everybody in this gym the same way. I want Mike to make a million dollars a year if he can. So for me I’m gonna make what I make. And I always look at, and we talked about this last time too, I’m making more than I ever thought I was gonna make, right? I’m making more than anyone in my family ever made. Like I said, I don’t come from a lot of money. So for me, when I got to a 100 grand it was like oh my god. Like that’s real money, like holy shit what am I gonna do with myself? I know there’s people out there making 20-50 million a year, but it’s like …

Dan Goodman: And then Joe went and bought new skis, an ATV, and a truck. Gonna have to reign it back in okay.

Joe Riggio: No I got engaged, and I was getting married and I knew the clamp was gonna be on so I was like, alright, I knew we were buying a house so I was like, new truck, new skis, ATV, trip, you know, $2000 in fishing gear.

Jane Erbacher: Priorities.

Joe Riggio: I’m gonna get all my toys locked in. So helping people is definitely … you look at people who are truly successful, most of it has come from being altruistic. I don’t know too many selfish, miserable sons of bitches who are sittin’ on a pile, or they might be sittin’ on a pile of money, but they got no friends, they got nobody lookin’ up, they got nobody they can …

Jane Erbacher: Totally, and no purpose.

Joe Riggio: Exactly. So I think, just using Ryan as the continued example, he could always be like … if somebody ever called him and was like hey, I saw you were at Varsity House last summer, how was it? I was thinking about contacting them for an internship. It was amazing. Great guys, great experience, they gave everything they had to help me in every way, shape, or … and that’s really, that’s important.

Jane Erbacher: Don’t even underestimate how much, the impact you’ve had on me and I haven’t even spent the six months internship. It’s been incredible. I was here last month doing the workshops and you guys drove me around everywhere, took me on a little tour, it was the best. But it’s like, I’ve learned so much from you just from the energy that you put into what you’re doing, and how selfless you both are with your time. If I was to call up at anytime, I asked you, you gave me a ski programme, like that. Anything that I’ve ever asked either of you for, you’re willing to help, and it’s these really interesting … it’s like a growth mindset, it’s an abundance mindset, that why wouldn’t you help people.

This is why you got into this business, to train people, and that’s kind of the foundation of Varsity House. It’s all well and good for businesses or fitness businesses to think to themselves that it’s mutually exclusive. Either it’s business, or you’re helping people, when if you run a successful business, you can help more people. You both have the freedom now to be able to help somebody like me, somebody like Ryan, and the extent of that is so great …

Joe Riggio: It’ll make a bigger impact.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Joe Riggio: I want to make a big impact, and I just like the feeling. Like I said, when we were comin’ up, the gym industry as a whole tends to be very adversarial, where it’s competition based. I’m giving away my training secrets, no you’re not. You’re not doing anything that …

Jane Erbacher: You didn’t invent it. It’s all.

Joe Riggio: Yeah, you didn’t invent this new training secret. Especially locally, so if there was a gym, let’s say a few miles down the street, that’s doing something a little different than we are, if we reached out years ago, they would be hatin’ on us. We used to have a couple local gyms that were literally hatin’ on us, like blowin’ us up. Trollin’ us on social media and stuff. I don’t understand that. We never met them. Never met ’em once, never met ’em once.

Jane Erbacher: And if they’re spending their time doing that, guess whose business is suffering? Theirs, because they’re not investing their time into their business.

Joe Riggio: Exactly, so you can spend your time bitchin’ and cryin’ and whinin’ and hatin’ …

Jane Erbacher: And hanging onto every cent you got.

Joe Riggio: And hanging onto every cent you got. Exactly. Or spend time inspiring people, educating people, empowering people. You look around the world, what’s the most powerful thing? Education. You go to any third world country, what’s the first thing they do? They go to Somalia, and they build a school. You go to Afghanistan, one of the first things we did in Afghanistan is help them rebuild some schools and get some kids going toward an education. So when you empower people with knowledge and ability, you empower them to think autonomously, on their own. You give people information and knowledge that they can use to create their own, let’s call it their own life at that point. Otherwise, they’re just like … So giving yourself, helping people like yourself, Ryan, the rest of the people that we’ve done working with, seeing them become … all of a sudden the light bulb comes on, and the empowerment switch is like wow, oh my god I never thought of that. Well it’s like boom, there you go. That feels great in the long run. That feels like …

Dan Goodman: But it’s also empowerment for us, lik you said, when you came here last time, I literally had spoken with my dad earlier. He’s asking what I’m doing this weekend. Actually, we’ve got five people from Australia coming to visit the gym. He’s like, holy shit, really? And I’m like really, yeah. And honestly, I feel …

Joe Riggio: It’s awesome.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Dan Goodman: Every time you guys come here, I have to make myself available. We’re really living out our passion and that’s how …

Jane Erbacher: Your message has extended so far and it means so much. Because it’s obviously a really long way for Australians to go, but it doesn’t feel like that when I’m coming here. It’s so worth it.

Joe Riggio: Well that’s great. At least we didn’t screw that up.

Jane Erbacher: No. You guys are the actual best.

Dan Goodman: Now it’s our turn.

Joe Riggio: Yeah. I’ll come to Australia and show you what’s up.

Dan Goodman: Imagine Joe and I and Trevor sitting …

Jane Erbacher: In the aeroplane.

Dan Goodman: Next to each other, flying …

Joe Riggio: Flying to Australia

Dan Goodman: Flying to Australia. I’m not sitting in the middle of that one.

Jane Erbacher: Who’s gonna be … it’ll be Trevor stuck in the middle, won’t it?

Joe Riggio: Oh yeah.

Jane Erbacher: Between you two …

Trevor: I always get the short end of the stick.

Dan Goodman: When we flew back from Mexico, that was a rough …

Joe Riggio: We’re just sweatin’ on each other the whole way …

Dan Goodman: Not good.

Joe Riggio: All sunburned and sweaty …

Dan Goodman: Not good.

Jane Erbacher: Oh my god, that’s so funny.

Dan Goodman: Yeah, absolutely.

Jane Erbacher: I really love the quote you brought up before, Dan, about if you want to empower and educate people that work for you or not have them, basically … you might have to read it out again cause it was so good. But I want to talk about how important staff development is. We did talk about [inaudible 00:48:14] before, but I didn’t get to interject at all. But I think that so many people are so afraid that if their staff think they’re good enough to leave, that they will then leave.

You see this in so many businesses, and I think that the fitness industry is so far behind because a couple weeks ago I did a tour of Facebook, someone I know works there, and it was so amazing, and I absolutely loved it. The questions that I was so interested about, to ask, were what was the core intention of Facebook when it was first created? Like, was this movement expected? It’s like, the core intention of Facebook was to connect people and to communicate with people. One of their core values from Dave Dott was staff development and taking care of their staff. So onsite at Facebook, all their meals are provided, there’s healthy cafes and restaurants everywhere, there’s training facilities, there’s a doctor, there’s a physiotherapist, there’s everything. Basically, staff go there each day, and you can feel the energy. You’re in the campus …

Joe Riggio: They want to be there.

Jane Erbacher: They want to be there. They’re taken care of. They have development paid for, they have education paid for, all these different things that so many other businesses would say, well if they get better at their job, why wouldn’t they just leave and start something of their own? But these people are valued. It’s amazing because this is exactly what you’re both talking about with how you appreciate your team. You appreciate them as human beings and as people who can actually contribute. They’re not just coming in here and signing off a time sheet, they actually matter. The interesting thing for small fitness businesses is how do you communicate to them how important that is for their business?

Joe Riggio: Yeah absolutely, I mean, for me I’m kind of the operational mind here, and it might be Dan’s idea for a system, or my idea for a system, but I’m usually the one who then backtracks it from start to finish and breaks it down.

Hiring and developing great employees starts from the very beginning and that’s having a process for interviewing them, for getting to know them, for weeding them out and seeing where they stand both personally and educationally, depending on what the role is that you’re having them do here. If it’s a coach, obviously the background in strength conditioning and their certifications and things like that are, but way more important than that, cause we’re gonna teach you our system anyway, way more important than that is how they are as a person.

There’s a great book that we make everybody read, it’s called The Ideal Team Player, by Patrick Lencioni. I got that from Ben Bergeron in Crossfit New England, he does the same with his crew. It’s a great book and the core values there are hungry, humble, and smart. Smart being socially smart, similar to ours, hungry, humble, and committed to excellence, right? It really starts with that. Are you hungry? Are you humble? Will you do anything and everything? Are you socially smart? Do you have the ability to work with a variety of people from different backgrounds and different ideologies on a consistent basis and be able to understand what you should or shouldn’t say, things like that, and how to get the best out of people around you. So that starts with that. Number one. So it’s hire the absolute best people that you can, and it’s also have a process on the way. It shouldn’t just be like, hey you want to come work at the gym? Can you coach this …

Jane Erbacher: You’re really fit.

Joe Riggio: You’re really fit, you want to do six a.m.? Yeah I’ll do six a.m. Great, you’re hired. No, that’s not important.

Dan Goodman: Something we talked about before the show today, and I want to make sure that this is touched upon, is that I know that people that work here at the gym, many people we’ve become great friends with. We hang out outside of the gym, it’s not forced. Our wives are friends. We hang out. We end up talking about work the whole damn time, but we go on vacation together. It happens, but one thing that we have to fall back upon is we treat the business as business. There’s written contracts, we have operating agreements, we have lawyers draught the contracts, we have accountants mediate financial decisions …

Joe Riggio: We have yearly reviews. You think I want to sit down with Big Mike and have to go through a yearly review and tell him what he did good, what he did bad, stuff like that?

Dan Goodman: No, we have a third party that helps us come to those conclusions,

Jane Erbacher: That’s the best.

Dan Goodman: So that he knows it’s not just like, yep, feelin’ pretty good, the bank account’s lookin’ good. Yep we’re gonna give you another $150 a week. Or it’s like, eh, we didn’t have a good week, we got a bad taste in our mouth. They know it’s not reactive. It’s business is treated as business so we can go on with our days, being friends and working together towards something.

Joe Riggio: And I always want to … Me and Dan, one of the things when we knew we were gonna bring in employees, we have to treat … I want people to feel like this is a real career. So strength and conditioning as a whole is kind of a low paying career choice. There’s not a shit tonne of money in collegiate strength and conditioning unless you get to the absolute highest. If you’re the head strength and conditioning coach at Notre Dame, yes, you’re gonna make a lot of money. But 99% of the jobs underneath that are well under 100 grand a year. Most of them are under 50 thousand a year. So they’re very low paying. You can go be a personal trainer at a big box gym, like at Equinox or something like that and you can absolutely make good money doing that. You can make 100 grand a year, plus training your ass off at a gym in the city.

Dan Goodman: Working 5 am to 11 am and from 4 pm to 9 pm .

Joe Riggio: Yes. So you work all those crazy hours …

Jane Erbacher: The worst hours ever.

Joe Riggio: And even at those big gyms, there’s very little benefits most of the time, if any, you have to pay for them. So for us it was like, I want people to have a career, I want them to feel like we’re part of a team, that the brand and the company is, in a sense, the main goal, and the development of Varsity House, and that there was opportunity for everyone that came in to have a piece of the action. By that I mean, say like Mike, he has his thumb on the strength and conditioning and he gets bonuses and we have a whole structure …

Dan Goodman: Everyone’s incentivized.

Joe Riggio: Everyone’s incentivized. You know …

Dan Goodman: Every last person on our staff is incentivized within their department of whatever it is that they do here. Every single person.

Joe Riggio: And again, like I always say, if you just … so let’s take a giant corporate company like a McDonald’s, which is, there’s a book called The McDonaldization of America, and it’s about how if you systemize everything to the 10th degree …

Jane Erbacher: Yeah, we studied this in sociology. This is really interesting.

Joe Riggio: Right, you take away thought. Right?

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Joe Riggio: So we systemize everything to the 10th degree here, but we empower people with thought by being able to give them some … Hey, you’re in charge of this, you’re in charge of this, you’re in charge of this, right? So that way, like with Trevor, if there’s a kink in the system, and then it’s like, hey dude, you were supposed to get that done, what happened? It’s on him, and there’s an ownership issue there and then it’s like hey man we gotta sit down and like, dude, we talked about this, we gotta get stuff done, you know what I mean? And that stuff doesn’t happen too much here, we’re in this building 10, 12 hours a day, every day, so I know Trevor doesn’t want me coming into his office like that’s [inaudible 00:55:25]

Dan Goodman: That’s why Trevor has a video camera and screen in his office. The screen completely [crosstalk 00:55:30]

Joe Riggio: When he sees me comin’ …

Trevor: Go right into the bathroom, lock the door.

Jane Erbacher: That’s the best.

Dan Goodman: Trevor’s been in the bathroom five times.

Jane Erbacher: He’s always in the bathroom.

Joe Riggio: So again, if you systemize the hiring process, right? In order to work here, I don’t care if, you know, maybe Bobby Maximus, right? If Bobby Maximus comes here and says I want to start training at Gym Jones, you gotta do the internship. You gotta do the mentorship.

Jane Erbacher: Totally. He’d have to do the internship.

Joe Riggio: You have to do it, I had to.

Jane Erbacher: He’s got so many things to learn from you.

Joe Riggio: So no matter who it is, you gotta go through the internship, you gotta learn our system. But more importantly than having an internship/mentorship programme for new employees does is it gives them time to integrate with our staff, gives them time to integrate with our community …

Jane Erbacher: And an opportunity to learn as well,

Joe Riggio: And an opportunity to learn.

Jane Erbacher: So you can always learn from things like that,

Joe Riggio: You can always learn.

Jane Erbacher: No matter who you are.

Joe Riggio: And then once they finally become a real employee, so let’s look at, like Adam was the last real employee hire and where he went from student of mine at university to summer intern to full-time employee. When that time came, when he said, hey guys, where are we at? We already knew we wanted to hire him because we loved him, and he’s like, great. We’re gonna sit down, we have a contract, we’re gonna have goals, six month goals, yearly goals, three month goals, we want to see this, this, and this get done, I’m gonna help ya this … and he worked his ass off for a year. We sat down with his yearly review and he smashed everything and he killed it. That’s when we started grooming him for operations and business side of things.

Dan Goodman: During the internship process too, think about it. You’re in school, you have 10 weeks with us, it’s way less pressure packed than going out and saying, Jane, we’re gonna hire you and you need to be doing 10 classes a week, 10 private sessions a week, and you’re gonna be running operations within the next three weeks. You’re like, wait a second. I don’t even know people’s names.

Jane Erbacher: You’re not empowered at all.

Dan Goodman: It’s like we’re setting you up for failure by not giving our due diligence of 10 weeks to do what? And that’s to bring you up to speed from a relationship standpoint with us, with our team, with our members, so that you can really start to feel good about being here.

Jane Erbacher: Totally. And it’s an investment of time on both parties. You have to invest in that person and they’re investing as well, so it’s like everybody’s setting it up for success.

Dan Goodman: It’s natural.

Joe Riggio: And you can’t have remorse about somebody leaving either. You can’t have remorse, it is what it is. So for the most part we’ve had a few people leave over the years. We haven’t had a lot. The crew’s pretty solid. The guys that are here now is like the heart and soul of what Varsity House is and what I want to see is Adam and Shawn and Mike take the next step and run the next Varsity House Gym. Our plan is to open up a couple more …

Jane Erbacher: In Australia.

Joe Riggio: Yeah maybe.

Jane Erbacher: That’s cool. I’m just putting words in your mouth.

Joe Riggio: I’d love to. Maybe you’re in charge of the first franchise.

Jane Erbacher: Woo! Yeah! Just rowing and skiing.

Joe Riggio: But that’s what I want to see from them.

Jane Erbacher: Not Varsity House is it?

Dan Goodman: No.

Dan Goodman: You gotta have a 40 pound deadlift.

Joe Riggio: So and that’s really the key I think is helping to find empowerment. Finding the things that you like. As a boss, and I’ve learned a lot over the years, you learn how to help people find what really makes them click too.


Big Mike loves to train. Big Mike loves being on the floor, he love writing training programmes, he likes writing about training. He does not like numbers, analytics … he does not want to sit in on a sales meeting and talk about leads, conversions, retentions, stuff like that. That is not in his wheelhouse at all. He’s checked out in three minutes. So it would make no sense to like, hey Mike, you’re in charge, every Monday you gotta do a report on all of our leads, conversions, Facebook groups, stuff like that and let us know where we’re at. He’d be like … that would just be miserable for him. Or someone like Adam, where Adam really likes that stuff. Adam’s very analytical. Adam creates all the spreadsheets for product inventory, cost and all that type of stuff. He loves that stuff, so that’s more in his wheelhouse. So it’s like great, now that we know that it’s like, great, Adam you’re in charge of the sales processes at the front and making sure that we drive sales every quarter.

That just comes from time I think and just surrounding myself with other good businessmen who’ve kind of helped coddle us a little bit too. We’re very lucky in the gym that we have some very high end business people here who are making mega-millions who have taken the time not only to be great clients of ours but we’ve fostered real relationships with. At the end of the day, if there’s one thing that you have to do and that’s take the time to create relationships with your staff, with your community and the people. I’m not saying that every night you gotta go out for drinks with someone from the gym or anything like that, but there are definitely some people that you will connect with on a deeper level. Just like your own personal relationships with your loved ones and stuff like that, if you don’t foster those relationships, they go away. They disappear.

Jane Erbacher: I think that something that I really respect about both of you is you’re not afraid to ask for help and to continue learning as well, with both of you. I do want to wrap, before we finish, I want to talk about the Business of Strength. I actually want to know what it is. How does it work? Who is it for? How will it actually help them?

Joe Riggio: Okay, so I’ll give you the quick, the business district is created to help gym owners … no.

In all honesty, to make it real, cause I think that’s what separates … I think me and Dan, that is our marketing niche is that we’re in the trenches, real strength entrepreneurs. Trying to crush it every day. So the Business of Strength is a two day mentorship designed for strength entrepreneurs, so that’s current gym owners, wannabe gym owners, coaches who just are … if you were running somebody else’s gym, you’d be able to bring a tonne of add value back to that gym and level up yourself within that company. Even if it’s not your goal to own your own gym, the Business of Strength is still a great tool for you …

Jane Erbacher: And for PT’s that are renting a space in a big box as well …

Joe Riggio: Absolutely. Anybody in the fitness space who wants to level up as a businessman, the Business of Strength is gonna help you. In that time, in two days, you’re gonna be immersed here in Varsity House. Most of them we’re gonna be doing here … cause I love, again, you get the full experience of Varsity House.

You get to train with us, you get to run classes with us, we’re gonna sit in on our team meetings … we’re basically gonna break down every main process in the gym. Sales, marketing, business development, product development, leading meetings, how we do all of our online stuff, our operational systems and how we break down. How I identify a need, create a solution operationally to fix it and then implement it.

That’s one of the things, when I say operation, most people are like, what the hell does that even mean? Operations is any process that drives action in the gym. So onboarding is a big thing that you’ve probably seen us doing live talks and podcasts on is onboarding. It’s one of our … I think we’ve hit a absolute home run with our onboarding process in the last year. We created a process called VH University and that is an operational process. When a client walks through the door, what happens? What do we say? What do we do? What type of information do they get? What does the gym tour look like? And everything is systemized. We talked about this at the beginning of the podcast, and some people might say, well that’s kind of a sell-out, now you’re becoming like McDonald’s and stuff. No, I’m being smart. I’m trying to be the absolute best. I’m trying to create a system that I can reproduce to teach other people so that I can grow and scale my business …

Jane Erbacher: And people love consistency. They love that. That’s why McDonald’s taken … when they walk in there … But you have the human element.

Joe Riggio: Five billion hamburgers.

Dan Goodman: Something else too is in the Business of Strength, give my two cents on it as well, is it’s way less ideology.

Joe Riggio: Yeah. Action.

Dan Goodman: You go to a lot of seminars, it’s like, okay, this is great. This is gonna take me …

Jane Erbacher: Woo-woo.

Dan Goodman: 50 hours to implement, so this is never gonna happen. It’s things that are happening here on a low level marketing budget and actionable take-aways that we implement through our marketing calendar, our social calendar, our training calendars, and really peeled back the curtain as to, okay here it is. Here’s our war room and these are literally the rocks, issues, and main objectives of this year. Here’s where we stand, here’s what didn’t hit this year, here’s what is hitting this year. We’ll go over these things and say okay Jane, you’re on the owner’s hot seat, what actionable take-aways did you take away from this last day and what are two things you’re gonna implement in your gym right now. We’re gonna absolutely put you in situations where it’s like okay, you have a roadblock here, how’s it gonna get done?

Joe Riggio: We did a lot of live sales, like dialogue work at the front desk.

Jane Erbacher: So good.

Joe Riggio: We spent a whole afternoon at the front desk going through all our sales scripts and one of the things I think we’ve done a pretty good job in is coaching up, is creating salesmen. Mike’s not a salesman by nature, Mike’s never sold a damn thing in his life. He’s one of the best salesmen we have by far. He up-sales the shit out of everything in the gym.

Jane Erbacher: Cause he tells the truth too, because he believes in it.

Joe Riggio: Well that’s the key right, that’s the key.

Dan Goodman: You can’t sell shit products either.

Jane Erbacher: No, exactly.

Joe Riggio: But …

Dan Goodman: Product number one has to be good people.

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Dan Goodman: The product must be good.

Joe Riggio: Just kind of summing up, the Business of Strength is really an awesome immersion of everything we do here at Varsity House, to really teach people, to give them the tools to implement and create systems within their business. And really, at the end of the day, make a lot more money, and put a lot more time back on their plate to do other things that will hopefully A, make them more money, or whatever their passions are.

We’ve had great success with it. We’ve only run one workshop so far. We have two more scheduled within the next six months, and next year, 2018, we’re gonna be rippin’ ’em. We’re gonna have a whole bunch of ’em.

Podcasts every month now, we have an online continuity group that we’re gonna be starting next year, so the Business of Strength online is basically gonna be for strength entrepreneurs that maybe can’t get to Varsity House for a workshop or just want more, in a sense, personal coaching. You’ll be able to join our online group and every month we’re gonna have a Dunview product that’s gonna roll out and it’s gonna be mission style. Like, hey guys, the mission for this month is to streamline your onboarding process, and we’re gonna break down that process from start to finish and I’m gonna communicate with people in the group. I want to see the programmes, I want to see … and we’re gonna help people.

Dan Goodman: Something that can be implemented immediately.

Joe Riggio: Immediately. So …

Jane Erbacher: Yeah, and I love it cause you’re demystifying business for these people. Cause so many people get into fitness because they love fitness and they love helping people. Their eyes almost explode when they understand that they have to actually run a business. It’s so empowering, the way that you’re educating them. You’re not making it so hard for them that they can’t do it, and it’s actually just like what you [crosstalk 01:07:16]

Joe Riggio: No I just want to give them … Literally when people came to the Business of Strength, it was like, okay great, here’s our employee manual, here’s our onboarding process, here’s our hiring manual and how we conduct our interviews and stuff like that. So we had all this done-for-you stuff and people are like holy crap, like you guys …

Jane Erbacher: Thank you, yeah …

Joe Riggio: Yeah I spent every Sunday for 10 years writing this crap.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah, worked for free for three years.

Joe Riggio: Right, so yes, it took me a lot of work, but like Mohammed Ali, suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion. A little bit of grind before you get your business really rolling is the key. One of the things that started the Business of Strength was cause we got to a point when we were very busy. As you can see, we’re both real liked, dynamic personalities …

Jane Erbacher: Yes you are.

Joe Riggio: But we had a great product, we had a great training, me and Dan are great at fostering relationships. Like I said, I’m not pattin’ my own back, but in general, we’re good dudes and we give a shit about people and the clients and I cared a lot about the kids. They’re my little brothers and sisters and I love ’em. We put a lot of energy into the training and into the kids and into the program

mes that were going on in the gym, and it blew up. It was busy shit. And we were like … We had to work so much harder, to get a gym that was already busy, systemized because now there is no time off. I was stuck doing 10 sessions a day because I had to and because it had gotten to a point. So what I want for people with the Business of Strength is systemize now, and not sit on your ass for the rest of your life, but just get this shit done and grow.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah, totally.

Joe Riggio: So if training is your thing and you want to be the next, Joe Riggio, you want to be the next Joe DeFranco, you want to be the next Eric Cressey, you want to be a world class strength and conditioning coach, and you want to be seen around the world as a … that’s your goal, well get your business systemized and you can allow that to happen, you can do that stuff. So now maybe you develop an operations guy who comes in a couple times a week, couple hours, whatever. Doesn’t have to be a full-time guy like up in Crossfit New England. Their front desk and operations guy, girl, woman, was basically part-time. She was there four, five hours a day. But she came in, she ran the front desk, and all the sales, the processes …

Dan Goodman: And does five sessions a week.

Joe Riggio: Yeah and their general manager …

Dan Goodman: Does zero. Henry.

Joe Riggio: Yeah does zero. Does zero. Does nothin’.

Jane Erbacher: Something I love about you both, I’m actually having the best time ever and I know that you have a meeting to get to but I’m just loving listening to you both. Something you’ve done so well, and I’m not gonna dive into this, but something you’ve done so well that people really need to pay attention to is how well you run as a partnership. You both have complete respect for each other and I love what you said before, Dan, you run the business as a business.

Dan Goodman: Most of the time.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah, yeah. But you both bring so much strength from different areas. So the very last question I was gonna ask is what you feel you bring to Varsity House, each of you individually.

Joe Riggio: Individually? Or …

Jane Erbacher: Yeah individually. And I want to know what you feel is your purpose in life? Why do you think that you’re here? And you can answer each question however you’d like, but I want to know what you each bring to Varsity House …

Joe Riggio: You can go first on this one.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah, it’s really hard. And what is your purpose or mission in life.

Dan Goodman: Well, I want to first backtrack …

Joe Riggio: That’s some deep shit.

Jane Erbacher: We’ve silenced Joe.

Dan Goodman: About Business of Strength too is that, I keep bringing up my dad just cause I resort to him for a lot of business questions, but after year three, from the outside looking in, we were seemingly running a successful business like Joe had talked about. We were packed and we were looking at each other, and just from our partnership, I would say our partnership was really, it was a trying time for us because it was like, dude, I can’t even frickin’ … it got to the point where we would argue all the time over stupid things cause we had no system.

Joe Riggio: We argued over not getting stuff done. I’d be like, you’re not getting it done!

Jane Erbacher: And then you spend time arguing. Yes.

Dan Goodman: So I remember, vividly, having this conversation with my dad and he’s like, hey, you guys have a great thing goin’, now it’s time to hit the gas and really create a business. I’m like, what the hell are you talkin’ about? I just worked seven days a week for three years, I’ve taken no vacations. It’s not like I’m makin’ a fortune of money. He’s like, it’s either you’re gonna toil around with this forever, or you guys are gonna take the next step in your partnership and really ensure that you have a future doing what you’re doing. At the time I remember being pretty mad about it. Being like, what the hell is he talkin’ about?

Joe Riggio: I gotta work more?

Dan Goodman: I think it was also too, understanding.

Joe Riggio: You gotta work more.

Dan Goodman: You know, it was understanding how our partnership, how Joe and I could both … really, how I could allow him to do what he was good at, and he could allow me to do what I was good at. We both had an understanding like, alright, we’ve done this for three years now. I’m not goin’ anywhere, you’re not goin’ anywhere, and the one thing that I could tell everybody was that there was mutual trust. I wasn’t afraid that he was going and taking money or that he didn’t have my best interests behind my back, and it wasn’t … and I knew he knew that about me too. I wasn’t talking badly about him to whoever. We had mutual respect, and we truly gave a shit about one another because I think we understood at that point, if he were to have left or if I were to have left, it would’ve been nothing.

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Joe Riggio: We almost came to blows one time. Trevor was there. We went at it pretty good …

Dan Goodman: I think it was Big Mike.

Joe Riggio: Was it Big Mike? There was definitely some deaths thrown and pushing and

Dan Goodman: Screaming and pushing around.

Jane Erbacher: Really?

Dan Goodman: Oh yeah.

Joe Riggio: Definitely.

Dan Goodman: Definitely. Whatever, I mean, that happened …

Joe Riggio: I mean, we’re two A-type giant meatheads, I mean, so …

Jane Erbacher: I know! I want to know who’d win this fight.

Dan Goodman: Brothers, you know that’s what you’re gonna do. With my brother Matt, we’ve, you know, that happens. It’s part of …

Jane Erbacher: Yeah, but you care about it that much.

Joe Riggio: Yeah. At the end of the day, I know that Dan has never slighted me, ever. He’s never cheated the gym, the system, or anybody here, ever. It’s just like a marriage, in every sense of the way, where you get out of it what you put into it.

Dan Goodman: Exactly.

Joe Riggio: And if you’re gonna be with that sleazy gym owner partner who’s like, skimming a little money on the side, or you’re down on the floor talking shit.

Dan Goodman: You can’t do that.

Joe R


iggio: Or whatever it is.

Jane Erbacher: Doesn’t show up one day …

Dan Goodman: It’s gotta be … The business entity has to be bigger than yourself. I know we talked about it with strength entrepreneurs, is that like, you want to be successful? Start giving a shit about making sure that your clients, like that hour is the best hour of their day. It’s not about that you just did a 500 pound deadlift. Nobody gives a shit.

Jane Erbacher: No.

Dan Goodman: If they ask, talk to them about it. It’s about them. With us it was about the business. The business was number one. Obviously, making time to communicate with one another is really important, and …

Joe Riggio: I think travelling together was one of the best things we ever did for our partnership too. We took a couple vacations together once we had some money and once we got the business moderately systemized. The first trip we took together was Westside. That was the first time we left the gym, right?

Dan Goodman: That was two years. Also, just like getting out of your space and just going for a meal and just decompressing a little bit.

Joe Riggio: We used to go to a Greek place down the street. We’d bring our notebooks and we’d have lunch and we’d sit.

Dan Goodman: It’s amazing …

Jane Erbacher: I love you two so much.

Joe Riggio: Yeah, there’s always gotta be food.

Dan Goodman: Outside of the gym though. You need to get the hell out of your space to be creative sometimes and you can kind of decompress.

Joe Riggio: You know what’s funny though, is I was thinking about this the other day as I was writing my memoirs. Memoirs of the Greatest Coach Ever. So, one of the things that I was thinking was it’s funny now, looking back at when we started and at our partnership. And I really do love Dan like a brother. He’s a very close friend, one of my best friends, I rely on him for so much and I know that he’s always been there for me. He’s always been great. My mom, my wife, and stuff like that … we have a great partnership, and I try to do the same. His mom and dad are like my family. They’ve treated me with respect from day one.

But when I look back and I remember the first conversation me and you had when we were sittin’ with Mark. There was supposed to be a third partner in Varsity House and it just didn’t work out for a lot of reasons. Nothing personal. It was a financial issue. It just didn’t work out from his end on the money side, right? So we wound up going in a different direction, it actually wound up being me and Dan, which is probably the way it should have been. I remember we’re sittin’ down and we’re trying to decide what we’re gonna do role-wise. What our roles were gonna be in the company. And I still have that original business plan. I’d love to pop that out one day. Dan was gonna be the sales, marketing, and business development guy, and I was gonna run the mentorship programme. I was gonna be education, implementation, and operations. And then it was five years of us doing everything, running like crazy. Fast forward a decade, and now he’s sales, marketing, and business development, and I’m education, implementation, and operations. That’s how it was always supposed to be.

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Joe Riggio: That’s where our strengths were always …

Jane Erbacher: Yep. Where you both want to be.

Joe Riggio: Where our strength always were. It just took systems to …

Dan Goodman: To allow it.

Joe Riggio: Get to allow that to come to fruition.

Dan Goodman: I think, to answer your question too, and I’ll be the first one to answer this about your, the, what was the?

Jane Erbacher: Contribution to the business, and your purpose in life.

Dan Goodman: I’m gonna say purpose in life first is that when we started the gym, honestly, after it started and still to this day, is that for me, in my head, there’s no other option. Once we started and we put that initial investment in, it’s burned the bridges. This is working, or I don’t know what the hell else I’m gonna do. I’ve never for one second thought about, oh I could do this, or I could do that, or maybe I should be doing this. It’s like, no, this is what I’m meant to do and I know that because I don’t dream of doing anything else.

Joe Riggio: No.

Dan Goodman: It’s not even part of my though process. My dream is how can we scale this to the next level? How can we make an even greater impact? That is the dream, so I know I’m doing the right thing.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah, I love it.

Joe Riggio: I’ve told you before, my purpose is to educate and inspire. I want to help people … My form of e

ducation happens to be human physiology and strength and conditioning and now as a seasoned veteran in the business side of things, in entrepreneurship in the gym industry. That’s really what I’ve always done.

I’ve been teaching at the university for 15 years, I was teaching my friends how to work out when we were 12, 13 years old. I was peeling workouts out of Flex Magazine and stuff. We’d be down in the basement … I had a chalkboard when I was 14 years old, writing up wads. Before it was called a wad, it was a wad. It was just called gettin’ fuckin’ swoll.

And then when we brought people in, it was Dan. It was teaching Dan how to train and taking a kid who was already a phenomenal football player, great dude, hard worker, but had not really corralled the x’s and o’s of training and teaching him and Mike and people and now it’s on the next. How many people can I share our story with? Inspire people to … If two meatheads from Jersey, with modest backgrounds and we’re educated, but neither one of us have taken a business course. Neither one of us are these high level business schools, we didn’t go to Wharton or anything like that. My degree is in molecular biology, it has nothing to do with business. I never took a marketing, sales, or business course ever. But I read well, and I have no problem grindin’. Me and Dan, and I think I can speak for every person in this crew, what we may lack in overall educational experience and things like that is work ethic.

Jane Erbacher: Drive.

Joe Riggio: Yeah. Super driven.

Jane Erbacher: Cause neither of you have stopped learning.

Joe Riggio: No.

Jane Erbacher: Every single day you’re open to learning.

Dan Goodman: We still, to this day, pay for coaching.

Joe Riggio: Oh yeah, always.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Joe Riggio: Always. It’s thre

e or four podcasts a week, it’s a book a month, it’s something. There’s always a great tidbit that you can take from anyone. I’ve been to coaching events where I was like, you know that was great, but I met this person and now they’re close friends.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Dan Goodman: Totally worth it.

Joe Riggio: Right, and you take Gym Jones and look at the connections it’s made for all of us, and the people we’ve made and we’ve had an amazing experience.

Dan Goodman: This right here.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah. This is it. I would never have met you two.

Joe Riggio: And again, as we’ve talked about before, you have to coddle those relationships. You have to be …

Dan Goodman: It’s on you.

Joe Riggio: You have to take the charge to identify the people that you connect with and create a real relationship that forces into something. In our industry, if you want to create a business out of it, well then that’s on you to figure that out. You have to be creative and inspiring enoug

h to where people want to come to us to learn, just like people want to come to your seminars. People like … They want to come learn rowing and skiing from Jane and see you as an expert, but I bet you it’s … a large percent of that is because of the personality …

Dan Goodman: And the connections.

Joe Riggio: And the connections that you’ve made with people. And I’m sure to this day, a lot of the business is referral. Jane’s amazing, she came to the gym, she’s such a great person, what a fun personality, blah, blah, blah. So somebody tells you that, they’re like, oh that’d be great for my gym too, people would love that. Then it’s like, let me hire Jane. Great. So your personality is such a huge important part of everything that goes on. And I hate to say it but there’s a lot of miserable pricks in the …

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Joe Riggio: Strength coaches tend …

Jane Erbacher: Yeah, yeah. Pro-suffering. It’s like, you gotta have some fun.

Joe Riggio: Yeah, it’s like, come on man. At the end of the day, we’re just freaking lifting weights. How important in life is a 2K row?

Jane Erbacher: Oh my god, not even important.

Joe Riggio: Right? Not important at all.

Jane Erbacher: At all.

Joe Riggio: Your 500 pound deadlift, yeah, that’s good, that’s alright.

Dan Goodman: Good compared to what? You know what I mean? It’s like …

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Joe Riggio: Yeah. I’m terrible compared to the strongest guys. And like, I’m talking about big picture shit. How’s your relationship with your mom? Do you and your wife do you have [crosstalk 01:22:12]

Jane Erbacher: Yeah, do you have time to play with your kids.

Dan Goodman: How do people feel? People care way less about the x’s and o’s and they’ll remember you for you, they’re not gonna remember how much you know.

Jane Erbacher: Totally. Oh that’s a great place to end. You are both the best. Just so you know, I would make this a 24 hour podcast.

Dan Goodman: Yeah that’d be awesome.

Jane Erbacher: I love you both, I have taken four pages of notes. [crosstalk 01:22:31]

Dan Goodman: Thank you for having us.

Jane Erbacher: It seems like I’m taking them for the podcast, I’m just taking them for life.

Dan Goodman: Show notes show notes.

Joe Riggio: Nice.

Jane Erbacher: You’re both amazing. Thank you so much.

Dan Goodman: Thank you Jane.

Joe Riggio: Thanks for having us.

Dan Goodman: We love having you.

Jane Erbacher: And thank you for setting up this super high tech [crosstalk 01:22:41]

Joe Riggio: You gotta thank special effects over there …

Dan Goodman: Thank the whiz.

Trevor: Yeah, yeah.

Jane Erbacher: Thank you!

Trevor: Swaggy T

Jane Erbacher: And thank you everyone so much for listening. If you are ever here in New York, you need to come here to Varsity House. So we’re in Orangeberg. We’re on the border of Jersey, you could tell that. I got welcomed to New Jersey when I was driving here and then welcomed back to New York, I was like …

Dan Goodman: Yeah, same time right?

Jane Erbacher: Totally!

Joe Riggio: And if you want to check out us, you can check us out at You can connect with me and Dan on Instagram, coachjoestrong is mine, and dan_goodman78 is Dan’s. The gym’s got every social media that you could imagine, and if you’re interested in coming to one of our business seminars and learning how to turn your passion into a profession, you can check that out at With an S,

Jane Erbacher: You guys are awesome. And they’ll be in Australia hopefully next year.

Joe Riggio: We will be. We will be.

Jane Erbacher: Should be awesome. Thank you so much, everyone, for listening.

Dan Goodman: Thanks so much.

Jane Erbacher: Bye!

Joe Riggio: Thank you. Peace!