Our guest on the podcast today Sam endured a series of very painful physical traumas that left him back against a wall. They might have destroyed his life, but he, an entrepreneur at heart, didn’t let them.
What were you thinking when you went to college and you’re like I wanna study English and Philosophy. Was it just subject matter interest then or did you have a long-term game plan?
My dad was a psychiatrist and a med school professor. My mom was a family lawyer and mediator. I would always read and watch movies, the idea of a story was always very important to my family. My family would always break them down afterward and I really, really loved stories.
At the same time, I was always told that I should become a doctor or lawyer by my parents. I always enjoyed English in high school. It was my strongest subject. When I entered Union I was actually pre-med. That did not last very long and then I transferred to a pre-law track. All of those classes came naturally to me so I minored in political science. I took every law class under the sun. I worked for the Connecticut Children’s Law Center on my breaks. I was the research fellow for the law professor.
I was really, really good at it. And I couldn’t stand it. It was not for me.
What was it about all of that exciting creative work that you were doing that wasn’t leaving you fulfilled? What was the missing piece?
I have been very intensely and intensively studying health, fitness, nutrition, wellness, I’d say since about 2007-2008 really in earnest. I was actually training for Air Force Special Ops. I’m not in the Air Force. I deeply respect and appreciate what they do but I wanted to challenge myself so I was in the Air Force Special Ops Active Duty Readiness program as my workout. I was going to this one gym that had the stuff that I needed about six days a week. I kept seeing, it’s one of the most populated gyms in foot traffic probably in the country.
I’m wondering if you have any insight into how to build fitness networks? Was it just a referral situation for you? How did you get started on making those contacts?
I began client acquisition before I really started diving deep into marketing and learning a lot of the nuances of client acquisition and stuff that I do now.
I’ll be honest, it was hard. It was really hard. We knew it wasn’t gonna be easy but at the same time, it was a lot harder than we thought it would be.
The first client we ever had actually was someone who I knew at that gym in Hollywood who is an actor and model. We kind of had become friends because we were at that gym every day and he was in good shape but his physique wasn’t where he needed it to be for the types of auditions that he was landing and so I just pitched him on what we do and we had a consultation session with this actor, my friend Mike and myself, and then we started working with him. That was our first client.
Start the fitness business with your friends, and then, what happened?
I had injured my shoulder and I was off my shoulder but still training just not with my upper body at all for about two months. And, I was about four or five days away from the complete recovery of my shoulder… When this was the day before the Super Bowl, my parents had just gotten into town to visit, I’ll never forget. And, I micro-fractured my knee, my tibia, in two places and I tore my calf.
And at the time I thought “Oh, this is all good. This is actually awesome”. ‘Cause I had had knee pain for about four or five years leading up to that. I thought “This is great. I get this opportunity to challenge myself, I get this opportunity to grow, that uninjured people don’t get. This is fantastic.”
Because I had actually been reading a book that made a really big impact on my life called Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson, about experience-dependent neuroplasticity and how we can rewire our brain towards positivity bias. So, that’s a whole other conversation for another time.
But I was really excited. I’m a health coach, right? I’m a student of this stuff so I know exactly what to eat, to maximize recovery and expedite the healing process. All of these other supplementation protocols and other alternative treatment protocols and all this stuff, right? And I’m doing this stuff, and it’s got worse.
How on Earth do you teach what you went through to somebody else who has not had the experiences you had?
In a way, I shared this story with my clients because I was going through this while I was working with them. I started working with some of these bigger clients from mid-August through the winter and then into the first few months of 2018.
I would share my story with them and like I said, I also suffered countless injuries since then. I’m probably a couple months away from recovery and being able to train like I used to for the first time in two years. Probably by the end of October right now.
So I was going through all these injuries at the same time I was coaching and training my clients. I also have a thing and I think a lot of health coaches and fitness coaches can relate to this; trainers as well. A lot of times I would end up with what I call frients. So they start as clients and then they become your very close friends because you’re helping them with such an important part of their life and they’re trusting you and you’re spending all this time together.
So I shared with them because these were the people I was around the most, and in a way, my support system.