Dan John Has Always Done It This Way
This interview was incredibly rewarding for me due to the huge impact Dan John has had on my brother Andrew and myself. Back in high school, Andrew was working his way through the fitness content when he stumbled across Dan's work. For the two of us it felt like hitting the lottery. Dan’s books and articles left a lasting impact on my brother and were a big reason that he eventually chose to pursue a career in personal training with the intention of eventually opening a gym of his own. Having been in this industry for a few years now I've heard a similar story from trainers who were influenced by Dan's work as well many times now. Dan is an amazing individual who exemplifies what a personal trainer and strength coach should be, which is why we all admire him so damn much. I hope you enjoy the interview! - Matt
Matt: First of all, thank you so much for doing this. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. I want to start off by asking you to elaborate on something you said at the NorCal Summit this past weekend. You said that you owe a huge debt to the fitness industry because it’s given you so much. Could you explain this a bit further?
Dan: Of course. When I first started in the fitness industry there were several key people, such as Dick Notmeyer and Ralph Maughan, who were paid nothing and gave me a whole lot of time. These individuals stepped up and helped me out when I needed it most. Basically I received an education for free and because of this I’ve always felt compelled to return the favor.
Matt: One of the things that fascinates me about you is that you give and give and give, which is one of the main reasons you stand out so much in the industry. You’re authentic and easy to connect with. How has this helped you and your business grow over time?
Dan: To be honest, I don’t really know the answer to that. I’m still trying to figure it out. I’ve always done it this way. In tech they talk about how there is a race to zero, where everyone is lowering their prices to the point they just have to give it away. Well, I hit zero before everyone else in the fitness world. I’ve been giving stuff away for years through my site and in other ways. I think you have to do it to stand out. On top of that it helps get more eyeballs on what you’re doing which will allow you to get more feedback than you would otherwise. Giving my stuff away and getting lots of feedback allowed me to continue to grow and improve.
Matt: Could you tell me how your business has changed over time?
Dan: Well the biggest thing that happened was that I started working with Laree Draper and my career exploded from there. Progress is rarely linear. It doesn’t work in the gym and it rarely works in the real world because so much stuff can get in the way. Once Laree started to put my words into text I found I had more opportunities than ever before.
Matt: One important part of imporving your skillset as a personal trainer is finding a mentor. Unfortunatley this is something that many new personal trainers overlook. Do you have mentors of your own?
Dan: I have had many mentors throughout my career. For Kettlebell training I work with the team behind Strongfirst. For Olympic lifting I work with Dave Turner. I talk to Grey Cook and Mike Boyle whenever they have time to chat to learn what they are experimeting with. I’ve always looked for people who have one foot in athletic training and one foot in training the average gym member because it’s tough for me to relate otherwise. I’m constantly testing and experimenting with new ideas to validate whether I should use them or not. You’re always looking for the next big wave in fitness and whether you should get on board or get the hell out of the way.
Matt: You mentioned to me this past weekend that you were incorporating more hip thrusts into your athletes training. What else are you excited about testing and using with your athletes?
Dan: The hip thrusts with bands are working great. I’m also excited about the new ab wheels that Sorinex will be coming out with. The normal one’s are usually one wheel and not built for larger athletes. These ab wheels will have multiple wheels and allow for more flexibility in training than before. We’re also experimenting with using heavy ropes in the half-kneeling position right now.
Matt: I want to ask you about how you think the fitness industry is changing right now. In the last ten years we’ve seen e-products all over the market. I believe that there will be room for e-products in the future, but the majority of supplemental income for personal trainers will come from quality online training. What are you thoughts on this?
Dan: I think you’re right. What’s shocked me is how much the market has changed in the last ten years. In the past you could create a DVD and it would be a big hit. That just doesn’t work anymore. Attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. I forget which study it was, but someone figured out that back in the day an individual would watch 19 minutes of a video on average. Now people will rarely read through 140 characters. On top of that, it’s become so easy to make e-products and sell them, that even when you do put something out there is a newer, sexier product out the week after! We’ve definitely reached a saturation point and it will be interesting to see how personal trainers adjust.
You can follow Dan at his website here.
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