Ian of Ian Fitness on What Inspired Him to Open 9 Locations

Good morning! This is Peter here from Fringe and I have the honor and pleasure this morning of speaking with Ian Weinberg of Ian Fitness. Ian, you're out of Seattle. Is that correct?

Ian Weinberg: Yes sir!

Awesome. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Ian Weinberg: I'm kind of a lifelong athlete. I grew up playing soccer. I played soccer through high school and college and really chased the professional dream for a number of years after school and was kind of the last guy to make the team and the furthest down the bench, but also the happiest to be there. I really enjoyed that experience and had that opportunity to really move forward with no regrets and have some really great memories from that, but after playing, it was kind of a natural progression into the coaching and fitness lifestyle. That was my progression from being an athlete and being there and then progressing into seeing if I could help other people with their athletic and fitness aspirations.

I love it. One thing that's interesting. You do bootcamp style fitness. Is that correct?

Ian Weinberg: Yeah. Ultimately once I retired from soccer, I went on a big backpacking trip around the world. I came home with a couple of key items in my head. The first one was I had to find a way to stay fit anywhere I was, even if there wasn't equipment available or a gym. Some places in South America and in the Middle East, the workout and fitness facilities were pretty limited in the time I was gone. I really developed these body weight routines that I could just implement anywhere whether I was on the beach or hiking around or wherever I might be. That was one thing I brought back and was able to incorporate into my programs.The other thing, of course, I really just found I wanted to make a difference and work with people. Now we have two programs within our company. One is the bootcamp and that's a big one where we do work with big groups of people. It's basically group personal training with different stations. Some of them are the body weight stuff that I was able to bring back with me and develop and the other ones are utilizing functional fitness equipment.

I love it. Let's rewind a little bit and tell me a little bit more about that backpacking trip. I think that that's something that's very aspirational for a lot of people. You had said that your soccer, your fitness career was kind of at an ebb and then you decided to just put all your stuff in a backpack and go around the world? Tell us a little more about that.

Ian Weinberg: I was playing soccer. I was very dedicated and there was a lot of sacrifice. All your free time is preparing for the next season or the next match or whatever it might be. I'd always had dreams to get out there, it's a big world, and see a lot of places and meet new people. Once I started the process of retiring, I was just playing on a semi-professional team and at the same time working at a gym and learning the ins and outs of the actual gym industry. It turned into Groundhog Day for me a little bit. Every day I would go to the gym and I would work with people and I was doing membership sales and that was part of the reason I later on got into actual personal training, because I found all these people were buying memberships, but you know what? 85 to 90% of those people weren't coming in. I felt like there was this disconnect from that. I wanted to help these people, but I wasn't able to do it that way.One day I went on the computer and with a moment of inspiration I bought a one-way ticket to Peru. I put everything, all my stuff, on Craig's list for sale and I gave the rest away to the janitor at the gym. I sent my computer back home to my parents and the adventure began.

Wow! That's really pretty amazing. When you had first mentioned backpacking around the world and I hadn't researched and seen this in your background yet, I thought you meant, "I went for a month or two." You sold everything and just bounced.

Ian Weinberg: Yep. I just bounced. My goal was to travel over land via bus and meeting friends and hitchhiking through South America, Central America, all the way back up to San Diego, where I was living at the time, but what ended up happening is when I made it about halfway through Central America, I got invited to go play soccer in the Middle East. I said, "Hey, I'll take that opportunity, a free trip to the Middle East." Off I went and once the playing was done there, it was a short month-and-a-half tournament or so, then I took advantage and traveled a little bit in the Middle East as well.

Wow! All in, how long were you basically living out of a backpack?

Ian Weinberg: A backpack and a couch. I would say about nine to ten months. In all honesty, I would have stayed even longer, but I had ran out of money, plus some at that point.

I feel you. You had mentioned that part of your impetus for the bootcamp style, or the body weight style, was having to improvise these workouts on the road. Over that nine or ten months, what did you see happen to your personal fitness with you traveling and working out in this style?

Ian Weinberg: It was one of those things were I had gone into the trip a little bit bitter, with a little bit more size because I did have more access to proper weights in the gym. I think my size went down a little bit, but I would say I was actually fitter. I think a big part of that is just the nature of traveling so much is that you're doing a lot of walking. Especially when I was on a budget, I wasn't eating in excess because I was always looking to save some extra money for the next business to get to wherever I might be going. I was doing a lot of intensity stuff and also without the equipment, it was how can I really get my heart rate up? How can I challenge myself in kind of a relatively short amount of time? I think I probably dropped some body fat and, like I said, a little bit smaller, but I felt I was in good shape as well.

Awesome! That's very cool. One thing to dig into on this and then we'll actually get off this and start talking about what you're doing now. I do see the backpacking around the world idea crop up for a lot of people, but then a lot of people that I've talked with say, "Oh, this is going to hurt my employment or career prospects afterwards because if I don't backpack around the world, I'm going to go get a job, or I'm going to start my own thing or whatever, and I'll put in that time of doing my own business. Whereas if I backpack around the world, I'll be maybe having a good time, but not really working on anything that's going to directly benefit me from a business standpoint." What would you say to that sort of mindset?

Ian Weinberg: I would say you can have it all. I think now, these days, it's easier than when I did it ten years ago. Back when I was traveling, it was like you'd have to get yourself into an internet café and you're lucky if the thing had better than dial up internet service. Now you can bring your laptop and there's wireless cafes everywhere. First, is that you can do both and the second one is I learned more on that trip, both about myself, what I was capable of, the world, what I really wanted to do, then any sort of schooling or job that I could have taken at that point. The education level and just kind of expanding my horizons, again, what I was capable of doing. I challenged myself a lot physically on the trip. I climbed a lot of mountains. I did a lot of physical activity and I like to think that that strength then transfers into business decisions. Now when I'm confronted with a challenging staffing issue or expansion issue, it doesn't compare to climbing a 20,000 foot mountain. I know that I've done that before and that was super challenging and this next thing, it presents itself as a little bit easier to do, I would say.

I love it. Would you say if somebody relatively young in their career is thinking about that backpacking trip versus taking a, I hate to call it a boring job, but let's say a boring job or something that's more traditional, you'd say go for it?

Ian Weinberg: Absolutely. You have to take advantage of it. One, people wait for this "perfect" time in their life to do anything, to travel, to start a business. There is no perfect time. You really have to create that time, especially when it comes to travel because before you know it, you've got yourself a family, you've got a job, you've got a mortgage that is really not going to allow you that freedom to go and do it. You can always come back and get a job. You know what I mean? Jobs are always going to be available, but these opportunities that present themselves when you're traveling, those are limited.

100% agree. I love it. Let's get a little bit into your business. Your business is called Ian Fitness. Is that right?

Ian Weinberg: Yeah.

You had said in the little form that I send to everybody before I get on here, that I should ask you how and why you have nine personal training and bootcamp studios. How and why do you have those?

Ian Weinberg: Good question. I set myself up here. The big reason is when I started the company, I understood early on what my why was, why I wanted to start the company. Again, that came again from the travels. I realized I wanted to help people. I had worked in the gym and sold memberships and realized that wasn't the answer. When I was able to connect with people on more of a personal level with the personal training or even group personal training with their bootcamp, we're actually able to get people results. A significant percentage of folks who come in are getting the results. My why became not just help one person and not just help two people, but my ultimate goal is to help 25,000 people get in the best shape of their life. I truly believe that if I can do that, if my team can do that, then I can make the world a better place. Having traveled the world and seeing that there are a lot of people who need help and there are a lot of amazing people of the environment out there that I would love to contribute to helping save and preserve. I'm not in politics, but this is my opportunity, I feel like, to make the world a better place, to leave the world a better place for my kids and to have this legacy of impacting the world positively. Because of that, one location for me isn't enough because I know there are more people out there who need help. Two locations isn't enough. Five locations isn't enough. A certain amount of money or a certain amount of revenue isn't what we're looking for. It's more the level of impact we want. Because of the level of impact, the goal of our impact is so high, that is what is driving us as a team to try to continue to reach more people and help more people with their fitness goals.

Man, I love it. I'm sure you've seen that TED talk by Simon Sinek, Start With Why where he talks about...

Ian Weinberg: Yeah, totally!

There you go. Cool. One other thing. When I was doing a little bit of research before we started this call, I looked at your website, that's IanFitness.com for anybody who wants to check it out. This is a little bit maybe off the topic of what we were talking about before, but did you do your website or did somebody else? Did you contract that out to somebody?

Ian Weinberg: I'm not like a coding guy, but I was kind of like here's what I want said here. Here's how I kind of want the layout. In that regard, I was part of that process, but you couldn't ask me to code anything.

I feel you. I'm the same way, by the way. One of the things that I just noticed when I was looking at your website, I'm really into internet marketing. Fringe, my company, we're an e-commerce company so we sell online and all that. As I scroll down your page, which I'm doing right now as we're talking, I just love it. You've got a really great picture up top. You've got a free course, your home meal plan, home workouts, plan for success. "Yes, I want this guide." Then, a little bit below that, you head immediately into social proof, as seen on Fox, CNN, ABC, Seattle Times. Then going down into some really huge transformations that you've been able to effect in some of your clients. Anybody who's listening, I would strongly recommend going and checking out Ian Fitness, A, if you're in the Seattle area and you want to make a transformation, or B, if you're a gym owner and you want to see kind of the social proof. I love it, by the way.

Ian Weinberg: Great. Thanks. For me, I think it comes down to what is your objective with your website. We really aren't selling anything on the website, whereas with you guys, obviously, people are coming there and making a purchase, like I do very regularly. For us, our objective is not to sell anything, which is why we're not listing prices. There's not really an option really to buy anything. The most you could spend on our website is $7 and that's going to get you a week trial.  Our objective is we want to capture your contact information so we can share with you what we do, how we help people, and then share what our programs are. We do that by giving away a free fat loss course. We'll show you that other people have gone through the program and they've gotten great results. We've found that it doesn't really matter what I say or what any other coaches say. Most people don't trust that as much as what they'll trust other people, the experience that they've had as well, so they'll see that other people have gone through the program and they've been successful. We've got over 500 reviews, 5-star reviews, and those are the types of things that once you have that stuff in there, you don't need to do a bunch of selling because people can see that it works and when they're ready to go through the process, hopefully we're going to be the home for them.

I love it. One more question about your business and then we'll head on to the lightning round. Your business is called Ian Fitness. Of course, your name is Ian. Can you share with us a little bit about the mindset of branding yourself in your business versus choosing a more generic brand? I'm just curious of your mindset behind that.

Ian Weinberg: My mindset has adjusted a little bit because initially, I'll be fully honest, I didn't start the company and say hey, we're going to have nine locations and it's going to be this huge, massive business and we're going to be helping thousands of people every single day. That would have been awesome, but I wasn't even thinking on that level yet. I was like, hey, I hope I can get a couple of clients. It just made sense because it was me. I was the person behind the brand. I was the person behind the company doing everything. That was the name that I came up with. As we progressed and the company grew, even if we got our second location and the staffing started to get built up and the team was constructed, I realized that people really like to have a real person behind the brand. Even if they don't have the chance to interact with me personally, they can see my YouTube videos or they'll read the recipes or they'll see a video with me doing a workout at the park. I filmed a video recently. I had my newborn, she's five months now, but I think she was four months, in one arm, and I'm demonstrating how to make a healthy breakfast with one hand because I'm holding my baby with the other hand.I think people like the fact that there's a real person behind the brand, and I'm not too hard to get ahold of. Case in point, here we are on the phone. If there is an issue, if they're struggling with the results, if there's an issue on the administrative side of the company, they can get themselves taken care of. That's my thought. There's an argument both ways. Maybe you can't scale and you can't grow as an individual, but I think that I'm proving that actually you can.

Yeah, absolutely. There's Barry's Bootcamp, which is pretty large. I believe the founder's name is Barry, right? I don't know.

Ian Weinberg: Yep.

Do you know that?

Ian Weinberg: They have the David Barton Gyms, although that's not the best example because I think they're going under, but there's three companies that started with just one individual and it grows. Obviously the scaling and the growth part takes, a big part of that is having a good team surrounding that initial individual, but they've got to make the decisions on whom they're bringing in and getting people behind the vision and all that.

Absolutely. I wasn't going to mention David Barton Gyms. That would have been a great example up until a couple of years ago. Now maybe not as much, but I don't think it had to do with the name.

Ian Weinberg: Yeah. I agree.

Let's head into the lightning round. What's one amazing tactical business tip that's helped you in the last 30 days?

Ian Weinberg: We re-visit this every 30 days. We re-visit very regularly. One of my very first clients, her name was Anna. It was my best friend, Nick's, Mom. My best friend, Nick, his dad passed away when we were in high school and it was really tough obviously on the whole family. Anna raised Nick and his two sisters on her own and her fitness level really got pushed to the low end of the priority list and she got pretty deconditioned. Early on when I first started, she reached out to me for some help. She was one of these really, really sweet women that you can always go over to her house for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich when you're growing up, kind of a second mom to me. She was just petrified of going to the gym. Just the whole thought of being in a gym atmosphere was scary to her. I knew I needed to create an environment that was welcoming, that wasn't intimidating, that would make her feel comfortable and safe, and that has been turned into kind of our marketing message and what we want the experience to be for clients when they come into our facilities. I think to myself, would Anna feel safe here? Would Anna feel comfortable? Does this music offend her? Does this picture of this woman working out, how would she interpret that? I think it just comes around to finding your avatar and then continuing to ask yourself and test your marketing message, and even your programs against who your avatar is. It doesn't need to be Anna. Obviously if it's Crossfit then maybe it's Brad who is looking to compete at the box and get to the next level. Is the system and is your equipment and everything set up to help that individual? That would be the business advice that I would say.

I love it. We actually do have a few customer avatars built up for our business. That's absolutely right. Moving on, what's the best business book you've ever read?

Ian Weinberg: Best business book? One of the ones that I read that inspired the trip was The Four-Hour Work Week. I really enjoyed that. I really enjoy the concept behind it. In terms of practical advice that translated right over to me, I really liked Extreme Ownership by Jocko. He's a former Navy Seal and really just talks about this concept of extreme ownership where if there's an issue, if you have a problem with somebody else, it's taking ownership and acknowledging that hey, this is my fault. Here's how I can fix it. He applies some really cool principles from his experiences in Iraq and translates them to the boardroom or decisions of CEOs or managers and stuff. I found it really helpful and interesting at the same time.

I've got to bump that one up my list.

Ian Weinberg: Yeah, put it on Audible as well because he actually narrates it and they've got some sound effects in that. Of course, put it on 1.5 speed and you'll fly through it.

I love it. What's one amazing personal tip that's helped you in the last 30 days?

Ian Weinberg: Amazing personal tip? I would say is to win your mornings. The more structure you have in your life, the more freedom you have. It's not super intuitive. People are like I don't want to structure that. I don't want to plan this. I want more freedom. I totally get it. I love freedom too and that's one of the reasons I have this business is because I want personal freedom, financial freedom, but if I can structure the hell out of my mornings, I get up early, I get my workout in, I get any fires put out, addressed, get one kid up, get them dressed, get them breakfast, get them to the business, head over to our HQ, meet with the team get everybody on the same page, come back home, watch the baby while my wife goes to volunteer at the school, then I'm off to anything else I need to do for the next couple of hours, any projects, any meetings, any podcasts, anything that's on that priority list for that specific day, and then I can be home by 2:30, pick up the kid back from the bus, and I've got the afternoon with the family, and/or evening. My mornings, I always say to people, by 7 a.m., I've probably done more than you might get done for the whole day because I'm super dialed in in the morning. I'm super productive. I'm getting stuff done, crossing things off my to-do list. I'm very structured in that morning part. Get everything I need to do finished, eating, my workout, the work, meetings with the team, and then again, I'm finished for the rest of the day and I have the freedom to do the things I want to do later on. Maybe that's take a nap because I got up early, but hopefully it's getting out there and doing something fun with the family.

Awesome. I love it. Thanks for sharing. Two real quick ones. Do you have any favorite fitness equipment or implements?

Ian Weinberg: Favorite fitness equipment? I've really been enjoying the sandbags recently and the reason being is because I love to compete in the Spartan races. I did a Spartan race not long ago and they had the double sandbag carry and oh my god it kicked my ass. I was struggling so much. The whole time I was just like I can't wait to order more sandbags, fill those bad boys up, and just practice with these things. That's been my favorite recently just because I've really needed those.

I also love the really thick resistance bands to help with mobility work because that's probably my least favorite thing to do. Nobody loves mobility work, but those bands work so well for glute work and just kind of all the stuff that needs to get done that sometimes gets pushed down the priority list. It's fun to do the dead lifts and all the fun stuff. I would say those are my two big ones right now that I'm enjoying using the most.

Awesome. I use mini bands in my training, but I use sandbags at least once a week. I'm a big fan of 100 sandbag get-ups for time where you lay it on your shoulder, lie back down, and get up. It's a lot less technical than a Turkish get up, but it still buries you.

Ian Weinberg: Yeah, for sure. Literally and figuratively in sand.

Yeah. There you go. Last question, what is your favorite workout, if you just had one workout until the end of time?

Ian Weinberg: I think if it could be with a pair of dumbbells, it would be like a burpee into a biceps curl. I could do the burpee anywhere. It's going to keep me lean. I could get the biceps curls in there for the beach muscles, which are important. That would be my one exercise that I could take anywhere with me and do anywhere. I travel a lot now for speaking engagements and business coaching, and of course I travel with my family a little more sustainably these days, but you can always knock some burpees out no matter where you are and it's going to be a good full body workout for you so that would be it.

I love it. That's awesome. Cool. I'm looking at you online right now at IanFitness.com and at Facebook.com/IanFitness. If people want to get ahold of you, what's the best way?

Ian Weinberg: You can shoot me an email actually just to Ian@IanFitness.com. I'm also, like you said, on Facebook. You can follow me on Instagram. I smash a lot of things with sledgehammers these days. If you're on Facebook now, you can see I just beat up a treadmill with a sledgehammer talking about how it's not the right way to help you get results. There's some fun stuff there on Instagram and that's just @IanFitness. I'm pretty available and look forward to hearing from folks and chatting it up.

Awesome. That's fantastic. I'm going to check this stuff out a little bit more. Ian, have a wonderful day. I hope you already won your morning and will continue to do so in the future. In the meanwhile, my friend, thank you.

Ian Weinberg: Thank you.


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