Tribefit - Chris Lynton Talks w/ David Mifsud About Growing His F2F Personal Training Business & Gym

Tribefit - Chris Lynton Talks w/ David Mifsud About Growing His F2F Personal Training Business & Gym

Chris: Hey, guys. Chris, here, from Tribefit, and today we are blessed to have David Mifsud here with us. David, how are you, buddy?

David Mifsud: Yo! I'm good. Thanks for having me, man. I really appreciate it, really appreciate it.

Chris: Not a problem, not a problem. I appreciate your time. And guys, I reached out to David, David's an absolute legend, I reached out to David. He's doing some phenomenal things. He's a gym owner. He's also doing coaching with personal trainers as well, and he's doing some phenomenal things, and so I reached out to him to see if we could have a bit of a chat today about all things building and growing a business as a personal trainer. More from a face-to-face and bricks and mortar physical aspect rather than, obviously, the online side of things. But no doubt, there's going to be synergies and similarities between the two.

Chris: But David, mate, before I end up talking for about a half an hour without even throwing it over to yourself, mate, could you maybe give us a little bit of background about yourself, your journey, and, I guess, where you come from to get to where you are at today?

David Mifsud: Yeah, definitely. I'll do my best to get it concise. I got into PT originally just because I was studying. I was studying uni Exercise Science, going into PT. So I didn't really know where I was going with that degree. I didn't really want to go the physio road or anything like that, so something PT because I was very passionate about it like most people do, and found the standard struggle of had no idea how to run the business side of it. And so I struggled for about three to six months, probably four or five months I really struggled in terms of barely making more than my rent, at the Good Life I was working at. I had that struggle. I was scrubbing dishes on the weekend in an Italian restaurant to sort of make some money. Long story short, I found a business coach who I sort of bumped into, and he illuminated to me that I was really struggling and I had no idea what I was doing, which was true.

David Mifsud: One call later, I joined his eight week, $4500 mentorship programme, and he showed me the ropes. About five weeks later, I probably quadrupled my income and finally quit scrubbing dishes and made some money. Fast forward from that, the next dream of mine was always a studio: having a gym was just this massive like, that would be amazing. And the mentor pretty much said to me what's stopping you doing it? I was like well, I've got one more year of uni to go. No really idea how to start it. I only just kind of got ahead as a PT. He said well look, mate, what excites you more: finishing uni or having a gym? I went well, having a gym. So clearly, I'm easily persuaded.

David Mifsud: His next programme was a $25000 mastermind programme. I was 20 years old at the time. Still wasn't doing amazing, I was doing okay as a PT now, and he was good at sales. I went and joined the 25K programme, dropped out of university and went all in. And three months later, I had the lease to my gym. Four months later, I had the doors open and that was about three and a half years ago. And so The Body Shapers in Kirrawee in Sutherland Shire has been going ever since. I got a team of myself and four others, we do semi-private small group training, we've been building that up. And then yeah, as you mentioned, about a couple months ago I decided to go into more the coaching/consulting space with personal trainers, purely because a lot of the business masterminds have been out, I kept getting asked bloody questions and people want help. And so I realised, you know what, it's probably time to use this more, monetize it, help more people, really put my knowledge somewhere.

David Mifsud: I'd also built tonnes of systems for the gym on sales, on marketing, and so it was easy to give those to trainers to help them out. And so that's been a journey the last few months. I've been helping a handful of PTs, gym owners, with scaling their face-to-face business. So that's kind of where my trainers is are now, between running the studio ... I only do a few hours a week of training now, I do more behind the scenes marketing systems, team stuff, just a few hours a week climbs, just because I know where my time is best spent. And so here we are now.

Chris: Beautiful, man. Well I guess what I'm going to do, I'm going to ask a two part question here, and I know earlier we talked about, and we'll get to this in a sec, in regards to ... And it might actually be the answer to the question, but just in case, we can separate it.

Chris: I know earlier you talked about investing in yourself and how that created a massive evolution in your life. But before we jump onto that, two steps of the journey: so one was going from a struggling trainer working in someone else's gym to a high performing, or a higher performing trainer working in someone else's gym, and then the second phase has obviously been getting your own keys, getting your own lease and taking that on to the next level.

Chris: If you go to the first journey, and I guess people listening to this could fall into either one of those two buckets right now, what would you say were the biggest key things that allowed you to transform and evolve from a struggling trainer to a high performing or a better performing trainer in that first year?

David Mifsud: Yeah, yeah. One was mindset and one was skillset. The first mindset was just belief, because I didn't really see a lot of money in PT when I first started. And the mentor, one of the things he did was show me the numbers and show me this many clients, this much money, you can do quite well and you can actually do things. Honestly, that was a huge shift, just seeing the belief in the programme. He showed me what was possible and that just lit me up with the energy to go do it.

David Mifsud: And the skillset: honestly the time with sales. Because I could get leads okay, and they showed me a few quick tactics to get leads in the gym, but then it was learning how to sell, and with no experience in sales, I was not the most outgoing guy in general when I was younger, I've gotten better now being in the industry. But I wasn't overly outgoing, no sales experience, no idea what I was doing.

David Mifsud: I still remember the first person I tried to sell, because I sat down with them and I just went oh yeah, this is how my training works. Would you like to do it? And they were like uh, I'll think about it. And I was like great, they're thinking about it, awesome! And they, you know, continued to think about it and never came back.

David Mifsud: So no experience with sales, that was the main thing. Once I'd figured out lead gym, which was pretty quick, it was okay, how do I get a higher percentage of people across from me to sign up for a long term programme, pay me good money, because that's scalable then, and I could do things with that. So they were the two things that very quickly went from barely making any money to scaling that very quickly. And in a gym of about 10 trainers, so it was quite competitive. It was quite like dog eat dog world. And so that gave me the leg up with that.

Chris: Beautiful, man. Well, probably before we jump to the next stage of, I guess, your evolution, probably the one thing that I'll just sit on right there, and so, so powerful what you mentioned. And guys, running a business or being a business owner or doing whatever it might be, whatever structure it is, it's a very emotional head space thing. And so you can get up at every day and tell yourself why you can't and why the economy's changed and if you meet a trainer and they're killing it, for whatever reason, why they're different than you and they're in a different location and they started six months before you or whatever it might be.

Chris: And it's such an emotional thing, and it's not until you sit down and someone goes hey, I call BS on that! Look at all of these people here that have a similar background to you, potentially a worse off journey, live in a less affluent area or whatever it might be and look what they're doing. It's not until you then go you know what, cut the bullshit, and there are people just like me all around the world doing it day in and day out, why not me?

David Mifsud: Yep, yeah.

Chris: Very, very powerful.

David Mifsud: I'll stop you on that really quickly, because I joined these programmes, they were all group-based programmes and masterminds. And I think that was the other side of it is that the belief you're talking about there, if you need that, get around people who have it, because you will learn. Everyone knows the Jim Rohn's saying: you're the average of the five people you hang out with the most. But it's fucking true, show me your friends and I'll show you your future. End of conversation. So if you get around people who believe in themself, guess what, you're gonna start believing in yourself. And when I joined these programmes, the mentor running it, I almost borrowed their belief in themselves, and that's what sunk in to me. It's so true, and that's just where I found the quickest way to get around people who already do it.

Chris: Beautiful, mate. Spot on, spot on. So, may I jump into the next stage? So you've decided to open up your own gym. And obviously, being new to that process of actually being the owner of the gym, what would you say were the key mistakes you made and the key learnings that you made that allowed you to go to where you are?

David Mifsud: Yeah, I like how you started with the mistakes, because there was a plethora of them. Look, the biggest take away ... The thing I did the best was I was working real hard, we all say work hard, but I was moving. I was running ads, testing ads like crazy, I was marketing like crazy, if I was driving somewhere I was following leads or I was listening to something I could learn.

David Mifsud: That was the only thing that kept me going, because the mistake I made was I was just being so under fun. Jumping into it that quick, no systems, I didn't know how I was running the workouts, I didn't know how I was keeping funds accountable, I was promising them grand results in my sales, and then they wouldn't even get a followup message for like a month.

David Mifsud: So the mistake I made was this dichotomous thinking of I need more clients, so I better keep marketing and selling because I need more clients, more clients, more clients; and I don't have time for systems yet. And because I thought it was one or the other, I did no systems, I had no structure. And this was the days where Facebook ads were golden. You probably remember, I was getting like $5 fucking leads, right?

Chris: Yeah.

David Mifsud: And it was beautiful! And I could bring 10 new clients in the door every week if I just put enough money into it. And I was making crazy ROI for that first month, but then 80% would leave.

Chris: They're gone.

David Mifsud: And then I would just go well, I'll just replace them, fuck it. Which again, it looked good on paper: getting those people in the door, but so many were burning out because I didn't have any systems in place. It wasn't like I should have done a tonne of systems. I wish I just realised one system a week, one system a fortnight.

Chris: Yeah.

David Mifsud: Just do something. It's not one or the other. It's not like you're either in marketing and sales, mate, or systems warrior. It's just more percentage time here, because that's where you need to. If you haven't got clients, don't systemize shit that hasn't gotten anyone in yet. But just build something. What are those one or two key ... If I did an accountability system from day one, I would have been where I'm at two years faster. Something simple as that. How am I going to keep my clients on track? So as soon as they miss one session they don't miss the next one, because that's when they stop.

Chris: Yep.

David Mifsud: So that's the biggest learning I have. I'm not a naturally a systems guy, so it's still a thing I've got to work on. But that was the learning I had that probably took me 12 months of up and down client base to learn. So definitely that.

Chris: Beautiful, mate. And I know we talked about it before, we jumped on this interview for a little bit as well, and it's about owning ... If you have a vision and you know where you want to get to, the only person who's going to get you there, the fastest, with the most passion, the most energy, and sleepless nights trying to figure out these problems, is you. David, if you were like oh, I'm the marketing dude and I'm just going to find the cleaner out back who told me he knows how to do systems and pay him a couple of bucks to do my systems for you, then you wouldn't have been able to get to where you are. You took ownership and like you were saying there, there was a stage where you took ownership, you're like no, I've got to get these systems, I've got to start doing systems because I can't have one outweigh the other, because it's not going to be a solid business.

Chris: So what made you ... Was there a defining moment where you were just like you know what, time to pull the finger out, I've got to at least do some systems, I don't have to be a systems guru, but I've got to at least do some?

David Mifsud: There wasn't one moment. It was just I really believe in a philosophy like you're going to keep learning the same lessons until you learn it properly. And I just kept getting reminded of this lesson: that you're going to keep having this hole in your bucket, and I was trying to fill the bucket with more water instead of just fixing the hole. And eventually too much water sinked out, and I started very slowly patching it up. And there was no one moment.

David Mifsud: And literally like just health and fitness, right? Someone gains a couple of kilos, they know they've gained a few kilos, but what do they do? They sweep it under the fucking rug. And then it's a few more kilos, and then it's 10, and then it's 15. It's very similar to business: we have this problem, and we see it, and we get this little like alright, there's the problem. And then what do we do? It's too hard to address, I don't know how to do it, I don't like systems, I don't want to do it. So we sweep it under the rug, and then it builds and it builds and it builds, until eventually it's too much.

David Mifsud: And so it's very similar to people that let themselves get out of shape. And you look at them, they walk in, and you're like how did you get this big? Well, they just kept ignoring little warning signs. And I just kept ignoring little warning signs for so long, until eventually yeah, I could do something about it, and then just started chipping away at it and slowly improved it. And again, it's possibly still our weakness a little bit. But it's so much more improved.

David Mifsud: So yeah, I think it's when you realise something's not working, just again, you have to take ownership, like I said before. I want to own it: it's no one else's fault, you're the business owner. Guess what? Everything's your bloody fault. Doesn't matter who you are. And it's not just saying to blame yourself, no one wants to blame, but it's always my responsibility. That's the attitude I think you need.

David Mifsud: And then from that, okay, well what's the first step? Sometimes we go big and grand and dichotomy: if I'm going to solve this, I'm going to do this big ass plan, I'm going to figure out everything. What would just be the first step? What would just be one system I could build today? If you're struggling with marketing, you don't need this massive seven thing funnel that's perfect and all the emails automated out with the right timing and the right wording. What would just be one thing you could do slightly better? Learn about bit more about copy, learn a bit more about how to just get okay, people hit my landing page, I drop off. What do I need to do to make that a little bit better? Or I'm getting leads and I'm only wanting 10 ... Just what's one step? One step at a time.

David Mifsud: Again, we tell our fucking clients it all the time: don't change your whole diet at once, just do one thing. We don't do it as business owners.

Chris: No.

David Mifsud: So we need to go one step at a time.

Chris: That is so powerful. That is so powerful and so true. And the amount of times I hear people that are like oh, I've got this great business, I'm going to launch it, I've been working it for six months, I'll probably be ready in six months time once I've built my super-duper 2000 email warmup sequence to this, to that. You could have been out there impacting and helping lives already! Get out there!

David Mifsud: Yep.

Chris: Take that one step at a time. And another thing, just on what you were saying, is the ownership side of things, guys. A book that I've read many, many times, it's called The Breakthrough Business, and it talks about breakdown to get breakthrough. You need to get to a level where your business, or in your personal life or whatever, where you have a breakdown to allow you to go okay, now I need to take ownership: I'm going to breakthrough, I'm going to cut through.

Chris: And there are the moments when everything's going rosy and gold and it's pretty hard to go you know, I'm going to do this stuff that I don't particularly love. But when the chips are down, that's when you have the breakthroughs. You've pushed your back against the wall and you're forced to do something and evolve and take ownership. And that's when, really, the magic happens, mate.

Chris: Cool. This is awesome, we could talk for hours and hours and hours, no doubts. Trainer, high performing trainer, business, gym, gym owner, going really well at the moment, into the coaching side of things. So I guess, in terms of those that are listening right now, David, if you could give ... And I'm going to probably put you on the spot here, mate, because it's hard to condense all this stuff. But if you could give two tips to a personal trainer who's listening right now that's going god, I wish I could be a little bit more successful in my space! Whether they're a gym owner, whether they're not a gym owner, what would you say as two little bits of advice?

David Mifsud: Sure. Number one, start learning investing in marketing, specifically in social media marketing's definitely the big one. There's other forms taking over. Just be opened minded. It's not too hard, and the second you are open minded to trying to learn it, the second you'll realise you can learn it. And you'll be able to get ahead, because it's an industry that's getting more competitive but they're not teaching this stuff yet to most trainers. And so if you want to get ahead, it doesn't matter if you have a gym or ... I'm coaching a guy in Perth with a gym, and he literally didn't know how to run a Facebook ad. And I was like fucking hell, man! Are you ready for clients? Do you want them? Here we go! And he's never done it before.

David Mifsud: And so, a lot of people still aren't onto that. And if you're not, you're just going to get left behind at the end of the day, with the way the world's going. There's something like one in five posts on Facebook or Instagram now are ads, because a lot of people are getting to it. It's getting more popular, which means if you don't get on it now, it's going to be too saturated, it's going to be game over to use it in a couple of years. And Gary Vaynerchuck, if you follow him, talks a lot about this too: these are the golden years of getting on it, and you can get ahead, get a foundation, get your branding, and get clients, and then make money too, obviously, from it. And so, just be open minded, start learning, and start investing in it.

David Mifsud: And I think number two ... I'm torn between a couple of them. I'll say invest in yourself. This covers so many things that it has to be number two: that if you are willing to invest in yourself ... And think about an ATM: if you are an ATM, if you could put 100 bucks in an ATM and get 1000 bucks out, you'd do it. But you have to put the 100 bucks in first. If you're willing to invest in a coach and willing to take a very small step back, you can go very fast forward. Like pulling an arrow back and let it go forward. Most people just aren't willing to pull back or invest themself. And I believe it's because they don't believe in themself enough that they'll get the return. Because if I guaranteed you if you put 20K into this mentor for a year you'd make 200, everyone would do it. But people don't believe in that process.

David Mifsud: It's such a good blanket thing, because if whether you're struggling with the delivery in your business, whether you're struggling to get clients results, your marketing, your sales, if you've got a team, you don't need your team. Be open minded, because there's enough people out there, I'm someone who's done it, who's faced those challenges, because they are the accelerator, at the end of the day, for whatever still you may be missing. And be open minded to that. And it's the quickest way to get stuck: is the ego around I can figure it out, I know what I'm doing. You need to take ownership, but at the same time be open to learning.

Chris: Yep.

David Mifsud: Then not, again, it's not a dichotomy. It's not like it's on me! I have to figure it all out! Or it's never my fault, it's my coaches fault. Why aren't my ads working? It's your fault! It's not just one or the other.

David Mifsud: So just be open minded, because that covers everything instead of me going into each skill that people need.

Chris: Beautiful, mate, beautiful. And just to, I guess, resonate on what you've said, the point two: guys, everything anyone's trying to do, unless you're trying to build a bloody spaceship to Jupiter, it's all been done before. It's all been done before, find someone that's done it, see how they did it, replicate them. It's all been done before. You're not creating the wheel for the first time. So point two.

Chris: And point one, going back to the Facebook ads sort of things, and this is a bit of a bee in the bonnet for me at the moment, is that there's all these hypey ads out there going on, Facebook ads, they're getting harder, they're getting more expensive. Yes, they are! And as David said, yes, they are. But as David was talking about before, they used to be ridiculously easy, ridiculously profitable.

David Mifsud: It was stupid! Stupid!

Chris: And now they're just a little less profitable. Who give a shit? Get in there! Don't think to yourself oh, this guy is saying it's getting more expensive, it's getting harder and harder, and you need this and you need that. You just need to get in there!

David Mifsud: Yeah, yeah. Let me tell you the alternative: stand on the fucking street corner with a flyer and see how that goes for you. The alternative is still way worse.

David Mifsud: Yeah man, it's just an attitude. And it's business: business is improvement. The reason things are so good is because it got more competitive, so the only way to stand out was to get better. That's just what's happening in advertising, where if I ran the same ad I ran three years ago, I'd probably pay like $200 for a fucking lead, but it's terrible! The image is terrible, the copy makes no sense. The only difference now is you have to make things better to get the same result. Which again, is business, is welcome to life, improvement, capitalism. Embrace it, get better, because otherwise okay, just accept losing.

Chris: Yeah.

David Mifsud: Yeah, that's pretty much the attitude you need to take.

Chris: Definitely. And probably to sum the whole thing up, and once again, resonate on what you've just said there, the reason why it's becoming more competitive, guys, is because it works. People are [crosstalk 00:19:55] More and more people are doing it, because it bloody works!

David Mifsud: Yeah.

Chris: As a result, it becomes more competitive.

David Mifsud: Yep.

Chris: The key factor [crosstalk 00:20:05] That it works.

David Mifsud: And with that, I've seen this thing, I'm seeing with we're working with people now and being around this space for years, to go competitive you need to stand out. And by stand out, it's be fucking you. It's cheesy, but it works. If you want to stand out, use your personality, because here's the thing that fitness follow, a lot of people just saying the same shit. It's the same information. So you have to realise that even though it's the same information, you can apply a different presentation. You can be different, even if you're saying something similar to everybody else. We're just talking about macros and calories or whatever. It's all the same stuff, but your benefit can be the presentation and your personality. And if you want to do this stuff well, everyone knows the strategy, but only you can really supply your unique personality.

David Mifsud: That's hard to coach. It's also hard to steal. Because right now, I could go onto Chris' Facebook and look at his ads and try to duplicate the words he's saying. But I can't duplicate his personality and who he is when he does things behind the scenes or on video, things like that.

David Mifsud: And so if you're using it and you're like uh, how do I actually stand out now it's that competitive? You have to actually start showing your personality. Go to The Body Shapers, my gym, and look at our info and ads. You can see by those ads, you'd better come early these days. My videos are stupid. There's ones of me jumping out of a box. There's me on a beach doing ... We still have a beach in the gym, I'm doing bicep curls.

Chris: Yeah.

David Mifsud: And it's because we're running a commercial for the beach.

David Mifsud: I'm not being stupid for the sake of it, I'm being stupid because A. I'm a bit of a douche sometimes, and B. I know that I need to stand out. And if I just run the same old oh, we've got a challenge, guess what? They keep on scrolling.

David Mifsud: And so I think a big thing you've got to realise is yes, competitive standout would be you. And how beautiful is that? You can be yourself, and it does better than being someone else. What a great fucking world we live in!

David Mifsud: But that's the thing that I've seen: when I see people's good ads, is I see the person, it's not this robotic alright, I'd better say these words then. So that's huge for me.

Chris: Beautiful, mate, beautiful. David, mate, this has been phenomenal. We touched on earlier stages of evolution of a trainer working within a gym, we touched on becoming a gym owner, going to the next level, and we also touched on how everyone can be improving their physical personal training business. And also along, it all kind of relates. But I guess, David-

David Mifsud: It's a pleasure, so ...

Chris: Oh, mate! The principles and foundations of any good business are the same. It doesn't matter. Yes, there's nuances to the delivery-

David Mifsud: Yeah.

Chris: Or specifics or whatever. But all key businesses are the same.

Chris: In terms of, I guess to wrap things up, mate, if people want to check out more about you, about what you do, and all that sort of stuff, where would they go to find more of you?

David Mifsud: Just search for David Mifsud on Facebook, to be honest, is the main one. It's all just personal branded at the moment, keeps it interesting. Same on Instagram. Just David Mifsud, you'll find me. So yeah, that's where it is. And look out for my ads, they're coming.

Chris: A podcast, I think you mentioned as well.

David Mifsud: Yes, so I've got a podcast. My podcast is very just personal development at the moment. But it's called the Hustle & Fitness Bootcamp podcast, because everyone knows muscle and fitness. And so cheesy, Hustle & Fitness.

David Mifsud: But there's some good business stuff there. But it's not diving into deep business strategy yet. I might go down that road. But yeah, my personal page on Facebook is really just posting content and [inaudible 00:23:13] a little bit.

Chris: Beautiful, mate. Well look, I appreciate your time, I know you're a busy fellow, and we've all got to get back into it. But I appreciate your time. Some real gold nuggets there, guys. And no matter what stage you are at, as you can see, there is different tips that could help you in that evolution. And once again, it's all a journey, so there's no need to think that you need to leapfrog in a day or whatever it might be. But David, thanks so much for your time. Really appreciate it-

David Mifsud: You're welcome, mate.

Chris: Buddy. And guys, anyone wants to check out David, check out his social media platforms, and obviously, some real good stuff there as well. David, that's it from us today. Thanks heaps for your time again, buddy.

David Mifsud: Awesome. Appreciate it, mate, no worries. Thanks for having me.

Chris: Speak soon, mate, bye.

David Mifsud: Bye.

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