Fitness Professional Online

Fitness Professional Online Show 016: Mike D’Angelo

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Announcer: Welcome to the Fitness Professional Online Radio Show where you get access to fitness industry news, tips and insights from professionals around the world. Visit us at Now, your host, Doug Holt.

Doug: Hello everyone and welcome back to the Fitness Professional Online Show. I am your host, Doug Holt, and I’m really excited to be back with you. We took a hiatus there. I actually launched two new businesses as well as running our personal training studio here in Santa Barbara, California. Fitness is my passion, as well as business. I love them both so I’m really excited to get the show back. I want to share my knowledge and give back to the industry that’s given to me over the last 20 years.

Part of that is sharing with you great people that are in our industry doing cutting edge work. One of those people is Mike D’Angelo. He’ll be on the call with us today. Most of you probably know Mike. He’s written for as well as been a presenter all over the industry. Let me read his bio for you. It’s really interesting when you see all that Mike has done.

Mike D’Angelo has over 20 years of groundbreaking success in the fitness industry. He’s a personal trainer in every sense of the term. D’Angelo holds a degree in Exercise Science and is certified through the American College of Sports Medicine as an Advanced Trainer. That’s ACSM. Mike’s also a native of Boston where he’s been recognized as Boston’s top trainer. He’s also been rated as a top trainer in the country by Allure Magazine and been nominated for the IDEA Trainer of the Year award.

D’Angelo also holds pro status from ESPN’s Muscle Mania Fitness America and was a four-time winner of the Natural USA Bodybuilding Competition. Most importantly, to many of Mike’s clients, he’s a fitness professional who is passionate about maintaining and teaching others to maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle through the benefits of comprehensive exercise and nutrition programs. His dedication runs so deep he developed BodyEvolver PT Pro, which I’ll call BodyEvolver moving through with this, a cutting-edge online program which is quickly getting recognized as the most effective, efficient way for fitness professionals to measure, track, plan, and manage their clients’ progress.

Mike’s expertise and body-sculpting knowhow, his dedication and enthusiasm for personal training has helped him develop BodyEvolver Pro and has led to him being a sought-after expert in the field of personal training. Mike has presented at NEFC, NEH, RSA and IDEA, and Mike was a lead training developer of the Reebok fitness app. He’s also been an endorsement contract athlete for EAS and recognized all over the country.

Wow, what a bio and what a background. Without further ado let’s jump right into the call.

Doug: All right Mike, many of our listeners may know you as the strength coach and a fitness expert through the articles you’ve written online and other things you’ve done, but can you walk us through what exactly it is you do on a daily basis?

Mike: I’ve been a personal trainer for 22 years. I got a degree in Exercise Science a long time ago. At first I was doing clinical exercises at BU Medical and I quickly realized that I can make a lot more money and help a lot more people if I worked on the preventative side of healthcare as a trainer so I started being a trainer 22 plus years ago. That was full time, just kind of killing it in Boston. Actually now as of the last year I’ve been working from my house on this BodyEvolver project that we’ve got.

Doug: I want to talk a little bit more about that project. Reading your bio, you’ve obviously been Trainer of the Year in Boston and done a lot of other things but walk us through a typical day for you. What’s a typical day for you as far as getting up and what you do? Tony Robbins, somebody I watch, always says, “Success leaves clues.” I want to give some of our listeners and myself some of the ideas of how you’ve been so successful, so walk us through a day.

Mike: When I’m doing the training thing full time and that was my gig, it was getting up early in the morning and it was banging out one client after another, hour after hour. You’d get little breaks in the afternoon to do some of your management stuff, take a little nap and maybe run a couple of errands and then back to training clients in the afternoon, do some group training and just really keep clients focused on the task at hand, what step they are taking today to get the results that they want tomorrow. When you dial your clients into taking those steps today, they end up getting unbelievable results because they’re embracing their reality, they’re making it happen and when they get results, you get referrals.

Doug: Absolutely. Obviously you’ve been extremely successful as well so it’s not just you’re getting up in the morning and banging out day to day. Based on just your results personally and the results you’ve had with your clients, you’re going over the top. It’s not just setting an alarm, waking up and showing up. You’re putting a lot of thought into this and really pushing people and then driving them to think day to day of what they can do. That’s awesome.
Tell us about one of your wins. I know you’ve had a ton of them but give us an idea of something that you’re really proud of right now that you’re working on or something that you’ve done in the past.

Mike: It always feels like a win when your clients reach their goals. I can recall a couple of individuals that I had trained with. Probably the greatest success story that I had with a client is when it comes to the massive amount of weight that this woman had lost. I think when I started training her, she weighed about 330 pounds and we got her down to 164. We’ve got all the data to back it up. We ran her body comp, her weight and tracked all the progress and it was just awesome. It was just so fun to be able to change somebody’s life like that.

I think that’s why most trainers become trainers. It’s because they’ve got a real passion for fitness which is certainly where my passion for being a trainer started. It was my own wants and needs of wanting to work out and building the physique that I wanted and all of that. Once you kind of own it yourself, you’ve been there and done that and you know what it takes and you’ve walked the walk and talked the talk, it is so easy to communicate with clients from that perspective that you literally can help change the way clients think. That leads to a better end result for them.

Doug: Absolutely. When working with this… I want to talk about this in a second, you know, you have BodyEvolver, but is that one of the cases that actually made you decide to develop that program?

Mike: When I first started off in the whole fitness thing, I was all about the science. How do you break down the science and how do you take the science and put it into achievable, doable steps? I kind of started with getting my body comp numbers ran and where I was at. Okay, based on science, what do I need to do to make improvement? Then I would apply that to myself. Then I would track progress all the time. I would re-measure and say, “What has happened three or four months later or whatever?”

Then you see what’s working and you go back to the drawing board and say, “Well this worked and this didn’t,” then you change your program and you see how that works. You keep testing and putting science to the test to see if it works. When I did that with myself I found that it’s actually really easy to do that with clients and the clients kind of understand what they’ve got to do and why they’ve got to do it. They end up doing it because they’re informed, they’re educated and because of that, they can make conscious day-to-day decisions that lead to a better end result.

The thing with clients is that most of them are left in dysfunction. They don’t really know how to think about stuff, about fitness particularly, about eating, about exercise and whatnot. If you can help them understand it, they inadvertently become informed and they become more conscious of the decisions that they make every single day.

The fact is that you’re only with a client two or three hours a week. There is 168 hours in a week. That’s a lot of time for your clients to be making their own choices and if you’re not giving them the right tools and the right information so that they can make smarter choices, then it’s going be hard for them to reach their goal.

Doug: That’s exactly right. I think I jumped ahead a little bit and I apologize to everybody. Tell us a little bit more about the program and the software. I wasn’t planning on getting into this as much but I think that’s fair for everybody listening. Tell us a little bit more about the software.

Mike: The software is an online solution for trainers that allows the trainer to do all the standard operating stuff that every trainer really needs to be doing to inform and educate their clients and to track results over time. It basically takes the science and makes it simple. It’s all stuff that every trainer really ought to be doing with their clients from the standpoint of truly helping them think different about fitness and the choices that they make day to day. That’s really how the software came about.

It first started with running numbers on myself and then on all my clients by hand, on paper and then eventually tracking and graphing stuff on an actual spreadsheet. Then eventually I met up with the right people who do software engineer and database technology stuff and we’ve got this solution now that kind of makes all that stuff super simple.

Doug: I love it. I must confess that I’ve used it before and it is really simple and it is something that everybody should be tracking. I really like what you guys have done with that. It’s a great piece of software.

Mike: Thank you.

Doug: Absolutely. This jumps into when you talk about exercise testing and if you’re not assessing you’re just guessing and that whole streamline of thought. What in your mind have you noticed over time has really separated the good fitness professional from the great fitness professional? What are those little things?

Mike: I think, when you look at any truly successful business, there is somebody in that corporation that is watching the bottom line. They’re looking at the numbers, they’re looking at what works, they’re looking at what doesn’t work and they’re trying to figure out how they can make things work better. Every trainer ought to be doing that with their clients. It’s not just with their clients and the way their clients respond to what they say but also, what is it that they’re saying to their clients and is what they’re saying to their clients affecting the way their clients behave?

You’ve got to have a way to look at that information objectively as opposed to subjectively. Here’s the difference between objective and subjective. Objective means these are the facts regardless of how you feel about them. Subjective feedback is like thoughts, opinions and quite frankly, drama. Maybe clients don’t know it because they’re unconscious of it. They’re not wrong for being unconscious of it, they’re just unconscious. They’re stuck in their thoughts, their opinions and their drama.

When you can give them a perspective, pull them up and say, “These are the facts,” in a judgment-free environment, “and this is what we can expect to happen if we do these things. If you can do these steps and work yourself towards doing X, Y and Z, this is what we can expect to happen,” then suddenly the client says, “All right. Cool.” Then you can even project how long it should take them to reach their goal.

Now suddenly they’re more informed, they’re less identified with their drama, they’re more identified with the facts and they’re a bit more informed. Now they just need to take that informed perspective and put it into action and that’s what you, the trainer, help them do. You kind of map it out and then you help them take one successful step after another and then the next thing you know, you’re keeping their nose down to the grindstone, knowing where you’re going and the next thing you know, they suddenly look up and look back and they say, “Oh my god. I did all of that and it was awesome and it was fun.” You’ve changed their life.

Doug: I love it. I know in my business I train a lot of executives and CEOs of companies and they’re always talking about watching the bottom line, but I love how you say, “Watching the bottom line,” and the numbers as it relates with your client. It’s really not about hitting home runs as much as it is about hitting daily singles and just getting up for bat every day. Have you found over time that by tracking your clients and showing them the progress they’re making — and I’m sure there are dips over in some certain circumstances — but has showing them those numbers allowed them to maintain an exercise or fitness lifestyle better?

I know that commonly you see people complain that they’re not seeing the results, and that’s because I find that they see themselves in the mirror every day and maybe they’re not taking measurements or maybe they had a setback because they went to the football party on Sunday, broke down and had some pizza and beer or whatever it may be. Do you notice when you’re tracking the results and showing those to clients on a regular basis — I’m not sure what intervals you’re using — that the exercise adherence stays and you actually have better retention?

: There’s no question. When it comes to accountability, if you don’t have objective data to look at, it’s hard to hold a client accountable. If you’ve got effective data, you can hold the client accountable and then you can always say, “Look, we’re re-measuring in a few weeks here,” or whenever it’s going to be. Again, with some people and most people, at the beginning and until you get them to where they want to be, you’ve got to just let them know, “We’re going to re-measure.”

It’s like getting on the scale. Research and science proves that if you weigh a client in on the scale once a week and that client knows that you’re going to do it, guess who eats a lot cleaner? The client does because they say, “Shoot, I’ve got to get on the scale so I’m not going to eat that.” That’s a way to kind of hold them accountable.

If you’re not getting them on the scale at least once a week, if not every training session, if they’re looking to lose weight — let’s just say this is someone looking to lose weight which is what most people want to do — you’ve got to hold them accountable. This is the expectation and it’s all good. I’m not going to judge you for what you do wrong but I am definitely going to hold a mirror up to show the reality of the choices that you’re making and if you’re seeing in the mirror a reflection that you don’t like, then that’s cool. Great. Take a good look at that and now let’s start changing your behavior so that you start getting where you want to be.

At first, doing the measuring and tracking is more important. Once you get a client to the Promised Land and they’re happy, satisfied and they’re maintaining, you don’t have to do the measuring as much. There’s no question because they’re fine. You’ll get clients that get to their goal weight and they’re solid for a couple of years. I’ve got a couple of clients that are rock stars in the gym and they’re just super consistent with their diet and they’ve got their family life, their business life and whatnot. I’ll be like, “Oh my god. I haven’t done your body comp, or ran your numbers in over a year,” but I’ve also been training the guy for ten, so he doesn’t need to have that.

If you get someone and train them, you bring them to the Promised Land and they lose a bunch of weight and then you stop training them because they move, they decide to go to a different gym or they’re off on their own and doing their own thing which I think is the goal for every trainer. I think every trainer ought to be pushing the bird out of the nest, “Okay, you’re on your own. Let’s make it happen.”

If that client ends up gaining a bunch of weight back six months or a year later, it’s like, “Okay, that’s cool. We’ve got to dial it back in. Come on back. Let’ see where we’re at. Let’s see how far off you are from where you were when you were your worst. Let’s see how far off you are from the last time you were here when you were at your best and then let’s talk about what it’s going to take to get you back there.” That way you’re just managing your clients, no matter what situation arises.

Doug: Absolutely. Mike, I know we have a lot of trainers on here that are experienced. We have strength coaches that listen because I get their emails. We also have some people that are newer to the industry. When you were saying measurements, just to be clear, I know that can be intimidating because not everybody is as experienced with skin folds or what have you. What measurements are you taking or what are the options for taking measurements?

Mike: First off, I’m big into doing the body comp. I’ve been a huge proponent of skin folds and I’ve done tens of thousands of them at this point so I’m very comfortable with it. I do know that a lot of trainers are not that comfortable with it. That’s only because they haven’t done enough of them to be comfortable with it. It can be a little tricky because a thigh measurement can be a little tough to snag sometimes on some people, depending, but you don’t have to do the skin folds. I think that’s the best way to run the numbers but you can do belly button circumferences that will predict what the percent of fat is.

There is bioelectrical impedance which I don’t think is that accurate but according to what I’ve heard, it is about 80% of the time you’re going to be able to reflect what has been actually happening with a client if you do the bioelectrical impedance on them. About 20% of the time you get crazy numbers because they had too much salt, they had their period or who knows what and the numbers are a little whacky. At least you’re looking and you’re trying to grab some objective feedback to go from. That’s just when it comes to doing the body comp.

When it comes to strength, power and all of that other stuff, if you’ve got clients that you’re training in that capacity, then you ought to be writing down what their basic performance goals are. To be able to track those is critical and to be able to show them particularly over the life cycle of a client because sometimes you may have a client for three months, six months or whatever but if you start getting really good at what you do, you’ll find that the next thing you know you’ve got clients that you’ve had for years and it’s really great to be able to have that kind of data and to be able to look back and say, “Hey, eight years ago we were doing X, Y or Z. We were doing this many push-ups and that many pull-ups. We were dead lifting this or squatting that.”

If you know what those numbers are because you tracked them and you don’t have to go find them in some stored-away program card that you put in storage in your basement, but that information is accessible, it’s a great way to keep clients motivated to stay where they were or to get better.

Doug: I couldn’t agree more.

Mike: I have one more quick thing. You can think about the onset of this whole functional movement stuff. Functional movement screenings are awesome. You’ve got to know how to do them and they’re a little tricky. Wrapping your head around how to do it at first can be a little bit of a challenge, but the brilliance behind the functional movement screening is that it’s another way to collect objective data and then to use that data to best train your client so that you’re not going to compound dysfunctional movement by loading a movement pattern that hasn’t been fixed in a client.

Test the movement screening, write down the scores, come up with a training protocol, a training plan or whatever that training plan is for you. You’re the trainer, right? It’s your program. Then objectively re-measure. How is that straight-leg lift or how is the stability test? I think that measuring all of that stuff is important. You don’t have to measure everything but you certainly should be measuring the things that are important to getting your client to where they want to be.

Doug: Absolutely. Also, consistency has got to be key, right? Regardless of what measurement technique you’re using — and I’m in total agreement with you, I do skin fold cal for measurements and I’ve been doing them for years — it also is consistency. If you’re a trainer that doesn’t feel comfortable with that and you decide to use a tape measure or some other kind of assessment system, it’s got to be the consistency over time to see the progress with your client, correct?

Mike: Yes, absolutely. There’s a quality control to the way that you measure. That’s why if you’re going to be doing the measuring then you need to be doing it the same way. It’s like how you can’t have somebody do the skin-fold calipers on Mary, the new client, and then have some different trainer come in and do the measurements on Mary, the client, three months later because you’re going to get completely different numbers.

Doug: Not to make it a commercial for BodyEvolver, but I love the software. Do you guys track all of this on there?

Mike: Yes. Presently we’re in the middle of putting in performance goals. Right now we’ve got the capacity to track everything from circumferences to skin folds, to percent of fat to lean mass, fat mass, metabolic rate, hip to waist ratio, body mass index and all kinds of stuff, not to mention just keeping track of all your clients’ information like their address, phone number and their email. Listen, when it comes to personal training, you’ve got to manage your client’s health and come Thanksgiving weekend, if you don’t have all your clients’ addresses how are you going to send them a holiday card? It’s just more data that you should be collecting.

The cool thing about using a database is that once you put the information in, it’s accessible anywhere and it’s there forever so you only have to put it in once.
Doug: That’s everything with the business, for personal trainers especially. Those that have been in the industry for a long time that have been running it like a business are using that data all of the time. For those who are newer that aren’t collecting it, start collecting everything you can, like birthdays, spouse’s names or what have you. That all comes in. That’s what makes it personal.

Mike: That’s a good point.

Doug: We’re out of time. I want to have you back on. I haven’t gotten through a quarter of the questions that I had for you. Will you come back on the show again?

Mike: Oh my god. I’d love to. That’d be great.

Doug: That’s fantastic. For those listening that want to find out more about you such as Facebook, Twitter or your website, where’s the best place to get a hold of you?

Mike: Just shoot me an email:

Doug: Email, you can’t get more accessible than that these days. Perfect.

Mike: There it is. Use it, I dare you.

Doug: All right, Mike. Thanks so much for being online today. Thanks for taking the time. I know you’re super busy. We’ll definitely have you back on again.

Mike: I’d love it. Thank you so much for the opportunity.

Doug: Man, I could talk to him all day. He’s got so much experience and wisdom running not only his personal training business but also his new software company all geared toward helping trainers. I love that. Make sure you check him out. You can read his articles on as well as get the show notes and links to things Mike and I were talking about today. We will definitely have him back on. I can see Mike and me going over a lot of topics.

I know when I first started as a trainer back in ’95 we used just basic pen and paper and then eventually moved to Excel spreadsheets and having a software solution is incredible. I highly encourage you to check out BodyEvolver with Mike.

In the meantime if you have anything for me, feel free to email me at Mike was generous enough to give away his email address. I know I get hundreds of emails a day so my guess is that Mike is up in the thousands somewhere with all that he’s doing.
That’s it for us today. Have a great rest of the week.

Announcer: Thank you for listening to the Fitness Professional Online Radio Show. You can share your thoughts and join this discussion on this episode by going to our website or on Let us know what you’d like to hear on future shows and please feel free to contact us via email or give us a call at (805)500-6893. We look forward to hearing from you.

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The FPO Crew is made up of a number of skilled, fit, intelligent, and beautiful people who love overall wellness as well as helping people. Everyone in The FPO Crew has a true passion for working with Fitness Professionals all around the world to help grow the industry and thus help more people on a larger scale.
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