Fitness Professional Online Radio Show: FPO 005
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 FitnessProfessionalOnline.com and now, your host, Doug Holt.
Doug Holt: Hello everyone and welcome to a new edition of Fitness Professional Online Radio Show. I am your host Doug Holt and I’m excited to be here with you today. We’re back to our regular schedule. We’ll be releasing new radio shows every Monday. We try to answer your calls here on the show as well as bring you some of the freshest information in the industry. In this episode, we’re going to talk to Doug Balzarini. He’s got a great first name, can’t beat that there.
For those of you that don’t know Doug, let me give you a little background on him. Doug has been in the fitness industry for the past 14 years. He was originally from Massachusetts where he earned his undergraduate degree in Exercise Phys and has first personal training job. He moved to San Diego in 2000 and worked for the American College on Exercise (ACE) for about 5 years before starting his career at Fitness Quest 10 as a personal trainer and strength coach. He was down there with Todd Durkin for those of you that also don’t know that. He was there for about 2005 and 2011 and worked with clients of all ages and abilities.
Since being in San Diego, he has completed some graduate work at Biomechanics at San Diego State University, been at a multiple grappling tournaments and has earned ten additional certifications. It’s quite an accomplishment. Doug’s website is www.DBstrength.com. But first, I just want let you know some new updates here at FPO and what’s going on in the industry. It’s news and updates. We have our new edition coming out. We have a new edition that comes out on the 1st of each month, lot of great content coming.
As most of you know we release new articles weekly. Let alone the new edition just as the features that we hold back releasing them because they have a little bit more pizzaz and a little more timely for the additional use or either as are always hard at work. Special thanks out there for Darcy and Viju who are editing the content on a daily basis, those guys are amazing. Our event section is growing rapidly. We had a question come in the other day about “Why we don’t have more international events?” Well simply we just don’t get any information on them.
So, if you’re out there listening and you are overseas and you have an event going on that you would like us to share with the community, we’re happy to do so. Check back into the forum. We’ve read, design the forum. It’s got a lot of information in there. Getting a lot of users on the forum and a poster continue to grow. There are a lot of private forums on there. So, if you are having problems getting into a private forum that you have been approved for, please send an email to the team here at email@example.com and we’ll help you out with that.
And I am sorry that all our mastermind groups are closed. We will have a new mastermind group scheduled to start in mid-October. So if you’re interested in finding out more information on that one, please contact our queen of operations, Darcy Curry, then that’s at firstname.lastname@example.org. Well with that, I want you get up right into it. So let’s go ahead and cue up the call with Doug. So Doug, give us a little background on how you got into the fitness industry and in particular how you started DB Strength?
Doug Balzarini: Absolutely. First, thanks for having me, Doug. I appreciate it. Fitness is really been something that I’ve been involved in my whole life. Since I was growing up, I was playing soccer as soon as I could walk. So, it was just a lifestyle that I always had and was always instilled with me since I was a little kid. Grew up in the East Coast when I moved out West to San Diego, it’s an area that’s beautiful, the beaches and the sunshine year round. So, you just have to get outside and be active and move.
I’ve just always been actively involved in fitness in some way. I worked, I got a job. My undergrad degree is in Exercise Science so it’s something that’s always been a passion of mine and then I worked at ACE, a certification company that I’m sure most people are familiar with for about five years when I moved out West. And that’s how I met Todd Durkin, the owner of Fitness Quest 10 and I worked there for almost the past seven years.
In six and a half years, I actually left there about a year ago. And while I was there, I started a little side project called DB Strength. So it’s really about two and a half years old however, it’s really just been in the past year that it has really started to take shape and I’ve been able to focus my time and energy on it. And really, DB Strength is my company. There’s no broken mortar structure. It’s me as far as offering some personal training and some group training and some Boot Camp services to clients in the area but it also has an educational wing if you will where I have a blog and I do some writing and some videos.
And I have another video coming out if I can give a quick shameless plug at the end of the year. So, I’m working on some educational products there. I’m doing a little bit more speaking this year and hope to do even more next year and then I have some distance learning opportunities on the side as well. So there are a lot of small projects going on which may be good and bad. I don’t focus my time completely in one area but it’s just the way my brain works and that’s what I like doing.
Doug Holt: Yeah, I think it’s a lot of us. And I got to tell everybody else listening, I saw Doug speak at IHRSA and he did a great job. So, if you see him on the list, he’s a “must attend” speaking event. And with that said, I have seen a little bit more about your background and such so I can leave this a little bit more. But more recently, you got more in the Mixed Martial Art training. Is that right?
Doug Balzarini: Correct, yeah. Well, actually, I’ve been involved for about five years but maybe thankfully, with the success of some of my athletes, my notoriety is ground a little bit recently but yeah, it’s something I’ve been involved in for a few year, like you said, yeah. To how I got involved is actually through Fitness Quest kind of a cool story.
I got certified to be a trainer for TRX, suspension trainer years ago and they started to sponsor athletes. And their first sponsored professional athlete was a UFC fighter, Brandon Vera. He lives in San Diego. And they wanted a TRX instructor to work with him and lucky for me, I was one of them. And when I knew that they were looking for someone, I jumped at the chance.
So, Brandon was my first and which was a great opportunity because he was a high level pro-athlete at that time. So since then, Matt, was almost five years ago, he is a co-owner of a gym here in town and through that relationship, I started to work with the whole fight team. So, I’m the head strength coach for that whole fight team now where I work with. In a week, I work with 15 to 20 different pro-fighters. So it’s a great opportunity.
Doug Holt: Wow.
Doug Balzarini: Yeah.
Doug Holt: And what’s the name of the club?
Doug Balzarini: The Alliance Training Center, it’s called. They are located in Chula Vista which is down South San Diego.
Doug Holt: Absolutely. Miles will be giving them a little plug too. It’s actually there out in. And so, is that the reason you got involved with mix martial arts and kind of pick up from there or is it something you were kind of interested in training beforehand?
Doug Balzarini: Yeah. I was interested on a fan level. You know, I watch the pay-per-views and all that and it’s a sport that started to grow and it’s just been booming. It’s the fastest growing sport in the country right now. So, I was a fan first and then when I had the opportunity to work with Brandon, I jumped to that chance. I’ve done a little MMA training myself. I’ve done some grappling Jiu-Jitsu and things but nothing major.
So, once I started and worked with him and just saw the kind of work ethic that he had. And then subsequently, the work ethic that these other athletes have, I got more involved, fell more in love with it and both on a personal level just training with myself to just working with these guys and just did everything I can do in terms of education – attending workshops, getting some MMA specific certifications, reading books and getting DVD’s and things like that and reaching out to other strength coaches that were already in the field, those things I mentioned.
When people ask me, I guess, some new trainers reach out to me and want to get more involved in a certain discipline if you will or follow a certain track or get a niche in the field, those are the things I always tell them, “Reach out to people that have already done it or do what you want to do and grow them with questions and things like that or friend them but education is key.” So like I said, attend workshops either online or in person, get some books, and watch DVD’s whatever you can do just immerse yourself in it. And that’s what I did and it’s working out pretty well.
Doug Holt: Absolutely. Well, you’re proof of it – hard work and education. You’re making it happen, man. It’s great. So obviously, it’s a part of your business but it’s not everything. And who do you considered to be your target market or your target customer?
Doug Balzarini: Good question. If you look at my week’s worth of work, it’s really split in a couple of different ways. As far as clients go, I mean, at the end of the day, it’s still the general population clients that pay my bills. I probably see 15 to 20 hours of general pop, if you will, clients a week. And then I have my MMA athletes that I train here locally. So, as far as my target market for training, it’s pretty split.
I do a couple of days a week, the pro team down there at Alliance. I have like I said about 15 and 20 hours a week of actual hands-on with clients/general pop clients. And then the other target market, if you will, would maybe just be trainers and coaches through my educational products or not only products but just educational articles, I should say and videos that I post and things on my blog and on my website.
Doug Holt: No products yet.
Doug Balzarini: Yeah, coming soon.
Doug Holt: Yeah, maybe after this banging in your door. As they Should.
Doug Balzarini: Right.
Doug Holt: A lot of times we get a lot of new trainers that come on. People that have just entered the industry, I know you’ve worked a lot with people like that. What for you was one of the biggest challenges starting out?
Doug Balzarini: Well, I think when I went on my own. When I started to work with Todd at Fitness Quest, we actually had the luxury where Todd is one of the best trainers and speakers and just personalities in the industry. So when being a trainer there, we had a luxury of really not having a sell. People were coming to his door looking for a trainer. So once I went out on my own and left there, I definitely didn’t want to burn a bridge sort of steal clients or say, “Hey, I’m leaving. Come with me,” type of thing because I still have a great relationship with Todd and I wanted to keep it professional.
I think, the biggest challenge for me form a training standpoint was “clients.” To start to rebuild that base, if you will. And at the end of the day, it’s still a challenge, another challenge for me personally as I have this DB Strength “business” but I’m really a one-man show. I mean, I have some support and things with as far as web support and some referrals, nutritionists and chiropractor things like that but being a one-man show and I don’t have a home-base. So I guess another challenge for me is not to have a brick and mortar structure. Don’t have a home-base to refer on my clients to. So, I guess that would be two challenges – no space and just how you build that client-base.
Doug Holt: Yeah. And that the flip-side of that though is you also don’t have the overhead, right?
Doug Balzarini: Absolutely. My monthly overhead bills are nice when I’m going to the park.
Doug Holt: Absolutely or vacation for that matter. That is fantastic. And leading off to that a little bit more, what do you consider one of the key components that kind of led to your success? Obviously, you had a shot, you took it, and you’re prepped for it. What above and beyond that do you think led your success in where you are today?
Doug Balzarini: I would say, in the world that’s results and what I mean by that is when we’re a relationship business I’d like to say. So when I’m working with the client, I want them to reach their goals. And I think, that’s what it’s all about. So, if I can help them reach their goals, I get them results that they want then I think, that’s going to lead to their success which in turn leads to my success because if you can build that relationship and build that trust and have that connection, with that client and help them reach their goals, they’re going to be talking about you with their friends, their family, their co-workers.
I’d love the quote, I don’t know where I first heard it but ‘clients are your best business card’. And if you can help a client reach their goals and like I said at the beginning, get the results that they want. Then the rest kind of takes care of itself and that’s really how it has happened for me. I don’t put any outward marketing in there. I have a limited budget as far as that goes but I use the wonderful world of social media with Twitter and Facebook and all that for articles and things like that. So just like I said at the beginning, if you can get clients where they want to be, then the rest kind of takes care of itself and that’s how it’s worked out for me.
Doug Holt: Absolutely. And luckily for you, now a lot of people do that.
Doug Balzarini: Unfortunately, yeah.
Doug Holt: Yeah, a lot of promises not a lot of delivery. It’s the name of our industry sadly but people like you’re delivering it. When we talk about things that are happening for you or things that are going in the industry, do you use technology a lot? You mentioned social media. Talk to me a little bit what you’re doing with that.
Doug Balzarini: Yeah, I do use social media, like I said I’m kind of a one-man show really. So I don’t have any PR, person or company hired to help me get clients or help buy my DVD or things like that. It’s really all word of mouth and what I mean by social media is just anytime Im writing, from my educational standpoint, if I’m shooting a video or if I’m writing an article, I’m put it through all my social media channels. And when I say social media, I have my website and then really, there’s Twitter and Facebook that I used the most. You know, you can’t beat the cost of those. It takes an hour a night of my time to edit a video and throw something up.
So, I definitely use those. From a client’s standpoint, if I get a testimonial or things like that from a client or I can post that whether it’d be pictures before and after or even just a quick video of someone speaking, I think the video is really, really powerful. I’d like to get some written ones now and then for the website and things like that. But a quick video testimonial and some people are, well, it depends on the person. Some people love it, and just want to be in front of the camera,we got those types of excited clients. But if there’s some that are shy, it’s not for everyone.
And I have no problem kind of rewarding someone say, “Hey, I’m looking to get two more clients. If I can get a testimonial from you, I’d love to give you a free session,” something like that. Reward them. They’re going to pay you back with that testimonial which is powerful for the prospective client.
Doug Holt: Absolutely. Are you just shooting those with your camera phone or it’s actually an HD camera? What are you doing with that?
Doug Balzarini: Yeah, I have a little HD, a little Kodak camera that I used. I started out with just my phone then I went to a flip and then I’ve upgraded if you will to spend a couple of hundred bucks on a little handheld camera that plugs right into the iMovie and I do a quick little edit and it’s good to go. So, it’s all kind of learned by doing and believing if I could figure it out than anyone listening could figure it out.
Doug Holt: That’s the way I feel about a lot of things.
Doug Balzarini: Technologically savvy, yeah.
Doug Holt: You seem to pull it off though, man. That’s impressive. I know we talked about you’re doing some diversified. You’ve done a little bit of online training; you’re doing obviously and growing your personal business. Where do you see yourself dedicating your time moving forward the next six months to a year?
Doug Balzarini: Definitely a little more on an educational side of things. I think, I don’t ever see me not wanting to train some people, I kind of I always want to keep my foot in the trenches if you will. I love doing that. People ask me who I like training better, the rough and tough professional athlete or the 50-year old housewife and I don’t have an answer. I love both and for similar reasons, it’s when they come in the door and they have a smile on their face whether it’s because the fighter just won his fight and he thanks me for the training or if it’s the housewife who had to buy brand new pants because she lost a couple of pounds and that was her goal. So, I love both aspects of that.
So, I say, I always want to keep my foot in the trenches so to speak. I think, I definitely want to get a little bit more into the educational side and I think I mentioned it briefly but present a little bit more, do a little bit more speaking on some of the circuits out there. Just so I can share some of my experiences and hopefully help some new trainers and just point them in a right direction and give them some resources that help them be successful.
Doug Holt: Absolutely. I hope you do that man. You have a lot of great information to share and so hope that comes about. In going about that Doug, we’ve talked a number of times about different things in hearing you speak. You have a particular view with the article especially that Megan wrote that was on Fitness Professional Online, where do you see the educational industry going or where do you education going in our industry?
Doug Balzarini: Probably going to do, like every other industry, continuing a little trend online, I would assume. I’m still kind of up in the air. I think it’s good and bad. I mean, it’s good for the convenience of course and as far as like online training, I do a bit of it on my site. It’s not something I actively market. I have a couple of clients that I work with online that are actually overseas. So obviously that helps makes it easy. So, it’s great for them. I think it’s only good if your client is accountable and motivated and at the end of the day, I’d like to say that this is personal training. I’m referring to as a hands-on business.
I think, there’s something to be said for that eye-to-eye contact, that in-person interaction, now everything is going online. If I want to talk to my girlfriend around the room, I send her a text. I’m tired of the text in the phones and everything. Actually, people driving everywhere and it is just horrible. So with that being said, I think from convenience sake and if these clients are going to be motivated and accountable, then I think that then there’s some great value in there. But like I said, I have a couple of overseas clients that I work with and I have to stay on them and there’s a lot of interaction back and forth via Skype like were doing now, even emails just where they have to fill-out their logs to me and send them back on a weekly basis so I can help keep them accountable. Whenever I need a new client, we go through a goal sheet and just the health history and all that and always ask them why they’re coming to me or why they are looking for a trainer. And those two words, accountable and motivation are two of the most popular reasons I get. They need someone to help hold them accountable because if you’re not there, they’re not going to do it and they need someone to help motivate them and educate them to an extent, as well if they don’t know what they are doing or there’s so much misinformation out there that they’re accused by at all and I don’t blame them because there is so much information.
So I guess, that’s one kind of long answer. It’s the continued trend online. Like, I kind of touched on pros and cons. I think from a training standpoint, I think it will continue, it started in the last few years but just more group training. I do some more of it as well. I still do some one-on-one training. There are some people out there that just offer group training and I think it has a lot of benefits. Financially, it’s more beneficial for the trainer and more beneficial for the client and there’s always kind of a fun competition when there’s a group, there’s more camaraderie, they kind of push each other.
If you’re going to go train with say, two your buddies and you’re just having a down day and just kind of feeling sluggish and slow and you show up and your two buddies are working hard, it’s just instinctually, you’re going to start to push yourself a little bit more. So it has that fun, like I say, friendly competition. I teach a Boot Camp a couple of days a week and there’s never not a time when those people aren’t smiling, having fun. And these people didn’t know each other a couple of months ago and it just helps though that friendship. And it’s that interactions which is great and gets us away from like I mentioned before, away from the cellphones and the technology and just gets us out, gets us moving.
So I think more group training and there’s so many popular group training services out there nowadays with the CrossFit and Boot Camp and Zumba and spinning and you name it. So, I’m not particular to one or another. They’ll all be sitting on the couch and eating bon-bons. So if it’s going to get people up and going then I’m all for it.
Doug Holt: Absolutely. Next time in San Diego, I’m definitely going to try to swing by on one of your group sessions as long as you don’t arm bar me.
Doug Balzarini: Okay, yes. Absolutely.
Doug Holt: I want to get that promise first though. That’s awesome, man. You got so much going on, I’m so happy for you. What else am I missing? I mean, what else is going on with you and what else do you want everybody else to know?
Doug Balzarini: So much. Well for me personally, like I said, I want to get more with the educational side of things. So most of my educational things right now at least for the rest of this year is geared a little bit more towards that MMA branch of DB Strength if you will. So, I’m actually going to offer a workshop in October down at that gym at Alliance. It’s kind of a hands-on workshop. That’s going to be a PowerPoint Presentation but also hands-on. So that’s a workshop, the 1st weekend of October on October 6 but I’m working on now actually working on the PowerPoint Presentation next week. Just trying to update it and get it ready to go and so, it’s a top-notch.
Doug Holt: I know you are approved for some NSCA CEU for that as well.
Doug Balzarini: Yes.
Doug Holt: Soif people are looking for those. They need to cruise on by.
Doug Balzarini: Yeah, thanks. I just got that approved. So, yeah that seems to be helping with sign-ups so definitely want to be providing that good education. I’ve got another DVD coming out hopefully by the end of the year. Well, DVD’s are slowly kind of fading away so I think it’s kind of be a DVD project/digital download as well. I just got some editing to do which seems to be taking longer than actual filming does.
Doug Holt: I know the feeling of that.
Doug Balzarini: That’s how it goes, right? So, I’ve got those two projects and coming 2013, like I’ve said hopefully, be out there speaking a little bit more. Hopefully, at IHRSA again, I’m going to be speaking at the ACE Conference which I believe is in May. And then two more online projects probably shift more towards just digital download things – PDF’s, some eBooks and things like that. More educational and more geared toward trainers not just MMA specifically but just personal training in general. So, a lot of things in the horizon, I’m really excited.
Doug Holt: Yeah, you should be. You have a clone or you just don’t sleep? I’m not sure yet. But you got a lot going on.
Doug Balzarini: Caffeine.
Doug Holt: Yeah, it’s my friend too. So for those of you listening, Doug’s link is DBStrength.com, check it out. If you’re around listening to this, you can get to the San Diego area, you can’t beat a better venue. Go stop by a seminar and get some CE units or just get the education. If you can’t make it there, if you’re listening to this around the seas, we have a lot of people listening to this all over the world, pick up the DVD, get it now. And sounds like in the future there’ll be another one coming out. So, get this one and move forward. Is that about right?
Doug Balzarini: You got it. Thanks so much, I appreciate it.
Doug Holt: No, I thank you. You’re doing a great job and thanks so much for being on the show today, Doug. Again, we’ll put this on a show notes. For everybody listening, you can actually go on there get direct links to Doug’s website more information. And then if that’s okay with you, Doug, we’ll link it to your Facebook page and people can reach out to you directly if they have any questions and I don’t know if you offer a mentorship or a mastermind type situation like I know Todd does. But you think like you could be a great resource for people out there.
Doug Balzarini: Yeah, no mentorship at a time. But definitely, Facebook, I’m pretty active on social media. So, anytime someone wants to ask me any questions or things, they can definitely connect with me there for sure.
Doug Holt: There you go. You guys can all stalk Doug on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube and sounds like. Hey, thanks a lot, man. I really appreciate it and let’s touch base again soon.
Doug Balzarini: Please do. Thank you so much.
Doug Holt: What a great interview. Doug’s up to so many good things. When you think about it, Mix Martial Art training is the cutting edge of the industry. There are so many young strength coaches and personal trainers trying to break into that industry and Doug is just a wealth of information. So Doug, if you were listening out there, thank you so much for joining us. Can’t wait to see what else you got going on and I’m personally going to try to make it out to that October seminar.
If you guys are out there, San Diego is beautiful and it’s a great time to take your family on a vacation. Get those CEU’s point four I believe with the NSCA, I’m sure Doug’s got some other things in the mix but just a great individual to connect with and a leader in our industry. So, I really highly recommend checking that out.
Please visit us at FitnessProfessionalOnline.com. Get the latest industry news and updates. And other than that, that’s a wrap for us today. So from Darcy, Viju, Erin, Shannon and myself here in the studio, have a healthy and productive week.
Thank you for listening to the Fitness Professional Online Radio Show. You can share your thoughts and join the discussion on this episode by going through our website or on Facebook.com/FitProOnline. Let us know what you’d like to hear on future shows and please feel free to contact us via e-mail or give us a call at (805) 500-6893. We look forward to hearing from you.