Fitness Professional Online Radio Show Interview With Michael Torres
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: Hi Michael, thank you so much for being with us to today. I really appreciate you taking the time.
Michael Torres: Thank you for having me. It’s all my pleasure.
Doug Holt: Absolutely, and for those who are listening, I got to give Michael credit. We actually recorded the show previously and our software broke down so Michael is coming back again for a second time. And hopefully, this will all work out for. So again, thank you for being here.
Michael Torres: Yes, no worries.
Doug Holt: Well, Michael, I just read your bio, to everybody is listening and obviously, extremely expressive. Tell us a little bit about your path in the fitness industry and how you got what you are today.
Michael Torres: Well, it’s kind of an interesting path. I think it’s very unique and it’s mainly appreciative along the way but I definitely got my interest while I’m serving in the military. For eight and a half years, I was in fitness and health – as something very important to create. What people don’t often really often realizes high-performing individuals. So, that’s kind of how where I got my start and I got out of the military. Doug, I did on a couple of things definitely not fitness related.
And one of the things that I think is important in understanding that journey is that I got to a point where I was almost without a job and without a home and actually you have to go from that point to landing a job as a General Manager for a Fitness Gym here in the North East and really allowing my passion and all that to come together and drive me to the direction that’s taking me to where I am now. It’s been a fun ride.
Doug Holt: Wow. So, sounds like almost hitting rock the bottom, so to speak and a kind of finding your passion right after that. Is that right?
Michael Torres: Yes. I mean that’s pretty much it. I think it speaks a lot of what we are going to talk about today. In the profession of being a fitness professional and in treating as such in really covering how much impact we have on people’s lives and how much what we do is really much more important than six-pack abs and the size of your biceps.
Doug Holt: Absolutely. Getting away from the marketing, it’s really kind of a plugged our industry and plugged the public through the media.
Michael Torres: Exactly.
Doug Holt: You mentioned you have Integrated Performance Institute. What are you guys doing over there and what kind of services are you offering to the public over there? You are at Manhattan, right?
Michael Torres: Yes. We’re in Manhattan in the Upper Westside.
Doug Holt: So what are you guys doing over there?
Michael Torres: We offer anything from one-on-one training to small group training. I extend a little bit more to team training consulting on the sport side of things. We have variety of kind of inclusive but also separate services from physical therapy to post-therapy rehab training as well as what we call a performance network that works with chiropractic and other aspects of nutritional counseling and clinical nutrition work and things with that nature.
We kind of integrated a few different services as far as massage therapy and nutrition as part of our program offering and some other like key in-house aspects that we help to what call the “developing the total athlete” and we apply that terminology of the athletes towards everyone because really to be an athlete, it’s about competition. And you can’t tell me that anyone who works with any level of a job who is looking to move up is not competing every day. They may not realize it but everything that they do is about competing and getting better. So we apply that moniker all of our clients and allow them to be empowered by that and let that flow into their workplace as well.
Doug Holt: Absolutely. That’s great. So it’s way beyond the four walls of the gym or personal trainings. You’re actually giving somebody something tools that they can take out to the real world.
Michael Torres: Yeah. I will be the first one to admit. I talked to my clients or even when I talked to apprentices we have. The two hours maybe three if you got a really dedicated client when they have the time to come in and see one week is a fraction. It’s less than 10% of the week. So what we do has to have a carry-over to the other portion of their days and their weeks. Otherwise, there is nothing to stick to and you will end up doing the hamster wheel. You are running around trying to teaching someone the same movement pattern a year later because they are not truly effective, there is no applications in what you’re doing.
Doug Holt: Absolutely. You started off – you come out of the military. You tried few things that doesn’t really pen out the way you hoped to. And now here you are, running one of the most successful fitness businesses in one of the biggest and most popular States in the country, what were some of your steps or at least your first step to getting your business from the idea that at some point into the actual reality where it is today?
Michael Torres: I started thinking about what [06:35] they mean to me and defining that as clearly as possible. And thinking about even I still have ways to go in the ultimate vision but getting to the point where it’s at now is just a matter of really as I working in the commercial environment first as a General Manager and as a Fitness Manager, it was really hard to understand what we were looking for, what are the complaints that we were getting. And oftentimes, successful businesses are about solving problems. It’s not about selling products and services but really it’s about solving problems.
So it’s unique opportunity from the manager’s perspective to really see what some of those problems were. I think the first step for me was taking a leap of faith where I’ve essentially relinquished a fairly good salary paying job as a manager. So I am just going to do personal training which everyone knows it’s paid by the hour and oftentimes in the commercial club not paid very well by the hour. So I had to figure out how to commit a 100 percent into my dream and what my concept was. A part of that is getting the experience of working a transition pretty in my time as a personal trainer for a club and took a large income loss for a very significant amount of time and the pursuit of greater cause which is getting to where it is now and hopefully where we are going in the future.
Doug Holt: Fantastic. And we talked about this earlier and unfortunately, we had some technical issues but several people that were actually in our studio that overheard it, really thought it was applicable. Can we revisit that topic when we talked about the fitness instructor entering the industry and complaining of about, “Hey, look my studio is charging. My gym is charging A but I am getting paid B or C”. Can you elaborate a little on that conversation that you and I had earlier?
Michael Torres: Yes. And, we talked about sometimes you guys will receive e-mail corresponds or Facebook about those aspects that some of those things trainers tend to complain about. What my responses was then and now is that I’ve also heard that before and I’ve had number of trainers or just trainers that are still in that environment. First of all, let’s examine where you are as a trainer and say, “Are you [09:14]. Are treating your job as a full-time job? Are you working 40 hours a week in sessions? We’re not talking about times or right programs and things like that but are you working 40 hours a week to start with?
And oftentimes, the answer is “No” because they’re doing you call it having a career trainer versus the part-time mentality. I think somebody will have some legitimate part-time application of being a personal trainer. They really, really want to do it part-time and if you have the part-time mentality. That’s is something that or someone can do something else or the reader in it and there’s telling someone like you or I or they’re writing into some mentorship program like how great they want to be yet they’re treating it like a part-time job and that’s a kind of one of the big things. And also, we talked earlier about understanding the cause, understanding the business side of why a trainer mainly make a $20 to $30 an hour when the institution is charging three to four or five times of that amount in their club.
Most of the trainers, they don’t get the business background, right? We are talking about, take a business course, understand what it takes to run a business from marketing, from those fixed cost. I mean New York City where is something a lease amount and rents for space are super high premium because of where we are at and trainers don’t understand that. They don’t understand how much it cost to keep the doors open, keeps the lights on. To supply them with the equipment that they have to train with which I had mentioned earlier today and maintaining that equipment. All those little things and for those who run a commercial clubs. There are clubs that has swimming pools, and saunas and steam rooms and all those little comfort creature thing that people also enjoy at the club but that’s not the trainer’s responsibility and they don’t really feel the burden of the responsibility as well.
Doug Holt: Absolutely. Not to mention the intangibles like marketing, insurance, the taxes and all of that fun stuff.
Michael Torres: Yes, so all the basic. We call them the business basics, right? We also talked earlier about the trainers in the club, they don’t have to have insurance, right? As soon as you set out those doors and you want to execute the same type of job and aiming, depending on what you are doing because what we didn’t mention before is that those guys want to be specific like they are getting to that MMA stuff or doing Kick Boxing. That sometimes, can add a different angle to your insurance coverage because it is not just what insurance [12:04] let me see as fitness training, like it’s very specific and it deals with a contact, what they consider it a “contact support”. There’s million dollar minimum policies and more and different things that they have the cover. And at the end of the day, someone figures out that, that money they’re charging on the outside and what the company is charging, they go try to get that by themselves. Yes, they can charge the client that and they will soon realize sometimes in the hard way that same price is what you take home in your pocket.
Doug Holt: That’s so true. But I mean, you and I both did it. Both of you and I jump-shipped at some time and start our own business. What were the biggest challenges for you when you actually decide, “Hey, look I’m leaving the club and I’m going to start my own fitness facility.” What were the biggest hurdles you had overcome?
Michael Torres: I think the first is thinking, “I have a little bit of a business background” and so I do not understood try to forecast a little bit and try to see, “How I may going to first of all maintain clients or get clients?” How am I going to get people on the door because we go through all this stuffs with the health club? Some people may decide on their own accord, you can’t actively promote that with in the club that you’re taking clients. So you just have to make known that you are leaving and people may or may not choose to come with you but you can’t bank on that.
You can’t say, “Because I’ve been training this person for two years in the club that when I go over to my business or I go take my business elsewhere” that they’re going to automatically come. So some of the biggest hurdles I had which understanding that I had that responsibility now. I have to bring people to me or just get my name in my community known enough that people would come and work with me and develop a track record of being someone that can get lost.
Doug Holt: Absolutely. I have a friend, a colleague that you may know as well but I won’t mention his name but he did the same thing. He’s overseas and he has a very well-respected club and he decided to jump ship. Unfortunately, only about 10% of the clientele came with him and he had forecasted based on his own just guess-estimation that he thought 90 plus percent would come. So that was a big reality check for him and he’s a very well-known name in the industry.
Michael Torres: Yeah. And that’s where people – I think trainers don’t realize how much again little experience with the Client A in the club is also a fraction of their experience. There’s other reasons why they joined that club because remember, they don’t joined the club knowing you most of the time. It’s very rare to someone that you meet on the outside and you bring them to your commercial club.
So, all those other factors are the reasons why they are paying that monthly membership to stay at the club. Eventually, you’ll develop relationship and things of that nature but those things are still very valid and most people will hold on to those because anyone who’s been a member of a health club especially in the past five or ten years where the personal training industry has boomed also understand that the internal rate for personal trainer is very high. So you’re not the first and you won’t be the last. That’s the way you think about it.
Doug Holt: Absolutely. Something that really intrigued me and/or number of things but one of the things that really intrigued me that you guys are doing and I call that more of a holistic way of approaching fitness but I don’t think I nailed that very well. But you do something called Movement Efficiency Training (M.E.T). Can you tell me and everybody else that is listening a little bit more about that? I really find it fascinating.
Michael Torres: Yes, M.E.T. The method is transformational coaching and certification program that will start by Marcel Daane out of Singapore and we recently launched it here in the U.S. back in April. We’re currently running programs on the East Coast as well as on the West Coast in California. And down Atlanta as well, we have faculty members in all three places. What the program is really about is we look at from a neuroscience standpoint of approaching how the teaching coach movement but the neuroscience that everyone thinks about. We’re not talking about motor neurons and things that you are going to get from your standard certification or education.
What we are talking is more on the primal brains side of things we call the “limbic system” that really governs our emotions and really governs our actions because most of our sensory information that we receive will first come on this area of the brain to be interpreted. And then we govern how we react on things based on what those emotional triggers are. So, what M.E.T. does is it allows one to have a better feel for coaching, we will take people through, different progressions of fundamental mood patterns and programming module that allows you to how to get people from what we call the “movement spectrum”.
So, if we look at a normal health club and you primarily say maybe for exception of some places but as a standardized health club, you will primary see that most people in the health club all have one thing in common with their exercise selection. And the one thing in common is its primarily stationary, right?
Doug Holt: Okay.
Michael Torres: So, if they’re doing the squat, stationary, right? They are moving up and down but they’re not moving, right? Their footprints are not moving. Obviously if they are on a machine, super stationary, right? We’ll say, “What’s our goal?” We will ask, “What’s the goal?” What if people are moving, right? Like, we are designed to move as human beings. So, Marcel developed a system that allows you to progress people incrementally and structure from those stationary exercises which you do deem importantly.
We call them our “foundational movement patterns” all the way through locomotion or our movement-based exercises. Things that will keep you moving and learning how to accelerate or decelerate and change directions and things like that and there are also crucial to dealing with the game of life. The game of life is very active, we have to be very vigilant to survive, right? We are talking everyone from the youth individual who’s just learning how to move and appreciate proper reception. All the way up through the elderly who are learning on how to be reactive through their body to prevent a fall or maybe something like that; that could be detrimental to their health at certain ages.
Doug Holt: Can you give us an example or something like you’ve work the client or something we can kind of paint a picture a little bigger picture?
Michael Torres: Yes, sure. At IPR we’ve integrated the M.E.T. method into most of our trainings and what you end up get is people who have different emotional triggers or different pigments of their imagination of what movement supposed to be. I think the example I gave earlier was, I have client and we’re talked about the squat as a basic movement pattern and we looked that and said, “Trust is a little okay but ones I get her into a deeper squat, almost like you want to sit down to the ground” so really get deep. And we figured out through conversation that what was going on with her was her emotional trigger to the exercise of the squat.
And she compared with a volleyball player in college and one of the exercises that they had to do at the beginning of the season more of a wider passage was the series of exercises but one of them included copious amount of squatting. And it was not about the quality of movement. You might teach this, our trainers out there that are working people, talk about the quality of movement. Well, in this case it is about surviving the movement so from a primal brain from practices, survival or fighter flight, right? We won’t hear about that that fighter flight to response. We start to limit movement.
Now we do limit movement in a fighter flight response, we also limit the ability to learn. So everything that I was teaching her about the squat wasn’t really being effective because as soon as she heard squat, she went to a fighter flight or at M.E.T. we call on a way response that [20:50] exercise. So one day, I came in, “So, okay. You know what we do? I want you to grab on to this pole and I want you to just take a seat. Just keep your butt on the ground just a little bit” and for the first time she dropped to a good deep squat and I moved her away from the pole and again, the level was different and we end up doing the same thing with lounges.
And now when she comes in or she’ll text me, “Hey, I was taking a seat and taking a knee today” which basically means, she was doing some squats in lounges when she was on a work. And gotten those corresponds because now when you say take a knee and that was her cue to relinquish anxiety around doing a lounge which is another trigger for her back on her collegiate days.
Doug Holt: That’s fantastic. So you guys are using like I said a more of what I would call a “holistic approach” and I know that. It has got kind of its own connotation in our industry and the public media but when I say holistic, you’re really taking everything into consideration especially the emotional state of your clients that you are working with.
Michael Torres: Yes. I mean, what I feel is in what we practice with M.E.T. and how we integrate, we use other great tools and things that will help us along the way but from a coaching standpoint, if you will not address the emotional state of the individual, when you’re really not addressing the individual. You are just spitting out mechanical terminology and expecting someone to follow that.
I tell every client that works with me personally when they first come in, “You don’t have to commit much time, and these may be sessions per week. However when I tell you right now, I want you to graduate to having this many sessions per week because we want to work on a graduate system. I want you to learn. I want you to feel empowered. I want you to go out there and change and do these things on your own as a part of your new lifestyle, as a trainee”. So, in order for that to happen, I got to connect with that person and we got to connect as industry with our clients to really access the means, so they could actually accept the change and really want to learn from that process.
Doug Holt: Fantastic. So it mean’s just like when people come in or a client would come in and talk to you and say, “I want to loss ten pounds” or “I want to get stronger” or “I want to look more ripped on my t-shirt” you are getting more emotional aspect of that and figure out what was the real root of this.
Michael Torres: Yes, and we call it like peeling it back.
Doug Holt: I like that.
Michael Torres: When someone comes in and say, “It’s the ten pounds” and we would say like, “Let’s figure out more about your life.” Like what I’ve said like five years before with other trainers is that we often find that there’s a toddler or a young kid at home that their son or daughter that’s now getting into playing sports and just moving around in general. And they went out to play with their kid and they were limited by their own mobility or they ran out of breath or they don’t have the coordination to do these things and maybe they weren’t an athlete in college. Maybe they really never had the opportunities about those coordinate skills and that our real motivation. Those are the things that we call drivers and we have to peel back and find out what’s really driving a person. Because if you are going to take someone on a journey into changing their life for a better state, not just the physical but their mental state and they have to be on the journey all the way.
We are all human, there’s going to be tough that you want to commit and not feel motivated – do not want to do that exercise, do not want to do that homework. And we have to know what those real drivers are because what you do three months down the road as a trainer when the person losses the 10 pounds? Does he lose his client because they reach the 10-pound mark? Well, that can’t be your driver anymore. Now, if you are looking at the longevity of the client in trying develop a long-term relationship with that person. So you do thing that’s underneath that, that you can get her to work better.
Doug Holt: Yes, it’s not only good for the client but it’s also good for the business as well. So it’s very synergistic.
Michael Torres: Yes, of course.
Doug Holt: Absolutely, I love looking at that. You’ve done so much in the industry and it seems like you’re all over the place, what’s next for you?
Michael Torres: I really believe that you have to plan for the future. So, we’re looking at some other locations. I think the concept that we have is epical in many markets and one of the things that we are looking at is Miami, Florida as a potential field coming up. But the reality is that you have to plan for the future but choose live in the present. And the present for me is being able to spread and work through, one of the missions that we have at M.E.T. is to inspire fitness and change lives.
I do that through teaching courses having opportunities to be on the shows like being with you and I share things on social media for inspiration. So I will just to continue on that pathway, continue to work through that mission contents and hopefully allow more people to jump on and want to inspire people and want to continue to do the same thing.
Doug Holt: That’s great. And for everybody listening, you got to check Michael’s post on Facebook, I think they are great, man. I think they are very inspirational. I always like looking at them. So keep that up.
Michael Torres: Thank you so much.
Doug Holt: Yes, absolutely. Where do you see our industry headed? Where do you see the fitness industry two to five years from now?
Michael Torres: Well, we’re in a critical time in this country and I see the rest of the world is a kind of about one or two years behind our critical mass. So we’re looking at the major influences that we have going on in our industry from the OBC epidemic. It’s getting younger and younger, that’s the problem. Where that’s going to turn to in the future, no one knows. Our health care – not that we need to be on either side of any political party but at the end of the day, the healthcare system is not going the way it needs to go. But that’s a global issue, yet countries are doing it definitely and still having health issues. So we have a unique opportunity as fitness professionals to be in that competitive care mode. I think that’s our strongest ally going forward is to communicate that we will help people from a preventive standpoint.
Doug Holt: Absolutely.
Michael Torres: Yeah. You want to get people at standpoint where looks like to identify things early, it’s like anything else. So I think the future of our industry is going to continue to grow. I mean obviously, the need for our professions is going to continue to grow. I think people are going to go for, now becomes a key that’s five to ten years ago, I think we talked about this earlier. Being with a personal trainer, it’s more about – was more a luxury and as we look at this now saying it’s more of a necessity.
I think the exposure that the industry is getting of the later years that having high quality personal trainers is going to be very, very important. People are going to be scrutinizing more on what type of service and what value they’re being provided to by fitness professionals. The only way you can get away is that there’s the 2999 certification online. I think that’s going to cut it for the trainer for the future.
Doug Holt: Actually, I’m going to put you on the spot. It’s a kind of a hot button question in our industry and I’ve been a part of it. So what do you think about – there’s been a lot of people are trying to pass a legislation or regulations on the fitness industry like there are another allied health of having some kind of nationally state run, board of advisers or board of some sort to regulate personal training and have some kind of standardization. What do you think about that whole argument?
Michael Torres: I am all for. I am a licensed massage therapist in the State of New York and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I think it brings credibility to what I do versus some other places where you need a certification. It required me to do a number of hours and a little of education that makes you confident in what you’re doing and to execute your job professionally and understand that. I think that we need that across the board.
I also would say that, “Bringing a licensed scenario on a state level or nationally will also maintain a good level of professionalism and keep everyone in honest in-page”. I think that we need to have that level of continuity as profession and because more and more – I know you’re probably experienced as well on the West Coast. As a trainer, especially the way the healthcare industry is going, we are often the first ones to receive the indication that something maybe is seriously wrong with the client.
We get the questions first. You know what, “I have this funny thing here” and if you are a merely trained personal trainer, that doesn’t understand the whole body inside and out and really know how to look at that, that make it an indicator for some other chronic disease or something else that’s much more serious in your workout. And having that education, having that knowledge to be able to refer that person and get them the cure that they really need at the appropriate time can be life changing and having someone who just been trying to count reps in sets is not going to cut it. Like I said in the future, we are much more important now than we ever were.
Doug Holt: Absolutely, that demand is going to continue to rise and the statistics are saying that as well. Michael, we talked about this earlier, I want to plug you for this and also share this with the people listening because this is question that we get here at Fitness Professional quite often. When you were first starting out, you invested a lot of your finances and time and the education and educating yourself, empowering yourself as a professional. Can you explain a little bit about that and kind of talk about that?
Michael Torres: Yeah. Earlier we came off of talking about some of the complaints that trainers have and then how to get better along the way. One thing that I think that is really important is that you can’t expect to whether it’s making more money or elevate your status in the industry or be able to reach more people if you’re doing the same thing. It’s like clinical insanity. If you are doing the same thing but expecting different results, it’s just not going to happen.
And I was someone who firmly believed that the first couple of years that I was out on my own. As a business, I didn’t really make any money. It was just me. I re-invested nearly everything I have outside of my living expenses into furthering my education. I went to Massage Therapy School after partly-in and partly I got out of the health club and then other education aspects because you have to consider how to better yourself. I don’t feel that as a personal trainer, we can ask our clients to get better every day when we’re not doing the same on ourselves.
Doug Holt: I couldn’t agree with you more, definitely. Well, Michael I don’t want to take more of your time, thank you again for being with us always. You have so much to share. I can’t wait to see what you have in the future. I know, I will be sending some of my guys out to see you some time soon.
Michael Torres: Yes, sounds great. And for the recap, it’s good to be here. I’m on Facebook. You can find me there. Our website is iPerformanceInstitute.com. Check out M.E.T. For those who are listening at MetMethod.com and we have a lot of great stuff and you’ll see on our sites some of the other partners at Redcord and Trigger Point that we also work with. So, it’s a pleasure to be here Doug and I look forward to the next time.
Doug Holt: Yes, thank you. And for those who are listening, I will put all those links in the show notes so you can get a hold of Michael and you can definitely check him on Facebook. He has beautiful site but his Facebook postings are always on point. I look forward and hopefully we’ll get him in a couple more articles for us on Fitness Pro1fessional Online as I know he has a lot to share with us. Thanks again Michael, I will talk to you soon.
Michael Torres: Sounds good. Thank you, Doug.
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.