Home Posts tagged "Pete Dupuis" (Page 8)

Aspiring Fitness Professionals: You’re Already Coaching Inspirational Athletes

Today's guest post comes from Pete Dupuis, my business partner of seven years at Cressey Performance. In addition to serving as our business director, Pete oversees our internship program and has a great perspective on how many aspiring fitness professionals see themselves, and where they want to be.

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Now that your “busy season” is coming to an end, and all of your pro athletes have reported to spring training, do you guys basically throw it on autopilot and count the seconds until next September when the minor league season wraps up?

An intern applicant asked me this question earlier this week.  His mentality actually wasn’t all that far off from that of many other previous applicants. In fact, I ask every single candidate what his or her long-term career goal within the fitness industry is, and the response is almost universally inspired by this attitude. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that at least 90% of the responses I receive when asking the career goal question specifically mention working with either “elite” or “professional” athletes. 

I get it.  Professional athletes are living the dream.  Why would you want to coach soccer moms?  General fitness population is boring you to death.  The lawyer you train isn’t concerned with getting in to “beast mode” every time he hits the gym.  Seriously, I get it.

Before you go and make a career change to coach professional athletes, or abandon a successful personal training business at your local commercial gym, I have a question for you: have you made an effort to REALLY get to know the people surrounding you every time you go to work?  More specifically, do you realize the goldmine of networking opportunities you are letting pass by on a daily basis as you dream about prepping a D-1 athlete for the NFL combine?

I’m not here to tell you that you have to “pay your dues” before you can start setting the bar that high (although, you do).  I’m here to tell you that in some cases, the least interesting clients we have at Cressey Performance can be the professional ballplayers.  In short, the season is so long and draining that when the off-season rolls around, most of them really don’t want to talk about baseball – which is the stuff you may find “cool” and discussion-worthy. While their in-season periods are very much abnormal as compared to “typical” jobs, they’re normal people in the off-season.

So, what do I tell an intern applicant when he or she asks me what the best thing is about working with so many professional athletes? 

Sometimes I’ll tell them that we have one client who dresses up as Santa Clause and jumps out of an airplane with multiple other Santa impersonators every December to raise funds for charity. 

He also happens to own one of the most successful roofing companies in Massachusetts, as well as property in Costa Rica that he kindly offered to EC for his honeymoon trip in 2011.

I’ll occasionally tell them that we once prepared a client for the FBI entrance exam, and he demonstrated the art of subduing a suspect by taking Tony Gentilcore to the floor and handcuffing him in less than 4 seconds…in the middle of a crowded gym…while dressed in a Halloween costume…in between his sets of deadlifts.

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Maybe I’ll tell them that we have one former intern whose favorite part of his time with us was the hours he spent coaching and socializing with the 7th employee at Facebook. 

Sometimes I tell them to look across the gym where we have not one, but three engineers from Bose who like to soak up the unique training environment while they’re not at their office designing some of the best audio equipment the world has seen.

Most importantly, I tell them that they’re going to miss out on a truly amazing learning experience if they spend their time with us (or at any other gym) only concerning themselves with chasing the “elite” athletic population.  There are some amazing stories just waiting to be told right there on the training floor.  You’ll inevitably find yourself on the receiving end if you step out of your comfort zone and appreciate the fact that many of the “average” people you interact with have experienced some pretty amazing things.  The clients who show up for training sessions on a year-round basis, as opposed to during an off-season, are the ones with whom you have the chance to make a life-long impression.

There will be times in the future when you’ll need to consult the people around you as you encounter difficult decisions.  Some of your best career, life, and business advise is likely to come from the network of individuals you’ve worked hard to develop in this gym setting.  This type of insight is almost certainly NOT going to come from the guy who has spent the last six months riding buses around the country and surviving entirely on sunflower seeds and fast-food.  It is also unlikely to come from the ones who are accustomed to bypassing airport security to step on to their chartered flight to the next MLB stadium.

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Whenever it is that my CP days are behind me, I’m obviously going to look back fondly on seeing close friends make big-league debuts, or maybe even compete in the summer or winter Olympics.  What I’ll absolutely cherish, though, is the fact that a couple of casual Saturday morning conversations with one of our general fitness clients eventually led to an introduction to the girl who is now my wife.  It’s a good thing I didn’t pass on chatting with her so that I could spend more time watching the pro guys argue over who had next on the ping-pong table.

Looking for more fitness business insights?  Check out the Fitness Business Blueprint, a detailed "how-to" guide for those interested in starting up their own businesses in this industry.

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3 Tips for Finding a New Space for Your Gym

Today's guest post comes from the Vice-President and Business Director of Cressey Performance, Pete Dupuis.

Since opening during the summer of 2007, Cressey Performance has called three different pieces of property “home”. In just over five years of operation, we have seen our facility footprint expand from just over 2,000 square feet…to a 6,600 square foot unit, which eventually became a 7,600 square foot space…to our current place of business, a strength & conditioning playground that measures to just a shade over 15,000 square feet.

As the Business Director at CP, I have had the (mostly enjoyable) responsibility of identifying potential new property, envisioning its potential, and ultimately executing on our visions. This past summer I had the pleasure of attacking the project of a full-on facility relocation for the second time since CP opened its doors.

Since our Grand Opening in late August, the dust has settled, and in the blink of an eye, we find ourselves six months in to our new lease. We have survived another “busiest baseball off-season” in the history of our business, and I now have the time to reflect on this big step that we chose to take in doubling our space and expanding our staff by two full-time employees.

So, we’ve built three gyms; what did I learn? With a little reflection, I came to three quick conclusions as it relates to finding the right piece of real estate for your business in the fitness industry. 

1. Commercial space that meets your needs is not hard to find.

Seeing as how our economy hasn’t exactly flourished since we began this whole entrepreneurial adventure back in 2007, one lesson we’ve learned time and time again is that property is readily available and not hard to find. As a matter of fact, back in early 2008 when I began to entertain the idea of moving out of our first facility to find greener pastures, I simply kept my eyes open during my drive home.

Within the first three miles of my daily commute from Hudson back to the Boston area, I found three separate street-front signs advertising commercial real estate ranging from 1,000 square feet of available space, on up to as much as 30,000. Most importantly, these weren’t makeshift signs thrown up to catch attention the moment the space became available; these were permanent slots on the address boards that rarely changed. This told me that space was sitting vacant long enough for property owners to pay for signage rather than simply throwing a listing up on loop.net. This also told us that we had leverage before we even walked through the door.

Don’t assume that your hunt for property needs to start on the internet. Drive around. Open your eyes to the signs and buildings you mindlessly pass every single day. There’s a lot more available out there than you’d ever imagine.

2. Your landlord is not your most important contact once the lease is signed.

I ultimately ended up pulling into the parking lot at 577 Main Street in Hudson on an April afternoon in 2008, and was unexpectedly greeted by the Property Manager for the building. This gentleman, Bill, was more than happy to walk me through a vacant unit that was in line with the size and dimensions we were seeking for our next space. Without an appointment of any sort, I stumbled upon an opportunity to tour what ultimately proved to be our home from 2008-2012. What I didn’t realize at the time was that my great customer service experience with Bill on day one would actually prove to be an indicator of what I could expect moving forward.

When upwards of 150 people make their way through your gym on a daily basis, things break. Assuming you pay your rent on time, fixes and modifications are made when you request assistance through the previously agreed upon chain of command, as outlined in your lease terms. However, things get done faster when you’re friendly with the Property Manager. Let’s be honest: shooting Bill a quick text is a lot easier than emailing or calling the building owner, who then forwards the message to his Operations Manager, who then pages Bill to come to their office to discuss the fact that the guys up at CP are complaining that their air conditioner is too loud again.

I have come to the conclusion that, in many ways, Bill is, in fact, the most powerful man at 577 Main Street. More importantly, he is friendly with our clients, actively seeks out conversation with our staff, and truly cares about every square inch of the property on which our building sits. When two feet of snow falls on a Saturday evening in February, Bill spends his entire Sunday plowing. When the ceiling springs a leak in our athlete lounge at 5:30pm on a Friday evening, Bill is in his car and back to our space with a smile on his face. Bill simply gets things done, and you don’t have to ask twice.

If you want to eliminate a lot of headaches and frustration over the lifetime of your lease, I would strongly recommend that you ask to meet the person responsible for maintaining it before you ever sign on the dotted line. Trust me: you do not want to be dealing with Oscar the Grouch every time a light blows out or you need to request that a duplicate key be made for a new staff member. Make it your priority to find your own Bill the Property Manager in addition to simply identifying your dream space. You wont regret it.

3. Patience is a virtue.

During our first four years of operation at 577 Main Street in Hudson, business grew at a rate with which we were very pleased. Our clients regularly filled the parking lot, spent their fair share of money at the on-site café, and generally created a level of foot traffic that caught our landlord’s eye. It was for this reason that he spent the better part of the past two years trying to convince us that we needed to make the jump into “this great unit at the back of the building.” 

While we were happy to humor him by walking through the space and having some extremely preliminary discussions regarding costs associated with such a move back in 2010, the feedback we provided could essentially be summed up in one quick sentence: “It is simply too much space for us.” Not surprisingly, walking away from a discussion like that isn’t made easily when the second largest unit in the building has been sitting vacant for months or even years. Our landlord made it clear that concessions could be made. Offers including a month or more of free rent, considerably reduced dollar-per-square foot figures, and more were extended our way.

Fortunately, since the day we started our business, we have agreed that having more space simply because we can isn’t justification for an expansion. We could have been offered the 15,000 square foot unit for the same monthly figure we were paying for 7,600, but the reality is that we wouldn’t have been in a position to generate the foot-traffic necessary for us to A) create an optimal training environment, B) fund the expansion of our staff to meet the needs of supervising such a spread-out facility, and C) create an image of perceived “busyness” necessary to inspire confidence in those who enter our space inquiring about our services (perceived success is important).

Fast-forward to the spring of 2012, and suddenly the timing felt right.

Well, wouldn’t you know it: not only was the space still available, but it was suddenly even more affordable than before. After approaching our landlord to discuss, we ultimately found ourselves with an entire summer of access to the space free-of-charge to prepare for a busy fall opening, access to the building’s loading-dock-height truck for any and all moving needs, unlimited dumpster space for trash removal during the transition, and an anticipated clientele for the fall and winter that actually justified an expansion to double our space.

The ultimate take away from our experience was that you don’t need to rush to expand your business. Aggressive growth strategies for strength and conditioning facilities are likely to lead to half-empty units with full-size rent invoices in the years to follow. As it turns out, CP is not of the “if you build it, they will come” mentality. Sometimes, slow and steady wins the race.

Considering starting or expanding your current fitness business?  Check out The Fitness Business Blueprint, a product I collaborated on with Mike Robertson and Pat Rigsby. It discusses all the mistakes we made when opening our fitness businesses, as well as the common mistakes Pat sees in the businesses for which he consults. Mike and I complement Pat's business teachings with training-specific information like assessment and program design. For more information, click here.


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5 Overlooked Resources for Making Your Strength and Conditioning Programs More Effective

I know there are a lot of fitness professionals who look to EricCressey.com as a continuing education resource. With that in mind, I wanted to discuss a few resources that have been tremendously valuable to me; hopefully you'll benefit from them (if you aren't already) as much as I have.

1. Video - Video is a powerful tool for coaching and monitoring progress in clients, and it's also very accessible nowadays, thanks to smart phones and digital cameras. Still, I'm always amazed at how few fitness professionals utilize it to help coach. I use it quite a bit in my evaluation process, especially with tough cases where I want to be able to monitor progress in movement quality. It's just as valuable on the training floor to back up coaching cues that you're giving.

Additionally, having access to the RightView Pro software in our facility thanks to our pitching coordinator, Matt Blake, has been tremendously valuable in not only breaking down inefficient mechanics, but also demonstrating the powerful effects a good baseball strength and conditioning program can have on a pitcher's body control and power on the mound.

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2. Related Professionals - A fresh sets of eyes and a new perspective can have a huge influence on your strength and conditioning programs and how you coach. We've learned a ton from rehabilitation specialists, other fitness professionals, sport coaches, business consultants, and folks from a host of other professions.

As an interesting aside to this discussion, have you ever noticed how doctors - who have a minimum of eight years of higher education - refer patients out all the time to other doctors for second opinions? Yet, how often do you see personal trainers - who are a profession with an absurdly low barrier to entry - ask for another perspective from an unbiased third party? Food for thought.

3. Your Clients - I'm sure you'd love to think that you know your clients' bodies better than anyone else, but the truth is that those clients know themselves and how they're feeling much better than you ever could! I made the mistake early in my career of assuming too much and asking too few questions; I was talking 70% of the time and listening for the other 30%. Nowadays, I'm listening 70% of the time (at the very least) and I am a much better coach as a result.

As an example, now is a quiet time of year with all of our baseball guys in-season, so I'm using it as an opportunity to follow up with all our clients from this past off-season. I want to know how they felt during spring training, and how the transition to the start of the season went. All the feedback I get is valuable for not only next off-season, but helping them to tinker with things as needed right now.

4. New Training Equipment - Variety in a strength and conditioning program isn't just important to ensure optimal progress, but also to make sure that clients remain interested. Do you need to go out and buy all new equipment every other month? Of course not! However, adding some new training implements - or even just new uses for old equipment - can provide some variety. And, it's an opportunity for you to teach your client, as they're sure to ask: "What is this and what does it do?"

5. Business Partners/Assistants - When I first got started in Boston, I was doing all the scheduling and billing. While swiping credit cards and watching your schedule fill up is fulfilling at first, it eventually becomes a huge drain on your time, energy, and productivity. I'm a much better coach than I am a business logistics guy - and that's why the first person I contacted to help me start Cressey Sports Performance was my buddy, Pete Dupuis.

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Pete's become a fantastic business director (and vice-president) at CSP, and we've had double digit growth every year since we opened in 2007. He's managed my schedule, handled phone calls, done all our billing/invoicing, and become a liaison between coaches and clients when the clients aren't in the gym. In short, his efforts have made me more efficient so that I can evaluate, program for, and coach clients; review research; interact with other coaches; and do more staff/intern education.

Additionally, business partners, staff, and interns are great for asking the challenging questions that make you rethink the way you're doing things - and often provide suggestions and solutions that help make things more efficient and effective.

These are only five resources to get the ball rolling, but there are certainly many more available to fitness professionals in their quest to deliver a great client experience. I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below on what resources have helped to make you better at what you do. 

And, in the meantime, I want to give you a heads-up about a new option on this front that I'm really excited to incorporate in my "continuing education arsenal." It's called the Examine Research Digest. This regular publication features reviews of recent nutrition and supplementation research by an accomplished panel of industry experts, and the reviews end with practical applications. It's a time-saving way to stay on top of the latest research, and it's also very affordable, especially at the introductory 20% off discount. The sale ends tonight, though, so don't delay in checking it out HERE.

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