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Overcoming Tragedy with Triumph
Providing Options for Optimized Training
Creating Processes and Procedures for Business Development
Utilizing Documentation and Delegation for Leadership Development
Prioritizing Problem-Solving over Pitching Products
Starting your own fitness business comes with a lot of risk and a lot of unexpected moments. Sometimes the unexpected comes in the form of a delightful surprise. Other times, the unexpected manifests itself as a devastating setback.
Today, we are spending time with Dr. Anthony Balduzzi who endured the tragic loss of his own father at a young age and converted the grief and pain of that moment into the fuel behind his triumphant fitness practice. Listen to him share his passion for educating and fathers and families with the tools and habits for a healthier lifestyle so that they can enjoy with one another.
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Meet Dr. Anthony Balduzzi, Founder of Fit Father Project
Schimri Yoyo: Welcome back. This was from Schimri Yoyo with exercise.com and we are continuing our series of interviews with fitness experts. And today we have Dr. Anthony Balduzzi of the Fit Father Project with us today. And so we’re excited to have him.
Dr. Anthony, thank you for doing this.
Anthony Balduzzi: I’m pumped to be here. I love it. Exercise.com, what you guys stand for, I’ve been really excited about this video series you guys have been putting together all the amazing interview. So I’m actually honored just to be here and to really contribute to the conversation.
Schimri Yoyo: Well, let’s talk about how you first developed a love for health and fitness.
Anthony Balduzzi: Yeah. So growing up like a lot of kids, I always love to be outside and play sports, but I would say that my actual love of health and fitness as like as a concept happened out of tragedy. Growing up, I watched my dad get very sick, and basically, work himself to death and he ended up passing away at 42 years young. And I was nine at the time, my little brother was six, and to say that it’s shattered our entire world when we lost dad would be an understatement.
And in the months after dad passed, I realized that I got to a certain breaking point where I just, I was so tired of feeling like a victim of feeling like my life was out of control, and just to get some energy out, I guess I started exercising.
My mom gifted me with a pair of my dad’s old dumbbells that didn’t get as much use as they maybe should have. And I had no idea what I was doing, I was only 10. But I started doing my curls and my pushups and squats and sprinting around the block.
And it taught me something at a very young age. And that is when everything else in life is kind of getting spinning out of control, exercise and fitness is one of those things in life that if you control the inputs, how you move your body, how you eat, you can get a tangible output. And through that in my little 10-year-old brain, that was a function of control. And I realized, man, I do this, I get this result.
And it was very addicting in a sense, because I’m like, “Wow, I can take back control of my life.” So it almost started off out of tragedy, and a little bit of spiritual journey. But then I saw that my body started to develop, and I got into high school, and I was the only kid that could do one-arm pushups. And I wasn’t trying to do that, I’d just been training for three years.
[Editor’s note: The video below encourages viewers to continue exercising when dealing with grief and extols the benefits of such a practice.]
And so that passion really rubbed off on those around me who are like, “Man, I want to perform better.” So I started teaching people what I learned about nutrition, which wasn’t much at the time, but it was enough to start getting other people great results.
And I decided in high school and into college that I was going to make a passion out of this stuff, that I was going to dedicate my life to helping people get their health back, especially if they lost it like my dad. And we have these beautiful bodies that are vehicles for our expression here on the planet. So I think we should make them the best they possibly can be. So it came from a little bit of a family tragedy, but now it’s been one of the biggest sources of blessings in my entire life.
Schimri Yoyo: Well, that’s pretty neat. You were able to turn what was obviously a very tragic and traumatic event and use that as fuel and passion to help others. So that’s pretty cool
Anthony Balduzzi: Now, that’s what life’s about, right?
Schimri Yoyo: That’s right. Now as you were growing up and training and using exercise, did you play any sports or teams or anything like that as well or—
Anthony Balduzzi: Yeah, I played a lot of team sports all throughout middle school. A lot of baseball and basketball. And when I got into high school, I fell in love with wrestling. And the reason I fell in love with wrestling is that it was the hardest sport out there, at least in my opinion.
You had to watch your diet, you had to train hard, you had the early mornings. So wrestling was the grindstone through which I really sharpened my willpower, my discipline, and my love of exercise. And it turned out by my senior year I was an average wrestler at best, but I was really fit.
And I learned that I actually loved the exercise more than I necessarily loved the wrestling, although it’s come full circle and now I’m in love with Jiu-Jitsu, so that’s a conversation on a different topic.
But wrestling was one of those sports where it really enabled me to have an advantage with controlling my nutrition and my exercise. And it really all comes down to the mat. You’re there with another guy and your training and your expertise are on the line.
Schimri Yoyo: That’s pretty cool. And now did you have any mentors in the health and fitness space as you were pursuing it as a profession?
Anthony Balduzzi: Tons of mentors. Everyone is standing on the shoulders of giants. Right? Especially people who have been doing this for a long time. My early sports coaches were huge, I think in high school when I really started diving into this stuff, I was reading a lot of these old school bodybuilding books, like the modern encyclopedia of bodybuilding.
So I can actually credit some of the old school bodybuilders, you have your Frank Zane‘s and I’ll throw Arnold in there. He’s kind of one of those bridge figures. That’s some of the wisdom from the bodybuilding community. I mentioned for the call that I went to the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and I had a nutrition professor named Dr. Stella Volpe who just blew my mind at like some of the science behind this stuff. So she was a huge influence.
[Editor’s note: Dr. Stella Volpe is now a Professor and Chair of the Department of Nutrition Sciences at Drexel University in Philadelphia. In the video below, Dr. Volpe is giving a Ted Talk at Saint Joseph’s University about the nuances of nutrition and exercise specifically for older people.]
I’ve always loved Dr. John Berardi from Precision Nutrition. I think he’s absolutely phenomenal. And Dan John—and there are a lot of just great strength training coaches. I could list probably fifty. And I think the cool thing now is having surveyed such a wide landscape of these different people.
You pick parts of their philosophies that really resonated as true for you, and then you test them out on the battlefield of your personal experience with your clients. And that’s how we’ve kind of formed our own Fit Father philosophy.
We’re taking all of this stuff and integrating it into an overall philosophy in a health and fitness approach, which is not just about the calories, or the reps or the functional movements. It’s also the behavioral psychology and how to get people to take their action on these things. That’s so important.
Schimri Yoyo: Okay. Obviously we’re going to get into a lot more of the ins and outs of your philosophy at the Fit Father Project. I know obviously one of the main emphases is having fit fathers so they can be there for their families, of course, obviously, hearkening back to your personal experience.
So what are some of the favorite activities that you personally like to do with your own family?
Anthony Balduzzi: At any time we can go outside, just time outside in the sun. So every morning I’m up anywhere between 5 to 6:00 AM, walking my beautiful little dog, Luna. And that just brings a lot of joy to my day when I’m outside in the sunshine, getting my body moving. I love playing sports. I love to go out and do some fly fishing. We have a cool cabin in Eastern Arizona, that’s really a nature—it’s off the grid, we just got cell service last year.
So anytime I can get out and unplug is really fantastic. So I’d say just a lot of casual time outside, hiking, time in nature and I’m pathologically competitive too, so you put me on any sports field, even if I haven’t practiced, I’m going to go 10 out of 10. So, I do that with some of my buddies too.
Schimri Yoyo: Well, that’s pretty cool. Now, when you’re not coaching and training, what other things are you doing for recreation, besides the outdoors, is there anything else that’s non-athletic recreation?
Anthony Balduzzi: Avid reader. I think for the last 10 years, I was consuming a lot of material around health, fitness, nutrition, medical stuff. And recently I’ve gotten a lot more into the exploration of consciousness, mindfulness, some of these ancient yoga practices. And I’m an avid practitioner of, I would consider, old school at the roots’ yoga. A lot of chanting and breathwork, and that stuff’s amazing.
Especially if you’re a health and fitness professional and getting in tune with what you can do with your physiology through your breath and your presence has been incredible for me. So I think obsessing over that and then a Jiu-Jitsu for about a year and a half, two years now, it’s basically human chess. It’s incredible. A good way to challenge your mind.
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Exercise That is Accessible
Schimri Yoyo: It’s funny, I actually took my son—one of his really good friends in the neighborhood is doing youth Jiu-Jitsu. My son is six and his friend is 11. And we went to our first tournament this past weekend and he was fascinated by it. So that’s definitely—human chess is a beautiful way to describe it.
So now let’s talk about the Fit Father Project and your philosophy and methodology of training. What one word would you say best describes your approach?
Anthony Balduzzi: Sustainable. When I started out coaching people, let’s just say 15 years ago at this point I knew a lot and I would design these like airtight, A+ plans that if someone could follow it, they would get phenomenal results. And I majored in all those little details.
But I think when you get more experienced coaching people, you realize that it’s not that there’s a lack of information with our clients. They know they should probably have the salmon or the veggies versus having the hamburger. It’s a behaviors game. It’s how do we implement this stuff.
So with the Fit Father Project, what we like to do is great nutrition and exercise routines that are as simple and sustainable as possible, so that people can actually execute on them so they can build the habit momentum so they can start seeing results. So that, at a certain point in their fitness journey, that own internal light bulb switches off and they’re like, “I got this, this is me. I’m not following a piece of paper. This is now a lifestyle.” And it’s because they’ve built the kind of habit momentum and the program is designed around behavioral change.
So if it ain’t simple, it ain’t something we talk about. And I think this is really simple and sustainable stuff, and this is because we train untrained guys in their 40s, 50s, 60s. If you train elite athletes, obviously you’re majoring in the minors, you’re doing different kinds of things. But for us, we’re helping like the everyday moms and dads who want to get back in shape. And for them there’s—I love this saying that “Small levers swing big doors.”
And if you can clean up someone’s sleep, you can get them roughly eating the right number of calories from whole food sources. And you can get them moving the body three to four times a week ideally with a combination of strength training and cardio. Are you going to see results? Obviously, yes. So the stuff’s not overly complicated, but you got to find a way for people to take action longterm.
Schimri Yoyo: Makes sense. Not complicated but you got to make it accessible and approachable for them then. That’s right.
Now you talked a little bit about how exercise became somewhat of a spiritual release for you. Can you talk a little bit more about how your faith and spirituality influence your practice?
Anthony Balduzzi: Totally. At a very simple level, if we leave religion out of this entire conversation. We all enter this world, and we’re more or less gifted a body. I don’t know, at least in my experience, I don’t know if we just really chose to be here, but we’re here, right?
We’re born, and we have a body, and this is our vehicle through which we’re able to express. And how this body functions absolutely influences the mind. We know this, right? When the body is healthy, it creates the soil that’s fertile for a beautiful mind to grow. And vice versa.
There’s the top-down connection too when the mind is at dis-ease, when there’s stress, it’s physiologic changes with the body. So we have this intimate connection between the mind and the body. So for me, if we view this, this vehicle as a temple, then the decisions we make around our eating, our sleep, our exercise, what we drink, what we put in our bodies is not just about, “What are the macros of this particular food? How is this going to affect my body fat composition?”
This is like, “How is this affecting my body vehicle? How is this affecting my temple?” And then every act that you do when your body becomes inactive consciousness and active spiritual expression, you’re making conscious choices and your life. And I think the more consciousness you add to anything that would be—whether that’s being present with your clients, whether it’s being focused on your business, whether that’s even moving mindfully throughout space throughout your day—is spiritual work.
And that stuff does not have to be relegated to temples and synagogues and churches. It can be the here and now stuff and I will also say this: As you continue to cultivate this awareness around the connection between how you live, how you feel your body, how you move your body and spirituality, everything starts to look different.
You start to see connections with people versus seeing the separateness, and a lot of barriers that are artificial start to dissolve. And this is half of your stuff you’re normally doing. We’re just flipping that switch and seeing it a little differently.
Schimri Yoyo: That’s a great way to put it. Like you said, the more your consciousness is elevated, the greater the opportunity for that connectivity with one another. That’s, that’s pretty beautiful.
Now, as you’re training and coaching, what would you say is the relationship between strength and conditioning, injury prevention, and then also rehabilitation. How are they related?
Anthony Balduzzi: Well, they’re related whether you like it or not. And I’ll give you a couple of anecdotes is that early in my bodybuilding career I was a competitive bodybuilder. Probably, I started actually when I was like 18 and competed well until I was about 25 or so, and I was training without having the awareness of doing enough good mobility and functional training work.
It was just like, “How much can you put up on this particular exercise? How hard can you push yourself in this particular motion?” I was not doing enough stretching mobility, I was not focused enough on body mechanics. And guess what? Over the course of lifting really dang heavy for 10 years with stuff that starts to build up, I had some injuries that accrued. So the point is that I used to think of strength in terms of exercises and now we’ve turned to think of strength in terms of planes of body motions.
Our bodies have this ability to move throughout space and this is why a lot of great strength coaches are designing programs around pushing and pulling and different horizontal and vertical planes because our bodies are meant to move in these different motions. So my point is that structure follows function. Why is the bicep design the way it is? Why does the original insertion the way it is?
Because it’s to execute a specific function. So when you start to think of exercise as functions in motions instead of exercises, then one, you can get a lot more creative with your training. How can I put the body in a particular position that’s going to create resistance through this range of motion that the muscles are naturally designed to do? It also really influences the way you might pair things.
You don’t necessarily have to be by the book and say, “These are the training splits that the people I really like to follow do” or “This is what I’ve done in the past.” You can get a lot more creative and intuitive with your training in many different ways. So, what it comes down to it’s all biomechanics. And what strength training does is providing progressive resistance through biomechanics in a way that’s safe and effective.
And that means that you also have to be able to assess both yourself and your clients about where your biomechanics are on a day by day basis. Because sometimes maybe you took a road trip and your hip flexors are really tight and maybe that’s gonna influence the kind of exercise that you should be doing on that day until you get that psoas lengthened back out, and maybe, it could be more problems. So then there becomes this art of training, not just like the science of writing things to do.
Schimri Yoyo: That’s really cool. So now you mentioned already about the importance of sleep and you also talked about your interest in yoga and breathing and how that affects our bodies.
Can you just get a little more in-depth and talk about how important the concept of sleep and active rest and breathing are in training?
Anthony Balduzzi: Absolutely. In training and in life, I think that we’ve made a couple mistakes in our modern lifestyle and one is because we live in houses that have air conditioning and lights that can flick on with the press of a thumb.
We forgot that we are intimately connected with the cycles of everything that’s going on this planet. Humans, we are these bio circadian beings, guess what? Our eyes are designed to be in direct contact with the sun as it rises and it falls. That’s dynamically changing.
[Editor’s note: The following video chronicles the journey of the human body clock and circadian rhythms.]
Our brain is sensing the light changes and that’s changing neurochemistry and neurohormones that are released. We’ve all heard about melatonin. Melatonin gets later in the data or serotonin precursor to melatonin. All of this stuff is happening dynamically.
So when we talk about sleep, we don’t want to just relegate it to the discussion of what happens after 9:00 PM you know, before 7:00 and 6:00 AM. It’s the whole day. It’s how do we live a life in a way that we’re actually connected to the rhythms of the sunshine.
So a good sleep starts in the morning. It starts with getting outside, moving your body, getting some blood flow and lymphatic fluid flowing, getting some morning sunlight to entrain your circadian rhythm, which is going to help you sleep later in the day. Sleep also comes down to making sure you’re protecting your eyes later in the day from circadian disruptors like blue light, like having too hot of a room at night.
We’ve heard a lot of these things and it’s very true, and I think it’s less important to know the factoids of any one of those individual things. It’s more important to see the big picture of the fact that our bodies are in this dynamic dance with nature. And we need to be very conscious of that throughout our training.
And things are seasonal like that. At the time of us shooting this, it’s wintertime. What’s that mean? And you’ve probably seen this in Philly, right? Is it getting darker earlier, right? These things are happening. So our bodies are flexing when it comes to seasons.
And then we have to regulate our bodies in relation to what’s going on outside, but also what’s going on with the other variables with our training. So, sleep needs obviously go up based on your training cycle. People should be paying attention to your body’s feedback signals, like something like morning heart rate, maybe heart rate variability.
You get some ideas on how stressed is your body in the morning and how’s that going to impact your sleep needs and you’re auto-regulating constantly. The better you get at training, the less rigid you get, the more auto-regulated you get.
You see, “Oh man, I’m feeling a little fried. My heart rate is 15 beats higher than it normally was. I know I didn’t get quite as good sleep last night. This is going to impact the kind of training I thought I was going to do.” It might be a little more like an active recovery session. So again, what is that? That’s consciousness, that is being aware of what’s going on and be able to flow with things versus being very rigid. This is the plan.
There’s obviously a time and a place to have that drive. Anyone who’s really into exercise, knows you need to have that hard line drive to move forward and crush things. But it has to be balanced the yang with the yin, the softness to be able to make the pivots when needed.
Schimri Yoyo: That makes total sense. And in keeping with that, it seems like your approach is very holistic there with everything influences one another. These are not independent disciplines in a vacuum.
So how do you then incorporate the concept of nutrition as part of the coaching? How actively do you discuss that on top of nutrition with your client?
Anthony Balduzzi: How can you talk about exercise without talking about nutrition? Essentially like exercise is drawing on nutrition stores from the body. So we need to know what kind of fuel we’re providing and make sure that it is adequate.
And guess what? Food activates your immune system and creates inflammation for better or for worse. There are inflammatory diets and anti-inflammatory diets. And guess what? That translates directly to how your joints feel when you go and exercise.
How stable blood sugar is, is going to impact how energetic you feel throughout the day and how motivated you feel to train. So, what are we talking about here? I mean, we’re talking about, I guess human wellbeing and performance. So it’s that triad of nutrition, exercise, sleep recovery, mindset. We could probably paint like a more holistic picture across there.
But I guess what it comes down to a lot of people come to us not because they want to, they’re not like, “Hey Dr. Anthony, I’ve really been looking for a program that’s going to help me become a bio circadian being and become really connected with my life.” No one ever says that. Right?
What they say is, “I want to come. I’ve tried diets. I failed 10 plus times. I’m frustrated. It seems like your program might be a good fit for me. Help me lose the weight.” And we do. And I think most people who’ve coached people through the journey of weight loss and fat loss know that nutrition drives the vast majority of those results. We have people lose a hundred plus pounds who never set foot in a gym. They just do daily walking and we dial in their nutrition and it’s the truth.
Our bodies, if we sleep enough and we drink enough water and high-quality water and we eat the right kinds of foods and we just basically move our bodies even as simple as a walk, you can lose a hundred plus pounds. So I would say exercise certainly takes a secondary role when it comes to helping people get healthy because you cannot out-exercise a bad diet.
[Editor’s note: The video below discusses the positive effects of walking on weight loss and healthy living. Walking combined with drinking the appropriate amount of water has many benefits.]
I would much rather get you on a clean diet with less movement than a lot of movements in a very inflammatory, crappy diet that’s causing more problems. So it comes down to foundations. When helping people get healthy, we need to build up their foundations and [improve their] sleep.
The mindset is the number one foundation. Number two is nutrition. And number three is daily activity. And number four is formal exercise. And number five is supplementation. We have to build our way up the pyramid. And I think as exercise professionals who feel good and we move well, we want to be like, “You got to go do this. We’ve got to get you doing some, a goblet squats. And we got to get your piriformis stretched out. Oh, and do you know about thoracic extensions?”
And then we hit people with too much of this stuff when they really need [that other] stuff in the beginning of their journey.
Meet Clients Where They’re At
Schimri Yoyo: That makes sense. Can’t get the cart before the horse. And actually that kind of leads to my next question. What is the conversation that you have or what do you say to maybe a novice client who’s been intimidated by the whole gym culture or personal training? They have goals they want to set, but they’re intimidated by just being overwhelmed with the process of meeting with a strength coach.
Anthony Balduzzi: That’s a complicated one. I think it’s on like an individual by individual basis. What we personally do with the Fit Father Project is we give people options. Options that are going to meet them where they’re at. When it comes to mealtime, it would give them lots of different mealtime accepts. We’re not saying you have to intermittent fast or you have to have breakfast. You give them options. When it comes to the training, we give them options for exercising at home or at the gym.
So they can self-select. The more power you put in the hands of your clients for them to choose their own destiny, that means they’re earning those reps. You’re not just like an artificial prop that’s keeping them propped up and maybe it needs to be a little bit like that from day one. But you should start taking the pressure off as quickly as you can. So then you have a toddler that can now walk versus you’ve been dragging them along the whole time. Right?
So I would say a couple of things. There are some people that are in gravitate. I would probably not call myself a strength coach if someone is not trained. Even if I am a strength coach, they’re not thinking about necessarily strength at that time.
They’re thinking, “Get me healthy and, and help me lose some weight and feel better coach, whatever that’s called.” That’s probably what most people want. So making it not as intimidating. And I would say helping people understand that they don’t have to go 60 miles per hour right off the bat and that’s okay. I think we’ve had a lot of exercise culture where we have these P90X, P90X Insanity, Insanity Version Four. A lot of people have bought these kinds of DVD style programs, and they’re too intense.
So getting people to understand that it can be gentle and having a coach early on to help you to provide that comfort blanket is invaluable because where people struggle at the beginning of their fitness journey, again, is implementing this stuff into habits and momentum. And oftentimes, it’s better to be the athlete if we will, then the athlete and the coach.
So they can just follow your guidance. They’re going to get better results and get early traction, but you got to start peeling yourself away and then propping them from behind [with] you being the wind in their sails. I’m being long-winded here, but I’m just excited. I have two things: I would say give people choices and help them understand that it can be slow and slow is good at the beginning of things.
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Schimri Yoyo: That’s great advice. And don’t worry about being long-winded. It’s all good content. Speaking from someone who is often accused, rightfully so, of being long-winded. I think that’s all great stuff. To sum it up: You pretty much empower your clients through that choice and individualized, customized approach. And that’s very powerful.
Anthony Balduzzi: I think here’s something that you mentioned mentors. I was at one of these fitness conferences like probably 10 years ago and John Berardi spoke. And you think he’d talk about something like nutrition, right? But he just talked about all about their philosophy at PN (Precision Nutrition) of like how do they help their clients adopt change?
And he would say, “So how do you feel about your ability to get into the gym three times per week?” And if they give him anything less than a 10 at a 10 confident, he’d be like, “Not good enough. How about two times a week?” “I don’t even think I can do that 10 to 10. I’m probably a 9.5.” “How about one time per week?” “Yes. 10 at a 10. I can do that.” That’s where you start. You start with the commitment that they can absolutely know.
Schimri Yoyo: That makes total sense. And actually leads to my next question. You talked about having mentors and seeing different experts speak. How many professional development seminars or workshops do you attend each year, either as an attendee or even as a speaker?
Anthony Balduzzi: Lots. Well, I’m actually going to one tomorrow. As a doctor, you have to maintain your medical license, so they make sure you get your button to seeds and lots of conferences. Going to a great anti-aging one tomorrow in Tucson, Arizona. I would say it’s gotten a little bit less over this last year, but over the last five years, I was probably going to about four or five events a year in speaking at probably two or three of those.
And early in my career, and I think is as fitness professionals, especially those of us listening to exercise.com, we’re not just interested in the training inside and getting results. We’re also interested in the business side. And I think for the last 10 years I went to mostly business online marketing because if you can’t get your message out there and you can’t make it profitable for you and your family eventually the gas is going to run out, right?
So you’ve got to figure out both sides. I think most people listening to this probably have a pretty good basis of their philosophy of exercise and maybe they might pick up a thing or two that challenge their ideas here. But I really focused on the business side of things and I’d probably recommend most trainers do too because if you look out there, let’s be honest, a lot of trainers that are winning out there are definitely not the most knowledgeable.
There are a lot of Ph.D. exercise scientists and phenomenal strength coaches that have maybe one-hundredth of the following of some Instagram booty models. And one-hundredth of the potential impact and reach, right? So there’s something to be said about this side of the equation.
So I really doubled down on that and became—I would say we throw around the term expert—but a very proficient online marketer, all this stuff. And as fitness professionals got to get—if you’re hung up on the fact that, “I hate that marketing stuff, that seems all shwarmy.” You got to find your sweet spot and you got to get over that. It’s your ability to really connect with people and you’ve got to find a way to spread the message.
Build Out the Steps to Build a Business
Schimri Yoyo: Well, that’s pretty good. It’s like you’re programming my interview for me, because that’s actually where I was leading to next, talking about the business side of things.
How do you budget your time and energy between being in your business and then working on your business?
Anthony Balduzzi: Well, that’s been a moving target. I’m in a very unique position now to have a successful company. We have like around16 to 20 people on our team But three years ago, it was me and then my other one guy and the next guy, and the next guy.
So it kind of depends on what your stage is at in business. But it comes down to when you get serious about building something like a company if that’s the trajectory that you want—because there’s, you can absolutely have an amazing life being a coach and a transformational coach and working one on one deeply with people.
If you choose to go the route of building a business, you eventually have to start loosening the reigns and giving people responsibility. So finding those early people, I don’t know if there’s a magic recipe for it, but I would say this: If we did anything right, is we built something cool that attracted people to us.
Like our first number one, the guy who’s been with me for four years now, Stuart, he emailed us or me. I was just a dude writing blogs and trying to get my online business going. And he’s like, “This Fit Father Project thing seems amazing.I’m a father. I’m 40, I want to be involved.”
So I’d say if you build something cool if you build it, they will come. I don’t know if that’s true in everything in life, but certainly building a cool brand will start to attract people. And as you do, you start to get leverage and leverage is your ability to exert more influence with less time.
[Editor’s note: Below is the obligatory clip from Field of Dreams to go along with the famous quotation.]
Here’s what I would say for someone starting out: anything that—even if you’re the only person working in your business right now—anything that you find that you do more than once, repeatable things, even if it’s a repeatable type of email or repeatable type of task, even if you’re still the person doing it, write a process for it.
Start writing standard operating procedures for everything. This is the standard operating procedure of how we delete emails. Whatever it is, make those, because eventually, that’s going to be the central nervous system for your business.
Because guess what? People are smart. You get the right people and they can follow your procedures. You’re not the only one who can do these things, but if they’re not documented you can’t even start to get out of the weeds of getting leverage.
So now my life is awesome. I can work as much or as little as I want. I’m very passionate, so I work a ton still, but I have a great team that handles a vast majority of things for me. And now I get to do more fun things like walking my dog and doing Jiu-Jitsu.
But I’ll be honest with you, in the beginnings of our business, which I started in 2012 probably for five years and I was going through medical school part of that time, I was working all day, every day. And probably that’s what it takes, honestly.
Schimri Yoyo: That’s good advice as far as leveraging and especially getting the procedures down and making sure you can reproduce that, delegate that to other people, and anytime you—
Anthony Balduzzi: Document. Document before you think you need to.
Schimri Yoyo: Right, document and then delegate, that’s great. Any time we can get a good Field of Dreams reference is always cool too.
Anthony Balduzzi: That’s good.
Schimri Yoyo: You talked about how you’ve built out your team with some of the successes you’ve had. So I’m going to give you an opportunity to brag about your team there at the Fit Father Project. What makes you guys unique? What’s been the driving force that’s helped you to be successful?
Anthony Balduzzi: I really think it’s probably three things. The first thing is we have a very specific person we’re talking to. As fitness professionals, as medical professionals, there are so many people we could help. But we honed down and became the Fit Father Project early before anyone here. And that was huge because that means that the conversation that we could have online in our marketing and in how we designed our programs, we could be hyper-specific.
[Editor’s note: Successful Business Consultant and Entrepreneur Dan Lok gives advice on how to hone in your specific target or niche market in the video below.]
We could talk to a dad. We could say things that would touch his heart because we weren’t talking to anyone else. And when we design our programs for guys who are 40, obviously, they have different concerns than if it were a teenager looking to get stronger or even a woman over 40.
So we niche down and we’ve got a very specific audience and we built amazing programs that would get that guy successful. So I would say a good target audience, a blockbuster program or process. If you’re a coach, it might be more of a process.
If you’re an online business, it might be more of a program like ours called Fit Father 30X. It’s just an incredible weight loss kickstart that basically runs him through all the stuff we talked about: nutrition, exercise, motivation, accountability.
And we actually keep them accountable throughout the program and it’s like a mix of software. But we have personal trainers and myself that are also on the sidelines helping people succeed. We put them in these, basically, fraternity groups like chapters and they’re all keeping each other accountable. And we’ve had over 20,000 people and nearly a hundred countries all around the world, get healthy with us. And that’s only been over the past couple of years.
Again, at the beginning and no one cared. And then people start to care a little bit. And then there’s an inflection point when you are good at what you do and you have something that really works where it just starts to take off. So bragging would be—we help a ton of guy get healthy and our stuff is really effective and it’s simple and it works.
We also really got passionate about creating amazing online content, like long-form content, not like just Snapchats or your Instagram posts that may be seen once and then they’re kind of gone away. Like long-form on YouTube, like lots of blogs. I think we published over 500 different videos and over 500 different articles. And so we have a lot of people reading the blog, seeing the sites, watching the YouTube channels and that starts to develop.
If you stay in the marketplace long enough, people start to pay attention and I don’t know how long that essentially takes, but that’s why I think that Steve Jobs’s advice is perfect. You have to be rationally passionate about what you do, otherwise, if you’re a sane person, you’d quit. Probably that’s why you have to love it.
Schimri Yoyo: That’s awesome. The passion. It definitely there’s evident that you have it. And it’s great because people feed off of that. So, that’s been pretty cool. You talked about leveraging a little bit and how you’ve been able to do that with your business.
Can you speak directly now, for others who are listening who are also from the business end, to what the advent of social media and the use of technology has meant to your business and helping to leverage and promote it?
Anthony Balduzzi: Well, let’s be honest, we live in the most—without having lived anywhere else—but we live in such a profound time where through a phone—
Let’s look at the flossing kid for a second. The kid made that little flossing dance thing. He’s a middle schooler, and he’s known worldwide, and it’s not about the fame, it’s about the power that we all have.
[Editor’s note: Russell Horning aka Backpack Kid aka Flossing Kid was a high schooler when he performed his now-iconic dance in SNL with Katy Perry]
If you truly become an expert at something, someone who is world-class is producing results for a very specific type of person, meaning you’re a problem solver for a specific type of person, and you consistently publish, people who care about that will pay attention, and you will start to get massive distribution.
Like, that’s crazy, man, that I can shoot a video and someone in the Philippines and someone in China and millions of people have watched it. I think our YouTube channel has over 50 million minutes watched. Like, “What?” You got to pinch yourself.
So I think there’s amazing power and there’s amazing opportunity. And I would say this: Never focus on the social media stats and followers. It’s so tough for people who get caught up with that, especially on Instagram.
That’s why I personally don’t have one. Someone runs the company on Instagram because it’s very easy for our brains to get caught in the cycle of like the status of these things when you need to think of yourself as a problem solver.
I can wake up every single day and I am a problem solver. I’m a problem-solver. Maybe you treat athletes. I’m a problem solver for athletes. I know their 10 problems and I have solutions for all 10 of those. If you can’t rattle that off, like, “I help person X do Y, so that Z with these methods,” and if you don’t know your avatar of the person you’re trying to serve like the back of your hand, if they’re not your best friend, then you’re not going to win in this space.
Because when I shoot video and I’m connecting with the camera, I’m not talking to the video camera, I’m talking to that guy. I’m talking to my dad and intimately knowing what he’s all about. And you can’t fake this stuff. People know that you care.
And so I think that we’re in the biggest age of both the balance between power and ability to reach people and distraction. And I think that attention is ultimately the currency of the future, right? What is advertising? It’s we’re paying to get people’s attention.
The Internet is run on advertising. So a couple of things. As individuals, we protect our attention by cutting out things that distract us. Which may be taking that social media diets so that we have more attention bandwidth, to focus on solving problems. And then we also solve those problems in a big way so that other people choose to reward us with their attention.
That is the economy that we’re now in. And you can’t really even put dollars in price tags on this. Thousands of people buy our a hundred dollars program. But really what I care more about is the fact that we have a brand that people care about who knows what that’s going to be worth in 10, 20,30 years.
Schimri Yoyo: That’s awesome. That’s pretty cool. And you guys got cool T-shirts too so that’s awesome.
Anthony Balduzzi: This one is all slanty and jacked up this actually, no. It doesn’t have to be cool. There’s a print on demand on Teespring. They do a bad job but get a good logo.
Schimri Yoyo: No, it’s good. Listen, I’ve seen them around. So they’ve definitely gotten around. So I’m here in Philadelphia. You’re in Arizona, but I’ve seen them around, so it’s all good.
This has been great, man. I can talk to you all day. I know that we’re both long-winded guys and we’re both very passionate about this, but I want to be respectful of your time.
So just two more questions. One, what do you now know in running your business that you wish you would’ve known when you first started? What have you learned?
Anthony Balduzzi: If you’re going down the route of building—Okay, here’s the deal. I think one piece of advice, just to be short-winded for once, is build one blockbuster product and focus on one thing. One core experience directly that lines up with the customer avatar you want to serve in their main problems. Build one thing and focus on it.
When I started doing online programs and courses, I had like literally 15 different products, and it all eventually collapsed down into one thing, build one blockbuster product that you are so proud of that you’d give it to your grandma, your grandpa, everyone.
You’d be like, “If I don’t give this to you, it’s a disservice.” If you can get that amount of confidence with your blockbuster product, you’re good because you’re going to get over the resistance of selling. And a lot of people have trouble selling things because they don’t really fully believe in their own shit. You got to build something that’s so amazing. One blockbuster product.
And then the two, everything else is tactics that surround the customer journey. So map out to a T from A to Z. What is the journey that your customer avatar is going to go to though? So he’s an overweight father and he’s tried a bunch of diets, now he’s Googling online weight loss for men over 40. He reads a blog, he’s kind of interested. He leaves the blog. He gets hit with a retargeting ad. He comes back, he enters his email. What’s that entire journey from there? Have that all the way mapped out. And if you can do that, then that’s your online business. You’re just creating signposts along that journey to allow people to move to the next step.
That’s all this internet marketing stuff is. That’s all an ad is. That’s all an opt-in page is. That’s all an email series is. It’s all a sales page is. It’s all in respect to the customer journey. Learn your customer journey, map it out, and if you don’t do this work, I don’t think you’re going to be successful in this space. And if you are, it’s by accident and you won’t be able to reproduce it.
Schimri Yoyo: That’s a great piece of advice. And now lastly, what are some resources, whether books, podcasts, magazines, blogs that you’d recommend to our audience. And again, it can be fitness related, it can be business-related, maybe philosophical. What do you think would be a great benefit to our audience?
Anthony Balduzzi: A couple of things. So I’ll give you two. And they’re going to be business and maybe philosophical, spiritual. The business one is take a break, if you know that you know a lot about health and fitness, take a break from that and start learning online marketing. Study digitalmarketer.com. Study Ezra Firestone. Study Russell Brunson with his Click Funnels stuff. Study people that are producing lots of results for other people and learn digital marketing.
Learn how to create all these signposts across the customer journey. It’s going to do more for you with whatever business you get into. Whatever your business takes you, It’s absolutely central. Even if you’re hyper-local, even if you own a gym, guess what? It shows should be doing these practices. So I would say the resources, maybe like a Russell Brunson, digitalmarketer.com. Ryan Dice, and as your Firestone is still really good, e-commerce, Digital Marketer people to study.
And on the spiritual side, I’m obviously very partial to old-school yoga philosophy. But I would say if you’re not familiar with Sadhguru. S-A-D-H-G-U-R-U. Check out that guy on YouTube. He’s absolutely phenomenal. He’s got a great book and a course called Inner Engineering.
Take that course and you’ll learn a lot about like some simple practical stuff to help increase the energy in your body. And I’d say this is the most profound thing for me is I’m an energetic guy as you can tell, no coffee. Only got six hours of sleep last night.
And it’s because, when you start to cultivate these spiritual energies and you’re really connected to your purpose and your body’s functioning the right way, you’re eating the right foods, which is not just defined by macro-nutrient nutrition composition. There may even be a spiritual perspective of this that you could explore. I think a lot of things open up to you that you didn’t really think were possibilities.
Schimri Yoyo: That’s, great advice, man. I definitely feel your energy. I feel that we’re kindred spirits in that way. And I drink a lot of coffee cause I like coffee. It actually doesn’t do anything for me energy-wise. I literally drink a pot of coffee and go straight to bed and it wouldn’t affect me that way. But I am a natural and energetic guy as well.
It’s been great to speak with you because, again, your passion just comes through. And I think that’s what’s, at least from my vantage point, what’s been most attractive and I think it serves you well and serves your clients well.
So thank you again for your time and we definitely will look to see you continue to grow and we would definitely want to touch base with you again with the Fit Father Project because we have a lot of different things coming up that I think we’d like [to have] your input down the road.
Anthony Balduzzi: I would love to. And I want to just do a little self-promotion acquainted with us. Check out our YouTube channel. Just YouTube “Fit Father Project” and then go down the rabbit hole and you can get in contact with me too. You can also fill out the contact form on our site if you want to call her and say hi after this.
Schimri Yoyo: Awesome. That’s perfect. And have a good one, Dr. Anthony. I’m grateful for your time.
Anthony Balduzzi: Alright. You’re welcome.
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Schimri Yoyo is a writer for Exercise.com and a financial advisor with active life and health insurance licenses. In a past life, he covered Villanova Men’s Basketball and Big East Football for Examiner.com. Schimri has also produced freelance copywriting, editing, and proofreading for various websites and online publications for over a decade. He is an avid sports fan, possessing an encyclopedic knowledge of all things Boston Celtics, Boston Red Sox, and San Francisco 49ers. Schimri is an educator and a storyteller who is eager to assist individuals and families to stay financially and physically fit.