On this week’s episode of Establishing your Empire we host Jonathan Pylant. Jonathan is the regional president for Camp Gladiator and when he started there were only a handful of trainers and workouts and now they have over 4000 Locations in 350 cities with more than 1000 Trainers and 300,000 customers. Jonathan has a very interesting journey where he traded in his corporate suit for an outfit with a little more mesh. We talk about how CG has grown, how they deal with competition, Jonathan’s leadership style, tips for working in the same company as your spouse and much more in this episode.
I don’t really give much thought [to the idea] that we have to beat somebody necessarily. My thoughts go more into how can we be better tomorrow than we are today. How can we be just a fraction percentage better tomorrow than we are today? Where can we grow some efficiencies? Where can we grow this a little bit? How can we challenge ourself to get out of the norm, to get out of our comfort zone, to push us a little bit more in a smart way, obviously, and continue to grow through that path instead of, you know, how can we beat our Orange Theory? How can we be better than CrossFit? Those thoughts Don’t really come into my mind quite as much because here’s the thing. At the end of the day, they’re doing some great things. You know, if you’re in the world of fitness and you’re getting people off their couches, you’re engaging them in fitness. I don’t care what your brand is, I don’t care. You’re helping people be better. Awesome. I want to do me better than you do you!
Welcome to the Establishing Your Empire show. A podcast that inspires entrepreneurs, creatives and future business owners to pursue their passions, grow their organizations and build their empire. My name is Daran Herrman and creatively I’m best known for my photography. But business wise my claim to fame is growing a company from $15K per month in online sales to breaking the one million dollar a month barrier. And I’m sitting down with interesting people to talk about their process, the lessons they learned and how they have Established their Empire’s.
Hi Jonathan. Thank you so much for being on the podcast. Well thanks for having me. Why don’t you start out and give us a little background of who you are and what your story is.
Okay. Do you want the long version of the short version.
The longer version.
Yeah. Okay. Wow. How much time do we have? So I was born in Mississippi, move to Shreveport, Louisiana when I was about 18 months old. I’m the oldest of four. I have two younger brothers. One younger sister, grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana. Went to high school there, played football, did all the things. Went to Louisiana tech university in Ruston, Louisiana is about 45 miles East down from street port and out of college. Took a job in little rock, Arkansas, was there for two years working as a civil engineer for the Arkansas, how it department up there. And after two years in little rock and it moved to Dallas, where I’ve been for the last 15 years. So that’s a very abridged of the story, but kind of hit all the, all the hot points.
And that’s a little bit more why you have the accent, right. A little bit of access that doesn’t really sound as much like as a Dallas accent. So, okay. So then now you know, I know you because a mutual friend Dallas and with a camp out at gladiator. So why don’t you give me a story how that happened? How’d you get involved?
The beginnings, right? Yeah. So I was working in Dallas for a engineering firm called half associates, was working for them for several years and doing really well. Really liked my work. I was doing roadway design all over the state of Texas and it was really weird. I remember it’s February of 2009. I remember very vividly February of 2009 is when I just started having this restless feeling. Didn’t know what it was, couldn’t explain it away. But I just, you ever had a feeling like you just got to move? Oh yeah, definitely. It was like that, but it wasn’t a physical restlessness really. And so I just kind of didn’t think much about it, but it was always kind of, there. I remember very vividly the second moment when something happened, it was about April of 2009 went and had drinks with a buddy after work and sat down and his name is Josh and sat down across from Josh. And just kind of in a moment of clarity, I said, you know what, someday people are gonna ask me, what do you do for a living and I’m not going to say engineering. And he said, well, what are you going to do? I said,
I don’t know. And that was the end of it. Just not this, just not this. And I, I had no idea. I didn’t
No about camp gladiator. It hadn’t, nothing had really prompted that. It was just these feelings I was having and religious and I what I think it was, I think it was God kind of prompting me, getting ready for a move. Right. Kind of setting expectations. It sounds like you were listening to. Yeah. Well, I’m, I’m open to it now. I was open deaf, it wasn’t closed off. And so, Mmm. Fast forward to June of 2009. I’m playing in a coed flag football league, we have the championship game and two of our girls can’t be there. And so we’re on the field and, and by the way, we were playing at a play called Griggs park in Dallas, and it was a kind of a sports field and that sort of thing. Mmm. And there was this group of people on the field every Thursday before we got there, and they were working out, running around in wind sprints. And there’s these two cute little blondes and there’s this, Mmm. Kind of fit, bald headed a Marine. And w one thing, just side note, there’s never a former ex Marine there. They’re Marines.
Hey. Right. I think that’s probably true. Yeah. Never thought of that way.
But yeah, that’s one thing. That’s true. I I made a mistake one time, I was saying a former Marine, so hang on, I know you don’t know this, but we’re not a former Marines. Just Marines. Sorry. Got it. So I wasn’t in the military, but definitely respect all our, all of it. So anyway, they’re running around the field and they got a group of about 50 people out there and whatnot. They get off the field and we jumped on the field. We’re sitting field or from football and whatnot. And then one of our girls has, Hey two of our girls are stuck in traffic. They’re not going to be here. I said, well, we need two other players. We can, we can go with six. We would ideally need seven. We have five. We need at least one more. And so my friend Chelsea said, well, hang on, I do this boot camp over here.
Let me go see if one of the trainers wants to play with us. Great. She went over there and I’ll give you my version story. If you happen to talk to my wife, Amy, she may tell you a different version of the story, but I’m the one sitting here, so you get my version, Darren. So anyway, she comes over and plays plays the game with us. We end up winning. I met her literally in between plays about 10 minutes in the end of the football game, right. Mmm. Very athletic, very attractive. And at the end of the game I walked out to her and you know, Hey, great job. You know, winning. The team was going to go kinda celebrate a place called Frankie’s just around the corner and it’s kind of brief little tangent. I really wasn’t in a, in a place two, Mmm.
To really date. I just got out of a relationship. How about how relationship hangover the past several months, people try to set me up on dates and I just, I just really wasn’t interested. And so when I went to, and I asked her, I said, Hey, let me get your number if you want to play with this next season. That genuinely, truly is what it intended to be. A couple of guys on my team, we went to high school together, play ball on everything. They start, you know, give me medicine [inaudible] everything. I’m, no, no, no. I promise. I told her to look. I know they’re being be messy, but a promise, I’ll only call you if it’s for football. And so show. Okay. You know, of course she has her version of that too. [inaudible] Going out afterwards and ended up eating some dinners about 12 of us in a table and we all start off opposite to the table and by the end of the night, we two last people there sitting right across from each other really in deep conversation.
And I had a conversation with myself and I said, self, you might want to ask her out on a date. And so we agreed and I did we agreed. So I asked her out on a date literally that night and when our first date the following Sunday [inaudible] a couple days later and I can get more into that in a little bit if we want to. But she did on that date. She asked me, you know, background summation, you know, they’d play sports and we for work out and things like that. And she said, by the way, I run this bootcamp. It was the same one that I was running before. Y’all played flag football. Said we have a workout tomorrow morning. It’s Monday morning. Do you want to come work out? I said, sure, sure. I was a [inaudible] next athlete. Thought was still was sometimes and I’m like, I’m going to go dominate your little, you know, ladies bootcamps as what I thought it was.
You know, pushups in your cute Lil spreads in the parking lot. I’m an athlete. I got this right, went out and got my tail handed to me but in the most fun, amazing way. A lot of community, a lot of culture, a lot of high fives. I was a new guy but I want a stranger. It was just so inviting and just, it’s fun when you have other people next to you cause you’re like, yeah, do you verse you a little bit, but you see them going a little faster cause some people are better in certain areas. Yeah, I like burpees or something and you’re like, Oh I can go fast. And that person, then all of a sudden you’re gassed out and struggling. Absolutely. Absolutely. So it was fun to get out there and compete a little bit. I ended up signing up as a camper like back in June of 2009 so I was a camper and a couple of days later, I’m sorry, a couple of weeks later they had was called bring a friend week and a I a little bit of background in personal training when I was in little rock, Arkansas.
I did it kind of as a side hustle and whatnot. And so Mason and Amy, I’ll get up there early every morning, help set, set up. I’m trying to date the trainer, you know, so I’m trying to be round a bit more to help her set up, help her, you know, pick up and everything after camp. Well, Mason asked me one day, this is two weeks after my first workout. He said, Hey, we have a little bit larger than expected group. Do you want to help us train? I said, sure, do that. I said, what do you want me to do? He said, walk around, correct. Form motivate, encourage people, do the people you know already, right. Call them by their name and just kind of generally help us out with crowd control. Respecting about 75 people’s mornings. Yeah, I got this. Cool. So I did and never went back to being a camper.
So get my workouts in, you know, and whatnot, but, and never went back to being just a camper. A couple weeks later, Amy hitting me a chick, Mike, what is this for? She said, Oh, by the way, you’re getting paid to be an assistant with us and we’re getting paid for this. I’m trying to date the trainer. I thought I was hanging out with some friends. Just have a good time. Yeah, this is awesome. But that was really my first introduction to camp gladiator and a little bit of how I transitioned from a camper for two weeks to being a trainer. And the rest kind of snowballed from there. And I’m sure we’re probably get into that here. Yeah. Actually. So your regional president? Yes sir. So, and then, you know, camp gladiator, maybe give us some stats for, I mean I think most people would know what it is, but you know, I mean now you guys are in multiple States, hundreds and hundreds of cities.
I think I have up here 4,000 plus locations. I don’t even know how up to date that is. That’s pretty crazy. Yeah. Started in 2008. So you were pretty floor 2009 that was still pretty early on. Give us a little bit more of a story of that growth trajectory that you had in the inside the company and how that happened. Yeah. Okay. So camp gladiator started in Dallas, Texas, some P it is an Austin based company, so our headquarters is, but start in Dallas, Texas. I did not know that. I always thought it was Austin. Yeah. So September of 2008 is when Allie and Jeff Davidson open up camp Gladia alley rented first workouts in Dallas, Texas. Very soon realized she was onto something. It was group workout. That was kind of the, the thing, the bootcamp style. It was all military style.
Allie wanted to do something different, something fun, engaging. Allie is a [inaudible] freak of an athlete. She’s awesome. Mmm. And grew up playing sports. A collegiate basketball player, excuse me. In fact, a lot of people know her story from American gladiators was the American gladiator grand champion and in 2008 and then that’s kind of what she parlayed into, you know, the 15 minutes of fame into launching camp gladiator. Very quickly. I would say people associated with Allie and amazing workouts and not the, the gladiator grand champion. Right. And so, and, and she says, you know, the 15 minutes of fame, this is what she wanted to do, kind of start camp gladiator. And it was amazing. Very quickly she realized I gotta have some help. And that’s when she reached out to ’em, which have to have a friend, Mason Murphy, who was a, her husband Jeff grew up with Mason Mason was a top trainer at premier club, one of the big clubs in Dallas at the time.
And basically came out and started helping out. And in February, I believe it’s January, February of Oh nine, Allie took one of my wife’s classes at 24 hour fitness. She was leading a Nike I forget the name of the class, but it was a, it was a Nike athletes class right at 24 hour fitness in. And Allie was just blown away. My wife is a fantastic trainer. In fact, I still go do my workout. So lover want favorites. And Allie took her to coffee and asked her to come on board camp glider. So that was kinda how the Genesis of the concept of partnership started with camp gladiator. Mmm. Allie and Jeff moved down here to Austin and I believe it was January of 2009. So Allie and Jeff had just started CG in Dallas and then had a couple of directions I could either, you know, sell it to someone, I’m just kind of as a database or they could bring on board partners to help to help continue the business.
They brought her Amy Mason in Dallas and then Allie and Jeff moved down here to Austin and Allie was getting ready to open up camp Gladia here in Austin and I believe opened up Austin May of 2009 so you have Dallas and Austin going on with basically three trainers [inaudible] it just kind of started from there. It’s kind of how we, so how, how, how did you just go from kiddo camper assisted trainer two all the way to regional president? Like what was the steps that you got involved there? Yeah. And obviously since you were a little early on, but there was a lot of other people early on, so why, you know, why you going in that progression instead of not right. Yeah. So like I said, I was working my engineering job as a civil engineer. I had professional and get a career. Right. And so I never viewed camp gladiators, anything more than just helping my girlfriend out with her. [inaudible]
Pretty cool business. The thing that she was doing, you know, I remember the day where I was sitting and the check him out cause I mentioned, you know, getting paid for it now. Mmm. And so I was sitting at TT park in Dallas. It was a Wednesday. I had a Jeep at the time. A Jeep was parked under this tree. Weird how just vivid memories are and at the time and Jeff would mail our checks to Amy and Amy would hand them out to us at camp. After after workout was done, as I’m sitting in my Jeep and look in and open my check and I’ll never forget the dollar amount of 2000, $354 and 64 cents, 2003 54 64 I’m looking at, I went, huh [inaudible] I’m doing this just kind of on, on the side for fun. I’m working my engineering job off of the day, eight to 10 hours and I’m able to do this.
I said, wonder what would happen if I wasn’t doing engineering and I just had camp gladiator. Imagine what could happen. And I’m not driven by money necessarily. Let’s be honest. You gotta pay the bills. Yeah. My money is fuel though. I mean like, yeah, it helps. It helps. And at the time, Amy, now we’re getting serious and we had talked about getting engaged and, and whatnot. And so of course, thinking about stability and you know, family and these types of things. And so I was like, well, I got this stable sure thing with engineering. We had a 401k employee stock options and benefits and I got a year in bonus and a guaranteed salary and you know, all these things. Or now this other thing, blue, limitless, right? Scalable, no ceiling, scalable. And at the time, and this was about 18 months after, so go ahead and fast forward again.
This is a probably 2011. The first of 2011, maybe February, 2011, somewhere around there. [inaudible] Excuse me. Well, in February, 2011 and we knew what we had people wanted, right? And we knew in order to grow, we had to align ourselves or we had to get the right people on board. That with our mission, our vision and values, it was very important for us. We didn’t have a whole lot around programming in the early days because it was just kind of a round table or trainers and understood progressions and you know, different things like that. It wasn’t until later where we started developing, really put a lot of thought behind the program and component of camp gladiator. But what was there in the early days was the culture of the community, the amazing workouts, the friendly trainers, the people that really cared. And so our mission from day one has been to positively impact the physical fitness and ultimately lives of as many people as possible.
And that is something that every trainer can recite every, a lot of our campers know that as well. And that’s what really drove us in the early days and still today. [inaudible]. And so as far as the growth goes, I’m finding people that align with that they’re passionate about helping people that are skilled in the fitness industry and bringing them on board and
I have them do what we do. Do you think that [inaudible] not having a trainer’s background helped you along the way or was that hurtful? Yeah, that’s a great question. So like I said, I’ve been involved in sports my whole life and I don’t think that just because you’re an athlete, you can train people like this. Yeah. Just cause you’re the best player doesn’t mean you’re a good coach. Exactly. Exactly. Right. I believe that trainers are kind of like teachers honestly.
In that there’s two types. There’s people that are called to do it, just people that really can’t do anything else. And so why not be a trainer? You know, I saw it a lot in the gyms back when I was just out of college or in college, you know, [inaudible] people that just, I don’t know what else to do. So I’m gonna go give a personal training certification, go be a trainer for a few years off, figure it out. Right. It’s kind of easy. Kind of like the communications major for college. Like, I really don’t know what I’m going to do, but this seems kind of fun. Or, I know I can do it, I guess. Yeah. Yeah. So my driving passion more was to help people. And my outlet for that was personal training. And so I’ve always had a desire to, to help people grow in whatever aspect but or path they want to go down.
And in this environment that was their, their fitness, right. Where the people wanted to PR in a fiveK or a marathon or wanting to lose 10 pounds or whatever the case may be. UI was very attracted to helping people achieve those goals. And so not having a fitness background, I was all, I say, my knowledge is all blue collar, you know, from growing up in a, in the weight room since I was, you know, 14, 15 years old all the way through, you know, multiple,uthings from power lifting to bodybuilding and, you know, functional training and, you know, now the camp gladiator. Mmm. And it was really using that, that background and experience that I’ve had in the past and combined with my certifications to, to help that out. Uso yeah, I don’t think it was necessarily a hindrance. I think it made me open too.
Not only this is the way to do it, but figuring out, you know, the right ways to do it. Yeah. I think there’s a lot there. I think it sounds like to me that you cared about more about the people. One directs I still want to move in is how did you go from, you know, a trainer to more of a leadership management role? Like was that just out of sheer need or was it, you know, tell me that story. Yeah. So, okay. Kind of got this timeline in my head. So we’re, we’re February of 2011 is when I, you know, kind of received the check and I was like, Hey, I could do this. Right. Well, Amy at that point started talking and at that point we were engaged to marry. We got engaged Thanksgiving of 2010 and you know, we’re planning everything.
We’re getting married in Hawaii and you know, both of us making good money. I’m making dual-income with camp gladiator. My engineering job hadn’t left there yet. Amy’s doing personal training and making great income camp gladiator. And so we’re paying for our wedding in, in Hawaii. And we’ve got a plan, we’ve got a budget and we got all the things lined out. Right? Well, I’m working 18 to 20 hour days, literally burning the candle at both ends, doesn’t even start to describe it. Right. Memorial day weekend, may of 2011 meet Amy for breakfast. She looked at me and she said, her version is, I was just kind of a shell of myself. My body’s comfortable about one 95, you know, I’m working out and eating and things like that. About 61, about one 95, I was down about one 70. Well, I wasn’t sleeping.
What? Neaten just really working as hard as I could wake up at four in the morning, three 30 something like that probably. Exactly. And she looked at me, she said, quit. She said, quit. I said, yeah, but we’ve got this budget. We got this plan. The plan is to stay all the way through to get this year’s bonus. Had that kind of be a nest egg for us to maybe, you know, look at buying a home in, in 2012 or whatever the case may be. And she goes, we’ll figure it out. We’ll figure it out. We got this, me and you. We got this. Is that all right? So Memorial day weekend she and I had a great conversation about kind of managing what is it gonna look like without that, that salary coming in and whatnot. And walked in my boss’s office Tuesday morning with my resignation letter, my two weeks notice.
And [inaudible] obviously he knew I was doing camp gladiator was not stupid. And he, he told me, he said, I’ll, I’ll let you, let’s, you kind of do what you’re doing, like do some flex time. As long as you, you’re working compromise, you make meetings and you know, that’s where things are great. And so when I did it, it wasn’t a shock to him if the news was coming. I know you’re not going to work with a competitor. [inaudible] Competitor, competitor. Mmm. So I’m going to wish you best of luck. Shake your hand and tell you if you ever wanna come back, you have a place here. Great. So that was really cool. So that kind of started my path. And I left corporate America back in, in end of may of 2011 and from there, like you just had to make something happen.
And so now I’m going all in with camp gladiator. I’m running more workouts and doing all the things. At that point we didn’t really have a leadership structure built out per se because it was still kind of, roads will be flat. You, it was Jeff and Allie and then Amy Mason were directors over all of DFW. And at this time we probably had about 20, 25 trainers on the team. This will span of control for two peoples. Is that okay? You know? Mmm. Once we started getting more people on board I was kind of the older guy, so to speak. I’ve been around a while and so it was like, Hey, Jonathan, why don’t you teach trainer ex, you know, how to do X, Y, Z, you know, go out to his workouts, help with programming marketing, sales, whatever the case may be.
Right. And so kind of had a knack for helping people get a get up and running and just kind of mentoring them along the way. Mmm. As we’re growing Jeff is a fantastic, Mmm, fantastic leader and he has a lot of experience growing teams and growing sales teams and those, those types of things. And very quickly start to build out kind of a leadership structure of director above trainer and Mmm. Basically just kind of came in one day and said, Hey, I want to promote you over this, this, this area. I said, great, that’s cool. What does that mean? Cause I owe it, what do I need to do? I’ve never done this. You know what you’re about to ask me do, I’ve never done that before. He goes, just, just keep me what you’re doing. You do it, you’re doing great. I don’t want to change what you’re doing, I just want to give you more of an official, you know, capacity in that.
And so one of my biggest things early on was I never wanted to to do anything that would take away from Amy and Mason because they’re the ones that, no, that started it. I don’t want to split things three ways now, so to speak, especially cause Amy not at that time were, were married and so now I didn’t want to take away from, you know, Mason, he’s my best friend. And so anyway, at that point, of course there’s more than enough to go ride. So that’s what kind of started my leadership journey. It was more out of necessity probably. And just having a knack for kind of helping people to kind of intuitively helping people figure out what they were trying to do and help set them up and position them for the opportunities. [inaudible] And
. At that point, were you still training people or were you, because you’re probably doing like a split role there for awhile.
Yeah. And then what, at what point did you stop training people or do you sell at OnStar? Yeah, I still train people. Okay. Wow. So 11, eight years or whatever. And you’re still try it. Yup. Almost 11 years. It’ll be 11 years in, in June of a 20, 20. And yeah. So train people. So I trained on Monday, Monday morning and 5:00 AM and had 25 people out there in Dallas and we had a great workout. Dave Sierra did the ground a little bit of how people are feeling. Absolutely. And within camp gladiator we have a really a player coach model. I don’t want that to be a buzz word, but it really truly is, you know, player coach model. We don’t have our leaders removed from the field necessarily. So it need to be ingrained in that to have the pulse, not just of of the trainers but also the campers, you know, find out.
Mmm. As far as the marketing promotions, you know, we have our CG games and CG fit. These are different things that we do have benefit add for our campers. And so having our leaders on the ground leading from the front in those initiatives is very, very important for us. And so even as a region president, I’m still running workouts. Mmm. They’re in Dallas. Yeah. Nice. So a what, tell me maybe something that helps, has helped in the past or currently helps with you guys growing. Oh and more like what’s worked for you? Because I would assume that you guys, you know, more trainers kind of more locations, more trainers usually is the best way to grow is one way to grow. Maybe give me some thoughts or some value there of what has worked for you guys. So we have something that we call the total transformation and this is something where we we started it back, this is about seven years ago now and it’s our way to really fully invest into our region where you get the full weight of the company kind of focusing on that one region.
And so we do it a little bit of a round Robin style with where, where we focus our efforts. And really it’s just a big marketing push behind the region. And we set that up beforehand with what we call a recruiting blitz, where we come in and we, you know, hold auditions, we find people that are going to be great partners for us and we bring them on board, we get them, you know, to a place where they’re, like you mentioned, open up more locations and that sort of thing. And then as a business we support that fully from a, from a Salesforce perspective, all of our trainers coming in being the sales force on the ground. And so we have trainers flying in, for example. Mmm. Here in Austin, we’re going to have a total transformation in the spring, finished flying in from North Carolina, people going from West Texas, people going from Florida, all the support that.
And so it really is a pretty amazing business and I don’t know any of the business that rallies behind their business partners in that way. And so that was just announced brainchild back about six years ago to have this thing. And really we have a total transmission package, which is like a body composition analysis is force a cam. Glad you’re kind of a package that we sell and we’re around it. A bunch of events. We set up, you know, all around town and our trainers are out there actively promoting and selling these things. So how, how do you hire a trainer? Like how do you know if somebody’s going to be good or not? Like how, what’s that process? Yeah, so we’re all independent contractors and so there is kind of a multiple checkpoints that we, that we look for. And so as an admin of contractors, you know, we don’t, yeah.
Exam a painters, independent contractor, right? You don’t teach your paint or how to paint your home. You may look for ask for recommendations or you know, seeing a sample of his work or something like that. It’s not your job to teach him how to paint. Right. You hire him. And so with, with us hiring independent contractors, Mmm, no, we do ask them to show us a sampling of their work. Right. And show that you’re proficient in certain areas, ones that we know are going to be beneficial for them in, in our world. And it makes sure that they align from a, from a values perspective and those types of things. And if they do, we bring on board as a business partner. And so that’s kind of high level. If I didn’t answer your question feel free to ask it again. No, I like it.
No, it’s good. I, I think, you know, any of this stuff is more how you think of things, right? So when, if a listers coming through, the value that I’m hoping to bring is Mmm. Whether they’re in fitness or not, you know, let’s say, so in my business, I hire a ton of freelancers almost all over the world too. And again, yeah, I’m not going to teach somebody how to do some web programming. Like I want them to know how to program my wealth, but then what I’ll do is I’ll give them some small tasks to see what their communication is like, see if they adhere to timelines, see how their work is, you know. So when a trainer comes on like is there, I’m guessing there’s, you know, a whole tray, like they have probably assistant training for a while, whatever, before they get their own camp and stuff like that.
I would imagine that now you guys have people wanting to join up all the time. Yeah. When you first started, how did that recruiting process? We were begging people to be trainers. Yeah. Yeah. At the very first we didn’t know we were doing, it was like, Hey, you look fit. You want to be a trainer for us, here’s a tee shirt, you know, put it on, come train. Yeah. A lot of, a lot of things back then. You know, we’ve learned a lot of Kylon was like, you, you’re there. They’re like, Hey, you, you see me, you’re coming a lot. Can you just help out? Yeah. Yeah. And back in the early days, that’s kind of what it was. You know, we had a lot of our campers turn trainers and that’s not a bad thing necessarily. Mmm. So yeah, back in the old days, we found out very quickly that you don’t just hire people with a handshake in, in that it’s going to let them go, the representing your business.
And then we had several unfortunate experiences happen. We were like, we gotta have more of a, you know, system of checks and balances with who we’re bringing on board. And I mentioned core values of several times as big for us. Make sure they align with the core values perspective. And our core values are passion, positivity, loyalty, integrity, and teamwork. If someone doesn’t have those core values, is we very difficult for them to operate in our system. We do operate from abundance place a place of abundance. I mentioned my total transformation. People find your from all over the country to help build their business partners business in Austin. They don’t benefit from that in the longterm of coursers, no commissions and things like that from sales, but it’s not directly benefiting them. And so that teamwork mentality is very, very important. So if we have someone that’s out for themselves or trying to a do their own thing, it’s not going to work very well in our system because of the way our trainers do work together.
And so very early on we knew we had to have those values alignment and people that were in it for the right reasons. And you know, you learn that sometimes the hard way by, you know, going through some, some rough patches where people don’t align and now they’re representing your company. And now how do you, you know, move past with that? So a lot of our learner experiences have brought us to where we are today from kind of our our affiliate process where we do vet trainers you know, to come on board and it is a two way thing. Yeah. Is there anything that you learned over the course of time of managing? You know, I’m sure, I don’t know how many trainers there are kind of underneath your, Mmm [inaudible] that you’re managing, but like anything that you’ve learned over the past that would be helpful, like they gave you could put into words.
Oh wow. Learned a lot. A lot. Right. Or maybe even just a, a style that has worked for you too. Like anything that would be valuable. Yeah. So listening, that’s one of the reasons why I’m doing this podcast is to listen better. Yeah. Like find that people will do a whole lot of talking, may not have quite as clear direction as I think they do. You know? Mmm. I don’t like the sound of my voice that much to be honest with you. And so [inaudible] when I’m going in to mentor someone, it doesn’t matter if it’s a trainer, doesn’t matter if it’s a leader or, or who had director in our company. Right. I’m going to ask them a lot of questions before I ever give them feedback on something. Right. understanding where they are. And this is kind of what I tell all of my people.
I said, I, you know, I want to ask you, you questions and understand what your goals are adopted as my own so I can help position you for those opportunities. I want to know what you want to do in the future. It doesn’t matter what path I have baked out for you. If it’s not your path or where do you want to go, it’s not gonna be successful. Right. How about we start with you first. You tell me where you want to go. Endless vision cast together a little bit and then I can help position you better with more understanding which one to do in the future. Right. We have some amazingly entrepreneurial minded trainers that want to go launch. No CG China, you know, everywhere, you know and will be everywhere. There are people and you know, knowing what passions people have and their vision for their own future is, is, is very beneficial.
And so one thing that I’ve learned is to just listen and ask a lot of questions. I love it. What about how do you or rate a trainer or how do you know that a trainer is doing a good job? Right? Yeah. Cause he’s not like getting, you’re going to be there watching them every, every single session. There’s too many of them. Yeah. So again, I mentioned I’m a Christian and by verse that comes to mind as a tree is known by its fruit. And so you look at the fruit and you look at what the campers are saying. You know, we have a rating system and our campers can comment after every workout. And so you look at a rating, we have, you know, trainers known as some of the top rated trainers in our entire system and some trainers that aren’t very well rated.
You know, you also get class attendance. So they haven’t just, you know, 50, 60, 70 people, every camp, they haven’t two to three people out there, you know, and so you look and see kind of what they’re doing and more so than the results. Just the community they’re building, you know, the ratings and campers that they tell you that didn’t like the workout, you know, and all of us have bad days, but it’s the consistency that, you know, I look for. And so we kind of have that as a as a way to kind of evaluate our trainers. And how do you get that a survey or is it through digital? Through through sheets? Yeah. Yeah. Sue digital. So we have it built out in our, in our system. So we have an app on the phone where campers can check in to their workouts and track their check-ins and try different things like that, body comp analysis, so forth and so on.
And I, at the end of every workout, they’re prompted to give a rating, five star rating, four, three, two, one, whatever it is. And they’re always able to leave comments if they want to. And so with the rating system in the comments, you know, we can kind of look and see who our top level trainers are and how well they’re doing. Also gives us a chance to give our trainers feedback and iron sharpens iron. And so we really helped to, you know, keep everybody at a, at a high level. That’s great. That feedback loop is very important. What about, what’s your favorite workout for you yourself or, or to train or to do? Either one. Oh man, I’m an old school meathead. I am, I love lifting heavy. It’s really and truly do. I’m trying not to anymore as much. I know I don’t want to do in injuries.
I’m 40, I’m 40, turned 40 last year and I don’t bounce quite as well as I used to Darrin. But no, I love, I’ve never been a big runner. Well, I just go run for distance, you know, I do really enjoy sprints. My wife had a really good workout the other day and we can’t gladly, we use body weight. We also use dumbbells resistance bands and excuse me, a slam balls and those types of things. Well, she had a fantastic workout the other day that I really, really enjoyed. And so more so. Hmm. Then the traditional gym lifting heavy, like lifting heavier weights in you know, squat, suppresses and different things like that, moving in a more athletic, functional way. That’s what I’m, Mmm. It enjoying as far as my workouts these days. And like I said, my wife is absolutely my favorite trainer.
I’ll let her kick my butt every Monday, Wednesday evening that I’m in town in Dallas. Yeah. The back when you’re a power lifting, what was your best? Yeah, yeah. That’s at squat clean and bench was that, I used to do those competitions back in the day. It’s a squat dead lift and a and bench breasts bench press. I was never really hugely strong on bench press. That was by best by far. It was bent. Yeah. Three Oh five is the, is the highest ever got up to, and I would do it for, for three reps. And so I got three Oh five for two reps. I’m dead lifting. And all these are GM. I never competed, but I’m dead lifting. I got almost a 600 pounds three times. I just, I had, yeah, more of a powerful stance and movement of my deadlift perspective. Squats just got over 300 pounds for three reps. And so I was way more heavily that left. Yeah. Begged. I left. Yeah. I, I’d never did the quite for [inaudible], but they can get four 50 on Detlev once. I don’t think I got any higher than that, but three 60 on bench was the highest I ever got, which was pretty big. I was 20 pounds heavier than I am now. [inaudible]
A little bit, 24 pounds heavier actually. It definitely helps. Definitely helps. That’s definitely where I was going. Okay. So what’s what’s the future hold for you? Like what’s giving you the next, the couple of years, five years, whatever you want to take it. Yeah. So for me personally or just can’t go out to eat. Yeah. Yeah. For me personally, Oh man, I’m loving what I’m doing. I really, truly do. Mmm. Like some region president of camp gladiator that doesn’t, it’s kind of cool to say, Mike, what does that mean? I don’t know, you know? But I really enjoy, it’s a cliche to say I really enjoy helping people and the higher, you know, we have levels of leadership the more I’m focused on the highest level and helping them develop, and I’m at a place now where I’m helping leaders learn to develop leaders that are developing our trainers.
And so that’s really what I’m excited about now. And Mmm, I’m in charge of our leadership development programs within camp gladiator. And so developing, you know, curriculum in partnership with our people at headquarters and kind of being on the forefront of that, you know, like what’s next for our leaders, what’s the next level above me? Like I want to start thinking about that, not necessarily to pursue it myself, but you know, how that works within our system and how that benefits everybody. You know, we don’t want to have a tall, skinny, you know, structure necessarily. But thinking through what span of control does look like and you know, effective span of control mentorship is huge for us. You know, a weekly checkpoints and meetings and things like that. And it’s really fully understanding you know, how we can help build out, you know, best practices, even systems for our leaders to be able to engage with their trainers and their leaders to continue to help this grow.
Cause it only, yeah. You know, kind of say Combs in a parking lot, you know, that’s what we do. We run workouts. But at the same time there’s a whole business side behind it and if you don’t take care of business, you’re going to be in business much longer. I think you guys are, branding has always been really, really strong. How do you guys deal with competitors or give you guys a competitive competitive edge? Like any thoughts there? So
excuse me, I don’t really give most all, it’s like we have to beat somebody necessarily. My thoughts go more into how can we be better tomorrow than we are today, right? How can we be just a [inaudible] yup. Fraction percentage better tomorrow than we are today. Where can we grow some efficiencies? Where can we roads a little bit? How can we challenge ourselves to get out of the norm, to get out of our comfort zone, to push us a little bit more in a smart way, obviously, and continue to grow through that path instead of how can we beat arm’s theory or how can we be better than CrossFit at those thoughts don’t really come into my mind quite as much because here’s the thing.
In the day, they’re doing some great things. You know, if you’re in the world of fitness and you’re doing it you get people off their couches, you’re engaging them in fitness. I don’t care what your brand is, I don’t care. You know who you are. You’re helping people be better. Awesome. W I want to do me better than you. Do you? Yeah. And so I’m under, so competing against you, I just want to be the best version of me that I can be. Right. And I tried to take that mindset to, to camp glide here and how can we be better? Let’s be better about these things. We do PO postmortems, a lot of things. We got, we call it 33 is three positive, three opportunities and we 33 everything. Right? from the meetings we do to the workouts, we have conversations that we have and things of that nature.
It’s just iron sharpening. Iron is kind of built into our culture. How can we be better? Not necessarily as somebody else, but the best versions of us. Yeah. That’s great. Can you give me any examples that you can remember of a 33? Yeah. So Dave, my wife for 33 on her workout. Like I love your movements. I love the strength. I love the way you communicated that you really helped set the expectations for me for what I’m about to do in this workout. And, and for me, I mean you just say, you know, ready goes like, okay, what level intensity, how many reps am I doing? Rep range, you know, is there a time duration is controlling this? Am I traveling and what are we doing here? Right. And so she’s really good about communicating all those things, the details. And so I have a great understanding. She says, go of what is expected of me during this workout, right? Mmm. Opportunities. Do you always start with the positive first? Always. Always. Always start with a positive. Yup. And we’ll have we’ll have some younger trainers that get in and I’ll give you 33% what she did wrong. Like, Oh, Hey, Oh, this is okay. Start with
Positives, you know, and make sure that we Mmm. To communicate effectively. And so I don’t like communicating, you know, strengths and weaknesses is like strengths and opportunities. Like there’s an opportunities opportunity to improve. It’s not a weakness you have necessarily, you know opportunities are, you know what, I, I might not have loved that traveling exercise we did. It’s not wrong. It’s just personal preference and that’s what a 33 is, is helping me give you my opinion on, you know, these things love this movement. Didn’t really love that movement necessarily. Have you thought about maybe implementing a different movement or this, that or the other, you know, and so, yeah. And again, know we’re business partners. She’s like, that’s awesome. She seems to really value things. She does. She sees the, yeah. And do you guys do that with your personal life as well? Yeah. Yeah. We actually, same format or a little bit different format. It’s like, do you mind if I give you some feedback? Maybe it’s five lines, right? Give me a five positive.
Yeah. But it’s fun. And working with my wife we’ve been as business now for, you know, going on a decade together and it’s been such an amazing journey. You know, all the friends and, and people that you’ve been on this journey with. I couldn’t imagine doing it with anyone, you know, it wasn’t anybody else. And any recommendations or things that have helped you guys along the way that you could let us know that would work when you’re working with your significant other. Yeah. great boundaries, create boundaries. So Amy and I very early on, it was easy, easy to let work overtake your life, especially when you’re, you know, kind of an entrepreneur. You’re your own business owner. You know, you don’t have the defined nine to five in a work setting and you turn the light off and you leave the office and now you know, you’re doing other things, right.
Work follows you home because it’s at your home. You know, we office out of our home. We travel a lot. We have two kids now. And so understanding and putting boundaries in place and respecting those boundaries is very, very important. A couple of things that we have, you know, we don’t love working at night. That’s our time to engage with the kids. Now there’s times where we have to work at night because we have deadlines or something important that we need to do, right. But we don’t do that during dinner, during bedtime or things like that for the kids. Right. We’re fully engaged with each other and with our children. I have the kids go to bed. If, you know, we have something we do, we’ll respect each other and say, Hey, just so you know, I, I would’ve been working I you do tonight.
Mmm. And there’s always grace just given there. Right. the second thing is we don’t like to come in the door on the phone, like walking into our home, on the phone, engage in conversation. We like to walk in the door, engage each other, right? And so little things like that or things that we’ve learned over the years. And another thing is we would go on date night, my phone does not go with us, my phone, either a truck or at home. Wow. And so that’s something that, you know, it’s been, it has been big for us and how to learn and I would take her phone for the kids and things like that obviously. Right. But learning, you know, I think each of the spouses have like these hot buttons, so to speak. And we’ve learned what those buttons are through the years. And communicating effectively about those things has helped us create these boundaries to, to be respectful of one another.
Knowing that, you know, we’re not going to stop doing this together. We’re going to grow this business together for as long as we can, you know. So how do we operate with respect of each other you know, in this business and that’s been important for us. I love it. What about any recommendations of somebody wanting to end into the world of fitness? Like as a trainer, not just for CG, but just in general? Yeah, I would recommend that they first thing is I think a lot of people, especially in, in camp gladiator, they see their trainer and I think this is his glamorous job. Right? And they kind of had this, this idea of what it is built in their head. But like his whole business side behind it. And so my recommendation is to one, go get certified, like go get some knowledge built so you have a better understanding for what it is you’re doing.
It’s not just pushups in sprints in a parking lot. There’s programming, there’s, you know, very specific things. And, and reasons why certain things are put together that way, you know, duration, time, rep ranges, intensity, so forth and so on. Progressions, regressions, right. I understand those things and have better understanding around why things are the way they are. Go get experience somewhere, you know. The, no matter what it is. Okay. Experiences, experience. No, when I was an engineer, I wouldn’t get hired unless I had experience. Like, well, where do you good experience. Then, you know, you do internships and things like that. And so having that experience is going to be beneficial from a lot of different ways. And so if someone was looking at the fitness industry, I’d say one, you know, go take some classes, you know, different classes [inaudible] experience outside of what you traditionally do.
And then I’m going to say go get certified, but looking at certifications and understand which ones are just so many out there. So many certifications out there from CrossFit level one on Sherry, I’m sure has their certification, do, you know, CPT certified personal trainers, national accredited certification programs and all the things. Right. So I understand a little bit more about the industry and then what you want to kind of focus on and then find people maybe to be a mentor in that area and yeah, definitely encourage them to look at certifications and kind of grow a knowledge base before does jump into that before diving in. Yeah. But by you, any, any mentors or anybody helped you along the way with your career? Yeah, I have a lot of a lot of friends that I’ve done this with for a while, Jeff Davidson.
Cofounder and co owner of camp glider. He’s always been a big mentor of mine ever since day one. I still remember some of the very first conversations, you know, that we had about, about leadership and Jeff is a fantastic leader. Mmm. Like I mentioned in multiple things before camp gladiator and he’s our chief sales officer and co-CEO in CG. Also Mason Murphy. He’s one of my best friends that trained in number one for camp gladiator or Trey number two behind alley. He’s a, he’s a Marine. The Marine I was talking about earlier, he’s a Marine for four years. But it’s learning a lot from, from those men. And it’s not necessarily, you know, sit down, let me give you mentorship all the time. Right. Is, is living life with people and, you know, learn from their experiences and things like that.
Asking questions and having trust with someone enough to be vulnerable and say, Hey man, I’m struggling with this. All right. Can you, can you give me some feedback? Can you give me some advice on this? Obviously my parents grandparents, huge, huge, huge influences in my life. Didn’t talk much about family. But you know, I talked to my dad multiple times a week. My mom, my grandparents just got for my granddad on the way over here as a matter of fact and just kinda catching up. And so they’ve always been real big supporters of me and it’s always given really solid advice. Yeah. What about advice? What would you give your 15 year old self? Some advice? Ooh, my 15 year old self. First of all, let’s say played defense on football and not offense. No, but I’m, you know, my grandfather gave me some advice that really stuck with me and was kind of instrumental in, in helping me make the leap from the corporate America too.
Camp gladiator. Mmm. My granddad on businesses his whole life. Never worked for another man. He’s 85 years old. [inaudible] Still actively working. He owns a Christian construction company in Shreveport, Louisiana. And he told me he saw back in college and he said, you know, it’s good to have a direction and a focus, maybe pursue an engineering. He said, but don’t be afraid of opportunity. You know, that things aren’t always what they seem. And so if you feel strongly about something and you feel, you know, the Lord leading you down a certain path, don’t be afraid to go down that path. Go into it, understanding, not blinders, but don’t be afraid of opportunity, you know, because you never know what’s gonna come up, you know. And of course, that’s part of his story for you know, how he opened several of his businesses and things like that.
And that was in the context of which we were talking. But you know, that’s kind of what I just describes what I heard in my head as a, as a 19 year old, you know sophomore in college. And so I was like, well, I have a direction of a planet with focus, but I’m not just totally the one track minded down this path where I can’t see an opportunity if it knocks on the door, you know? Yeah. What about, has your life turned out how he thought it would? Oh heavens no, not at all. Not at all. I mentioned I’m 40. No, not bad. I didn’t mean that to be bad, but Allie, I’m looking back when I was, you know, 15 or even you, most 30, you know, I just started doing camp gladiator and decided to kind of reinvent myself.
I’m using air quotes here, reinvent myself, you know, at 30. Mmm. Yeah. I mean, my brother is a, I believe he’s a, he’s a VP now with half associates, so he now works for the same engineering firm. But that was kind of the path that I was going down, you know? And I figured that’s, that’s what I was going to do and that’s what I was going to be, you know. Mmm. I never thought I’d be doing this, you know, camp gladiator my business suits definitely different these days. You know we laugh and say we were pajamas to work, you know, Lulu lemon and you know different things. But man, this is fun. I wouldn’t, I’ve learned a lot along the way. I don’t have many regrets, but absolutely love what we do. And I love that. You know, the kids, two kids Annaliese five and a half, Bonnie’s two and a half.
And I love that they get to see mommy and daddy be passionate about what they do. And they come out to camp like annually, literally will not let Amy go run camp without her. Like she’s Amy’s little system, right? And she’s out there all the time. But seeing mommy and daddy be passionate about what they do and seeing us lead active lifestyles and being healthy, just say that example for them. [inaudible] It’s huge. You know, that was something I never saw. [inaudible] Always want to be a great example of my kids, but I never thought it would be in the context it is right now. And that’s, that’s pretty powerful for me. What would you title this chapter of your life the last 10 years or the one I’m about to go down, whatever you want it, however you want to answer it. The last 10 years I would say really truly kind of finding out who you are.
Right? And this next year is leaning into who you are. So I, I love reading and you know, podcasts and things like that. And one of the quotes, I’m going to mess it up. So I’m paraphrasing here from a book called a Sri leadership is a, what you do should not define you, right? Who you are should define what you do and how you do it. And that over the past couple of years has really become powerful in my life. You know, I don’t want to be defined. I love camp gladiator, love, love, love it. Never have any aspiration, do anything else, but I don’t want to be defined by it, right? Mmm. If people, you know, feel like I’m a great leader, then I would like to be known as a great leader, not a great camp, gladiator leader, you know? I, I just don’t want my work to define what I do.
I want my passion to define what I do and who I am as a person to define what I do and how I do it. Mmm. I’ve never been one to chase titles. In fact, when Jeff Nally asked me to interview for the region president position they asked me during the interview, why do you want to be region president? I said, I don’t, I don’t cause you’ll never hear me say I want to be a certain position, you know? Mmm. I understand what I’m passionate about. I feel like I understand what I’m good at, my skill sets. If those two things intersect with a title y’all want me to hold or a way I can serve the company, I said I’d be more than happy to do that for as long as you want me to do that and then go do something else. Whenever you tell me, go to something else.
Right. Like I’ve always viewed my position. Leadership is one of service, right? And like my position exists not to be over someone important direct and tell them what to do, but how can I serve you? Right? I have almost over a decade of experience in this. I’ve done a lot of things wrong. Let me tell you, don’t do the same mistakes I made, you know, and hopefully through no conversations and sharing stories and things of that nature. Helping someone else learn to be, yeah. Kind of a cliched, better than me. Faster than me. Yeah. Every position I’ve held within camp gladiator, I viewed it as like, I’m not the best person for this position. I’m trying to find my replacement to do his job better than I can do it. You know, I’m always kind of been the first one at certain leadership levels and so kind of trying to figure out what those are and helping no, I hand those off to two other people and get them spun up to a place where you’re able to do a lot better than me.
They can go a lot deeper than me as far as the development and those types of things. Span of controls. We talked about that a little bit. Mmm. So that’s what I’m really excited about. You know, what, what do you think the percentage of luck versus skill for you to put you at the position you’re in? You’re at now over these years? So I don’t really, it’s again musical. She, I don’t really believe in luck necessarily. I think I’ve done a good job taking advantage of opportunities and kind of that advice. My grandfather, don’t be afraid of opportunities. Don’t be afraid to stick your hand up. Say put me in coach. Right. I won’t take it. I won’t take it on this opportunity. I don’t know how to do it. Bound to figure it out. That’s been a lot of what we’ve done. You know, there’s been no one that blazed a path for, for a lot of us where this is how you do it.
You know, like I said, I’ve done a lot of things the wrong way and so I’ve done it through blazing it, blazing a path, you know. But not being afraid to kind of put yourself out there and say, yeah, put me in like how I want to take this on as a, as a, as a new initiative. Mmm. Some of them worked out really well. Someone didn’t work out very well, you know, but it doesn’t stop you from trying, you know, say failure’s just not getting up again. I’ve always gotten up and keep trying on those things. And so I would never claim to be most skilled person in any endeavor necessarily. But I learned very early on to, to work hard and I, I don’t want anyone to outwork me in that regard. It doesn’t mean I’ll work, you know, 20 hour days anymore.
But the efficiency in which we work and working smarter in those things and learning how to, how to utilize yourself. And like I said, grow in incrementally better in certain areas to pick up efficiencies. I don’t anyone outwork me in those things. So. So last question, how would you like to be remembered? Okay, the great question. Like I’ve done this Mmm cool leadership classes that I’ve done like, you know, write your eulogy type thing and it’s kind of a morbid way to think about it, but really trying to frame your mind now for how you want to be remembered or what your next 10 years or for an a vision casting perspective, 25 years look like. Mmm. I want to be known as someone that cared. I want to be known as someone that cared. First of all, are we known as, as, as a great husband, great father. Mmm. You know, not perfect necessarily, but I want to do my best to demonstrate, you know, the Christian walk in faith. Mmm.
I’ll be known as a, someone enjoy the outdoors. I love hunting. I love fishing. Love being outside. I love things. I love working with my hands, like building things. I like being able to take a pile of wood and envision something in my head and couple of hours later having that vision come to reality. Same thing with metal. I love welding. I love rebuilding old Jeeps. All these things I’m passionate about. I want to be known as someone that cared
at the end. I want to be known as someone that made a difference.
Made a difference in whatever it is that I do. You know, kind of the, the idea of leaving something better when you leave it than when you found it. I heard the analogy one time of a, a gardener versus a lawn guy. A long guy comes in, maintains it along the way, but a gardener comes and he plants a seed and leaves it better for the person that comes after him. I want to be that Gardner, like there’s things that we’re doing that I’ll never fully see to fruition just because it’s going to outlive me and I’m okay with that. I know that’s going to happen, and that’s what really excites me. And so I want to be known as someone that cared, made a difference. I love it, man. Well, Jonathan, thank you so much for being on the podcast. It was, it was a big pleasure. Yeah. Excellent.