Random Things I Learned- Part 2

Post by Mark Ehnis

Part 2

11. Love it or prepare for unhappiness. No, this does not mean that if you love what you do you will automatically be successful and happy. There is a ton of work involved for that to become true. What this means is that, in my own case, if I didn’t love what I did then it wouldn’t be worth the stress or the headaches. There are still days where loads of crap just keeps piling up and being in the gym is at the bottom of my list. I’m sure everyone has had this feeling before- and if you haven’t, you are either lying or unemployed. However, when you’re around good, quality people, your bad days can quickly turn into great days. I find this especially true being around middle and high school athletes. They give off a lot of energy and are with me to try and get better. How can I not step up my game on the bad days if a kid is counting on me? I love when a kid hits a PR or reaches a goal. Knowing you helped them, even in the smallest way, is rewarding and will keep you coming back day after day with a more positive attitude.

12. Be a people person. Don’t be afraid to ask. Both of these could be two separate points but I feel they are related.  If you’re comfortable with people, you’ll find a way to ask them for what you need/want. These weren’t exactly my strong points going into the summer. Sure I can talk training until I’m blue in the face but how many ordinary people, athletes or not, want to listen to all that? Business-wise, I realized quickly that if I couldn’t communicate properly then I’d miss out on meeting some great people, as well as dollars. Anyone in sales or business knows how important being a people person is for networking or selling. You don’t have to try and make everyone like you- that would be annoying. Just be genuine. Actually care and show real interest in whomever you’re dealing with. Fakers are almost worse than haters in my mind. I still suck at asking for some things but I’m getting better. Again, if you show that you care and are genuine, chances are that people will want to help you out- and if they can’t, they probably know someone who could. Don’t be afraid (or stubborn) to ask for favors, advice, or even money. Asking for money might be the hardest one but it’s something you just have to learn to get over and do. It might be uncomfortable at first for whatever reason but if you can’t charge what you’re worth then you’ll be poor.  Be a people person, be real, and things will fall into place a lot smoother.

13. Display the type of attitude you want. Of course, looks aren’t everything when it comes to a gym. You won’t get clients based on what looks ‘cool’- you actually have to be able to train and get results. That being said, I wanted to create a no non-sense atmosphere in my gym. Our equipment isn’t fancy, but it has many uses and looks ‘hardcore’ (whatever that word means) compared to many health clubs. I wanted to send the message that when you’re here, you’re here to train. If not, then you should just leave because there’s literally nothing else for you to do here. Yes we have a flat screen TV in the office- but it’s with basic cable, no ESPN, and nothing is ever on. It’s literally there to watch training DVD’s and other PowerStrength propaganda to brainwash you into our system-just kidding, but seriously…

Attitude is Everything

14. Get a phone with Internet. Learn how to use technology. I’m a dinosaur when it comes to phones. This is an area of my life I like consistency and convenience. Something that is simple and quick. Now that I have my own business and dealing with other people schedules all the time- I need a phone with Internet on it. I still haven’t got one yet but soon…soon. I need time to prepare for the change. Please try to hold your laughter, or at least muffle it. Since I like convenience, you’d think I’d be better at utilizing technology. I’m not. I made the switch to a Mac this summer. It was a slow process and I’m still learning. Long story short, utilize whatever technology that you have available to help your business (and life) be more organized and grow. If it takes up too much time to implement then move on without it or get someone to help you with it- exchange services if possible.

Looking forward to the challenge!

15. Learn as you go along. I kind of already touched on this before. In short, you’ll never be 100% ready to do anything. Get some courage and dive in. Take mental notes of what works and what doesn’t and change accordingly. Learn as you go along and apply what you learn. The quicker you make mistakes, the quicker you will know what’s best for you.

16. Don’t procrastinate. Something always comes up. Manage your time, make lists, and don’t waste time with stuff that doesn’t matter. Prioritize. I still do this sometimes (one of the reasons I’m scared to get a new ‘high-tech’ phone with internet on it). I’m terrible at multi-tasking so I try to just crank one thing out at a time and be efficient with whatever I’m doing. We all know what’s important and what isn’t so I won’t preach on it. And no, reality TV shows aren’t important- and hardly reality.

The only TV show I make sure I watch these days

17. Writing is a valuable skill. Writing is hard work. I haven’t had to write anything significant, or with proper grammar and spelling, since college. You’ll feel really dumb the first time you try to sit down and write something semi-serious. My hat goes off to writers, authors, and bloggers who can crank out quality stuff day after day. Writing comes with the territory, as I want to be able to inform as many clients and people as possible. Grammar has never been my strong suit so please bear with me as you read any of my stuff. Some of it will flat out be wrong. If you have trouble writing, just try to be consistent and write something every day- you don’t even have to show it to anyone. It’s a skill, so it needs to be practiced.

18. Teach your athletes to be responsible. This will make your life, business, and training so much better. They need to know their schedule and be able to plan ahead. We make our athletes sign themselves in every day, record their own weights, and count their own sets and reps. When they’re done with the equipment or workout logs, they must be put away almost immediately- depending on my mood for that day. If they don’t follow through they usually owe me something- either extra conditioning or chores around the gym. I’ve even threatened to suspend athletes for a week if they aren’t responsible and follow the gym rules. It’s so easy for kids to skate by without any accountability of responsibility these days. If I can help teach them to be responsible then they’ll benefit from that in life a lot longer than any exercise I could show them. If I don’t have to constantly remind them to do the little things then I can focus more on the training and won’t end up with a headache after every day.

19. Don’t wait until the last minute. Market before you open. In our case, this was unavoidable and a little different than point #16. All in all, we signed the lease and moved in within three days. We had athletes training on day four. We wanted to be able to have a full summer’s worth of training for our high school football players. In three days we cleaned, painted, moved and assembled equipment, purchased and pieced together the flooring, and organized the place as best we could. It was a crazy week but we worked hard and got it done. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you have a deadline to reach. Due to the last minute move-in, we were unable to give specifics when marketing beforehand. This is something that I was advised to do and very disappointed that I didn’t do it as well as I could have. I was fortunate to have a lot of quality athletes come to me from the school I coached football and was volunteering as a strength coach at. If you build it- it doesn’t mean you’ll fill it.

The crew of athletes that helped move-in all the equipment- BIG TIME HELP

20. Make time for fun- it will keep you sane. If you manage your time properly and have your priorities in order, make sure you make time for a little fun. Sometimes you need to leave work at work- being a business owner, this is almost impossible. I think about training and the gym almost non-stop. However, having this in your head all day can drive you insane or skew your outlook on reality. If you had a productive day or week, don’t feel guilty about going out with friends or playing a round of golf. Just don’t let it carryover too long or get in the way of the work that still needs to get done.

Taken from our annual Fantasy Football League Golf Outing- it was an accident, I swear…

21. Can’t sweat the small stuff. If you let the little things bother you- you will always be bothered. Don’t sweat the small stuff and get on with your day. If you dwell on the bad, or disappointing news, your day will be just that- bad or disappointing.

22. Be great at coaching and training. Be able to get results and prove yourself. You have to actually be great at what you do. I’m thankful I didn’t jump right into my own gym immediately after college. I thought I knew more than enough to get started. I would’ve fallen flat on my face. Spending countless hours as a volunteer strength coach at a high school, non-stop reading and research, and training myself, were all vital into gaining valuable training knowledge. You have to be able to adapt on the fly when training certain athletes. Having the knowledge and the skill to think on your feet is a must. A lot looks good on paper but until you get your hands dirty and find our what works and what doesn’t, you’ll just be stuck with a pretty piece of paper. I still strive to have all the answers- even though I know this is an unrealistic goal and I usually end up with more questions than when I started and left feeling idiotic. However, I’ve also been guilty of just stockpiling information. This is fine if I only cared about myself. You also have to be able to explain it and explain it so a 14-year old can understand. I learned that’s where the experience comes in. I will say this- you better be able to practice what you preach- especially in the strength and conditioning realm. It’s like getting a haircut from a bald guy- how does he know? If you’re teaching athletes how to be big and strong, you should probably have some real ‘under the bar’ experience to back it up. Fortunately, for me, one of my best lifts is the bench (compared to most washed-up meatheads). Many high school kids think that’s awesome. I didn’t think it would, but having my name on our gym record board on display has given me immediate credibility with some athletes. And no, the strongest guy isn’t always the smartest and chances are what worked for him won’t work for you- don’t listen to these types because they are stronger than you. In all seriousness though, be able to actually live out what you spit out will return a level of respect from your audience.

I hope you found this insightful or semi-entertaining. Thanks for reading!