Fitness Marketing Conversation With Top Personal Trainer Dave Parise Part 1
Kaiser Serajuddin: Kaiser here. You’re watching me as part of the blog on Super-Trainer.com and I’m in front of the black background and I have the fancy lights shining on me. You know there’s something important I got to tell you and what I want to do right now is just introduce the conversation I had recently with Dave Parise.
He’s a big personal trainer out in Connecticut. He’s the owner of Studio Results Plus and me and Dave had a chance to talk recently and what’s going to come across the interview is really the consummate pro Dave is. You’re going to get the passion that he has for this business and how he approaches his business and if you’re ever in question of whether personal training was a bona fide career, that’s going to be cemented in your mind after you listen to Dave talk.
He has been in this business for 20 years. Yes, every certification of the business. He runs a big, successful studio and just that professional mindset that a lot of times is lacking from other personal trainers. That’s what’s going to come across today’s interview. So that’s why I wanted to get him on and I wanted to share this with all of you.
And another important thing that we touched on was the service aspect of his business. I mean Dave is a very technically-proficient personal trainer and that’s a cornerstone of what he does but he has really made service the centerpiece of what they do at Results Plus. That’s real important. That’s something that I say all the time too that as personal trainers, the product that we sell, what we do, is largely intangible.
So Dave has identified that and he treats the product, the service as a whole. So that’s another important thing you’re going to get. So just sit back and enjoy the interview and we really touched across a wide range of things, a wide range of topics and you’re going to find it really educational. So enjoy.
Kaiser here and on this issue of Super-Trainer, I’ve got a really great guest. It’s Dave Parise the owner of Results Plus Fitness and Personal Training in Hamden, North Haven and Dave is one of the most qualified and highly experienced trainers in the country. He has been around for 22 years and he has every certification and qualification in the book so it’s a real pleasure to have you on here, Dave.
Dave Parise: Kaiser, thank you. How are you doing today?
Kaiser Serajuddin: Good. I’m doing good.
Dave Parise: Awesome. That was quite an introduction. I really appreciate that and I thank you …
Kaiser Serajuddin: Yes. You’re welcome and it’s definitely a pleasure to have you on and no, it’s much deserved too. Just I haven’t even touched on a lot of things you’ve done in this business but something I like to ask everyone because I get a lot of interesting answers even from the top trainers is how you got started in personal training. How did that happen?
Dave Parise: OK. Well, a statement I would like to start with is first impressions are made in the first two minutes so I’m hoping that I make a good impression with my answers and the last statement is one I firmly believe in is it takes 20 years to build a reputation, 5 minutes to destroy it. That’s kind of my philosophy in life and I obviously fill in the preview of coming attractions, everything in between but the idea of mine was about 22 years ago in the mid-80s so to speak. I had an idea of becoming an uncommon personal trainer, totally uncommon so my passion was over and above the idea of making money.
You know the old thing. People say you build it and they will come. That’s probably the worst attitude you can have as a business professional. So basically developed uncommon exercises, mostly functional exercises and I was ridiculed by most body builders, the typical gym science. I was laughed at by muscle and fiction I call it, magazines. But my dream basically was customer service, continuing my education and thinking instead of following. There were a lot of trainers out there. They’re just mimicking and doing everything that was in a textbook. They were just learning a start position, learning a finish position and going through the motions.
So when you look at the horizon, you see all the personal trainers training their clients. They’re all kind of doing the same thing. I kind of classify them as rent-a-buddies going from machine to machine and maybe answering their cell phone, having a conversation, resting too long between sets and …
Kaiser Serajuddin: Oh, wow. Yes.
Dave Parise: You’ve seen it. You’ve seen it everyday.
Kaiser Serajuddin: Yes.
Dave Parise: So basically what I did is I just – the way I reaped the benefits and the rewards that automatically come to you is just by building customer service and continuing my education, things that are following. I deliberately practice relationships. It’s all about the relationship, nurturing, pampering and giving people more than they expected to get and it worked.
Kaiser Serajuddin: Yes. That’s really spot on. You don’t pull any punches but yes, it looks like you really – you predated kind of the movement we see now where trainers are trying to do more functional exercises and bring the focus back to the science. It would be really ahead of your time.
Now one thing I want to ask you is the training industry, we’ve really seen it boom in the last 10 years but you saw it a long time before that. What was it like when you first started as a personal trainer? I mean what was the business like at that point?
Dave Parise: Well, at that point, it was more or less – again like I said, it was more the industry was just – the Body by Jake trainers. If you remember Jake …
Kaiser Serajuddin: Yes.
Dave Parise: That’s when it was all starting and it was really easy to get a certification. There wasn’t that many nationally accredited organizations out there certifying trainers. So I just started obviously as most trainers do. I was just totally into fitness and to wellness and studying and educating myself. I was a body builder. I was a competitive body builder all through the mid-80s. I retired that about 1992 roughly.
Kaiser Serajuddin: OK.
Dave Parise: But when you talk about trainers being certified, just because you’re a certified personal trainer or getting certified, it doesn’t mean you’re qualified. So that’s basically one of my pet peeves in the industry because personal trainers today, they get certified. They go to a seminar. They learn some cool moves. They buy some new cool functional tools and they can’t wait to try them on their clients Monday morning. So you see many trainers guessing, not assessing.
So the message here is it’s not about the cool tools nor the exercise. It’s about assessing, not guessing. Just because you could doesn’t mean you should. You’ve heard it 100 times and that’s what I’ve seen over the last 20 years. It is becoming much easier to be certified these days and the only ones that are suffering basically are the clients.
Kaiser Serajuddin: Yes. Well, now, with the things you just mentioned with your approach to personal training, I’m assuming that’s the approach of Results Plus, your business out in Connecticut. Can you just talk a little bit about the place, how it’s set up, what’s the business like?
Dave Parise: Yes. Clients come to us about three times a week. We have those overachievers that come five times a week. We have – roughly today we keep track of them as – we have a wellness newsletter that goes out consistently with tidbits of information on health and fitness and nutrition. We have a little over 350 clients currently today.
Kaiser Serajuddin: Wow.
Dave Parise: We have 13 trainers on staff. It’s about 5000 square feet and it’s all basically one-on-one attention, private surroundings. So again, it’s uncommon. It’s not like the regular training center. When people come in here, they get pampered. They get pampered from the minute they walk in. We call it the “meet and greet” to the minute they leave the facility.
As an example, when we talk about pampering being uncommon, every time a client is sick, they get a bouquet of flowers or they get something in the mail or they get a Hallmark card or something that says we’re thinking about you.
Kaiser Serajuddin: Well, I hope people listening to this are taking notes. That’s some good stuff, good customer service there. So go on, yes.
Dave Parise: That’s a rule of thumb. I mean literally if you miss a Wednesday, we’re following up the next day trying to get you in the book, making sure you get those three visits a week.
We do grocery shopping for our clients which is over and above the call of duty. So if someone says, “I just don’t have the time for this or that,” we create a menu. We go out. We will go grocery shopping. We will pick up certain items at a Whole Foods store or Wild Oats store and bringing them a package. They look at us. OK. What do I owe you? Nothing. Don’t worry about it.
And that’s the kind of thing and there’s a big expense in that. But you know what? It’s not about the money. That comes back tenfold. It really does. It comes back when you basically go over and above the call of duty. We have that kind of a Walt Disney, Ritz-Carlton attitude and …