THE HARD ROAD TO OPENING YOUR OWN TRAINING STUDIO

Posted on 03. Sep, 2010 by in Marketing Fitness


Stop training guys like this before too much of the sleaziness rubs off.

Stop training guys like this before too much of the sleaziness rubs off.

It’s true I’ve done a lot in my time in this business, from running my training business throughout New York’s boroughs, training models, CEOs, and Wall Street types, and more recently dominating the training in my area.  However, no matter how easy I try to make your road in this business through this site and programs, my road was anything but.

On that note, I got a guest article from fitness expert and long time reader Noah Dean about the hard road a friend of his took to getting his new training business launched.

It’s about his friend Dane Krager, who recently opened his own studio, Dane’s Body Shop. I thought this would be a great guest article to include for a change of pace.

Usually I bring you a one-sided, overly positive, and often self-serving views of the fitness world.  But this article should give you a good dose of the realities of this business and what a lot of us face.  It’s full of drama and is a good slice of life, which always makes for great reading.

I’m sure you’ll be able to see a little bit of yourself here, as I did.  And hopefully Dane and everyone else will be able to use Super-Trainer.com to make the road a lot easier from here on out.

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Through Super-trainer.com, Kaiser Serajuddin has put together a “must-have” when it comes to starting your own gym/studio. Unfortunately, there are those who are unaware of what Kaiser has to offer and go through hardships of starting a business that may have otherwise been avoided. This is the story of such a person. However, if Super-trainer.com had been in the mix, the near ‘Greek Tragedy’ that is the following story may not have been so full of, well, tragedy.

Dane’s Body Shop: A Diamond from the Rough

Every now and then we come across that one person who seems to have the answers to all life’s questions. No, not the sardonic, annoying, always-try-to-one-up-you guy, but the person who really does fit the mold of a confident, yet humble, polite, generous and motivated individual. You know, the man/woman who has been tempered by adversity and is destined to have a movie made about them (or at least a script written). Well this article is about that guy, and how he got that way.

I first met Dane Krager in the year 2000, at Angelo State University, a small school resting in the wilderness that is West Texas. He was an atypical jock to say the least: starting defensive end, sack record-holder, admired, driven, intelligent, and yes, ridiculously good-looking. Dane had been given the opportunity to play at the renowned University of Texas out of high school but chose to attend the small school in hopes of getting more playing time. Soon after graduating with a degree in English Literature, Dane was called to join the exalted National Football League. It seemed to most that he had the world at his fingertips. But, that wasn’t the case. In under a year, Dane had been cut from both the Minnesota Vikings and the Seattle Seahawks; he had not played in one regular season NFL game. This was, in Dane’s eyes, a major personal failure.

After his chances with the NFL had come and gone, Dane moved back to his hometown of Austin, Texas where he lived in a small, one-bedroom apartment with his red lab, Cede. After a short stint interning at a local television station he decided to try out for the Austin Wranglers, a recently organized Arena Football team. During the last day of training camp, Dane asked if he could deep snap for one play, just for fun. When that single snap was a success, Dane learned that it was the only play that kept him from being dismissed from arena football. “I’m glad you showed me that, Dane.” the coach uttered, “We were about to cut you.”

But Dane’s humble beginning in arena football wasn’t an accurate predictor of things to come. After four years, Dane had served as team captain, “player of the week”, and appointed to the AFL All Ironman team… as the starting fullback and linebacker.

Unfortunately though, you can’t play football forever…

A lot of former athletes turned trainers Ive talked to fail to hit the BUSINESS side of fitness as hard as they hit their opponents.

In August of 2007, Dane retired from football and began working as a personal trainer. He found a fellow trainer who convinced Dane to let him play a part in the business, and the two started a boot-camp style training partnership. Dane completely poured himself into this endeavor. But after eight months of waking up at 4:30 a.m., investing all the start-up money, and paying his fellow “trainer” to… sleep in, Dane found himself at the losing end of the joint venture.  The business failed miserably; perceived failure number two.

Dane then decided to take the boot camp idea on as his own. With what he would refer to as a “complete lack of structure,” Dane began to train whomever, however, whenever, and for just about any amount of money. But without structure, his personal training appeared nothing more than a hobby, not a business, and a solid pool of clientele couldn’t be established. Dane was missing something, he felt lost. Enter failure three.

Although he hid it well, Dane was reaching his breaking point.

In the midst of this relatively chaotic time, a former coach called and offered Dane position with the Arizona Rattlers (another arena team). With not much to lose, he took the opportunity… sort of. During training camp, Dane stood, looking at all the young, resilient, gridiron “wannabe” heroes. And then something happened: he didn’t want to play anymore. The fire of aggression he had carried with him for so long was gone, blown out by a single epiphany. He was done. And not just with football. Dane was finished with the terrorizing depression he had suppressed since being cut from the NFL. He was done with the bitterness of losing his savings, time, and trust in others for a business that failed, twice. He was done carrying the anxiety of not knowing what the future held. In his own words, he was “just done.”

Immediately, Dane approached his coach and explained that he was quitting the game of football for good. He got in his truck and made the long trip from Phoenix to Austin. Then… he bought a plane ticket to Warsaw, Poland.

Even to me (a very close friend), I can’t understand what exactly was going through his mind during that long trip from Phoenix to Austin. I mean, who decides to randomly take a vacation to Poland? I learned in my interview with Dane however, this was no vacation. Dane explained, “I figured I could either invest what little money I had in stocks and hope for the best. Or, I could travel away from the world I knew, and hope for the best.” Personally, I still don’t get it. Dane didn’t even have an agenda. He was just going to see where his feet took him. It’s a concept that very few people would be willing to take past “I would do it”. Dane was searching for something; he just didn’t know what exactly it was.

Inspiration usually comes when youre as far away from your business as possible.

In the end, Dane’s random act of self discovery led him on a journey that would span three months and more than a dozen countries. By plane, train, boat, and “thumb”, Dane traveled to Poland, Egypt, Italy, France, Holland, Greece, and the Czech Republic; just to name a few. Sometimes he slept in a hotel, and sometimes he slept on the ground. Some meals were multiple courses, others were stale bread, and others were nothing at all. Some of the people he came across were warm, charming, and honest. Others he approached were warm, charming, and trying to steal all he had. But through his impulsive, 90-day experience, Dane found what he had been looking for; the one thing we’re all looking for.

Atop a mountain outside of Flam, Norway, Dane sat meditating. He began mentally piecing together his idea for another business to be meticulously assembled back in Austin. But this time it was different; this time it was about helping others. While in Egypt, the smiling faces of the local children had inspired Dane to “pursue something other than a bigger bank account.” He stated, “While spending time in Luxor, I learned that’s it’s not what you have, it’s how you perceive what you have. Many of the children owned nothing more than the torn clothes on their backs, but I’ve never seen a group of individuals more happy and content with their lives. I learned that if you have happiness, you have success.”

When Dane returned to the states, he “was ready.” Dane began saving every penny from various odd jobs. He leased a small, crumbling, auto-body shop near downtown Austin.  After several months of exhausting work to repair the facility (with help from his father), Dane’s Body Shop was open for business. Bu what exactly is the “business”?

Dane uses what he calls, a “synergistic/fusion approach in which clients will get Yoga, martial arts, strength conditioning, Pilates, Nutrition guidance, and more.” This slew of various fitness/wellness is vital for building a foundation for holistic wellness and is common among today’s personal trainers. But it’s the “more” that people don’t get from your run-of-the-mill instructor.

At the start of each session, Dane will seem like any other trainer. He’ll introduce himself, and then address the trainees in a tone typical of a man ready to coach you through a hellacious workout. You’ll hear the latest tunes from the local Austin bands in the background and smell the aroma of sweat, yoga mats, and maybe even old care engines. But as the workout continues, you will notice something about Dane that is rare in this field, a genuine sense of caring. You see, Dane has the understanding that everyone is fighting a never-ending battle. And he is honored, no, humbled by the fact that you have trusted him with your time, ambition, money, and wellness. Dane will push you to your physical limits, but keep you focused on your life goals (not just those that show up on a scale). And don’t be surprised if afterwards, he strikes up a deep, what-do-you-want-out-of-life conversation.

Why? The answer is simple. Because Dane’s Body Shop has an owner that sincerely wants you to achieve something extra. His experiences of failure and triumph, as well as his passion for helping others allow that desire to shine through. “Don’t get me wrong” Dane explained, “Anyone who commits to a session is going to shed unwanted pounds, improve their cardiovascular endurance, and/or lower their cholesterol, but I want to inspire them to make the most of their lives, starting with the physical and transcending to the mind.”

Dane and his dog Cede in front of Dane's Body Shop

And this is where this story ends; but is only the beginning of a new story.  I wish I could say that Dane’s influence will catch on around the world and that others will emphasize the aspects of wellness, fitness, and holistic tranquility like he does. But the truth is: Dane is THAT guy. Few others will ever have the rare combination of insight, wisdom, and genuine sense of love and caring that Dane Krager has. If you’re within 1,000 miles of Austin, TX, a trip to Dane’s Body Shop will be well worth your time.

So what’s the moral of the story? Well, other than turning to the never-fail cliché “hard work will pay off”, I’ll also recruit the “don’t make things harder than they have to be.”  Super-trainer.com is an invaluable source of business savvy that is literally just a click away.
Noah Dean, PhD, ACSM-PT

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17 Comments

Travis

04. Sep, 2010

Yup, been through the hard times my damn self. I’ve screwed up, burned so much money, and been conned so many times trying to start a business it’s not even funny.

What matters is whether you can pick yourself up and keep moving. Good job Dane.

(And good job Kaiser – finally not a promotional blog post! I’m not mad at ya, but give us some content once in a while – sheesh!)

Terry Kennedy

04. Sep, 2010

Good job Dane – keep fighting through it, and congrats on the gym.

Kaiser Serajuddin

04. Sep, 2010

Hey Travis – you finally put in more than a two word comment and that’s what you’ve got to say?

Hey I would say sorry about all the selling, but I really believe in the mix of products I’ve got now so will be pushing them hard.

But yes absolutely, there will be top-notch content mixed in here as well.

Greg Crawford

04. Sep, 2010

Ok I have to comment on this one…
First off this was a really good practical post because God knows all of us have struggled and continue to at times. It’s the people like Dane that can make mistakes and keep that vision even when things look bleak that makes them successes. I too relate that when I’m in times of darkness and nothing seems to work that I can still see where I’m going and never quit. Quitting on your dreams is not an option!
Secondly, just want to say that out of all the fitness biz blogs, I think Kaiser brings the most and sells the least. And when he does sell a product, your not just $ signs, he cares about how its actually working for you. I know this first hand.
Thanks for the great content Kaiser and thanks to Noah and Dane!

Travis

06. Sep, 2010

Slow down cowboys – he’s got every right to sell for the content and site he’s put together. I’m just saying that their should be a balance between the two. And I was half kidding too – no one leaves more comments on this blog than me man – take a look Greg – I don’t just pop in and out – this one’s the best.

YEEAAAH! I’m glad everyone’s happy now! Go SuperTrainer!

Jason Aurman

06. Sep, 2010

This article was a good idea Kaiser. It’s good to show that things aren’t always perfect for everybody, all the time.

Good luck Dane – hope your studio goes good. Be sure to get some help this time around! I spent years struggling in this business until I got the help to start improving. That’s what makes the difference.

Raquelle Valderama

06. Sep, 2010

Hi Kaiser! First off I want to say, I love your site, I love your programs (I own ALL of them), they have helped me out a million times the money I’ve spent, and DON’T CHANGE A THING!

Okay, now that’s out of the way, I can really related to Dane’s story. I don’t think anyone has as easy a time as some people make thing out to be. It’s going to be hard at times. But I agree with Jason. Dane, I think you could have been helped out by getting some products or coaching from someone like Kaiser. It would have really sped up your progress.

Good luck everything!

– R

Adam

06. Sep, 2010

good story from a survivor – good luck and keep us posted on what happens –

Devon NYC

07. Sep, 2010

Hey Kaiser – glad to see I’m not the only one that’s had trouble as a trainer. I’ve been in and out of this career THREE times! So I can definitely relate to Dane.

But now, I don’t work for a gym anymore – I have my own clients. That’s the entire difference.

Kaiser, I want to thank you for helping me out with that part. Go ahead and sell as much stuff as you want, because buying your programs and talking to you those few times has been the best move I’ve ever made and the turning point.

Thanks man and keep the good stuff coming!

Anthony

07. Sep, 2010

good read – good luck with your gym guy!

Greg Crawford

07. Sep, 2010

Not mad at ya Travis…just giving my opinion also. No judgements brother..

Dane Krager

08. Sep, 2010

This was a great surprise by both you and Noah. Thanks to both of you for writing this and posting it on the site which I am growing to love.

Derrick

14. Sep, 2010

Hey Kaiser – just wanted to say I got the new program and went through about half of it in one night – it looks crazy!

Noah

14. Sep, 2010

Hey kaiser – I just discovered your site. I’ve owned my own gym in Queens for 4 years and I can relate to a lot of the issues you talk about with trainers here. I’ve just noticed an apathy when it comes to the trainers I hire, and i think it’s with flaws in this industry. I plan to invest in some of your programs to help develop the training department – until now it’s been a miserable failure. Keep up the great work and thanks for this resource.

April

14. Sep, 2010

This article is spot on! Although you will always catch him in a great mood (I like to think of it as positive energy) Dane is no ordinary instructor… Instinctively you somehow just know he truly cares about your well being. And that I am grateful for.

Kaiser Serajuddin

17. Sep, 2010

I’m glad Noah sent over your story Dane – made for an excellent article. I’m looking forward to hearing how your studio does in the future. Yes, definitely follow the blog and hit it out of the park this time.

Hey Noah – welcome to the site. Which gym did you own exactly? We probably have met in some way shape or form. I know exactly what you mean when you talk about that apathy. On the one hand this site is to uplift trainers. On the other hand, it’s to help the smart ones stand out among all that apathy.

Great feedback guys – keep it coming.

Luigy

25. Dec, 2010

Woha Noha, good post for both of you guy’s…

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