Yes Yes Yes. I did it….
I finally got to talk and interview the GODFATHER of fitness marketing. The one and only Ryan Lee. Ryan is one of the most genuine down to earth people that I have ever met and it’s always a pleasure to talk to. He is the kind of person that just has such a great energy and vibe. Watch this interview as I surprise Ryan by asking him some unexpected questions and put him on the spot. Ryan talks about the state of the fitness industry now and how the pendulum has totally shifted in the fitness industry.
I am trying to bring Ryan back to the fitness industry just one more time. Can you please leave a comment below and help me convince him to come back
Ryan Lee with Sam Bakhtiar
[spoiler]Sam Bakhtiar: Hey, everybody. It’s your main man Seven-figure Sam here and you cannot believe who I got here with me on Skype. I’m interviewing the one and only Ryan Lee. What’s up, Ryan?
Ryan Lee: What’s going on, Sam? How are you doing, buddy?
Sam Bakhtiar: Man, I’m doing fantastic. I’m on the top of the world, man. I got the greatest of all time here, the main guy who actually brought the fitness industry, started doing the fitness marketing – brought the fitness marketing world here. So it’s a pleasure having you.
Ryan Lee: It’s a pleasure to be here. I am ready to rock and roll. Let’s kick some ass.
Sam Bakhtiar: All right. So Ryan, just for the audience, I mean pretty much everybody knows your history. If you could just give me a little bit of background of the days that you started as a schoolteacher and how you got into the fitness industry and how you are where you are right now. Just a quick like a five-minute background for those of you who are living under the rock and don’t know who you are.
Ryan Lee: Well, I started in the fitness industry almost 20 years ago back in ’94 and I graduated college and I ran track in college. I was a sprinter. I always worked out my whole life and my first fulltime job, I worked in a children’s rehab hospital and I did adapted aquatics. I did fitness and I got all the different – I really don’t remember how many fitness certifications I got but it was a lot. Even with the adapted fitness instructor where I learned to work with people with different physical abilities.
I went to Special Olympics. I mean I did all that cool stuff and then on the side, while I was working fulltime, I started my own personal training business and at night I was going for a master’s degree in exercise physiology. So that was – first rule number one is if you want to do it, if you really want this, you got to hustle. Right?
Don’t buy into the bullshit. If you sit back – hey, I’m a personal trainer. I don’t want to work anymore. I want to just sit on my ass and press buttons. It doesn’t work that way, if you really want it. All my clients that have the highest level of success worked for it but it comes, and I’m telling you.
So anyway, started training on the side, built my first website in ’98 and early ’99 to promote my personal training business and I was specializing mostly in training athletes. I set up strength and conditioning programs at gyms, at ice hockey rings, the USTA. I would go where anyone would take me and whether that meant at 10 o’clock at night or 6 o’clock in the morning, I did it. And it started kind of growing.
I started putting up a lot of articles about strength and conditioning. I started getting articles from other friends of mine and I started getting emails from people all over the world and then I started selling programs then I hooked up with Perform Better and I started speaking at their events and started – they started promoting me and then I had an association with the NSCA and I started having their state home pages all sit on my website because again, this was a long time ago. And now I’m talking to Sam.
Things just kept snowballing and snowballing. So finally, I actually left the job as a teacher. I was still doing this on the side and – sorry, as a recreational therapist, became a physical educator. In 2001, I launched a first paid membership site when I really got serious about it and that’s where things kind of took off.
And now it has been 11 years I’ve been doing this full time. I still do a lot of fitness stuff. The big focus now I have which a lot of people don’t realize, I was the co-founder of a company called Prograde Nutrition and the co-founder Jim Labadie has been running it seamlessly behind the scenes all of these years. Sammy See is our CFO. Jayson Hunter is our nutritionist and operations guy and I basically help with the marketing of the site. So that’s our big – so we’re behind the scenes of a ton of fitness professionals, all the big ones online, a lot of health clubs and studios. So that, I still do internet marketing. I still teach. I still blog and I just have a lot of fun.
Sam Bakhtiar: That’s awesome. You know what? One thing that I noticed about you, Ryan, over the years is that you are such an easygoing guy and it seems like in a way, you’re just having fun all the time and you make all these crap loads of money and it’s good to see somebody is having fun and you can tell that you’re totally passionate about what you do and I know – I know that I heard Prograde is well – an over eight-figure business for you right now.
Ryan Lee: I can’t reveal numbers but put it this way. We’re doing great. We’re really growing fast. We’ve been at it for a long time and what we really focus on – and this is kind of a – everything I talk about with this kind of things, they’re all lessons. The lesson that I learned from Prograde is obviously having – surrounding yourself with good people. Jim, Sammy and Jason have been unbelievable but also putting your time and resources back into your products and programs and that was – Jim Labadie’s message from day one is let’s build the greatest supplement program, the greatest supplement company in the world and we put all of our money back into product development, product research.
So what I’m saying is as a trainer, I think what has happened in the industry – when I started teaching the marketing stuff, especially the online marketing, this was kind of ahead of its time, a couple of years before trainers – I mean I remember speaking at an event 10 years ago and I swear, Sam. I said, “OK. How many of you personal trainers have an email address?” Not a website, an email address and maybe 20 percent of the …
Sam Bakhtiar: I was one of them, Ryan. I was one of them. I do not kid you. I was one of them.
Ryan Lee: Yes. I mean so it was kind of ahead of its time and that’s when back in the day, and when I first started I made this mistake too, is trainers spend 100 percent of their time and effort studying training, right? I took every certification. I speak in front of physicians and doctors about fitness but what happened was it was so far – the pendulum swung so far where it’s just fitness and people forgot about marketing. The trainer was struggling. They weren’t building businesses. They weren’t having any leverage in their business.
So I kind of came along and introduced this world of like this really more aggressive marketing, be the expert, stand up and say you’re the best. But what has happened, I think, is the pendulum had swung so far in the other side. Now the trainers are coming in and they’re like, “Hey man, who gives a shit about the fitness?” Fake it until you make it kind of thing and all they care about is business and I’m like, “You guys are forgetting your craft. Like, it has got to be in the middle.” Like yes, learn the marketing. Learn the business. You got to do that. But you also – you can’t forget about the passion for the fitness and why we’re in this industry.
So I’ve seen it swing from one end to the other and now hopefully it will come back to where it should be which is in the middle and diversifying your skills in both the trainee and the business. And some marketers have been kind of predatory in taking advantage of trainers and flashing all these big money in front of them and it’s just a bunch of bullshit. Like, don’t forget your craft. Don’t forget your fitness.
That’s still the crux of it because the best marketing in the world, I don’t give a shit how good your postcard is, how good your headline is, how good your website is. You can get a thousand people to your boot camp but if you suck as a trainer, if your programs don’t work, if people are getting hurt, they’re not coming back and they’re going to tell their friends that you’re a terrible trainer.
So all that – it doesn’t make any sense to me. All that time is wasted. So learn your craft. Be the best freaking trainer. You combine that with marketing and that’s where my best clients, the Alwyn Cosgroves, the Zac Even-Eshes, the Mike Boyles, all these guys, Cosgrove, Jason C. Brown, they’ve all mastered the art of being a great trainer but learning to market too.
Sam Bakhtiar: I couldn’t agree with you any more than that, man. Ryan, I even, I think, fell into that trap. I graduated college. It was all about education and graduated then when I got my doctorate in chiropractic, graduated from Penn State and got out over $100,000 in student loans, couldn’t – it turned out as a chiropractor, I think they pay me like four grand a month.
I moved in California with my four grand a month. They were offering me an apartment with a carport. I couldn’t even get a garage for my car. I started getting depressed. I’m like all these years of education, I can’t do anything. So I started learning marketing and I started diving into it so much that I totally forgot to even – I’m like, you know what? That doesn’t even matter at all. Now, I’m just going to do all marketing and like you said, I just went totally the other way and I believe no, no, I paid for it. I paid for it and suffer and now grown up, I realized that – exactly what you said. You have to have a great product, great service first and then learn the marketing and together that’s a real business. And the people who just do marketing, marketing, marketing, I tell them, if you don’t know your craft, you’re going to market yourself right out of business.
Ryan Lee: Yes, it’s true because look, people are going to see how thin your experience is pretty quickly and if you actually – it’s funny because I get blamed – I get credit for a lot of stuff but I also get blamed for a lot of stuff and a lot of people blame this influx of fitness marketers kind of on me on this stuff they said I said years ago.
But if you actually listen to my message back then and the ones who did are the ones who are still successful. I said from day – you could go back to the tapes, go back to the CDs. I said it has got to be 50-50. It would be half the time to market and half the time to training and I said that – and I’ve been consistent with that message.
But people, for some reason over the years, oh Ryan just teaches us about marketing. I always said – and again, the Zac Even-Eshes, the Alwyn Cosgroves, the ones who hone their craft and learn the marketing are the ones who are still in the game and the ones who just try to be the fitness marketer, maybe they have a little temporary success but it always – they can come out really strong and it starts to – gradually starts to go down.
Same thing in the world of internet marketing because people start to realize they buy into the hype and then they’re looking behind the curtains like, man, this guy is really not that good. Where is like the substance to it? So again, 50-50. Know your craft and then study the marketing and when you do that, that’s when you’re in it to win it.
Sam Bakhtiar: It goes back to this. You can only fool people once. You can’t fool them over and over and over again and once people start to mistrust you because you lead them the wrong way the first time, they’re not going to trust you again.
Ryan Lee: Right. And look, I’m not saying you have to be – you know more about training than, I don’t know, whoever the biggest names in training were, right? When I first started, I really admired like some of the training stuff. I studied a lot of Mel Siff. I mean I studied everybody but I wasn’t pretending that I could attend a two-day workshop which I did and say, “All right, I know as much as because it wasn’t big but I’m going to be the best that I can be and put my own unique spin on things as well.”
So – and people think so – because the opposite end is like well, I’m never going to know as much about, whoever, Mike Boyle’s training. So why even try? And I think that’s the wrong attitude too. So get as good as you can and then know the marketing.
Sam Bakhtiar: OK.
Ryan Lee: Yes.
Sam Bakhtiar: Now, I know you’re known as like the king of continuity and you’re the one that brought the continuity into this world and pretty much in the whole internet marketing space. I don’t know of anyone except someone that I know that might have ripped you off first about the continuity.
Ryan Lee: I got ripped off a little bit but that’s all right.
Sam Bakhtiar: We’re not going to name no names. But tell me about the continuity model, how trainers can utilize it in their business and how would you see that happening in the next few years.
Ryan Lee: Well, continuity income is another where – it’s the marketing term for recurring revenue or residual income. It’s money that you basically make over and over and over and the perfect example of it is, in the fitness world, the health club. People pay $20, $30, $50, $80, $10 a month to belong to a health club.
That’s the kind of business you want to be in. Now I’m not saying you want to be in the business of some big, stupid health clubs that charge $20 a month and they pray that everyone doesn’t show up because they’re not built to handle all the members. I’m talking about getting some type of program where people would pay you month after month after month because that’s going to not only steady your income. That’s the kind of income that grows because without that, if you’re only charging clients on a one-on-one – a session per session basis or you’re selling – let’s say you have an ebook or let’s say workout DVD you sell and you sell them for 20 bucks each. You may have a really good month.
Let’s say you work your butt off and you sell 100 DVDs as well. That’s great. You made two grand but if you have 100 members and some kind of DVD of the month club, now you made two grand at month one and you get another 100 members in month two. Now you made four grand in the second month. If you’re only selling one DVD at a time, you’re back at zero.
So it’s the kind of exponential growth and to me, that’s kind of what made me wealthy is this recurring revenue so you’ve always got to find ways to build recurring revenue and I don’t want this to turn into a big promotion for Prograde but that was the – one of the main reasons why we created Prograde all these years ago was because of continuity income because what I found was the way I would make money as a trainer recommending supplements, I would have to go to – I don’t want to name – some of these stores where they sell supplements and someone will go in and they say, “Oh yes, Ryan is my trainer. Oh, great. He gets five percent.” He means he made $3.
But there was no recurring revenue. We wanted to build a model with this auto ship and now over 80 percent of our customers are on auto ship where every month they get the product sent to them automatically month after month after month and that’s why we pay the trainer’s recurring commissions month after month after month.
So that’s what I’m talking about in terms of continuity. So whether it’s a membership site, whether it’s supplements like Prograde, whether it’s having people on some type of monthly program, whether it’s monthly programs for boot camps, you’ve got to find ways to build that recurring revenue with your business.
Sam Bakhtiar: Oh, definitely. Prograde was a game changer. I’m just so sorry – I just regret that I didn’t find out about it or was resisting it. I was a late – late into the curve. I’m always the skeptic at first. So Prograde eliminated for me to have a bunch of inventory, eliminated somebody and my manager going out there ordering and see what’s missing, what’s not missing. It eliminated the price competition because you can’t go find Prograde at Costco for like 10 bucks.
Ryan Lee: Right, right.
Sam Bakhtiar: You know what I mean? And I sold it once. I keep getting checks and keep getting checks and getting checks and I mean if trainers are out there, they’re sending people to – hey, I’m going to name names. I don’t care. GNC or Nutrishop or whatever the stores are. You send the people there where somebody behind the counter, that probably doesn’t know jack shit about nutrition and is paid eight bucks an hour, is going to recommend stuff that mostly got the highest markup for them. You’re not getting anything out of it. Your client is not getting anything out of it and it’s a lose-lose.
So you guys at Prograde, I mean, definitely did a kickass job and I should have – if I would have been on the first one of them and they’re thousands of dollars more, it’s not a mistake I have to live with so good job on that.
Ryan Lee: It’s never too late. Never too late, Sam.
Sam Bakhtiar: OK. So Ryan, I got to ask you this, man. This is going to be a tough question for you. I want to ask you and put you on the spot, man. Why you left us. Why did you leave us, bro? I mean I’m still …
Ryan Lee: It’s funny. A lot of my customers are still fitness professionals, health and fitness professionals but yes, I mean when I first started, I created – my first sites were for the end user, for people who want to lose weight and get fit and athletes and then it transitioned into trainers teaching them fitness and then the trainers kept asking me, “Well Ryan, I see you’re successful. Well, Ryan, I see you doing online training. How do I start my own training business? How did you market it?” And then it transitioned to that then I started teaching trainers how to market and I’ve been doing this for years and I wish I had a good answer. I mean there was – look, there was still room. I know I left a lot of money on the table not staying in the industry longer but I felt like after a while, a lot of – and look, a lot of people who watch the interview will be like, “Who the hell is Ryan Lee? I’ve never even heard of him.” But years ago, you kind of couldn’t go anywhere …
Sam Bakhtiar: Yes.
Ryan Lee: … in the fitness industry without seeing my face somewhere because I was kind of all over the place and I felt like I was getting kind of watered down and after a while, like if I came up with a new product, people are like, “Oh, I already know what Ryan is going to say,” and then some trainer would take my program. They would do a shitty version of it and people would buy theirs because they’re like, well, this guy is new. So maybe he has some new spin on things.
And it was just getting to the point where I felt like I wanted to do – I just wanted to do something different. I wanted to kind of expand because I spoke at a couple of marketing events that were not fitness related and their sponsor is incredible. Like Ryan, I’m a life coach. Can this help me? I’m like yes, absolutely. This works in any market.
So I just don’t – like there were a lot of things I still wanted to do and we had just set up Prograde so that was starting to grow and kind of grow nicely. So, I don’t know. Life to me, it’s about the journey and it’s never – and I know it sounds weird but it has really never been about the money because I don’t give a shit because I was happy that I was making 26 grand a year as a recreational therapist and I’m happy now if I do that in a day. So it’s never about the money …
Sam Bakhtiar: I know, man. I try to give you any – I throw you any amount of money to come to speak at my event and I know it’s not about the money for you.
Ryan Lee: I was just – again today, I was asked to speak at this event. It was like oh, we’re going to have 700 people, blah, blah, blah. I’m like, “You know what? No, I don’t want to.” Like I’ve never, ever been influenced by the money.
Sam Bakhtiar: Yes …
Ryan Lee: But when you do that, that’s when you get into trouble. Like you’ve got to do stuff you really love. Life is just way too short and when my mom passed away two years ago, that went really – it was like the finals. It’s like now, I’m like – and anyone who reads my posts see that I kind of had this edge to me because I’m like I don’t care anymore. I’m just going to say what I feel and the truth at least as I know it and if you like it, great. If you don’t, that’s fine too.
Sam Bakhtiar: Well, I mean if you can’t be you, Ryan, who can you be? I read your latest blog post on Facebook fan pages, man, and I think it was spot on and I think you got like a bunch of like hundred comments on how good it was and yes, one person there was pissed off because you used the F word. Well, again .
Ryan Lee: Yes.
Sam Bakhtiar: You know what I mean? What did Dan Kennedy say? If you don’t piss off somebody by noon, you’re doing something wrong so hey.
Ryan Lee: And that’s another big mistake is that – look, trainers – most people get into the fitness industry because we want to help people and that’s why I got into the industry to help people and it’s hard because you’re sensitive and you might not have a thick skin.
So if someone says something – like I can have 300 positive comments and that one person is like, “I don’t like your language. It was offensive so I’m leaving.” And then I can be like, “Oh my god, am I doing it wrong?” and all of a sudden, you switch everything to please that one person. So yes, if you’re going to get in this game, if you’re going to really start marketing yourself especially marketing yourself as the expert, then you’ve got to get thick skin. You just have to because people – look at – go in Wikipedia. Look at Mother Teresa, right? She had people who thought she was evil.
Sam Bakhtiar: Really?
Ryan Lee: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Oh, there was a lot of Mother Teresa. I mean …
Sam Bakhtiar: What?
Ryan Lee: People were talking about Mother Teresa. Look, I’m Jewish but I even know who Mother Teresa is. So it’s like you’re never, ever going to please everyone. Just do the best you can and yes, just build that loyal tribe because it doesn’t matter if you have 500 people or 1000 people or 10,000 people on your list. If you have a loyal following, if people really like you, if they resonate with you, they will be there for you and they will take care of you for the rest of your life. You don’t need 10 million people on your email list. You really don’t.
Sam Bakhtiar: Now, Ryan, I know you left the fitness industry. Now you’re in consulting pretty much to a wide range of people. But when you left the fitness marketing world or the fitness training and stuff like that, a lot of things have changed and I want to talk to you about that because I want to have a serious conversation about that.
And I remember you – you put up a blog post about that and you mentioned somewhere in there that you might even want to like consider coming back to the fitness industry because of the so-called charlatans that are out there right now just taking advantage of trainers and just hyping things up and doing all that kind of stuff and it got me so excited, man. I was just like – I sent everybody to that post. I sent my whole two different lists to that post. I’m like Ryan is coming back. Ryan is coming back.
So tell me how – what have you seen lately that led you to that blog post and led you to say the things that you say? What are you seeing? Because I know but tell everybody else out there what’s going on.
Ryan Lee: The main thing I’m seeing is a little bit what I was talking about earlier where I see trainers that – well, I’m saying trainers but not really trainers. They’re people who are getting into the fitness industry purely because of the money. And there’s no substance behind what they’re selling, right? It’s all hype. It’s all puffery. It’s all nonsense. Like there’s nothing to it.
They will buy a kettlebell DVD and all of a sudden, they say, “Well, I can be the kettlebell expert,” and they put out a kettlebell program and they have no idea how to actually use a kettlebell or how do a program and some of the people teaching marketing have made the marketing so aggressive.
And look, I’m a big fan of direct marketing. Like I think you want to have a strong headline. You want to have the benefits laid in bullet points. I get it but I think it comes to the point where it was getting so over the top where fitness professionals are starting to be looked at like a joke.
Like they will look at like these infomercial guys and you know some of the infomercial guys can make a lot of money but they have no credibility after a while and that’s not what you want either. And I think there’s a way – and what I always tried to do is balance that line between a really strong marketing but still maintaining your good name and your good brand. But I’ve seen people teaching the really hyper aggressive marketing and they don’t really care at all about the trainers. They just want to make money and they teach all these things, all the easy way to make money. Do this. It’s automated. And it’s just not true.
So it kind of was just pissing me off and I just saw the trainers and I still get emails everyday from fitness professionals asking me to promote their stuff and I look at it. I’m like, “Well, show me your product,” and I look at the product and it’s just terrible and I’m like, “I could never endorse this. This is awful.” Like well, so and so told me to do it like that. It’s good enough. I’m like, “Well, that person is wrong.”
So I just saw a lot of the stuff in the fitness industry. I talked to some of my friends like Alwyn Cosgrove and guys who are just like – it has gotten so over the top. It has gotten so sleazy. It has gotten so – it has become like the bizarre world of – and personal trainers are starting to be looked at like a joke, like a bunch of aggressive morons.
So that’s what – because I really – even though I’m not like “in the fitness industry” doing fitness-specific products anymore, I still am – I’m the co-founder of Prograde but I’m not doing fitness products on my own anymore but I still – it’s still my first love. I still love the fitness industry. I still work out. I still love helping trainers. So I was just getting kind of agitated. I just – all this stuff that was going on. It just kind of really – it was bothering me.
Sam Bakhtiar: It’s almost like your first car. You love it so much. You have to sell it and then the guy who you sold it to all of a sudden is not taking care of it. You know, like what the hell?
Ryan Lee: Yes, yes. And I remember, like when I would do this Ryan Lee boot camp where I have like hundreds of trainers from all over the world come in and each time – this was the most proud I was, not how much money the trainer paid but afterwards, it’s like I would go the next week to talk to the hotel staff. They would be like, “You know what? Your trainers, the people who came to your event were the nicest people. They were so caring. They were so considerate. They were so polite. They were so great in the hallway. Everyone was smiling and energetic.”
And that’s what I loved about it and I really love the people and now fast forward all these years and you go to some of these business – fitness industry events and the whole feeling is changed. It’s no longer the energetic fitness “Let’s talk this”. It’s all about, “What was your headline? What was your call to action? What was the split test?” And it just got kind of gross. That’s the way I feel.
People may agree or disagree with me but that’s the way I feel. It felt like it became and it is kind of sad to see that happening in the fitness world.
Sam Bakhtiar: Now as far as like the fitness business infomarketing, like you said, we have a bunch of trainers now these days coming out with these. Let’s just say – let’s just be straight. Crappy products, because so and so – they have – told them that they can come out with a product and make six figures in one year and promise. Now first of all, nobody knows this better than you. Is it easy to make six figures from an info product?
Ryan Lee: Now, here’s the thing. Is it easy? No. I think the formula – there’s a difference between simple and easy, right? To me, at least because I’ve been doing it for so long, it’s like second nature. To me, the formula is simple. It’s a simple formula, right? You create a really incredible product that’s going to help people, that’s going to fill their real desires and their wants and you combine that with good marketing and you create an irresistible offer and then you market it. Then you promote it and you do whatever online marketing you’re going to do to get that.
That’s simple. I mean that literally is the formula. That’s it. There’s no other – you don’t have to pay me 10 grand for that freaking formula. That’s the formula and that’s the stuff that makes money. However, is it easy? No, because some people might – their product might not be as good or they don’t really put that much care into it or they’re focusing on the wrong type of marketing or they’re cheap so they don’t want to hire anyone to try to help them design a site and they try to design the site themselves. And it’s awful or their site looks decent but their ebook cover, because they didn’t want to spend $35 or $50 for an ecover design or they do it themselves in Word and it looks like my eight-year-old daughter did it. So then it doesn’t sell or their marketing is so bad or they have such a large ego that they make all the sales copy about them.
I’m a trainer. I have 18,000 letters behind my name. I do this and I’m the greatest and it’s like I buy my product because I think it’s the best. It’s like no one is going to buy that either so it’s like – so they get a lot of those pieces wrong. So – and then the marketing, I mean, look, it takes effort. It took me a long time to start making sales and to start really ramping up the business but the ones who have been in it who understand it, it takes effort.
All of my best “online guys” that have studied my stuff, Mike Geary and Vince Del Monte and Isabel and all those type of people, it took them a while to kind of crack the formula. But the trainers who come in who will buy products, they think, “I’m going to make 100 grand within days or weeks coming on.” They’re really mistaken because it’s not that way.
If it was that way, everyone would do it. Everyone will be making millions of dollars. It’s like the best are going to rise to the top and you’ve got to be persistent and if you – I do a lot of coaching with people and if you think that – if you’re working your ass off training clients like oh, I just want to get out of the gym and then I will say to them, “Well, do you really like being online? Do you like doing the online marketing? Does that excite you doing YouTube videos?” No, I don’t want to do that either. I’m like, “Well, what the hell are you going to do online? What do you think online marketing is?” Honestly.
Like well, can’t I just create a book and kind of sit back? I’m like, “No! You can’t.” Well, so and so told me I can. Well, he’s a fucking liar because you can’t! Like you’re going to have to work at it and if you don’t want to work at it, you’re either going to – look, you have to work to make money. You either have to work offline and train clients or you’re going to work online or you’re going to work offline and supplement online and be smart about your marketing which means you want to get more leverage but it’s going to take effort. There’s no freaking button you push and you make hundreds of thousands of dollars. It doesn’t happen that way. So there’s my freaking rant. My rant is on.
Sam Bakhtiar: Well, I’m glad you don’t believe in that four-hour workweek, man, because sometimes we got …
Ryan Lee: I know Tim Ferriss. He doesn’t work four hours. No one works four hours. If you did, you’re not making that much money unless you worked for years and built up a business and other people work for you. That’s one thing but …
Sam Bakhtiar: That’s true.
Ryan Lee: Yes, but if you love it, like I – you could tell when I wrote my blog post, I love it. I can’t wait in the morning to go to Starbucks and start writing. Like literally, even though I love my kids, like I’m flying out of the house. Like this morning, I was out at six o’clock in the morning because I couldn’t wait – because I had so much to say so when you find that passion like if you love fitness, if you love a certain type of fitness, then freaking write about it then attack it. Then it doesn’t feel like work.
Sam Bakhtiar: Totally. So now Ryan, so we talked about like the info products and what it takes to be successful as an info product. We already talked about what it takes to be successful as a thing but really, I’ve been coming to your events and I pretty much got all your products. And I got to tell you, I love every single one and to be honest with you man, the only reason I got you on this interview is – because I want to put you on the spot right now, is to ask you, man. What does it take for you to come back to the fitness industry? And I want to be the one to bring you back.
So what would it take? What would it take for you to come in and do something big in the fitness industry? Like just one more time. And I know I’m putting you on the spot.
Ryan Lee: I don’t know. Like I said, it’s not – to me, I’m at the point now where I don’t have to work anymore. Like, it’s not a question of money. It has just got to be – the biggest issue I have right now is time, right?
Sam Bakhtiar: Right.
Ryan Lee: Because I have …
Sam Bakhtiar: Four kids, right?
Ryan Lee: Four kids. Yes, and they’re young. They’re two, four and they’re six and eight. So I want to be home a lot. I don’t want to work 12 hours a day. So right now, like right now in this – I’m in quick rules. I’ve got the internet stuff I do in the morning and the blog post and the coaching and the interviews and then the rest of the day is all about Prograde and Prograde is a really, really incredible business. I love it.
I love working with my partners. I love the innovation we’re doing. So I still have my hand in the fitness industry. So I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know what I’m going to be doing tonight for dinner, let alone what I’ll be doing. So I have to kind of figure out. I have to do some soul searching and figure out what I want my next step to be but – so the answer is I don’t know what it’s going to take. I don’t know …
Sam Bakhtiar: So for those of you who are listening to this interview, he didn’t say no. He says he has to think about it so you heard it here first, man. I’m going to be working on Ryan Lee to bringing back one more time in the fitness industry because I think we need it. I think us trainers need somebody good and honest and hardworking to show what’s really going on and how to be successful.
Ryan was the first guy who – like I said, you start talking about fitness marketing, brought it in. I really don’t know how many hundreds of sites you have, how many hundreds of continuity and income stream you have but I mean you probably don’t know. You just know you get a check from hundreds of different places.
Ryan Lee: Yes. Honestly, there are some sites that I just forget about. I get like commission checks. Like oh yes, you got to put that one. Again, I’m not complaining. I am blessed.
Sam Bakhtiar: Yes.
Ryan Lee: I am truly blessed. I don’t think it’s luck because look, I think the timing was great but if you think that I sat back and I was lazy about it, I definitely wasn’t. But I’m just enjoying life and I’m just being very careful about what I get involved with just because I got to protect the time. I like coaching my kids in kindergarten soccer or I coach lacrosse. When I go see my kids, we go ice skating. We go skiing so it’s a lifestyle business. So I’m just trying to find the right …
Sam Bakhtiar: And you know what, man? If you would have told me this three years ago, I would not understand and I have a two-and-a-half-year-old and I never forget. You were – that was a one-year event and I remember you talking about how you make this office soundproof and you had it – you were there.
You were sitting down. It was away from the kids and they still can find you. You know what I mean? And now you can’t work and it’s the same thing. I mean I have a pretty big house and we have a bunch of different rooms. No matter what room I go to and try to get some work done, my little daughter come and surprise me and once she finds me, I can’t say no. I got to play with her.
So I totally respect that as a fellow dad that you take your time so seriously. And obviously at our age, we’re not in our 20s anymore. You gotta protect your time. You want to spend your time the way you want to spend it. So just for you being on this call, on this interview, I totally appreciate it. I know it’s Friday and you have many better things to do than being on a Skype call with me and I thank you for this.
Ryan Lee: No, it’s my pleasure and I thank you for having me on. And everyone watching this, just stay on the path. Like the kind of overall theme and I know – look, we didn’t have time to get to real specifics on the real internet – the real heavy marketing stuff, how to choose the right headline, how to set up the funnel, how to do upsells, downsells, the marketing strategies, getting more traffic, joint ventures, affiliate programs, pricing – we didn’t talk about any of that stuff.
This was kind of more overall and general but hopefully, the overall – if you listen to anything, the one takeaway should be that you’ve got to balance your knowledge and the passion for the fitness with the marketing. That’s the big takeaway. Don’t just do marketing. Don’t just do fitness. Find the balance between and that’s the sweet spot. That’s when the magic happens. That’s when you start making six and a lot of my guys now make seven figures that were just personal trainers. So it’s absolutely possible. It does take work. Anyone who tells you it doesn’t take work is lying to you and they’re making money because they’re selling you the dream. So if people start selling you that dream, run. And I appreciate you having me on and …
Sam Bakhtiar: Oh, it’s my pleasure.
Ryan Lee: Yes, if you guys want to learn more – you could tell everybody. You know, RyanLee.com and ProgradeBusiness.com. Go check those out and I will be around. You can always find me. I’m always around.
Sam Bakhtiar: Yes. Thanks Ryan. I appreciate it and I’m going to conclude this and you said something, your last blog post, and I just thought it was brilliant. That is something that I’ve been teaching. This is something that I learned personally through trial and error and like I messed up before. Just going after new customers and new customers and new customers and new customers, the latest headline, the latest this and latest that; and I totally ignored the goldmine in front of me which are my current customers.
Ryan Lee: Right.
Sam Bakhtiar: And when you said that to your last blog post, I was like wow. So thank you for this interview, Ryan. Thank you for being always honest and having so much passion and again, I look forward to hopefully getting another interview sometime soon.
Ryan Lee: You got it. Thanks, Sam …
Sam Bakhtiar: Thanks, Ryan.
Ryan Lee: Keep on rocking. Kick some ass!
Sam Bakhtiar: Thank you. Bye-bye.
Ryan Lee: All right. Bye.[/spoiler]
Ryan is the man. He’s always been a good friend and example of how to do it right. We can all learn from Ryan.
If you are tired of hype, BS and over promising, you will love Ryan. He tells it like it is and puts out great programs and products.
Ryan’s success stories speak for themselves. I’ve tuned out a lot of fitness gurus these days but always open to what Ryan has to say .. and of course you Sam (with all the events you attend & lists you are on)!!
And of course you also have to wonder when JSE sleeps … !
Success leaves clues …
Ryan what’s up man! The guy truly is a legend. It’s his contagious enthusiasm combined with his warming caring side that makes him totally unique. A lot of people underestimate the brilliance of this guy, but he’s truly a pioneer in this industry that’s changed thousands of lives for the better, and wouldn’t be surprised if he’s responsible for more than a hundred million in new business activity in the fitness business because of the people he’s inspired.
Love some of the messages here! I needed to hear.
1set of thick skin coming up. Look out!
Hey Sam, my wife passed by my computer when I had the interview on pause and asked me if I was watching the SOPRANOS again!
I’m probably the one guy in the industry that wasn’t real familiar with Ryan, but I’m so happy that you did this interview.
Ryan seems like a genuine, down to earth guy. He was certainly ahead of his time with his internet marketing and has changed the way our industry presents its message.
I completely agree that the pendulum has swung way too far with ‘style over substance’ and needs to swing back to the middle.
The science of our industry is crucial and can never be minimized, but marketing, a solid business plan and, my focus, THE ART OF PERSONAL TRAINING, are also equally important.
Would love to see something new from Ryan in the industry… The very first fitness marketing products I ever purchased were his, and i remember thinking…. ” now this dude has a cool gig”
Thanks for all the positive comments guys – I appreciate all your support!
KILLER Interview, thanks so much Sam and Ryan!
I’m very impressed that Ryan addressed the issues that I had very quickly. If you, Ryan are looking to get back into the industry and want to show by example the integrity you showed me then… welcome back.
I literally got shivers down my spine after that. So damn inspiring.
Thanks you Sam and Ryan.