What is IFTA? – Greg Sims
Guest: Greg Sims
Release Date: 4/18/2022
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Welcome to Trulyfit the online fitness marketplace connecting pros and clients through unique fitness business software.
Steve Washuta: Welcome to Trulyfit. Welcome to the true liquid podcast where we interview experts in fitness and health to expand our wisdom and wealth. I’m your host, Steve Washuta, co-founder of Trulyfit and author of Fitness Business 101. On today’s podcast, I had the pleasure of speaking with Greg sins. Greg is the co-founder and co-owner of IFTA, if you don’t know what it is, it’s interactive fitness trainers of America.
They are a certification program just like ace or NASM, and things of that nature. Greg is a wealth of knowledge. He’s been in the industry for such a long time. But really, why have him on this podcast specifically, he could talk about anything and health and fitness.
But I really want to delve into the mind of somebody who decided to go out on a limb and start their own personal training and group fitness certification company. So we talked about what gave him the initiative to do this and the impetus behind starting into the interactive fitness, Turner’s of America, what major road bumps did you encounter, if any? Why did he expand globally because they traveled to different countries all over the world and world and bring this certification? He walks me through the experience of either personal training, certification or a group fitness certification.
What exactly does that take to be if to certified in these different things? It was a fantastic conversation touching on all of the things surrounding our industry, both from a certification standpoint, answer a philosophical standpoint, why you do these things, why they’re important. What makes a great certification, I had taken the interactive fitness trends of America personal training course, at a gym that I was working at, at the time, this must have been 10 years ago. And I found it to be so much more not necessarily comprehensive. It certainly was comprehensive, but so much more interactive, and hands-on than the other personal training certifications.
They brought me into the gym at some point, they made me correct clients, and they walked you through how to do proper stretching techniques. And it was way more hands-on than these online two-day certifications. And I thought, What a great idea that they understand that this is a big part of the learning process is to make sure that people can see what they’re going to be doing on a day-to-day basis.
Greg will talk more about this and sort of his ideology. And if this ideology is behind their certifications, with no further ado, here’s Greg’s sips. Greg, thank you so much for joining the truly fit podcast. Can you give my listeners in the audience a brief background on who you are and what it is that you do in the health and fitness industry?
IFTA Co-Founder: Yes, thank you so much, Steve. It’s an honor to be here. As far as IFTA is concerned, or we’re better known as if it’s interactive fitness trainers of America. We started in 1993. So we’re almost 30 years old. And we do all types of certifications, everything from group fitness, personal trainer to awkward a senior to kickbox, to bar to Pilates, yoga, Sr, all of that stuff.
So it’s certifications, and then also a lot of continuing education, whether it’s going to be workshops, or video downloads or hardcopy videos, people still want those, or things that they read like articles, or in person, you know, we, we always wanted to be in person and live, they just feel like it’s really good. We can do that. So that’s one of the things that sets us apart or has set us apart over the years.
Steve Washuta: What was the initial inspiration? Because it sounds like a very difficult task for someone to take on to say, I’m going to start an entire certification program, especially competing with the big guys, what gave you that drive?
IFTA Co-Founder: Yes, that’s a great question. So way back in the day, like the 1990s, and early 1990s, I was beginning to teach or have been teaching for a while. And I was noticing and other people too, that we can only get certified from a company in California. And so we’re in Raleigh, North Carolina, and so we’re based, and so nothing against California and nothing against any of those companies.
It’s just that I was thinking, why did we not have anything over here? This is crazy. So and my business partner, who’s we’ve been the same owners, we started it together. We’re teaching and leading courses. And we were in charge of seven clubs, seven coordinators, and about 250 instructors in North Carolina.
We were already leading and teaching and doing all kinds of things. And they were saying Do your own in house thing. And we said, Well, don’t really want to do an in house thing. We want it to be like, legit. So we really took the time to pull that together. We also see it I mean, again, I’m not trying to compare in a bad way in any way. It’s just that the pricing even back then we felt like it was out of hand. So we wanted to make ours less expensive, more cost effective, and give them the same information and try to do even better.
So that’s how it started. What was hard if you said yes, starting a company What was hard is that, you know, the internet wasn’t even here yet. It was just starting. So I was literally faxing clubs all over the US My goal was to be in every state as soon as possible. So I had this one script that I had like one page, that would go to the fitness director, coordinator. I just keep waiting it out and changing it and changing it to put their name and let’s have a call, first, get the lead person’s name. Would fax them. That is how we started the business. It was unbelievable how many people responded and all over the place. And we just got ourselves there and did it.
Steve Washuta: Yeah, and, you know, I took and an IFT, or a or F to certification, a personal trainer certification, I never did the group fitness. And I really loved it. So I mean, we’re gonna get into that a little bit. But I do want to talk about how, you know, when I took it, it was very hands on much more than the programs you have now, right? So you can go online.
And I’m not saying that tests are easy, but if you go to ace or NASM, they’re difficult tests, but there’s no practical, there’s no hands-on approach with if I think it was maybe gasping or something who was in my particular instructor at the time, they go over everything with you, they brought us into the weight room, and they went through different modifications and things you have to do like, hey, set this machine up for someone who’s five, one, okay, now set this machine up for someone who’s six, three, right, there’s a big difference in how you would do that. Give me a stretch for the gastroc or the soleus.
Right, they put you on the spot. And, and that that really resonated with me, because I think throughout my personal training career, I said, you know, that was so much more important, those sorts of things learning than passing any sort of, you know, kinesiology tests that you have in a NASM, or an ace fashion.
IFTA Co-Founder: I totally agree with you. And thank you for what you said there. And by the way, good gas was one of my best friends, and it’s always here with me, where we hang out a lot, I’ll see you this coming weekend, actually. But, um, your rights, like, a test is important, we need some type of standard, and we get that. So we do have a test. But it’s not crazy, you know, in the way of just being so difficult that you’re not going to move forward, our goal is to help people move forward and do what they want to do to accomplish what they want to accomplish to help others. And to make some money at doing it.
You know, I mean, that’s, that’s the way it should be. Now, hands-on training is important. So even if we couldn’t make it into the free weight room, or whatever room because of facilities saying, hey, you’ve got, you know, seven hours, you can do this, but you got to stay in this room. Yeah, you know, because at this end of the week, bring some equipment and we demonstrate, we always in a healthy way without trying to hurt somebody or scare them or whatever we’re like, you’re going to be on the spot. So be prepared. This is the way it is as a personal trainer. So we’re going to quiz you in front of everybody.
And just know that that’s coming up, I’m giving you fair warning, don’t be nervous, we’re here to help you. But you do have to pass this part. And people were like, Oh, I’ve seen people turn white all over the world literally, in the face, just because, you know, it’s just like scary to do that. But it’s such an accomplishment. And I’ve never felt like a test is a true reflection of your ability or what you’re going to do in the future. So just want to say that, yes, we do have a written test. And we do have the online option. But ours is more of like a hybrid.
We I put that in place before COVID ever happened. So we were going down that path. But we were resisting it as long as we could. And we still do the hands-on training. And we do send them videos of our presenters talking them through it. That’s part of the course. So they don’t feel like it’s like a computer. It’s just talking to them.
Steve Washuta: Sure. Make sense? Yeah. And obviously, you have to pivot somewhat because of COVID. And the times, and we’ll talk more about that in a little bit. I’m going to ask you about that. But I do want to come back to when you first started this company. You talked about a few of like, I would call it the major road bumps like you had to fax things all over the place.
And because the internet wasn’t really around yet, what else was really hurting you? Or like what was like a pain point? And were you in? Did you feel like you were in direct competition when you reached out to some of these facilities? Where they’re like, no, sorry, we’re going to work with a server or whoever else, you have to sort of convince them that you guys were worthwhile.
IFTA Co-Founder: Well, you know, you’re always going to run into that you’ve always in sales or anything that you do that you believe in, you’re going to hear some noise and we heard some noise, but from the very beginning, it just took off. The other was again, there were some people who said Ah, but at the same time, Fargo, North Dakota said Yeah, and that’s been one of our big areas. Savannah, Georgia was like, Yeah, you know, people understood that it was, you know, less expensive, and it was still good.
The word was getting out. But that is something that you know, you have to work through, especially in the beginning. I don’t know if I want to start one right now. I’m not trying to discourage anyone from doing that because everyone deserves to do what they want to do follow their dream follow their heart. 100% But it seems like it might be a little right now, but maybe just because we’ve been around so long, I’ll tell you to see, every once in a while, we still do get that. So it’s rare.
But when they do, I just simply explained to them, I’m like, go to our website, this is only our second website, we got one right away as soon as the web opened, and it actually performed well for us for many years. But we had to invest in a new one. And we’ve got a better one now. But I’ll just have them go to the website if they’re willing to, and then I’ll talk them through some things like, let me just explain to you just how internationally recognized we are. Let me also explain to you that I believe we’re the only company that is verified and approved by the US Federal Government.
We’ve been that for about five years, it’s hard to obtain, while the reason it’s hard, is you got to open up everything to them, you got to let them see everything, you got to fill out this huge application, they got to check all kinds of things to make sure that you are what you say you are, and that you’re doing everything equally and correct. And that you don’t have all kinds of issues going on, even in your personal life as the owner.
So we’ve got to owners only, and there’s no red tape to go through. But um, being aligned with the government was really, really good for us. And it means a lot to know that we can get that and we have that status. I don’t know if anybody understands that. But that’s just Yeah,
Steve Washuta: well, they should, because that does make a lot of sense. And you know, I just want to speak to your certifications in general, they help you get your foot in the door, they give you a baseline, but ultimately it is up to you, the trainer and then the facility to put you in the right place to grow. Right. So there can be there can be 40, people who, you know, in Fargo, North Dakota next week all come away with the if the certification for personal training, it doesn’t mean all 40 of them are equal right away. Right. So they all have different backgrounds that come from different levels, some of them will take to it better than others will.
And ultimately, it’s, you know, the facility which they work in, it’s their obligation to to say like, Okay, well, you know, you seem a little bit more junior, I’m gonna have you work with the 35 year olds who have no health issue. And you know, this other person seems like they are catching on a little bit quicker. So you can work with maybe the more difficult personal training clients. And again, this certification is just a baseline. So some people hear like, oh, I have this certification, I already know everything. It’s like, No, this is the absolute baseline experience is what drives you to the top.
IFTA Co-Founder: I totally agree with you. And, and look, there’s some ace, shoot, let me just start over. There are some companies that there are some people that are certified to certain companies that, in my opinion, they’re not that great as far as like, their training is concerned, I’m not talking about the company, I’m talking about the individual training. And there are some people from another company that is fantastic. There are two people out there that I worry about. I’m sure. I mean, it’s so it just shows you that it doesn’t matter what company you’re going through, you have to do the work, you have to practice your craft, you have to be on it 100%.
The reason why we shorten some of our training is that we’re trying to make sure that we’re doing what the facility wants without messing up their weekend plan members that are saying, Hey, why are they closing this when I want to be working out, you know, so we sometimes will have a briefer certification, that’s more like boom, boom, boom, it’s more practically based. And you might self-study, we do a lot of different options in order to please people as far as the facility is concerned. And I’ve always said, this is where I’m headed, that the facility will train you as to what they want you to do at their place. You know, you’ve got to learn their equipment anyway, their way of doing things, what they believe is right and correct, some, you know, get the certification, and then go from there.
There are people that say, Well, if this sort of like a base one, and it’s, you know, not as big as the other side is great. I’m okay with that. Steve, I’ve always been okay with that. Unless they compare us in a way that I think is unfair. Other than that, I’m okay. I mean, it’s like, you know, call us a base sort of negation, just call us.
Because we want to be there for you, we want to help. And you might find out, which a lot of people do over the years, that they end up just staying with us because they’re getting what they need out of us. And it was not as expensive. It’s not the kind of thing that is, you know, making, making this spend tons of money. I’m trying to say this in a way that, you know, I don’t want to I don’t want to compare to other companies and make them look bad.
Steve Washuta: Yeah, I think saying a base certification is not a negative in any which way. And I actually think it’s a positive because some of the certifications come with so much, this is how we do it. This is the way to do it. This is the only way to do it. And I don’t believe in that. You need to ask why. There’s a big difference between training a 76 year old with bilateral hip replacements and a 22-year-old who’s trying to go to the Olympics, right so to have one particular training style is not a good thing.
You just want to base and then you want to learn on your own like you said, you may be at a facility that has one type of equipment or only does group fitness or only does this so it’s it’s good to keep your mind open learn the basics, and then learn on the job and not be so dyed in the wool Like, and have a model like an OP T model where you’re supposed to train everyone the same exact way.
IFTA Co-Founder: Totally agree with you. Fantastic.
Steve Washuta: So you talked initially a little bit, you mentioned it about how you guys were worldwide. Can you explain what was your decision-making process in doing that? And how difficult that may be to start something like that?
IFTA Co-Founder: Well, yeah, in the very beginning, once again, I was like, Okay, I want us to be in every state. And along the way of going to every state, I said, why can’t we go to some foreign countries to let’s see, let’s just see if we’ll start with the English speaking ones, and go from there. But, you know, like the very beginning, for the first one was Mexico, because it was just easy. It was easy to go to the Caribbean. I mean, I’d literally walk up to and the Cancun area, Jeff and I, my business partner would go there for like four or five days of vacation.
We would make a point to find fitness centers, we make a point to find like a store that was a fitness store, there was one that was there, that was largest one, we’d walk in and say, what piece of equipment are you trying to sell that you’re having a hard time with? I mean, and they were so open, and what we had to say, I remember the manager saying, you know, these little, these little trampoline things, these round trampoline things, we cannot seem to sell them. We said, what if we do a demo for you, wherever you want it, while we’re here this week, you can set it up wherever you want to maybe in the ball here, and we did it.
People came from everywhere. We were handed out information, we did it for free, just a big demonstration on the rebounders type things. And they we they sold out. So we were hooked in with them. So then we came back the next time and put another piece of equipment with them. Then we were certifying people in the hotels there in Cancun. So that was that. I’ve been doing videos for so long workout videos, that I would get a correspondence from somebody in another country that said, I’ve got your video, I was wondering what it would take to get you here. And I’m thinking, Ah, gosh, you know, I never wanted to be the star of miftah. I just couldn’t get anybody else to video. You know, I was like, I’ll do it, I’ll send it from the camera.
I’ll just do these workouts. So a lot of the early years was a lot of videos of Jeff and Greg. And I was trying so hard to get other people filmed so that I wouldn’t be the only one, we finally have that after all these years. But there’s somebody as man, it’s like, I’m 25 years younger than I am right now, that’s kind of hard. It’s kind of funny, but it’s also kind of hard to deal with them. Like we’re calling these vintages. But my point is, we had someone from Asia that contacted us and said, I’ve got this video, have you would you come there and I’m like, absolutely.
So you just have to go by faith and just show up. And all of a sudden, it really took off in Singapore, for example. So we’ve been going to Singapore, I have for nine or 10 years now at least twice a year. Our growth there is great. We have a number of presenters there now. I don’t have to go as much even though I love the people who love going there. Same thing with some of the countries in Europe.
And I would film a video while I was there, you know so that I can advertise it from Hong Kong, that’s not Europe, I know. Hong Kong to Italy, I’m on the side of a mountain with a get a fence that I’m using as the bar, well, I’m doing bar movements in the crowd comes and then somebody gives you their card, and they want you there for their facility. And I mean, that’s just how it goes. Even Russia.
I went to a fitness convention in Russia, actually, someone asked me to go there, and they had my video there to another person in the industry said, look, they asked me to come I don’t want to go where I can’t make it work do you want to get and I said, I’ll be there. So I went to Shalabi out in the middle of really near Siberia, you know, they treated me so well. That’s just you know, it’s just something that we wanted to do. And so we also have military people that go from the US to other countries, and they keep up their CTCs we had to be able to do things that are online. And so they’ve helped us to get more people certified there too. So that’s how it goes.
Steve Washuta: So while you’re a wild story, yeah, I mean, all of your sort of like initiative to do those things, starting with the rebounder project to walk into a store. And just and I mean, who knew and it was, it’s funny because it didn’t matter what they picked, you guys were ready to do it, right? They could have picked up, they’re like, we’re not selling three pound dumbbells, you’re like we’re gonna do a whole class around three pounds. We’ll do we’re gonna get people here and, and sometimes it’s just to start a business from the bottom up, it takes that sort of initiative to, to get you going. So
IFTA Co-Founder: you got to be willing to push, push, push, just like a personal trainer, you’ve got to be willing to go for it. You know, get your plan going and be a go-getter, and you’ll be successful.
Steve Washuta: Totally. I always tell that to young personal trainers who I try to help mentor is that sometimes you even have to do free things right like a free assessment and go to go to the park you know, pass out flyers go gold school, you can write something online and and say I’m going to do a 10 minute free assessment on whatever on your rotation if you’re a golfer or not on your flexibility, we’re gonna go over three exercises. And then that’s how you get people through the door, right. And then you say, Hey, this is what I noticed is wrong. But if you want me to fix these things, that that’s where that’s where I charge, here’s my business card.
IFTA Co-Founder: That’s right, and I’m doing the whole thing for free is is a way to get in. It doesn’t mean that you’re, you know, discounting yourself that you’re not valuable, what you’re doing is you’re being smart, just like some of the conventions, I used to teach for a number of the big conventions way back in the day, we had these huge conventions, and I would just contact the owner and say, hey, look, I’m willing to do it for free.
And if, if they like me, great, if they don’t, no problem, I’ll fly there, I’ll get my own hotel room, I’ll do whatever you want me to teach because I teach a little bit of everything, that’s another thing. You got to be able to teach a lot of different things and be able to teach it well, and practice and practice. You know, which, which helps keep you you know, in order as far as your body is concerned, to just to be able to practice so much and to be able to learn different things. But that’s the way to do it. I believe in that, you know, give it away in the beginning, and then hook them.
Steve Washuta: Let’s stay on this teaching topic here. Can you tell us because I think a lot of trainers, even me, at some point, would love to be presenters and they don’t know the process? How do you become a presenter? What are the skill sets that you think are important, in addition to what you just named to become a presenter, and any other information you have concerning that?
IFTA Co-Founder: Well, you know, it’s hard to be if the presenter is concerned, I can tell you exactly what we need. But I a presenter in general, in my opinion, you’ve got to be willing to, to stand up in front of people and be quick, you know, not only quick-witted, but entertaining, but you’ve got to be able to, you gotta love them.
And let them see the real truth and love that you have for them that everybody’s important, and good eye contact is important. And then knowing your material is really important. Let me just come back and up and kind of go into different directions. But I’m going to say that every single weekend I traveled every week, and for years, over 20 years, I’ve got so many American Airlines miles, and status and everything. And that was so nice when it finally started coming in. And I was like, I’m gonna use the first class.
But you know, haven’t been traveling as much. Now I really love not traveling. But I was just gonna say that every single time I go somewhere, to teach. If it’s a group fitness certification, where I wrote a lot of the questions I am in the morning with coffee, that’s just something I like about coffee. I’m sitting there in that hotel bed, and I’m flipping through the material. And I’m getting it and getting it and putting in my head, even though I know it, of course, I know it.
But to be able to stand up there and speak with confidence and know that any question that comes the way you can pretty much answer. If you don’t know the answer. You just simply admit it and say, Hey, that is a really great question. Let me get back to you on that. Rather than tell you something that I think is incorrect. I’d rather not you need to do a little research. I’ll get back to that. There are ways to work around it.
You always practice as if you’re teaching to people, and what would you do if something went awry, like say the music cut out or whatever, anything like that. So I’ve always said to people practice, practice, practice in front of the mirror, and just keep going no matter what, you can’t just stop things. When you’re in a live setting. You can’t stop a class, you can’t stop your presentations there, hang on a second, let me do this, you know, or at least I don’t think you should. So be be able to work your way through any situation. Always arriving early. Sleeping the night before really well. Being careful if you’re a drinker, being careful not to do that when you’re, you know, on your weekend jobs and work and eat correctly and all that stuff.
Those are the basics. Now, learning to teach a lot of different things has helped me over the years to be able to answer questions in front of people and to be able to be usable for a facility. If they wanted to dance class. I can teach a dance class that they won’t step I can do step but they want a muscle workout with equipment. I’ll do that too.
If they won’t martial arts, I’ll do it or bar ballet bar. Yeah, I’ve been practicing that learning that a lot of times with the clients that I try to train because I do train and teach throughout the week, I’m going to stay in the trenches. That’s important to don’t become just a presenter on the weekends and nothing throughout the week. You’ve got to stay in the trenches and understand what it feels like to do this on a daily basis, like what they’re going to do.
The people that you’re training and teaching and getting certified. But I’ll find that moves that I when I have a client that says I can’t do this can’t do that can’t do this. Can’t do that because it got limitations. I’ll get them doing something from another discipline that they don’t even realize they’re doing. Yeah, I’ve got a 76-year-old client that is doing plays and you can’t see me from here now but I’ve got her doing bar movement. She has no idea what she’s doing. She knows she’s getting stronger, and it’s working for her. But as far as being a presenter, for instance, concern you have to be at a group fitness certified number one to even speak considered, I think that’s the way it should be for any company.
So you can know like the big Monica like that book is like this. So we want to make sure they know as much as they can know and be able to answer questions. And then we need a video, just be able to phone video of you showing what you think is, you know, your best representation. We’re going to look at it and our board is going to look at it. We’re always wanting to hire people, people that really do want to be presenters. But I’ll tell you, Steve, if you don’t mind me interjecting and probably talking too much.
Steve Washuta: No, no, no, please, please, please. This is great information. Seriously,
IFTA Co-Founder: you asked me one question I’ll just ramble forever. So just jump in, jump rope in there, and I’ll be quiet. But um, as far as you know, what we really are looking for now is I’m looking for like a sales team. know if that makes sense or not. You can be the presenter when you go out and do it. But I’m also wanting to pay people to promote if to, and that’s something that I’ll I’m just about to put out. Probably shouldn’t say too much about that until I get it completely put together. But that’s a way into, if you’re a big gifted promoter for us, we want to reward you and get you whatever you want.
If you want to be a presenter, let’s try it. Let’s go for it kind of thing. But I do think with other companies, the things I just mentioned, are important to have that good reputation of always, always being there, I have not shown up for anything I’m supposed to do. The only time is like if an airplane flight fails me. But that’s me being in constant communication with them, letting them know that I’ve never missed a flight. And all these years, go into anywhere. So it’s just important to be consistent.
Steve Washuta: There are so many great points there. I want to hit on a few things that you said number one, learning all the different modalities is important, right eventually, now I get it. Sometimes, trainers, you might have 4050 hours a week already booked up. And it’s difficult. But at some point in your career, it’s good to take a step back and take a step forward. So whether it’s you have to cancel some of those things or whether you just say hey, listen, I need to slow down and then go learn something new, right? If you if you’ve never learned yoga, go learn yoga, go learn kickboxing go learn these things.
Because they’re going to fuse the you don’t need to use them independently, they’re going to fuse with whatever it is that you do. And your style, like like Greg said, like he does with his clients. I also think you said, you know, if the music cuts out whatever anyone has ever talked about fitness knows something is going to go wrong, it’s going to happen, you’re not going to go a full week without something going wrong, right? Somebody could fall during class or get injured. How do you deal with that when one person gets injured? If you have 12 people going on in class, right? You just attend to that person and let them go. You have to think about these things in advance, right? Play out all the potential, you know, bad scenarios.
And then lastly, you know, one of the first things you said, Greg is that, you know, as long as they know that you care, and that you’re doing the right thing, that’s what matters, you’re not going to know the answer to every question, there’s going to be people come up to you and say, Oh, this hurts. So this is going on, or I want to know more about this. And that, just say, I’m going to research that I’m going to look into it. I’m gonna write this down, give me your email, I’ll get back to you. I’ll send you a full document on that. I’m not really sure about that. And that’s all they care about.
IFTA Co-Founder: Exactly, exactly. And you know, another thing when I’m teaching a class, or when I’m leading a certification, I might have someone in the class, it looks like they’re having a horrible time. Maybe they are. And they won’t smile, they won’t laugh, they won’t interact, even though I’m looking at them. But it’s something that I’ve always thought about is this. You never know what’s going on with people you never know, it might have been just everything they could do to even be there.
Yeah, if it’s a certification, they might be extremely nervous, and scared, and they may have a headache. Who knows, you know, they’ve got family situations, it’s just heavy stuff sometimes. And when the person that comes into your group fitness class, looks like everybody else is having a great time. And they look like they’re just having a horrible time. You know, just remember that you have the opportunity to in that moment, do something incredible for them, to help them move to get rid of some of the anxiety for them to make them feel better. Not many people get the opportunity to stand in front of people and do something that’s really, really good for them. And so we never take it for granted.
Always look at it like hey, they’re there. And there, I’m giving them all the energy that I have, they’re going to come back they’re going to feel better. And I’ve got to feel good about that. So that’s something else that I think is important to look at because sometimes you’re gonna think about the people in your class and it can get frustrating if they’re not responding. Even though you’re giving them everything you’ve got. You’ve got good energy, just keep going keep giving and giving and it will come back.
Steve Washuta: That’s great I just want to add to that Greg, and it’s sort of the reverse of that to where this is their time. This is not your time so like much like Greg said before you coming in hungover you coming in when you have what I call psychological baggage is not okay. You have to hide that right. So this is the hour of their day. Two hours or seven hours if you’re presenting, which is all the more reason not to go drinking, because it’s it’s easier to do our group class hung over. It’s maybe one afterward.
Yeah, exactly. It’s not easy to do a seven-hour presentation over, but this is their time. So you have to hide that stuff. Because you’re there for them. They’re not there for you. They’re not there to ask you how you’re doing. You’re there to ask them how they’re doing. So keep, keep that baggage at home and turn that smile on and give it all you have.
IFTA Co-Founder: Totally agree. It works every time.
Steve Washuta: So walk me through now, what I would call your customer experience. And you can do this, Greg any which way so it could be from your group fitness, you can say like, Okay, this is what kickboxing looks like certification or personal trainer. They sign up online, let’s let’s go through the in-person one, they sign up online, what’s the next step?
IFTA Co-Founder: Okay, so also they can call our office, we’re available Monday through Friday 10am to 3:30pm. Eastern Standard Time, we love it when people call to we want to talk to our customers. So some people register online, and some people actually mail in checks. And a little note that says this is what I’m registering for, I believe it or not, we still get a lot of checks. And then a lot of people do register online.
So once you register, you’re gonna get an immediate email from our website that says thank you for registering. And here’s all the information, your receipt and the date and the time and everything. So they’re gonna get that nice little receipt, unless it goes to their junk or spam. Might I just say also, that that’s what’s going on a lot. These days, every single person that’s been widely reported in the news should be checking your junk and spam mail daily, please, we’re missing things if we don’t do that. So anyway, that can happen.
But they whatever they registered for, they might sign up for the group fitness certification, if they don’t order the textbook. And believe me, it’s right there all, all they have to do is click on it, then all they’re going to get sent is an email version of the study guide that goes along with that textbook. The reason we don’t make them buy the textbook is that some people already have the textbook, it’s $81 for the book. So that’s kind of a lot and other people are sharing them.
So we’re assuming you don’t want it if you don’t order it. And then we send a little personal email. Usually, this is hey, we thanks again, for registering, let us know, if you need something, if you did want to order the textbook, here’s the link to click on it and do it. If you want to call us and talk to us about it, feel free to here’s our number. We’re trying to do the really good customers, you know, service experience, if possible.
They register, they study in advance, they show up if it’s a live one, like live and this weekend, I’m in near Charlotte, North Carolina, leading five, we’re leading five or six classes of choreography and CC, value information, different types of classes, and then the next day is a certification.
Those people that registered for the in person, when they’re going to show up at the time we’re going to greet them, and then we’re going to go through the course and give them the test. Now, here’s another thing. I need to say this too, because with COVID, I had to kind of wrap my head around.
How are we making this fair for everybody? Yeah, you know, for those who are showing up for the live ones, are they being penalized by having to test in person with a closed book, whereas you can buy it online and test at home? Open Book, basically, it’s just not fair. So a lot of times what we’re doing now, this is just something I sort of come up with, I mean, this is a thing about being a company where there’s two people that are running it, you can make your decisions and just go with it.
You just try to think through every possibility and make sure you’re you’re right at this before you just kind of throw it in as you know, this is our new way of doing things. But recently, like when I was in Savannah, maybe a month ago, I just said, Guys, look, I see you’re nervous. They’re always nervous. I mean, I don’t blame them, they want to pass, they paid some money, they’re looking forward to doing something with this, they feel under pressure.
So I go through a lot of the test questions with them and help them with it. That is our goal right now is to make it so that it’s a good learning experience. If I can grab the test, if I’m standing in front of you, if you’re worried and you have all your material, even though you’ve studied, and I just have to hold the test in front of them, and I’m going through it and I’m explaining every single question and why the answer is what it is. I find that to be a really good learning experience.
Yeah, you know, because instead of just going, Wow, that test question was confusing. I wonder if I made that got that one, right or not or what I missed, and so I’d rather go through it and explain every detail. And if I can’t explain every detail, it should not be on that test. That’s how I look at it if any of our presenters cannot explain every single detail about it, so that everyone gets it. It shouldn’t be on there.
Or maybe they shouldn’t be a presenter. Sorry. Anyway, so that’s the process. You order your materials and you get it and then you show up for the live event for the virtual training. It’s much the same room zoom. I had to throw this together immediately when the pandemic hit and we just started training our people like crazy, and it worked. But that’s virtual, we’re going to do this kind of talking. And I’m gonna go through the material, and I email you the test.
And you’ve got a couple of days to get it back to us. Again, I feel like people have I said this before, but I feel like people need a break right now. And now, I told you what I feel about the learning experience and a test, a written test, not really being a true reflection of your knowledge, I guess. And ability is what I should say the combination of that. So that’s virtual.
If they’re doing the online version, then they immediately get the material and they get a video that’s downloadable, have my cell phone video doing this kind of thing explaining to them about the cycle and showing them how to get on the cycle, how to set themselves up as a personal trainer, as a group, fitness instructor, whatever it is that we’re talking about whatever the topic is, if it’s me or someone else on video, they can fast forward, they can pause it, they can stop it, they can watch it up to four times.
When they fill out the study guide to get it back to us, we send the test and they have a few days to get it back to us along the way need, we’re going to need a copy of their CPR. If people don’t have their CPR, they have three months to be able to get it to us from the date, they took the test. They’re not going to get their certificate until we get the CPR, but they’ll get the notification that they passed. It’s in case they need to show like the gym owner or manager, my phone is saying and scam, likely you should answer it or
Steve Washuta: not. It’s not talking about me, is it?
IFTA Co-Founder: No, it’s just you know how those things are coming through crazy. But um, so that’s pretty much the process. I think I answered that. I hope so. Practically speaking, if it’s an aqua certification, they get in the pool the last hour and we demonstrate it, if it’s a cycle, then we get on the cycle, we do a class with them. The other day, I did a virtual cycle class right here, my bike is parked over there in my fitness studio. But I did it right here.
And they’re all just like doing this while I’m going through a class and sweating and showing them and I’m thinking I have to be okay with this. I mean, they certainly seen a bike, they’ve been on a bike, otherwise, they wouldn’t be getting cycle certified. And if they’re just gonna watch me, then they just watched me if they had a bike, and we’re participating, I would love that. But this day and age right now, with everything we have going on, I have to just kind of go with the flow.
Steve Washuta: Yeah. Too much or No, no, no, no, that’s great. And then you also sort of jumped into COVID. Right. So what are the all the things you guys had to do during during the COVID? I mean, not that it’s over yet. But obviously, things are calming down a little bit. So I want you to just add to that a little bit.
So you talked about now you’re doing these training on Zoom somewhat, and you’re offering it tell me about the customer’s responsibility to people’s response. Are they talking to this? Do they like it? Do you think you guys are going to stick with this even after the fact and now this is just a shift in your business model?
IFTA Co-Founder: I mean, those are great questions. And I’ll tell you, much, to my great surprise, everybody really likes it. There are some people that say I just miss live on this life and I’m like was sort of everybody Hello. Of course, we miss life and I sympathize with you. And we want to get back to it too. But this past year, we’ve been doing dual where we can, like I’ve got a big screen zoom in there.
And then some of the classes are zoom and live. And we’re trying to do that. But when there was only the possibility of zoom, I thought I don’t know how this is gonna go because we do these big fitness weekends with only our for five hours, and five different rooms, including aqua and cycle and all these modalities, these different things. How is this going to work? Well, I mean, I have to tell you, the first one had like about 150 people attend, then one of them had over 200 to 300.
Steve Washuta: And these are, these are via zoom. Sorry.
IFTA Co-Founder: Yeah. And with, we had like 10 presenters doing all kinds of things at the same time, and everybody was running things, and I have like six computers, and I’m running around and, you know, trying to get everybody there zoom links in which was a huge undertaking. But I was willing to do it because I thought I don’t know what else we were gonna do. And I just couldn’t sit and wait. You always had the online version, not always sorry. Not three years ago, we had that available. So that was always an option.
But for those CEC things, classes, where people are like moving together, to be able to interact from their home after everything that is going on in the news, it’s so scary, made people so happy. I can’t tell you the emails, how many emails I’ve received, and people saying thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And please don’t stop.
We have another one coming up in March, from March the 25th to the 27th. And so far, we’ve got maybe 15 to 20 people signed up, we’ll probably have about 100 or so. It’s a live event and zoom event. But what I’m seeing right now just to answer maybe this will help you also understand more people are signing up for the virtual than the life, you know, because they’re still a little scared.
Steve Washuta: That makes sense, but I do I do think that’s the best way to Learn having just a camera inside of your live event, right and saying, This is exactly what I’m teaching those people, there’s no difference. You’re hearing all their answers and responses, you’re watching them, demonstrate or me demo whatever movements I’m doing, I think that’s obviously the best way.
Now you didn’t, you didn’t have that opportunity because you probably couldn’t go into gyms during a lot of the COVID. Hence the reason you were doing it at home, but I do think now like you said, that number is going to shoot up even more online, not less, because people are going to say, Oh, now I get still like a full experience of what’s going on in these certifications, just by logging onto my computer, I can see exactly what’s going on in the facility.
IFTA Co-Founder: That’s right, I mean, look in the facility that is letting us do this, I’m very happy when we have a local here that is amazing. It’s got everything that we need, what you can’t see, it’s I have a big TV in front of me here, and it’s on wheels, it’s got all the hookups and stuff, I throw that over my shoulder, put it in the truck, and drive it over there. I’m wheeling it around from room to room, whatever we have advertised is going to be virtual and live, you know, we just pick and choose as to what we think.
Then if we have a number of different ones, and the presenter that’s in that room will have their own little setup, whether it’s a little laptop, and in a step setup, you know, whatever it is, but it’s giving people that live experience in the Zoom experience. Those that want to be there that were spread out. Lord, You know what I’m saying? I mean, some people are going to wear their masks and people aren’t wanting to I totally get it to understand it. But, you know, we’re just doing the best we can at this time. And I feel really good about it. I feel also I feel grateful that people are still with us, you know, and wanting to do this, this,
Steve Washuta: this next one is part question and then maybe part recommendation based upon your answer. But what I found very helpful for a lot of young trainers, so people who just getting their certification is they’ll join these forums that are like on Facebook, let’s say, and they’re under there underneath the guise of the certification. Right. So let’s just make up a certification, the Steven Washuta certification, and then good. Yeah, it sounds like it sounds great. So you’ll be you’ll be forced to join my Steve Washuta certification Facebook group.
And all of those questions are surrounding basically help. So someone comes out of the if the certification and they’re three weeks and they’re certified to go, I’m teaching a swim class, I’m dealing with a lady who has an amputation from the need down. So she only has one leg, you know, one, one and a half legs, whatever. And, and I’m trying to make sure that she can do the things that all of my other people can do. C
Can you give me some help, right? And then somebody who’s more tenured? And that, like Greg maybe even hops on and says, This is what I would do. These are the exercises that I would do. And I feel like that camaraderie and that team building that bonding, underneath the guise of that certification, really helps grow everything. Do you guys have something like that? And if not, would you do something like that?
IFTA Co-Founder: That’s, I’ve noticed every time that I’ve been in a zoom class that people will click in and give their opinion, or I’ll say, Hey, does anybody have anything they want to share? I mean, because and then I’ll even say also, in the beginning, look, if you need to click in and say something to respond to someone else’s question, let’s do it. You know, I love that kind of open forum and format, where people can do that. And I’ve seen a lot of that happening, people connecting and that’s perfect, especially if I don’t know the answer to it. But even if I did, I would like for them to do that. I can see us doing more of that in the future, I can and I do love that idea.
What we also do is Jeff, and I will do a welcome to the weekend, you know, zoom right before all the other classes start, at least for like a half-hour where we’re welcoming everybody, and it’s free. They can come to it. If they want to say hello to the owners and have any questions. And we run through the CCS real quick. And we kind of has like a little thing that will follow if no one’s asking questions, just to give them info about after.
But yes. And then even in those little 30 minutes. Welcome to the weekends, I’ll see people connecting and asking questions, and this one answering that one, and just exactly what you said someone with either more experience or the experience of having a client like that. Being able to give information to someone that can help them is just extremely valuable. It’s invaluable.
Steve Washuta: Yeah. And it’s great that you guys have that opportunity in the zoom and the chats and things like that because really, that’s I feel like that that dynamic not only helps people learn but it builds people’s sort of camaraderie underneath the if to Banner right. They go Oh, yeah, all of these other if the personal trainers or if the group fitness for kickboxing are helping me sort of build my business in the proper way. And I think it’s it’s a great thing for business building.
IFTA Co-Founder: I appreciate you saying that. Because of that, because of you saying that I think I will do some of those. You know, I’ll give you credit for it. You can be in the mix. But I think we should do some of those and it would be helpful. Yeah, it’s a little weird with the zoom or whatever we’re using. and sometimes because in the hat is if there if too many people’s microphone is on, and it’s popping all over them.
So those kinds of problems are something that we all work through. We asked them to come to the meeting with their, with their microphone off, and to click in and say hello, as we call on them. And then we open it up. Because, you know, it’s it, you know, I’m saying it’s just this little logistical things every once in a while, but we can work through that. I mean, it’s worth trying, for sure. Even more.
Steve Washuta: So we talked a little bit about this. If you have anything to add, please do. What do you think is changing in fitness, what are if ready to do moving forward, what is Greg willing to do moving forward? And we talked about the COVID. But is there anything else that you see coming on that you’re either concerned with, whether it’s a bad thing, or that you’re happy with, that’s a potentially a good thing in the industry?
IFTA Co-Founder: You know, there’s really nothing that I’m concerned about, I’m grateful to say that too. I do a lot of meditating, you know, on a daily basis, it’s not, my meditation does not give me, it’s, you know, helped me make the right decisions, I believe you’re helping me make the right decisions, lead me to do the right things as a company that will help us to help others.
So a lot of my meditation is that way. I’m always open to anything, even when people will contact me and say, do you have this? Do you have that or? Listen, I think that’s important for everybody. As a personal trainer, a group fitness instructor, and a presenter. Is to listen to what people are saying and take it from there. So I take a lot of cues as to what I think we should do next. From what I’m hearing. Either in the industry or what people are saying when I’m in person with them or on zoom with them.
So we’re open to a lot of different ideas. So I’m not as concerned about where we’re going. I just don’t know exactly. If it’s going to get back to the same thing that it was before. It’s okay. I just want us to all keep going. For sure. Because it’s not important. And there are so many people out there that need our help as instructors and personal trainers. So that is important. If it’s going to be this shift to a lot of the online training and stuff.
That’s fine, too, as a company. I mean, it’s been a blessing. I hate to say this, so I want it to be taken the right way. Yeah, it’s been hard. So hard. At first, I was full of anxiety. I was running every day, I lost so much weight this summer. I was just running around downtown Raleigh and then jumping into the pool of that part was nice. But at the same time, I had a lot of anxiety about what are we going to do.
And now I’m realizing that you know, as a company. It helped us because we don’t have the expenses that we had before. Think about what we had to do. We had to rent a space, we had to fly everybody there. Had to have hotel rooms, we had to entertain them a little bit too. If nothing else, it was just a Saturday night cocktail party or whatever. You know, whatever you want to have kind of party with, you know, appetizers, whatever.
We were trying so hard to get everything that we got to pay them to present. Yeah, so you gotta have some numbers to make that work to keep things going. And, you know, for, what, 29 years now. So it’s mainly Ben. That what we’re realizing now. Is that this may be a better way to do it not as many events necessarily. Or do a lot of these kinds of things through zoom and then just kind of see where the industry leads us. I don’t know if that’s a great answer.
Steve Washuta: That is, you know, you’re you’re a bit more positive than me. I’m usually glass half full. But I’ll tell you a sort of my my issue, and then you could add to it. If you have anything to add to it is that I think doing this online stuff, you know, virtually as training is amazing, right? Because it doesn’t really make a difference. When you’re learning from someone like you whether you’re in the room or you’re not that is totally fine.
Where it sort of irks me a little bit, Greg. Is that in the personal training realm, we have a mutual friend Carrie Smith, I learned a lot in the first few years, right? Just learned just working in and around Carrie Smith, right. Yeah, or other or other professionals that have been tenured in the industry. Right. So you, you don’t even know. It’s hard to explain. But you’re subconsciously taking in all this information from watching all the other trainers, right? So I can walk into a gym. And I see Greg is training someone who carries. Training someone and gasps training someone. There’s all these people, and I’m watching what they do.
And maybe I’m even hearing what they say. And I’m taking in all of these things and that now that there’s virtual training. My issue is that somebody learns and that they start training one on one. But they’re not learning from any other experts. So all they know is their baseline knowledge. Now they’re trying to work with clients without continuing to grow. Get new certifications and learn from others. Be mentored and shadow and do all that stuff. So I don’t know how that’s fixed, but I think it could be a problem moving forward.
IFTA Co-Founder: I I do agree with you on that. I see Your point 100% on that. One thing that I’ve always said, and this is what set me apart in the beginning. Is it, there’s nothing that can replace this face-to-face. And, you know, I can see every bit of your body language. I can see where you know where your hands are moving. And exactly your entire position. In the space in the room with a piece of equipment and every angle. If I choose to, nothing can replace that. And so there’s, there’s that too. Along with, you know. We need to be able to get back to doing a lot of things. Live if we can. So if people are willing to do that. And if, you know, I guess we’re just going to live with this virus and learn to adapt.
That’s what I’m beginning to think now. Then we’re just going to be boosted if people choose to, that’s another whole issue. If people choose to have it, then if it’s available for them. They just may have to just do it every, I don’t know six months. I’m not even sure when that’s gonna change. Or if it’s gonna matter, but I’m with you on that.
I think it is better if we can, you know. Be able to still learn as much as possible. Instead of just like maybe from one person. But yeah, as far as Carrie Smith is concerned, she’s a great friend of mine. Yeah, she is knowledgeable. I always, always begging her to come work for me. And she does do some she did a lot on Zoom for us this past year.
Steve Washuta: Oh, that’s great. Yeah, I didn’t know that. That’s, that’s fantastic. And again, just to like, sort of reiterate that point. It’s nothing against virtual learning. Right. So getting the certification is fine. But like Greg and I have talked about this whole time. That certification is just the first part of your journey. The second part is continually educating yourself and going on and moving. And one of those, one of the ways you do that is not just by getting more certifications. But it’s by learning under other mentors and being physically put at a gym, you get your F to certification.
And you want to train online as a trainer, great. But also try to try to go to a gym, a local gym. Even if it’s just once a week to train people to see what’s going on. And then you also see, Greg has talked about how his business adapts is he’s seeing he’s listening. He’s saying, Okay, if people want some sort of kickboxing, yoga fusion. I’ll create it, I’ll make it I’ll do whatever it is. And you get to see those fads that are appearing when you’re in fitness facilities. Not when you’re just one on one, virtually.
IFTA Co-Founder: You’re right, exactly everything you said, totally agree with.
Steve Washuta: So Greg, tell the listeners where they can find everything. If how do they get to the if the website exactly. And maybe if they have a question directly for you. That’s, that’s something we talked about today, how they can maybe reach out to you.
IFTA Co-Founder: Absolutely, I want to say that we’re always available. No matter what time zone you’re in, even if it’s the weekend. If I’m at dinner, I might still just shoot you an email. If you email me and say. Hey, listen, I’m at dinner on Saturday night, but I will get back to you. I like for people to know that we are approachable and available to them at any point. And we have people that are certified in different time zones and different countries that I’m working with, as well. So I understand they get that. How you can reach us is our website is, of course, www.ai F it’s right here, i f t a hyphen, like a dash fitness.com.
In fact, I think it’s on the back of my shirt, right? Yeah. Yeah. Alright, so if the dash fitness.com. And then me personally. If you just put my name in front of that website, G R, E, G, at if the dash fitness.com. I will get back to you. And a lot of times these days because of the like I said, things go into junk and spam.
When I email someone, I take that extra step. And believe me, it’s an all-day-long process. To quickly text them if I have their cell if they have sent me their information. And I’ll say, I just emailed you to make sure it didn’t go to junk. And you wouldn’t believe how many people get back to me and say thank you. I did find it there. So please reach out to me, I’d love to talk to you. Of course, I want you to be HIPAA certified Hello. But I’m happy to help you with whatever, I can.
So I and Steve, I just want to thank you so much for having me What an honor. We tried to make this work for a while. And finally, you’re fantastic i No one knows this, but I had seen you before. And you and I communicate a little bit here and there. But I saw you one day on the blog. And I was like, wow, he is so well-spoken. Didn’t put it together that I had met you before. Or that we had some type of interaction years ago a couple years ago or something. But yeah, man, I’m just I’m, I’m crazy about what you’re doing. So I thank you so much. What an honor.
Steve Washuta: Well, thank you. And thank you for all you’ve done in the industry and how you put together this fantastic certification. I will list all of the information below so that people can reach out to you directly. My guest today has been Greg Sims, Greg, thank you for joining the truth for the podcast.
IFTA Co-Founder: Thank you so much.
Steve Washuta: Thanks for joining us on the Trulyfit podcast. Please subscribe, rate, and review on your listening platform. Feel free to email us as we’d love to hear from you.
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