Highlights of the episode:
- Mentors and influencers who helped him in his career
- Danny’s best tips for networking in your industry
- Why providing consistent free content for your audience is vital for an online coach
- How Danny developed a strong social following
- Advice to grow your audience for business owners starting out
- Tory Truit
- David Taubman
- Christian Woodford
- Eric Helms
- Layne Norton
- Mitchell Orval
- Michael Klim
- Tim Reid
- Garry Vee
- Nick Cheadle
#dannykennedy #preparelikeapro #plplivechats #podcast #melbournestrengthcoach
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Jack: Welcome back to the ‘Prepare Like A Pro’ podcast. My name is Jack McLean. I am your host. And today my guest is Danny Kennedy, the founder of DJK Fitness and host of ‘The Fitness And Lifestyle’ podcast. Danny’s a qualified personal trainer and strength coach based out of Melbourne, Australia. Throughout his years in the health and fitness industry, he’s worked with clients in person and online, ranging from Olympic athletes, celebrities, fitness models, and social media identities. And, of course, all people looking to achieve their health and fitness goals.
Before we start today’s episode, our mission here at Prepare Like A Pro is to empower aspiring athletes and staff with practical knowledge from some of the industry’s most inspiring individuals and to strengthen the AFL community. If you like the show, please show support by following us on Instagram and subscribing to the podcast. We’re an iTunes, Spotify and YouTube.
Welcome, Danny. Thanks for jumping on, mate.
Danny: Thanks for having me on, mate. I’m pumped for it. So, thanks again.
Jack: How does it feel being in the guest seat?
Danny: It’s good. I actually enjoy it. I enjoy it sometimes. Definitely, with my own show, I’ve tried to make it as casual as possible now, so it doesn’t really feel too much like a Q&A or an interview too often, but it’s good. It’s good just to rock up and chat. Whenever I do guest ones, I always get asked whether or not I want the host to send me the questions. Nah. Let’s just rock up and have a chat. I’m looking forward to it.
Jack: Love that, mate. I’m looking forward to it too. Let’s dive in the beginning of your career. At what age did you discover you had a passion for strength & conditioning personal training?
Danny: From the very early age, I always played sport. Mum and dad were also in that regard. They let me try my hand at pretty much every different sport I wanted to. And I pretty quickly fell in love with basketball and football. Throughout my teenage years basketball was always the priority for me. Like my whole intention. I really didn’t expect to do anything else in life other than to play basketball.
So, put all my time and effort into playing basketball. Loved footy as well, was probably more naturally gifted. I don’t know if the word ‘gifted’ is a good way to put it, but I probably naturally was better at football, but for whatever reason, I just was really passionate about basketball.
At the age of about 15, I had a basketball coach, who pretty much just said, ‘Look, you’ve got to get in the gym and put on some weight and get stronger, because you just are not strong enough.’ And I was extremely skinny. Still feel like I am, but particularly up until the end of school, extremely skinny.
My whole philosophy, and it still is, but in my juniors anyway, was always just trying to work harder than anyone else. I just thought, particularly with basketball and stuff, if I wasn’t quite at the skill level of other people than I’d always put in the work and worked harder than everyone else out there. And that was how I was going to achieve my goals.
So, with that came, pretty much been underweight. So, I got in the gym at about 15, like I said. Initially, I just hated it because my whole background with fitness up until that point was running. I was just a madman with running. Again, probably naturally more of a cardio typed body type, I guess. Definitely an ectomorph and found running pretty comfortable. And I enjoyed it. With footy and stuff as well, I would always just do a lot of running.
When I got in the gym, it was like, and I see it now, when I started to work with clients who come from a cardio background, it’s that initial hesitation as to like am I really working hard enough, if my heart rate’s not through the roof the whole time and I’m not sweating and all this type of crap.
I hated it for a bit and then just fell in love with it. I started to see results, like so many people do, and all of a sudden I was hooked. So, that was about 15 or 16. And I literally just fell in love with it. Something about my personality type is whenever I enjoy something, I just go all in with it. I probably obsess over it. And it’s definitely probably part of the reason why I’ve been able to grow my business and stuff, but sometimes it can be a downfall as well.
So, I just started doing all my own research on basically any platform I could, whether it was the old bodybuilding.com, whether it was trying to find different sources of information that were reliable. Just anything, just trying to learn as much as I could. And like a lot of people do, I was trying anything and everything, getting the wrong information, made all the mistakes you could possibly make.
By the time I finished school I was exact same height as I am now. So, I’m 182 centimeters and I was about 63 kilos. So, I was overtraining, excessively training and undereating, like badly. I was just definitely underweight. Even though in my mind, I thought I was doing all the right things. I was going the gym. I was having the protein shakes and doing all that crap. But I just didn’t have the right information yet.
Anyway, I made the decision that I was going to play footy. And then that flipped within about a week and a week later I was living in Melbourne for basketball. From there, I just continued to kind of follow that same path. I was just obsessed, just trying to learn as much as I could, whether it was seminars, whether it was videos on YouTube, articles online, trying to subscribe to research papers and all that stuff.
And it was probably when I was about 19 that I started to find some actually reliable information from some reputable people in the industry, evidence-based and scientific-backed, like nutrition and training methods. So, it’s probably about the age of 18–19, when I started to properly see results and wrap my head around nutrition, wrap my head around what I should be doing with training to see the results that I wanted to see for the past four or five years. I just wasn’t following the right approach.
And to this day still just absolutely love it. Very passionate about it, but that’s where it all started. That was an extremely long answer to a very simple question.
Jack: That’s good to have context.
Danny: That’s how it all started, anyway.
Jack: Awesome, mate. And then from that side of things, when did you start putting on the coaches hat, the personal training hat, how did that begin?
Danny: In year 12, actually, I think mum might have come to me one day because she knew how passionate I was about fitness. And at the time there was some, I don’t remember what, might have been an Australian Institute of Fitness or something like that, were running this program where you could get some form of not incentive, but it was like a cheaper price to do your personal trainer course by correspondence if you were in year 12 and studying.
So, I was like, ‘Yeah, sure. I’ll do it.’ I kind of just did. It spread out over 12 months and I did all my hours and stuff and had no real intention of using it, because in my mind I was going to be playing basketball. So, it didn’t really matter anyway. But it’s handy to have, so just get it done and get the qualification.
And then, as I said, I moved to Melbourne for two years for basketball after school. And same thing, when I look back on it now, in hindsight, I was always way more passionate about the gym and strength training and fitness than I was about the actual sport. Obviously, I loved basketball and footy, but my real passion was in the fitness side.
So, I wrapped up basketball at the end of 2013. Had an ankle reconstruction. And at the time when it happened, I was just devastated, like borderline depressed. Just to me, going from training and playing basketball, just living and breathing it, to not doing it at all was super depressing. But in that time period, I eventually did some physique competitions over the next three or four years.
And early days into my rehab after the Rico, I was like, ‘Right. I can’t train basketball. I can’t play. I don’t have a job because I’ve been doing basketball for two years.’ And I was already doing a few gym floor shifts, I think, at the time, just working as a gym instructor, pretty much just cruising around, talking to people. So, I was like, ‘Alright, I’ll get a position as a PT and just see how it goes.’
And similar to when I first got into fitness, it didn’t take long for me to pretty much just forget about basketball and be like, ‘Yeah, this is what I want to do.’ And shifted my focus from really focusing on myself all the time and trying to improve athletically within my sport to then, knowing how much of a different strength training and being in the gym made for me in terms of my confidence and, obviously, my physique, all the benefits I saw on myself was like, ‘I really want to show other people that they can do this too and help people achieve that goal.’
So, that was 2014, it was my first year starting out as a PT and, eventually, went on to do some other strength & conditioning qualifications and stuff like that as well. But, like I said, I’ve pretty much just brought the same approach to the business side of things and being a personal trainer and strength coach as to what I did to my passion for actual fitness initially and just fell in love with it.
Jack: And you mentioned your parents and the influence they had on your passion for fitness and your work rate, and chasing your dreams. Were there mentors or people in the industry at this point in your career, as you were forging your way, that helped you? Or did you work it all out by yourself? You mentioned YouTube and, obviously, doing your own research. But were there any strong influences?
Danny: I think from a face-to-face contact perspective, the first guy who let me be a subcontractor as a personal trainer in his business was Tori Truitt. He was based out of MSAC at the time. And he just saw how passionate I was. And I really liked the way he went about things.
And, like I said, although I was doing so much of my own research and study, probably more than anyone else that was already established trainers were doing, definitely more. He definitely did, especially from a business perspective in terms of how to actually run the business side of things, he taught me how important networking was and building relationships with clients and communication and all the stuff that you probably don’t really think about until you start.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I definitely found, like I was so hung up on all the theory side of stuff in terms of the training and the nutrition and recovery and all that stuff, that it didn’t ever really even crossed my mind as to like, ‘Oh, I also need to be able to communicate and run a business and learn how to network and build relationships and stuff.’
So, he had a big impact. And then I just continued to learn from other guys in the industry. I spent a couple years actually, not working with him, but just training with Christian Woodford for a bit. I got a value from Christian. He was really good. But other than that, it was just sources of information online. So, guys like Layne Norton, Eric Helms, who else was there? There was a lot of guys online. Alan Aragon was another really big one.
There was a handful of people online that, once I realized that a lot of their stuff was evidence-based and really read into it and saw the benefits of following it, I really dived into that side of things and went from just reading articles and watching videos and stuff to really searching for things that had evidence to back it up. So, they were the main ones. Other than that, in person, apart from Tori, like I said, there probably wasn’t really anyone. It was just learning on the fly.
And again, even now, similar to my approach to PT when I started, from a business perspective now, I also enjoy talking to new personal trainers or people who are aspiring to be at PT to run over all the stuff-ups I made with the business side as well, and all the stuff-ups I made with time management and trying to niche down with clients and stuff like that. Just all the mistakes that at the time sucked. But in hindsight, it’s been fantastic in terms of just building a wealth of knowledge from making all the mistakes.
Jack: Absolutely. You mentioned Tori planted the seed, the value of networking. For young developing coaches and trainers that are listening in, what did that look like? What were some actionable traits that you were starting to take on in terms of developing your relationships and developing networks in the industry?
Danny: Things like going to seminars or conferences and whatnot with like-minded people was almost a no-brainer. Because I’m like, ‘Alright, if I can go to this conference for two or three days, and I know that 50–200 of their attendees there are also probably high level coaches or aspiring coaches. And I get to mingle with all these people then I’m definitely going to learn something from them, if not continue to maintain some form of relationship with over the years.’
But then even with clientele, I was very fortunate and still am, that a lot of the clientele I trained from day one because of the area I was training people out of, were a lot of corporate people, people that had pretty significant jobs and had a really big network themselves. So, I wouldn’t necessarily say intentionally, but I just tried to build good relationships with those people. And then that leads to an introduction to someone else or you just try and maintain these relationships over time.
And then for me as well, something that I learned early on, I think, it was probably from so many failures, I guess, in my sporting background up until that point and my working hard attitude, that was something that helped me initially as well. Because I’m not afraid of rejection, failure or someone saying no.
A lot of opportunities I look back at now, things that have really helped build my career and helped me learn a lot and build even networks and relationships that I never would’ve expected, purely came down to the fact that I was just willing to jump on Instagram and send someone a DM and ask them a bit of advice or ask them to come on the podcast, or, if they were in Melbourne, reach out and just say, ‘Do you want to grab a coffee?’
Or if someone reached out to me or if I met someone and they were like, ‘We should stay in touch or whatever,’ there’d be plenty of times where in the back of my head, I’m thinking, ‘This is probably not really going to lead to ,’ or ‘I’m not too sure what I’m doing this one for.’ And then all of a sudden that turns out to be something that leads to the next thing, and that’s the origin of X, Y, and Z type of thing, if that makes sense.
Jack: Yeah, absolutely.
Danny: So, just not fearing, having no fear of failure or rejection was probably the biggest one. And I started to see that a lot in terms of other people that were. And again, when I think about some of the biggest opportunities and best opportunities I’ve had in the industry, and even outside of fitness, it purely has come down to just taking, I guess, you could call it risks. But reaching out to people or just doing all the little things and spending time with people.
Or again, I know I’ve said it a few times, but reaching out to people and asking particularly to offer them value without asking for anything in return. Which is, if anyone’s tuned in to the guys like ‘GaryVee’ and stuff, they say it a lot now. But I picked up on that super early and whether or not I’d heard it from someone like Gary or someone else, I can’t even remember.
But it really was like if there was an athlete or if there was even someone like a celebrity or a business person that I thought I could learn from, or I wanted to try and get in that network, it’d just be purely reaching out. Just plain and simple: reach out, offer as much value as possible, have some actual interest in trying to help them achieve whatever their goal is. And they’ll go in like, ‘Can you tag me in your story?’ Or, ‘Can we X, Y, and Z?’ It’s just like, ‘I just want to help.’ And that’s it.
And down the track, that’s what’s led to so many cool things. And that’s what led to being introduced to other people or these type of people, whether it’s, again, whether it’s an athlete or a celebrity, or just general population, whoever. When people see that you’re so willing to offer value and never asking you for anything in return, more often than not, they’re going to go out of their way to do something good for you.
So, that was and still is my approach. Obviously, you can’t just work for free all the time, but certain opportunities. I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m happy to do this for free. I’m happy to not ask for anything in return, because I know that what it could lead to down the track.’ So, that side of the networking has been massive for me as well.
Jack: I love that. Give first mentality definitely pays dividends.
Danny: I actually had a client. It is actually funny. This is full circle. So, there’s this guy, I don’t actually know if you’ve heard of Tim Reid. He’s got a podcast called ‘Small Business Big Marketing’. It’s a really good podcast. For anyone who has a business, I’d highly recommend tuning in. And Tim’s a great guy.
But I’d listen to his podcast and I’d actually sent him an email and reached out and basically did what I just said. I said, ‘Look, mate, I am not sure what state you live in, but if you’re in Melbourne, I’d love to…’ I’d heard on one of his podcasts, he wanted to get in shape. So, I was like, ‘I’d love to help you out with your training. Don’t want anything in return, blah, blah, blah.’
And in my mind, I was like, ‘Alright, I would love to spend some time with him, so he could help basically tear my podcast to shreds and tell me what I should be doing better to help grow it.’ And he replied like six months later, I think. It was something ridiculous, like six months later.
Jack: Was it an email or a direct message?
Danny: Email. So, I’m like, ‘He either haven’t checked emails for six months or randomly he’s just decided to write back.’ And that led to me training him. He tore my podcast to shreds. Since then he’s invited me to come and talk at some of his masterminds and we stay in touch and that was epic. I don’t even know what the point of that story was. But that was the ask first.
Jack: An example.
Danny: Yeah, an example of how that all works. So, the fact that eventually I’m talking at one of his events is just outrageous to me. But it doesn’t happen if I don’t just reach out one day and not really give a crap about whether or not he does or doesn’t write back, or says no, or whatever. And there’s been way more that haven’t written back or that have said no, that haven’t worked out. But you just never know when it will.
Jack: And with something like that, for the business owners that are listening in, is that spontaneous? Do you just have a gut feeling? You listen to that podcast there and then you hear it, he drops something like that he’s interested in working his fitness and you just strike straight away? Or is there something that you note down? Do you have monthly goals of how many people are you going to reach out for? How structured is it? How much is it just going with the flow?
Danny: No, there’s no structure to it. It’s just go with the flow. I think, some people, like you and I, are probably constantly thinking of things we can be doing to whether it’s to improve our craft or our business, or the podcast, or whatever it is. So, it’s just jumping at any opportunities that present themselves.
I’ve got one of my good mates, Mitchell. He and I are great friends. And someone literally tagged me in one of his posts, probably in 2016 or something, that he was trying to get help with nutrition. Same thing, I reached out on Instagram and said, ‘Look, dude, I’ll help you with the nutrition, any training stuff you need, yell out. I don’t want anything in return. If you see good results, then awesome, we’ll keep working together. If not, sweet.’
And then that leads to all this other stuff and now we’re great friends. But that was literally just like I got tagged in it. I’m like, ‘Might as well just reach out and see what happens and go from there.’
And then, I feel like I’m talking flat out, but this Tim Reid that I was talking about just then, I listened to one of his episodes with this guy. And I just thought this guy was super insightful. I loved the episode. His business was incredible. It’s something I’d never heard about before. And I said to Tim, ‘Hey, mate, would you mind just doing it?’ Because he’s based over in LA and I used to spend a heap of time in LA each year throughout this shitty time of the year when it’s winter.
And I just said to him, ‘Hey, mate, can you shoot an email to the guy’s name was Steve? I’m going to be in LA for like a month or two. If there’s any opportunity, I’d love to meet up with him.’ And a month later I’m in LA having breakfast with this guy and just picking this guy’s brain for an hour and getting to know this guy. He then invites me to an event and I’m at this event with guys like Lewis Howes and Tom Bilyeu and Ed Mylett and all this type of stuff.
I think about this all the time. None of that shit happens if I don’t just go to Tim, which I didn’t even have a good relationship with at the time. I just asked him something, which if he said no, he said no, but he said yes. And then all of a sudden it leads to this really cool stuff.
So, there’s no structure to it. And still even now there’s no real structure to it. It’s just see the opportunity and then just jump on it. But actually taking action on it and not just sitting there procrastinating on it or going, ‘Should I message them? Or should I not? Should I reach out to this person? Should I not?’ Just take action straight away and just do it. And if it works out, it does. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.
Because I say this all the time. If, for example, you wanted to do this interview and for whatever reason, not that this would be the case, but for whatever reason, if you said to yourself, ‘Ah, he’ll probably say no,’ or ‘He’s probably too busy,’ or ‘He doesn’t want to do this, so I’m not going to do it.’ Or you’re fearing me saying no, or you’re fearing me just pushing it back and not doing it
If you don’t ask, that’s already a reality. It’s the same result. If you don’t ask me to come on and I don’t come on, it’s the same as you asking me and me saying no. So, it’s like your worst fear has already happened if you don’t ask.
Jack: You may as well give it a shot.
Danny: Yeah, that’s my whole approach. It’s like the worst thing that can happen is that you’re going to be the same as what it is right now. The best thing could happen is you never know.
Jack: That’s great. Great advice, a great gem to dive straight into, for all the trainers and coaches listening in, to note that one down. Going back to your career journey for a second, so you’re building your business as a personal trainer. I imagine that was doing one-on-ones and group training. At what point did you start to think, ‘Okay, I’m going to open my scope and go online’?
Danny: It was pretty early to be honest, probably 2015, middle of 2015. So, like I’d said at the start, the years of around 2013 in particular was when I physically started to see really good results myself. Clearly having been super underweight and whatnot. When people started to see those results, I even was getting people from back home. I grew up in country Victoria, so you know most people from home.
And I’d be getting messages from people just asking what I’ve been doing or asking for help, just from mates, with a training program or help with writing a nutrition plan and stuff like that. And I was just doing it, thinking like, ‘Yeah, sure. That’s pretty weird that you’re even asking me, to be honest, but no worries.’
And I was doing it and I was like, ‘Oh, hang on. I’ve had a fair few people ask.’ So I’m like, ‘I just might start charging like 20 bucks.’ Or I think it was like $15 or $20 for a nutrition plan and a training program at the time. Because I like doing this stuff anyway, and again, it’s just allows me to help more people than just being restricted to how much time I can spend with someone one-on-one.
So, I started at that and then over the years just evolved. And that, particularly the online side of things, just been the biggest trial and error. I’ve gone through so many different phases of the online business to keep not only scaling it, but also just learning on the fly. There’s been so many changes to how it’s structured. Just constantly taking bits and pieces from what I see from other people that are doing it well in the industry. Again, learning from mistakes.
And that’s how it all started. So, it’s probably 2015–2016, I’d say. And that was, like I said, just doing super cheap training programs for friends and family. And then eventually getting a website built and then thinking to myself, ‘Right. I’m going to add this pillar to my business.’
Jack: And so, you’ve been in it for about six or seven years. Knowing what you now know, what would you do differently? What were some big mistakes or big rocks that you wish you focused on a bit earlier? What would you do differently if you were starting now?
Danny: It’s hard to say, it actually is hard to say. I was thinking about this not too long ago. The cliche answer is like, you wouldn’t change a thing because you’ll learn so much and blah, blah, blah. That’s probably true, to an extent.
Jack: It’s probably a better question, actually. Because, like you said, you learn from your mistakes, so you’ve got to have that mentality. So, what if you were starting another business, a new business, or you are consulting?
Danny: I think for me, like I said, over the years, I’ve just kept adding bits and pieces to get it to where it is now. Obviously, when you know what you do now, it’s easy to say what you would’ve done differently. But I think some of the biggest things, and to second that as well, I started my fitness Instagram page at the end of 2013, and I can say for sure that’s been one of the biggest drivers of growth in my business, particularly online, in the social media side.
And very similar to how I approach everything else, it’s always been just consistency. Obviously, there’s been days where I haven’t posted stuff, but I would say, not a lot. Probably at least 95% of the time since I ever started my fitness page, I’ve posted some form of educational or not maybe educational, but valuable content on my social media, which is obviously free. Every single day since I started it.
And it’s, obviously, very saturated across all social media platforms now. So, it’s probably a little bit harder. And by the way, when I started, it already was saturated. I’d miss the social media boat to an extent already. So, for now it’s super difficult, but I would definitely be posting an absolute shitload, I don’t know, if you can swear on this, but an absolute shitload of content for free across your chosen platform. So, whether it is podcasts, Instagram, TikTok now, whatever it is, but just posting as much free content as you can. Because I think a lot of people are under the impression like, ‘I’ve spent all this time and money learning this stuff. So someone should pay me for it.’
My whole approach is like, again, similar to what we said before, give value without any expectation in return and it’ll come back. But also people, in my opinion, and I’ve taken this quote from someone else, but people don’t pay for information, they pay for implementation. So, my whole approach was like: all right, I just want to give out that much free stuff that when someone finally decides they want to get in shape, there’s no other way that they’d think of anyone else other than me, because I’ve just continued to give them free stuff over time.
The next thing, and I wish I had have pushed harder on this earlier, is building an email list. Because again, if social media goes to shit or whatever, you’d always be able to get in contact with your audience. And again, being super consistent with that.
I think I would put a lot more emphasis on systems from the start. Because mine has been really up until probably the last couple years, very much based off just trading time for money, to an extent. And I like that part of it to a degree, because, especially with my coaching, I want to make sure that it’s completely customized, that it’s not just a cookie cutter plan that they’re getting or whatever.
But at the same time the systems just help things run a lot smoother and also help generate a bit more growth. Whether that’s systems with having recurring payments with clients, whether it’s having some form of very basic funnel with your email list from your website or whatever that may be. But just trying to look at ways that you can really make things a lot smoother earlier on, would definitely be that.
And then two more things would be pick a niche right from the start. Like you said, you spend, and a lot of people still do, and I think you probably have to, to a certain degree, spend a bit of time figuring out what your actual niche is and who you do like training in terms of like the face-to-face stuff. But once you get to the point where you’re like, ‘Right, I absolutely love whatever, strength training for footballers in the off-season or strength training for footballers in season or whatever, training females to grow their glutes.’ Whatever it is, once you figure out what it is that you really enjoy, just double down on that.
Because it’s very easy to get caught up, especially when you start and you’re trying to just make money. You’re trying to get busy, basically taking any opportunity you can, you start to become, you think you are the jack-of-all-trades, but you’re just not. If you can position yourself as an authority in a certain lane, then you are going to grow so much faster. Because when someone wants that, you’re so much more likely to be the person that they think of, or to come up in a search on Google or whatever it is, because everything that you’re doing is pushing in that direction.
So, that’ll be that. And there’s so many things, but even things like pricing and stuff as well. Like value, really figuring out, valuing your time or valuing your product and not just trying to go for what you think people are going to be able to… It sounds silly, but with my online programs and stuff, I look back now at some of my one-on-one coaching I was doing and, obviously, you evolve, so you can start to increase your rates over time. But some of the stuff I was doing for the most outrageously cheap, stupidly cheap prices, which was still trading my time for money.
So, I’d be charging X for PT, but then I’m charging this amount for the online service when I’m giving the same amount of value. So, learning, understanding what your value is and understanding how much value you can offer the client and not sell yourself short, just so you can try and make some money or just so you’re cheaper than the next personal trainer or the next online coach. Stick true to that. And that’ll quickly weed out the clients you don’t want anyway.
Jack: Yeah. Massive. Thank you for sharing, mate. Appreciate it. There’s a fair bit to dive into there, you’ve dropped some good bombs. What about from the business side of things, clearly you’re driven and you do a lot of research and you implement and you action these things and learn as you go, but did you, like with Troy, did you have someone there as like a life coach, business coach side of things? Or was this all more self-developed?
Danny: Definitely more self-developed, to be honest. I probably do wish I had have done that sooner. Last year I started working with the business coach, his name’s David Totman. He’s incredible, particularly for, he’s really passionate about working with smaller business owners that are looking to really expand their business.
And I think the beauty of that, and I come to this realization quite late, obviously, because I started working with him last year, but it’s like anything, like Roger Federer has a coach, Michael Jordan had a coach. You want to get in shape, you hire a PT, you want to learn to swim, you hire someone to teach you how to swim. It’s almost when you’re putting the perspective, it’s absolute no-brainer that you should invest, especially if you’re a business owner that wants to grow your business, you should be investing some form of money or time even into being taught how to build a business by someone who’s either done it before, or has the skills that you probably don’t.
And then, second to that, just a different perspective on things. Because it’s very easy and it can absolutely do your head in, when you can only see things from your perspective inside your business or outside your business. Whereas someone can come in, even if they have nothing to do with health and fitness, and they look at how you’re running your business and they’re just like, ‘You know, we need to change this, this and this.’
And it’s probably something that you’ve never thought of or would never even considered putting any thought to. Because it’s just something that you either haven’t learned or because you are so focused on where you think things should be or what you think should be happening, you just don’t put any thought to it.
So, up until last year, and I wish I had have started working with someone a bit sooner, I did a bunch of courses and stuff around the business side. And, obviously, with the podcasting, I really dived into myself listening, consuming a lot of content from business people. When I read Grant Cardone’s book ‘The 10X Rule’, I read that in maybe 2017 and I’m pretty certain that like just changed everything for me in terms of my business and my approach to a lot of different stuff.
Without having a face-to-face mentor or someone that I was hiring to coach me, I feel like I learned and continue to learn a lot of stuff, a lot of value from just listening to stuff like this, like podcasts and just taking bits and pieces from people and then actually trying it out. Because it’s pretty easy to get caught up in a cycle of just consuming content and doing nothing with it.
So, even when I read and stuff, now I try not to just finish one book and go to the next, or not watch one podcast and then just start the next one straight away. It’s like, if you’re listening to someone who runs a successful business and they give all these gems throughout the podcast, actually try implementing them for a bit first and then do a bit of trial and error yourself.
So, I didn’t hire anyone early days. I had started to last year and it makes a big difference.
Jack: And what made you take on a mentor? Was that someone advised you to do? Was it something that you were thinking about doing for a while? Take us through your mindset when you were starting to work with Dave.
Danny: So, just having a pretty wide network of different people, whether it’s again, athletes, business people, whatever. A lot of the catchups I would do with people like this one in particular. I caught up with a friend of mine who owns a pretty big e-commerce company and he was working with Dave.
And every time we would catch up for coffee, me and this guy, we would just pretty much talk about business the whole time. Just trade stuff like stories or bits and pieces about what we were both doing within the business at the time, what we were struggling with, the sticking points, what was working well.
And he mentioned a couple times like, ‘Look, mate, just have a chat to this guy. Since I started working with him, the business has gone through the roof.’ Or like, ‘I’m now really having different view of certain things I had just never put any thought to before and it’s made a big difference.’ So I was like, ‘Yeah, sure. Let’s do it.’ So, reached out, had a bit of a chat with him and then off we go.
Jack: And is that something that you do once a month? What’s the frequency like? How does it work, for someone that hasn’t worked with a mentor before?
Danny: I’m sure a lot of business coaches structure it quite differently. With Dave, he’s really good. We have a bit of a break at the moment and I’ll be starting back up with him soon.
But we spent all of the last year in particular, while we had more time over the last year or so with the lockdowns and stuff, we would catch up, probably we’d catch up once every two weeks. We would spend probably two to three hours together and just completely dive into everything and he would pick it all apart.
And he’s awesome. He sends me back a bit of a debrief of what we just spoke about. Takes a bunch of notes while we’re chatting. And, basically, just lays it all out for me, exactly how things are at the moment, the things we’re working on. And then he would usually give me a bunch of tasks to go back and put some time into over the coming weeks. So then, by the time I go back, we have some updates on where things are at. It was really good and it kept me accountable.
It’s just like working with the trainer. That was probably the biggest thing for me is it was like, ‘Alright, I’ve got two weeks until I catch up with Dave again. I can still work hard and do all the stuff that I’ve been doing, but there’s a reason why I’m having these blockages or there’s a reason why I’m not able to pass this next point in the business. And, obviously, he’s giving me tasks and stuff to do that are going to get me there.’
And a lot of the stuff that we did, which sounds pretty silly, but it was really uncomfortable stuff for me, because, obviously, it was the things that I hadn’t done before, or I either purposely just ignored or things that I didn’t think were necessary. And now all of a sudden he was really pushing me. And he’s great, he would just randomly call me up and just end up talking for like half an hour about something, about something to do with the business.
And just being there as well. If I was looking at doing a deal for the podcast, or if I was looking to negotiate a contract or whatever it was, he’d just give me a buzz and send it through and we’ll have a chat about it and then go from there. So, it’s just good to have that accountability and someone there to bounce ideas off.
And again, just to keep me accountable as well. On the days or weeks where I really just couldn’t staffed or if I had other stuff going on, it was just a matter of like, ‘Alright, this is a priority. Get it done.’ Otherwise, next time we catch up, it’s like, I’m going to be asking you about it. And if you haven’t done it, then in the end of the day, it’s my loss. I’m paying this guy to help me. And if I’m not doing the work, then I’m losing. It’s my fault if I’m not doing the work.
Jack: A hundred percent. And you mentioned the importance of consistency, how you are posting pretty much since 2013, I believe, daily and providing value. For someone that’s starting out and feels a bit unsure on what value to provide, I’m sure it’s quite easy for you to do now, but early on what were some ways that you could get creative and work out what content you needed to post that was going to be valuable for your audience?
Danny: In my opinion, I think there is a bit of a fine line between quality and quantity with content. I think sometimes it is super important to have really good quality content. But I think a lot of the time, particularly when you’re starting out, it’s just quantity. It’s just putting out a lot of content.
I literally, even to this day, I think to myself, or if I get a question on social media about something, I’ll usually screenshot it or put in my notes. If I’m with a client and they might be going, ‘Is it bad to have carbs right before bed?’ or some shit. And I’ll write it down in my notes and come home and might write an email on it, or I might literally record a podcast on it or whatever. And if you don’t have the luxury of already having a client database or whatever, just literally think yourself who your target client are and what do they need to know.
And for you, this is the thing that I found a little bit difficult initially as well, for me, I’d be like thinking, ‘This is the most simple shit ever. Surely, everyone knows this.’ But they don’t. You spend all this time learning this stuff. Like how many reps should I do to build strength? That’s a good question to answer because a lot of people don’t know. Or how do I figure out how many calories I need? Or should I be stretching before I train? All these simple questions. Because it’s usually the more simple stuff is more relatable.
Like you think about putting together this amazing quality content and putting all this time and effort into this stuff, and no one really gets a shit most of the time. Whereas like I’ll put up a video, I did one, one of the most engaging ones I’ve had over the past month. Literally it was just me doing a selfie video, talking about mistakes that a lot of females tend to make in terms of wanting to look a certain way, and some alternatives or substitutes for what they may or may not be doing already. And what I think is probably a more optimal approach.
Takes me 60 seconds to record it, post it. And it gets the most engagement out of any of my content for like a month. So, it really does just come back to this: keep it as simple as possible. Because there’s always going to be someone that needed to hear that, or there’s always going to be someone that’ll take value from it. And if you can just have the mindset of like: if just one person takes value from every bit of content I approach, then I’m doing my job.
And not worrying too much. Like it’s easier said than done in terms of not worrying about how big your following is or how big your audience is and whatnot. But you think about, say, you’ve got 300 followers. Imagine standing in a room in front of 300 people telling them about how to bench press or something like that. You’d be overwhelmed.
Whereas on social media, for some reason, and, obviously, with these shit algorithms these days, 300 people aren’t going to see it. But just go into it with that perspective of just trying to help one person every single time you post content. And it’s just what people want to know. It’s not the craziest, most fascinating stuff. It’s just very basic stuff.
And be consistent with your message too. Don’t just go like, ‘Oh, what’s trending in a moment? I’ll talk about this shit.’ Or, ‘What’s everyone buying or what’s the newest fad?’ No, just figure out exactly what your philosophies are, stick to your message and just be consistent with it.
Like I’m saying something in my post now that I was saying in 2014 and people are still interacting with it. It’s still getting responses from people going like, ‘Oh, I just made this change last weekend. It’s helped a lot.’ Or ‘I didn’t know that,’ and stuff like that.
So, every time you put out content, it’s just thinking about, ‘Alright, what would someone that wants to achieve this need to know to do that?’ Not thinking like, ‘I wonder if my 500 followers want to know this?’ Because it doesn’t matter if they don’t want to know, if 500 don’t want to know. If one person does, that might be your next client.
Jack: It’s great. And I like that approach. That would resonate with a lot of coaches, I reckon, that maybe are new to the social media and it might be intimidating, but they’re coaching a lot of people and, no doubt, they’re getting questions every session. They might be doing 40 sessions a week. And to actually note those down in a journal or screenshot them on your camera. And then record them, and answer them just how you did with your client. I think that’s really good. That’s something that, no doubt, listeners can take on.
You mentioned the importance of, and something you wish you did earlier, of owning your niche. That’s probably equally a challenging task, I think, for a lot of coaches. Like you said, when we start in the industry, you become the generalist just naturally. Because you just need to build a business and to help people with weight loss, help people with muscle gain, males, females, you might be helping people of all ages. And then, as you grow, you start to work out who you love to train, what are you most passionate about.
At what point did you recognize that you started to niche down? And how did you come to that realization? Did it come to you naturally? Or was it something that you intentionally made to the point where maybe you started referring people on that had certain goals and you only worked on people that were specific to your niche?
Danny: It was probably a couple years in, probably a couple years in. Like I said, at the start I was just doing anything and everything. And a lot of it I wasn’t enjoying, but it was kind of like, ‘Oh, I want more clients. I want to be busy. So, I’ll just do it.’ Whether it was group training with corporates or whether it was whatever, taking it. Like I love boxing, but I don’t really enjoy training someone for boxing really, at all. A little bit, but not that much.
So, I was just doing sessions like that and I was just going like, ‘Oh, I want to make sure that when I go to work, when I look at the clients I’ve got for that day, every single one of those sessions I’m genuinely excited for and looking forward to.’ Not like early days, I should be looking at the day and I’d be like, ‘Two o’clock, three o’clock and five o’clock, can’t wait till they’re done.’ Or stuff like that.
It took a couple years. But I think I was really, again, really fortunate. And it did definitely come down to the networking stuff we talked about earlier, but I locked in a couple of big athletes early. Probably before I should have, to be honest. But it was awesome like that.
And then, obviously, the exposure that gets you, or the social proof that gets you on social media. All of a sudden you have people that either are in that industry or people that like that style of training or whatever, just eventually come across to your content and then want to know more or work with you or whatever. Particularly the athlete stauff or celebrities or whatever.
It’s ridiculous, that’s how it works. But it is like, if someone sees you working with someone that has a profile or a name, it instantly gives you social proof. You could not know a single thing and someone will come to you and be like, ‘I want to work with you, just because you’d worked with someone else.’
But I competed as well, like I said. As well as my content with business, I was vlogging on YouTube almost every day. And they weren’t getting many views. But my social media, I was posting a lot of content from the preps I was doing for comps, talking about the process that I was doing.
Particularly with the nutrition side of things. My messages stayed so clear and so consistent the whole time that that was one thing that really drew in people from that perspective. Not even from training, but from the nutrition side. I was getting so much interest because of the way that I was approaching things. And because it is such a sustainable and flexible approach, obviously, people are pretty gravitated towards it.
So, the competing thing brought in a lot of people that, obviously, were interested in that style of training. Like their strength training and even showing the process of me getting in shape from a body composition perspective and not so much performance and athletic side. But from body composition, showing people that I’m the leanest I’ve ever been and I’m not doing a single second of cardio for the week. I’m just doing strength training or just stuff like that. Literally just documenting.
And even coming back to what we were talking about before, the content, just document what you do, don’t try and create content. Even now, a lot of the content is like, I’ll be training a client that would do an ADL and I’ll be like, ‘A lot of people will struggle with ADLs.’ And you could get a story of this person doing an ADL, put a few arrows in the story, put up a few little cues people think about. And bang. You’ve got a very engaging piece of content, because people want to know that stuff.
So, the body building stuff, working with athletes and then just getting a few bigger names or whatever, drew people in. And I pretty much got to the point where I was like, ‘Well, if I’m going to be putting out a lot of content, I may as well just try to track the clients that are going to want to do the stuff that I’m doing.’ Because that’s easy. Then instead of me going out and creating a post about circuit training or creating a post about something that’s not really…
Jack: Specific to your niche.
Danny: Yeah. So, if I’m just posting my stuff, documenting what I’m doing, the people that like that will come to me. Instead of me having to try and bring people in. Because that’s what it was like for me, anyway. The first year or two was almost like just coming across as desperate with the client and work side of things, because I was constantly trying new things, just try and get people in.
Whereas when that mindset changed to not chasing people, letting them come to me, which is a longer term approach and you’ve got to be a lot more consistent with it. But it’s like if I’m putting out certain pieces of content or working with certain people, or doing X, Y, and Z, I want someone to come to me and say, ‘Do you have any availability for PT?’, or ‘How can I sign up to your online coaching?’
Instead of me going, putting out. And you may have to do it at some point, and it is what it is. But instead of putting out things on social media going like, ‘Oh fuck, I’ve got three sessions for the price of one or whatever, just to try and get someone in.’ I stepped away from that stuff because you’ve got to think about as well, and this probably comes back to the business side with that approach.
You don’t want to train someone, even if it’s one session, you don’t want to train someone that has no intention of training again, or is going to be difficult from day one or is someone that you don’t enjoy training. Who cares, if you’re making money? It’s not worth it. It’s not worth the time.
Time’s your best asset. You’re better off putting that time into creating more content or building systems out, or learning, mastering your craft and doing education around the strength training, like the coaching side of things or whatever.
So, it was probably 2 years, I’d say. And I really figured out that the strength and resistance training side of things and really teaching, I’ve gone through ebbs and flows. A lot of the athletes I’ve worked with have been male. So, that attracts that type of thing. And, obviously, me being a male, doing body building, stuff like that, obviously, attracts a lot more males.
But I’ve got a lot of enjoyment out of teaching females how to lift weights and just showing them over a period of time of like, ‘Hey, this is what results you can get if you get over this little fear of lifting weights and eating next to nothing. Stick with this and just buy into the fact that if you follow this approach for the next couple of months, two or three months, whatever, and then just see what your results are.’
And then once I started getting results for a lot of girls, like, obviously you start to get more, because people are seeing firsthand what others are doing. And again, just documenting that journey brings in more. So, I definitely didn’t niche down super specific initially, anyway. It was more so to strength training pretty much, and obviously doing some forms of conditioning and whatnot.
Because when I started my whole journey, initially I was like, ‘I just want to be a strength coach for a footy team. I want to be a strength coach for an AFL team.’ And I did some off-seasons with footy teams early on, not AFL, but in the VAFA. And I realized pretty quickly that I don’t enjoy this. This is not what I like.
I love working with athletes one-on-one or I like working with a very small group of athletes that’s very tailored and specific, or even better – working with just one person. Doesn’t have to be an athlete, but someone that wants to really learn this and that I know is going to stick to it and that they actually want to be there. So, that’s how it niched down, kind of naturally happened, I guess.
Jack: That’s great. Thanks for sharing the process that it’s not something that happens overnight. So, people don’t need to force it, by the sounds of it. You’ve got to fill things out and explore.
Going back into your career progression. So, you got into the online game pretty early. You mentioned Instagram and how important it is to build a social media following and how competitive it is now. For those starting out, maybe they’re studying, they’re just doing their certs and they’ve got their personal account. They haven’t got a business account set up. Would it be doubling down on TikTok? Is it YouTube shorts? Like you said, there’s so many options now. Where would you go and how many would you focus on at once?
Danny: I think first one would be email list. And even if you’ve got a small email list, start figuring out whether you want to send out one a week, one a month, two a week, two a month, every day, whatever, be consistent with that. I think that should always be a staple, keeping some form of consistent communication with your email list.
It’s hard to tell at the moment. I’m posting a decent amount of content on TikTok, but there’s only been a few that have got super high engagement and the rest have pretty average engagement. But I’m just staying consistent with it, because I feel, even though the content I’m putting out is valuable, the style of content that goes really well on TikTok definitely doesn’t really suit my style.
Jack: It’s more entertaining stuff.
Danny: Yeah. So, on that point though, I think it’s really important to figure out what style of content you relay the best. So, is it podcast? Is it talking to a camera on YouTube? Is it putting out infographics on Instagram? And figuring out what you’re good at and then doubling down on that.
Because if you are shit at talking to a camera, you can get great, you can get really good at it over time. But if it’s something that you have no interest in or no passion in, then that shows. Whereas, if you’re someone who loves talking on a podcast and you’re good at it, then you are way more likely to get higher engagement and do better in that thing.
So, although it’s important, I guess, to have multiple platforms where you’re putting out content. You’ve also got to be careful of not just trying to put out content on 10 different platforms just for the sake of it, when all 10 platforms are shit. At least find one that you think you’re really good at, or you can learn about the most, or you can put the most time and effort into. And then you’ll be able to have bits and pieces that you can take from that platform and use on the other one.
So, even with podcasting. If you run a podcast and you’ve got video, you don’t ever have to create any content for Instagram. You can just use the content from your podcast in snippets on Instagram or TikTok and stuff like that. So, that’ll be my advice around that regard.
But in terms of where to post at the moment, I have no idea. If you know, or if anyone listening knows, let me know. Because the engagement is all over the place at the moment with pretty much all the platforms I’m finding. Apart from podcasting really, podcasting’s pretty consistent. Email list will always be relatively consistent. But in terms of Instagram and TikTok and stuff, it’s who knows?
Jack: Yeah. Trail and error. Maybe Facebook will make a new rise?
Danny: Maybe. Who knows? Go back to the MySpace or something.
Jack: What about challenges so far? When you look back on your career, what has been a major challenged what did you learn from it? How did you grow from it?
Danny: One that stands out straight away is the business side of things, particularly with finances, tax. GST now is super, particularly if you’re running your own business, whether it’s as a sole trade or if you’ve got a company and stuff.
I didn’t do any form of business degrees or anything at school or uni and stuff like that, so I’ve made so many mistakes with that side of things and had to learn the hard way about a lot of it, like with tax and everything. It just wasn’t something that I knew about, wasn’t something that I’d hire someone to help me with. Or again, didn’t have a business coach advised me on certain things. I made so many mistakes in that regard.
Unless you do a business degree or whatever, I just don’t see how there’s any form of education, particularly in school, where you learn anything that’s fucking worth knowing about finance after school. Like I said, whether it’s tax, whether it’s figuring out whatever, learning about inflation and interest rates and loans and all this type of stuff. Everything in that regard was completely foreign to me. So, made a lot of mistakes in that regard. That was something that definitely has been a massive challenge.
The other thing would be, if you’re wanting to grow and expand the business, obviously, you have to do the work and you have to put in a lot of hours and a lot of time. But also, if you have no idea how to make a website, if you have no idea how to edit a podcast, I think it’s relatively important to have a decent understanding of how to do these things eventually, but time’s your best asset. And you value your time.
Particularly if you’re good at certain things, whether it’s training the clients, whether it’s doing podcasts, writing emails, or blogs, whatever, wasting half a day on trying to edit a podcast that someone could do in 20 minutes, you’re only hurting yourself. Because you’re losing all this time that could be spent investing in yourself or earning more money in different areas of your business.
So, something that I took so long to do is start to delegate things out to other people, or hire someone. Doesn’t even necessarily need to be hiring someone, particularly early days you’re not going to have leftover cash to just be going hiring people or having an office and all this type of stuff. But just starting to figure out what you’re good at within the business.
And the things that you’re not good at, like I said, learn them to an extent, but if you’re in a position to do so, I think really starting to, like I said, come up with systems. But also either hire people to do them or if you’re someone that has a good business or you have a following already, even putting out on your Instagram story, like, ‘Hey, if there’s anyone, any people who are interested in videography and if you just want to come and do this video for free, basically to show me what you can do.’
One of my videographers that I use he did the first video for me for free. He did like a whole day of vlog, like nuts. He came and literally followed me around for the whole day on probably one of my busiest days I’ve ever had as a personal trainer. Put together the most incredible video. And after that, I’ve ended up hiring him so many times to come and do video work for me.
Because I was like, ‘All right. If I want to get really good content when I’m doing this type of stuff, instead of sitting there trying to figure out how I can video it or coming out with this shitty content, or trying to create it or whatever, I just get someone who’s good at it that knows how to do it super well. And that time spent that I would’ve spent trying to edit all this stuff or trying to figure out how to learn how to do it, can be spent training clients or, again, learning new things, or whatever it may be.’
And it can be hard to do. Particularly if you see your business as you are kind of like your baby, it’s hard. Sometimes you feel like, ‘Oh, no one will care about it as much as I do.’ And they probably won’t. But you’ll be surprised at how much quicker things can grow if you start to look at the things you’re really not good at, and when you can, if you’re in a position to do so, giving them off to someone else.
Jack: That’s great advice. And what about highlights of your career? What’s something that you look back on fondly? Obviously, you’ve got your own podcast, there’s launch date there, training celebrities, training professional athletes, competing yourself in shows. What’s something that you look back at and feel proud?
Danny: I don’t know, to be honest. It’s hard to say. I think it’s on a very smaller scale, but something that I just thoroughly enjoy is anytime you get a message or an email from someone who’s listened to the podcast or read emails or content on social media and just simply saying that they took the benefit from it, or it’s changed their life from hearing this one thing.
That’s always super rewarding. Because there’s always, particularly early days, always weeks with the podcast or social media where you just literally think yourself, ‘Oh, I’m just wasting my time. No one’s even seeing or hearing this stuff.’ And messages like that are really good.
But I was fortunate, really fortunate to do, so 2017 and 2018 I did a sled push challenge for 24 hours. Just push a sled for 24 hours.
Jack: Just the sled or with weight on it?
Danny: With weight. I think it was 20 or something like that. But both years it raised, I think, in excess of like $20,000, which went directly to Beyond Blue. I’m a really big advocate for mental health and headspace and mindset and all that type of stuff. So, that was awesome. Obviously, it was an epic physical challenge and accomplishment, but more so just knowing that it was going to a good cause, I guess.
So, that were things I’m super proud of. But I don’t know. That’s probably one thing I struggle with. Even if I do something that’s good or I achieve a goal, whatever, I probably don’t spend a great deal of time sitting there, just laughing it up or thinking about how good it is. It’s always, and I’m assuming you’d be the same, it’s kind of like, ‘All right, what’s next?’ There’s always something else afterwards.
Jack: And with that sled challenge, I’m sure the coaches are interested to know the details of that. How does that work? That’s you by yourself moving the sled? Is it outside? Take us through the details of that.
Danny: So, how it worked. The first year I did it with Michael Klim, he was stupid enough to come and join me. And we actually had, so dumb, we had two sleds going that year, so we’d push up and back. And people, because, obviously, we marketed it. Well, not marketed, but just posted on our social.
So, people would come down, and the idea for me was like, I’m obviously not going to be just me pushing the sled for 24 hours. I’m not going to make that. But my intent was like, whatever you do the whole time, just be continuously there pushing it. If people come down, they want to jump in and push it at a length, whatever.
We had a system where you would push it, get to the other end. If there were people there, there’d be people, pretty much just had a line, but it was never that many. And, as you can imagine, between the hours of, say, like 10:00 PM and pretty much like 6:00–7:00 AM the next day, there’s not exactly that many people there.
So, the first year Clem and I did it, we had a really good turnout of people. And it was more so just like keeping the wheels ticking. Push it, get to the other end, make sure it can go again, same thing. And push for 24 hours. And the first time I was just like, obviously, you know that 24 hours is a long time, but when you hit that 12-hour mark and you’re like, ‘Halfway.’
Danny: Yeah, halfway, but I’ve also got 12 hours to go. So, we had to come up with some strategies too. Because, obviously, not just flat out pushing the sled the whole time. And even the angle of how you’re pushing it, trying to be super cautious of a calf or Achilles. After a long period of time hydration was a big one, nutrition as well, because you are just clearly chewing through so much energy that whole time.
The first year the track was about 30 meters long. Second year was a bit shorter, it was about 20. I actually preferred the long one, because it was just a little bit less stop/start. Physically, clearly, it was difficult, but the idea of it was for it to just be mentally just ridiculous. And it was, stupid, so dumb to have done it the second year as well. So, that was good.
Jack: That’s impressive.
Danny: But I enjoy stuff like that. Last year I did 5Ks of walking lunges. And that was for Beyond Blue as well. And that was actually, it’s going to sound ridiculous, but that was a piece of cake. It wasn’t hard. It was like after first 300 meters, my legs were pretty cooked. I’m like, ‘Alright, I’m in strife here. I don’t even think I’m going to make this.’ And then I pretty much just stayed at that level of that threshold of soreness and pain pretty much just stayed the same.
And it was actually not too bad, just boring. It was a stupid idea. Did it around Albert Park that. And I started it like, because I didn’t want to look like an idiot, firstly, like when people are running around the track and I’m just lunging around. So, I was like, ‘All right, I’m going to go start at 5:00 AM and, hopefully, get it done.’
My thought process was that it was going to take about three hours. It took less. But I started at five and I’m like, ‘I’m just going to get this done, hopefully, before it’s too busy.’ And it was the worst weather, like belting rain, sideways windy and, obviously, dark. And it was just boring. It was just like, oh man. Especially around the lake, because you can see pretty much where you started, almost the whole way around. ‘Why to do it here?’
Jack: It’s awesome. Love that. Great cause, of course, as well. Fantastic, mate. We’ll move on to the personal side of the podcast, the get-to-know-Danny segment. The first one is: do you have a favorite life motto or quote? You’ve mentioned a couple throughout, but is there one that really stands out?
Danny: I’ve got one on my arm, actually. The first tattoo I ever got is: ‘Those who endure will conquer’. I feel pretty strongly about that. Obviously, enough to get it tattooed on your arm. And that’s a bit of a symbol of how I feel my career so far has gone.
As I mentioned at the start, like within sport, I was really fortunate to play super high levels of basketball and decent standard of footy and achieve some good things. But I was always missing out. I missed out on so many teams, got cut from so many teams, would make like the final selection of so many teams and was always pretty much just missing it and pretty much failing at a lot of things over and over and over again.
But, for whatever reason, I don’t know what it is or whether it’s just genetically or whatever, I don’t know how it got ingrained in me. It was just on, just keep going, just keep pushing, just work harder and just be consistent and knock you up. That was my approach to that. And I think that’s why I’ve been able to carry it over to business as well. Because I conditioned myself to do it early days with sport. So, that’s what I live by.
Jack: Awesome. And what about in your work life, do you have pet peeves? What makes you angry?
Danny: As in what other people do?
Jack: Yeah. Like a classic one could be, let’s say, you manage football teams, like you said, and they don’t put the gym gear away. Things like that. Any pet peeves, as a coach, trainer.
Danny: I think within the industry, to an extent, people just trying to bring other people down instead of just pushing their own belief or their own philosophies. There comes a point in time where you just can’t take their bullshit. And I’m not saying that you, I, or anyone is the person that should be calling them out.
But I see so often, particularly now, it’s like instead of people just pushing content that they want their audience to see, it’s like they spend half their time just trying to bring other people down. And to me, I’m like, ‘What good is that doing anyone?’ And if that’s the case, then I think it should just be done behind closed doors. Like reach out to them and have a proper conversation. It just doesn’t benefit anyone to be doing that type of shit.
And then, the other thing, and I’d be interested to hear your opinion on this, is within the AFL the way they approach preseason to end of season. In terms of the structure of how the periodization of, particularly the strength training, but even in my opinion, how early they’re doing excessive amounts of conditioning early days in the AFL, when the season’s fucking ages away.
And I might be completely wrong. And I’m sure there’s a lot of people watching that are just thinking like this guy’s fucking got no idea. But, in my opinion, I look at it and I’m like: the season starts in, what does it usually start in, March or April?
Jack: March. AFL, March.
Danny: Yeah. And, obviously, it’s more so like the first, second, third year players, early days in, say, November, sometimes even fucking October. But like, say, November, December, you have players doing and clubs doing absurd amounts of conditioning and kilometers on the legs per week. I’m not too stressed about doing the conditioning early, but to me it makes no sense to be doing absurd amounts of kilometers, absurd amounts of conditioning, like on legs pre-Christmas, right?
And then they give the players a break for one or two weeks. Come back. And some people that are serious and professional enough, they keep it up. Then others come back and they’ve taken a couple steps backwards. They build back up again. And then you’ve got the full season to go as well. And then the off-season’s usually quite short as well.
I’m like, fuck man, you look at how many hamstrings and soft tissue injuries get done, or you look at how the players burn out throughout the season. And, obviously, you have to allow enough time to get conditioned enough to be ready for the season, but even the style of the conditioning. I think it’s getting a lot better now, in terms of a lot more match simulation and stuff in preseason.
It’s just interesting to me. You get to the first practice game and the players are blowing up after the first quarter. I’m like, ‘You’ve been fucking doing conditioning since November. Obviously, something’s not right.’ In my opinion, but that’s how I feel.
And I think the other side of that would be the, so I’m sure each club’s, obviously, a bit different depending on who’s running the strength & conditioning side of things. But I see some of the programs and this is not just football, but I work with some guys from professional soccer teams and other sports. And you look at their strength programs and you’re like, ‘What the fuck is this? What is this in-season?’
Like off-season they do this, you get them really strong and durable, and their endurance and everything’s great. And then season starts and all of a sudden, all they’re doing is like pre-hab exercises and they’re dropping all their loads. And the intensity goes right down and it’s doing volume and kind of just management stuff.
And then you see all these soft tissue injuries and hamstrings and all that type of stuff. And to me, it just makes sense for that to happen. Because I’m like: use it or lose it. If you are not using that strength and, neurologically, you’ve lost that conditioning. There can’t be surprises as to why some of this shit’s happening.
And I think, I don’t even know how we got talking about this, but within the AFL at least, I think because it’s such high stakes, and again, I could be wrong, but I just feel like people are just probably afraid to step outside the traditional way of doing it in the fear of pretty much getting sacked. Or if it doesn’t work, or if it doesn’t suit with the higher-ups, which are often people who have been in the system for so long, and they’re just used to the same way every single time. I don’t know.
Anyway, it’d be interesting to see a bit of a case study of it done completely different. Or spending pre-Christmas, a lot of the conditioning off legs and a lot more match simulation without too much, like I said, it’s a lot better now, but without some forms of pointless conditioning and running. And just see how it goes or just tinkering around with keeping intensity a bit higher with some of the bigger lifts throughout the season.
Maybe not as much volume, obviously. Well, definitely not as much volume, but keeping the intensity a bit higher, particularly on those bigger compound movements. And seeing the difference in how many soft tissue injuries and stuff happen throughout the year. Like I said, I don’t even know how we got to talking about that.
Jack: No, the big points that I’m taking from what you’re saying, I think that’s where the industry is going, is recognizing that if we don’t continue to push the stimulus, then athletes are going to decondition and then be at risk. Because the game is so brutal, that it can’t just be all in preseason. And then, okay, now you just play a game on the weekend and recover all week.
Danny: Six months.
Jack: Yeah. So, definitely the resilience gets thrown out a little bit more, but pushing physical resilience. And it’s stuff that, I know, has been quite popular in other sports, like English Premier League and NBA. Like LeBron James, and these guys that are just continually rocking up and perform at the highest level for so long.
So, I think there is a lot more confidence that the body’s pretty incredible in what it can do, as long as everyone’s buying in. And I’m pretty sure that’s probably what the better clubs are doing. It’s not just the S&Cs, but it’s actually the medical team, the coaches, the leaders, and everyone’s buying into: if we push, safely and smartly, that it’s actually going to make us better for it.
And then the match, like you said, that other big point as well. It does seem to be, that’s from what I’ve seen anyway, that GPS has been quite helpful in that you can now see, ‘Okay, well, what is a game of footy for that individual?’ And then we can get that type of volumes from doing outside the boundary running, or we can do it with a football in hand, with your teammates and what’s going to be better. Well, ultimately, it’s going to be better, the sooner you can get. And I think that’s what better teams are doing now, like you said yourself.
But at the same time, though, the other point you made the players are still blowing up in March practice matches from cramping and all that. And that still takes a while, I guess, the intensity when you’re competing against an opposition compared to your teammate does take it to another level. And when you go on a win points, opposed to just training, there’s probably a natural element of pacing yourself.
I know players have talked about it. Like the aim of preseason is a little bit of survival, don’t get broken. Probably because they are getting pushed with high volume, whereas, come game day, it’s probably be killed or get killed type of mentality. Hence why it’s so important that we do push, because if they’re going to pace themselves, we need to make sure the intensity is high. Because at the end of the day on game day, they’re going to bring maximum intensity. Every effort, every effort they’ve got.
So, valid points, mate. And I like the other pet peeve of bringing people down. That’s a great message. Our industry, unfortunately, is saturated with it, and social media is probably, that’s one of the negative aspects. We’ve talked about all the positive aspects, but that’s one of the other ones that social media can bring, unfortunately.
Jack: Like you said, just continue to bring value and reap the benefits of that. Last one: your favorite way to spend your day off? If you have one.
Danny: Mate, just trying to chill. I struggle, I struggle with relaxing, I guess. But I definitely do try and have, particularly over the weekends, more so on a Sunday now, try and keep it as less work-related as possible. But spending time with my partner, Danielle, enjoy going out for a lunch or dinner every now and then, just hanging out with friends.
Big sport fan as well, obviously. So, try and consume a bit of sport when I can throughout the weekend stuff, even basketball. I love basketball, but I just can’t find the time to sit down and watch a fucking three hour NBA game. So, on the weekends try and consume a bit more stuff.
And just doing normal stuff. I like listening to a lot of podcasts and stuff as well, so I enjoy that. I’m a big fan of standup comedy, so there’s a bunch of comedy podcasts that I just genuinely like doing just to switch off and not really have to think, and just relax for a bit.
Jack: Awesome, mate. Well, thanks so much for jumping on. And for those that are tuned in live, make sure to listen to the very start. This podcast will be on our YouTube channel and then we’ll launch it next Tuesday for those that like to listen to the audio side of things. Couldn’t recommend more listening from the very start. Danny’s dropped gems all the way throughout, from business to training and preparation, for those that want to perform at the highest levels.
So, thanks again, mate, for jumping on. In terms of your own business and the podcast, what’s on the horizon for 2022? What are you excited about at the moment?
Danny: Well, kind of going back to what we’ve already talked about. A bit of the growth side of things with the business. I’m now running all my online coaching through an app. So, I’m really putting a lot of time into just continuing to fine tune that. And, obviously, again, work on the systems of building that side of things. PT, I’m still enjoying it, obviously. And a little bit more selective now with how many hours I’m doing of that.
But I’m just loving the podcast. So, just growing the podcast as much as I can, and just continuing to learn new things and evolve. Particularly in the content side of things. It’s just, as we talked about with TikTok and all that type of crap, there’s always just new stuff to evolve with. So, just continuing on, I guess, the same path.
I feel like each year it’s pretty similar. There’s always little things that get added in or adaptations that happen. But it’s more so, I’m pretty set on the direction I want to push things in. It’s just about fine tuning it each year and just leveling it up in any way that I can and continuing to invest in the business and myself, and just let the rest happen. Not trying to force it too much and just make sure I’m enjoying it.
Jack: Awesome, mate. It sounds like there’s plenty happening. And that’s another aspect that I’ve definitely taken away from you. This is just your mindset to continually actually make mistakes and put yourself out there and learn from them, and then go again and do it again. Love that approach, and for anyone that wants to be successful in anything, I think that’s definitely the way to go about it. Thanks again for jumping on and we’ll have to do a workout or catch up for a coffee or a beer sometime, mate.
Danny: A hundred percent, mate. Thanks again for having me on. I appreciate it. Hopefully, those that have tuned in have enjoyed it to some extent. And yeah, we’ll definitely do it, do a session. I’ll have to get you on The Fitness And Lifestyle podcast as well, mate. It’d be good to catch up and have another chat. It’s been good fun. Thank you.
Jack: Awesome. And our next live chat, guys, we’ll be with strength and power coach, Shane Lehane, from the Sydney Swans. So, you can tune in, that’s next Wednesday, the 6th of July at 1:00 PM. I’ll see you guys then. Thanks again for listening. Cheers again, Danny.