Whether you are training for a powerlifting competition or starting your first fitness business, you need to put in the reps in order to succeed. There are no short cuts, but there are best practices.
That is what we are talking about in today’s episode with Peter Baker.
Peter is a successful trainer out of Tampa, Florida. Before he started his fitness business, he worked at a Coca Cola call center. As a natural entrepreneur, that did not last very long and Peter stepped away to start training clients out of a small space.
Since then he has built a thriving online business and shares his tips for success… which he attributes to patience, focus, and developing the right skills.
Click here to subscribe to the Healthpreneur™ Podcast on iTunes
In This Episode Peter and I discuss:
● How to scale your business online
● The importance of finding your authentic voice in your marketing
● Why Slytherians are not the bad guys in Harry Potter
● How to develop your writing skills
● Strategies for taking your training business from in person to an online platform
5:00 – 10:00 – Going from a job at Coca Cola to starting a fitness business
11:00 – 15:00 – How to start building your fitness business online
15:00 – 20:00 – The importance of patience in starting your business
20:00 – 25:00 – Strategies for building an authentic voice in your marketing
25:00 – 29:00 – Rapid Fire Questions
What You Missed:
In our previous episode, we featured Jennifer Fugo. If you’re involved in the gluten free or dietary realm whatsoever, you may have heard of Jennifer Fugo—and if not, you should check her out. Jennifer is a functional nutritionist and CEO of The Gluten Free School.
Jennifer and I had a lively conversation where we talked about her gluten free trip Italy, the importance of taking time off and how to overcome your biggest challenges, recognizing them and moving forward.
In this episode we bust through the hustle and grind myth that’s fed to entrepreneurs. If you’ve ever been afraid of taking time off from your business, you really need to check out my interview with Jennifer.
In today’s episode, I’m excited to have a conversation with Peter Baker. Now, Peter is a fitness expert and writer, as well as an online trainer. He’s been doing this for a few years out of Tampa Florida and he’s got some really cool stuff to share with us today.
I think you’ll really appreciate part of his journey—especially an interesting story he shares with us from working at Coca-Cola. Plus, he’ll share some of the magic tricks he used to do when he was younger and some of the lessons and insights he’s garnered over his journey, that I think will really help you with your mindset and help you grow your business.
So, without any further ado, let’s get into our interview and have some fun!
Yuri: Alright Peter, welcome to the Healthpreneur podcast. How’s it going my friend?
Peter: Well it’s a very hot and rainy day in the great state of Florida.
Yuri: Oh my goodness. That’s scorching down there at this time of year.
Peter: Oh yes—Always, always.
Yuri: And you’re in Tampa, right?
Peter: Yeah I’m in Tampa.
Yuri: Very nice, very nice. So we know that you’ve been kind of in this space of fitness and helping people get in great shape—really helping to transform their bodies. And you have some really cool stuff coming out with respect to glute training and so forth…
But outside of what you do on a daily basis, why did you start doing what it is that you do? Was there a pivotal moment in your life that you were like—”You know what, this is what I like and this is what I want to do, this is what I’m called to be doing.”
Do you remember a moment like that?
Peter: Well, it’s more like there’s a few of them. So when I first started exercising back in 2006, there was a gym not too far away from where I lived in this small Florida town called Plant City. And I looked in the mirror one day and I said, “Man I’m fat as s**t, I need to fix this!”
So I went to the gym and I worked with a trainer who did okay… And then I was thinking, “well, this seems like a kind of a cool job.” (This was back in 2006 before people were doing online training and whatnot.)
So then one day I realized I just wasn’t getting any stronger—so my trainer hooked me up with this guy who claimed to have worked with Louis Simmons at West Side Barbell. And I believe he probably did, because the guy knew a lot of that type of training— basically what came out years later in regards to what Louis was doing at the time. You know, the conjugate method and all that stuff.
So I got pretty strong, which was cool. Although that guy eventually wound up getting arrested—I think—for methamphetamine, which is very common in Florida. So then I was hanging out with another guy there and he had some kettlebells—so I got into the whole RKC kettlebell thing.
And then at university—I went to University of South Florida here in Tampa—I started a kettlebell club, where we basically just got on the field, took my kettlebells and lifted them and had fun. I think that was in 2008.
So it was sort of a gradual thing. And then, you know, I worked various jobs…
Going from a job at Coca Cola to starting a fitness business
In 2011, I started working at Coca-Cola—at a call center. Eventually I wound up on my last legs there… I started hating the job and I was basically doing just enough to not get fired, and uhh… hating life.
So I was like, “Well… Maybe I should do my own thing and start my own business.” Come around 2014, right at the beginning of the year, I told myself something. I said, “maybe I should quit at the end of February.”
Well it turns out I did something innocuous… I think I forgot to clock out? And that actually lead to me getting fired. So I knew I was going to get fired, but with the red tape process there it it took forever. So I was like, “I’m just gonna chill out!”
I took a month vacation because I had the time accrued—so I got paid for it, which was nice. And I put all the events in motion to start training people. So I rented studio space nearby and started doing that.
I came back in February and they said, “Oh by the way—you’re fired.” I’m like, “okay.” And that was it.
Yuri: Perfect. That’s awesome. You’ve gotta love corporate America right?
Yuri: When you were working at Coke, did you have like, that inner being saying “what the hell am I doing here?” Like you have that entrepreneurial kind of pull, pulling you out of that? Like the job was kind of sucking away your soul—did you experience that?
Peter: I never would have defined it as an entrepreneur pull, but I basically did everything I could to do the least amount work. I read books—fiction books. That’s where I finished most of what they had written for Game of Thrones at the time. I read all those books in between phone calls.
Since I worked 14 hour days, there were times with a lot of lulls in between our phone calls. So I’d surf the internet and read fitness articles and study all that stuff. Of course I didn’t learn jack about marketing at the time, like I probably should have. But you live and learn.
So I wouldn’t quite describe it as that. I just said—”you know, I should probably do something else.” So it was a little more nebulous.
Yuri: Yeah, and I think that’s part of your journey which is great. So you mentioned to me as well, that you were formerly a prefect for the house of Slytherin. What is that, for people who don’t know? To be honest I don’t even know.
Peter: Oh, well Slytherin is a house in Harry Potter—generally regarded as the bad guys, but that’s a bit of a misnomer. They are just highly ambitious people. And if you’re familiar with the character of Severus Snape, he was a Slytherin. So a prefect was basically the head of the house, because basically it’s like a boarding school—except, you know, they do magic and all that stuff. So it’s kind of a joke.
Yuri: So you didn’t do any magic.
Peter: Well I actually was a magician since the age of seven, and I did win second place at the 1997 Ford Estate magicians convention. But that was all sleight of hand not the Harry Potter type magic.
Yuri: Well that’s pretty cool. So have you noticed any kind of similarities in terms of why you enjoy the magic… Compared to what you’re doing now? And the reason I ask is that when I was young, I wanted to play pro soccer—and I loved soccer and I was able to do that in my early 20s.
And then I realized about 10 years later that what I really enjoy doing is performing. And it didn’t really matter if it was on the soccer field or on a tennis court, or speaking on stage in front of a lot of people. Really it was just lighting up a group of people that excited me—so I don’t know, did you ever find any kind of similarity there for yourself?
Peter: There is a lot of similarity. So you know, I did magic. I did theater—I started college as a theater major, although I didn’t go through with it. But I started as that and I didn’t really get out of it. They wanted me to take tech classes where I had to learn how to do whites and stuff, and I was like, “I don’t wanna do that. I just want to be on the stage.”
So I quit the major, and then I briefly majored in music but they didn’t have a program I wanted, so then I switched again. And even then, I wound up getting a degree in religious studies. I did a lot of presentations and a lot of writing there. And there were performative aspects there, because I would present these papers I wrote to various people.
And you know, it’s the same thing now—especially now, and I’m sure you see it all the time. Building a brand on social media you do have to be on, gosh, almost all the time really.
And so yeah, there is a performance aspect. It’s not like it’s disingenuous—I mean it’s very much me. Maybe a little bit more me than me, if that makes sense?
Peter: It’s kind of like overacting on a stage. So people in the back can hear you. So yeah, there’s definitely an element of that to it.
Yuri: Yeah, I think that’s a good point you make. I think a lot of times—online especially—you see a certain person or a character, friend, celebrity, whatever. Sometimes they are who they are, they’re true to themselves.
A lot of times they kind of amplify who they are, strategically—or maybe just because that gives them the ability to do so without worrying about what people think of them as much. But that’s an interesting distinction there.
So you mentioned also that paying bills is nice. Like I asked you what one of your notable accomplishments was and you mentioned that. And I thought that was interesting, so talk to me about that.
Peter: I mean when I first started, it was like “man, how am I going to pay rent now?” And then somehow I managed. And then I’m like, “man, this is good,” because, you know, during that first year you’re still struggling you’re thinking you should probably get a job.
So I got a second job—bouncing at clubs here in Tampa. And man, that definitely was not fun. I actually wound up getting fired from one of those jobs too. And that’s the last time I ever worked for anybody but myself, doing it on my own terms.
Yuri: Yeah. You’re basically unemployable, which is perfect.
Peter: Yeah. I basically am. It’s like you said, the corporate America structure—maybe if the company was different or whatever it might have been different circumstances, but who knows. But yeah, for a while it was like, “Man, I’m still managing to pay my bills. This is Nice. I should keep this momentum up.”
How to start building your fitness business online
Yuri: And so, talk to me about the journey from initially training clients in person to venturing online to do more of the online side of things.
Peter: Well, I was paying a really good price for my studio. If I told people the price they would be insanely jealous—like, under 200 bucks a month. I kept all the money I made from training people. Pretty cool, right? I was sharing it with a couple of people so we basically split the entire cost of this warehouse unit there and it had all the weights and stuff—I brought in some equipment.
But it got to a point where I had more online people, and I got down to, I think, two in-person people. And some of them would come in once a week for their sessions, as opposed to like three times a week.
So you know that was kind of economical. Then this year—January 6th, actually—I wind up getting into a car accident. Nothing was terribly damaged except for the car. So basically I don’t have a car now. So you know it kind of worked out pretty nicely.
Yuri: Sure. Everything happens for a reason. How did you go about getting those initial clients? So you had the clients through training offline. And then what were you doing to really attract and acquire people to train with you online who maybe you’ve never met in person?
Peter: Uhhh… Man, that’s a good question. So, the first client I ever had was a guy that I worked with at Coke, and he’s pretty big success story because he used to be like 500 pounds. And I think at his lowest point he got to like 230 something. That’s significant.
Yuri: That’s like half his bodyweight.
Peter: Yeah, so when I was sitting at home one day, right after I took that month vacation Coca-Cola—he sent me a text and was like, “I think I’m ready to start the training.”
I’m like “Oh, well that’s fantastic!” So of course I gave him a hell of a deal—because he was the first client that paid me. So I did that and you know… I just did the usual social media stuff, saying—Hey, look what we’re doing. He’s not killing himself, he’s still eating. He’s eating better, but still having fun with these foods and being social and all that.
And then you know, local people would contact me and I would try to move them online because, for one thing, it’s cheaper. And I know everybody says that, but I do like the fact that it is cheaper for a lot of people. Some people have families and stuff, so it is good for that.
And you know, if they’re willing to video themselves for form checks or questions or whatever (and I emphasize that to all of them—don’t hesitate to send me a video if you need it) we can get a lot done that way.
And then, you know—just communicate. So that’s really it. I mean that’s like the most important thing.
Yuri: That’s cool. And I like how you showed—for those listening—that you don’t have to run Facebook ads or do all of this crazy stuff. You kind of just tapped into some of the people you already knew and made it more affordable and more convenient for them by saying, “Hey, why don’t we do it this way?”
I think that’s a great way to start. And for anyone listening—I think it’s just encouraging, because you don’t have to do all these crazy campaigns. It’s just like, “Hey, who do I already know that I can maybe reach out to or connect with and see if this be a good fit?”
Peter: Yeah, and to that point there’s a degree of knowing you that I think everyone should really master. Like, obviously it would be a big mistake to go to my family and say “Hey, [cousin], pay me for this.”
Because most of the time they won’t. Even some of your longtime friends—people that you’ve known for 20 years and went to school with—won’t pay you because they view you in a different context. And it takes a little bit to get out of that context.
So, in 2015—a year after I left coke—if I were to go up there and say, “Hey, let me do some seminars for you.” They probably would have laughed and told me to go f**k myself, because they remember me as the guy who was always reading and slacking off all the time.
Maybe now if I went there, things would be a little different because they’ve had lots of restructuring of their staff at this particular place and all that.
But people that I know or have known still do contact me, and the usual dialogue is—”Yeah, I saw you doing your thing a couple years ago… Okay I finally want to get on that.” And it’s like, wow, you’ve been following me for years and haven’t said anything?
That kind of upsets people too because the people who are getting a lot out of what you’re doing won’t say as much. But it’s cool when they finally do.
Yuri: Yeah it’s cool. Well it’s the same reason why it’s very tough to get your own family, or your own parents to take your advice. “Hey mom you have this issue. Here’s this thing you may want to check out.” And it’s like—”okay, cool.”
If they hear it from a friend—as opposed to a doctor—they see you in a very different manner. They see you as that little kid, or whatever. I’m always thinking about this stuff because positioning is really important.
And I think it’s just another example of how you’re positioned in a relationship. People have this preconceived notion of who you are, and sometimes it’s tough to break that mold.
The importance of patience in starting your business
Peter: Yeah it definitely is. And I could see where, for somebody just getting started, it can be very discouraging on so many different levels.
Yuri: Yeah. So what do you say to that person who’s starting out—who is trying to get clients, or maybe trying to sell their services or products online—and it’s just not happening the way they thought it would.
If you were sitting down, having coffee with them, what would you tell them?
Peter: Well, if they were in the fitness business—actually I should probably do this one day—I would ask them, “Hey, have you ever program hopped?” When you do a workout program for three weeks and then switch for another two weeks to something different. Or you do ketogenic dieting, and then two weeks later do paleo dieting and then in another two weeks do the South Beach diet.
You have to stick with something and you have to keep doing it and give yourself a longer time to assess things. I think patience is a huge factor. My idea of a long time versus somebody else’s idea of a long time is vastly different.
A year? That’s not really that long. I mean it can seem like a long time, especially when you’re just starting out, but really it’s not a long time.
Yuri: No. It flies by fast.
Peter: Yeah. People are like, “Yeah, I started following you three years ago on your website and you had no idea.” So really you don’t. You only know your side of things within a short amount of time and then other sides become clearer as time goes on, if that makes sense.
Peter: And you still won’t know everything, but some things do become clearer as time goes on.
Yuri: That’s cool, that’s good advice. So, patience guys—just keep at it, and you’ll acquire wisdom as as you go through this whole process. Which is what all of us do.
Peter: Yeah, and if you have a good, successful reputation where somebody gives you money—you can repeat that. You just have to kind of reverse engineer it. “Okay, how can I get people to do that again?”
Yuri: Yeah, totally—it’s a recipe.
Yuri: That’s awesome. What’s been the biggest challenge you have faced in your business. Was there a particular moment in time really like, “holy s**t, how am I going to make this happen?” or was there a season in your business?
What was something that really kind of stands out for you?
Peter: That’s a good question. It’s more like, how to scale it to where you can accommodate for growth. And I’m not huge by any means, but it’s mostly just the mundane stuff like keeping track of how much cash you’re making and all that stuff. Looking at the numbers and saying, “Am I growing? What am I doing? Am I reaching out enough to expand so other people can hear me?”
A lot of us do the online coaching thing and then we write for websites… So, alright I’m doing this for a particular website—is there something similar I could do to expand? You know, just keeping track of those small details, because they add up.
Yuri: Yeah, which is what I think entrepreneurs love doing—small minutiae—which is nice. I completely agree with you, and I think a lot of our listeners can as well—they just want to do their thing, right? And not have to worry about the books and all this other nonsense.
Peter: Yeah! So you have to get to a place where you can hire somebody to do that. But you have to do it for yourself a little bit. I mean, in the early days there are some good investments you can make so that you don’t have to screw something up yourself.
Like, the first iteration of my web site was pretty ugly looking. And then I finally went to somebody I know who works for “Ripley’s Believe It or Not.” And for anybody listening—if I’m allowed to do this—you’ll get a discount if you mention Peter Baker. And I can even give you the contact info for her.
But she does really good work and she said, “Hey, I’ll do this for you for this amount of cash” and I say, “All right, that’s good.” So my web site improved tenfold by doing that.
Yuri: That’s awesome. Very Cool.
So the challenge of the mundane stuff—just keeping track of all that—if you can think back to that stuff, what’s the big lesson you’ve learned from that experience or from that whole process?
Peter: Whatever gets measured gets improved. You know it’s just like in your training, when you workout and diet—if you want to improve it, keep track of it.
Yuri: That’s good.
Peter: That’s really what it comes down to.
Yuri: Yeah. That’s awesome. And so right now as you’re building your business, what’s the one thing—the one strategy that’s working for you?
Is it Facebook ads? Is it just personal reach?
If you were to say, “this is my secret sauce to helping me grow my business and impact more people”—what’s that been for you?
Strategies for building an authentic voice in your marketing
Peter: I think most of it just comes down to me being myself.
You know, that’s what it is. I have a I have a good ability of taking complex things and making them pretty easy—and I try to make them funny. Like, if you’ve ever seen my Facebook post about any exercise demonstration, I always try to make it funny. Kind of in the way that Marc Fisher would, which is why, incidentally, I love that guy.
We’re very similar in in that regard—just make it memorable and make it so memorable if someone plagiarizes it, it’s so goddamn good that they know it’s you! Like, they don’t have to take it and copy and paste it into Google to trace it back—just make it so good that you know it’s memorable.
Yuri: Well it’s funny too because when I saw your Skype handle, I started laughing. And I’m not going to give out your Skype handle, but you basically put “F*ckin” (that’s you part of the Skype handle). And I’m like, yeah—that’s clever, that’s well done. So I can see where you’re going with that for sure.
Peter: That’s kind of more of an inside joke to me because way back when, I thought it was cool just to have a blog and I didn’t know anything about marketability…
My blog was called Death Metal and Deadlifting and my name on there was Peter—actual expletive—Baker. So I made the Skype handle because people wanted podcasts and stuff like that, and I never really had a Skype handle.
Yuri: No, yeah. It’s clever and it’s good, I’ll definitely remember it.
So Peter—knowing what you know now, if you were to start your business all over again what’s the first thing you’d start doing? Or how would you do things differently?
Peter: I think I would probably start being myself right from the get-go instead of easing into it. And I would probably have focused on writing from the beginning as well, like actually getting really good at it from early on.
Yuri: Sure. So did you find it difficult because you were trying to be like someone else and it just took time to find your own rhythm? Or what did it look like?
Peter: Umm, well I think every new writer kind of goes through that—you know, trying to be like somebody else. Because you have people you read a lot and then you want to start writing like that person because they’re awesome or whatever. And then you kind of start using the same words and everything…
But mostly it was just a lack of practice, I just don’t think I’ve put in enough reps of writing to really craft a voice like I have in the past couple of years.
Yuri: That’s cool, and that’s a very common response that I get when I talk to guys and girls in the fitness space and the health space in general—this notion of putting in the reps. And I think for us it’s the opposite of foreign. It’s so familiar to us because we’re just used to putting in the reps, whether it’s our workouts or our habits.
So it’s cool that you brought that up.
Rapid Fire Questions
Yuri: Alright man, so let’s finish off with our rapid fire. I’ve got about five questions for you, they’re kind of like fill in the blanks, and we’re going to plow through these nice and quick.
So I’m going to keep you on your toes, I’m not going to tell you what they are until they pop up. So are you ready?
Yuri: Alright, so here we go. Your biggest weakness?
Peter: It’s probably all that minutiae stuff, like keeping track of everything. I suck at it.
Yuri: Nice. Your biggest strength?
Peter: Breaking down complex topics for almost anybody.
Yuri: Very nice. I can definitely relate to that one. One skill you’ve become dangerously good at in order to grow your business?
Yuri: Cool. What do you do first thing in the morning?
Peter: I ask myself I really have to get up.
Yuri: And the last one… Complete this sentence: “I know I’m being successful when…”
Peter: I can keep paying my bills!
Yuri: Awesome. Love it. Well, Peter—this has been fun man. Thank you so much for taking the time. What is the best place for people to follow what you’re up to online?
Yuri: Awesome. Peter, once again thanks so much taking the time—sharing your journey and your wisdom. This has been a lot of fun.
Any final words you want to impart to our listeners?
Peter: Just put in the reps. That’s all it takes.
Yuri: Put in the reps. Love it. Well thanks again Peter, have an awesome day.
So there you have it guys—I hope you enjoyed this interview with Peter. We had some fun discussions and there’s some really cool lessons I think.
If you’ve enjoyed this episode, remember to go to iTunes and subscribe to the Healthpreneur™ podcast, because I’ve got some serious interviews coming your way to help you stay on track with your business, to keep you inspired and give you some strategies and insights.
All of this can help you keep on sharing your message and grow your business, so you can impact more people in this world and obviously live an amazing quality of life in the process.
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