Jay Feldman 0:00
How’s it going everybody and welcome to the mentors collective. I’ve got an awesome guest right now he was a trainer to Tom Brady. He is the author of natural strength, which I’m going to link in the show notes. He is a career fitness trainer who’s had a laundry list of celebrities models, athletes under his belt. He owns a gym in New York where he does a lot of really cool stuff. We’re super lucky to have him we’re gonna learn a lot about what it takes to kind of start your own fitness brand and accomplish some of the amazing things that he’s done. He’s been doing this for 25 years. super lucky to have them Oscar Smith. Thank you for joining me on the show.
Oscar Smith 0:33
Oh, no, thank you. I appreciate it. Thank you so much for coming to you live from you know New York so to speak. Everyone in the world lockdown going on. So
Jay Feldman 0:42
yeah, and for anyone listening to this in the future, we are amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s may 18. And in Orlando they just lifted the restrictions on gyms today. Very lightly, but obviously we were just talking before this in New York. Probably not for not for their for sale. Yeah, unfortunate.
Oscar Smith 0:58
We’re lucky if ever Then gets somewhat back to normal by mid June, we’ll see how that goes with the social distancing issues, and as well as people just taking precautions, you know, yeah, people do their best. And I always tell everyone, if you’re sick, or you’re not feeling your best, you always should stay at home. And, you know, you need to seek medical attention as best you can.
Jay Feldman 1:20
Yeah, absolutely. And there’s obviously a lot we can talk about right there being a business owner owning a gym in New York City right now, what that must be like, well, we’ll save that for a little bit later. To start off, just give us a little background on yourself. Talk to listeners about what you’ve been through in your entrepreneurial journey.
Oscar Smith 1:35
Well, I started my studio 2003 and try back in New York, and at that time, there was no personal train studios. It wasn’t really a big scheme of things besides major gyms like a New York sports or a crunch like a high franchise gym. So I saw something where people kind of needed a little bit more as I always say, put the personal back into personal training. And that’s when I started coaching. used to do back then it was called Oh diesel. So then I shortened it in 2016 to od just basically to keep it more just you know the flow of things were simple so this way I don’t get confused when people call me about diesel engines and stuff like that I’m like no manufacturer for diesel this or that or the clothing brand diesel and I was like, No, no, I have nothing to do with that. So I made it a little bit less. The journey is always the hardest thing is getting started. And with most entrepreneurs, you’re always going to go back and forth in your head should I do this? Should I not do that and as I tell everyone, you have to go forward even if you make a mistake, you look at it as a learning process. So when you open your gym number one is they always say is location. You always have to look for a location which is important and then financing behind it. Then be prepared for six to eight months. Maybe no one’s ever going to come to your place. You know then marketing because if you don’t have like a good marketing team or have a good Elisa place And play, you’re just gonna sit there and I started out, actually handing out flyers in the middle of the street. You know, just given an introducing myself to people every morning every chance I got. And I had a trainer who worked for me. And he was great. Because he said, You always promote the business no matter what every day, he’ll be on the train talking to people and district. Like he was crazy. People thought he was gonna crazy, but that philosophy was so true. And eventually he was like, Oscar, I want to do what you do. I want to go open my own business. He was phenomenal boxes. So he was my boxing trainer. But that was his thing. He was basically a professional fighter who worked at Home Depot, and, you know, went on from there and he went everyday. It was famous. Thank you so much for the opportunity. Give me I learned so much from you. And that’s the whole thing about our life and anything we do. It should be a learning process.
Jay Feldman 3:49
Yeah, absolutely. And yeah, awesome stuff on the studio, especially opening like a brick and mortar place where you have to pay all the overhead like I can’t even imagine what that’s like in New York City that’s got to be scary to get into.
Oscar Smith 4:02
It is scary, but it’s not. It’s easy. Now hold on to the internet and things like that and shows like yours, that it helps you prepare for things.
Like most people don’t realize you need a solid business plan. And most guys go, what’s his business plan? I didn’t go to business school. I don’t know what what does that detail and you know, what else do I need to present to a bank. And like I said, it’s so much information now on the internet. Some of it is garbage. But some of it is really good, straight to the point. And it’s you doing your research. And myself, I did the demographic research for Dr. Baca. And I had a philosophy which was very simple that within a four block radius, you have a certain amount of people who will walk or come to your gym or travel to it within that four block radius. So within that four block radius I had about, say, 10,000 people, I’m not going to get all 10,000 people inside, but if I can get one fraction, let’s say 10% or 2% of that, that’s A nice influx of people to start your own business. And then by word of mouth, it’s the same like a restaurant starts off by word of mouth, people go, Wow, the food is great, the service of the chef is good, it’s good atmosphere. And if it sucks, you’re never gonna have anyone come by. It’s just that whole thing where it was great where people met me. And then they engage with me, and then you’re constantly just adapting to certain things. And certain, you know, people as well, because you got to think in New York, when I’m like, you know, down in Florida, the weather gets really bad here. So no one’s gonna walk to the gym, the freezing snowstorm or pouring rain and stuff like that, or it’s just freezing, freezing cold, we get some really cold days, and the wind comes off the Hudson, you know, so you got to prepare yourself for when it’s going to be really busy, which is just as chaotic as being like, I have no clients and that’s all they mentally prepare yourself for that said, Okay, what do I need to do? And it goes back to the original philosophy. You have to keep pushing your business forward. And that’s marketing, which is really big.
Jay Feldman 5:58
Yeah, absolutely. So take us I guess for a lot of the people out there and you know myself and you’re starting a business, there’s a lot of steps you have to take. I know we just talked briefly about the research, the demographic research, the business plan, that you I guess presented to a bank to get the financing off of the ground. Now you’ve got a location picked out, you’ve got the money, I guess you bought the space? What was that first month? Like? How did you get equipment? How did you learn how to, you know, build an actual gym and hire trainers? Like what was that process? Like?
Oscar Smith 6:28
Oh, sure, you hit it right on the head. First thing is a business plan. If you’re going to go to a bank and borrow money, nine times out of 10 you’re saving money using your own savings. First of all, is the easiest way because the bank can tell you no. And banks have told me no. They’re like God, it sounds like what someone said to me is like a gym in Manhattan is like another hotdog stand on a corner. And literally that you’re going to get a lot of negativity, be prepared for that negativity. And to overcome that. Never. Yeah, never take anything personal. Also, you know They’re banks are designed to lend money out where they can make a profit or see profit, you know, some sort of profit margin. So something’s a risk. It’s like, you know, are you going to sell ice in Alaska? That’s like God, no. So they look at it that way. Once you get secured your space, you sign that lease, it’s literally like jumping out of a plane without a parachute, because now you’re obligated to that amount of money every month. And it’s a scary feeling. Because anyone can open up be a master at anything or fantastic at anything as a chef or let’s say martial arts studio or anything like that design. Once you sign that lease, now you’re obligated for that year to five years. If you’re lucky to get a five year lease, most leases now are just two years because they know businesses come and go that you’re obligated to pay back. And once you get that now it’s doing the construction. Inside the space most places get raw spaces. So I was very lucky when I opened up I found an old gallery In studio, so I had high 14 foot ceilings, hardwood floors, it was fantastic, great. So a lot of stuff that needs to come in it was already done only I had to do is put in a shower and a bath. So that was a big thing, which I didn’t think was the hardest thing world but it was a little bit of a tricky getting a plumber and an electrician. And it’s also find someone who’s not going to, you know, give you astronomical prices. So be prepared for that. Don’t be afraid to shop around. So after you do all that, then it’s getting equipment, like you said, and I’d explained everyone don’t buy your equipment. I learned that lesson myself. I bought all my equipment. And I went through my funding like that buying equipment, because you’re better off leasing it. And then over time you get it back because God forbid if your gym does fail, and I’ve watched gyms come and go in a neighborhood. And what are you gonna do with all that equipment? You’ve got $100,000 worth of equipment. Where are you going to put that you have your little apartment or your house, whatever, where are you going to do all this stuff if your gym doesn’t go right and if you sell it, it’s going to be literally pennies on the dollar. What you pay for. So your $10,000 equipment if you’re lucky, you’ll get 1500 dollars for it because everyone’s going to lowball you like this. And that’s the first thing to start. Then after you build the gym, get the equipment in now you need people. So that’s the biggest concept of everything is like what kind of marketing happened back then there was no social media, the internet was so much still gaining its momentum. But there was no Instagram, no Facebook, nothing like that. So my way of So basically, of marketing was the old school guerilla marketing. Just go out hand out flyers, talk to people. And you’d be surprised when you just sit there on a Sunday afternoon and hand out flyers to people. Whether it’s coming out of a transit hub or a church or anything like that. You’ll get one or two people like oh, yeah, great. I’ll definitely stop on by and it’s always great to be personable. Be was humble and personal and honest as you can to people like it’s funny thing people tell me they’re like, hey, do I look fat? Yes you do. That’s why you need to come to my It’s like nothing personal, but I’m giving you the true samples that
Jay Feldman 10:05
I love. That’s why they’re asking. That’s why they’re coming. Yeah. Yep, exactly. And that’s awesome. I love that you went out and handed out flyers out in New York City when I started my first business. That’s what I did to even though we had the internet and stuff that you can’t replace going out at 6am and putting flyers on people’s cars and waiting outside in the hallways, just good old good old fashioned marketing
Oscar Smith 10:25
goals. And my thing is, I walk I still do it to this day, I walk around to all the new developments around the neighborhood and see what new businesses come in. So stay in touch with the community. That’s a big thing that people don’t do. And my wife always commends me on that is I go out and I just walk around that six to eight blocks around in my neighborhood. So I know all the doorman I know all the Supers I know everyone pretty much in that neighborhood done that but I’ve been located and it’s just a normal thing where you know, it sounds kind of funny when I tell the Supers or tell the doorman ridiculous thing. Yeah, come on. I’ll be my guest can shave a shower, throw some weights around. You’re like, Dude, that sounds so good.
Yeah, but that’s kind of cool too. What can I say can throw us away tomorrow get a shower,
Jay Feldman 11:10
making friends with a doorman night? That’s Yeah, absolutely the same thing when I was in New York, it is the key. They know everybody. They’re so connected to everyone, right? Yeah, absolutely. So now you have a gym, you’ve got a working gym, you’ve got equipment. How did you get? I mean, you you just named drop. Tom Brady, how did that happen? How do you go from a new gym owner in 2003 to attracting people like that into your business?
Oscar Smith 11:32
True story. When I opened my gym, located on white Street, directly across from me was these beautiful laws that were like artists live work loft. And I didn’t know I wasn’t familiar with a lot of the models and stuff like that, besides seeing what in the magazine. So a few of the Victoria’s Secret models live directly across the street. So in 2003 2004, they notice my gym sitting there and they came over and that which started so one model told another one this one was dating a celebrity, a racecar driver knew this one. Then I started training David Blaine for his sons, and then working with Val Kilmer. And then it just just goes from that word of mouth. And that’s how it all started. So from one girl, then, you know, one of the models said it best, you know, he got me in great shape, and I didn’t want to share it with anybody else. Plus also a lot of the girls celebrities, as well. Don’t feel comfortable being a big gems, because people always want to take their picture and get things signed or do this. And, you know, they love their fans, but they also feel like hey, I’m just a human. I’m trying to work out. I’m just trying to do something here and especially, especially exactly, you know, coming to New York, and that’s how it all started was just by simply word of mouth and then going from one person to the next, which was kind of wild.
Jay Feldman 12:49
Yeah, also Tribeca is probably an ideal place to attract those high end walk ins. It’s an awesome oh yeah, York City
Oscar Smith 12:55
was at a point where they kept it within their own little like circle, I should say. Like, oh, you train here? No, no, no, it became almost like a set Well, where do you train? Oh, I train at Equinox are trying to crunch or New York sports. And they’re like I trainer, no diesel. They’re like, what is that? It’s a private jet. You know, that was the whole day like, whoo, you know,
Jay Feldman 13:14
somebody asked with these famous celebrities and models, did you have any kind of arrangement with them any marketing arrangement where maybe they would do a story in your gym or like a testimonial for you in exchange for free training sessions? Did you ever utilize them like that?
Oscar Smith 13:27
No, not at all. So that’s one thing that they liked about me is that I was very simple and down to earth not asking for anything like you came in to train with me. That’s it, you hired me for a job. And that’s to get you in shape. If you want it to speak about me outside of that, that’s great. I don’t even have pictures of them. Like most people, they take their photos with the so called celebrity and all that other stuff. So that just was me. And I think that just helped me more where people are like, wow, who is this guy? You know, he’s not running around in the way you see today on Instagram. anybody needs any sort of celebrity or anyone like that right away? Let’s get a picture. And it was funny because Keanu Reeves was filming john wick to right outside my studio and I was out with lunch with my wife there because that’s the same thing I tell everyone, if you’re in a neighborhood as a business owner, go to the other local places. So right across to me is this great restaurant called Petrarca. And I know the wife and the husband for years since I’ve been there. So after I had my lunch with my wife, there was canneries coming out of his SUV, you know, a little bit of outside cafe area, that seating area. And I’m walking back to my gym, and literally his trailer and his bodyguard and everyone else is standing right in front of my gym. I’m like, Oh, hey, how you doing? And that’s the whole thing where he was so excited that I was like, hey, great to meet you. And, you know, I love your movies. And he was like, wow, Hey, dude, thank you so much. But that’s the cool thing about being out and about and knowing what’s going on. And that’s how it all transitioned. I’m like, Look, anytime you want to come to my gym to get you know, some throw some weights around private by yourself, you might guess and that’s how it all starts.
Jay Feldman 15:00
Yeah that’s awesome. a lucky break being authentic and exactly like you said that’s probably why they refer their friends and kept coming in because they weren’t marketing schemes to you you were there you were an escape from all of that for them. Which is exactly what what they’re looking for in a gym
Oscar Smith 15:16
thing also, for a lot of them like when it came to Amanda Bynes, you know, their agents reach out to me directly so once we’re in that circle, they are calling you like I had a lead singer, Amy, I forgot her last name from ever essence, like, she needs to get her sexy side going and you don’t want to train and a lot of the you know, the agents are the ones who go like I got a great place for you. I need that because their job is you know, being a marketing’s like to set things up for them. Like hey, do this, do that knowing that you’re not going to be exploited, like they’re gonna like go take our photo with us do this, give me this and that because celebrities or anyone have that notoriety, even CEOs like some of the CEOs I trained, you know, someone pitching something to them. And they don’t want to be like, Oh my god, here we go again. We do this, like everyone has a story. They just want to come in and get training. You have to think of it as that you’re a mechanic, they brought their car to you. So you’re to fix the car, not I don’t want to sing at your kid’s birthday party. I don’t want to sign your T shirt. I don’t know. It’s like, someone’s always asking them for something. And we’ve made the difference was like, What can I do for you? Not what you can do for me. That’s all
Jay Feldman 16:29
yeah. So if you want to be successful in business, I totally agree with what you said. It’s about what you what can you do for others? How can you be the best service to them? And that’s when you’re really going to succeed. That’s when you’re going to get those referrals. All the marketing in the world is going to get people in the door. And exactly what you just said is what’s going to keep them in the door and what’s going to really grow your business through a referral network, which still to me is the best way to do business three
Oscar Smith 16:52
best way plus also you have to be honest with yourself. If you don’t know how to do something, don’t pretend and that’s the whole thing like a lot of people pretend Oh yeah, I know how to do the or I know that if you don’t know something, don’t be afraid to say, I don’t know that. Let me get back to you when we look that up because there are many times, no matter how many degrees you have, or what you know, you don’t know everything. It’s simples that you do want to ask about the Hubble Space Telescope. I’m gonna go find out, you get back out. Pretend that Oh, yeah, I’m a I’m an astrophysicist. I know everything in astronomy, like no, but you don’t want to like the worst thing is when you lie to someone, because it just rubs them the wrong way. And that’s the worst thing. Like, we’ve all come in contact with people where, you know, they’re like, yeah, they’re really cool. But this, this and this, and that kind of puts people like, Well, alright, after I heard that story, I’m not going to go over there. And that’s the thing with most businesses and business owners have to understand is that you always have to one take responsibility for your studio choose story, the CEO straining, and he came back to me after you went to the bathroom, and he said, Oh yeah, you’re out of paper. towels in the bathroom. And I said, Oh, I’m sorry, the cleaning crew, obviously no. And he stopped me right there. He said, this is your gym. You should know everything that’s going on in there. And I was like, You know what? You’re absolutely right. The next day, I got rid of my cleaning crew. I’ve been cleaning my gym ever since. So everything I know, my gym is clean. I know everything is prep the way it’s supposed to be. And it’s just taking that initiative. And it took someone to tell me that basically show me that and be humble about and say, I’m gonna learn from that. That’s a prime example. This is your business. What are you going to do? And I thought that were a lot of guys need a lot of guys and girls need to go as business owners take responsibility. Like I noticed the lovely big plant behind you there. I was like, someone’s got to order it. You know what, I’m gonna come in Jay Scott and everyone else you’re like in your company. I’m gonna come in and water that plant. I’m gonna make sure because your work defines who you are. And that’s a whole thing of a lot of people are starting to realize especially after this lockdown that we all need that feeling of You know, belonging to something or growing something together and work is one of those things that makes who you are. If you didn’t work or do anything, you’d be like, just completely bought, you’d be like just a bird sitting on a wire every day, same old routine over and over again. So business owners as ourselves have to do that. Constantly educating ourselves. And as a trainer, you want to know what’s coming in what’s new, what new pieces of equipment and don’t be afraid to look at Men’s Health other fitness journal or magazines just to keep up on things. That’s another thing. Don’t think that you know everything like I am Yoda the Master, I know everything. No, you don’t. And I had to learn that to be humble, because they don’t teach you that in school or in any kind of college. You learn that as you go. And yeah, like I said, we all make mistakes. So and it’s learning from those mistakes.
Jay Feldman 19:47
There were some really awesome lessons to take out of what you just said all of it. One of them was taking responsibility for things that you promise and things that are in your business, never kind of deferring it to others. Like you You’re saying with the cleaning crew, super important. I know I learned that myself in business a couple of years back and still learning it. And you know, it’s to learn from all the all of these experiences. And the other thing, you’re talking about being authentic, just really be authentic. And don’t make promises that you can’t keep people don’t, you know, lie or place blame, and you’re human. And when you’re running a business, you kind of forget that and you want to make promises and you want to do all these things for somebody. And you always think that someone’s going to maybe judge you for not knowing the answer or not do business with you if you can’t make that promise. But I found that the more authentic you are, when you’re talking to prospective clients or current clients, the better your results are going to be, the better that long term relationship is going to be. The expectations are going to be better. And expectations are just a huge things you need to learn how to set as a as an owner as a coach, and in doing what what you do and doing what I do. So a lot of a lot of really good lessons there. Thank you.
Oscar Smith 20:55
No, thank you. Thank you for allowing me to share that with you and your audience. The other thing that a lot People that comes with your question and I tell them when you start a business, don’t be afraid. If it fails, you learn from it. So some places actually close down and rehab a grand reopening, because there’s something missing. It’s like I tell everyone, when you approach business, you know what the equation is, you know what the equal is. So you have a plug in whatever numbers to get to that equal to look at it as an equation. Same thing with success. I have a very simple saying, every morning I used to do my Instagram story first thing in the morning, I get up and I was like three pieces of success and stands for professionalism. Perseverance, positivity, a lot of people fail to be a professional. If you’re are a gas station attendant, be the best gas station attendant there is, you know, positivity, you’re gonna have good and bad days, stay positive, stay focused and are just following forward. Perseverance. Keep thinking I’m gonna keep moving forward, never backwards. take criticism as what it is correct yourself if it needs to be corrected address certain issues that come up to you don’t like you said, Don’t shrug it off to somebody else or try and blame someone else. And I think in our society, we became that way. We all want to blame this No, take that ownership of that, hey, I mess up that plan. I didn’t water so a die. That’s my fault. I didn’t want him to plan. I didn’t blame him or anyone else. It’s mindful. And that’s all thing where you learn from that, like simple things. It was like, I have a towels for everyone who comes in and someone said, Hey, your towels are kind of grainy was the first thing I did. Let me find some fabric sock or something that’s nice and soft. And by the next week, all my towels were this nice soft, it felt like a pillow because like everyone would lay down like I just want to go to sleep. It smells so nice and fresh. And it’s soft and like yeah, learning that process because the towels in New York sport were like basically towels I would use to wipe my card out there right there gross. Like that’s simple. One little simple thing can change a lot where someone is talking about hey, you know what Jays Jim is fantastic. Yeah, he smells out oh my god, they’re amazing. They’re like, okay, you know, and that that positive energy and compliments makes you go further and want to do more. It’s like, Okay, what can I do? Can I put on plant can I, you know, put fresh fruit and that’s what I started I added fresh fruit to thing and then I added Gatorade and then water, other things for people. And that little bit goes such a long way. Like a lot of my clients when they first come in, they’re like, oh, let me pay for water. I’m like, What is free? It’s like, you know, it’s a bottle of water. You’re coming in and paying for a service. I’m not going to charge you $1 $52 for a bottle of water. That’s ridiculous to me. Like you’re paying X amount of dollars to come and train with me. That’s just part of the thing of having a private it’s like going to get your car service at Mercedes and they want to charge you for your cappuccino that you just had sitting there in a lounge you’re like, No, they don’t paid $100,000 for a car or Ferrari, whatever it is like all right. Another lesson really quick for a lot entrepreneurs, if you’re really good at what you do, do not disregard your service or your experience, as I use a simple analogy for a lot of people. And I’ve turned people away who come to train with me or I explained to them simple, you’re not interviewing me, I’m interviewing you, because it’s my time that I’m spending on getting you X amount of hours in shape. That’s, that’s what makes me who I am. If you don’t feel like I feel that you cannot reach that level or you know, you just basically want someone to hang out with to hold your cup of coffee or whatever it is. And I have had that before where I turned people away. But my simple analysis I was like, I am the Bentley of training. So my price is this if you cannot afford a Bentley, I’ll be more than happy to send you to the Ferrari dealership or a Toyota dealership if you want to get back on a train. And that’s what I tell people you know, who always want to try and like, hey, let’s work out a deal. Whatever it is, I’m like, Alright, and it’s funny because when you with Google on that you can google People I’m like, dude, you’re a multi billionaire, what you’re talking about he like, you can’t afford that you probably spend that much on lunch every day. It’s like ridiculous sometimes. But that’s the thing I learned is like, don’t be afraid or devalue who you are. That’s the key thing. Don’t devalue yourself.
Jay Feldman 25:16
You’re fortunate to be at a place where you can do that you can, you can charge the price that you know you’re worth now for people who are starting my challenge a little bit. They’re they’re starting they’re trying to make a name for themselves. Maybe they’re really good. Well, what’s your advice their
Oscar Smith 25:29
story, remember, quality is better than quantity. I’d rather have one client that pays me my regular rate, then having 10 clients who just nickel and dimed and it’s just going to show your level of a trainer you’re going to be because remember people also within that one client. It’s like, um, remember Jerry Maguire. It’s one of my favorite movies. So he took that one client Cuba Gooding Jr. Made him that way. And at the end, you sold me like, hey, I want a relationship like that and he pushes the other agent off and looks at them that one client is going to get you those clients who want so you have to stick true to who you are want to also set yourself your price structure is very important. don’t like a lot of people Google or go on Craigslist or anything else and get Oh, that clients, you know that trainers only $25? Well, you’re going to get $25 training. If you devalue yourself and step down, it’s very hard to step back up. So if you’re charging someone $25 and the next you know, next year, you want to charge them 50 you kind of can’t do that. You got to start off at that top, not super high, but start off with a thing where it’s affordability for you for your trainers, and also to keep your business going. A business owner also said to me, you’re in business to make money. That’s it. The successful business owner, whatever the definition is to you, whether it’s pain or your bills, getting by every month or getting $1 profit every month, your level of success. What do you determine to be success? That’s up to you but yours In the business to make money and be profitable, that’s a pay for your, you know, your lifestyle, your mortgage, whatever it is, because it’s going to go up and down like crazy. And never belittle anyone or, you know, turn people away if you can afford that, like I said, you made a valid point, I worked my way up to get there. So I started off at one price point and then gradually built it up. Over time as I started to gain more prestige, stuff like that. And I tell everyone, this real simple celebrities, you can’t charge them. They never pay you. They’re like you can use my name something that’s what it takes. At first, you’re going to be giving a lot of pro bono free stuff out to a lot of people. So be prepared for that. Whether it’s at a restaurant like that because you want them to come in, you want them to come back and they’re going to come back or if it’s right up some magazines. You have to go out and give that to people hopefully that that right up. You gotten a magazine or that article or anything or YouTube, post anything Is that it’s going to help bring you business future so don’t be afraid to say Hey, no problem that’s on me. I’ve had many people go to pay me and I’ll tell them no, it’s okay. Your sessions on May that’s part of marketing where they’re like, Oh wow, the guy’s not about money. I got a really good training session or girl I got a really good training session. He didn’t give me money. Literally I have some of my clients that throw money at me run out the door because they know I’m going to be like no it’s okay. And I used to say them my gym my rules Simple as that. No, you don’t have a thing. Yeah, and but that’s that’s down the line. Trust me the first year old struggling and that’s for all your viewers and everyone listeners out there. Don’t be afraid to struggle. It’s going to get that trust me. There’s some times when I thought like, man, I should just close the gym. I peaked and that’s it. I lost clients, they’re gonna come back and new things come in and bad that happens. It’s like, there’s a certain like curvature they have of it like it’s almost like a Soundwave goes up and it goes down. It goes up goes down and stuff like that. And most gyms it’s always that kind of things never live steady. Then it goes up and you want to Keep going eventually it’s going to always drop so be prepared for that also. And that is the key thing is, you know, prep everything beforehand for when you know, you’re going to look back and keep good records of, you know when you’re busy and you know when you’re slow. So something to carry you over on the slow periods and get busy again, like all gyms are slow during the summer because people are out there out doing exercise everything else outside outdoors. And that’s going to be a big thing. Like we were talking before about what the lockdown and then opening up gyms where the social distancing rules are going to be, in fact, so places that do classes or our membership gyms, they’re going to limit the amount of people because distancing and then having to basically supervise that and implement those rules and make sure they’re followed while getting fine.
Jay Feldman 29:45
Yeah, yeah. And so much gold there. I actually I love what you just said. That’s why I love doing these. I think a lot of that I needed to hear myself while we were on the topic of COVID and social distancing. I know my gym and my building just opened allowing five people in at a time How is that like for you right now. Are you operating are you doing anything to kind of pivot or move to online or what’s what’s going on?
Oscar Smith 30:05
I never was an online person and when this happened majority of my clients they’re very well off so they fled to the houses in the Hamptons open them up early or went to private estates upstate somewhere rented that out so I never had to worry about that my gym was always one on one where I like I said, I got to that level where it’s just myself I had a big step and I pushed it all the way down to one because another one of my clients said, Look, Oscar, we love your gym. All those clients who come here we come here for you, your trainers are good, but they’re not you. Yeah, and that’s the thing learning as I go so next you know what I said all right, you know, my, my trainers have their own aspirations and desires or whatever goals they had. So they’ll go on and try and open up their own gym and that was like myself back in the day when I told the gym owner I work for Hey, you should do this, this and this and he said the worst thing you can say to me? Well, you think you know so much. Go open your own gym the next day. Six months I opened my own gym around the corner. Well man, he had a gym going you know a membership gym and it was just the simplest things like I just told him maybe you want to get like back then it was serious radio came out you know get regular like hand soap dispensers he used to have this big thing of soft soap where people know paper towel racks it just it was like you know like Dude, you’re in a gym and Tribeca which is a membership gym visit that and it’s like so ghetto. To the point where like you know, I can’t believe these people come here like he didn’t have a shower with towels. He would have a water bottle you know basically one of those old fashioned up Poland spring you have a little copy put it in I like to just go get what and to him he nickel and dimed everything so with that in play me my gym and like I said is one on one only. So one person comes in the gym, the gym is there’s whatever music they want and meals like that I did implement which I always was clean and I’d always cleaned up after Now I add an extra five minutes for everyone to come in. So if you’re coming in at eight You got to come in at 805. So I have plenty of time to clean up the gym, sanitize and make sure it’s nice and clean that way. And for a lot of other gyms, that social distancing is going to be there for a little bit. And so they’re going to have to try and plan ahead of time. Like if you’re doing a dance class and has 30 members in it, it’s not only going to have maybe 15 to 12 or 12 to 15. You know, someone depending on spacing, you know, because other all it takes is one complaint, one bad thing, and then it’s just downhill from there.
Jay Feldman 32:29
Yep, absolutely. So the other thing I wanted to talk to you about is because you’ve been all over the media, obviously, you’ve been doing this for a long time, you’re an established kind of authority figure in the fitness space, got your own place in New York. What was it like building your reputation as a personal trainer, especially in the media and building that credibility where people like you said, they’re googling you and they’re seeing everything that you’ve done your whole list of media appearances, how did you go about creating that building that
Oscar Smith 32:55
that came actually from the New York morning shows started to come out. And once I did one next, you know it one after another starter calling me to come in and appear like, what about back injuries? You know, what can I do about you know, my son wants to play football or, you know, I’m trying to get that skinny runway shape, you know, body the Model S thing or, you know, how did this celebrity entertainer get into shape for this role? It just comes from one and then it just happens being consistent and that’s the perseverance following up with people and then having that back then it was I was very lucky. A publicist actually lived in the neighborhood and took me on said hey, I love to promote you and helps my business as well by having someone like you, and then you do radio shows. And then back then print ads were fantastic like magazine articles, and my first article I ever did was for W magazine. And it was I didn’t know what it was. It’s a big fashion magazine and they actually showcased me in their magazine as the The gym for the models that go to, you know, from there went on to glamour or SLR or enemy. You know, GQ did an entire page on me, you know, it’s like wow. And it was it just started that way and with everything, it was very humbling at first because you don’t want to like oh I’m so and so and you know just because I tell everyone just because you know famous people doesn’t mean you’re famous at all. And that’s the biggest problem with like a lot of the Instagram or whatever it is and other trends like my desire is not to be famous. My desire is to get you in great shape, and be the best trainer that I can be the best business owner I can make. If I don’t know something, like I said, Go back. I’m going to learn about it. I’m going to read about it. I’m going to do some research. And that’s the best thing for people to do when it comes to press or media unless they can afford a publicist or a PR or marketing team. Reach out start off with your local paper, your local news channel. Go there. Introduce yourself. Hey, you got it. You know what I’m gonna help Your new tip like, you know, quick little five minute workout in the morning, you know, even if, like right now, there’s so many videos on how to wash your hands, you know? Oh, yeah, I know. It’s like, all right, it starts from that and then it grows from there.
Jay Feldman 35:13
Yep, absolutely. And I’ll share some media tips with the audience later on. Yeah. Which is great. I’m happy to do that
Oscar Smith 35:18
we all have to learn and that’s the thing on a quick note is that all business owners keep an open mind and don’t be afraid to learn. That’s a big thing for a lot of a lot of them. Like I said, Don’t think you know everything. I’m still learning. Even after running a book or doing this or doing my own little show or whatever it is, you know, like you’re still learning as a process.
Jay Feldman 35:38
The journey is the best part. I love the learning. I love learning a diverse skill set. And just as any business owner can probably attest to learning, marketing and everything that goes into opening and running a business operations, hiring, staffing training, there’s there’s so much that goes into it and so many skills you need to learn and master And be good in order to be successful. It’s a blast the whole journey that is,
Oscar Smith 36:03
there are you know, it does get tedious at times? Oh, yeah, I have to say it’s very hard firing people who don’t really fit the bill in that. And that’s a very tough situation to be in. Yes, but you learn as you go. And sometimes I tell everyone, it’s like a sports team. If you have a bad player on there, it is like a cancer on a team. It just grows. So he’s going to turn that positive team into negative because there’s always a complaint, always something and you’re going to have to cut that person to let that person go. And don’t be afraid of that. Because for that to learning experience, that’s all that is for them, like, hey, maybe don’t fit in here, but somewhere else you do. Or you know what, I fired you because of this, this and this, I want you to learn from that maybe you’ll come back maybe you don’t maybe you go in and open up your own place, or do something along those lines. But that’s a whole thing as a business owner is that you have to think of the business the importance of keeping the business going. If you have bad employees who just kind of keep taking because, you know, once they take advantage of you, they’re going to keep doing so. Yeah. So that were you have to make that decision up, you’re done. And don’t be afraid to take up the slack. All right, you know what, I fired the dishwasher. I’m gonna wash the dishes now. That’s part of being the owner. It’s like, Okay, I’m gonna take that initiative. No, I’ll take care of it.
Jay Feldman 37:21
Absolutely. And I’d like to take that one step further is one thing that I’ve learned in my business experience was not to be afraid to fire customers either. So customers are just a nightmare. Have you ever had a bad experience with that?
Oscar Smith 37:33
I did. I there’s a big every big city has their socialite squatter called. So the rich house laws and stuff like that. And most of them are very good, very humble. But they’re prima donnas. They’re like sharks in the water, all of them. And I had to turn some of them away and just say, Look, I’m not and you know, be humbled. Like, you know what, I’m not good enough for you. You need to be back to this classes, because they were a nightmare to deal with a nightmare. And that’s all where you want it to flow? And you want good energy? Yeah, there’s nothing worse when you train people for that hour. And you’re looking at that clock say, Oh my god, what is the power up already? Yeah, when you know it’s a sign like you know what not all the money in the world can get me back to come and train with you. Yes, absolutely. And don’t be afraid to do that and that’s all I said beginning of building your customer base, you know, right away people who are impossible if they’re going to nickel and dime you the first day, they’re going to nickel and dime you every single time. If they’re late, they’re going to be late every single time. You know, so she had the third fourth time because now you gave them that ability. They’re like, Oh, yeah, he doesn’t care. It’s okay. He needs the money. And right away they’re gonna take advantage
Jay Feldman 38:43
of it. Yep, that’s great for everybody to hear. There’s some absolute gold in this episode. For those of you who are watching yesterday or listening be an Oscar had an awesome show and had some technical difficulties. And now I’m obviously wearing a hat and a new shirt. And for those of you who are listening on audio, probably think I’m crazy, but we were just finishing up the show Oscar was Delivering us some final pearls of wisdom. So I’m going to turn this over to Oscar Oscar, thank you again for being on the show. And really looking forward to working with you in the future. And is there anything left for you to leave with the audience? Any final pearls of wisdom? Any last bits of gold from your your experience that you’d like to leave with the audience?
Oscar Smith 39:20
Yeah. Jay, no, thank you so much. And I’m sorry for our audience out there, my computer crashed. Unfortunately, I had a just ended the show completely shut itself down. So coming back to you. Now, when Jay was explaining and asking me about mentorship. Everyone should have someone that they either admire or aspire to be look up to. As a business person. Read is the key thing, find certain does business you know, like we have the Wall Street Journal, there’s the Law Review. There’s all different sorts of periodicals out there that you can read that’s going to help you continue your journey when it comes to business because as I said before, You’re learning. I’m gonna recap really quickly for everyone, when you start off, you need a business plan, your business plan is your blueprint, it’s very important that you have that and you follow it, you’re going to make adjustments to it because it’s going to include everything in there from financing to marketing to location, go back, rewrite it, look at it again, financing, think thing. Friends and family are nice crowd funding, things like that. But you kind of don’t want to do that because you want to play with your art, your grandmother’s your brother’s money because you lose it, you’re definitely not going back over there for Christmas. And that’s the risk. That’s another thing. The risk is involved that it might not work out. So be prepared for that. Also, when it comes to location, location, location, do not open up a pizza stand in the middle of the desert. It’s not going to work no matter how big of a deal you get. So think logically through things. Other than that, believe in yourself. That’s the biggest thing when it comes to entrepreneurs. You have to believe in yourself and believe in what you’re doing. No one else inside and out, like I said before, if you’re going to be the best plumber, be the best plumber in the world know about everything electrician, whatever, whatever business you’re opening, make sure you know the ins and outs and I forgot to add competition. See what your competition is like competition is great because it propels you to the next level you want to be better than they are, or they vice versa. So keep that in mind pretty much that’s that’s about it for everybody out there. Remember, you got to focus one thing on time Take your time Be patient things take time to grow. It’s not gonna happen overnight. Nothing ever does all right,
Jay Feldman 41:34
especially in this day and age couldn’t have said it better couldn’t have asked for a better ending there. Thank you so much for coming on the show for any of my audience who wants to connect with Oscar I’m gonna leave all of his social media handles and website and stuff in the in the show notes here. Is there any specific place where you kind of focus your your presence Oscar,
Oscar Smith 41:49
mostly just you know, it’s easy to get me on Instagram that kind of took over the Facebook thing and everything and LinkedIn. And I tell everyone, I don’t have an assistant if you call me or you email Email me, I respond right back to you. So it’s no no so and there’s no such thing as a stupid question. If any of the audience has a question or an idea, please just run it by and that’s the best thing also, that you brought up, jack, it’s just that subject, bring up that idea amongst your friends and strangers, because they’re going to give you a great objective viewpoint on your idea. And they were like, I don’t know you. And that’s the best thing when you talk to strangers, or someone acquaintances, and they’re gonna give you a really honest opinion. They’re gonna say, that’s a stupidest thing in the world, or, hey, that’s really cool. And you want that you want that feedback.
Jay Feldman 42:35
Yep. And anyone who has a stupid idea that they want to run by me, I’m happy to give you that feedback. It’s a blast. Thank you so much for watching this episode of the mentors collective. This is Dr. Jay Feldman. And I just wanted to take a moment to thank you so much for your support, and also asked you for a little bit more if you can take the next 10 seconds and write us a review on it. iTunes, Google Play or Spotify. Just let me know your feedback it means the world to me. Again, thank you for watching. If you love this episode, please share it with your friends. Share it with your family.