Today I’m very pleased to provide an interview with Daniel Waide – former National Fitness Division Manager with Genesis Fitness, now living and working New York…
Thank you for your time Daniel.
We first met when you were the National Fitness Division Manager for Genesis, could you give our readers some background on how you came to this role?
While at Uni I was playing football and the head of fitness for our team, Chris Matthews, had a Personal Training business called Active Lifestyle. It was through this connection that I started out as a mobile Personal Trainer.
Active Lifestyle also managed corporate gyms, ran corporate team building and sold equipment, so I got a heap of exposure to many sides of the industry, and over the course of six years I grew considerably with this company.
When I decided to move on, the National Fitness Division Manager role with Genesis was being advertised. The title was a little intimidating, but the job role seemed similar to what I’d been doing managing Trainers and developing programs. I’m grateful to Mel Fraser, Zofia Williams and Greg Oliver for giving me the chance. And a week later I was standing next to you at an AIF campus!
What’s the greatest challenge in managing teams across multiple sites?
The biggest challenge was balancing management and support. During this time there was a variety of business and fitness models among the Genesis franchisees, which added to the challenge. But it was a great learning experience. Throughout my career, my most useful and valuable experiences have came from challenges like this.
What key factors influence the success of a Personal Trainer?
Personal Training is an incredibly tough job. Not only do you have to motivate yourself (which is hard enough) you also have to motivate someone else. You have to be able to impact a person so much that they change their behaviour even when you’re not around. While personality plays a huge part, you need to know what you’re talking about and how to communicate that knowledge. Those Trainers who genuinely care about helping people will often do the best.
What management lessons did you learn during this time?
Get the right people on the bus. It’s not uncommon as a manager to want everyone to like you, I learned that it is more important for an employee to trust you than to like you. People want to learn and be given direction and shown where to improve, if you try and help too much you end up doing more work yourself and never developing anyone to take your position when you flee to New York!
Even in New York, you were still consulting for Genesis, how did that go?
These days, making a call from New York to Lonsdale St. isn’t that much different to making a call from Bayswater to Lonsdale St. I think it forced us all to identify what was really important, as we had a less time available. As a result we started to strip things down to what we felt were the more essential elements for managers, franchises and staff.
Tell me about your ‘remote PT’ SMS service.
Yeah that was supposed to be the million dollar idea! The only other web / app at the time was a company called gyminee (which later re-branded as DailyBurn). In the couple of weeks between finishing with Active Lifestyle and starting with Genesis I began building a text message fitness service called messagefit, I had some of my old clients using it, but never really launched it or marketed it broadly as I had a pretty busy job at the time. Apps came out and I thought I’d missed the boat. I kept chipping away at it, but never committing to it. My biggest lesson was that I need to be all in.
How does the fitness industry in New York compare to Australia?
I think it’s very similar. We (Australia) are definitely doing some things better, which is made possible by legislation and our banking system. Things like ongoing debiting for training and services can be hard to do here in the US. The variety and high end group training here is pretty amazing, studios with high cost classes have really sprung up lately, but I remember when I moved here I thought groups like Heavy Haulers would kill it here, but now there’s Barrys Bootcamp, Soul Cycle, ToneHouse, Crossfit boxes, etc.
How hard was it to get a visa to work there?
The visa process is tough. I won’t bore you with the details, but basically to qualify for the type of visa I have, you need a degree and/or work experience that proves you are a specialist in a field. You then need to find a job that relates to that speciality and it has to pay you the average wage for that job title in that city. This is only for Australians and even then they can turn you down. I found finding work ok, but finding work that ticked all of the boxes (and was something I wanted to do) was the hard part.
How does a career in fitness in the US compare with AUS?
There are more companies here, but most aren’t that big so there’s limited high level management positions. I think this is one of the biggest challenges for the fitness industry. There’s great people doing great things but there is nowhere to promote them to. I can say that as an employee, you get paid far more in Australia and receive better benefits.
Can you tell me about your new web site?
I was looking for a way to work with gyms and thought that there was an opportunity to better educate / help people find the right gym for them. EVERYGYM.COM launched our test in Queensland a couple of weeks ago. I’d heard some negative feedback about some group deal sites and thought maybe I can help match people with clubs. From this I received some more feedback about helping fill group classes. So we’ll be launching an improved everygym.com and fillmyclass.com nationwide in the next month.
What book recommendations do you have?
The 4 hour work week was really useful when I was first looking to start a business, lots of things you can implement. For nutrition, I really liked Nutrient Timing (byPh.D. John Ivy, Ph. D. Robert Portman, Ph. D. William Kraemer). For management, I recommend Any Given Team (Ray McLean from Leading teams). Anything that gets me thinking, I like it when I’m reading and I stop to write something down. Moonwalking with Einstein is a really cool book and I’ll also read anything by Michael Lewis or Malcolm Gladwell.
Do you subscribe to any blogs, newsletters, etc.?
What are the five most used apps on your phone?
Right now it’s Gmail, Chrome, Skype, Bloomberg, and Yahoo fantasy football (I have to finish higher than my wife this year or I’ll never hear the end of it).
What was the most recent professional development you completed?
I passed the Google Adwords fundamental exam last week. To be honest it’s the first test I’d done in 6 months or so.
Why the fitness industry (as a career)?
I think we’re helping people and that is something to be proud of. Quality, energetic people and people from a variety of backgrounds make it a really fun and interesting industry too. Since I began it’s always been growing and becoming a bigger part of people’s lives which I love.
What would you put in the speech bubbles for the attached image?
I always want to measure whether things are working. If you don’t measure it, you don’t know how to improve it or reward it.
UPDATE: Wahey! I just stumbled on this chestnut.