“Our Clients Bring Beer!”
Creating a Culture in your Fitness Operation!
A brief story of how we came about and why we are kicking ass and ruling The Jersey Shore!
A Brief History of Uncle Mike and the Milkman
When The Milkman and I started up The Training Room in 1999, we never dreamed it would escalate to what it has become today. We started out in a small training studio around 800 square feet in Belmar, NJ. We started our business with $5000. If you know anything about the Jersey Shore, you have heard of Belmar, home of Dj’s and the guido fist pump. It’s also the vacation hot spot of many youngsters who like to party hard and act inappropriately. This just adds to the charm of the Jersey Shore in the Summer time and is actually very entertaining.
BTW, if you are wondering about our academic experience, we’re in this business for well over 20 years. The Milkman has a BS in Exercise Science and multiple fitness certifications. He has also started up several personal training programs in multiple training facilities. Uncle Mike has been a Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC) and CSCS since 1990, has an extensive background in Sports Medicine along with a ton of fitness certs as well. I can go on and on about all of this, but it’s really not that important to us.
Make it fun for you clients, don’t be a stick in the mud trainer!
Train hard, play hard, laugh even harder!
While in Belmar, we dealt with things like drunks walking into the studio, jumping on random pieces of equipment and asking The Milkman if he had 10 bucks to go the bar across the street. The Milkman would kindly reply “ I only have a 20, you have any change?” This type of activity was common. Again, very entertaining stuff for us which added a certain ambiance to the gym. We made the best of this type of activity by nicknaming everyone and having some fun with them. There is a certain art to nicknaming. We have nicknames for most of our clients.
Our Top 10 Nicknames (not necessarily in this order)
- Tommy Yambags
- The Shopping Cart King (his mom was obviously Mrs Shopping Cart)
- Small Shorts John
- Army Jon
- Mad Scientist
- Boxing Mike
- The Rev
- Candy Man
- Candy Girl
- Rigamortus Tom/Big Head Tom/ T Rigs/Turf Toe Tom
Mind you, this is only the tip of the iceberg as far as nicknames go. There are hundreds more. As you can see, some have more than one nickname.
It’s not always about fitness
While in Belmar, we held parties for clients. Our very first holiday party was hosted by Piancones Restaurant, owned by one of our clients. Piancones was famous for feeding you tons of the best Italian food the Jersey Shore could offer to the point of explosion. Our clients appreciated this, and started bringing in friends and family members.
Belmar was known for holding the largest St. Paddy’s Day Parade in NJ which attracts over 100,000 people. The grandstand was directly in front of our Main Street studio. So we took advantage of this by opening our doors up and yes, having another party! Although, one time the party had to end abruptly because a women came in the gym with drinks on a pizza box and spilled them all over the floor. The Milkman flashed the lights off and on, shut down the music and told everyone to leave. This is just one of hundreds of similar stories we have.
Our clients realized that fitness doesn’t always have to be serious; you have to break loose and enjoy life. I would say this attitude set us apart from most training studios and gyms in the area. Not only where we offering a great service that yielded incredible results, we were creating an atmosphere that people wanted and still want to be a part of.
After three years in Belmar and growing out of our space, we moved to the quant town of Avon by the sea, just a mile up the road.
The Party Continues (only bigger and badder)
When we moved into the Avon studio, we had about 1,000 square feet, plus the now famous “Court Yard of Crush” outdoor training area. There were two other store fronts in our building that would eventually become available.
Here’s the seagulls view of our facility with obvious landmarks
Training Outside is Great for Business!
We used the hell out of the courtyard for our training. Those of you who know us or follow us, also know that our training style focuses mostly around kettlebells, but integrates many other unconventional training tools. Being on the main drag in a NJ Beach Town attracts lots of on lookers and “court yard lurkers”. Our group training started to explode with people wanting to know what kind of madness was going on out in that court yard with the fountain (yes, we have a sexy fountain).
We sometimes like to take advantage of the great scenery that we have a few blocks from us. There’s nothing like kicking off your shoes and cranking a beach workout!
One day after a tough court yard beating in the summer, one of our clients decided to get beer and sit around the fountain after class. This sounded like a great idea, so we joined him along with several other clients. This was the birth of “Happy Hour Friday”. As long as the sun is shining in the court yard after the 5pm class on Friday, our clients brought beer, and we’d sit around the fountain and shoot the shit.
Even World Famous Kettlebell Instructors, Steve Cotter and Ken Blackburn graced the CYOC!
Yes, this is UFC Champ Frankie Edgar training in our courtyard!
As our training evolved, our clients were getting incredible results, happy hour continued and our membership continued to grow. We tripled the size of our studio within a 5 year period and blasted through the walls to create more space for our growing empire.
Run Events and Give Back to the Community
As part of this fitness evolution, we started holding more events at the gym.
Here are some of our major ones.
- Team Marathon Row: Four person teams row 42,000 (marathon distance) meters on the C2 ergometer. This event was started to raise money for one our client’s foundations, The Nicholas Leather Heart to Heart Foundation. Baby Nicholas lost his life to congenital heart disease.
Watch some clips of this event below. We started this event in 2008 and have run it every year since. We have raised over $8,000 and have had over 100 people in our courtyard each time. The fountain is always filled with beer, and of coarse there is a huge party after. This year was our third annual. We had to move it to a larger venue or else the court yard would have busted at the seams.
The Third Annual Rowathon attracted way too many people for the court yard so we moved it up the street to the Norwood Inn. They donated all the food for the event!
The Warrior Challenge: Held on the beach with over 90 participants and hundreds of spectators. We held our second annual this past Summer, raising over $12,000 for the families of wounded and deceased military special operators. The event was advertised in all the NJ papers. We did an interview with Shelly Sonstein of Q104.3 Classic Rock Radio in NYC (The most popular rock station in the tri state area).
This year was extra bad! We actually arranged for a Black Hawk Helicopter to land on Avon Beach!! How many fitness events have you been to that have done this? Not only did it land, 5 Green Berets Jumped out. The copter came back to the beach and stayed for two hours to let people go in it and take pictures. At first, when the town got wind of this, town officials where freaking out about it, but soon liked all the attention it drew to the little town of Avon.
Of course there was a party after! Needless to say, this attracted thousands of people’s attention including the media, and all the people sitting on the beach that day. If have ever been to the Jersey Shore on a hot and sunny day on a Saturday in the summer, you know what I’m talking about.
Black Hawk down on Avon Beach!!
Watch some clips of this. Make sure to watch the Black Hawk at the end. This gives me chills each time.
Stir up some controversy to create attention!
Take advantage of events that happen in your community and get involved!!
The Avon 5 K Famer Walk: This was just a 5 K road race that we invaded with kettlebells. The race benefited the Avon First Aid and we brought about 60 individuals to this. Needless to say, this attracted a lot of attention. There were 1,600 people in this race. We pissed off some running geeks. They told us we where stupid for running/walking with kettlebells and that this was bad for our knees. We even got mentioned in the Jersey Shore Runners Club news letter. Quote from some lady named Penny: “There were stupid, stupid people running with kettle bells. Running with weights is bad for your knees!” Apparently, Penny didn’t think our idea was a great one. The back of next years t-shirt for the Farmer Walk 5k will read “Penny says I’m stupid!”
We probably weighed less with our 110lbs of kettlebells then some we saw running without kettlebells.
Team Training Room beating people without kettlebells
Kettlebell Team Relay Challenge: This was a fun team relay event that we just held in August. There was madness out in the court yard as usual. Teams traveled to the Jersey Shore from New York, North Jersey and Philly to participate. There were 60 participants and a BBQ following. Participants included Zach Even Esh, Jason C Brown and Pamela MacElree from Urban Athlete, Philly.
Here are some clips from that. Watch Zach and Jason duke it out.
Check to see what’s going on in your community, connect with recreation programs and other groups. Find out what you can do to help them out. Make it fun for you and your clients and at the same time, help out the members of your community.
Every year Avon Recreation hosts their raft race. Teams build their own rafts and race out in the ocean. Of course we take part in this and of course there is an after party!
Team Training Room kicking everyone’s ass at the Avon Raft Race! Uncle Mike is in the front, and the Milkman is in the back sea anchoring homemade raft(if you look closely you can see his fingertips). In between are members of our gym culture.
Holding events help give back to the community, they’re also fun and create a strong bond between our members and ourselves.
Outsiders see what we have going on and want to be a part of it.
One of our biggest fans with our logo tattooed on his arm!
Some of our clients participate, some help our or even just spectators. Some just come for the after party.
Some events can even stir up controversy in the community. We don’t mind stirring up a little controversy, it seems to have been working for us so far.
The ALS Valentines Polar Plunge( pictured from right to left): Pilot Len, Uncle Mike, Yusef (aka Dijon), The Stunt Man. Not pictured because he showed up late and jumped into the 38 degree water by himself, Army Jon
Offer Services that no one in your area has, including a training system that is unique, fun and guarantees results!
Pictured: Alumni from our first Kettlebell Certification Course and the famous “Tower of Terror” Pulling Station! We just built it without asking. The only person in town that complained was a little old lady from the garden club. We told her we would hang some plants from it.
The plain fact that people get immediate results from your system will keep them coming back for more.
Pile all the other stuff that I mentioned on top of that, and you have yourself a community that everyone wants to be part of.
Since we’ve been so successful with this system, we took the plunge and started offering our very own certification course that teaches fitness professionals the ins and outs of our famous integrated kettlebell group training system.
We figured since there are tons of bogus fitness courses out there that mislead trainers, we would offer something valuable that has actually been battle tested.
If you sign up for our weekend course, you will get a full dose of Training Room madness!
Surround yourself with really smart people
We even invited guest speakers such as great friends Zach Even Esh and Paul Reddick to Q and A on business stuff. It is great to surround yourself with smart business people that you can learn from.
We also invited Tom “The Guru” Bilella in to speak on nutrition.
If you want to read more about this, I suggest you go to http://www.kettlebellcertifications.com
If you want to get a little taste of Uncle Mike and The Milkman, then check out our website: http://www.trainingroomonline.com
Peace, Love and Gym Gym Culture!