Category Archives: Mindset

3 Things I’ve Learned From Todd Durkin


Over the past 3 years I’ve been lucky enough to become good friends with Todd Durkin. If you don’t know who Todd is you can check his site out here; But if I were to describe Todd in only a couple of words, it would be life transformer. He’s been one of the main reasons that both my life and career have grown exponentially in such a short time. And although I’ve learned a ton from TD, I want to share my biggest 3 lessons from him.

Lesson #1: Give Everything You’ve Got. And then some.

If you know TD, then I know you’ve heard him say this dozens of times. But I believe that sometimes it’s easy for us to let words go in one ear and out the other without really taking them in.

Instead of just doing a good job or what people expect from you, over deliver every time you interact with them. The world is made up of millions of people who settle for average, but this isn’t what makes you truly great. For me, I’m always asking myself, could I have done more or what would Todd have done in that situation.

Now I can’t think of any better way to show you what I mean about “and then some” than to tell you about the first time I met TD. On a trip back to see my family for Christmas, my partner Kristy and I decided to spend a few days in San Diego before we hit the snow. We had scheduled to do a PT session at Fitness Quest 10 (Todd’s gym) with one of his trainers, Brett Klika , who actually won the IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year award last year, but that’s a whole other story.

We had seen Todd in his office working away, but didn’t have the chance to actually meet him, but he was busy so we didn’t think twice. After our session we were walking out to our car, in the dark, and we heard this voice yell from behind “Hey guys….guys!” We turned around to see a man running towards us, and thought what the hell does this guy want!

To our shock it was Todd. And he had chased us down because he felt bad that he hadn’t had a chance to meet us and to say thank you for coming to Fitness Quest 10 on our vacation. He then proceeded to tell us it was because he was on a business call and that he was still on it so he had to run back inside to finish it. But he told us he wanted to make sure that he had the chance to thank us.

Now how many gym owners would do that? And that’s exactly what “and then some” is. Making the time or effort no matter what.

Lesson #2: Be There for People

This one probably seems like a given and something that everyone does but I would be to say there are differing levels of this. And Todd has shown me what it really means.

Whether it’s taking that extra second to connect with someone at a convention, or reaching out to ask how someone is doing, TD embodies this. He’s an extremely busy man, much busier than anyone I’ve ever known, but if someone needs something he finds the time.

After only knowing Todd for 18 months I was over in San Diego and really wanted to sit down and get some advice and guidance on some things going on in my career. This is also the same time he has all his NFL guys in preparing for training camp, as well as prime conference time. Basically, his busiest time of the year! But guess what? He made time, and not just 5 minutes. He rearranged things so he had 60 minutes to spend with me.

Actually, while I’m writing this I’m waiting on a call from Todd. This morning a very unique opportunity has come up, but I’m not sure how to deal with it, so messaged him to ask for his advice. Instead of just telling what he thinks, he is going to call me to discuss it and come up with a solution. He’s the type of person who is always there for you.

Lesson #3: How to be World Class in the Fitness Industry

Only because I’ve been lucky enough to spend time with Todd not only in his gym, but at various conventions I’ve been able to watch how he conducts himself. He truly is a one of a kind individual in everything he does.

There are so many small things I’ve picked up from him that I wouldn’t even know where to start. But that’s part of the lesson. It’s all these little things that make you world class. From the way you speak to people to the questions you ask to the words you use to the energy you give. Todd is truly world class in every aspect of his life.

If you know TD then I’m sure that you relate to at least one of these. And if you’ve never met Todd I would highly recommend to go hear him speak or even better check out his 3.5 day mentorship.

And for those of you who have met Todd I would love to hear in the comments section below what Todd has taught you.


Don’t Be Too Pure


After spending a great weekend with Martin Rooney, this was one of a few things that really resonated with me. He brought up the concept of being so pure with what we do as fitness professionals that we lose touch of the actual client. This is something that I can say without doubt that I have been guilty of in the past, and working with a number of other fit pro’s, see it all too often.

So ask yourself the question, are you too pure with what you do with your clients? Now you might be thinking what the heck is he talking about? And all this means is don’t let what you think is the scientifically proven “best” thing for your client get in the way of what might be the best thing for your client on a given day. That may mean that sometimes you might want to pick an exercise for the simple reason that your client loves it. Or completely scrap the periodised program for today, for a bit of an impromptu fun to lift your client’s spirits.

One thing that can often get lost in the world of fitness is the fact that it is part science and part art. And if you’re only looking after one side, you’re doing a disservice to your clients. This is the exact reason why you’ve seen trainers who have lots of clients, yet don’t really know how to coach a squat properly or put together a solid program. But you’ll also see the most technically sound trainer who would be able to tell you, to the degree, how much lumbar flexion every one of their clients has during a squat, struggle to get clients.

It’s because these trainers are only focused on the art or the science of being a trainer. Do you think telling your client not to go to Zumba once a week because she loves it, is really helping her? Last time I checked moving around, getting a sweat up and laughing are all good things. Would that same client benefit from doing a couple of resistance training sessions each week too? Damn right, but if you’re the trainer telling her she can’t do Zumba, you’re probably not going to be able to help her see the benefit of weight training long term.

So don’t be so pure that you remove all the fun from your clients training. If you take a step back and realise without the enjoyment that is associated with exercise, your clients may not stick with their training very long. Because when you think about what we are actually asking our clients to do, we seem crazy. Come in, do a bunch of hard work that’s going to make it hard to lift your hands over your head and wash your hair. Oh, and you might have a hard time getting back up off the toilet.

Train smart, but don’t be so pure and forget exercise is fun.

Lessons from Eric Thomas in Australia


If you haven’t heard of Eric Thomas, or otherwise known as ET the Hip Hop Preacher you need to click on the video below. If ET can’t inspire you and put a fire deep down inside of you to succeed then I’m not sure anyone can.

Over this long weekend here in Australia, I was lucky enough to hear ET speak twice, and while I had a number of people ask why would I ruin a long weekend with such great weather sitting inside. Well I can tell you this, there was no where I’d rather have been. To see ET on video is one thing, but to actually see him in person is a completely different thing (side note: Thanks to my buddy RJ down in New Orleans for giving me the heads up Eric was coming).

There are so many people out there that want to succeed, that want a better life, but why are there so few people that ever really reach their potential? I want to share with you my top take aways from ET.

Your Why better be greater than a Punch in the Face

Life isn’t easy. No matter how much success you get life is always going to come up and punch you in the face. It’s a certainty that you can’t control. But what you can control is what you do after life punches you in the face. ET talked about how Buster Douglas defeated Mike Tyson. Up until that point no one had ever got back up after being knocked down by Mike Tyson. But Buster’s why was bigger than that. Buster’s mom had been bragging about how her boy was going to beat Mike Tyson, but only a couple days before the fight Buster’s mom passed away. Now Buster could have let that dream die with his mom, or he could chose to not let that punch in the face stop him. So he got back up, stumbling all over the ring and went on to beat Tyson. And what make this story even more powerful is look what happened to Buster after this fight. Absolutely nothing, he lost his next fight, and I have a feeling it was because his why wasn’t big enough.

Your why needs to be so big that no matter what life throws at it, you’re just going to push through it. And if it isn’t, you might want to spend some time thinking about you why. Maybe it’s not big enough. Maybe it’s not what you really want to do. But spend some time to figure out what you’re willing to fight for to succeed day in, day out.

Where the Guru’s Have Failed Us

ET talked about how important writing our goals on paper is, and you’re going to hear every guru out there talk about this. And writing your goals down is vital to your success, but as he said, most people are are forgetting the one key thing to supercharge your goals. We need to write out the “why” beside each one of our goals. This way when you look back over them you see what you’re working towards, what’s at stake if you’re not moving towards your goals.

Now this next point took a bit of explaining. And it’s funny because in true ET style he said I’m going to repeat that because I think some of y’all missed that one. Was he ever right!

If you keep doing the same things over and over again, you’ll keep getting the same results. Now we’ve all heard this but have we really listened to what this quote is trying to say? I know I hadn’t, even though I thought I had. Now it makes sense that if we aren’t being successful and we keep doing the same things over and over again we aren’t going to get a different result. But that goes the same for when things are going well for us. If we want more success, we want to achieve greater things then we can’t keep doing the same things if we want more out of life. You see, I’d always thought of it from only the perspective of someone not achieving results, but what you’ve got to realise is that in 12 months from now you better be doing things differently if you want to keep improving.

Be Obsessed with Improvement

To many people don’t take the necessary actions to chase their dreams because they are afraid of making mistakes. But every action that you take is a chance to improve. Instead of being obsessed with not making mistakes or getting it just right, become obsessed with improving every day. If you continue to get just a little bit better you will see massive improvements in your growth as a person, in your business, within your clients. Notice the words that ET used. There were a number of words he could have chosen, but he chose obsessed. And he emphasised being obsessed with improvement, not invested, not focused, not trying but obsessed. Imagine if you become absolutely obsessed at how you could improve every day? And that was his final message he ended on.

What’s Your Mindset?


Whether you are a personal trainer working with dozens of clients every week, or a fitness enthusiast trying to get everything that they can from their training, this relates to you. It’s all about an idea that I learned from Carol Dweck, who is a phycology professor at Stanford University and wrote the book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. And it is one of the most powerful ideas that you need to get your head around to truly become more successful in everything that you do.

There are two mindsets that you can have; either a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. What I have found is that you may have a little bit of both, depending on the circumstances, but trust me, you will predominantly be one of these.


With the fixed mindset you believe things like your intelligence or talent are fixed traits. These are the people who will invest everything they have into proving how smart or good they are at something. You may be too afraid to ask a question, in fear that someone will find out you don’t know everything. The fixed mindset will prevent you from trying anything new because you don’t want to “fail” or can’t stand the idea of not being the best at it. This mindset is based on winning or losing, not on improving.


In the growth mindset you believe that your abilities can be developed thru dedication or hard work. These people see their talent or intelligence as only the starting point. These people love to learn, and see every opportunity as an opportunity to develop their skills or abilities, and don’t see outcomes as wins or losses.

So which one of these would describe you? Are you more concerned about how people view you? Worried about your traits and how adequate you are? Or are you looking for ways to get better and learn from your experiences?

I’m sorry if I may have touched a nerve, but this is for your own benefit. For example, when I was learning this I could definitely see some fixed mindset traits and I quickly realized how they were holding me back, but up until that point I had never realized it. And then I started to think about my clients, and how I could use what I had learned about these 2 mindsets to help them.

How Do You Coach Your Clients?

I’ve long been a big believer that what we do as fitness professionals goes way beyond sets and reps, and that we have this amazing opportunity to change lives on so many levels. We need to motivate our clients and inspire them on a daily basis, but what if the way in which we are trying to do this is just feeding the fixed mindset even more? If that’s the case, are we actually helping our clients or driving them further into this damaging mindset?

So let’s dig deeper into the cueing we use with our clients. Here are a couple of examples of feedback that will feed the fixed mindset:

“Joe, great job again! You are always one of the first 2 to finish.”

“Jane, once again you lifted the most weight on the team!”

“Another perfect week on your eating plan Sarah!”

“Your technique is flawless once again”

Now I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with any of the above sayings, but depending on the client or athlete it could be. Joe may start taking shortcuts, or let his form suffer because he needs to finish in the first two. Jane only see’s herself as being successful if she lifts the most weight on the team. Sarah may start being deceitful in her meal diary because she wants to continue to be perfect in your eyes. Are you starting to see how these helpful comments could be sabotaging our clients? Because we all know that sometimes our clients (and even ourselves) don’t always see themselves as they actually are.

Learn To Speak The Growth Mindset

Let’s take a look at some ways to speak more from a growth mindset perspective:

“Joe, what a great effort! You always put in 100%.”

“Jane, once again you improved! It’s great to see all that hard work pay off.”

“Looking at your food diary Sarah, we can see how putting in the time to prepare your meals is worth the effort.”

“Your form is improving week after week!”

Whether you are a coach or athlete, focus on the effort and growth from week to week, as opposed to the outcome. If you see not reaching a goal as a failure, you are bound to cement the idea of the fixed mindset and look for ways to feed the ego. Instead, look at why you didn’t reach your goal and what you can learn from that event to help you achieve it next time.

Strive to be a diamond!

A diamond starts out as a piece of coal. A diamond in its original form will get kicked, it will get stepped on, and it will get passed by over and over again. You’re not going to see a diamond in its original form! Through all the pressure and adversity that coal does not crumble, but becomes a precious stone that people want. It’s better to be a diamond with a flaw, then a pebble without one.

The version you are right now may not be a diamond, but if you’re willing to take on all the adversity, the hard work, the criticism you may face on a daily basis and push thru it, you will become one. But only if you are willing to look at life through a growth mindset.

What They Say


At the recent Perform Better summit in Chicago I attended a great presentation by Martin Rooney. This was my first time seeing Martin live, although I had read a lot of his work over the years. Man does he have a lot of energy and enthusiasm! If you ever get a chance to see Martin, make sure that you do, you won’t regret it.

What he began his lecture with really got me thinking. He told us about the two most powerful words in the English language. They Say. These two little words have a massive influence on many of our decisions. Now I know that may sound a bit silly, but when you think about it, he is true. Take for example how much our opinion on consuming eggs has changed over the years based on what They Say:

Eat eggs; they are a great source of complete protein!

Don’t eat eggs; they are high in fat and fats bad!

Hold on, eat only the egg whites because the yolks are high in cholesterol and cholesterol causes heart disease!

Oh wait, never mind cholesterol doesn’t cause heart disease, so you can eat the yolk!

Actually, scrap that. Everyone’s allergic to eggs. Stop eating them again!

But, what did we base our decisions on whether or not we ate eggs? Was it all the research we read (c’mon Mark Young, where were you when we needed you?)? Or was it based on what They Say? If you asked most people how they knew that cholesterol was bad for them the most common answer was “Oh well they say cholesterol causes heart disease.”

What I want to know is who the hell are “They” and why are some many of us blindly following “their” advice? Now, just stop and think about this for a moment. We all know the age old parental advice “Well if all your friends went and jumped off a bridge, would you?” (hopefully that just wasn’t my parents who said that). But, even if you were to jump off a bridge, at least it was a friend you were following. We don’t even know who they heck “They” are, and we are making decisions based on what “They Say”.

So who are “They”? For all we know, it could be him:

In today’s world Google is our #1 source of information, but as we all know there is a lot of misinformation out there. Take the shakeweight……need I say anymore? If we are going to be influenced, at least make sure that the influencer is someone you would actually want to be like. Or at least trust. Do you really think that Big_Gunz_32 from the bodybuilding forum is a trusted source?

Here is a list of some of my trusted sources of information (you may not have heard of them all, but check them out and be your own judge):

Todd Durkin and Martin Rooney – they are super high energy and extremely motivational, as well as having more integrity than anyone I know in the training world. (David Jack is another high energy guy too)

Alwyn Cosgrove, Thomas Plummer & Rick Mayo – this is where I look when I want to know more about the semi private/group training model.

Josh Henkin. Mark Verstegan and Coach Dos – they provide great metabolic training info and have both been innovative in their approaches. I’ve been reading a bit of Ben Bruno’s stuff lately and he definitely thinks outside the traditional box.

Eric Cressey, Nick Tumminello and Bret Contreras – these two know the body inside and out, then back in again. If you want in-depth info, this is where I turn. Bret is a great source for the scientific literature too.

Sean Croxton is a no BS guy when it comes to health and nutrition. He’s not afraid to speak out against conventional wisdom.

Craig Ballantyne – time management and getting stuff done. If you want to be more productive he’s your man!

Feel free to share who you turn to, just promise me you will stop blindly following “They”