This week we welcome Mike Sirani to the show to talk about his experience as a young trainer going from doing internships to opening and growing his own facility, how he’s dealing with the COVID situation, and how to avoid overcoaching.
Mike currently owns a fitness facility in upstate New York called Capital District Sport and Fitness, which he opened in June of 2018. Prior to that, he lived in Boston for 7 years having graduated from Springfield University located in western Massachusetts, later interning at Cressey Sports Performance and then working at Pure Performance Training for 4 years.
We first dive into how Mike went from interning and working at different facilities to eventually opening up his own and some of the lessons he’s learned since. While many people get swayed by programming and periodization, Mike says that those are only 5% of running a training business. The rest is understanding finances, sales, and relationship building, which he learned early on at his previous internships and employer. He mentions that at Cressey’s, he learned how to coach lots of different people from all walks of life - from elite athletes to weekend warriors and everyone in between and how to flow seamlessly between the different populations. Whereas at Pure Performance, he was responsible for building his own client roster and had to use the skill set he had learned up to that point in order to survive.
This leads us into the resources that Mike used once he decided that he was going to open up his own facility. He had a lot of confidence built up from his prior years of experience and credits Mike Reinold for mentoring him early on in the process. Knowing that going about starting from scratch over 3 hours away from where he had built up his clientele was going to be a difficult process if he stayed solo, Mike ended up partnering with Dan Jones who had a local client base. This allowed them to gain traction early on and use their networking skills to build the business.
Next we discuss the structure of Capital District, which is primarily semi private with 2 adult group sessions per day. Prior to COVID-19 they maintained a 5:1 client to coach ratio in an open floor setting, with 2 coaches on hand in the morning and 3 in the afternoon. However, in the midst of COVID and being located in New York where outdoor training is allowed, they have been training clients in the parking lot under a tent, working with 5 people per hour while maintaining social distancing. While there have been many challenges presented in the last 6 months, Mike mentions that the change has actually allowed the coaching to be much smoother with fewer clients occupying the space at any given time.
We then transition into some of the lessons that Mike has learned along the way since opening up his own business. While there are always going to be unexpected expenses or problems that arise, the main thing that Mike has relied on to keep moving in a forward direction is having structure and setting up his business so that it would be sustainable over the long term. When it comes to assembling his team, he is looking for individuals who have a flexible personality and the willingness to learn the X’s and O’s. While programming is important, it’s just a small part of running a training business and it’s the intangibles that Mike is looking for from his coaches.
When asked about programming and what’s changed over the last several years, Mike still uses many of the principles from the various schools of practice but has aimed to make everything simpler. In particular, he uses far fewer “correctives” than he had in the past and instead tries to bake them into the cake of his training programs once someone understands the basics of how to move. Besides just simply getting the client off the floor and actually training, Mike wants to progress people so that he can start to build relationships instead of talking about biomechanics or whatever pain they’re experiencing. Above all, Mike he wants his the experience of a training session to be one that leaves the client feeling empowered and like it was the best hour of their day.
Enjoy and be sure to hit that subscribe button if you learned a thing or two!
6:25 - Mike’s background
8:28 - Mike’s transition into opening his own facility
14:20 - Resources Mike sought out when opening his business
19:55 - The structure of Capital District and how they are dealing with COVID-19
27: 05 - Lessons learned and putting a team together