Just Another Day…

TAGS: Joe Defranco, Sports Training, strength training, strength coach, Elitefts Info Pages, barbell, training

The past couple of months have been the busiest of my life. My business is growing at a rapid pace and there are many “growing pains” that go along with this growth. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. It’s much better to be busy, than to have nothing to do at all. This got me thinking…I thought it would be interesting for the readers of this website to see what it takes to run a successful training facility. Before I get started, I’ll let you in on a little secret; running your own facility is NOT just about designing training programs!

Helping the aspiring strength & conditioning coach decide on a career path is what inspired me to share my journal. About 10 years ago, I was in the same boat as many of you are right now; I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be an NFL strength coach, own a training facility or run someone else’s facility. Many events unfolded in my life along the way and I feel that they all happened for a reason. Now through my experiences, I can share with you what it takes to run a successful training center, as well as many other side projects. Some of you may read my journal and say, “That’s what I want to do with my life!” On the other hand, some of you may say, “That lifestyle sucks! It’s definitely not for me! I’d rather just work for someone else!” Again, my only goal is to help bring everyone some clarity with regards to choosing a career path in the strength & conditioning field.

O.K., below you will find my day’s events from Monday, August 1st, 2005. This was the first day that I took over my new facility – an empty warehouse that needed a monumental amount of work to get done before our September 6th Grand Opening. At this time, we were still performing our training sessions out of our original facility. This was quite a day for me. Enjoy…

6:30 A.M. – My alarm blasts into my ear! I feel as if Howard Stern is actually in bed with me talking about lesbians and fake breasts. I smash my snooze button and fall back to sleep.

7:05 A.M. – I carefully roll out of bed…it hurts. I had major back surgery 4 months ago and I still have no relief. I’m crippled in the morning and I’m in a bad mood.

7:30 A.M. – Shave my head, brush my teeth and shower.

8:15 A.M. – Make breakfast and prepare my meals for the day. Breakfast consists of 2 scoops of Mocha Joe Muscle Milk in water with 2 added teaspoons of instant coffee. I also have a bowl of unsweetened oatmeal with raisins in skim milk. I supplement this with 3grams of L-Tyrosine.

While I’m eating my breakfast, I’m writing my checks for the day. Today is payday for my trainers… my apartment rent is also due… the rent for my training facility is also due…oh shit, today is our first day taking over the new facility - THAT rent is due also! Man, that’s a rough way to start my day. Hopefully I didn’t forget anyone… Oh yeah, my web designer – he gets paid today too. Shit!

8:35 A.M. – I’m packing my bag for work when I see that my cell phone is blinking…6 new voicemails:

#1) “Hey Joe, it’s Tom. Just wanted to see if you can speak at the SWIS Symposium in Toronto in November. Call me back today to confirm that you can do this.” #2) “Hi Joe, it’s Betsy (my health insurance representative). Unfortunately, your health insurance rates have increased starting this month. I tried to get you the best deal possible, but it’s still going to be about $200 more per month. Call me if you have any questions. I just didn’t want you to be alarmed when you got the new rates in the mail.”

#3) “Hi Joe, it’s Steve. I know I said that I would lay down the rubber flooring at your new facility on Thursday, but I can’t do Thursday. The good news is that I can get the job done today. Can you meet me at your new place at 9:00 to let me in? Sorry for the short notice. Call me back ASAP.”

#4) “Joe, it’s Dave (my web designer & graphic artist). I got the price quotes on the banners you wanted for your new place. They will look really good, but they are a little more expensive than I estimated. The 4 banners will cost you $2675. If you want these banners done in time for your grand opening, I need you to sign off on the order today.”

#5) “Yo Joe D., it’s Jarrett. Good news. Your protein bar is a go! They loved the idea and they loved your ingredients. I gotta go over all the details with you. This is really gonna happen. I’m pumped! This is gonna be big! You better fuckin’ call me back today! We gotta finalize a bunch of shit before the next meeting!”

#6) “Hi Joe, it’s Fred from the Bergen Record (local newspaper). I have the info for the ad you’re taking out. The full page costs $5865. I’m sorry the cost went up so much from last year, but it’s a really popular ad. You need to email the artwork to our graphics department by the end of next week. I also need your credit card number to put a hold on the ad. Call me back today please.”

8:40 A.M. – Contemplate suicide…

8:50 A.M. – Get in my truck, put my earpiece in and start my day. I return most of my phone calls while I’m driving. If I don’t get back to the person before my final destination, they’re pretty much shit out of luck. Their call usually gets held over until the next day.

First stop – my parent’s house. I have to drop off last weeks video & t-shirt sale orders. (My parents handle all of the mailings for my online products.) When I get to my parents house, my dad informs me that we have no more large t-shirts and there’s less than 100 football videos left. My mom calls my t-shirt guy for me and orders more t-shirts. She makes the call for me because my t-shirt guy talks too much. I don’t have time for small talk during the week. Basically, every conversation I have during the week is business related & productive (hopefully).

9:20 A.M. – I’m back in my truck. I call the flooring guy to tell him I can meet him at my new facility today. I’m pumped. A lot has to be done to this place so I’m glad we’re getting things started on Day 1. I tell him to meet me there at 10:00. I have to first go and pick up my signs for the front & back doors of my new facility. The company that made these special signs said that they would be ready on August 1st. I can’t wait to see them. As I’m driving, my phone rings. I don’t recognize the number, but I answer the phone anyway. Here’s how the conversation went:




      “Hi, may I please speak with Joe DeFranco?”

Me: “Speaking.”

Caller: “My name is Barbara. I’m calling in reference to the 2 signs that were supposed to be ready for you today.”

Me: “Yes, I’m actually on my way to pick them up right now.”

Barbara: “Unfortunately, the man who was working on your signs died last week. Your signs are not done. I apologize, but we will need a couple more weeks to finish your signs. The son of the man who died will be doing your signs, but he will not be back to work for another 2 weeks.”

Me: (Doesn’t this chick know that I’m in the process of opening one of the greatest training facilities in the world? I mean, I got a grand opening that’s gonna be packed with meatheads & mutants and this guy is dyin’ on me! What the f*ck?!) Actually, all of those things went through my head, but the only thing that came out of my mouth was, “Ummm, I’m sorry for your loss. I’ll give you a call back in 2 weeks.”

(By the way, I know that this story sounds made up, but it really did happen! You can’t make this stuff up!)

10:00 A.M. – Meet the flooring guys at my new facility. Talk to them about the job and show them exactly how I want it done. While I’m there, I draw up a floor plan for my weight room. I re-measure the space and take notes. I then go in the office and visualize everything I think we will need. I imagine in my head what the first day of business will be like. I take 5 pages of notes. Man, I have a lot of work to do. It’s overwhelming at times. I start to think… “I should have been a gym teacher. I’d have my summers completely off…” NO! I snap out of it. This is what I’ve worked for my entire life. I’ve always wanted to be one of the best performance enhancement specialists in the world; and I’ve always wanted to have one of the best facilities in the world. If it were easy, everyone would have their own facility. It’s not easy, but that’s where I have been blessed. I have been blessed with a tireless work ethic and I strive for perfection. Hell, I HAVE TO work hard. Truth be told, I’m not that smart; I scored 890 on my SAT’s. But what I lack in book smarts, I make up for with hard work & perseverance. Oh shit, stop daydreaming! I gotta get to work. I have an appointment at 12:30 and it’s already 12:00!

12:05 P.M. – Stop at Dunkin’ Donuts and get a double espresso.

12:06 P.M. – Ahhh, I feel better!

12:15 P.M. – Arrive at work. I’m running late as usual. I keep my head down as I quickly walk towards the locker room to get changed. If I make eye contact with anyone, it will be my death sentence – questions will be fired at me like a shotgun:

“Joe, do you have any time available? I need to start training with you.” “Joe, I know you’re busy, but I just have a quick question for you…What should I eat?”

“Joe, could you come here and look at my shoulder? It hurts when I wipe my ass…”

You get my point.

Just as I’m about to seek shelter in the locker room, it happens: “Joe, come here. I just need a quick spot!” Shit, they got me. I turn around to see who’s calling me. Oh wait, it’s Ben. (Ben Tonon works with me. He’s a hell of a strength coach and he’s also strong as hell.) He’s decline benching. There’s 500 lbs. on the bar and he’s NOT wearing a bench shirt! He tells me he feels good and that he’s gonna get it. The whole gym is looking at him. The gym that we rent space out of is a “health club”. Nobody lifts heavy weights there and all of the members think we’re nuts. Ben crushes the 500 lbs. While lifting the weight, he lets out a yell as if he were a bear that just woke up from a year of hibernating. He slams the weight back on the rack. Everyone in the gym is looking at us in disgust. Ben laughs and then walks into our dungeon. He has 3 high school wrestlers waiting for him. They have a 12:30 appointment.

I immediately feel like shit because I’m weak as piss ever since my back surgery. Not only have I been in excruciating pain, I haven’t had time to train anyway. I drop my gym bag and superset 4 sets of 30 push-ups with 4 sets of standing rope pulls to the neck. I finish my 4 supersets in about 5 minutes. It’s now 12:35 and my first appointment has just arrived. I have a nice pump so I’m temporarily in a good mood.

12:35 P.M. - I sit at my desk and grab all of my athlete’s workouts for the day. I take a deep breath. It’s time to put all of the other bullshit aside – I can’t be distracted by health insurance issues, tax issues, payroll, signs, banners, rent checks or anything else. This is “game time” for me. It’s time to do what I do best – TRAIN ATHLETES. This is what made me “famous” in the first place. I’m known for getting athletes bigger, stronger, faster, more flexible and basically just turning them into animals. I shut my cell phone off, and I shut myself off from the rest of the world. The only thing that I am focused on is the athlete(s) that I’m training. Producing great results with athletes is what made all of my other endeavors possible; we’ve sold over 2000 videos; we’re opening up a bigger training facility; I’ve developed a protein energy bar and that’s about to hit the stores; people from all over the WORLD are even buying my friggin’ t-shirts! I will never forget my roots, and my roots are training athletes.

9:00 P.M. – Just finished my last training session – I had 8 sessions, 19 athletes today. Dave Cavalluzzo & Ben Tonon (my 2 other trainers) saw double the amount of athletes that I saw. It was a great day of training for us. Almost all of our college athletes will be gone by the end of the week. They’re all in peak condition. This was the best summer of training that we’ve ever had. These kids transformed and I’m proud of them.

I’m exhausted. I have to call a couple of parents back, check my schedule for tomorrow and then bring home the checks, credit card receipts and cash that we received today. I keep the business books at home and I’ll take care of that later.

9:45 P.M. – Get in my car and drive home. Oh boy, that damn light on my cell phone is blinking again. Good, it’s only a text message. It reads, “Hey baby, answer ur phone!! Ive been tryin 2 call u all day. U cant b that busy…call me!” It’s from the girl I’ve been seeing. She just doesn’t get my life yet. She thinks I’m just a trainer who hangs out at the gym and counts reps for people. I’ll call her later. I have 2 more phone calls to make before I get home. I still need to confirm that I can speak in Toronto in November. I also have to call back one of the NFL agents that I work with. He left a message on my work phone while I was training. One of his players got cut from the Vikings right before training camp. He wants to know if I have any time to squeeze him into my schedule. Time? Yeah, I got plenty of time.

10:05 P.M. – Arrive at my apartment. Grab my mail and wait for the elevator. As I’m about to get on the elevator, the doorman calls me – “Wait! Mr. DeFranco, you had 2 big packages delivered to you today.” I walk towards the lobby desk of my apartment. Shit, those packages are huge! Oh yeah, they’re the 2 filing cabinets that I ordered for my new facility. I walk back to the parking garage, pull my truck up to the lobby door, pack the cabinets in my truck and then I park…again. I walk back to the elevator - I’m dead tired. While I’m waiting, the doorman calls me again, “Hey Mr. DeFranco, while I have you here, I have a quick question: What should I do to get in shape? I used to be in good shape, you know. I just don’t have the time to workout anymore. Plus, I love to eat. But, could you write me up a program?”

My reply reflected the mood that I was in, “Well, if you don’t have any time to workout anymore, I guess it would be pointless for me to write you up a program. Goodnight.” I get on the elevator. I can’t wait to get in my air conditioned apartment and put these bags down.

10:20 P.M. – I empty my gym bag and heat up dinner. Thankfully, I have leftovers from yesterday. While I’m eating dinner, I turn on my computer and check my emails. Ever since I started my business, I can’t just sit down at my table and eat dinner. I have to be doing something work-related while I eat. I answer a couple of emails and then organize the money that came in today.

As I’m organizing the checks, cash and credit card receipts, I realize that I never did the end of the month numbers for July! How the hell did this happen? Oh yeah, I was away all weekend. On Saturday, I spent the day down the shore with Jason Ferrugia, Dave Tate, Jim Wendler and Alwyn Cosgrove. We spent the whole day discussing business, training and a host of great topics. I didn’t get home until 2 in the morning. Then, I spent all of Sunday with a couple of potential investors discussing future projects. My weekend was a complete blur. Anyway, I have to get the final numbers for July. I don’t like falling behind on this stuff.

11:25 P.M. – I just finished organizing the books for July. We had a great month! We HAVE to have great months. This new facility is costing me an arm and a leg. Now it’s time for me to update my website. I have to send my website updates to my webmaster by Monday night the latest. I usually pick out 3 or 4 questions from the 100+ “ASK JOE” questions that I receive each week. I answer them on a Word Document; email them to my webmaster and then he transfers my update onto the website. He also sends out the newsletter to my 4000+ subscribers on Friday morning.

I choose 4 questions and then get to work. By question #3, my eyes feel like they’re bleeding. It’s been a long day. Hell, it’s been a long couple of months. My answers reflect my mood. After about an hour and fifteen minutes, I’m done. I email my webmaster the update and I shut off my computer.

1:00 A.M. – I brush my teeth and then roll into bed. I turn on the T.V. After about 2 minutes of watching T.V., my mind starts to wonder. I’m thinking of work again. I roll over and grab “The E-Myth” off of my end table. I’ve been re-reading this book ever since I decided to open up a new facility. It’s the best business book that I’ve ever read. I’m almost done with it. I finish re-reading Chapter 17 and now it’s really time for bed.

1:50 A.M. – I put my book back on the end table, set my alarm for 6:30 A.M. and shut off my light. I think about what I have to get done tomorrow…

Nothing unusual, tomorrow’s just another day…

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