Episode 260

Setting Long-term Expectations with Athletes (and Clients) with Pete Dupuis

In this episode, Pete Dupuis joins me to talk about setting long-term expectations with athletes (and clients).

[00:00:00] Hello, fitness business nerds. What’s up? Welcome to another episode of The Business for Unicorns podcast, and today I’m here with Pete. What’s up, Pete? Hey Michael, what’s happening? So good to have you, sir. As always, I would look forward to these conversations every chance we get to have them. But before we dive into to our actual conversation today, I have to do a quick shout out.

As always, my quick shout out today is actually to encourage our listeners to follow us on all the social medias. Pete is prolific on the social medias. Where can they find you? Oh, I’m newly on threads. Does that matter? I admittedly dunno what I’m doing with it or how I intend to use it, or no one does.

But I got a handful posts up there. I’m showing up a little bit and I don’t like their notifications format. I feel a little lost there, but I’m there and it’s the same as my Instagram handle. And actually everything is Pete. And yeah, my name is difficult to spell. If you’re not into French Canadian last name[00:01:00] I know we have a lot of French Canadian listeners, so there’s a handful of people that are gonna have no problem with it.

But yeah, go follow a piece constantly putting out tons of wisdom. I. Tons of really actionable advice. And then follow us at Business Unicorns, mainly on Instagram is where we’re at these days. But you can also find us on YouTube where we post this podcast. And Mark also has another YouTube channel where he gives amazing, actionable.

Short, tight videos for gym owners. And so go find us on social media, subscribe to those places and follow us. ’cause this podcast is not our only piece of regular content we’re putting on stuff all the time that we hope is just as valuable. So thanks for letting me do a quick pitch. Now let’s dive into today’s topic and today’s topic specifically.

At least we, our starting point for this conversation was sports performance. Gyms out there. Much like Cressy. And the topic was about how you have athletes both at the youth athlete level all the way up to semi-pro and pro level who find success in their career. And because of that success or get all these opportunities to play more and [00:02:00] play more, which means there’s often less and less time.

For their training and we wanna talk about like that. ’cause you’ve seen it time and time again. I know a lot of our listeners who run sports performance gyms are noticing that as people get better and more recognized in their field, more celebrated, they have maybe less time to be in the gym.

So we’re gonna talk about that phenomenon and talk about maybe how to get in front of it. To keep people coming to the gym, even when they’re at the top of their game. So yeah. Kind of tee this up from your own experience, Pete. Yeah. This came to me recently because our guys Nathan and down in the Carolinas were on the cusp seeing one of their longtime clients get drafted pretty in m.

And they wanted to build some initiatives around their current and past, present, and future work with him, because he’s complicit in that he sees himself as part of their program. And I said to him, you better make some moves right now, because once that guy gets a call from whatever organization, he ultimately gets picked by.

He’s gonna, [00:03:00] he’s gonna be assigned to go out to Arizona, and then he is not gonna know where he wants to spend his offseason. And then he’s gonna have his old high school coach ask if he can come and speak at a banquet. And then his college coach is gonna tell him, come on out to this fundraiser. And the higher you climb, the more things get thrown at you.

And I’ve this everywhere from like the.

The training compliments the on field performance, the solid on field performance turns into more opportunities to play or be showcased or eat up your calendar. And the unfortunate reality is that people tend to deprioritize the training piece at that point. And that’s where the hit comes. And I’ll give you a perfect example.

At the highest of high this past fall we watched a guy Pena, our. He had all the time in the earlier in his career to train because he was a [00:04:00] climbing lower profile minor leaguer who, who ultimately deservingly got himself to the big leagues. And in that first year, what did he do? He was in, in the running for a rookie of the year.

He won an American League championship series and World Series M V P, and he won a gold glove. And suddenly a guy whose typical offseason in the five was like a program and. The guy is, is cutting the ribbon at fast food places in Houston and in Manhattan, and he’s just, he’s living that life.

And you can’t say no to those things. Those are great things. You wanna do those things. You never know when you’re gonna have an opportunity to be at the absolute apex like that again. So if you’re German, you gotta do that, but it also means that your off season got seriously abbreviated and yeah, there’s just only so many hours in the day for those people.

So that’s the highest of high profile scenarios I’ve seen [00:05:00] happens.

It even happens with the 12 year old who figured out how to throw a ton of strikes and next thing you know there’s a club program who says, I wanna fly you to these tournaments with us. Don’t even worry about the cost. We’re gonna take care of it. We just wanna get you some innings. It’s gonna be great.

And these are things that people have a hard time saying no to. That leads to, when we talked about this, what was your first question to me, Michael? What do you do about it exactly? How do you keep ’em around? I didn’t. Yeah, I told you the unfortunate reality for me is that karma tends to resolve that problem.

I don’t have a solution in place in, in hindsight, I know what my answer is. My answer is have conversations about this before it happens. But in the moment, the people who tend to prioritize more baseball at the expense they tend to have injury issues. They tend to break down a little faster.

They tend to burn out mentally and [00:06:00] physically, and when they do come back to the weight room and they realize whoa, this was actually one of the foundational things that got me here. They’re at a lower starting point than they should be. They lost some of that momentum, and so it’s easy for me to see in hindsight like, oh, you shoulda known.

Look. Yeah, look, ATS in reverse. Yeah. But reality is, If I see those opportunities coming, it’s probably better that I say to them, you’re on a trajectory. I can see your success coming. It’s awesome. It’s deserved as it comes. I would encourage you to constantly be self-checking, asking yourself what got me here?

What is it that I can’t compromise on if I wanna stay here? But this is all retroactive thought at this point. Yeah, totally. Yeah, that makes sense. But that’s, that’s, I think part of the value of a podcast like this is like we’re telling people, we’re telling you listeners in real time things that Pete is experiencing, things that we’re learning, things that we haven’t figured out solutions to.

And this is a perfect example of you’ve seen this trend. You’re [00:07:00] just now thinking about, okay, how do I get in front of this? How do I set expectations for clients from the beginning or set expectations at the point where I see them rising in their skill level and in their, notoriety?

How do I then be this sounding board to help them navigate their career from a training perspective and prioritize the things they’re gonna keep them healthy long term? That’s part of our jobs, right? Whether you’re working with sports performance or general population, right? It’s and we’ll give a general population analogy here because I think there is.

At least one. But I think that’s, it’s a thing that you’re figuring out in real time. Yes, absolutely. And you know what, it’s the performance training gyms out there. If you’re a established one, this will ring true to you. And if you’re an up and coming one, you’re about to learn it. But we are intentionally or not mentors for these young kids, even on up into professional athletes in their early twenties.

It. When I started this, I was a 25 year old and I always said Eric and I were 25. So we were young enough to be able to talk the talk with the [00:08:00] high school and college athletes and not be seen as an old person trying too hard. But we were also just old enough to be taken seriously as someone who’s seen something, who’s in the real world, who knows what’re doing.

So we were given this opportunity to. To of turn these kids into men, help them like see the world through our, based on our experience, looked models in and it this really cool opportunity. To a little bit of life coaching, I guess you could say, but it wasn’t what we initially signed up for, it’s just the reality of where we ended.

And I had a conversation recently with an old friend, actually a guy who was training with us doing some football, combine prep the year we started. Now he’s helping some peers start a gym and they’re going from zero to something.

It had strength coaching, it had nutritional consultations, it had college recruiting, [00:09:00] coaching, it had sports psychologists. It was a vision of this big, beautiful thing. And I said, look, you can and should be all of those things to your athletes, but you don’t need to declare them all as services initially, because the reality is when we started, we were just trying to deliver this.

Service, experience, knowledge to our community. And that meant it was casually discussing nutrition and supplements on the training floor. But that didn’t mean we were saying we’re a nutrition services boutique. We were just talking to the kids like, Hey, did you have a banana and some chocolate milk after you trained yesterday?

You need to put food in your body after you trained that sort of a deal. Or, Hey, how’s school going? When are when standardized testing? When do you have SATs? Are you stressed about college applications? Oh, I remember that. This was my experience. We’re doing all of those things, but we’re not hell bent on monetizing them before we start.

And so my feedback to them was, yeah, I would say on an amateur level, aspire to be all those things, but don’t charge people for it. When you’re [00:10:00] just getting going, earn that can help but rave about and.

Give them something that’s based on experience, not based on a business plan. While you’re mind mapping this like hypothetical 10,000 square foot facility, that should really be 1500 square feet on day one, if we’re being honest. Sorry for the rant. Yeah, no, it’s a great rant. I think it’s useful advice no matter where anyone is in their business, right?

Is that is that you really wanna, in some ways and earn the right to turn something into a service. Learn, be so good at it that you now have to charge for it. But I think, but I think that, I think it’s a great lesson. And here’s the thing is I even have a little bit of that experience on my own because, it, the reason I went to coaching school and got a coaching certification like a life coaching certification, not training certification over a decade ago is because we had the similar kind of experience with people at M F F.

We changed a general population at M F, but [00:11:00] they were doing our snatch in six weeks program, and throughout that program they were having huge breakthroughs and huge breakdowns, and they were really going through a real emotional rollercoaster. And I realized that they were turning to us. For advice.

They were turning to us to be their mentors and their guides and their Sherpas and their coaches. And I was like it was me sitting at the front desk of M F by myself being like, I don’t know how to help you. I don’t have the tools yet. And so I, I was, I did the best I could, but I went and got the tools.

I, that’s why I originally became a coach. And then since then, we certainly have done all kinds of programs where we charge people for. Life coaching services. That’s not something we went did or out the gate. It’s not something we planned to do on day one. It’s a, it became a skillset that we knew our clients wanted from us, that we as a team needed to develop.

And once we did, we, we can charge separately for it, but lemme just poke, continue pulling the thread. ’cause I wanna make sure that anyone listening who’s not Sports Performance Gym recognizing, recognizes that the trend that you’ve laid out here has a real. Analogy [00:12:00] to general pop as well.

For example, I’ll speak some examples I know of at M F, that even if they’re not athletes, General folks who come into M F want to move better, wanna feel better in a bathing suit, wanna be more, have a more healthy, active lifestyle. And as you help them achieve those goals, that means they’re going out to the beach more often.

’cause they feel better in their bathing suit. That means they’re playing with their kids and their grandkids more often and going to games and going camping and taking hikes more often, it means they’re gonna sign up for that five K. It means they’re gonna go try a Tough Mudder. It means they’re gonna maybe also wanna do spinning down the street.

So as you help them get healthier and more active and more able, they’re gonna have more opportunity in their life to do more. In many cases, not every case. And that’s very similar to what you’re describing with your athletes. As they become more and more capable, they have more and more opportunity, and in general population cases, maybe not celebrity, that’s pulling them away, but it’s a sense of possibility, right?

They can do more in their life. And part of our job as. The mentors and coaches that we are is [00:13:00] helping them realize that, to maintain that new lifestyle they want, spending time in the gym is gonna be essential. Continuing to focus on their strength and their movement quality and that relationship they’ve built to their body mean means they’re gonna have to keep coming into the gym.

And that’s the conversation I think even a general population coaches and, gym owners should be having with their clients. Yeah. Would you add anything to that? I just love, you’re so much more articulate than I’m, where I called it opportunity and you called it possibility, and it’s so much better to sell possibility, like just create possibility for yourself.

And I, I also liked where you said that we need to earn the opportunity to monetize these things, and I was, it brought me back. We budget, give away a t-shirt with our logo and website on it to every single person who paid for an evaluation. And we bought, I believe, 50 or units of them. They were in Eric’s trunk in a big old box.

The day we started, like I bought these, I dunno how many of them, we were like, let’s start giving these babies [00:14:00] out. And we ran through all of those. We brought 200 kids through the door. We gave out all the t-shirts and we ordered a new batch. I, there was a moment where someone came in, they were like, I need to buy a shirt.

And I was like, what? And they’re like I’ve been seeing him everywhere. On the day of his evaluation, he’s I wanna buy a shirt. And we gave him a shirt as part of it that day, but then we were like, Hey, people are coming in asking what they cost. Now we have earned the right to put a price tag on these.

And we just stopped giving them away. And we started selling. But we earned that, right? We created the brand start. Yeah, 100%. I see that. I see that being used with businesses all the time. It’s why almost every business offers a free trial. It’s why walking down the streets of New York City, there’s people up on the corner handing out these drinks I’ve never heard of out of a van.

It’s they’re giving you a free. Can of something I’ve never heard of to drink. So it builds a reputation demand for this thing they want everyone to buy. And some I never hear from again. And sometimes that can is now in [00:15:00] every, every bodega corner in New York City. Oh, you wanna hear a story about this killer, please.

I’ve got the best story for you. One of my pro guys. 12, 13, 14 years ago, they used to go out every single Thursday night. All these minor leaguers would get together and they’d go out and they’d party. They’d go to the bars on Friday morning. They’d all warm up and hung over and talk about the night before, and they just, they had a community that they built, and that was lifestyle.

They lived, and one of the guys came in on a Friday morning. He’s around his phone and he’s my phone is a disaster. And we’re like, what’s wrong? Some maniac download his app on my night pizza. Turns out this guy approached him at a game at Boston University. They went to the hockey game. And they were gonna go out afterwards and he said, Hey man, if I buy you a slice of pizza, will you put, lemme put my new dating app on your phone.

And this guy had the founder of Tinder download Tinder to his phone while it was in a beta stage and it was all glitchy and it blew up his phone and he was so angry and it was just for a slice of pepperoni pizza. [00:16:00] Wow. That is the ult. That is the ultimate, that is the ultimate hustle story. Can you picture just like the founder of Tinder, just like hustling with pizza slices to get downloads.

Yep. Just finding dudes. You’re gonna like it. You’ll love it. Lemme put it on here. I’ll buy you a slice. And you know what, that guy is married now, but he definitely used Tinder up until that point. That’s amazing. That’s amazing. I have another version of this story, much, a less famous version, but I was in line with a deli in Fire Island.

This is a few weeks ago, and I was in line just trying to get a sandwich and the person in front of me started a conversation. By the time I left that conversation, I was following him on Instagram and had a sticker of this animated character that he created, and also then followed him later ’cause there’s a QR code on it for YouTube.

I was like, in a conversation in line, he developed a follower on two platforms and gave me something to remember him by. I was like, this man is hustling. I will follow him just because he’s, he’s really earned the right. To sell me something. Now, that guy could be bigger than Tinder. Who [00:17:00] knows?

It’s too early. Who knows? Early. Yeah, 100%. But I was like good for you. Good for you. Let’s do this. Let’s wrap it up. I feel like we’ve covered more than one topic here, but what are you hoping people take away from this conversation? I hope that the performance training facility owners use this as an opportunity to spot the possibilities before their clients.

Jumped all over them at the expense of their good habits. Yeah, so challenge our fellow performance training facility gym owners to think about ways that they can have conversations with the kid that they can see is about to really reap the benefits of their hard work in a given off season and talk to them about how important it is that they not lose sight of the target when this.

The analogy I like it’s like the Tour de France. You can win a stage, but you gotta get on the bike the next day. Yeah. And so that given season where you go out and you kill it, there’s always a season after that. Yeah. And so unless you’re someone who’s declared, you know you’re [00:18:00] LeBron James and saying, I’m about to play my final season and you’re gonna go on your victory lap.

Can totally lose sight of the training target, but everybody else is trying to play into perpetuity and we can help them make good decisions that will reinforce things beyond the shiny object that is in front of them, which is this season immediately followed by all of the things that get thrown at them after that.

And so I would hope that gym owners who work with athletes of nature start to have conversations before.

Yeah, I think that’s fantastic. I hope all of our performance training gyms are really taking notes. I think it’s such an important set series of expectations to set for clients. And I’ll just add that I hope anyone who’s listening who, who trains a gen pop kind of audience that’s listening to this podcast, takes away that there’s some value for us also having long-term goal setting conversations with our clients, long-term expectation, setting conversations with our clients to know that it’s not just about.

The next five pounds you [00:19:00] wanna lose or the next bit of muscle you wanna put on. But it’s about a long term, a lifelong journey, and I hope that we’re framing the work that we do with people beyond just the next season. Yeah. Great conversation. This was a great one, Pete. Thanks for having it as always.

I think there’s great content that I didn’t even know we were gonna get to today. Yeah we wondered, but I thought it was useful. I thought it was useful. We’ll let the listeners decide for themselves. But dear listeners, if you found this useful, please leave us a five star review.

Everywhere you listen to this podcast. It really helps us find folks like you who are gym owners who wanna keep growing their business. And then also email us, Michael and pete@businessunicorns.com. Let us know what you want us to talk about and ask us questions. We keep a list of questions people ask, and we really use them to decide what we’re gonna talk about on this podcast.

So hit us up and let us know what you want us to talk about next. And you can also hit us up on social media and ask for questions there. But thanks for listening and thanks Pete. I’ll see you on the next one. Talk soon.