I had the good fortune to recently do an interview with Martin Rooney from Training For Warriors. You can listen to the recording of the interview here:
Training For Warriors has opened enrollment for their Online Certification for the final time in 2015. It closes this week so check it out now:
I’ve also shared the transcript of the interview below. I’d recommend listening as Martin’s energy is contagious, but if you want to follow along with the transcript or review key points later, the transcript is below. Please excuse the handful of inaudible words.
Pat Rigsby: I am here with the one and only Martin Rooney from Training For Warriors and really I just wanted to take some time to kind of dig in. Training For Warriors has become quite possibly the most widely recognized well known movement within the fitness professional community and it’s Martin’s brainchild, it’s his livelihood, it’s really his ideal business so I wanted to spend some time digging into it so first off thanks for taking the time Martin.
Martin Rooney: My pleasure Pat and as we talked about, we’ve talked over the years, it’s been a long time coming getting this interview out for everybody to hear.
PR: Awesome. Let’s get into this. Everybody sees you now and you’re really leading a global movement. You’ve built an incredible brand, you’re a guy who’s presenting in front of enormous audiences at places like the Perform Better Summit. I wanted to be able to dig in and ask questions, at least start out with your background, kind of how you got to this point. Do you mind sharing some of that?
MR: Absolutely and hey, for anybody that’s not familiar with me or my history I think its important for everybody to understand that building some of the things that you said take time and for everybody listening, a history on myself, I was a track and field athlete in college and I got my first health and exercise science degree there at Furman University in South Carolina.
I was always intrigued by fitness. Then I went to the medical university in South Carolina after that and got school degrees. I got my master in health sciences but also my degree in physical therapy. My goal was not to do what I was doing today but to be a physical therapist and in a weird twist of fate I ended up making the U.S. bobsled team and represented the U.S. for a number of years after that competing around the globe and I really again got a taste of fitness and the training and that’s what I really loved but now I went to work after the bobsled team as a physical therapist and what I instantly realized was, man it’s not what I wanted to do. It wasn’t my exact passion, it wasn’t my calling.
I think that’s something all the listeners, I’m going to challenge everybody right now, if you’re not doing what you love, if you’re not doing what you dream you could be doing then you need to make a change because you could do it, it’s just most people don’t have the courage to take that step but I did. I started going to seminar after seminar on training and on one of those plane trips I sat next to Bill Parisi and he shared this vision with me about what he wanted to do in fitness.
We joined forces, we ramped up the Parisi Speed School at almost a hundred locations around the nation and a million kids trained and I really cut my teeth to training, I got my opportunity to work with professional athletes in every sport but in particular I was working with fighters. I was working with all these fighters, I had known [inaudible 00:03:30] for many years. I became one of his team’s trainers and got to travel the world training world class fighters. The style of training, this kind of metabolic, exciting, style of training was born from that and that became known as Training For Warriors.
Years ago, sixteen, seventeen years ago when it was created, it was really for the top level athlete to get better at sports but what we started to realize was anybody could do it. Anybody could do the training, you didn’t have to be a fighter or a world class athlete and everybody was not only enjoying it, but they were losing fat and they were building muscle and things started to take off and that’s when I started speaking around the world and as you said the crowds got bigger and bigger and Training For Warriors was launched and now we have almost two hundred and fifty locations in thirty countries that are officially running the program.
Over three thousand people have been certified in my certifications and it’s just been an exciting time because what gets me jazzed up now is it’s the emails I get from around the world of people’s lives that have been positively changed by the system that I would have never met if it wasn’t for all the great people that are involved with this program, the great stuff that’s going on. That is the story I guess in a quick nutshell, twenty years in a nutshell.
What I will say is for anybody that wants to have that similar story, the message for you was you gotta have the courage to go for what you love and believe in and then you gotta do the work. Right now everybody can look at it and say, wow two hundred and fifty locations and all these people train, wow that’s so great but I’m going to warn everybody, there’s fifteen to twenty years of really hard work day in and day out that makes that happen and if you’re willing to put it in because those fifteen or twenty years are going to happen, you’re going to do amazing amazing stuff. That was all on one whim.
PR: Tell me when did Training For Warriors officially launch?
MR: I guess you could say … here’s what’s pretty neat, a neat little story I don’t always tell is I was training and the team and I was training all these fighters. It was an advantage when the sport was banned, nobody believed in it. Actually there was never any money in it because the fighters had no money but I just had this passion for it. I was just into it, I never had the vision of what the UFC or MMA would become but I was friends with these guys and I was really intrigued because it was a style of training that didn’t exist. I was getting to carve a niche that never happened and that is just so exciting to do in training.
That was sixteen, seventeen years ago. Nineteen ninety eight is when I started that but in ninety nine, two thousand, I got an opportunity to fly over to the United [inaudible 00:06:36] and train the Prince of [inaudible 00:06:38] who was a really huge, not only fitness but martial arts enthusiast. He had people follow me around and they wrote down everything that I said and everything in the system that I was creating.
When we were done we had almost four hundred pages of text and we said what should we call it. That’s when I guess the name was officially born. I said Training For Warriors, that’s what we’re doing right, it should be Training For Warriors. What’s really neat is the company has such a unique history. It’s got so much depth behind it that people will only get an opportunity to understand when they go through the courses or do what I do but they’ll see that this isn’t some fly by night thing or something that was put together.
I’ve been putting it together for over a decade and a half and I want it to be a legacy that I leave behind long after I’m gone. That was when it started but in the really cool story of how it started, kind of in the fans of [inaudible 00:07:42] where it was born and then now what it’s become is, like I said, it’s a movement that’s effecting every day people and men and women equally across the world.
PR: That’s incredible and I think one of the things that is really kind of a powerful takeaway for me, I talk a lot about people building their ideal business. The big takeaway is that this has been built over time. It’s not this instantaneous kind of immediate gratification thing. Yeah, now you’re everywhere, you’re speaking everywhere. I was actually just out of town in a bookstore and saw a couple books on the shelf from you. All this stuff doesn’t happen all at once but over time if you get clear about what you want, what you want to accomplish, what you want to be known for, then you just kind of put your head down and do the work and obviously this is just a pretty incredible testament to what’s possible. I think that’s something that’s really inspiring to me. With that in mind, do you mind sharing a little bit about how TFW is being brought to life by the people who get certified.
People are taking your system, your methodology and then going out and using it all over the world. Can you talk about that a little bit?
MR: Sure. It’s funny, I think the word that comes to mind that’s really interesting too which you were kind of hinting at Pat is organic. One thing I want to start off by saying is I never had the vision that I would be teaching certifications and then granting licenses to great people around the world and then they would be running this system. That was never the vision. How that happened was it was organic growth.
This all started with I was teaching … you’ll remember it, it used to be called the clinic or a one day workshop and I started to get invited to talk about some of the stuff I was doing and then the clinic turned into a two day event and then the two day event turned into a certification and then the certification when people would read they’d say, man we love this, we want to run with this, what do we have to do. That started the licensing process. How it works or how people get involved is I do either live or online courses in Training For Warriors. We have a level one and a level two. I have done them for the last six years around the world. I’ve been in thirty countries that we’ve done them, over three thousand people have been through the course and these are trainers, they could be coaches, they could be fitness enthusiast, martial artists, who knows.
We’ve had people from all walks of life, men and women. Once they go through the course, they can take some of the information that they’ve learned and apply it or if they really get interested in the system, they say, hey I want to really officially provide this, then they can apply with us for the license and we check them out. We want to make sure that they’re right fit because what I always say is, hey I don’t give out licenses, we grant them to the right people so we have the right growth and I know that that might take more time to get bigger but we’re going to do it the right way. Once people get involved then they get access to all the training systems, all the branding.
They instantly become part of our mastermind which is over two hundred and fifty owners and another two hundred trainers that are all using the system and they can all play off each other to see what’s working and what’s not working in all the different venues around the world. Then in addition to that, I do multiple webinars per month for them to help them grow their business and we also have our summit events where we get together as a group throughout the year and this is eligible for the people that are involved with us.
Now we’ve even launched a business division as well. We’re in the business division because now I’m recognizing, hey you could be a great trainer and you can really understand training but that doesn’t mean you’re going to succeed in this industry and we’ve got that now for them as well from everything from social media and marketing to branding to emails to their website.
Just the nuts and bolts of business as well and all of this is put together and how people get involved. If they’re interested, like I said the first step is either contacting us or going through the live or online events and we have one of those online events left this year. That’s only coming up in the next couple weeks. People can get involved from all over the world and then take the process further and then that’s when people get involved. They get the branding on wall, they get the people excited about the system, they become a better coach and then they help more people and that has been what’s been happening for the last four years of us doing the affiliation and now with over two hundred and forty places, we’re really starting to make an impact with the ten or thousand or plus people per day that are doing the system.
It’s just a really exciting time and what I always say is I’m just looking for great people that want to get involved with a movement and make a difference.
PR: Very cool. Well we’ll definitely share a little bit more about that in a minute so without kind of giving away kind of everything behind the curtain if you will, what are a couple practical steps fitness professionals can take to become better at what they do? You’re a guy that I think has really been known at least from everything that I’ve seen as kind of the coach of coaches. You’re quite possibly the biggest draw at the Perform Better events where people have a choice to go to various things and you’re always packed. What are some takeaways or practical steps somebody can take to be more of a leader, more of an impactful figure for the clients that they want to serve, really help people be better regardless of what their goals are?
MR: You’ve already, in the question, you almost gave all the answers and it’s funny, I think the first step is most people in this industry, I call them information gatherers. It’s like they’re’ always trying to get this new exercise, they’re always trying to learn some new thing about diet or understand something about gluten free. I get it but what I try to always share is that doesn’t make you anymore valuable if you can’t impact people.
One big separating thing I think about Training For Warriors is that my goal isn’t to make people more knowledgeable about push ups or metabolic training, it’s to make people better coaches, it’s to make them more enthusiastic, it’s to make them better presenters so that they have the opportunity to then use the knowledge that they have to impact more people and I think that this has become … not that it’s a forgotten art but it’s just something that there isn’t much emphasis on so where I spend the majority of my time is making people better coaches. Really studying the art of coaching itself because hey, I’ll tell this to everybody listening. I’m knowledgeable, I have three degrees, I was an orthopedic therapist but that isn’t what separates me.
What separates me and how the rooms get filled and how I have produced the results, I’ve been able to produce some Olympic gold medals to all Americans and world champs was my enthusiasm, my energy but also my passion and excitement for the person I was working with. This is the kind of stuff that I’ve made mandatory in Training For Warriors. This is the kind of stuff if you want to be a training for warriors coach, this is the kind of stuff you have to have more than ten PhDs because that doesn’t mean always that you’ll be successful.
If you’re enthusiastic and you have passion and you’re going to do the work to develop yourself, you will succeed in any industry. I would say that would be the big stuff for anybody listening. Before you work on worrying about your next Turkish getup with your friend in your hand, spend a little more time on, hey how can you present and communicate with enthusiasm to get people excited about exercise again.
It’s kind of interesting, I’ve come to the conclusion everybody knows exercise is important, everybody knows sleep is important, everybody knows good nutrition is important so it’s not a question of giving people more knowledge, it’s a question of can you get them to use that knowledge they have, can you get them to do it. That’s when the coaching comes in and again, that’s what I’m spending a majority of my time now trying to make people better.
PR: That’s incredible. That’s something I feel like we need to hear a lot more because the information gathering side of this, you’re absolutely right. It’s the people who are out there producing, the people who are out there taking action, they’re the ones who are leading the way. You’re a guy who’s constantly improving, constantly evolving. How do you get better? What kind of things are you doing to get better?
MR: I get this question a lot. I think the two most common questions are what do I do and do I drink coffee nonstop. No I don’t drink coffee nonstop, I’m just kind of naturally a little bit fired up but what I will say is I say a long time ago I was not the best reader. I wasn’t building my own education. It was almost like when school ended I thought, okay that’s it, I had my education. Then there was just this hunger and I started to read and I started to read. One of the things I’ll say the best way that I better myself is I’m addicted to reading.
For instance I was away with my family last week, I read six books and each one of those books offered me something really, really powerful. Reading, what I will say to everybody listening, you’re a reflection of you’re library. If you do not have a library that’s not only extensive in different topics but in particular surrounds the areas that you want to improve, you’re probably not getting a lot better. First part is I take pride in the fact there’s over a thousand books on my shelves and a book doesn’t get on my shelf until I’ve read it.
As a little plug, a book I read along time ago was the Little Black Black Book of Fitness Business Success which helped me out a lot. That ones a good one on there listeners if you don’t have it. What I would say is now there’s books but hey it’s also getting out there and being at events and talking to people. Hey, I went to hundreds of seminars before I ever dared to give one and as everybody knows when they see me, when I’m at a Perform Better event or I’m at some kind of big seminar or NSCA event or something like that, I go to listen to all the speakers too. There’s never a point where I feel hey, I either know it or I got it. I want to get new ideas and hear about it and there’s something to be said for the networking that takes place when you’re at real events.
Think about it, Pat, that’s where we met. That’s where I’ve met so many people in the industry and developed such great relationships that never happened if you’re not at the real stuff.
Ultimately what I would say to everybody is it’s what you’re reading and the people that you’re spending your time around but you gotta have that thirst for knowledge and always realize that you don’t know it all and there’s always more stuff to get and when you have that, you’re going to constantly move forward because if you’re not moving forward then you’re falling behind and you will never run out of a supply of books or events to go to or people to see. That’s why I believe that and I’ve lived that and that has been the main thing that’s gotten me where I am today.
PR: Awesome. You’re doing so much. Not only are you traveling, hosting certifications, you’re going around speaking but you’re also leading an organization of thousands of certified professionals, hundreds of licensed facilities so how do you kind of get it all done because when I talk about ideal business, it’s kind of this, you gotta make sure that you’re taking care of all the things that are important to you and I know you’re a family guy.
You’re a guy that continually trying to better yourself but you’re also a leader for this movement. I don’t even know if balance is the right word but how do you give attention to all those varied things that are important to you?
MR: I think that’s a great question and I would agree, I think balance is the right word. I will be honest with everybody, hey sometimes it’s a struggle. Without a doubt all those things you mentioned, I do have a lot going on. I think one of the biggest challenges I run into today is having a global organization, there’s never a time that somebody isn’t awake and needs a little bit of your attention but what I would say is the secret is planning and the secret is scheduling your day which I have done really well for a long time. That has been my secret is what do you want to call it, time management or life management.
I make sure that I get done what I have to get done that day. I make sure that I get my workout that day, I make sure that I’ve spent my time with my family that day and I make sure that I’ve bettered myself in some way, either by reading. Even if it’s a thirty minute spread of reading, thirty minutes a day. You add that up over twenty years, that’s a lot of books.
Hey, getting those four workouts a week over twenty years you stay in shape. Hey, eat right every day for twenty years you stay the same weight and these are the things that I’ve been able to do but in terms of the work aspect, my secret, I’ve shared this with people before, my secret is something I learned a long time ago, actually when I was pretty much still in high school is I always carry a piece of paper and I can see mine in front of me right now, it’s sitting on my desk. It covers all the things that I have to get done today. Everything that has to get done today is on that sheet. Tonight we will see how much of it I’ve completed and the goal is to complete all of it.
If something isn’t completed it goes onto a new sheet tomorrow plus all the things that I have to achieve that day. I have carried that piece of paper on me for the last thirty years and it’s never failed me. I’m not a schedule it on the calender on my phone or something like that. I like to have the tangible piece of paper in my pocket.
For instance, on the sheet today, hey at noon I knew I had to do this call so I’m not late for this call. I know I’m there and I got it done. There were a lot of things that happened before that. Hey, I know I’ve got a bunch of other things I have to get done as well as I have to be packed and ready because tomorrow morning I leave for Finland. All of those things get done when you know what they are and you got them scheduled out but you also make sure that you do the other things too.
That would be my best advice is, hey I’ve created a balance, a top schedule for myself but twenty four hours is such an amount of time if you really use it wisely. The older I get and my kids getting older, I’ve gotta be more effective with it and I’ve learned to do that and it just shows anything is possible if you schedule stuff out the right way.
PR: Yeah, I’ve used the same paper planning format since nineteen ninety four so I’m with you.
MR: Call us old school or whatever but hey guys piece of paper still works good too.
PR: I’ve got a couple more things I want to ask you. First I think that … I ask people to be able to articulate kind of why people should choose them, what makes them different. I’m guessing there’s an elevator speech for TFW. Can you share that with me and the people listening in?
MR: You mean elevator speech for someone to get involved or …
MR: Absolutely. I guess the best way that I could articulate it would be Training for Warriors is this exciting program. Hey, everybody wants to be fit. When people are asked do they want to live a healthy lifestyle, everybody says yes but then they’ll start to form all the excuses about why they can’t do it and at Training For Warriors we consider it, it’s not just an exercise system, it’s a way of life. That can help you remove a lot of those excuses.
At Training for Warriors, we actually are fifty five percent women, forty five percent men that are currently in the program, our average ages are about twenty four to forty nine years old is a kind of sweet spot in that demographic. People can’t say, hey I’m too old or it’s too late or I’m a girl or I haven’t been fit because everybody is still eligible for this program and it involves not only exciting workouts that are going to get you motivated but the greatest stuff is the current science and literature completely backs what we are doing with our strength training days and our metabolic days as the most effective when studied on how to produce results and those results meaning fat loss and muscle gain which is what most people are after.
I guess the ultimate elevator speech is hey, whether you’re a woman or a man regardless of age, there are people around the world just like you doing this program and getting incredible results. If fitness really is something you want, you want to get excited about it again then I would love for people to give Training For Warriors a shot.
PR: I love it. It’s so important for me I feel like there’s so much kind of cookie cutter bland kind of explanations. If you ask somebody what they do they say, oh I’m a trainer or I’m a fitness coach or something like that. What you just did was share a message that’s going to get somebody excited about being part of TFW. With that kind of knowing that’s a message that now at this point thousands of people are sharing out there, let’s fast forward a little bit. I know I’m bouncing around a little bit here but what’s your legacy, the TFW legacy going to be? What kind of legacy are you going to leave with all the people who are part of this movement?
MR: I think that’s not only a great question but if you were to ask me what even the word legacy meant a couple decades ago, I wouldn’t have even known what you were talking about but now with children and now being in my forties, that word legacy is actually becoming the most important that I think about every day that not only how will maybe I be remembered but how will people still benefit from what I did someday when I’m gone.
Another history on myself, I’m a black belt in [inaudible 00:29:37] really effected my life, it had a strong impact on my life and when you look at [inaudible 00:29:42] was invented by one man that traveled around the world, shared his system, other people took it on, carried it on, carried the message on and now it’s practiced in every country that exists, it’s an Olympic sport and it is something that’s now continuing to exist and change lives hundreds of years after the founder is no longer here anymore. [00:30:00]Man, when I saw that, I saw the power of a legacy and I wanted to see Training For Warriors as the same thing where, as I said before Training For Warriors we have this saying where everybody always says, Training For Warriors for life, Training For Warriors for life meaning that it is a lifestyle.
There’s a concept that goes with it beyond like you said some cookie cutter workout where you just do something with somebody. This is a workout that makes sense, there’s a real reason behind it and ultimately we’re trying to get people not oh wow, get yourself fit in six weeks. I want people to train the rest of their lives and ultimately the legacy that I want to leave behind is not only that it makes people better but maybe somehow if I can impact enough people and get the message out, the big challenging for humanity right now whether you want to say it’s obesity or heart disease or diabetes or cancer, all of these can be effected with proper training, diet, nutrition and sleep and that’s what we’re preaching.
My whole goal is that somehow this stuff that I’m creating it’s going to get bigger and get enough awareness out there that we’re going to make a real impact in some of those areas and potentially somebody when I’m not even here anymore they’re still talking about it and people are still benefiting from it and that’s what drives me every day now. What kind of world am I going to leave behind for my kids and their kids.
I’ll tell you what, it may be hard for everybody to understand when they’re listening to that but when you really get it and that’s what you’re thinking about, you will never be in want for energy, you won’t say no when there’s an opportunity in your face, you’ll get on a plane and go anywhere to talk about it and I’m living proof of that and that’s exactly what I’m trying to do day in and day out.
PR: Outstanding. Part of the reason I wanted to ask a question like that when we’re coming to a close is it’s so important for the fitness professionals that you’re working with, that I’m working with to get past kind of the day to day tactical stuff and say, hey this is what I want to be known for. This is the business I want to have, these are the people that I want to have an impact with, this is what I want. I want my business to provide for me and for the people that I’m working with and so just not only the people get to see the type of impact that you want to make but obviously they get to hear your excitement and enthusiasm describing it.
It’s just such a huge takeaway for them as far as you just simply leading by example so that’s incredible. There are a couple different ways that somebody can become part of TFW, both the live certifications and the online certification. Could you touch on those for a moment?
MR: Sure. Simply as you put it there are live events that I do all over the world. There’s only five live events left in two thousand fifteen and you can find the details on those at
Trainingforwarriors.com under the certification tab and in particular we have one coming up … I’m doing one in Finland this weekend but that one is sold out but I’m doing one on the west coast in California, I got two on the east coast, one in New Jersey and one in New Hampshire and then I’ve got Sydney, Australia again and that kind of closes out the year but we do have an online version where instead of two days, people have eight weeks access to the information. I do four live hour and a half webinars during the course as well so you get a real taste of being on there with me, seeing me and asking me your questions and people can also go through the course that way where if they don’t sometimes have the time to be away from their families or it costs too much to travel, to get hotels and airfare, they can take advantage of doing the course in the privacy of their own home and get more time with the material.
We’ve had so much great feedback about it and from countries and people that I would have never met or never have visited. It’s really been a successful thing that we originally launched last year and we have a level one and a level two that will happen, the level one starts in a couple of weeks at the end of August and then the level two starts after that I believe in November. Those are two ways to get involved with us where the first step is we always want people to go through the certification. They can see what it’s about, we can see who they are and then if they’re interested in moving forward with the system, they can do that. Now that being said, we have people that own their own gyms, we have people that are trainers in gym, we have people doing it outside in parks, we have people in their garages when they started and what’s so cool is to see people from all these areas be able to use the system because it’s [inaudible 00:35:26] but then grow with it and grow themselves, grow their client base.
It’s been really, really neat but if that all happens they can explore that with us so if anybody’s interested in finding out more, they can go to jointfw.com and you’ll see some testimonials from some real owners of the license as well as a place to write in and ask us their particular questions about how to get involved as well.
Ultimately like I said at one point on this call, I’m looking for really great people that want to be part of the movement but need to be the people that carry this movement. I don’t want it to be my movement, I want it to be their movement. I want people to be involved with something bigger that they can say, wow this workout today was done in thirty countries just like you with the person that they’re working with to get them excited about it. I think that is the piece that people have to recognize is you’re still your own person but man, you get to carry this really cool message that might have been really hard to create on your own but now you can be part of it and man, there’s just so many cool things happening. I’m looking for more great people to get on board.
PR: Well Martin, I appreciate you taking the time. I know this is kind of crammed between your trip on the west coast there speaking at perform better and spend some time vacationing with your family and the trip to Finland so I really appreciate you taking the time to share some of this stuff and then I’ll make sure that everybody listening in, everybody who has access to this has direct links to learn more about TFW and specifically the certification. It’s been awesome, it’s been exciting to get to spend this time with you and look forward to helping to spread the word.
MR: Hey, my pleasure Pat and I hope everybody listening, take some of this stuff that I said to heart. It will make you better and there’s nothing that separates you from the people more successful than you than just doing the stuff that I talked about that we covered and Pat and I, we hit it. If you do it, great things are going to happen.
PR: Awesome. Thanks a lot.
By Pat Rigsby
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