Matthew Januszek is the co-founder of Escape Fitness Equipment and the host of the popular Escape Your Limits Podcast.
You can find him here.
Listen to the Escape Your Limits Podcast here.
In this episode, Matthew talks about why he started Escape Fitness, the thinking behind the design of a gym, and why you shouldn’t lose sight of your core business as digital fitness becomes more popular
This episode of The Fitness Founders Podcast can be found on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and anywhere you get your podcasts.
Kevin: How’s it going everyone? Welcome to the Fitness Founders Podcast. I’m Kevin Mannion, VP Marketing here at Glofox. This week we talk to Matthew Januszek, the owner of Escape Fitness and host of the Escape Your Limits podcast. In this episode, Mat talks about how and why he started gym equipment, Escape Fitness, the importance of the design and layout of a fitness facility, and how different types of fitness businesses are adapting and evolving right now. Let’s get started.
Matthew, welcome to the show.
Matthew: Thank you for inviting me.
Kevin: Well, it’s great to have you on, like I said, obviously somebody with lot of expertise in the industry and also a well-known figure in the industry, so lots of interesting things for us to talk about today. Maybe as we kick-off, just tell us a little bit about yourself and Escape Fitness the business that you built.
Matthew: Okay. Well I guess like a lot of people that are in the fitness space, I got into it because I was passionate about fitness. I was I think sort of first started lifting weights when I was about 15. I got turned unto it by Mr. Schwarzenegger in Pumping Iron. I sort of watch that when I was at home from school one time and sort of felt I wanted to stand up on the stage and be Mr. Olympia one day. I think that’s where my first memory of it started. I wasn’t particularly great at school. I’ve got one qualification in metal work where I made a set of stands and a weight lifting bench to sort of compliment my home gym at the time. Not that I recommend following that course at all, and certainly not something I’d recommend my children doing. But I just at school… and so I kind of when in to a job which I really didn’t enjoy. I always at hard work a day. I sort of did a day job and then work in the evenings in bars, and I was pretty big as a teenager so I was a doorman for many years to sort of make up my salary.
I think I got to about my mid 20s and got to the age where I sort of weren’t really successful in romancing of girls. I keep them for a while and then I realized that I haven’t got any money and not a lot of prospects. I felt when I need to get, I need to sort my life out and become somebody that somebody would want to spend their life with and have children. I was chatting to my father, he was in a similar point in his career where he was looking to do something, and we said let’s set up a family business. His goal was to do something in manufacturing and engineering because that was his background and he had a belief that manufacturing in Pullum is going to be the next thing. I’m going back to sort of 25 years now. And mine was I wanted to do something in fitness. We didn’t have a business plan. We didn’t have any money. We didn’t have any connections. I guess we did everything that you wouldn’t do if you start a business. But we have a lot of passion and we managed to sort of get a business started from a spare bedroom. And over 20 years now, I think we’re in over 80 countries now. Got direct offices in the United States, UK, Germany and we hire over a hundred people in that sort of health and fitness sector. The passion certainly got us to a decent level I would say.
Kevin: Yeah, definitely. And the philosophy of your business, what is it? And has it changed since those early days a lot?
Matthew: I think in some ways I guess we’ve learned a lot. I think that’s probably the biggest thing. When you start a business and if you’ve never done it before, and if you’ve never been to something like business school to teach you how to do it then everyday is a school day. You’re constantly learning, and when you’re 1 year in, and 3 years in, and 5 years in, you go through different stages. And then when you go from one country to 2 countries and 2 countries to 3, it’s a constant challenge.
But I think whilst we constantly evolve and change, and we have this sort of I guess a growth mindset. Growth and innovation is always important to us. But I think when you look at what we started doing and the types of products that we started with, and the philosophy that we started with about training and working out which was very much based on my personal experience all those years ago, we’d really stay true to that. I think that’s important. Over the time where we’ve sort of drifted away and got into other areas, we’ve sort of realized that was probably mistake, and we’ve always come back to the center which is what our DNA is. We have our strengths, and we have the things that we’re good at, and the things that we know and the skills within the team, and we sort of try and make those better as suppose to sort of going into areas that are probably a weakness and try to make those into something. I think that’s probably the best way to answer that question.
Kevin: Yeah, that’s a great answer. What will be an example of one of those journeys that you took that you decided was not worth pursuing.
Matthew: We’ve tried everything. The interesting thing about when you start a business, and I’m not sure of the level of people that are listening here, but I talk to people that have sort of started bedroom start and that kind of thing. But when you start, the phone ringing and somebody placing an order, you get super excited about it because, “Wow! Someone wants to buy something from me.” That’s something worth celebrating in it.
As you grow and develop and get more known, then opportunities present themselves to us. You start having people knocking on your door and asking you to partner with them and sell other products, and do this and go there, and speak here, so that’s quite flattering. I use the analogy it’s a bit like kind of when you’re younger you sort of go out to a bar and a night club, and suddenly you have boys or girls already. You kind of feel quite special, but you have to choose one. And if you don’t, you kind of get yourselves into bit of trouble if you try and choose too many. And that’s a little bit like that in business. Sometimes you kind of seal these opportunities, and you get excited. We’ve done everything from sort of sports nutrition and home fitness. Everything that’s within that space and you think, “Oh, that’s complementary.” But what you don’t realize is a lot of these things have a very great, operationally, they’re different skill sets. They require different people, they require different strategies, they require different business processes, and they require different financing. Everything’s different. And you kind of don’t realize that until you get into it.
I think the big lesson for us is to just try and identify things that are aligned to what you’re doing. And just because someone’s knocking on your door telling you how great you are and that they want to deal with you, you sort of pause and really think it if that’s right or whether they’re doing it because they see something in you that you probably don’t, but it may not be that opportunity. I think that’s one of the super skills for most businesses, regardless of how big you get. Try to keep that balance between innovating and moving forward and moving away from your core business because of the disruption that airing.
I think particularly where we are today in the world, you hear on a lot of interviews and podcasts, people talking about pivoting. Yes, if your revenue is dried up then you do have to look at other opportunities. But you just going to be careful that when you are picking that opportunity, you’ve got to be careful that it’s not a totally different business model that you never done before because that is going to add to your pain. You want to try and think, “What do we do?” In our case, we’re sales, marketing, import/export, warehouse and distribution. That is what we do as a company, so arguably if the fan, we could use those same skills and maybe start selling toilet roll as an example, because we got the fundamentals there. But what we couldn’t do very easily is we couldn’t become a digital fitness business quite easy, because we don’t have those skills within our business. We got some of them. But it would be easier for us to start distributing toilet rolls and probably what it would do to become a business that starting to sell digital fitness if that make sense.
Kevin: Yeah, fair enough. It makes a lot of sense. Would you say that at home equipment, how much of that is in the core of your business?
Matthew: Yes, for us, the change we have to make is just we need to connect with a different audience. At the moment or previously up until this year, most of our energy and our marketing and sales efforts have been in the commercial fitness space. We develop relationships, we nurture relationships, we add value, we invest back in the industry with lot of our education and podcast and things like that. So that’s been our focus. Now, it’s about home fitness. That’s really where people are spending, and there’s not a lot happening at the moment to some degree in the commercial fitness space. For us, we kind of got the products and we got all the business processes, but what we don’t have is the relationship with end users. Although that’s still a big task in itself, it’s something that we could probably easily or do a little bit easier than most companies if that make sense.
Kevin: It does. It makes a lot of sense. If we go back to the traditional bricks and mortar gym, and before we talk about what’s happening in the industry, when you are selling to a gym, what is your sales pitch or the unique angle that you take to get them interested?
Matthew: Well, I kind of think about, well if somebody was knocking on my door and we get probably like yourself, you get nowadays, tons of messages on social media and people used to try and call you nowadays sort of LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook accounts, and your email, and that sort of stuff. And if someone said, “What would it take to me to have to sit down with somebody and have a conversation and invest my time in speaking to a supplier?” I think about that with in terms of the people we’re speaking to. We’re all extremely busy. There’s never enough hours in a day and then we’ve got our family as well, so to spend half an hour, an hour of sitting down with someone. There’s got to be a lot of value there and it’s going to be more than, “Oh, we’ve got this brand new widget that gives you a six pack.” There’s going to be a lot more than that.
I think you got to understand the people that you’re speaking to. The fitness market is very diverse. You’ve got the traditional clubs. You’ve got the boutiques, and then you got corporate business and you’ve got fitness that takes place in hotels, and you got fitness that takes place in apartment complexes. The market is expanding and people are working out and doing in all kinds of areas and what is important for us as a company is to really understand what’s important to the people that we’re talking to. If they are developing an apartment complex and putting a fitness facility in there then it’s probably more about how they can attract people and raise the value of their rental by having the most relevant up-to-date fitness facility, fitness experience for them. Where if it’s a health club operator, it’s how do you bring people through the doors and keep them for longer. We don’t talk a lot initially about the equipment because the equipment is a means to an end. What we try and do is to try and understand some of the challenges that a lot of people that we’re working with are going through and see if there’s any way that we can actually help them with bringing in more people, keeping them for longer, and then putting together a bit of a plan or roadmap in order to sort of help them get there because at the end of the day it’s about, I guess as we say in England, pound, shillings, and pence. That’s really the driver. Yes, we do beautiful, fantastic, innovative equipment. I’d argue some of the best equipment that’s out there, but that isn’t the reason that people are just buying from us. They are buying to create a successful business. As a partner, we need to be helping them to achieve that.
Kevin: That makes a lot of sense. I’m sure, one thing that I see that you’re passionate about as well is gym design. I’m sure that the choice of equipment is very connected to that design of the gym. Tell us, if we take a more standard fitness club that would have a lot of equipment. What typical mistakes the owners and managers of those clubs? I’m sure you see a lot of them. What would they be making when it comes to their design or their choice of equipment?
Matthew: Big question. I think the first things that… I guess people probably don’t give as much thought to as maybe what they could do is really understanding who is your target demographic? Who you are going after? I think in a lot of cases, a lot of businesses try to appeal to too many people and generally don’t do a great job at appealing to anyone. If you look at what the boutiques have done extremely successfully is that they really understand the market that they’re going after. They are targeting at a particular demographic, and they spend so much time really understanding that journey – before, during, after. If you listen to some of the interviews from the original founders of Soul Cycle, they knew exactly who that female was that they wanted in there – what she did, what she likes? And they built a business model around that. I think that’s one of the most important thing is to understand what the avatar is that you’re going after and why you want to do that as well. I think that’s the first thing, getting that right. And then a lot of their decisions in terms of design, and layouts, and equipment, and programming comes of the back of that, how you build it around that particular person. I think that’s the first thing.
I think the other thing is just realizing, again, boutiques do a great job is really understanding the value that your employees, trainers, and instructors have in that. To get people do a good job, you have to pay for it, particularly nowadays, particularly with what we’re going on now in the world. You’ll found a lot of the trainers a lot of our clients are finding it difficult to keep their trainers because they’re not offering on work, and a lot of these trainers and instructors have realized that they can actually make a lot more money on their own than what they could do in the facility. Whereas before, they are probably a little bit hesitant about making that jump now, like, “Yeah, I have tried it. I can do it. I’ve had no choice, and actually it’s not bad.” Really to get that the people that really are going to do a great job for you, you have to pay for them and you have to invest in them, you have to develop them in order to really service the clients to a high level. Unless you are, I guess a budget and low cost club where that’s probably a slightly different proposition. But if you are providing instruction then it’s really important to make sure you got the right trainers. And then also, that they creating the right solutions for your clients depending on what type of business you’ve got is that programming is extremely important. So, whether you develop it yourself or you get someone in, it’s really the bar has been raised in terms of the fitness experience of the back of what the boutiques have done.
But the fact that there’s a lot of businesses doing this very successfully or pre-COVID there were, there’s definitely the know how out there and there’s people that are sort of I guess proven that model. And so now really what is the cases is like how can we take what’s been created there and maybe adapt it to our business. How can we adapt that to a bricks and mortar concept with a lot of the restrictions and how could we maybe expand that to something that we could do both in and outside the club as well. I think that’s a huge amount of opportunities there. But I think people really need to sort of look hard and almost like knees down as I said at the very beginning, really service the particular group really, really well because that will give you an advantage because most people, outside of the boutiques, are not really doing that.
Kevin: Yeah. Do you think that people are learning from what the boutiques have done for more non-boutique facilities and that’s time to more or…
Matthew: I think so. It depends kind of who you talk to in the market. But, yeah, I think a lot of smart operators have realized that. I think you were starting to see a lot of these hybrid models now where they kind of incorporating a lot of their experience. There are some good friends of ours, have a business called Midtown Athletic in Chicago. I’m sure there’s more but they are just somebody that we’re particularly close with. They have created almost like a big box. A very nice, high-end, super high-end big box. But what they’ve got is they’ve almost got like this department store concepts where you’ve got like the best yoga studio that you could develop. It’s fantastic. I should recommend checking that out. They’ve got arguably one of the best spin studios that there is. I mean, they’ve got a boxing concept and then they’ve got a big turf area called the field. What they’ve done is they’ve said, “Well, what are those key spaces within our facility and how can we create this club within current club concept getting the best trainers, creating the best visual experience, get the best music and lighting and sound system.” I think we’ll probably see a lot more that.
Also Gymbox, they are a brand in the UK, somebody I interviewed earlier part of this year. Again, they’ve done the same. They’ve got a jiujitsu area, a boxing area, they’ve got a kind of a crossfit style area. They’ve brought in the best partners and coaches, and they’ve really sort of increase the experience.
I think when we come back after this sort of the situation we’re dealing at the moment. Yes, there’s going to be people that will come back and I think we’re already seeing that with the numbers. I think it run about sort of on average 40% of the pre-COVID members are coming back. But then there’s that 40% that are on the fences. Well, how do you get those back? They’ve already created their own personal routines. They’ve probably kit it out a home gym and they probably found another ways. Maybe they found a trainer. They’ve had their patterns broken. They are probably not going to the same place of work. A lot has changed in their lives. What now needs to happen is some really innovation to sort of get people back in and realize that yes you could still work out at home but yes there’s a place to have a membership within a fitness facility. And that’s going to require stepping up, innovating. But doing the same old thing is going to be very difficult, I think.
Kevin: Yeah. I definitely agree. Before we dive into the practicality for the bricks and mortar industry, I’m curious from where you’re sitting. Are you seeing a lot of investments in boutique facilities or indoors higher end facilities? What areas of the marketing are you seeing bounce back faster?
Matthew: It’s very different country by country based on the lockdown situation. Even in America. I mean, California where there is technically a lockdown although some facilities are open. Outdoors opening some areas and not in other. It seems to be very, very different across all market. My brother is in the UK and they’ve just opened there a week or so ago. I’ve got a business in Germany where they are lockdown. It is very different. I think if the question is in general what are the areas that I think are likely to come back stronger and quicker, then, from what I have been hearing and seeing and I certainly think the low cost are in a good position. People made finances difficult. People may trade down a little bit. Certainly, the offering from some of the low cost operators is fantastic from what you can get from them.
I think if I was a betting man, I would be putting my money in that sector. That’s for sure. I think the mid markets are in an interesting place. They have struggled. But what I do think about those guys in that area, and this is just personal appearances. They’ve got space. In some cases they’ve got outdoor space and so they’ve kind of got something that maybe the boutiques may not have. And if they are utilizing their resources, and trainers, and size and scale, and membership base. I think they’re really well positioned to do some pretty cool stuff. Maybe get people to try and pay a little bit more money because they are able to provide a bit of a different experience.
I would say certainly in certain countries outdoors is really something that is going to become more and more important just even with the vaccine coming along. I think if you’re able to create some sort of outdoor fitness that’s going to allow you to keep the lights on. It’s also a great experience regardless of the weather. It’s very nice working outside. You kind of get that experience sorted out. I think that’s pretty interesting. I think we’re going to see a lot more of that happening.
I think for the mid-market depending on the kind of business that they’ve got and their setup, I think there’s going to be an opportunity for those guys to thrive. I don’t know too much about the high-end. I’ve been trying to sort of figure that out myself sort of getting different messages. Not sure exactly what will happen there.
And then in the boutique space, again, it’s very much dependent on the guidelines that’s out. I know in certain places like New York I think I heard that it’s around about 25% that are allowed to put in the studio. Well, I doubt very much whether people are able to keep the lights on if that’s the levels they’ve got to operate on. Those probably have got to change the way that they are operating. That’s for sure in order to survive. The other that I think you’ll start to see a lot more of them, maybe, that would come from the high end businesses, maybe the mid-market is there, the personal training sector, that’s really taking off combining sort of one line, or virtual face to face. I think that’s very, very important. I think it gives the people the ability to work out and train safely. You are able to sort of get around the guidelines a lot easier through personal training.
Don’t forget as an industry we’ve already been struggling to get above that 20% whatever that number is to hit the wider market where the big opportunity is. The biggest opportunity for all of us is the 80% or so that don’t like gyms. I think if you look at what’s happened in the world today those people are realizing the importance of health and wellness to their survival. One of the few good things the media has done is to let people know that if you are healthy and building out your immune system and eating well, and working out, and not drinking too much then you’re going to be positioned well to deal with anything that’s thrown at you. I think there’s just big opportunity for the general population who have never thought about stepping into a gym and now are considering it being able to provide solutions for them whether that’s at the top end or the bottom end. I’m not sure well. But I think that’s probably the biggest opportunity for the industry at the moment if people can figure out the right business model.
Kevin: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. We get to the practicalities of designing a club or a facility post-COVID, what should people be thinking about as people come back to their gym in terms of how they design it, how they lay it out, and what types of equipment are more suitable for the consumer post-COVID.
Matthew: It comes back to the earlier point we said, you got to understand who you are going after. I think for all of us in business regardless of your position is really kind of narrow down on who is it. Yes, there is a lot of people that you could go after but who are you actually going after? Narrow down. Really understand that persona and then start building your experience around that. For example, if you are targeting someone like my mom and my dad as opposed to my younger brother who is a millennial, it is very different. My brother, that age group, we’ve all been there. We are indestructible at that age. If our life finish when we are 30, then great. We are going to go out with a bang. That was our attitude. It’s just have fun do whatever you can. The section or the values within life are very, very different. For them, it is about just getting the equipment, making sure it is clean, and that’s about it. Whereas, my mom and my dad, they are going to be very cautious about going in because if we catch this thing our lives are over. For them, you’ve got to really think about your lay out, the safety as you come in the facility, the changing rooms, how close are you working out to anybody, and those kind of things. It is a lot easier if you know who you are targeting to deal with that sort of general confidence which I think we’ve all got to deal with from the very beginning.
As far as after that it comes down to how can you create the most effective workout solution for that particular demographic. I think from a marketing perspective we spend as an industry too much time trying to sell and market sexy abs, round peachy gluts, and biceps and all that sort of stuff. There’s way too much about and we’re all being guilty of trying to use that as a caret to attract people. I think now is the opportunity to sell a bigger and more important story about health and wellness, and resilience. I think that’s a more interesting message to sell people. That’s very counter to a lot of the fitness programs that have been out there in the last few years. If you think about some of the stuff that’s been out, unless the workout is about you are a wimp if you are not lying on the floor in a pool of sweat and you can’t do one more rep. That’s been the type of workout that has been popular. We all know that. We’ve all seen the companies. Again, I don’t think there is anything wrong about that but that’s not necessarily the right message if you want to be building, improving your resilience and your immunity. You almost want to be careful about how far you’re pushing yourself. Recovery is a big thing because if you are not recovering properly from life, not just your workout, then you are going to put yourself in that dangerous position where you’re going to be open to catch anything that’s going out there.
I think just focus on wellness and resilience is interesting. And that starts to affect the type of equipment. You’re not going to be doing this crazy sprint burning yourself out on a treadmill necessarily. What you want to be doing, again, not to promote, good functional training that’s allowing your body to move, building up that muscle, developing your cardiovascular system, making sure you can move and you’ve got the mobility and flexibility. You are sort of building your own natural endurance and just resilience. I think that’s it. So that’s going to affect the choice of equipment and that exercise experience.
Kevin: I makes a lot of sense. Even a lot of people who’ve lost out on the routine of walking to work in the morning because they’ve been working from home for the last 9 months. Just getting people back on that journey in a way that isn’t too intense sounds like there is a big market for that.
Matthew: The other thing if we look at a lot of the new research that’s coming out now, the importance of strength training has been around for a long time. But what I think is the other thing is how working or using your muscles not just lightly but fairly intensely is affecting your mental health. We don’t talk about that a lot but I’ve done a number of podcasts recently speaking to a number of experts in this field. When you are using your muscles you are releasing happy chemicals into your body that they know improves your mood, makes you happier. At the moment in the world, we are dealing with a lot of mental pressures whether it is in business, whether it is in your relationship because you’re stuck with your partner that you’ve never been stuck with before, whether it is a financial pressure of thinking how you are going to survive, whether it’s a pressure of just being locked in and not having any social contact. We are dealing with a lot of issues mentally. You cannot just, from what we do, but if you look on the internet there is a ton of great information and research out there about what certain types of fitness programs can do for your mental health.
I think forget about what it’s going to do to your body. At the moment, we could all do with just being a little bit fitter mentally to deal with a lot of these stresses. Again, that’s a bit market that I don’t think the fitness industry necessarily addresses. I think that’s another untapped opportunity for people to find a way of going after in some way.
Kevin: Yeah, I think so. I think especially if you’ve already built the relationship from a pure fitness perspective being able to expand that relationship so that might be doing the same thing, but that it’s addressing things like mental health. Definitely, makes a lot of sense.
What is your thoughts of how digital and online fitness will fit in as we come out of COVID over the next few years and how big a deal it is going to be for bricks and mortar businesses?
Matthew: I think it is important. I did an interview with Martin Seibold just a couple of weeks ago. He is the CEO of LifeFit Group in Germany today. I think they have a number of brands. Fitness First is probably the main one that people know and they are involved with; Barry’s and Xponential. They have brands of all different levels. It was interesting to hear from Martin.
I’ve just lost a track of your question there. I was going somewhere. You have to cut that bit out. Go, just tell the question again.
Kevin: Yeah, I think people….
Matthew: Oh, digital.
Matthew: I had a couple of chains that was going on in my mind. He was sort of saying how much money they’ve invested in it. I think that’s a challenge that a lot of people have when they talk about this pivot. They are saying, “Well, let’s go into digital. This is going to save us.” But I think very few companies are actually making money from digital. I think it is a nice ambition. In their case they’ve brought millions into it, developed an app, try to develop all their content, and now they are actually gone and they are partnering up with Les Mills, and they are providing a lot of that Les Mills content as an added value to their members. But getting people to pay for that I think is going to be very, very difficult. And then on top of that you’ve got some real heavy weights entering this space so you’ve got Les Mills who partner with fitness facilities. The quality of their content is just staggering. It is performing and the production value is something that very few people could really compete with in that sector of business. And then you have people like Apple, and Peloton, and others that are moving into that space.
I think it is extremely important. But I think if you are a bricks and mortar business thinking about going into it certainly from the people I’ve spoken to that have gone down that road and burn millions of it. It’s a lot more difficult than I think people will realize. I think you just got to be careful of losing sight of your core business. Maybe partnerships would be a better way of leveraging your brand and your customer base as opposed to saying, “Well, let’s do it ourselves.” Because you got people like the Zoomba, Les Mills, and BeachBody that just their whole company and people are geared around that one thing doing that fantastically well. And they do a good job, and they innovate, and they stay ahead of the curve, and that’s what you’re competing with. I think just because people are in fitness and they’ve got a user group to think that just an evolution. I don’t think that’s right. I think it’s a totally different business really in terms of the functions that are required to make that work.
Kevin: Yeah, I agree. Where do you think the consumer’s head is at? Do you think they are going to expect something as part of their membership so kind of forcing you to have to do it as a cost in business or do you think consumers are going to say maybe I’m happy with two subscriptions to somewhere else from my online stuff?
Matthew: Yeah, I think it’s going to become standard there that’s kind of going to be expected in a way. Whether people are going to pay for that or not. I don’t know. One of the things I was looking at this morning was there was, let’s use Les Mills again because they’ve gone heavy on this market. I did a survey in 2019 and they figured out that 85% of people that had, and this is pre-COVID, 85% of people had a gym membership actually workout in some way from home. I think what we’d sort of have to realize is that if people are working at home that the fitness facility is also important to them. It could be a great partnership between a Les Mills and so and so fitness chain.
There could be some really interesting ways of that working together because I spoke to Chris Clawson, he is the CEO of Life Fitness. He was saying think about it in terms of a restaurant. We all cook at home. We will get really nice meals. We have a really nice experience. We go out to market or wherever buy some great food, put the candles on, and do that stuff at home. That’s great. But does that mean that you’re never going to go out into a restaurant. No. We’re going to eat from home but we are going to go out on special occasions. I think that’s the same thing for fitness. I think if you are interested in fitness, yes, you will work out at home like me. I’m in the fitness industry. I love working out in gyms but there is a lot of times in my day, and week, and month where I can’t just do it. I’ve got everything set up that I need. I can have a great workout but if there’s a chance I could go in a gym and meet some people, go in the steam room, and use a bunch of equipment that I wouldn’t be able to fit into my house then I’m going to do that.
I think to say one is going to take over from the other. I think that is wrong. But what I think we all need to figure out is where we’re going to play in those spaces and how we can enhance the experience for the member or the people that are paying to come within our facility. How can we bring all those elements together and create that loyalty. I think that’s probably more of the challenge.
Kevin: Make sense and some food for thought. Okay, Mat, before we wrap up I know you are a fan of Tony Robbins so maybe there is going to be a Tony Robbins story in here. But I wanted to know, what’s the biggest/hardest lesson that you’ve learned so far this year?
Matthew: Many lessons. I think there’s three key points that have stood out for me this year which I’m thankful. I always say this but I’m not trying to say that COVID was good in any way but I think we have to look at the positives. We can’t do anything about it and so we have to sort of look at what we can take away from. One of the biggest things for me is my family. I’ve got two young children. I was constantly on the road. We got businesses in all parts of the world and I’ll be in a plane every 4 to 5 weeks, and I’ll be away for 7-10 days. For years that’s been my life and so I missed a lot of growing up with my children. I missed putting them to bed and reading them a story. I missed sitting and having breakfast with them, or having dinner, or having lunch with them. Those moments, you can never buy those back no matter how successful you are. I was very grateful that I’ve had that time with my children, and my wife. A time which was very important in their life which I would never have had if I hadn’t been literally locked in and told that I can’t go anywhere. Even then I’ve still been able to sort of get out and move around for wherever I can and I’m allowed to. Family is the first one.
Second one is focus. We kind of get on this hamster wheel of business and life and one year runs into the next. We are just busying ourselves away. You don’t really get that time to step back and think and reflect about what you’re doing. Business force us all to do that. A lot of the things that we’ve done as a business, and I know a lot of my colleagues in the industry have done the same, is they’ve really been able to look at things and question some of the things they are doing and stop doing that because it’s not working and focus on things that are probably adding more value. It’s until you hit the pause that you have the opportunity to do that. In some cases you also get a lot of pushback from trying to make those changes because people are like, “We’ve always done it. How do we know if we stop that it’s not going to damage our business.” Because we’ve been force to go on pause you can actually see that, “Yeah. That had a positive impact. That hasn’t. Let’s make that decision.”
And then the final thing is just being able to recover whether you are a high level athlete, whether you are sort of a fast pace executive, or whatever. I think we all probably do too much in the wrong areas. We’ve burn ourselves out. We’ve not got great balance in life. Certainly, if you look at some of the most successful sports people in the world their coaches have figured out that if you can get that balance between performance and recovery, you can enhance your career significantly. A lot of these athletes now are performing way past what they have ever done before. There is a reason behind that because not just how hard they are pushing themselves but how they deal with recovery and getting themselves ready, and making sure they are not injured, and they are able to continue to do what they need to do well into their career.
I think that goes where executives, whatever level of business you are. They sort of work 24/7 and don’t sleep. It doesn’t work. I’ve never met any successful entrepreneur that’s done that over a long period of time and said that that’s a recipe for success. You’re definitely going to work hard. You got to outwork anybody else and you’re going to outsmart anybody else. But you also got to realize the time where, okay, now there’s this time I’m going to check out. I’m going to put my body in that recovery mode and my mind in that recovery mode because of what it does, so that when I get back in front of somebody or business or whatever I’m really on the ball, and I’m going to be doing some fantastic work.
Those are the three things for me I’ve taken away from. Hopefully, when things go back to normal we don’t forget those lessons that we’ve learned.
Kevin: Yeah, I think those are really great summary and a great take away from the podcast today. Thank you very much for coming on the show. Before you go, you’ve also build a great business and you run a great podcast, so just tell people where they find you and how they can get in touch.
Matthew: Yeah. From a company perspective we are Escape Fitness. We design and supply functional training equipment, education, and we work with many of the most successful businesses in the sector. We are always glad to have a conversation, share our expertise. We are fortunate to work in many sectors within the fitness space and our team have got a lot of knowledge. If anybody is trying to figure out what to do and just wants to have a chat or whatever, just to get some ideas without being pressured to spend any money then we’d absolutely love to help out and to see if we could help people during this difficult period from that perspective.
We also have a podcast we’ve been running for about 3.5 years where we interview some of the leaders within the health and wellness, and fitness space, on everything from mindset to business strategies to marketing. And then we put that out for free once a week. There’s some really great information that you can learn, and stay positive, and hopefully improve yourself and your business at the same time. So that’s called Escape Your Limits. You go to the Escape Fitness website, Escape Your Limits podcast. You can check me out on LinkedIn where I share a bunch of information, any things that I’ve learned, and all you can check me out on Instagram which is @matthewjanuszek. I’ll be very happy to connect with anyone.
Kevin: Matthew, it was a pleasure to talk to you today. Matthew Januszek, thank you very much for coming on the show.
Matthew: Thank you! Thanks very much for having me.