Meet Robin Mungall, Owner of Robin Mungall Fitness [Interview]
- Humble beginnings at the start of a career in strength training
- Having a client-centric, yet scientific approach to personal training
- Time Management with Block Scheduling
Finding the proper motivation to start and finish a workout can be difficult, cant’ it? Choosing to take the plunge and start your own fitness business can be an even more daunting task with an even greater need for having the proper motivation.
Today, we’re talking to Robin Mungall who will share his experience as an entrepreneur who entered the personal training world at a point of personal weakness yet received collegial support and developed a winning mentality that led to his running a successful fitness practice.
If you’re ready to grow and manage your business better, schedule a demo today.
Meet Robin Mungall, Owner of Robin Mungall Fitness
Schimri Yoyo: Alright. This is Schimri Yoyo with Exercise.com and we’re continuing our series of interviews with fitness experts. And today we have Robin Mungall, owner of Robin Mungall Fitness, with us today. Thanks for joining us.
Robin Mungall: Thanks for having me.
Schimri Yoyo: Yeah. So, let’s jump into your background a little bit. How did you develop a love for health and fitness?
Robin Mungall: Well, I grew up in a family that was pretty competitive in sports, hockey, golf, track and field. And so, I’ve always had a love for it. But what really got me into health and fitness and helping others discover health and fitness for themselves was going through a period of time in my life where I lost my way and became out of shape, depressed, and just not feeling right.
And, being able to get back into the rhythm of health and fitness and going to school for it, it changed my life in a really positive way and it really sparked something in me to be able to help others to do the same thing. And that’s really where I’m coming from in a nutshell.
Schimri Yoyo: Okay. Now, during that transition period in your life did you use a strength and conditioning coach or a personal trainer to help you get back on track?
Robin Mungall: Yeah, I mean I had some people that I knew that were both coaches and personal trainers and so they were very inspiring. I think one of the most inspiring things though was I was still out of shape when I started going to college for personal training.
And the group around me saw how hard I was working my butt off in the gym. And it’s a little bit intimidating because they were already in great shape but instead of, you have this idea that they’re going to shun you in a way because you’re out of shape.
But instead, they supported me and became my greatest source of strength when I needed it the most. So, it really was my colleagues in college, that we’re all in school together that really helped me the most.
Schimri Yoyo: And would you say that they are the ones from whom you sought counsel when you were first entering the fitness industry?
Robin Mungall: Yes. Them and a specific teacher in my course as well, John Reeves. He was a big source of inspiration to me. And not even knowing it now, until after college, which was 2002, a while ago. But some of the things that he said still are things that ring true today and give me some “Aha” moments even today as my experience becomes greater in this industry. Some of the things that he said they only now become something that I appreciate more than I did back then.
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Mobility over Speed and Strength
Schimri Yoyo: Oh, that’s good. Now, if you were to describe your training philosophy and methodology in one word what would it be?
Robin Mungall: One word, that’d be tough. Maybe I think client-centric.
Schimri Yoyo: You can elaborate on that.
Robin Mungall: Sure. So, I mean I could have also said scientific, but client-centric because it really is about the client, not just their goals, but also their personality, where they’re coming from. The context of their life and their lifestyle really, really matter.
When you’re taking someone from where they are to where they want to be you can’t just look at their body and act as a technician. You really have to think about them as a person and treat them as a person because they’ve got a whole bunch of other stuff going on in their lives.
They’re not showing up to train with you just because this is their life. This is just a part of their life. And you have to understand that and make sure that what you’re doing with them is something that they can do not just to get results right now but to get results for life.
I’m always looking at the long-term effects of what we’re doing with clients and making sure that what we’re doing is something that if I was to ask them two years, five years from now, “Can you still do this?” If they roll their eyes at me and say, “Yes, that’s going to be no problem,” then I’ve done my job. And that means that I’ve been putting them first and what their needs are ahead of anything else.
Schimri Yoyo: Alright. Now, what would you say is the relationship between strength and conditioning, injury prevention, and rehabilitation?
Robin Mungall: The relationship? Well, they’re—I don’t want to say they’re codependent, but they definitely interact and interplay with one another. I mean the strength and conditioning coach can take a client or a person to a point where their ability to reduce their risk of injuries and prevent all sorts of issues is paramount.
But at the same time, if somebody already has an existing injury, part of the rehab phase of it is a strength and conditioning component. So, while we can do a lot for preventative, we can also help in healing when something does go wrong.
So, there is a big interplay there and having a network of colleagues, if you use a therapist and whatnot in your network you’re going to do someone really good service because now you have go-to’s, people that you can send clients to, people that you trust that you can send your clients to make sure that they’re taken care of in any situation.
Schimri Yoyo: And how do you promote the use of the proper techniques with your clients?
Robin Mungall: Well, through proper training, taking them through proper movements, making sure that first of all, they can move properly in the movements that we want to do before you load them up. You always want to make sure—it’s always easier to load someone up when they can do something right than it is to give them something that’s too heavy, too soon and then they end up injuring themselves.
So, if you want to keep someone safe—and one of my key core values to my company is “To keep clients safe. Always.” If you want to keep someone safe, make sure that they can move properly, making sure the right muscles are doing the right jobs so that way structurally when you load them up, they’re not going to get injured. So, that’s the key component is making sure that they are moving correctly.
Schimri Yoyo: Okay. Well here’s a two-part question. How are speed, strength, and flexibility related and for athletes which of these should take priority? Or is there a priority?
Robin Mungall: It depends on the context of the athlete and the individual. However, if you don’t have the mobility or flexibility to get yourself into a certain position, then when you’re going to do it in a more dynamic setting, especially for speed, especially explosive speed, you run the risk of an increased risk of injury. You could get injured more.
So, the first component you always want to look at is: Do they have the mobility to move the way you need them to move?
And then from there, you can start to train them with more dynamic movement knowing that they’re able to do that in a range of motion that’s not going get them injured. So, if they don’t have the range of motion their risk of injury goes up.
Schimri Yoyo: And in what ways do you motivate your clients and in what ways do you motivate yourself?
Robin Mungall: Okay. Well, motivation comes in waves. I always like to say when the wave, when it hits the peak, that’s a good time to really get after it. And what you want to do, though, is to teach people how to be consistent with something, to create a habit out of what they’re doing. Because when that wave of motivation dissipates you want them to have a strategy in place where they can keep going.
So, the way that I motivate them really is tapping into why. What is their purpose for doing it? And it has to be intrinsic. If you can find what gets them right in their heart, what makes them get excited for whatever it is that they’re doing and keeping that focus on at least the back of their mind if not the forefront their mind. It’s really easy for them to actually become self-motivated.[Editor’s note: see video below about motivation]
And the same thing with myself. When I’m training, especially on days when maybe it’s a dreary day and I don’t really feel like getting up to train. Understanding why you’re doing it, what’s important to you, the benefits of what you’re going to get out of it, that becomes a deep source of motivation.
So, those are the key components you want to focus on when you’re looking for motivation. You’re looking for the why factor and it has to mean something to you. It cannot be what’s—if you want to look better in the mirror and that’s your why, then use it. It doesn’t matter what anyone else says. If it actually drives something within you internally, then use it.
Schimri Yoyo: Alright, that’s good. Now, judging by the clients that have had the most success under your tutelage what are some common traits, if any, or shared values that have contributed to their success?
Robin Mungall: I think one of the biggest ones is focusing on what they can do not what they can’t do. If you focus on what you can’t do, it saps the energy from you right away. You feel demotivated when you can’t do something.
When you focus on the things you can do, especially if you’re going through an injury or you’re not too sure what your body is doing today because you didn’t get a night of good sleep, knowing what you can do and focusing on that. And even moving forward with a bit of curiosity of “Can I do that?” rather than “I can’t do that.”
Also, a big successful trait of my most successful clients is focusing on the positive side of things and not letting setbacks get down.
There’s a big thing in fitness where if you have an all or none mentality, you typically are going to lose. Understanding that the process is a little bit messy, it’s not a linear progression, knowing that and being okay with that seems to be another big component of success with my best clients.
Knowing that a little bit of progress here and there sometimes one step back, two or three steps forward, is a little bit more what the journey looks like rather than a week in week out you’re not going to make exponential progress every single week. It’s just at some point in time it’s just not going to work. So, having the right mindsets, I guess, is key.[Editor’s note: Having setbacks may not be perfect, but it can big part of your overall progress in fitness]
Schimri Yoyo: Holding realistic expectations? That’s good.
Robin Mungall: Realistic expectations. Yes. Yes. You’re not going to lose 30 pounds in 10 days. You’re not going to suddenly. If you’re a beginner to exercise and you’re seeing massive increases in your strength and performance right away, it doesn’t continue on in that pattern.
We know as we get stronger, as we get faster, as we get more efficient at exercise, the progress gets a little bit slower. The more experienced you become in this industry and in fitness, and knowing that and knowing what is realistic is an important part of tempering your expectations.
Schimri Yoyo: That was good. What ways do you balance helping clients reach their physical potential or physical limits without burning out or without increasing the risk of injury?
Robin Mungall: Sure. Well, I think it’s important that every session you should be asking your clients, “On a scale of one out of 10 how are you feeling today?” I actually have three pictures in my studio. It’s an old jalopy, a midsize sedan, and a Ferrari.”How are you feeling today? Which picture?”
After the warmup, I review it again because sometimes we walk in feeling like an old jalopy. But then you warm up, and suddenly you start to feel a little bit better. But understanding that when a client comes in to train with you, they may not be always at their best and that’s okay.
So, if you’re going to be training someone super hard, if you’ve scheduled a really hard peak workout today and they’re not feeling it, they’re going to start to burn out. They’re going to take a little bit longer to recover. So, you have to manage the recovery.
And so, typically what I like to do is I tell clients, “Three times a year, for about three to six weeks, we’re going to really get after it. The rest of the year we’re going to make a little bit of progress every one to two weeks and that’s okay.”
We typically like to plan some de-load weeks and some peak weeks and we want to stick to that as much as possible. So, that is the amazing thing about periodization. Understanding that your clients, just because you’ve written it doesn’t mean it shall be done that way. You have to understand your clients and where they are each day.
So, making sure that while you have a general plan of where you want to go and how intense you want to work out and ramp it up, you have to understand that they as human beings aren’t going to act like robots. So you have to take that into account. And if you do, if you’re able to make progress in 48 weeks out of the year and four weeks off for sick time, vacation time, whatever, you had a really good year, and so that’s how I operate with my clients.
Managing a Business
Schimri Yoyo: Yeah. Now about your business, how do you manage to juggle your time between being a trainer and an entrepreneur?
Robin Mungall: So, over the years I’ve gotten really disciplined with managing my time just using basically a block system. So, I block off a certain amount of time where I handle clients, a certain amount of time where I handle, I call it “trainer care,” so I take care of my other trainers making sure they’re taking care of my business, and then blocking off time for administrative stuff, and creative business development stuff, and research, and education.
So, I make sure that throughout the week I create that block for myself, blocks of time, where I’m focusing on just one thing at a time and it helps me so I’m not so scatterbrained. So, I know exactly what I’m doing. And the first thing I do every morning is I reflect on how the day is going to go. I look at those blocks of time. So, I’m set up and I’m prepared for the day right first thing in the morning so that way I can really get the momentum going and I keep it going throughout the entire day.
So being organized that way is key to success when you have a lot of moving parts. And if you don’t and you just try to wing it, you’re probably going to be more stressed out and you’re probably going to spend a lot more hours doing stuff that like what I call “busy work.”
It’s not really moving the needle forward but because you’re just trying and darting left, right, and center, but you’re not really getting much done. So, if you stick to a block of time or a block periodization almost for yourself within on a daily basis you’re going to be set up for success.
Schimri Yoyo: Good. Now, how do you decide which clients to take on as personal clients and which ones to maybe outsource to other trainers?
Robin Mungall: I guess I can be selfish sometimes because I own the business. When I talk to a client over the phone if it sounds like someone that really gets me jacked up to want to train with them, I’ll see if I have time in my roster to put them in and I will. Aand if not then I’ll give them to one of my trainers.
My trainers are awesome, so I have no worries about giving them to one of them. But I’m at a stage of my career where I can just basically get to pick and choose who I want to train and it starts off with a conversation and do our personalities match. And, if so, are their goals something that I feel like I can really help them with and do they want to train at the times that I train at. And if it’s all green lights, then they can train with me and if there’s anywhere where I think that one of my trainers might be even better than me to handle that client then I’ll send them to them.
Schimri Yoyo: Now how do you use technology and social media to promote your business?
Robin Mungall: Well, I use mainly Facebook and Google to promote my business for the most part. A lot of times, video is big these days. So, actually using a lot of videos, educational pieces. And then, of course, I have an email list which is great because I get to email people whenever I want.
And the idea is I try to provide as much content, educational content, something that people can take action on right away so it needs to be usable. Because a lot of people will read something and go, “Oh, that’s nice,” and then move on to something. They never take action.
So, I use social media to basically call people out in a positive way, in a very compassionate way, and just say, “Hey look, here’s an educational piece. If it gives you an ‘Aha moment,’ this is what I want you to do. Give it a try.” And have them start taking a little bit of action even without me.
If it gets them one step closer to their goals then I’ve helped them, fantastic. If they need further help, then usually by that time they reach out to me. And it’s easier to get clients that way because they already have done something where I’ve already helped them out without really knowing.
But it lets them know that I’m always a “people before profits” type of entrepreneur. So, if I can help you out, I know that in the end, it’s going to come back on me. So that whole Karma thing. I love that.
Schimri Yoyo: That’s a great answer. Now for you what has been the biggest challenge in running your own business and what has been the biggest reward?
Robin Mungall: Biggest challenge of running my own business. I think at first it was having to step back from training as much as I was in terms of clientele. Because when you run a business, obviously, you have to spend a lot of time and care working on the business, not just in the business.
And I’m finding that middle ground where it’s like I still want to coach clients, but I also want to run and grow a business. And doing it online, doing it offline, I love both. So, figuring out how to get that all done where it’s growing the business, but it’s also not burning you out as a person.
And then being able to do that on top of having a family and actually having a life. So, those were the biggest challenges. And like I said, blocking your time in a very scheduled way seems to be the best and easiest approach that I’ve been able to come up with so far. So it seems to be working. So that’s been the biggest challenge for sure. What was the second question?
Schimri Yoyo: What is the biggest reward?
Robin Mungall: The biggest reward, it’s easy to say helping more people and being able to do that. But one of the other biggest rewards is that the way that I have been able to do it has afforded me more time freedom which is fantastic because now I actually really get to spend a lot of time with my family.
So, I get to grow this awesome business, help a lot of people, but I also get to have a lot of time for family and the extracurricular activities that I like to do. I mean, I love golfing and golfing takes up a lot of time. So, and I get to do those things. So, it’s been a great reward that way.
And I know it sounds probably cliché for personal trainers, but seeing clients get to the next level and seeing how it actually enhances their quality of life and changes their life it’s extremely rewarding. It’s a fantastic career to be in. And I hate that it sounds cliché, but it never gets old seeing someone make those changes. It’s always a great feeling. So, yeah.
Schimri Yoyo: That makes sense. That makes sense. What strategic partnerships have you been able to foster within the community or with other fitness and health facilities that have helped your business?
Robin Mungall: Well, massage therapy. Those have been the greatest ones. But I’ve been able to foster relationships with photographers and hair salons and just a lot of community local businesses such as golf courses, and obviously, the golf pros. I’ve been able to foster a lot of relationships with those types of clients or those types of entrepreneurs and it’s been very beneficial obviously to my clientele and beneficial to basically a win, win, win situation I guess.
The businesses win, we win, and then the people that we help they win because now they get access to all these services and now they feel like—at the end of the day, our clients are the heroes of the story and we’re just the Yoda’s so to speak.
If we can help them get what they want and if that means having joint ventures or having relationships with other businesses that are going to serve our clients, then we win. So, fostering those relationships is important and it comes down to building relationships.
So, it might start out with an event, a charity event that you might attend, and you meet these other business owners, and you start building relationships, and then you start talking about this client or that client who’s looking for something. And then you get together and you collaborate on something and you help one client out and suddenly you got five other clients that want the same thing.
And now you’ve got that relationship and it becomes a very positive, positive thing for everybody. And then suddenly, you become more known in the community as a result. So, everybody wins when you do that. So, I’ve been very fortunate and blessed for that.
Schimri Yoyo: Okay. Now, I’m going to give you an opportunity to brag on yourself a little bit. What makes Robin Mungall Fitness unique? What do you guys do that puts you on the map and separates you from other fitness clubs?
Robin Mungall: Sure. So, one thing that we pride ourselves on is the fact that we’re a pretty intimate business. When you meet with us there are no other gawking eyes, it’s a very, very private facility. A lot of people really like that. But the other thing—and it’s more of what my clients have said than what I have said—but I have an anti-hardcore approach to fitness. So, my interaction with them is really—someone told me I was the Patch Adams of Personal Training. And so, I wasn’t really sure exactly what that meant.[Editor: Patch Adams is a classic Robin Williams character/movie. See the trailer below]
Schimri Yoyo: That’s great as a t-shirt. There’s a t-shirt opportunity.
Robin Mungall: It is, right. So actually my program here, you can see my t-shirt, Confidently Strong. That’s our signature program. But really we don’t just treat people with their goals from a physical standpoint. We really do treat people as the person they are coming in.
And I think that’s something that sometimes gets lost in the fitness industry. Understanding that this is a human being who has a life outside of fitness and we have to not only respect that, but we have to integrate that into the program.
And if we come at personal training and fitness with a source of compassion towards this person and what’s going on in their life, then you’re going to have a client for a very long time. They’re going to reach not just their first goal with you, but they’re going to reach limits or basically limits that they thought they would never have been able to break through, and just reach a new potential that they never thought would ever happen.
And I think that’s something that separates us for sure is having that kind of compassionate, Patch Adams approach to fitness because it gets people to almost intrinsically want to push themselves. Instead of having someone pushing them from the outside, it’s more like we’re guiding them. So, we’re coming up right alongside them and we’re walking side by side rather than someone pushing or pulling a client. And I think that’s what separates us for sure.
Schimri Yoyo: Again Rob, this has been great. Thank you for your time. Final question, I want to know what’s next for you and your business? What’s on the horizon?
Robin Mungall: What’s on the horizon right now is I got a couple of things. Number one, we’re looking at expanding into a second location so that should be coming September or January. And another one is I have an online program launching very soon called 50 Yards Farther for 50 Plus Golfers. So a golf fitness program specifically for golfers over 50. So, look out for that to coming out pretty soon here this fall. The two next big things on my horizon.
Schimri Yoyo: That’s awesome and much success to you. We’ll be definitely looking forward to when those programs launch and we hope to have you on again if you want to feature those and we can do a write up on those items.
Robin Mungall: Awesome. That would be great. I would love for that to happen.
If you are ready to grow and manage your business better, take it to another level by scheduling a demo today.
Schimri Yoyo is a writer for Exercise.com and a financial advisor with active life and health insurance licenses. In a past life, he covered Villanova Men’s Basketball and Big East Football for Examiner.com. Schimri has also produced freelance copywriting, editing, and proofreading for various websites and online publications for over a decade. He is an avid sports fan, possessing an encyclopedic knowledge of all things Boston Celtics, Boston Red Sox, and San Francisco 49ers. Schimri is an educator and a storyteller who is eager to assist individuals and families to stay financially and physically fit.