Jeff McMahon on the Collaboration Superpowers podcast

JEFF MCMAHON has been a trainer for almost a decade, working with over 700 people. His degree is in pre-med/pre-pharm and he is dual certified in exercise science and sports medicine. He focuses his talents to online entrepreneurs looking to stay healthy and maximize their business.  He started training virtually to help his mother, but found that the format worked well enough to expand. He tested it on friend and online entrepreneur, Pat Flynn, and has been expanding his client base ever since. Jeff has a total body approach to his training. He incorporates expertise around nutrition, fitness, and emotion… all virtually! He offers a free fitness consultation and workout. Now there’s no excuse for trying it out!


He says: “Your health is your absolute wealth, so my clients feel better every day and their businesses grow because of it”.


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 Original transcript

Lisette: Great, and we’re live. So welcome everybody to this remote interview. My name is Lisette, and I’m interviewing people and companies who are doing great things remotely. And today on the line, I have something super cool, something totally different than the software development companies that I’ve been interviewing in the past. Today I have Jeff McMahon, a virtual personal trainer. Welcome, Jeff.

Jeff: Hi, nice to meet you, Lisette. Glad to be here, girl.

Lisette: I’m very excited to interview you. I wish I met you months ago when I hired an in-person virtual trainer. But hopefully, if things don’t work out, I’ll be calling you again for a personal training session. And hopefully, the listeners of this podcast will also want to call you by the end of this.

                 Jeff, this is the question I always start with. What does your virtual office look like?

Jeff: My virtual office is similar to what you guys have, laptop, desk, bookshelf, and then the glorious things we like to call dumbbells and stability ball. That is what a home gym looks like. I have all my people start off with those two pieces of equipment because there’s so much diversity we can do with it. And then from there, people adding kettlebells, yoga mats, small stuff, [inaudible – 01:13], resistance [inaudible] to get more diversity. But I [inaudible – 01:16] start with those two pieces of equipment because that’s a gym. Then from there, everything just gets better after that.

Lisette: Okay, very interesting. How did you get started with personal training? And then how did you get started with virtual personal training? When did this idea come to light?

Jeff: I started with personal training about a decade ago. I went to college for premed and prepharm. But I’m colorblind, so I couldn’t be a surgeon like I was planning on. And I played college soccer and was always in fitness. And my mom had a massive stroke in my freshman year in college and [inaudible – 01:56] body. So I did three years of therapy and massage therapy with her and the therapist, learning how to help my mom recuperate through that and enjoyed the process of seeing someone else smile and be happy with their life and things. So that meant more to me than anything. So I got into personal training because of her to showcase you don’t have to be miserable. Bad things do happen to good people. But it’s how you get through those and become better person [inaudible – 02:29]. That’s what I’m here to do and I find is my calling to make people smile, transform their health, and have fun seeing what their new life is in front of them. So I’ve been doing it for about a decade.

When I got into the online world, Pat Flynn was the first person I randomly started listening to on podcasts. And he mentioned that he wanted to train for a triathlon. And I’ve trained a lot of Ironman Triathletes and have done triathlons myself. So I suggested to him, “Hey, I’d love to train you virtually for free just to see if you’d be interested in getting coaching to do your first triathlon,” because he was like my beta program. We did it for nine months. I flew out there to see him do his race, got to become friends, and now I’ve been training him for two years ever since and has now molded into what virtual training is with my clients and stuff.

Lisette: That’s an interesting process. So this is somebody who’s training for triathlons. So it’s not just weights in a room. He’s not just in a room. I’m assuming you’re designing some sort of training for him.

Jeff: Yeah, we did the biking schedule, the swimming schedule, the running schedule. With my background in premed and prepharm, I’m also dual certified in exercise science and sports medicine. So I can do everything from injury rehab to sport-specific. I have a lot of cancer and celiac disease and different things like that that I work with, surgery rehabs. So I do a big gambit of people, but I can hone in on whatever goal people have in front of me.

Lisette: Right. So how do you get people started? Say somebody comes to you. You’re doing assessment, I’m assuming.

Jeff: Yeah. I start everyone on a simple process. They come to my website and they book an assessment. And assessment is free where we go through their muscle imbalances, cardio test, and a core test so I know where their body is starting. Then we go through their health goals and questions that they have.

And then from there, we do a second free assessment, which is a workout with me. That way, they get to see the report of how the workouts are. They get to see the interaction between the camera so that they’re not missing anything by not being in person. John Lee Dumas is in Puerto Rico, and we train three times a week. Pat is in San Diego. I’m in Cincinnati, Ohio. It’s just like we’re there in a room. I can watch their form. I can push them. I can keep up the intensity. And the best part is you don’t have to think about what you’re doing. You just go and do the workout.

Lisette: Totally. I have to say I really like that about the training. I don’t even have to think about… I just know he’s got a program for me, designed specifically for me.

Jeff: The best analogy I have is everyone goes and gets haircuts. But when you go, you’re telling them what you want your hair to look like because you don’t know how to do it yourself. People come to trainers or health professionals to say, “I know what I want my body to look like.” But we’re never told in school how to take care of ourselves or what exercise programs to do. For example, Pat wants to dunk a basketball. He’s never been told what do I do to dunk a basketball. So unless he finds a coach, chances are he will never be able to do it on his own. And we’re like this close, and he’s only 5 feet 9 inches. So it’s stuff like that. My value and my knowledge gets people the results, the happiness, the feeling confident.

We do a three-part series. Lots and lots of fitness people out there do the physical side and the nutritional side, which is good. But unless you tackle the mental side, you’re never going to have that breakthrough that people are wanting. People do yoyo diets. People join gyms all the time. But they usually jump off because they don’t have that mental side. We work with nutritional psychologists. We work with psychiatrists to understand overeating, food addictions, things like that so people can get the full grasp. We also have pharmacists and autoimmune disease doctor for people that have medications to get off of their medicine. If you take blood pressure medicine, the number one side effect is rapid weight gain and water retention. How is that going to help you when you’re trying to lose weight and get healthy so you can get off this blood pressure medicine? It’s things like that that people don’t think of that when you come to our Total Body Construction, the name of my company, that’s where we are different than your typical gym rat that’s just going to make you do a hundred pushups or your nutritionist that’s just going to make you eat salads all day. That’s how we differentiate.

Lisette: So you’re actually working with a whole team of people then to help individuals meet their health goals, it sounds like.

Jeff: Yeah.

Lisette: Okay.

Jeff: My expertise is the body. My nutritionist’s expertise is taking you through a six-week program designed just for you and how to understand what food you like, making sure you’re happy eating those foods and holding you accountable on the food.

And the doctors that we have are for the free counsel, so people can, “Hey, I’m on this medicine. I have migraine, so I’m on tramadol.” “Okay, well, tramadol leads to rapid depression and chronic fatigue. How can we change [your gut bacteria – 07:39] to not have the migraines to get rid of that without taking this medicine?”

Lisette: Wow, interesting. And do people think it’s weird to do virtual personal training?

Jeff: They do until they do the first workout. Now that FaceTime and Skype are becoming very popular, they’re used to seeing people. But it’s like how is it going to work out of my home with a set of dumbbells is a little weird at first. But the best part about it different than your P90X or your home DVD systems as there are no repetitions, so there’s no boredom. People have human needs that they utilize in their life. And one of the human needs is variety, which is where the different workouts come into place. But it’s also the comfort where they have knowing that what they’re doing is the right path that they should be on. So when you have a coach that can do that for you, you get the results because you’re following through the process that makes sense.

Lisette: It’s interesting. My personal trainer, I was eating 1200 calories a day for a long time when we started. And then he said, “I think we’re going to up your calories this week. That’s what we’re going to do.” So he upped it by like 400-500 calories. And I told him. I said, “[inaudible – 08:58], if I get fat, you’re fired. I’m willing to try it. But if I get fat, you’re fired.” Didn’t gain an ounce. And that’s almost doubling the calories. So that’s something that I definitely on my own would never have done. I mean I would’ve just eaten less and less and less. I would’ve just thought, “Less food equals less weight,” which is not necessarily the case. So I can see how the expertise would come in really handy.

Jeff: The exercise part is like, “Okay, I’ll run for three hours because that’s how I’m going to lose weight,” when in reality, if you work out for 30 minutes, you’re going to burn more calories than you ever would running three hours on a treadmill. What would you rather do, work out 30 minutes or three hours? When you have the right program, you can do that, and you get the results of what you’re looking for.

Lisette: You said you have a bunch of repetitions so that people don’t get boredom. What’s a typical sort of structure of a workout looks like if there is one?

Jeff: Most of the people are looking to lose weight, have the structure of some sort of higher reps, lower amount of weight routine, whether that’s a full-body circuit training, do like ten exercises back-to-back-to-back, whether you do three exercises in a row and repeat those three so you get that set done and then rest, or they have like tabata drills where you do 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest, 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest. So it’s always fast, slow, fast, slow. And most of the workouts last between 30 and 40 minutes. But then when you’re done, you’re done.

And with virtual, you don’t have to get in your car and drive back home in traffic. You don’t have to change in a locker room, be intimidated by people in a gym, lose time with your family and/or business, which is why so many people are now transitioning to what we’re doing. And either they have the money. They build a mini gym in their garage or basement [inaudible – 10:56] I have like four guys just using their offices. They move their office chairs aside, get their yoga mat, and then they’re ready to go. So they just go right back to work and go right back to working out. So it’s super easy.

Lisette: The convenience does seem like unbelievable.

Jeff: Where do you train? Do you train at a gym or at your house?

Lisette: I go to a gym. It’s a one-minute bike ride from where I am. I have to say I did try an online personal trainer over a year ago. I’ll send you the blog article I wrote on it. But it was completely hands-off. They basically send you a program every week. And what I found that I couldn’t keep up on was I felt very detached from [inaudible – 11:35]. And I will do everything online if I can. I mean if there’s one person who is in love with the virtual world, it is me, for sure. So I was super excited about the online version of it. So the accountability was lacking a little bit because there wasn’t a lot of contact. And then the recipes that they sent seemed very complicated. I’m somebody who doesn’t like to cook. So if I get this big, long list of ingredients… I don’t even like cooking. So it just wasn’t working for me. So it sounds something like what you have is where you’re actually together with somebody in real time and I get your full attention, which is something that I find very valuable. I can see how that would really work.

Jeff: Yeah. My guy from Mississippi went to Tennessee. So he was in a hotel on Tuesday. So we did a hotel workout. So he just brought me to the gym because they have Wi-Fi. He put his phone up on the treadmill. He could see me as he was going through his workout, got it all done, went right back to his conference that he was at.

Lisette: [crosstalk – 12:34] working out, you’re giving them tips or encouraging them like, “Okay, keep going, ten more sets.”

Jeff: Yeah, motivating him, pushing him through, keeping the intensity, watching their form. I’d be like, “Hold on, hold on, don’t do that. Turn it this way.” It is just like if I was there except I’m not there at the spot to hold the weights for you or anything like that.

Lisette: Right. It seems like there are plenty of exercises to go around. You don’t need specifically those.

Jeff: Exactly, there are plenty of things to do. And I know like 6000 different exercises. So even if it’s just dumbbells and a stability ball, you’ll get the hardest workout you’ve ever had in your entire life. And that’s where the decade of experience helps. Someone at a corporate gym that just got hired out of high school isn’t going to have that diversity that we bring to the table.

Lisette: Who are the kinds of people that are coming to you mostly? It seems like somebody who’s on the road a lot would be perfect for you.

Jeff: Yeah, salespeople and/or online entrepreneurs are my biggest ones right now, basically because they work from home. They’ve got to stay focused. They have family, different stuff going on. They’re used to being behind a camera and talking to someone, so jumping on with them is not as scary. But I also have a lot of… because I train [in-person – 13:55] people too in Cincinnati. And a lot of my cancer people when they’re going through chemo can’t make it to the gym. So they’ll just train at home because chemo messes up their stomach and have to run to the bathroom. That’s hard to do when you’re in a car driving or you’re at a gym and there are a lot of people there. So they can do it at home, and it’s so much better because with chemo, it’s killing yourselves. With exercise, you’re rebuilding new cells because as you strengthen your bones, more red blood cells are excreted. So you have more oxygen flowing. A whole science, but the main point is the more you work out during your injuries, all that kind of stuff, the better off you are.

Lisette: Right. And having that guidance for what’s going to work best for you.

Jeff: The guidance and the accountability.

Lisette: Right.

Jeff: I sell three things: knowledge, convenience, and accountability because that’s where people get their time back, and that’s what everyone wants to know, i.e. how do I get more time.

Lisette: Right, so this makes it extra… People have no excuse anymore.

Jeff: That’s why everyone shows up for their sessions. It’s the time that they want to say they’re going to be around, and then they’re always there.

Lisette: Right, super interesting. So what is the biggest mistake people make? Or is there a biggest mistake?

Jeff: The biggest mistake people make is they think they can exercise and not change their diet. They think, “All I’ve got to do is work out, and I can eat whatever I want or drink as much alcohol, and I’ll be losing weight.” The reality is if you focus on food, it’ll either help you gain weight or lose weight. Exercise will not. Exercise is there to strengthen your bones and muscles to make you look better at whatever weight you’re trying to achieve and to strengthen your heart so you can live a life of more vitality. But diet will either gain weight or lose weight. And people always think, “Oh, I’m just going to work out, and then I can go have pizza and wings and beer tonight at a football game or something.”

Lisette: I also find those apps to hold you accountable for how much calories are actually in food. You can think like, “Oh, it’s just another slice of pizza.”

Jeff: [inaudible – 16:01] all those apps that are out there are good. When you put it into a spreadsheet, you’re like, “Oh my gosh, this cookie was 400 calories and my goal was 1200. I can’t eat the rest of the day.” It just takes it all away.

Lisette: Yeah, nothing like quantifying your bad habits.

Jeff: Exactly.

Lisette: Okay. Let’s see. I also have that you give live or email workouts. I read that on your website. Describe the difference between those.

Jeff: The live workout is the one-on-one. But the email workout, we use a software called PT on the Net. And what that is is for each exercise that I have in the plan that has a video of the exercise, a picture of how to do the exercise, and a description, so you know what you’re doing without me. If I say [inaudible – 16:52], you’d be like, “What the heck is that?” But if you have a video to see how they do it, the pictures, and then a description. And then underneath it says, “Ten reps, ten per arm, three sets, rest of 30 seconds.” You know how to do the exercise without me being there. So that’s convenient for the people. I can’t be there if you’re going to be riding a bike or training for triathlon swimming. So I can write workouts that way. “Hey, do this when you’re at this pool or when you’re on the bike.” They can get that done and know exactly what they’re doing. And they can just look at their phone [inaudible – 17:26] instead of [inaudible] piece of paper and all that kind of stuff.

Lisette: Right, or looking it up. Wow, it’s great. Who is this not for? Are there people that this doesn’t work for?

Jeff: I’ve never been asked that question before.

Lisette: I can see your ideal client would be somebody who’s traveling. I’m just thinking like who do you not want.

Jeff: I don’t want people that want a quick fix. I’m only for people that are looking to change their lifestyle and to change the way they live for the rest of their lives. I first started 9.5 years ago. I have a 70 percent retention rate, so a lot of my clients are 9, 8, 7 years that I’ve had with me. On the virtual people, Pat started two years ago. We’re still going. He was my first one and we still keep going. I want the people that are looking to get healthy, stay healthy, and with the workouts I was changing, I’m just another monthly bill like their gas and electric is or their cable bill or whatever. I’m just a part of their life like anything else. And having that through makes them happier, then healthier, able to do what they want to do with their kids, that kind of stuff.

So it’s not for the people looking for the beach body in six weeks or the six-pack abs in seven days. I don’t want those people.

Lisette: Does that actually even work? Can you get a beach body in six weeks?

Jeff: No. Any of the diet and fads… And that’s why I have a sports nutritionist going through what food you should be eating because if you try to do like the Atkins diet or the South Beach Diet, new, 21-day fix diet, you’re never going to stay with it because people have the pressure-cooker effect. You’re overweight. You’re painful because you don’t want to look this way. So you make a change and you go drastic and starve yourself on these diets. [Then that – 19:23] pain goes away because you start to lose weight and feel better. So then you go right back to your old habits of going, “Oh, I’ll just eat this cookie today. I’ll just have this pizza tomorrow. I’ll just have these fries Friday.” You gain your weight right back up or bigger because you aren’t solving the mental side, which is where we tackle the most, of how to make that lifestyle change for yourself.

Lisette: Very interesting. I was just thinking. The effect that going to a personal trainer has on me – and I wonder if you see this as well – is the stronger I get physically, the stronger I feel mentally in some way. So there is this weird effect. And I was thinking for entrepreneurs. There must be some sort of a key connection here between the strength of yourself physically… I know being healthy is important, but I was already healthy. I wasn’t fat before I went to the personal trainer. I went so that I could get more muscle. I wanted to be leaner, more muscular. I wasn’t able to do that. But I’m just thinking. As I’ve done this for the last three or four months, I definitely have noticed a difference in the way that I approach business. I’m just feeling better and more confident. I’m just stronger as an entrepreneur. Do you see that with your clients too?

Jeff: Oh, absolutely. Pat Flynn and John Lee Dumas are on stage a lot. And one of their things is to be more confident on stage when you have thousands of people looking at you. You want to feel good and strong up there so you’re not stumbling, self-conscious back in your mind, that kind of stuff. So a huge [component – 20:51] for a lot my people is that confidence to when you look good, feel good. It’s that saying that they always use. But there’s a lot of truth behind it because the mental side of that confidence protrudes into when you’re in an airplane and as you walk on aisle, everyone looks at you. How do you feel when they’re looking at you? Do you feel good and stand tall? Or are you depressed and trying to hide behind everything? So it’s just that [tackle – 21:20] on life. That aspect is so important for entrepreneurs as well as the productivity because the more you exercise, the more your body is efficient. The more your body is efficient, the stronger your brain is to be more creative. Everything comes from emotion, which is why you get married for emotions. You start a business because of emotion. That passion you have gets stronger as you exercise because emotion comes from motion and your body is able to take the cortisol levels, the serotonins, the dopamines, endorphins, all those scientific terms, and use them into you having more energy in the morning, you smiling, you rocking out your sales because you don’t have that fear that so many people have.

Lisette: Right, strengthens your creativity, strengthens the mind. That’s interesting to see. I didn’t expect that response from my personal training. So I must admit it. For entrepreneurs, online entrepreneurs listening right now, this is your chance. The last question is what is the best way for people to get in touch with you and sign up for a session. Sounds like you’ve got a great process.

Jeff: The best way is, my website. And you can go there and look at Pat’s testimonial, John, other entrepreneurs that have used me for their health and fitness coaching. And just click on the Book Assessment. It’s free. We go through 30 minutes together. It’s great just to know where you’re at. Where are you on a health standpoint? Are you healthy? Are you not healthy? From there you can decide to do a follow-up free workout with me to see if you like virtual training. And then from there, I recommend what program you would be on to get you to your desired goals. If you want to lose 100 pounds next year, obviously, working out once a week is not going to do that. You’ve got to be more consistent with it. But whatever people’s goals are, that’s how we designed the program. Everything is specific to you. The food, the workouts, the accountability, the schedule is all designed for you. That way you don’t have the opportunity to fall off because you’re not going to want to. It’s too easy to just do it.

Lisette: Right. And it’s fun. I have to say I’ve enjoyed my personal training sessions. It’s just the new exercises, the new ways of doing things. It’s also super fun. So it’s not like this grueling thing that you have to go through everyday. It’s like I kind of look forward to it. It’s my [inaudible – 23:46] session that [inaudible].

Jeff: Exactly.

Lisette: Yeah, cool. I really appreciate your time today. If you get people contacting you from this interview, please let me know. It always makes my day. And for those who are listening, please, please sign up. This sounds like a great [crosstalk – 24:04].

Jeff: It’s free. Sign up. I would love to have you.

Lisette: Absolutely. Thanks so much, Jeff. And until next time, everybody, be powerful.



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