The PTDC community is full of great, inspiring fitness professionals. We love to feature ambitious trainers and coaches like you. In Ask a Fit Pro, we ask these fit pros to share cool training, business, and productivity tips and practices to give us a glimpse into what moves them forward.
This month’s spotlight goes to Daniel Yakupka, who has been in the industry for 22 years and owns Fit For Life Fitness In-Home Personal Training Specialists. Since 2008, Daniel has been using his experience and expertise to serve the communities in Alexandria, Arlington, and Washington D.C.
Named the top fitness professional in the Washington D.C. Metro area by IDEA Health and Fitness Magazine, Daniel welcomes clients from all walks of life--whether a client is a new mom, a busy executive, or someone struggling with an injury--and he works with them to help them feel their absolute best.
Let’s hear it from Daniel to see how this fitness professional gets things done.
Location (city, country): Alexandria, Virginia
Current position / professional title: Business owner, independent personal trainer
Certifications: ACE-CPT, MS, WLS, TRX Coach, Combine 360, PN1-Precision Nutrition
# of years in the industry: 22
What’s the one word that describes how you approach your personal training/coaching?
What is your main training focus? For yourself and your clients?
My main training focus is based on functional movements, including push, pull, squat, hinge, lunge, and rotations, combined with metabolic training. I use this training style for both my clients and myself.
What’s your morning routine like?
Every day I have early sessions either 6 a.m. or 6:30 a.m. So I wake up between 5 and 5:15 a.m. daily to prepare my breakfast, without fail.
Generally, my breakfast consists of coffee with two tablespoons of MCT oil mixed in, three whole eggs, and a bowl of mixed berries (although some days I eat a banana). My stance on nutrition is that I need to fuel my body appropriately to have enough energy to power through the day and win.
What’s your favorite aspect about being a personal trainer?
Be able to help a lot of people reach their personal fitness goals, and at the same time, I’m motivated by being able to provide to my family with everything they need.
It’s things like these that make me feel like I love doing what I do!
What is your best time-saving shortcut to do better work?
Plan, plan, plan.
I plan a week ahead. I look at my schedule with client sessions and start to figure out when to call, do emails, my workouts, and even my reading times. Everything I do is scheduled into my calendar the same way a client session is.
Doing this allows me to prepare for each session ahead of time. I believe that to be a fitness professional is to be fully ready--knowing who my client is, what we will do, and what we will talk about--and bring my A-game to each and every session.
What are some of your favorite technological tools to help you stay on top of everything?
- Evernote to write my thoughts and notes, including my to-do list. If I come across something interesting (articles or research), I save the article there. It is one of my favorite tools for keeping my notes organized.
- Google Calendar lets me seamlessly sync up my clients’ sessions, to-do list, and my workouts.
- Microsoft Word to write and save all my clients workouts. Some say this is old school, but for me this works the best.
What’s your client screen process like? How do you decide how to start writing a program or working with a client?
First, I do a phone call consultation with the client to interview them about their fitness goals, as well as their history and experience with health and fitness. This gives me a sense of whether they would be a great fit for me or one of my coaches.
Then I apply my “Introductory Fitness Package,” which is basically four sessions that allow the client to get a feel for my business and training philosophy. Typically, in the first session, I do a FMS and a fitness test to see where they are. Afterward, I make recommendations for each client on the length of a program, based on their starting point and how long I think it would take to accomplish what we set out to do.
How do you organize all of your clients and schedules?
I organize all my schedules with Google Calendar and iPhone Calendar.
What are you currently reading?
What other activities or hobbies do you engage in to step away from “just being a coach?”
I’m a dad, so I love playing with my daughter. It brings me such joy to be able to do that with her.
When I’m not spending time with family, I watch movies like Gladiator and Rocky 4--my favorite movies because they both have very inspiring stories. When I want to feel more inspired and feed my soul, I listen to music. Music is one of my great loves.
Your favorite quote:
I have two actually:
“Do simply things savagely well.” - Mark Verstegen
“Always do your best and never give up.” - Todd Durkin
What was the best lesson you learned when you first started that now helps you out a lot?
Listen well to your client and always be optimistic during your session, no matter if you’re having a bad or good day. Your client doesn’t need to know if you’re having a bad day. They’re paying you for training and to make the session about them.
And of course, the golden rule of all: Be on time!
What have you learned recently that you wished you learned on Day One?
I wish I had known how important it was to listen to what your clients want. It's not about you and what you want. The client should be the center of your universe.
Also, I believe it's important to learn about the business aspect of fitness, because at the end of the day, we have to run our fitness business like a business and make a decent living--one that makes you successful and feel proud.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Be relentless and believe in yourself. Never give up.
What are your future aspirations?
I would love to keep helping people to live a better life and improve their health through fitness and nutrition to be a better dad or mom and enjoy life with their families.
Turning a love of training into a successful vocation is a challenge for many coaches. Any advice?
Build your business one client at a time.
I recommend always starting to do a great job one client at a time and focus on that. And the rest will follow this natural course.
You can learn more about Daniel Yakupka at www.fitforlifefitnessdc.com.