Chris Mooney is a personal training performance coach. He is the founder of 51 FIT, a company that specializes in Coaching & Mentoring commercial gym-based PTs to building a successful and profitable business. Mooney’s mission is to help all Fitness Professionals, PTs, Membership Consultants, and Club Managers to REALLY make their mark and be successful.
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?
I grew up in Army towns for the first half of my childhood as my Dad served in the Australian Army, and is a Vietnam War Veteran. We moved around with Army transfers, by the time I finished high school, I had lived in 3 states, and attended 6 schools.
Most of my friends went to 1 primary school and 1 high school, so while at times challenging, I look back now and can appreciate some of the skills and character traits I developed over those years. How to communicate, make friends, read a map, and fight.
Kids can be mean but there were no victims in our house. We were enrolled in martial arts from about 6 years old for self-discipline and self-defense, but as a kid growing up in the ’80s, it was also very useful for establishing the pecking order when bullies came to test the new kid.
Growing up, my parents did an amazing job, even more, amazing when looking back as an adult and father myself and understanding the ups and downs of raising a family especially when far away from any relatives and family support.
My childhood was what I felt was pretty standard for most kids of that era albeit a little more strict than most I knew due to the Army Dad influence. We had daily chores to do which included everything from washing dishes, chopping firewood, hanging the washing and even one year in particular during a mouse plague (yep, it was in a semi-rural region and they just kept breeding), setting and emptying the mouse traps each day before school.
Excuses did not exist in our house, you either got the job done or you didn’t. Every action had a consequence, and as Dad was big on discipline and punishment, we did our best to ensure the consequence was a subtle nod of approval.
What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?
That the discipline Dad was instilling in us was intended to help us develop powerful character traits and was not just a mundane chore or punishment. That taking pride in the little things like how you fold your washing or polish your shoes was more about establishing and expecting high standards for life rather than just looking at them as unnecessary chores. While I did eventually come around to accept these lessons in my early 20’s, it wasn’t until I was almost 30 yrs old that it really hit home on a much bigger scale.
The standard you walk past is the standard you accept. So if you can’t return your shopping trolley to the collection spot, or pick up the piece of paper that is on the ground beside the bin, then how can you expect to succeed in business, sport, life?
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
As a mentor and leader in the fitness industry, I hear bad advice and recommendations often. Usually by people unqualified to be providing such advice in the first place.
Unfortunately, these people are very good at marketing and use all the tricks in the books to hook their prospects. “You need a lead generation ad campaign’, ‘6 steps to 6 figures as a PT’, ‘How to boost your social media followers’. The list goes on.
What is missing, and something I drive home is this, in order to succeed, you need to be exceptionally good at the very basics of PT. You need to execute the little things every day. You need to have aggressive patience, to do what you know needs to be done, to allow for enough time to gain the experience required, produce the results you are capable of, and build a community around you of loyal supporters. And most importantly, you need to be VERY good at helping your clients achieve THEIR goals!
Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?
In 2005 I took a leap of faith and entered into a different industry that had the potential to generate significantly greater income than what I was currently earning. I jumped into a seemingly amazing offer that required me to relocate my family from the city we were living in back to the town in which I spent my high school years. Within a few weeks, it became obvious the role wasn’t quite what it was pumped up to be and I found myself with about $50 left from my weekly salary after paying a very modest weekly rent. Any savings we had was quickly drying up and things were looking grim. I had some healthy commissions due, but they were still several weeks away.
Earlier I mentioned the character traits my Dad instilled in me, well it was the lessons and character traits I learnt from my Mum that helped us get through this period. Patience, resilience, positive outlook, being able to make $50 go a long way. The zero option mentality that Andy Frisella speaks of, was something that I didn’t know existed, but looking back this was how we got through this period. When you have zero options, you somehow become very resourceful and ‘entrepreneurial’ in order to keep food on the table and a roof overhead. We were able to weather the storm and got back on our feet, relocated to the Gold Coast to expand the company, and start a new chapter in our lives that ultimately lead us to where we are today.
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
I am very fortunate to have found my soul mate and best friend at an early age, my Wife, Iolani and I have been together through thick and thin since 1999. So, the biggest contributor to my success so far has to be my Wife. A close second is our beautiful Daughters. From our most challenging times to our most memorable times, the one consistent has been my loving and supportive family. They say to succeed, you must first know yours why. My girls are now, have always been, and always will be my why. Without them, I can honestly say I would not be where I am today and I would not be able to achieve the goals I have set for the future.
What is your morning routine?
Most mornings I am up at 0540. Get dressed, glass of water, morning supplement regime which varies depending on the time of year and or training program I am on. Then I’ll either put on my headphones, tune into a podcast or audiobook and take off on my 5km walk. Or on other mornings instead of the walk, I’ll go into my home office and get a head start on my day by reviewing my schedule, jotting some notes in my journal, or working on some content for my current projects. Following the walk or office work, I’ll join my girls for breakfast (even if I am fasting) before we all head out for school, work, etc.
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
Working out. Lifting weights, getting sweaty, pushing myself, being uncomfortable. It’s during these times over many, many years that my character has developed, my mental strength and resilience have grown stronger, my body and mind have evolved to a place that continues to seek more challenges and greater growth year after year.
Along with the physical training, dedicating time daily to listen to audiobooks or podcasts with the intention of finding a key take away each time that I can either action myself, or share with someone else so that they can put it to action and score a win.
What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?
To be honest, this is an area I find myself needing to focus on more, in fact, I have set some nonnegotiables for 2021 in order to ensure I improve my time management.
The two simple rules I will be abiding by, make sure I have set up for tomorrow before I sleep today and if I think about it now, I do it now, no procrastinating or putting things off. I have always been able to think on my feet and operate from memory, however as both my role and business continue to grow, evolve, and include clients and colleagues from local and around the world, I really do need to have a more structured and scalable strategy in play. Again, I am fortunate to have some great mentors around me that have helped me and continue to help me develop these skills.
What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
As a kid, I was into reading, war stories, the LOTR trilogy, adventure novels, etc. But as an adult, I really didn’t find the time to read. That’s not to say it wasn’t there, I just filled the time with other pursuits, family, sport, work, scrolling through social media.
It wasn’t until 2015 when I was introduced to Audible that I got hooked again. This time, instead of fantasy and adventure novels, it was self and professional development books. I could turn on a book and still work, train, walk while getting lost in the book. I’d find myself taking screenshots on my phone so that I could refer back to the time and re-listen to important points to take notes and so on.
I jumped into Gary Vaynerchuck’s Crush It and found it to be full of great ideas and insights on how to build a personal brand via social media.
Grant Cardone’s books were high energy and had me ready to sell just about anything.
Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki taught me how to look at money differently and opened my mind to some different ways to leverage money to generate wealth.
I now have an Audible library into the hundreds of titles, almost all have influenced my life in one way or another, however, there is one book that stood out and continues to influence my life on an almost daily basis.
Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Brabin. This book, especially the audio version combined my love of military history and war stories with business strategy and personal development. It’s a book I recommend to almost everyone I meet and will continue to do so, legitimate life-changing content, and covers the three E’s. Entertaining, Educating, and Empowering. Once you understand and incorporate Extreme Ownership into your life, you lose all excuses and ‘reasons’ for not succeeding.
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
Fortune Favours Effort. I found that while luck does exist, it’s rarely a factor for why someone is successful long term in business or sport. ‘The harder I work, the luckier I get’ was a quote I used to live by during my days playing football (American football). It meant the more work I do in the gym, on the practice field, watching game film, etc the greater success I would have on game day. All of a sudden, I’d make a ‘lucky tackle’ or we would win a close game on a ‘lucky play’ however, when you literally practice these things over and over and over, it’s no longer about luck, but the repeated effort you have put in to ensure a greater chance of success. So I refined the quote to, Fortune Favours Effort and that continues to apply in my personal life and in business.