Interview: Dustin Hassard, Modern Athletics [Tips + Insight]
Get the Basics…
Remaining curious and physically active as an adult
Training everyone as an athlete
Promoting the importance of sleep and nutrition
Building habits towards a healthy and improved lifestyle
Finding the proper motivation to start and finish a workout can be difficult, cant’ it? Making the most of those workouts can be even more challenging if you lack discipline and proper structure.
Today, we’re talking to Dustin Hassard who will share his experience in the military and as an entrepreneur running a fitness business. We will discuss some of the systems and protocols that he’s developed to build his successful fitness practice.
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Meet Dustin Hassard, Owner of Modern Athletics
Schimri Yoyo: This is Schimri Yoyo with Exercise.com and we are continuing our series of interviews with fitness experts. Today, we have Dustin Hassard, who is the Head Coach at Modern Athletics. Thank you for agreeing to the interview with us, Dustin.
Dustin Hassard: My pleasure. I’m glad to be here.
Schimri Yoyo: So, let’s just jump into some of your background information. What sports did you play growing up and what sports do you participate in now?
Dustin Hassard: So, growing up it was mostly baseball, a little bit of football, some martial arts. Being 6’2″ from age 10 on or younger, everyone, of course, thought I was a basketball player, but that is by far my worst sport and the one sport that I just don’t seem to get any better at.
Yeah, I kept to mostly just baseball. Soccer was a big part of my growing up, swimming. So, I dabbled in a lot of things, never really stuck with any one thing, though.
Schimri Yoyo: Yeah. That’s good. Get a little variety. Now, do you still actively participate in any sports today?
Dustin Hassard: Yeah, more so now. That’s actually one of my big philosophies is—it’s just a shame that people don’t play sports after high school, and that’s if they ever played at all. So, I try to encourage people to participate or start something that they may have always wanted to try or used to play. There are just hundreds of options out there in terms of activities and sports if you want to call it that, that people can get involved in.
So, I’m still dabbling in a lot of the same things I just talked about. Weightlifting, I guess, would be my main sport now, which works well for me. But I got back into, well, I’ve always wanted to skateboard since I was a kid, and that was just something that just didn’t seem to happen and it was just too difficult, so I quit very early. But that’s moving along now nicely.
So, I’m going out doing a lot more water sports. Paddleboarding is a big one. Anything that can get me in the water is going to be great. So, swimming and paddleboarding are key there.
Schimri Yoyo: That’s fun.
Dustin Hassard: Sprinting is something I’m reconnecting with. So yeah. I want to explore all of them.
Schimri Yoyo: That’s good.
Dustin Hassard: There are so many things you can do out there.
Schimri Yoyo: Yeah, my oldest son, he’s six years old and he loves to skateboard. I was never any good at it, so it’s funny. He’s learning and teaching himself little different tricks, and I’m like, “I’m sorry, Bud, I can’t help you there.”
Dustin Hassard: You got to do it. I went to just a parking lot where it was quiet and no one could see me because I knew I was going to fall a lot and just look silly. It’s funny because my whole life I wanted to do it but never did it, and within an hour I was actually doing it, and I think there’s something to skateboarding just since we’re talking about it.
I noticed that there’s no greater single-leg training that I’ve experienced than skateboarding. My ankle stability, my knee stability, my hip stability. It all has to be there, and so I’ve actually been incorporating skateboarding into my warm-up. So, I’ll actually skateboard a lap or two on each leg and then I’ll do my sprints just to see if there’s something to it. It’s pretty amazing.
But it took an hour to learn a new skill and I’m not great at it, but it was enough where I felt comfortable enough that I was actually, it could be called skateboarding, and to refrain from doing that my entire life just because of that one little obstacle was kind of crazy. So, getting over that hump was key.
Schimri Yoyo: Well, I’m sure it probably helps with your balance, as well.
Dustin Hassard: Oh, yeah. It’s not an option. That’s the thing you have to have.
Schimri Yoyo: Exactly.
Dustin Hassard: Or you’re forced to get it there.
Schimri Yoyo: You mentioned already that you have a martial arts background. How do you utilize that training in some of the coaching that you do with your clients?
Dustin Hassard: I don’t. There are definitely some things that I pull from all practices. So, you’ll see elements of yoga, gymnastics, all types of sports integrated into people’s workouts these days. I don’t think necessarily any of those practices own that one movement.
But, martial arts have a variety of things and a variety of martial arts have out there that we can pull from. So, I haven’t really made that connection yet. I’m not qualified to really coach martial arts yet. It’s something that I dabbled in, something I actually want to get back into. I’ve fallen off from that and it’s on the top of my list to start back up actually. But, yeah, you’ll see some commonalities there for sure.
Schimri Yoyo: Now, you were also in the military, so thank you for your service. How, if at all, does that experience influence how you train today? Maybe the mentality or structure-wise.
Dustin Hassard: It’s there. I feel like training actually better prepared me for the military. So things that I think would’ve been really helpful. They complement each other well. So, [personal] training gave me the disciplines and the things I needed to have, so when I went into military it was a lot easier to do.
It could have worked in the reverse, as well. The military would have carried over into the disciplines required for fitness. Yeah, they go hand in hand. People always thought I was in the military before I was and I’d never been the type to scream at people.
I bring more of the experiences that I have from the military and bring into the lessons and talk about that just so people have some perspective.
Schimri Yoyo: Yeah, give them context. Now, have you personally used a strength and conditioning coach as a personal trainer?
Dustin Hassard: Absolutely. I don’t remember who first said it to me, but they said, you’re trying to sell people on the value of a personal trainer, but you don’t have one yourself, then you’re pretty much a hypocrite. And that’s sunk in pretty deep. I was like, oh yeah. And as Dan John, I believe, is famous for saying, “If you coach yourself, your client’s an idiot.” And it seems to me you just can’t coach yourself no matter what.
The same thing goes for programs. I have a program when I go into the gym. If I’m on the spot, it doesn’t matter how quickly I come up with a program. If I’m in the gym scratching my head for even a second, I’m wasting my time. And so, not being prepared for a workout either via a program or having someone who is there to look out for my best interests, you’re just not going to have the same caliber of a workout or results. So, it’s a must.
Schimri Yoyo: You’re very active physically. What are some non-athletic activities that you do for fun?
Dustin Hassard: Reading.
Schimri Yoyo: Reading. Okay, that’s good.
Dustin Hassard: It’s interesting because I shied [away] from reading my entire life and I just never understood why are people so into books. I don’t get it. And as a result of training—I’ll put it this way:
Fitness has basically been the gateway to everything I’ve done in my life. So, it has bled over into every aspect of my life. Every aspect of my life has improved as a result of fitness.
Because I wasn’t someone who had started this career and I wasn’t someone who was always active. It wasn’t until my early thirties to mid-thirties that I started to lock it in a little bit, more dialed in. And that’s when I became a trainer, was in my early thirties. So, I struggled with fitness the same as many other people did and still do. And so, having that experience to draw from, that perspective allows me to connect a little bit more with my clients.
But you know, I wasn’t applying myself in any aspect of my life. I was just having fun and not really pushing the envelope. Looking back, I’m like, “Wow, that person was just really lazy and not motivated in life at all. A lot of bad practice, a lot of bad habits.”
So, picking up things like reading now, which is a crazy thing to think that I never did. So, that’s pretty much the main source of my fun now. And learning. This field requires you to constantly learn. So, every single day I’m doing something to learn.
I’m taking workshops, I’m reading books, not just related to training, but outside of training, as well. Looking at things that maybe are completely odd to me or I’m not in agreement with. So, trying to expand my knowledge in every way possible. Education is what I do for fun. That’s not active but certainly is a workout still.
Fitness as a Gateway to Self-Improvement
Schimri Yoyo: That’s good. You use fitness, like you said, as a gateway to self-improvement. That’s awesome.
Dustin Hassard: Yeah.
Schimri Yoyo: Well, if you could describe your training philosophy and methodology in one word, what would it be?
Dustin Hassard: I’ve thought about that. It changes it a lot actually. I think about this daily. So, resilience has been the word I’ve been stuck on lately.
Schimri Yoyo: That’s a great word, resilience.
Dustin Hassard: We’re making the body more resilient. Strength was the word. I’m all about strength training. I call myself a strength coach above all else, but I speak of strength as mental and physical strength, as well. And really what we’re doing is making ourselves more resilient. We’re making our body more able to withstand injuries.
We’re challenging ourselves in ways that make us able to tackle other demands in life, other physical and mental obstacles as well, and just be more resilient about handling it. Where things that were once difficult for us are no longer difficult because we built up that resilience. We’re able to take a little bit more punishment.
Schimri Yoyo: That’s a good explanation. You also have a background in nutrition and you offer nutrition coaching as one of your core services. How important is nutrition to physical fitness?
Dustin Hassard: It is an absolute necessity. I mean, it really is. You’ve heard the whole 80/20. Fitness is 80% nutrition, 20% exercise. It seems to hold true, and the way I translate it to people when they hear that quote is, if you’re eating three meals a day as a standard, that’s 21 meals a week.
Let’s say you work out four times a week, the score is now 21 to four. So, even if you have four of the most amazing workouts, you still have 21 meals that are going to either contribute or take away from those workouts. So, it is absolutely a necessity and I think everyone knows that too, but we tend to ignore it.
I ignored it significantly because I just, no matter what I did, I just looked the same. Same physique for the most part. You could probably nitpick here and there, but I was just the slender guy and that’s just the way it was no matter what I ate. Whether I was eating clean or just eating complete garbage.
And I was kind of going through this period of life where I found myself low energy, just unmotivated to do anything, depressed. I didn’t even know why I was depressed. I had no reason to be. My life was solid, so it was unexplainable. I was like, “Oh, maybe there’s just some chemical imbalance with me,” or “Oh, I was born this way.”
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Well, through some good influence with aligning myself with the fitness professionals that I knew, I started cleaning my diet and literally within a week all the negative symptoms went away and so I was like, well, gosh, I knew nutrition was important, but I didn’t think about these other things it was affecting.
My sleep got better, my workouts felt better. I was going into these workouts normally that I thought were just like, “Wow, this always feels awful.” Now, I had the energy to push myself harder and, therefore, get better results.
My physique started to change just the glow of my body started to change, everything. Mentally and physically it was transformational. It wasn’t just about how I looked and that’s not necessarily how it is. That does have an impact for sure, but it was really just about how I was feeling overall.
Dustin Hassard: Yeah, it varies from person to person it seems. I’ll tell you this, nutrition is my weak spot. No matter who you are and no matter what your goal is, nutrition’s the obstacle, myself included. I’m not still at the level I want to be and I’m doing my best to figure that out.
I do coach nutrition, but more on a basic level. I don’t get too detailed with it. I try to find a way that is sustainable for people, allow them to more change their habits, incorporate some options that are better than what they’re currently doing. And then, over time, it gets better and better and better.
So, as far as the nutrition goes though, it’s something I nitpick at with everybody else but not spend a whole lot of time on, unless they’re hiring me specifically for that. But, I don’t get to the level that smarter people might with nutrition. I try to be very simple, as possible.
Schimri Yoyo: Okay. You spoke on this a little bit as you talked about your journey, but I just want to give you an opportunity to discuss your opinion in further detail.
How are nutrition and exercise, and then physical and mental wellness are related? How do they complement each other?
Dustin Hassard: Can you repeat that?
Schimri Yoyo: In your opinion, how are your physical and mental wellness affected by nutrition and exercise?
Dustin Hassard: Well, it’s a cycle. So, one affects the other and you know, first, it starts with what’s going on up here [Editor’s note: Dustin is pointing to his head].
If up here is not going well then everything else falls apart too. You start to just—if my thoughts are negative, then my attitude towards my training, towards my nutrition suffers as well and that makes me less likely to want to improve those areas, too. So, it’s an absolute necessity.
The three things I coach in terms of that cycle though is, I talk about people like exercise, nutrition, and sleep And for me, and I think it’s true for most people, if sleep is suffering, those other two areas are greatly reduced or greatly affected.
So, without sleep, I’m not going to really be able to give my best or get the most from my exercise or nutrition.
Not just talking about making bad choices due to being sleep-deprived or likely to miss something, but just the physiological effects, too. In a perfect world, I would coach sleep first. If human nature was, we would just do the things we’re supposed to do, I would coach sleep first, then nutrition, then exercise. But the way it seems is, just the way we respond, is I coach exercise first because that’s the gateway into people eating better.
And then maybe after a long time I’ve built up the trust and people can actually start to take my advice when it comes to actually focus in on sleep as a skill, as well. And that really is the game changer as it was for me. When I locked in my sleep, it supercharged everything else I was doing, nutrition and exercise. You can’t have one without the other, but some are gateways into others for sure.
Schimri Yoyo: That’s a great answer. And I’ll confess that it is something that I haven’t focused on enough. Even in my personal life and even in my interviews, I sometimes neglect the importance of sleep and how that affects the overall fitness and your overall physical and mental health. So, that’s something that I’m definitely going to incorporate more in my interviews moving forward.
Dustin Hassard: I power napped before this interview, so I’m feeling pretty pumped up right now.
Schimri Yoyo: How are speed, strength, and mobility-related in your training regimen? And is one more important to an athlete than the others out of those three?
Dustin Hassard: Yeah, so I consider everybody I train an athlete whether they’re actually playing competitive sports or if they’re an adult who’s working out for the first time in their life. I still consider them athletes and each one is going to be at a different level.
So, speed, strength, and mobility. Mobility I used to always think of as how much range of motion do you have and how stable you are through that range of motion. Really, mobility is just the ability to move. So, everything we do is mobility and is designed to help people move better at whatever capacity it is.
Strength is relative, as well. That’s the thing I emphasize the most, though, is I want people to be strong physically and mentally. So, there are ways to measure that that are scientific. But as long as people are continuously improving and going from where they’re currently at and then the next time they work out it’s just a little bit better, they are getting stronger, and then we can keep building upon that.
Speed is also relative. For some people, just jumping an inch off the ground is speed. And for other people, we have got to do full-on sprints or Olympic lifting. It just depends on person to person, but I think they’re all important. I don’t think anyone of them should be excluded.
Without mobility, of course, building strength or speed is just not going to happen at the level it could. That is an absolute must before anything else. That’s the foundation of everything there.
Schimri Yoyo: Now, how do you measure progress for your clients and then for yourself?
Dustin Hassard: I’m just taking a guess. Haha. No, absolutely not.
Everybody is on a program and through those programs, everything is measured. What gets measured gets managed, so it doesn’t matter what I think, but what I see on paper tells the true story.
And a lot of times actually it’s instinctual for my athletes. They know when they’re getting stronger, they know when they feel better. So, they can simply answer that question for themselves without me having to say anything. But if they don’t have that intuition or if maybe they’re a little self-loathing or have doubts about it, the numbers on paper don’t lie.
Every single workout is tracked. I have stats for every single thing they’ve done, from the first time we meet to every single workout. And when I see improvements or something that shows measurable progress there, whether it’s more reps, more weights, more advanced exercise progression, anything can be measured.
I use that for ensuring that they get progress. They don’t have to wait for weeks or months or years to find out if something is working or not. I know every single workout if something’s improving or not. And if it isn’t, I make changes. I love it because it’s a lovely science. I don’t have to actually leave it up to guessing.
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Schimri Yoyo: No, that’s good. You put that emphasis on data and record keeping. And it’s able, like you said, to show objective results to your clients.
Dustin Hassard: And I tell people, I mean I get a little harsh sometimes, a little more blunt, but I like to give people those truths. I used to be a person who was closed-minded. I was very defensive. Anytime somebody had any kind of criticism for me, or at least what I viewed as criticism, I would just make excuses, dismiss it.
The thing about those numbers is they tell the true story for sure. And I say that trainers that aren’t utilizing programs or tracking those numbers, they’re not a professional to me. So, I try to educate the athletes as well. Make sure your trainer or whoever you’re using from here on out should be tracking this stuff because you’re not going to get lucky in fitness. If you don’t see measurable progress and you’re just guessing what you’re doing, it’s a fine line sometimes, especially the more [advanced] you get.
You do not get lucky in fitness. Things don’t just magically happen. You have to be on top of it. But yeah, as professionals, we can all debate as to what method is the best. We all can agree our job is not causing any harm to any member above all else. But, if you’re just giving them random workouts and not actually tracking that, you’re doing them a disservice. And I think for what they pay per hour, any amount really, that you should be providing that for them.
Schimri Yoyo: That makes sense. What protocols or safeguards do you have in place that help you to push your clients to their physical limits without burning them out or risking injury?
Dustin Hassard: Really, just by watching. If it looks like garbage, it is garbage. Making sure that quality is always there and making sure that the standard set for them is always really high. They probably get tired of hearing me, not necessarily nitpick, I don’t want to overwhelm them with information, but you know, making sure that they’re aware of what they need to be doing to perform things safely and correctly.
Little by little towards small progressions, not big jumps. I try to relate mistakes that I’ve made in my own training, the common types of mistakes that are made among all types of people. And I try to get people to avoid that by highlighting, if we go too big too soon, there’s this risk.
One of the classic lines [that I often use] in terms of progressing people [who] want to go too big too soon, I’m just like, “Listen, if we increase your weight five pounds a month, that’s 300 pounds in a year. That is going to be a world record. We’re not going to go that far.”
So, don’t underestimate the power of even just a pound. Improving a pound from every single workout, it’s significant. And it can be there through success and failure.
Managing Modern Athletics as a Business
Schimri Yoyo: That makes sense. Now, let’s talk about specifically your business and how you’re running it. How do you juggle your time between being a trainer and strength coach and an entrepreneur?
Dustin Hassard: Yeah, I mean time is it. That is the challenge right there for sure. Managing that and keeping it pretty tight. Always trying to work that out, trying to improve the processes. You have got to have systems in place because if you’re spending a lot of time doing the same things, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel every single time.
If you’re spending time doing certain things, you should have a system in place where every time you do it you follow that same order. It allows you to be able to replicate the process too, when you have success too, rather than just things happening magically at random. So, keeping a recurring schedule with a little bit of flexibility there—nothing ever goes as planned—but doing your best to prepare for all that stuff and having contingencies in place.
I talk about in the military, too, it comes to systems. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve done maintenance on something in the military, you still have to follow the same list line by line, and you usually have somebody else there reading it to you and verifying that you followed each step. There is a reason for that because you’re trying to eliminate any potential missteps because every single step does matter.
You should replicate that same process in anything you do in your business, too. It will evolve over time. Every single day I’m revising my systems and making improvements, maybe cutting out new things or rethinking certain things I’ve been doing just until I get that perfect recipe for replicating results for my business and ultimately for the clients.
I’m still trying to figure it out. The whole time management thing too, because technology allows us to be more places than once now, which is great. So, you got to consider too, if I can only see one person at a time, I’m really limited in how many people I can reach too. So you have got to take those great ideas you have, the stuff you’re sharing with your clients, and make it more accessible and widely available to everybody, so you can reach as many people as possible.
Schimri Yoyo: That’s a great piece of advice. Now, I’m giving you the opportunity to brag about yourself and Modern Athletics a little bit. What makes you guys unique and what’s your differentiator?
Dustin Hassard: That’s something else I think about on a daily basis, too. And it’s always improving. So, I think the biggest thing is seven days a week I’m spending trying to be a better coach so that I can get the most for my clients. To say I care a lot is probably the biggest differentiator there.
I think a lot of coaches out there do care, but you’re going to come across many professionals who don’t put that effort into it, who are there just because it’s a job, who aren’t thinking outside of those sessions about how they can get more out of themselves and their clients. So, every day I’m just pushing myself to be better, learn more, understand things better from both my perspective, as well as my athletes’ perspective, too.
As far as differentiators go, I don’t think there should be anyone specific thing that sets me apart from anybody else. I’m trying to find something that I can share with other coaches just as they’ve shared with me that will allow us to all replicate these great results.
Nothing that we do will be proprietary. We’re trying to achieve the same goal ultimately, hopefully. And there’s plenty of success out there for all of us to share, and so the more that we can all collaborate and make sure that we are constantly pushing things forward for the industry is going to be useful.
Standing out is not something I aim to do. I think the results that people get will speak for themselves. And I think when people show how much I put into each session, the energy I bring to it, the professionalism behind everything I do, the fact that I’m trying to educate them to succeed, not just now but long into to their future. So, in a roundabout way, this is what I’m saying is, I consider myself an educator and that’s my premise.
I’m not there to give people a workout or even just a training program. I’m there to actually teach them enough where they would know what they’ve learned to be able to teach somebody else so that they can continue to spread it too. So, in a sense, I’m planning on empowering them to take control of their own fitness but also, spread that and influence other people. Be a positive role model for other people, as well.
I think making sure people are learning something, understanding why we’re doing stuff, and are able to make those decisions long after we’ve separated. Because it seems inevitable that they’re not always going to have me by their side and whether they move or I move or whatever reason, I need them to feel like every single session they can continue to take with them, that it’s not just, “Oh the hour’s over with. I’ll never get that back.” It’s I got something from this hour or this training time that is going to carry over for the rest of my life, too.
Schimri Yoyo: Yeah, that’s a good answer. Very thorough. Now, you mentioned this a little bit, but I just want to give you a chance to be a little more specific. How are you using technology and social media to promote your business or to reach more of your clients?
Dustin Hassard: Just putting the message out there. The things that I share daily with the people that are interacting with me in person. Sometimes I’ll have a message that I feel so good about, it’s like, “Oh, it’s a shame that only one person heard this, or 10 people or 20 people heard this.”
So, I’m using social media more to just get the message out there. Hopefully, inspire others. Whether it be coaches, inspire them to want to be better, to learn something new or to inspire people to start incorporating the things that I teach into their lives.
Social media, it’s definitely a full-time job in itself it seems. That’s an area I’m trying to juggle and fit more into my schedule for sure. I need to do that. Technology-wise though. I mean just having a software that allows you to quickly or more easily build workouts and send those to clients.
A lot of people can train remotely. So, what I try to do is utilizing the online remote training stuff so that the people that only train with me once or twice a week, which is most of my clients, they’re able to supplement that with workouts that still follow the same methods and philosophies, but it doesn’t require them to be there.
I also like that with the technology, when I hand something off to them, they’re forced to learn it on their own and therefore they better retain it and it can just amplify what we do when we are training together because now they can take it with them, work out on their convenience, on their schedule, when they travel. Technology is been awesome for that.
Schimri Yoyo: What would you say is the biggest challenge in running your own business and what is the biggest reward in running your own business?
Dustin Hassard: Biggest challenge. Probably overthinking everything. Yeah, I like the challenges that I face in business. I’m trying to think what the biggest obstacle was. I guess just when you’re trying to first build that business up, build that reputation up once it starts going, though, it rolls pretty smoothly.
It’s just getting people when you’re brand new, starting out, trying to get the momentum rolling and then also making sure that people that have been with you a long time still continue to feel like they’re getting value out of it, that it doesn’t get stale. That can be a challenge too.
You don’t want to get too complacent in anything you do [Editor: see video below from a professional athlete’s point of view]. You don’t want to get complacent in what you know, for sure. You don’t want to get complacent in the workouts you’re giving clients, with experience you’re giving clients. No matter how well you know them, you still have got to make sure that every time that they show up that it’s almost like that first day they’re a client that you’re trying to win over.
The challenge is, too, kind of what you were talking about when we first started the interview is combating misinformation. Combating misinformation that is spread by people that even appear to be professionals. You got your YouTube University, you got your Instagram famous people that are really good at marketing.
That’s what has plagued fitness since the beginning of time, are people that are really good at marketing and taking your money but don’t actually care about the results you’re getting. So, going against that, going against the grain in terms of what’s trending, what’s popular and trying to tell people, teach people that “Hey, there is a better way than what you might see being popularized, a better way than what everyone else is doing.”
You have got to build a lot of trust before you convince somebody that what’s popular is maybe not the best solution for them or people long-term. I think that is the biggest challenge: educating people and getting them to break away from what the stigmas are and what they already know.
And then the secondary challenge I faced—and this is one that I’m personally trying to deal with more by sharing everything I learned as a professional with other professionals—and that is that everybody out there that’s training or doing anything in fitness represents the entire industry. When one person does something negative, it affects everybody. So, when you see a trainer in a gym doing something that either is unprofessional, or inexperienced, or dangerous, that’s the stigma that it creates for all of us.
When I have someone who comes to me and they had a trainer before and they had a bad experience. Maybe that trainer hurt them or they didn’t get anything out of there or that trainer wasn’t professional. I’ve heard some of my clients tell me that their trainers would eat French toast in front of them while they worked out, things like that. It just really makes us all look bad, too.
And I know some of the most brilliant people out there, the hardest working people and caring people out there are in our field and they’re also the ones that probably don’t spend all their time marketing. So, therefore, you’re not going going to find them as easily as you would somebody who’s got a big brand behind them and spends all their time getting good at taking your money, not delivering results.
Schimri Yoyo: Well said. You talked about a lot of the challenges. Now, what would you say is one or two of the biggest rewards that you have managing and running your own business?
Dustin Hassard: Just being in control and getting to know that you get to develop your systems, that you get to run things the way that you feel is best. That can be a bad thing too. You have got to still bounce your ideas off of other people, too. If I’m just making decisions because I want to do it this way, I might be overlooking something important that someone else might recognize too.
So, it’s so important that even as I’m running my own business, making my own decisions, that I get input from everybody, both the athletes and other coaches and anyone I can like outsiders or mentors, that sort of stuff.
I think it’s all rewarding. It just depends on who you are. Some people are very happy going in and having everything in place for them and they show up and they do their job and they do it well. And they don’t have to have any responsibilities outside of just being a great coach.
I know that I have that more entrepreneurial mind. Really, no matter who you are as a fitness professional, you’re an entrepreneur. Whether you like it or not, you are building your own business, your own brand, even if you work for somebody.
So, you pretty much have to be an entrepreneur in this industry. But, when you take on the responsibilities of having to pay rent and equipment and all that, there are risks, of course, involved. But the reward is you get to build something that is matching and in line with your vision.
Schimri Yoyo: Well said. That’s good. What do you know now as a business owner that you wish you would’ve known when you first started out?
Dustin Hassard: Oh, gosh. So much. Thousands of things. I think the main thing is just to recognize that all the knowledge I could possibly want is out there for me already. I don’t need to try to figure things out on my own. I should take advantage of every single person that’s out there, whether a new coach, a new fitness professional, someone who’s more experienced. They all have something to offer or something that they can teach me.
So, being more eager and outgoing to get that information or seek out that information. I don’t think I ever felt like I knew a lot, but there was definitely a period where I thought I was a really good trainer and I looked back at that train and I’m just like, “Yeah, you were not even close.” And so being humble, more humble at first, too.
I definitely recognize the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know. And that’s been awesome for me too because I don’t feel like I can be smart enough. And it seems like the people that are doing the best and whether they’re an athlete or a coach, they’re the ones that just don’t feel good enough. Not in a self-loathing kind of way, but they’re always like, “I can learn more. I can learn more. I can do better.” There’s no end to it.
So, and then the other thing is really defining who I am and who I want to target, what my message is. I mean, that takes years. It’s still evolving. It might be another 10 years before I really feel like I’ve locked it in. But, that’s an important thing to lock in, too, is who you are as a coach. What did you want to do? Fine-tuning that, you can call it your niche if you want to, but that’s definitely the challenge. I wish I knew a lot more of that stuff going into it.
Schimri Yoyo: And now finally again, thank you, Dustin, for your time. This has been a great interview. I just want to know, what’s next for you in your business? What’s next for Modern Athletics five, 10 years down the road?
Dustin Hassard: One thing is for sure is, even when I’m waking up at 4:00 AM being like, “Why do I do this?” It only takes an hour later before I realize like, “Oh yeah because I love it. This is awesome.” So, I see myself doing this forever and continuing on the path, and growing, and helping to become the best coach I can be so other people can benefit from that.
But, I’m [also] trying to decide between: Do I focus my efforts more on working with fitness professionals, or people, or both? I do enjoy helping other trainers boost the image of our industry and get the most out of their training, teach them all the mistakes that I’ve made so they don’t have to.
But, I still love coaching, too, and long-term I really just want to build Modern Athletics into a global brand, of course. I have very ambitious [goals]. I would love it if I had this Mecca facility of coaching, and best training, and all-encompassing where you go in there and it’s just all your fitness needs are taken care of in one spot, the kind of spot you never want to leave. So, that’s like my grand vision there, too.
Like I say, if I didn’t make this clear, my training has really little to do with exercise. It actually goes way beyond that. Exercise is just the beginning. But I try to get into actually helping people improve all aspects of their lives, too. So it gets into the lifestyle. Who they are as people, how they can apply themselves to do more. Just go through that same transformation that I had where you realize anything you want you can pursue.
We’re rarely actually really living up to our full potential. What we have once wanted to become we have kind of lost our way. So, trying to reconnect people with that and make them understand that [they can] push the envelope. They can do so much more for themselves and live every day feeling great.
So, I hope to get to the point where Modern Athletics has got the mass appeal and everybody gets to experience what I experience. And that’s just feeling great and happy about life every single day.
Schimri Yoyo: Thank you again, Dustin. Good luck to you in growing your business and growing Modern Athletics. We look forward to hearing from you again down the road.
Dustin Hassard: I appreciate it. Thanks for letting me [get out all my thoughts on your platform].
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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.