Running an Online Fitness Business.
Episode 2- Matt Boyle ''The reality of the online fitness industry'
So Matt you are in the fitness industry. So you own fitter confident you. You're here for the bi gay trans men to make them feel better about themselves. And I wanted to invite you in because as the podcast suggests, we're going to talk about the Insta not Instagram because that's a trademarked word, Insta versus reality of different businesses, different industries. And you have a very, very different angle to the Instagram angle of your industry. So before we get into it, though, I want to know more about you. I want you to just spin on us. What do you do? Why do you do it? What's your name?
Hello, Inge. Thanks for having me on. Lovely to see your face and have a chat. As always, you know how wonderful I think you are. My name is Matt Boyles. I created fitter confident you which is online personal training tailored for gay bi trans men. I do what I do, because when I found fitness, it helped me find myself. Not that I didn't have a voice, not that I didn't have any confidence or didn't have boundaries or wasn't able to speak up. But I didn't know who I was. I didn't have as much self belief or self esteem as I do now. And it's not hyperbole to say we wouldn't be sitting here now talking about this, if I hadn't found in got into fitness because I wouldn't have had the wherewithal to start my own business doing anything but obviously, especially fitness. So it's very meta that if that hadn't happened, the very sliding doors topical reference, I my life would have gone in a whole different path. And maybe I would have found fitness later in a different form or something else. But it helped me realise my own capabilities.
And then I got to witness them and feel them and see how that plays out and ripples out positively across all the different areas of my life. And I reasoned as a gay man if it helped me find myself and find my feet and feel comfortable in my own skin. Probably one or two others out there who might have had a similar journey feel the same want a bit of help, and be unsure about how to get started, which I used to be as well. So I wanted to put my reach my hand out and hope people say and support them and do it in a kind, fun, accessible way.
Give me goosebumps. Oh, thanks. Okay. All right. So then Interestingly though, before you start so if fitness helps you figure out, like, be more confident in yourself, start your own business, be more you before you even started, did you think fitness was something that you would ever have gotten into?
No. And my exact belief was that fitness and sport was what other people did. So potted history rewind further, grew up in the 80s and went to a school that was very rah rah rah rugby, rugby, rugby, I was very skinny, ugly, skinny, skinny, skinny, spindly or skinny Italy. There you go. New word. I was a very meek child who didn't like play rugby. didn't love being beaten up in the mud twice a week of winter. And they said, it was no other sport, very little support of other fitness activities, sport, things like that. So if you weren't into rugby, that was it. There wasn't anything else really to for you to do for you to try for you to see if you might be good at or like, so I went through school, teenage years University, even early 20s Thinking other people did that stuff. And my mind was, oh, well fitness is rugby, and like team sports and boys club and super, hyper masculine and straight and all of that all the things that I wasn't, and I didn't want to be part of. And then when I found other ways to do it, I joined the bootcamp.
And then I joined a gym and did it training and just sort of did it by myself and realise, oh, this is completely different to how I thought my brain was telling me it would be. And that was when, oh, I'm sleeping better. Oh, my posture is better. Like all these other surprising things crept up on me and gave me those that good feeling that actually, I could do it on my terms. And that was when Oh, well, I'd like to do this a bit more. So when I became I worked in marketing, then at the time, became a personal trainer, more traditional work in the park, train people there face to face. And then it would do that for about six years. And then about five years ago, started building an online version fitter, confident you as we know now, and that just allowed me to reach more people and discover that actually, yes, lots of my amazing community did have crappy experiences of sport and fitness and growing up and did feel a lot like I did.
So I literally walked in their shoes, so I knew it was possible to help me. So I wagered that I could probably help other people to what was the starting point? No, because if you look at Instagram, and look at, it's all like dark gloss, and very oiled pecs. I mean, I get fitter. What is that men's magazine, Men's Fitness Men's Fitness that comes to the door every month. I read it, because I quite like the food bits. But that's really not you. So start off being that sort of masculine brand. But when did the transformation happen?
Good question. I thought I did have to play by those old school rules originally. But as I actually the first being the traditional trainer, I didn't really grow or explore that much. It was when I'd started moving online that I started to build other elements into what I was doing meditation, confidence boosts community empathy, and like, and also that was when I niched and started realising that actually, I want to work specifically with gay bi trans men, because I have a deeper connection because I understand it because it's the body I have, it's the life I've lived. And that was when I leaned into my weirdness even more unicorns out. And unicorns can be borrowers.
Yeah, all of that. And that like doing the 180 degree difference to what the fitness industry does is kind of my MO I never talk about appearance. I would never like hate all that and you still see Beachbody ready get ready for summer like I hate all that and like it's so short term and blinkered and it puts people off ultimately it makes it seem that and also like it was always a boys club. That's the other thing serious fitness is a serious game even in men's health like the cover that very rarely smiling it's a serious thing for serious people leaning down but up exactly. Like that is not what we do it pretty confident you it's about having fun in a post if you like that. There are some because as an experiment about seven years ago, I did a I worked with a different trainer for 12 weeks to get sort of competition picture ready. And I've got some black black and white photos of me going and I'd like a very low body fat but I look really gaunt and I didn't enjoy it and like the last two weeks were ridiculous like eating broccoli and spinach five times a day i It's nonsense like if you want to do that and get into it and that's your drive great but like as an experiment it did not make me happy like my my body was is an inverted commas better?
So, hopefully Ben what? Like, yeah, and this is what I say to people as well. Like, don't do don't do don't like, have a goal, like lose weight or any of those things, because you think it will make you happy because then you'll do stuff, your if like, if you do lose the weight, great. And well if you work with me because I make it super simple, but don't predicate happiness on a future you that you might never become. Or if you if you do lose the weight you get, then you realise, oh, no, I'm still unhappy. I'm just a bit lighter. Like, you've got to work on being happy. Now you've got to find things that do it for you. And that's why I never talked about like I said appearance, or those are more superficial drivers, which, and the flip side is if someone comes to me and says, that's what I want to do, and that's what my motivation can get me started. I of course, support that. But I'll try and encourage them to expand their worldview on why they're doing what they're doing, because that makes it so much more sustainable.
I feel like I make a point not to say that though, if I sign up with a nutrient or whatever, I know that they want me to say that I want to lose weight.
So I'm like, oh, no, it's long term health. I want good bones when I made it. You can see those, some of them are immediately like, like one in particular, a while back was immediately like, Oh, God, I don't think I can help them. Because I feel like a lot of the people coming to fitness that well, that's the perception, isn't it? Lose weight, lose weight, lose weight, trim, trim, trim, would you agree?
Yeah. So again, there's nothing wrong with that. nothing inherently wrong with that. It's and I noticed that the the other side is your that long term health goal is great, but it's hard to measure. So it's so I think you do need a combination of some more quantifiable and qualitative data and goals. Because if it all is all just, I want to be healthy when I'm at? Well, Inka let me see we've got a while to go. So how will you have to wait,
I mean, that's me trying to play my own game, throw them off the scent.
Oh, you sneaky sneaky person. I love it, just train me, really, I want to lose some weight. But that is the thing as well then. So the other way I get it is get people to make the actions or the processes.
Make a goal workout three times this week, oh, tick, tick, tick, I did that great dopamine hit feel great, feel motivated. Now I can keep going and do it again next week.
So against all those perceptions, what do you think the actual reality of the fitness industry? And how do you try and sort of encourage people to see that?
The reality is that the secret behind it all, which is really boring, is it's finding your consistency, finding whatever it takes for you. Well, because no one that sorry, it's not boring in terms of what it causes. But if you put that on the cover of Men's Health, there weren't so many magazines, you've got to pick if you if it was like, You got to be consistent, not exciting. But it's but it's the reason that change happens with anything, not just fitness, with business with anything with personal growth. It's that consistency, you can't doing it once might make you feel good once, but it's not going to change anything got to show up. So you've got to find what works for you to help you keep showing up whether it's the carrot or the stick or different incentives. And obviously with me, it's finding your tribe as well and helping you be around people who want the best for you and are doing what you're doing as well, that sort of energy flowing back and forth is really powerful. That's really how I'm changing it making breaking it down that it's it's done on your terms. Because then it's then it's then it feels yours and then you've got that ownership of it as well. And if you've got that it's a really great starting point.
What about in your own business, then? How do you show that reality?
Well, it's why obviously I partly why I joined the mastermind this year, to have that accountability to have that external impetus to do it as opposed to just the drive which is in here, which is still strong, but it can always be stronger. For those. Yes. In his Yes, in here and deep in my heart. And I fit and I especially I know I'm mostly extroverted. So I get my energy being around other people I get inspired listening to other people and riffing on jokes and ideas and and just imagining what's possible.
And that's what working with, like your good self this year and coming into contact with other incredible inspiring business owners who encourage and inspire and are grateful that my personality looks that and goes I want to do that. And I know for whatever different reasons, some people might look at that and find it off putting and so you've got I just want to say about finding what works for you. It gets again with some of my clients, some of them do love being in the Facebook group or other communities because they see people ahead or near them and go yes, that's brilliant. I totally get the flip side of Oh no, that's off putting How will I ever get there. So I encourage people to feel like that not to be part of that and to start small. Keep in contact with me and obviously we work closely and build from there. So like this is what I'm Maybe find your rhythm with it, find what ticks your boxes, and then things get easier.
What you're specifically doing though, so you have this fitness industry, which is all hypermasculine black gas oil bodies versus unicorns, masks, capes, yes, lots of rainbow colours.
Yes, which is obviously very in keeping with the brand and in keeping with the people that you work with, but for you, yourself, you're running against the grain of your industry. So it must feel you've got to be quite as you're gonna have quite a strong mind to be able to think, oh, I shouldn't write Get Fit in five days or lose five pounds of fat in an hour, you know that that might make people pay attention. So how do you yourself like combat that reality in what you do?
That is an amazing question. And I genuinely vulnerability, still have moments of I'd love to say speak on a big a big fitness Expo because they have to have people talking about that Jane Smith to exhaust anyone like they haven't talked about different things. And the part of me goes, Why would they listen to you, you're just you're like, doing silly stuff. But and that's like the naysaying voice which I sometimes have about like your daughter, you're not a serious trainer, like flipping back to what I said flipping about five times.
What I was saying about it, fitness is a serious game fitness is a serious person to be a serious trainers. And I'm not it because it isn't my personality. But actually the training I do is super is serious and grounded in science and sensible and baby steps. And it's never about starve yourself or do anything ridiculous. So that goes against some of the fitness industry. And then my whole persona and how I've created this world, you're right goes against what's been done traditionally. But what I have to do is take a step back and go but look at all these amazing people I've reached and got to work with whether in my free group or whether we have worked one to one or in a group setting or whatever. I'm so, so grateful for that. And so chest bursting, be proud as well. And like the book as well was such a crap am I going to put a book out into the world who am I to do that, but then just have to push through. And I did, and I love it. And that's like, head exploding, be happy about that. And there's been amazing feedback as well. And then I can step back and look at it and go, This is really good. I actually not just subjectively and objectively good about your book on what screen the book is called.
So obviously your company is called fitter confident you book is called the fitter confident universe and LGBTQ plus guide to well being on our term now about that. As I mentioned, I work ideally with gay bi trans men, because that is who I am. Not that I don't work with lesbians, or I'm trying to erase them or any of that nonsense. I love a lesbian I really do. It's just that I don't have a female life body experience. And the will be trainers out there who will be better served them. However, many lesbians do want to work with me. I'm totally up for it. And I have before. So also with the book as well. It's a handbook for anyone because what I do is about baby steps, just making it accessible. Obviously, it's tailored to my life and experience and my clients. But I wrote it with the idea that anyone who read it, who read it with an open mind would benefit from it.
So where can we get your book?
The book is available on Amazon or Waterstones and just search fitter confident universe and that's universally the why oh, you try to make the industry. I mean, this might be quite presumptive, but you're trying to make the industry like more honest, like more quick as if we go back to the title instead versus reality on Instagram is you're going to lose loads and loads of weight, like fitness equals weight loss equals masculinity, but the reality is like for your customers, you're trying to share and give them a more real reality. So it's more honest.
Yes. And some people I speak without writing for that they want the quick promise they want the promise of something quick. They want this promise of something more extreme than I would ever commit to and you're right like the way I think I've I have started to slowly get the wheels turning a little bit in tell people seek to do it for a longer term reason for all the other reasons that make it sustainable but fitness industry is a beam off and like the diet industry that's right next to it is even more you will get this result you'll lose this weight you'll fit in your jeans, you'll Feel happy do this do XYZ specific things. But the problem with any diet with a capital D is that it only teaches you how to eat on the diet. So when you finish, you don't know how to eat in the real world and you can't do a diet forever. So that's why people your back and forth, because they've learned how to stop themselves or go paleo or keto, or anything that's not normal eating.
So everything I do, again, is normal eating just with some sensible tips and habits and strategies to make it easy to stick to. And then the other side of Instagram is reality. Is the filters of people faking photos. Yeah, I mean, how long have we got on? But then the sad thing about that is people feeling that why do people feel they have to pose fake force filter pictures? because there'll be like, is it more acceptance? Is it happiness? Is it more success if they are perceived as looking a certain way? But I think that that's ripe in all communities. Gay Straight, everyone?
Yeah. Oh, yeah. But I guess then, again, assumption, the way that you market your own business, you're trying to encourage people to be more themselves, because you are very much yourself in your business.
Yes. wiziwig. What You See Is What You Get I have this silly in real life. Personality guys. Remember the fitness and sprinter society based personality? Is this. This guy?
You're trying to encourage people with your own marketing to be more themselves?
So Inge, yes, I am trying to encourage people to be more themselves because you'll never be anyone else. And funnily enough, I talked about this in real so proud of me yesterday or the day before, because people say people come to me and say, I want to have this person's body this famous person's body. I want to look like Brad Pitt in Fight Club. Again, topical reference, but you know what I mean? And you did look good in that movie.
Well, did he look good? I'm gonna question that. Did he look good? Or did he just like you've worked out a lot? Yeah. So the thing is, however hard you work, and obviously he was paid to work out and get in that shape. You will never have his body because you wait Brad Pitt? That sounds like a so you'll never had his party cuz you wait, Brad Pitt?
Exclusive. One song.
So don't work to have his body work to emulate how hard he worked or his traits, his mimic his consistency. mimic his skills.
Yes. Fit out confident you?
Yes. And then you can feel even more amazing. Because of everything you said you do and stuck to. And because you did get and that's the other thing. Celebrate every step of the way. Don't wait for some mythical end goal, like I said earlier that you might never reach to celebrate, celebrate. Now, you get a personal best every workout. If you look for it. There's always something to celebrate.
And what's the reality of you, though? Like what do you Matt slash Trish, not share yet, oh, what's the most the biggest reality of your business or what you do or your industry, your day to day life that you don't feel that you've shared or you maybe have shared, but you've shared it in a curated way. Because we still have that ingrained kind of what it should be.
This is something that I'm working on. And I have shared this a bit this year. But when I've been ill, or in fact, even more than that, I hurt my back. I hurt my back about two a month, six weeks apart twice at the start of this year, just doing workouts that were normal to me just went wrong in my lower back. And I had this in my head that Well, I can't talk about this because I should be an unassailable, super pubic super hit fit personal trainer, like personal trainers don't hurt themselves. And then like personal trainers don't get ill. And this is nonsense. And I've worked on this a lot. And then I dig it.
And I started I shared it again and brought it out into the light and realised how ridiculous it was. We don't have to be perfect. We don't have to be superhuman, we don't have to have honed bodies that are like, we just have to be able to in my mind lead the way and that's what I've got more confident with this year talking about my floors talking about when things aren't working for me with openness because again, I think if you seem like some trainers who do like seem like they live in the gym and everything they eat is perfect like and that's their market and they do maybe compete and like they're doing that and that's their stick and their vibe. Cool. It's not me this is about everything I do is about making it sustainable. So actually showing that there are ups and downs and actually being okay with the day and better still, just remembering there's going to be a surprise down at some point there's going to be a curveball, obviously, and you can't predict it, the more the more you can get okay with that, the easier life just flows and realising, like, realising I don't have to be perfect. And actually, no one ever thought I was lol. It's really important. And same for a business owner for me and for you. And for everyone else, like running a business. You. There's so many times you're doing everything, and it's impossible to do everything. So being able to let go of that. Oh, and I read an amazing book that really helped with that. Called 4000 weeks by Oliver Berkman.
You've got all the book recommendations, a book recommendation, go and talk to Matt.
Which is how many Yeah, how many weeks we on average have in our life?
Oh, my God, that's depressing. That's what I said the first time literally what I said the first time a friend recommended the book to me. And then I've read it. And it was amazing. Because the jest is, you will never get everything done. So stop trying, and you'll be so much happier. That is very much a TLDR. But too long, didn't read. Okay, internet shorthand. It's honestly it's a really brilliant book and sending another like, it's got stories of irrelevant things around but and lots of different tips. But one tip that I took from it that's really helped is we forget how much we've done, whether it's workouts whether it's work. And so as opposed to just having a to do list, have a done list. And every time you cross something off your to do list, add it to your done list at the end of the day, you can go, Oh, I did all of this. Isn't that amazing?
Goodness. Yeah. You've gone far away from the first question. I wonder if that was on purpose. Floors and what I don't think you find it very skillful at avoiding the question in.
It's fine. We'll just segue back. 4000 weeks. Very read it. But also, you don't feel like personal trainers are allowed to show that they were sick. But you did have you did you?
Yes. Yeah. And then I did start talking about it. And but the good thing is I've done so much work on my call that actually my backfield stronger than ever after that, which is just a personal thing, because it's crappy word. Like when I can't work out, I get really frustrated and it affects my mood.
And so again, even like I'm still in the trenches working out, so I
work out a day. This is one of the things I can pass the train fitness people. Yeah, no, Joel, like I'm busy. I have no time to do my content for my own content. Like you. How do you work? How much do you work out a day?
Well, I want to circle back first of all, because I reckon you could find 10 minutes and if you did weightlifting at home four times a week, 10 minutes a time you would see and feel a change.
Yeah, but what about you I work out every day most I'd maybe six days a week. But this is because I've done been doing it for 15 years, I've got to that point where I know how to sustain myself but also I have got better at listening to my body if I'm tired, but this morning I did actually really hard class. It was all cardio on a basically a bike or a row or whatever. We were on a theme to three on a bike one minute at a time, but for 36 minutes, like 12 times 12 It was so all I did was workout for 12 minutes in this 36 minute block but like full on in those minutes. It was exhausting. I thought I weight lift do cardio go for a run do bigger classes. I just found an amazing group and like it just flows so that never more than an hour. Yeah, maybe sometimes an hour and a half with the weightlifting if we've taken our time, but But I specifically have carved out that time and protected it because it's so important to me, because it just makes me happy. Because it's a hobby. It's not I'm not doing it for fat loss. I'm doing it because I love it.
Yeah. Do you share that as I do consciously share that you how much you work out?
Yeah, I have that isn't something I hide. Yeah, I'm like, No, there's nothing. That's unlucky, importantly, poorly sick, or it's just show up when they're poorly.
Really? Exactly. I just the thing is, as well, it's so easy for me to do that. And I know that might sound if you're not working at the moment that might sound a trillion miles away. Oh, he works out six hours a week or whatever. But I didn't do that at the start. You've got to remember that 15 years ago, I went to the gym for half an hour, twice a week, three times a week and went from there.
Yeah, but this is part of the whole problem, isn't it? Because people will come find you tomorrow. And they'll think, wow, he works out six days a week. He's really honest with himself. He's really confident in himself but they haven't seen actually, the reality of the 15 years of you going from doing personal training working on the in the I was gonna say working in the fields, but the playing field in the farmers trade in the cows.
I'm going to ask you an extra, extra special question momentarily. Is there anything else you want to kind of, I guess the kind of people listening are probably mainly business owners but also interested in fitness. And also just generally as a society, I think we're very still quite disillusioned with fitness exercise diet, the way that we should look. Do you have like a closing outwards? Kaboom drop Mike statement you want to share?
I do know what you just did all those things you just smoosh together I think all the problem around the fitness industry is people doing anything fitness, ie, for an external reason to fit in to get back at an x that's probably not as common but like, but to prove to anyone other than themselves, that they're worthy, fit, attractive, strong, handsome, healthy. All of these things. Is that is what the fitness industry in the diet industry has traded on for the last 50 years. Get Beachbody ready. Do this to be the strongest lose those weight because you've got to fit in those jeans to look like that to be accepted. I like the fact that there's a company called Slimming World like you want the world to be slimming. I was only speaking with a client this morning that he realised he'd internalise that slimmer equals better, slimmer equals happier. Yeah, and it's no one's fault. It's been bombarded at us.
Slim equals successful, slim equals happy. So allow yourself the grace to realise it's not your fault, if you think like that, and just start to unpick it. And this is why I say about do it for you. The other thing with that is, as we just said, they think it's all or nothing, nothing is all or nothing apart from like, literally binary one or zero. But your vision is not binary. That's why I said to you just now 10 minutes a few times a week gets you moving and helps you realise you can do it. And then when you start to have those little wins, even after day one, your brain might go, oh, maybe I could do 15 minutes Next time, like little nudges baby steps.
That's the key. How can we give you a bigger platform so that you can make more people realise? Not just I know you specifically work in the gay bi trans community, but just I think everyone needs to know that they can be fitter and more confident and themselves fits confident you. How can we make because I feel like the you've got such an uphill, like, Okay, can we share you? I know that's not gonna be very much, but how can people support what you're doing and help more people understand your values?
Wow. If you've heard this, you can pass this message on to a friend. First of all, you could buy my book for a friend. My book is 148 pages of what you've just heard. But with extra stuff, you could if you know anyone who works in TV, you could introduce me, that would be incredible. But my goal is to be on TV and to do and like I've got I've started to have this germ of an idea go. It's gay fitness for everyone. Oh, it's LGBTQ fitness for everyone. Because like, as you've seen, everything I talk about is accessible for everyone and everyone needs it. It's just that the coaching obviously that I do is a bit more than the group's obviously a more. We're not more are tailored and built for my community, but the message can help anyone.
Yeah. It's important, though, that you're creating communities for safe spaces where people who have felt marginalised and left out of the fitness industry can start to take those first steps and feel confident and feel that it's okay that whatever happens, they're doing something.
Yeah, you are phenomenal.
You know, I feel the same.
Thank you so much. But thank you so much for sharing your brain. I know it's a little bit all over the place. I just have so many curious questions. But I wanted to ask you.
Thank you for sharing.