A Message from Gruntz CEO, Matt Altobelli

mattIt is amazing what 1 year can do.

At the beginning of 2016, I worked for a financial marketing company- not happy with what I was doing, and there didn’t seem to be a way out. I was very depressed and had no direction. I thought to myself one day-

“When was the last time you were truly happy with what you did?”

After reflecting on my past experiences, including when I was a personal trainer and assisted in the starting of a different gym, I realized that was the answer. I was happiest when I was training.

I knew I needed to get back into it, so I applied to work at some local gyms, and landed an interview with Orange Theory Fitness. Although my role there was not to train people, I took the opportunity to learn a new facet of the industry and get my feet wet in the industry again.

After working for a few months, a co-worker of mine had some large fitness goals and was talking to me about them, which motivated me to take her on as a personal training client. (It’s funny how one small decision can transform your whole life).

I dusted off my old books, began to do research after work, and wanted to create the best program I could for her since she was trusting me with her fitness goals. At the end of April, I began to train her part time after I got out of my shifts at OTF.

She saw such incredible success that she inevitably told others about her experience with me.Because of her promotion and transformation, by the end of May I was juggling 20 clients AND my job at Orange Theory Fitness.

I quickly realized that what I was doing was no longer a hobby, but a business.

I spent the rest of the year developing my business and growing an amazing team of employees. We are now in the process of opening up the Gruntz Fitness LLC Flagship location, a 9100 Sq Ft location in Henrietta, NY- the first of what we believe will be many locations to come.

So how did we do it? Below are the 10 Business practices that I have used this year to transform myself from a depressed financial planner, to one of the fastest growing fitness businesses in our area today!

  1. Turn your passion into your paycheck– You have to love what you do and dedicate your time to becoming really good at it. Don’t start a business to make money. Start it to be happy with what you are doing every day. (The money will come…but not at first) This will require you to get very comfortable with the uncomfortable-maybe even working two jobs, or losing sleep.
  2. Be consistent– Every morning I wake up at 4am, get ready, and go train my first client. I know when I leave in the morning I won’t be back until 8pm. Every day I do the same tasks that have made me successful in the first place. You can’t waiver and expect to get the same results.
  3. Goal setting– Doing the same core things every day is important, but you also need to add something productive to your day. Did you do something today that will bring you closer to what you want tomorrow? What plans have you made for the future? Consistency is key, but complacency kills.
  4. Sacrifice- Don’t give up what you want in the future for what you want now. There are a lot of things I want now or things I want to do that I am putting off because it would set the business back. Some days this is very hard, and if there are days you don’t feel like giving up- then you aren’t doing it right. In the end, it will all be worth it. I am fortunate (sort of) that I am a disabled vet, and receive a check from the VA each month which has allowed me to not draw a paycheck from my business, so all the money we make can be reinvested into the growth of the business. Be prepared to be poor for a little while until your business gets to where it needs to be.
  5. Surround yourself with the right people– No one, and I mean no one, has ever obtained success alone. It takes a team of goal oriented, like minded individuals with a great work ethic to propel you forward. This could be the hardest part. Not everyone you bring on will be that person, but when you find the right people make sure you include them in your plans for the future. Take care of them, and learn to delegate. There are not enough hours in the day to do everything you need to get done, so once you have people you can trust with your business, give them tasks you would normally do so you can focus your attention on moving forward.
  6. MORE PEOPLE- Seriously…people are the key to success. Not only the ones you hire, but your target market. First you need to figure out who that is. You may have a great product or great idea, but if no one knows about it than it is a wasted idea. So once you figure it out, then get the word out. We do a lot of advertising on social media, and you will rarely find me out on the town without wearing something that says Gruntz Fitness on it. The more people that see your brand and know that you exist, the more traffic you will drive to your business. The best way to reach more people is through the people you already have. Word of mouth is huge, so once you have clients make sure you treat them very well, and do a good job so they tell their friends. Don’t get clients and then move on to the next. You need to spend some of your energy and efforts on retention and keeping people happy!
  7. Develop Good Business Relationships (Local) – Running a business means you will have to do business with other businesses. You can’t expect to do payroll, signs, taxes, marketing, website design, etc. all yourself, so develop strong relationships with good people. They will care about the success of your business not just because you are a good, kind hearted person, but also because they will continue to get money from you while you are operating. This can help perpetuate your name and give you a good reputation in your area. So always be kind!
  8. Always be kind! Might as well start this one off where the last one ended. Being kind and fair is important. No one will tell someone to go see you if you are mean to them. Even if your feelings, morals, and values don’t mesh up with who you are dealing with you need to separate yourself from your own emotions and realize that everyone is different. We all come from different places, and have different views. If someone so different from you is coming to do business with you then you are doing something right. Don’t let emotions get in the way of a good thing (I have done this before, and it doesn’t end well)
  9. Be Firm- Being Kind and being weak are two different things. Some people will mistake the two. I can be the nicest person in the world until you do me wrong. Don’t let anyone walk all over you and your business. There is a time for compromise, but if there are people who are just trying to take advantage of you, and it will end up hurting you or your business, then you need to let them know and remove yourself from that situation. There are a lot of poisonous people out there. Don’t let them near your organization, or they will bring it down. It only takes one person to topple a great company. So be careful and be observant.
  10. Have Fun! This is your business, your passion, your life. If you don’t have fun while doing it then you have already started to fail. Not every day will be fun, but overall when you look at what you are doing you should be happy with it. It shouldn’t always feel like work! There should be days where you say to yourself “I can’t believe I get paid to do this”. If you can keep that attitude and maintain your work ethic then you can make it through the hard times. (There will be hard times…I didn’t write about them but trust me…they happen) When I go to work there are clients I train that brighten my day and I have such a great time training them. You can laugh, joke, and have fun and still get a lot of work done. A happy work environment is often the most productive, because your staff will want to be there. (And so will your clients!)

This obviously isn’t the  be-all, end-all to having a successful business. In fact, what works for me may not work for you at all. Just like in the fitness industry, there are many different ways to achieve your goals. Also, I do way more than 10 things a day to keep my business afloat, and there are other contributing factors that help, such as having the support of my loving girlfriend, family, friends, and Sunday Football (the only day I take off….try to get me to work a Sunday. Nope. We all need a day for our sanity)

Most importantly, though, I believe that the drive has to be there. The ambition. It has to be something at the core of you in order to succeed. If it’s not there then don’t try this. This is not a life meant for everyone.

I gave up a 40 hour work week for an 80 hour work week just so I could be my own boss. If 80 hours doesn’t appeal to you…don’t start. You aren’t ready yet. At my core, I love to help people. That is why I love this industry, and that is why I took the time (ON A SUNDAY) to write this.

If you are just starting out or want to talk business and need some help then reach out to me. I will help anyone who is trying there hardest to make their dreams come true…because I am trying my hardest to make mine come true and I know how it feels.  I may not have all the answers you are looking for, and I am still open to take advice from more successful people than me, because you always need to keep learning, but if I can help you then I will.

Good Luck out there,



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