Josh: Our hero today is Evina Del Pizzo, a personal trainer and co founder of Built Strong Strength Club. In this episode, Evina walks us through her journey of creating a fantastic brand, then losing it and having to rebuild that brand again from scratch. She impacts the importance of the brand experience, not just the sound or look, which are things that transcend specific logos and color schemes.
Evina also delves into the differences between marketing gyms and. marketing yourself as a personal trainer. Without further ado, Avina del Pisa. All right. Welcome to the gym heroes podcast. Go ahead and introduce yourself and your background in fitness and business. Sure.
Evina Del Pizzo: Hi, my name is Evina DelPiso. I am a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach through Precision Nutrition, and I’m also a gym owner.
I own Built Strong Strength Club with my husband in Chatsworth, California.
Josh: Excellent. So you’re one of the things that you like to talk about is establishing a brand. So the first thing I want to talk about is how do you approach building a brand for a fitness business?
Evina Del Pizzo: You know, it, it really depends on the type of business you’re looking.
To do, especially in fitness, because there’s such a huge spectrum. Me as a personal trainer, I just wanted to help people and I didn’t know where to start. [00:02:00] So I just kind of jumped in and got my personal training certification from my experience as building our brand. I, I personally just.
Originally when I went to Fitposium I was supporting my friend James Patrick. But I started to really get curious in wanting to develop a brand and how to do that. So when I came back to Los Angeles from Arizona, after the Fitposium conference, I pitched it to my husband Will. And at the time we were working at a small little gym in Granada Hills.
And I said, let’s, Let’s, let’s create something ourself and here’s all these foundations that I learned. And here’s, here’s some, some things that I think would be a great idea. And he was incredibly skeptical. I mean, you listen to his story, he’s, he, he was not as open to the idea of developing a brand.
And so first things first is trying to create a name and, you figure out what kind of clientele you’re looking for. You figure out, cause [00:03:00] there is a difference between Jim. And personal trainer and, we’ll, we can totally jump into that. And so as a personal trainer, I knew I wanted to help people.
I knew there was a bridge between, especially people who are preexisting conditions. I knew there was a bridge between people who are hurt and recovering from injury and then people who want to get back into fitness and try to incorporate that. And so at the time, my husband was going to school to be a physical therapist and he was a physical therapist aide at a, at a local facility.
And I was like, let me go intern there just so I can get some extra hands on experience as to what that bridge looks like. As a personal trainer, because I recognize that I was getting a ton of injuries, but I didn’t know how to deal with, deal with them, but I loved it. Anyways, I digress. As I continue to figure out who I was as a personal trainer, I figured out, okay, so my brand and [00:04:00] who I am as a personal trainer is working with people with injuries and trying to treat them as if I’m rebuilding their foundations from the ground up.
From there, we both kind of just started pitching out ideas and figured out our first name, which was Stronghouse Training, and we wanted to build everybody’s athlete from the ground up. And then eventually, as we started to get, away from the gym atmosphere, we went into our. Own, own home and started creating a gym in our, in our garage.
From there, we just started marketing herself as strong house training, and we continue to build a clientele. We continue to build, classes in our garage. We continue to branch out and tell people who we are and what our ideas were. And at the same time, we were looking for a facility. As we looked for our facility, we started to come out with t shirts.
We started to do all the different things.
And we started to [00:05:00] establish that, especially on our social media channels, of course, getting our Instagram handle getting, and building that, maybe even sponsoring certain events, with our logo, with, with the look of our, our image and both my husband and I supporting those events. And then moving forward, when we finally got our facility, that’s when we really started to take off and started to build our brand from there.
And it could look like branding materials, going to special events, and then as we, we, we, and we had to do a name change during COVID. So. We then went from strong house training to built strong strength club. Still, we still wanted to show everybody the difference or the similarities of building the foundation.
It was almost like we’re built stronger from strong house training. And that’s how we had to translate from. going to strong house training to build strong strength [00:06:00] club. And to be quite honest with you, what, one of the things that I recognize is that understanding the difference on how people are now purchasing nowadays, more people are really interested in purchasing the person they’re purchasing the value that you can provide to your customers.
They’re purchasing almost, I mean, we’ve gotten so deep into like, How we pay attention to people, how we connect to people. So people are not just buying brands just to buy brands anymore. They’re buying people, they’re buying the connection that they have to the person. And so we built a community here at, in Chatsworth, especially, and online that people have just.
Wanted to support us and, and trust us and value our, our intellectual, capacity to be able to help others. And again, there’s so many layers to building a brand, but I think the biggest thing that separates with actually building a brand and just thinking [00:07:00] about a brand is taking the leap forward and just moving forward with it.
Josh: Trying, trying something out. That’s a, that’s an interesting transition from your first name to your second name. As I understand it, you’re kind of forced to change the name and it, it’s interesting. The reason why it interests me is because the brand persists between the two concepts, but the name changed.
So brand is more than just the logo. It’s more than just simply the name. All those things are important. It’s really about who you’re speaking to, where you want to bring them and how you want them to feel. Can you, can you talk to me about How, how you convince yourself to change the name? Because I, as I understand it, it was tough.
Evina Del Pizzo: Yeah, and unfortunately, it, it was, there was another, facility in Los Angeles that was, had a similar name and [00:08:00] we, we tried to delegate as best we can to come to terms and at one point, Will and I just looked at each other and said, and this is an incredibly fair statement, it’s cheaper to just change the name, right?
Because we were, we had to go through litigation and we had to, at the time we had the trademark, but it doesn’t matter. It’s what’s, what’s really important is we just couldn’t come to an agreement. And eventually we just said, you know, it’s just cheaper to just change the name and to develop a brand that’s going to still have some value because we’re still here, we are still going to provide our clients value, and we’re still going to do the best we can to give that to them.
So, yeah, it was forced, like we, we really, and that was heartbroken. That was our first. That’s like the baby of, of what we created. And it was, and I was so connected to the name that it was really challenging for me to let it go because everybody knew us by that name. Everybody only knew us by Stronghouse Training, but when Will and I, mostly [00:09:00] it was Will that came up with the Built Strong Strength Club name, it was like, it was heartbreaking to see this new brand that I had to develop a new relationship with.
Yeah. And not just with myself to that brand. Now I had to develop that relationship from with myself to my clients, with myself, to my customers, with myself, to my members, with myself, to my followers. They all had to get reintroduced to Veena, the built strong strength club owner, or will the built strong strength club owner.
That was challenging. And it was. It was hard, but it was mandatory and you can’t, you can’t get connected to a name because I have to, I, and again, this was by the grace of being, you know, coached by a phenomenal coach, James Patrick telling us like, listen, like people don’t care about the name of the business.
People care about you. And, and that’s what really brought home for us was remind the people that you’re still there. Remind the people that you’re still giving them value. Remind the people that you’re still giving [00:10:00] them everything you needed. But this time it’s going to be under a new name.
Josh: Yeah, absolutely.
So now that we, we understand brand establishment from your perspective, you were actually able to, you were able to create a brand that survived a name change, it, so I’m, I’m wondering about creating a vision because I think the vision really affects the development of the brand. So how do you go about creating a vision?
Evina Del Pizzo: It’s, I smile because, because it’s definitely a feeling it’s, it’s a feeling that I, how do I say this? It’s working at other facilities. You have a certain feeling of working within that facility, right? Like I remember. I remember having an uneasy feeling or even just going to the gym as a gym goer, right?
I don’t like the feelings of being sold to, I don’t [00:11:00] like the feeling of, of an unauthentic salesperson or an unauthentic manager or an unauthentic personal trainer. I, I, I don’t like feeling like I’m forced to buy something out of my comfort zone. And as a personal trainer, I had to learn some sales tactics to make that was completely out of my own skin, that out of my, out of my own comfort zone to, to almost not force people to buy personal training when they didn’t want it.
But I, I recognized that that’s not the kind of place that I wanted. So the vision that I wanted was a very authentic place that was going to be welcoming. That was going to feel that your trainer is trying to do the best they can to help you reach your goals. That your personal [00:12:00] trainer cares about your results and wants to see you progress.
Not using, and I, this is just for me again, this is, I’m not a big fan of the heart rate monitors and the busy, cause we, we have classes here and I know a lot of facilities now have those monitors, which is great. And I think it’s great for tracking the approach that I have in the vision that I, that, that will, and I both agreed on is we wanted to build people’s athlete.
We only wanted to use metrics of units. Or, metrics to help measure people’s progress safely and securely because a lot of people can go down the scale of dysfunctional eating behavior. We wanted to create a place where progress is measured through strength training and not just weight loss. We wanted to create a place that, taught people the importance of recovery, flexibility, mobility.
We wanted to create a place that gave people nutritional, safe nutritional advice, and not [00:13:00] something that’s going to force, you know, a high caloric deficit. Consistently across the board and not looking at people as a case by case, the vision was somewhere that isn’t dark and gloomy, but bright, safe and comfortable and by creating that vision, I just looked at myself and thought to myself, I wanted to create a profession or I wanted to create a place that I wanted to work in that felt professional, that also felt clean, that also felt Welcoming that did not provide any sense of intimidation because there are, there is a huge spectrum of clientele that we have that if you found these clientele in a traditional gym setting, they are not going to feel safe or comfortable in these places.
And that’s where we came in. It’s like, let’s get these, these people and let’s give these people a safe, comfortable setting to be able to work out in where they don’t feel just like the littlest person in the room or. The feel [00:14:00] silly for asking a question. That’s so basic. That was where the vision came from was what kind of clientele do I want?
What kind of people do I want here? What kind of trainers do I want here? And it was really about creating the overall feeling of what a facility should feel like for somebody like that.
Josh: So how does the brand and vision play into your marketing?
Evina Del Pizzo: You know, it’s, we provide, educational videos on our Instagram.
We, we have fun with it. We try to use a little sense of humor and, my husband is very goofy. So he creates a lot of the educational video videos and he always shows the do’s and the don’ts, but he does it in a sense where it’s. very tongue in cheek like he’ll say like for the love of God, just stop doing this.
He’ll show an exercise first and then [00:15:00] he’ll be like, for the love of God, just stop doing this. But everybody understands the sense of humor that does follow us. And but it’s still informative, right? Into using humor with love but also giving people the very valuable advice that we would give anybody here at the facility.
When it comes to, Branding our facility and then that vision again, we use a lot of language that fosters a sense of, you know, exactly what we’re saying. We’re very authentic. We’re very real. We’re going to tell you like it is. We’re not going to sugarcoat anything. We’re very clear and to the point.
And we will absolutely use science to back everything up because that’s, that’s what we want. We want people to feel like. They’re not being sold to, they’re not being lied to, they’re not being given these empty promises that are going to make them lose six pounds in [00:16:00] six days because that’s just not what we do.
That’s not the clientele that we focus on. But if somebody is feeling like they have back pain, maybe you should try a stretch class, right? And that’s something that can help. Somebody, and so that’s how we align our vision and our brand is by using language to make sure we’re clear and concise, and we don’t give empty promises.
We also want to use humor to make people feel comfortable and break the ice, and we try to make sure that everybody is. It’s just feeling like, again, just comfortable in, in our, especially in our social media channels and our branding.
Josh: All of those things, of course, are being, are a reflection of the vision and the branding feel that you want your clients to have. So you want them to feel welcomed. You want them to feel safe. You want them to feel like they can approach you and ask you anything at any given time.
Evina Del Pizzo: Awesome. Absolutely.
Josh: So [00:17:00] let’s, let’s, let’s zoom back out and talk about something you touched on really quick.
What are the difference between marketing for a gym versus marketing as a personal trainer?
Evina Del Pizzo: Yeah. So when, as a personal trainer, when I was first learning how to brand myself and how to market myself, I was trying to figure out what kind of clientele I wanted, what kind. You know, obviously my pay rate, right?
Like what my scale of pay rate is going to be. What’s, what kind of experience do I want my clientele to have? And, and really what’s my focus, right? What’s, what’s the focus of clientele? What’s the focus of specialty that I wanted to have? And at the time. It was weight loss. Most trainers will start as a weight loss coach or, you know, my first client was actually, had a laundry list of ailments that I was just trying to figure out, but he wanted to lose weight.
So I just focused on losing the losing weight aspect. And I just suggested go to your doctor about everything else. [00:18:00] However, As it again, as I continuously developed and sharpened my skills, I recognized I wanted to brand myself and market myself as a, as a personal trainer who advocates for people’s health and teaches them how to advocate for people’s health, for their own health.
And that means. So that you can feel safe. You’re not, worried about any of the things that that people will notice. We’re almost at the end of action. I will not be announcing a number of interviews until that happens. I always made sure to try to connect with their physical therapists, make sure I followed up if there’s anything I couldn’t could not do.
And that’s where I tailored my, my personal training skills is to make sure that I was doing everything I could to market myself as somebody who’s going to advocate for somebody in terms of their injuries, in terms of their [00:19:00] nutrition, and in terms of. Regulating their recovery, because that for me was really important for my, my clients to know how to safely do that.
Now, as a gym, you have a different audience. It’s a much wider, a much wider scale. You can target your audience to be a much bigger scale. Whereas for myself, it was very focused, very individualized. That’s all I wanted to do as a, as gym owner. Now I have three to four personal trainers on staff that I can market different needs to different audiences for my husband.
He’s he’s the guy when it comes to building a strength and conditioning program. That’s the person you go to. I have another trainer who works well with people with injuries. I have another trainer who does really well with building muscle. So there’s so many different scales of training styles that I can now broaden my scope with.
[00:20:00] I also found that promoting our facility, the inside, the aesthetics, what we have, who we’re affiliated with.
I wrote a book earlier this week that is not necessarily about the gym, but it is about the recovery aspect of a gym, or I’m sorry, of, flexibility and mobility. So you can really do different things with it. And it, and I can do different holidays. I can, I can, do special events for our members.
We had one that really actually went well. We had a six week program, which was a, what was it called? Hold on. I’m sorry. Oh, a bikini bottom bootcamp. And it was just, you know, that was all women. And then we’ve had the built strong strength challenge, which was all strength training. And that was a combination of men and women who wanted to just learn how to strength train.
So there’s, [00:21:00] an. An array of things that I can do as a gym, that as a personal trainer, strength and conditioning for me doesn’t really interest me, but it does interest my husband. And so I try to make sure that as a gym owner and as a team, we all collaborate to try to create something on a broader scale that helps promote the gym and ourselves individually.
Josh: Excellent. So let’s, let’s talk about managing clients for a second. Talk to me about building relationships with your clients and why that’s important.
Evina Del Pizzo: It’s as a personal trainer. It’s important to build a relationship with your clients because these are the people who are either in it for the long run or they just need short results.
There’s, there’s two types of clients that I’ve recognized. I’ve had, I’ve had clients that are in it for the long run. They have been with [00:22:00] me for five, seven years and. They just want to train. They want somebody to give them great advice, great customer service, attentive to their needs. They love their, they love that the results that they get from working with a personal trainer and some of them are not very motivated and they just want to work with a trainer because it’s.
It does help. I mean, one of those people now, there are some clientele’s that just want a six session package or a 12 week package, or maybe even a six week or six month package. And I won’t see those people for very long, but at the same time. Regardless of what the type of person they are, building your relationships helps you build a great reputation.
The more that you offer a personalized program, the more that you create a sense of community, the more that you try to motivate and treat your [00:23:00] members and your clients with as much respect. As possible and do something fun and different, the more likely they’re going to recommend you to other people, their friends, their coworkers, and it’s literally a web effect.
Our, our business is a hundred percent based on referrals
and I say that because yes, we’ve done advertising. I’ll say this 99 percent referrals because when I look at my gym here, I look at everybody’s here is connected in some way, shape or form group on. We’ve started to put more on Groupon. But it’s not, it yields, but then you’re like, Oh, hey, how did you hear about us?
Oh, my friend told me about you, but then I signed up on Groupon. So it’s that kind of a thing. But if I don’t build a relationship with my customers. Then it’s going to be harder for them to want to recommend me or even stay with me in the long run. And [00:24:00] so what I want is I want people to stay with me for the long run because that’s what’s going to keep me in business the longest.
Josh: Excellent. So do you do anything special for the referral program or you just
Evina Del Pizzo: ask? Yes. So we’ll do a combination of things. So for example, in our referral program, one of the things that we do is let’s say if somebody is a month to month member and they were recommend somebody and they sign up as a month to month member, we give them a free month off.
So as long as they sign up, it doesn’t matter what package it could be, the smallest package to the largest package. We don’t mind. Now let’s say if that month to month member signs up somebody and they get personal training with that referral program, we’ll actually offer them 10 percent of the package that we sell.
So let’s say if we sell a 24 pack, which is. 1, 400. we’re going to give them 10 percent of that sale because we value that. We value that person for being able to do that. And honestly paying them 140. I know it [00:25:00] sounds completely like a huge lump of some, but if that person continuously signs up, it’s going to pay off in the long run.
It can be, it could be hard to provide incentives. For your customers and your clients, but they will realize that they are just as valuable to the business as myself as a business owner. I just create the space. I just create the facility. I just open the doors and pay the rent and I do that. That’s my job.
But my customers are the ones that keep me here and if I don’t treat them well, it’s going to be hard to stay open and stay in business.
Josh: Yeah, absolutely. So what else can you do to improve client retention other than building a relationship with them?
Evina Del Pizzo: You know, even something as small as keeping the facility clean.
goes a really long way. I have been, you know, and it depends obviously on the customer. I could work out in a dirty gym. I don’t care. I grew up with three [00:26:00] older brothers. It doesn’t matter. But there’s a lot of clientele who prefer to have a clean space who want to see some changes every once in a while, maybe even some holiday decor that goes up every, every season.
Like something as small as that goes a long way because it brings a spirit of connection to the group as a whole. We did something as small as just change the position of the desk and everybody’s like, Oh, I like this better, you know, because they have something to say about it. And when, when you give them that space to do it, they love it.
They want to be a part of it. And so now we’re thinking of new and better ways to improve the facility as the days go on. Yeah. And it really makes a difference. Like they, they just love it. We’re also starting to bring in more retail so then they can buy stuff. And that also helps us out as well financially.
But, but I’ve found that especially if they want to buy branded stuff, they love that stuff and they love it because they want to feel as a part of a community. [00:27:00] And then, you know, getting into that. Yeah. That’s what I’m creating as a, as a, as a gym owner and, and as creating a brand, I am creating a brand that they feel connected to.
I’m creating a sense of community. I am creating that place that, that just allows everybody to build friendships with each other and beyond. You, you never know what you’re going to get out of a gym atmosphere. You know, you can either get a very like stern, you know, no connection and that really drives out a sense of community, but if you bring that community into the facility, people just keep coming back.
And again, that spreads like wildfire. Everybody else hears about the facility. Everybody else wants to go there. People see it on social media. Or something as big as even communicating regularly on text message or Instagram, or for example, we use MailChimp and that’s one of the ways that [00:28:00] a, I can keep in contact with, for example, I, I, I’ve built a funnel, right?
I got my hot, medium and cold leads. And so what I try to do is keep, keep in contact to the current customers who are usually on the top of the funnel and the people, or the bottom of the funnel, the people that I really. Just want to connect to, and I’ll send them content, I’ll send them videos, a lot of instructional videos that we have on our YouTube channel.
And then I’ll bring them up to speed about special events, or special referral programs, or new incentives that we have coming up soon. Or just keep them up to speed in general, and building that community that way. We can do things also, like this one’s a really big one. Any feedback that’s given to gym owners, I highly recommend that you pay attention to it.
And I say that because as a gym owner, if you don’t listen to [00:29:00] the feedback that your customers are giving you and you don’t change anything, that’s going to draw them away. That was one of the things that we’ve learned, especially going through COVID. We had to be very receptive to what was going on and be very attentive because on so many different levels, people were scared and how do we make them feel safe in a facility, especially during that time, to make them want to work out at our place.
So we did, we did everything we could, we followed all the protocols and then we continued doing that. By listening to feedback and if it was something in our power that we could change, we will absolutely change it because now your customer feels heard. Now they know, wow, like. I feel like I’m heard. I feel like I’m welcome here.
I can keep coming back because they are going to see me. Whereas if you were to go to another facility, I don’t know, and I’ll just say this just for the sake of saying it, like bigger box gyms, larger scale commercial gyms. A lot of the [00:30:00] times if you give feedback. You probably are going to see change for maybe a week or two, but then it’ll stop.
Whereas a smaller scale facility or private facility like mine, you give us feedback, we’re going to make the changes and we’re going to stick to it. That’s our new policy. Again, if it’s something that’s reasonable and within our control and something that needs to change, absolutely. We’ll do that. So, so that’s another, again, a big one that I really do think that.
You know, we’ll provide excellent customer service is paying attention to your customer feedback and responding to it appropriately.
Josh: Awesome. This has been really great. So if people want to reach out to you and learn more, where can they find you?
Evina Del Pizzo: So they can find me on Instagram at Evina del Piso. They could also find our, our gym Instagram at built strong strength club, or I’m sorry, built strong strength.
We’ll, we’ll go with that one. Not the club. The club is on our website. If you wanted to go to our website, but at built strong strength. Excellent.
Josh: Well, thanks for coming on!
Evina Del Pizzo: Thanks for having me again. I really, really appreciate it.