Duncan McDaide, Self-employed PT & coach, VIC

Business name:

The FUNctional Project,

How long have you been a PT?

10 years

Are you full time or part time?

Full-time, all the time ;)

What made you decide to become a trainer?

A combination of wanting to become a fireman and thinking that this would be a good stop-gap, and wanting to help people that, like me, had health issues to feel as good as I do when I take care of my wellness. I just loved it so much that I never became a firie!

Do you specialise?

I don’t. I always felt strongly that I wanted to affect as many people as possible and that by specialising I would limit my reach to other populations.

Do you have a signature style of training?

Not really, I love all movement. I have been a strength and conditioning coach with the Melbourne Rebels rugby union team and loved it, and I’ve worked with older populations to get them moving better and feeling better, and loved that too. I’m currently partial to a bit of Animal Flow though, I have to say!

How many hours do you train clients for each week?

Having just opened the studio this has gone down from between 40-50 to between 20-30, as I spend more time running the business. I’d never want to give up training clients entirely though, as it’s what I have the passion for.

How many hours do you spend working on your business?

This varies and to be honest it is all encompassing now I’m managing the studio. Even as a personal trainer, though, running my own business was 24/7, as I followed up with clients on homework and wrote programs or came up with strategies to improve client experience or lead generation.

What hours do you work?

All of them! No, I start most days at 6am, train and have a few hours of admin mid-morning to early lunch, go and see the family for a couple of hours, then head back in for the evening.

What do you do in any downtime during the day?

I love to walk the dog and see my son when I get the chance. I do prioritise my training and food prep as it’s what gets me through the week, but I have learnt to auto-regulate much better so I don’t burn out.

How much do you charge?

My PT sessions are $100 per hour. Our Small Group and semi-private training sessions are available in packages.

How many clients do you have?

Personally around 20, though the studio has between 80-100.

How long, on average do your clients stay with you?

I’ve always found retention to be pretty good. I came to Australia from the UK six years ago and have been training some of my clients since then. People’s circumstances can change but generally I get a year or two out of people.

How do you get new clients?

Word of mouth is the most common method, although we do a lot of social media, including paid adverts, and we do face-to-face outreach into the local community weekly. We have a strong community belief, and regularly hold events for the local community.

Do you vet/question clients before you agree to train them?

I have a questionnaire for them to fill out before they come along and then an initial fact finding assessment when they first come in.

Do you ever turn clients away or refer them to other PTs?

Thankfully the only time I’ve referred clients on was when I have been too busy, there has never been anyone I’ve thought I couldn’t work with – I’d be very surprised if I came across anyone like that. I hope I can add value to anyone’s program, and unless they had a very skewed moral compass that was negatively impacting me, I think we could find common ground.

What differentiates you from other trainers?

That’s a really tough question. At TFP we are driving experience-based training where clients value the moment over the results. Not that results aren’t important, but they will come with the consistency you get from enjoying what you do. We also have different fundraising events set up to raise awareness and get the wider community active. I think this sets us apart from the norm.

What do you do in terms of your ongoing education?

I try to be as current as possible and find that constantly educating myself stimulates me in the job and in my family life. I have been a regular in the Paul Chek program for the last few years and I can’t recommend it enough. I did a lot of movement systems when I first started and have just started dabbling in Animal Flow which, as I said before, I’m a bit obsessed with! We also practice the kaizen theory in the studio, whereby we aim to get 1% better each day. To action this, we catch up once a week and set personal development tasks, whether its reading, listening to podcasts or researching anatomy, it keeps the brain ticking.

What’s the best thing about being a PT?

The variety of people I get to work with and the platform it has given me to create all the different events and programs I can think of.

And the hardest?

Being self-employed and taking a holiday is pretty tough!

What’s the biggest misconception about working in fitness?

That it’s easy and you get paid loads! It’s running your own business so you can’t treat it like a job and just come in to do sessions and go home. It takes continual work and investment.

Where would you like your career to take you?

I’d love to see the TFP tribe grow and our events get traction so we can raise money and awareness for our greater community. To impact as many people positively would be huge for me.

What is your fitness philosophy?

Move, breath, eat, sleep and meditate like you are a diabetic cancer sufferer with a heart problem so you never have to deal with these horrible afflictions.

What key piece of advice would you give to someone starting out as a PT?

Follow your passions and grow your mind, body and soul and watch your client base follow your journey.

Follow Duncan on Facebook @thefunctionalproj, and Instagram the_functional_project and Duncan_pt

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