Meet Tim Gojich, Owner of Fit For Life Gym [Interview]
There is so much competing information about strength training these days. And a new dieting fad or nutrition craze seemingly pops up daily. If you decide to start your own fitness business in this oversaturated landscape, it can be difficult to navigate your way to a successful outcome.
Today, we’re talking to Tim Gojich who will share his experience as an entrepreneur who entered the strength and conditioning industry with an inquisitive mind and a thirst for knowledge. He discusses how he sought to learn from established veterans in the fitness realm and utilized professional development to improve his craft in order to better service his clients.
By broadening his knowledge base and bettering himself as a coach, Tim has been able to provide holistic solutions and results for his clients in building his thriving fitness practice.
If you’re ready to grow and manage your business better, schedule a demo today.
Meet Tim Gojich, Owner of Fit For Life Gym
Schimri Yoyo: Welcome back. This is Schimri Yoyo with exercise.com, and we are continuing our interview series with fitness experts. We have Tim Gojich, an owner of Fit For Life Gym in Bakersfield, California.
Tim, thank you for joining us.
Tim Gojich: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
Schimri Yoyo: Alright, well, let’s jump into it. How did you develop your love for health and fitness originally?
Tim Gojich: I started working out in high school because of sports. I wrestled, I played baseball, I played football. I was a little bit undersized, and I wanted to get stronger. I definitely want to put some muscle on.
So, I started doing weights in the weight room and then I started doing some stuff at my house and just trying to feel my way through it. And then I ended up going into the military right after high school and was very influenced by the way physical fitness was brought in Bootcamp.
[Editor’s Note: Check out the video below to see a Marine take the Army Bootcamp Fitness Test.]
Every military person has to go through a form of Bootcamp. And I was just really intrigued by how our company commander ran us every day, six days a week and had such control over a big large group of people, and we all bought into it. And so, it really ended up becoming something to influence me to become not only a trainer later, but also someone who, here in my city, did a large boot camp, that I ran for about 11 years.
Schimri Yoyo: Oh, that’s exciting. Well, first of all, thank you for your service. And I’m excited to see that background experience help to then lead you to your current profession. Now during that time, did you have any mentors when you decided to jump into this profession full-time?
Tim Gojich: I did. I was pretty lucky. When I got out of the military, I had a friend that was a trainer at 24 Hour Fitness. In fact, it was so long ago in the ’90s it was called Family Fitness. It was right before the 24 Hour Fitness company bought them out. And he got me started at a part-time position, and I got in there at $5 an hour.
And at that time, they didn’t even call us trainers. They called us instructors. Our job was to take new members and show them how to use the machines, set them up on a treadmill, show them a series of machines to do, and it was him that really pushed me to get certified.
So, I was one of the first people in my city back then that elected to get certified. It wasn’t a requirement as some places may make it now. As a gym owner now, it’s a big requirement more for me. But back then, it was just something that he pushed me to do because he figured it would help me become a little bit more noticeable on the floor amongst the other trainers that may not be certified.
Schimri Yoyo: Okay, that’s cool. And what was his name? Let’s give him a shout out.
Tim Gojich: Yeah. His name is Scott Cheatham. And these days he has two very successful physical therapy places down South in Long Beach. He’s doing really well.
Schimri Yoyo: That’s awesome. Well, thank you to him for that influence that he had on you. So, when you’re not training and running your business, what are some things that you’re doing for fun?
Tim Gojich: So, winter’s right around the corner. And when I can get out and snowboard, that’s one of my favorite things to do. I do that a few times during the wintertime. And to be honest, I’m a baby family guy. I have a daughter who’s 13. She’s in sports.
And so, we’re backing her often and yeah, I just like to hang out really. I played basketball most of my whole life, and I do miss playing basketball. But these days for fun, yeah, I’m usually just hanging out with the family.
Movement, Motivation, and Mindsets
Schimri Yoyo: Well, that’s good. That’s not a bad way to spend your time. So, when thinking of your practice and your philosophy and methodology of strength training, what word would best describe that philosophy?
Tim Gojich: Yeah. And I know it’s an overused word, but I really believe strongly in functional fitness and not so much as a one-word way to describe everything that we do here because we do a little bit of everything. But functional, of course, has been pretty much my bloodline.
[Editor’s Note: Watch the video below to see a functional fitness exhibition by U.S. Army Veteran Pat McNamara.]
I started following guys like Mike Boyle, Alwyn Cosgrove, and Gray Cook, and a lot of the guys that today are sitting at the top of sports strength training. And so, as a trainer, I couldn’t help but want to pay attention to make my average, ordinary people move better and feel better and really break away from that bodybuilding mentality that had existed when I first came into training.
So, I’d say right around 2001 is when I pretty much drank the Kool-Aid, which was functional fitness. But again, not with the sense of standing on a bouncy ball with one leg and that was functional.
I was really just trying to get people to move better and feel better.
Schimri Yoyo: Okay. And now that actually leads me to my next question as far as the movement and making people move better and feel better. What would you say is the relationship between the strength and conditioning industry, injury prevention, and also rehabilitation? How do they all work together?
Tim Gojich: Yeah. So, my philosophy has always been that if they’re doing a little bit of prehab as part of their warm-ups—and we never skip warm-ups—then we’re always getting that little bit of work in that the average person oftentimes might miss and they just jump on a bike or do a quick jog around the block to get warmed up.
So, that’s always been a big part of [my routine]. Whether I run a group of 150 people in my bootcamp, they do a very active, functional warm-up that resembles a little bit of what a prehab might look like. I’m a big believer in that the program should have some mobility work in there.
There should be some good core work in there. And then, of course, even if there’s little time at the end, you try to do a little bit more mobility work so that way you walk into the workout ready to go. You leave feeling ready for the next workout.
Schimri Yoyo: That makes sense. And how do you help your clients to be proactive both in their training and also in their recovery from training?
Tim Gojich: So for us, it’s when they walk in the door, we teach them why they grab a foam roller when they first come in the door. We teach them why it is that we give them a series of things to do after a functional movement screen. We, of course, explain to them why we do the screens to being with.
I’m a big “Why” person. I believe that if you understand the why’s behind what you’re doing, you’re more motivated to do it, especially on the days you don’t want to do it. So, it’s education. We really like—again, whether it’s a new one-on-one client starting or someone that’s popping into the group classes that we have going on these days—we educate them from the very start of why they do what they do.
Schimri Yoyo: Okay. That’s right. If we knew better, we do better, right?
Tim Gojich: I think so, yeah.
Schimri Yoyo: How are speed, strength, and mobility all relate to one another as far as the programs you put together and in your training?
Tim Gojich: Well, when it comes to speed, it’s relative of course. You have someone that can put out top speed in their highest gear and still possibly may pull a hamstring based on the inability to put the brakes on.
So, I think that when a program is well-rounded and an athlete or an average mom and dad, if they’re taught that there’s a relationship between the faster you go, the more you need to be able to have the right tools to slow you down and stop you, then I think ultimately they buy into why they do what they do and the relationship between the two.
[Editor’s note: See video below for drills on how to speed up and slow down properly when speed training.]
Of course, an athlete may just say, “I just want to have top speed.” And so, I always explain to an athlete or someone that’s looking for that goal in mind, it’d be like me putting a giant engine on you and not changing the brakes. So, you head into that corner, there’s a possibility they go right through that corner instead of turn that corner.
So yeah, again, with a little education, I like to do a lot of analogies like car analogies and/or things that are in their wheelhouse to get them to understand why we put the work in.
And then, of course, mobility is something that I explain that if you don’t have the mobility to do it, you just don’t have the range. And without the range, you don’t have anything really. So, again for us oftentimes, if we’re working with an athlete like that, we just weave it in. We explain some why’s.
But again, I think it all comes back to programming. If we’re going to do something light speed, which is something that I think is big.
In my opinion, if an athlete increases their speed, they’re just better. It’s not very often that a strength coach is going to make an athlete better skillsets. You’re not going to make someone throw better. You’re not going to make someone even cut harder. It’s just: If we make them faster from point A to point B no matter what their sport is, they’re just better.
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Schimri Yoyo: That makes total sense. Now, as a coach, how do you incorporate nutrition as part of your training?
Tim Gojich: So, about 15 years ago, I personally became a holistic lifestyle coach through the CHEK Institute there in San Diego. It’s four and a half hours from here, and it was one of the first things that I did with the CHEK Institue. I’d later became golf biomechanics certified through them as well.
But going back to the idea of a holistic certification taught me as a coach, as a man, as a person to become healthier in general. And as a byproduct of being healthier, you can become leaner, you can become stronger. So many things can occur based on nourishing your body first versus just fueling your body.
I get people that walk in and oftentimes think that food is just purely this thing that gives them a little fuel or they put this in their mouth because they’re hungry. But when I give my way, I try to make sure that they walk away at some point understanding that you always have a choice of what you put in your body. It’s either going to do something good for you or it’s going to work against you.
[Editor’s note: The video below is from the CHEK Institue Blog and discusses how proper nutrition can help battle chronic fatigue.]
So, I slowly but surely try to implement those holistic mindsets into people so that, again, whatever it is that they want to do when they’re ready to do it, as long as there’s some nourishment there, then I have something to work with.
Schimri Yoyo: Okay. And what are some ways that you motivate yourself as a coach and then what are some ways that you motivate your clients?
Tim Gojich: For me personally, I like to put something out in front of me that is something that I’d like to attain. It gives me more of a purpose in why I train.
And it can sometimes just be a vacation that I’m looking forward to doing with my family where I know I’m going to be hiking. And we recently just did a big Hawaii trip for eight days. And my wife had brought a couple of nieces along.
So, we had three kids with us. Any cliff that we could jump off of we did it. Anything where we could hike we hiked it. So, I really enjoy being able to a physically fit dad/uncle and be able to get out there and do whatever they’re doing.
And then, of course, I want to look good. And so, I’m definitely looking towards trying to do certain programs where my shirt’s going to be off or whatnot. I’m human that way.
And in terms of clientele, for me, as I mentioned, we trainers or coaches oftentimes can want to put our own goals onto them. And it was explained to me in a seminar one time that we do what we do for our reason, and they sometimes just want to be a little bit better. They want to be a little bit better about being a dad or a little bit better about being a boss.
In other words, they don’t put as much thought into coming into the gym as we might. So, therefore, I listen. I really try to know what it is they want to accomplish and why they want to accomplish it, and then I do my best to motivate them. And for me, I tend to be a stickler to putting in the steps to get it done. So, I tend to be that type of coach.
Schimri Yoyo: That’s good. Listening prior to the motivation, that’s actually pretty good advice.
What ways do you balance helping people reach their physical peaks or push towards whatever goal they’ve set, but also balancing that without burning them out?
Tim Gojich: Yeah. So, for me, I have a philosophy that you can accomplish just about any physical fitness goal with three to four days a week. And so, of course, if I’m going to ask someone to come in three to four days versus five or six days, I just need to make sure that their nutrition plan is sound, something they could attain five to six days a week without feeling like they’re failing in it.
And I need to make sure that every time they go to the gym, they’re feeling like they have accomplished something. But not only that, they’re ready to come back a day or two later. If I beat them down and [they] can’t come back two, three days later, I’ll start to notice this average of once or twice a week. And that often just won’t add up to the results that they want.
Establishing and Maintaining Brand Recognition
Schimri Yoyo: Okay. Now, I’ll give you an opportunity to brag about yourself and your team a little bit. What makes you and the Fit For Life Gym unique, your team there?
Tim Gojich: Well, we’re in a position here in my city where we are up against some CrossFit gyms. We’re up against a couple of other gyms that even program the way that we program our classes. We recently had an Orangetheory pop up that’s about eight to 10 miles away.
I’ve been in business for 16 years. I’ve always stood behind the name Fit For Life, whether it was Fit For Life Personal Training for 11 years. That then turned into full-on member gym as we have now and we’re called Fit For Life Gym.
We’ve always stood behind the idea that when you walk in these doors, all of our mission as a staff is to get you fit for the rest of your life.
And whether you stay for six weeks and leave or you stay, we’ve had some members that have been a part of what I do under the name Fit For Life now since I’ve been open 16 years and they’re still with me. So, anytime someone walks into the door, you’re giving them a unique experience. It’s different from what they might get in a warehouse gym.
The CrossFit gyms that are positioned to do classes at the same time I do classes at five in the morning, six in the morning, again, in the evening time, oftentimes they’re set out to have just a box. There’s no locker rooms or anything of that nature. So, when I opened this gym, I tried to position myself as a high-end gym that offers locker rooms and we provide full amenities.
So, we get that feel of a real gym in this place that, at the same time, we’ll get them on the turf and they’re doing ropes and they’re doing TRX and they’re doing kettlebells like they would at a warehouse gym. So, again, my staff knows that we want to be able to deliver the best functional, results-driven workouts that we can, but we’re trying to create a new home for these people. That’s just good business, in my opinion.
Schimri Yoyo: That makes sense. And now what have you learned as an entrepreneur that you wish you would have known when you first started out?
Tim Gojich: Oh, man. Quite a bit. I would say the most important thing I’d go back and tell my younger self is: “Always work on your systems, front desk system, your trading system. Everything has a way to be systematic. And the tighter it is, the more that you can then tweak it to become what it is that you want to be as opposed to being reactionary.”
I think a lot of us entrepreneurs because we can do whatever we want, we tend to sometimes bounce from system to system or a seminar might motivate us to want to change something dramatically.
These days, my system is very tight and just about all facets so that I can go to—I’m going to a business seminar in a couple of months, and I know I’m going to pick up a lot of things that are going to—they’re definitely going to tempt me to make some changes. But if it’s not going to be something that I could implement in the system I have now, I’m just going to be a lot less likely to be impulsive.
So, again, I would look back and say I have everything as grounded in a system that you can so that you’re not tempted to be impulsive because impulsive oftentimes drive you right out of business.
Schimri Yoyo: That’s very true. The more you have things systematized, the easier it is to delegate to others to follow those protocols when you go on vacation and do those things. So, that is great advice for your younger self.
Tim Gojich: Yeah. We’re looking at possibly—we want to do part two: we would like to have a second location, and we’re working on that now. And if our systems are so tight that if we had a second gym to duplicate exactly what we do here, we feel like we’ll be successful. So, we’re actually in the beginning stages right now of looking into expansion.
Schimri Yoyo: Nice. You just answered my next question. I was going to ask you what’s next for you moving forward. But that’s awesome. Just a couple more questions for you, Tim, and I appreciate your time. What are some ways that you’re using social media or technology to promote your business?
Tim Gojich: Yeah. So, I think technology is really coming on strong in our industry. We would be remiss if we don’t pay attention to it. So, for what I did last year, I implemented a heart rate system in the gym. So, all of our members now—I put in five flat screens around the gym—and all of our members have the ability to strap on their chest strap or forum strap and immediately their heart rates are tracked, all their calories are tracked in real-time.
And then the email summary is sent to them after every workout, whether they’re in my class or whether they’re on their own or with a trainer. So, we’re trying to collect that data and use those data marks to help them work a little harder, balance things out a little better.
I’ve gone to body fat tracking in the same fashion where before I used to track them every six weeks. Now I’m trying to get them to use a body fat scale that they can do three days a week and really see something coming sooner than later so they can fix it. So, that’s more data that we’re trying to use alongside of the heart rate.
And then in addition to that, we are looking at trying to make sure that our programs go out to people that are not in our class in a digital format. So, yeah, we are likely we’ll be looking at—Well, we’re definitely going to talk to you guys [at exercise.com].
Schimri Yoyo: Well, that’s good. Lastly, what are some resources that you’ve found helpful to you and that’s been beneficial to you that you could recommend to our audience? It doesn’t necessarily have to be fitness related either.
Tim Gojich: So, well, I will say one thing that really helped me establish myself as a trainer and then later as an entrepreneur and business owner was the Perform Better seminars. I really feel like that culture, that philosophy, that way of educating trainers is just phenomenal.
In fact, it’s always interesting for me to see my city, my competition does not go down there. It’s a two-hour drive for us and you could spend three days with some of the best coaches in the world that go down to that seminar and not only do you have an opportunity to watch them lecture and have hands-on [interaction] with them, you have the chance to be social and ask them important, real questions.
So, I would say resource-wise, and that, of course, I always tell the trainers, take one or two of those people that you feel just really resonated with you and read everything that they put out and really start paying attention to what they did. And then next year do it again. Find another new coach. Yeah, the Perform Better seminars, I could do a commercial for them because I believed in it so strongly.
[Editor’s Note: Don’t worry, Tim, you don’t have to do a commercial. The people can just check out the video below for themselves.]
Schimri Yoyo: That’s cool. The Perform Better seminars and then that’s also good advice about seeking mentors and people to follow that are successful in the business. I think that’s great advice for any field really.
Well, again, Tim, thank you again for your time. This has been great to catch up with you. I want to wish you continued success in the Bakersfield area.
And definitely let us know if you went and if you open up that next location and we would definitely want to be able to give you some more shine on that standpoint point and highlight what you guys are doing there.
Tim Gojich: Okay. I appreciate that.
If you’re ready to grow and manage your business better, schedule a demo today.
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.