“Going Deep With Danny Twoguns” – Part I “The History”

Posted: February 9, 2017 by dannytwoguns in Guest Blogs

(Quick note as this is technically a Guest Blog as it is written by one of my good friends and fellow fitness business owner, Craig Householder but it is all about me, which is interesting. I’ll let him take over right from the start… – D2G)

When you walk into Twoguns Training Systems, their unofficial mantra (stolen from Mark Fisher Fitness) of, “Serious Fitness. Ridiculous Humans” makes complete sense. There are both unicorns as well as anatomy models of a foot and a pelvis.

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Literally.

Danny elaborates, “We have to take our fitness seriously, because it is serious and it is of utmost importance to do it correctly as well as to your highest ability and do it often. But we don’t have to take ourselves so seriously. People are far cooler than most businesses give them credit for and to truly foster an environment where people are unconditionally supported and truly judgment free – we have to be ourselves. And jerks aren’t allowed to stay.”

The music isn’t overly loud yet the personalities are. A client says something with the word “can’t” and the immediate response from their team (note – they don’t call them staff, they call them team) is, “We don’t fucking use that word here!” It is no wonder why this place has been described as “Erie’s best kept fitness secret”.

There are pictures and stories from clients and not too much about Danny Twoguns – “the man himself”. Sans a copy of his #1 Best Selling book, “Get With… The Program.”

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(Funny quote related to that from Danny – “It is funny about half the people who come in are like “Oh my god, you wrote a book and it was a best seller! That’s so cool!” and then the other half are like, “Oh…, a book … that’s…uh… cool?” Perspective is everything.”)

When asked why there isn’t too much about him, he answers – “So often personal trainers are all about themselves. Their marketing is about them. Their business card is them. Everything revolves around them. And that is just ego. It never made sense to me. It isn’t about me or the “personal trainer,” it is about the people we serve. I care about educating people on how they can be helped and emphasizing people we’ve helped as a way for them to relate. Obviously I’m part of it but it isn’t about me, it’s about “you”. Which is a little strange in this context, of course, since we are doing an interview about “me”…”

Full disclosure, I consider Danny one of my mentors and we are both currently part of the Results Fitness University Mastermind / Coaching Group. I first met him when I attended the DVRT (Dynamic Variable Resistance Training) Level I and II certification he taught and hosted at Twoguns Training Systems in 2015 and he has gone out of his way multiple times to not only help me in my DVRT education, but my business as well. So when he asked me to put together an interview, I was stoked to do it.

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Our pose for the close of the DVRT Level II Certification at Twoguns Training Systems

 

Tale of the Tape (Danny is a UFC fan so it seemed fitting)

– Age : 31
– Hometown : East Rockaway, NY
– Current : Erie, Pennsylvania
– First Certification : NSCA-CPT (Certified Personal Trainer) – 2006
– Favorite Certification : DVRT Master Instructor
– Favorite Exercise : “The one that meets you directly at your ability level.” Or DVRT / Ultimate Sandbag / Kettlebell “Flows”

An example of an Ultimate Sandbag Flow or as Danny calls “super fun”

– Fun Fact : My current favorite music to workout to is 90’s Boy Band / 98 Degrees Radio on Pandora.

CH : When did you first become interested in fitness?

D2G : It may or may not be a recurring trend that I cannot seem to answer anything quickly or easily and this is definitely one of those questions as the “initial interest” and “the passion” as you see it now didn’t start at the same time.

I had just dropped out of college as a Print Journalism major because I realized that I did not have the patience or desire to complete a whole curriculum in Print Journalism (added I had already switched away from English as a major because I didn’t want to read all of the novels it required). And I wasn’t going to “just go to college” without knowing what I wanted to do.

CH : Quick interjection, I feel like you are such a reader it surprises me you went away from English because of the reading requirements?

D2G : Haha touché. I am not nearly as well read in fiction as I am in non-fiction. I remember hating John Steinbeck because he could write about the leaves on a tree for 3 pages and by the time he was done with the leaves he was also done with my interest. And not only did we have to read about 3 pages of leaves, but then we had to talk about it. And I just couldn’t haha.

CH : Makes sense! So you “dropped out” of college…

D2G : Yes, I left school. My uncle got me a job at the Gold’s Gym where his friend was a co-owner. I worked the Front Desk, initially. I befriended one of the trainers there. We became workout partners. He convinced me to get certified and the gym hosted a weekend certification that I attended, which was the first certification I mentioned in the “Tale of the Tape.”

I started as a trainer there and still did the front desk as well. Traditional, boring, not as effective as it could be 1 on 1 personal training. And … I didn’t like it, in fact I really didn’t like it.

In hindsight, it was for all the right reasons. I hated it for all its shortcomings which we see in the traditional box gym model – endless rows of machines, very little individualization, etc and traditional, “old school” 1 on 1 personal training – no energy, very little accountability overall and a lot of talking about things not workout related to fitness to fill time.

I had a lot of clients and I “made a lot of money” during that half a year I did it. But it was incredibly draining.

I loved the concept, but not the application. I wanted to learn more about how to do it correctly. There was so much potential but I wasn’t going to learn that where I was. And not really knowing any better way to get an education, I went back to college.

CH : So that is the “initial interest” aspect of it. Now how about the “passion” part?

D2G : Exactly. I went to college and didn’t get the answers I was looking for. I had an absolutely amazing advisor and college mentor who both gave me the motivation to get through the full program and the degree as well as really teaching me “how to learn.”

I always say I didn’t learn anything fitness wise I use now from college, but I did learn how to learn. And it started the thought process that investing in yourself can pay the best interest.

You just have to invest in the right places.

Looking back, I don’t know if I could do it all over if I would go or not. I feel like I did a lot of growing up there that I needed to do (in addition to the aforementioned) but there is always that part of me that is like, “What if you started what you do now but earlier” since I didn’t / don’t need a degree to do what I do now. But, we live in the present and not the past :p So I don’t dwell all that much.

The last part of that degree program was an internship. I had a paid one set up, it fell through last minute so I was scrambling to find something and ended up interning at a gym that would later hire me, first as front desk and sales.

Then still having a certification and said gym selling training packages in a promotion that they didn’t actually have trainers to fulfill those packages of (don’t ask haha), I started training people as well. People started getting results, which was out of the norm, and the proverbial rock started rolling.

I eventually got “big enough” to rent out my own studio space inside that same gym. When that happened, there was this moment of, “Okay, this could be something you actually do forever. And if that is the case, let’s actually do this.” Because before this point, I was still in the “what can I actually do with my life for a career” conundrum.

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800 Square Feet of Learning! / Initial Studio Space

I attended my first Perform Better Functional Training Summit in June of 2012 and the game changed forever. Primarily in two ways, one in that I knew this could truly be a life changing career for those who put the work in and also I now had an avenue to truly learn, evolve, improve and get better. Plus I met Alwyn Cosgrove in person for the first time after only stalking him on the internet beforehand. And that is the start of “the passion”.

CH : And poof, it was that easy?

D2G : Haha, not at all. That was the start though.

There were two main struggles, one before and interwoven into the story I just recounted and one that came slightly after yet still a little interwoven. And then both those things woven into each other. Words and things I know. I’ll elaborate so that makes sense…

“Growing up” I struggled immensely with “finding happiness” primarily in terms of who am I and what am I meant to do.

From a young age, I saw that a lot of the “conventional things” and the “way we’ve always done things” were the exact opposite of things I enjoyed, things that motivated me and “places” I wanted to go – figuratively, not literally.

I hated school. I hated monotony. I hated “shit for the sake of doing shit”. I hated “because you are supposed to”.

My mother was constantly frustrated with me because on progress reports and report cards, there would always be something along the lines of “Doesn’t do homework” or “Homework needs improvement”. And my contention was, if I am getting good grades on tests and projects, why would I do the homework. There were video games to be played for god’s sake – half kidding.

Then the answer from all angles was “because you are supposed to”. And when I would contend again with, if the point of homework is for you to get better grades and I am already getting better grades, why am I doing it, all I would get back once more is “because you are supposed to.” And that never flew in “my world” from as long as I can remember.

And also, all of the stuff that didn’t interest me remotely, that regardless of what “they” say that I would never use again in my life, but I had to know for this upcoming test – because I was supposed to.

And growing up, the dialogue from those views was that I was an asshole, not that I was built for an entrepreneurial based or entrepreneurial inspired life, not the “conventional” one. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with the “conventional” life as I say it for a lot of people. It is just wrong for me.

But growing up, no on teaches you any of that. Or that that is okay. So you are left feeling like you are different and not in a good way. And worst of all, you feel like you have no guidance (because you really don’t) and no plan for what success or happiness looks like.

This feeling plagued me for a long time. As time went on, it got worse. You are supposed to know your plan going into college. To not know it even when you are finished with your bachelor’s degree, increases that pressure…

To not only not know your plan but have absolutely no clarity as to how to find that answer out was incredibly frustrating for me. The frustration was reaching a peak as I was getting more passionate about fitness, which one would think we be the opposite. But now I was passionate and “fired up” but still without any clarity.

Then I joined the Results Fitness University Coaching Group and that clarity became very clear. Developing a path for how you can do this and make it work while knowing and having expert coaches in your corner to guide you along the way essentially alleviated all of the stress and frustration that had been mounting for over a decade.

rfu-mm-feb-2013

My first Mastermind. You cant see me because I seem to always stand behind the 2nd tallest person in the room.

CH : Wow, I didn’t know all that.

D2G : This goes for people in their fitness goals looking at other people and also fitness business owners looking and other fitness owners – it is definitely easy to look at people who are doing great things / things you admire / achieved the results you want, or people see as “successful” (or helping a lot of people for the fitness business owners) and think that they never had a struggle and that everything came easy. And the vast majority of time, that simply isn’t true.

I think particularly in the context of our clients and the people we help and serve, they tend to use it as a coping mechanism or a flat out excuse. I can’t do what “so and so” did because she had it easy and I have all these struggles that prevent me from being where she is / where I want to be. Whereas that person very likely has had just as many struggles and sometimes even more.

It is always the outlier who has had things handed to them or things were super easy for. We just like to glorify them and make them seem infinitely more common than they actually are.

CH : That is a good transition point to elaborate on, what does success look like to you personally?

D2G : Providing a safe, motivated place where people can genuinely be themselves while enjoying fitness / a healthy lifestyle and getting to their fitness goals.

It is one of those things, where I genuinely got into this profession because I wanted to help people, which unfortunately happens less often than it doesnt. I wanted to prevent people from making the same mistakes I have made. We haven’t even touched on that rabbit hole. The struggle I talked about just before was partly influenced by, hey I genuinely want to help people change their lives and change the way fitness is done in Erie but I also want to be able to afford to eat, have a family and go learn things to get better – can there be a middle ground? Of course we know now that there can be.

To that end, success for me really looks like helping the most people help the most people – while of course helping people ourselves.

Unlock human potential and allow people to live their best life. In every capacity.

It is strange to me how many people think that fitness is not an integrated approach to everything and that we can’t have it all…

The average female thinks she has to starve herself and have a horrible relationship with food to get to her fitness goals. She doesn’t.

The middle aged male thinks that getting to his fitness goals and results requires pain, lack of mobility and discomfort. It doesn’t.

People think fitness and working out is something that takes from you rather than gives to you in every way, in every facet.

Changing those misconceptions is success.

A little more globally and a little less personally, I think success in terms of fitness, is the ability to be confident in your own skin, while having the physical ability and the confidence in that physical ability to do the things you wish to do. Too often people don’t realize how many things they do not do that they wish they could, because they aren’t strong enough or don’t think they will be able to without getting injured.

CH : Want to dive down that rabbit hole of “people not making the same mistake you did”?

D2G : Sure, it isn’t too deep a rabbit hole, really. I just feel like it is a little generic or a little cliche sometimes and I do my best to make what we do about our clients, not necessarily about me. But a lot of people relate to it and like that I am a “real person” so it is probably worth elaborating on…

Essentially, I was the fat but athletic kid growing up. I was good at sports but was “the fat kid” on the team every time. This was pretty much for as long as I can remember. Everyone in my family in my generation / age range had a “chubby phase” in which everyone grew out of except me.

I graduated High School at 313 pounds of not a whole lot of muscle. I remember trying to “lose weight” my senior year of baseball, but I blew my knee out in the pre-season and that was that. Then it was while I was in physical therapy that “something clicked.” A combination of my orthopedist saying it would be very hard for the knee to ever fully heal unless I lost weight and having a physical therapist who was really good at making fitness relatable and fun without making me feel like shit, which is what typically happens.

“You’re fat, you need to lose weight,” automatically sets the tone as negative so you really don’t want to do it. She was good at making it about the process, not about the outcome, which no one really ever had before. And something we read a lot about in behavior change and habit formation – process goals are better than outcome goals. She was ahead of her time for sure.

In the following year after graduating High School, I lost a little over 100 pounds.

The problem was, I did so in the fashion of “the way we’ve always done things” and what I was reading in magazines, on the internet and what “they say.” Which was lifting incorrectly, not eating enough (probably better defined as starving myself), and doing far too much “cardio” aka aerobics – elliptical, jogging (when my joints could handle it, which wasn’t very often) etc etc.

I was 100+ pounds lighter on the scale, but I was essentially the same “fat kid” just in a smaller frame. Which is typically called “skinny fat” in some circles. My bodyfat was high, my muscle was low and worst of all, I physically felt like shit. Which is a strange thing when everyone is complimenting you on your appearance / transformation.

Dan and Kyle

Danny (on the right) 198 pounds of no muscle and joint pain 🙂

You are getting attention from the opposite sex (and actually everyone for that matter) in a way that had never remotely happened before and everyone treats you completely differently – for the better … but you physically feel like shit. I was supposed to have more energy, and I didn’t. Losing the weight was supposed to make me feel good. And it did but only in terms of how I was treated but others, not how I was actually feeling.

And then, the inevitable happened.

When you lose weight the wrong way, overtraining and under-eating, the only thing that can really happen is rebound – and it did. Over the next 3 or so years, I gained it all back. Back in the 300+ club.

When this happened, it took a little while but it was the realization that – “Okay. “The way they’ve always done it” doesn’t work at all. Let’s find the way that actually works.” And that was part of the inspiration behind that desire to learn and why I am so adamant about teaching people how to do things right. Because “what they’ve always said” not only doesn’t work but it has long term detriments and consequences that I still deal with to this day.

So then the real journey began.

Now my weight on the scale may fluctuate (dad bod is real) but I have less fat, more muscle and most importantly a true ability to function, be truly strong in ways that actually matter to every-day life, not getting strong at an arbitrary machine that doesn’t make me move better or actually help me. A combination of mobility, stability and strength while finding the balance of working out and nutrition fitting into my life, not that my life revolves around it. Though I still enjoy lifting heavy things and “training fun” as a hobby.

(To be continued…Stay tuned for Part II which dives deep into the training and fitness methodologies side of the fun…)



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