This video is an additional 10-minutes of bonus content, not included in the main interview. Learn more about the man that has helped so many facilities become successful; what drives him; and how he would like to see his legacy.
Chris Windram, Co-founder, Quoox
Bonus content transcription
For our legends of fitness series. I had the honour of speaking with a legend of the truest sense business guru, Thomas Plummer.
This video is an extra 10 minutes of bonus footage, delving deeper into the mind of the man who has helped so many.
Check out the full in-depth interview with Thom at Quoox.com. So, Thom, forgetting what others might say, how would you describe yourself in three words?
He really cares. That’s what I’d want. That’s what I would like people to know after my 40 years into this. That’s, that’s the thing that, you know, you, you hope you’re remembered for, you know, you, if you can, just certain point where, you know, you write your own obituary as you live, you know. You get to that, you know, near the, more toward the exit door than the front door these days. And so the things I think about is I want to make sure that my clients, they were the, I left him healthy, safe. They can take care of their families, things like that.
So I have a strange relationship with my clients and considering how many I have, but it’s just, they know that I never sell them anything. I don’t have anything to ram down to their throats. There’s no hidden agenda. So when they call, I’m not trying to sell them a course, you know, for another $1,200, I’m not trying to upgrade them into some program. I’m just like, what do you need? Let’s talk. And I give them the answers that I feel they need and we kind of work on it.
So I hope it’s that, you know, he, I hope it’s like he really cares. I hope that’s what, that would be my three words.
We’ve discussed this in a slightly more depth in our interview, Thom, but who was your mentor? And from whom have you learned the most?
I really didn’t have mentors. Um, I got to the point where if I had to look at one and it was really, my first one would have been Chuck Hawkins, he really taught me what it was like to be a man, so to speak. You know, I never had a father figure that, you know, that I was close to, and so he really taught me, you know, he was a role model. He was a role model in every sense. I taught martial arts for him in San Diego for a couple of years, and he helped me move up into the organization. And, but he really taught me not just business, uh, but, but really how to be a guy, to be that type of guy. And I really admired that he did a lot. He was very gracious. Um, a mean guy. I mean, he’s a guy that you’d really want to standing behind your back anywhere, but he was one of the most gracious and gentle human beings I’ve ever worked with.
And, um, I, and a few other people that eventually a guy named Robin Dyke, um, I, he just, uh, come to my workshops and I would go talk to him and stay with him at his house because he’s one of the few people that if I had a problem, I really trusted his opinion… and a couple of other people, but I’ve never really had mentors. I’ve had to kind of create my own path. And I’m kind of self-taught in that sense.
It’s, it’s strange, I’m a contradiction because believe so much in mentoring, but, um, I’ve never re ally had that stable of I’m in my own, you know, just never connected with them at that level
What motivates you and keeps you driven?
I want to change the world! You know? What, er, I, the fitness industry is kind of my, you know, little bed of flowers. It’s, uh, I, uh, I’ve, I’ve created things in here that I’ve wanted to exist, like the modern training gym, through the early guys, through models, through Cosgrove and Creasy and back in those guys and the nineties.
Uh, most of the modern stuff now is things that really came through my workshops and people don’t even realize where it came from, but you teach 30, 40 workshops a year and it’s funny to see some guru going well, “here’s you know, here’s how we do small group training”. Small group training never existed in a training gym until I started it! It never was there! So here’s a guy that’s an expert on small group training and he doesn’t even know, you know, it’s only really 20 years old. It’s never, he just has no idea. So he’s trying to shape rules or something.
So when you create something it’s easier to stay in business because everybody else tries to figure out where somebody like me is going. So they, so they, they copy and then they do it. I’ve always had the advantage that I’ll just go where I want to go. And so I can make up stuff faster than you can steal it! So you’re, I, I’ve never had that problem as being that type of educator where I, I always know the material, because if, again, if I teach next year, it would be a whole new workshop. It’s gotta be just shattering to the owner because we’ve got to go forward and it’s going to be painful. So most of my workshops, I try to always set them up as two to three years ahead of what the market is doing.
And that’s why the guys that come through my workshops are usually the guys that are usually end up being the better known or the wealthier guys more, you know, more successful guys and stuff because they’re the guys that are sitting in the workshop willing to look at their business three years down the line. So most of what I’m selling them is not what is, but what will be. And that’s kept me in business a long time because gee, you’re predicting the future. Now I’m just creating the future. I’ve just, this is where I think we’re going to go. Everybody go with me. And if you’ve got 20, 30 workshops a year and a hundred thousand people following you on Facebook and a couple hundred thousand people reading your books, it’s pretty easy to figure out the path, you know, so I don’t have to predict the future. I just have to go out and kind of make it happen because I know where I wanted everybody to go.
What, if anything, frustrates you or makes you angry?
The mainstream people and through like the organizations like IHRSA, things like that. I, I think we hurt a lot of clients because we’re repeating the past and it frustrates me that they will not look at what the future can be. That they just keep trying to shove down. I like, like the low end gyms, you know, when you get down to £10 a month, you know, you’re, that’s, what are you going to do to that client?
So I think a lot of our industry hurts people. That’s why I’ve gravitated so much. I do a lot of consulting and the mainstream guys, the guys willing to listen, but the future are these small, independent training gyms all over the UK. They’re just everywhere. And those are the guys that I really think are the future because they actually can touch the client. They can change the client, they can work with the client and they can bring what’s next instead of trying to make a client fit a 1995 box, you know, do you know, we’ve got aerobics down the hallway and here’s trainers and you know, here’s your trainer and he’s, you know, you just follow him all through the gym and share equipment with all these other sweaty people. Because even though you’re paying more money, you got to share equipment, or we’ve got a little corral over here for one-on-one and oh my God!
So my frustration is in the industry is that we there’s, we still hurt a lot of people because of the business practices leftover from 20 years ago. And that’s, that’s sad 30 years ago in many cases. So, and that’s, that’s, that’s damaged our reputation. We’ve really had failed the client in those boxes.
What would you say is your greatest achievement?
I hope it’s legacy. I’ve created a whole generation of guys that are the guys right now. If you look at the top, probably hundred training gyms by money. I, one of my favourite clients, they’re all my favourite clients!
I guess I’d say one of my favourite favourite clients is a guy in Guatemala named Juan. He’s got 12 units down there. Um, he bought one of my books, my parenting book of all the books! They bought that and he read it to his 13 year old daughter. She had a copy, she would read a section and he would read it and then they would sit and do this. And they did it for 20 weeks in a row, and there were 20 chapters in the book. And I think about that, I go, wow, that’s, that’s a cool legacy. The guy’s a successful gym owner. And you know, I’ve had a privilege of working with him. He’s a good businessman. He would have made it with or without me, but we maybe shortened the path, a little for him. And, but he still calls when he needs help. And so, but here’s a guy that’s taken something I wrote in spending time with his kids.
That’s, that’s kind of cool.
Guys like Frank Nash are sons, you know, Cosgrove. These are guys that have been with me so long that they are family. They are my kids in a lot of ways. And I treat them like that. They treat me like, you know, somebody’s old father and, you know, guys like that are good. And guys like Rick Mayo and all of these guys that are kind of next generation gurus doing that. They all kind of started in my kitchen, so to speak. They, you know, they were in the early workshops and they all struggled and they’re all great role models for people. Because they’re all successful, but they did it different ways.
You have to find your own internal motivation to, to how do you define success? My success is, did I do the right thing with these guys? Yes. Did I leave them better? Yes. Did I make thousands of people millions of dollars. Yes. I’m good with all the internal questions. I don’t need the external legacy. Um, I’ve done my job. I did the right thing and I, I left it, I think better than I found it. And I left a lot of people better for knowing me, I hope.
I’m at peace with the whole thing. I’m at peace getting older and getting out of the business. I’m at peace with what my legacy is. And do I really care if I, if I never taught another workshop? Life goes on! I’d do something else. And I’m okay with that. I did, I had, my turn. It’s somebody else’s turn!
I had the enormous pleasure of talking to Thom about his vision, his life and his legacy. Check out the full, insightful interview at quoox.com. My thanks to Thom Plummer, a true legend of fitness.