Achieve Multiple Streams of Passive Income as a Trainer (Interview with David Lyons)

Highlights from the interview

[07:59] – Be inspired by how he is still able to turn around from a debilitating disease and become a successful bodybuilder again focusing on clients with MS or physical challenges

[22:26] – How to create opportunities, passive income opportunities without being a marketing expert, doing things like creating your own certification, creating your own online training program, or even licensing your workout videos to an online membership site


About our Guest

Turning a devastating illness into an inspiration story & successful online fitness business

We have a real treat today because I’m talking to David Lyons. He has turned a debilitating diagnosis of multiple sclerosis into his own personal mission, inspiration story, and even a really successful niche fitness business.

Up until his late forties, David was a muscle guy excelling in bodybuilding and owning fitness centers.

However, at the age of 47, he was suddenly dealing with multiple sclerosis (MS), a debilitating disease that causes nerve damage and leads to vision loss, pain, fatigue, and impaired coordination.

Instead of giving up his passions, he pushed forward. At the age of 50, he competed in a bodybuilding competition while struggling with MS. He ended up winning the Most Inspirational award for that competition. 

Then, in 2012, David and his wife, Kendra, created the MS Fitness challenge, which offers free online finish training to anyone with MS or other chronic health conditions, and it’s from trainers who know how to deal with those physical challenges.

David is also the author of “David’s Goliath,” an autobiography story of his journey with MS and his own fitness book, “Every day Health and Fitness with Multiple Sclerosis.” He’s also the senior fitness director for MS Workouts, an online membership site that provides strength training workouts for those battling MS.

He’s also the creator of the MS Fitness Training Specialist course, which is a certification for trainers who want to work with clients with MS and has already certified over a hundred trainers with that course. 

In addition, he’s producing a TV series called “The Reset Plan” with fitness icon and actor Lou Ferrigno and his daughter, Shauna Ferrigno. It’s hard to imagine that there could be more, but he’s actually just launched another business called Optimal Body Personal Fitness.

It’s an online membership site, which is a niche. He focuses on the 50+ community to transform their body and health through a customized workout plan and nutrition support. 


Edited transcription of Fitness Business Secrets Podcast, Episode 17

[07:59] Kristy: I am so excited to have David on the show. David, how are you doing today?

David: I’m good, Kristy. Thanks for having me. It’s a pleasure.

Kristy: Awesome. So, I am just dying to know. What’s your background? What were you doing literally before you were diagnosed? 

David: Well, my background is fitness. I’ve always been an athlete. Before I even became a bodybuilder in my twenties, I was a competitive boxer and a martial artist. Later on in my life, I got into bodybuilding. From that point I started my gym chain, which ended up only eight different gyms all across the United States. 

When I got this diagnosis, I was 47 years old in 2006. I was healthy. It really caught me off guard. It wasn’t something that I expected to happen.

I was busy doing what I was doing in the fitness industry, but I was also a television producer working on some TV series when this disease hit me.

Kristy: Oh, wow. That must have been a big changer and shock to you. How did you initially react since it’s something that affects you physically and you’re a very active guy?

David: I got diagnosed because I was working out in the gym and I started feeling this pain and numbness in my left arm. I thought it was a pinched nerve, but as time went by and I was ignoring it, it radiated and went down throughout my legs and my upper body to the point where I was partially paralyzed from the chest down. Then, they had to rush me into the hospital.

After five days there, I was diagnosed with MS. When I left the hospital, I didn’t even really even know what MS was. I’ve never heard of this disease.

So, I started investigating and went online and looked at what people that have MS go through, and it was pretty depressing. I couldn’t really go into the gym at the beginning because it was so hard for me to coordinate.

I couldn’t even hold dumbbells in my hands. It was just a really terrible disease at the beginning stages. I had to really reinvent the way that I worked out to be able to go back into bodybuilding, and it did take me about a year and a half after the diagnosis to get back into the gym and start training again.

Kristy: How did you feel emotionally? Did you kind of just immediately say, “I’m going to get through this,” or did you have any moments of depression?

David: There was always that struggle of, “This is a terrible disease. It’s making it very difficult for me.” It was a little bit depressing, but I’m a man of faith.

I used to be a youth pastor, so my belief in God is what really got me past all that negativity, and the part of me that wanted to be depressed, I would just fight it through my faith. 

I used to be a youth pastor, so my belief in God is what really got me past all that negativity, and the part of me that wanted to be depressed, I would just fight it through my faith. 

Kristy: I’m sure you had moments, but you were really able to stay strong overall. But, it took you one and a half years to get back to working out?

David: Yes, and it was difficult. In fact, when I first decided I was going to go back into the gym, I snuck into a gym that wasn’t bodybuilding. It was a really fancy fitness center, and I went at about five in the morning when no one was there and I wore a bunch of sweat clothes.

This was in Florida, so I was really hot. But, I didn’t want anybody to see this withered body that I now have. So, I kind of hid that for a little bit.

Then, a couple of buddies of mine who were bodybuilders, competitors and trainers, they just took me to the gym and said, “Look. You need to get back into bodybuilding. This is what you do.”

After a few months of working out with these guys, I started putting the muscle back on and said, “You know what? I think I can compete again.” That’s really what started happening in my head. I started thinking I could really overcome this as a bodybuilder. 

Kristy: It sounds like when you first got back to the gym, you were a little self-conscious. It also sounds like at that point, you weren’t even thinking you could compete again.

David: No. I was lucky I could lift five pound dumbbells when I first got into the gym. It was hard to stand up without falling. It was hard to hold dumbbells. The coordination wasn’t there.

The pain was constant. The numbness and tingling in my hands and my legs were always there, so it was a difficult task. But, I just said, “I’ve got to do this,” because the alternative was what the doctor said. They said I would be in a wheelchair in six months. And, I wasn’t because I wouldn’t allow my body to do that.

Kristy: When you say you wouldn’t allow, is that because you decided you would just start working out again or because you mentally wouldn’t allow? 

David: Well, both. Mentally, I refused to let my body go into a wheelchair because I knew if I did that, I would never get out of it. So, mentally I was strong and said, “Look. I’ll hold on to walls if I have to.”

Physically, once I started working now and I started getting stronger, I knew that I would never be in a wheelchair. . 

Kristy: Basically, it sounded like the doctors diagnosed you that your muscles couldn’t actually rebuild, and you believed that. You believed your doctors, of course. Then, you saw something different when you were working out with your friends.

David: Absolutely. I didn’t want to believe the doctors, but after reading everything I read on the internet about how devastating, debilitating, and progressive this disease is, in the back of my head, I saw myself possibly deteriorating to that point.

But, I just kept fighting and I just wouldn’t let that happen. As I got stronger, all my muscles started coming back. Before I got MS, I was about 200 pounds. When I stopped working out and sitting at home and letting the disease do what it did, I went down to 160 pounds.

So, when I got back into that gym at 160 pounds, all of a sudden I started putting weight and muscle on.

Now, I’m 180 pounds again and getting back to that 200 pounds. I knew that all I had to do was just keep training and I would get stronger. 

Kristy: Were you on any medications or anything else that helped you get there, or did you just fearlessly work out?

David: I refused to take MS medications. I just ate my protein, had my supplements, and took a lot of vitamins and things like that, but it was more just the physical and mental aspect of this that got me through it. 

Kristy: How long did it take you to get back to your 200 pounds and feeling like yourself again?

David: I actually got past 200 pounds before I went into bodybuilding competition in 2008. So, it took me a couple of years to get to the point where I was over 200 pounds again.

Of course, I had to diet down for the competition and I got all that extra body fat off of me. But, I put on weight pretty quickly once I started training hard again.

Kristy: Let’s say one and a half years after you’re first diagnosed, you go to a fancy gym, then your friends bring you over and they start working you out. 

From that first day where you just stepped into any gym to the day where you started to see your muscle grow and feel normal again, how long was that? 

David: It was just a few months. After those few months, I started wearing tank tops again and I wasn’t covering my body up because I saw things were happening. I was getting all this support in the gym while these people were rooting me on. 

Then, I had a filmmaker come in with his camera and did a documentary on what I was doing. I had all these people just cheering me on and it became a momentum for me. 

Kristy: Wow. That’s big. It sounds like this might surprise your doctors. Most doctors would have never expected this.

Is that a pretty surprising thing for someone with MS to have that change so quickly starting from a lower point to seeing a lot of muscle growth?

David: Yeah, it was pretty shocking. In fact, in the documentary that was shot, one of my neurologists said that he does not recommend what I’m doing. He thinks I’m crazy.

Then, there was another doctor who was a sports medicine doctor who basically said that he thinks I was doing the right thing and that if anyone can do it, I can.

Then, there was another doctor who was a sports medicine doctor who basically said that he thinks I was doing the right thing and that if anyone can do it, I can.

I did shock so many people by being able to train as hard as I could, and you have to remember, I wasn’t young. At that point, I’m heading to be 50 years old. So, it wasn’t like a 20 year old kid fighting with disease. My age was against me.

Kristy: Yeah, it sounds like it. That’s incredible. You enter your first fitness competition since being diagnosed, and you do well. It sounds like you were on a really positive ride there. What did you decide to do after?

David: After this competition, I had a standing ovation and I had all these people on the internet reaching out. My ego started to get a little bit of the best of me, and I started thinking, “You know what? I could compete all over the place. I could go to different states and I can compete.” 

My wife, Kendra, who’s very grounded and she’s a registered nurse, knows how hard it is to help people. She just basically said to me, “Dave, this is great for you, but what are you doing for other people with MS other than giving them a little bit of inspiration? How are we helping them?” 

I said, “I’m really not trying to help anyone with MS. I’m trying to help myself.” 

And, she said, “Well, you really need to re-examine that because I think that God’s given you this ability to influence and work with people. You have this disease. Why don’t you use it for the good of other people with MS?”

So, I threw out the idea of competing anymore and I put in the idea of helping people all over the world who have this illness. To help them understand the importance of fitness, how to get fit, and help them to do that.

That’s when we started the MS Fitness Challenge Charity. 

Starting the MS Fitness Challenge Charity to help other people battling MS

Kristy: I see. When you got that up and people started reaching out to you, how did that feel? 

David: It felt great because I was actually seeing people saying to me that I’m changing their lives. They’re feeling better because they’re exercising.

They’re not listening to doctors who are telling them to just sit on the couch and watch television. They’re doing something. They’re moving. I gave them hope, so it made me feel great. 

Kristy: That’s amazing. You started this charity, and then at some point, you became Senior Fitness Director for MS Workouts. I know that’s an online membership site, but if you could tell me more about that. 

David: MS Workouts was sorted by a group in Texas at a neurological clinic there. It’s one of the top clinics in the United States, and they wanted to help people with MS. They have neurologists, physical therapists, personal trainers, and all of this. 

They started filming exercises for people with MS. They found me online and they said, “We don’t have someone with MS in our group and as someone with experience in exercise, nutrition, and fitness, would you be interested in helping us to bring better programs out to people with MS?”

And, I said, “Sure,” because these guys were dedicated to helping people with MS. Now, we have hundreds of people that are members of this online service where they can go on and custom design their own programs with over a hundred exercises that we’ve created for people with MS.

Kristy: That’s really neat. So, you help them with that program. After the MS Fitness Challenge charity that you created, and then you started helping MS Workouts, at what point did you start to create your own MS-related projects that were general for-profit ventures?

David: Well, I didn’t do a for-profit for MS. I do that for the baby boomers, the over 40 or 50 group. I created the MS Fitness Challenge gym Facebook group, which is also a group of over 7,000 people that have MS that are interested in fitness, and they can get online programs through us that don’t cost anything.

We also go around the country. We do 12-week challenges at different gyms where we work with people for free. So, I really never capitalize on the MS community. I want to help them, but I do work with people outside of the MS community that have challenges of different types or just aging that want to work out.

I’ve been doing that pretty much for over 40 years. I’ve been training people and working with people. With the online industry growing so much, it was natural to create what I call the Optimal Body Personal Fitness training program. 


Creating the Optimal Body Personal Fitness program to help people that have challenges of different types or just aging that want to work out

[22:26] – Kristy: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. When did you start the Optimal Body Personal Fitness program?

David: Optimal Body started several years ago, but I did more of that one-on-one. It was probably about a year ago that we launched the Optimal Body Personal Fitness website, which is actually obpfitness.com. 

It’s a membership, but there are also some free products that we offer people. I offer a free nutritional guide. We work with people. I run training as well as the memberships.

Kristy: I see your wife on that. Is this a venture for you and your wife that you guys put together yourself? Is there a person who came to you to produce this for you?

David: My son, Derek, is an internet marketer. He works with some big companies and does all that. He’s the one that suggested that I do this and really bring it out because there’s so many people doing online training.

I’m very specialized in how I do it. The way I train people is very different from most of the things that you’re going to see out there. I use training methods that a lot of people don’t use. I use resistance bands in a way that most people don’t use. So, it’s my program. 

My wife, of course, always helps me with all my ventures, but my son, Derek, is the one that runs all my online programs. 

Kristy: So, it’s still a family business. You still have your hands and understanding how most of it works.

I think there’s a lot of people who want to start their own online membership fitness business and they’re not sure where to start or if it’s even worthwhile the immense time and tech set up investment. How did you get started? How did you even put it together?

David: Like I said, my son, Derek, does the online marketing and he sets everything up on the website. If anybody is interested in having someone help them to do that, they could connect with me and he can do that for them. But, the key really for all of these trainers is you have to separate yourself from the mass.

Unless you have a story to tell and you’re different from someone else, you’re not going to make the type of money that you want to make.

There’s so many trainers out there trying to do online programs now because they think it’s easy.

But, unless you have a story to tell and you’re different from someone else, you’re not going to make the type of money that you want to make. You also have to have a program that makes sense.

You can’t just do cookie cutter training and throw that out there and expect to make a lot of money doing this. First, you have to have the story. Second, the experience. Lastly, the program that separates you from everybody else. 

Online membership site content and pricing

Kristy: I see. So, let’s say someone does have a niche and they’ve been working with people and have seen results.

Do you record videos on this membership site? Do you actually create a custom meal plan for each person? What do you offer? 

David: Yes, we have videos that demonstrate the way that I expect people to train. I have several programs. One is the OptimalBody HD Training System, which can be done at the gym with free weights and machines that I have.

Another program is the OptimalBody Resistance Band Training System, which is using resistance bands. 

We have videos that show people exactly how to do these movements that I tell them to do. I custom those programs for your specific needs. Let’s say you come to me and say that you need to lose 50 pounds, and you also have a bad knee and can’t squat anymore.

I’m not going to give you the same program as someone who doesn’t need to lose more than 10 pounds and is perfectly healthy. Everybody has to have a program that’s custom designed. You can’t give people just one program and say, “This is going to fix all your problems. It’s going to get you into top shape.”

That is the problem with the insanity programs like the 30-day beach bodies and all those things. They only work for a small group of people, then after that they don’t sustain the results because they’re not sustainable programs. 

What I offer is a lifestyle, and I think that’s what trainers really need to do. They need to connect with their clients online and give them something that they’re doing for them specifically. Even if it’s a membership or an online program, you can still customize that for your clients. That’s what I do. 

Kristy: So, you actually create a custom program. How do you send them a custom program? Is it just an email with specific links or do you write it out? How do you do it, but also be time efficient for you? 

David: What I do is I get someone to send me their information. They’re going to tell me what their limitations and goals are. Then, I already have all of the exercises and everything in video and in illustration. So, there’s photos. 

All of those can then go to those people. So, it’s less time consuming than having to videotape specifically for each person. But, you do have to spend the time to give someone not just a blanket diet program, but a diet program that works within the foods that they like.

You also have to give them the training session that works for what their goals are. There is time that has to be invested as a trainer, but if you videotape all the types of movements for your specific program, then you don’t have to always just keep videotaping and taking pictures of the same thing over and over again.

Kristy: How much do you charge for access to your site? Are there different tiers? 

David: There’s different tiers. You could come on for as little as $19.95 a month. Then, it goes from there. I work with clients that are paying thousands of dollars a month on very specific programs for them. The higher-end clients that you get, the better, because you’re getting a lot more money for your time. 

If you offer a discounted membership where you can have hundreds and thousands of people that become part of this membership where it’s not so custom, then you are able to generate income that way.

But, I think that you have to have a combination because it’s not a one size fits all for the community.

Kristy: So, you’re saying the $19.95 is the general, pretty much no customization, and that’s for the person that doesn’t need specific issues addressed. 

David: Right. Then, they could go on and follow our OptimalBody HD program. They could see that in there. Once a month, there’s going to be updates that come out that we put on and I talk about different things, so they get access to them as well.

But, on the custom end, it just depends on what they’re looking to do, and then it goes up from there.  

Kristy: What are the different tiers? If we have an online membership site, we’d love to have those premium hundreds or thousands per month.

What do you offer them in your program for such a premium price? 

David: When I get to the premium end and people are spending thousands of dollars for an eight week or a 12 week program, it is very custom. We’re doing online conversations and online training where I’m watching them. 

They’re taking their phone and actually videotaping their workouts, and I critique their form. I could correct it if I have to. I can add things to it. I can make sure that they’re doing it the way I want them to do it.

Then, we’ll have conversations. So, it really depends on what the person wants. It’s hard to tell people to charge a specific amount for something. I don’t like to tell someone, “You should have a $19.95, $49.95, or a $1,995 program.”

That really depends on what it is that you’re offering and how much time you want to give to each client. There’s a lot of variables to it. These types of things really have to be custom-made for the trainer.

A trainer can’t just go out and take what I have, put it out there and say it’s going to work for them because it won’t. Everything has to be custom to what the trainers are offering.

Kristy: Let’s say a trainer is just getting started and is curious on how you do it, but they know they’ll have to change it for their audience.

Is the higher price point sort of set up just like training sessions where they get three coaching sessions a week for eight weeks? Then, you kind of price it as like $120 per session. Is that how you do it? 

If you really want results, you’ve got to put at least three months into this. If you’re not going to put three months into it, you’re not going to see the results that you’re really trying to get.

David: That’s what you want to do. I tell people that I don’t believe in a 30 day program because I don’t think they work. I also don’t think that these 8 week programs are that great.

I really start 12 weeks and beyond because if you really want results, you’ve got to put at least three months into this. If you’re not going to put three months into it, you’re not going to see the results that you’re really trying to get.

Let’s say that we started a 12 week program. That 12-week program is maybe $4,000. For that $4,000 over 12 weeks, you’re going to get X amount of live training sessions. You’re going to get phone consultations and email access, back and forth. You’re going to get nutritional guidance as well.

It really just depends on what you have to offer. Now, you have to remember, I have over 40 years experience. I’m not just a trainer. I’ve got a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition. I’ve owned gyms. I’ve trained celebrities and athletes. I write courses for other trainers, so I’m a trainer-educator.

The level that I’m at is a little bit higher than an average trainer, so I can charge more money. It’s kind of like a celebrity trainer that charges these really high amounts of money because they’re working with celebrities. Well, those celebrity trainers have a lot of experience behind them and they can get those dollars. 

When you’re a new trainer, you don’t want to price yourself out of the market because if somebody asks you, “What’s your experience?”

And, you say, “Well, I got my certification from ISSA six weeks ago, and I’ve been training people for a few months.”

You’re not going to be able to get those dollars, and you’re going to price yourself where nobody will pay for you. You have to price yourself relative to your experience. 

Kristy: That makes sense. That’s actually great info for anyone just getting started about how to possibly set up their own online business. Of course, they’ll do it relative to their experience. 

Working on TV as a creator, a writer, a producer, an executive producer and a director

Kristy: I did want to ask about your TV producing background. It sounded like you’ve been producing TV before you had MS, and I know that you’re working on producing a TV series called The Reset Plan.

What do you do on TV? Are you just a producer and do you only focus on fitness TV? 

David: No. I’m a creator, a writer, a producer, an executive producer and a director. I’ve been doing it for over 20 years. I had a hit TV series called Harvey Heaven, which aired for six seasons and over a hundred episodes.

I’ve sold TV series to MTV, Animal Planet, AMC, and Discovery. So, I’ve been doing this for a long time. The show that I’m producing right now is fitness and lifestyle-related with Lou Ferrigno and his daughter, Shauna Ferrigno. 

It’s called The Reset Plan. Right now, what we’re doing is we’re producing it digitally so you can see it on YouTube. If you want to subscribe, you just go to YouTube and look up The Reset Plan. You could see the episodes, the behind the scenes, and the questions and answers from fitness icon Lou Ferrigno and his daughter, Shauna. 

That is a fitness series that I’m producing, but most of the series over these years, Hog Heaven was a motorcycle TV series where we rode Harleys all over the country and into Mexico and Canada.

I produced all sorts of reality shows and things like that. So, no, I wasn’t just fitness-related when it came to TV. 

Kristy: Well, that’s even more cool. I can understand that you pitched the series to the TV networks, and then they pay you for it. But, how do you fund and make money for the YouTube shows?

David: YouTube is a very different animal. What you want to do with YouTube is you want to monetize it by getting enough viewers that you could go to sponsors and have them pay you to put their banners up and links to their websites where they can be included in an episode, and you talk about their products.

As long as those products and services align with your messages in the TV series, that’s how you monetize it. It’s a little bit different from getting paid from a network.

Kristy: Maybe because you have connections, but I’ve produced a few YouTube episodes, and I found it really hard to get economies of scale. How do you get people to watch it?

David: When you’re working with the name Ferrigno, which is one of the most recognized fitness names in the world, I’ve got the Incredible Hulk with me, who’s been on other television series, including the celebrity of practice, it makes it a little bit easier when you have celebrity name attached to the series.

Kristy: That helps. So, let’s talk a little bit about your TV background. I know it’s not totally fitness-related, but I personally always thought it’d be interesting to have a TV show. How do you even pitch a network for a TV series idea? 

David: It’s extremely difficult unless you’re in the industry.

Number one: you need to be recognized. Unless you’re an approved network producer, they’re not even going to listen to you. It took me some time to get approved when I first got into the industry. Luckily, I sold my first two television shows to Fox Sports Net.

After that, I was very recognized. I had an agent that works to make them want to talk to me. It is a very difficult business to be in. It’s very hard to get through the doors unless you’re known. 

The way you do it is you find a producer, let’s say like me, who has those connections, has already done television shows and has an agent. I’m with UTA, which is a huge agency. So, you connect to a producer, pitch your show to them, and bring them on as your partner. 

Kristy: I see. How did you first get approved? 

David: To me, that’s a God thing. I got lucky. I created a couple shows and I ended up being represented by Burt Reynolds’ agent, who wasn’t taking on any new clients. 

I was working at a production house in Florida and they were connected to him. He listened to my shows that I created and loved them. He took me on as a client, and then the door was open. We pitched the shows, got a deal, and that’s how it happened.

I’m like one of those one in 10 million stories. 

Kristy: That’s really interesting. So, you kind of need a connection for the TV shows. I know that you’re doing a lot of different things.

Social media and advertising

Kristy: I did want to ask you. How many members do you have for your Optimal Body Personal Training?

David: I don’t know exactly. My son handles that, but it’s hundreds. 

Kristy: Do you know how you guys advertise? Is it primarily through Facebook ads or posts, or Instagram? 

David: It’s a combination. He does Facebook ads, which are very effective. But, I’m also very well known in the fitness industry and MS community. I was just on the cover of an MS Focus Magazine. 

The picture of my wife and I that you see on our Optimal Body Personal Fitness website was actually used for the cover of MS Focus. I just finished an interview for guideposts magazine, which reaches 3 million people.

I write for everydayhealth.com, which is the largest health and wellness magazine online. They’ve reached 17 million visitors a month. So, I’m out there and what my son does is he capitalizes on that.

I was given a Lifetime Achievement award from Arnold Schwartzenegger. I’m in the national fitness hall of fame.

I’m the only fitness expert with MS to be inducted in the whole thing. I got a lot of ability to be seen through Google. My son uses that and capitalizes on it. He runs some Facebook ads and does a lot of posting. Then, we get the members. We also get a lot of personal online clients that want me just specifically for them. 

Being a writer and columnist

Kristy: That sounds like an incredible business. When you write for Everyday Health, is that for free?

Since it does take time to write an article, how would you suggest a trainer to do that to efficiently attract people to their site? 

David: In Everyday Health, I’m a paid columnist. I’ve been with them for six years. A magazine like that has to approach you. You will never get in a magazine like that. Because of my notoriety in the MS community, they asked me to write a column about MS and fitness.

There’s a lot of other fitness magazines and things that you can submit articles to. You could write what it is that separates you from other trainers and submit that. You could find topics that you can share information on and you submit those. There are fitness sites and magazines that you can get seen in.

Kristy: How about your certification? I know some trainers create their own certification and maybe a specific new exercise type. How did you get started with creating your own certification? 

David: Well, I was approached by the National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT), who’s been around for I think 40 years or more.

They asked me to write a course for trainers to be certified for MS. So, I wrote that. I was also approached by The MedFit Network, which is an international medical fitness community, to do a new and more comprehensive course for MS. 

If all you’re interested in is making money, you’ll never be successful. You have to love what you’re doing and you have to do it because you want to help change lives.

The key really is getting out there and getting people to know who you are, and making a positive name for yourself. More importantly, do things that help people and do it for nothing because when people see that you care about other people, then they want you to be involved in what they’re doing. 

If all you’re interested in is making money, you’ll never be successful. You have to love what you’re doing and you have to do it because you want to help change lives.

Once you do that, then it becomes easy for people to see the heart that you have and then ask you to be part of what they’re doing. 

Creating training courses

Kristy: Sounds like it. For the training course and since NFPT approached you, how do you work out the ownership rights since you’re also doing it with another organization?

David: Well, I own the rights to my courses. I just allow them to sell them, then we have a percentage split of the income that comes in. You don’t want to ever give the rights to your proprietary information to somebody else. 

Kristy: That makes more sense because I thought it was sort of like they hired you so that would’ve been hard to improve it and license it to some other company.

David: I could do what I want with my content because it’s mine. 

Kristy: What is a normal percentage split for the industry? Let’s say you keep it and then you share a percentage of the sales.

David: It depends on the organization you’re working with. If you have a lot of experience like I do, you could demand a high percentage. When you’re just getting started, your percentage is going to be lower. 

There’s no set percentage that you’re going to be able to look up and say, “It’s normally 60/40, 50/50, or 70/30. It really depends on who you are and how bad the company wants you. If they want your notoriety because you’ve got it, they’re going to give you a higher percentage.

When you’re starting out, I always tell people, “Don’t be greedy at the beginning.” When I sold my first TV series, I didn’t look to become a millionaire on the deal. Everybody hears about these multimillion dollar deals on television series, and most of that is all hype and garbage.

When you’re first entering into any industry, you want to get yourself seen, so you don’t worry about your percentage. You worry about getting yourself out there. 

Kristy: Let’s start off with a celebrity like you. What would be something that would be normal compared to someone who just wants to get started? Would they really want to take 30%?

David: It’s 70/30 in my favor, and it would be 70/30 in an organization’s favor for a new cover.

Kristy: Got it. Well, that’s really interesting. I think some people don’t even know that there can be split percentages. Sometimes you just start off just writing a course and just selling it. I guess it kind of depends, but it’s nice to know that that’s even something to consider if you want to create something for another organization. 

David: Absolutely. I don’t think that anybody that has experience should be giving anything away for free unless it’s a charity situation like what I do with MS. I think people need to be paid for what they’re doing. Otherwise, you’ll go broke just giving things away, but you’ll also have to make it so that it’s reasonable at the beginning. 

You don’t want to say to someone, “I’m not going to take less than 50% of the profits on something I’m giving you.” You take what you can take, but make sure you take something. 

Kristy: This has been really interesting information in different fields.

Let’s say a trainer who’s been training for a while wants to do more like publishing and get more into TV, like what you’re doing. There’s all these things that he/she is probably inspired by you, but reality is everyone has limited time. 

Finding your passion and where to start

Kristy: What’s making you the most amount of money right now? That you might say, “You should start here because from there, then you can try out different things,” because a lot of people are not able to work for free for longer than a month.

David: That’s a hard question because most of my time is spent on my charity, which I don’t get rich from at all. I made very little for my time through my charity.

The bigger money is made through courses and things like that. That’s passive income for me because it’s out there.

I’m a partner at MS Workouts, so I get a percentage of all the money that comes in there every month. That’s just a check that I see. I get paid for my course from the NFPT. I only had to write it once, but I’m paid every month. Med Fit Network would be the same thing.

I wrote the course with a co-author and we get paid every time it’s sold, but it took us a long time to write it. But, after that, we’re done. With television, it’s very similar. There’s residual that can be made in their sponsor dollars and things like that. But, with TV, you’re constantly producing new episodes and it’s very time consuming.

You have to say to yourself, “What do I love doing the most?” That’s what you spend your time on because the money comes when you’re passionate about something.

Even for Youtube, you’re doing a lot of time consuming production. So, it really depends on the passion of the person. I don’t want to steer someone into one way or the other of which direction to make money.

You have to say to yourself, “What do I love doing the most?” That’s what you spend your time on because the money comes when you’re passionate about something.

Kristy: Absolutely. Wow. This is definitely a lesson in passion and also pairing it with passive income. Things that can kind of bring you ongoing money in the future.

How long did it take him

Kristy: How long did it take you to create the MS Fitness workouts?

David: The one for NFPT took me about four months to complete. The one for Med Fit took about six months to complete, and that’s with help of a co-author. There’s a lot to do, to video and to light, so you have to have the time to put into it. You have to be able to take time away every day and lock yourself in a room and do what you need to do to get it done.

Everything takes different amounts of time. Like Optimal Body Personal Fitness, my online program took me several weeks of filming and putting plans together. But then, it’s ongoing depending on what someone wants from me. 

With all that exposure that I got from MS and everything else in the fitness business, I just signed a deal to endorse a new product and I get paid every month for just putting my name on something.

There’s a lot of opportunities once you’re out there and get known. But, again, the key is what it is that you’re passionate about in the fitness industry. Find that passion and go for it.

There’s a lot of opportunities once you’re out there and get known. But, again, the key is what it is that you’re passionate about in the fitness industry. Find that passion and go for it. Then, you worry about how you’re going to make money. 

Kristy: So, find that passion, go after it, get yourself out there, and hopefully opportunities like these come in where you’re able to create content that can create passive income. Awesome. 

David: Here’s another thing. For me, I’m always interested in helping other people. So, I get people that come to me and say, “Hey, I’m new in the business. I’ve created this, and I don’t know how to get it out there. Would you help me?” And, I’ll work with them and bring them in. 

Let’s say I make them part of a section of what I’m doing for Optimal Body Personal Fitness, and I’ll work out a split with them as well. Another suggestion is you find someone like me that you could approach and say, “Hey, I’m not out there yet, but I want to be out there. Let me show you what I’m doing. If you see value in it, let’s partner.” 

There’s opportunities there as well, and I’m always open to those. 

Kristy: Oh, nice. Thank you. That’s awesome and I appreciate it. So, if anybody wants to get in touch with you, regarding either learning or checking out your websites, how can they do that?

David: Well, the charity website is msfitnesschallenge.com. The Optimal Body Personal Fitness site is obpfitness.com, so you could see that. What I’m doing with the American Gladiators is I’m working as the head of their licensing for American Gladiators Fitness. They could take a look at that at theamericangladiatorsfitness.com. If they want to reach out to me, they can always email me directly at david@msfitnesschallenge.com.

Kristy: Awesome. Thank you. Well, he’s definitely someone you want to know clearly. This has been really educational and is something we can all aspire to. Thanks so much for being on the show. It has been amazing. 

David: It was my pleasure. Thank you for having me and I look forward to seeing what you’re doing later on too.

Connect with David

David Lyons

Facebook: David Lyons
Facebook Page: MS Fitness Challenge
His book: David’s Goliath

Kristy: Awesome. Thanks so much, David. Take care. 

David: Take care. Bye.

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