Porcelain Post: Why I Don’t Charge People Money to Observe or Shadow Me For a Day

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NOTE: the term “Porcelain Post” first came to fruition last year from an email exchange between Brian Patrick Murphy and Pete Dupuis. Without getting into the specifics, it describes a post that can be read in the same time it takes you to go #2. 

Huh, I guess that was more specific than I thought.

Either way, the objective, I hope, is to still provide actionable content.



I don’t charge people money to shadow, observe, or otherwise come hang out with me for a day. I understand why some coaches may choose to do so, I guess, but for me it’s not my cup of tea.

A few weeks ago I had a woman reach out and pre-pay for an assessment.1

However, she didn’t want an assessment. All she wanted was to come into CORE for a few hours, observe, maybe ask a few questions, and I suspect listen to some sick techno beats.

Here’s the email she sent:

“Hi Tony! I’m getting ready to book an initial session with you but I wanted to give you a heads up that I just want to come by and chat. It’s for networking not training. I’m a fan and since I now live close by, just wanted to say hello! :)”

It was a Ron Burgundy moment for me for sure:


While it was very thoughtful and respectful of her to do so (and definitely made my head a few notches bigger), I immediately refunded her her money.

I refuse to charge people money to come to CORE to observe or shadow for a day. It’s an ideology I adopted from my years at Cressey Sports Performance.

This isn’t to talk smack towards or look down upon those coaches or facilities who choose to do so – it’s their prerogative. However, a common “defense” I hear of WHY some coaches/facilities charge money for others to come observe is due to “trade secrets” or for “proprietary reasons.”

Come on, really?

You think you’re that innovative and that special that what you’re doing is completely foreign to the rest of the industry?

Trust me: Unless you’ve somehow managed to crack the space-time continuum or figured out a way to keep kipping pull-ups from not making my corneas perpetually bleed, what you’re doing at your fancy schmancy gym isn’t that special or unique.

Someone’s been doing what you’re doing long before you graced the world with your version of contrast sets.

Moreover, and this is purely my own experience, I have never lost clients by allowing other coaches to come in and talk shop. I don’t view them as competition with some nefarious agenda to fleece my clients from me.

Don’t get me wrong, I know I’m a good coach, and for some clients it’s about learning my super secret 5-point death touch deadlift technique fixer-upper method. But if I’m going to keep it real: I also know the bulk of people who continually work with me do so because I’m not a dick and am generally a pleasant human being to be around.

It’s one thing to charge $$ for a mentorship or workshop where information is exchanged and there’s an expectation of service. However, to charge people to stand on the side, out of the way, silently, with their notebooks in hand, maybe asking a question or two (or god forbid, three)?

Mmm, I don’t get it.

I don’t know, I just feel it’s the least I can do to pay it forward and allow other colleagues to come in and observe what I do. It’s an honor, actually, anyone would want to stop by and debate best He-Man characters hang out with me for a few hours. I have nothing to hide. And, honestly, business is still good.

HINT: bring donuts….;o)

My intention isn’t to come across as some hoity-toity, superior-than-thou a-hole. I have no doubts some coaches have legitimate reasons for charging people to come in to observe for a day. However, I can’t help but think there’s a subtle lack of “feel” out there.

Just my two cents.

No, but seriously, bring donuts.2

Strength coach, Meg Julian, stopped by CORE this past weekend. She nailed it.

Did what you just read make your day? Ruin it? Either way, you should share it with your friends and/or comment below.

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

I don’t share email information. Ever. Because I’m not a jerk.
  1. I have an option on my website where people can pre-pay for an assessment (via PayPal) and when they do, I receive an email notification. I then follow suit with an email myself to confirm payment received and to then try to set up a date/time to meet up.

  2. Or a bag of beef jerky. Or a hug. Whichever is less weird for you.

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