The New Way to Generate Leads as a Coach

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There’s no set algorithm to gaining and building a larger audience.

It’s never been easier to be seen or heard in today’s world.

We have any number of avenues at our disposal (and fingers tips): podcasts, social media, blogs, YouTube, cute kitty pictures. They all work.

That said, it’s never been harder to get seen or heard.

Everyone is vying for everyone else’s attention and we’re surrounded by bright shiny objects; it’s growing harder and harder to focus our attention on any one thing or individual.

Today’s guest post by fitness business fixer-upper, Gavin McHale, sheds light on a component of lead generation that many fit pros fail to “cash in” on.


Copyright: ismagilov

The New Way to Generate Leads as a Coach

Have you ever seen the movie, Inception?

It’s been touted as one of the best movies of the 2010’s, starring Leo DiCaprio and Joseph Gordon Levitt and revolving around their ability to extract information through a shared dream world, literally stealing people’s dreams.

In the movie, Leo’s character is tasked with a near impossible job, implanting an idea into someone’s subconscious, also known as “inception.”

If you want your brain to turn into a pretzel after 2+ hours, go check it out.

Today, I’m going to teach you about audience hacking, or more professionally named, strategic partnerships… while hacking Tony’s audience. 


In a World where it’s becoming more and more difficult to stand out – an online world that is packed, shoulder to shoulder with professionals trying to shout over one another and a consumer base so sick and tired of hearing it and unsure of who to listen to or why they should care about what most coaches are posting, this is the next wave of ‘organic’ marketing efforts.

So, let me start with my journey to get here:

  • In 2016, while still in the fitness industry, I attended a conference in Minneapolis, MN hosted by Tony and Dean Somerset

Note From TG: It was the Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint. I don’t want to put words into Gavin’s mouth, but I’m pretty sure it changed his life. You know how in the movie The Matrix when Morpheus gave Neo the choice to choose between the red pill and the blue one in and how that forever changed Neo’s life? Well, that’s what basically went down in Minnesota five years ago.1

  • I introduced myself to both Tony and Dean and had a real conversation, toeing the line of being a fanboy and a real human being (this was tough, not gonna lie)
  • Once I arrived home, I emailed Tony and asked if I could write an article on what we’d learned at the seminar for his blog (my first taste of sweet, sweet audience hacking). Let’s break down this offer:
    • This was a win for me, in that I got to speak to a much larger audience than mine
    • This was a win for Tony in that he got more great content, curated by him to provide to his audience
    • This was a win for his audience, in that they heard a different voice teaching a valuable lesson.
    • You can check it out HERE.

*That’s what ya call a win-win-win

  • About 18 months later, through Tony, I connected with his wife, psychologist Dr. Lisa Lewis, when I needed to work through some personal issues.

That’s my boo (<— this is Tony speaking, not Gavin)

  • Then, when I shifted to business coaching and started my podcast in 2020, I invited Lisa to come on the show, knowing she had worked with my audience in the past. She, of course, crushed it. You can listen to that interview HERE.
  • Once Lisa’s episode released, I asked if she knew anyone who may be interested in joining the show and she recommended Tony. This is something I do with every guest, looking to have more great conversation and hoping to grow my own circle in the process
  • I was incredibly excited to interview someone with such a large audience, but I didn’t stop there
  • Of course, Tony and I had an awesome conversation – HERE but who knows how many of you are willing to go listen to 60 minutes or more when you’re used to reading a blog

  • I recently reached out to Tony and pitched writing this article, knowing a big chunk of his audience is trainers
  • And here we are…


Here Are Some of the Key Takeaways Inside That 5 Year Timeline

1. Focus on Win-Win Relationships

This almost seems like it’s too easy, but I actually want to overstate this point.

Win-win relationships hinge on the fact that you both get something you feel is valuable out of the exchange. When you come into a potential relationship only thinking about what you can extract from it, I can guarantee you no one will win.

How did I do this with Tony and how can you do this with other influencers or possible referral sources in your space?

I had a real conversation with him. 

Based on said conversation, I felt like there was a possibility I could help his audience and took a leap of faith in asking him (more on that later).

In other words, I came with a giving hand, knowing specifically what value I could provide to make Tony’s life easier.

But this doesn’t just apply to people whose audiences you’re trying to hack. Building relationships is the foundation upon which the fitness industry has been built and upon which you will soon want to build your marketing efforts.

How many of you have received an ice cold DM, punching you in the face with their pitch and bombarding you with questions before you even had a chance to tell them to beat it?


And just like I wouldn’t tell you to walk into a bar, buy a potential mate a drink and get down on one knee to propose, I won’t ever tell you to do that.

Conversations are an incredible way to build relationships, but there’s also the hidden benefit of consistently providing content kindling for you.

By starting conversations with as many people as you can; from fellow coaches to potential clients, you allow yourself to learn about their beliefs and struggles, and get a better glimpse into the mind of those you’re hoping to help.

I regularly start a dozen conversations a week, and while it very rarely goes directly from DM conversation to new client, it seems that is a non-negotiable process that has allowed us to earn as much income in the first half of 2021 as we did in all of 2020.

From my conversations, I’ve been able to:

  • Talk to 40+ new people on my podcast (most of whom I’ve never met in person)
  • Create content directly from what potential clients have said they’re struggling with
  • Create free mini-courses and resources that actually get people results (LINK)
  • Actually earn new clients (about 50% of our clients come from DM conversations)

So, ask yourself how you can start more conversations every single week and bring something valuable to the person you’re speaking to.

This really is the essence of service, isn’t it?

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

I was scared shitless when I asked to write this article for Tony. I may have actually closed my eyes when I hit send.


Because I know he’s good friends and former business partners with Pete Dupuis, another excellent voice in the business mentorship space.

I also know he’s quite picky about what shows up on this blog and didn’t want to overstep my boundaries.

Finally, I didn’t know if he’d actually find what I had to say valuable.

Turns out, I was wrong.

And I would’ve never known that had I not asked.

I would’ve never known that had I not asked to guest blog in 2016, or asked Lisa on the podcast in 2020 or asked him on the podcast in 2021.

There’s a key piece that so many of us, as coaches, miss out on. 

The simple, yet often scary act of asking. 

Once you realize you can create a win-win for someone who serves a similar population, asking if you can provide value.

Once a potential client shows interest in your offer, asking if they want to learn more.

Once a prospect is on the phone and has told you their biggest problems, asking if they want to enroll.

Jeez, if you’ve ever been on a date in your life, you’ve had to ask, right?

But this is where so many people get tripped up, since they’re not willing to put themselves in a position where they may get rejected.

But know that hearing NO is not the opposite of hearing YES. In fact, hearing NO is often the only path to hearing YES more often.

I have heard countless NO’s when pitching blog articles and other free resources just like this one. 

I have heard countless NO’s and been ghosted more times than I’d like to admit when having conversations with potential clients in the DMs.

And I’ve heard almost as many NO’s as I have YES’s on sales calls.

But asking is the only way you’ll ever know for sure.

3. Bring the Fire

This should go without saying, but make sure, whenever you are asked to deliver, that you bring the fucking fire.

If someone you deeply respect and look up to is on your podcast, leave them feeling great with a memorable conversation instead of just asking questions like a robot.

(Side note: I actually looked up Tony’s baseball stats and story and we had a great conversation around it).

Team pic from Tony’s Freshman year. Can you spot him?

If you’re given the green light to present to someone’s audience or clients, make sure you’re well prepared and provide good energy while presenting and answering questions.

And if you’re welcomed to a guest blog and they ask you to tie in a Wu Tang reference, you better start listening to some Wu Tang songs (Protect Ya’ Neck is probably about to wake my wife up as I write this).

SIDE NOTE (from Tony): I told Gavin that the only “rules” I had to writing a guest post for me was to 1) make it actionable (check), 2) keep it to ~1500 words or less (check), and 3) include a Wu-Tang Clan reference. I was kidding (but fuck yes, check)

So, while you can go about your days attempting to implant ideas into your potential clients’ subconscious brain, there’s a better way.

Use the relationships you’ve already created, add more value to them and find new connections, simply by asking. 

And please, stop trying to shout louder like all your competitors. It’s not a good look and it’s only going to get more and more difficult.

About the Author

As a Kinesiology graduate, Gavin McHale quickly realized that following the traditional business model would lead to trading more time for more money.

Over the course of 8 years, Gavin built a 6-figure hybrid training business before founding the Maverick Coaching Academy in 2019.

Since then, Gavin has left the gym and gone all in helping other strength coaches build their businesses. He has made it his mission to fix the broken fitness industry and connect other amazing humans to the highest version of themselves.

IG – @gavinmchale1

The Coach’s Playground Podcast

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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. Except, it was nothing like that.

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