ONE-ON-ONE WITH JULIAN DIASA
August 1, 2019
Julian Diasa was born in Dominican Republic and raised in Puerto Rico, where he was a multidisciplinary athlete playing baseball, basketball, boxing, volleyball and track-and-field. Being a competitive person led him to a love for fitness and he ended up becoming good friends with one of the owners of the gym who was a professional body builder, who taught him the basics of body building, how everyone is different, how everyone has to train for their fitness goals and especially how challenging the nutritional aspects of being a body builder can be.
Today, Diasa works at the most exclusive fitness facilities in Miami with a selective clientele. He has positioned himself at an international level attending the top fitness and wellness events in Europe and North and South America, which has established him as one of the best fitness instructors worldwide. Currently, Diasa is developing a project that will make both fitness and wellness accessible and affordable for everyone.
FF: You seem to be involved in a lot of different aspects of the fitness business. What specifically are you focusing on in 2019?
This year my focus is to expand my presence in the fitness industry at an international level to be able to impact lives all over the world.
How did you end up in such a position in the fitness business?
I am a firm believer that when you do things from your heart you somehow get the things you want. Since I began as a professional in this field my goal has been the same — to help people become healthier, happier and make them feel comfortable in their own skin. My goal is to contribute in a positive way in peoples’ lives. Hard work, discipline, dedication, compassion and appreciation for everything are key factors for anyone’s success.
Your posts seem to focus on much more than simply exercise/working out. How do you explain your philosophy on the mind-body connection?
First of all, I really appreciate that you noticed that; I’m loving this question because it is a subject that has to be addressed.
Yes, we certainly do a little research before our interviews.
Our body is the optimal creation of the universe and we have to treat it as such. With all due respect, when I see people doing crazy flips, jumps and nonsense exercises, I get a little aggravated.
Why is that?
It’s very possible that I can do those types of things myself, but how is that helping anyone? I know as a fact that less than one percent of the population can do those types of moves. Fitness is much more than lifting weights, running and jumping. It’s a lifestyle that combines elements that not only benefit your body, but also your mind and spirit.
That seems to be the heart of the matter. Can you explain this connection?
We know the connection that exists between the mind and the body and how crucial it is to keep a perfect balance to achieve the best version of ourselves. My philosophy is very simple: Balance. Balance between a well-structured workout regimen that includes the elements that are going to give you joy.
What else enters into it?
Healthy nutrition — remember that nutrition is a key element of a healthy life. Good quality sleep, strong human connections and, last but not least, a lot of good music. So, in reality, my philosophy is very simple: Live your life doing the things you know are convenient for you and have a lot of fun doing it.
How can our readers – health clubs and trainers among them – benefit from and adapt some of your philosophies?
I want to be very clear here; I don’t think I am entitled to tell anyone what to do, since I am a very normal, regular guy with a lot of weaknesses like anyone else. However, I can share some of my experiences to see if that resonates with you and maybe you can take actions that can help you become a little better in any aspect of life.
Completely understood. Go ahead.
Although my passion was baseball, I made the mistake of allowing negative peoples’ opinions affect my life. I went to college and got two Bachelor’s degrees — Hospitality Management and Marketing. I had to go to school to become a professional because that is the way to go, never asking myself if that was what I really wanted. After almost a decade I was one of those 85 percent of Americans that hated their job. I had a good salary with benefits and a respected position, but I was a walking dead person. By the standard of society I was doing very good, but internally I was very unhappy.
And then exercise entered your life?
Yes, the only moment of the day during which I was very happy was when I was working out and helping people at the gym and with their nutritional goals, making no money. One day I got so stressed out at my job that I had to go to the stairs and start running up and down the entire building. At that point, I decided to do what was making me happy: Fitness. You can imagine the reaction of my family and closest friends.
So what did you realize when you made this big move to fitness?
You can only benefit from something that you truly like doing. Since we spend most of our time working, it makes sense that you do it investing in something you like. I understand that we all have responsibilities and I am not suggesting that you should quit your job; however, find your passion.
But we all need to make a living, too.
I can give you my word that when you do something you love, you become great at it. And when you are great, people pay for greatness more than they pay for good. So I think all of us can benefit from our own gut feeling.
How would you characterize the state of the fitness business in the United States? What are its strengths and weaknesses in 2019?
Fitness in America is growing as people are understanding the importance of engaging in an exercise routine and healthy lifestyle. Statistics are very clear — we have a health crisis that needs a rapid intervention. There is a tremendous opportunity of growth in the United States market, but our weakness as an industry is that we have not been able to make people understand that exercise, health and lifestyle changes do not happen overnight. People associate fitness with sexy models, super-human bodies and pain. Most people do not exercise. Now, do you think a person that is obese or vey overweight feels comfortable going to a gym facility where all they see is super-fit people? Of course not, and that is our weakness.
We need to create a different perspective about fitness so we can include everyone. Perhaps the term ‘FIT’ is better. This implies that everyone FITS, everyone is welcome and belong there. I like that term more.
So what do you see as some of the unique challenges?
One of the most unique challenges that we are facing right now is social media. Again everyone is entitled to do what they think is best for them; however, there are a lot of fitness influencers, nutritionists and everything else that we do not know in reality if they have the capacity and the experience that a fitness professional should have. Nowadays people are so much into social media that as long as X or Y person has a few million followers, it automatically implies that they know what they are doing. I’m not saying that there are not great online fitness professionals out there, because there are; however, it is a challenge for our industry since we truly don’t know who is who in the social media platform.
Again, any suggestions?
There should be some type of regulatory agency that ensures that these people are capable of doing a safe and efficient job in both the fitness and nutritional areas, the same way we are regulated in our industry.
Switching gears a bit, what role do you see FIBO USA playing in the U.S. fitness business?
FIBO USA plays a huge role in the U.S. market because it gives people and businesses the space and the opportunity to interact, to explore and create new ideas and strategies for them that will benefit us all. I am not only talking about fitness and wellness enthusiasts, but also the person that doesn’t feel comfortable going to a gym; a person that wants to start having major changes in his or her life to achieve health; the person that wants to do to the next level as far as fitness as well. I believe that FIBO USA will be an opportunity for a multicultural and multigenerational event that will FIT everyone.
What one piece of advice would you give to the typical club owner on how to be better — and make more money?
For a typical club owner, depending whether he or she is in a decision-making position, or if he or she belongs to a bigger corporation, first things first: The customer is always right, which means that you shouldn’t try to run your business from your perspective, but rather from your customers’ perspective. It is clear that it is not possible to please everybody; however, if you keep your business open to your customers’ suggestions, you will always have a better chance to succeed.
Any advice for trainers?
Always keep researching and educating yourself to become better and more equipped to exceed the expectations of your clients. Always be happy with a genuine smile on your face. Be well-behaved and presentable and always keep your relationship with your clients at a professional level. Make sure that you find a way to connect with them. Remember, people won’t pay you just based on your knowledge, but also based on the type of relationship you build up. Become someone special for your clients.
Finally, in what direction do you see the fitness business in the U.S. headed in 2020 and beyond?
More people will be gaining consciousness about the importance of a well-balanced life that, of course, includes exercise and nutrition. I see social media shifting once and for all from, ‘Hey, look how hot I am; look at me!’ to a more academic approach, where people that actually know what they are doing and talking about will gain the respect of other people, not based on their bodies but on their knowledge.
Any final suggestions?
I suggest that all of us fitness professionals engage in a daily search for new information based on scientific facts, since this is the future. The only way we will take advantage of this is being educated and knowledgeable about facts of the present and not of the past.
DIASA DISHES ON SOCIAL MEDIA AND ITS ROLE IN THE FITNESS BUSINESS
When asked about the role social media is playing in the world of fitness in 2019, Julian Diasa most definitely has his strong opinions.
“I certainly respect everyone’s opinion and their identity as far as social media is concerned. I see a lot of fitness influencers that first of all do not work in the fitness industry and they don’t see people on a day-to-day basis as fitness professionals do. They focus their platform or page on them rather than provide quality content that will benefit people in need of reliable information. I am not trying to make my page about me, or my abs or my body, but rather how can I can help people.
“Social media is something extremely relevant. Imagine that it is not what you know, that it is how many people follow and engage with you that matters. There are individuals that have millions of followers and they are the ones that are taking center stage in the fitness world. But I know world-class fitness professionals that have limited exposure due to their lack of presence in social media.
“Let me give you an example. Let’s say someone posts something about nutrition with a nice picture and great information. It is possible that this person gets a few hundred likes; now, on the other hand, you post the same picture with the same caption next to a hot, tanned lady or guy and you know that picture will have a lot more likes and comments.
“Social media is a great tool due to the fact that you can reach the entire world at once. What the fitness clubs are doing today is trying to bring business using social media platforms. Promoting their brands, their classes, instructors, facilities and styles. Some clubs are doing a fantastic job, others are lacking someone that manages their social media platform for better visibility.
“Like fitness itself, having a social media presence requires time, persistence and patience. It’s a big investment of the most important commodity we have: time. It takes a lot of creativity to establish a presence in such a saturated space.
“I do everything with an eye on how to help others — people like my mother or my father. If they can do the exercises that I show or understand what I’m trying to communicate, then my mission is accomplished.
“So I think identifying what makes you being you is what you should aim for on social media. I’m pretty sure lots of people will like you and accept you just the way you are.”