I’m preparing to give a 30-minute presentation on the importance of weight training in living a healthy lifestyle. It will be part of a seminar on looking and feeling your best at any age. I could, of course, spend hours on the subject and put everyone to sleep, but I learned my lesson long ago.
In the mid-’70s Arnold and I were presenting a series of one-on-one bodybuilding seminars, an all-day session that included time in the gym with Arnold as well as time in a classroom with the two of us. I handled the nutrition end of the presentation. It was a limited-attendance event with fewer than 20 people.
The seminars were short-lived because Arnold’s life was about to be transformed by a movie, “Pumping Iron,” and his time became so expensive, it made my business model impossible. What I learned from that experience, however, is that you must understand the needs of your audience.
I was educated as an engineer and always loved science—I still do. I had never given a seminar, so I prepared one that I would like to attend. At that point nobody had ever done anything like what Arnold and I were attempting, so I was creating the material with only my own very narrow sensibilities.
The idea for the seminar came to me as I was discussing with a business friend one he had attended that he said had “changed my business life.” Hmm, I thought, maybe the same idea would work in the world of bodybuilding.
As I said, we limited the attendance and charged $175 per person—that’s in mid-’70s dollars. We didn’t want a roomful of people at $20; we wanted only a few highly motivated individuals with whom we could work one on one. The people who attended loved it and gave great feedback.
Here’s that lesson I learned: In preparation I had created a 100-page double-spaced detailed outline, and we gave a copy to each of the attendees. Again, it was the kind of book I would want. Nobody cared! They all said, “Tell me what works! Don’t confuse me with the science. Give me the specifics!”
By the second seminar the 100 pages had shrunk to 15. We changed our approach to a pragmatic formula, simplified and condensed. The attendees loved it. Fast-forward almost 40 years. I am about to give an all-day seminar condensed into 30 minutes, and I’m remembering that lesson well learned. It should apply to your own response whenever someone asks you a question about bodybuilding or nutrition. I’m sure you are an evangelist, as I am, and our challenge will always be to dip into our reservoir of knowledge and give the questioner just what he or she needs—and no more.
We try to follow that same philosophy in IRON MAN, as you’ll see with this issue and its many succinct, informative features. We’re all still learning. Enjoy. IM
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