Patrick Ilfrey is an innovator who has landed a big hit with QuickHIT Fitness Labs. As an entrepreneur, he has gained extensive experience in running businesses; as a seasoned Chief Executive Officer, he has also left a record of “building innovative game changing companies.” QuickHIT Fitness is no exception.
Creating QuickHIT Fitness was a personal story for Patrick Ilfrey. He has always been physically fit and in good shape when he was growing up, but that all changed when he turned thirty. Since then, he has begun putting on weight. Even though he wanted to shed the pounds, he couldn’t find the time to do it since he was also raising 4 kids and running his own business for ten years. But one day, he decided that he had to start now.
So, Patrick Ilfrey embarked on a six-year fitness journey. After enduring many accidents and pitfalls, Patrick finally landed on a solution for his woes. This was High Intensity Training (HIT), a “method of resistance training that is a slow controlled way to lift and lower the weight,” focusing on “maximizing the lowering portion of the movement, utilizing one set to failure.”
With this knowledge, Patrick Ilfrey decided to create QuickHIT 1.0, which worked. He hired people to build the drive unit and handle the programming, which turned into the QuickHIT Diet app.
As both QuickHit programs started finding success, Patrick Ilfrey was also finding success at losing weight. Through the app and working out twice a week for only 20 minutes, he went down to 175lbs and his body fat got to 17%.
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Patrick Ilfrey: When I was 40 years old, I weighed 235 pounds and had a 42-inch waste. I was miserable. I couldn’t keep up with my four kids, but I was 100% committed to making a change. I basically starved myself and did an hour of cardio every morning until I was 168 pounds.
I thought I was doing great, but I was chronically fatigued and I was in pain constantly. In addition, my cardiologist told me I had 33% body fat which is close to obese. I had no muscle mass. I was what they call “skinny fat.” I started lifting weights on top of doing cardio, but I kept injuring my back. I’d have to stop for several weeks, then start again.
In August 2017, I planned on having a wonderful day with the family spending time outside on the lake in the gorgeous Wisconsin summer weather. I woke up, did my morning workout, then my family and I were supposed to go to church and spend the rest of the day on the lake… instead, I threw my back out and spent the entire day in bed. I laid there in pain for three weeks. That was the final straw for me. I began to do some research and started to google the most effective and safest exercises, which led me to resistance strength training.
I came across a book titled “Body by Science” by Dr. Doug McGuff which showed a high-intensity training technique that focuses on lifting heavy weights slowly. I went to the gym and started using this method. It was great, but I wanted to make it more efficient.
I got a cheap winch and added it to a home gym system. By varying the speed of the winch I realized, I could vary the resistance. Ideally, I wanted the machine to match the force I was giving so I would have the perfect resistance when I was contracting and releasing my muscles. I was convinced I was on to something… that’s when I went all in. I hired a robotics engineer to build a machine that would robotically control the resistance that would give you the perfect rep. It took about a year-and-a-half to develop the technology, and the final machine design produced Earth-shattering results.
I started QuickHIT Fitness Labs in 2017. We now have 21 locations nationwide. I work out twice a week on our machine. Now, I’m 50 years old, I weigh 185 pounds and I have 17% body fat. I feel and look stronger and healthier than I ever have.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Patrick Ilfrey: Getting the machine to work was my first big challenge. There were times when it folded in half. Cables kept breaking. It was just disheartening.
Once we got the machine going, we knew it was proven technology, but we couldn’t get buy-in from potential customers. It took a lot of work to figure out how to relate to potential clients and retain them.
Giving up never crossed my mind, though. It’s not in my DNA to quit. Did I get frustrated? Of course, but I never once considered failure, never. I knew we had the best solution and we could achieve something amazing for people.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
Patrick Ilfrey: We do body composition testing for our clients. The machine we use displays medical terms on a screen. You do not want to tell a 40-year-old woman she is “overfat.” That term popped up on the screen, and one client was very upset.
We quickly removed terms like “overfat” and changed the scale to list a percentage over what they should be. I learned not to use negative sounding terms with clients. People can be sensitive, especially when it comes to their bodies. Positive reinforcement is essential.
Jerome Knyszewski: Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to lead a company from Good to Great? Please share a story or an example for each.
Patrick Ilfrey: Grit- There is an actual formula to determine grit. Talent x Effort2 (effort counts twice). The combination of talent and effort gives you a skill. Once you have that skill, the additional effort you display determines how far you will go. A lot of people are good basketball players. Those who make the NBA have the talent and work harder than anyone else to to get the most out of their ability.
Spirit- I hire people with entrepreneurial spirit. We set goals. We’re on the same page. I empower them to run the business like they own it. I give them freedom, but they need to be results-driven. That autonomy motivates them. They stay longer, they make the extra calls and they feel they have ownership in that facility. That’s what they need to be successful.
Fake it until you make it- You have to get people to believe in you. When we started, we only had a handful of customers and two testimonials. We repackaged the testimonials several times from the same few people. We didn’t have hundreds of success stories because we didn’t have hundreds of clients at the beginning.
Failure is not an option- Burnout/failure is not on the table. You keep pushing until you succeed. The question you need to ask yourself is, “What level of success will you have?” We’re not content with where we’re at. Our goal is to open two new locations per month and we’ll keep working to make that happen.
Faith- I have faith in myself and faith in God. Without that faith, I’d be nowhere. I pray every day for myself, my family, my company, my employees and my clients.
Jerome Knyszewski: Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. Can you help articulate for our readers a few reasons why a business should consider becoming a purpose driven business, or consider having a social impact angle?
Patrick Ilfrey: The nature of our business is purpose/results driven. We measure everything including strength increases, body composition improvements, how many inches they’ve lost, how many pounds they’ve lost and how much muscle they’ve gained. When we provide that information, we don’t hide from it. If we’re not meeting our promises, our clients see it. This business is built on helping people live a healthier, happier life with minimal workout time.
Jerome Knyszewski: As you know, “conversion” means to convert a visit into a sale. In your experience what are the best strategies a business should use to increase conversion rates?
Patrick Ilfrey: The biggest thing we can do in our line of work is care more about potential clients than they care about themselves. If you do that, they will feel you are the person who can solve their problems. We approach every sales call like that. It’s something we practice nearly every day. We ask very specific questions and based on their response, you know if they’re holding back or being honest. If someone says they’re 30 pounds too heavy, we tell them about some of the results other clients, who are similarly overweight, have experienced. We ask how they have been affected, and we relate to the struggles they’ve been through. It’s important to show them that you can help get them where they want to be. We have the ability to help because it is so emotionally driven.
Jerome Knyszewski: Of course, the main way to increase conversion rates is to create a trusted and beloved brand. Can you share a few ways that a business can earn a reputation as a trusted and beloved brand?
Patrick Ilfrey: We use social proof. Clients go on social media platforms and talk about the remarkable experience and service they get every time they come in.
It all comes down to the Golden Rule: treat people the way you want to be treated. We try to anticipate people’s wants and needs, and we always treat them with kindness and respect.
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Patrick Ilfrey: At Texas A&M, everyone walks around and says “howdy.” During this pandemic, you can now go out and not say anything to anyone. To me, that’s crazy. I think saying a quick “hi” to a perfect stranger and making a connection with them is important.
This pandemic has given people excuses to display poor behavior. This is really time to make an effort.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!