Patrick Ilfrey of QuickHIT Fitness: “Don’t trust banks”

Yes, the customer is always right, but sometimes they’re confused- Even though the customer is always right, if you explain something properly, you can change their mind. I got a message from a client after the trainer she worked with got married and quit. She angrily said I needed to pay the trainer more money […]

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Yes, the customer is always right, but sometimes they’re confused- Even though the customer is always right, if you explain something properly, you can change their mind. I got a message from a client after the trainer she worked with got married and quit. She angrily said I needed to pay the trainer more money to keep her around. I told her I appreciate she felt passionate enough to send me an email. I told her I paid her full salary when we were closed down because of the pandemic and that she left only because she got married and wanted to do something else. The client apologized. She immediately signed up for a long term package with our new trainer.

Many successful people reinvented themselves in a later period in their life. Jeff Bezos worked in Wall Street before he reinvented himself and started Amazon. Sara Blakely sold office supplies before she started Spanx. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was a WWE wrestler before he became a successful actor and filmmaker. Arnold Schwarzenegger went from a bodybuilder, to an actor to a Governor. McDonald’s founder Ray Croc was a milkshake-device salesman before starting the McDonalds franchise in his 50’s.

How does one reinvent themselves? What hurdles have to be overcome to take life in a new direction? How do you overcome those challenges? How do you ignore the naysayers? How do you push through the paralyzing fear?

In this series called “Second Chapters; How I Reinvented Myself In The Second Chapter Of My Life “ we are interviewing successful people who reinvented themselves in a second chapter in life, to share their story and help empower others.

As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Patrick Ilfrey.

Patrick Ilfrey is the Founder and CEO of QuickHIT Fitness Labs, one of the fastest-growing private personal training studios in the nation. Ilfrey founded QuickHIT in 2017 and has since opened 23 locations. By utilizing its patented Robotically Controlled Resistance™ machine, expert nutritional guidance and specialized accountability technology, QuickHIT helps clients reach their fitness goals and achieve sustainable results.

Ilfrey is also the Founder and CEO of RockSolid Floors, where he developed and patented a garage floor coating kit that reduced the industry standard drying time from five days to 24 hours. He sold his company to Rustoleum, and his kits are sold in home improvement stores worldwide.

Ilfrey graduated from Texas A&M University with a BS in Meteorology and Mathematics.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I grew up in Houston, Texas. My father worked in various management positions in the oilfield service industry and my mother raised my two siblings and me. I was a typical suburban kid. I rode my bike everywhere, and I was constantly hanging out with friends and playing sports. I’d hang out at the pool all afternoon.

When I wasn’t playing with my friends, I was looking for a way to make money. I was 11 when I put an advertisement in my neighborhood newsletter for my lawn mowing service. Instead of pushing the mower, I put a contraption on the back of my moped to drag it behind me. I never shied away from hard work, but I always looked for ways to make the process easier or more creative.

I learned my first business lesson early. I charged 15 dollars per lawn. I got a call from a man who wanted his lawn finished by 5 p.m. I took down the address and went over there at 7 a.m. The grass was almost three feet tall. I finished just before 5 o’clock, and it was brutal. The homeowner drove up as I finished and asked what I was doing. He said he didn’t call anyone to mow his lawn, and he wouldn’t pay me. I think a neighbor called me because they were sick of looking at the overgrown lawn and thought the owner would fork over the money after I did it. I learned that day to dot the Is and cross the Ts on all business transactions. I didn’t write down the name and number of the person who called me, so I had no way to get my money.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“If you can lean, you can clean.” My first boss told me this constantly. I was working at a restaurant for 3.35 dollars an hour. If I had the time to lean up against a counter, she made sure I was wiping that counter down instead.

I took that lesson with me. There is always something to do. When my trainers are not conducting workout sessions, they can check in with other clients, look for new referrals or clean the facility.

You have been blessed with much success. In your opinion, what are the top three qualities that you possess that have helped you accomplish so much? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

Determination– When COVID-19 hit, I was operating a bunch of businesses. The next day, I was told I couldn’t operate the way I did before. There were plenty of excuses for me to quit, but people who want to succeed will find a way out. QuickHIT Fitness has emerged so much better than we were before because we focused on making the overall experience amazing.

Grind– I will outwork anybody. I may not be the smartest guy in the room, but I will outhustle and outwork anybody. With COVID-19, we immediately asked how we could give clients a good workout until our doors opened back up. I ordered air purifiers, gloves and all the PPE ahead of time. I also ordered resistance bands and alternative ways to help give people workouts.

Blessed– I had a waterproofing business that I purchased in 2005. I bought it at the height of the housing boom. 100% of the work was residential construction. Then, there was a huge housing crash. New houses weren’t being built anymore in 2008–09. I started with 25 trucks and 50 guys and ended up with 25 trucks and 5 guys. I sold whatever assets I had, and I started a floor coating business to bring in extra income. It was a tough time in my life, and I started going to church and taking my faith more seriously. I 100% believe I came out of that situation without being bankrupt because of my faith. Both businesses started to excel.

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about ‘Second Chapters’. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before your Second Chapter?

I worked on oil rigs out of college. I called myself an overpaid roughneck. I was gone six weeks at a time. In 1997, oil prices cratered. A gallon of gas went from 4 dollars to 1 dollar. Companies stopped drilling, and people got laid off. I was making six figures as a 25 year old, but I knew I needed to get out of the business because of its instability. A recruiter asked me what kind of work I was looking for. I told him my salary requirements, and he recommended surgical sales. He helped me work on my resume to beef up my sales experience.

I got an interview at Davol, a medical device company. I got that job, and I was salesman of the year the next year. I went from digging holes in the ground to chasing around doctors.

I would sit in the doctors’ parking lot and wait for them to come out. I’d wear scrubs, and I would talk to them. They liked my moxie. That’s how I succeeded.

I ended up moving to Minneapolis to be closer to my wife’s family. I worked for Datascope and became the number one sales rep there as well. I then sold MRI units for Hitachi, but I got tired of that job. I had saved up a lot of money over time and that’s when I bought my waterproofing business.

During that time, I started a company called RockSolid. My crews installed epoxy floor coatings for garage floors. I wasn’t happy with the products I was using, so I created my own. The industry standard for dry time was five days and my product changed that to 24 hours.

And how did you “reinvent yourself” in your Second Chapter?

RockSolid’s polyurea floor coating was a huge success, and I decided to sell the company. I was in a position to do nothing if I wanted, but that’s not how I operate.

While I was very successful in business, I was not taking care of my body. I weighed 235 pounds and had a 42-inch waist. I was miserable. I couldn’t keep up with my four kids. 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 initially wanted to build a machine that would give me a great workout. Just like my moped-lawnmower and my 24-hour garage floor coating, I wanted to find an easier, more efficient way to exercise.

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 had friends and local doctors come over and try it. They loved it.

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 23 locations nationwide and more than 2,000 clients. 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.

Can you tell us about the specific trigger that made you decide that you were going to “take the plunge” and make your huge transition?

When I hurt my back and I was doing the research, I enjoyed the process of trying to create something that’s never been done before. I simply thought, “No one else is doing this. Why can’t I?”

What did you do to discover that you had a new skill set inside of you that you haven’t been maximizing? How did you find that and how did you ultimately overcome the barriers to help manifest those powers?

I just love tinkering with things. That skill simply manifested itself in a new way, and that helped me form QuickHIT Fitness. I’m a believer in just starting something. I’m not the most mechanical person in the world, but I started looking for inspiration. I bought a whole bunch of different home gyms. I liked the functionality of different components of several of them and cobbled something together.

Learning the science behind the exercise was new. I was convinced after speaking with exercise experts at a national conference that I had a great product. A presenter explained what he believed to be the perfect workout and he described what my machine could do.

How are things going with this new initiative? We would love to hear some specific examples or stories.

QuickHIT Fitness is going really well. While most workout facilities have struggled during the pandemic, we’ve been able to open new locations in Omaha, Nebraska, Madison, Wisconsin, and Cedar Rapids, Iowa in the last year. If you just work, if you build a good business, the money will come. We’ve been able to operate our private facilities amid a pandemic because we planned. We doubled down when others chose not to.

I enjoy taking young personal trainers and giving them a facility for them to run. I encourage an entrepreneurial spirit. The people who have grasped that have really thrived. I hired a trainer for our Oshkosh, Wisconsin facility. He has built up the clientele so much that we’re adding a second machine and a new trainer to work under him. It’s been great to show him a path to success and watch him achieve it.

I want to unlock people’s potential — both clients and employees. I want to open the doors to their success.

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

A man named Buddy Williams gave me my first shot out of college in a career I should never have been in. I worked at a Reebok store during my Senior year of college at Texas A&M University. I sold his wife a pair of shoes. He really liked the way I treated them and sensed I was a good worker. Buddy pulled me aside and asked if I was willing to work hard on an oil rig. The timing was perfect. I was about to graduate in a few months, and I knew I wasn’t going to be a TV Meteorologist as I had originally planned. I went down to Houston that next Monday to interview and landed a job that served me well for years.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?

This whole experience has been surreal. The most interesting thing to me is we were able to complete a paradigm shift on how people workout. We initially convinced 200 people to try out a new machine and only workout twice a week for 20 minutes. As news of their success has spread, we’ve since grown exponentially.

Did you ever struggle with believing in yourself? If so, how did you overcome that limiting belief about yourself? Can you share a story or example?

Yes. I had a difficult time transitioning from the oilfield to selling medical devices. When I first got out of training I was working at a hospital in Houston. My new boss dropped me off at a surgical center two miles away. I had a huge duffel bag with wheels on it and I was wearing a suit. I didn’t make it three feet in the door before someone came up to me and told me they didn’t want whatever I was selling and that I needed to leave. I asked if I could just sit down while I waited for my boss to come get me, but she said no. Wearing my suit in Houston, in July, I dragged my bag two miles back to the hospital. I was really questioning my career move as I was sweating and dragging this bag down the road. My boss started chewing me out at the hospital, telling me what I should have done.

I called my old boss that evening and said I was ready to go back to the oil industry. He told me that I would figure it out and that he didn’t think I really wanted to come back. He was right.

So, I came up with a plan. I stopped wearing a suit, and I bought a bunch of scrubs. I wore a color that was similar to what they wore in the surgical center. I walked into the operating room, I met people in the parking lot, and I went into the doctor’s lounge. Everyone warmed up to me quickly.

My boss started seeing me in my scrubs and told me it was company policy to wear a suit. After he saw my success, the company relaxed the policy.

In my own work I usually encourage my clients to ask for support before they embark on something new. How did you create your support system before you moved to your new chapter?

There are two people who are part of my support system who have really allowed me to have success with QuickHIT Fitness, and both are shy, so I’ll just use their first names.

Mike runs my second business, Garage Force. His involvement in all of the day-to-day activities has allowed me to put all my focus on QuickHIT. Mike also introduced me to Jeff, who is my Chief Technology Officer for QuickHIT.

Jeff was my first employee and he was instrumental in everything we’ve done. There is no QuickHIT Fitness without Jeff. He’s a software engineer who minored in physics. He knew what to do with the pulleys on the machine. He was able to put every idea I had into action.

Starting a new chapter usually means getting out of your comfort zone, how did you do that? Can you share a story or example of that?

I’m still out of my comfort zone. It’s a completely different industry. It’s been quite a learning experience with bringing on new employees and figuring out how to acquire customers. Fitness is one of the biggest failed endeavors for humans. We’ve gotten fundamentally worse as a society over the years.

I go to conferences with industry titans. These people have lived their whole lives with fitness. Yet, I feel we have come up with something that’s revolutionary. I don’t want those people to know who I am because I feel I don’t have the credentials to be there. I shouldn’t feel that insecure. We are more successful than a lot of them.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

Yes, the customer is always right, but sometimes they’re confused- Even though the customer is always right, if you explain something properly, you can change their mind. I got a message from a client after the trainer she worked with got married and quit. She angrily said I needed to pay the trainer more money to keep her around. I told her I appreciate she felt passionate enough to send me an email. I told her I paid her full salary when we were closed down because of the pandemic and that she left only because she got married and wanted to do something else. The client apologized. She immediately signed up for a long term package with our new trainer.

It’s not all ponies and rainbows- Every day has its ups and downs. You have to find balance and not let the lows get to you too much. We hired someone who didn’t show up for his first day. That same day, a young trainer closed the biggest sale we’ve ever had.

Don’t trust banks- I hate banks. When the housing crash happened in 2009, our bank pulled everyone’s line of credit. Even though we were in good standing, they told me to pay off the balance. That was mind boggling to me. I’ll never forgive them for that. I was able to establish a line of credit with another bank, but my faith in banks is forever shattered.

Don’t have the same expectations for everyone- I expect a lot out of people. I don’t ask them to do something I wouldn’t, but not everyone can match my motor or drive. Think of it like a basketball team. Every team has starters and backups. In every business, you’re going to have your all-stars and your utility players. You can’t expect everyone to be an all-star (or starter).

It’s all about sales and marketing- If people don’t know about your product, they’re not going to buy it. You need to run social media ads and show off your clients’ results. I had to be creative in our first year. We repurposed the same success story 20 different ways because we only had a few clients.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I’m a big proponent of the oil industry. I’m a 3rd generation oil man, and I see that industry as being under attack. I can understand the desire for people to go green, but you can do things in an environmental way with minimal impact and still extract energy from the ground. I think it’s important to support emerging energy sources like wind and solar, but we shouldn’t get rid of natural gas. There’s room for it all.

I recently created an online store called You’re Chillin’ if You Ain’t Drillin’. 100% of the proceeds go to charities supporting people who have been laid off in the oil industry. Not everyone is as fortunate as I am to have made a career change that worked out.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. 🙂

I would connect with John Foley from Peloton. He has a great story. He’s done a phenomenal job of building something out of nothing. I’d love to talk to him about our patented technology.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can head to our website, You can follow QuickHIT Fitness on Instagram and Facebook and you can connect with me on LinkedIn.

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

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