How can you turn your passion into your career? Evan Brandoff introduces Adam Pfau, the CEO of Pfau Fitness. Adam shares how he has built a career out of his passion for health and fitness. What began from posts about his fitness journey on Instagram grew into an audience of a million followers a decade later. Adam shares that success isn’t about about the number of followers you have–What matters most is the relationship you have with them. If you want more tips on how to turn your passion into your career, don’t miss this episode.
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Passion Into Career: Tips To Enjoy What You Do With Adam Pfau
We welcome Adam Pfau, my childhood friend, onto the show. Adam is the CEO of Pfau Fitness. He’s built an Instagram following of over 1.4 million people and an incredible business around helping achieve their health and fitness goals. Let’s get into it.
Adam, how are you? Welcome to the show.
Thanks for having me.
I’m excited to have you. You are my most famous and third strongest friend from growing up. It’s great to have you on the show.
I don’t call myself famous by any means, but now I want to know who’s the first and second strongest.
You’re the strongest. I knew that was going to get under your skin more than the fame. It’s been incredible watching you grow Pfau Fitness. While growing Pfau Fitness, building an Instagram following of over 1.4 million, I know your followers are loyal, love you, and have been a big fan of watching you. You have grown your business over the past decade now, but I want to rewind. For those reading, Adam was my neighbor growing up. He lived a few houses down. Apparently, during our call, he said that I would never call for a play date. I would show up and knock on the door. Can you speak to this, please?
You don’t remember that. It doesn’t ring a bell. Back in the day, when people used to play outside, you would call our parents’ houses, and we’d asked to have if you wanted to go play basketball or whatever. For some reason, you didn’t believe in the phone, though, so you would bring people’s doorbells and ask if we wanted to play. Looking back on it, I give you credit because I wish people did that now. No one does that now. You were the kid that would ring the doorbell. You didn’t believe in the phone.
I did hate the phone, but I also wonder if, subconsciously, I knew there would be a higher conversion rate if I went and knocked instead of calling.
You can ask Mark too because I guarantee he would back me up on ringing the doorbell.
Reflecting back on it, I definitely did do that, but I have no idea why I didn’t call more often.
I assume your mom was on the phone, and it was taken. You had no other choice but to run outside.
That’s 100% true. She was always on the phone.
You get enjoyment out of making your body feel better.
I thought so. No cell phones back then, so it made sense.
It was a lot of backyard baseball that we used to play. In high school, it evolved into going to the gym, which I think I joined you for the first couple of workouts.
I remember a few distinct workouts. I know I took you to Bev’s Powerhouse, which is still where I go now. It was Sportime at the time, and then it changed the Synergy. I remember you took me there once, but I know we definitely worked at least 3 or 4 times together.
I’m proud of myself that I had a gym that I was able to take you to.
You thought I knew what I was doing, but I didn’t know what I was doing. I was the expert between us. I must’ve been seventeen.
At seventeen, that’s when you first started getting into weightlifting, right?
It’s earlier, fifteen.
What was the initial impetus for getting into it?
I played baseball at the beginning of high school and middle school. Around ninth grade, I stopped playing baseball. I wasn’t active at all anymore. My mom was getting concerned that I wasn’t doing any physical activity. She suggested that I join the gym. I did that. It wasn’t you. I don’t know if I should say his name on this or not, but his first name is Alex. We joined together and would go to the gym three days a week after school. My mom didn’t realize that I secretly always wanted to join the gym, but I didn’t want to admit that because I felt like admitting that it was self-consciousness. I didn’t want to admit that I wanted to improve my body. When she suggested it, I took that around with it. I have never stopped ever since.
Side note, important context, Alex, Adam and I were on varsity bowling together at this time. It was paramount for us to go to the gym in order to get big.
I don’t consider bowling a sport, but if you want to call it a sport, it’s probably the most conducive sport to working out because it takes absolutely no energy out of you. You could easily do it on the same day. There’s no interference whatsoever.
Maybe for you. I get a little bit sore from bowling. That makes one of us. I started working out at fifteen. You got pretty big quickly, arguably too big. I know you’ve made some posts on Instagram about not bulking too quickly. Ever since, I have been obviously in great shape. Going forward, you went to Delaware for school. What was Adam like in college? Were you heavily into going to the gym at that point?
I went to Delaware, but I never wanted to go away to school. I knew I wanted to stay local, but my mom wanted me to go away for the experience. I went away and was still into working out. I went to the gym and was into all that. One year and a half, I ended up transferring back home to a school, Hofstra, that was local. The main reason I didn’t like the whole going away was that I wasn’t into partying. That’s all anyone did, partying, drinking. After a year of it, I had enough of it. Most people that age enjoy destroying their bodies.
That’s what they get enjoyment out of. I always got enjoyment out of making my body feel better. That’s how I felt. I wasn’t enjoying it. That is why I eventually left. I don’t want to say I left because I was so into fitness. I got into fitness more so because I didn’t like the alternative. It’s not like fitness prevented me from doing other things. It was more, so I didn’t like doing those other things like drinking, partying, and drugs. Fitness was the extreme opposite, but I enjoyed that, which is how I got into it. That’s how I stayed into it because it was the alternative for me. I don’t think it was the other way around where fitness prevented me from doing other things.
You transferred to Hofstra then graduated college. What happened next?
I graduated undergrad with a Business Management degree. I got a job working for Geico for two and a half years. I didn’t like it, but I did well and was promoted very quickly. I got to a point there where I was like, “I don’t want to be there for the rest of my life.” My job there involved working with a lot of attorneys. I felt like I was equally as smart and capable as the attorneys that I was dealing with on a daily basis. Law school was something I was always interested in. I decided to leave there and went to law school. I got a full scholarship and went back to Hofstra. That was the plan at the time. I was going to hopefully be a lawyer, potentially working with similar insurance-wise, but getting paid more and having more responsibility as a lawyer rather than just an employee.
Is that when you started your Instagram account or at least started posting fitness-related content?
Even right before law school, I saw people blowing up Instagram. People that were like me, growing well on Instagram and making money in fitness. Honestly, I was jealous of them. I was looking at them like, “Why are they able to do this and I can’t? I’m as capable as them. Why am I not doing this?” I would start getting angry, looking at myself and like, “You’re not doing it because you’re not doing it. No one’s going to hand this to you. If you want to make something of it, take advantage of social media the way they are.”
I started posting on Instagram. My page started growing and growing more. I became getting absolutely obsessed with how it worked, making content, posting, and figuring all that stuff out. This is probably the first year of law school, 2015, 2016. My page is growing. At this time, Instagram is different than it is now. It was definitely easier to grow. The algorithms changed, but at the time, I figured it out. I was obsessed and on it all day trying to figure out how it works, 10,000 followers, 50,000, 100,000.
Before you know it, I’m at a point where I saw a lot of potential. I started having a thought. While in law school, if you handle this right, you capitalize on it correctly. There’s a good chance this could work out, and you might not have to be a lawyer. That thought was very motivating. I would get questions every day asking me advice. It got to a point there where I was getting so many questions and spending so much time answering these questions.
Take advantage of social media to grow more.
If I had something to provide my followers with, not overly expensive, but enough to make money off of, I think it would work. I basically wrote an eBook that was pretty much the document I would have wished I had. You knew me in high school. I started working on all of them that you referred to them as that mistake when I overbooked. It was one of many mistakes I made. It was what I wish I would have had at the time to get to where I am now, cut out all the in-between, confusion, frustration, and mistakes I made so people wouldn’t have to make that mistake.
I had no idea how I was going to sell. It sold okay in the beginning. I eventually learned marketing and how to push it. It’s all very well and sold well enough to the point where I’m sitting there at law school and like, “I’m not going to be a lawyer. This is going to be my full-time thing.” A year and a half in law school, I was doing fine. I knew I wasn’t going to be a lawyer, but I finished law school anyway. I graduated in 2017 or 2018. I forgot which year, but I haven’t done anything with that since.
It’s only fifteen pages, right?
It’s 40 now. You could still buy it. I don’t even sell directly anymore. I include it in my membership subscription now. I wrote that for a long time.
A year and a half into law school, you dropped out.
I didn’t drop out. I did graduate, but I mentally dropped out. I was still in the top 5%. I had the scholarship. I was still doing well. I honestly felt like the law school provided me enough free time to do all this stuff. Other people in law school were complaining that they had no free time. I thought when you come from the real world working a job that you don’t like, and now you’re in school, it’s a completely different mindset. I thought I had all this free time. That’s how I was able to do all this stuff on the side.
I know a few people now that have gone to law school after working for a few years. They all feel that way, which is a whole topic for another time of when is the right time to go to law school or get a graduate’s degree. It sounds like, for you, it was great doing that after a couple of years of working at Geico.
If you go straight from undergrad, you’re burnt out with school. You have a different mindset. Once you go to the real world, you miss school and appreciate it a lot more. Everyone’s different, but that was at least how I felt.
Initially, when you were building your Instagram audience, you said you became obsessed with the algorithm, and it’s changed over time. In the beginning, was there a certain follower account that if you can get to a certain follower account, the snowball effect will happen and you’ll organically be able to increase?
The exact post, I remember what happened. Transformation Tuesday used to be a thing. On Tuesday, people would post transformations. There was one particular one, a picture of me when I was sixteen with my sister when she was twelve. It was a photo of us of how we look now. I didn’t even know what viral meant. I went viral for the first time. When something goes viral, I have 3,000 followers when I post it. By that time, that post had 8,000. I gained 5,000 followers from this post. It was like a drug. I’m like, “That was powerful. How do I do that again?”
I spent my time trying to replicate that. The following Tuesday, I did it again with a different before picture of me in a different after picture of me and happened again. It went viral. I gained another few thousand. I’m over 10,000 followers. I kept trying to replicate that kind of post because that was all I knew at the time. Those posts don’t necessarily do what they used to do, but that thought process is basically what got me going. You try something, it works. You try to replicate, copy it. You try something else. If it doesn’t work, you scratch that. You keep trying different things until they work.
Your question was about a certain number of followers. I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily a number of followers. When I hit 50,000, that was when my dad said to me, and we were at a Yankee game, he’s like, “You look around. You basically have this entire stadium following you.” When he put that into perspective for me, I realized how many people that was. I’m like, “You’re right.” That was 50,000. I’m over 1 million now. I don’t think I ever could comprehend how many people that actually is.
You never see them. They’re just a number on a screen. It’s not so much about the number. It’s more about the relationship you have with the number. You do need to have a certain number, but because you have a set number of followers doesn’t mean you’re going to be successful. There are people with way less followers than me who are more successful. There are people that have more than me who I’m more successful than them. It’s not necessarily about the number, but you’re not going to be successful in front of followers for the most part.
You mentioned you posted that before and after photo on Transformation Tuesday. It worked, so then you did it again. I’m sure on Transformation Tuesday, a lot of people were posting similar types of photos. What was it about the one that you posted do you think generated all these followers and that buzz?
I don’t think I’m the only one that capitalized on it. There were a lot of people that would post similar things. For some reason, if I post my sister, I think seeing the two people a decade apart. That’s noticeable. It’s a little more powerful than seeing, “This was me two months ago. It’s ten years, two people and a family.” For some reason, that’s more powerful. I wasn’t the only one that was able to capitalize on it. The biggest difference was that doesn’t work now and didn’t work a year after that.
I got lucky when it happened. Other people got lucky, but the thing is, when their luck runs out, they stop. Once it’s no longer easy and they have to put in thought and effort into thinking of something else, that’s when they give up, drop off and disappear. That never happened to me. I found other things at work and kept evolving, changing, and figuring out what was next.
Going forward, you graduated from law school. Did you ever get another job after?
I was working part-time for a law firm while in law school, but I quit that before I even graduated. That was the last real job I had.
Once you introduced your eBook to the market, how much of your focus was selling more eBooks? How much was it growing as large of a social following as possible?
When I first launched it, I never expected it to be a full-time thing. I was getting tired of getting so many messages from people asking me questions that I knew I could answer, get paid for, and answering for free. That was my main focus. I wanted to be able to send it to people. I don’t even believe I marketed it when I first launched it. Looking back, I was very stupid with that. Back when I first launched it, that wasn’t a focus. I want them to have it to help people. My main focus was growing the page because I didn’t know what I was going to do with it. I knew that having the following at some point would be very beneficial.
Growing was always the main focus. At some point with the eBook, I don’t know when it clicked, but I realized that my marketing sucked. I could easily sell a lot more if I tried. I started posting reviews, testimonials, and ads for it. At that point, I started selling ten times more than I was. It was basically 75% more of my income for years. It did better than I ever could have imagined. I would still be selling now, but I want something that I know is better. It’s not my main thing anymore.
What did you launch?
It’s an online training platform with an app. The app is much better. You still get the eBook, but it’s basically an updated version of the eBook. It’s my eBook in digital form. You could say where everything is all done for you rather than reading the book and having to put together your meal plan and training yourself. I do that all for you. It’s all accessible on an app with tutorials and visuals. It’s a lot easier to handle for people that don’t feel like reading a book.
The app is great. It walks you through. You got to watch a video of Adam for every single workout you do, which is always great, and nutrition planning as well. When did you first have the idea to build this app?
Show legitimate testimonials from people and post them on your Instagram story.
It’s years ago, honestly. The only reason I waited so long was that the eBook was selling well, and I was always scared to launch something else that was going to compete with the eBook. I wanted to wait for the eBook to die down because I was scared if I launched this, it wouldn’t do well. The eBook would stop selling too. I’m stuck with nothing when I have a good thing going. I had the idea of 2018, 2019, but I didn’t start working on it until later on. I wish I had done it sooner. I was paralyzed by the success of the eBook. I never expected it to do as well as it did for so long. It held me back from doing more, but eventually, I realized that eBooks fell a little outdated. I felt like I needed to get ahead of it before they’re so outdated.
I want to get into the app. I find it fascinating that you were able to build this app. I want to understand your go-to-market and how you’re acquiring customers. One last question on the eBook. You mentioned that not at first, but you started marketing the eBook, and that’s when it started taking off. What was your marketing strategy?
It all started with this one person sending me a DM of a testimonial telling me that help before and after picture. I looked at it and I was like, “I should put this on my Instagram story.” I put it on my story. That one day, I sold way more than I ever sold before. It hit me. I’m like, “Why was I not doing this before?” From that day, I was sitting in an environmental law class when I opened my phone and saw the testimonial. I put it on my story.
That day is when I started doing it. From that day on, every day, I’ll be posting testimonials. People like to see themselves in my story. All the people that bought my book with high results started seeing other people on my story. They want to be on my story too. At that point, every single day, I would get so many testimonials and before and after pictures. I have a folder on my phone and have hundreds of those. That’s all I was doing. I showed legitimate testimonials from people and posted those on my story, putting them on my page. That’s all I did.
You said you started investing in marketing.
I used the word investing because I didn’t spend much money on marketing at all. It was just using my page, which is why I said it before. I knew having the following eventually would turn out to be beneficial.
What I meant by investing is that you were investing your time into marketing, but it was all totally organic, getting as many downloads as you did. Best performing day, how many eBook downloads were there?
It’s in the mid-hundreds.
Much of this is due to you posting consistently good quality content.
That’s the most important part. A lot of people take their audience for granted. They post a lot of crappy ads and sponsors. You start losing the trust of your followers when they don’t know if you’re posting something because you’re getting paid or believing it. If you notice my page, there are few things I’ll ever push. I’m with Legion, a supplement company, basically pushing my own stuff, and that’s it. It’s not because I don’t get reached out to by other companies is because I feel like every time you post anything, even if it’s slight, you’re diminishing your reputation to everyone else by posting something else.
I’m very picky with who I’m willing to work with. I appreciate my followers. I don’t take the relationship for granted. I want them to trust me. That trust pays off because then, when you’re selling your own products, they trust you. Why wouldn’t they trust you when you’re basically being honest with them from day one?
I used your promo code to buy a scale once. I have to step on it three times to get an accurate measurement. I liked that you’ve limited your scope of the brands that you support.
I do use that scale myself, though. It works for me.
There’s always about a 4-pound variance between a weigh-in, so I take the lower one, but maybe I should be averaging it out. How much time do you invest in posting on Instagram?
It’s hard to say because I don’t necessarily track it, but it’s whatever anyone thinks it is, it’s significantly more. It’s not just sitting on your phone, posting. It’s brainstorming and thinking of ideas. It’s not easy to think of ideas constantly. I’m probably thinking of ideas the majority of the day. Whether I’m acting on it or not is one thing, but I’m always thinking of new ideas. There is writing a caption and the actual posting. I couldn’t give you a specific amount of time, but the majority of my day is spent thinking of a post, making the post, writing the caption, and all that stuff.
Do you do this all by yourself?
Most of it. All the ideas are me and everything. I do have help with editing certain videos, but for the most part, it’s me.
When I see your post now, when did you create that post?
Before I got on, I posted a video. It’s a video of me talking to myself. I played two different characters. One of me asked the other me a question, and I answered myself. It was a dialogue. To think of the topic takes time. Once I have the topic, I need to think of the text and the dialogue that I’m going to use, which is not easy because I want it to fit in a certain timeframe. I want it to be succinct to the point. Once I have a dialogue, I need to record it. That’s not always necessarily easy. Eventually, once I record it, I need to do the caption and edit it. Not every post is equivalent. Some posts are a lot simpler. Instagram is more video now. Videos definitely take longer, but one video, if you edit it all up, it’s at least a couple of hours.
There’s some content like recording your workouts, which you do regularly. There are other Instagram posts that you probably posted years ago, but now you have new followers, or people forgot about that content that you’re able to repost. What percent of it is content that is consistent every week? It’s the same theme. Therefore, it doesn’t take too much planning and mental energy to do versus what percent of your content do you want to be new and original on a weekly basis?
The stories you’re referring to are the workouts. I’m showing you what my workout is. I’m not trying to do anything overly creative with that. Even that, it still takes some thought because I don’t want it to be too monotonous and boring. I do want people to watch. I know it can get boring. You laugh at that, but people like that. If you watch other fitness people, they think they’re the center of the universe and people want to watch them no matter what. They don’t put in an effort to make their stuff somewhat entertaining. They like, “It’s me. People want to watch me.”
I don’t think that at all. I’m like, “I don’t know why people want to watch this. Let me at least try to make it as entertaining as possible.” The workout stories, I don’t put too much thought into that. That’s more showing my day. As far as the reposts, that’s always a delicate balance because there are a few factors. There’s one what you said. New followers are following me right now. They obviously didn’t see posts from months ago.
The algorithm is always changing with the reach. Every time I make a post, all my followers are not being seen. It’s only being seen by a small portion of them. Just because I posted something six months ago, between the people that follow me that didn’t see it, the new people now that didn’t see it, I can make a post that I made six months ago that most people who are now seeing it, didn’t see it the first time. You got the people that are like, “You reposted it.” For every one of those, I get messages every single day. I got people asking me a question about a post that I literally made the day before. They’re asking me a question even they didn’t see the post that’s literally sitting on my page, answering their questions.
It’s a delicate balance, but no, you have to repost. You’re only doing yourself a disservice by not recycling the content you work to create and your followers a disservice because the truth is they didn’t see it. Even if they did see it, it was six months ago. You’re not the only person they follow. They follow plenty of other people. They didn’t remember your posts necessarily.
You need to get through the tough times.
As far as the new content, it depends. For example, five of my posts would be new. It’s 50% new, 50% reposts. Even the repost, it’s not the exact same thing a lot of times. I’ll update and tweak it, but I guess 50/50 is what I’m looking at. I try not to repost for at least 6 to 8 months, though. It’s not like I’m reposting it every two weeks or whatever.
I assume the reason you’re reposting it is because it was a post that got a lot of likes and engagement. Therefore, you were doing your followers a service by posting it again to resurface again.
The first comment will be, “Do a post on this.” I’m thinking, “You didn’t see last week’s posts when I did that.” It reaffirms my mind that in six months, you could repost it because even people that follow you now didn’t see it from last week. Clearly, you could repost it again. It’s a little different than YouTube because YouTube has a good search function. If you made a video on a topic and you search for it, it’s there. Instagram is no good search function. If I make a post on something, even I won’t be able to find it. I had a video that I posted in 2021 on my pre-workout warm-up routine, and people wanted to find it, and they can’t because it’s so hard to scroll down. I’m like, “I know it’s there, but I’m not going to scroll down either.” They could definitely improve their search function.
I follow you on Instagram. That’s the main channel I follow you on. What other social channels are you posting on?
Instagram is the main thing. I have a YouTube channel, but I stopped making real YouTube videos years ago. I started TikTok, but it’s not any different than Instagram. It’s the same thing as Instagram for me. Instagram is the main thing.
Have you figured out that algorithm at all?
I can’t stand TikTok. I like it as a user scrolling through it. I find it very entertaining, but I don’t enjoy it as far as creating content. I started the account years ago and didn’t touch it. I should’ve done it sooner because Instagram and TikTok follow a very similar cycle where it was easy to grow when they started. Now it’s not so easy to grow. The thing is that I don’t put enough effort into TikTok. I rarely take stuff that I posted on Instagram and put it on TikTok. I wanted to capitalize on TikTok. I would need to do stuff specifically for TikTok, which I’m not willing to do now.
You’ve focused. That’s important. It’s something that I’ve always admired. You’re focusing on one social channel and one of the products that you’re going to market with at a time. That’s why you’ve had so much success.
Diversifying is a good idea, but I think a lot of people with TikTok, the only reason they started TikTok was that they were struggling to grow an Instagram. They started TikTok because it was easy to grow. It strokes their ego. They weren’t getting any benefit out of it. It feels nice when you see your content being seen by people. I understand why people do it, but it doesn’t benefit you to keep bouncing around. Stroke your ego. You need to get through the tough times and get through it.
Getting back to the Pfau Fitness app, what happened between having this idea for an app and having it live in the App Store?
I had the idea for a while. If someone comes to me and they want a training program, a meal plan, I want to give you a product that’s as simple as possible to help you reach your goals. You don’t need to second-guess anything and put in any thought. We’re just like, “Here, sign up. Take the plan. Here are the videos. Here’s a meal plan. Follow it. You will get results.” That’s what I wanted. That’s what the eBook is, but the eBook still requires you to put the plans together yourself. I’ll give you the knowledge. You still need to put the plans together.
I want that to make it even simpler. I wanted to give you the knowledge and the plan and make it easy to follow. That was the idea. I did some research and found some companies developers that could create the app. Once I had that, it was basically a matter of recording exercise tutorials, putting them in the app, figuring out how I wanted everything to function and work together. I’m not an expert in developing all the apps, though. I have a team that helped me get that too in the App Store and all that stuff. I’m the guy that put all the backend stuff together in terms of how it works. I’m not the one that coded it and all that stuff.
Literally and physically, right?
Yeah. If you look at the app, it’s all my programs, what you get working with me, and all that stuff. I’m not the guy that physically went into the codes and did all that stuff.
How has the app been received by the market?
It’s good. The thing is, I have an app, but it’s not exactly just an app. You’ll see other people with an app. The difference is their app. It’s static. They basically upload their workouts and diets and meal for whatever they want. You can choose to follow it if you want, but it’s not tailored to you. It’s basically what they would decide to add to it and you can copy them. I did not want that because I felt I had already provided them with my story.
If you want to see what my workouts are, I give that to you for free. If you want to see what I’m eating, I will show you that for free. This is a customized training program meal plan that comes with an app. When you sign up for it, no two people are getting the same thing. You’re inputting all your information, your goals, what you want to do, your height, your weight, and all that stuff. You’re getting a routine and a meal plan that’s suited for you. The things that you’re following on some arbitrary thing that I decided to upload that you’re copying. I wanted it to be tailored to you. It’s more of a custom training program meal plan that’s accessible on an app. It’s not necessarily a training app because there are training apps, but those are customized to you. The whole idea of this is it’s customized to you.
It truly is. Why did you decide to stop selling the eBook and include it when someone signed up for your service?
I had a couple of reasons. I don’t know if I’m right or not, but I felt it would confuse people. First, if you have two things that you’re selling, people look at them. They don’t know which one to buy and don’t buy anything. I wanted to force people not to have to make a decision, just sign up. The eBook was $20. This is $25. I figured if you were going to buy the eBook for $20, you’re like, “I might as well sign up for this and see how that is. If I don’t like it, I’ll keep the eBook. I’ll cancel after a month if I’m basically in the same spot.” My hope was that you wouldn’t cancel. If you did cancel, I’m in no worse spot because you would have bought the eBook one time anywhere.
What is the most common question you get asked?
Does masturbation affect my building muscle?
How often do you get asked that question?
Multiple times daily.
What’s the answer?
I’m making a post on it soon because I got asked so much. I’m like, “I’m doing a video on this.” I’ll be making a video on this soon.
Multiple times daily, that’s what people are asking you.
Honestly, I thought I was like a troll at first, but it’s a legitimate question. If you google and YouTube it, there are videos and articles on it. It’s a very commonly asked question.
I don’t want to get into it.
I don’t either.
People often ask the wrong questions, and they don’t know they’re asking them, so they get the wrong answer.
I’m excited to see your Instagram post on it. What is a question people aren’t asking that they should ask more?
This is a big problem. They ask the wrong questions a lot of times. They don’t know they’re asking the wrong questions, so they get the wrong answer. A lot of times, people don’t know what they should be asking to get the answer that they’re looking for. For example, I’ll be like, “Is it okay if I train biceps and chest on the same day?” There’s not an answer to that. The answer is yes, you could train biceps and chest on the same day, but that might not be the question you should be asking. What’s your entire routine? You find out that the entire routine is set up terribly. Biceps and chest on the same day are basically irrelevant compared to what they should be asking, which is what should my workout routine be?
They’re focusing on something that doesn’t matter one way or the other. They’re ignoring the bigger picture, which is their entire routine. I get questions like that all the time where they’re focusing on something that’s insignificant. It’s not going to matter. They’re not asking the bigger picture question, which they should be asking.
What can people do to get a more holistic understanding of fitness to be able to ask the right questions?
Honestly, they should read my eBook. It would give them a good, basic understanding. They asked me questions. I’m like, “Scroll through my posts. You don’t need to give me any money. Spend some time reading stuff. That’ll help.” There are no shortcuts to knowing what you need to do. I give a lot of stuff for free. You can buy my book for $20. That’s a good start. You could buy someone else’s book for probably $20, and it will give you a good start. Everything is available on the internet for free as well. If you’re not going to put in the effort, you can’t expect results.
The most annoying questions I would get are the lazy questions. “What are your thoughts on blank?” There’s no context. “What are your thoughts on a keto diet?” I don’t know anything about you, your goals, what you’re doing now, or why you’re deciding to do the keto diet. I don’t have any thoughts on the keto in regard to you because I don’t know anything about you. If you’re only to ask about keto, at least ask the question with context, like, “My goal is to lose weight.” You need to give some context so I can at least help you.
That’s probably my biggest pet peeve. When someone goes, “Tips for blank,” you have to get some context. If you want someone to give you a legitimate answer, you need to ask a legitimate question. That’s something that annoys me. I don’t need to turn people off, but that’s the truth. They don’t expect me to respond. I’ll respond to my DMs, which most people don’t do. They’re not expecting a response. I’ll ask a very lazy, stupid question. If I respond, they’re like, “I wasn’t expecting you to respond.” I’m like, “Should I not have responded then?”
To that point, what is your policy on responding to questions?
I am a little bit stricter than I used to be. I used to respond to every single question, and then I realized you get taken advantage of. People think they’re entitled to your time, and they’re not. If you ask me a legitimate question, I’ll answer you. If I have to dive back and forth until I go into a legitimate dialogue with you to figure out what you’re asking, I’m probably not going to answer. If you give me an actual question that I have enough information to answer, I’ll answer. I also like having conversations with actual people.
When I see an avatar like Pikachu, or you don’t have a picture, I’m less motivated to answer you because I don’t know who I’m talking to. If I feel like I’m talking to an actual person with a real picture and I can tell who you are, I’ll talk to you. From my perspective, I don’t want to talk to some troll account. If your avatar is no picture or a Pokémon, I’m less likely to want to have a conversation with you, but you have a normal picture and a normal person asking a question that I can answer. I’m more than happy to answer.
Do you look at every single question that people are asking you personally?
No one has access to my account. That’s one thing I’m very neurotic and paranoid about. No one’s touching my Instagram account.
I’m sure the answer is it depends, but with 1.4 million followers, what does that typically translate to in terms of DMs?
I’m on top of it. I never let them build up. I probably got more DMs when I had fewer followers, honestly, because I feel like when you get to a point where they assume you’re not going to respond. I get less now. I probably got more when I had like a couple hundred thousand followers because it was big enough where people wanted you to respond but small enough that people didn’t think there was no shot. I got less now than I used to, but still, weekly, it’s in the thousands.
When was the first time you got stopped on the street that someone recognized you?
I don’t know the first time. It happens all the time.
It does happen all the time.
This one happens a lot now, people will come up to me, and they’ll be like, “I follow this guy on Instagram who looked exactly like you.” They’ll take out their phone and show me my page, and I’ll be like, “That’s me.” They’ll be like, “No.”
Do you ask them questions before you say it’s you, like, “What do you think of this guy’s content?” “This app is great.”
I don’t do that. I probably should. It usually catches you off guard. You’re never expecting it to happen. You call me famous. If you’re Derek Jeter, you probably expect that you’re on guard all the time. I’m never on guard for it. I always find it funny and amusing when it happens, but I’m never ready for it. I don’t have anything I prepared that I’m going to say. I just react at that moment.
What’s next for Pfau Fitness?
I want to grow the whole online platform as much as possible. That’s my main focus at the moment, to scale it as much as I can.
Adam, it’s been amazing watching your journey and a lot of my favorite memories of us hanging out growing up. When we weren’t bowling or playing sports, we were laughing about silly things. I love that you’ve been able to incorporate your sense of humor, which I always thought was an amazing sense of humor, into content that is so helpful to helping people on their fitness journey. I’m a big fan. It’s been amazing watching you. Thank you for what you’ve provided to all of us.
I appreciate it. Thanks for doing this. This is fun.
I’m not letting you go yet. We have a lightning round first before I let you go. Four questions. One, what’s your favorite youth sports memory.
Third-grade basketball. We were terrible. I was on the yellow team and we wore colored shirts. We didn’t win a game all year, but I hit not quite a half-court shot, but almost a half-court or buzzers shot. It went in, and the ref called it no good. Thinking back, he was probably right. It probably didn’t beat the buzzer, but I was in third grade. He should have given it to me.
If you want someone to give you a legitimate answer, you need to ask a legitimate question.
Second question, when you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
It depends on the age, but I guess I wanted to be a baseball player when I was younger.
You were pretty good. You were okay. Third question, what is a brand whose marketing you admire most?
It’s the Coinbase Super Bowl commercial. I thought it was genius. Apparently, they got 20 million website visits from that, and their website crashed. What Gymshark did is impressive. They basically built their company off of regular people. They never hired any typical fitness models, just regular gym guys. They built their brand to be a huge success. I give them credit for what they are able to do.
This is an aside. Pause on the lightning round. What year can we expect a Super Bowl commercial for Pfau Fitness?
Never. You’re not going to see me do that. Do they cost $30 million for 30 seconds?
It’s only $6 million.
I don’t think people want to reach their fitness goals while they’re eating wings and chips watching the Super Bowl.
Last question, what is your go-to cause to support?
It’s cancer research.
Adam, this was awesome. Thank you so much for coming on.
Thanks for having me. You don’t get to do a show with people you live three houses away from all the time.
Now you can do it all. Thanks, Adam.
Thank you for reading this episode. We spoke to Adam Pfau, the CEO of Pfau Fitness and my childhood friend, and covered a wide range of topics, including how to build a social media following, monetize that following, and, most importantly, follow your dreams and do something you’re passionate about. See you next time, everyone. Play on.
About Adam Pfau
Adam Pfau is the CEO of Pfau Fitness. Shy and insecure about his body as a teenager, he began going to the gym and learning everything he could about training and nutrition. His efforts to help people avoid the initial frustration that he experienced quickly drew attention and soon his Instagram account grew to over 1.4 million followers. He has now built an incredible business around helping people achieve their health and fitness goals.