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Strength Training Through Tonal With Julius Jones
Tonal celebrated Pride Month with a live Pride workout and their own virtual Pride Parade.
Get your questions ready for a new “Ask Coach Frances” and get caught up with an “Ask Coach Jared.”
Lululemon acquires Mirror.
Gizmodo and Gear Patrol have Tonal reviews.
You can now share a calendar view of your Tonal workouts.
New Tonal contents that don’t utilize floor movements to accommodate people with different bodies and abilities.
All this plus our interview with Julius Jones!
Listen to the podcast here:
Strength Training Through Tonal With Julius Jones
Joining us is Julius Jones. How is it going?
I am good. How are you, guys?
We’re good. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this. We’re excited.
I think I’m more excited than you.
When did you first find Tonal? How did that come into your life?
It’s by accident. When I opened my gym, I knew I wanted a cable machine. I had cable machines since the Bowflex days and using them in my home in the garage. Every time I went to a gym, I’ve used the cable machines quite often. When I finally opened mine, I said, “I’m going to get a cable machine. I might even get two.” When I put in the cable machine, I had gotten a Life Fitness but then I went on to discover and say, “I need some attachments, some different things for my cable machine.” When I’m putting the cable machine a second time a month later, a tone came up and the screen on the wall. I thought, “This is a big iPad workout machine. Let me look into this.” I clicked on it and I said, “Honey, I’ve got to have this.” She said, “This?” I said, “Yeah, I need four.” She said, “We’ll just get one, maybe two and see how it works.” I said okay but that okay still turned into four.
Now, he has six.
It was all by accident. I was looking for different attachments for the Life Fitness machine that I still have, which is collecting dust now.
That’s fascinating to me. Your first interaction with Tonal was for your gym, not your personal use at home.
That was an interesting day. I went down to the showroom because when I went online and I tried to purchase the four, it kept creating an error. I said, “It’s just in San Francisco. That’s an hour drive. Let me go ahead and drive down there. They’re open. I don’t have an appointment because they usually set up an appointment for you to view and try it out. I got down there and they were all excited. I said, “That’s one, I need three more.” You could see in their faces as if I was joking. It was Lisa, she said, “Four?” I said, “Yeah, I need three more. It wouldn’t take my money online. Here it is in cash.” Her eyes got big because she realized I was serious. She got on the phone with Kristen in back-office. We discussed it back and forth. She said, “We don’t sell these to commercial gyms. This is for home use only.” I pulled out my business card and my business card says the only gym with digital trainers. I hadn’t even bought them yet. I knew sight-unseen I was going to have these in my gym. I didn’t ask anybody. I just knew it. I’m going to show Lisa the card. She looked like, “What if they say no?” I was like, “I know. What if they said no?” I was advertising. I would have looked like a complete liar. When she said no, my whole world caved in. I watched my soul leave my body.
I picture you in your head going, “Technically, your fingers are digits,” so it’s still a digital trainer. Meanwhile, poor Lisa is like, “Shut up, Kristen. I’m about to sell four of these things. Give the man his machines.” How did you get them over the hump? How did you get them to agree then?
I told them I’m going to use them for personal training, which I do. I also use them for classes. I all set them up. I discovered the Tonal has a built-in block feature. When I set up my workouts, I include the Tonal. We’ll do some floor stuff, then jump on the Tonal. It works awesome because I can mix in the cardio and strength without having a bunch of dumbbells or balls and all of a sudden, stuff are laying around. On top of it, I keep my classes fairly small, 6 to 8 people. With the floor, it always works out perfect because that person can log in and not have to change their profile and it reads all of their stats still. Even through a class, they increase their stress score, they increase their range of motion and all the numbers that come with.
Is there a max on how many accounts you can have on a Tonal?
No. When you get the Tonal, you can add and then once you come over and you say, “Joel, I’m at the gym. I’m going to use a Tonal.” Cool. You log in and then when you’re done, you log out. If I want to work on it, I go behind you. There should be a little icon with my picture on it and I can click on the picture.
That comes in handy then. You’re carrying the monthly subscription for everybody.
They do pay a fee. It’s not free.
You’re in business. It would be weird if they weren’t.
You’re not saying everybody should go to your gym and log in.
Where’s your gym?
Tracy, California. If you blink, you’ll pass it, so don’t blink. When you hit Tracy, keep your eyes open. It’s a small farm town, about 1 hour and 15 minutes southeast of San Francisco.
When you explained that you were using this in conjunction with personal training, Tonal was instantly like, “That’s okay then” or was there still some trepidation on their part?
There was trepidation. It took me explaining the use, which is similar to home use. I’m going to put them through the assessment. Once I go through the assessment, they’ll do the workouts. It’ll mainly be for those who want the use of the Tonal, but don’t want to buy the Tonal themselves. Once they decide that, “I love this thing. I like it. Let me go ahead and purchase one for myself.” To them, they were probably thinking that’s a great tool for him to put it under so much stress. That was one of the things I said. If anything, I could be a beta tester where I’m getting all these different types of bodies in here, different types of strength levels, a different type of education levels as far as fitness and experience from the very beginner and all the way up to the powerlifters. Maybe that was the key.
That was smart thinking. That was a good way to explain what you were doing and how you could help them.If you like weights, you’ll love Tonal. Click To Tweet
Do they still get delivered and installed or did they throw them in the back of your truck? How did that work?
Tonal day, you set up an appointment and you do the survey. They bring them over and have them installed by XPO. You have to make sure you do the surveys to make sure you have the studs correct. Otherwise, you can’t have it installed.
You told us where your gym is but you didn’t say the name of it. For anybody who happens to be in Tracy, California. You got to tell us the name.
If you are in Tracy, California, please come to new NuEx Fitness, 450 West Larch Road, Suite 7. You can’t miss it. There’s a green guy on the door. He looks inviting and makes you want to work out hard.
How long have you been doing this, owning the gym and stuff like that?
I’ve been a gym rat since high school. I didn’t get into fitness. I was a business banker for some years until Washington Mutual was bought by Chase. They say, “You can be a teller if you’d like.” I’m like, “My car payment’s more than what a teller makes.”
I was a teller. You don’t want to do that.
I decided to say no and get back into fitness and finished my degree in exercise science and community health and wellness.
How long have you been a personal trainer?
Ten, thirteen years. It’s been a long time ago. I coach track and field and then personal training. I’ve only opened the doors to my studio a few years now.
A few years for a small business, that’s an achievement. My parents were both small business owners. I know everybody thinks like, “It’s great being your own boss.” It also means you never get a day off. If there’s something wrong, you have to deal with it. You cannot go on vacation.
I had a mentor that told me because he’s one of my clients and also one of my business mentors. He said, “Julius, three things guaranteed. It’s going to cost more than you thought. It’s going to take more time than you thought, and something’s going to broke up.” I was like, “Thank you. That’s what I needed to hear.”
My dad used to say, “The best part about being your own boss is I only work half days and it doesn’t matter which twelve hours.”
I wish it was that much. Some days it’s like, “Just give me a futon. There’s no way I can leave.”
I bet it’s rewarding though being able to work for yourself as well.
It’s very rewarding. My wife with the Tonal, when I said four, she didn’t see my vision. A lot of people did. They’re like, “Just get one.” I’m like, “You don’t understand. You’re not seeing what I’m saying. I have blinders on and no breaks. It works. People who use the machines, they love it. I have discovered that it’s for a different kind of person. You have to like weights. You’ll love Tonal. If you’re a strictly passive person, it’s like, “It’s cool.”
That’s interesting because I was never into weights. I had curiosity about weights but as I’ve talked about before, I was intimidated by weights. Going into a traditional gym, that section is not women-friendly or beginner-friendly. I love Tonal because it takes all the guesswork out of it for me. I would think with the personal training aspect, you’re also taking all the guesswork out of it, telling people to do these things, which I would need that direction.
There are a lot of people who see the weights and automatically get those things I need. I had a friend of mine. He owns a karate studio a few sweets down. He came in and the first thing he said was, “Julius, this is awesome because I’m not a waist person, you know it. I feel comfortable.” He’s going through the assessment and that was the first thing he said. He’s like, “I don’t feel intimidated. I don’t feel like I have to be able to lift heavy. I don’t feel like I’m going to do something wrong. Even though my technique may not be perfect. I don’t feel like I’m going to do something wrong or hurt myself.
I feel like that’s a huge barrier that Tonal helps you to take down. Do you feel the way you train people has changed with the Tonal?
On the Tonal, absolutely. They have great programs and how they’re structured to give you your desired goal, whether it’s maintaining weight, gaining weight, or losing weight. While I’m there, I stepped back and let the coaches do their thing. If I see that there are some forms that need correction, I’m able to correct it right away. The community is great where you can go in. They have a Facebook community that you can go in and ask the coaches. The coaches will get back to you. Sometimes it’s 30 minutes. Sometimes it’s a little longer, but while they’re in the studio and I have questions, I can get to them right away.
That’s a huge thing because I know there have been times that I feel like I’m not doing something correctly. I’m not feeling it. It doesn’t feel like I’m feeling it in the muscles that I should be feeling it. Getting that feedback to be able to make sure I do it correctly, that’s a game-changer too. I appreciate that about the coaches. I’m sure the people that you train appreciate that you can help them right on the spot. That’s awesome. I see you step in the community as well. You often will tell people some ideas or tips and tricks whenever people have questions about forms. I appreciate that you do that.
You’re all welcome. There’s so much science out there. The coaches are a plethora of information. I’m looking at the coaches and all of their body types, their motivation types, their character, everything. It’s amazing that you get all of these this complete trainer. If you put them all together, you get this one complete trainer because you know the guy who wants to try to lift the house off the foundation. You have the coaches there for that. On the flip side of that, someone who can barely stand up or sit down, you have a coach Liz who can help you with those injury recoveries. I think that is amazing.
I liked that and I like how they have many programs that are focused on mobility or specific sports and things like that. I didn’t think about that. I didn’t know how important weight training was for movement and power and things like that. I thought weightlifting was just to get stronger. I didn’t know there were many other benefits to it. I’ve learned a ton since I’ve had the Tonal.
That’s the difference between weightlifting and strength training. That’s a well-informed thing for me to say. Don’t get used to that by the way. I think you’re right like you were talking before about how people think of the weight as weight lifting and not a way to get to a certain place so you could do this other thing better whether it’s soccer, basketball or being generally stronger. How’s it going in your community with having this unique gym experience for people? Are they embracing it? It’s like word of mouth? Is it going well?
I am terrible at marketing but it’s going great because of the big box I came from, Engine In Shape and 24 Hour Fitness. There are people who followed me over and they have said, “Come on over.” I try to market Tonal and it’s a great machine, but the attention span of an average person scrolling through Facebook is about fifteen seconds or so. Tonal has way more than fifteen seconds worth of things that will interest the entire population of how to get stronger, move better, get better at sports. Tonal does so much. I haven’t found that recipe to market people to come in and use it. The clients who come in for one thing, I say, “If you want to work on your own, work out on this machine and tell me how you like it.” “I love it.” I have no idea how to market that.
What’s your very favorite thing about Tonal that it does?
There’s no blind. It’s the ability to move freely. Some of the things you cannot do with free weights, you can do with Tonal. As far as the balance or making sure you’re not injuring your joints. Not having to put everything down on a piece of paper because I’m old school. I still have my books where I write stuff down and I realize, “I don’t have to. It’s in the Tonal.” Maybe it’s I like I feel that hard copy and I made hard work. I have my pencil and scratches in it, whereas everything is touchscreen. I’ll get used to it.In any fitness journey, follow the instructions and be patient the assessment. Click To Tweet
It’s like how the old guy at the office still has a Rolodex.
Not that you’re old, just to be clear. You have a system and it works and you’re going to stick to it.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to that.
There are certain ways to gauge if someone’s old. Do you call any technical device, the machine? It’s like my great-grandma. Everything was the machine, the car, the toaster, “Over there on the machine.”
You had to guess which machine she’s talking about.
Do you call your wallet a billfold? That seems to be a good indication.
That would tell your age.
I’m sure you do neither of those things so you’re good.
He’s like, “Not now.”
I have no idea what you’re talking about.
I am pretty intrigued by these shelves that you offer that are for the accessories for Tonal. Tell me everything about these. What inspired them? How did you come up with the idea? I want to know from the beginning.
I have the worst OCD, my wife, it drives her nuts. I have to have everything squared off. If there are a square and a corner, it has to be paralleled to the wall, the carpet. When I went into the showroom, I saw the shelves. I was like, “Cool, it’s going to come with a nice and neat little shell.” They opened the boxes and install the Tonal and they say, “Okay, bye.” I’m like, “Where are my shelves?” They said, “You’ll have to call Tonal.” I don’t think that they realize that they did sell them or they didn’t sell them. I called Tonal and say, “There were no shelves in my boxes.” They said, “Those are for the showroom.” I was like, “I’m not putting my handles on the floor. Do you know who I am? “
Especially in a place of business. When it’s in your home, you can check it on the floor next to it. It’s no big deal. Especially most people probably haven’t been in a high traffic area but in a place of business, it’s going to look janky. You don’t do that.
Just sit on the floor. I said, “I need to make a shelf.” One of my clients is a machinist and we put together a design. I said, “It needs to do this. It needs to do that.” I searched the high and low for the right shelf that was being achieved. The first version was a Koto type. I upgraded them to fit like the Tonal. I was filming a workout and I had the shelf in the background. That I did on purpose. I didn’t want to say anything because I was still a little skeptical, but I put the shelf in the background. I was showing a move and a gentleman said, “Julius, where did you get the shelf?” I said, “I built it.” He said, “How much?” I said, “I don’t know.” I forgot how much it costs me because the machinist did it for me. He was excited that I wanted to do something so he built the prototypes for free. I had no idea how much it costs. After I built it, I sent it to him. The first ten shelves, I lost $27 on each shelf. It was bad.
That’s what being a small business owner is like right there in a nutshell.
I thought, “I’m a business maker. I calculated this correctly. I know this.” After everything’s said and done. They’re all the materials, the shipping, and the wrapping. I learned that was like, “Why am I not positive? I sold ten shelves. I probably went over the numbers and says, “Now I have to charge it correctly.” A young lady messaged me and said, “I want to hang my ankle straps.” I said, “That would mean I’d have to make a bigger shelf so that it can accommodate more hangers to accommodate more handles.” It went from there. I started building five and then it went to six, because I said, “I want eight.”
Mine is a truly custom-built shelf now. They’re all solid wood. They’ve all been tested to 100 pounds, 80 stable, but it will start to fail it probably at 105 pounds. I’ve heard people say, “You can get a floating shelf from Home Depot for $20.” It will probably last you a few months and start to sag. My shelves are not going to sag. They’re going to take every bit of 80 pounds. The only reason I know that is my son was trying to get the bar off of the shelf once. I turned around and I’m like, “What are you doing?” “I’m trying to get the bar down.” He was literally off the ground hanging on the bar and the shelf helped him. That’s when I said, “Let me see how far the shelf will break before it goes off the wall.” After 100 pounds, I figured nobody’s going to do more than 100 pounds. I built them for quality and style.
I picture you turning around seeing your son climbing on this thing. Immediately, first things first is a parent yelling at him. The next thing being like, “Now we have to get you to a scale and see how much you weigh.” I love the idea of how you call the first one that you weren’t happy with a prototype. You retroactively like, “It’s a prototype.” Now I’m going to start calling my ex-wife a product. It’s the nicest thing I’ve ever called her. Thank you for that.
You’re welcome. That is awesome.
I was like, “Where are we going with this?
You can get your shelf in NuExFitness.com. Click on shop now. It has a list of different sizes. Some people don’t have the extra handle, so you can get four hangers or if you want, I customize them beyond that.
One of the things that I found intriguing about it is that it has the T-locks in it. You connect to it whenever you like put the handle up there. You’re sliding it in and connecting it as you do on the machine. Is that right?
On the Tonal, the ball has a spring load. You slide into the slot, turn it 90 degrees and it’ll lock-in. With my hangers. I did not put the spring in because there are more mechanisms that could break. To take the spring out, I created a cradle for it to set in. You put the handle in, turn it 90 degrees and then it sits down in a cradle so it doesn’t slide around.
I love that. That’s nifty. One of the other things I saw on your website was that you have a shelf that comes with the extra accessories too.
When working with many cable machines, you can use a bunch of different handles for a bunch of different movements. The four handles that the Tonal comes with gives you a lot, then you add four more. Now you’re doubling.
I can’t picture what that does for me. For example, you have the ankle strapper and maybe a different bar or something like that. What different moves would you be able to do, just a couple off the top of your head?
One of the things I like is it’s called a double D ring or the pyramid ring. What it is both your handles. Imagine if you would put any of the two handles together and then it’s called a close grip. When you use close grip for the back, it attacks the wrong void, which is the center of your back in the middle. You have your latissimus dorsi, which is the outside biggest muscle in your back, and then you have the inside. When your hands are wide, you’re engaging the latissimus dorsi outside. When you put those handles together and you pull and you squeeze your shoulder blades together, that’s that center back muscle. Using that handle, both pulling from the bottom, the top or parallel, you’re going to strengthen the center of your back.
How much does a shelf cost?
What’s the range? Because I know you have several options that people can choose from.
The range is $249 for four-hanger shelf. That’s your basic line. All the way up to $459 for the shelf plus the handles. I include the T-lock accessories so you’re not shopping around and having to go to a bunch of different places. Everything is dropshipped.
Is that shipped or shipping on top?
That’s shipped. My town doesn’t like it but I don’t feel like dealing with it.
As a marketing guy, which is what I am. To me, it makes more sense to bundle it in because if you hear $450 and I’m like, “It’s $50 to ship one. If you told me $500, I’d be like, “Okay.”
It’s because of the tax. I say this because somebody out there might be a tax person and they might be yelling at the sound. The machine is one thing. That’s a specific rate, but then you have to charge taxes at a different rate for the shipping. That’s why a tax person would prefer you to ship them out. I think in some states you can charge on shipping and in some states, you can’t. That gets complicated too.
That’s also why people don’t like the tax person.
It’s true. No one likes to do taxes.
You know how you were talking about how when you first built your first batch of shelves, it costs you $27 a shelf. I know a guy who did a podcast and it costs $249 to $450. I feel there’s a shelf in our future.
There’s definitely shelf in the future. I wanted him to talk to you first, Julius, because you’ve sold it well. Now he feels comfortable. If I had been like, “There’s this guy that sells shelves,” even if he talked to you for the interview, he wouldn’t have been convinced. Now that you’ve explained all the thought and everything that you’ve put into that, now he’s more on board.
How long have you guys had your Tonal?
Since November. Not super long time.
Tell people again where they can find the shelf.
You can find the shelf at NuExFitness.com, click on shop and products and it’ll list all the options. If you do require or desire an option that’s not listed, give me a callback and then we’ll make that happen.
What’s your most popular shelf?
Six hangers in black.
I like the black one because it matches the Tonal well. You said back in high school you were working out then. Have you been consistent with working out since then? Did you fit that in when you were an investment banker? How did that work? What’s your fitness journey been like?
My fitness journey started off with track and field. My coach realized, “He’s better than average. Let’s see what he can do.” I went out to the Olympic Training Center in San Ysidro and found out quickly I was not as fast as he thought I was. That was humbling. The coach there said that I picked up the instruction well. I was a super-fast learner. I didn’t have that natural talent. I didn’t work out. I didn’t have the power and the speed that these guys had. The minute I walked on the track, it was a whole different world. Speaking of Hulk, that’s how I felt. These guys on TV look lean and they look muscular, but they are strong with a lot of muscle, big quads, hams, glutes and everything.
I wasn’t them. I didn’t work out that much. That’s when I started hitting the gym a lot. In high school and then in college, I was working out. I was working out but not running because I didn’t make the team fast enough. After that I was still working out at 24 Hour Fitness twice a day, then I got into banking. I still worked out. After that, I decided, “I like working out. I like teaching people. Should I do this personal training thing?” I was convinced as one of my former track buddies said, “I want to work out this summer. Do you have a workout that I can do?” I gave him a workout. During that summer, that’s when I realized banking’s going away. People still want me to train. Let me go ahead and do this for real. Let’s see how I like it.
As soon as I graduated, the first client was okay. The second client, I got scared because she fell. This has happened to every trainer. They won’t tell you these stories but it’s one of the things that freaked me out. She was doing these exercises for agility. She’s a runner. I was doing some ankle mobility exercises and she lost her footing on the flat ground, fell backwards and she didn’t hit her head. Inside I was shivering like, “I’m going to lose my job. I don’t know what’s going to happen.” Instead of showing that, I said, “Are you okay?” She says, “Yeah.” I said, “Get up, we got to finish.” Inside I was shivering the entire time.
The fact that she got better, that’s when I realized this is my calling. This is what I like to do. I like seeing people get to that next level and get to that next goal. I don’t know how your idea of personal trainers were. I thought personal trainer, I was going to train these superstar athletes, these Olympians, these NFL players. I was going to be this trainer to the stars, which was possible, but that is something to achieve. That is hard to get to. In that journey to get to that top-notch, I found myself always wanting to take the grandma who can barely get on the ground to play with her grown children, make her mobile. The high school kid who’s looking for that edge so that he can get that scholarship for college. To the teams that are working with a bunch of 14, 15-year-olds who can’t get their face out of the phone, have focus for an hour. Those things make me feel good.
Training elite athletes is to something that’s cool to me. It’s okay because they already know the movements. They already are going to work hard. They’re already going to give it their 110% plus one more but to push somebody over that edge or like you, Crystal, you did think that lifting weights was this intimidating type of room you walk in. It’s like, “I don’t think I could do this” to now you walk into a room. Now your arms are out a little bit, “That’s my bitch move.”
That was the history of how you got into personal training and it sounds like you’re passionate about personal training. That reminds me of what I hear a lot of the instructors. They like helping people go to that next level.
I think it was funny where you were saying about how the more you think about working with the big athletes because it’s like if making millions of dollars isn’t enough inspirational workout on a regular basis, what are you going to bring to the table? You shouldn’t need someone kicking you in the butt. It’s literally your job.
I can’t imagine that being a job full-time. Do you have any advice for people who are getting started in their fitness journey or joined the Tonal community?
Follow the instructions and be patient with the assessment. Although it does go slow if you’re an experienced person but do the assessment. The assessment is going to allow you to go through the movements, record your weights and the AI fine-tunes itself over the next few workouts. The first 2 or 3 may not feel like these weights are wrong. You’ll have to adjust them towards 3 pounds up or down, depending on the movement. After a while, it’s dialed in. If you don’t do the assessment, now you’re going to have to adjust the weights a lot more. For beginner beginners, I liked coach Liz because she explains the movements in detail. You get enough time to do the movement, relax, especially if it’s your first time because it’s going to make you tired. Her explanation will allow you to get the rest before you move on to the next exercise.
Also, you left out buy a shelf.
You have to bend over and use too much of your back to get the handles.
Sit on the floor, save that energy, save it for the workout.
How easy is it to install this shelf?
It is easy. All you need is a power drill. It has to be installed into the studs. That’s what gives it that 100 pounds strength. At the backplate, the bracket allows you to shift it over left to right up to 16 inches. If you want in a specific spot, you can get it close to where you want it now. It comes with the screws and everything you need minus the power drill.
Thank you for taking time out of your day to join us. Remind people where they can find you. When they’re in that part of California, where can they find your gym?
Thank you for having me. You can look me up. The gym is called new NuEx Fitness. The Nu stands for nutrition, exercise fitness. We are at 450 West Larch Road, Suite 7 in Tracy, California, 95304. You can call (209) 229-8829 for all your questions. We also do virtual training. If you are a Tonalites and you need some exercises that you would like to do or have seen done, please send us a message and we can get on Facebook, Instagram and get those exercises to you via video. You’ll know exactly how to do it, what to do and what to look for.
That’s helpful. Thank you once again for joining us. We appreciate it.
- Julius Jones
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About Julius Jones
I have owned my Tonals for over 1 year. I have a vast knowledge of its use beyond the library. I am currently training clients on the Tonal. As an early adopter, I have had some breakdowns of my Tonals, so I’ve also had the opportunity to deal with customer service. My XPO experiences have been standard to GREAT!
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