In this episode we sit down with Lorenzo Ferguson. The death of a close family member from heart failure sparked a change in him. Lorenzo wanted to help people get into shape and eat healthy. While working at Waffle House to raise his capital, he started his personalized fitness business and food prep service: Your-Way Fitkits. Check out our full conversation with Lorenzo Ferguson:
Lorenzo: My name is Lorenzo Ferguson, and I am with Your-Way Fit-Kits.
Marcus: Awesome, Lorenzo. I'm excited to have you on the podcast, so welcome.
Lorenzo: Thank you. Thank you for having me, man. It's an honor.
Marcus: Yeah, so to get started, why don't you just tell us some of your story. Give us some information about who Lorenzo is.
Lorenzo: Lorenzo Ferguson is a young man, a boy that grew up in Orange Park, Florida, Jacksonville, Florida if you don't know where that is. Life was kind of tough growing up. Grew up in poverty. Didn't have much. I remember nights not having anything to eat, no lights, no water, and I really feel like that is what gave me the drive that I have to this day, to never go back to that ever again. My journey leading me all the way to Mobile, Alabama, I graduated from high school. I made up in my mind that I wanted to go to college, play football, graduate, and run my own businesses. And I kid you not, I did every last one of those things and right now, I am running 2 businesses.
Marcus: Wow. So you ended up in Mobile, if I remember correctly because you went to University of South Alabama?
Lorenzo: That is correct.
Marcus: Okay, very cool. How long has USA had a football team?
Lorenzo: About 7, 8 years now.
Marcus: 7 or 8 years, okay. So you were part of the first part of that. What did you study in?
Lorenzo: Exercise Science was my degree. I got a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Basically, anything in the fitness arena, personal training, health and wellness, things of that nature.
Marcus: So you went all in. At what point in time in your life did you know that being a personal trainer or being involved in the fitness world was your thing?
Lorenzo: Well, I think the seed was planted when I was a kid. I'll never forget when I was young, I used to get picked on because I was the slowest, the chunkiest, the shortest-
Marcus: Wait, wait, wait. Folks, stop listening and go to the website and look at the picture of this young man. The chunkiest, okay. Keep going.
Lorenzo: Yes, yes. I was the chunkiest, the shortest, the slowest, and by the time I graduated from high school, I was probably the most fit out of all of my family, the strongest, the fastest, not the tallest, but everything changed.
Marcus: Everything that you can affect besides genetics.
Marcus: No, that's cool, man. It's always interesting to hear business owners and how they got started going down this path, so I can see how the influence of sports and stuff like that ... Was there a coach or somebody along those lines that really influenced you during this time as well?
Lorenzo: Man, this is amazing. Andre Gooding, Andre Gooding is his name. He was an uncle/father figure/role model/coach. He did it all, and he actually imparted into me a lot of the htings that I know to this day when it comes to sports, being passionte, being a leader. I give it all to him, man. But he is actually the reason a lot of things actually [transpired 00:03:13] pertaining to Fit-Kits.
Marcus: Nice, man. That's awesome. How did Fit-Kits and ... Tell me the name of the parent company again.
Lorenzo: The parent company is Your-Way Fitness. That's the umbrella.
Marcus: So tell me how those got started.
Lorenzo: Okay. I'll never forget man ... Your-Way Fitness, the umbrella. Actually I used to work at a Rent 'N Roll when I was in college, and Your-Way Fitness, the name came from a guy named DJ. He was like, "Oh, man, you should name" ... I asked him, "And I don't know the name that I should name my company, man. I'm having a tough time." He said, "You should name it Your-Way Fitness." And I said, "Why?" He said, "Because the customer gets it their way. They want to look how they want to look, so Your-Way Fitness. But you will guide them, you will show them how to look the way they want to look." That's where Your-Way Fitness came into play.
Then Your-Way Fit-Kits came into play ... I always like to go back to the root of it. My uncle Andre, he actually died of diabetes at the age of 40. My leader, my father figure, my role model, died at 40, and I really felt like it was a premature death. He was an entrepreneur just like myself, and he never had time to prepare his own food. He always ate out. We always ate out, but we were young, so we always burned the food off. But he didn't. So he passed away from diabetes, Type 2 and that seed was planted when I was 16, so now, I feel like the way I can become a value to this world is to help feed them, not only just food, but knowledge and hope that they can live a healthier lifestyle.
Marcus: That's impressive. Tell us a little bit about the business, because if I understand correctly, there's at least two different aspects to what you do.
Lorenzo: As of right now, I am a personal trainer and I have a meal prep company, it's a meal prep service which will evolve in time. When I first started training back in 2014, after I graduated in 2015, I was managing Waffle House, and I was still training. Yes, yes. I graduated college, I said, "Man, I want to start my own business but first, I need the capital." You don't really need capital to start a business, but I'm going to get back to that later.
I started managing Waffle House, I leaned how to cook. I learned how to cook fast, efficiently, and I learned how to manage people. And I really feel like that year that I worked for Waffle House was the process that I needed to get this meal prep service started. So I had an old college teammate. He said, "Lorenzo, man, you training." He said, "Man, if you really want freedom, you can start your own company, Lorenzo. You don't just have to train people but you can feed them also. You know how to cook. You cooked for us in college. You used to have all of the college students come to your dorm room and eat."
He said, "Lorenzo, just make it healthy. Find a way to to it. Get it done." And next thing I know, there goes Fit-Kits. He probably spoke to me about 3 to 4 months later. I was leaving Waffle House, I started the company the next day, and it's been history ever since.
Marcus: Man, that's really cool. Obviously, there's a big difference between the way Waffle House cooks things. [inaudible 00:06:23] No slight on Waffle House if you're listening, Waffle House Corporate, which I doubt anybody is, but we love us some pecan waffles. But there's a time and a place for everything, right? But what are some of the lessons that you learned in cooking and preparing food. Somebody is listening to this right now and they're thinking, "Man, I really do need to eat better. I need to eat healthier foods." What are some tips that you would give them?
Lorenzo: When it comes to food, there are a couple of things that I try to make sure I focus in on when I have a person come to me and they're speaking or they're asking me questions pertaining to, "Lorenzo, okay, I know what I need to eat, but how can I prepare it differently?" I'll say, "Okay, you're used to eating fried foods. Change that to grilled foods."
So your food doesn't have to be bland, but you have to add flavor to it, but then, you have to make sure you don't use seasonings with preservatives in them because they can lead to cancer. The biggest thing I would tell a customer, a client, anyone, a friend, a family member, I'll tell them, "Okay, make sure you're seasoning your food properly with whole seasonings. Go and get a seasoning, say for instance, that is cumin or cayenne pepper. Don't go and get something like Creole seasoning that has all of those seasonings in it already, plus the preservatives.
You want to get something at its original state. You want to get everything at its original state. You don't want to get a chicken breast with it being seasoned already. You want to get a raw chicken breast and add your own seasoning to it. It cuts back on the calorie content and just a healthier lifestyle.
Marcus: One of the things that I'm not in as great a shape as you, but I'm also probably, dare say, 15 or maybe even 20 years older than you are.
Lorenzo: You're not that bad looking.
Marcus: Yeah. One of the things that I've learned over the years because my father had a heart attack in his early 40s as well, and that's ... Actually I'm in my early 40s now. And so I've had to learn the lesson recently of staying away from salt because I'm salt sensitive, and so I can literally go to a barbecue place and have a sandwich and gain 3 or 4 pounds from the water weight. And I know that salt is affecting my body.
So I would agree with you, like staying away from the seasons because the package seasons also have a lot of sodium in them as well, not just the MSG and preservatives that you're talking about, but they have a lot of sodium in them. And salt can be an evil, evil thing for those of us that are trying to stay healthy. But that's good. Even just, like I know fried food is tasty, but at the same time, grilled food can be just as tasty. So what else, what other fitness tips would you give somebody that's listening.
Lorenzo: And to add on to what you just said about MSG, I'm going to give you the two main preservatives that we should stay way from, we should always, when you're going to the grocery store, you should always look on the back of your food and look at the label. If it has MSG, which is monosodium glutamate, or high fructose corn syrup, you need to stay away from those two things. Those two are the major concentrated preservatives that are in our food today. And you can find that on almost any of the center aisles of Wal-Mart, Winn-Dixie, Publix. Those are really the aisles that you want to stay away from
Marcus: If it's frozen and can be microwaved, I guarantee it has both of those things in it.
Lorenzo: There you go. Or canned.
Marcus: Or canned, true. Well, tell me about, go back to the very first time that you sold somebody on the idea of buying Fit-Kits. What was that like, that exchange of telling somebody your plan and then them having the wherewithal to say, "You know what? I'd like to buy into that. What does that cost?"
Lorenzo: My first customer, and this is awkward, my first customer was inside of Waffle House. My first customer came outside of ...
Marcus: It was an intervention folks.
Lorenzo: Yes, it was an intervention. I kid you not. I was the manager at Waffle House, and I controlled the flow of things. I just so happened to be talking to someone about healthy meal prep. You know, you're very interactive with the customers when you're at Waffle House. And I just so happened to be talking about healthy lifestyle, healthy eating. They're like, "Lorenzo, how do you look like that and you work here at Waffle House?" "Well, everything at Waffle House isn't bad food, but when you start adding syrup and when you start adding grease or oil to the food, that's what makes it unhealthy. So yada, yada, yada, we talked about that."
And then I said, "Man, I'm actually thinking about starting up a meal prep service." And this guy, he's a firefighter and he said, "Man, I would be really interested in something like that, man, you know, if someone was to start something up like that." So I said, "Okay." I say, "Well, I'm going to go home, I'm going to prepare some meals and I'm going to bring them to you. First set is on me, and you try them and you let me know what you think. And his name was Steve, Steve Armstead, I'll never forget him. He's not with me to this day, but he actually was part of that foundation.
Marcus: No, that's cool. Obviously, it's grown, you're providing meals. Is there an ... I think we've talked about this a little bit before, but there's no real demographic for this. We all have to eat, right?
Lorenzo: Yes, yes, yes.
Marcus: If you were talking to someone that wanted to get started in running their own business, what's the one bit of wisdom that you would impart to them. You mentioned earlier that you don't need any capital, and I'm curious as to your thoughts on that, and if it helps answer this, then ...
Lorenzo: Yes. Well, the first thing I would tell a person that wants to start their own business, I would say, "Make sure you are passionate about whatever you're going to walk into, because there's two things that passion stems from and can lead to. Your gifts will lead you to experience what you're passionate about and then your passion will lead you to your purpose in life. So if someone says, "Lorenzo, I want to start a business, but I don't ... It's tough for me, man. I have a family, or I'm nervous, or I just, I don't have the money."
Marcus: Don't know how to get started.
Lorenzo: "I don't know how to get started." Money didn't get me where I am today with Fit-Kits. It was the relationships. It was the passion. I wanted to see a person live a healthier lifestyle. I don't like seeing, I'm going to be honest with you, I don't like seeing overweight, obese people. I don't like it, because most of the time a person got like that because they didn't have the knowledge or the wisdom to not get like that.
Marcus: And I understand your heart behind that. Before everybody sends Lorenzo hate mail, it's not about that, it's because you realize what it is that that is doing to their body and you actually care about them and want to see them healthy. But no, I completely agree with you. As a matter of fact, there was somebody, and I'll leave out who it was because, actually, no I won't. It was Brandon May, a former guest on the podcast. Recorded a video last week, and the video was excellent. And basically, he was admonishing people about the whole money side of business, but I made the comment that if you're going into business because of the money, you're going into it for the wrong reasons because just because you go into business does not necessarily equate to riches.
You don't go into business because you're chasing dollars. You go into business because you have a passion for something and you also think that you can do it differently than what other people can do it. It's just a very different way of thinking because most people think that the only reason why you go into business is because you want to make millions of dollars. And millions of dollars would be great, but that's not the end goal for most business owners.
Lorenzo: No, not at all.
Marcus: What's your drive? Is it just seeing people healthy? What keeps you going? What's your passion?
Lorenzo: I'm going to be honest with you, man. I really feel I bring hope. Food, a healthier lifestyle, longevity, that's what I really sell. People just see the fitness, they see the working out, they see the food, they get the taste. But it's more than that. It's a lifestyle, man. It's a lifestyle. Wanting to live to your full potential, live out your purpose in life. A lot of people aren't doing that man.
Marcus: And going back to the example that you gave of the uncle that passed away, I mean, how much more of his life could he have enjoyed?
Marcus: I definitely get what's driving you, man. It's a very cool story.
Lorenzo: I'm going to give you an example. Not to cut you off, I'm going to give you an example. When you have a clear vision for your life, it will narrow the things, it will narrow your path, so I'll give you an example. With me being an entrepreneur, and me being a fitness expert, I can't even eat certain things anymore, consistently, I'll say. I can't just sit here and eat fried chicken all day. Then I won't be living who I'm supposed to ... I want the person that I say I am-
Marcus: You've got a built-in accountability group.
Lorenzo: Yeah, yeah, man. I have to live by that. I have to be my product, and that was what was so unique about Fit-Kits. I branded Fit-Kits in a way to where, okay, you got the food right here and then you have this guy, who started the business. He's chiseled, he's raw, okay, he knows something. You have to be the product first, and that's how I'm able to sell it because I am the product.
Marcus: No, that's cool. We were talking earlier and you were mentioning some audio books at you have been listening to that have been influential. If you were to recommend 1 or 2 books to somebody that was listening in, what would you suggest.
Lorenzo: There's actually an app that has multiple books. It's like a library almost. And the guy, he'll go through it in probably about 50 minutes to an hour and a half. And his name is Miles Monroe. Miles Monroe, he's probably one of the greatest leaders I've ever came across. Les Brown, ET Eric Thomas, those are my books. Those are my books. There's other books that I've read. Rich Dad, Poor Dad, I learned so many foundational things about money from that.
Marcus: Just as a side note, Eric Thomas has a video that most people have seen, and he has an excellent YouTube channel, so these are not things that you necessarily ... This isn't information that you necessary have to pay for. These guys are giving it away free, like Les Brown, I've seen him on YouTube as well. He's got a lot of stuff out there.
Lorenzo: Google Play. He's on Google Play, you can find these guys on Google Play. Miles Monroe has an app, it's called "Miles Monroe App". It has his face on it, he has glasses on. You can listen to this guy, and I kid you not, your life will transform. It will transform.
Marcus: What, in particular, have you learned from ... Give us some example. What's something that you've learned from these guys?
Lorenzo: Eric Thomas is my guy that I listen to when I get up in the morning and when I'm about to attack the day. Miles Monroe is the guy that I listen to when I'm ready to strategize. I'm going to be honest, I'm a God lover, man. I love God, I know He created me, I know He created me to do great things. And Miles Monroe really just keeps me honed in on how to love people. How to make sure you're doing it for people. Because God loves people. Les Brown, he's one of those guys I just listen to his story pertaining to building your own future, things of that nature. That's why I like to use Les Brown. I use each of them for different things. ET, like I said, he's that motivational guy, man. He's that motivational guy.
Marcus: That's awesome. So I can imagine how you're going to answer this. What are your hobbies? What do you like to do in your free time? Besides spend an extra hour in the gym?
Lorenzo: I enjoy hanging out with family. That's one of the biggest things, man, just fellowshipping and just enjoying my family. I love Martin Lawrence and Sanford and Son. Those are my two favorite shows.
Marcus: Going to old school. Going to old school.
Lorenzo: Those are my two favorite shows, and to be honest, I love seeing something go from a seed form, so I just love building stuff. I love to build something, like I love to see it go from a seed form to a tree, and into a fruit. So I'm always just ... I like being at home and seeing something go from nothing to something.
Marcus: Right. So working on those various aspects of your own business is what I would imagine probably talking to others in the community about starting their businesses as well. All right, so where can people find out more about you, about your personal training, about Fit-Kits, that kind of thing.
Lorenzo: You can go to my Facebook page, Lorenzo Ferguson. You can go to my Instagram page, which is @lrffitness. You can go to my website pertaining to Fit-Kits, which is YourWayFitKits, with the "s" at the end, dot com. All one word. And that's about it.
Marcus: I know, that's awesome, man. Well, I want to thank you again for coming on the podcast. To wrap up any final thoughts or comments you'd like to share?
Lorenzo: Yeah, man, I would love to leave a few things with the people. I think I spoke about it earlier in the podcast. If you're going to make that transition to going out and being your own business or being your own boss, make sure you are passionate about what you want to do in life. Make sure you're passionate about it before you make that step because you will be very quick to give up on it if things get tough.
Marcus: And they will.
Lorenzo: And they will, like I literally ... Everyone starts somewhere. I started cooking out of my apartment, less than 5 x 7, the kitchen was very small. The smoke alarms would go off every time I cooked, like crazy. But now, we have our own building, but you had to start somewhere, man. And it was 12-hour days, like the CEO of the company, 12 hour days. Now, it's not like that. So, make sure you're passionate about what you're doing. And the biggest thing: don't do it for money. Don't do it for money because if money is the motivation, when the money isn't coming, you're going to give up on it also. Make sure you're doing it for the right reasons.
Lorenzo: Yes. Make sure you're doing it for the right reasons.
Marcus: Lorenzo, man, I appreciate your willingness to sit with me and share your journey as a business owner and entrepreneur. It was great talking to you.
Lorenzo: No problem, man. Thank you for having me.
Marcus: And we're out.