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John Meadows: Mountain Dog Businessman

john meadowsThere may not be a hotter name in the bodybuilding industry right now than John Meadows. A recent guest on Heavy Muscle Radio hosted by Aaron Singerman, John discussed the many sides of Mountain Dog Training. One area the two spoke about was how John has managed to make himself an incredibly successful business man in the sport of bodybuilding. Many men and women have tried, but even more have failed. I caught up with John this past week to learn more about his business practices, how it all began, where he sees it going in the future, how Antoine Vallaint has helped spark his training popularity, and even his thoughts on being called a “Guru.”


While attending Capital University, John began his career in personal training at World’s Gym in Columbus, Ohio. Even in the early stages of his bodybuilding career he became a hot commodity for picking up clients from within the gym. For those who have done personal training in a corporate gym, you know the miserable pay scale trainers work under. After the gym takes their cut and Uncle Sam takes his, there’s hardly enough meat left on the bone for gas in the car and a sandwich after work. As John continued to train more clients than any of his fellow trainers, you could naturally expect some animosity to come about.

JM“I got accused of giving some of my buddies’ free memberships to the gym.” Meadows said, “They were still paying the gym to personal train with me, but it led to a dispute between me and the owner.”  Soon the accusations would be dropped, but it left a very sour taste in John’s mouth. John recalls, “After that experience I didn’t see myself wanting to get back into training again and certainly not working for somebody else.”

With his bachelor’s degree finished and personal training taking a backseat, John put his focus towards a traditional 9-to-5 corporate job. He began working as a recruiter for a staffing company. For the first time in his adult life he was receiving a regular weekly paycheck.

“It was great. I wasn’t making a lot of money, actually not much at all, $358 a week after taxes to be exact, but for the first time in my life I could plan my life around the money I was making. I had a small sense of security,” Meadows said.

Always looking for improvement, John would later find himself working for Chase Bank in charge of their largest projects. This executive position had him working roughly 60 hours per week and traveling around the country all year long. His life was work, gym, sleep, rinse and repeat. He had very minimal time to help out even a few clients that requested his expertise.

jm1It wasn’t until late 2007 that John had an epiphany. “Looking back, I really missed out on a lot of opportunities. In 1999, I came in 4th place as a heavyweight at the USA championships. It would have been a great time to restart my personal training business. But I let the opportunity slip through my fingers,” He explains, “Throughout my time working at the bank, people had been constantly asking me to help them with their training and their diet, but I just couldn’t find the time.” Finally, John decided to adjust his work schedule to allow for 20-25 clients, but even this became too stressful.

Having to make a decision with where he wanted his career to go, Meadows decided to focus most of his attention on building his training business. John had often read the bodybuilding message boards, but would rarely participate in them. He eventually began posting some of his training and nutrition philosophies on the boards. His ideas in many cases went against the grain, but fans who read his writings grew to follow his methods. It wasn’t long until various bodybuilding boards reached out to him for work opportunities.

“Wannabebig.com was the first to contact me,” said Meadows, “They asked me to write an article about cholesterol, but I warned them. My thoughts on cholesterol are going to be completely different than anything you’ve had on your site before.”

With the editor not balking from his comment, John proceeded with writing his article completely debunking the myths that whole egg consumption and other foods containing saturated fat would cause long term health problems. Wannabebig.com swiftly got back to John and explained to him that they couldn’t run his piece because they didn’t agree with his scientific findings.

With John’s name still buzzing around the forums, T-Nation.com contacted him to write for their website. This was a perfect fit; he was offered a 2 article per month contract with the site and given the freedom to express his opinions without much in the way of censorship. With his articles hitting the internet with force, John became coveted even further and found himself writing articles for print media outlets such as Muscle and Fitness.

Meadows’ popularity was soaring and he soon figured out that if he was going to re-dedicate himself to a training business he was going to have to do this right. “I set up my website, www.MountainDogDiet.com and for three years started to compile information and content for the website.”

Seeking advice from some of his friends in the industry on what to expect, John reached out, “I called my friend Dave Tate who owns Elitefts.com and told him I was going to have a subscription section on my site. He said ‘good luck,’ people are hesitant to spend money online with so many scams out there, you’ll be lucky to get 100 members.” Not dissuaded from the conversation, Meadows pressed on and soon built up a client base of 30 subscribing members paying $9.95 per month. “Matt, I soon realized those 30 members were all my friends,” he laughs. “I just kept pushing through and making my site better and better and being active on the bodybuilding message boards.” It wasn’t long before his website had 300, 400, and eventually where it is today, nearing 600 members. And John isn’t greedy. “I invest back into my website to continue to provide my subscribers with new and high quality content.”

In 2011, John would find himself checking emails when he came across a message from an up and coming bodybuilder looking for advice on his back training. This young bodybuilder was none other than Canadian phenom, Antoine Vaillant.

antony 3“Antoine had come across some of my YouTube videos on various back exercises I have modified throughout the years. He tried a few of them out and saw results so he contacted me and asked if I would take him on as a client,” John remembers. “Antoine is just a great guy. He’s like the little brother who I would throw down for if I had to. He’s not just somebody I train; he’s truly a great friend of mine.”

The two are certainly a dynamic force in bodybuilding with John having helped Antoine earn his IFBB pro card in 2012.

I explained to John that the first thing I think about when I hear the name Antoine Vaillant is John Meadows and when I hear the name John Meadows I think Antoine Vaillant. There’s no question that the two have helped elevate each other’s reputation, popularity, and business prowess in the industry. “You know I never thought of it like that. I definitely think you’re right though. The thing with Antoine and I is that we’re just real people. When we are on camera talking training or nutrition it isn’t scripted. We’re just being ourselves and I think people enjoy that about us.”

There’s little question that John and Antoine’s careers are on the fast track. In April 2012, Meadows finally decided to quit his full time job at the Bank to fully dedicate himself to training his Mountain Dog clientele—a hard decision at first, but it is now paying great dividends. John has over 220 clients that he is currently coaching to go along with his subscribing members online. He has also furthered his relationship with T-Nation, and loves his partnership with them. I asked him what life is like now that he’s working at home and not in the office or on the road anymore and how it’s possible to juggle over 200 clients plus nurture a website.

“It’s great,” he explains, “Some days are brutally long that have me going from the time I wake up until the time I go to bed. Other days are less stressful so it’s hard to plan your days, but I’ve learned to adjust to things. And juggling all these clients, I’ll tell you I’m just about at my max. I’ve had to increase my prices to lower my volume, but even that hasn’t worked.”

Not a bad problem for Meadows, who pointed out to this day he has never once marketed or solicited for business. Something most other trainers can’t claim about themselves in the ever increasing competitive business as a bodybuilding guru. “I can’t stand the term guru. Anyone who claims to be a guru is lying. It implies you know it all. I can tell you, I am far from knowing it all.” Not only is Meadows successful, but humble too.

You can contact John Meadows by visiting his website, www.MountainDogDiet.com and look for Antoine Vaillant at the 2013 New York Pro.

Until next time you can follow me on Twitter @MattMeinrod or www.MattMeinrod.com