Malcolm Forbes, the founder of Forbes Magazine once said, The biggest mistake people make in life is not making a living at doing what they most enjoy. Jesse Cannone has been making a living at doing what he most enjoys for quite some time.
Jesse is recognized as one of the top fitness professionals in the country and has been helping people live healthy lives since 1996. He spent years working with individuals with special conditions like stroke recovery, Parkinson’s, and pre/post rehabilitation on everything from tennis elbow to back pain. Because so many of the people he worked with were dealing with back pain issues, he quickly became a recognized expert and resource in this area.
Jesse has a strong passion for helping people educate themselves about health, fitness and their bodies. He is a national fitness presenter and author of numerous fitness publications including Get Healthy and Fit News, a bi-monthly newsletter, Lose the Back Pain System, and Burn Fat Fast, a sought after weight loss guide. Jesse is a certified fitness trainer, post-rehabilitation specialist, bestselling author and the co-founder of The Healthy Back Institute.
Jesse is known for his no ‘BS’ approach. He’s been featured in numerous magazines, newspapers and popular websites, including www.eDiets.com, www.Spine-Health.com, Ms. Fitness Magazine, Massage Magazine, Men’s Fitness Magazine and hundreds of others.
Thanks so much for being with us tonight, Jesse!
Thank you for having me. I’m excited about this!
It’s really our pleasure. Let’s jump right into it if that’s okay.
JESSE CANNONE: Absolutely!
Will you tell us, Jesse, how your passions, the things that matter most to you
in your life led you to the work that you do today?
JESSE CANNONE: Interesting question. I don’t even know if it was passion from the very beginning. How it all started for me was I actually got into bodybuilding when I was a young man, primarily due to poor self-esteem. So it wasn’t passion from the beginning, but, again, it led me to fitness and exercise and I quickly realized that I loved it. I learned a lot about it, of course, and loved helping other people learn more about it. That’s when I realized it was something that I was very passionate about.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: Great. Jesse, one of thequestions we are asked most often is, How can I make a living following my passions? Can you tell us a story as you discovered what really turned you on, what you loved, what you really cared about, how did you make your first dollar? How did you go from it just being a bodybuilding hobby to actually being a profession?
That’s a good question. For me, I guess you could say I took the traditional
route. I went out and got certified as a fitness trainer and then went to work
for a gym or health club. That was how I made the first dollar helping other
people as a personal fitness trainer. The next level of that was how I made my
first dollar helping people with products. That was one-on-one service. The next
level was taking my information and my education, putting it into books, ebooks
and audio programs, and then selling those.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: At some point, you stopped working for gyms and you started working for yourself. Could you just tell us a little bit about how you made that transition and what were some of the changes.
JESSE CANNONE: Sure. For me, I found quickly that not everybody has the same work ethic, so while I was hustling, helping lots of people, I had lots of clients. I quickly became the top fitness trainer in the club that I had worked at. They promoted me to the fitness director of the club, and I realized all that brought was more paperwork and less time working one-on-one with people. There were other experiences where I was responsible for
80% of the whole fitness center’s personal-training revenue, just me as myself, as a personal trainer. We had over a dozen, I think, 13 other fitness trainers. I was producing 80% of all the total revenue for that club. They, of course, didn’t want to compensate me any more. I saw I was at the limit for what I was going to be able to do working for a gym or health club.
It was at that point when I just said, Maybe I’m going to do this on my own. I took the risk, it was two or three days before September 11th happened. I quit my job. I started using my credit cards little bit to pay bills as my steady income from working for the gyms dried up. Of course, after September 11th, I lost all but one of my clients, so all these clients who were going to continue with me after I stopped working for the gym didn’t.
I went from my $48,000 a year or so at the time, which at the time was okay for me to, I think, $800 a month from the one client. I had to make it work and I had to make it work fast. I tried every possible thing I could to generate business. It was pretty quick. It didn’t seem it at the time. It seemed that things were in slow motion for me.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: It does when you are trying to figure out how you are going to pay the next bill, right?
JESSE CANNONE: Absolutely. You only have so much room on the credit card before it runs out.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: How did you move through that?
JESSE CANNONE: It all started for me with someone many of your listeners are probably familiar with, Robert Allen, the real estate guy.
One of our former partners; Janet and I partnered with him.
JESSE CANNONE: For me, actually, I just happened to be on some mailing list that he somehow got and sent an offer for the free copy of Multiple Streams of Income book. I sent away for that, paid the shipping and handling, whatever the offer was. Up until that point, I didn’t know that much about business or marketing, let alone multiple streams of income.
I was just a fitness guy. I was fascinated by that book. I went ahead and instantly signed up for their $4,ooo or $5,000 protégé program, blasted through that as fast as I could, and just kept on going. I never looked back.
Fabulous! Congratulations! Thank you for sharing that because so many of our
listeners are in that position of saying, How do I make that transition? Now,
your focus is on health and fitness. There are lots of people who list health as
one of their top passions. When we give them the Passion Test, it’s right up
there for a lot of people.
But many people are not passionate about working out or eating a particular diet or doing other things that are going to help them stay in shape. Are there are any secrets to making staying healthy fun and enjoyable so that it is actually something you look forward to rather than something you dread?
JESSE CANNONE: Actually, I can share a couple of
things; I don’t know if I would call them secrets. I guess they are secrets if
you don’t know them. They are strategies that I have discovered, not only in
working with lots of clients one-on-one and through coaching online, telephone
and so on, but personally. Not too many people know this but I am married and
have seven children and also, as you are aware, I have multiple businesses.
Between family life and business, it keeps me very busy. As a fitness person, for me it was very frustrating not to be able to maintain the level of exercise that I used to before I got married, when I was younger and
didn’t have as much on my plate. What I found over the past nine or 10 years
being married and seeing my spare time or my free time disappear is that you
really have to find what you enjoy.
I think way too many people think that the only way for them to get in shape or lose weight is to go to the gym, get on the treadmill-or what I call the hamster wheel-and do what everybody else is doing. That’s the way to do it. It’s not the way to do it, in my opinion. It works, but there are tons of other ways that work just as well or better. Most importantly, if it’s not fun for you, you are not going to stick with it over the long term.
I’ve personally experienced this in several different forms of fitness. Like I said, I started out with all this 12 years or so ago by getting into bodybuilding. That lasted several years, then that wasn’t fun anymore. Then it was a struggle to push myself through these workouts. I’ve transitioned, like I said, through multiple sports or activities.
My biggest thing that I try to teach people is to find what you enjoy. There are so many different ways you can be active and get fitness into your life, but it doesn’t have to be in a gym or health club on a machine.
For me and most people, the reason they don’t stick with it is that it’s boring. It’s pretty boring to be on a treadmill staring at a television and not moving anywhere.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: It is boring, and it makes a lot
of sense that if it’s fun, if it’s something that you enjoy doing, then you are
more likely to keep doing it.
JESSE CANNONE: To give you a personal example,
I’m into mountain biking. For probably three or four years now, that’s been one
of my main forms of exercise. You can’t get me out of the woods. For me, I enjoy
it and I love it so much. I can mountain bike for hours. I recently did an
adventure race with some friends who got me into that. We mountain biked 15
miles, canoed an hour around this massive lake, ran three miles, and then biked
15 miles back.
All in all, it took-I forget-like four, five or six hours, or something like that. I could never spend that much time in the gym exercising, not at this place in life. Again, when I was younger and I was into the bodybuilding, I enjoyed it so I could spend lots of time in the gym. Again, the thing is that people are trying to force it. Whenever you try to force it, you can only do that for a certain amount of time before you snap.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: That makes complete sense.
JESSE CANNONE: That’s all about finding things that you enjoy, and there are so many different things from outdoor activities, hiking, biking, running, boating. Here’s another example, motorcycling. People don’t really realize it unless you ride a motorcycle on the racetrack, but that’s a pretty intense physical activity. People don’t really think about certain activities in sports as exercise or fitness.
Like gardening, I know a lot of people who love to do gardening. That’s physical activity. Again, you don’t have to be sweating all the time. You don’t have to be running a 100 miles an hour all the time. The key is to find ways to work it in with things that you love and that you can stick with. Again like I said, be aware it changes over time. As you change, your interests change, and you need to flow with that.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: Absolutely. It sounds like incredibly sound advice. Now, there are many people, not just in the area of health and fitness but in other areas of their life, who deny themselves the opportunity to do things that they really love, to do things that are fun for them and enjoyable for them. Most of us, at least, have this belief, the idea, and the concept that we have responsibilities. Maybe we have families who we have to take care of.
For many people, there is some frustration, sometimes a very substantial frustration, that builds up at not being able to do the things they really love. Do you find that there is any relationship between that kind of frustration of just not being able to do what really matters to you, and the kinds of health issues that you see in the people who you’ve worked with over the years?
JESSE CANNONE: Two things come to mind. One is the situation you described, where somebody is frustrated because in their gut they know they love something and they want to be doing it, but they are not.
Really what that is, is almost living your life for somebody else. Unfortunately, like you said, a lot of people are guilty of that and not dealing with those feelings, or at least communicating those feelings to whomever it is who is holding them back, not necessarily directly but indirectly, at least.
The other point is lots of research has been done over the past 20 or so years about the effects of emotions and feelings on physical health. They are finding over and over that if you name the ailment, if they’ve studied it, they’ve found that negative emotions and feelings have a negative effect on your health. If you are frustrated, maybe even depressed because you are not doing what you love and, again, you are living a life other than what you really want, it’s absolutely going to have an effect on you, both mentally and physically.
Now you have worked with a lot of people. You are known for your back-pain
system. You have worked with people with sciatica. You have a very powerful
program on burning fat, a weight-loss program, helping people who are
overweight, and as well as other health issues. Could you talk just a little bit
about those issues, and what are the key things that make a difference for
people in being able to correct those issues? Would you relate it back to this
whole thing, not just the physical but also the emotional and mental issues that
go along with those sorts of conditions?
JESSE CANNONE: Sure. You mentioned back pain.
Obviously, that’s my main area of expertise. That’s where I spent the past four
or five years now, really working with lots of people. We have worked with just
over 30,000 people now personally from all over the world just with back pain
and sciatica. That condition, probably more so than many others, is so intense
and debilitating for many that it brings on depression for a lot of people.
We were talking about the mental and emotional aspect of
things a few moments ago. I have a lot of experience in working with these
people, as do my staff, to the effect that a physical condition-again, any
condition whether it’s something minor to something pretty large and consuming
like back pain-can really drag you down and weigh you down.
What I try to teach people is the key to fixing any problem
is first looking at it as a challenge and not a problem. It’s a perception
thing; it’s kind of changing the way you look at an issue. Then the second point
is to educate yourself. Whether it’s back pain or weight loss, it doesn’t
matter. You need to learn more about what’s involved in the process.
I think too many people are guilty, and it’s partly their
fault and partly the way our medical community is set up, and also partly to do
with our education system. When you go to school, at least when I went to
school, we didn’t learn that much about health. There was very minimal emphasis.
Even when I went through the military, there was very minimal emphasis on
health, and now they are trying to make it more of an issue, which is good in a
way but it’s not enough.
A lot of the information that they are feeding children is misinformation, so it’s not really that helpful. If you think about it, most people don’t know much about their bodies. So in the case of back pain, in particular, people will go to the doctor, and the doctor will give them some suggestions. They will say, Okay, great. I’ll do it, because they think the doctor knows best. Hopefully, the doctor does know best.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: Is that your experience?
JESSE CANNONE: No. Often times no, that’s not
the case. There are other flaws with the system that kind of compounds this, but
all in all, most doctors don’t know best. When you couple that with the fact
that most people don’t anything about their own body and how it works, so they
go in there not knowing much at all, then go to see somebody who has limited
information on the subject, then leave with whatever recommendations or
We can go into much more detail, but typically, the
treatments that people receive for issues like back pain-and other things like
knee pain and you can go on down the list-most of the time it’s treating
symptoms and not the underlying cause. If you think about medical care in most
countries, including ours, you don’t go to the doctor to get healthy; you go to
the doctor when you have a problem.
It should be reversed. We should totally 180 it and say, I
go to the doctor every month to make sure I’m maintaining my health, and
improving my health, not just Okay I’ve got a problem; I need to go see
CHRIS ATTWOOD: That makes a lot of sense.
JESSE CANNONE: There are a whole variety of
factors, but I really feel that education is the key. It’s time-consuming and in
today’s society, a lot of people will say I don’t have the time. Years ago I
was guilty of this view and this type of limiting self-talk, if you will. It’s
not that you don’t have the time; you just are choosing to not make the time to
do the research and read. If it’s important to you, you will find a way to cut
something else out and do it.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: Jesse, you mentioned that many
doctors are just treating symptoms and not really getting to the cause. I know
in your programs, you talk about the hidden causes of back pain and sciatica.
Can you talk to us a little bit about if we don’t want to deal with the
symptoms, how do we actually deal with the hidden causes and how do we address
JESSE CANNONE: Really, the hidden cause is
hidden. The reason we came up with that terminology is because it’s hidden to
the person experiencing the pain, and it doesn’t even apply to just back pain.
It’s any type of ache or pain or condition, whether it’s knee pain, a rotator
cuff problem, carpal tunnel, neck pain, back pain, you name it. The hidden cause
is that muscles are what hold your body together.
Nobody really looks at the muscles. You may have a doctor
or a therapist treat an isolated muscle. In the case of back pain, if you have
back pain, you go into the doctor. They may look at your lower back muscles.
They will say, Oh, these muscles are weak or These muscles are tight. That’s
a very isolated and limited view. First of all, any time you have a problem,
whether it’s back pain or not, you need to look at your whole body.
Very rarely is it just that little area that has a problem.
A lot of the times the problem is somewhere else in the body. You are just
feeling pain in that one particular area. You have to look at the whole body
from head to toe, and very rarely does that happen when you go to a doctor. The
second thing, going back to the point about muscles, is muscles are what hold
your body together.
If you picture your skeleton without any muscles or
ligaments and tendons on it, what would happen? It would just collapse. I don’t
know why but people just forget it. I think there are three issues when it comes
to medical care and why people aren’t looking at muscles. It’s either that the
doctor isn’t aware of muscle imbalances. They just haven’t been taught this
because it’s something you are taught in medical school.
It’s not even something that is part of physical therapy.
In the past three or four years, I’ve worked with hundreds of doctors,
chiropractors, physical therapists, massage therapists, acupuncturists, you name
it, all kinds of different practitioners, and hardly anybody is teaching this.
In fact for me, the whole way I discovered it was that I had my own issues. I
have a mild scoliosis from childhood, and I also had some severe IT Band
tendonitis, probably about 10 years ago.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: Forgive the ignorance among us, but scoliosis is what?
JESSE CANNONE: That’s a lateral curvature of the
spine that most people are born with. It can be very mild where the spine,
instead of going straight up from the buttocks to the base of your head, will
have a lateral curve in it at some point. Some people can have it mild, like me
where it’s not that bad. Some people have it severe, where you will see that
they have one shoulder blade that is really jacked up and outward because the
curve is so severe.
Because of that, I always had middle back pain, and at one
point started having severe leg and hip pain that was so intense that my leg
would give out as I was walking through the grocery store. I would just be stuck
on the floor. My knee would be stuck at 90 degrees and I wouldn’t be able to
straighten it out. Long story short, I had this issue. I went to a certification
program to become a certified pre/post rehabilitation specialist.
I had already registered this before my knee issue so it was kind of good timing. After one of the lectures, I liked one of the presenters, pulled him aside and said, Hey, do you think you can help me? I’vebeen having this problem. The doctors don’t know what it is. They want to do
surgery. I’m six weeks away from having a surgery. What do you think?
He asked me to stand up. I stand up, and he looks at me and says, You have a high hip. I said, What do you mean, I have a high hip? He was like Turn around, look in the mirror. He pointed out to me that one of my hips was higher than the other. Basically, again, to keep this quick, what happens is your muscles determine the positions of your bones and joints.
They control your body, your mechanics and movement. What happens is, over time, these muscles become out of balance. When they are out of balance, they pull things out of place, out of what is called ‘normal.’ Whenever you have a condition, the first place to look is where are you out of balance?
Everybody has these imbalances. Again, I was a fitness trainer, and I was having this severe leg and knee pain because of imbalance. Even though I was supposed to be teaching fitness, just because I didn’t know it at the time, I was falling
victim just like everybody else was or is.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: How do you discover what those imbalances are?
JESSE CANNONE: It’s about testing.
Unfortunately, again, most doctors don’t know these tests and if they do, they
know very few. You basically have to go through a series of self tests and do it
yourself, or you have to find a doctor who is familiar with them. Do a thorough
evaluation and assessment of the whole body from head to toe, and identify all
the different places where there is an imbalance between opposing muscles.
The reason our Lose the Back Pain program has become so popular and works so well for people is because that is what we teach people to do. Again, they are not getting it anywhere else. Anywhere you go, you don’t get that. When they finally get that from us, it makes a world of difference. Again, this applies to any kind of ailment or condition, whether it’s carpal tunnel or knee pain.
Let me finish the story; I forgot. This lecturer who pointed out the imbalances on me showed me two simple stretches. First he explained the imbalance thing to me, and as soon as he pointed it out and I looked in the mirror and I saw it, it made sense. He quickly explained that to me, showed me two stretches, and within three days the pain was 99% gone. I was six weeks away from having a knee surgery.
I had already been through 12 weeks of physical therapy at three different clinics. They tried every possible physical therapy thing known to man. I did massage, I did acupuncture, and I had cortisone injected into my knee. I had multiple MRIs; I did it all. Because my MRI-as many people’s will do-showed irregular cartilage, or not normal cartilage, they said, That’s probably the cause of the problem. We’ll go in there, scrape it out, clean it, and you will be as good as new.
Thankfully, I met this gentleman at this conference, and he saved me from having to go through surgery, which would only have made my knee worse. When you talk about passion, that’s what I’m most passionate about is helping more people avoid surgery like I was able to. That’s what I’ve been doing the past few years. There aren’t many things that feel better than that.
That’s fantastic to be able to see that kind of change in such a quick time,
that’s pretty dramatic.
JESSE CANNONE: That’s the way it is for most
people. It doesn’t mean if you’ve had chronic back pain for 10, 20 or 50 years,
that’s it’s going to be gone in three days, or shoulder pain or whatever it is.
Most people will get 90% plus improvement in days, sometimes in just a couple of
minutes, relieving some of the pressure and the tension that is so intense that
it’s pulling the body so far out of balance that it’s just creating a lot of
A good story, actually, is that we have a customer of ours.
I think he’s from Carlsbad, California. His name is Jerry Tarmon. This man, I
believe, is in his 60s, late 60s or early 70s. He bought our program and then
sent us in a testimonial several weeks or months later. Basically, he had
suffered on and off for 50 years from chronic back pain; pretty much almost all
the time he was in pain.
Of course, it would flare up every now and again and get
worse. For 50 years he dealt with this problem. Again, he did all the
treatments, all the doctors and was pretty much resigned to living with the
problem. On a whim, I don’t know how he stumbled across our program, but he
purchased it, did it and in three days, I believe it was, got rid of the pain.
It has not come back and that’s probably over two years now.
That’s one of our great success stories, somebody who lived
with pain for 50 years, didn’t have to and now, fortunately, doesn’t anymore.
It’s really powerful. Some people question me, How can it really be so simple?
I say the proof is in the pudding. If you have any kind of ailment, ache, pain
or even a previous injury-maybe a skiing injury or whatever-you can make
dramatic improvements by identifying what muscle imbalances you have and working
Another point is even if you don’t have a problem, I
recommend it because everybody has imbalances, and the worse the imbalances get
the more damage and uneven wear and tear they place on your body. Sooner or
later, you will have a problem, so it’s really learning about your body and just
saying, Okay, I understand that my muscles are important. I understand how they
work. I understand how they are responsible for movement.
I understand that if there is an imbalance, it’s shifting
this joint this way or this bone that way. Over time, that can be a problem.
Whether you have a problem or not, it’s important. Going back to my point
earlier about people just not knowing about their bodies, you are just not
CHRIS ATTWOOD: Absolutely. Now one of the things
you mentioned was this concept of opposing muscle groups. Can you talk a little
bit about that, and how it’s related to the pain or relief from pain that people
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