On Profundity of Thought, Clarity of Purpose, and the Next Evolution of the Empire
Welcome to the New New RFS. This is going to be an exciting update—a lot has changed, and I have so much to tell you.
Firstly, the obvious: check out our schmancy new site! Isn’t it pretty? So fresh. So clean. So minimal. So mobile friendly. Ah, I love it.
Take a minute to explore. Poke around at all the cool stuff we’ve got going on. The navigation bar has changed a bit, and we’ve got tons of useful links for both fitness and business in the footer. So, you may want to check there in a bit.
Next up, if you haven’t done so, or this is your first time here, I want to tell you to take a second to sign up for the newsletter, and get some free shit. Depending on what you’re interested in, we’ve got different gifts for ya.
Yes, yes, you can sign up for and download both; but that really screws up list segmentation, man. Ideally, just pick one goal, and I’ll make sure you only receive content and information related to that goal. Still, free is free, so do what you want. Go nuts.
Before you go any further, you may want to check out some of the new pages we’ve added. For example, after all these long years, I’ve finally drafted a true Mission Statement for us. It’s worth reading, when you have a moment.
Anyway. So, yeah. Man, December. Jeebus, is the year seriously over? Are we actually about to enter 2015?
I mean, that’s the year Marty McFly travels to in Back to the Future II, and while I’m glad we’ve made progress on the hoverboard front, I’m pretty pissed that I don’t have the option of a flying DeLorean.
(This is for the best, I suppose; just imagine how many accidents would result from texting while piloting a flying car. Silly humans.)
December can be a somber time; a time for reflection, and thoughts of things best set aside. It’s a time to think about the future, even as we say goodbye to the past.
Another year nearly in the books, another opportunity for people to start fresh and make some serious, lasting changes.
Which brings us to the heart of this Editor’s Letter, and our main purpose here: to talk about change.
There’s a lot of new stuff to cover, above and apart from the fresh coat of codepaint the geniuses over at Copter Labs slapped on for us.
As crazy as it is to believe, we are now in RFS v7.0. This site has been functional for six years, and gone through seven iterations, each one having its own look, feel, and tone.
This particular update marks the biggest departure so far. Technologically, we didn’t just redesign the site, we fundamentally changed it.
Historically, we’ve just upgraded what was already there. This time, rather than build upon the existing foundations, we built something entirely new from the ground up—and, to further distance ourselves, burned the old one to the ground.
Oh, the content came over, as you can see: the Archives are completely in tact. But other than that, everything is new. Every picture, ever font, every scrap or snippet of code, all built for the express purpose of making this new version of RFS faster, leaner, and sexier.
These things are both necessary and symbolic, because the changes we’ve made require more power, but also represent an entirely new direction for everything we do here.
I’ll start with the biggest first. We are in transition. By that, I will no longer be the sole author here at Roman Fitness Systems. In fact, we are changing the publication model completely.
As of this moment, RFS is no longer a ‘blog’ – we’ve set our feet on a path to becoming a multifaceted media outlet with multiple writers, verticals, and features. While it’ll be a long time till we’re running at top speed like Nerdist or the Huffington Post, our goal is to get to that level.
Which is to say, we’re transitioning from a single author blog into a magazine-style site with multiple authors. This new site is the first step on that very long journey, but it’s one I am hugely excited to take.
Part and parcel with this new goal is a new system, and editorial style. Our hope is to publish new content 2-3 times per week—which, let’s admit, is a tad light, but still 10X as often as I’ve been doing so on my own.
To the best of my ability, I’m still going to be writing a ton of content, and hope to be a primary author for a long time to come. But to best serve you, and keep the content coming, we’ll be publishing far more guest content than ever before.
As a corollary to the above, we’ll be actively accepting submissions. Not only are we eager to keep up with the demand for content, but we also want to use our platform to create a springboard for both new and established writers to engage with a new audience.
I’ll touch more on this below, but the upshot is that we are looking for people who can write engaging, compelling stuff; so, if you have a deft hand, a good eye, and some thick skin, submitting an article might be in your future.
It’s Past Time to Diversify
To close out that thought, I want to talk about the largest change, thematically. We’re going to really make a strong push towards content that isn’t related to training and nutrition.
Of course, traditional fitness stuff is still a focus, but not the focus; at least, not the only one. We’re going to start publishing far more articles on sex and dating, business and money, movies and literature—whatever suits our fancy, really.
That is the obvious question, isn’t it? Why change what’s working, and what has worked for so long?
The fact is, it wasn’t working. Or, at least, it wasn’t working as well as it could have; not for me, anyway. I was exhausted, and not producing, among other things.
There are a lot of small factors here, but mainly it had become obvious that RFS had grown as much as it could grow in its most recent form. We had taken that system as far as it could go.
I mean this both philosophically and logistically.
For those interested, here are a few of the reasons, specific and broad, that we’re making some of these changes.
My biggest logistical fear has long been that eventually, the entire business was going to collapse under it’s own weight.
Roman Fitness Systems has grown large, and it has a lot of moving parts. Those parts need to be well oiled, or they rust, and things start to fall apart. That was happening with alarming frequency. Worse, there were so many times here I was too busy to do anything but put out fires that nothing got done.
Basically, I had built systems that were a bit too static. In most cases, I became the bottleneck. I was the only one generating content, but if I was too busy to do that, welp, we’re kinda fucked, aren’t we?
If we’re being honest, doing it all on my own became too hard.
Or, it was always hard, but the increasing number of demands that split my attention concurrent with more stringent time limitations made things impossible.
I needed to accept that I have other responsibilities to the Company aside from writing: running the coaching stuff, consulting for all sorts of businesses, and creating things we actually sell to make money.
As the primary or singular content creator, I couldn’t give the site (or my writing) the attention it deserves. It is my fervent hope that as editor, I can.
I’m still going to write as often as possible, and all of the articles will be passed under my eye before they’re deemed worthy to fall under yours. I just won’t be writing as large a majority of the content as I once would have.
As to the question of diversification of content. I really don’t know what else to say here, other than, why the fuck not? The fact is, there are a lot of interesting things in life, and most of them happen outside of the gym.
I still think they’re important, and that improving them is important, so I want to help you do that. As I wrote in our mission statement, “fitness” isn’t just about what you do in the gym, it’s about suitability for success in life.
Our goal is to increase that suitability, in every conceivable context.
We want to help you learn as much as you can about as many things as possible. We want to be the resource that serves to help you cultivate capability. We want to help you push yourself towards suitability for success, in whatever area of life you need it.
To accomplish this ambitious feat, we’re going to write and publish articles on everything from mythology to muscle building, sex to science, and health to heroism.
Transitioning away from focusing purely on the more traditionally defined fitness topics is also a choice born out of personal interest.
At this point, I’ve released 8 digital products, written over two hundred articles for this site, hundreds more for other magazines and websites, done more podcasts and interviews than I can recount, and published a bestselling book. I’ve written a lot about fitness.
While it would be a gross overstatement to say that I’ve said everything I have to say about the subject, the fact is that I’ve covered most of the topics that catch my interest about as well as I can.
There are a lot of things I want to write about—some fitness related, most not. And because fitness isn’t the foremost thought in my mind, it won’t be the most prominent subject for me. I’ll be covering things I DO think about, areas I AM actively involved in, up to the neck, on a daily basis: writing, business development, and all things Roman.
My split attention is a factor for other reasons: I feel that this generation of fitness content should be taken as seriously as possible. As such, it should be left in the hands of those who are consistently researching, testing, and pushing forward in the field. Simply, I’m not doing that.
In point of fact, on the day-to-day level, I do very little related to fitness. I still train, and work with my coaching clients, and have a few select in-person clients. I keep up to date on everything, but I’m not going to lie to you and say I’m trolling PubMed all day.
It’s not that I’m “too busy” to do my job; it’s that my idea of what my job actually is has changed dramatically. I haven’t considered myself a “trainer” for many years; I consider myself a writer, a consultant, and an entrepreneur. This change—me taking a step back—is a reflection of that.
My own interests notwithstanding, there’s a very real need for me to spend more time serving as the guiding hand in how RFS, the company, runs. I have the responsibility to my business, my staff, and myself. We need to keep this thing growing, and this is the most logical step.
Of course, my editorial voice will still be overwhelmingly present on the site. I’ll just be relying on some new blood to fill in the gaps.
One of the largest parts of all of this is my tremendous desire to pay it forward. Just about 12 years ago, someone gave me a shot: TC Luoma, Editor-in-Chief of what was then T-Mag (now T-Nation) read, accepted, and published the first fitness article to spring forth from my pen.
It was a big deal for me: I became part of that community, and have benefitted greatly from that association—I made friends, made contacts, and made progress. I found mentors who gave far too generously of their time, and through their help, I grew as a coach, a writer, and eventually, a man.
This transition of RFS is heavily inspired by my desire to pay homage to that tradition. I was lucky enough to have someone give me a shot; to have someone believe in me. I want to take a shot on other people.
Consider this: Without T-Nation, who would have heard of Eric Cressey, Mike Robertson, John Berardi, Bret Contreras, or any of the other dozens of now-famous coaches who got their start there? I’m sure everyone would have had a lot of success, but let’s not kid ourselves and say we’d all be where we are.
It’s mind-boggling how indebted this generation of coaches is to that site, and sites like it.
That isn’t quite the case anymore. TN is more established, and has a cadre of writers from whom it tends not to deviate. Getting in there as a “new guy” is a lot harder than it used to be.
But there are a lot of people out there with great ideas, and they just need a place to publish them. And that is something I am honored to be in a position to provide, and it’s what I want to do here.
We’ve built a huge platform here at RFS, and I can’t personally think of a better way to leverage that platform than developing a launching pad for new, up-and-coming writers to showcase fresh, radical ideas, and to posit things that could change the industry.
As we transition into a magazine-style site, my goal is to feature as many new, talented, innovative people as possible.
So if you’ve got a story to tell, a message to share, or knowledge to drop, head over to our submissions page and let me know what you’d like to tackle.
That brings us to the most important reason for these changes.
More than anything, this change is for you. The fact is, things simply could not progress any further then they had without changing the model.
I owe everything to my readers, and this community truly means more to me than I can say. I want to continue to serve it, and you, to the best of my ability. I want to give you the best of everything, and the best way to do that is to expand multi-directionally.
I want to help you achieve all the goals you’ve set for yourself, whether it’s hitting a deadlift PR or getting your dream job; getting published for the first time or meeting the love of your life. I’m not an expert on everything, but I know a thing or two about a thing or two, and can help with a lot of this stuff.
Anything I can’t? I’ll find someone who can. Because we’re bros, and that’s what bros do for each other.
Well! That is one lengthy post. I promise, not all of my Editor’s Letters will be quite so long. And, in fact, they won’t be posted here, but rather sent directly to your inbox—so if you haven’t signed up, do that here.
This has been a year of momentous change for everyone at Roman Fitness Systems; and, now that we’ve unveiled our plans for world domination, that includes you, too.
So, please: as proud members of the Empire, share your thoughts and feelings with us. We want to hear form you, and seek always to learn as much from you as you do from us.
If you have any thoughts, comments, or suggestions concerning the new direction(s) we’re taking, leave them below, and we’ll get back to you, pronto. This is the season for change, after all, and we want to know what that means to you.
Thank you for reading, and being part of all of this—both RFS in general, and this new grand adventure upon which we now embark.
I think you’ll love where this ship is headed.Snuggles,