Mark Funk Roberts is a renowned MMA Conditioning Coach, Certified Personal and Metabolic Trainer, and Kettlebell and Plyometrics Specialist. He has trained elite athletes across the globe and has created popular programs to support thousands on their fitness journeys. Roberts’ story has taken many twists and turns, where he found himself in a successful career, making six figures in the industry of human resources. However, he left that all behind to pursue his dream of turning his passion for fitness into a lucrative business.
In an exclusive interview, Roberts recently met with Examiner and shared his inspirational story. He disclosed his early struggles, keys to success, and tips for sustainable nutrition and health.
Examiner: How were introduced to the world of fitness and what was it that inspired you to make it your career?
Roberts: I’m a former professional athlete, so I played indoor volleyball and beach volleyball all over the world. If we back up, my parents always had me in some type of sport. At 11 years old, I had my parents buy me my first Weider set, and from there I was always lifting weights.
Examiner: Was there a series of events that led to the quitting of your job, and if so, can you describe that experience?
Roberts: You get in the grind with the nine-to-five, and not being in the sport, your training isn’t as frequent, your body starts to change, you got a family. I wasn’t training as much at the time and the type of training I was doing wasn’t giving me the results I was looking for.
I wasn’t happy. I was doing that old school style of body builder training, and one of my training partners looked at me and asked me, “doesn’t it upset you that you come in here everyday, you’re the hardest working guy, you’re in here for an hour, and you still look the same?” That was an “aha” moment for me.
Examiner: How was the transition from one career to the next?
Roberts: It was a six-figure job. I was happy in what I was doing. It’s just that there was something else burning inside of me. I would go to work from nine-five, come home, go to the gym, come home, and then be up till two/three in the morning blogging or editing videos, and it was nothing to me. It was so funny because everyone where I was working was on my email list. They knew I did fitness on the side. They were always asking me questions, even the president was coming to me everyday. That was, again, another “aha” moment in my life… I went to my president’s office and said, “I love what I’m doing here, but I love fitness more, and I want to turn my passion into a business.”
Examiner: Did you have a nest egg saved up, and did you tell yourself that you had to reach a certain level of success by a given date?
Roberts: I was able to cultivate a following while I was working. All those hours after work blogging and creating all of those free programs people can download, and putting up videos on YouTube, I started to get a really good following. I had a plan of attack written out. If I wanted to implement that plan, I had to put in 100 percent of passion and effort towards it. I couldn’t juggle both. I didn’t really have a nest egg. I was taken care of really well when I left [my job], but I really needed to focus on getting the job done when I left.
Examiner: What were some of the greatest challenges that you faced while transitioning from one career to the next?
Roberts: Not having that paycheck coming in every month. When you work your own business, you can work 12, 13, 15 hours and it’s not necessarily going to bring you money. You just have to keep going and know that if you do things right. If you have the right mentors, surround yourself with the right people who are doing what you want to do and have done it successfully, ask questions, ask for help. That definitely will help.
Examiner: How long ago did you officially leave your job, and how long did it take you to generate enough funds to support yourself?
Roberts: I left about four years ago, and within that first year I got [financially] just about to where I was with my job. You really have to have a plan of attack. I was very lucky, because I had been doing it as a hobby but with the mindset that I’m going to make this a business some day. I put in double the hours, but every single day I’m blessed. I love what I do.
Examiner: Given that social media has been so integral to your success, is the majority of your earnings generated through those means or through your website and products?
Roberts: The very first thing to focus on is “what is your niche?” What are you going to bring to the world? Who do you want to reach out to? Yes, you can make money on YouTube, but it is extremely hard to. For me, it was finding that niche, creating that email list system behind the scenes, so that if I blog or do an interview or whatever it is, I can send people to my website or downloadable programs, and enter my world of Funk Roberts.
Examiner: In your fitness university, you highlight the meditation program. Given that, how do you perceive the connection between mental, spiritual, and physical health?
Roberts: I think it’s huge. That’s the biggest barrier for most people. They’re afraid of getting uncomfortable, and that’s where the growth happens. That all starts with mindset. I am a true believer in waking up and having a ritual that you go through every morning. I’m spiritual, so I read the bible every morning, meditate, and write in my gratitude journal. Then, I start my day. This is what keeps me focused throughout my day.
Examiner: You had a great job, but would you say that you are more grateful now because you’re doing what you love to do? Is that an accurate assessment?
Roberts: One million percent! I played beach volleyball. I traveled the world twice over. I won tournaments. You don’t even realize how much more there is out there. It’s not until now when I realize that because I’m doing what I love to do, something I’m passionate about, it makes things easier. It makes waking up everyday with a smile on my face easier.
Examiner: What advice would you give someone who’s currently facing that fear of throwing that stability behind and really perusing something they love?
Roberts: Once you realize what IT is, you got to start researching. As you have your job, you can still start to research and figure out where you want to go with that. Start putting a lot of your focus on that passion that you have, ways that you can create that passion and make it into a business. Ways that you can solve problems for people, because that’s really what it’s all about…solving problems or needs that people may need, or the world needs… You have to make time to focus on what your passion is, and how you can deliver positivity and value with that passion.
Examiner: Are there any benefits now at your age (46) that you didn’t have before or were able to maintain because of your healthy, fit lifestyle?
Roberts: There are so many. Energy. Less injuries. In better shape. More focus. Being able to actually have the energy to run a business. The confidence. I have a lot more confidence in doing things… I’ve been able to transform my body… I can transfer that into other things in life… You can transfer that type of feeling and work into other things in life.
Examiner: Many people think that it costs more money to be fit? Is that true?
Roberts: Totally less money. It’s just an excuse. You don’t need money… I went to fight in a Muy Thai fight at the age of 40, and before I did that, I had to go from 190 (pounds) to 174 (pounds), and I did that for eight months with just bodyweight workouts. I did bodyweight workouts at home. I did them outside. I did them at the gym. So, you can just specifically work out at home.
No. 2, you can absolutely feed yourself better than you could if you were eating out. You have to learn the types of food to purchase. There’s a little it of a learning curve, but once you get that, you’ll find that, “Oh, I’m saving way more money than going out every single day and spending my money on fast food.” It does add up.
Examiner: There are a lot of YouTube fitness stars. They’re lean or muscular, but many also take a lot of supplements. Do you consume supplements at all, or is that not a major part of your dieting habits?
Roberts: I do use some supplements. However, my No. 1 thing is to make sure people have their nutrition on point first before they jump to supplements. A lot people jump to supplements first, because they think that that is going to get them what they need… Adding a protein smoothie because you don’t have time in the morning (is good). But as for pre-workouts or post-workout stuff, I absolutely don’t think that it’s needed.
Examiner: What is next for Funk Roberts?
Roberts: I want to be able to influence millions of people to know that “I can go to Funk Roberts. I know that he’s got workouts and nutritional information that will help me transform my body.” Whether it’s through your family. Whether it’s through your business. Whether it’s through your training. That’s probably the No. 1 thing that I want to (accomplish). When someone says, “Funk Roberts. That’s the guy who’s going to inspire me to be the best I can be. He’s going to inspire me to step out of my comfort zone. He’s going to inspire me to be one percent better than I was the day before.” And if that’s all I do, then that’s fine, because that’s going to create so many amazing people in our lives.
Roberts has truly acquired an amazing level of success by focusing on his passions. He has even secured a role portraying himself in the upcoming film, A Sense of Purpose: Fighting for Our Lives, which is slated to be released next year.
Overall, however, Roberts’ workout and inspirational videos have almost 19 million views. With over 90,000 subscribers on YouTube, he has positively influenced the lives of many, and will continue to do so, as his fitness community grows. If you are interested in delving deeper into the world of Funk Roberts, check out funkfitnessuniversity.com.
All quotes obtained firsthand, unless otherwise noted.