Words by Jack Franks
With a smile as wide as the River Liffey, Rob Lipsett dials in from his self-built dream villa in Marbella following audio issues plaguing most Zoom calls.
Earlier than planned, the Irishman comes prepared with a high-quality microphone, the first sign of a man who has made his living in the realm of online and social content.
Rob has a busy afternoon ahead of him, heading to SKLUM to add some wooden furniture pieces to Villa Lipsett, which boasts its renovation series on YouTube and over 15,000 Instagram followers.
Today’s guest – the sixth in a rapidly growing pod – is Christian Guzman, a man Rob lists as an inspiration during his time growing in the fitness community.
Christian is staying with him in Villa Lipsett as the pair prepare to record and discuss lifestyle, competition preparation, business, making money, and the mindset that has seen them become two of the leading lights in the online bodybuilding circuit.
His day won’t end there, though; they rarely come to a halt. After all, how can you rest between the sets of life when there’s so much to deliver?
Building an online empire…
Putting the podcast aside, Rob needs to keep his YouTube audience of over 472,000 people updated, inspired, and informed with his consistent upload schedule blending training tips, life lessons, vlogs, and nutritional advice.
His social media army of around 724,000 – the majority of which come from his six-pack-dominated Instagram – comfortably tips him over the 1,000,000 mark in terms of overall reach.
That following has allowed him to run his own online coaching business, Game Plan – previously Lipsett Fitness – where he passionately conveys a message of transparency and zero bullshit, a welcome ethos in a time dominated by nonsensical and clickbait-inspired advice.
“I’ve made hundreds of videos and hours of content I’ve posted daily on social media for years. If you can find any incorrect information I’ve put out over the last decade, I’ll coach you for free for a year and give you 1000 euros,” declares Rob.
I won’t be striking it rich anytime soon.
“I’m so careful that everything I put out is evidence-based and isn’t a fad. It’s not a gimmick, and if there’s a topic that I need to learn about, I’ll continually educate myself further. Everyone in the fitness industry, a trainer or a coach, must do their best to provide the correct information.”
As he speaks, you can see the passion pouring out his single-digit body fat flesh. Each word lands with the confidence of a man who seems to have cracked the pursuit of happiness, each question greeted with humbleness, his mind transporting him back to crucial milestones along a journey from Dublin to Marbella – via some of the world’s most desirable locations.
Fresh from competing in a bodybuilding competition in Derry, 147 miles from his home city, Rob focuses on his next project, his entrepreneurial event featuring high-performing CEOs, motivational speakers, five-star restaurants and yacht parties.
The perfect modern-day man? We’d need help finding an alternative.
Leap of faith
It wasn’t always glamorous for Rob. A life with a permanent tan, a color palette profiled by crystal clear blue oceans, and Lion King-inspired sunsets is a long way from Dublin.
The 1990s were a transformative decade worldwide, with changing politics and cultural shifts across music, nightlife, film and fashion, and Ireland’s capital was no different.
Rob had a typical Irish upbringing, no doubt dominated by an obsession with heat, Tayto crisps, living in fear of the dreaded wooden spoon, and being subjected to a colorful vocabulary.
Despite his father being in the army and playing GAA, one thing Rob’s family didn’t push upon him was health and fitness: “My family was your typical Irish drinking family, you know, eat your mommy’s dinner.
“What got me into the gym was rugby. When I went to school, the sport everyone played was rugby, and you would be seen as odd if you weren’t playing rugby.“
In a time before the aesthetic-dominated era, size mattered. Rob’s desire to put on muscle mass fuelled his goal to play at a higher level, but the gym would soon overtake his love of the sport.
“All I cared about was getting big, so I started lifting weights. I cut for less than eight years and would try to increase the scale.
rugby got me into the gym, and by the time I finished school, I stopped playing rugby because I became interested in weightlifting and overall fitness. I noticed that this is where my passion was.
“I liked rugby, but I wasn’t as obsessed with it as much as the gym. Instead of reading rugby magazines, I’d be reading fitness magazines.”
A new world opened its doors to Rob, who duly entered with an open mind and a deeply ingrained mindset to succeed.
He quickly attached himself to the likes of Greg Plitt – who tragically died in 2015 – Steve Cook, and Rob Riches, attending courses on sports nutrition, personal training and online marketing. Still, the gym was Rob’s only form of solace at that time in his life.
Until 2014, Rob was, in his own words, “failing at everything.” He dropped out of studying for a business management degree at college, repeatedly struggling to hold a job.
He made sandwiches in Spar, worked in retail, and had a nine-to-five office job, which proved aimless.
That’s when he discovered YouTube.
On 1st September 2014, Rob’s life truly began. Upon awakening from his bed, fresh-faced and shooting in a very mid-2010 style portrait mode, he takes viewers through a day in his life. It’s all raw, but it was the start of the rest of his life played out behind the lens.
Thrilled by the fact I’ve gone back through the archives, scrolling down at a ferocious pace through his YouTube channel, which is the home of almost 600 videos, Rob holds his earliest content close to his heart.
“Those videos are the most valuable thing I have. Looking back on where I was and seeing my little baby face is priceless.
“I can’t recommend documenting your whole journey enough. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. So just putting that out there, write everything. Even if no one’s watching, do it for yourself so that you can look back on it.
“Everyone told me that I was crazy. No one could understand how I would coach people online, and Online coaching wasn’t even a thing.
“There wasn’t one other person in Ireland doing YouTube fitness content. I was the first one. My parents said, ‘What the hell are you doing?‘”
Cut the crap
Coming from a prosperous family didn’t help Rob’s attempts to make it where no one else had dared step foot.
The younger brother of the Lipsett sisters, Roz, Avila and Sarah, a trifecta of formidably groomed socialites – model, PR consultant and solicitor, respectively, he is also the son of Robert and Therese Lipsett.
Therese’s Rostrevor House nursing home in Rathgar was the subject of a series of abuse allegations passed by HIQA to the Gardaí in 2011, which later resulted in a closure order.
Following a challenging period for himself and his family, Rob was inspired to work hard for everything he desired, and within six months, he quit his day job; six months after that, he had quite a following. He spent the next two years laying the foundations for what would come.
“Why do people climb Everest? Why do people run ultra marathons? Why do people enter boxing matches to fight another human? You know, because there are certain things that money can’t buy.
“I think as humans, we just want to challenge ourselves, and it’s essential to find a medium that you can push yourself in. For me, I’m obsessed with health and fitness.
“I’ve been in this industry so long; you don’t like seeing people coming and going because they don’t want to coach people; maybe they don’t like putting out fitness information.
“They may not be interested in the science behind training and training and nutrition, and they don’t like it much. It’s genuinely my obsession, what I love, and the only industry I will ever work in, in my life.“
From the outset, Rob’s channel had a clear identity, with his Irish charm pouring through the screen as he documented his workouts, holidays, and food prep and spoke directly to his audience in regular Q&As.
His vlogs were raw and packed with fairly mundane content – hair cuts, ballet and macky d’s – but in the mid-2010’s2010s, the YouTube scene was very different to the 2023 landscape.
“When I first started in the gym, there were only online blogs like ‘Simply Shredded’, ‘Cut’ and ‘Jocks’, which weren’t the best. You had magazines, and there were a few YouTubers, but there still needed to be more information.
“Around 2019 and 2020 was a perfect sweet spot where there wasn’t all this crazy short-form content you see today, but there was still a wealth of information.
“There were guys like Alan Aragon, one of the top nutrition scientists in the world, releasing content for everyone to see.
“Now you’ve got the short form content and people clipping stuff up and going a little crazy.
“Content is getting taken out of context by people who want to make these outrageous shock factor clips. They’re just making ridiculous claims to get views, and it’s only a trend that we’ve seen in the last year or two.”
According to HubSpot’s latest marketing strategy and trends report, short-form video content’s popularity will continue to rise in 2023, with 90% of global marketers increasing or maintaining their investment in short-form videos this year.
Almost 50% of TikTokers agreed they found videos longer than a minute “stressful.” As of July 2022, videos under 60 seconds comprised 57% of YouTube views, compared to just 11% two years ago.
While accepting the shift in audience attention span, Rob doesn’t hold back on his opinion of those throwing fake theories and information into the social sphere.
“People are just making up stuff like saying vegetables are bad for you! People are saying they don’t hold receipts because of the toxins in the plastic.
“You’re sleeping four hours a night and drinking every weekend, and you’re worried about holding receipts. Oh my god, people want to say that because it’s catchy!
“There’s never been more information, but with that comes so much misinformation.”
International man of maturity
Straying from Rob’s business empire, social media impact and a monumental rise to become Ireland’s top fitness influencer, the 31-year-old has lived one hell of a life.
Ironically, his YouTube channel, which features his trips and experiences across Ibiza, Los Angeles, Maldives, Melbourne, Texas, Mykonos, and Bali, has recouped its best views from eating challenges.
Almost 13 million people have watched his three calorie challenges, but the most significant insight into his lifestyle comes with his more revealing videos.
He was partying with Conor McGregor in Las Vegas, flying on a private jet to Monte Carlo. He has spent countless hours with fellow influencer Mike Thurston and fellow Irishman Louis Armstrong, who creates much of the community’s content.
As a viewer of Rob’s earlier videos, I was fully aware of his sparkling online presence before speaking to him. However, despite all of the glamorous elements in his life, he still gets more pleasure from achieving his goals.
“When you first watched my videos, I hardly had a career. I was starting around 22, then, so I didn’t have much life experience.
“Fast forward seven years, I’ve been to the best locations in the world, been on private jets, super yachts. I’ve done it all. But goal setting is better.
“Putting your sights on a goal and doing whatever it takes to get there is the ultimate high and something you can’t buy.
“Having that game plan is crucial to getting you where you want to be in life, be the architect of your life, decide where you want to be on how you will get there. Then never waver from that plan.
“Even if you do fall off a little bit, get back on track, get back on the game plan, and once you have that Northstar, you’re unstoppable. Show me a man who knows what the fuck he wants, and then I’ll show you a man who’s going to achieve great things.
“I set my goals on a particular lifestyle that I wanted to attain, and no matter what, I was going to get here. Turn up daily and do something to bring you closer to your end goal.
“It doesn’t have to be massive; you don’t have to make huge daily progress. Just do one thing. Create a story, post, make a piece of content, connect with someone new, or do one thing and reach out to someone who will bring you closer to that end goal. That’s how I did it.“
Rob has incorporated that same ethos into his training app, ‘Game Plan’, which tantalizes the prospect of getting shredded while living everyday social life – aka the dream – by setting plans based on circuit weight training, nutritionally focused, and personal client preference.
Imagine being able to dine out through the week and enjoy a gin and tonic on the weekend while having peace of mind not to sweat the small stuff.
The zero-bullshit mentality which spearheads Rob’s approach to training is evident for all to see, displayed like commandments in a bible of no-nonsense movement:
You WILL be training hard.
You WILL be watching what you eat.
You WILL need discipline.
You WILL need to push yourself.
Follow Rob’s law, and get results; ask the hundreds who have benefited so far, showcasing their transformations in split-screen images.
Abs are proudly popping, veins resembling road maps; there’s barely a shirt in sight.
This is the Rob Lipsett way, and people love it. They love him, and it’s not hard to see why.
But for now, he has a party to prepare for.
When he’s living the life of a king on a yacht that has just departed Puerto Banus harbor, surrounded by the 1%, basking in his role as MC, Rob will be basking in the rewards of his decade-long journey.
But we bet he will have the next step in his master plan at the front of his mind.
Check out Rob’s training app, ‘Game Plan’, here.
Check out Rob’s YouTube channel here.
Follow Rob on Instagram here.
Sign up for the next launch of Fuel Cakes here.