February 17, 2021

Strength of Seduction: Micah Morgan and Daniel DiPiazza

At the start of a new relationship in his 20s, Daniel DiPiazza and his girlfriend worked out together and it didn’t take long to realize, it wasn’t just their fitness that was improving, their love grew too as they spent quality time together and learned to communicate and trust each other.

Daniel knew he was on to something and collaborated with personal trainer Micah Morgan to create a fitness program that could help other couples get in shape and increased their intimacy at the same time.

The result is a program they’ve detailed in their new book, Strength of Seduction: The Modern Couple’s Guide to Building Intimacy through Fitness. In our conversation, Daniel described the process behind choosing exercises to help couples connect on physical, emotional, and spiritual levels. He shares some of the juicy questions that drive deeper intimacy.

Emily Gindlesparger: I’m in conversation today with Daniel Dipiazza, one of the authors of Strength of Seduction: The Modern Couple’s Guide to Building Intimacy through Fitness. Daniel, it’s such a pleasure to have you on Author Hour.

Daniel DiPiazza: It’s wonderful to be here, thank you so much for having me. I’m excited.

Emily Gindlesparger: Me too, I can’t wait to dig into your book because reading it, I’ve realized, this is such a brilliant, doable program. You don’t need any special equipment, you don’t need any special–anything, can just go at this with your partner and build intimacy and get fit along the way. It’s so elegantly done and doable.

Daniel DiPiazza: Yeah, the concept behind it was, we wanted to create something that would be fun and it would be effective. I think we really hit it with this. We really got the right combination.

Emily Gindlesparger: Let’s start by giving your listeners an idea of the origin story behind this book? How did you land on this as being a helpful idea to others?

Daniel DiPiazza: Well, you know, we’re in 2021 now as we’re recording this, depending on when you’re listening and we’re going to go back in our podcasting time machine to 2012, which is coming up on a decade ago. This concept for the strength of seduction was an idea that came up two moves ago when I was living in Atlanta. I’m now in Oregon.

I had just graduated college a few years previous, and I was trying my hand at coming up with ideas that I thought would be good business ideas, and at the same time, I had just met a new love interest.

Over the course of the next six months, I had this idea that maybe there was a way to combine this love I had for fitness, this new relationship, and this business idea into one. I reached out to one of my old college friends, Micah, and we developed this program in 2012.

We wrote the whole manuscript for the book down, or at least the bones of it. We came up with the idea for shooting the DVD component of it and we had this big vision for it. But at that time, I’m in my early 30s now so I was in my early 20s then. I just didn’t have the resources or the know-how to move the project forward, so it kind of sat on the shelves for a while, you know?

Years went by, I moved away from Atlanta to California and while I was there, I was working on building my career. I quit my first job, or my last job I should say, and I was going full-time entrepreneur.

At that point, I was writing, I was doing talks, I was trying to develop myself and I hadn’t thought about Strength of Seduction in a while. Meanwhile, Micah was having kids and building relationships, and building his gym, which became extremely successful.

Over the next few years, Micah picked up the idea again, still an interesting concept, and he decided to shoot the content for the product, which started as the book and then became the visual element of it.

Partly, it was because creatively, I think it’s really fun to be able to express that way. We both are very creative guys. I think he wanted to do it to see the vision come to fruition and also, he wanted to continue to push the business vision forward.

This was around 2015. Basically, we had a bootleg trailer with just our local crew, and this is back at our hometown in Tampa. He put it out on his personal Facebook page and this trailer video exploded.

Over the period of maybe six months to a year, it got about 10 million views which really counts for something, especially on Facebook organic in 2015. It was not really surprising because it’s a pretty hot program. It’s not hard to see why that would pick up but at the same time, we weren’t prepared at all to turn this into a business because I have since moved on to California.

Micah was just testing this and so, for a while, he started to produce some of the DVD’s and he was just producing them out of his house, he was just pressing them literally in his house and he sold a few thousand like that.

But over time, he decided to shelf it because it was just too much to do for one person. It wasn’t until 2019, we both made full revolutions around the sun and that came with new experiences. I got married, Micah was a father of two incredible boys now, and we decided to really go for this with the knowledge that we had.

I’d already released a book, and it did really well so I had some knowledge there. Micah went off and got a master’s in entrepreneurship and kept running his gym. We decided to go for this and we started working on this book again, we finalized and we put it out there and now we’re ready to show it to the world.

Intimacy through Fitness

Emily Gindlesparger: That’s amazing. Of course, one of the hallmarks of the book is that through fitness, you discovered that couples can find a much greater degree of intimacy. How did you come through with that connection?

Daniel DiPiazza: That’s a really good question. Okay, I’ve always understood that there’s a connection between physically training yourself and your mental health. For me, I was always really big into fitness. I know Micah can say the same.

It wasn’t until I met my now-wife, Sarah, that I had this idea that maybe if we train together, not just in the same space but physically using those touchpoints–obviously, we know chemicals are released when we’re touching and holding hands and close to the people that we love and we care about. We know that children who experience a lack of touch end up sometimes having developmental problems.

We know that touch matters. What if we can combine the physical exertion and the actual physical fitness of working out, the calorie burning, the physical benefit of working out, with the psychological and the emotional connection and the intimacy that comes from spending time with each other?

That was something I tested out with Sarah and me. We found that by essentially combining our workouts with meditations, with some affirmations, with combining our workouts with communication exercises, we created almost like a curriculum for ourselves, almost a training program for our relationship that becomes, a new form of couple’s therapy.

They call this couple’s therapy–full body. It really is. It’s training together, it’s praying together or meditating together, it’s talking, it’s listening, and there’s a lot of trust-building in this. It took a lot of experimentation, and it was something that didn’t come overnight, which is why it took 10 years to come up with.

Emily Gindlesparger: You’ve detailed in the book, these nine core values that a healthy relationship share, and I’ll list them off just very quickly–trust, integrity, honesty, open communication, affection, empathy, friendship, humor, and patience. How did you land on those nine?

Daniel DiPiazza: You know, it was a combination of what felt right and the fact that we did this kind of backward. We originally started to write the book and then we ended up doing the physical fitness program, the DVD version of this product first before the book ever sold. The book is only now coming out.

Because of that, we already had a customer base and so we asked our customer base, “You’re obviously doing this workout program because you want to be close to your partner because you want to build intimacy. What are the most important values to you?” We got feedback from our audience and we took inventory of what made sense in our lives.

These are universal things. At the end of the day, these are universal things I think most people could agree with are important in a relationship. Although, it’s one thing to say and it’s another thing to live it.

Emotional and Spiritual Exercises

Emily Gindlesparger: Yeah, absolutely. There are physical exercises in the book, which as you’ve described, stemmed from Micah’s experience as a trainer and a gym owner. Then there are also these emotional and spiritual exercises for each value. What disciplines did you draw on to create those?

Daniel DiPiazza: That is a great question and I’m really happy that you’re asking this because this is the first time that I’ve really had to think through these types of questions because for so long, it’s been internal, or it’s been either Micah and I or me and my team or me and myself or me talking to Sarah.

But having to really think through the origin of all of the stuff is actually pretty fascinating. You know, these spiritual exercises and the communication exercises came from, one, just years of work with people.

I spent a lot of time in coaching and consulting and talking to people to understand what makes relationships work. These aren’t even romantic relationships. I am not a therapist, I’m not a life coach or a love guru. But what has made sense to me has always been that relationships are so important that they should be front and center.

When your relationships are front and center, you have certain values that are going to be the most important. Trust, integrity, empathy, all these things are the building blocks of the relationships in your life and so, these are the same things I want in my family as well, but in a romantic relationship they become even more important.

There are couple of different programmatic things in the book itself. For the communication exercises, we’re using what we call “dyads” and dyads are essentially tools for helping to open up dialogs where people can feel truly heard. A lot of times in relationships, questions go unanswered, things go unsaid, ideas go unexpressed, emotions go unexpressed.

It causes an emotional constipation of sorts where it’s really hard to understand why you’re feeling what you’re feeling because when you have years of things that go unsaid, it’s very difficult to untangle the knots. It’s often because we aren’t allowed to freely express ourselves and we aren’t allowed to just speak while feeling like the other person is truly listening.

Dyads are exercises where essentially, we’ve developed 50 or more really interesting, engaging, I would say revealing, important props that you will learn to pose to your partner. The idea is to pose it in a way where you’re not interjecting your own opinions, and you’re allowed to just listen without giving a response.

For example, I might say to you, “Tell me something about yourself that you’d like me to know but that you don’t tell others?” This might be difficult if we’ve known each other for years. That is my job to sit back and listen and let you just fully express yourself.

As you speak, I’m only allowed to say a few things, I’m only allowed to say, “Speak up,” if I can’t hear you or “Please clarify that,” if I don’t understand you or I might say something like, “Please summarize that,” but I have no response, I don’t have any challenges for what you’re bringing up. I don’t have any of my opinions.

I just receive and then after I received, I say, “Thank you” and that’s it. When you start to ask questions about your relationship in this way, and the other person is allowed to truly express in the full form how they feel and then to be truly heard and then the other person gets the opportunity as well, it creates some shifts. I mean, this sounds very basic and I didn’t come up with dyad but these can unlock blocks in a relationship.

I was just doing this with my wife a few nights ago and it can truly unlock blocks, even if you’ve known each other for a while. Those are the communication exercises, and we build the curriculum around that. Then, of course, there are some more spiritually connected exercises, where we’re working through affirmations, meditations, prayers that you guys can do together to connect yourselves more spiritually, and of course, physical exercises, which we’ve put together a workout program for you to do together in the book. It’s supplemented by the app, which is in all of the app stores, and the DVD, which you can get a few of them as well, and that combined gets you in shape.

Emily Gindlesparger: What was it like to create these three different facets of exercises that make synergy toward one value? If we were to pick one value, do you have any stories of times when you struggle to come up with exercises or times when that went really well?

Daniel DiPiazza: Yeah, I mean, to be honest, when I first originally wrote the manuscript in 2012, you have to understand at that time, I was pretty fresh out of college. I was thinking very much from an academic perspective of, “Okay, I know exercises are good, they will help your health, and mental health, and this shit works, scientifically this should work.”

I knew there was something there, but I didn’t have the glue for it. I didn’t understand how to make it work together where it was something that consumers really cared about. I think that’s why I took a little bit of time because over the next 10 years, I got more experiences and I actually had the longest and best relationship of my life.

I worked through a lot of stuff with that and then obviously, learning about everything. The same with Micah, and so when we came back to it, we realized, “Okay, the physical exercises are great. Those are good from the get-go.” It’s pretty easy to figure out how to do partner slots and figure out how to do different workouts–you can program it.

You can train that, but for the emotional stuff, for the stuff that really digs to the core–Micah and I both in our relationships had gone through relationship counseling at that time. So, we have both gone through hard shit and seen the highs and the lows of relationships. Then understanding the types of values that it takes to get through relationships and to improve and to have relationships that blossom.

You know, it takes about that 10 years of experience, and through that, I have been training a lot on the coaching side with emotional management and leadership training. So, I learned some of these communication exercises, and these different emotional exercises, and that’s when I was learning to do the dyads for my own practice. I thought I could feel the fusion happening in my head. I said, “Oh this is the type of exercise that couples need to be doing because this will create the clarity.”

When that clicked, the rest started falling into place, because I realized if it’s mind-body-spirit and we already have the body figured out, the mind is the dyads process, and the spirit, well, I think back to all of the stuff I had been learning over the past few years, especially with meditation. I had been going through some crazy rabbit holes.

The world of spirituality is wide and there’s a lot you could dig yourself into and it goes all the way from the woo-woo to the religious, but there is an element of it that really connects to the heart and that’s the important part.

So, what we did in this book is we essentially took a few different elements of spirituality. We did some of the traditional prayers, which there is nothing wrong with prayers and I wouldn’t consider myself a Christian. But at the same time, praying is dope. We have some prayers I know that you can do as a couple. We have some meditations, some people listen to this and figure it out in the book, maybe it is the first time you have meditated before. That’s cool because we have some basic meditations. We have a couple of affirmational things where you’re saying positive things to each other.

We also have some stuff that includes, I would say sensual touching in the meditation, which we derive from the Kama Sutra, so you’re welcome, and all of these different things we studied. You pick it up along the way–we research it and then we put them together and we didn’t come up with a new formula. We just took the elements of the stuff that really works, and we said, “You should do this together with your spouse. It works.”

Emily Gindlesparger: You said, clearly there are many of these exercises that you go back and repeat such as dyads. You said Sarah, you and Sarah used that the other night.

Daniel DiPiazza: Yeah, a couple of nights ago.

Listening

Emily Gindlesparger: What are some of your favorite exercises to do together?

Daniel DiPiazza: Well, I mean you know the reason why the idea was first sparked in my brain was I just love working out with my girl. It’s fun and that physical element to me is awesome and I think that a lot of couples really, really enjoy that. I mean, we sold 11,000 copies of just the DVD alone in the past couple of months from launching this thing from basically the grave, which tells me wow there is a real interest in people exercising together.

So those are my favorites, I love working out with my partner. Throughout the book, we have several different circuits you can do and complete instructions for how to put it together to have a heart-pumping workout. This is as hard as you make it, trust me and I am a pretty good fitness guy, and this stuff is still hard.

Then with the communication exercises, which are most of the dyads, my favorites, I’m turning out such a creep, my favorites with the dyads and I can’t even tell you how many questions we have honestly. It’s over 50, between 50 and 100 questions, but my favorites are the ones about sex and the ones about money. I like the really revealing sex ones because when you can’t respond, then it makes it even more revealing for the other person because you can’t save them by interjecting.

You just have to listen and take it. The question might be, “What’s a sexual fantasy that you’ve never told me that you would like to explore and why haven’t you said anything?” And you just have to listen to that. That question is on the sexy side. There are also a lot deeper, more philosophical things as well.

The question might be something like, “Describe one way that you feel misunderstood by the world?” So, we have to think about being misunderstood by the world and that is probably something that most people feel like but never really take the time to articulate because we don’t think anybody cares. But if you are talking to your partner and they’re giving you that listening ear, then it feels really good.

Sometimes that might be the first time you’ve ever expressed that. I like the ones about money too as I was saying. “Tell me how you feel about money?” Just even an open-ended question like that. Maybe you’ve never even asked your spouse or your significant other before. Those questions are super fun. Then with the meditations, we have a couple of really intimate ones where after the meditation you’ll feel much closer to the person not only physically but spiritually.

Those are awesome and we do those a few times a month. There is a whole program that you can follow to put a boost in your relationship and give it a little bit of a makeover and improve. This is definitely a tool to give you some vibrancy and especially for couples that have been together for a while.

Even if you’re a new couple, but especially being with each other, a couple of years it’s really important to always be introducing new healthy elements to the relationship.

Emily Gindlesparger: Yeah, and those questions are so juicy, how could they not, right?

Daniel DiPiazza: Yeah, it’s fun, right? Don’t you want to know this stuff?

Emily Gindlesparger: Do you happen to know which exercises are your wife’s favorites?

Daniel DiPiazza: Well, that’s a good question. You know what?

Emily Gindlesparger: That’s a secret?

Daniel DiPiazza: Yeah, well you know what? I don’t know. All I can say is that she definitely enjoys watching me squirm. She definitely would let me squirm and sometimes when you are asking these challenging questions, especially if you’ve known somebody for a while, you might have to really dig in that memory. What can I tell you that you don’t know? It is interesting to have those conversations with each other.

Emily Gindlesparger: That’s fantastic and clearly, there are thousands of couples now doing this together. What kind of feedback have you gotten on the program?

Daniel DiPiazza: Well, as I said, we’re just launching the book and I can’t wait to get the feedback on some of the juicier relational and spiritual elements of it. But as far as the physical program goes, we’ve been getting fantastic results and feedback. I think one of the things that are driving it is just that it’s unique and people are familiar with the idea of workouts, but they’re not necessarily used to doing them as a couple or with a partner.

You know, the way that we’re positioning this, we’ve positioned this specifically for the African American market when we have been doing our marketing, not because it’s a black product but because it’s so interesting that with consumer goods, the most basic stuff, which gets overlooked by the market most of the time, often isn’t available in this shade that 50 million people in the US share. It’s simple things like that that make marketing opportunities for us.

Because what we’ve done is, we’ve just made basically Black P90X and that positioning has done really well for us, and we can always expand. You know, the book isn’t like, “Here’s the black couple’s workout guide,” but at the same time, we have that angle where we can say, “Look, we are actively improving the lives of 10,000 plus beautiful black couples in the past year,” and the community loves that shit.

Eventually, we want to evolve because the culture always does, but in the meantime, it’s really been our unique in.

Emily Gindlesparger: Yeah, that’s fantastic and so beautiful.

Daniel Dipiazza: Yep, thank you.

Emily Gindlesparger: Well, writing a book is always such a feat and in your case, it came with a book and a whole DVD course. There are so many things happening with this that are so exciting. If you wanted people to take away one or two things from the book, what would they be?

Daniel Dipiazza: That’s a great question. Well, I think one, love is a verb and if you don’t remember that, you lose the noun. If you don’t do the thing, you lose the feeling, and I think that developing a practice and a habit around expressing yourself with your significant other is probably the number one best thing that you can do to improve the health of your relationship. Most relationships end up in a bad place because that precaution isn’t taken and that initiative isn’t taken.

You can certainly heal and not only heal but improve and safeguard relationships by being proactive about how you’re caring for the person that you’re with. Of course, we don’t want to set the health barometer for relationships at struggling and just not being sick or not being divorced. We want to strive for excellence in our relationships.

Because there are all sides. There is fixing that relationship and there’s also improving ones that are already doing well. We want to shift the conversation from therapy in relationships, which is great and awesome and useful, but from divorce and from fighting to improving and enhancing, which I think is important especially if you want to get even more timely with everything that’s going on with the world right now. It makes more sense to be on the same page with the person that you love.

Love is a Verb

Emily Gindlesparger: I remember seeing that line in your introduction and how it struck me. I think one of the ways you phrased it too was, love is a verb and if you stop doing it, you stop getting it, that is going to stick with me. Yeah, so thank you for that. Well, it’s been such a pleasure talking with you today and I’m so excited about this program, so excited for the success that can happen, and the revolution that it can create in people’s relationships.

Again, the book is called Strength of Seduction and besides checking out the book, where can people find you?

Daniel DiPiazza: Check it out at strengthofseduction.com. You can find us in all of the app stores as well and get ready to burn some calories and build some intimacy.

Emily Gindlesparger: Beautiful, thank you, Daniel.

Daniel DiPiazza: Thank you so much.