Chris Cooper (00:00):
There are 868 gyms in Two-Brain Business, and we’re gonna cap it at a thousand. I’m Chris Cooper, this is “Run a Profitable Gym.” Today, I’m gonna share our decision to cap our mentorship practice at 1,000 gym owners worldwide. I’m gonna break this down into three topics. First, how a cap helps our current clients, the gym owners who are in the Two-Brain Business mentorship practice now. Second, how a cap helps you, the future client who maybe hasn’t joined Two-Brain yet. And third, how a cap will help our business and could help your business. If you want more info and support or you want to ask me questions or just discuss the idea of capping your business, head to gymownersunited.com to join a group with thousands of the world’s top fitness entrepreneurs.
Chris Cooper (00:54):
Last January, I was sitting with the head coach and the general manager of my gym, and we were working through our targets and our metrics. The gym was still a little bit topsy-turvy after emerging from two years of government lockdowns. And we were trying to set up “what is our mission?” so that we could work backward from that and say “here’s how many clients we want at which ARM and at what LEG”—basically set our targeted metrics. And so I said, “Guys, what if we capped membership at 150 clients? We already know that 150 clients is achievable. You know, in the past, Catalyst has been up to about 230 clients. We know that it’s more than enough revenue because we know what our ARM is. We know that we keep people on average for just over 17 months with 150 clients. We can hit all of our revenue and profit targets.”
Chris Cooper (01:46):
And I thought my staff was gonna give me a little bit of pushback on this because they’re helpful people—they want to help everybody. But instead, one of them said, “150 sounds great,” and the other said, “How about 125?” And so I asked them like, “What appeals to you about this, this cap?” And they’re like, “Well, we’ll know every single person in the program. We’ll know every single thing about them. We’ll never forget their names. We’ll know if they’re making progress. We’ll have an easier relationship. There are so many benefits to just having a tighter relationship to everybody in the gym. So if we can do it with 125 people, why would we want 200? Like if we can make a good living and the gym can make money, why would we want more people than that?” And so that was the start of my thinking on why a cap is actually best.
Chris Cooper (02:36):
And in our gym, what we’re actually doing is measuring outcomes. And so one of the metrics that we’re playing with right now is “how do we know that we’ve changed their life?” And we came up with a few different ways to measure that, and I share that in our RampUp program. But the thing is, if we have 150 people in my gym at one time and we keep them long enough to create a sustainable, life-changing habit in them, we can actually have a bigger impact on our community than if we have more people but a higher churn rate. So that’s what we’re focusing on in Two-Brain Business, though we have achieved some amazing things in the industry already. And I don’t take credit for all this. I am lucky enough to be the connector and sometimes the figurehead for this movement. But the mentors and the analysts and the media team are really what make these changes happen.
Chris Cooper (03:23):
And so what we’ve been able to create are hundreds of gym owners making a hundred thousand dollars per year. That never really happened on a consistent basis before mentorship. We’ve also ascended 40 people to the level of being an actual millionaire. So this is not like the paper or the Instagram millionaire that’s like, you know, leaning on the rented Lambo. These are people who if they sold all of their assets and paid off all their debts, they’d still have a million dollars in their hand. They’re legit millionaires. And there were none in the industry before we started producing them. That’s not to say there are no other ones now, but when I looked back in 2008 to find people who had made a million dollars and were able to retire, I couldn’t find any. So I’m really proud that we’ve been able to produce over 40 now.
Chris Cooper (04:11):
And the beautiful part is that we’re producing on average about two a month. We’ve figured this out. And that’s my point. Now that we’ve figured out how to get gym owners to being millionaires, to having good net worth, to making consistently a hundred thousand dollars per year, having a little bit of time left over to spend with their kids, a little bit of money to reinvest, I wanna do it faster. And so now that we’ve mapped out what the most successful gym owners in the world are doing, I think we’re gonna start analyzing “how do we get them there faster?”—the stuff that took me a decade to reach. You know, status; a gym that runs itself; a happy, loving gym that I love to go to for noon group but really don’t operate; a building that I own—that stuff took me a decade. But some of the fastest gyms in Two-Brain are doing that in three years now.
Chris Cooper (04:59):
And so we wanna turn our analytical lens inward again and say like, “How are the fastest gyms doing it?” Now that we’ve proven we can do it better than anybody else, we wanna know how we can do it faster. And so we’re really focusing on speed to outcome in our research and data and mentorship. And over the next few years, you’re going to see these results compound: people reaching higher levels faster than ever before, creating a really amazing career option for people, where gym owner, personal trainer, CrossFit coach wasn’t really a viable career option in the past. We wanna be able to get them there faster and make gym ownership a more appealing career to more people so that we can have more gyms saving more lives. Next within Two-Brain, we wanna preserve our culture. Right now, gyms are joining Two-Brain so fast that some people who are coming in don’t really know a lot about us.
Chris Cooper (05:54):
They see our success, they see our data, they’re really fired up, and they wanna come in and join. And that’s awesome. The problem is that if you’ve got one person who’s not completely on board yet, they can distract 10 other people. And so what we wanna do is make sure that we’re preserving our values and culture, especially in our RampUp program, because when you join a new tribe, you are heavily influenced by the others in the tribe or your cohort of people who are joining with you. If there’s some skepticism or some inaction in that cohort, you are going to be slowed down. Where if you join with 20 other people who are all in, who are extremely focused and getting results quickly, you will be caught up in that tide and pulled along with them. And so “preserving our culture” really means not slamming the door, building the fence, not letting anybody in—it just means slowing it to the people who are absolutely certain that they want to be here. The next reason that this is better for our clients is it creates more focus and less distraction. I’ll be honest here: When I see another business coaching company offering something included in their services, I feel like I need to build that thing, too, and just have it available to our clients. But the reality is half the time that stuff’s not even necessary. It’s a nice-to-have and not a need-to-have. Like, you know, “we will mentor your coaches for you.” Well, that’s a nice-to-have. If your gym is already a 10 outta 10 and your coaches are a seven outta 10, yeah, like improve your coaching. But the reality is that most gyms haven’t really exceeded a three outta 10 in their ops and systems and processes.
Chris Cooper (07:35):
There are so many more important opportunities for them and so many bigger fires to fight that you should fight them first. However, because other business-coaching organizations are offering to mentor the gym’s coaches for them, we’ve felt like, “Oh, we need to do that, too.” I don’t wanna do that. I want to get gym owners results based on focus and filtering and by reducing overwhelm. And so by capping our mentorship practice at a thousand, there’ll be fewer distractions for me and the media and the content team to cover everything. And instead, we can just focus on what’s really important to getting people to a $100K net owner benefit, and then eventually, if they want to, to a million dollars in net worth faster. And the final reason that I think the cap is better for our clients is that every single person who comes in the door is not really competing for a seat but they’re being considered for a seat.
Chris Cooper (08:30):
And so if we take on 20 new people a month, which is, you know, what we’ll do at a cap of a thousand, what will happen is we will ask ourselves, “Is this person a great fit for our tribe right now?” And that means, you know, “Do they need another year on their own before they’re really ready for mentorship or before they’re a great fit?” Or, you know, “Is this person better suited to be referred elsewhere?” So we’ll be free to refer ’em elsewhere if we think they could be a fit for a different program. It’s not really competitors anymore; it’s really collaborators. And if somebody comes in and we think they’d be a better fit somewhere else, we can refer ’em somewhere else. This might be somebody else in the CrossFit space. More and more, what we’re seeing is if somebody comes in and they have a BJJ gym or a cheer gym or a gymnastics gym, we have collaborators that we can refer out to that’ll be an even better fit for them.
Chris Cooper (09:21):
So that means that the people who are coming into our mentorship practice are doing exactly the same things for exactly the same people for exactly the same reasons as our current clients. And that will speed up everybody because we’ll all be moving faster in the same direction. Why is this best for our future clients? You know, a couple months ago, one of my favorite people on the planet, Oskar Johed, said to me, “You’re a really fascinating case study because you built this enormously successful business, but you give everything away for free.” He’s like, “I study you as much as I admire what you’ve built.” And I was really grateful for that. And it really got me to thinking like it’s true. But a lot of really successful people have done this. When Greg Glassman built CrossFit, he gave the workouts away for free for decades, right?
Chris Cooper (10:10):
Seth Godin gives away his knowledge for free every single day. And other people that I admire publish their knowledge for free because they all understand that knowledge does not solve the problem, right? They give the knowledge for free, and then they sell the coaching—or the certification in Greg’s case. And so for us, what we’re saying is this cap at a thousand is actually better for future clients because we will maintain our commitment to publishing knowledge and guides and tools and tactics for free. I’ll be honest with you: When somebody comes into one of our groups and really needs help, quite often we’ll go on Amazon and buy a copy of my book or another book and just ship it to them, right? Not as a sales tactic but just because that’s what they need for help. And so capping it a thousand will let us keep our focus on giving stuff away for free.
Chris Cooper (11:02):
You know, over the years I’ve heard so many times “your free stuff is better than everybody else’s paid stuff put together.” And that’s because we published this stuff so that you can make your gym more successful and be ready for mentorship instead of being stressed and overwhelmed by asking “how do I solve these problems?” I started off publishing for four years for free without selling any coaching or mentorship because that’s what I needed as a gym owner. And so I was like writing letters to myself, and it just happened to help hundreds and thousands of other people. So for new clients, this cap will benefit them in other ways, too. Another one is that we’ll be able to better balance short-term tactics with long-term strategy. So right now what happens when somebody comes in to RampUp is we want to give them really quick wins.
Chris Cooper (11:51):
We want our program to pay for itself as fast as possible, like within the first week if we can do it. And so when you come in, we give you a quick marketing win before we even start you working on the strategies that are gonna build the foundation for your business for the next 30 years. So it’s, you know, “Do this thing. Let’s get five clients, and now let’s work on your systems. Do this thing, let’s get three referrals, and now let’s work on your playbook.” Et cetera. We will find less, I guess, haste to get to the marketing and have more time to focus on building the long-term strategies if we’re bringing in clients more slowly. So a cap of a thousand doesn’t mean, again, like we’re locking people out and never taking new clients. We’ll still welcome about 20 new people to our mentorship practice a month.
Chris Cooper (12:38):
But a slower inflow will mean a more selective process where we’re spending less time fighting fires and more time working on long-term strategies. It will also afford us the opportunity to train skills. So where we’ve had challenges in the past is a client will come in, and we’ll give them a tactic and say, “Here you go: Do this. This week you need to make money.” But they won’t have time or mental space. They’ll be burned out, overwhelmed, overworked, stressed, and they won’t get the work done. And really what it comes down to here is we need to be developing entrepreneurial skills as well as sharing strategies and tactics. We need to be able to teach people how to focus, how to block off their time and be successful at implementing the things so that they can get the things done that will make them successful, earn them the money and keep them growing in our practice.
Chris Cooper (13:31):
Right now, it is hard to teach entrepreneurial skills, especially in the first phase of mentorship, because you’re going so fast and doing so much and getting results so quickly. It would be nice to be able to teach some entrepreneurial skills, and I’m sure I’ll be talking more about this in the future. Finally, I want my staff, my mentors to have permission to do whatever it takes to get a client results. When you’re onboarding 40, 45 gyms every single month, you’re busy. And I have a staff of well over 50 mentors worldwide, and we have a process that works, that we follow and we tailor to every specific gym. That said, when one gym needs more help, I want the mentor to have the time and the brain capacity to jump in and give them whatever they need. Right now, the amount of support that you get from Two-Brain is incredible.
Chris Cooper (14:20):
It’s one-on-one mentorship. You’re on a call with a mentor like at least every couple weeks one on one. It’s not a group call. It’s not just coaching at you. It’s like solving your problems with you. You’re on a call with somebody in our team within 48 hours of signing up. You’ve got access to modules and help and tools and tactics within three minutes of signing up. But I also want mentors to be a little bit more flexible and have the time to be able to do that when somebody needs extra time. I’m lucky that I have the time to do that. Every single day, I pick up the phone and call or text or leave a voicemail for about 10 of our clients or our team. And I want mentors to be able to enjoy that, too, ‘cause it’s a lot of fun.
Chris Cooper (15:03):
Finally, the third reason that we’re adding the cap is it’s best for our business. And I’m sharing this outta transparency because I think it can help your business, too. A couple of months ago, what we realized was that we’re not really in competition with these other business-mentoring things that are cropping up in the space. What actually happens is that some clients might not be ready for Two-Brain yet. They might not be ready for the intense mentorship that you get in Two-Brain. Like they can’t work on, you know, fitting a one-on-one call in every second week, for example, because they’re just too overwhelmed. So for some of these clients, they’re actually better to start elsewhere and then ascend to us. You know, get a little quick win from this marketing agency and now you’ve got some breathing room and you’re ready to build your systems. And that’s okay.
Chris Cooper (15:56):
You know, in the past, it was like jealousy or my skepticism where I was like, “Oh, that’s crap. I’ve gotta save everybody from getting scammed.” And the reality is some of our best clients have started elsewhere and ascended up to our mentorship practice. We commonly see our clients using the hashtag #bestfindsbest, and we wanna be a living example of that. So we know that the best clients in other programs eventually find their way to Two-Brain, and Two-Brain clients who are curious about other programs might do those things in addition to Two-Brain, or they might go try that and then come back. And it always works out that the best finds the best. We don’t wanna feel like we’re in competition for every client. If you’re in competition for every client, you create bad habits of like building features that maybe your clients don’t need or might even slow them down to getting to their actual goals.
Chris Cooper (16:49):
I mentioned that earlier. If you are trying to attract every client, you’re not focused on ascending the best clients as quickly as you can, and we actually want to be in line with our mission. See, our mission is to change a million lives by making 10,000 gyms profitable and financially successful so the owners can stay in the game for 30 years. They build a gym that they love to own, and clients stick around long enough to get great results. That means that we’re actually best to work with the top thousand gyms in the industry. If we wanna change the fitness industry to have the greatest possible impact, that means that we should work with the best. And here’s why: The best gym owners expand rapidly. The best gym owners open multiple locations that are successful on Day 1 because the things that made them the best gym owners also make them the fastest-expanding gym owners.
Chris Cooper (17:46):
If your gym is really successful with 150 clients or whatever, or a hundred or 50 or 500, and you’ve got that systemized to the point where you can replicate it over and over, you will expand faster than a gym owner who’s just starting or they’re 10 years in and they’re still trying to figure it out. And so that’s what we want to do. Now I’ve heard, you know, even from Greg Glassman, like the libertarian ideal is that if you’ve got five gyms in a city and one gym closes, that’s okay because the other four are better. And all of the clients from the closed gym will go to those other gyms and get a better experience. And the coaches from the gym that close will go to those other gyms and get better jobs. And the owners of the failed gym will go and become members or employees at the better gyms.
Chris Cooper (18:33):
And you know, in theory that’s a great model, but in practice it just doesn’t work. That’s not what happens. When a gym closes, its clients, 30% of them go to another gym and the rest of them stop working out. Its coaches, you know, 20% of them might go work somewhere else and the rest leave the industry. And most gym owners of failing gyms leave the industry, too. They think that it’s a problem with the industry and not just with their own entrepreneurial skill set. And so if we really want to expand the industry and be the tip of the spear and expand our impact and save more lives, we’re actually best to focus on the top thousand gyms and just keep making them better so that they can create careers for other passionate coaches. They can create opportunities for membership for other passionate clients and they can replicate the best model over and over again instead of trying to reinvent the wheel.
Chris Cooper (19:27):
So it is in line with our vision. Finally, another great reason—and this might apply to you, too—is that if we cap it a thousand, we don’t have to expand our management layer. So every time your gym hits like a scale point, you have to expand your management layer. When Two-Brain hit a hundred clients, we had to hire a head trainer and somebody that’s in charge of quality control and an admin. So that meant that then we had to add another 20 clients to get back to our level of profitability. And that happened again at 500 clients and at a thousand clients. We have this amazing team of about 70 staff worldwide. About 55 of those people are mentors, and we have an amazing admin staff of client support and ops, and our app developers and our bookkeeping staff. If I expand beyond a thousand, I’m gonna have to start expanding those roles.
Chris Cooper (20:19):
And the staff that we have right now is so good at their jobs, they’re so amazing, they’re so perfect, that adding one more person into the mix is just something that I don’t wanna do. And so I would rather keep delivering a 10-outta-10 experience for our clients with the staff that we have now instead of introducing new staff and training them up. We’re really rocking right now. So what does a cap actually mean? This is the last question. A cap doesn’t mean that we’re putting up a fence around Two-Brain and we’re not taking any new clients. Every single month through natural causes we open up spaces for about 20 more people. Sometimes we’re ascending people into our Tinker-level program. Sometimes we’re graduating people into our alumni path, and sometimes we’re just not a perfect fit. So that means we have about 20 seats available per month, where we will welcome gyms who are ready for mentorship, no matter where they’re coming from. Even if they haven’t opened yet and they want the best possible path, we will welcome them with full focus and attention.
Chris Cooper (21:21):
We’ll welcome them with one-on-one mentorship and cutting-edge technology and everything that they need and nothing that they don’t need. We’ll welcome them without distraction. We’ll welcome them with our full attention, full heart, full level of care because we have this cap in place. I’m explaining this because I want you to understand that there is value in capping your service, that unlimited growth doesn’t mean unlimited upside or unlimited profits or unlimited fun for you, the entrepreneur, most of the time. It just means that you’re trying to satisfy your ego. Trust me, at a thousand clients, my heart is full, my life is full, and I am absolutely thrilled to be working with a thousand of the top gyms in the world. I’m Chris Cooper, this is “Run a Profitable Gym.” Thanks for listening. If you wanna chat more or ask more questions about this or anything to do with gym ownership, you can join our Gym Owners United Group. It’s free. It’s on Facebook, where you’re already spending five hours of your day. Just go to gymownersunited.com and you’ll be directed. Thank you for your service.