Two-Brain Radio: Incredible Client Success with Eden Watson

Two-Brain Radio: Incredible Client Success with Eden Watson

Chris: 00:01 – Eden Watson is the client success manager at Two-Brain Business. I usually call her the right brain of Two-Brain. Today we’re going to be talking about why your gym should have a client success manager, why you can’t just trust something as important as client retention to your coaches who are busy and have other things to do, why you can’t take client retention for granted or really hang your hat on your programming or your quote unquote “community.” We think this is a very highly leverageable role. I’ve been writing about this role with different names like Joy Girl and Joy Person since 2010 and today we’re going to talk about who is the best CSM, how to measure your ROI on hiring a CSM person, what kinds of things they can do and five tips that you can do to increase your client retention today and how to measure success. You’re gonna really love this. This is a very directive, actionable episode and we’re going to have some videos from our summit in here. We’re going to have some great links in the show notes, too. Enjoy.

Greg: 01:07 – Two-Brain Radio is brought to you by Two-Brain Business. We make gyms profitable. We’re going to bring you the very best tips, tactics interviews in the business world each week. To find out how we can help you create your Perfect Day, book a free call with a mentor at

Chris: 01:26 – Everybody hates their insurance company until they need their insurance company. My insurance recommendation is Vaughn Vernon of Affiliate Guard. Before I get into this story, I want to make it clear here that I don’t get any kickback for recommending Vaughn, but I’ve done it so many times. Whenever anybody online asks a question about insurance companies, I always say Affiliate Guard. Here’s why. Years ago when we affiliated with CrossFit, my insurance company dumped me, citing quote unquote “tractor pulls” that we were going to be doing, whatever the hell that is. I’ve never pulled a tractor in my life. I’ve driven lots of tractors and I can tell you, I don’t think I could pull one if I wanted to, but that’s besides the point. At that time, the person who swooped in and saved CrossFit gyms in Canada was Joanne LeGal, and if you’re in Canada, I recommend talking to her—period.You don’t have to talk to her first. You don’t have to talk to her last. Just talk to her, period. If you’re in the states though, I recommend Affiliate Guard because the program that I get through Joanne in Canada is really, really awesome and all inclusive. Joanne’s personality, though, is what keeps me with their company. In the states. Affiliate Guard is run by Vaughn Vernon, a massive personality, a CrossFitter, a Jujitsu guy. He drives dirt bikes, he has good-looking kids, all that stuff and his policy is the best. It’s really, really tough to tell when you’re reading your policy if the benefits are the same as someone else’s because they obscure stuff on purpose. It’s just like taxes. However, when I’m looking at my policy, I ask myself, “Will that guy get up in the middle of the night and helped me out?”This weekend was a great example of Vaughn’s personality. One of my friends and clients down in Florida had their garage door smashed open by a Mustang that was doing donuts in the parking lot and they texted me at 6:00 a.m. on a Sunday and I wanted to help. So I texted Vaughn, he’s two hours behind me and he responded right away. Your insurance company is not going to do that. As I said at the start of this, everybody hates their insurance company until they need insurance. And when you do need insurance, you want them to answer the damn phone on a Sunday morning and you want to talk to the head man and you just want to know everything’s going to be OK. With Affiliate Guard, it is.

Chris: 03:44 – Eden Watson, welcome to Two-Brain Radio.

Eden: 03:45 – Hi, thanks for having me.

Chris: 03:48 – Let’s start with what client success manager means and then we’ll start getting into why and how and who.

Eden: 03:55 – OK.

Chris: 03:55 – So what is a CSM?

Eden: 03:55 – The CSM is a role in your business that gives your client a relationship with your brand and not one individual. Lots of you probably have read Chris’ books and we talk about the Joy Girl role, and that’s evolved a bit over time. The CSM role, basically your primary tool to increase your length of engagement with your clients. So if you have a high turnover, this is a critical role for your business. If you have clients coming in and out the door, you’re gonna want to have some person in place to make sure that stuff’s happening. So the CSM, we like to call it the CSM, client success manager, can be thought of as a human Bright Spot. You want to really encourage your members to stick around. The CSM person, they make sure your clients feel like they’re doing a great job all the time, they feel good about themselves and they know what’s coming up next. So they have a path in place and they can stick with your service. I’ve often thought like without a CSM, why doesn’t someone just go to a globo gym where they’re just on their own path doing their own thing and being lost in the mix of numbers at a big gym.

Chris: 05:09 – OK. So I mean you’re the CSM for Two-Brain. And often when people say, “What’s Eden’s role?” I say she’s the right brain of Two-Brain. Your job is to be empathetic and notice when people have big Bright Spots that I might not have seen or stuff like that.

Eden: 05:27 – Right, yeah. Cause it’s time consuming to do all the things that you do and see all the Bright Spots and somehow you’ve managed to do that for quite some time. But for sure that empathy piece, you want to be looking for and for folks kind of falling off or maybe not having such a great go of things, you know. Circumstances change, so we need to be there to rally around folks when they start having those difficult times and to help support the successes when they do have them. So that is the empathetic part that I do and the role that I play.

Chris: 06:01 – Yeah, it’s not that any gym owner or any business owner is so callous that they don’t have feelings or they’re not paying attention or they don’t notice, right, it’s just like all of us work, and tasks fill the time that we have. And so it’s very easy to be like, “Oh man, it’s that person’s birthday. I should send them a card.” And then you get all wrapped up in like a billing error with your software or whatever. And now it’s six o’clock and you’re exhausted and you’re choosing between, do I send this client a card or do I actually go home for my kid’s birthday party? So this is really the value of the CSM. But I never want to give somebody a—you know, here’s a hire that you have to have where we can’t directly attribute it to ROI. So, you already mentioned that the CSM increases length of engagement and we’re going to talk about how, I think, at the end of this conversation.

Eden: 06:53 – Sure, yeah. OK.

Chris: 06:54 – Awesome. So what are some tasks that the gym CSM would do?

Eden: 06:57 – Sure. So, I see primarily, maybe when you’re first starting out is that person is starting out by rewarding people’s Bright Spots; that’s a really quick win for people. And that doesn’t take a lot of a CMS’s time and maybe that’s all that’s on the plate right away. But then maybe the role also evolves to contain some checking in on client progress. Of course you can do some of this through automated emails, but that’s something the CSM would be, you know, in charge of and handle. And they’re basically acting as a liaison between your coaching team and your clients. And potentially the business owner as well, depending on how large the staff is at this time. The CSM also can create some of those automated emails or adjust them and they basically run the client experience. So they can provide feedback on that client experience and shape that client experience depending on, again, the level of the organization and how involved the owner wants to be.

Chris: 07:57 – OK. That’s awesome. So we’re going to walk through like the evolution and how many hours the CSM role takes and stuff later. But let’s say that we’re about to hire a CSM. We already know that we need somebody. What are the characteristics of a great client success manager?

Eden: 08:14 – OK. So I’d say there’s three primary characteristics that are most important when you’re looking to fill this role. You really need to have someone who’s empathetic. You have to have that right-brain person. You can’t fake empathy.

Chris: 08:24 – Right, exactly.

Eden: 08:28 – And that person needs to be able to—the definition of empathy—imagine what the other people are feeling. So imagine what your client is experiencing in the various stages of their journey and anticipate where they might fall off. Anticipate when they might need a pat on the back and some encouragement. Next, you really need to have buy-in. That person has to believe in your brand. They can’t fake that either. But don’t let this hold you back. I think, you know, you don’t have to hire somebody from within your gym to fill this role, so they might not understand or appreciate CrossFit or your gym or your branding right away, but that doesn’t mean they won’t buy in, just make sure your vision is clear to them. Your values are clear to them to bring them on board. And then you need to have somebody who’s somewhat tech savvy, and I don’t just mean they can operate a computer. I mean, basically build it right into the hiring process. Test them by asking them to upload a document and spell it a certain way and, you know, do a couple things there that would get them to check if they’ve got good grammar and that sort of stuff. Cause they’re going to be addressing cards to people, they’re gonna be celebrating wins. They’re going to be maybe posting on your social media. So you don’t want somebody who’s not got a high attention to detail in that capacity. But yeah, using, you know, Google Drive because they’re going to be tracking maybe spreadsheets and that sort of thing. And then maybe eventually using a CRM tool, a customer relationship management tool for you, like UpLaunch for example. You don’t have to test them on the full gamut of these things, but you want to make sure that they can handle the technology you’re gonna throw at them and be able to make that technology work for them. And kind of evolve the role like I said before as they do that. Some bonus parts to these characteristics, number four would be having that high attention to detail. It kind of comes with being empathetic. You’re going to have a high attention to detail for, you know, looking for the feelings of others and looking after the feelings of others. But this is also around the grammar and that sort of thing. Another bonus would be just that they’re a happy person and that they want to bring joy to others. It’s kind of innate in that role; it has to be there.

Chris: 10:39 – When I wrote the first book and wrote about the Joy Girl—by the way, the name Joy Girl came from her, the first person that I ever hired for this role, she called herself the Joy Girl. But originally the recommendation was like, this is a low-value, highly leverageable role. You can hire somebody to do this for about $12 an hour, two hours a week, and all they’re going to do is take client Bright Spots that coaches have recorded every single class or PT session. They’re going to call the client on Friday and say, “Congratulations, we’re so proud of you. What are you going to do next?” And that would buy the owner time, two hours to do something else, basically. But back then it was really more like, you need to do this. You’re not doing it because you don’t have time. So how has the CSM role now evolved with like the Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief framework?

Eden: 11:34 – So like you mentioned, in Founder Phase, maybe it’s two hours a week and the owner gets that time back to work on more valuable things that they could be working on and they’re just tracking client wins. They’re just calling them, texting them, sending them a nice message or posting on Facebook, whatever your system’s going to be and asking them, “What’s next for you?” And the big part there, Chris, is that that is keeping those clients engaged, and I know that that starts to contribute to LEG. And then as we evolve and we’ve got more clients and we’ve got more team members in the Farmer Phase, we’re looking at that role evolving potentially to five hours a week. Just because you have that bigger client base, you can’t do that all in two hours. And then you’ve got additional team members that you have to liaise with. So that go-between action of talking to coach A and you know, giving something or celebrating something for client A now goes from just point A to point A to ABCDEFG, whatever number of coaches and clients you have. So OK, so we’ve scaled a little bit more because your client base has changed, your team members have changed. You’re still tracking the wins, but you might be, if you have the right person in that role and you want them to be, you can be checking in on athletes. So doing something we call athlete check-ins or goal reviews, sitting down with them, say every 90 days and finding out what’s going well and where we need to tailor their prescription and get them, you know, working in a different place in your gym. So once we get into the Farmer to Tinker stage, now we’re talking, yes, maybe the role has evolved and it’s taking up a greater chunk of that person’s time. But the role is evolving to include things like metric tracking. So measuring that LEG, measuring the client journey, and developing and coordinate different tracking tools for the clients. So maybe you’re using something currently and your CSM has discovered there’s a different tracking tool. They wanna try it, let them try it for three months potentially and then see how it’s working and go back and reevaluate. They might want to start developing new processes as they pertain to sales and LEG. They’re probably providing some sort of feedback mechanism to your teams. So you know, if they’re hearing a lot of negatives about a certain coach, well, they’re going to have to address that with the coach themselves, or depending on your reporting relationships, maybe they’re addressing it with the owner or you know, your head of coaching.

Eden: 14:10 – Also this role becomes a little more autonomous at this stage. So the CSM’s proven to you that they can succeed in this role, that they can do the tasks you’ve asked of them. And now you can hand over the reins a little bit. For those of your listeners that were at the summit, Greg and I spoke about organizational culture and one of the ways to motivate any team is to provide them autonomy cause you feel really good when you’re able to work autonomously. Giving the CSM a bit more freedom at this time so they can decide the best way to move forward in this role is really motivating. So they’ll stay motivated when you get to this point. Also, basically developing and coordinating how to administer those athlete check-ins. Again, if they have an understanding of training and of the prescriptive model that your gym uses, they might be able to do this athlete check-in role, and they can have a hand in some operations or some HR functions, so if there are coaches that are requiring performance improvement plans and that sort of thing, they can have a hand in either sitting down with the coaches or providing that information back to whoever’s in charge of that. And I think we’ve talked about this all through all of your books, but when somebody is doing a role, it’s important to get them to document that SOP, the standard operating procedure of that role. So the CSM at this stage should really have a good handle on what the operations look like, but they might have a hand in other operations in the business because they’re so plugged into all the different kind of departments, if you will, that they’ll have a good idea of what those are and then they can have a hand in refining the operations as that begins to be a need in your business. OK.

Chris: 16:00 – So, you know, we are going to talk about like why the client’s relationship should be between them and your brand instead of between them and one specific coach. But one of the things that you just mentioned made me think of, you know, what if they have a bad relationship with your coach but they don’t have a bad relationship with your gym, right? Who will they turn to if the coach is their coach for life or like primary point of contact, right? They have to leave your gym, where one of the things that you do amazingly well at Two-Brain is mentor matching. So somebody new starts at Two-Brain, we have a team of 28 mentors. We’re gonna match you out based on personality and work habits. But a very tiny fraction of the time, after about three weeks, we realize that we could have made a better match. And so the client will say, “Eden, can I try a different mentor?” And that’s great. They don’t lose their progress. They don’t lose traction.

Eden: 16:58 – Exactly. So same thing could certainly happen in your gym where you’ve got somebody, you know, die hard, ready to go when the coach is either reeling them back or pushing them too hard or whatever happens, personality mismatch. And we need to reassign this person to a different personal trainer. Or maybe they discover that group fitness is not for them. Well now the CSM steps in and sees their lack of momentum that they’re, you know, you’re tracking that they’re not attending their classes anymore. And the CSM catches that maybe even before your client comes to you and says, “I don’t want to work with so and so” and certainly before the client says, “I just want to cancel.” The CSM can be all over that and help find what the best fit is for that client. So that’s where they have to have some empathy. Of course, that really relates back to that. We need to be able to anticipate those clients’ feelings, how they’re feeling, and digging in and asking the question like, what’s really going on here? And not being scared of the answer.

Chris: 17:56 – Hey guys, it’s Chris Cooper. If you’ve ever run out of money, you know that it affects every single corner of your life, all of your relationships, your business, even your self-worth. And so when I found a mentor in 2009, I said, I want to share this gift with everyone. Since then I’ve been building and refining and improving a mentorship practice that we now call Two-Brain Business. We break our mentorship into several stages. The first stage is the Incubator, which is a 12-week sprint to get your foundation built, to get you started on retention and employee programs and finding the best staff, putting them in the best roles, training them up to be successful, and then recruiting more clients. It’s an amazing program. It is the culmination of over a decade of work. It’s also the sum of best practices from over 800 gyms around the world. These aren’t just my ideas anymore. What we do is track with data what’s working for whom and when and we test new ideas against that data to say, is this actually better? Then when ideas have proven themselves conclusively, then we put it in our Incubator or Growth or Tinker programs. I just wrote “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief” to define who should be doing what in what stage of entrepreneurship, but no matter where you are, the Incubator is your first 12-week sprint to get as far as possible in your business. We’re a mentorship practice for one reason: Mentorship is what works. We work with gym owners for one reason: because you have the potential to change the world with us. And I hope you do.

Chris: 19:27 – That’s awesome. You know, we’re going to talk about like how the CSM role pays for itself and more, we want every role that you put in your business to have a positive return on that investment of at least 2.25 times what you spend on it. And one of the most leverageable is the CSM because if your length of engagement goes up and you can keep a client for an extra two months because of the CSM, then that’s an amazing increase. And we found in our research last year that if the average gym with 150 members paying $150 a month, if they could keep every client three months longer, that the owner would make another $40,000 a year in profit. It’s incredible. And you’re talking about, you know, a pretty inexpensive role working two to five hours a week to make that much difference. It’s hard to find another role that’s as leverageable as this one. OK. So regardless of that, some consulting companies say that like you should appoint a coach for life and the coach should be in charge of all these things. Right? So why do we say that a gym needs a CSM instead of just counting on coaches to build and maintain relationships?

Eden: 20:39 – Well, I think coaches are hired, presumably, to coach, that’s what they signed up for. So I guess what would you say if you were hired at a fast-food restaurant to serve customers and all of a sudden they started asking you to go up and shingle the roof?

Chris: 20:53 – I’d say they’re going to have a leaky drive-thru.

Eden: 20:55 – I think that’s still a critical function, shingling a roof, but it’s really not what they signed up for. And it might not be within that person’s wheelhouse. So I don’t know—I’m not saying that all coaches do not want to be a CSM. There might be some overlap. And when you have that coach who wants to do coaching and CSM or you know, client engagement stuff, great. Let them do it. But I don’t think that every coach—I can think of a few that don’t want that role—.

Chris: 21:25 – Like me and your husband?

Eden: 21:29 – For this role. So let’s let them do what they’re strong at, which is coaching. And let’s let somebody who’s super empathetic and engaged and wants to engage with people do the CSM stuff. So, OK, so let’s say you do have a coach who wants to do it. Add that role to their plate, right? Great. If you have a coach who doesn’t want to do it, now introduce them to your newly hired CSM and let them know what—keep the lines of communication open and let those two know how they can interact. Whatever mechanism, if it’s just a sticky note, great. If it’s whatever, make sure they know the tools by which they can communicate the Bright Spots or the client falling off the struggle bus or whatever it is the CSM has to know about.

Chris: 22:11 – You know what’s really funny, I never realized this until now. So for listeners at home, Eden’s husband, Mike, and I have been coaching together since 2002 and he was the first hire at Catalyst in 2005, like two weeks after we opened. Neither Mike nor I are jerks. However, when you put however in a sentence—anyway, so several years in we realized like we were super busy, we were doing personal training and coaching and our days were completely packed. And so when a client would get married, we would forget or we wouldn’t have time to like send them a card. Right? And so we said, well, let’s take the happiest, bubbliest person at the gym, that was Charity at the time, and let’s put her in charge of these things. And she called herself the Joy Girl and that’s where it really came from.

Eden: 23:02 – Yeah, you definitely need to designate somebody to this role that’s going to thrive in the role. Like I said before, you just can’t fake it. It falls off your plate. It’s just doesn’t seem as critical as, you know, payroll for example.

Chris: 23:17 – So, if—you’ve got two options, right? You hire a CSM and the coach backs them up or you add the role of CSM to one of your coaches for all of your clients. OK. What tools do you give that person to start being a CSM?

Eden: 23:37 – You want to send personalized messages. So lots of gyms that listen to Two-Brain Radio probably have a private members’ Facebook group for the gym members. If you’ve got a joy person just putting the Bright Spots in there, Great. That’s a really good first step. Costs you nothing except the person’s time. But we’re starting to use; we’ve been using SendOutCards for sending personalized messages, and I think what’s really special about that is if I catch somebody, I don’t even work at the gym, but I actually catch people having Bright Spots at the gym and capture it on my phone and send them a card through SendOutCards sometimes. Right? Take a picture of the PR board and send it to them. People are so grateful for that. SendOutCards, I should explain, is a tool. You take a picture, you upload it to this program and you can create a beautiful greeting card that someone gets mailed to their home. They open it up and they stick it on the fridge.

Chris: 24:34 – We’ll have a link in the show notes, but I actually got one from you this morning. It’s a picture of us giving our chef Mary a bike and her crying. The hashtag on the front says Oprah’s banker. ‘Cause you get to give out prizes.

Eden: 24:50 – It’s being the banker for all these lovely prizes that I give people. But yeah, so on a lesser scale, you don’t have to give bikes to all your members, but you can start with just a nice personalized message in a card. Literally I send out these cards to people and they post them on their fridge and they’re so happy to receive them. It makes my day and it makes their day. So another part of that is the affinity marketing that happens with that because now their friends are over for dinner and they look on the fridge and they see this card and they see your logo on it and they’re asking a lot more questions about the gym. And now you get this person in front of you eventually for a No-Sweat Intro. Next thing, another tool that you have to give your CSM, which is critical, is a budget for these kinds of rewards or a budget for rewarding the Bright Spots or how do we get them back on track when they’ve fallen off track? Some sort of budget for anything that you’re asking them to do.

Chris: 25:47 – I would go nuts if I didn’t have a budget.

Eden: 25:49 – Yes, you would.

Chris: 25:52 – Now that we figured out how to send steak and lobster dinners to people and stuff, like I can just press a button and I’m logged in and hit send, right? I would just do it every day.

Eden: 26:03 – And you don’t have to give them a budget in dollars necessarily, but you can give them a range of choices. So some parameters are very helpful for somebody who’s an empathetic person to choose from. So they don’t have to think, “What would Chris say if I sent this person a a hundred dollars worth of stuff” or whatever. You just set it up so it’s easy for them.

Chris: 26:25 – And usually you’re sending meaningful gifts too, right? Like, the lion flag. I’ll share the video in the show notes of us handing out lion flags at the summit. I have no idea what those things actually cost, but their value is tremendous.

Eden: 26:40 – Yeah, it’s incredible. I actually was blown away by the value the lion flag. It’s just so, it’s so sentimental. It’s so personal. It’s so touching for entrepreneurs to be rewarded for their struggles and their challenges. And when they overcome them and are rewarded with this, they feel like $1 million. It’s a measurable. But part of that budget and the range of gifts, you know, something that your CSM can choose from or use to track this is that they can track it afterwards, right? So they’ve got this range and I’m allowed to spend $50 a week on this or whatever. And now I can actually track and look at my LEG score increasing and have some values and some actual concrete numbers to pay attention to.

Chris: 27:25 – And that’s key, right? You have to look at LEG like just as you track your cost per acquisition when you’re doing Facebook lead ads and you follow that through the funnel to figure out like what a new client’s costing you, you should be able to track like what is it costing you to increase the length of engagement with every client.

Eden: 27:43 – And another tool that they need, they just need a tool as basic as you want or as sophisticated as they need to track these—to communicate with the coaches or, you know, figure out who is getting what. If that’s just a Google Doc spreadsheet, great, to start. If it’s sticky notes, great. We’ve also had some questions recently, can a CSM work remotely? So sticky notes, that’s not a tool you can use if you’re working remotely. But a simple spreadsheet shared between all your coaches and the CSM who works, you know, 50 miles down the road, that can work. There’s other tools; we use Slack with Two-Brain, it’s just a online tool that’s tracking all your messages in one place that can really work for you. Or if you want to use, you know, the actual software folks use like Wodify or Mindbody if there’s places for notes that pertain to the client, then use those. Or maybe a separate group on Facebook, something as, like I said, sophisticated or as simple as you want. And then we also recommend UpLaunch as a great customer relationship management tool and that will be to send out some automations and some information to your clients in an ongoing fashion and in a directed fashion, depending on what stage of the client journey they’re at.

Chris: 29:00 – So just keeping track of people, right? So maybe they called you, maybe they did a No-Sweat Intro and didn’t sign up. Or maybe they have left your gym. And nobody ever followed up with them. I mean, even for the sake of getting client stories, like in the Farmer Phase, you need to make your clients famous by telling their stories on video or whatever. Exactly like did. But if the coach doesn’t have time to do that, having the CSM do that is incredibly valuable.

Eden: 29:28 – Absolutely. Your gym is there to help people feel good about themselves. I think we’d all agree, and this is such a easy, affordable and beautiful way to do that.

Chris: 29:43 – All right, Eden. So I think we made the point that like this is a strong ROI. So what are five things that gyms could do right now that would really affect their length of engagement with their clients?

Eden: 30:01 – So one thing is, and I think we’ve made this abundantly clear, is get started with a CSM today. I think that role can be started in as few as two hours. And we talked earlier about, you know, who to hire, how to hire them. Just jump in, you know, a remote person to do this. Or a person from your gym, we’re good either way. Number two, second thing would be map your client journey as it stands today and find any gaps, because we need to know where those gaps are so we can have somebody fill those gaps in that role as the CSM.

Chris: 30:36 – What’s a client journey? Maybe somebody hasn’t heard our episode about that.

Eden: 30:40 – OK, sure. So your prospect’s journey starts before they actually become a member of your gym. And your client journey can contain that piece of it. But it’s actually the way in which a client travels through your gym. So by the time they come to the front door, who’s greeting them? Are they sitting down for a No-Sweat Intro or do they just start group classes? Maps it all the way through till they actually, if or when they cancel and leave your gym. It just maps the steps they take. If they interface with the software, if they interface with a human and if they interface with, you know, your coaches, you need to map the steps that they take and the person or people or softwares that they contact.

Chris: 31:26 – And we do that in the Incubator.

Eden: 31:28 – Yes. Another thing that we would encourage you to do today that makes a huge difference is just start Bright Spots Fridays if you’re not already celebrating and having your members celebrate their own successes in your Facebook private members group, I would encourage you to start that. It’s so powerful, on Fridays, Chris and I have to close our computers and not look at the Bright Spots on the Two-Brain private members’ page. But within Catalyst, Chris’s gym, they’re so powerful. Like the people are celebrating successes and milestones in there that are so wonderful to hear about. And if you start doing that and have a CSM hire, they can celebrate right along with them and they can actually start that ship, right, they can start those Bright Spots off on Friday mornings and then they can take those Bright Spots, turn it into a card and send that card to someone—.

Chris: 32:20 – Or testimonial or whatever.

Eden: 32:23 – Yeah, exactly. Go to that person now and talk to him about that Bright Spot and record it on film. Fourth thing is you have to actually measure your current length of engagement. Your current LEG. Don’t assume that people stick around for two years and be surprised to find out that they stick around for 12 months.

Chris: 32:41 – Yeah, I think this is huge and a lot of people make assumptions about what improves retention. Like, so a lot of gyms will actually come in and they’re doing like two gym family member outings a month, you know, so one night, oh we’re all going to the bar and the other night, oh we’re all going to play slow pitch. And that’s a lot of extra work. You know, it really, it plays on your family time if you have a family and you’re a gym owner, and you might be doing that for nothing.

Eden: 33:08 – Your members might not be that interested or they were interested one time, once, but you’re continuing on and it might be a huge waste. So, the fifth thing that you can do that we’d encourage is to institute an on-ramp program at your gym. Cause that will make a huge difference on how clients can actually be set up for success.

Chris: 33:31 – It’s funny that we even have to say this now because it seems self-evident, but you know, when I wrote the original “Two-Brain Business,” most people didn’t have an on=ramp process at all. And so after tracking this stuff for over a decade and thousands of gyms, the number one determinant of how long somebody stays is how well they’re on-boarded, right? So it’s mapping the client journey first so that you’ve got everything on paper and you know exactly what a person’s steps are going to be, but then also like providing the best steps to exercise with you. And that might lead to group training. It might not. So, OK, well that’s awesome, Eden. Let’s say that somebody has some questions and they’re like, how do I find a CSM? How do I hire? What should their job description be? How can they get ahold of you?

Eden: 34:18 – So you can email me. It’s Eden,, and I promise to return your messages and I am really excited to help other people implement this in their business. So drop me a line. I would love to help you make a difference.

Chris: 34:34 – So amazing. Thanks.

Eden: 34:36 – Thank you.

Greg: 34:37 – Thank you for listening to Two-Brain Radio. Make sure to subscribe to receive the most up-to-date episodes wherever you get your podcasts from. To find out how we can help create your Perfect Day, book a free call with a mentor at


Greg Strauch will be here every Thursday with the Two-Brain Radio Podcast.

Two-Brain Marketing episodes come out Mondays, and host Mateo Lopez focuses on sales and digital marketing. 

On Wednesdays, Sean Woodland tells the best stories in the CrossFit community on Two-Brain Radio With Sean Woodland.

Thanks for Listening!

To share your thoughts:

To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes.
Two-Brain Radio: Chase Ingraham

Two-Brain Radio: Chase Ingraham

Sean: 00:00 – Hello everybody and welcome to another edition of Two-Brain Radio with Sean Woodland. On today’s edition I talk with former Games athlete and current CrossFit broadcaster Chase Ingraham. First, are you a stressed business owner who’s working too much and still struggling to make a profit? If you want to grow your venture and reach the next level Two-Brain Business is here to help you with a free 60-minute call. It’s not a sales pitch, just an opportunity for you to get real, actionable advice from an expert who’s built a successful business. For one-on-one guidance on how to take your business to the next level, you can book your Free Help call today at Chase Ingraham has been involved in CrossFit since 2008. He currently owns CrossFit Dig D in Dallas, Texas. He competed at the Games in 2010 as an individual and has also been to the Regionals five times. Chase was a member of the CrossFit Games media team and most recently served as an analyst alongside yours truly on the Rogue Iron game in Madison, Wisconsin for the 2019 Reebok CrossFit Games. We talk about how he got into the broadcast side of the sport, growing up as the son of two very high-level athletes and some of his most memorable performances as an individual athlete. Thanks for listening everybody.

Sean: 01:21 – Chase Ingraham, how you doing, man?

Chase: 01:25 – I’m great. Great. I got that. Post-Games honeymoon depression, but other than that, everything is fantastic.

Sean: 01:34 – Yeah. You’re coming off the broadcast. You and I got to work together on the Rogue Iron Game. Let’s go back. I should know the answer to this and I actually don’t, but how did you get involved in the broadcast side of CrossFit?

Chase: 01:45 – So from the very beginning or this weekend?

Sean: 01:48 – From the very beginning.

Chase: 01:49 – From the very beginning, it was 2012 and I had made the Games in 10, I had just missed the Games and 11, thanks to an unfortunate workout that shall not be named, although it probably will later. And I had to have shoulder surgery. Particularly just due to some previous cross-injuries that I’d sustained and I was looking for kind of a purpose that off season. Part of that was I coached and put together a team in 2010 a team in 2011 and another one in 2012, and you guys were having the Update Show— actually you weren’t, Rory was, I hadn’t met you yet. And a buddy of mine, I was talking to him and he goes, why don’t you submit a Update Show segment called “how to pick and choose teams for the CrossFit Games.” I was like, oh, that’s a great idea., And the only person I knew at the time was actually Dave Re, photographer. Local, then became local to you guys and is now re-local to us back here in Texas. So I emailed him my idea and he said he would forward it on, and three days later I get a call from Rory McKernan asking if I have any broadcast experience. And I said, no—

Sean: 03:20 – Does what I sent you count?

Chase: 03:23 – And he said “Would you like some?” I said, “Absolutely.” And kind of the rest is history, is that we all came together for that Central East Regional and went from there. And that’s really how it started with this. I think it’s funny is that after that happened, I’ve never been afraid to ask for something I’m willing to work for ever again. And every time I see Dave Re, I shake his hand and I thank him because the only reason why I got to do say what we did last weekend was because of him.

Sean: 03:56 – Well, I think you had something to do with that as well.

Chase: 04:02 – Yeah. I mean we work hard, but sometimes you gotta take advantage of the opportunities that you’re given.

Sean: 04:09 – What were the kind of the first lessons that you learned when you got into that side of things?

Chase: 04:16 – That I was horrible at broadcasting. But the reality is it’s just so much harder than you can imagine. Of how the process of broadcasting goes because you know, a lot of times when you’re just—if the broadcast is doing its job correctly, you don’t even know that they’re there. It feels like the inner voice in your head, dialoguing what’s currently happening. And for me, I just kinda thought like how many times when we sat around and had a beer and watched the game and kind of talked about it, that seems really easy to do, but that’s actually not the case. And so learning how to do a very, very difficult job and then with the added pressure of, I knew the importance of the position right from the bat. Partly because, you know, at the time I was still very competitive. I knew the athletes that were doing it. I knew what it took to get there. I knew that their story was very important. So that was very personal to me and to be in a position to bring that to either strangers of the sport or super fans of the sport, I knew that role was very important. So the added pressure to that was also very challenging.

Sean: 05:41 – When did it click for you?

Chase: 05:46 – I don’t want to say it’s ever clicked, but I think it was—you know what, it was actually in, I want to say the Meridian Regional in 2015 where I went overseas for the first time, and I do mean like first time to Europe ever, and I was with Mads Jacobsen, who can speak nine languages fluently and could say every athlete’s name, say it in the dialect in which it’s supposed to be said. And then he knew everybody. This guy was pulling out stats of the judges judging the athletes, it was incredible. And I felt a tremendous, like more pressure than I’d ever had in my entire broadcasting career to do things the right way, like say the names the right way, give the opinions the right way. And I was doing play-by-play at the time. And about a day and a half in, I’m just butchering these names, trying to say them the right way. Like it was embarrassing. Like if you go back and listen to that, I mean I was like trying to keep pace with Mads and then I was like, I can’t do this. Like, I’m focusing so much on trying to do this kind of the way you do it and the right way, that I’m screwing this up. And he goes, “Hey, you have an American accent, right?” “Yeah.” “OK. So how do you feel when these Europeans or Swedes or South Africans say your name in their accent?” “I think it’s cool.” He goes, “Exactly.”

Sean: 07:32 – Mads has a way about making you feel good about yourself.

Chase: 07:35 – Yeah. And it was such a weird, weird thing to make all of it click, but I was like, it transformed into be yourself, enjoy what you’re doing and just give the people what’s in front of them. I think right when that happened, I immediately got comfortable in my own skin and I started having fun. And I feel like that translated to the to 2015 Games. Where I was, instead of trying to be a broadcaster, which I didn’t know how to do, cause I’d only been doing it for three years, is that I just was myself, and I found out that being myself and just doing the job correctly was good enough. And if it wasn’t, then I was OK with that. So that’s when it all kind of clicked,

Sean: 08:19 – You’ve lived on both sides. Play by play and you’ve done the analyst work and the color commentary work. How does your experience as a coach help you as an analyst?

Chase: 08:32 – Oh man. I’ll tell you right off the bat, when we originally met in 2012 and they wanted me to do play by play, it was like for the teams, for the first two heats. We had so many people, we were getting such small roles—

Sean: 08:45 – 30 announcers—

Chase: 08:46 – And I’m looking around and this wasn’t meant to be like cocky, but it was like, I am not in the right role for this job. I shouldn’t be in the driver’s seat of what’s going on. I know more about what’s happening behind the scenes and CrossFit stuff than anybody here, and that’s how I felt. It wasn’t a slight to anybody else. It’s ’cause I’ve lived it as a competitor. I’ve lived it as a coach. I’ve lived it as a coach in an affiliate and I just knew all of that nuances in between that it felt like the little details of why something is happening is getting missed. So I think just being so immersed in it from the bottom up has really given me a good perspective as an analyst because I’ve seen it, I’ve thought—listen, I sucked at CrossFit before I got good at CrossFit and then I sucked at coaching before I could coach. And then I sucked—you know, it’s like you got to suck at something before you get good at something. I saw this play on words where it was like you need to—oh gosh, what was it—like you have to suck more to suck less to have success, something like that. I was like, oh yeah, that makes a lot of sense. But I think from the analyst side is that I had the fortunate position to be in it from every level in terms of athlete, coach and affiliate owner towards the end, but also be in it at every level of success, you know, the worst to find successes in the sport, I feel like has given me a good breadth of kind of analytical cash, so to speak, to kind of play off of.

Sean: 10:43 – What do you enjoy most about the whole broadcasting experience?

Chase: 10:49 – That’s a long answer. It’s a good answer. But I love being in a position to share my love and passion of CrossFit and the sport with people that are watching the broadcast. So for me, it’s a matter of I have so much fun doing it. I love it so much and I feel like I’m in a very unique and special position to be able to bring that to people watching it. Like, oh, this looks cool. I’m like, let me tell you how cool this is. I want you to hear how cool this is that you start to feel that. It’s like we can’t be in the Coliseum when it’s happening, but I want you to feel it. I want you to understand the magnitude of the situation and how special this is. And I take that so personally that, I mean, people may have found this before that I get really wrapped up into the call. While it’s happening, it’s like I’m having like emotional and sometimes like visceral, responses—

Sean: 12:05 – But that’s a good thing, that’s definitely a good thing.

Chase: 12:08 – And so what I want people to be able to see is the authenticity of the sport, I want it to be mirrored and mimicked by the authenticity of my call.

Sean: 12:19 – You’re certainly doing a good job of it.

Chase: 12:21 – Thank you.

Sean: 12:21 – I mean you’ve been to Regionals, you’ve been to, I mean, you’ve done Open announcements, you’ve done Games, you know, you’ve done desk stuff. What are your best memories from your experience on the broadcast side?

Chase: 12:34 – You know, it really has nothing to do with the broadcast itself. I think, you know, this last year really kind of put that into perspective is that, you know, I think you can attest to this too, is that when we were told that there was not going to be a broadcast anymore or the media department is being disbanded, the first thing I thought about was not, oh, I don’t have a job anymore or I don’t get to do that thing that I enjoy doing. It was, I don’t get to see the people and work with the people that I have as close to a personal relationship as family as you can get without sharing the same last name. And I truly do feel like that just because everybody behind the scenes and you know, people say this, like cared so much about what they did and were so willing to look so hard for the same reason. That’s what really made the coverage what it was. And it wasn’t like, you know, the six guys that got to talk in a mic. We had the easiest job. But it was just everybody there. And when we all said goodbye in 2018 usually it’s like, hey, great seeing you again, love you, see you in maybe February or May or back here in a year. And that is what I ,was the most sad about thinking I would never get to do that again with the people I really do care about. And that’s kind of my favorite part of it is that, you know, working with a like-minded group of people for the same thing is very rare and that is something that we shared as a group.

Sean: 14:29 – You come from a pretty athletic family. Let’s start with your parents. What are the backgrounds in sports for both your mother and your father?

Chase: 14:39 – So I’ll start with Dad because Mom’s gonna out-shine him. My dad was a multiple sport athlete in high school. College, he was a starting linebacker with the University of Arizona and he got drafted and tinkered around the Philadelphia Eagles and 49ers for a couple of years until he got hurt. A career-ending knee injury, and just you know, growing up, when I look at my dad, like he was a superhero. He looked like a superhero, he was as big as a superhero. Like my dad, you know, my dad is my real-world hero. Like trying to be like him has kind of been the cornerstone of what drives me to do the things that I do. And then my mom swam in college, also at the University of Arizona, played club water polo for the men’s team because they didn’t have a club women’s team. Made Olympic trials. And then recently, my mom still swims to this day, she runs a masters program in San Antonio. They have over 350 athletes now, and she recently went to, I believe it was Masters World and she just aged 60-plus and won seven gold medals and set five new records.

Sean: 16:25 – Wow.

Chase: 16:26 – So my mom is still considered the best athlete in the family.

Sean: 16:32 – That’s crazy, man.

Chase: 16:32 – And is still collecting hardware. So that, you know, not a lot to live up to. My younger brother, who is my bigger brother cause he’s 6’10 and I’m 6’2, was the All-American football player, a wide receiver for Purdue University.

Sean: 16:51 – Boiler up.

Chase: 16:52 – Oh yeah. A freak athlete. Could play any sport. Like my brother Kyle is by far the most athletically gifted person in the family. And he’s been like that ever since he was little. And then my younger brother I got to swim with in college, which was super cool. He’s the youngest, Colton, and you know, we got to swim together at SMU for a year, which was really neat. I had a super senior year due to a medical issue my junior year. So that was really neat to be able to play and compete with my youngest brother cause we never got to as kids. And you know, he was—he ended up being faster than me in college. So I’m actually the worst one in the entire family.

Sean: 17:43 – Which is crazy.

Chase: 17:45 – We put a little bow on it. So there’s absolutely no pressure whatsoever to perform in sports in my family at all.

Sean: 17:53 – Well that was my next question. How did growing up in that environment kind of shape you as a person?

Chase: 17:59 – It was awesome. My dad, so this is true story, is that we moved a lot when I was little, not like a military family, my Dad just kept getting, you know, promotions and then we’d move. So from, I would say 5 to 10, we moved every year. So, you know, move before kindergarten, went to kindergarten, moved for first, second, third grade, always moving, always the new kid. And when I was—you know, kids are mean. And they’re not nice to the new kid. And so I think it was, gosh, I was young, and I was getting picked on in school. I think it was like first grade, and I came home crying to my dad, and you know, he’s like, “Well, what’s the matter?” “It’s like, well, the kids are picking on me because I’m new and they’re making fun of this and that.” And I was like, “what are you going to do for me?” And my dad goes, “Nothing.” I’m like, “What do you mean? Like you’re my dad?” “He goes, “Yeah. I’ll tell you what I would do, and I’ll show you how to, you know, stick up for yourself and I’ll support you in whatever it is you do, as long as it’s done the right way.” And you know, my dad gave me some advice that probably most kids wouldn’t get. But he forced me to face that head on. And this was young. And so I did. And a few trips to the principal’s office later, he goes, “I’m proud of you for sticking up for yourself. Let’s reel back the combativeness a little bit.” But you know, that was the last time—that was the first time my dad put me in a position to succeed or fail. The other times were middle school, high school, I was like one of the smaller kids in my class, I was slow, I was weak, and I was trying out for football teams and basketball teams and you know, my dad just went, he was very honest. He was like, “Listen, the only way you’re going to make these teams is if you practice harder than all of them. That’s your only chance.” And it was really cut and dry like that. And so I was like, OK. Well that’s kind of where it started. It’s like, you know, you put in the work and you’ll get results. You won’t get results all the time, but at least you can hang your hat on the chance you gave yourself. So that was the household that I lived in. And having younger brothers all fairly close, and we got to live in a neighborhood that had kids all the same age and everybody came to our house to, you know, play basketball in the front yard or throw the football around, play baseball in the cul-de-sac. It was just the way we were raised. But it wasn’t forced. It was you have an option. And I think that’s kind of the difference between some, like maybe like hard knocks hands on sports dads and sports moms is that we were never forced to anything. We were given the choice and they made it really easy because they said, it’s like you want this to happen, this is what you need to do. I was like, OK, well I really want this to happen so I’m going to do that.

Chase: 21:30 – That’s cool that at that age you were able to absorb those lessons. Do you remember what your dad told you in first grade? What the advice he gave you was?

Chase: 21:39 – Yeah.

Sean: 21:39 – Is it something that cannot be repeated?

Chase: 21:43 – No, I mean I’ll tell it to you right now, he goes, “The next kid that comes up to you to pick on you, just punch him in the face as hard as you can, one time. Then he’ll never do it again.” And he was right. I did it. And as soon as I found that out that, you know, it’s not always going to work and sometimes it didn’t. But it was more of a lesson of stick up for yourself when others won’t for you and stick up for others they can’t stick up for themselves. And that’s kinda how it happened.

Sean: 22:28 – You mentioned trying out for different sports, you’ve had a lot of success as a swimmer. What was it about that sport that drew you to it?

Chase: 22:38 – Truthfully, it was by default. Cause I really, really, really, really wanted to grow up and be a football player like my dad. That was my number-one sports dream. And so middle school, like I said, I was small, I was slow. They have like A teams and B teams in all the sports. I was always on the B team and I was like the last one to get picked, but I made the roster. So that was really neat. That was special to me. And then in high school I was a freshman and I was 5’2, 125, trying to play tight end.

Sean: 23:11 – I can’t picture you at that size, it’s just impossible.

Chase: 23:16 – Well, and you know, now I tell people that story, it’s like I’m 6’2, 215, so a foot shorter and 90 pounds lighter. And I was just getting tossed around like a rag doll, it wasn’t really working. And my mom came up to me, she’s like, “Hey listen,”—cause I wanted to play a physical sport. And she’s like, “Water polo season’s coming up.” I had done like summer league swims. I don’t know if you guys ever had that in your neighborhoods where it’s like a six-week swim team, neighborhood vs. neighborhood. So I’d done that when I was like 12. So I was probably 15 at the time. And she’s like, here’s water polo. I’m like. “I don’t even know what water polo is, Mom,” and she—we had a pool, she goes, “I’ll show you what water polo is.” So she gets in her suit, I get my suit, she throws a basketball into the pool, she goes, get in, and we get in. And my mom proceeds to drown me, for like 30 minutes. Like try to get the ball or you try not to let me take the ball. And my mom kicked my ass for 30 minutes in the pool. And I was like, this is awesome. And so I went to the swim team and they had a water polo season. And the benefit there was I knew how to swim, but I wasn’t good at it and I didn’t have a lot of stamina. But for water polo, you don’t need to really be a fast swimmer. You need to be capable in the water. And then you have to have hand-eye coordination. You have to be able to see the field, you have to understand place, you have to use people’s strengths against them and be very strategic. And I could throw a ball hard, better than swimmers could. Swimmers are like, you throw a ball at a swimmer and it might as well be like a Rubik’s cube that has a detonation clock on it. They’re like oh, what do I do?! And I picked it up and by the end of the year, we actually won state my freshman year, I was the only sub in a team that had 11 seniors on it. I was like, this is my sport. And I wanted to swim to get better at water polo. And then by the time I was senior, you know, we won state twice, I was an All-American, I was really good at water polo. But then I was like I want to see how much better I can get swimming. And so I kinda took that into college and that’s just kinda how I fell into it. So it was happenstance and circumstance and instead of the push from my dad, I was getting the push from my mom and it was cool. So I got a lot of coaching and support from both my parents and I kind of found my way into swimming.

Sean: 26:19 – We’ll be back with more from Chase Ingraham after this.

Chris: 26:24 – Hey guys, it’s Chris Cooper. If you’ve ever run out of money, you know that it affects every single corner of your life, all of your relationships, your business, even your self-worth. And so when I found a mentor in 2009, I said, I want to share this gift with everyone. Since then, I’ve been building and refining and improving a mentorship practice that we now call Two-Brain Business. We break our mentorship into several stages. The first stage is the Incubator, which is a 12-week sprint to get your foundation built, to get you started on retention and employee programs and finding the best staff, putting them in the best roles, training them up to be successful and then recruiting more clients. It’s an amazing program. It is the culmination of over a decade of work. It’s also the sum of best practices from over 800 gyms around the world. These aren’t just my ideas anymore. What we do is track with data what’s working for whom and when and we test new ideas against that data to say, is this actually better? Then when ideas have proven themselves conclusively, then we put it in our Incubator or Growth or Tinker programs. I just wrote “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief” to define who should be doing what in what stage of entrepreneurship, but no matter where you are, the Incubator is your first 12-weeks sprint to get as far as possible in your business. We’re a mentorship practice for one reason: Mentorship is what works. We work with gym owners for one reason: because you have the potential to change the world with us. And I hope you do.

Sean: 27:55 – How did you find CrossFit?

Chase: 27:59 – I found CrossFit in 2008, and this was two years removed from college swimming. And I was trying to find my way, like every athlete does after they graduate, you know, who am I and how do I train, ’cause I’ve had a coach since I was four. I’ve been told what to do and how to train and it was really easy. It’s like do this and then I’ll go, OK, and I’ll do that as hard as I can, and I was just trying to find my way. And I ran into a college teammate of mine, his name is Justin Smith, and it’d been two years since I’d seen him. And in college he was an amazing swimmer. But the weird thing about swimmers is that they all look different and you know, some swimmers are just kinda soft, and Justin was one of those guys. And then I’d seen him two years later and he was not soft. Justin was in shape. And at the time I was trying to find something more athletic because I was tired of being like skinny fat or fat fat. And you know, it kind of circled back. It’s like I wanted to look like my dad did when I was younger. I wanted to look like an athlete. I know it’s there in my body somewhere. And he looked like that. I go, “Where are you training and what are you doing?” He’s like, “I’m doing CrossFit.” “Well, I’m coming with you tomorrow.” And he goes, “OK.” So we show up at six o’clock to CrossFit El Centro, and I came the next day just like I said, and it was Fran.

Sean: 29:35 – Oh no.

Chase: 29:37 – I mean I didn’t know at the time. And we show up and they write the workout on the board. And I did the classic rookie CrossFit mistake, and I went, “That’s it?” And so you’re looking at 21, 15, 9 thrusters at 95 and pull-ups. And I was really good at pull-ups at the time when we were in swimming, and even post-that, pull-ups to me were strict. If you kipped, you were cheating. So, you know, the coach is explaining it and he’s like it’s a front squat. And I was like, I’ve never broke parallel in my life, let alone holding a bar in the front-rack position. And squat and then press overhead. I was like, OK, I can do that. Then he goes, “Then you got pull-ups.” I started doing strict—”Oh no, no, no, no, you want to kip.” I was like, “You mean cheat?” And he goes, “Yeah, whatever, cheat.” This is the best! And so I start kipping right away. And to this day we’re friends now, his name’s Spencer Nixon. He owns CrossFit El Centro. He goes, “I had never been more happy in my life to have a brand-new athlete walk in and just start kipping on the cue of ‘just cheat.'” I was like, “You’re welcome? I don’t know what that means.” And so we’re getting set and I could do 95 but it was hard. And so he told me to scale to 75, to which I obliged, and went 21 unbroken, 21 unbroken, and then proceeded to set myself on fire afterward. And I experienced a level of intensity that I had never been prepared for in something so short, it blew my mind. And so I did what every competitive guy would do is that I never came back to the gym for three months. And was like, I need to get in shape before I come to CrossFit. And so it’s kind of funny that, you know, when you get new people in, it’s like, what are the things they always say like, well, I’m not in shape enough to do this, or they do it once and it’s hard, they get scared and you know, the perspective that I have is like “Look, I know, I was that guy and I’m telling you, having experienced that is that’s not the case.” And so that was kinda how it all started. So I started just like anybody else did, terrified and afraid and at the same time oddly drawn to it.

Sean: 32:19 – So two years later, you’re at the CrossFit Games in 2010. So what was that experience like for you?

Chase: 32:25 – Very brief. You’d have thought I’d have been the national champion out of Dallas, Texas, that’s how brief it was. But it was amazing. And the whole lead up to it is that when I started CrossFit, I had never heard of the CrossFit Games. I just saw a buddy. And then while I was doing it in 2009, I went to watch Regionals and I’m behind the fence. I go, I will be here next year. And then people started talking about the CrossFit Games, like what is the CrossFit Games? And I didn’t even watch them or I just kind of heard about them in 2009 when they happened and they were like, this person won. I was like, OK, cool. And leading up to it, it was, let’s see, I still hadn’t done a CrossFit competition until about October, 2009, where my buddy signed me up to a competition without me knowing about it. Cause I’d only been doing it for maybe six, no, eight months. And I didn’t want to do one because I wasn’t ready. Well, they signed me up, we went and did it. I ended up winning it. And so the funny part about that competition is that’s the competition that birthed Captain America. And so in this event I was winning, which I had in my head, had no business winning. We’re going into the final event, and I was holding two T-shirts in my hands before the final, and one T shirt was my gym’s T-shirt and the other T-shirt with my favorite Captain America T-shirt, that was really just like the Captain America bust, you know, where it looked like I had more muscle than I really did. And I made a conscious decision, I looked at my gym shirt and I said, you can compete with this shirt and if you lose, no one will care. But if you put this Captain America shirt on, you better freaking win because you can’t just show up and be that guy and make a fool out of yourself. So I’m sitting in the locker room looking at two shirts, you know, red pill, blue pill, and I was like, you know what, I’m going for it. And I put the Captain America shirt on, I win the final event by four minutes.

Sean: 34:55 – Wow.

Chase: 34:57 – And this is a small event, it’s Houston, Texas, it was actually called Oktoberfest. I don’t even know if they have one. And they had a, you know, at the time, CrossFit’s media was all outsourced. And this company was there and the program or the event director, you know, “third place, second place, and in first place Captain America.” They didn’t even say my name, said Captain America. That media outlet was there, watched it happen, logged it, and then posted it from there. And that’s how it started. So fast forward to 2010 we had Sectionals and ours was in Tulsa, Oklahoma. And I went out there, wore the same shirt, proceeded to win every single event. And the CrossFit media guy that was there covering it was Heber Cannon. Short hair. Just a young lad with a small camera and he was making—he made a little short film on me at Sectionals, which was really cool. And that’s when I started feeling a little bit of pressure. I was like, man, this might be able to happen. So we’re moving into Regionals in May and I call my dad, I said, “Hey, I might have an opportunity to qualify for the CrossFit Games.” And he’s like, “OK.” I was like, “Do you guys want to come watch?” He goes, “Tell you what. If you make it to the Games then we’ll come watch.” I’m like, “OK.”

Sean: 36:55 – Thanks, dad.

Chase: 36:59 – Thanks, dad, thanks for the support. Love you. And I ended up getting third, qualified for the 2010 Games. And for me that was how special it was to qualify. Now it was a lot different back then. Not like it is now. It’s way bigger now. I liken it to, in 2010, everyone was just working out and I was the only one competing. It was like I could dissect the workouts and I knew how to attack and this was like competition and everyone else was just like working out really hard. But you know, I made it, I was super proud of it. For me in high school I was voted most likely to go the Olympics, and so this was kind of that full-circle moment for me. And my most proud moment was Event 1, under the lights, it was Amanda. So they moved to Carson. My dad was in the stands and he got to see a short highlight film of me and hear my name called out and see me walk out on the big stage for the first time. I’m not getting choked up, my throat’s dry. But the best part was the next day was my dad’s birthday. And we are lining up for Super Helen and they’re like, “Say your name and what gym you’re from.” And I said my name and I wished my dad happy.

Sean: 38:51 – That’s cool, man.

Chase: 38:53 – And so like for me I was really proud of myself and that’s OK to be proud of yourself. I was proud of myself for the hard work I did. But at the same time I felt like I finally got to show my mom and dad that I was a part of their club. It was this weird bonding moment with my parents who that, you know, I always wanted to make my parents proud and like make it to the highest level that they wanted for me. They never forced it upon me, they just, you know, like parents want the best for their kids. And I felt like I got to do that for my parents. So for me that was the most special part of the Games. That actually had nothing to do with the Games themselves because in reality I did four events and I got cut on the second day. So my Games, you know, I don’t put CrossFit Games athlete on my bio, on my profiles. I’m not referred to that on the broadcast because it was more personal than it was professional.

Sean: 39:55 – You mentioned being—you talked about you were able to, you know, break down events and know how to attack them. So there’s two things that—and we’ll kind of make this sort of the back or the end of the interview ’cause I love these stories. The first one, I will never forget your performance in the 100s Regional workout. This is in 2013 in the South Central Regional, and I had the pleasure of being able to call it. What stands out to you about that event?

Chase: 40:29 – For me, 2013 was coming back from shoulder surgery. It was a year process. It was a long process. It was a lot harder than I thought it was and it was a fear of I didn’t think I’d ever be the same athlete as I was before, after. There’s just not that confidence. You know, it’s really funny, when that event got announced, I was with our team and I go, guys, check out this kick-ass team event. And they went, “No, that is your event.” My jaw just dropped, because it was a hundred wall-ball shots, 100 chest-to-bar pull-ups, 100 pistols and a hundred dumbbells snatches at 70 pounds. And at the time that was really heavy.

Sean: 41:25 – Oh yeah. Still is.

Chase: 41:28 – And I was just floored that that was my event. So I practiced it. And I got capped. I think the time cap was 25 minutes. And I didn’t even get through the first 30 snatches when I practiced the event. But for me there’s something special about being on the competition floor, watching people go before me and then turning that into a game plan. And so I was in—well actually I was coming in first place after the first day, which was totally unexpected. So I got to be in the last heat, and we’re in the last heat of both the men and the women. So I’m watching this go and I had a med-ball strategy and I’m watching people go like, no, no, that needs to change. I think I’ll just do 10. And then watching them do pull-ups and seeing people rip off too big of sets and then watching the time and then watching pistols. And so what I did was just kind of watched this all take place. And you know, some athletes say it’s like focus on myself, I’m not aware of people. Like I’m the complete opposite. I was like, I am analyzing everything around me and I’m modifying my pace and my exertion based off that. And so when I was in it, I got to the wall balls. I was probably like one of the last ones off the wall. But it wasn’t about the wall balls. I knew that. But when a lot of people make the mistake is like buying time early, before they get to the hard stuff is their game plan. And it should be actually the opposite. What you need to do is you need to conserve energy early to save it for the hard stuff. And mine was the pull-ups. A hundred chest-to-bar pull-ups when I’m coming off shoulder reconstruction was too much for me. And so I knew that I had to be very, very careful game planning that. And so I just stuck to my plan. I did three sets of 10 and then after that I’ll go, I’m gonna do an unbroken set of chest-to-bar until it gets hard. And then I’ll do singles until I get to the next set of 10 and then I’ll rest. And then I found myself in like third. And when I got the pistols, for some reason they felt so good and I was just vibing up the crowd and I was watching the guys around, I’m like, oh my gosh, I am getting a lead. But then I’m looking at my competitors and I know that you know, Aja Barto is going to beat—this guy’s a mammoth. He’s gonna beast to that dumbbell. Like, here’s what I need to do. I’m going to lead right now. I’m going to push the pistols and make everybody chase me, because I knew that the guys behind me were all stronger than me cause that dumbbell was tough. That if I forced them to try to run me down, that they’d be too tired to finish the event. And so for the first 60 pistols I pushed him. I was going to do 10, so I decided to do 20, and I look at the clock rest 10 seconds and then go again.

Sean: 44:54 – I remember that.

Chase: 44:55 – One time, it was like after 40, the red hat is standing right in front of the clock. And I’m trying to like wave her off.

Sean: 45:03 – I remember that, too.

Chase: 45:04 – And, you know, I was waving people off the clock before Mat Fraser was, I’m just gonna throw that out there. And so then that was my game plan. So I was trying to figure it out. And then when I got to the pistols, it’s like get out early, make them chase you down, and then punish them at the end. And that’s kinda how it unfolded. And it all worked out in that event and I took first place and it was very special. Very special.

Sean: 45:35 – Yeah. It’s still one of the, as far as strategy goes and execution, it’s still one of the best performances I’ve ever seen. If people want to go watch it, I think it is still on YouTube. It was a 2013 South Central Regional, and I can’t remember what number event it was, but yeah, check it out. And then the other story—.

Chase: 45:50 – Event number 4.

Sean: 45:50 – Four, OK. The other story I wanted you to tell, this goes back to the Open and I think it was 2015 it was the thruster bar-facing burpee one. And you were in Scotts Valley. And I don’t want to give away the end, but you had a plan and then you executed it and just, I would love for you to tell the story of you going through that Open workout.

Chase: 46:13 – So when I’m— this is after the champions all got together, what was it, Rich, Sam, Annie, Jason and Graham?

Sean: 46:22 – I think so.

Chase: 46:22 – And so we were going to, after—this was San Francisco.

Sean: 46:26 – Was this 2014 or—I can’t, I think it was maybe 2013.

Chase: 46:31 – It was 2014. And the plan was to watch that and then go to Scotts Valley and learn how to be a better broadcaster. A little broadcast boot camp. But we were going to do the Open workout because there was a—gosh, when did they do them at the time? Friday?

Sean: 46:55 – No, we did them on Thursday nights. Live announcements were on Thursday nights. We would usually hit it the Friday or Monday.

Chase: 47:01 – Yeah. All right. All right. We’re going to do the Open workout at lunch. And so when I first get a workout, I close my eyes. I would say three, two, one go. And I start my wristwatch. And I go through the whole workout from start to finish. And then I stop my watch and see what the time frame is or how many reps I got within a certain time frame. And then I have that as a base number. And then look at how long reps should take. And you know, thrusters take this long and burpees take this long. From start to finish, I believe it went 21 down to three thrusters and bar-facing burpees, descending every three. And so I wrote out on a sheet of paper, you know, I’m going to go 12 9, 11 7, my burpees will be this slow and these are the rests I’m gonna take. And I wrote, you know, 12 reps should take this long, rest five seconds, and then nine reps take this long, rest 10 seconds, then slow 21 burpees should take this long. And I wrote it all out, rest breaks, transitions, paces. And at the end I wrote a time and then circled it. And so we go and do this workout. And I’m going, I’m going, I’m going and going and going. And I finished my last burpee over the bar, collapse, I think Bill Grundler was my judge.

Sean: 48:25 – Yep, Bill was the judge.

Chase: 48:27 – And I yell at him, I was like, go look at my piece of paper over there. And he picks up the sheet of paper and it said, I think it was like 9:12. And I got a 9:21. And I was laughing cause it was I guessed the exact time on paper that the pace that I—

Sean: 48:51 – I remember I walked into the gym, I think when you were done and Bill’s just laughing, he says, “You’ve got to look at this.” I said, “what?” He goes, “Look what Chase got.” And he goes, “Look what he wrote down.” I said, there’s no way. Yeah, that’s incredible.

Chase: 49:01 – It was cool. I was like, OK, maybe I kind of got it figured out, at least for myself a little bit.

Sean: 49:09 – Final question. You know, you own CrossFit Big D, a really successful affiliate in Dallas. What’s kinda the future look like for you there in the next five years?

Chase: 49:21 – In the next five years? I would love—you know, we just had our six-year anniversary, while we were at the Games. Which is crazy to think about six years ago. And then for me looking forward to it is that I just want to make sure that I can keep opening the doors to people that want to be there, like people knocking on the doors to come in. And a lot of times with a gym, you know, obviously getting members to run an affiliate to have a life is the end goal. But taking care of the people that we currently have is my number-one focus and my number-one goal. Giving people a place to come before work, after work, between jobs, during, I don’t know, stressful times in their lives or, is that I want to create, and I think I have, a place that will give people the best hour of their day, a place that they want to come to and never leave. And a place where they feel comfortable to be themselves. Physically, socially, emotionally, and if I can keep doing that, whether it’s 5, 10, 15, 20 years from now, then to me that’s a big success in the evolution of the gym. So numbers-wise, monetary wise, you know, I drive my wife crazy to hear that it’s not my number-one priority. I tell people all the time, it’s like, I think I’m a really good coach, but I’m the world’s worst businessman. But for me it’s more than numbers on a spreadsheet and an end goal, even though obviously we can’t do that without that. But it’s the intangible things that people hold on to the most dearly are the ones that I focus on the most.

Sean: 51:28 – That’s great, man. Well, listen, thank you so much for doing this, Chase. I really appreciate it.

New Speaker: 51:32 – Yeah man, thank you.

Sean: 51:33 – And best of luck moving forward. I hope I get to see you soon. We can get back on the broadcast desk again. That was a lot of fun.

Chase: 51:41 – I think the overall consensus was that was just the beginning of a new future.

Sean: 51:45 – I hope so, man.

Chase: 51:48 – Me too.

Sean: 51:49 – All right. Take care. Appreciate it. All my best to your family, my friend.

Chase: 51:53 – Thank you. You as well.

Sean: 51:56 – Big thanks to Chase Ingraham for taking the time to talk with me. If you want to follow him on social media, you can. He is on Instagram. You can find him at @chase_ingraham. As an entrepreneur, it can be hard to know where to start. And that’s where “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief” by Chris Cooper comes in. As a reader and gym owner, Sean Rider says, quote, “If you are thinking about starting a business, just started a business or have had a business open for a while, this book is a must-read to show you the path to the successful life”. End quote. “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief” is on Amazon now. Thank you so much for listening. We’ll see you next time.


This is our NEW podcast, Two-Brain Marketing, where we’ll focus on sales and digital marketing. Your host is Mateo Lopez!

Greg Strauch will be back on Thursday with the Two-Brain Radio Podcast.

Thanks for listening!

To share your thoughts:


To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes.


When you were a kid, you had heroes.


They came from books. Or sports. Or movies. Or your family.


These heroes were models for you. You were brave because Sir Lancelot was brave. You were smart because Nancy Drew was smart. You practiced because Michael Jordan practiced. You would slip into the body and mind of your heroes and become them. Mine included Sherlock Holmes, Wayne Gretzky and, later, Lance Armstrong.


But as you grew up, you lost your heroes. The lens of experience taught you that no one is perfect. The news highlighted flaws in your heroes. Your adult mind is more skeptical. And you stopped sharing your admiration for people out of fear that one of your friends would say:


“You like HER!?? You’re crazy: she cheated on her first two husbands!” Then they’d look at you funny.


You know the old adage: “Never meet your heroes.”? It’s true. You should never meet your heroes, because you’ll find a flaw in them, and that tiny flaw will undermine all the great things about them. Maybe that great scientist drinks too much, or that incredible athlete cheated on his taxes. Whatever the reason, we lose our heroes as we grow up. And that’s a huge problem, because when we lose our heroes we lose our models for success.


One of the biggest reasons people fail to lose weight, or fail to exercise properly, or even fail at business is that they don’t have models for success. They don’t have heroes.


The greatest value of the CrossFit Games isn’t to crown the Fittest on Earth. It’s to create heroes. It’s to tell a sticky story and provide models for success.


Before 2007, it was widely held that powerlifters should never do “cardio”, because it would sap their strength. I can remember Eddie White, who won world championships in one federation or another, talking about jogging 5k every day. And other powerlifters would say, “Imagine how much stronger you could be if you didn’t jog!”


But then the CrossFit Games happened, and some athletes deadlifted 600lbs and ran a sub-6:00 mile on the same day. And then the movie “300” came out, full of ripped dudes with beards who did CrossFit instead of bodybuilding. Suddenly, we had new models for what was possible. Suddenly, people became interested in CrossFit, because we had sticky stories about its success. Because we had heroes.


People at your box wear board shorts and knee socks because of these models. They train shirtless because of these models. They do snatches, eat Zone and bring their dogs to the box because their heroes do. Hell, no one even called their gym a “box” until their CrossFit heroes did!


Heroes are important. Your clients need them to succeed at fitness, and you need them to succeed at business.


Heroes are made by stories. And without CrossFit Media around, no one is telling the stories that make the heroes that form the models for your clients.


So we–you and me–WE have to do it. Here’s how.


  1. In the Founder Phase, be the hero. Tell your story, especially if you had to overcome some big obstacles. If you’ve lost weight in the past, talk about it a lot. If you weren’t an athlete in high school, tell that story. If you’re a Storybrand fan (like I am), you’ve heard that “the client is the hero, and you’re the guide”. But before you have clients, you still have to tell a story. So tell yours to get the first clients.
  2. In the Farmer Phase, make your clients the hero. Tell their stories. Highlight their obstacles and celebrate their success. Social media posts aren’t enough. Share your YouTube videos, podcast episodes or blog posts through Social Media, but sharing a picture on Instagram doesn’t count as ‘making your clients famous’.
  3. Also in Farmer Phase, make your coaches the heroes. Tell their story. Highlight their knowledge.


If you need help telling stories, follow the Hero’s Journey map from this podcast episode. Not sure which phase of entrepreneurship you’re in? You can take the test here.


4. Finally, be a hero to others.


If you have any kind of public platform–if you’re an athlete, or if you open a business–everything you do is open to scrutiny by your audience. Don’t take that lightly. Even the tiny bit of fame you get from achieving something small comes with the burden to live up to your reputation.


I was at a barbecue with some “inner circle” folks from CrossFit HQ last year. There were some Games athletes at the house, and they were comparing their Instagram audiences. Each had over 20,000 followers. But the head of CrossFit Media pulled out his phone and said, “You guys are only CrossFit-famous. That’s the same as “not-famous”. You want to see ‘famous’?” And he showed them Kim Kardashian’s Instagram account, which had around 22 MILLION followers.


The Media guy was right: on a grand scale, “crossfit-famous” is about the same as “not famous”. But he missed the point: “CrossFit-Famous” means “famous in a way that our tribe cares about.” CrossFit Games success might not matter to everyone, but it matters to THEM: the people we care about.  OUR tribe. OUR audience.


In your little gym, maybe even in your little town: you are the model for success. You are a hero. Live up to it.


(if you don’t have a business hero, get a mentor.)

Two-Brain Radio: Darren Thornton

Two-Brain Radio: Darren Thornton

Mateo: 00:04 – Hey, it’s Mateo of Two-Brain Marketing. On this edition of the Two-Brain Marketing podcast, I’m talking with Darren from CrossFit Defy. You’ll learn about his experience transitioning from a Regional-level CrossFit athlete to an owner of a brand-new CrossFit box. You’ll also learn about his experience in the Founder Phase and you’ll hear about how in the last four months he spent $2,500 on ads and made $17,000 in front-end sales. So you don’t want to miss this. Make sure to subscribe to Two-Brain Radio for more marketing tips and secrets each week.

Greg: 00:38 – Two-Brain Radio is brought to you by Two-Brain Business. We make gyms profitable. We’re going to bring you the very best tips, tactics, interviews in the business world each week. To find out how we can help you create your Perfect Day, book a free call with a mentor at

Greg: 00:54 – We’d like to thank another one of our amazing partners, Level Method. As a CrossFit gym owner, I know retention is key to keeping my business going for years to come. Retention is not easy, though. People want to see success, and if you don’t show them early, they’ll find a place that does. This is where Level Method comes in. With Level Method, you are now able to guide your members through an amazing structure that’ll give them a path to success. Once you have success, you instantly have motivation for them to continue, which will now be delivered to your members. Start systemizing the creation of powerful moments for your members today. Go to to book a free call.

Mateo: 01:32 – Hello, welcome to the Two-Brain Marketing podcast. I’m your host, Mateo Lopez. I’m one of the digital marketing mentors at Two-Brain Business. Thank you for tuning in. This is your weekly dose of digital marketing magic. And in today’s episode we have special guests, Darren Thornton, owner of CrossFit Defy, and you want to learn about his experience and how over the last four months he spent $2,500 on ads and he’s made $17,000 in front-end sales. So we want to learn all about that right now. So Darren, how are you?

Darren: 02:04 – I’m good, thanks.

Mateo: 02:05 – So for those listening, tell us a little bit about you, where you’re from and a little bit about your business.

Darren: 02:11 – My gym is in Canada, but I’m originally from England. I was in the British Royal Marines commandos for about six years and I left that to pursue the kind of athlete lifestyle that CrossFit was giving, you know, the old Regionals trip, the competitions around the world, that kind of thing. And then sort of end of last year, 2018 was my best year, but it still really wasn’t accomplishing much long term. So it led me to go onto my next passion, which was, you know, to open my own gym.

Mateo: 02:41 – Wow. So did you find CrossFit during your time in the Royal Marines?

Darren: 02:45 – Yeah, just towards the end. It wasn’t as big back then as it was in the States and the U.S. military. But we were kind of doing it on our own and I really wanted to compete and get good at it. So I actually left the Marines to follow competing in because I would find that I would get into a bit of a rhythm, then we’d go on a deployment or a training exercise and you know, you wouldn’t get into the gym for a month or two. So, you know, I really wanted to kind of pursue that passion while I was young still.

Mateo: 03:13 – Wow. So you’ve been to Regionals and kind of did the competition circuit for a little bit then?

Darren: 03:18 – Yeah, so I ended up Regionals in a team. I didn’t quite make my individual goal of getting there as individual. I was very close in 2018, like top 250 in the world in the Open, but not for my region unfortunately.

Mateo: 03:31 – Wow. I mean that’s still amazing, it’s an amazing feat for sure. OK, so then, so you’ve been in the scene then for a while and then you know, what made you want to take the switch?

Darren: 03:43 – Yeah. My first job actually, I was doing some coaching at my local gym back home, and then I moved out to the Middle East when I left the military. I lived in Kuwait for about almost two years before moving to Canada. And I was—

Mateo: 03:56 – As a civilian, like not in the military?

Darren: 03:58 – That was in the military. I just went over that as a civilian, yeah. Kuwait, you know, a different lifestyle for sure. But it gave that opportunity in the Middle East is very focused towards training. I coached, I trained, I went home, I slept. It’s a good routine to get into there. And there’s no kind of distraction if you will. So that worked well for me. Then, you know, I moved out, I moved to Canada. I’d kinda been, you know, I’ve been involved in like four or five different gyms and I’ve kind of seeing what people do right, I’ve also seen not necessarily done right. And I just felt like I could, you know, hopefully do all the right things and give my members and build something up for me and my family that could, you know, basically sustain us. My wife is also a medical doctor, so for her she kind of sees sick people on a regular basis and she’s very into CrossFit, too, so it kind of went hand in hand that we could do something that is for the people who want to help themselves as well.

Mateo: 04:58 – Awesome. All right. So then you traveled, you were competing, you opened this business. So how long has your gym been open?

Darren: 05:05 – 10 months.

Mateo: 05:07 – Oh, so you’re brand new still?

Darren: 05:08 – Yeah, September. We opened last year.

Mateo: 05:10 – Oh, baby business. It’s brand new. Wow. OK. So then, what motivated you to join Two-Brain? Did you sign up with Two-Brain before you opened the doors or right after or?

Darren: 05:21 – No, unfortunately I didn’t. I kind of knew I needed some help just on, you know, running a business properly. But I didn’t really know much about Two-Brain back then. About a few months into opening the gym, I realized that I needed a bit of direction. So I had some small stints with some other mentoring company; didn’t quite fit me, didn’t quite work for what I was looking for. And then I came across—I actually came across a blog of you guys, the marketing side of the Two-Brain, and I can’t remember which one it was exactly now and then I kind of delved it and found out about Chris Cooper and had a look at one of these books and I was like, OK, this is everything that I believe the gym should be run like. But I just didn’t really have the, I dunno, the competence in implementing it all sort of and how to do it.

Mateo: 06:10 – Well I’m curious to hear a little bit more about how, you kind of mentioned this, being a part of all these different gyms, especially in training in the circuit. You know, you are probably exposed to a lot of different high-caliber athletes and different approaches to training and methodologies. How did all that inform what you wanted to create?

Darren: 06:30 – Well, I’m not interested in creating a gym of competitors. Anybody that, you know, is this business realizes that that’s such a small niche of people. They’re also the toughest kind of people to deal with too. And they’re the ones who don’t necessarily need—you don’t get the same amount of satisfaction of what sort of changing their lives if you will, right? So I find a lot of gyms or some gyms that I’ve been a part of really kind of have that competitive feel. Don’t get me wrong, I’m super in for competition and you know, my classes, you know, we work super hard, but it’s not about—that’s not the end goal of black, you know, achieving something like Regionals, or obviously that’s not around, but you know, the Sanctional events or anything like that. So yeah, it was just kinda creating one of those gyms that has that as a mindset, but it’s not the only thing that matters. Right. It’s about seeing people, you know, do their first ever box jump because—and they’ve been freaking out about it for the last two months. That kind of thing kind hypes me a little bit more than, you know, seeing somebody who’s a great athlete who snatches 275 pounds.

Mateo: 07:40 – Yeah. No, that makes sense. Yes. And it is tough. You can make us successful gym pumping out competitive athletes. But it’s tough, it’s a different approach, right?

Darren: 07:52 – It’s a different approach, and you need to be in the right areas for that, I think, the right niche as well. Right. There’s only a few of them places I think around the world.

Mateo: 08:01 – Definitely. OK. So what was life, like, you know, it wasn’t too long ago, right? You opened the doors in that Founder Phase, so what was life like doing it on your own and then what kind of differences did you see once you started going through the mentorship process?

Darren: 08:18 – The Incubator was amazing. It just laid out the whole steps of how do you set this up? And I had a lot of these things prior set up. I’d started writing system, I’d started doing this. It was a little bit disjointed. The biggest thing for me was having the marketing section of the Incubator because we had a tough winter here in Canada, really, and really didn’t see sort of January, February, March many members at all joining. So I had a few people who’d followed me from a previous gym and we were pretty low on our membership. Doing OK. We have a model where we do quite a bit of private coaching, which helps. It was difficult to see where the next person was coming from. I tried some online advertising myself on Facebook and that kind of stuff. And I don’t really think that it worked because it was the wrong setup or it didn’t work cause we was so young and nobody really trusted us. I actually believe that that was a big part of it too, a new gym, you know, saying click this, you don’t really know much about us, you know, you can only get so much off a website. Just now having ,you know, a steady stream of people coming on board and we can have a chat to, you know, discuss what we’re all about. We have a pretty extensive blog that me and my wife kind of write once a week. And I feel like just having that on the back end, people now come in and they know a little bit about us. Our blog’s pretty personal about what we are, who we are and what we believe in, and I feel like that coupled with, you know, the right approach of doing the Facebook marketing, how it should be done has really sort of helped us to see a nice steady growth, a rapid growth over the last sort of four months.

Mateo: 09:49 – Yeah, that’s awesome. And I think that’s great that you are creating that content. You have insight that not a lot of people have with the methodology, you know, and so I think creating that content’s probably very valuable for people who do want to try CrossFit and who do want to try this and see if it’s going to work for them to reach their health and fitness goals. So that’s great. All right, so it sounds like it was better laid out in terms of how you should approach creating the systems, the staff manual and some of the processes. It sounds like the Incubator helped you narrow the focus and and have a step-by-step plan on how to do some of those things. It sounds like online ads gave you also more structure on how to set this thing up properly in conjunction with all the other, you know, marketing that you’re doing and that’s what blogging is. You are creating content, marketing, putting your message out there. So that’s awesome. In your words then, what is it—I want to hear more about the model that you have and we’ll talk about that right now I think in a second, but what is it that you sell and how do you sell it?

Darren: 10:49 – We sell a way for people to get better at life. And that’s kind of what we come from. And depending on what your goals are, what your lifestyle is like, you’re 55 years old and you’re worried that you won’t keep up to your kids no more or your potential grandchildren that are on the way, or if you’re, you know, somebody who does want to take CrossFit to a little bit of a level of local competition, that kind of thing. And everywhere in between. We have a lot of our members like to play pick-up hockey leagues and baseball and that kind of thing. So you know, having at least three or four workouts with those a week is going to help them get better at that, and that’s kind of what we—that’s the angle that we come from. In terms of selling it, we just want to meet people where they’re at, guide them through the right process. That’s always going to start with some one-on-one training and then depending on, like I said, where they’re at is going to be how much of that we do and then what kind of combination or, you know, hybrid membership we give them or if they’re just looking for kind of group class and they love that experience, we love the kind of skill sessions and just adding to that for people because you know everybody who’s done them can’t rave about them enough not because it’s like just having that one on one, even for 30 minutes is really going to help them progress in everything else at the gym. I think most people come to us with a goal of getting healthier, fitter, stronger. Losing weight is obviously primarily the main focus for most people, but then once they get into it, they want to learn how to do all these CrossFit moves and that then becomes more of a focal point, which is really good, where you can focus more on what can you do with your body rather than what does your body look like or weigh.

Mateo: 12:21 – So how do you structure your service offering, then? You mentioned the personal training kind of bias almost. So how do you set it up?

Darren: 12:28 – So we do have some hybrid memberships. So we have a once a month, one-on-one training plus group classes. We have a two times a month or four times a month. And that obviously would be weekly one to ones and then group training. They’re kind of like our main hybrid. And then we have, you know, some other offerings of just classes only or just personal training only, and it kind of depends on what the member wants. We have a lot of members who would just like to go personal training only. And then we have a lot of members that are just group classes only. So we cater a lot around sort of what the member wants in that terms, you know, for us, the more one-on-one contact we can get with a member, the better we can help them, you know, the more we can help them. I do believe that we are as much of a relationship business as we are a fitness business, right, and if we don’t build that relationship with somebody, there’s no way that I can help them in the long run. You know, I want to know if they’ve got problems at work or at home, family, children because you know, we might be able to offer a different service that still gets them moving towards their goals.

Mateo: 13:32 – Yeah, I couldn’t agree more with that. What is your front-end offer for new people? Do they come in with the hybrid or how do people come in?

Darren: 13:40 – So we’re working with the six-week challenge kind of offer at the front for our advertising. As soon as somebody comes in, I tell them that the six-week challenge is purely a way of onboarding you into the gym and getting to see if you like and understand, sorry, you like and enjoy what we offer at the gym. It’s going to start off with, you know, a number of one-on-one sessions and then it could go into group only for a four-week period or it could go for a mixture of group and one on one. It’s all depending on where the person’s at.

Mateo: 14:14 – Let’s talk about that a little bit more. Cause you know, it sounds like you’ve got a pretty good ROI on your online funnels and advertisements. So what is the process, a lead comes in, they inquire about the six-week offer, what happens?

Darren: 14:31 – Well, I think that the thing I want to definitely make note of is that our process is not perfect. We have a lot of holes because at the moment I’m mainly doing everything. Up until about a week ago I was doing, you know, maybe 27 classes a week and then 20 to 30 one-on-ones a week as well. So my time was pretty limited. I recently just hired—I’ve had a coach for a couple of months. I’ve recently hired another guy, but this is less than perfect. Just basically when people come through, I’m going to get a notification straight away. I try and give them a call straight away and then from there I’m going to book them in for the No-Sweat Intro and then basically just go through what they’re looking for and you know, prescribe them what I feel like’s the best option for them. Recently I’ve kind of not brought our sort of offer, sales binder out and I kind of really just go with I’m going to prescribe this to you, and I feel like this is the best way. I don’t have packages that I’m now offering as much. It’s more, Hey, we should do four sessions, three sessions, two sessions, see how we go from there. Then we add another session if we need it and it’s very much, you know, very individual for everybody. It’s not perfect because I could definitely follow up a lot more on the leads that I don’t call and speak with the first or second time. There’s just a time restraint where, you know, I need to kind of prioritize certain things. And as long as, you know, I’m getting a steady stream—and it’s like anything, I find if I sit down for a couple of hours, then my ROI is going to be, you know, a hundred times better than if I’m only doing it once a bit. So the more you hustle with it, you know, you definitely get the results.

Mateo: 16:08 – Yeah. And obviously your gym is so new, you’re still in that Founder, Farmer Phase. So yeah, time is definitely gonna be the limiting factor, which I totally understand. But yeah, I think what you said, you’re not being as strict with the packages that you’re offering and saying, hey, you know what, let’s just start with these two sessions. You know? I think for—let’s just get a sale. Right? I think it’s not always a bad thing to just sell them on one or two personal-training sessions. If that’s, you know, what you think is the best fit for them for where they’re at in terms of just physically but also like in their head space. You know, they may not be able to buy a $400 package right then, but you can sell them on one or two. See how it goes. It’s easier to make that sale on the second time. Especially once you’ve given them a little bit of a taste. You’ve had one more time to build that relationship. So yeah, someone told me just sell them something and that’s still a win and gives you more time to develop the relationship and upsell them for later on.

Darren: 17:15 – Well, for me, if they’ve, you know, if somebody’s walked in the door, then something’s not right in their life. Right. It, whether it’s a really big thing, big emotional thing, or it’s just the fact that they, they just want to do something different. And, you know, they enjoy sweating and working out. Well if I let them go, then I’ve failed them in some way. You know, I thoroughly believe that for the majority of people that come to the gym, we do have the answer, and it’s just, you know, I just need to get them to see that, to understand the value of what we provide. Because you know, you can go to a big-gym gym, and it can be very different. You’re buying access to a facility rather than you know, coaching and mentorship in the fitness space. So yeah, it just see what we can get, some people, you know, obviously budget’s a problem, so it’s like, OK, let’s just do one by one. Let’s do one a week and completely forget the six weeks and just see how we can get you going for this period of time.

Mateo: 18:10 – Yeah, no, I love that exactly what you just said. You said, I was trying to say it, you said better than I just said it and that’s exactly what I want to say. Awesome. So how have you—what is your process for—’cause this is something I think is a challenge for a lot of people. It’s like, yeah, I want to do this, but it’s still just me. I’m still coaching all the classes. I’m still doing all the admin. I’m still doing all the sales. Like I understand I need to follow up more. I understand I need to level up, but it’s still just how do I find that time. So how are you hiring and finding these new coaches as you’re bringing on new help?

Darren: 18:48 – Oh, that’s the—I think everybody knows that’s the toughest thing.

Mateo: 18:53 – Right? And that’s why I, yeah, 100%. That’s why I’m pressing you on it; I want to know what your experience has been like.

Darren: 18:59 – So my experience has been, the first hire I made just fell into my lap. He came to an Open workout back in March or whenever the end of the Open was. We kind of chatted. He was looking to transition from a gym that he worked at which wasn’t CrossFit-based. He’d started a bit of CrossFit. He had a full-time job, so he just wanted some part-time work. So that worked really well for me at that time. He’s ended up being really, really good. The kind of person who I would be happy to be like a general manager eventually when we get to that level, if he ever decides to make it a full-time career. The next person I hired lasted only about a week and I realized just wasn’t a good fit and so mutually we decided it wasn’t going to work because you know, everything on paper was really good. You know, the level of care and understanding of where my gym is at rather than, you know, where they’re at, was important to me. You know, my average age is definitely in the mid-forties. So, you know, because you can, you know, walk on your hands or do a muscle-up or you’ve won the CrossFit Games, doesn’t really matter to a lot of them. Right. So it’s kinda, you know, and then I’ve just gotten another person who I’m onboarding who’s kind of come from within the community but not directly within my community. So I’ve known him for a little bit but he’s been a member of another CrossFit gym. He’s recently transferred over here and you know, he’s in a later stage of life and looking to sort of transition into coaching. And for me it’s been a really good fit right now. And again, it’s just somebody who has a passion for this and a real care about other people as well as you know, what they can do in the gym. So I think for coaching staff’s been the hardest thing. Cause I wouldn’t hire—the biggest thing is I hire myself 12 months ago because I was too focused on the athlete. And I think some people like that in their gym. And I know, you know, the owner of my previous gym liked that, but even though I feel like I’ve always been a good coach and I’ve really enjoyed coaching and put everything into it, the minute that hour finished, I wasn’t—it was about my recovery, my sleep, my food, you know what I mean? It wasn’t so much about the bigger picture. I’m happy to admit that. And that’s all I got paid for. So it wasn’t like I was not doing the job that I was supposedly doing, but I wouldn’t hire that person.

Mateo: 21:24 – I think that’s a great—I’ve dealt with staff members like that for sure. Who, you’re right, it’s like as soon as the hour is done, I’m running the microwave cause I gotta get my carbs in because I have my second training session coming in and that’s tough because yeah, this is someone who obviously knows the methodology and the training and knows how to coach movement. But yeah, the focus is not necessarily in line with what the business’ focus needs to be, which I get, it’s tough. And so when you’re saying you’re onboarding this person, how are you planting the seeds and laying the foundation and saying hey, this is what I’m about. This is my mission. And yeah, if this all works out, this is my grand vision, this is my grand plan. And this is where you could see—like how are you communicating that as you’re bringing this person on?

Darren: 22:14 – Well, the best thing about this person is they’ve read every single blog that we’ve ever put out. I knew that because, I could see who’d been clicking on it. You know, viewing it. And also, you know, the love letters that I kind of write only once or twice a week. I’m not doing every day, but I write them once or twice a week and I could see who was reading them, who was clicking on the link, that kind of thing. And you know, so he’s very—understands where we’re at. He’s also at the same stage of where our gym is at in life as well. He’s a similar demographic to my members. I’ve had him, you know, we’ve transitioned him as a member for starters, so he’s got to know everybody from that way. And then it’s just about, you know, our weekly meetings, kind of sharing our vision, sharing the way that we see coaching and looking for where they see coaching and see how we match on it and just making sure that everybody’s, you know, fully understanding sort of the way that we operate, basically. Not everybody would like it, some people love it and they’re the people that we want to, you know, I don’t know, I’m kind of willing to wait for them. Put a little bit of extra work in to make sure we get them, you know?

Mateo: 23:22 – Yeah. I mean, I that’s a good little nugget there, but you gotta be patient with it. I’ve been in situations where I’m desperate to alleviate some of the time constraints and find some available extra hours so I can work on the things that I need to work on, and made some hires that, you know, yeah, you gotta you gotta take your time with it because otherwise it’s just gonna cause more time and headache potentially in the long run down the line. So I think that’s great. And it’s also great that you have content, right? You are putting out your message and what you’re about so that it’s already kind of there for people to research themselves and look into it. And I think that’s awesome. So you’ve seen a great amount, an awesome amount of growth in the past, you know, just few months here and your business is new, but already you’re growing, you’re already starting to hire some new people, which I think is amazing. You’re starting to level up through the stages of entrepreneurship. What do you think has been key to your success in your growth so far?

Darren: 24:25 – There’s been a couple of things. Firstly, you know, Two-Brain has definitely guided me to the way that I wanted to run things and the way that I wanted to structure the business, but it’s not a magic pill. You know, you don’t just sign up for it. And it’s a lot of work and we’ve worked very hard behind the scenes to make sure that we’re following, you know all the advice and using the material that’s available. Facebook marketing, I wrote it off prior to Two-Brain. I’d done a little bit of—I think I spent about $800 and I didn’t see or hear one person. A lot of it I was just boosting kind of blog posts and stuff to try and get our message out there a little bit more. So maybe that had some residual effects afterwards. It’s been really good for us. It’s given us a way to collect names, numbers, emails, and follow up with people. So the whole process as a whole, you know, the Incubator, the Two-Brain Marketing and then just working really hard to make sure we do everything that’s laid out there, it’s probably a combination.

Mateo: 25:25 – That’s amazing man. It makes me happy to hear that and I’m happy for you. And if people want to talk to you and learn more about what you’ve got going on over there and maybe if you have advice on how to get to Regionals, where can they find you?

Darren: 25:42 – So yeah, my email is Our website,, that’s got all our content on there and yeah, that’s about it. It’s just head down, eyes forward and keep plodding on for now, and trying to level up and get to where I want to be in the business eventually.

Mateo: 25:59 – Thanks so much for hopping on, Darren.

Darren: 26:01 – Thanks.

Speaker 1: 26:03 – Thank you for listening to Two-Brain Radio. Make sure to subscribe to receive the most up-to-date episodes wherever you get your podcasts from. To find out how we can help create your Perfect Day, book a free call with a mentor at


This is our NEW podcast, Two-Brain Marketing, where we’ll focus on sales and digital marketing. Your host is Mateo Lopez!

Greg Strauch will be back on Thursday with the Two-Brain Radio Podcast.

Thanks for listening!

To share your thoughts:


To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes.
How To Handle Drop-Ins At Your Gym

How To Handle Drop-Ins At Your Gym

You sell coaching.

Your clients come first.

When you became a CrossFit affiliate, you didn’t take a vow of poverty. No one asked you to give strangers free coaching and charge full price to the people who put food on your table. But somehow, affiliates who do charge for drop-in visitors are sometimes attacked for being “not very CrossFit.” These poor manners were on display again at the CrossFit Games all weekend (“But my nephew is a Games athlete in the 14-year-old-division! You have to coach me for free!”)

No, you don’t. And you shouldn’t, because every additional participant in your class reduces the coaching your REAL clients get. One more client in class means your attention is split 12 ways instead of 11. And the additional background work required to host a stranger means they should really pay FAR more than your daily clients.

Here’s How the Perfect Drop-In Situation Should Work

  1. Visitor contacts the gym a week in advance and fills in a “visitor” form. He or she pays for the visit, chooses the class (peak times are reserved for real clients), and provides the name and email address of his or her primary coach.
  2. A coach at the gym contacts the visitor’s coach and receives training background and notes.
  3. Visitor arrives, gets amazing coaching, loves CrossFit more than he or she did before.
  4. Maybe visitor buys a souvenir (not included in the price.)

Here Are the Top Mistakes Gym Owners Make With Drop-In Guests

  1. “Buy a shirt and work out for free!” You are not in the T-shirt business. And your margin on shirts isn’t great. If someone pays $20 and you subtract the price of producing the shirt, you’re probably charging under $10 for coaching. What do your regular clients pay? Do THEY get a free T-shirt for every class they attend?
  2. “Your first drop-in is free!” You’re prioritizing strangers over the clients who keep you in business. Do THEY get a free class every week?
  3. “Just show up and sign a waiver!” If you don’t know a person’s background, how do you know who you’re coaching? Allowing a drop-in to jump into your classes without a check is the same as allowing new clients to do a free trial instead of your on-ramp program. It’s just not good coaching.

Why do gyms make these mistakes? Because they think they sell participation instead of coaching. They think they sell access to group classes. But they don’t.

Selling access to group classes is selling a commodity. If your group can absorb 1, 2 or 5 people without affecting the experience of the others in the group, then the experience wasn’t personal enough to begin with. Every additional body should affect the experience of everyone else.

Here’s How It Works at Catalyst Now

  1. Visitor applies to drop in for a workout.
  2. If he or she is a member at a Two-Brain box, we know the person is positive and well taught. We welcome the drop-in with open arms.
  3. If the person is a member at a CrossFit gym elsewhere, we contact his or her coach first, then usually welcome the person.
  4. If the drop-in hasn’t done CrossFit or isn’t a member at a real CrossFit or Two-Brain gym, we invite the person to book a personal training session.
  5. Everyone pays.
  6. The drop-in buys a shirt if he or she wants a shirt. It’s not a freebie.

Do some people complain? Sure. Some people want to use open gym time to do their own thing while they’re in town. We don’t do that.

Some people think they should receive our valuable coaching for free, while our clients pay for the gym. We don’t do that either.

Some people want to bring their dogs or take our bars outside into the gravel or play angry rap or scream during their last set of thrusters. We don’t do any of that stuff.

We also don’t welcome drop-ins during Hero WODs or on holidays because we want our coaches to be focused on our clients.

Because our primary responsibility is to my beloved clients, I have no problem saying “NO” to drop-ins. They’re usually great people; they’re almost always good huggers. And sometimes they add a new dash of spice to the noon group. But they’re not my main concern. We accept drop-ins who make things easy for us; not the other way around.

When you visit a gym that’s not your own, you should expect to be their lowest priority, not their highest. You should expect to pay more than their clients do. You should practice “beginner’s mind” and welcome a novel opportunity to learn from a coach with a different perspective. You should expect to tell your host a few things about yourself so they’re ready for you.

You should not expect a free ride. And gym owners shouldn’t put their clients aside to give you one.

Need more advice on common problems? Click here to book a free call with a certified Two-Brain Business mentor.