Filling The Media Gap

You need to hit “Publish” more.

When people in your community want to know, “How do I lose weight?” they should immediately think, “I know – I’ll ask Dave!”

I’ve been writing about your need to establish authority for years. We give TwoBrain clients tools to do it: 30-day content challenges, prewritten emails and templates, and even Fill-In-The-Blanks video.

Your business relies on media. If you own a CrossFit gym, and haven’t been publishing content you made yourself, then you’re relying on HQ to do it for you. So far, that’s been working…at least, a little bit. Counting on HQ to make your media is like counting on your clients to tell their friends about you. It’s a beautiful wish. But it’s too passive.

Time to start producing your own. And social media doesn’t count: Facebook and Instagram are distributors of content, not hosts.

Here’s a cue to get you going.

First, ask yourself: am I more comfortable talking in front of a camera; writing a blog post; or recording myself with a microphone?

It doesn’t matter which is best. Pick the one you’ll do.

Second, set a clock for ten minutes. You know how to do that.

Third, start with this sentence:

“My name is _____, and I opened my gym because…”

Then just tell your story.

End before the clock stops. But go ahead and use the full ten minutes if you want.

Then, publish your recording. Publish the FIRST take.

Video: upload to YouTube.

Upload to Facebook.

Upload to Instagram TV.

Blog: publish on your website.

Email to your list.

Audio: Publish to your podcast.


Do NOT try to make this first one perfect. Quantity is still more important than quality. It’s just important to build the habit. Tomorrow, tell another story.


Until today, CrossFit Media has been doing a lot of your job for you. They’re attracting attention to your brand; they’re giving you media to share and replicate and educate. They’re building trust and authority your town, whether you know it or not. What if that all went away? It’s time to take control of the horse pulling your cart.


How Shortcuts Can Hurt You

When can a shortcut help us, and when can it hurt us? Here’s a four-question test.

We all need marketing now. For the first time, gym owners have access to marketing that works–at least, in the short-term. That’s a huge problem solved. But the next problem to solve is, “How do I pick the marketing that will benefit my business in the long-term? How do I know the difference between a strategy and a shortcut?”

Because we all know that some shortcuts can actually hurt us. We’re fitness coaches, after all, and we spend part of every day telling our clients to stay away from 800-calorie diets and Slim-Quick shakes and pyramid schemes for supplements.

At TwoBrain, we want you to attract clients one at a time; form a personal coaching relationship with them; and keep them for a decade. We use Affinity Marketing, content marketing and high-level Facebook marketing to do that (and it’s all in the Incubator). The other option is to run challenges of 30-40 people at a time through your gym using cut-and-paste Facebook ads. The first is powerful; the latter is a powerful shortcut.

I try not to quote Seth Godin more than once per year, but his podcast today featured a great framework for determining which shortcuts can help and which can hurt. When he’s presented with (or finds) a new strategy for growth, Godin asks these four questions:

  1. Is it repeatable? Can I keep doing this for a long time, or is it a crash diet?
  2. Is it non-harmful? What are the downstream effects on our culture?
  3. Is it additive? Will it improve over time?
  4. Can it survive the crowd? Does it have to be a secret?


Let’s hold group challenge marketing up to Godin’s four questions:

  1. Is it repeatable? Yes…for a few rounds, anyway. But anyone who’s run a large group six-week challenge will tell you that it’s pretty exhausting. Imagine running the CrossFit Open every six weeks, and trying to bring the energy every time while explaining the air squat to a few dozen beginners.
    Big group challenges are fun the first time (I enjoyed the first New-You Challenge we ran at Catalyst two years ago.) But the challenge class times inconvenienced my best members. My coaches got worn out. And the new group took a lot of energy to manage…and then left.
  2. Is it non-harmful? At first, running a big group challenge seems like a positive: new potential members, and a little revenue spike. But more and more gyms are telling us they’re losing their BEST members when they run big group challenges. Their seed clients get less attention; they’re inconvenienced; and they’re often paying more for less service than the new kids get. In addition, if you’re offering bait-and-switch challenges, you’re poisoning your well of potential future clients.
  3. Is it additive (will it improve over time)? Unfortunately, lead quality tends to go down over time, and ad costs go up. When you run challenges over and over–especially the same group challenge–its value decreases every time you run it.
  4. Can it survive the crowd? When multiple gyms run the same ad campaigns in the same city, the problem compounds: ad costs go up quickly, and lead quality decreases, because the best applicants have already done the program. They’re looking for the next thing.


Now, let’s ask the same four questions about marketing to one person at a time, which is what we teach. For background:

Affinity marketing is in-person relationship marketing, referrals and “help first” conversations.

Content marketing is building a foundation of trust and slowly nurturing each potential client toward registration.

And the Facebook Marketing taught in the Incubator is personal “journeys”–sometimes we even call them challenges, but they’re not group challenges. For example, a person might see the ad, do a No-Sweat Intro, and have a six-week challenge designed for them; but their challenge is different from the next person’s, and leads to a long-term relationship with the gym.

Holding this type of marketing up to Godin’s four filters:

  1. Is it repeatable? Yes, you can have conversations forever. You can run ads forever with a lower ad spend, because your’e not counting on one big “splash” of revenue every 2-3 months. And since you’re just adding jet fuel to your normal process, you’re not going to put your staff through the meat grinder; you’re just speeding up your regular process.
  2. Is it non-harmful? Yes, because every new client goes through your typical intake process, and gets introduced to other members when they’re ready. That means you can still keep your primary focus on existing clients instead of ignoring them. And you can get new clients without tricking them.
  3. Is it additive? Yes. As you get better at conversations, you’ll convince more people to join your gym. You’ll also become better at conversions as you do more in a 1:1 setting. And since you’re not running the same ads as every other gym in town, you’ll get better at judging what works, and spend money on only those.
  4. Can it survive the crowd? Yes. We have several cities in which TwoBrain gyms are operating in cooperation instead of competition. They’re meeting different people, running different ads, and still becoming very successful.


There are shortcuts to profitability. Marketing can be one. But big-group challenge marketing is potentially harmful to the long-term success of your business.



How To Hit Your Service Goal in 2019

How To Hit Your Service Goal in 2019

Members of the TwoBrain family spent November and December setting goals and making their 2019 Annual Plans.

We set goals in 5 categories: travel, education, lifestyle and service first; and then we add the cost of those goals to our cost of living expenses to determine our profit goal for the year.

Surprisingly, the “service” goal is sometimes hardest to define.

The question we try to answer is, “How will you serve your community outside of work in 2019?”

Service is a necessary step to happiness. And since we want you to build a legacy in your community, we want you to serve outside the thing that pays you.

Service can mean money or time. Sounds simple, right?

The problem is that most of us have dedicated our entire LIVES to service already. We left higher-paying careers to start a gym. We use the gym for fundraisers (sometimes we even raise more money for charities than we pay ourselves!) We take calls and texts at all hours. We put our clients first, coaches second and ourselves third. So why is it hard for the 500 entrepreneurs in TwoBrain to set a “service” goal for next year? It should be easy!

It’s hard because most people think too big.

I’ve been lucky enough to jump on a bunch of goal-setting calls with entrepreneurs and their mentors, and the service goals I hear are amazing:

“I want to volunteer at the animal shelter every Friday.”
“I want to donate $10,000 to the Vision Fund.”
“I want to sponsor 70 families for Christmas.”

Those are all very worthy goals. But what do you tell your clients when they say, “I need to lose 50 pounds this year”?


You say, “Let’s lose one pound first.”


Take a kid fishing.

Walk your neighbor’s dog.

Buy coffee for the woman behind you in line.

Drive a kid to their basketball game.

Double-tip your waiter.


These small acts of service might not be grand gestures. You might even forget about them five minutes later. But the recipient won’t. It will matter to THEM.


Over a decade ago, I was working a client through a private session, and he mentioned that his foster kids were a real handful. I said, “How do you DO it?”

He said, “What do you mean?”

I said, “How do you take these kids in, usually in the middle of the night during some traumatic event? How do you embrace them like your own and get attached to them, knowing they’re going to be sent back?”

He said, “Oh, it’s hard as hell. But you have to hope that the day you have them is the day that makes the difference.”

He knew he couldn’t rescue every kid. But their month with his family might be just enough to show them how things COULD be. It might not matter to all of them. But it might matter to one.


Years later, I was working on the CrossFit for Hope committee. We’d just done our third year of fundraising for St. Jude Children’s Hospital and our second for Kenya. I’d been to both places. The CrossFit community did great work. But we thought our impact could be more if we skipped the bureaucracy of charity. Greg said, “Look for opportunities where $5000 or $10,000 will make a meaningful and lasting difference in one person’s life, and do that.”


Back then, I couldn’t afford $10,000, but I understood: I began to look for ways where a little bit would mean a lot.


I bought hockey equipment for one kid who needed it.


The next year, one family on our hockey team couldn’t afford to travel to a tournament. So we anonymously paid for their hotel rooms.


This year, we donated over $30,000 to local kids who needed help to play sports, and another $10,000 to families in crisis. I volunteer to coach two hockey teams. But in 2014, I didn’t have the money or the time. If my goal was higher, I wouldn’t have done it. Imagine setting a goal to serve others and failing: that’s demoralizing.


But imagine succeeding, even in a small way. That’s fulfillment of your life’s mission.


Your service doesn’t have to matter to everyone. If it matters to anyone, that’s enough.

Achieving Work + Life Balance

Achieving Work + Life Balance

By Anastasia Bennett, TwoBrain Mentor


Having a balance between work and home can be challenging. But like any challenge it can be rewarding if done successfully.


By learning how to prioritize balance you will become happier, healthier (both mentally and physically), and be more productive at work.


“Be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars. In the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.” ~Max Ehrmann


As business owners who are always busy taking care of their staff, customers, sales, bills, family and so on, we forget what should be our number one priority: OURSELVES!


You can’t pour from an empty cup.


Look after yourself:

  • stay active
    • Keep exercising – whatever form that takes. Change it up if you need to keep it interesting; do yoga, go for a run, do some strength training or CrossFit classes.
    • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • eat healthy food
    • Eating healthy will give you more energy and make you feel better
  • get as much rest as you can
    • You can recover from distractions faster
    • It can prevent burnout
    • It can help with memory and improve your decision-making abilities


Accept help or Delegate

Instead of trying to do everything, reassess your strengths and weaknesses. Carry on with doing what you are good at and what you love to do and delegate or outsource other things that you ‘waste’ your time on. Think about what can you let go and delegate to your staff in order to give them an opportunity to grow. It will give them the chance to learn and help them to feel valued while having the added benefit of freeing yourself up to concentrate on your priorities.


Stop trying to do everything perfectly


Are you a perfectionist? If you are reading this, you probably are. Stop trying to get everything done perfectly; no one is going to give you an award for it. If it is taking too long to make it perfect maybe it’s one of those things you should delegate to someone who is better at it.


Start by making small changes


Don’t set yourself up for the failure from the start. Committing to huge changes immediately won’t do anything other than add more stress. You already know that success doesn’t happen overnight, but if you start looking after yourself and learn how to balance your work/life better you will be setting yourself up to be a massive success.


You might be asking yourself: “So what should I do now?”


  • Make a list of jobs you love doing and don’t enjoy doing (a “love/loathe list”)
  • Make a list of all your staff
  • What can you delegate and who will benefit (grow) by doing it?
  • Catch up with your staff one-on-one and ask them what their perfect day looks like. Do they want to learn more?
  • Through a process of delegation reduce  your workload by 3 hours per week
  • Commit those 3 hours to looking after yourself (however that looks – gym time, seeing a movie, going for a swim)
  • Book time in your calendar with “ME” time and don’t compromise on that
  • Commit to a new change for a month and reassess after that.


Why I’m At HQ Today

Today, we’ll be talking about business at CrossFit HQ.  It’s the next step in a five-year conversation.


When I started writing in 2009, it wasn’t a conversation. It wasn’t a seminar, either: it was just my notes. I needed help to make my gym profitable. The only business “help” available in the fitness business seemed so slimy that–well, it made me want to quit the business. I remember thinking, “If I have to do THAT, and talk THAT way, and mislead people…well, I don’t want to do this anymore.”


So I found a mentor outside the industry, spent more than I could afford for his help, turned my gym around, and shared everything I learned on my blog.


By 2013, people were asking me for help. I had published my first book (Two-Brain Business), but had no idea it would ever become the top-selling business book of all time in the fitness world. I was sitting in the Hilton bar during the CrossFit Games, talking to Jeff Cain about libertarianism and the affiliate model. I had no idea he’d ever be CEO of CrossFit, Inc. But I talked about the business of owning a gym because it’s ALL I ever talked about.


In 2016, I launched I had no idea we would ever serve more than 500 gyms. I had no idea we’d work with entrepreneurs outside fitness who–like me–didn’t want to do business the old way, the slimy way, the salesy way.


In May of 2018, I passed my 2,000th free call with CrossFit gym owners. I’d been doing them for years (you don’t do 2000 calls in a couple of months.) Those conversations pushed me to KEEP building, because every single person on the other end of the line deserves to be successful in the gym business. We added mentors to the team. We added staff to help gym owners between their mentoring calls. We flew around the world for speak for free. We had easy conversations on the CrossFit podcast. We had tough conversations with gym owners, and we had thrilling conversations with gym owners.


Last night, some of the TwoBrain mentors met in Santa Cruz, CA. We talked for seven hours straight about the future of our beloved gyms.


We need this conversation to continue. While we were deep in conversation, a TwoBrain client posted their first $1,000,000 year. They remind me of what’s at stake: amazing people doing all the right things for all the right reasons. And a former client spammed everyone about his “elite gym slack channel” that he wants to sell. The email reminded me that the slimy element still lurks out there, and that we have the unique opportunity to demonstrate success the right way.


All the right things for all the right people (that’s you.) It’s why we keep talking. Thanks for continuing the conversation. I’ll be thinking about you at HQ today.

How To Win Fights On Facebook

How To Win Fights On Facebook

Facebook is like the rap battle that never ends.


There’s no debating, just posturing. No point and counterpoint, no real discussion. Just one-upmanship and mic drops. There are no question marks on Facebook, not really; just a lot of exclamation points. Aggressive posts with passive-aggressive responses instead of arguments.


And you can’t leave the ring. Despite your best intentions and “facebook fasting”, your business needs you to maintain a media presence.


As the great strength coach Mel Siff once told me, “As soon as you plant your flag, people are going to start shooting.” You’re going to get a bad review, or negative comments. People will want to draw you into a fight. And every instinct you have will whisper, “Let’s do this!”


Here’s how to win the fights on Facebook:


  • Don’t get into fights on Facebook. There’s no benefit to you, or your company. You don’t need to win to win.
  • If you’re attacked, delete the post. What are they going to do: post again? If so, revisit the first part of this tactic.
  • If you get a bad review, you can’t delete it. But you SHOULD respond. Try this: “We’re so sorry you had a bad experience. We do our best to deliver the best XYZ in town, and our feedback is usually very positive. I’m sorry this wasn’t a good fit.”
    Sooner or later, everyone’s going to get a bad review. It’s like the first little scratch in your car: you can’t truly relax until it happens anyway.
  • Go for a walk before you respond. Bad news can wait. They don’t deserve your full and immediate attention. Sun Tzu even recommends forcing your opponents to wait as a tactic in “The Art of War”.
  • Read the entire post out loud to someone supportive. You’ll probably laugh. Get it out of your head and into the world where it can die of exposure.


Finally, ask yourself, what’s their REAL motive?


Several months ago, I was invited to a “facebook debate” with an aspiring business consultant. I declined, because I realized it wasn’t going to be a debate at all. It was just a chance for him to jump onstage and share some of the credibility and trust I’ve built over the last decade. I took a bit of flak, but no one even remembers the conversation now.


People want to share your limelight. Sometimes they’ll invite you to box just so they can say they touched you. But as my grandfather used to tell me, “You don’t wrestle with a pig, because you’ll just get dirty and the pig will like it.” In other words, they don’t really deserve your attention. The best way to kill an argument is to starve it.


(mic drop)


(kidding! I always wanted to do that. But there are no mic drops on Facebook. Someone always picks the damn thing up and says, “My turn…”)