The Six Habits of Highly Profitable Gyms

The Six Habits of Highly Profitable Gyms

What do the most profitable microgyms in the world have in common?

Why do some gym owners become two to 10 times more successful than average?

We’ve spent the last few years studying profitable gyms—finding their commonalities and then working backward to build a Roadmap to help our clients get to success.

In this series, I’m going to tell you exactly what the top gyms in the world are doing—things you might not be doing. Stuff like this:

– Why gym owners who offer fewer services earn more.

– Which metrics the leading gyms actually track and why they matter.

– How the top gym owners can spend 99 percent of their time working on their businesses instead of in their businesses.

– Why the most successful gyms can charge 20-30 percent more than their competition.

– How the best gyms are marketing their services.

This will not be:

– A “secret” marketing campaign.

– “Easy money.”

– Bait and switch.

To benefit from this series, you must be willing to:

– Think long term.

– Help First.

– Do the work necessary to build an enduring gym.

If you are willing to do that, you’re going to get amazing results from this series. Here’s how I’ll deliver these hard-won lessons to you over the next posts:

In Part 2, I’ll tell you how to focus your time and energy on the things that matter. Then I’ll tell you the numbers you need to focus on to be successful.

In Part 3, I’ll tell you how to delegate so you can work on your business, instead of in it. I’ll also tell you how to charge what you’re worth (most people don’t believe it when they hear it … until I prove it).

In Part 4, I’ll use Two-Brain Radio to introduce you to Peter Brasovan and Jared Byczko, who will share a ton of insight on running their million-dollars-plus gym. It’s amazing.

Finally, I’ll host a free webinar on the topic, in which I’ll answer your questions and share the remainder of the Six Habits. Last time I did this, we hit our 500-registrant cap, and I answered over 100 questions from the audience (we were on there for over two hours, and I legitimately got choked up while answering a great question from Ric Thompson).


You can register for the free webinar here. It’s at noon EST on Friday, Jan 24.

Creating Truly Irresistible Bribes for Online Marketing

Creating Truly Irresistible Bribes for Online Marketing

Mike: 00:02 – Hey Mateo. If I had the ultimate guide to uninterrupted sleep for eight hours every night, guaranteed, would you give me your email address to get it?

Mateo: 00:10 – I would give you my email address. I gave you my phone number, I gave you my credit card number, I would give you my social-security number. I would give you passport number. I would give you pretty much every number that I could give you for that information. For that guide.

Mike: 00:23 – It’s like, OK, so I’ve come up with what would probably be perfect lead magnet to get you to stop scrolling and exchange some information to get in conversation with me. And potentially I’m probably gonna end up making a sale and probably getting most of your bank account and maybe, you know, your firstborn children.

Mateo: 00:38 – You would be yes, well positioned to do all of that.

Mike: 00:43 – Well positioned. I’d have all the tools in my arsenal. We’re going to talk—lead magnets are a big deal. That’s what a lot of people are trading their information for in the marketing world these days. So a lot of advertisers selling goods and services are really trying to get your info and they’re going to give you something for free in exchange. That is a lead magnet, correct?

Mateo: 01:00 – Yes. We’re going to get into it. I’ll give you my definition in a second.

Mike: 01:06 – All right, we’ll get to that. We’re going to talk more about lead magnets, how to get more leads with them, and how to make more sales as a result. Want to add $5,000 in monthly revenue to your gym? It can be done. If you want to know how you can talk to a Two-Brain Business mentor for free. Book a call All right. I am back with Mateo Lopez of Two-Brain Marketing. We are on Two-Brain Radio. My name is Mike Warkentin and please remember to subscribe and check back in our archives. We have tons of marketing stuff going on and lots of good shows with Sean Woodland and the man himself, Chris Cooper, regularly. So please subscribe. We are talking lead magnets. Mateo. First question. You said in the intro, you’re going to tell me your definition. What is a lead magnet?

Mateo: 01:48 – So it’s essentially just a bribe, right? It’s a bribe. You are giving away something of value to your prospect. And then in exchange they’re going to give you their contact info. That’s really what it is. It’s an irresistible bribe for being—that’s a really good lead magnet. The more irresistible you can make it, you know, the more effective your lead magnet is going to be. And it’s a called magnet because, you know exactly what it sounds like. You’re attracting leads to you with this thing.

Mike: 02:23 – So you’ve got the big picture of the big U-shape magnet, like the horseshoe that’s just pulling people in.

Mateo: 02:27 – Exactly, pulling phone numbers and emails right to you.

Mike: 02:32 – And we’ve talked, guys, in earlier shows about what to do with those phone numbers and emails once you get them. So if you’re getting lots of leads, we can tell you more about that in those shows so check the archives. So tell me Mateo, how are lead magnets commonly used in digital marketing? What’s the most common way these bribes are served to people? And what do people want in result?

Mateo: 02:53 – Well, so no matter your traffic source, right? Whether you get most of your traffic from search engine optimization or from Facebook ads or from content marketing or from Instagram or from whatever platform you get the most traffic, could even be referrals in person, your lead magnet is that thing that’s going to take the people that you’re offering to that traffic source, right? You’re offering it to that traffic source and getting people to opt in and give you their information. Was that your question? What was your question?

Mike: 03:35 – Yeah. No. Yeah. I’m asking like how, cause again, you touched on a cool thing where you could have it. Cause you could use a lead magnet if you had a booth at a trade show and you know, sign up— I’ll give you a free InBody scan if you give me your email address, that’s a lead magnet. That’s not necessarily a thing that you get, but it’s a

Mateo: 03:58 – If we’re talking about trade shows, you know, every time you see a conference, not a conference, a contest or the spinning the wheel thing or the free pens or the, you know, win this little teddy bear if you answer this survey or whatever, T-shirts, whatever it is, those are the lead magnets. 100%. It doesn’t have to be online per se. But yeah, it’s that thing that you’re giving away for free in exchange for some contact info. Win this free car just give me your email or whatever.

Mike: 04:27 – Yeah. Even a free pen, like people do anything for free. The best example I saw this ever was at the Arnold Sports Festival and I was walking around checking it out there and there’s just this carnage of like celebrities and booths and all these different supplement companies and there’s this huge line and I’m walking by and this guy says, what are we standing in line for? And the guy in front of him says, I have no idea, but the line is huge, so it must be something free and awesome. Right? And that’s kind of the idea. There was a lead magnet somewhere. So essentially we want to do that. We want to get those huge lines leading to your stuff online.

Mateo: 05:01 – So yeah. So, and what people use it for, right? If you’re using them correctly, it’s that intro point into your sales funnel, right? It’s getting that lead, because then once you own that information, that contact info, you can push it further and further down your sales funnel, right? You can then offer that person, once you offer them the free thing, you can then offer them a low-ticket item. Maybe it’s a consultation, maybe it’s one personal-training session for 50% off. Maybe it’s your six-week program, maybe it’s whatever it is. And then the person buys that thing and then once they buy that thing, you can offer them your recurring membership program. You can offer them a personal-training package, you can offer them your supplements, you can offer them new T-shirts. And then once you offer them that thing, you can offer more PT or more, you know, you just pushing them further and further down.

Mateo: 05:53 – And then once they’re all the way through your funnel and they’re a client, you can restart the whole process. You can offer them another lead magnet for your nutrition program. And maybe it’s a cookbook that they can use for free after they’ve been at your gym for six months. And then once they get that cookbook, then you can say, Hey, I saw you did the cookbook, are you interested in our nutrition program? We can do a nutrition assessment for free or for 20 bucks. And then do the assessment like, well, based on this assessment, you’re fat and unhealthy, you want to do our six-week nutrition challenge and then again you’ve started the whole thing over and over and over again. Right.

Mike: 06:27 – So it’s not lead magnet so much as lead magnets, plural, where you’ve got—once you get these people in this funnel, you can use all sorts of different lead magnets to get people to do the things that you want them to do and ultimately the things that they want to do to change their lives. Or do you get the benefits of your product or service. They’ve opted in for a reason.

Mateo: 06:43 – Yeah. I mean, especially if—the more stuff you’re able to give away, I mean you’re, you’re really positioning yourself as an authority figure in the space, right? And you’re getting people to consume a lot of your content, they’re really going to trust you and like what you say, so that when it comes time to offer them something to buy, they’re going to be more receptive to that.

Mike: 07:08 – A professional-looking lead magnet, like it really sets you apart. Right? Like, if there are three ads and all three of them are asking you to join a gym, but one of them is just yelling at you. The second one is doing something else and the third one says, Hey, I’m going to give you this free 25-page full color guide to personal training or to squatting, whatever. That guide is probably going to stand out and at least if nothing else, make that one gym look more professional than the other gym.

Mateo: 07:35 – Yeah. I have a whole list of tips for making good lead magnets and one number—I don’t know which number it is, I can’t find it, but one of them is definitely like presentation is everything. Presentation can make or break your lead magnet. Not make or break, but it plays a big part for exactly the reason you just said.

Mike: 08:02 – OK. We’re going to get to that in just a sec, but I want to touch on one thing that you brought up there is that you’re getting—people are opting in and they’re giving you their contact information. So this is like an excellent way—there are some pretty shady ways to get email addresses and I don’t know how many times I’ve got nonsense spam stuff coming from all manner of people. Everyone from like, you know, the Prince who needs me to give him my credit-card number and he’ll pay me back to like legitimate products and services from people in the fitness market that I’ve clearly not signed up for, like I would know if, you know, company X, I had signed up for. And we’ve got all these new spam laws and all this other stuff going on. So when someone gives you their email address, fair game, correct?

Mateo: 08:43 – Yes. It’s tip number five, by the way. I found it. It’s number five on my list.

Mike: 08:48 – Well, I won’t hold our listeners hostage. Let’s get right into it. Let’s talk about some of the tips for lead magnets. What do we want to do in these things? And again, before you get going, I’m going to tell you that if you want to get just a ton of them, there’s more than 13 on We’ll put that link in the show notes. And again, this is a shameless plug. But the same time we’ve created a ton of stuff. Cooper, Chris Cooper has given away 90% of the stuff that he thinks about and talks about he gives away for free. You can get it all and see a ton of great lead magnets there. Now Mateo, tell us what the tips are.

Mateo: 09:21 – Well. Yeah. So I mean, the other great thing about lead magnets, too, before we get into that is you know, especially if you’re struggling to get people to opt in and book an appointment with whatever you’re advertising, if it’s a six week, a 12 week or whatever, putting in that intermediary step, which is the kind of step before that lead magnet step will really help you. It makes your sales funnel a little bit longer. It makes the process a bit longer. You may need to invest a little bit more in pumping that info out there, putting those ads out there for your lead magnets, but it will help you get better conversions into whatever program you want them to eventually buy. Right? I mean, that’s where people I see struggle the most is, you know, people will try to advertise online and they’ll go straight with their core service, right?

Mateo: 10:17 – They’ll try and present a stranger, basically on the internet, present them with their core service and their core offer. And the reality is these people don’t know you well enough and don’t trust you enough to want to give you, you know, even if just a month of your memberships is 150 month, that’s too high of a barrier. Right? So that’s why a lead magnet, what’s great is that it removes the risk, right? It removes the risk from the prospect. Like, all right, I’ll engage with this business now. There’s not a whole ton of risk. Like this is a transaction, right? You are giving something in exchange for their contact info, but this transaction has a lot less risk for the prospect. Because you know, no money, they’re not putting any money up for it. Right?

Mike: 11:10 – It’s like, I’m not gonna kiss a stranger, but I might shake his hand.

Mateo: 11:15 – Exactly. Right, exactly. You know, the reason why certain people have been successful with skipping this step is, you know, with something like, you know, we talked about this last episode or we’ve talked about it a lot, but you know why you’ve seen the successful six-week challenge thing going on is because that is, you know, in a kind of a roundabout way, selling them on your front-end offer or a core service offering that you have that is pretty expensive, but you’re giving it away for free. I’m putting that in quotation marks. So that has removed the risk from the prospect. So yes, you’re going to see a lot more people opt in for that. Right? So I don’t know if I’m explaining that correctly, but you see where I’m going with it is you’re kind of combining the two. You’re combining the two.

Mateo: 12:00 – You’ve kind of turned your six-week program, your flagship product, into a lead magnet almost, because you know, in theory giving it away for free. You know, I don’t think that’s actually what ends up happening, but we don’t need to go into that. And another reason too why we don’t lead with this in our course, right? We still tell people, hey, you know, advertise your six-week program, try and get people to opt in for this, is because, you know, we want to give gym owners the opportunity to get some phone numbers and start making appointments and start earning money now. Right? That’s the only reason why we do it that way. But if you’ve got the resources and a little bit more time, having a lead magnet is going to make the whole process a lot easier for you, for your prospects and really level up our sales funnel, if that makes sense.

Mike: 13:00 – It’s fun. Like I’ve used some of these at my gym and we send them sometimes just to our current members just as free gifts too. So we create this thing. We do use it as a lead magnet. Like I’ve got one, my wife wrote a top-five high-protein baking recipes or something like that. We have on the website as lead magnet for people who pop in and we use it on Facebook and so forth. And then we just send it to our members as a gift and they’re like, this is kinda cool. And it’s just a value added service for them. So they can use them in a number of ways.

Mateo: 13:25 – And that’s a retention tool for you, right? Keeps people engaging with what you’re having to say. And if you’re, you know, you can then go to that person, like we talked about earlier and you know, hey, I saw you downloaded the cookbook. You know, what had you interested? I’m trying to eat better. Oh really? Well have you thought about our nutrition program? And then boom, you’re off to the races there.

Mike: 13:47 – Forward it to a friend, print it out, give it to your friend. There’s a lot of different ways of thinking. It has legs. It’ll go for a bit. So let’s talk about how to make them, let’s do some tips and teach people what to do with these things.

Mateo: 13:58 – There’s a ton of things you can do, right? It almost might be overwhelming trying to get started cause there’s so many different ways you can do this, right? There’s checklists, there’s ebooks. You can do a case studies on your current clients, right? Hey, you know, Joe, father of two, you know, had a double bypass surgery last year. Now he’s got a six pack. Like learn how he did it. You know, you can do it tons of different ways. You can do videos, you can do quizzes, you can do cheat sheets, you can turn a blog post that you’ve written into a lead magnet. I mean, that’s essentially what we’ve done at Two-Brain with Chris. We’ve essentially taken, you know, he’s written blogs for years and years. We’ve kind of taken some of those, repurposed them, turned them into an ebook or a guide or a PDF.

Mateo: 14:50 – And now it’s a lead magnet, right? So there’s tons of ways you can do it, right? Lead magnets can be educational, they can be like a tutorial. You mentioned the squat one, like that’s another way you can kind of frame it. They can be, you know, you could use them to build community, right? You can create a Facebook group and invite people to join that Facebook group and in that group you’re going to give away value for free and then you keep nurturing that group and then you can turn them into prospects and to lead them into clients. There’s tons of ways you can kind of do this.

Mike: 15:32 – So it’s just some sort of bribe something that people want.

Mateo: 15:34 – Yeah, I mean the most common ones are your ebook, a PDF or some kind of like video series, like, you know, a week of at-home workouts, you know, something like that where you demo the movements, right? Those are kind of the most common ones. And eBooks are cool because you know, you can add to them, right? You can combine ones, you know, there’s tons of ways. And again, like you said, the more professional you can make it look, it’ll kind of make you seem like an authority figure, right?

Mike: 16:09 – Was that tip number five?

Mateo: 16:11 – I don’t know. I don’t know what tips we’re at just yet, but those are kind of the formats, right? The different formats and lenses and approaches, I guess you could go with these things. The tip, now we’re going into the tips, right? You want this to be irresistible, right? So the more of a value you can give away for free, and the more specific you can be, too, you know, that’ll really help you—the better results you’re gonna have, right? So, you know, the ultimate guide to becoming a top salesman, that sounds kind of general, right? The ultimate guide to selling more at trade shows. Now it’s a little bit more specific. Right? Now you’re tapping into a more specific kind of an audience. So that might resonate a little bit more. That might be a little bit more attractive or irresistible. Does that make sense?

Mike: 17:07 – If nothing else it’ll set you out from the crowd, probably, cause a lot of people probably say top salespeople—you probably won’t, you know. Yeah, you’ve definitely just, you’ve taken it to a different spot where it’s going to stand out a little bit.

Mateo: 17:18 – How to generate more leads with online marketing. Like, OK, how generate more leads with Facebook lead ads with Facebook’s new dynamic creative or with, you know, Instagram, you know, posts or whatever it is. Now you’re drilling down a little bit more, right?

Mike: 17:36 – Getting some descriptive words in the title.

Mateo: 17:39 – Right. So I guess the number one tip is you need to solve a problem, right? Like everything else we’ve been talking about, the key to having an effective offer, effective ad creative, is you need to identify a problem that your niche is having and then you need to provide them with some kind of solution. You know, if your lead magnet doesn’t do that, it’s most likely going to be a dud.

Mike: 18:03 – You’ve got lots. I mean, every gym owner knows thousands of problems that people are trying to solve. So, you know, if you’re struggling for an idea on that one, start talking to five of your clients or even five people who aren’t your clients and ask them what problems they’re trying to solve. And you’ve got probably got 500 lead magnets from those conversations.

Mateo: 18:20 – Oh, exactly right. Yeah. There’s tons from, you know, how to squat better to like how to eat clean on vacation. I mean, there’s tons you can go down. If you can, promise a quick win, right? So, you know, if your lead magnet can help them achieve a small goal or succeed in some way quickly, that’s going to be, you know, even better, right? That’s going to make your lead magnet really, really pop and really shine and make you shine in turn because they’re already getting results from you, right? So by the time you go and ask them to buy something, they’re going to say, yeah, I mean, I already lost 10 pounds following your workout video series, I’m gonna sign up for this personal-training thing or whatever it is. Right.

Mike: 19:06 – That’s trust and authority, right. Results based on after establishing trust and authority.

Mateo: 19:11 – Yeah. And yeah, so you want to get them to a point where they’re succeeding with your lead magnet. We talked about this already, but you want to be specific, right? We just covered that one. So that was tip number three. I guess I skipped around.

Mike: 19:25 – I’ll tack something on just because I know it’s something that Two-Brain is kind of based around, is that specific and also actionable, maybe if that’s lower down the list, I’ll apologize, but it’s gotta be actionable where—it’s frustrating when you get something and it’s just critical and it just is, you know, ranting or raving. It’s gotta be something that tells people to do something and something that will give them that win. Right? So that’s why like in this show, we’re telling you if you’re going to make a lead magnet, do these things that are going to make that lead magnet work for you. So we’re trying to give you some wins here. We’re doing exactly what number three tip is, but specific actionable stuff. And that is, you know, a Two-Brain principle that we’re always going to follow.

Mateo: 20:09 – So this is one that we don’t always follow the rule on with our lead magnets at Two-Brain, but it should be quick to digest. We tend to give a lot of value away. We tend to write a bunch of stuff and want to make sure you guys have all the information that you need to succeed as an entrepreneur or if you’re talking about your clients in your gym as an athlete. So while you do want to provide value, you know, you want to also make sure that this is something that they can consume relatively quickly or relatively easily, right? Like it shouldn’t be like a 20-hour video series on how to become a better squatter. Although of course you could probably create one, you might not want to use that as your lead magnet.

Mike: 20:57 – Yeah. So you can, I mean, I’ve looked at some of the ones on some of the popular sites and some of them are like 20 or 30 pages long, but there’s not a ton of stuff in there. Like it’s great big graphics and things like that. So it’s kind of fun to go through. It’s not like 70,000 pages of text. It’s like, you know, big tip, cool picture, big tip, infographic. Like it feels like there’s some stuff there, but it’s kinda fun to scroll through it. It’s kind of like a video game. You’re just plowing through. On the other side of it though, like you said, Chris has a ton of knowledge and a ton of content. We’ve kind of put together some super magnets for lack of a better term, where some of these things have never been produced anywhere. Like our ultimate business plan for gym owners like is one of the more definitive things. We did that on purpose and that one is very text heavy, but it’s solving a huge problem for a person. So I think what you’re saying there is, know what your audience wants and needs and then kind of tailor it to that, but you always want them to be able to consume it. The 20-hour video series is not going to work for everybody, that’s for sure.

Mateo: 21:55 – Yeah. I mean, most entrepreneurs like to read a lot of books, like to read business books, like to consume that kind of content. So yeah, having our super lead magnet, like you just said, that kind of works for us. Yes, so it definitely depends on the audience for sure.

Mike: 22:11 – There is a cost of production on these things so you, not that I’m saying you want to hit the minimum, but if a 30-page magnet gets you the email address, you don’t need a 70-page one necessarily. So you can kind of balance your cost of production versus what you want to achieve. And if you’re getting leads with a 20-page magnet, go with it.

Mateo: 22:30 – Hundred percent, a hundred percent. And again, that’s why we don’t lead with this right away in our course because like you said, there is a cost of production, especially if you want it to work well. Last couple of things are pretty simple. It should be easily accessible, instantly accessible, right? So if you say, click here to download now, we’re going to send it right to your inbox. You should actually send it to their inbox.

Mike: 22:54 – Nothing is more annoying.

Mateo: 22:54 – There’s actually a couple, internet gurus out there or gym marketing people, I’m not gonna name names, where I’ve opted into their stuff and like there’s no thing, like they, they tell you they’ll show you the top five things or the new hybrid model for this and that. And you opt in and there’s like nothing there, it’s just a bunch of testimonies and telling you to book a call with their sales team.

Mike: 23:24 – That’s a kick in the crotch.

Mateo: 23:24 – So, yeah, you want to give them the thing and it should be instant. And you can automate that. It’s really simple, especially if you got like mail—even MailChimp or things like that can help you do that. And then we already kinda talked about this sporadically throughout this episode, but yeah, demonstrate expertise, right? You know, you want to hint at your service’s unique value proposition and you want to basically make sure that you’re giving away stuff that is relevant to what you are going to eventually sell them. Whatever your core services and relevant to the people who are consuming this content.

Mike: 24:07 – That’s big, exactly. Goes back to that establishing authority. You know, there are certain things, like I’ve heard you talk about it, I think it was a DJing something or other that I think you downloaded. I’ve downloaded some things that I’m interested in. The more of these things that you see and refer to, you start to really, the status of the provider goes up in your mind. It just does, right? Like HootSuite sends me all these different, you know, PDFs of cool stuff with social media. I read them all the time. By definition, just start to rank them up in my mind. So, it’s constant and the larger these things get, and that’s again where we talked a little bit about the cost production, and so forth. But, when you look at, again, if you go to the free tools on the Two-Brain site and you down—I think there’s like, there’s gotta be like six to 800 pages of free stuff here. Like it is literally gym-saving stuff. And if you’re not impressed by that, you’re probably not gonna be impressed by anything. Right? So you’re exactly right. Establishing authority. And there’s so many people, when I’ve asked Two-Brain people, how did you get into the company? How’d you get associated? They said, I read something that Chris wrote. And it could have been a blog or whatever. And it’s just that it’s a whole big giant mesh of authority-building stuff. And a lead magnet is one part of it for sure.

Mateo: 25:15 – And I realized I skipped number five again, even though we already tied back to number five. But yes. And this ties back to exactly what you’re saying. You know, it’s gotta be valuable, right? Both an actual value, like it should do the thing that you’re promising that it will do. Like, you know, if you’re giving away a productivity checklist, it should, you know, help them do that if they follow the checklist type of a thing. Right. But also perceived value. And this is kind of what you’re saying right now with the super lead magnets we’ve created, with the books that Chris has written, you know, in a lot of ways those are lead magnets, right? But it should have some high perceived value and that’s where cost for production, like it should look clean.

Mateo: 26:00 – It should look nice. It should be well designed. It should—you can use stock photos, right? But make sure it doesn’t look like stock or scammy or whatever. Right? You know, there’s ways to do that where it doesn’t feel, you know, I guess, yeah, scammy or not professional. And that’s again where it ties back to presentation is everything, especially with lead magnets, especially because this is going to be in a lot of ways people’s first point of contact with you, the first time they’re going to see or ever hear about you. And they’re going to be cold, right? So you want to make a good first impression.

Mike: 26:37 – Yeah. It’s like a modern business card. You don’t want typos on there and, I can’t take grammatical errors and typos. That’s my career is hunting those things down. So, you know, the tip that I’ll give you guys from a production standpoint is proofread the things. Or if you don’t have someone who’s good at—if you’re not good at doing it, get someone to proofread it for you. Someone who was good at English in school that can do it for you. Make sure you—write them. You don’t have to be a pro. And you know, Chris has talked about this a lot of times with people, just you need to generate content. You need to get it out. You shouldn’t sit on something until it’s perfect. At the same time, if there’s a big red line in your word document underneath a word, just do a little check on that to see if you spelled it right and then fix it.

Mike: 27:20 – And then the second thing is what you said about photos and stuff. Whatever you’re using, make sure you have the rights to use it. Don’t steal photos. You can get some huge, huge monetary problems with stolen photos, so if you’re using stock images, licensed them appropriately. This is advertising, right? So it’s a commercial use of something. Make sure you’re licensing this stuff properly. Do not steal a picture of a celebrity and put it on your lead magnet, even if it was on the internet for free. Do not do that. You will get in trouble eventually, if not now later. And it can be huge. We heard of a one lawsuit, it was for one usage of a photo of a celebrity on a website and it was, and the demand from the lawyer was a hundred grand, which is insane. This was something that was viewed like something like 400 times or something on a website that was not super high traffic. A hundred grand. So yeah, it’s insane. So take your own photos, license your photos. There’s tons of ways that you can do that. But do read the fine print on that stuff. Use things appropriately and then make them look good. And then, you know, from there you’re going to use this lead magnet, you’re gonna put it on something, you’re going to get it to people somehow. And that’s going to be part of your ad funnel.

Mateo: 28:28 – Yeah, we talked about this or I mentioned this at the beginning, right? Whatever your traffic source is, right? You’re going to take this and offer it to the people in that traffic source. Right? And one more quick, quick thing. So many tips. But yeah, like we’ve talked about in the ad copy episodes we’ve done and the episodes we’ve done talking about Facebook ads, right? Check the archives. If you can create some kind of scarcity and urgency, even better, right? So, hey, I’m giving away my bestselling book, “Facebook Ads for Dummies,” but I only printed out a hundred copies. So get yours now. Right? Obviously it’s a lie, probably has infinite amounts she wants to give away or he wants to give away or whoever, but, right. That’s a bad example. But you get the idea, right? This one weird trick, download this guide, but I’m only going to keep it up for 24 hours cause if everyone gets it, I’m going to be out of business. So download now, that kind of a thing.

Mike: 29:34 – And you can certainly define ways to make that honest, right? Where you rotate your guides. Like I’m only offering this for the next week. Take it down and put up another one, whatever. But that scarcity definitely, definitely works. I feel it when someone, you know, when if I’m hemming and hawing on something and there’s only three left, I’m like, I kind of wanted it, now I really want it.

Mateo: 29:51 – Yep it happens to me all the time.

Mike: 29:56 – OK. All right, so lead magnets. We covered a lot of stuff in this show. And a lot of it relates back to the ads that get people to click on lead magnets. It relates on what you do with contact information once you get it. All of this stuff we’ve covered in previous shows. So if you have questions about some of the stuff we’ve covered, scroll back through Two-Brain Radio, and do subscribe. We’ve got more stuff coming out. Mateo and I are going to talk about a whole bunch of marketing topics in the next weeks. More stuff to come. So please subscribe to Two-Brain Radio. And if you want to get mentorship to help your gym right now, you want to add $5,000 a month in recurring revenue to your gym, we can tell you how to do it. Chris Cooper has created a road map. No one else the industry has it or can show you how to navigate through it. Our mentors can. You can book a free call with a mentor at and we’ll talk about if mentorship is right for you. Mateo, it’s been a pleasure. I’m Mike Warkentin, this is Two-Brain Radio and we’ll talk to you next time.

Announcer: 30:53 – 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


Two-Brain Radio presents marketing tips and success stories every Monday.

Chris Cooper delivers the best of the business world every Thursday, and Sean Woodland has great stories from the community on Wednesdays.

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 we read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes.
How to Delight Your Clients Online

How to Delight Your Clients Online

Facebook groups are a powerful tool for client engagement between classes. Unlike Slack or any other group chat service, your clients are already on the platform.

But most Facebook groups suffer from low engagement, lack of quality discussion, criticism, arguments or all of the above. Some groups attract a wide variety of opinions without any kind of filter to discern fact from—well, crazy. Sometimes clients try to sell their Amway products to each other. Done wrong, Facebook groups are just a huge distraction for you—and for your clients.

Here’s how we’ve built the best Facebook group in the world, why we don’t let everyone in (even our own clients until they’re ready!) and how we keep the content valuable.


The Two-Brain Business Facebook Group: The Most Valuable Group in the World


The Two-Brain Facebook Group contains just over 500 members and over 50 posts every single day. Many contain sample materials that gym owners generously share with others (blog posts to copy, social posts to swipe and—most valuable of all—honest experience). When gym owners reach the Farmer Phase of entrepreneurship, this group provides most of the peer support they need to be successful. It’s a retention tool and adds a ton of value to gym owners: You could literally make more than $500 every month just by copying the stuff others share!

Here’s how we keep it valuable. You can copy these lessons to build a Facebook group that delights your clients.


First, We Keep Our Group Private


We don’t allow people who aren’t in the Two-Brain family inside because we want to maintain the huge wall of trust that surrounds our tribe. Many of the problems that plague other Facebook groups come from a lack of transparency: People are scared to tell the truth about themselves so they either over-hype themselves or stay silent.

In our group, all know they can’t hide the truth about their businesses because their mentors know their numbers. In other groups, it’s incredible to see gym owners posing as “experts” while their gyms are practically bankrupt.

We don’t even allow members of the Two-Brain family into our private Facebook group until they’ve reached the Growth Stage of mentorship. This is because entrepreneurs in the Incubator need focus more than they need peer support. Our Incubator program is done 1:1 with a mentor: We actively eliminate noise, great but distracting ideas and time on social media for Incubator clients to help them focus.

In your gym, this means you should remove people from your Facebook group when they cancel their memberships. It means you should make a big deal about inviting new people (and welcome them one by one when they join). And you should actively remove people who aren’t a good fit. Your Facebook group should be a bonus to your clients, not a right.


Second, We Lay out Expectations Clearly in Advance


Here’s the top post in our group:

*****START HERE*****
This is a group for high-level business discussion. It’s private for TwoBrainBusiness mentoring clients.

Questions are encouraged. Ideas are prized. Dogma is forbidden.

Dead horses have their own thread. If you’d like to ask about booking/billing software, search for the “master thread” on software.

Please keep the discussion focused. Memes and jokes are the backbone of Facebook but don’t fit in this group. Likewise, criticism of non-Two-Brain practices is discouraged.

There are no “experts,” no icons here; everyone is asked to be open to mentorship and play the role of mentor to others. If you’re not familiar with the concept of Beginner’s Mind, read this before posting:


Third, We Actively Uphold Our Rules


It’s extremely rare, but we remove people from the Facebook group immediately if they don’t follow the rules. The Facebook group is only a complement to our mentorship practice, and our duty to the group’s members is paramount. So if one member is negatively affecting the experience of another, we remove the problem person immediately. No warnings necessary and no doubt about the action.


Fourth, We Remove Distracting Conflicts Before They Arise


In some cases, an entrepreneur in one city will have a conflict with another. That’s none of our business, and we believe every entrepreneur should have a chance to succeed. But members of our Facebook group can request that another entrepreneur from their city be excluded. The second owner can complete our Incubator program and even join the Growth Phase; they just can’t join the Facebook group.

The funny thing is that this happens far less than you’d expect. Most gym owners realize that it’s in their best interest to have nearby gyms operating at the same standard they are, so they actively recruit their neighbors to join. Out of over 500 members in the Two-Brain group, we’ve only received four requests to block another gym owner—and three of these were for the same person!


Fifth, We Lead by Example


Mentors think before they post. Mentors don’t have spelling mistakes or grammatical errors in their posts. No one posts memes, rants or other time-wasters, because group leaders don’t bury good content under that stuff.

We don’t allow criticism of anyone, even the people who attack our strategies. Because that doesn’t help the people in our group.

We encourage thoughtfulness and positive internal dialogue. For example, every Friday, dozens of Two-Brain entrepreneurs post their Bright Spots to help them practice gratitude.

In your gym, that means you need to be actively engaged to spur conversation. Start with something like Bright Spots Fridays—it’s been copied by many gyms, and it helps with their retention in a measurable way.

It means that the group’s tenor and engagement are a reflection of your tenor and engagement. Use it to build people up or don’t do it at all.


Sixth, Gift People With Fame


Give them a podium early and often.

Every new person in the Two-Brain Facebook group gets a specific introduction: Here is this amazing gym owner; here’s what the owner accomplished in Incubator; here’s what he or she will add to the group. Then several dozen others respond with a warm welcome. It’s a great opportunity to show new people a red-carpet greeting.

You can do the same thing. Introduce a new person with a great memory from your on-ramp program, a good picture and some personal detail that you remember about him or her. Put the client on a podium. Brag about him or her every chance you get, like this:

“Hey all, Harvey brought up a great question this morning in our group … .”

“Guys, I just have to take a minute to brag about Helen. Last night, she … .”

“Just in case any of you missed it, Alena got her first double-under on Saturday!”

Look for opportunities to make your clients feel famous.

When you start a private Facebook group, you’re going to have to be the catalyst: Spur it into action. Share openly. Start conversations. Make it what you want it to be. Don’t wait.

You’ve probably heard this phrase: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Those people can pull you forward or pull you backward. And you can do the same for them.

“No man steps in the same river twice.” —Heraclitus

Like it or not, every interaction you have with the world—and the people in it—changes them. And it also changes you. So lead your people in the direction you want to travel yourself.

The people I spend most time with are in the Two-Brain family. I prefer to be around people who will change me in a positive way. That’s why our Facebook group is private. That’s why you have to complete the Incubator and start Growth Stage before joining: I want you to master the basics, then add complexity.


Other Media in This Series

How to Delight Your Clients
Delighting Your Clients: Giftology
How to Help Your Clients Win
What Jason Ackerman Learned From 10,000 Hours of Coaching

What Jason Ackerman Learned From 10,000 Hours of Coaching

What Jason Ackerman Learned From 10,000 Hours of Coaching

Chris: 00:02 – Welcome to Two-Brain Radio. I’m your host, Chris Cooper, here every week with the best of the fitness industry. Got a sec? We would love to hear from you. I write emails to my mailing list every day, and it’s a highlight when somebody takes the time to respond. If you’ve got feedback on my show or a guest you’d like to hear on Two-Brain radio, email and don’t forget to subscribe to Two-Brain Radio wherever you get your podcasts. Jason Ackerman has been a coach for a long time. He’s also coached tens of thousands of coaches around the world on the CrossFit seminar staff, and now he has a brand new book called “The Best Hour of Their Day.” In this episode, Jay and I are going to talk about what really matters when you’re coaching people. Is it technique? Is it smiles? Is it cheerleading? Is it being a technician? And Jay’s going to give you some amazing actionable directive steps for making the classes that you run at your gym the best hour of your client’s day. I think you’re going to really enjoy this podcast. This man is such a deep well of knowledge that we can talk on different topics and we have in other episodes, too. Today, Jay Ackerman with “Best Hour of Their Day.”

Chris: 01:10 – Jason Ackerman, welcome back to Two-Brain Radio.

Jason: 01:15 – Thank you very much for having me. I always appreciate you having me on the show.

Chris: 01:20 – Yeah man, you’ve got so much knowledge that we’ve had you on for a couple of different topics now. And so your bio has really been featured here before in the how to sell your gym episode especially. I thought that maybe we could spend a few minutes just catching up, like, you know, now that you’ve sold your gyms, what’s keeping you in the fitness world?

Jason: 01:40 – That’s a great question. I think ultimately what it comes down to is I love it. I was talking to somebody last night about how they weren’t working out enough, you know, they have let life get in their way. Work gets in their way and often the first thing for them that goes is training and eating right. And I was telling him how I’m the exact opposite. I wouldn’t take a job if I felt as if I couldn’t work out when I wanted to or I wouldn’t commit to something if I felt like I wouldn’t have the opportunity to train and eat right. So I think it’s that foundation of I love doing it so it’s more fun for me to help others.

Chris: 02:22 – That’s really interesting. And it reminds me of a James Clears’ book “Atomic Habits,” where he’s talking about, you know, instead of setting goals, setting an idea of the person that you want to become and then back filling that with what do I need to get there. That’s really interesting. Tell me about the nutrition business. So after you sold your gyms, you know, you were still traveling for CrossFit L1s and you had this online nutrition business. Tell us about that.

Jason: 02:48 – So “Own Your Eating” is still alive. It’s still doing well. We still get a few clients. We have a certificate course that’s accredited by CrossFit. You know, if you have your Level three or eventually take your Level four, you can use us for credits. That’s still going well. And I enjoy it. I enjoy helping people with nutrition. As anyone listening knows, it’s a challenging and daunting task because nutrition is rarely, hey, eat meat, vegetables, nuts, seeds, some fruit, little starch, no sugar, right? It’s, hey, how messed up did your parents make you? And you know, what type of obstacles do we have to overcome? Which I love and I’ve really loved diving into the psyche and all of that, but it’s tough. So, you know, I’m still a big part of it. My wife, Roz, runs the company, but you know, like I said, it’s still alive. It’s still there. But I wanted to venture out and get back into what I enjoy even more, which is the coaching of coaches.

Chris: 03:50 – Yeah. And you’ve been doing that for a long time. Like how many people, if you counted up all the seminars that you’ve done, how many people, coaches, have you coached in person now, Jay?

Jason: 04:00 – Well, you know at the last trainers summit for CrossFit this past October, they were—every summit Dave Castro kind of has this kind of like funny running gag throughout the two days. It’s in the middle of week and this year it was all about how many seminars, you know, who’s worked a hundred, who’s worked 200 and then we got patches reflecting how many seminars we worked. And as they were going through it I was like, I’ll probably be around a hundred that’s pretty cool that I’ve worked a hundred and he got through all the one hundreds and I was like, oh man, I guess I didn’t work a hundred seminars. And then he gets to the two hundreds and I had worked 204 at the time. Now a little bit more than that. So you know, I was in my mind immediately, I was like, that’s a lot of weekends, you know, that’s a lot of time on the road.

Jason: 04:48 – But then I started thinking about the question you just asked and I’m like, hey, 50 people take 200 seminars. That’s 10,000 people. Not to mention people at boxes, people that have taken other seminars I’ve been a part of, you know, before the Level 1 or doing my own nutrition seminars. So it’s pretty cool. You know, I’ve had, you know, speaking of “Atomic Habits,” I recently read that book and other books that talk about those 10,000 hours that you need to put in. And in my mind I was like, man, here I am, 41 years old and I’ve not really put those 10,000 hours into anything. Cause I think we often think about it as like guitar or you know, jujitsu. And I’ve put a lot of hours into those types of things but not the 10,000 and then I realized I have, and it was in coaching.

Chris: 05:37 – So as someone who has put their 10,000 hours into coaching coaches, and congratulations by the way, it’s really interesting to look at your new book called “The Best Hour of Their Day” and ask yourself, you know what, what are the top lessons that this guy thinks that coaches need? So why don’t we start there? Why or what lessons I guess, do coaches need more than anything else?

Jason: 06:05 – I think, you know, I’ve said this before, it’s like you can teach anyone how to coach an air squat. It’s a challenge to teach people how not to be an asshole. Right? Or you know, to be the person that people want to be around. And I think that’s the biggest lesson. You know, when it comes to the book, “The Best Hour of Their Day,” it’s not a, you know, step-by-step guide on how to be a good business owner. If you want to do that, read “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief” by Chris Cooper. But you know, those are the types of books that help your business grow. This is more so, you know, the intangible things. A lot of it’s honestly mostly mistakes I’ve made. And most of those mistakes were just not being a good person that other people want to be around. Not stopping and listening to other people’s perspective, not, you know, being empathetic. And I think that’s a struggle as a coach, you have to really put what you want aside for that hour to make it the best hour of their day. The book isn’t called best hour of your day, you know, it’s best hour of their day for that reason.

Chris: 07:09 – I think that’s amazing. And we’re going to dig deeper into that very soon here. But you know, two years ago a lot of coaches were talking about developing the soft skills. To me, I think what they’re referring to as the soft skills are the real skills of coaching. So what’s more important Jay? Is it the ability to teach or spot problems in the air squat or is it the ability to empathize?

Jason: 07:34 – I think at the end of the day you need both of course, right? You, you know, Mother Teresa or some other Saint or you know, whatever out there is probably a shitty CrossFit coach. Right. You know, but she’s probably really nice and you probably really want to be around her for an hour, but your squat’s not going to go up too much. So I think you probably need both. But I think first and foremost you need to develop those soft skills because without them you could have the best eye in the world. But if people just don’t like your communication skills, if people don’t like being around you, it doesn’t matter. And I think any one listening can probably think of a coach they’ve had in the past, be it, you know, high school, college or a coach in the box they go to that they avoid their classes, you know, off on a tangent. But if you’re a box owner and your members want to see who’s on the schedule, that might be a problem. Right? And I don’t think it’s right or wrong. I don’t think you should go and remove everyone’s names, but you should want your members to not care because they love everybody. And if there’s someone they don’t love, and it could be for other reasons, but maybe it’s because they don’t like their soft skills.

Chris: 08:46 – You know I had to learn that the hard way myself, Jay, I thought that being a great coach was being like the expert. And when I had to replace myself in my 6:00 AM class, I did it with a girl who was very bright and bubbly but young and uneducated, you know, she was a college student, and attendance went up in that class and that blew my mind. So I know that you’ve learned a thousand little lessons like this along the way. What made you want to put those lessons into a book?

Jason: 09:14 – I think it was like many things in my CrossFit journey, accidental. I think that, you know, you were probably a big influence on it. We’ve talked a lot in the past and I’ve had you on our podcast and I’ve heard you talking just about writing every day. I mean you get up at what, 4:00 AM in Canada, so it’s like negative a hundred degrees and you somehow manage to get up and make it to the office to write. And other people like Seth Godin and Tim Ferriss who talk about, you know, just putting 200 words on paper type of thing and just trying to create those habits like we discussed. I started just writing for me for maybe a blog one day and then as I started doing it I said, wow, these are kind of cool stories and I would maybe post part of them on an Instagram post and people would respond to them and I just started writing more and more until eventually, I mean I limited it to 30, but I think at the end I had maybe 50 stories in there and I kind of dwindled it down to the best 30 or combined some, but it just came about out of my desire to create a new habit, really, and then start something new and challenge myself.

Chris: 10:24 – Well I think, you know what makes the book so great is all the stories in there, you know, you’re not just speaking from theory, you’re not lecturing at a university. This is all like in-the-trenches knowledge, hard-won battles. What are the biggest questions that you’re trying to answer in the book? Or the biggest opinions that you’re trying to change?

Jason: 10:46 – I think by reading the book, hopefully box owners, coaches or even members can just take from it, you know, again, it’s a lot of just listening to other people and then also being true to yourself. There’s a few chapters in there dedicated to my journey in the sense that as box owners, and I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of—you probably have experienced but we get into this world because we love fitness and we love helping people and then oftentimes that overrides or takes priority over our own health. You know? And there’s a few times in my journey where I’ve completely disregarded my own training and like we talked about earlier, that’s the foundation. That’s what keeps me happy. If you look at my values, it’s health and then happiness. Because without health I’m not happy. So here I am not focusing on my values and then I’m expected to help other people and it wasn’t happening.

Jason: 11:41 – I’m a miserable person to be around when I don’t eat right or when I don’t exercise. And I came home, it was two days ago, and my wife and I, you know, typical marital arguments, like nothing big, but I left the house and I’m like, I’m going to work out. And I came back maybe an hour later and I was like, just pleasant to be around. She’s like, did you do drugs while you were out? And I was like, I guess I kind of did, like I improved something in my brain and you know, dopamine and endorphins are running and we have this little app on our phone that we use to kind of keep points of what we’ve done. Right? And some of them are chores, but some of them are, hey, we helped each other out and she added to it exercise because she realized how important it was for our relationship for me to exercise.

Chris: 12:33 – That’s really, really interesting. And so I think a lot of the clients at our gyms probably don’t know that about themselves but probably could if we can keep them coming back often enough to figure that out. So what are the key components of making their hour at your gym the best hour of their day, Jay?

Jason: 12:52 – So let’s look at tangible things that you can go in and change right away. I would say for one, something that gets overlooked a lot is just be punctual and run your class on time. Right, back in maybe 2008 I had a coach, like you, was the first coach that I hired. Great guy. There’s a chapter in the book about him. I changed some names so I don’t remember. I think I left his name cause he’s got thick skin. His name’s Matt and he would always run class like 15 or 20 minutes long. And I said, Matt, what do you—first of all now there’s two classes overlapping. And he’s like, who cares? We’re giving these guys more. And I said well what if they have somewhere to go? You know. And so start on time and end on time, whether it’s, you know, if someone’s showing up at 5 a.m. at your gym, they’re punctual, they have somewhere to be. Start on time and end at six.

Jason: 13:44 – And if someone’s showing up at 5:00 PM, they’ve had a long day and they want to get home to their family or to do whatever they do, end on time. So little things like that. Being organized and making sure that the class isn’t about you. And what I mean by that is, you know, we talk a lot about the whiteboard brief and how that’s really the foundation of a good class. But too many people at the whiteboard just talk and talk too long. And I tell people, if you’re standing at that whiteboard for more than five minutes, this is now about you. This has nothing to do with your class. So make sure that everything you’re doing is about the members, about your community and not about you as a coach. And it starts with that organization. Have a timeline and run on time.

Chris: 14:36 – What about the personal habits of the coaches, you know, between classes?

Jason: 14:43 – Yeah, I think, you know, as a box owner, you need to make sure the people that are coaching your classes actually care about members. And it should be obvious. If you’re having to tell your coaches to stick around for 15 minutes or to get here early, they probably don’t care enough. Too many coaches or you know, whether it’s just punching in or doing it for their free membership, you know, however your box is organized, but it needs to really be about giving back to the community. As you know, and anyone listening knows, I mean there’s 15,000 affiliates and they’re all basically the same, right? We all do functional fitness, you know, based on price and based on location that has an impact on your membership. But really, at the end of the day, it’s your culture and your community that separates you from the other boxes.

Jason: 15:30 – And that comes down to what’s going on in between classes. My good friend Chuck Carswell, not to name drop, but Chuck’s a good buddy of mine. He’s in the book and one thing he said years and years ago, and he says it all the time is ask one more question and I think that’s important to take away at the box level. And you don’t need to be, you know, insane about it, you know, but that just means, hey, when you’re talking to one of your members, find out one more thing about them. Find out what makes them tick. And it really—I love that when you like talk to a member and their eyes light up because most people go through their day and they don’t ever get to talk about things that they love and reminisce about their high-school football days.

Jason: 16:19 – I mean, if we ask Chris Cooper about his, you know, hockey accomplishments his face would light up—

Chris: 16:23 – That’d be a short list.

Jason: 16:23 – I scored four goals in one game and all that kind of stuff. But, you know, it’s fun. Too often it’s all about like we want to talk, but it’s nice to just to listen. I was in Kailua, CrossFit Kailua in Hawaii, and I started talking to the owner of the box and I kept asking one more question to the point that my wife was like, we have to go, like we have to leave. But this guy was telling me just these family stories and he’s like, wow, I haven’t even thought about these in years. And it was just fun to see that and that has to be something you enjoy. If you don’t enjoy that, you might not be a good coach.

Chris: 17:08 – Hey guys, Chris Cooper here. I wrote the bestselling fitness business book of all time, but I often think about taking it off the shelves. Here’s why. Business evolves quickly and while the ideas in my book “Two-Brain Business” still have value, my program has evolved. That’s where my most recent book comes in. In “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief” I break the entrepreneur’s journey into stages because the things that work in the first stage don’t work in the second and vice versa. Everything I put in that book is based on thousands of hours on the phone with gym owners and tens of thousands of dollars in research. I know what works, when it works and why it works. I’m not just going to try and inspire you with pie-in-the-sky philosophy and memes about grinding and hustling. I’m going to give you step-by-step instructions based on what the best gyms in the world are doing to succeed. You can spin your tires like I did 10 years ago as a struggling gym owner or you can avoid my mistakes by reading a book based on a decade of knowledge. Check out “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief” on Amazon. I wrote it to help people like you. And now, back to Two-Brain Radio.

Chris: 18:12 – Ask one more question is great advice. I hope everybody here starts practicing that today. What’s one thing that you’ve learned from being around CrossFit HQ and being on seminar staff that you would tell a coach in a gym to do?

Jason: 18:31 – Continue to learn. I think too many people show up these days at the Level ones and that’s kind of the end for a lot of them. And then I also work on Level 2s and they come back and they’re terrible, like terrible coaches. You know what I’m saying, you know, if you’re listening and you have your Level 2, you know what I’m talking about. You got feedback. And I tell them like, same thing we’ve kind of discussed, like they look at me and or the other coaches on staff. Like you guys are so good. I’m like, this is what we do and we’ve put in our time. There’s not many things you can do in life not having either a mentor or not having this desire to improve and actually get better at it. Right? So you need to have this desire to get better.

Jason: 19:20 – You need to seek out better coaches. And from box owners, we often get frustrated that our coaches aren’t developing, but we’re not doing anything to foster that. And one of my biggest pet peeves is, I don’t know which groups you’re involved in online, in Facebook there’s a ton of like affiliate owner groups and I know you’re in a couple of, but I see that question all the time. Level one or Level two, which should I, you know, do? You see that question pop up. And it’s so frustrating to me because if you’re a coach, that should not be a question. I don’t understand that. Like why would you not want to get better?

Chris: 20:03 – Yeah. The answer should just be yes.

Jason: 20:07 – And I see other people chiming in. I avoid it because I don’t have the time to get sucked down that rabbit hole. One of the guys on staff, his name’s Dan Hollingsworth, I always see him commenting on it and I’m like, Dan, why do you do that? And it’s because he cares really at the end of the day. But you know, and right now, especially in the CrossFit world, they’re the same price. Back in the day, it was a little cheaper to go back and get your level one. But now I believe it’s $1,000 either way. So go on and get it. I have my Level 4 credential and we have to do CEUs for that and my mine’s about to expire in July so I need to submit it. And I was like, I went in and I said, I hope I have enough CEUs. You need 50, and I had like 102 and I still haven’t even gotten—some of the credits are still, you know, not posted yet. So it’s like clearly even—it never ends. It never ends and you shouldn’t want it to.

Chris: 21:04 – No, I mean I haven’t taken the level two but I’ve taken the Level one five times and learned something new each time.

Jason: 21:11 – What’s stopping you from taking the Level 2?

Chris: 21:12 – Nothing. Just still learning from the Level 1.

Jason: 21:16 – Yeah, it’s true. And that’s true. Like you can always go back, the level one’s always changing. The level two just changed. So you know, this year it’s brand new. The test is different. There’s nutrition portion to it. So there’s some great stuff happening. But yeah, we should always be—and I don’t want to harp on just it’s all about certificates and credentials, but that might mean as coach at a local box, just go to another box, seek out someone that’s been doing it longer or you know, there’s over 200 people on the CrossFit staff. You probably don’t live more than an hour or two from one of them. Go there once a month and learn from them. It’s the same thing I do in other aspects and I continue to do it at seminars every weekend.

Chris: 22:03 – OK. So these are like some of the most simple directives that you can do. What’s something that you’d like to stop that you see in coaches all the time? Something that kind of makes you smack your head and go, God, why do people still do that?

Jason: 22:15 – So something very small, and again, this is just, I’m not the only answer. This isn’t right or wrong. When you’re teaching a new movement, avoiding saying, don’t do this. Don’t do that. So in other words, all right guys, we’re going to do the air squat. Here’s what I want. I want you to keep your chest up. What I don’t want you to do is round your back or overextend. I want you to get below parallel. What I don’t want you to do is stop before your hip crease is—only coach the things that you want to see. All those other things are going to be opportunities to coach. But at the same time, I think we forget, hey, this might be someone’s first time ever air squatting and if I tell them don’t do X, Y, or Z, they may forget which one they should do and which one they shouldn’t do.

Jason: 23:04 – So the analogy I use, because years and years ago, I was lucky enough to train with some high-level MMA guys and Randy Couture was talking, a former UFC champion and he preached it. And that’s kind of where I took it from. But I was like, he was like, I hate the expression, don’t get taken down. So you’re in the middle of a fight, imagine, and your coach yells, don’t get taken down. Next thing you know, you get taken down, you’re on your back and you’re already upset. And I’m like, I’m in this bad position, someone’s punching me. I really shouldn’t be here. But then the second thing that’s going through your mind is, and I’ve disappointed my coach cause he told me not to do this. So it’s the same principle with CrossFit, you know, don’t do that. And now you’re like, man, I’m sorry. Do I do anything right? You know, it’s like when your wife tells you not to do something, like, do you like me at all? Like why are you here? All you do is tell me what I don’t do right. Why are we still together?

Chris: 24:01 – That’s so great man. You know, most of the debates that I get sucked into, and I honestly, I’ve tried to get out of most Facebook groups because I just don’t have time for the debates anymore. But, most of the ones that I get sucked into revolve around does a coach have to be full time to be a good, helpful, legitimate coach. And so in my mind there’s a difference between a job, a vocation and a coaching practice. Do you think there is a difference? Does somebody have to be a full-time coach to be a great coach? You know, where are the shades of gray there?

Jason: 24:39 – I don’t think you have to be full time, but I also think it helps. It’s just again, it’s time under tension. You know, if you coach two classes a week, you’re going to coach like you coach two classes a week, and it’s like anything else you do in life, you know, whatever your hobby is, if you put more time into it, you’re going to be better at it. And coaching is a skill that you can develop but also a skill that you can lose. And the more time you’re there you’re just going to also have the experience of seeing other people, coaching different types of athletes. So certainly a full-time coach is ideal. And then obviously what you’re doing out in the world is what’s helping people achieve that. Back in 2007 and 2008, it was very hard to do that. But now, I mean, I think maybe, I don’t know, you probably have a better knowledge of this, but 50% of boxes maybe have full-time staff?

Chris: 25:35 – Yeah, it’d be hard to pinpoint that statistic for sure. But more importantly than anything else, like when you and I found CrossFit, even the box owners weren’t full time. Now it’s an actual, it’s not just a vocation anymore. You can be an owner operator and make this your career. And a lot of careers are actually being built on those platforms too, which is fantastic. So this is the question I ask all professional coaches, Jay, what’s your limit? You know, how many hours of coaching, how many clients can you see in a day before you can’t put out at the Jason Ackerman level anymore?

Jason: 26:12 – Well, I’ve not been in that situation in a while, but I would say if I went back and opened a box or you know, really wanted to be full time somewhere again, which isn’t, you know, out of the realm of my, you know, thoughts, probably four to five classes a day, five would be like the upper limit. Like you said, that fifth class is diminishing and it would also not be in a row. So you know, I coach the 7:00 AM and the noon and then back to back in the afternoon. But I mean if you do more than that, it’s just, you know, coaching is not an eight hour and obviously that’s part of the challenge out there. But coaching is not an eight-hour-a-day job. You can’t expect that. And like you said, that would include 15 minutes before, 15 minutes after. So four hours of coaching is really six hours on the floor and six hours of dealing with and interacting with people. And it’s hard. It’s hard to do more than that. Absolutely.

Chris: 27:17 – OK. Jay. So to wrap up, what I’d love to have you do is go back to one of the first comments you made, which is it’s the best hour of their day, not the best hour of your day. What does that mean and what does it look like in practice?

Jason: 27:28 – I think I really hit my stride with this actually after I’d sold the boxes. I was coaching in Florida when I was living there and it was a box called North Naples CrossFit, great community. And I think that’s really where it hit home with me, what that looks like. And it’s a lot of the little things we discussed, it’s show up on time. I mean, I coached the 3:30 twice a week, but I was always there by 3, 3:15 at the latest. And that means, you know, whether it’s lights on, the music’s on. I’m kind of looking around. I have my timeline either written out or in the app, whatever the programming they were using at the time and actually doing some laying out of the class because it needs to be organized.You know, the people are there and they deserve to be coached by a professional. And it’s very obvious when you’re not prepared. And that might look like, I can tell if you’re looking at the whiteboard and seeing the workout for the first time or not, immediately. But you know, and also knowing I had the luxury of coaching the same people very often. So knowing, OK, you know, today is snatching and Theresa’s going to be here and I know kind of her limit and Eric’s going to be here and I want to push him to do this. So really thinking about that ahead of time and giving everyone that, making sure they know, hey, I’ve thought about you and I’m aware of it and I’m going to look at your form going around.

Jason: 28:53 – I would do that all the time. Hey, let me see three reps to make sure that’s a good weight for you. Or let me, you know, let’s check this out. And making sure they felt like they were actually cared for and almost like they were the only one in the class. I mean, that’s where CrossFit started from with Coach Glassman, right? One on one to two on one to four and eventually you know or more. But making sure they still feel that. And then all those other little things, spending five minutes or less at the whiteboard, making sure the general and specific warm-ups make sense. You know, setting goals for them. And I think too often it’s like, hey, here’s the workout. It’s Fran, set your weight up, versus hey Coop, I want you to be sub six today. And you know, Theresa wants you to try to go unbroken on your pull-ups.

Jason: 29:40 – You’re giving little, dangling those carrots for them to actually feel like they left accomplished, because CrossFit’s terrible at the end of the day, right? We all know how terrible it is. It hurts. Oftentimes you leave and you feel discouraged. But if I can leave you with a win, then all of a sudden you want to come back again. And if you’re the coach that’s always leaving people with the win, they accidentally enjoy being around you, right? It’s like dating someone. Like, if you just make them feel good over and over again, you know, in passing ultimately they’re like, I want to be around that person, and that’s who you want to be as a coach.

Chris: 30:20 – And I think actually Jay that you just pointed out, the missing link in going from one on one to two on one et cetera, up to group is that the group members still have to feel like they’re being coached individually. And I think that a lot of gym owners in my experience miss that. And is that something that you’re seeing in coaches too?

Jason: 30:39 – Yeah. Well, and it’s hard. I mean, so many boxes. I mean, we talk at the level twos and I’ll often ask like, how many do you coach? And then there’ll be people with significantly less experience than me coaching 20 to 30 people in a class. You know, and having done that myself, I know I’m not as effective as a coach. And you know, this is a business ultimately and you need to make money. But part of that is the issue. How do we figure out how to make that happen in these larger classes? Is it limit class size? Is it bringing on more secondary coaches? And there are ways to kind of mitigate that problem. But really at the end of the day, even if you are that coach coaching 30, find one win that you can give somebody, just one little thing and it doesn’t have to be always a PR, you know.

Jason: 31:30 – Again, Fran, the ultimate example is, hey, today your only goal is to go unbroken on those 15 thrusters. Like that’s a huge win. I remember the first time I did that in Fran, you know when I’m broken for the first—I don’t care if it takes you a minute longer than your previous time, but I need you to do that. And I love it at the level ones, I always tell people at level one, so the workout, you know, not a complete spoiler, but it’s thrusters and burpees and around the second round people pick up the bar and they, I can see it in their eyes. They’re like, what is happening? Like, cause they go crazy on round one and then immediately they’re like, I cannot do that again on round two. And I’ll find that person that I can tell doesn’t want to do it but can do it. And I get in their face and I make sure they hold onto that bar and go unbroken. And then afterwards they’re always so grateful and thankful. Like I’ve never pushed myself like that, because now it’s eye opening. Now it’s you can do that all the time without me. It helps when someone’s in your face yelling, but you don’t need me there. So if I can show that to, you know, Theresa or Eric at the box, now when they come to someone else’s class, they still know what they can do. And that’s, you know, again, now it’s making it the best hour of their day even when you’re not there.

Chris: 32:47 – Well, being put on a podium would definitely be the best hour of my day. And I’m sure that most people don’t even get to hear praise anywhere else in their life like I do. So, I think this is an amazing book. It’s probably more important to read this book than to take your Level 2. Would you agree with that Jay? Just kidding. I’m just kidding. But critical. I mean, you know, people go to the seminars and they learn cues and tactics and stuff, but you know what most people call the soft skills I think really are the real skills and Jay’s a living testament to success in coaching. He’s coached probably 10,000 other coaches by now easily and this is really the message that I think all coaches should hear. So Jay, thanks a lot for writing this book, man, and thanks for sharing some of the highlights with us.

Jason: 33:35 – Well thanks for having me again Coop and thanks for all you’ve done for the community as well. I would not have had the opportunity to write this without you, so I appreciate it.

Chris: 33:43 – Thanks man. Take care.

Andrew: 33:49 – Thanks for listening to Two-Brain Radio. Be sure to subscribe for more great episodes, and if you’d like to learn how a mentor can help you build a successful business, book a free call at Chris Cooper’s team will show you exactly how you can add $5,000 a month in revenue and move closer to your Perfect Day. Visit today.


Chris Cooper delivers the best of the business world on Two-Brain Radio every Thursday.

On Monday, Two-Brain Radio presents marketing tips and success stories, and Sean Woodland has great stories from the community on Wednesdays.

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 we read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes.
How to Help Your Clients Win

How to Help Your Clients Win

Only you can put your clients on a podium.

Their bosses aren’t writing their names on the wall after a good week in the office.

Their kids aren’t giving them a round of applause after they mow the lawn.

No one else is celebrating them.

You have a daily opportunity to delight your clients. Not just to deliver a good class with individual scaling and cheerleading. Those are the basics. The best gyms put their clients on a podium.

Here’s how to do it.

1. Find opportunities for “podiums” within your scheduled workouts.

For example, in the workout Jackie, there are at least four opportunities to do something they’ve never done before:

A. Row 1,000 m faster than ever before.
B. Do 50 unbroken thrusters.
C. Do 30 unbroken pull-ups
D. Finish the workout in a PR time.

And I’m sure you already see more opportunities, right?

2. Before the workout, ask each client which podium they’ll aim for (or their personal goal in the workout).

3. Coach the client toward that goal when the workout begins.

4. When he or she hits the mark, write the goal on a small whiteboard and take a creative picture of the person holding it up and smiling. Stand the member on a plyo box with a small whiteboard listing PRs and use the #podium hashtag.

5. Post on your Facebook business page and your personal page. Tag the athlete. Make sure the post is “public” so the person’s friends can see it.

You’re probably already taking pictures of your clients during workouts, right? Uploading and tagging them? That’s not new to anyone. But context matters: a sweaty heap of Henrietta on the floor isn’t as appealing as a beaming Henny, standing on a plyo box, holding a banner that reads, “I DID IT!!!”


This is also helpful to your gym in other ways:

1. It gets your coaches thinking about celebrating success and delighting your clients.

2. It teaches the habit of internalizing small wins.

3. It presents a new way to approach old workouts.

4. It puts small wins in context (“the growth mindset”).

5. It allows for mucho celebration. If you’re using SugarWOD, the fist-bumps will fly.



1. Review your programming with coaches a week before. What are the best opportunities for podiums?

2. Get 10-15 small whiteboards and a lot of whiteboard markers.

3. Allow two minutes at the end of class for podium celebrations, pictures and hashtag time.

4. Post one picture from each class to Instagram; auto-feed to Facebook.

5. Create a Facebook album on your page for the other photos.

6. Tag every person in every picture.

7. Host a Podium Party every quarter.

8. Smile.

Our business isn’t “based on service.” It is service. The best way to service your clients is to show them the path to success … and help them celebrate when they get there.

Your best programming doesn’t matter nearly as much as celebrating success does.

When your clients celebrate success, they’re more likely to internalize joy and gratitude. That is the definition of delight.

Put them on a podium.


Other Media in This Series

How to Delight Your Clients
Delighting Your Clients: Giftology
What Jason Ackerman Learned From 10,000 Hours of Coaching
How to Delight Your Clients Online

Emily Bridgers: Five-Time Games Athlete, First-Time Mom

Emily Bridgers: Five-Time Games Athlete, First-Time Mom

Sean: 00:05 – Hi everybody. Welcome to another edition of Two-Brain Radio with Sean Woodland. On today’s episode, I talk with five-time individual CrossFit Games athlete, Emily Bridgers. First, over the last month, I’ve interviewed some truly amazing guests like Stacie Tovar, Tanya Wagner, Adrian Bozman, Chris Hinshaw, Rory Mckernan, Julie Foucher and more, so if you’ve missed out on this stuff, check out our archives for the best stories from the fitness community and to avoid FOMO, please subscribe to Two-Brain Radio. I’ve got a great guest coming every single week. Emily Bridgers has competed at the Games five times as an individual and once on a team. She made her individual debut in 2014 when she finished a career-best sixth overall in Carson. Her final year competing was in 2018. Emily and I talk about her gymnastics career, how that led her to CrossFit and what fitness looks like now for her now that she’s the mother of a three-month-old girl. Thanks for listening, everybody. Emily, thank you so much for being here. How you doing today?

Emily: 01:14 – Doing well, thanks for having me.

Sean: 01:16 – You started gymnastics at three years old. What do you remember about being involved in that sport at that young age?

Emily: 01:27 – I remember a good bit. I remember starting in this little mommy and me class at a rec center nearby. I have a few memories of it. I remember quite a bit from when I was four and I was put in a class with two other girls that I ended up like growing up in the gym with.

Sean: 01:50 – You said your competitive career, I read this, started at seven years old. How did that experience influence your early career as an athlete?

Emily: 02:03 – I mean I remember being seven years old and like nervous to compete but like nervous in a good way that, you know, fuels adrenaline and like I already cared about what I was doing. I wasn’t just like flopping around like some little kids are, I like wanted to do well. And I mean I think a lot of what you do under age 12 determines a lot of just like athletic development and mental toughness and things like that.

Sean: 02:34 – Gymnastics is such a unique sport because of how grueling it can be at such a young age. How did you deal with that as a kid?

Emily: 02:42 – Yeah, I mean the hours tend to ramp up really quick as you start going, you know, three times a week and then that goes to five times a week and then sometimes that goes to six times a week. So yeah, the demand is high. I never even went to the elite level, which is, you know, what you do to compete internationally and try to qualify the Olympics, but I still trained 25 hours a week. So yeah, the training age on your body adds up pretty quickly by the time you’re 18 years old or you know, if you go to college with it, it takes a big toll on your body. I remember one year in college, I think 11 of my teammates got surgery during the summer. So I mean it says a lot to what you have to deal with in order to be really good.

Sean: 03:31 – You mentioned the physical toll it can take. What kind of mental toll does that sort of regimen take on you?

Emily: 03:38 – I mean, honestly, gymnastics takes an enormous amount of discipline and you know, growing up you have to make a lot of sacrifices with friends and I mean your best friends end up being your friends in the gym. But honestly I would say CrossFit takes much more of a mental toll because it’s so much more suffering. Whereas gymnastics was more like fun. Like learning new skills was thrilling. The competition aspect was, you know, high pressure, you only get one chance if you fall, that kind of ruins your entire meet. But mentally I think I was still pretty sane.

Sean: 04:17 – You were obviously pretty good. You got to go to the university of Georgia and be part of their gymnastics team. But what ended your career?

Emily: 04:25 – Yeah, so, basically I was recruited. I had a few options and I ended up walking on at Georgia to be close to home and just, I really meshed with the team the most there. I went through my freshman year, we were undefeated that season. I didn’t get to compete a whole lot because I was on the team with like a bunch of former Olympians and only six people compete on every event. So oftentimes I would be that seventh person that was trying to make their way in. But I was also dealing with a lot of back pain that I hadn’t identified exactly what it was at the time. Doctors told me I had degenerative discs, but I sort of dismissed that as like, oh, well that’s going to get worse whether I stay in gymnastics or not. So I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to that. But I ended up retiring after my freshman year and then found out I had a compression fracture. So I dealt with that after the fact.

Sean: 05:29 – What did that then do to your competitive fire?

Emily: 05:36 – So when I was done with gymnastics, I had been doing it for about 16 years or essentially most of my life. And I went through a phase where I did not want to be inside of a gym at all. I was kind of just like turned off by the idea of being inside and like kind of like I wasted my whole life being inside these four walls. But so I took up running and you know, just started running a whole lot. That’s actually when I noticed my back was getting worse and determined the compression fracture. So during the time of dealing with the fracture, I went into a pool and like did all my workouts as swimming workouts. So this is all kind of like leading up to helping my CrossFit career, which I had no idea what was going to happen.

Emily: 06:24 – But eventually I, you know, went back to just regular gym workouts. And one of my former teammate’s brothers introduced us to CrossFit. And so we started following I had really had no idea what I was doing cause we were doing it on our own, but we would pick the body-weight workouts and do those and post our score. And then after I left Athens, which was the college town, was when I officially was like, oh, well maybe I should go to a CrossFit gym and figure out what I’m doing.

Sean: 06:56 – What was it about CrossFit that hooked you?

Emily: 07:01 – Well, I think I had a little bit of like anger and resentment about my gymnastics career being done not on my own terms, so when I found it, I mean I had gained a little bit of weight from college. I, you know, I had still been working out throughout those, I guess four years that I had off. But I started just to get back in shape. But then I realized like I was able to like let out that anger and when I started being the best one in class, that kind of fueled me as like, oh, I’m the best at something again. And then I just wanted to be better and better and better. And we had like somewhat of an older gym population. So I didn’t know if I was actually good at CrossFit in comparison to others my age. So that the first year of the Open rolled around in 2011 and that was kind of like the first competitive thing that I did. I think I got about 50th in the world that year, so I determined that I might actually be decent at CrossFit.

Sean: 08:05 – What was it like then? Not only finding out that, OK, I’m good at this, but then setting the goal of getting to the CrossFit Games and actually achieving it?

Emily: 08:16 – Yeah, so I guess 2011 was when I found out that there was a CrossFit Games and I remember a group of us from our gym sitting down and watching the live stream. I had competed at Regionals, so I knew what it was. Yeah. That was 2011. But I didn’t necessarily set a goal of making the Games until the next year. So I got ninth at Regionals in 2011 and like, essentially that was my first competition. I didn’t have weightlifting shoes. I didn’t have a belt. I didn’t really even have like the same clothes that everybody else had. So I was like, OK, I should probably get serious about this. Like at that point, I wasn’t even ever going into the gym on the weekends. So I decided to start going to the gym on Saturdays, which was a big deal. And then going into 2011 I was like, well maybe I should do some stuff outside of class. And then I really wanted to make the Games in 2012. Cause I was like, if I can get ninth in my first competition, I can for sure get top three the next year, which didn’t happen.

Sean: 09:26 – How did what you have been through with gymnastics and the way that is regimented, how did that help you amp your training up for CrossFit?

Emily: 09:35 – Well I guess it sort of felt like the same, you know, going to gymnastics practice every day was like a routine. You would go to school, you would go to practice four or five, six days a week. So that’s kinda what CrossFit training felt like for me. Just with the opposite schedule. So I’d go in every morning, get my training in, and then at that time I was coaching gymnastics in the afternoons. So it just kind of became my daily routine. Wake up, workout, do the class workout, maybe do a little bit of extra and then eat and then go coach the little kids I was coaching.

Sean: 10:12 – You finally make it to the Games in 2014. What was it like showing up to Carson, California, for your very first CrossFit Games?

Emily: 10:21 – It was awesome. I mean, so 2012, I missed it by one spot and I ended up going as a spectator. Seeing that in person really fueled the fire. The next year I got fifth at Regionals and I was able to go on a team in 2013. I didn’t have a whole lot of fun, but I did get to compete in the tennis stadium. After I competed as a team, every day I would just sit up in the stands and watch the individuals and, you know, kind of take notes and see what there was to do. Cause I kind of knew in the back of my head like this is where I’m going to be next year. Even though I had already missed it twice. So yeah, 2014, I was prepared. I, you know, I was used to the crowd because of gymnastics. So it wasn’t one of those moments where I was like necessarily like star struck or like feared the crowd or anything like that. I definitely was fueled by it. The first event in the tennis stadium was the one-rep-max overhead squat. And I just remember like feeling the nerves, but knowing that the nerves were a good thing.

Sean: 11:34 – You take sixth overall that year and you finished second in Midline March. I mean, that’s a heck of a performance. What stands out to you about those four days that you had as your first individual competition at the CrossFit Games?

Emily: 11:47 – So I had a really good first day. I was proud of myself for swimming in the ocean for the first time and I did pretty well. I think I left the first day, like in 10th or 11, so I was like really excited. Like, oh cool. Like I’m in there with the rest of the girls. And then I remember Friday and Saturday being kind of just like very frustrating for me because you know, at Regionals you can take a lot of first place or top three finishes. And then at the Games I would get mad when I would get 10th place. But as the years went on, I realized that like 10th place at the Games, like you should probably be excited about that. But I was pissed. It’s like I remember Saturday I was like crying to Ben and he’s like, you don’t have to do this. And then I went into Sunday and had like an amazing Sunday and was like, OK, never mind, forget about what happened on Saturday. That was me being dramatic. So yeah, I would say that I definitely wanted to win. And I think that’s, you know, almost good being naive as a rookie. And I mean, you see that happen. We’ve seen that happen quite a few times in CrossFit where a rookie goes in and almost has like too high of expectations, but it helps them.

Sean: 13:06 – How did that performance motivate you then moving forward?

Emily: 13:14 – It opened up a lot of opportunities. That’s kind of when I started signing sponsorships and things that, I mean I hadn’t made a dollar in four years of doing CrossFit. I had only spent a lot of money trying to get to competitions and things. So it made it easier in that aspect. And then it was just like I wanted to continue to compete. I think two or three weeks after the Games I went to Granite Games that year and then it was just like one of those where you keep getting invited to things and I kept wanting to say yes to every opportunity. And then, you know, you get to train with people who are the same or better than you, which just, it made it a really enjoyable process. So I continued to get better and better those next few years.

Sean: 14:02 – The 2015 Games started off pretty well for you. You finished eighth in Murph, but not everything was well with you at that point. What happened after that event?

Emily: 14:16 – Yeah, so the 2015 to 2016 Games are probably like my biggest disappointments of my entire career. Because I was no doubt the fittest that I’ve ever been. But I, you know, hindsight’s 20/20, but you know, leading into the Games at that point we didn’t know many of the events, but what we did know is that we had that sandbag over the wall event that was really not good as a short athlete. But you know, I made it through, I think I got 30th place out of 40, so I was pretty happy with that. And then the only other thing we knew at that point was that there was a snatch ladder and a max clean and jerk. And so going into Murph, I was like, well I guess I gotta you know, give it my all in Murph cause I mean my goal was to win the Games that year.

Emily: 15:03 – So I’m like, all right, if I’m going to start out with a 30th place finish, like I’ve got a bust ass in the ones that I know I can do well. So Murph, I took eighth place, I was really happy, I felt fine. But I didn’t realize the toll that it was going to take that night in Heavy DT. I realized something might be wrong with my arms, like jerks are one of my best movements. And I was like failing to lock them out. And then the next day I woke up and was just completely wrecked and it just continued to get worse and worse as the weekend went on. So honestly that year, I think it was an accomplishment to even finish the Games. But I was pretty mad. I got 24th place that year and it just, I felt like it didn’t represent where I was at, but it also exposed a big weakness, which was recovering between days of competition. So I worked on that in the coming years. But 2016 didn’t prove to be much better.

Sean: 16:09 – That event, you know, Murph and that Games in particular, you know, wrecked a lot of people after that point, why did you decide, even though you knew you weren’t 100%, why did you decide to keep competing?

Emily: 16:24 – Because I’m a competitor and I mean, I felt like it was like giving up to back out at that point. I mean it was tough. Like I think Saturday it started out with like, maybe like sprints on the field. So I was like, well, I don’t need my arms for that one. Oh yeah, it was like the hurdle event. So I kind of was like, OK, well at least do that. And then the next one was like the Pig and legless rope climbs and handstand walks and I was able to do that in the warm-up area. So, you know, it was basically like I took it one at a time and then, I mean the hardest part was going into the final and realizing that it could have been a really good event for me. That was the first year we saw the pegboard, but at that point I had very little function of my arms.

Emily: 17:14 – So just like, I don’t know, knowing that I was going to go out there and give it my best shot. And obviously at that point I think like two or three people even made the pegboard once. So it wasn’t like I stood out that much. But in the warm-up area, it was the first time in my life that it was questionable whether I could even do a handstand or not. So you know, I went out and it was, we had parallette handstand push-ups. I think I got five total. But honestly that was a victory at that point. Versus just going home and saying I didn’t make it through.

Sean: 17:51 – Hey guys, before we go any further with Emily Bridgers, I wanted to ask you a question. Remember when pictures of bloody hands and vomit attracted clients to your gym? Well that stopped working in about 2011 or so. It’s also not enough to be a great coach or programmer. The key to success in 2020 is building a personal relationship with each client, then helping that client’s friends and family. Total ad spend on that? $0. The average gym owner can also add $45,000 a year in revenue just by keeping each client a few months longer. Two-Brain’s new Affinity Marketing and Retention guides will give you everything you need to know. You can get both and 13 other guides and books for free. Visit And now more with Emily Bridgers. You have this experience in 2014 where you leave the Games and you’re really happy with what happened and then you fast forward a year and now you’re disappointed. How did you deal with the off season then in 2015 that was so much different than what you had just been through?

Emily: 19:01 – Yeah. I mean, I did a lot of—like in the month after that, it was a lot of recovery and I dwelled a lot on the leaderboard. I went back and, you know, I would look at who placed better than me in certain events and like was pretty bitter just cause I knew that I was better than some of these people. But you know, you can say that all that all day long but it’s kind of like when you compete against them in other events and the Open was always really good for me. So anyway, I had to let that go and just move on to the next year and just have fun with it again. Like things like the team series and the liftoff really kind of like, were very fun times for me. Getting to travel around, make friends, go different places with different sponsors, like it fuels you to keep wanting to do the sport. So I guess just learning like it wasn’t just about that one event every year. There’s a whole season that you start making a lifestyle out of it. And I mean that’s what kept me going.

Sean: 20:13 – Your final appearance as an individual at the Games was in 2018 and I know it ended earlier and much differently than you wanted it to. So first off, what happened to you that year in Madison?

Emily: 20:24 – Yeah, so going into the 2018 Games, well really 2017, I was debating on that being my last Games just because I had just turned 30. We knew we wanted to have kids. I was kind of over winning the CrossFit Games, but at that point I was still making a career out of it. I was able to, you know, manage owning a gym and still competing. But I had a pretty good year in 2017. We had a lot of fun going to Madison the first time. So Ben and I kind of looked at each other on the last day of the Games and we’re like, all right, we’re going to do this one more time. So I committed to doing it one more time that day. And there was a lot of times that fall trying, I just, I was kinda just tired of suffering all the time, like knowing what it took to get continue to get better at that point after like seven years of training and you know, it just, it hurt.

Emily: 21:21 – But you know, you would still have days where you’re like, dang, I’m still getting better. Like, guess I got to keep going. So I got through that year of training and we had a few different things happen during the open. Our dog died who was 17. My grandpa died, Ben got in a car accident. So it was just like a rough series of few weeks getting through the 2018 open. So Regionals, I just tried to like take the expectations down a little bit. I even bet Ben going into Regionals that if I won I could get a puppy.

Sean: 21:58 – I remember that, that was great.

Emily: 21:58 – And I came pretty close. But that was like, that was the most fun Regionals I’ve ever had. Like the people that came from Terminus, we got to hang out at the hotel every night. Like they were all there cheering me on.

Emily: 22:10 – I set a couple of records for the first time. So yeah, it was just a really fun year leading into the Games. And to answer your question, we get to the 2018 Games and I mean, I knew it was my last one. I was kinda sad about it, but kind of excited. You know, I had been preparing all year that this was it. You know, a lot of competitors I think stay quiet because they don’t know whether it’s going to be their last year. We’re all pretty psycho, so you never know if you’re gonna like get the urge to just do it again. Like Sam Briggs I think has retired about seven times, but I was certain so I wanted to make it known. You know, I didn’t care if like sponsors chose to keep me around or not due to that decision.

Emily: 23:03 – So I made it through the first day or two. I made it through the marathon row and then the next day was, what was that? It was called Battlefield. First event on Friday. That was when I went over the wall and I landed and my ankle was facing the wrong way and I immediately knew, I mean I pretty much immediately knew that my Games were over. Medical came running over and I was like, is my foot facing the wrong way? Is my foot facing the wrong way? And they’re like, yes, it’s going to be OK. We’re going to get you a brace. And you know, they laid me down on my back, taking my pulse because I guess dislocations can be a big deal. But at that moment my foot popped back into place. So I like stood up and was like, is it OK if I keep going?

Emily: 23:57 – Like the huge cargo net was next. So in the back of my head. I’m like, there’s no way I’m making it up that cargo net. So anyway, that ended my Games because there was a certain time cap I was going to have to put back on my shoe and I went to medical and my foot dislocated again. So that actually like was terrible, but it gave me peace of mind that like, OK, this is actually really bad and I needed to come off the field. So yeah, that was disappointing, especially because I missed all the fun events that year. I missed the first handstand obstacle course. I don’t remember the other events, but I mean I had a good time watching and still trying to be as much of a part of it as I could. The ankle was just, you know, at that point everybody’s like one more year. I’m like, no, no, no.

Sean: 24:47 – Well, so why wasn’t there one more year?

Emily: 24:52 – I mean, I was already mentally prepared to be done. So in my head I was going to be done in two days anyway. So the commitment to do a whole other year is like a huge commitment. And then that was at the time where there was all those changes to the season. And honestly, it took a long time, I mean, my ankle is still not recovered, so it ended up being actually worse than I thought it was. I mean, granted, I probably would have rehabbed a little better knowing that I was still competing, but yeah, we were ready to have kids, I guess. I mean, I wanted a little bit, I wanted about, you know, I wanted a little bit of time to just relax and enjoy life. So we didn’t like leave the Games like, oh, we’re going to have a kid tomorrow. But I mean, it did happen pretty quickly. So by January I found out I was pregnant and there was no turning back after that. But like at that point, you know, people would ask like, are you ever going to compete again? And I was like, no, I’ve competed for however many years now since I was seven years old. I think I’m done competing. But now I’m like, you know, I don’t want to say never, but like there’s definitely no thought of competing in the immediate future.

Sean: 26:16 – You mentioned that you became a mother late last year. What is life like now for you as a parent?

Emily: 26:25 – Yes. So it’s just really like balancing everything. I mean number-one priority is taking care of Riley, and then, you know, managing the gym. But then I realized pretty quickly, you know, in pregnancy I worked out the whole time, but those workouts were different and I missed doing lot of things and you know, things that you hated for a long time. For instance, like running for me, I’m like, man, I would do anything to go for a run right now. So, you know, as soon as I was able to work out again, I’m like, all right, I want to take advantage of every day, no matter what, I’m going to get something done. So just figuring that out. Also during pregnancy we moved a little further away from the gym, so we used to live one mile away from Terminus, which is easy and convenient, but we decided to move closer to my parents and Ben’s parents and our babysitters, that is.

Emily: 27:22 – So now we’re about 25 minutes on a good day, 45 minutes on a bad day away from the gym, which, you know, makes a big difference when you have a baby. So I actually, I kind of keep this on the down low to our Terminus members, but I joined another CrossFit gym. So that’s like, you know, three minutes away so I can just go in, get it done, get in, get out and I have no responsibility. So I try to do that gym about two days a week and I get to Terminus about three to four days a week. An, luckily we developed a good staff while I was pregnant, so they kind of hold down the fort on the times where I’m not able to be there.

Sean: 28:02 – What does your training look like now?

Emily: 28:07 – It just looks like an hour of class workouts a day. And you know, I went to like a postpartum PT and I tried to do the homework that she gave me. I told her my ankle was still bothering me, so she gave me some PT for that. So basically I just try to get there a few minutes early to warm up, do some PT exercises, do the class and then, I don’t know, the last few days I’m like, well maybe I should play around with a few other things. I tried muscle-ups for the first time. But yeah, just, I don’t know, not putting any pressure on it and just getting something in. Whether it’s, you know, hopping on a rower for 20 minutes or taking a class just, it doesn’t look anything like it looked before, put it that way.

Sean: 28:51 – Do you find that you are enjoying yourself more in the gym now?

Emily: 28:57 – Yeah, I mean I’ve always loved working out and like, I’ll always love the suffering aspect, but like there’s a difference between pushing yourself through one 10-minute workout as hard as you can and doing that four times a day, you know, seven days, six days a week or whatever it was. And just like planning your whole day around training versus like, all right, I just have to plan this one hour we’re getting in, we’re getting out. So I mean like there’s some days where I would like to do more than I’m doing right now, but I definitely am loving it again. I think anytime you have a setback where you can’t work out, it kind of just, I dunno, it makes you appreciate it lot more in the future. So like anytime I do something new or lift a heavy weight again, it’s kind of like a new accomplishment again.

Sean: 29:52 – One day your daughter is going to be old enough to understand what you did as a competitor during your career. What do you want her to take from knowing about that?

Emily: 30:05 – I mean really I want her to develop like the mental toughness side more than anything. And kind of like that never-quit mentality. Like always following through with a task and obviously just living a healthy lifestyle. I mean, I loved growing up in a gym. I feel like it helped shaped me to the person that I am. So I think, you know, in the next few years we’ll start her in gymnastics. If she likes it, I’ll let her keep going. If she hates it, she doesn’t have to do it. But, I mean, hopefully we can ingrain the fact that fitness is a lifelong thing that’s not something to dread. It’s not punishment; it’s what makes you a better person.

Sean: 30:52 – How do you turn off the competitive side of yourself when you do walk into the gym?

Emily: 31:00 – It’s really difficult. Right now in my gym, we have a couple people that are pretty good, pretty good. One girl I coached as a gymnast starting when she was 16 and she actually ended up going to University of Michigan and became a college rower. So she has like the gymnastics background, the endurance background, and now she’s going on about two years of CrossFit. Right before I got pregnant, we were going head to head in like every workout. So I was still like being kind of competitive with her. And throughout my pregnancy she got really strong and really fit. And the idea of me beating her again is pretty like pretty far off. And it actually bothers me a lot. So we still text about our workouts quite often and you know, I still, for whatever reason, I still want to get better or like, you know, I know that I might never get as good as I was before, but there’s always that I want to get better than I was the day before mentality.

Emily: 32:04 – So I don’t know if you can shut it off. In order for me to watch the Games this year or in 2019, I like set up a betting pool on it and like, so I dunno, it kept it interesting. I was like, I don’t want to have any like personal biases. It was fun, but yeah, I don’t think you ever turn off the competitive mentality. I don’t want to be like the crazy gym mom with Riley if she does end up being good at something. But I can see how it does happen because at some point you got to turn off that the competitive mentality a little bit if you don’t want to focus on yourself all the time.

Sean: 32:47 – You mentioned that never say never about maybe coming back to the competitive side of things, what would it take to get you back into the competition side of CrossFit?

Emily: 32:55 – Yeah, so like, one of the most fun things that I did in my CrossFit career was the three years, the team series with Scott and Stacie. One of those years with Paul Tremblay. And so there was always a team at CrossFit Terminus that like wanted me to go team. But you know, this sounds bad, but I was like, I don’t want to go team unless I know that we can have a chance of winning the CrossFit Games. And so I was like, if we ever were able to form super teams, I would go team because it was just so fun. It was part, you know, I was part of a team in college. I would do it again, you know, but that wasn’t an option until like probably three weeks after I retired, they announced there was going to be super teams and I’m like, dang, of course they did this now. So I guess if I did it again, it might be in that aspect. But I don’t know.

Sean: 33:53 – So you’re saying there’s a chance.

Emily: 33:53 – It would take me having to get much stronger than I am right now.

Sean: 34:01 – Final question. What’s your message now for the new generation of CrossFit athletes who are starting to take over the spotlight at this point?

Emily: 34:12 – Oh, that’s tough. I think I said the other day, like if you’re a coach, fall in love with the people first. Like if you can’t relate to people, do not even try to make a living off of being a coach because you can love fitness all day long, but if you don’t love helping people, it’s just not going to work out. And kind of the same thing goes for competition. Like you know, people are inspired by watching it and motivated by seeing their progress. But there’s something, a little psycho about all the people that continue to make the Games year after year and it’s that they really love the pain and the suffering and all the like brutal stuff that goes behind it. You know, it’s not just doing a 20-minute workout, it’s doing a 20-minute workout to the point where you feel like you are going to pass out and that happens every single day.

Emily: 35:01 – So, I guess just like making sure that you truly love it. Like you love it when you work out with your best training partners, you love it when you’re doing it in your garage gym alone. You love it if you have music blasting, you love it if you’re doing it in silence. You know, like make sure that you can’t go a few days without it. And then like as things have gone on, social media has become so big. The gym was always like my sacred place where like I could put my phone away and you know, I think that’s part of why I don’t have as many training videos as other people, but now it’s even escalated to like a whole new level where there’s like, you got to have a vlog, you gotta have like a media team. And I guess I would just like say that you know that’s great and like you can make a living by doing that, but like don’t feel like you have to do that because the main thing is like, are you getting better? Are you getting stronger? Are you getting faster? It’s not like, did you make sure to post that workout on your Instagram today? Because there’s a lot of things that I’ve done that never made the Instagram highlight reel.

Sean: 36:11 – I know. Did a CrossFit workout happen if you don’t post it on Instagram?

Emily: 36:14 – Right. No, I still like to use that platform and like it’s been so helpful in some ways, but like it’s still—if working out is your happy place, like put your phone away sometimes because it’s only getting worse. Like that’s the only time of the day where I can get away from it. So I guess those are my two takeaways for the upcoming generation.

Sean: 36:40 – Emily, listen, thank you so much for taking the time to do this. Best of luck with your family and, you know, fingers crossed that maybe we see you back out there on the competition floor again sometime.

Emily: 36:50 – Thank you. I appreciate it. Thanks for being in touch.

Sean: 36:53 – Big thanks to Emily Bridgers for taking the time to talk with me today. If you want to follow her on Instagram, you can find her @EmilyBridgers, all one word. Thanks for listening to Two-Brain Radio. Please remember to subscribe and leave us a review. I’m Sean Woodland and I’ll be back with more great stories from the fitness community every week. Be sure to check out our archives for interviews with your favorite athletes, coaches, and personalities. Thanks again for listening everybody, and we’ll see you next time.


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

Two-Brain Radio presents marketing tips and success stories every Monday, and Chris Cooper delivers the best of the business world every Thursday.

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 we read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes.