Welcome to another episode of Two-Brain Radio with Chris Cooper. The fitness industry has moved online due to COVID-19, but trainer Brad Overstreet has been there for years. After losing his gym due to permitting issues, Brad had to act fast. So he went from bricks and mortar to clicks and browsers. And he’s here with advice for gym owners who are now trying to survive online. Two-Brain’s COVID-19 page is updated regularly with the essential resources gym owners need right now. Visit twobrainbusiness.com and click COVID-19 at the top. And now here’s Chris Cooper.
Brad should be joining me here any second. Just want to give you guys a little bit of background. So Brad, as soon as you are here, man, just say hello and we’ll get you going on here. I want to give everybody a bit of background on Brad. So Brad has been a CrossFit affiliate owner. He’s gone through the Precision Nutrition stuff several years ago after a few different, you know, phases of his business where he tried it big, he tried it small, he decided to work backward from whatever his goal number was going to be. And then he said, OK, well I’m gonna try this online coaching. And when I finally connected with him, he had been doing online coaching for about three years. He’d been a coach for about 21 years and he’d had some of the same clients that entire time, like they’d gone through every evolution of his business. And here we go. Hey Brad, how are you?
Hello. How are you doing today?
Doing amazing, thank you. I’m really excited for everybody to chat with you. And I was just doing a bit of an intro here, but maybe you just want to take it from here, Brad. So tell us the entire story.
The entire story. OK. Do I have a video or no video real fast?
You sure can. Right now it just shows your picture, sorry.
Yeah, I don’t see a way to change that on here, but that’s fine. That’s a good picture. Man, the long story or the short story, you kind of nailed that I started training 20, 1996, I think is when I picked up my first client in 1995, and all the way through private clubs, country clubs, resorts, in-home training back in early 2009 when 9/11 hit I just kinda started doing it in home training. Got into CrossFit in 2010, maybe 2011. Fell in love with it like most folks do. I drank the Koolaid back in the early stages and opened up a CrossFit gym. And the evolution to online for me started when I opened up the CrossFit gym, cause I can no longer traveled to my clients’ homes that I had for years and didn’t want to break those relationships.
So I figured out how to do training via Skype and FaceTime online. And at that time I thought I was the coolest kid in the club because I mean, I was living both dreams, right. I’m making money going to somebody’s house without actually having to travel. And then I’m also coaching a box and it was a lot of dreams come true. My wife quit public teaching and started coaching and the gym grew and prospered and it was just an awesome, awesome experience. And then during that time the oil and gas market where I am in Texas plummeted. And clients went up, clients went down, all the things that you go through. And the meat of the story is for me to kind of resonate with how everybody’s feeling is at the end of 2017, I knew I wanted to switch more to online.
I’d done some things to actually make the gym virtual where I could train our clients virtually from the gym. So we had set it up where we had eight weeks of vacation a year where all of our gym members could still work out and I could see classes virtually, communicate with them through audio. I could do one on one virtually audio and all of that. But we decided to downsize to a smaller building to save rent, which was our biggest expense. And when we moved into the new place, all the members, we loaded equipment up, we painted, we put the daggone rubber mats in, which sucked to move. And then the city of Conroe showed up and said, Hey, we’re not going to license you to operate here. You’re not eligible for a certificate of occupancy. And something nobody caught was that the city had annexed in that particular part of the area where we’re from about a year earlier.
And whenever the business that was in that building moved out, the grandfather clause expired. And so there’s no way, I mean, it would take months to bring everything up to ADA code, do the electrical, the fire marshals, bathrooms had to be added, parking lots had to be redone, on-ramps to get up to the building had to be done, so effectively overnight I lost everything. Literally everything. I had about five clients that I was training remotely. I was midway through my PN level two, and I just started my OTA course and overnight everything was gone and no hope in sight. It’s a shitty feeling. So for anybody feeling that, man, I can’t even begin to tell you the emotions that you’re going to go through. The fact that you have hope that your business will open back up is pretty awesome.
I didn’t have that. You know, our options were, were pretty limited. My wife went back to a job she hated. I was a stay at home dad trying to figure this out with five clients and just reeling from the emotions and trying to digest it and process it. And I kept looking at it like Murph, you know, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done Murph. And every time it sucks and every time I make it through. And so I just kept looking at it like an endurance event. You know, what do I need to do to do Murph? And I just, that’s how I correlated in my head at the time. And so what came out of that was my clients had been with me for years, were still with me. So I still had online coaching and I thought, well, how can I transfer our gym members to online clients?
And I tried several things and at the end of the day I couldn’t, not a lot. And so this bothered me and I dove into the psychological profile of what can I not do? What am I missing here? It’s still me. I’m still still communicating with them. I can get them to go to parks, some of them, but I can’t get them to go online. What I realized was missing after talking to some psychologists and actually have a psychologist that’s a member at the gym and he and I spent hours going over this, for anybody trying to do it, there’s certain certain things in the brain that are released in those times of stress in the gym and that’s what your clients come for, right? They come for that sweat angel on the floor. I shouldn’t say, I don’t know everybody here, that sweat angel on the floor, but more than that, that briefing period, that bonding period based on the chemicals that are released with the other members and when we went online, even trying to do group, it didn’t work. There was no way to duplicate that emotional sensation that is CrossFit, that is community and is what we do in the gyms. So I started looking at, you know, this is trial and error over over a few months as I tried to do everything. And something I learned is out of at the time we closed, we had around 140, 150 members, only 30, 33 of them I think went on to other CrossFit gyms. They just stopped working out. They just discontinued. And I tracked them, I kept tracking and I kept track of them through Facebook and asking questions and trying to stay in touch with them.
And it was where are they going and what are they doing? And it’s almost like I killed that social bond. Right? I mean it was no longer there for them to do that. And I guess in their minds they didn’t want to go try somewhere else to blend into a new community, to blend in any of that. Now kind of the great news is for those that have businesses, these are not really your concerns long term. You know, if everything goes to plan based on what Chris is seeing in China, you know, you’ll have gyms in possibly 30 days, 60 days, 90 days. So you don’t have to to think about that. And based on what I found out with my gym, your members will come back because they want that social interaction, right? That drug that they want from that workout still hasn’t left them.
The addiction is technically what it is, still hasn’t left them. So when I reached out to Chris about this, it was what can you do, what could you possibly do to maintain customers right now income-wise? You know, and I’ve been pondering this and what I found worked for the customers I did retain was switching mindsets to things that were actually as far from CrossFit as I could get it. I switched on what the focal points were by talking to a few of them to habit-based coaching. I switched over to, and I say habit based coaching. It’s really whatever habit they wanted to work on. And what they were doing. But the thing that set me free of all of this, and I’m bouncing around and I apologize, and John Goodman is the OTA, he mentioned a freedom number and the freedom number that changed me is what’s the least amount of money you need to make to live the life you want to live.
Because all my life, I’ve been trying to earn more and earn more and earn more at the detriment of other aspects of my life, trying to find balance. And so when I figured out what the smallest number I had to earn was, that became my focus, right? That that became the objective. And it wasn’t that hard to reach cause so instead of trying to save every member from the gym, I only tried to retain enough to hit my freedom number. And it was a small number. So it worked. And I guess as I was talking to Chris the other day, if I was giving any advice, it would be looking at your whole gym, if you dialed it back, what’s the minimal amount of of income do you have to have to weather the storm right now?
You know, you have a lot of great things going for your boxes and what you have, but what’s the minimal amount you need and does that allow the piece of the puzzle to come down smaller for you to be able to digest it and have a smaller target set to reach. And then, you know, obviously how do you reach that now? I reached it through online training, I grew the online training side of it. I dove into what clients I was able to retain psychologically while I was able to retain them. What did that look like? And that got into online training. And Chris, if you want to ask me questions, go for it. Cause I could keep going on this.
Yeah, man. So let’s talk about that first transition, the first conversations that you had with your clients when you decided that’s it. I’m going online. How did you address that?
We had a group chat in Facebook, you know, a private group in Facebook that all of our members talked in and I just posted, Hey guys, I’m gonna start training online. This is what I’m gonna do. And didn’t meet with much success.
Is that right? What was the first response?
People were, I think it’s slightly different, but the first response was actually anger. And it was misplaced because the anger was at me because I let the team down or maybe I’m just, maybe that was my observation because I was angry. I let the team down. Right? I mean, at the gym, you’re the coach, you’re the leader. That’s how you’re looked at. And because I didn’t dot some I’s and cross some T’s, they no longer had their happy place. They no longer had their drug. Trying to correlate it to the current situation, it’s not the coach’s fault, a box owner couldn’t have, nobody could’ve predicted this, right? This is not something you can predict. Maybe now you’ll plan, but nobody could’ve predicted this. So I think you have a little bit different mindset in that whenever you present to your members now, it’s not a long term.
It’s not a long-term thing. My clients knew this was never coming back. The gym was never reopening. This was the end of it. You have a chance or people have a chance to communicate to their clients and keep reiterating this is temporary, right? While it may seem long term the way everything’s, this is just a temporary little blip into the timeframe. So once I got those past, and to get back to your question, once I got some of those past the anger part, the response was what does it look like? What does this look like? How are you going to coach me online? And so I started working with some of them. I tried the group thing. I’ve tried people’s garages. I tried some of this stuff. Similar to what you found, if you had five people in a Zoom video and they were all at different locations and we were trying to do the workout together, the novelty kept them for the first few days, but after that they weren’t getting their drug of choice. They weren’t getting that sweat angel bond and it fell off. That was my initial response with those that I could get to bite to online training. After that it went to more one on one and I I was able to get some to do the one on one training. Why they did one on one training is they wanted to keep the fitness. Go ahead. Sorry.
No, that’s fine, Brad, I didn’t want to cut you off there. But the people who chose one-on-one, what do they all kind of have in common?
The ones that stuck with one-on-one had more of a growth mindset. They weren’t fixed in their ways. They were open to new ideas and new concepts. And looking back, it’s easy to identify them now in the gym because they’re the first ones to go try something in the gym and be eager to adopt something new whenever you start coaching. I was always tinkering in the gym. I was always changing and moving around locations of dumbbells and trying to make things more efficient and people would come in and be upset that their favorite dumbbell was now, you know, 10 feet to the left. Regardless of if it improved the facility or not. But the people that embraced that kind of constant change were the ones that adapted there. They were the ones now think about it, every single one of them that would not complain all ended up as clients online.
- That’s crazy interesting. So just to sum up what you’ve said so far, you were closing the location. You said, I’m going to move to online coaching. There was originally some reluctance. Eventually people said, well, what does this look like? And you wound up keeping a handful of them and they were the people who in hindsight had a growth mindset and they were most eager to try new things. Now are these the same people that you’re still training three years later?
I still have a few, three years later. And that is on me, not on them. What I mean by that, they are still training. Yes. I moved them on to other people. After six months of no gym and things personally, my wife and daughter and I literally liquidated everything we owned and we lowered our freedom number even more when we moved to the Caribbean for two years. And I needed a break from relationships. So in my head, I set a cap. If I hadn’t had a relationship with you for seven years or longer, I wasn’t going to train you anymore. I needed time away. It was just, again, losing the gym was probably, next to losing my eye was probably one of the most emotional things I’ve ever had to deal with, because of how many people I let down or feel like I let down. So to answer your question, I still keep in touch with them. I’m still friends with them on Facebook and talk through messenger a weekly basis. But I don’t actually train them any more. But that was by my choice not by theirs.
OK, Brad. So thanks for being transparent about that. I know that some are actually considering that move. But what happened to the people after your CrossFit gym closed? You gave me some really interesting stats on this the other day. Where did they go?
Only I think I want to say it was 30 or 33 of them at the six-month mark had gone on to a different box. And what happened was is you had two or three small core groups of like three or four people that went and tried the, you know, we have a whole large CrossFit population density of boxes in our area here in Houston. And little subgroups or class groups went and tried different boxes and they would try for a week or two, quite, try for a week or two quit. It helps when you know the box owners as well. But they ended up all back together. They all scattered and that group of close to 30 people came back together at one box and they’re all training at that box now still to this day.
That’s amazing. I know a lot of people are gonna start asking, like delivery questions. So what is your service look like right now? Like what are you actually selling?
That is an awesome question. And, right now I’ll tell you how my process goes and what I sell. I sell exactly what the client tells me they want. And I’ll give some examples as I go here. So I meet a client for the first time and I use motivational, I use my downtime. Let me backtrack just a minute. I used my downtime of the Caribbean and not training as much to grow my skillsets. I adopted that growth mindset. How can I get better? What are my holes in my communication game? At the end of the day doing a lot of research, what we basically sell is relationships and feelings, that’s the product we move and push whether we want to look at it that way or not, for for a lot of people, I’m not going to dump everybody into one category.
So I started working on my motivational interviewing techniques or MI techniques. I finished up my level two. I finished up my OTA, I went into as many courses and stuff that I could find on how to communicate. So now when I meet a client, it’s typically by referral only and I start asking him what it is they’re looking for and then I’m interviewing them in this process to find out what it is they want. So there’s numerous extremes. I can give you an example of Patrick who is a CEO of engineering company. He wanted training in person or via FaceTime five days a week. He wanted nutrition, wanted accountability. And then we went and so our plan was this, his secretary would send me his travel itinerary. He spent eight days every two weeks on the road.
So eight out of 14, he was on the road. I would literally know the hotels he was going to, contact the hotels, get online and see what their workout room looked like, deliver the programming based on that. If he wasn’t able to meet our training session time, he had it printed out that he could do it from his phone. I would look at the restaurants in the area, pull up his menu. I basically removed all of his choices, all of his roadblocks and objections to fitness. That’s what I did. He had to think of none of it. He just had to show up. And that worked out great. And he ended up selling his company two years later. And, now follows an exercise program at home and we have a much less intense relationship as far as delivering that. Other people, they just wanted accountability.
I have one client, I just go walk with her in her ear every day. It sounds the most ridiculous thing that somebody would pay you 80 bucks an hour to go for a walk with them. But again, I sell feelings and I sell relationship and that’s what that client wants. So that’s kind of two extremes. The typical scenario is whenever I meet somebody that wants online training and we talk, I go through an on-boarding process with them. I actually use a, you can make up your own questionnaire. I found one I like, it’s the questionnaire we use with ProCoach. But I use the questionnaire and I fill it out with them via Skype or Zoom and I could just email them this questionnaire, but I found I have horrible conversion rates when I just email a questionnaire.
It’s a good chance for me to bond with them and ask them the questions as we go through the questionnaire. And then when we get to cool spots with motivational interviewing techniques, I can ask why things are important to them. And not just once, but we call it the five why’s. I asked why that’s important five times to get to the root. And what you’re doing is you’re finding the pain points and developing a much deeper relationship. And a good example would be this lady, she walked in. Everybody here’s probably heard this, Hey, you know, I’ll call her Becca. Becca, how can I help? I want to lose weight. Well, that’s great. Becca. Why? Why do you want to lose weight? I want to look better? Well, why is that important to you? Well, I want to fit better in my clothes. OK. And why is that? By the fifth why, kid you not, with a straight face, with tears in her eyes by this point was, I want my husband to stop calling me a fat cow.
And this is in the first 10 minutes of our conversation. So when you get somebody to tell you that deep emotional need, you have so much room to work with at that point, with that person. You’re not just working on losing weight, you’re working on self confidence, you’re working on, I mean you’ve got so many parameters to work on. And that was just by asking questions. So you know the questions follow up. Well, OK, so what do you judge success? What are your objectives? How likely are you to reach those? And these are just, again, results of me learning other skill sets to make me a better coach. But it really changed how I interacted with people. And in this process, you know, I’m looking around her if she’s on a room cause she’s on a Zoom call, you know, at the end where are we training it?
You know, Becca, where are we going to be working at? We’re going to be in my little room right here and I’ve discovered a need about a sheet and a half worth of plywood as far as that square footage to train somebody effectively in their house. You give me about 45 square feet, 40 square feet. I can get most anything done general health and wellness wise. And so I started looking at how simple can I make the workouts right? Everybody loves Murph. Well I shouldn’t say everybody loves Murph. I’ll use Murph as an example. What do you have? Three basic body weight movements and a run. It’s not a genius protocol, right? Why did he originally develop the workout? Cause he could do it anywhere in the world when he was deployed.
It didn’t take flash to maintain clients. It didn’t take muscle-ups and everything else. Those are all fun things and skill sets. I’m not saying anything bad against them, but when it came to at home, so then I started asking the client, you know what do you want? Do you want a new workout every day? Do you want a new workout every week? Do you even want to start with working out? Do you want to start with nutrition? And everybody would tell me exactly what they wanted. And you talk about an easy product to deliver when they tell you specifically what they want and why they want it, it doesn’t get any easier than that to deliver it, and so it made it easy. But as we’re looking around the room, kind of one of the first questions I ask is Becca, you know, are you going to be using your cell phone or your iPad?
This is if we’re doing face to face, FaceTime training or whatever. I’ll be using my cell phone. Awesome. What kind of cell phone you got? Well, I’ve got the new 11 pro with the cameras and everything’s, man, that is awesome. And why she’s telling me is I’ve got my Amazon cart over here to the side opened up. Becca, do you have one of the little tripods for your cell phone? No, I don’t, you know, I probably should get one one day, you know. OK. So I go instantly into Amazon and drop one of those in Amazon cart. They’re super cheap. What about audio? Do you have earbuds? Oh yeah. Yeah. I wear ear buds all the time when I want to go for a walk. OK, great. Well what equipment do you have? Well, you know, I’ve got some five pound bells and some 10 pounds.
Great. Do you have a stretch band? No. Amazon cart. Stretch band. OK, great. You know, you mentioned mobility. Do you have a foam roller? No, foam roller. Yoga mat. Yeah, I’ve got a yoga mat. So I’ll try to identify a few key pieces that will make my job super simple but also make them feel like a rockstar and solidify the relationship. So what effectively happens is when we get off the phone, I try and keep my cart value down to what my first one or two personal training sessions would be with Becca. I’m willing to eat that cost to solidify our relationship. And two days later she’s got a gift basket from Amazon basically with all these cool things she’s going to use and she feels like a rock star. And we just solidified our relationship even more. Does that make sense? And so from there it’s, you just keep finding these ways to build these relationships and go, and it’s worked. It still works.
That’s amazing, Brad. People are hitting the love button a lot right now with that description. Thank you for being so tactical. The next, what does a daily delivery look like for this client named Becca? Like what is she actually getting from you every single day?
Every single day. Again, I’ll go back to what does Becca want and we go over Becca’s wants every two to four weeks. So, I’m gonna switch over and I’m actually use a client name. My client’s name is Judy. I’ve had Judy for 21 years now. If you want to do the math, when I started with Judy, she’s invested almost $160,000 into our relationship, conservatively. $160,000 is how much she’s paid me over 20 years. So think about that for a minute. It’s staggered me when I started actually pulling up the stats. Judy is not working right now. So Judy actually increased her time with me to three days a week for an hour instead of two days a week for 30 minutes. Because her job has her working from home. So I’m effectively earning more now because of this than less.
Again, a staggering little thing when I think about it. So I was able to adjust my schedule. What does Judy like most? Judy likes 7:00 AM FaceTime. So I sit on a FaceTime call with Judy for 30 minutes or an hour, three days a week right now. I book it just like I would a PT appointment. She uses my calendar link. She books her appointment. She actually has it set in there now. It’s just blocked off after all this time. And the workouts are based on the first few questions I ask her. Hey Judy, how are you feeling? I know you’ve been at home a little bit more and you’re working from your desk. Do you have any tight spots? Can you identify? Man, Brad, my left hip has just been bothering me. OK, great. Hey, before we get started, show me where you’re sitting.
And she shows me her set-up. So I’ll try and give her ways to kind of work at her desk a little bit better. Maybe stand up, sit down. But the workouts are based off of what she’s telling me and providing constant feedback. Now again, it’s easier cause I’ve had a 20-something year relationship with this person, right? But I deliver the workouts that she’s looking for. Now over 20 years the objectives have changed from weight loss to mobility to running to whatever she’s into. But the timeframe is still the same. It’s an hour of time with her. And here’s the coolest thing I figured out that shocked me the most when I went to all online training versus in-person or at a gym. The relationships got even better. I tried to search and the military has been able to actually pinpoint why this is better.
So the military now has a counselor, I can’t remember the counselor’s name, but she’s artificial intelligence. And what they have figured out is soldiers will actually communicate more to a computer screen than they will to their buddies in person or in a counseling format. Right? In that relationship format. So there’s something about going online that allows you to build a better connection and say things you might not say in person. So I’m able to actually dive deeper and learn better. But at the same time, I’m also able to at the end of that hour, cut it and have a definitive end time to our workout, unlike where people want to hang around after class and talk and visit with me and monopolize time before the next class. It allows me to actually communicate better with them and dig deeper. So with Judy, the workouts, they vary, it really is, I mean, at this point in 21 years, can you think of anything new to do with her?
I mean, she could teach it. She knows what I’m doing. She’s been training for 21 years. She knows. But the thing that I’ll circle back around to, and I mentioned this to you the other day, the other thing that Judy enlightened me to as we were talking a couple of years ago, whenever this happened, I asked her specifically what value do I have? I went back and started asking all past clients that, I mean, this is CrossFit clients, personal training clients, at-home clients. What value did I provide for the dollars?
And the comment that I got the most and the one that she so eloquently put, she goes, Brad in almost eight that time, 17, 18 years, I have not fluctuated more than five to seven pounds from when we started. And I’m thinking, well, that’s kind of shitty, Brad. You suck as a coach. Five to seven pounds up or down. Come on now. And she says but my friends have all yo-yo’ed 20 pounds up and down and I’ve never had to do a yo-yo diet. I’ve never sustained an injury. I’ve always been active and mobile. I’m like, OK, well now I’m feeling a little bit better about myself. She said but I can’t calculate the metric tons of emotional weight that you’ve helped me lose. And that floored me. It really solidified what my relationship was with her. The training was just a vehicle to help her.
Again, I consulted professional psychologists and people. Why is this response being given? A, I’m safe. I have no nobody in her social circles so she can tell me anything. I can hear and be a trusted source when she’s battling her alcoholic husband and considering divorce, I can sit there with her and she can just talk for an hour about going through that process with her husband who, after, who literally I kid you not two days ago is two years sober. So you can do these things with your clients that don’t even involve the sport of fitness. Right. And I say that because as I’ll translate one other thing here that came to me yesterday when I was working with a box that closed who’s dealing with this. And I’m talking to the guy in a mentorship process and I’m kind of telling him some of these stories and he’s just got this deer in the headlights look. And it dawned on me, I wanted to do this. I wanted to train people online. This was my goal set. This was my objective. I didn’t want to have it happen the way it did. I didn’t want to lose everything overnight. I didn’t want to have to deal with that emotional issue. But I did want to eventually get online so I could travel more and spend more time with my family instead of being committed to the box.
And I’m talking to this guy and I realized he doesn’t want it. Looking at him and I, you know, if you want to, does this even remotely sound fun to you? And he’s like, no, training online is not why I became a box owner. I became a box owner for sweat angels and hugs and being in the gym. And it dawned on me that, OK, this isn’t for everybody. Just like CrossFit. I’ll use CrossFit again. It’s not for everybody. So, you know, what do you want out of it? And that can kind of also help dictate what your next action steps are.
All right man. So like this, this is not going to be for everybody. You know, we’re getting that right now. But as you said earlier, like the advantage that a lot of these gym owners have is three months from now they’re going to be, you know, kind of going back to in person. Where a lot of them are struggling right now is kind of getting the workflow down. You know, it’s like they’ve got 150 clients and it’s like they’ve just opened a brand new business and they started with 150 clients and they’re trying to figure out delivery and billing and all this stuff and they’re doing it under the gun. So a lot of the questions that I’m seeing right now in the chat are like, what’s his daily workflow like? So can you expand on that Brad? Like what’s your day look like?
Yeah. Well my day, you’ve influenced my day years ago, man. When we did a conference call years ago when you were doing some research and you asked me what does my perfect day look like? Yeah, I’m a product of numerous people like yourself pouring in. My perfect day starts with me honestly doing some, five to 10 minutes of moving. I know that’s probably not what people are asking, but I’m gonna share it anyway, doing five to 10 minutes of moving, getting my body flowing. And then I do about 15 to 25 minutes of breathe up work and meditation.
And it’s probably what saved me the most when the gym shut down because I have a little chart and I’ll share it with you and you can share it with everybody else. I share it with clients and the focus of that is to, I go into my mental mind gym and I envision my perfect day six months from now. And if you can envision it subconsciously, your brain starts taking action to it. Whether you even know it or not, it’s proven science. If you can envision it, your brain will start taking action to it. So I’ll do a little mental workout and I’ll see myself six months from now, I can tell you exactly where I’ll be, what I’ll be doing, what I’ll be wearing, what the temperature will be, and I get as specific as possible so I can paint the most detailed picture for my brain because perceived is reality, the way the brain works.
I do some breathing techniques during this process from my free diving that I do. And then I grab a cup of coffee and then I have my calendar set up with my clientele. I already know which clients I’m training and they’ve booked with me. I used to try and book everybody. I use a Calendly for my calendar link and my clients book with me. And so I can pull that up. They can’t book within 48 hours. And so I know two days ahead of what my schedule is going to be. And then I start training. I work with my clients. If I feel like I need to, I’ll go somewhere else, when I could, I would go somewhere else and work anywhere I could. You can do it most, almost all of it from your cell phone, so you don’t really need to be beholden to any geographical point of location.
And then I would come home and or take a break. And, right now I do work for Precision Nutrition and for OTA, John Goodman. So I’m doing consultation calls with OTA students and doing client care work with PN during the middle of the day, and then training in the afternoon if it’s on the books, but I can always block or move it however I see fit. Now, going back to what you just said, that sounds great unless everything just got turned upside down. Right. That’s two years of planning to get to that part. That sounds like a pretty picture of me sitting on the beach training clients, which is doable, but that’s a two-year planned process. Not, Hey, you’re closed today. The number one piece of advice I could give to anybody right now would be to be on the phone with every client initially. And the first question would be, what do you need? It’s not about you. It’s not about what your needs are. I know you want it to be. I know in a painful situation, everybody wants it to be about them. That’s human nature. But the first question to my client is, Chris, what do you need right now? Man, things are pretty unsteady. How can I help you? I value our relationship. I value you. What can I do for you? And then we’ll let the conversation go from there.
OK, Brad, I have such a great, great, great question from Jill Larson. Jill, thank you for asking this. You’re going to love this question, Brad, and you’re going to smoke the answer. You’re going to knock it out of the park, man. Her question. I want to ask this verbatim. Thank you, Jill. How do you build a client base? Up until last week, I had Marcus Filly do remote training for me. I paid $300 a month with a year commitment. How do you compete with a Games athlete offering a service like this?
What are they selling? So if I’m understanding the current question correctly, I actually dealt with something similar earlier. How do I, as a standard trainer, not that everybody’s standard, I’m just trying to understand here, compete with a Games athlete that’s offering training. Is that correct? How do I market advertise and compete with somebody like that?
Two parts. The first thing that after owning a CrossFit gym, the first six months, the first thing I did was unfriend every person I knew that did CrossFit. I got so sick and tired of looking at what every other box was doing and trying to adjust my game plan to what everybody else was doing with no direction that it stopped me from being me. So I kid you not the first thing, six months after owning a CrossFit gym, I was no longer friends with any CrossFit gym owners on Facebook. My first piece of advice, don’t look at what everybody else is doing. You have a relationship with your clients that the Games athletes do not. You have a connection that they could never, if you have any kind of relationship with them, their loyalty is to you, not to a Games athlete. It’s psychological. It seems that way. It seems like, how am I going to compete? You know, I was thinking how am I going to compete with John Goodman? Or all these other folks, you know, how do I compete with them and it’s not a competition. If I know only need seven clients to pay my bills and live the life I need, I need seven great relationships. And so I stopped focusing on the mass and how can I attract and do all this stuff and started focusing on the smallest bite I could take, which was one great connection after the other.
And then what ends up happening is they tell others and that becomes your referral process. Because for me doing what I do, I don’t have any overhead. I have a cell phone, so I have no, I have no other debt load or debt structure, which is good. So my number is small. So you know, my question to Jill is, can she think of seven people that she has great relationships with that she could call up today and ask how can I help you and let them tell her what they need and then go from there.
- And she’s going to respond back to that, I hope. Jill, please. So while she’s doing that, I’d like to just share a really quick anecdote. I was at a little barbecue for some HQ staff about a year and a half ago. Mike Warkentien was there with me and there were a couple of Games athletes there and they were talking about who had more Instagram followers. OK. One of the top, top, top guys at HQ goes, are you guys f*ucking serious? Like, you’re only CrossFit famous. Do you know what CrossFit famous means? It means not f*cking famous. And so I think like, you know, we revere these Games athletes because we are CrossFit owners and we are, you know, washed in the blood of CrossFit. They’re famous to us. But I guarantee you Jill has a hundred people in her gym and she is famous to them and they look up to her the way she looks up to Marcus Filly. So I won’t tell you the rest of that story, but it involved the Kardashians and yeah, we’ll take it from there. Keep going.
You nailed it with that. You nailed it. You are their Games athlete. To them you are their rock star. That’s exactly right. You nailed it.
So let’s get back to acquisition then. So I cut you off there, Brad, I’m sorry, you said like my next clients are going to be their friends. Can you dig into that a little bit more please?
Sure. So again, I know the situations aren’t the same because of the current situation. But when John Goodman brought me on as a mentor, the running joke in our little circle is I’m the online ninja because nobody has heard of me and nobody sees me. If you go to my Facebook page, you will, if you go back to when the gym closed a few years ago, you’ll see me doing online cooking cause I’m a chef as well. Just to have an outlet. But otherwise you’ll just see underwater photography photos cause I enjoy that and some free diving photos and my daughter playing guitar. You won’t see me on Facebook. I’m not Instagram. I don’t get on Instagram. I don’t do any of that stuff. But what I do is I take John’s advice and I stay top of mind with as many people as I know.
So I think I have roughly 1500 friends on Facebook. But if you look at my messenger profile, it’s infinitely bigger than that. And so what I do is, and again, I get this from OTA and John, he calls it the paperclip method. So every day he opens up in the book, he talks about opening up and finds five people that are in his friends list. And he just reaches out and says, Hey man, how are you doing? Or if he wants to get really in depth, he’ll Facebook stalk them real fast and see a recent post or something. And Hey man, I saw your son played a baseball game and won the other day. Great job. And that’s it. And he moves a paperclip to the other side and he goes, five connections a day, five connections a day, 30 days.
He’s never done that to me. I mean, we’re Facebook friends. John’s never done that to me. What the hell?
I would call him out on that. He never did it to me either. And I’ll expand on that. That’s actually a very good point cause I’ll expand on that in just a second. So I do it with 20 people cause I have some time. So I help 20 people and these relationships might be people I might talk to one of the 20 five days in a row because they carry on a conversation. But what you’re effectively doing is you’re building top of mind concept. I don’t necessarily need Jill who’s my Facebook friend to decide she wants to get in shape, but when Jill is talking to her friend Becky and Becky says she wants to get in shape, they remember Brad, well we’ve got this guy, I’ll talked to him.
I mean I’ve got friends on Facebook that I’ve never met in person. Matter of fact, most of them I’ve never met in person, but we just have struck up conversations on Facebook over time through messenger or I’ll meet them in my travels and create friendships and then their fringe jump in, but it’s called top of mind. And so I’m not, I never actually sell anything. I just, people already know what I do. So when they actually come time to get ready to purchase, I’m like the go-to guy because there’s already a relationship there. An example will be when this happened and the gym shut down, Judy who I was telling you about earlier, she called me the other day and she was like, Hey, look, I’ve got a lot of friends who know you and I have been training online. Are you wanting clients right now?
And I’m like, sure, I’ll talk to them. But that’s what I mean by top of mind. So that’s how I gather clients. And again, in full disclosure, I am having much more fun after two decades coaching coaches. I’m sure if you asked your mentors there would say, I have a lot of fun coaching coaches. This is like my new CrossFit Games stuff, is working with coaches. So I devote more time with that than I do training clients. Just to be perfectly transparent in what I’m saying here. But that’s how I generate clients. One of the things I did you might be familiar with Mike Doehla wtih Stronger U.
So Mike always talks about coffee shops, right? I mean he’s always talking about working from coffee shops.
So I one-upped him one day because I put a dry erase board on the back of my computer. So when I walk into coffee shops, I’ll write a message on the back of my computer on the dry erase board and people will look at it and it might be just say, ask me a question or can I buy you a cup of coffee. But that’s how I meet people to get contacts. I’ll sit in a coffee shop with a message on the back of my laptop and I’ll meet as many people as I can. And then you can narrow it down. This doesn’t count for this current situation obviously, but for future growth to maybe bulletproof your existing business or think outside the box. If I know I’m looking to attract 30 to 40-year- old males who make six figures or more, if I know I’m wanting to attract that clientele, they all tend to hang out in the same little area downtown and mostly all of them go to the same coffee shops, so I’ll go sit in those coffee shops and meet as many of them as I can. I’m not selling anything. I don’t ever sell anything. I’m just, Hey, how you doing man, name’s Brad, nice to meet you and then strike up a conversation and start the paperclip model and it continues to grow. It continues to grow.
I like that you put the question on the whiteboard so that they’re approaching you. This is a major barrier for a lot of people when we’re teaching like referral marketing or what we call affinity marketing is I’m saying grab four coffees and go meet your neighbor and that’s a huge social barrier for a lot of people, but what you’re really doing here is you’re removing that barrier by having that whiteboard asking questions, they can come up to you. Do you ever put something on there and like follow me on Instagram or give them another way to connect?
I do not, but then again, I’m not on Instagram or Facebook. I don’t do that. It would be smart. I mean, you could easily do that, but then I think mentally you’re asking for something in return. Right? A good relationship hardly ever asks for anything in return at the beginning of a relationship. So very few relationships start off, at least that I’m familiar with. It might start off as a business transaction. Right? But, but very few people, very few relationships I find start off that way. So I might grab five coffee cards, right? Let’s just use that method and put them on my computer. Want a coffee? Ask me a question. Want a coffee? Where’s this quote from? Right. I’ll grab a Friends quote or something, you know, from a Friends episode, write it on the computer. Finish the quote, grab a coffee. And they’ll come up and do it. And what it is, it just broke the ice. But it gave you a chance to ask about them. Right? So let’s, let’s just roll it all the way back. Best book to read, how to win friends and influence people.
Most people want to talk about themselves and most people that are shy on relationships don’t want to talk about themselves. So you just start asking questions about them and I just start, it’s like vomit of the mouth. They just start telling all about themselves and you’re gathering and learning about them. And again, not in a shady way, but just in a way that you can file some information back. I have a notes folder that I keep on people. That sounds really bad that I say it that way now, but just little things that I know about people I like for you, Chris. I know you collect data.
Yes, I am a nerd.
That’s fine. I am too. But we share that commonality. So if I come across a data piece, how did our conversation here start? I sent you an email saying, Hey man, I might have some data that could help you.
Exactly right. Yeah, exactly right. So if you’re listening to this, that’s, that’s actually what started this was I was starting to look at online trainers and Brad responded to an email that I sent out and shared some actual data with me and I said, great, you know, here’s a lighthouse in the industry. And we started talking and after a full hour of Brad sharing numbers with me and best practices, I said, we’ve got to do a webinar for people so they can ask their questions. And again, like you didn’t ask for anything. And I just learned that we had actually spoken a couple of years before about perfect day. I mean, it’s such a great story. The next question that we actually have here is from somebody that’s asking about your packages. So when you’re pricing this service for people, it seems pretty high touch, right? But like, how would you put together packages? Do you have standardization of packages or is it customized every time? How do you do that?
So it’s customized every time. Again, if you’re thinking box mentality, you’re thinking 150, a hundred to 150. When I got out of the industry, that was your average CrossFit gym. A hundred to 150 members, retention rate, eight months, average value, 850, 900 bucks, something like that. That was a few years ago. So you had to think on a much bigger scale. I scaled down. So if I need 10 members to meet my freedom number and I’m living the life I want to live with my family and having time and everything else and all I need to hit 10, well, I had to know my freedom number to start with, right? So use Patrick, for example, Patrick, the guy with the hotels and all those stuff, that was a $2,000 a month bill automatically deposited six month contract. OK. He’s a business guy. He spoke business. To give you an example again. To help Patrick. I identified what his unique abilities are. He is a CEO of an engineering firm and sits on several boards. He’s a business guy. So Patrick and I started Fit Patrick LLC and I asked him specifically, OK, you just started Fit Patrick LLC. What’s the first thing you do? We didn’t actually start a company, but in his mind he correlated everything in his fitness path to starting a business, writing a business plan, hiring the right people, how to structure the payment methods. He knew all the steps, but that was a 2000, how did I come up with the amount of 2000? I knew what I needed out of my freedom number and I knew how much time it would take me to satisfy Patrick’s needs, so I worked backwards from that. Does that, does that make sense? I work backwards from where I need to be and then the amount of clients that needs to get there based on the client. Now if the client comes in and just wants a one touch a month. That’s great. This is what I need. These are the hours I have to invest. This is what my time was worth per hour.
Got it. So Brad, you know a lot of people here looking at that like, wow, OK, two grand a month. How do I ask for that? And if the people are in this group, it’s not like they’re charging $99 for unlimited CrossFit anymore. They’ve got some reps, they’ve proven to themselves that they can sell a hybrid membership worth three or 400 bucks a month. That’s still a far cry from 2000 a month. How do they bridge that value gap in their mind to get the confidence to ask for those kinds of prices?
I never asked Patrick, I never gave Patrick a number. I asked Patrick what the value was to him. If you were hiring an engineer, Patrick, to meet these needs in your company, what’s the value of that? And Patrick actually gave me a number right around the $2,000 mark. And then I negotiated a little bit based on what he would expect as a business guy, negotiation from any employee. And that’s how we settled on 2000.
The biggest problem, the biggest problem I had as a trainer and as a CrossFit coach, is I always undervalued myself because I would never pay for me. Who here would pay for themselves? Right? I mean, because I already know what I know. So I have no value to myself. Judy has almost 160,000 or so value over 20 years because of a relationship. See, I never saw that value. So I would have devalued myself through my eyes with Judy, but Judy saw value in me far beyond what she was actually paying me.
That’s incredibly profound. And I’ve never heard it put quite that way before, Brad. Very, very smart. I wouldn’t pay for me. I mean, you know, a lot of personal trainers couldn’t afford to hire a personal trainer at their rate, but they also project that bias of like, well, I already know what I know. And they don’t realize, like the other person doesn’t know what you know. On the flip side of that, what you’re selling is not always knowledge, right? So what else do you do to help Peter on a daily basis?
Knowledge at this point doesn’t really have a value. I’ll use online workouts and you mentioned this in your letter today, that you sent out. The internet is covered in workouts, right? You can’t step without stepping on a workout right now. It’s just, there’s all these challenges, all these people throwing information out there. It’s a huge thing of clutter. If you look at that knowledge has no real power in a lot of those areas anymore. So, if you take that out of the way, what again, what are you actually providing that has value to your client? What are you putting out there that they value? Well when you and I got off the phone the other day, I called my old psychologist client that was at the CrossFit gym cause he’s one of the 33.
I asked him, I said, Hey Tad, what are you? What are you doing man? He goes, I’m dying. I’m like, OK, tell me. He goes, I don’t have my stress reliever. I don’t have the gym. I don’t have my friends. I’ve got aches and pains in places I didn’t know I had because I’m not moving like I was. So I’m trading out one aches and pain for another aches and pain. And he just told me all these things that he’s not getting that have value to him, that clearly his CrossFit gym is not trying to identify or help with. Now if you could just solve one of them, what do you think the value is to Tad? But nobody’s contacted him. Nobody’s even asking that question. Nobody’s even, Hey guys, here’s some online workouts. We’ll be back in a couple months and when the government says we can, good luck.
So we’re right back to your point then, Brad, of like, the best thing you could do for Tad right now is just call him up and ask, what can I do for you right now? And they’ll probably tell you what to sell them.
Yeah. Well, so I ended up just because he’s a hell of a guy and he’s helped me through so much for free, pouring into me, I gave him a free subscription to RomWOD, range of motion workout of the day for those who aren’t, well, most people are familiar with RomWOD. But I gave him a free subscription for the next three months. What’s it cost me? 30, 40 bucks? Costs me 40 bucks to alleviate one of his things. How much value that I just increased with a guy and I don’t charge him anything. But when he comes across somebody that’s looking for a fitness trainer, who is he going to remember, his CrossFit gym who didn’t do anything for him or the guy that sent him a three month subscription to RomWOD?
Yeah. Can I just add something to that too, Brad? Like when somebody is at your stage or my stage and we do a gift like that, it doesn’t matter if you get anything back, right? Like that $30 spend gave you a great gift that you’d you’d pay 30 bucks to feel great for the rest of the day. Right. And that’s what you just bought yourself. So I know a lot of people are gonna hear that and they’re going to follow up with like, well how much should I be spending on these gifts every month to see a return? And really you have to do it without expecting a return at all. But usually there is one, right?
There is usually a return. Correct. If Tad were still a client, if I was looking to, if Tad were my client at my CrossFit gym and I had a big group of clients, hold on one second. If Tad was at my CrossFit gym and I had a big group of clients and I knew mobility was an issue, I bet you we could do a Zoom RomWOD class. I bet you I could share my screen with RomWOD on it and five of us could get together and I would, I have no data to back this up. I’m just using experience and what’s coming to mind. I could take five or six people, 10 people from my five AM class that tends to be a really tight knit class and say, Hey guys, at 5:00 AM tomorrow sign in and we’re just gonna do a 20 minute stretch session together just to start our day off.
And I’m already paying for Zoom, so it’s not costing a penny or I’m already paying for RomWOD. Now you know, you can do a couple of different ways, but that’s, you could do that and then you can do 12 people on your Zoom call and you can share your ROMWOD screen and you can all stretch together. You’re fulfilling a need, you’re communicating with them, you’re spending time with them. You’re keeping that core group together and then go again and then pick another class to do something else and pick another class to do something else. This is based off of my CrossFit experience. What I found is in each class you have a core group of people, then you have satellites around them in the way that nucleus works. If you watch the human behavior in a class, and so I would focus on my course and they’ll bring the other people in and then maybe you empower other people to do the same thing inside of your groups.
- That’s amazing. And I know that we’re, you know, we’re really asking a lot of your time here Brad. So I’m going to try and be succinct. So the next question Jeff asked was how do you decide who not to work with and what do you do with the people who aren’t a great fit for you?
I love that question. I love that question. When I mentor people, the first thing I let them know is when I’m asked the situation is, do you feel that when you’re talking to somebody, they’re interviewing you or you’re interviewing them? And about 12 years ago I learned, I am interviewing them to work with me. They are not interviewing me to work with them. It’s a scary proposition to turn somebody away. It’s a scary proposition to pass on money. It kills me to do it at times. But here’s what I realized whenever I made those steps, and I’m not saying it’s for everybody. Again, these are just things that that work for me, when I realized that I work best with an engineer mindset of a person that tends to be 35 or older, higher up in a company, or their spouses because they share a lot of the same psychological profile.
When I realized that I can now pretty much sit down with somebody and within about five minutes of asking some questions, figure out if they’re a good fit or not. And what I do is I go in and I find them a place to go and I’ll give you a great example. Let me give you an example here. My CrossFit box, I trained, I had one athlete who’s a good friend who we did the NPFL or MPGL or whatever it was at one point in time and we traveled all over doing stuff. He was a high level athlete. He sucked a ton of time. It was a great experience, but probably the last two and a half years, I actually did know athletes, I went away from, if you were looking to go to the CrossFit Games or head CrossFit competitor aspirations, I just wasn’t the guy for you.
I had more fun with 40-year-old women teaching them how to squat and pick up their kids. Right? That was just my jam. That’s what I resonated with that. So if you walked in and you wanted to be a Games athlete, dude, let me let, hey, look, this coach that actually used to work for me, who we helped open up her box down the road. You go work with Jen. Her name on my phone is actually Jen Beast, go work with Jen over at Bombshell. Dude, she jams on that stuff, you know, you know, Hey, if your wife wants to come work out, send her on over, but man go over here, Jen is the bomb. Right? And so I just, I started referring out and that’s what I do. I refer out anybody that doesn’t match my exact demographic.
And here’s the reason why, and it goes back to you, what is my perfect day? Is my perfect day working with CrossFit athletes or is my perfect day spent working with 40 year old women who want to learn how to lift their babies correctly, right? Or their toddlers or it may be, but I can provide a much better process, a much better service if I’m focusing on those that I already jam with than hating working with three others that I don’t enjoy being around or don’t excite me. And what I learned over 20 years is just like our clients always evolve, me as a coach always evolves and who I enjoy working with always evolves. And so I’m always reevaluating my psychological profile of my ideal client.
That’s really interesting, Brad. So people are gonna want to talk to you more. How can we put them in touch with you one-on-one?
That’s a great question. Do you have this in a Facebook group?
If you want to make me part of that Facebook group, or just give me access to it. I know everybody’s protective of stuff like that. If you want to give me access to it and then send me a link to whatever thread is started under this video or whatever, for the next seven to 12 days, I’ll set aside a couple of hours a day to go in and peruse comments and give feedback if that works for you.
That is amazingly generous, Brad. Thank you very much for that. What a gift.
You bet, man.
So that’s what we’ll do, folks. We’re going to bring Brad to you and we’re gonna bring him into this group. He’s gonna answer questions. And he’ll be another amazing resource to have in there. Brad, thanks so much for, you know, taking the time out to answer these questions. It’s really amazing that two weeks ago everybody listening to this was running a completely different business and they’ve managed to lead their audience, you know, across the desert and now they’ve got this other business going that they hadn’t even maybe imagined a month ago. They’re doing amazingly well. But I thank you for giving them a view of like what the future can be like for them and helping them with the tactical stuff too. Man. I really appreciate it.
Yeah. If I could give any advice, don’t be hard on yourself emotionally. Self care right now is probably as critical for you as it is for your clients, by far. Have a growth mindset. As I was talking to the CEO of PN yesterday, this past weekend, you’re in so much better of a position then all of the thousands of trainers that probably worked at Gold’s gym, Lifetime, LA Fitness, Orangetheory. You know what struggles are, you know what adversity is. You already have skillsets and tenacity and just drive that most people don’t even experience in their lives, but because you have that basic skill, you’ll survive this. In some way, shape, form or fashion, you will come out the other side because you don’t know how not to. That’s the only thing I can say for CrossFit. It teaches you how to always come out the other side of a WOD.
That was incredibly profound and I got a little bit choked up there. So, I’m gonna end it here and I’m going to add you to this private group. If you’re listening to this on the podcast, so Brad is offering to work within our private group. and you can join that private group by joining the Two-Brain mentorship program. Get access to Brad for the next seven to 12 days. Brad, thank you again, brother. This was incredible.
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