Episode 92: Made By HQ

Episode 92: Made By HQ

If you visit the CrossFit Facebook page, you’ll see this:


…not “Education Company”. Not even “Fitness”. “MEDIA/NEWS”.


Since the first days of the PDF-emailed Journal, I’ve learned from–and copied–CrossFit HQ’s media team. More than any other organization on the planet, CrossFit educates its fans and consumers to create frenzied evangelists. They publish every day. They produce world-class video, employ full-time writers and editors, and pay above the grade for quality photos.


What can we learn from CrossFit HQ’s Media Team?


Just about everything.


There are 200 people in HQ Media. It’s a multimillion-dollar operation to produce the best exercise demos, Journal articles, full-length movies, daily blog content, social media–and now, podcasts. They’re among the best in the world, and they do it to help CrossFit affiliates grow.


Many of us don’t realize it, but HQ’s media can serve as a template for our own. Content marketing bridges the gap between our service (fitness) and a client’s needs (lose weight, get more energy, etc.) We can copy their methods, share their videos, and use their testimonials in OUR gyms.


For this episode, I traveled to Santa Cruz, CA and visited CrossFit HQ for three days. I was interviewed for their new podcast, and then turned the tables: I asked Mike Warkentin (managing editor of the CrossFit Journal), Tyson Oldroyd (head producer) and Matt Bischel (head of social media) to answer questions about production, promotion and best practices.


This interview runs over an hour, and it’s FULL of useful stuff that I haven’t seen or heard anywhere else. For the first time, HQ allowed me to peek under the skirt, and ask “Why?” and “How?” – and even though I’ve worked closely with HQ Media for years, many of the answers still surprised me.


Don’t listen to this podcast while driving. Wait until you have a pen and paper ready, because you’re going to want to take notes!


Episode 91: The Mentor Hot Seat, Volume 1

Episode 91: The Mentor Hot Seat, Volume 1

During our Senior Mentoring Team Meeting at the TwoBrain Workshop last weekend, I asked, “What’s the biggest opportunity in front of the CrossFit community that no one is seeing yet?” Two years ago, that was adding nutrition programs. We introduced the world to a simple solution in HSN, and other services have cropped up since. That’s been huge for many. Before that, the opportunity was the Intramural Open; before that, it was Bright Spots.


We agreed the biggest opportunity for some affiliates is to help other local business owners. This might sound like a left-field idea, but here’s why we love it:


CrossFit has created over 15,000 new entrepreneurs.


Though it’s very, very easy to start a new CrossFit gym, it’s very hard to keep one open. So we all jump in with both feet, and then SCRAMBLE to get profitable as quickly as possible. Then we hammer as hard as we can to add staff, and then to level up our businesses to true entrepreneurship instead of just owning a job.


Heavy loads, long distances, for time.


Most CrossFit gyms have to be successful before the end of their first lease. Most new businesses are now stared as “side hustles”–driving an Uber, doing task-based one-off “jobs”, or selling expertise as a VA. We have everything on the line. We’re just desperate enough to try stuff–and fail–fast.


And though the network between affiliates is informal, we DO talk. In the middle of all the Kill Cliff/FitAid questions on Facebook, there IS some progression in our thinking. Granted, we started behind most entrepreneurs (we used to think “profit” was bad) but we’ve pulled ahead. And common knowledge in CrossFit is uncommon knowledge elsewhere.


So when a CrossFit athlete who owns a machine shop asked for my advice this week, I said, “Oh, that’s simple.” because I solved that problem in my box seven years ago.


When a cafe owner asked if she needed a website, I said, “Just a two-pager. But you could REALLY use a subscription model.” And then I told her how to make a great living in the food industry without crazy overhead. And she baked muffins for my kids. I got the idea from other gyms.


When a local screen printer asked how to “get his name out there”, I suggested he focus on his current clients a bit more instead of worrying about attracting new clients.


This is why I opened the Workshop in Sault Ste. Marie: because entrepreneurship can save my sinking city. But I believe it can save the world. And you, my friend, can do a lot to help YOUR city.


Bonus: entrepreneurs make IDEAL clients for CrossFit gyms.


You’ll hear more about the implementation of this idea in the next few weeks and months. But here’s a special bonus: while I still had three of the mentors at the Workshop, I dropped a microphone in our midst and put them all on a Hot Seat. I fired questions at them: “How would you get more clients for a hairdresser?” “If you owned a gym and had to make $5000 in ten days, how would you do it?” I gave them each a beer, hit “RECORD”, and let it flow. I’ll publish that episode on our podcast today. We’re calling it the Mentor Hot Seat, and I’ll do one every time I gather with this crew of growing TwoBrian Mentors.


Enjoy. I sure did.

Killing The Canary

Killing The Canary

by TwoBrain Mentors Brian Alexander and Chris Cooper

Even when things are amazing, it’s very easy to focus on the “problem areas”.

Our brains are wired to detect flaws. But we often get “false positives”: cues or feedback that seems to knock all the good stuff off the table. We fixate on negative feedback even when it doesn’t represent the average client. And when someone says they don’t like a class time on our client surveys…well, we want to smash the whole puzzle and start from scratch! Right?

Brian just shared a fantastic message with his coaches (he oversees 30 of them between two gyms, and relies on his strong leadership style to inspire them to take the right action when they’re out of his sight).

Brian’s crew was starting to report that “some of the members” had problems with “some of the services” or “some of the class times”. These are always hard to pin down (WHICH members? What EXACTLY did they say?) but Brian has been through this before.

Over a year ago, the rates at CrossFit Illumine rose. A small–but very vocal–minority of clients quit to make a point about the prices. Most have since come back, but at the time, Brian had to fight the temptation to back down from his core values and cave in to keep them.

This is how he got through it, and the lesson he shared with his staff today:

There will always be a small minority of people who complain about everything. For example, not including Spark in Unlimited memberships, or charging extra for speciality programs, or charging for nutrition advice, not having enough classes, CrossFit being too expensive etc… while we listen to everyone, we act according to our vision for the gym and don’t let the “Loud Minority” sway us because we understand that they don’t see the big picture we do.

When I hear, “Everyone is complaining, or “Everyone thinks this….” I know that “everyone” is not “everyone” and it is just the “Loud minority”. That loud minority, while welcome at Illumine, aren’t our perfect clients. If we waivered on our position for every little complaint, we would have no direction. We’d have 100 different programs at 100 different prices and 100 concessions for each one.

We don’t do that. We deliver an amazing service and experience. For those who appreciate that will stay, and the “loud minority” will leave eventually. It’s a simple filter.

My personal Mission Statement is:

Relentless with your vision
Stoic in your actions
Empathetic in your interactions.

What Brian and I have learned is that following the minority is a disservice to the majority. Just as it’s important to train your strengths, it’s important to focus on your happy clients most of the time.

Let me give you another example:

The new Facebook Page Video cover looks really cool (you can see ours here. Turn on the sound for the full effect.) Most people will love it. Gyms that use it will have a tiny bit more sway over gyms that don’t. Facebook has data showing higher conversions on pages using a video cover. You can turn it into an ad, then a custom audience for viewers, and then a retargeting campaign…the possibilities abound.

But two or three people on my Facebook feed say, “I hate it when videos autoplay on my phone.”

They can turn autoplay off, but probably don’t know it. And frankly, some of these people invite me to play Candy Crush on a daily basis. But still…it’s tempting to stop a massive action because a tiny minority says so.

Perfect is the enemy of good. Not everyone will like everything you do. That’s fine. Your best clients will thank you for your consistency…and giving them what THEY love.


Which stage of entrepreneurship are you in? Take our 20-question quiz to find out and get the exact steps you need to take your business to the next level.



Top 9 Myths Gym Owners Believe

Top 9 Myths Gym Owners Believe

I do free calls with affiliates. I’m getting close to 1000 of them now: 30 – 60 minutes, on my dime. It’s taken me years to reach this point.

Recently, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend: gym owners are making decisions based on guesses, random advice and feelings…but not data. They’re risking their future, their family’s grocery budget and their client’s long-term access to coaching because they don’t check the numbers.

Here are some common myths:

  1. People join CrossFit for “the community”
  2. The most important number to track is how many athletes you have
  3. Everyone except you is doing well
  4. Clients choose a gym because of its workout programming
  5. People in your town are scared of the word “CrossFit”
  6. Average household income in your area matters
  7. People seek a low price-point to start
  8. Gyms with 300 members are successful
  9. Sharing thoughts on the election is a great idea

No data supports any of the above. They’re beliefs, not facts. They’re opinion wrapped in a sticky story.

Every day, I wake up at 4am and write. I ask myself, “What was the best question I was asked yesterday? How can I provide the answer to others?” Then I blog, or plan a quick video. I wrote “Help First” and “Two-Brain Business 2.0” in 70 days because there were SO many good questions on these calls. The information to solve huge problems is now available on our site.

As I say on my podcast, “Ask better questions. Tell better stories.”

If I can see weaknesses better, I can help more. But if I miss a weakness–or see something that ISN’T there, like one of the myths above–my information isn’t helpful. Information given without data is just opinion. And there’s far too much opinion masquerading as truth in the gym owners’ world.

How can YOU get this data? Fill out our 2016 Gym Owners’ Survey. Give YOUR data – anonymously, of course – and you’ll get EVERYONE’s real data. You’ll also get my interpretation of that data and its trends. AND you’ll get three free webinars too, because we already know three of the most important questions.

It’s time to get real. For too long, we’ve run our gyms by consensus: we’ve tried to make a business out of an exercise model. We’ve taken the opinion of others as gospel, without the context of knowing how their gym is actually performing. And we’ve just assumed that better coaching would equal more members. And that more members would equal a better life.

Serious gym owners look beyond opinion and get to the facts. My goal is to FIND the actual facts and present them as such.

Thanks for participating. I love this community.

PS – this data is for OUR use – gym owners. That’s it. We’re not selling it.