1,000,000 Fitness Entrepreneurs: The Two-Brain Plan

1,000,000 Fitness Entrepreneurs: The Two-Brain Plan

Our mission is to make 1,000,000 fitness entrepreneurs wealthy.

Here are the four steps we’re taking to get there.


Step 1: Fix


We’re going to fix the gyms that are already open and make those founders wealthy.

We’ve figured out what’s working, and we teach people to do those things. We’ve been doing that since I found my first mentor in 2009. Now we use data to help us figure out what’s best faster. We find the new best ideas in the industry, test them and deliver them to Two-Brain gym owners.

It’s harder to fix an existing gym than it is to open a new gym. So we’ve spent years mentoring gym owners to fix the early mistakes they made, just as I did back then.

But when we take these lessons and share them with people before their gyms open, those entrepreneurs zoom to wealth in three years instead of 15.

Step 2: Inspire Through Education


We’re going to make coaches more entrepreneurial.

This happens by encouraging fitness coaches to build their own brands under other people’s umbrellas or to open their own gyms with the help of their current owners.

We’re going to accomplish this by taking our existing best resource (the coaches in Two-Brain gyms), enriching them with business knowledge and then weaponizing them by helping them build careers. In some cases, gym owners will license their brands to their coaches and help them own their own businesses. In others, gym owners will help the coaches make more money coaching.

If you own a gym, you can jump straight to this step by downloading our free Intrapreneurialism 101 guide. Help your coaches build their careers in a way that builds your gym—instead of builds your future competition.

Step 3: Create


We’re going to make more coaches.

This is what Two-Brain Coaching is for: to help us pump a million new fitness coaches into the world. If each coach can change 150 lives, we can affect change in the world’s health. And we can do it the right way: all the right things for all the right people for all the right reasons. We’ll do it with data and proof instead of fake supplements and influenced legislation.

We’re method agnostic. We don’t care if coaches improve fitness through pull-ups or pole dancing. We just want a healthier world.


Step 4: Generate Clients


We’re going to create more clients for Two-Brain gyms.

This is where Two-Brain Media is already helping: We need to educate people on the value of fitness, we need to help them avoid the opiated decline into death, and we need to teach them how to take control of their lives.

We can do this. We don’t have to wait for people to find CrossFit or Pilates or boot camp, then wait for them to fall in love with an ideology, then wait for them to decide to open a box. We don’t have to hope that doctors will embrace our philosophy of fitness and somehow create an audience to support themselves.

We have all the parts. We have all the data. Best of all, we have the will to do so.

We don’t have to wait for anyone else. Not anymore.


Our First Focus


We want to make current gym owners wealthiest of all because they deserve a reward for figuring all this out.

Here’s the thing about wealth: It’s the best reason to open a business. Wealth is the freedom of money and time. Wealth is unattainable in a nine-to-five despite what we were told in school. You can’t save your way to wealth, and you can’t cut your way to wealth. Wealth requires risk.

And entrepreneurs who risk everything to help others become healthy? They’re the most deserving people on Earth.

If more gym owners become wealthy, more people will be drawn to gym ownership. Current gym owners will stay in the game longer because they’ll see a light at the end of the tunnel. More lives will be saved.

We’ve mapped the path to wealth. When you’re ready for some direction in your business, book a free call with my team.


Other Articles in This Series

Playing the Infinite Game
We Can all Win
Never Have Competition Again
The Mindset Necessary for Success
Why You Want More Two-Brain Gyms in Your City

We All Can Win

We All Can Win

In the first article in this series, I wrote about Playing the Infinite Game. Here’s how the philosophy applies to your business.

Gym ownership is not a zero-sum game. To get a new client, I don’t have to take one of yours.

In fact, it’s a positive-sum game. As more gyms open, the cost of opening a gym goes down. Equipment is cheaper now than it’s ever been. And best of all: The expensive lessons learned by tens of thousands of gym owners are available in our Incubator. You can pay a little and dodge hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs.

Microgym owners can make a great living from 150 clients. That’s it: 150 great people paying the right rate and staying long enough to stabilize the business.

You don’t need to fight me for clients. I don’t need to fight you for coaches.


Fear Vs. Facts


New fitness Founders think they have to compete for a few simple reasons:

  • We’re mostly first-time entrepreneurs.
  • We’re scared.
  • We don’t have a buffer (we need to make money now).
  • We think the market is limited.

This was me, in 2005.

I opened Catalyst with 30 clients. But that wasn’t enough, and I thought I had to take clients from other local trainers to succeed. I remember saying to my partner, “I’m going to bankrupt everyone else!”

But I didn’t. Many of the microgyms that were around in 2005 are still around today. They kept some clients and got new clients. Some of theirs came to me, and some of mine went to them. If they were good at business, they’re still operating.

The key to a good gym isn’t getting clients. It’s keeping clients. And in a small city, even when the major employers go bankrupt, there are more than enough clients—if you build your business the right way.

In the next articles in this series, I’ll write about why this is true. I’ll explain how you can avoid having “competition,” describe the mindset necessary for success, show why you want a Two-Brain gym next door, and detail how we’re going to make 1 million fitness entrepreneurs wealthy.


Other Articles in This Series

Playing the Infinite Game
Never Have Competition Again
The Mindset Necessary for Success
Why You Want More Two-Brain Gyms in Your City
1,000,000 Fitness Entrepreneurs: The Two-Brain Plan

Starting a Gym: Marketing

Starting a Gym: Marketing

Yesterday, I wrote about scaling up from a personal-training studio to small-group training.

But where do your first 20 clients come from?

Heck, where does your first client come from?


Relying on Relationships


When you’re opening a gym, there’s nothing more reassuring than the first client purchase. It’s more than the money: It’s proof that you have something that people want. That you weren’t totally wrong about the viability of your idea. And that all your front-end systems work: You can bring people in, sign them up and take their money!

Marketing is about relationships, and that’s never more true than when you’re in the Founder Phase.

You need to think about each new client individually, instead of an undefined group.

First, before you do any marketing, build your systems to maximize your retention.

Make sure you have your pricing and program offerings dialed.

Your first clients will come from your personal relationships. As I wrote in “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief,” it’s normal for your first client to be your mom. Or your sister or brother-in-law. Who would want to support you more than your family?

And, of course, support means paying you because they believe in your ideas, not enjoying your service for free because you need more practice. Good will should run toward the founder when he or she is starting a business. The new entrepreneur will need it!


Reaching Out


Here’s the process:

1. We call your best clients your “Apple” clients. Take them for coffee one on one.

Ask them these questions:

“What brought you to my gym in the first place?”
“Why haven’t you joined any other gyms?”
“What’s your biggest problem in life outside of your fitness?”

2. Ask about the people closest to them.

“Who has been most supportive to you on your journey, besides me?”
“What do the people in your workplace need? How can I help them?”
“What’s your biggest challenge in trying to help your family get fit?”

3. Map your client journey.

Where do new clients generally come from?
What do most new clients say is their goal?
What do your best clients list as their favorite part of your service?
Write all that down, and make sure every new client gets the same treatment.

4. Make your clients famous.

Every week, interview one client on camera. Just ask, “What’s your fitness story? What are you most proud of achieving? What’s something you never thought possible before? What would you say to yourself one year ago?”

5. Answer your future clients’ questions.

Publish one article every week. Start with the most basic questions possible, and answer them. Build an email list of everyone you know. Every third email should include a clear call to action: a clickable link to book an appointment with you.

6. Use your email list to start Facebook ad campaigns.

The key question to ask before you start any marketing is, “Who is my client?”

In my PT studio, that was easy: middle-aged professionals paid for themselves or their athletic kids.

But when I tried to start a CrossFit box, that was hard. I didn’t define my ideal client, so I made wild guesses about my service and pricing. And because I didn’t get my prices right from the start, I attracted a lot of discount-seekers who couldn’t really afford coaching. So I tried to degrade my service to their budget instead of asking, “Who can afford what I want to sell?”

You sell coaching. Who wants to be coached? Tell them how you’ll solve their problems.

That, in a nutshell, is marketing.

Want to start your gym the right way? Click here to download our FREE guide: “The Ultimate Business Plan for Gym Owners.”


Other Articles in This Series

How to Start a Gym
Starting a Gym: Location, Space and Equipment
Starting a Gym: Scaling Up
Starting a Gym: Adding Staff
Starting a Gym: Do You Need a Partner?

Starting A Gym: Adding Staff

Starting A Gym: Adding Staff

How can you work on marketing when the floor needs to be scrubbed?

Your role as entrepreneur is to invest your time in the highest-value roles. That means removing less-valuable things from your plate. But most entrepreneurs don’t do this well.

They say things like:

“No one can do this like me!”

“It’s faster to just do this myself!”

“I can’t afford any screwups!”

“No one cares as much as I do!

I’ve been there. The tug-of-war between “I know I should delegate!” and “I can’t turn my baby over to my staff!” is an internal battle between logic and emotion.

Luckily, that’s why we’re called Two-Brain Business: we work with both.


The Path to a Solid Staff


Here are the steps to figuring out how to best spend your time and then actually create the time to grow your business.


1. Break down your day by the hats you wear.

If you were to duplicate yourself into 12 clones, and each clone could only do one job all day, what would those jobs be?

Cashier? Maker of the doughnuts? Purchaser or supplies? Decorator? Cleaner?

Make a list. We call these “roles.”


2. Now program your clones: Make a step-by-step list of everything you do in each role.

For example, the cashier is responsible for entering client sales correctly, processing refunds, collecting money, closing the batch at the end of the night, balancing receipts with collected funds at the end of the shift (and end of day), depositing funds at the bank, and so on.

Make the checklist as simple as possible. We call these “tasks.”


3. Assign an hourly value to each role. What would it cost to replace yourself?

Cashier—$13 per hour?
Baker—$18 per hour?
Purchaser—$20 per hour?
Cleaner—$11 per hour?

We call these costs “replacement value.” You will hire valuable people to replace you in each role eventually. And you will pay them what the role is worth.


4. Next, do a Time Valuation on yourself.

How much time do you spend in each Role? Record your total time spent (in hours) for one week.

For example:
Cashier—10 hours
Baker—20 hours
Purchaser—3 hours
Cleaner—5 hours

Multiply total time by the replacement value of each role.

Cashier—10 hours x $13 per hour = $130 replacement value
Baker—20 hours x $18 per hour = $360 replacement value
Cleaner—5 hours x $11 per hour = $55 replacement value


5. From your list of replacement values, find the lowest. Hire a person to fill that role.

Give the person a 3-month contract that clearly spells out the role and every associated task.

In other words, provide a checklist.


6. Here’s the critical part: You, the owner, MUST reinvest the time you save by working in a higher-value Role.

We call this “Climbing the Value Ladder.”

If you bought yourself five hours by hiring a cleaner, you must show a positive return on that purchase.

You can either replace the baker for five hours, saving yourself $90 (five hours x $18) or you can jump a few rungs up the ladder and spend time in a new role, like marketing.


7. After a month, evaluate your staff’s performance.

Assign a scale from 1 to 10 for each task.

Review performance with the staff member. What can he or she improve?

Now review your performance in your new role. What can you improve? Are you seeing a positive return?


8. After three months, repeat steps 5, 6 and 7.

Buy yourself more time. Climb to the next step. Measure your ROI.


Building a Real Business


Most entrepreneurs never build a business: They buy themselves a job instead.

But if they want to scale, be able to sell their business someday or just take a holiday, they must replace themselves in all roles eventually.

This is the directive approach we teach entrepreneurs in the Two-Brain Business Incubator. It’s virtually risk-free and far less scary than the usual “ready, fire, aim” approach to hiring.


Other Articles in This Series

How to Start a Gym
Starting a Gym: Location, Space and Equipment
Starting a Gym: Scaling Up
Starting a Gym Marketing
Starting a Gym: Do You Need a Partner?


Done-For-You Hiring Plan and Detailed Job Descriptions for Gym Owners

Starting a Gym: Scaling Up

Starting a Gym: Scaling Up

Bad choices at startup can be fatal.

Yesterday, I told you how to choose a location, determine the rental space you need and figure out what equipment to buy. These are all hard-won lessons from me and over 2,000 gym owners.

But they’re not the only important moves at startup.

Getting the first clients in the door is a huge stressor (and I’ll tell you about that here). But it matters how you go from 0 to 1, from 1 to 4, from 4 to 20, from 20 to 100, and from 100 to 150.

In a coaching business, you’re never trying to attract 150 members at a time. You’re trying to coach 150 individual people.


Two Big Mistakes


When I opened my first CrossFit Box, I already owned a 1:1 personal training studio across town. We found CrossFit in 2007 and ran a little experiment with some of our clients.

We invited them to participate in a group training class once per week. A dozen of them did. They loved it. We said, “Great! We love it, too! Let’s open a gym and just coach groups all the time!”

Luckily, we were committed to a five-year lease on the PT space, so we had to keep that business running at the same time. And it’s a good thing we did, because its revenue kept the “box” out of bankruptcy for the next two years.

I made two mistakes:

1. I jumped straight from training people 1:1 to training people 12:1.

I should have started pairing people up instead. I could have seen a higher income per hour, cut my clients’ rates back a bit and shared the burden of entertaining people while they worked out. This is what CrossFit founder Greg Glassman did. But instead I zoomed out to 12 people and lost the focus on each client while trying to gain scope.

2. I tested the “group” on the wrong clients.

My best clients—who paid their bills on time, trained 1:1 with me at least three times per week and didn’t cause any drama—weren’t in the group test. Instead, it attracted the people who paid sporadically or said “we can’t afford personal training.” I thought a lower-value offer would keep them around.

And it did—until I realized the low rate was killing me and tried to raise it.


Sound Scaling Up 


Here’s what Glassman did:

1. Filled his schedule with 1:1 clients first.
2. Paired some up to fit more people in.
3. Noticed the benefits of partners in training.
4. Added a third or fourth member to the group.

Other personal trainers were doing the same thing around 2001, but there wasn’t much communication between us. The Internet was in its infancy; I was on discussion boards talking about periodization, but no coaches were talking about money.

Greg might have come up with the idea on his own or he might have learned it from another trainer. But I didn’t find the idea until CrossFit.com had already been online for five years. All the articles and pictures were about big groups of people doing thrusters together.

If I’d scaled up properly, I could have nearly doubled my income without adding a cent to my expenses. The other coaches at Catalyst could have done the same. I wouldn’t have taken the jump to a second location as quickly. And I would have had a bigger base of “group” clients to draw from when I did.

In our Growth Stage of mentorship, we teach gym owners how to price their 1:1, 2:1, 3:1, 4:1 and small-group options. But here’s how to progress upward in your client headcount, revenue per hour and business profit:


1. Get 10 personal training clients.

This is actually not hard, especially if you’re starting from scratch (learn how here). I opened with nearly 30 PT clients in 2005, when no one really knew what “personal training” meant.


2. Of those 10, identify two with the same goal.

If their fitness level is different, that’s OK: Make sure they know the fundamentals so you’re not teaching one while the other watches. Then have this conversation with each:

“Hey, Henry! I have an idea for you. We’ve been working on your endurance, and I know the hardest part for you has been the mental one. It’s the same for me. Frankly, I need to have a partner, and I think you could also benefit from one. What if I found you the perfect partner and brought him into our sessions? I think you’d have an easier time staying motivated even if he’s not at your level.”

The key points:

A. “Here’s how this will benefit you.”
B. “I’m doing this for your benefit, not mine.”
C. “I will find the perfect partner for you.”
D. “You’re probably more fit than the partner will be.”

I could also say something about the price—but honestly that’s not the top selling point for people who pay for 1:1 training.


3. Test out the partnership for a month.

Then ask each one discreetly, “How did that work for you?” Because it’s more important to keep the client than to force your new idea onto him or her.

If one client says, “I didn’t really like it as much as training privately,” you say, “No problem! I’m glad we tested it. Now we know that you do best 1:1 with me.” And you reinforce the value of your personal service.

You talk to the other client and say, “Hey, that was a fantastic experiment! High five. Want to try it again another time?” and just go on with personal training.

But if both say, “That was amazing!” then you set up a recurring plan for both of them. The real benefit is greater results, not a discount, but many gyms will cut their rate by 20 percent for each client and still make more money in the same time.


4. Introduce a third member.

To your new pair, you say, “Hey, guys, you’re both doing really well as a team. I have a third person at your level who could really add to your experience. Can I invite her to work out with you next Thursday?”

The key to success here is always to maintain your 1:1 relationship with each client. Make sure you ask each one how he or she likes having partners, how progress has improved and whether a return to 1:1 is preferred.


5. Measure the value of your time.

How much are you making per hour? How much would it cost to replace you?

Begin adding staff to make your enterprise a real business instead of a coaching job. (I tell you how to do that here.)


The Personal Touch


The problem with jumping straight to group classes is that you lose focus as you gain scope.

At Two-Brain, we teach the Prescriptive Model, which means that you have to maintain a 1:1 relationship with every client in your gym. That’s a lot more than giving a cue here and there or finding “faults” in movement patterns.

Those things are almost irrelevant.

Train 150 individuals, not a group of 150.

Sometimes train them together.


Other Articles in This Series

How to Start a Gym
Starting a Gym: Location, Space and Equipment
Starting a Gym: Adding Staff
Starting a Gym Marketing
Starting a Gym: Do You Need a Partner?


You can talk with a certified Two-Brain mentor for free. Click here to book a call.

Starting a Gym: Location, Space and Equipment

Starting a Gym: Location, Space and Equipment

Last week, I answered this question:

“If you were starting from scratch today, what would you do differently?”

Read my list here (it’s long!).

I started two gyms between 2005 and 2008. One—a personal training studio—went pretty well. The other—a CrossFit box—did not.

Here’s what I learned about location, space and equipment. But before you start thinking about location, space or equipment, you need to think about the things below.


Consider These Things First


Know what you’re selling. In the PT studio, I knew that I was selling fitness. But in the CrossFit box, I thought I was selling CrossFit. Can you see the difference? It’s important to understand the difference between selling a benefit (fitness) and selling a feature (CrossFit, PT or nutrition coaching).

Know who your clients are. Know where they work. Know what they do after dinner. Know if they drive a car or take a train.

Know what those clients need to be successful. Successful professionals need appointments and classes around their workday (usually before their workday starts). They need showers. They need parking. They need to be able to get to their workplace on time. They need to be able to clear their heads while they’re with me. They might not need cheap rates, 60-minute classes or AirBikes.

Know what tools you need to get them there. You’ll need a barbell and a box. Something to hang from. Maybe some space to sprint. You’ll need a way to measure their progress. A way to bill their bank account every month. A way to schedule appointments. And a system to grow your business. You don’t need 10,000 square feet, $50,000 in equipment and a $5,000 website. People are attracted to results, not gear.

Know what you’re actually selling. You sell coaching. Big chain gyms sell access. Knowing the difference is really important.

Know how to scale up, one person at a time. (You can read about that here.)


Choosing a Location for Your Gym


Figure out where your ideal clients live and work.

Choose a location that’s convenient for them—either right next to work (people can’t go far on their lunch breaks) or on their way to/from work. If you’re going to have a large personal training and nutrition component to your business, choose a location closer to their homes. PT schedules are generally more flexible than class times.

If you plan to run large corporate challenges, choose a location closer to office buildings. If most of your potential clients commute in a car, you’ll need more parking. But don’t guess: Let your future clients determine what you actually need.

Then go sit on a park bench in those neighborhoods. Track the peak traffic. When do people generally leave for work? When do they come home? What do they do on their lunch breaks? These will determine your first appointment and class times.


Pick a location with noise-friendly neighbors.

The number one lease problem affiliates have isn’t price; it’s noise complaints.


Pick a location with some private space included.

You need an office for nutrition coaching and consultations. You probably also need a private area for doing 1:1 training and a larger area for groups.


Buy enough equipment to train four people at a time.

Forget the calculations about square footage per client that equipment sellers put on their site. They want you to buy a larger space so you can fill it with equipment. But at startup, your goal is to get to profitability as quickly as possible, not to build an equipment showroom. Great coaches can get their clients results with little equipment—or even no equipment.


Sign the shortest-term lease on the smallest-possible space.

You’ll eventually need more room, but not yet. Don’t try to eat the elephant in one bite. You’ll choke.


Location Selection: Things to Avoid 


Trying to build CrossFit Shangri-La or some other equipment paradise.

Many of the best microgyms in the world occupy around 3,000 square feet.


Locations that are inconvenient for your clients.

Many gym owners pick a location that’s near where they live because they prioritize their own convenience instead of thinking about what’s easy for their clients. Will your clients really drive 20 minutes to reach you? Probably not. They’ll find a closer gym.


Looking for densely populated areas or neighborhoods without a gym.

One of the most common things we hear from gym owners is: “We opened in Central City because there was no box here! We figured it was a great opportunity.” But maybe there’s a good reason there wasn’t a box in the area before.


Second-floor locations.

On the first day of my second year in business, we moved our PT studio to a bigger, brighter upstairs location. That night—less than 12 hours after opening the doors—one of my clients dropped a 75-lb. snatch from overhead. No big deal—except it shook all the track lighting loose downstairs. We were one day into a three-year lease and the facility no longer met our needs.


Choosing the Best Space for Your Gym


A cavernous room where you can pack 30 people into a group class? That’s the wrong idea.

Your business is coaching. Every client should have a 1:1 relationship with your business. And every square foot of your space should generate revenue.

That means you need:

1. Privacy for doing body measurements and No-Sweat Intros.

2. Showers and amenities so that professionals can get back to their professional workplaces.

3. The ability to run two sessions at once (two groups or one group and one PT session).

4. A welcoming front-desk area for newcomers.


Spaces: Things to Avoid


“Athlete lounges,” coffee bars and coaches corners. These things cost you money every month forever, and there’s no return.

Athlete lounges don’t improve retention.

Coffee bars are a huge distraction (and almost always lose money).

Coaches corners are irrelevant. Most coaches don’t really want to hang out in your gym after they’re done coaching (unless they’re working out or having an affair on your sweet leather couches).


Buying Equipment for Your Gym


Many people see lack of equipment as a constraint for the coach. But it’s sometimes a positive constraint: Less equipment makes a new gym owner better at programming, better at selling workouts to clients and better at reaching breakeven quickly.

The temptation to “use everything” might be subconscious but will definitely skew your programming. And every new piece of equipment has a ratchet effect: No one cares about AirBikes until you buy one. Then everyone says, “We don’t have enough AirBikes!”

When I opened in 2005, no one had women’s barbells. I resisted buying any until 2010, when I bought three. I immediately had to buy seven more because women who didn’t get a women’s barbell felt their experience was somehow compromised—even though there wasn’t a problem a week before.

Some general tips:


Start with the results you want to achieve.

Then write the programming for your first three months. Then write your on-ramp program to prepare people for your class programming. Finally, buy the equipment needed for your on-ramp programming and nothing else. Like your clients, you’ll scale up in complexity as you go—or maybe not.


Tie every new piece of equipment to ROI.

Will two new rowers really make you more money? Are people quitting because you don’t have enough?  These are the two criteria for buying equipment.

Equipment will never attract a new client to your group classes. But if people are waiting around for their turn, you should start planning to buy more. And if purchasing equipment will allow you to sell a different service—at a different price—then it might be a good investment.


Finance your equipment over the longest term possible.

At startup especially, it’s more important to free up your cash flow than to pay down debt quickly. You can always pay it off early if you have the cash, but don’t martyr yourself to save a few bucks on interest.


The best equipment isn’t always the barbell.

The InBody makes us more money than our rig because it shows the clients what they care about: their progress.


Buying Equipment: Things to Avoid


Buying equipment for the sake of owning equipment.

People don’t care about your equipment. They don’t care how fast your barbell spins or how many GHDs you have. They care about results.


Catering to “gear heads.”

If someone comes in and says, “I’m from another CF gym up the road and I just want to see what equipment you have,” there’s a great chance that person is looking to do his or her own workouts instead of receiving coaching. Pass on the person. Your business is coaching, not access.


Ignore the equipment salesperson’s estimates on space.

You don’t need 100 square feet per client per class.


Start Right, Grow Fast


It took me 10 years to make my gyms really profitable. But the real cost was poverty, fights with my wife and missing my kids.

The mistakes I made at startup seemed innocuous at the time but put me in a hole for a decade.

There’s no reason for you to make the same mistakes.


Other Articles in This Series

How to Start a Gym
Starting a Gym: Scaling Up
Starting a Gym: Adding Staff
Starting a Gym Marketing
Starting a Gym: Do You Need a Partner?


Want to start your gym the right way? Download our FREE Gym Business Plan Template here.