ALERT: What to Do About Coronavirus

ALERT: What to Do About Coronavirus

You might not be worried about coronavirus (COVID-19), but your clients are.

Whether you believe that it’s just another flu or even that the tail is wagging the dog—it doesn’t matter. Two-Brain gyms in Italy have already been forced by the government to shut down for at least a month. Stock markets are plunging. Your audience is worried.

And when people are worried, they stay home. You need to get in front of this.


What You Need to Know about COVID-19


From our friends at AGuard:

1. It is not an insurable risk. Most admitted insurance companies exclude communicable diseases on the general liability.

2. Business income is a property coverage and is only triggered by a property loss caused by something such as fire, etc. Therefore, it does not cover lost income as a result of this outbreak.

3. At this time, the risk is low. However, there is a strong likelihood that it will impact gym owners and members at some point in the near future.


What You Need to Do About Coronavirus


1. Demonstrate that you’re taking precautions. Stock up on hand sanitizer with alcohol content greater than 60 percent. Make a big deal about using it on every piece of equipment after every class, and make sure people see you doing it.

2. Tell members to stay home if they are not feeling well or if someone at home is not well.

3. Send out an email to your members list. Download a sample from AGuard here (change the  “Florida Department of Health” link to the appropriate one from your state or jurisdiction):

COVID-19 info 2.27.2020

4. Put posters up around your gym. Again, the demonstration that you’re taking action is what’s really important to member retention. Here are two examples:



5. Coach people in their homes. I spent a summer doing “house calls” to personal training clients. While I don’t recommend visiting clients’ homes, you can allow them to remain under your coaching umbrella without coming to the gym.

Publishing a daily “at-home” option for your group classes is a good idea. We’ve already seen it working in many Two-Brain gyms. It’s not a solution that will last forever; but COVID-19 won’t, either.

The key to the at-home option for your group training clients is to ramp up the social engagement. Have clients share pictures of their workout, pre- and post. Share a ton of stuff in your Facebook group. Create discussion.

Get 31 Free At-Home Workouts (and some other resources) from the Two-Brain Coaching site here.

6. Take advantage of the opportunity to think outside the box.

– This could be a good time to do your goal reviews online. Set up a link for a 15-minute session with you over Skype or Zoom.

– Why not test out some No-Sweat Intro meetings over video, too? You never know—this could actually lower the barrier to entry for new clients. Some Two-Brain gyms are testing conversion rates between in-person meetings and video meetings already; this is your excuse to do the same.

– You can also ramp up your online training practice. If you’ve ever wanted to try online coaching or online nutrition coaching, this is an amazing time to test it. Listen to our podcast on the topic here. If you’re in the Two-Brain Family, visit the Roadmap for step-by-step instructions (Revenue Diversity, Milestone 10).

– Produce content to educate your clients. Establish your knowledge and expertise by teaching about COVID-19 or just about exercise and how to maintain a healthy immune system.

– Take the opportunity to start working with a mentor 1:1. The magic of mentorship is that every step you take with a mentor belongs to you, even after the chaos subsides.


Build Trust During Trials and Tribulations


In the middle of adversity, there’s always a way to move forward. Even when people are afraid.

Here’s the surprising truth about fear: It opens you up to new possibilities. When you’re in a crisis, you think about things you wouldn’t consider before. Use that fear to build a bigger business instead of just waiting and hoping.

This blog has always really been about human behavior. Perception is reality. If one client is worried, he or she could kick off a real outbreak of membership cancellations in your gym. You need to get ahead of this.

Fortunately, the coronavirus is an opportunity to demonstrate your leadership and care. If you show them they can trust you in a crisis, they’ll trust you even more when it’s over.

The Four Fears of Entrepreneurship

The Four Fears of Entrepreneurship

Why do entrepreneurs do crazy things?

Why do they cut their own throats with discounts? Why do they stop themselves from hiring help? Why do they badmouth the other gyms in town?

On the surface, there are many reasons. Underneath, there’s one: fear.

I know because I’ve been afraid.

While living in fear, I did all that stuff. I slammed the competition. I cut my membership rates for anyone and everyone. I even undermined my own staff. And all because of fear.

After working 1:1 with thousands of entrepreneurs around the world, our team of certified mentors has identified four key fears that kill entrepreneurs. On the surface, Founders are among the bravest people in our culture. These are the courageous entrepreneurs who start businesses and wear every hat while trying to make them successful. Under the surface, many are terrified. And that fear makes them act against their own values—and often their own long-term self-interest.

This week, I’m going to tell you:

  • About the “four fears” of entrepreneurship and how to defeat them forever.
  • Why it’s sometimes necessary to hit rock bottom before you can turn your business around.
  • How to use Stoic philosophy to its maximum power to help your business.

In Part 4 of this series, Rebecca Boskovic of The Fittest Me will join us on Two-Brain Radio to talk about how she’s overcome fear to make incredibly big moves in her business and her life.


The Four Fears of Entrepreneurship (and Their Antidotes)


1. The Fear of Making a Fatal Choice

When you’re just starting out, or when you’re struggling, you know this: You’re only one bad decision away from losing it all.

Many people think that “the risk” of business ownership begins and ends with opening a business. But that’s not correct: Entrepreneurship means that every minute, every decision, every action is a risk forever. And any one bad decision could end us.

So we get stuck. We do nothing.

We suffer paralysis by analysis.

We avoid firing the bad staff member. We put off raising our rates until things are perfect. We don’t run an ad until we have the perfect copy. We don’t sign the lease until we’ve seen every possible location. And we never, ever quit the day job.

One of my mentors, Marcy Swenson, once told me this: “Chris, sometimes you’re being tactful. But sometimes you’re just hiding.” She was right. Here’s how you avoid the fear of making the wrong decision.

A. Mitigate the downside. Listen to “What to Do When It All Goes Wrong.”

B. Decide what you’ll learn before you guess what you’ll earn. For me, knowing that I’m going to learn a valuable lesson, win or lose, really helps me accept that I could make the wrong choice. So I decide on the lesson before I take action.

C. Create systems that will run the business without you. Because the biggest risk of all is that you’ll be hit by a bus.

D. Hire a mentor. They have been where you are. They are now living the life you want. They can save you over a lot of time, expense and heartache. They can guide you through the hard parts and help you avoid others. They can cut years off your quest to become wealthy.


2. The Fear That It Will all Be Your Fault

I remember one rough patch when I thought, “I’m going to make this gym a co-operative! Every member will get a share, there will be a board of directors, and they’ll hire me to be CEO. I’ll have my pay locked in and won’t be the only one with an ass on the line!”

Some gyms even take the step of calling themselves a “collective.” The gym owner tells herself that she wants to build a social community with decentralized leadership or some other lie. Really, she just doesn’t want to be responsible for screwing it up.

Humans are interesting. In most cases, we’re more worried about being blamed than about actually being at fault. Here’s how to overcome the fear that it will all be your fault:

A. Accept that you’re going to make mistakes.

B. Know that you’re going to correct them.

C. Have a long-term plan that will actually benefit from mistakes.

Just like you can’t really enjoy a car until it has its first scratch, your business can’t get stronger until you find out where the cracks are. Commit to growing as a leader and you’ll build a durable, “anti-fragile” business.


3. The Fear of Losing Control

All entrepreneurs sometimes have this thought. “I wish someone else would just fix this for me!”

So they take partners. Or they hire ad agencies. Or they give every staff person a small percentage and say, “You’re in charge of marketing now!”

(Yes, that’s two marketing examples. Because building an audience is usually the hardest part of a successful gym, it’s the part we’re most likely to try and outsource.)

But eventually, all gym owners realize their mistakes. Suddenly, they realize they’ve lost control and want to get it back by any means possible.

Or maybe, in some cases (like mine!) they’re so afraid of losing control that they never share any clients or any decision-making roles or any leadership opportunities.

I totally did that with my gym. I wouldn’t tell the other trainers how I was finding clients or any of the other “business” stuff. I was terrified that the other trainers would go start their own gyms, start training clients on the side or start, you know, taking control.

But I overcame the fear of losing control. You can, too. Here’s how to do it:

A. Document your operations. Get them out of your head.

B. Let your staff run your operations. Test them. Then evaluate the results.

C. Upgrade your operations. Test them again.

D. Repeat until you’re totally comfortable allowing other people to deliver your service. Then turn to sales and marketing. Document those procedures and start over.


4. The Fear That It’s Never Going to Change

This is the fear that actually saved my gym.

This was the fear that trumped all the others.

In 2008, I was actually still suffering from the other three fears. I was paralyzed into inactivity. I was hoarding control. I was terrified that my gym would fail and everyone would know it was my fault.

In 2008, I hit rock bottom. I’ll share the full story in the next part of this series. But in short:

I missed two paychecks in a row. The rent was due. My kids were growing up, and I was never at home. And it was never going to change.

In the next post, I’ll tell you how I overcame this fear, what I did about it and how I saved my gym.


The Shortcut out of Fear


Look, I know I said getting a mentor is part of the solution for each of these four fears.

That’s because winning at business means more than “finding the answer.” It means finding the right answer fast, recovering from bad decisions even faster and doing the hard stuff when it has to be done. In short, it means that knowing what to do is half of the solution. The other half is the hard part. And that’s the part a mentor helps with.


Other Media in This Series

The Beauty of the Bottom
Stoic Philosophy for Entrepreneurs

How to Ascend Your Staff

How to Ascend Your Staff

Your team needs different training as they ascend in your business.

(That includes you.)

But most bosses promote people to the level of their incompetence.

For example, let’s say you find a great coach. One day you promote her to head coach. She’s great. Then you promote her to your only “full-time” role: general manager. For the first time, she’s managing people and money.

And she’s bad at it.

This is a remnant of the old industrial system: The best worker becomes the manager of the other workers. The best manager becomes the boss of the other managers. Everyone retires happy at 65.

But it’s never really worked.


Ascending in the Fitness Industry


This situation is common with fitness entrepreneurs: We open gyms because we’re really great at coaching fitness. But then we realize that 14-hour days are unsustainable, and we hire people—and immediately become managers without management skills.

Some of us instantly realize we’re in over our heads and start trying to learn to be leaders. We screw it up over and over. We say the wrong thing or hire the wrong person. We delay doing the hard things, and then they blow up when we wait too long. Finally, we get mentors or implode.

Then we promote certain staff people to be managers, and we’re shocked when they’re bad it it, too. We hire people for one skill, and then we’re surprised when they don’t immediately develop their other skills. And sometimes that hire is us.

CrossFit Inc. founder Greg Glassman put it eloquently in our interview on Two-Brain Radio:

“That growing pain in the individuals involved creates a psychological dilemma of the first order, and some of those people get left behind. And it’s tragic. And the difference can be as simple as being a great bricklayer, a lousy instructor of bricklayers and an even shittier instructor of bricklaying instructors. And it’s just getting worse for you. Really, you had but a singular skill—and it was bricklaying.”

There are four main levels of work in your business. If you plan to promote from within, you have to train staff members to have skills at their new level.

Here are the levels:



Let’s start at the bottom: the Foundational skills are non-client-facing. These are the cleaner and the bookkeeper. These skills are best learned through repetitive delivery through a checklist. Because the process is the same every time, excellence occurs through evaluation.

Do this:

  1. Write out a clear set of expectations—right down to the most basic checklists if possible.
  2. Review the work quarterly based on the checklist.
  3. Upgrade the staff person’s knowledge or replace the person as needed.




Next are the Tactical skills. These are the client-facing roles that can make or break your business. In a gym, these are your fitness and nutrition coaches, your client success manager, and anyone else who has regular contact with your clients.

Tactical skills are hard to develop and even harder to measure. Teaching a coach the technical parts of fitness (biology and physiology and mechanics) is the easy part. Teaching a coach to represent your values in a happy, caring way is harder. We developed the First and Second Degree programs at Two-Brain Coaching to do just that: develop the technical knowledge (left brain) and empathy (right brain) to keep clients healthy.

In general, you should hire these people for personality and train them for skill. You don’t need a doctorate to be a great coach, but you certainly have to smile.

Measuring your coaches’ skill should come through 1:1 conversations with your best clients. Forget client surveys: They’re useless and misleading. Talk to your best clients and upgrade (or downgrade) your team as necessary.

Do this:

  1. Hire for personality and train for skill.
  2. Evaluate every quarter.
  3. Seek feedback from your best clients every year or so.




The third level: Strategic. These are your management-level employees. In a gym, that probably means either a general manager or head coach, or both. It could also mean your sales staff if you have a separate role for sales.

The manager’s job is to make strategic decisions that follow your vision for the gym.

For example, should you raise rates? Run a six-week challenge? Discount your memberships? Base your rates off 200 members or 20 members? These are strategic decisions. And you’ll probably make most of them yourself at first. It’s the manager’s job to adhere to these decisions, implement them consistently and achieve excellence in delivery.

Now, if you haven’t written these decisions down anywhere, then they might as well not exist. Your manager will be forced to try and read your mind. He or she will make guesses. Most will be wrong. You’ll get mad. You’ll micromanage … .

A Strategic-level staff person should be given key performance indicators (KPIs) to track and assist in making decisions about delivery. The person should be evaluated based on delivery of your KPIs.

Do this:

  1. Break down KPIs to measure the manager’s performance (we give you these on the Two-Brain Roadmap).
  2. Mentor the manager to success.
  3. Provide external leadership training (like mentorship) to your leaders.




Finally, the top level of your business pyramid is the Visionary role. Here’s how we break down the work on the Two-Brain Roadmap:

You have to have a very clear vision of what you’re trying to build. And you must teach it, over and over, to everyone around you until they can repeat it verbatim. It must be clear. You’ll get tired of hearing it before they will. But it’s absolutely critical to do this hard work. If you don’t, everyone on your team will be playing a different sport with different rules on different fields of play.

Do this:

  1. Find a mastermind or mentor to get some outside perspective.
  2. Think about your vision.
  3. Write about your vision.
  4. Talk about your vision.
  5. Lead the leaders on your team.

Of course, no one figures this stuff out by himself or herself.

No one is a “born leader.” I’m sure not.

People can’t read your mind. They all think they’re doing really well. If you really care about them, help them ascend.


Other Media in This Series

Upgrading Your Team
How to Hire Coaches (Without Hurting Yourself)

How to Hire Coaches (Without Hurting Yourself)

How to Hire Coaches (Without Hurting Yourself)

The number one reason gym owners don’t hire more staff members?

“I can’t afford them.”

But if you upgrade your staff the right way, it isn’t actually an expense. Here’s the rule you must follow:

Every staff person generates at least 2.25 times the revenue he or she is paid.

Front-line staff (like coaches) must create the revenue that pays them—that covers your bills and leaves the gym profitable.

Back-line staff (like cleaners) must create time for you to upgrade your own sales and marketing skills so you can generate the revenue that pays them.

There are two ways to do this:

1. Hire people. Take the risk. Hope they work out. Micromanage them because you can’t afford mistakes. Pay them even when you’re not being paid. Ruin your relationship while they run you out of business. Get mad that they don’t appreciate the opportunity you’ve given them, and then fire them and say, “I’ll just do this myself!”

2. Follow the 4/9ths Model. Make every staff person an asset instead of an expense. Mentor them, lead them and help them build the careers they want (coaching!) while you do the stuff they don’t (marketing, sales, and accounting).

This is a huge topic that takes up a large area on the Two-Brain Roadmap.



A mentor will guide you through this huge topic step by step. But if you want to try and figure it all out for yourself, here are the resources you’ll need:

Free Hiring Plans and Job Descriptions—download the guide from our Free Tools page at no charge.

Intrapreneurialism 101 Guide—you can download it from our Free Tools page, too.

Those guides will tell you how to pay coaches and ascend them to great careers. But here’s how to train and find coaches.


How to Train New Coaches


Often, the best coaches come from within your community.

These people understand your vision and align with your values. It’s easier to hire for attitude and train for skill than vice versa. And now doing so is easier than ever.

In my first books, I wrote about the Advanced Theory Course. This was a program I ran once or twice every year for eight weeks. Coaching prospects would attend classroom sessions on Saturdays, do book reports and presentations for the group, and coach each other. Then I’d “graduate” all of them and cherrypick the best leaders in each class. I’d ask if they wanted to coach and then send them for certification somewhere.

If this sounds appealing to you, it’s all in “Two-Brain Business 2.0″—which you can download from our Free Tools page, too (or buy it on Amazon).

But there’s now a much easier way to develop coaches. And it’s less expensive by far!

Josh Martin and I have built the Two-Brain Coaching Degree programs to teach the Two-Brain approach to coaching: both the technical components and the human care. Instead of sending a potential coach away for a weekend seminar for $500-$1,000 and hoping the person will retain as much as possible, you can now train coaches in stages, starting for $149. And, best of all, they’re insurable through AffiliateGuard!

I don’t believe in the “learning through memorization/pass the exam/get a job” approach to career education. Instead, I believe the education should be a balance of practical application and knowledge with feedback. That’s what Two-Brain Coaching is for.


How to Find New Coaches


All right: You don’t have any happy people with extra time at your gym. No problem!

You can still find caring experts in your community who want to work on your amazing platform.

1. Find coaches who are underemployed at other gyms.

Many gym owners started as personal trainers at globo gyms. They want to build a living with no ceiling, but they don’t want to start their own gym and deal with all the pains. So go to their gyms and talk to them.

Some Two-Brain gyms even share coaches between them! Each gym invests in the coaches’ ongoing education, and each provides the coaches with a different audience for their services.

2. Find future coaches at local schools.

You know how I got my first coaching job back in 1996?

A program in Illinois called my college and asked, “Got any good seniors who want a job?”

My department said, “No, but I have a junior who’s great with kids.”

They said, “We’re desperate! We’ll take him.” (Or so I imagine.) Anyway, I was living in Illinois by that weekend, building a new fitness program and teaching kids to inline skate.

There are pros and cons to hiring students, of course. But with a clear training process like the Two-Brain Coaching First and Second Degree programs, it’s pretty easy to find a passionate kid who’s a blank slate and train him or her to follow your vision.

3. Find great coaches on the job board. It’s free!

Post your job (or your resume). Browse the first few jobs we have on there. Find coaches who are already steeped in Two-Brain values and education.

To grow your business, you need to buy yourself time. That means replacing yourself in front-line delivery roles—at least for a while. Make sure that person is as good as—or better than—you.


Other Media in This Series

Upgrading Your Team
How to Ascend Your Staff

Upgrading Your Team

Upgrading Your Team

The people who got you here might not be the people who get you there.

You can do six things to grow your gym business. Upgrading your team is one of them. On the Two-Brain Roadmap®, we dedicate four entire rows to defining roles and tasks; creating agreements; and hiring, training, paying, promoting and releasing staff.



As entrepreneurs, we spend a lot of time training ourselves to be better leader—thinking about our wins and losses and learning from them. But we don’t spend much time teaching our staff to be leaders. So when it’s time to grow, we promote someone into a management role, and we’re surprised that the person doesn’t know how to lead people.

Or maybe we’re surprised he or she doesn’t take initiative like we do, look for problems to solve before they occur or possess the knowledge needed to succeed in the new role. In businesses everywhere, we promote people to the level of incompetence and then fire them.

In a gym, this could look like:

– A friendly athlete is hired as a part-time coach.

– The person quits another job to go all in on coaching.

– You promote the person to general manager. But he or she isn’t really interested in enforcing your late-billing rules or restocking your inventory. The new GM isn’t great at selling memberships.

– You have two choices: Fire or look over the person’s shoulder and do the job for him or her.

This week, I’m going to tell you:

– How to ascend your staff using the Career Roadmap tool.

– How to train your staff for new roles.

– How to find new staff for higher-level roles.

– How to part ways with staff who won’t be part of your next chapter.

Let’s face it: The CEO job is one that you probably weren’t prepared to take when you opened a gym. You’ve had to learn an entirely new skill set. No matter what new roles your staff members fill, they’ll have to learn how to do them, too.


Other Media in This Series

How to Hire Coaches (Without Hurting Yourself)
How to Ascend Your Staff

The Real Barrier to Entry

The Real Barrier to Entry

“Hi, tell me about your gym!” she said. She had just walked in off the street—but our street didn’t have foot traffic. She’d driven across town, found us despite the poor signage and boldly walked up to the front desk.

I was desperate for new clients. But still, I had no idea what to say.

“Well, we’re a CrossFit gym,” I started. “Have you heard of CrossFit?”

“Just heard of it. How does it work?” she asked.

I went into the description of “constantly varied functional movement” and so on.

She looked at her watch. I was losing her.

“Sorry,” I said. “I’m the world’s worst salesman.”

“Well, sell me.” She replied. “I don’t have much time.”

I told her about classes and gave her the rates. Miraculously, she signed up. I was surprised: My usual “sales pitch” took almost an hour and didn’t always result in a new membership. My “short form” bullets of price and schedule were actually successful.

It was my first inkling that maybe my normal “sales pitch” wasn’t the best.


The Hard Truth About the Gym Business


Looking back over the years and data now, I can see that my fear of “sales” might have been the biggest barrier to entry to my gym. I thought I had to convince skeptics with facts and data. What I really had to do was say, “Here’s how I can solve your problem for you.”

When you’re trying to convince someone to do something, you’re selling.

Selling gets a bad reputation because it’s a tool often used for evil. When we think of a “salesperson,” we sometimes think of someone dishonest: a man or woman who wants to trick us. We think of a one-sided deal: a lemon that’s going to break down as soon as we leave the parking lot. We think of a character we don’t want to play: the poorly dressed shyster who’s going to leave town as soon as we write the check.

But if you’re trying to convince someone to join your church, you’re selling belief.

If you’re trying to convince someone to stop doing drugs, you’re selling sobriety.

If you’re trying to change someone’s life through diet and exercise, you have to sell fitness.

The uncomfortable truth in business is this:

If you can’t sell them, you can’t save them.

All that money spent on Facebook advertising? It’s a total waste if you can’t convince them to sign up. Only Zuckerberg benefits.

All that time spent researching advertising, listening to podcasts and even going to gymnastics clinics? A waste of time if you can’t get someone to pay you for your service. Sorry.

All the technical expertise in the world won’t help your business if they won’t pay you for it.

Maybe you should get good at this part.

Maybe you should spend one-tenth as much time learning how to convince people as you do learning how to teach the clean.

Maybe you should get more reps in growing your business and fewer reps in the butterfly pull-up (or arguing about the butterfly pull-up in Facebook groups).

Maybe you should spend twice as much time selling as you do advertising (or, as we teach, 20 times).

Maybe you didn’t think about this when you opened a gym. It’s time to think about it now. Because the stuff that makes you a good coach doesn’t really make you a good business owner. If you’re not training your sales process, the biggest barrier to entry in your gym is you.

We teach the sales process step by step in the Incubator. Then, in Growth Phase, you can have our sales specialist, Jeff Burlingame, train you and your staff to be even better.


Other Media in This Series

The Dark Side of Your Business
The Secret Sales Script
Sales Secrets: Handling Objections, Building Value and Role Playing With Joe Marcoux