Meg Reardon: Games (and Dog) Training

Meg Reardon: Games (and Dog) Training

Sean: 00:05 – Hello everybody and welcome to another edition of Two-Brain Radio with Sean Woodland. On today’s episode, I talk with three-time CrossFit Games athlete and founder of the company Wags and Weights, Meg Reardon. First. Over the years I’ve covered dozens of fitness events all around the world and I’ve seen the best of the best work with coaches to find success. Yet many business owners don’t think coaches can help them. If you want to hit a revenue PR, visit You can book a free call and find out how a business coach can help you. Meg Reardon made her CrossFit Games debut in 2016 and she has qualified again for the upcoming CrossFit Games this August. We talk about her competitive career so far, why she actually had to pull back on her training after her rookie year and all the great things she is doing for dogs, rescues, and shelters through Wags and Weights. Thanks for listening everybody. Meg, thanks so much for joining me today. How are you doing?

Meg: 01:06 – I’m doing pretty well. Thanks for having me.

Sean: 01:08 – You bet. First off, congratulations on officially qualifying for your third CrossFit Games. What’s it like to have that kind of monkey off your back at this point in the season?

Meg: 01:17 – Ah, it’s pretty awesome. Obviously that was the goal to qualify through the Open and it was a very stressful five weeks. I had a really great support system around me, so that was really helpful and yeah, now it’s great. Now I can kind of lay the rest of the season out and attend some sanctioned events and just get some, you know, some more experience under my belt before the Games.

Sean: 01:40 – What did your athletic background look like prior to getting involved in CrossFit?

Meg: 01:46 – So I was very athletic growing up my whole life. I participated in a lot of different sports, but I did gymnastics early on, which I think a lot of CrossFitters do. And I think it really, it’s crazy, but it really helps. I mean, I did it so young. I think I stopped when I was like nine or 10 years old, but I was pretty competitive. And even, you know, fast forwarding, I was able to kind of still do all those same things that I had learned when I was eight years old, which was really cool. So very grateful for that. And then I actually was a division one field hockey player. I played at the University of California Davis. Yeah. And that was, that was pretty much leading up until I found CrossFit in college, which was really awesome. And then used it kind of as supplemental training and then decided I want to be competitive with it.

Sean: 02:38 You moved from Virginia out to California, as you mentioned, to go to UC Davis, which was in my backyard where I grew up in Sacramento, on a field hockey scholarship. Loved that campus. What was it like traveling that far from home at that age?

Meg: 02:53 – I really had no idea what I was doing, to be honest. I mean I moved out there. I really didn’t have any friends. I really had no expectations, but it was really cool because I was able to be a part of a team that brought me in and treated me like family. So I’m so grateful for that. And I grew up quickly, I had to learn how to really survive and be on my own and I wasn’t able to really come back to visit family much. So, yeah, I mean, I grew up quickly. I became friends with people who lived in California. I was able to kind of go home with them for holidays and vacations and stuff like that. And it worked out pretty well.

Sean: 03:31 – What then led you ultimately to CrossFit?

Meg: 03:35 – So actually my coach in college was doing it, which is crazy and so awesome. And she was like, Hey, you should come out and just try this community class one day and see if you like it. Instantly fell in love, which I feel like a lot happens to most people. And then obviously the competitive side of me was like, wait, I actually want to be really good at this and try to do things that I’ve never done before. So when I first gotten into it, I was still playing field hockey in college and I couldn’t really commit all of my time. And then when I graduated, that was kind of when I realized that I wanted to be more serious and more competitive with it and try to do it professionally.

Sean: 04:16 – What was it that initially hooked you into CrossFit?

Meg: 04:23 – I actually remember watching the CrossFit Games, like on YouTube or something and seeing these women with the most chiseled bodies. Awesome physiques and just overall badasses. I was like, I want to be that. That’s really cool. And it was breaking stereotypes. I mean, this was 2013, so still pretty new. And I was, you know, a collegiate athlete and we did some strength training in college, but nothing to that extreme. And I was like, I want to look like that. So, yeah, it was awesome.

Sean: 05:00 – You mentioned that you wanted to continue to get better at it, what led you to becoming competitive?

Meg: 05:09 – Well I actually met Charlie Zamora early on, and he had the idea of putting together a Caffeine and Kilos team, kind of like a Regional Caffeine and Kilos team. This was in 2014, and so we started kind of all getting together and training and traveling, going to his gym. And then I actually crazy enough qualified that year as an individual when it was still 40 men, 40 women. And so I ended up just going individually to Regionals in 2014 in California. Had absolutely no idea what I was doing, but knew that I wanted to do it again and hopefully be better the next year.

Sean: 05:52 – How did your training change then after that experience?

Meg: 05:55 – I definitely would say I had more structure. So we were training together a lot as a team. And then when I kind of had to break off and start doing some of my own programming to work on my weaknesses was when I kinda realized like, OK, this is what I should be doing. Obviously still very new to it. I really didn’t have any idea. I didn’t really have a coach at the time. I didn’t know you could really invest in a coach and get the help to do that. So it was a lot of like, just like failing and learning from those mistakes and kind of putting it all together from there. I think.

Sean: 06:35 – You make it to the CrossFit Games as an individual for the first time in 2016 and you finish 33rd. What was that experience like for you?

Meg: 06:43 – Oh, it was incredible. Still very on in my CrossFit career. I didn’t expect it to happen, to be honest. Because the previous year I actually didn’t even qualify for Regionals, I had moved back to the East coast and handstand push-up workout, my favorite, kinda just, it put me under and I was not able to come back to even qualify for Regionals that year. So the following year, got a coach, was focusing more on skills and things that I really needed to improve on and ended up qualifying that year. So I really didn’t have any expectations going in, to be honest. I was just like, I’m going to go enjoy the moment. You know, it was in Carson, it was so cool. The stadium was incredible. You really can’t replicate that. And it was amazing. I knew that I wanted to continue doing it, especially after that.

Sean: 07:38 – I talk to a lot of athletes who they get to the Games after their first year and then they ramp things up from there. But I read that you decided to back off after 2016. Why did that happen?

Meg: 07:49 – Yeah, I had actually a crazy couple of years after 2016 because I really didn’t know if I wanted to continue being competitive, if I wanted to be in the gym all the time, if I wanted to do it professionally. And then I also was a business partner. I had a business partner at the time with my company Wags and Weights, and I ended up buying her out. So I was the sole owner of the company and I really didn’t know what I was doing. So I think I had just like a lot of stress and a lot of things I was trying to learn and do. And so I didn’t really take it, I would say as seriously from 2017 and even in 2018, I was just trying to get my life back into order and kind of create that balance. But I knew kind of in the back of my mind that I still loved it and I was still so passionate about it. I just didn’t know where I wanted to be at that time.

Sean: 08:49 – You get back to the Games then in 2019 and you finished 23rd. Why was last year the right time for you to get back into competition?

Meg: 08:58 – I think last year was probably the first year that I felt I had exactly everything that I needed in place. So what I mean by that is I had the right coach. I had the most amazing support system around me. I knew I was living in the right place and I really started to realize that my company, Wags and Weights, was becoming very successful and really starting to kind of to grow. And I knew that I wanted to pursue CrossFit competitively because I was loving it again and I was really passionate and I was in the gym and I was enjoying my training and that’s so important. And so, I, you know, started kinda competing again and putting myself out there. I went to MAC. I had really no expectations and did much better than I anticipated. So I was like, all right. I think we’re back in it.

Sean: 09:55 – What are your plans now for the rest of the season? Even though you already have qualified for the Games?

Meg: 10:01 – I definitely want to get out there and get my feet wet, go to a few events, try to get some more competition under my belt. Wodapalooza will be the first one, and then we’ll kind of lay out the schedule for the rest of the season as we go. I definitely wanted to get a few competitions in just for practice and also just a good change of environment from being in the gym all day long training. Like obviously you want to have a good training cycle leading up to the Games, but you kind of have to have those breaks and those, I guess, adrenaline rushes just to make sure that you’re in competition mode and competition ready. So that’s kinda what will happen the next few months. And I already had like a de-load, we took a de-load basically right after the Open, which was much needed. It was a very stressful five weeks for me. So I’m glad that we were able to do that. And now we’re kinda just starting to build back up.

Sean: 11:00 – Everyone is still trying to kind of figure out how to be successful under this new structure. How do you make sure you’re peaking at the right time under this new season schedule?

Meg: 11:10 – Yeah, it’s really tough. I think, you know, right now what’s really great is my coach and I have really good communication as far as what we think that I needed to improve on leading up to the Games. And two of those things were just my overall endurance, my capacity. So we’re doing a lot of monostructural type stuff. Pretty much daily, and then just skills. So we’re not pushing crazy metcons every day. We’re building up to what we need to. Obviously it’s kind of I guess in a way, weird for me because I’ve actually never done this before and so I normally always feel competition ready, but I don’t think that’s how you get the most successful. So I’m not sure what that means for all my sanctioned events, but I know that what we’re doing right now is going to prep me and make me hopefully peak right before the Games.

Sean: 12:09 – Hi everyone. I hope you’re enjoying my conversation with Meg Reardon. Two-Brain Radio is full of amazing interviews. We’ve posted more than 300 episodes and we air three shows a week. On Wednesdays, I interview top athletes, great coaches, and colorful characters to get the best stories from the fitness world. On Thursdays, Two-Brain founder Chris Cooper is on the air with actionable advice as well as business experts who can solve your problems. On Mondays we talk about marketing and share client success stories to inspire you to grow your business. So to make sure you do not miss a thing, please subscribe to Two-Brain Radio, and we’d love your feedback at Now, back to Meg Reardon. You’ve mentioned your company a couple of times, Wags and Weights. So let’s talk about that. First off, where did your love for dogs come from?

Meg: 13:04 – I pretty much have always loved dogs. I had dogs growing up. And then I got my first dog on my own when I was in college. Probably not the smartest decision, but it was kind of a spur of the moment type thing. And she was pretty much the inspiration behind it because a lot of gyms had gym dogs and you know, they were a big part of the community and no one had really done anything or put anything together that combined dogs and fitness. So at the time, my business partner and I were like, we should just try to do something and put something out there, create an Instagram account and see if people like it. And it actually instantly started getting traction pretty early on. So we knew that it was going to be a good thing.

Sean: 13:52 – What exactly is Wags and Weights?

Meg: 13:56 – So we are basically an active lifestyle brand for dog and fitness enthusiasts. Again we combine obviously like our big market’s CrossFit, but all fitness types and just their love of dogs and animals in general. And then also we love to partner and give back to rescue. So we do try to do a lot of rescue work throughout the year. We partner with, you know, Alex from Barbells for Bullies. They’re awesome, amazing people. And so the biggest focus that we have is just trying to raise awareness for rescue dogs and also, you know, just creating fun stuff for people to wear while they’re working out.

Sean: 14:39 – You touched on this a little bit, but what exactly motivated you to start this company?

Meg: 14:45 – So I own a pit bull and their reputation isn’t always great. But I knew that there are other people in the country and in the world that shared similar love for, I mean any breed really. It doesn’t matter who it is. And that the love of dogs would really bring people together. So when we created our first products, we just put things, words on a shirt that we knew people would, or it would attract people, you know, dogs and fitness, something so simple, but can mean so much to a single person. So, I mean, I knew I was passionate about dogs and I obviously am passionate about fitness and so I wanted to kind of share that with the rest of the world.

Sean: 15:33 – Why did you think that the CrossFit world and the world of dog people and dog rescues were a good fit?

Meg: 15:41 – I really actually wasn’t sure at the time I was like, I’m really not sure if this is even going to—I don’t think we thought it was going to grow as big as it did until I really started kind of going around and seeing how many people and how many gyms had dogs. I mean, I would be like introducing myself to people and saying, Hey, I own Wags and Weights. And they’d be like, Oh, you want to see my dog and show me pictures on their phones. So I’m the crazy dog woman and I’m totally fine with that.

Sean: 16:11 – What did your early charitable efforts through Wags and Weights look like?

Meg: 16:16 – So we pretty much started off just by finding local rescues that we could give back to, you know, whether it be just time or a money donation. And then we found Barbells for Bullies. We connected with them early on and absolutely loved their idea and what they wanted to do for the rescue community. So we have been partnering with them for the last few years and we do their T-shirts that they sell at all their competitions across the United States just to help raise awareness. You know, one of the biggest goals for me coming up in this year is to be more hands on. I think we obviously have been giving back a lot, but a lot of people don’t know that. So I think a big thing that we want to do this year is just get out more and be more hands on in the local rescue communities that we have. There are so many of them and so many different ways you can. So I’m pretty excited to try to do that this year.

Sean: 17:16 – You mentioned that it took off pretty quickly. What was the initial reaction that you got from people that led you to think that, you know what, this thing really does have some legs?

Meg: 17:26 – I mean, I would chat with people just about their dogs and how they were rescued or how they adopted them. And then, you know, I would show them the products that we created and people, I mean, the feedback that we got was normally like, Oh my God, this is awesome. I love what you guys are doing. And it really just allowed us to understand like how important it was to people, especially, you know, if they adopt a dog, a lot of them have so many stories and they want to share. And I think that’s so cool. And we were able to do that on our platforms. So, you know, fast forwarding now, we’re in year five and it’s been awesome.

Sean: 18:08 – A lot of businesses like yours sort of have this, I don’t want to say a turning point, but a spot where you can point out and you can say, yeah, that’s where we really took things to the next level. What was that point for you?

Meg: 18:20 – Alex actually told me that you asked him the same question. And he obviously is like, Oh, I don’t think we’re like, you know, at that point yet. Which I guess in a way I would say kind of the same thing. Obviously I want to continue growing and being, you know, the most successful that we can be and be able to give back even more than we have now. I think honestly what is so cool is that I’m also able to have the platform as an athlete and people really respect that and love it. And especially if they’re in the CrossFit world, you know, they see both sides. They see that I’m a competitor, but also I’m a small business owner and I can relate to them on so many things. And I think when people started realizing that, it made it even more rewarding.

Sean: 19:13 – What did being an athlete and going through a season and holding yourself accountable and having a schedule, what did that teach you about running a business?

Meg: 19:23 – Balance is key, that’s for sure. I think early on in my career in my CrossFit career, I was like, I gotta be in the gym all day long. I gotta train, I gotta do all these things. But I also realized that that quickly burns you out. And it’s not even worth it at the end of the day if you’re not enjoying it. So for me personally, having Wags and Weights as something I can do when I’m not in the gym has been so amazing for me mentally, so I can come out of the gym and maybe I didn’t have the greatest training day, but I know that I have people that are looking for new products from us or I have customers that I need to help out. And that’s so rewarding to me. And it allows me to kind of have that balance and still, you know, do what I love.

Sean: 20:12 – I did talk to Alex. It was a great interview and that’s why I wanted to have you on, because I know the two of you partner with a lot of this stuff. And I will ask you another question that I asked him, but when you give people sort of your elevator pitch as to what Wags and Weights is and what you do, what surprises them the most about the stats and the facts that you give them about not only, you know, bully breeds, but just rescue dogs in general?

Meg: 20:36 – I just don’t think people realize how many dogs actually need help and need to be adopted. I mean it’s insane. The numbers are crazy and I’m sure Alex gave you lots statistics. I don’t necessarily have all the statistics, but I do know just based upon people—I know we get so many emails from people reaching out saying, we need help. We’re trying to help these dogs that were abused or neglected and it’s definitely a problem here and in the world too. So if we can do anything to help, we’re going to do it, you know, so we definitely try to make people aware. We also have people that also don’t adopt and that’s fine as well. But if you do adopt, we want to know, we want to know your story.

Sean: 21:23 – What are the reactions that you get from, you know, local shelters or rescues when they see what you’re doing for them?

Meg: 21:33 – Oh, they love it. They are so grateful. And you know, we try to keep those relationships when we’re done donating and we try to continue to help them out in any way that we can. Yeah, I mean I would just say they’re super, super grateful.

Sean: 21:51 – You guys are always releasing new stuff. I’m amazed at the new products that you always have on your website How do you manage to keep things fresh on a consistent basis?

Meg: 22:01 – A lot of communication. So my partner, my fiance Katherine, is also super involved and we kind of go back and forth with each other all the time. If we think of something, I’ll shoot her a text and be like, Oh, this would be great on a T-shirt or on a mug or whatever it may be. And she’ll do the same thing for me. And it’s great now. I mean a lot of my friends will also text me and be like, Hey, this is a really funny thing. You should put this on a shirt. So it’s really cool. Like it’s fun and you know, we as specially as crazy dog parents, I feel like we’re always doing crazy things for our dogs. So it’s pretty easy to find ways to bring out new products with sayings. Cause I know people probably feel the same way.

Sean: 22:47 – What kind of initiatives now do you have coming up?

Meg: 22:52 – So right now we are kind of working with Barbells for Bullies again to do another Wags and Weightlifting event. They’ve done that. We actually weren’t able to be there last year cause competition season, stuff like that. But we’re definitely gonna go to this one this year. So their Wags and Weightlifting event I think is in May. And then we have just some random events that we’ll be attending throughout the year. Local events. We’re definitely gonna try to get out to some rescue organizations. We being in New York have quite a few up here and we’re just going to try to get out and be more hands on and do a lot of volunteer work. So that’s kind of what our plan is and our initiative is for the year and that’s how we’re going to try to do it.

Sean: 23:38 – Obviously you still have a lot of goals you want to achieve with your business, but what are you most proud about when it comes to Wags and Weights?

Meg: 23:47 – Hmm. That’s a good question. Most proud about. I would say I’m most proud just to see how many fans we’ve really been able to keep and support as we’ve been able to keep. And the relationships that we’ve been able to create with those people. I mean, there have been people that have followed us from 2014, and I actually know them on a personal level now and I have a relationship with them and they follow our journey and they really just believe in everything that we do. And I’m so grateful and so blessed that we have those kinds of supporters.

Sean: 24:27 – What is the best way, and this is another question I asked Alex, that people can get involved and help shelters or rescue organizations in their areas?

Meg: 24:40 – Best way and easiest way honestly is just to find a local—sorry, excuse me, local rescue organization near them. And actually, I mean you can go online to their website and typically they have a volunteer or donate section. And you know, a lot of times people can’t donate money, but you can donate time and sometimes that’s even more important. So being hands on in the community, helping at their adoption events, you know, any fundraising events they may have. Time is sometimes more important than money.

Sean: 25:18 – Yeah, there’s no doubt. And listen, thank you Meg so much for taking the time to do this. Thank you for everything you’re doing with Wags and Weights, and you know, if there’s ever anything I can do to help out, please let me know. As a dog person, I just love what you and Alex are doing.

Meg: 25:34 – Thank you, I really appreciate that.

Sean: 25:35 – And best of luck this season and congratulations on making the Games.

Meg: 25:37 – Thank you.

Sean: 25:38 – Big thanks to Meg Reardon for coming on the show today. You can find her on Instagram. She is @Megg_a_tron, that’s M E G G underscore A underscore Tron. You can also follow Wags and Weights on Instagram and check out their website at I’m Sean Woodland and this is Two-Brain Radio. If you’re a gym owner and need some help growing your business, Two-Brain mentors can show you the exact steps to add $5,000 in monthly recurring revenue. Book a free call on Two-Brain to find out more. Thank you so much for listening everyone. We’ll see you next time.


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

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

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Consistency > Perfection

Consistency > Perfection

My father-in-law is 75. He spent his life in a steel mill, raising five kids on a tiny salary and running a small farm in the valley.

When he retired, he started working on old cars. Restoration is his vocation.

If you’ve ever heard Johnny Cash’s “One Piece at a Time,” that’s Russ.

Russ doesn’t build “kit cars.” His Model A has been chopped down, souped up and customized from head to toe. Most of the pieces don’t match the original design. He dropped a larger engine inside. He changed the original seat configuration. When he was younger (age 70) he used to spin the tires at the end of my driveway on his way to car shows.

He liked the shows because he enjoyed seeing the work of others. But he stayed away from the “polishers”—the guys who bought their cars pre-made and just ran them out of the garage for show. These are the guys who (like me) can barely change their own oil.

He doesn’t dislike their cars. He doesn’t think “the polishers” are bad people. He just knows there’s a difference between what he’s done—built a car—and what they did—bought a hobby.

Russ’s cars are awesome because he builds them with imperfect but continuous action.

He works a little bit every day. Usually less than hour.

Russ’s cars aren’t perfect. They don’t completely match the original specifications. But they run. They go fast. They look cool. His grandkids play in them. Neighbors complain about the noise. In short, Russ build cars for all the reasons you really want to own a classic car.

Consistent, imperfect action is the recipe for success—in relationships, in business and in fast old cars.


Always, Always Moving Forward


I write “love letters” to my mailing list almost every day, and, well, they stack up.

Russ’s story reminded me of how “Two-Brain Business” was published in the first place.

In a nutshell, I was invited to speak at an affiliate gathering in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I knew the other speakers (Ben Bergeron and Forrest Walden) would have some good material. I put my top 20 blog posts from into a self-publishing platform and shipped 30 copies of the resulting book to the gym. It was the cheapest way to print them. There were no page numbers or chapters, no table of contents.

I’ve changed the cover since then—but nothing else. And it’s sold over 23,000 copies. In fact, it’s the bestselling fitness business book of all time.

There are about 40 reviews on “Two-Brain Business.” (You can read them here.) Most are five stars. But a few buyers gave it a mediocre review. Some were legitimate (“There is some good information in here, but you have to dig for it. The book is poorly organized with no table of contents, chapters or index.”).

One was a bit funny:

The important thing to realize is that none of my critics have ever published anything.

“Two-Brain Business” is wildly popular because it works. The stories leave the reader with actionable lessons. While I think “Two-Brain Business 2.0” is actually a superior book because it provides step-by-step instructions, the original is more popular precisely because of its rawness. It took years to write because it took me years to fix the mistakes I’d made in my gym. But the successful gym Catalyst became—like the book—was the result of consistent, imperfect action.

Catalyst is not the cleanest gym you’ll ever visit. It’s more than clean enough, but it’s not perfect. The ceilings are 14 feet, not 15, so our rope is a foot short. But it’s incredibly fun, the hugs are genuine and we make people fit and happy every single day.

My staff playbook doesn’t have a beautiful cover. There are no page numbers. But my staff members know what to do and they do it consistently well.

My website isn’t artistic. But people can book a free No-Sweat Intro in two clicks or less.

Strive for excellence. But when you can’t be excellent, know this: You’re more than good enough already. Ship, publish, hit “send.”

Consistent, imperfect action will carry you further than brief moments of perfection.

You can polish the headlights again or you can go out and spin the tires.


Other Media in This Series

Consistency Is Greater Than Everything Else
Consistency and the Rule of Threes
Driven Nutrition: Consistency Brings Success in a Tough Market
The 10-Week CEO Plan

The Freakout-Free Cure for Rising Ad Costs on Facebook

The Freakout-Free Cure for Rising Ad Costs on Facebook

Mike: 00:02 – Come on. Come on, checking ad manager here. Give me a low number. Low number, low number. 50 bucks a lead? What the hell, Mateo? My ad costs are skyrocketing.

Mateo: 00:11 – Mike. It’s OK. This happens. It’s not the end of the world. It’s not like Russian roulette here. You should have expected this.

Mike: 00:18 – What? I thought I was going to $2 leads for the rest of my life. I’m freaking out. Sky’s falling. Can you save me? Come on. Can you?

Mateo: 00:27 – Well, I could probably talk you off the ledge. Let’s talk about it, Mike.

Mike: 00:32 – Let’s start with that I guess, but like, OK, I’m good with that. We’ll start by talking about how to deal with rising ad costs. We’ll be back with Mateo Lopez and he’ll talk me off the ledge that I’m on right now with $50 leads. Right after this. Want to add $5,000 in monthly revenue to your gym? It can be done. If you wan to know how, talk to a Two-Brain business mentor for free. You can book a call at today.

Mike: 00:57 – All right. I am freaking out. My ad costs are doubling. Quintupling, doubling, tripling, everything is going bad. Mateo Lopez is going to talk to me about why this is to be expected and how we’re going to deal with it. So Mateo, first of all, am I right in saying that ad costs are likely going to increase regularly?

Mateo: 01:17 – You are correct, Mike.

Mike: 01:19 – Why is that?

Mateo: 01:19 – Gosh, there’s so many reasons why. I guess, well, one reason, right, especially if you are in a local market, which most of us are as gym owners, you have a limited size to your audience. You know, the people living in your town is not going to change drastically, especially from month to month here. So you’re going to exhaust your pool at some point. If you’re serving them the same ad over and over and over, and you don’t show them something new once in a while, you’re going to fatigue your audience and they’re gonna stop clicking. And then that means that when people do click, they’re going to be more expensive. So that’s thing number one.

Mike: 02:09 – 20- to 40-year-old, you know, women within five miles of my gym have been seeing the same ad for the last six months and they’re not interested anymore.

Mateo: 02:17 – Exactly. That’s tip number one. That’s reason number one. Reason number two is you’re not the only one out there. And so especially if you got gyms nearby and they see what you’re doing, they’re probably going to want to copy you. And if they copy you, that means they’re in there spending money on ads. And as we talked about last week or in a previous episode, there’s only a limited amount of space on your Facebook feed for ads. And so if other people are starting to put ads out that are around you that are targeting a similar group with similar programs, similar services, then yeah, that’s increased competition. That means the demand is going to go up for ad space on the Facebook feed, supply is limited so that means the costs are going to go up.

Mike: 02:59 – And that’s Facebook, just making money. Correct?

Mateo: 03:02 – Facebook making money.

Mike: 03:03 – Billions and billions.

Mateo: 03:05 – Yes.

Mike: 03:07 – So, we’ve seen, obviously we see a lot of people start with ads and they get spectacular results and then later on they have to keep working to maintain results. I know that there’s tons of variance depending on where businesses are at in their cycles and how they’re doing things. But let’s just like lay it out for me in the broadest scope possible. What would you consider a cheap lead and what would you consider an expensive lead? You know, the idea is for gyms, local gyms.

Mateo: 03:33 – I would say I don’t like that question. And instead, I would just say, you know, if someone told me, and this isn’t my line, by the way, this is borrowed content here, but if someone told me they could get me hundred-dollar leads, I would ask them how many can they get me?

Mateo: 04:05 – And the reason is is because the cost for the lead doesn’t make a ton of sense because, or the reason I would have that response is because I know what my sales conversion rates are for cold traffic and for leads. And I also know what my retention rate is. Right? And I know that if someone signs up with me, they’re going to stay, let’s say it’s 18 months, they’re going to spend on average $2,000 at my gym. So if they said, I’m going to give you a hundred-dollar leads, $100 to get 2000 is pretty cheap. So that’s kind of my response to that.

Mike: 04:41 – OK. So you have to have some perspective. You have to know your data to evaluate what’s cheap and what’s expensive.

Mateo: 04:47 – Exactly. I mean, and again, even that, like I’m asking how many of those can I get because that’s the more important question I think to me, you know, how many of those can I get versus the price.

Mike: 05:03 – OK. Let me give you, let me ask you another question. And again, feel free to throw it back at me if you don’t like it. The question is, is it uncommon for say a local gym to see like an ad cost of per lead of say 10 bucks at some point and then see a cost of like 50, 60, 70, 80 bucks in another campaign or later on in that campaign cycle?

Mateo: 05:23 – Yeah, for sure. Yeah, for sure. Your ad costs are going to go up. So you know, if you do your math and you feel really confident, you like sitting at around 20 bucks a lead or anything below that, you know, then yeah you want to shoot for that as your target. If that’s the way the numbers work for you. You have to know what your range is, and if things get outside of that range, then you got to make some changes. Either you have to sell more or you have to change your offer or your ad copy so that your ad costs come down. Right. That’s pretty much the give and the take there.

Mike: 05:57 – So I’m going to give listeners if you haven’t seen this or read about it, what Mateo’s talking about is something he taught me in his course in for Two-Brain Business, and I run this at my gym. You have a budget for your ads and you’re tracking exactly how much you spend. Then you’re tracking your conversion rates and your click rates and all the data that tells you exactly how many people are coming in, exactly how many of those people are buying services, what those services cost, what the staffing costs are, all these different things. And it’s one spreadsheet in which I plug these numbers in and it tells me that my ad spend is totally fine based on these results. And if the numbers start to change and all of a sudden my ad costs are going up to an insane number and my sales aren’t justifying it, I know I need to make change fast. So this spreadsheet is fantastic. You just go right through it and it will actually tell you, kick out a number and say this is the maximum you can spend per lead. I look at that and I’m like, wow, I’m well below that. This ad is A OK. Did I summarize that correctly?

Mateo: 06:53 – Yeah. I mean that’s really where this question kind of comes down to. Yeah. It’s not fun when you have a campaign and you were like getting $2 leads and then you know, three months later it’s jumping up to 25. Like it’s never fun to see that. And obviously you want to try and keep your ad costs low, but at the end of the day you need to know what—like that seeing those kinds of jumps become less important when, cause you need to focus—you need to know what your client acquisition cost is. What is your budget that you have available to acquire a new customer. That’s really the number that you need to figure out. Because then when you know that, it doesn’t matter what the—when you have that number, seeing where your lead costs are, becomes—there’s less emotion behind it, right? You don’t have to freak out if they are—as long as they’re still within range within your target client acquisition budget, you know, it’s fine. And if it’s out of that range, then you can know, you can take some action. Like you said before, Mike, either change your ad or you up your sales or increase retention or whatever it is.

Mike: 08:14 – And we’ll talk about some strategies in just a sec. But I can tell you from experience, like when I started doing this, I entered all the numbers and I don’t like spending money on ads. It kind of seemed a bit, you know, sketchy to me. I was worried about the whole thing, but when I tracked the numbers, everything made sense and I felt a whole lot better about it. Then of course I got busy and I didn’t track as well. And then all of a sudden I am looking at like, I don’t know if this ad is working. So if you’re not prepared to track stuff, I would suggest, and you can correct me if I’m wrong, but from my perspective, if you’re not prepared to track, I think when you’re working in the dark you might not be prepared to advertise properly.

Mateo: 08:47 – Yeah. 100%. I think metrics is key and something that, you know, we’re making a lot of changes to the Incubator in 2020 and one of the things is, yeah, making sure that you guys are understanding your sales metrics and are tracking that stuff. So when you do go into paid ads, you’re in a really good spot.

Mike: 09:04 – Yeah. And the Two-Brain dashboard that we developed has all this stuff in there. So if you don’t know like how to do these things or don’t know how to track it or don’t, you know, want to find an app or whatever it is, we have that built out where people can enter these things and a mentor can review the stuff immediately and then talk to you about it and start making some changes. Have you seen that? Have you seen the working versions of that dashboard?

Mateo: 09:24 – Yeah, 100%. And I think it’s going to be really helpful for people out there. And I wanted to circle back to, you know, we’re talking about ad costs and $50 leads, oh my God. This is something I discussed at the Two-Brain summit last year. And if you haven’t marked your calendars, get ready. It’s coming. 2020 is coming up. Get your tickets now. But you know, if you look at just some studies that have been done by Deloitte and some of these other big companies, industries are like, you know, the industry that spends the most on marketing is consumer packaged goods, which makes sense if you think about it. There’s a lot of like, you know, a lot of different shoe brands out there, right? So they spend 24% of their total revenue on their marketing budget. Those businesses. Consumer services are the next one down.

Mateo: 10:26 – They’re the next highest at 15% of their total revenue spent on marketing. And so gyms would fall into that. Right. Which is wild, especially when you think about all the different gym owners we’ve talked to that say I don’t do any marketing. Every time I get on the phone, it’s like, yeah, you know, been open two years, I really don’t do that much marketing. When people walk in, I sell 90% of them and that’s it. And that’s most of the gym owners we talk to, which is crazy cause then when you talk to them, so talking about either investing in a copywriter to help write blogs, investing in a photographer to help them make a better-looking Instagram or investing in paid ads, all these things that are either branding, paid marketing and advertising, you know, they have a tough time with it. And the reality is like, you know, you’re so out of that range, you’re spending zero right now. So, you know, just getting them comfortable spending a little bit is a challenge and it’s just wild to think about that when you try to put it in perspective, like, you know, most industries—I don’t know why gym owners think that we’re different, but in every other industry, people are spending money to acquire customers. That’ just the reality. Yeah.

Mike: 11:44 – Do you wanna hear my theory?

Mateo: 11:45 – I think I know what it is, but yeah, go ahead.

Mike: 11:48 – Cause I’ve been on this hard for a long time. I think the idea in the gym industry is that you need to be a great coach and you need to have great programming and you need to build a great community and that is going to do it for you. And that is biblical in some places. Right? And I can tell you from experience that I did that and I thought I became a pretty good coach. I thought I built a pretty good community. I thought I had great programming and eventually I got to a spot where I just didn’t have enough clients at the right membership rates and I needed to start thinking about what else I needed to do. Now I’ll say that that approach did work for a time because when I started out in 2009, 10, I did no marketing, nothing.

Mike: 12:29 – And we managed to build a business from that. That survived despite my incompetence. But after I got to a point where that just wasn’t working more, I needed to start looking at things. And that’s when the Two-Brain crew was like, dude, maybe you start focusing on some other stuff. You can teach a squat pretty well. How’s that getting you new members? And it wasn’t. So now the stuff that we do is I do some marketing, I’m not spending huge amounts of money. I’m spending, I think what you recommended at the beginning like 10, 15 bucks a day kind of thing on Facebook or it’s focusing on organic content creation. We talked about that on a previous episode of Two-Brain Radio. Also focusing on affinity marketing and systems and retention. So what we’re looking at is we have a great affinity marketing guide on our free tools on, we’re looking at using our current members, talking to them and saying, Hey, have you got friends and family that would love to hang out with us? And then try to work on retention so that we don’t have to acquire as many clients. I mean, I don’t want to run this bait and switch six weeks nonsense and like get a bunch of people who leave right away. I want five year, eight year, 10 year clients, at a good price point that works for them. They’re getting what they want and I’m making a living. So we’re using this whole structure now to generate business that we never used before. And that really the trigger for it was when you guys, you and John, started talking to me about the market.

Mateo: 13:43 – Yeah, 100%. I mean, yeah. I don’t want to stay on my soapbox for too long, but well I want to comment on that. I’m going to comment on what you just said in a second. But yeah, I mean every other industry and every other business in the world spends money to acquire new customers and it’s wild to me that gym owners are so resistant to that. I think for us too, and to speak to your kind of story that you just laid out, I think also for the people we work with, the CrossFit brand did a lot of that work for us. Right? You said great programming, great coaching and community. The CrossFit brand did that for the affiliates. For a low price, right. And so you didn’t have to do that work for yourself.

Mike: 14:34 – CrossFit 204 survived because of people Googling it and using the CrossFit brand name, which people will say, oh my God, this affiliate fee, I don’t want to pay this.

Mateo: 14:43 – That was your marketing budget. That was your ad budget. Right. Another thing I want to throw out there too, and again, this is stuff we discussed last year at the summit. We’re talking about spending money. Talking about spending money on ads online. Like social-media spending is expected to rise by 73%, 73% over the next five years. So if you’re not building a plan to, you know, become at least competent in some of these areas, when you’re trying to acquire customers, you’re going to be left in the dust because everyone’s—that growth is going to continue to rise. It’s going to become a more competitive landscape. One more little stat out there. United States, Small Business Administration, they recommend that small businesses, and for them a small business is anyone doing less than 5 million in sales, which I think is probably everyone listening to this podcast, almost everyone, should spend seven to 8% of total revenue on marketing and advertising. And so that means if your gym makes 30,000 in revenue a month, you’re spending at least 2,400 on marketing and advertising.

Mike: 15:55 – Wow, that’s incredible. And what I’ll throw this out to you, that should not be wasted money. There should be an ROI on that spend.

Mateo: 16:02 – Yeah, 100%. Yeah. I don’t want people to listen to this, to just like, alright, I just got to start spending money on marketing efforts, on flyers, on paid ads, on blogging, on copywriters. No, you should be able to track your ROI. And that’s exactly why when we started this conversation, I said, you need to know what that acquisition budget is for yourself. And the way you’re going to know that number is if you know your lifetime value. If you know average revenue per member and you know the length of engagement. If you know those numbers, you can figure it out from there.

Mike: 16:36 – What we’ll do next is we’ll go over a couple of solutions to rising ad costs and give you a few ideas of what you can do. We’re gonna give you actionable steps, that is what the podcast and Two-Brain Business is all about. And just as an aside, Chris Cooper has created a new roadmap to wealth. It is incredible. It will literally tell you step by step how to create an amazing business. It’s based 100% on data. We’ve studied the top gyms in the industry and we know what they’re doing. There’s no guesswork. It is just action. Results. Step one is to complete our Incubator. This is a 12-week sprint to build the foundation of your business. Step two is work with a mentor to use the roadmap to grow your business. For more info visit and book a free call with a mentor. Now, we’re going to talk about our own actionable steps. So ad costs are rising. Now, what are some of the things that people can do when this happens? Now we’re talking about like there’s some audience, there’s some creative stuff. How can we deal with rising ad costs? We know that they’re probably always going to rise over time, but what do we do when it happens?

Mateo: 17:35 – You don’t freak out, Mike.

Mike: 17:36 – I did. I apologize. Thank you for talking me down.

Mateo: 17:36 – I’ll throw out a couple of tips here. But I guess for those listening, what I would say is, before we focus in on the ad cost itself, like I guess the question I would pose to listeners, if you needed to get 10 clients next month, do you know how much it would cost you to get those 10 clients? If you don’t know the answer to that question, then I wouldn’t stress out about ad costs for your leads right now at this moment.

Mateo: 18:18 – But if you don’t know where to start, there’s tons of different formulas out there that you can use to figure out how much you should be spending on your client acquisition budget. There’s lots of different ways you can do this. The easiest way though is, and this is gonna be tough cause you’re going to be listening to this instead of like seeing me write it down. But the easiest way to do this or one way to do this, I should say is figure out what your target acquisition cost is for one client, right? For one new member, what’s it cost you to get that person? Or what can you spend, what can you afford to spend to get that person is a better way of phrasing it. And then if you want to figure that out, you basically take your lifetime lifetime value of a client, so you gotta know your ARM and your LEG. So Mike, let me just ask you then, if you need to get 10 new members this month, do you know how much it would cost you?

Mike: 19:08 – I think we can figure it out. I’ve got some numbers here for my fictional gym, CrossFit Iron Maiden.

Mateo: 19:13 – CrossFit Iron Maiden, all right. Well so then Mike, the first step here, right, is we’re trying to get the budget of basically what you can afford to spend or what you’re allowed to spend to acquire one new person, right? So again, there’s tons of different ways you can calculate this out. This is just one possible formula you can use, right? So let’s just see if we can figure out the target acquisition cost for one new member. So, Mike, for that, what we’re going to do is we need your lifetime value. That’s the first number we need. So do you know what your LTV is? What’s your ARM? What’s your average revenue per member?

Mike: 19:47 – My average revenue per member is $166. Which if you know Iron Maiden, 166, pretty close to the number—

Mateo: 19:54 – Pretty close to the number of the beast. Perfect. And how long do they stay?

Mike: 20:02 – They’re gonna stay about nine months.

Mateo: 20:02 – Nine months. So let’s just say we’re gonna round that number. So 166 times nine, that’s about 1500 bucks is your LTV, right? So then if we look at the next number we got to do is we’re going to subtract out how much you want to make per person, right? So subtract out your target profit. So target profit for, I don’t know, someone like, for a Two-Brain gym, 33% is that target profit kind of operational number there. Let’s just round it down to 30%. So that’s going to be around 450. So you want to profit $450 from that 1500, right, from the LTV. Next thing we gotta do is your expenses, right? Your expenses for one person. So again, there’s a tons of different ways you can do this. What I like to do is I like to take your overhead, right? So how much does it cost to keep your doors open? The lights on per month?

Mike: 21:04 – Just to stay open for a month. It cost me 8k.

Mateo: 21:07 – OK, so $8,000. Multiply that by your LEG, right? So we said on average, people stay nine months. So nine times 8,000, that’s $72,000. All right? $72,000. And then how many people you have your gym?

Mike: 21:23 – 100 people.

Mateo: 21:25 – So divide that, right? So 72,000 divided by a hundred. So you’re looking at expenses for one person is gonna be 720 bucks. And let’s just add in, like let’s say you have like a commission for someone who makes sales for one person at a gym. Like if you sold a person, maybe you sell one person, you give a commission to your coach, or if you’re paying them something extra to do on ramp one-on-ones. Let’s just say there’s an extra hundred bucks there. So you got your LTV, it’s $1,500 subtracted by your profit, right? What do we say, Mike? 450, then you subtract out your expenses, right? And we said that’s going to be 720 plus a hundred bucks. That’s 820. So what do we got there, Mike?

Mike: 22:12 – Oh man. I was told there would be no math on this podcast, but I think that’s looking at about 230 bucks, am I right?

Mateo: 22:18 – 230? So that’s your target acquisition cost. That’s what you can afford to spend to acquire one person and still hit the profit margins you want and still subtracting the expenses that it would take to fill that person and subtracting what you would want to make from that person. So you still have 230 bucks left over just to acquire that person. So if you wanted to add 10 members, what’s your marketing budget for the month?

Mike: 22:46 – Well, I’ve got $2,300 I think.

Mateo: 22:49 – You got 2300 bucks, Mike.

Mike: 22:50 – So when I was freaking out at the beginning, for 50 bucks an ad, I’m actually well within my budget.

Mateo: 22:57 – I think so.

Mike: 22:59 – In fact I’m laughing, probably.

Mateo: 23:01 – I think you are, man. I mean, yeah, you got to make sure you’re getting the like, you know, make sure the closing percentages are staying constant, like that’s your budget for the month, right? How you want to use that budget to acquire people, you know, is up to you. And the method of choice for me is Facebook ads. But if you want to spend that 2300 on, you know, something else that you know will get you those 10 people to walk in through your door, that’s fine. You have to work with some of these numbers to see what you can afford to spend or what you can spend to get new members in your door and then figuring out your lead costs from there becomes a little bit less stressful, a little bit easier.

Mike: 23:42 – So the lesson I’m getting out of this is when ad costs rise, it’s to be expected. It’s not ideal. No wants to pay more for anything, but if you know your numbers, it’s not the end of the world and it’s not the disastrous panic attack kind of thing that some people play it up to.

Mateo: 24:01 – Yes. It’s not the end of the world, Mike.

Mike: 24:04 – That would give me a whole lot more confidence. And I think it really comes back, you have to track stuff. Like if you’re working in the dark, a $10 ad increase, you know, ad cost increase probably looks horrible, doesn’t it?

Mateo: 24:16 – Yeah. I mean, and also too, let’s say Mike, let’s say that you started coaching really horribly, right? The LEG, the length of engagement might drop to six months. So now what’s your LTV? It’s a lot less than 1500 for sure. Which means that if you still want to profit and your expenses are staying the same, I guess expenses might drop a little bit because—no, expenses would increase because if you have less members, 70 to a hundred divided by a hundred is no longer a hundred, it’s gonna be less than that, right? So people are staying for less time. So your LTV numbers going down and you’re having less people in your gym at one time. So that means your expenses per member are going up. Now that acquisition budget, it’s getting a lot smaller, right, Mike? So now $150 leads might be not so great. But if your retention is amazing, let’s say you move it from nine months to 18 months, that LTV number, it’s a lot bigger if you keep your profit margins the same and your expenses relatively constant, maybe they’re a little bit less now the fixed ones, at least per athlete, cause you got more people in there. That acquisition budget’s a lot higher.

Mike: 25:34 – Same thing, I’m going to guess if you drive your average revenue per member from 166 up to 200?

Mateo: 25:39 – That’s another way, right? If they’re not staying longer, but they’re paying more, that’s another way to do it. Right?

Mike: 25:45 – And we’ve seen gyms like we’ve put up some numbers on Facebook and people just laughed at it, but we’ve seen average revenues that are shocking to the average gym owner, you know, Two-Brain clients have created amazing programs and services that are like four or $500 average revenues. Is that uncommon?

Mateo: 26:03 – No, that’s not uncommon at all. And so that’s why like, you know, if your focus is on cost per lead, it’s an important metric to track. But you know, you really should be focusing on front-end sales, ticket price and retention. That makes your marketing budget grow to infinite numbers. And so you can afford to spend money on a hundred dollar leads and not worry about it.

Mike: 26:35 – So there you have it. That is how you deal with rising ad costs. I’ll ask you one final question. Just a short one. With rising ad costs, can freshening creative or making any changes to audience, can that have any effects on things?

Mateo: 26:51 – 100%, right? I would say, yeah. Your ad copy, your images, your videos, they play a big part. But I think I’ve said this on here before, the biggest driver though is going to be the offer, right? You can have a really crappy video or a really crummy ad image or even some ad copy that has spelling errors in it, but if your offer is amazing, those things don’t matter. Right? Like if your offers a free thing, yeah, you can get away with having some typos, but, you know, I’m not advocating that you make your front-end programs free. I’m just saying the driver of your ad performance is going to be the offer for sure. If your offer is not of value or if it’s not compelling, it doesn’t matter how clever you are in your ad copy, you’re still going to struggle.

Mateo: 27:46 – If you like your offer where it’s at, if you like this one program, like this one six-week introductory or 12-week introductory program for new members, then just think of different ways in which you can frame it. Think of different ways in which you can present that same offer. When you see your ad costs go up, that’s kind of the last option available to you, right? If you’re not changing your offer, then you’re kind of stuck with changing the frame. I guess one last thing too is if you’re having trouble with, you know, advertising your front-end program like a 12 week or six week or whatever it is, maybe that’s too much of an ask for your audience. Maybe that’s too much. You haven’t engaged with them enough. So give them something that’s a little bit less risky for them to inquire about like a free ebook, a lead magnet of some kind, a video workout series that they can do from home.

Mateo: 28:38 – And that again goes back to the offer, right? Try changing it up to something that’s a little bit lower commitment from them. That way at least if you offer them some kind of recipe book, they can opt in. Now they’re on your newsletter list and now you control that traffic, now that’s traffic you own and you can message them however frequently or infrequently you want, say whatever you want to them. But now they’re in your newsletter list and you can continue to nurture them and offer them things of value.

Mike: 29:08 – That is the handshake before the hug, so to speak. We have in the archives of Two-Brain Radio in this series, we have shows on how to create ads, how to write the copy, how to test photos. So if you’re looking at freshening ads, that stuff is in there and Mateo talked about compelling offers, we’re going to talk about one offer that may be compelling, we’re going to go over six-week challenges, whether they live or die in an upcoming show. So stay tuned for that. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss this stuff.

Mike: 29:34 – This is Two-Brain Radio. I am Mike Warkentin here for Mateo Lopez and Two-Brain Marketing. Please subscribe, check our archives for more shows, and if you’re a gym owner and you need some help growing your business, Two-Brain mentors can show you the exact steps. Book a free call on to find out more.


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StoryBrand: Can It Help You Acquire More Clients?

StoryBrand: Can It Help You Acquire More Clients?

Mike: 00:02 – Once upon a time there was a business owner who wanted to solve a problem: a lack of clients. This owner decided to use marketing and heard about StoryBrand, but the entrepreneur didn’t know a thing about it and turned to the friendly people on Two-Brain Radio who laid out actionable steps that would help the business owner avoid bankruptcy and find great financial success. If you’re listening, you might just be that business owner. If that’s the case, I’m your guide, Mike Warkentin, here with another guide, Two-Brain mentor Jay Williams. Think of us as Yoda and Ben Kenobi to your Luke Skywalker, except we aren’t teaching you about the force. We’re talking about StoryBrand. I’m back with the rest of the show right after this. Bunch of gym owners added $5,000 a month in revenue after talking with one of our mentors. If you want to hear the story and learn the secrets to business success, you can talk to a Two-Brain Business mentor for free. Book a call at today.

Mike: 00:48 – And now we are back talking StoryBrand. It is “Building a StoryBrand” 2017 book by Donald Miller. It was a best seller. It’s still popular on Amazon, not his first bestseller. Donald wrote “Blue Like Jazz,” it was a New York Times bestseller in 2003. He generally writes on faith, God, self-discovery and things of that nature. He is now the CEO of StoryBrand. The blunt tagline on the website is “workshops to help you clarify your message.” It is a direct uppercut that tells you within five seconds exactly what is going to happen if you engage with this program and that’s on purpose. We’re going to talk about that in a sec. They now offer live workshops for about 3k and they have certifications to become a StoryBrand guide. We’re going to get into the details, but the short version is this. According to StoryBrand, your clients do not want to hear you talk about yourself. They want you to talk about them and all the awesome stuff your business can help them do. Two-Brain mentor Jay Williams attended a StoryBrand workshop so we’re going to hear his tale and talk about what he learned. Jay, how are you doing today?

Jay: 01:48 – Great. How are you Mike?

Mike: 01:49 – I’m good. Did I bore you with talking too much about myself?

Jay: 01:54 – No, I’m still in the story.

Mike: 01:55 – Good, good. The story is still working, so that’s good. We’ll get right into it. This episode of Two-Brain Radio syncs up with Chris Cooper’s work this week in the blogs, so be sure to check that out and be sure to subscribe for more stuff. So, StoryBrand. I want to know your story. How did you hear about StoryBrand? Why did you attend the workshop?

Jay: 02:15 – So, you know, I’m always looking for ways to kind of improve the marketing message and I had heard about the book and some of the processes a while back. It was floating around in our private Facebook group and for some reason I do just avoided it. I don’t know why, maybe the original person that recommend it I didn’t trust them or something. I finally got around to listening to the book and it was one of those things where I listened to it and I immediately was like, ah, right, I need to do this right away. And so usually when that happens, what I’ll do is just look for more information. I actually bought the physical copy of the book, listened to it again and wrote notes and started kind of doing the exercises in book and I went and checked out the online course. I went through the exercises in the online course and I kind of more or less created the script to talk about my business.

Mike: 03:10 – So you’re drinking from the fire hose right away.

Jay: 03:11 – Oh yeah. I mean it was one of those things where it put together a bunch of stuff that I had done research on in the past. I read a bunch of copywriting books and that kind of thing. And there was always something there about like, how do you tell a story? And they usually kind of touch on it, but this actually digs into what is a story and why the story is important. So, after going through all of that, I had already kind of redesigned my website. I started running some ads with some of the new stories and I had enough success where I thought, I wonder if there’s a deeper level. So that’s why.

Mike: 03:51 – I gotta jump in right now. Did you see success right away when you started changing your approach?

Jay: 03:56 – You know, what I saw was better conversions. It wasn’t like I had more people coming in; it wasn’t like the language was drawing more people in, but the people that did come were more in line with the message that I wanted to send. So I mean just a really simple example like you think about like a Facebook ad for example, right? If you’re trying to get the highest converting ad, you’re going to put a certain picture up there, right? Or you know, the one that gets the most clicks, you’re gonna put a certain picture on there. If you’re trying to get the one that brings you the right people, you’re going to put a different picture. And the message you’re going to send is different. So I’m not going to use you know act now and do all this kind of stuff on the ad after I went through this workshop. I’m going to start the story that I want them to be a part of. And the folks that are really interested are going to see that picture. They’re going to see the beginning of the story and they’re going to go, Oh, that’s me. I saw pretty fast results.

Mike: 05:01 – Yeah, so you’re seeing results and you decide, OK, I got to go right to the horse’s mouth, so to speak, and I’ve got to go take the take the course.

Jay: 05:09 – Yeah. Yeah. And you know, here’s the thing, like it’s not a revolution. It’s kind of like copywriting 101. I mean, it’s like you have to know your audience and you have to write for your audience, use as few words as possible and make sure that you’re resonating with them. The way that they frame it that makes it different is they talk about how to tell the story so that people feel like they are the hero of the story.

Mike: 05:38 – You know, I’ll jump in just because what you brought up is really important. Like it’s not necessarily a new idea. It’s probably just framed better than a lot of people. And the thing that’s really interesting I saw was, it’s a Lego ad from 1978 and it’s a cute kid. She’s holding a, I don’t know, it’s a dinosaur or something she made out of Lego. And the tagline here is, look what I built with Lego. And this was held up as an example of the StoryBrand concept in practice, you know, 40 years ago or whatever because instead of saying Lego is a super safe toy for children and blah, blah, blah, all the things that, you know, features and benefits talk, this was the story where this kid built this amazing thing. And so this concept is around, and I have some examples I’ll throw at you later on of the stuff in practice so people get a good idea of it. But tell me more about the conference.

Jay: 06:19 – Yeah. So, I mean the conference was great. They basically go through the same framework. I mean I would say that like you can get a lot of the information just by going through the exercises and iterating and iterating and iterating. But they go through the framework and you get some coaching and it kind of gives you a different view. You get to bounce the ideas off of other people. Nashville is a pretty cool place to visit. But really like the biggest thing I got from that is not a completely new look at my story, the thing I got from it is that you have to make a decision and ship your story, right? It’s sorta like you could go back and forth and around and around and figuring out the right story, but you have to deliver. And that’s the biggest thing that I got from showing up in person.

Mike: 07:13 – Let me ask details quickly. Is it a one day, two day course? How long is it?

Jay: 07:16 – Yeah. So it’s a two-day course. You go and the first day you basically develop your script and then the second day you figure out ways to market your script, right? So you’re basically figure out the script of your customers. I can kind of break down how that works. And then the second day is like, OK, now that you have that script, you create a one liner so that if someone asks you what you do you have an answer.

Mike: 07:40 – And that’s the tagline that I read from their website, that punch in the face as soon as you see it, right?

Jay: 07:45 – Yeah, exactly. Or you know, and then it tells you, you know, what you should have on your website and then it tells you what kind of lead magnet you should create and then what your email search.

Mike: 07:55 – And am I right, $3,000 U.S.?

Jay: 07:58 – Yes.

Mike: 08:00 – OK. Was it worth it?

Jay: 08:04 – I got a lot out of it. I think you could get what you need by researching the book and doing some things online. Ultimately, just like anything else, the big benefit of going in person is that you actually do it.

Mike: 08:18 – You’ve got some financial investment. You’re forced to do it. I know you’re an action guy, so that probably helps you out when it’s like time to go. Let’s go. So that pressure of being there in person probably helps you just fire and get it done.

Jay: 08:31 – Yeah. Yeah. I mean, there’s a lot of theory behind all this stuff. It’s important to know it, but you got to take the action.

Mike: 08:36 – OK. So talk to me about the stuff you learned. You’ve obviously implemented some of this stuff and seen some results already, but what we’re going to talk about what you learned, and then kind of give you some ideas about how gym owners and other business owners can do this stuff and make their sites and marketing better.

Jay: 08:51 – Yeah. So I think there’s a couple of things. A couple of like truths that they give you that I resonated with. One of them is that people do not buy the best products, right? They buy the ones that are the clearest. And the point is like if you clarify your message, then people will listen. So if there’s anything that in your messaging that is unclear, people just tune it out. And I mean we’ve all seen that the more you write, it’s like if you write 10,000 words, people are not going to read through all that. But if you have an amazing quote, you know, people will resonate with it.

Mike: 09:34 – And you get into huge amounts of fitness industry jargon and things that gym owners might think is important but the customer doesn’t where you’re like, you know, I’m a NSCA certified CSCS and people like that’s just a bunch of alphabets. I don’t even know what that is. I don’t care. How can you make me look better naked, right. There’s a jargon, all sorts of stuff that’s just, really like jargon in marketing is just bad. That’s always been bad. So clarifying that with StoryBrand is a really, really great thing for everyone.

Jay: 09:56 – Yeah. You know, they say something that I really resonate with is like your brain is always looking for ways to survive and thrive. And so like if what you’re seeing or reading doesn’t help you survive and thrive, it’s just going to be ignored. Because on the flip side of it is like your brain is looking to conserve calories, you know?

Jay: 10:16 – And so if you’re hungry and you look across the street and you see a restaurant that is called, you know, Joe’s Crab Shack, then you’re going to know, OK, they serve crabs. And I’m hungry so I’m gonna go eat crab. If it’s just Joe’s, you might completely ignore it, right? Unless there’s some other thing that shows you that it’s a restaurant.

Mike: 10:40 – Or it’s like Joe’s Aquatic Crustacean Emporium and you’re like, ah, yeah, I’m not really certain what’s going on here. The simple version here is a good example I’ve got here written down is the old version of features and benefits is that low in calories and this is what the soft drink does. But the actual thing that people want is I want to drink this and look better. So it’s really like the ad isn’t low in calories. The ad is, you’ll look better naked. Whether or not that’s true or not is debatable, but that’s the principle.

Jay: 11:07 – Yeah. And so given all of those truths, they basically say, what we need to do is invite the customer into a story. And so they break down a story into seven steps and so the framework goes a character, step one, with a problem, step two meets a guide, step three who gives them a plan, that’s step four and then calls them to action step five, and that results in success, step six, or avoids failure.

Mike: 11:39 – That’s the SB seven framework, I think that’s called, correct?

Jay: 11:42 – Yeah. So the idea is, the whole point is like you’re trying to figure out how you’re going to tell your business’ story in that framework.

Mike: 11:51 – And one thing I’ll chuck at you here is there are apparently seven basic plots for every story that’s ever been written, right? Have you heard this one or did they talk about that at all? I’ll just read them to you just because it’s a really fascinating thing that when people about how do I tell my business’ story? The seven basic plots, I’ll give two examples of each. There is overcoming the monster. That’s James Bond and Star Wars, something bad that needs to end, rags to riches, Cinderella and Aladdin. That’s the transformational stuff. There’s the quest. Lord of the Rings, Raiders of the Lost Arc, got to find something important, voyage and return, Alice in Wonderland and the Hobbit. Then you’ve got comedy, and this isn’t necessarily hilarious. This is a triumph over circumstances which are confusing and funny. So Bridget Jones’ Diary, the Big Lebowski, those were comedies but you get what I’m saying, tragedy, Bonnie and Clyde, Romeo and Juliet, and then you’ve got rebirth, which is Beauty and the Beast and Christmas Carol, things like that. So all stories, if you start thinking about it, just about every story that’s ever been written apparently can be rammed into one of these categories and your gym is probably going to start coming toward things like, Oh, there’s rags to riches elements, there’s transformational stuff and rebirth. There are ways to tell your story. So let’s talk more about this.

Jay: 12:57 – Yeah, it’s interesting you mentioned that because every one of those stories can actually be broken down into these seven steps as well. There’s a lot more sort of variety, some of those there’s like 15-20 steps and subplots, but they’ve tried to really boil it down to those seven things. A big part of that workshop is just, OK, we’re going to start with a character. So let’s define a character and what do they want?

Mike: 13:26 – So this is like your client avatar. Correct?

Jay: 13:29 – It’s similar. And that’s actually how I used to think about this in the past is just to go through an avatar, but it’s just like a character.

Jay: 13:41 – So in my case, I mean I’ll just kind of go through how I do it. So a character, answer to the question is what do your customers want as it relates to your product? So I was doing this for my gym and the things I thought about, were a gym or workout or fitness program. So it’s not necessarily a man or a woman, it’s just somebody looking for a gym. And then they have a problem. And so there’s like, there’s basically four different ways to think about the problem. There’s the villain, there’s the external, there’s the internal and the philosophical. So I just skip the villain part. There’s a lot of things you can do with the villain. Like you know, the villain is globo gyms, most people’s problem when they come to my gym is they don’t have time. Either they don’t have time to work out or they don’t have time to plan their workouts so they’re not making time. They’re busy. There’s some version of time. And that’s the external problem. The internal problem is because they don’t have time, they get frustrated and they feel guilty or they may feel embarrassed or scared.

Jay: 14:52 – It’s like they’re not in good shape. They haven’t been taking care of themselves because they say they don’t have time. And that makes them feel this way.

Mike: 15:00 – Yeah. Like I already see if you’re suggesting that your ideal client has a lack of time, there’s gotta be some sort of efficiency to your service and there’s gotta be some sort of promise of delivery of results within a timeframe that they can afford.

Jay: 15:13 – Well, yeah. What’s interesting about that, we’ll get back to that. It’s not great to actually address the external problem too much. You know, the other version of external problem is they don’t have enough money. Right? But this is more like the smokescreen that they put up in front of you to hide the internal problem, which is that they’re actually frustrated that they haven’t stuck to their routine or they’re feeling guilty or embarrassed.

Mike: 15:39 – OK. So we talk a lot about No-Sweat Intros, you’re actually just peeling back the layers to find out what the real problem is. Like what’s the big thing that’s stopping this person from coming to your gym?

Jay: 15:47 – Yeah, exactly.

Mike: 15:48 – It’s probably not time.

Jay: 15:50 – So you know, you haven’t made time for yourself in the last year. Like how does that make you feel? Well, you know, I used to be in shape. I just feel guilty that I let myself go. And then so that’s the external then the internal problem. And this was actually, number two, the problem part was the hardest part to kind of suss out. If you’re going to do this at home you gotta spent some time really sussing out step two, because the better you define their problem, the more successful all of your marketing is going to be. So the philosophical problem is the answer to the question of why is it just plain wrong for your customers to be burdened by this? And my answer to that is they deserve a better life.

Jay: 16:34 – And so, you know, if you think about this, it’s like you don’t have enough time. You’re looking for a gym but you don’t have a lot of time to work out. And that leaves you feeling frustrated and guilty and that’s just wrong because you deserve a better life.

Mike: 16:50 – Yeah. Maybe even physically bad too. You know, there might be some symptoms there where I just like, I feel out of shape and bad about myself.

Jay: 16:57 – Yeah, exactly. So yeah, you can see how this is starting to flow, right? So then the next part, step three, is that they need a guide. And this is another one of their kind of truths. A lot of times in our marketing, we make ourselves the hero, right? And one of the things they talk about is like if you look at Star Wars for example, who’s the hero in Star Wars?

Mike: 17:19 – Well we’ll go back to the ones I grew up with. I’ll say Luke Skywalker.

Jay: 17:22 – All right, so Luke Skywalker is the hero of Star Wars, right? Luke Skywalker isn’t actually strong. Like he’s pretty weak. He’s unsure of himself. Not until the end does he actually get some strength.

Mike: 17:35 – So ascension there for sure.

Jay: 17:36 – Yeah. So if you make yourself the hero, right? The customer is walking around thinking they’re the hero. If you make yourself the hero, then they’re just going to look at you and they’re going, well, you’re just as weak as I am. So why should I listen to you? You got to make the customer the hero. And the way you do that is by expressing empathy and authority, right? So, you know, you say something like, we understand what it’s like to feel, blah. We understand what it’s like to feel embarrassed and scared. And then you express authority by saying we’ve helped over a thousand people look better or get stronger or feel better.

Mike: 18:12 – I’m going to throw an example at you here just because it was a really great one that I found and I think it’ll give people some perspective. This is apparently an ad that’s up all over in airports from Vanderbilt University and it’s a picture of a smiling person that says “they didn’t brag about how far they could take me, they asked where I wanted to go.” So rather than saying, our MBA does this or this program does that, they actually are saying that this, you know, we are asking this person who’s coming to us, what do you want to do with your life? And there’s some authority in there where they’re kind of winking and saying, we know how to help you get what you want. That’s a really cool way to frame that. I thought that was just a brilliant demonstration of the concept.

Jay: 18:49 – Yeah. 100%. I mean, it’s really all about your customers. You know, this is one of those things where personally before I went through this, I always kind of shied away from doing like a whole lot of social media and things like that because I always felt like it was me portraying myself as some sort of like, you know, hero, and so we weren’t really good at it. We’ve gotten better at it because we’ve really just focused on like how do we make the customer the hero. If I show a coach doing a handstand walk, I’m going to tell a story about how when they walked in they couldn’t do a push-up, you know, and they’ve built themselves up to this and so can you, rather than saying, look how awesome my coach is.

Mike: 19:31 – Yeah. Now that’s a pretty important distinction there where, yeah, we got to put the lens on the client and show the client that they’re the hero. But at the same time, the guide has to have authority. And so you do have to talk about yourself at times, you do have to establish yourself as an expert and show how you can, like Yoda is a Jedi master, he is the guide, he has some authority, helps Luke, right? So that’s the whole relationship and it’s I think some gyms sometimes fall too much on putting the hero mantle on themselves or they do it all on the client and totally forget that they have to establish their own authority.

Jay: 20:01 – Yeah, yeah, exactly. If the whole movie was Yoda slashing people up it wouldn’t have been the same. So you express empathy and authority and they talk about empathy is just like, you know, we understand what it’s like, we get it, et cetera. Authority is, you know, you use numbers or you use testimonials to talk about people that you’ve helped. So that’s step three. That one’s pretty easy. Step four is giving them a plan. And this is one where like this is actually one of the things that helped me clarify things a lot. The plan has to be really, really simple, right? And they say no more than three or four steps. Right? So the three or four that customers can take that lead them to a sale or explain how they would use the product after the sale. So the plan that I came up with was first you book a free intro, a no-sweat intro, get a custom plan, show up and then be a badass. And it’s so simple. Step one, get a a custom plan. Step two, show up. Step three, be a badass. And how do you get started? Book a free intro.

Mike: 21:16 – The customer doesn’t even have to do a whole lot there. Right? You’re doing the work on the custom plan. Right? So like that’s a freebie that you just check that one off. They just pretty much have to come see you.

Jay: 21:25 – Yeah. You know, the thing is like we all know that there’s a lot more than just those three things, but the customer has to see that it’s easy. If they don’t think it’s easy, then they’re just not going to do it. Again, they’re looking to conserve energy.

Mike: 21:41 – Yeah. And you’ve got elements of authority building in there where you’re saying a custom plan that you know, in my mind I’m thinking, OK, this guy obviously can evaluate my situation and offer a plan. And that’s definitely helping to establish your authority and take some of the pressure off the customer.

Jay: 21:56 – Yeah. So, if you’re developing this, three steps. And then number five is calls them to action. So this should be very simple for Two-Brain gyms. The call to action is the same for everything, it’s book a No-Sweat Intro. And when I talk to my coaches about this at the gym, what I realized is that it’s the same call to action no matter what program we’re selling, right? So if you want to join the gym book a No-Sweat Intro. If you want to join nutrition, No-Sweat Intro. If you want to learn how to do a muscle-up, No-Sweat Intro. Like basically we always do free intro to anything that we sell, right. And so just having that, it tells people exactly what to do.

Mike: 22:40 – Yeah. As opposed to these web pages. And I’m guilty of this where you’ve got 17 different programs and click this and this add on with this price and all this stuff that no one can really figure out. I’m coming to your site and I’m like, I’m going to book an intro and that’s my one and only step.

Jay: 22:55 – Yeah. And actually I made those changes to my site in the workshop cause I was like, Oh man, it needs to be so simple.

Mike: 23:04 – I know you’re an action guy. Move right away.

Jay: 23:04 – So they do talk about having a transitional call to action because they kind of described it as like, you know, you meet a woman and you’re like, Hey, would you like to get married? And it’s like they say no like, Hey, would you like to get married? And they say now. Hey would you like to get married, they say now. The fourth time you’re like, Hey, would you like to go for a cup of coffee? Oh, OK. I’ll go for a cup of coffee. And then you go for a cup of coffee and you ask to get married.

Mike: 23:30 – Jay, that’s actually a really good spot for me to just quickly tell a quick story that might put that in perspective. Once upon a time, my hobby gym was not doing so hot and luckily I was friends with a wise wizard named Chris Cooper guy you know. He happened to run Two-Brain Business. Chris talked me down off the ledge. He pointed me to the incubator where I learned how to turn a hobby into a real business. His team could do the same for you out there if you’re listening. If you aren’t ready to talk to a mentor just yet, Chris has more than a dozen guides he’ll send you for free. These things solve a ton of problems, and they can help generate revenue and they don’t cost anything. So if you’re not ready to talk to a mentor just yet, get the whole whack of them for free at End of story. I’m not asking someone to marry me on the first date, just download our stuff. Now back to you, Jay.

Jay: 24:17 – Have a cup of coffee. So yeah, I mean the transitional call to action is like your lead magnet. So lots of different ways to approach this. But basically you create a lead magnet, which is just a free download where people give you their—you create something that solves one of their internal or external problems.

Mike: 24:43 – We’re solving retention for gym owners. We got a great one on that. That’s a great example.

Jay: 24:47 – Yeah. So yeah, for gym owners, that’s a great example. If you’re an actual gym, you know, look at the problems that people are saying that they have when they come into the gym.

Mike: 24:59 – Post-workout nutrition, bringing it on the road. You could think of hundreds of things, right?

Jay: 24:59 – 10 workouts you can do when you don’t have time. Five me your email address and I’ll email you those 10 workouts.

Mike: 25:11 – And I’ve seen some amazing guides from Two-Brain gyms, some really, really cool stuff. They don’t have to be epic necessarily, but I have seen some really actionable stuff that people can download.

Jay: 25:20 – Yeah. I mean the simpler the better. I think just get something out there and you’ll see some traction and that’s a good place to start. You know, I started with something like my transitional call to action is not that great. It’s just like, you know, 10 reasons why you are fit enough to start or something like that, and it’s just going to address the external problem.

Mike: 25:44 – It’s still a step between the big action steps. So that’s the whole point there is that it’s a transitional thing.

Jay: 25:49 – You know, the other thing about transitional calls to action is essentially social media is kind of like a transitional call to action, right? You’re providing a bunch of info along with the story, right? So like, Hey, you don’t have time to work out. Here’s an example of somebody that didn’t have time and now they have found time. You can book a free intro by going into our profile. It’s another kind of version of that. Any sort of content that you produce, any content that you produce, should have that direct call to action in it. And you can view it as a transitional call to action. So then step six is that ends in success. So you basically list all of the things that that will happen or can happen if they follow through.

Mike: 26:47 – So it’s a little bit of features and benefits, old school stuff there necessarily, but framed very differently.

Jay: 26:52 – Yeah. They talk about immediate success, long-term success, specific success, like features, and then general success. You can list as many things here as you can think of, right? So for example, immediate success might be, you know, feel better, right? You do a workout here, you’re going to feel better immediately. Long-term success is you’re going to get stronger, right? Specific success is, we have free parking, you know, or there are 50 classes a week or whatever. And then general success that you would have more confidence, better relationships, etc. So then the last step is help them avoid failure. So the negative consequences that customers will experience if they don’t use your product or service. And this one, you want to basically pick the top three and only use those. You need to highlight what will happen if they don’t take action, but you don’t need to overdo it and scare them.

Mike: 27:48 – So you’re not going to die if you don’t come to my gym. But you definitely won’t accomplish your goals.

Jay: 27:53 – Yeah. You might look back a year from now and say, you wish you would have started today.

Mike: 27:55 – Wish those pants fit.

Jay: 27:58 – Yeah, exactly. And then the last piece that they kind of have as like an underlying thing is you want somebody to transform. You want there to be a character transformation. So you know, what are they going from? And then what are they turning into? Right? So like Luke was, you know, a farm boy and then you turned into a Jedi, you know, somebody at your gym, they might go from average to athlete, you know, whatever. So, there’s sort of a transformation and I mean that’s the entire script. So if you put it all together, it’s kind of like, you know, you’re looking for a gym but you don’t have a lot of time and that leaves you feeling frustrated and guilty. But that’s just wrong because you deserve a better life. We understand what it’s like to feel embarrassed and scared. We’ve helped over 1200 people look better, get stronger and feel better. So all you need to do is book a free intro, get a custom plan, show up and be a badass. And then you will learn to lift safely. You’ll find likeminded people and will get stronger, look better, you’ll have more confidence and you’ll avoid that low energy, low confidence, avoid life being a struggle. We help you go from average to athlete.

Mike: 29:17 – Nice. So if I put that back in the framework, guys, Jay just took you through character, problem guide, action and achievement of success and avoidance of failure. That’s all in that one package. And you’ve got establishing of the authority in there as well. You’ve got that, I think you said 1200 people or there was a number in there that is establishing authority big time.

Jay: 29:37 – Yeah. Yeah. And you know, the thing is like once you have that script, it’s really just kind of a touch point for everything else you do. So all your social media posts should use language from that script. You know all the blog posts you do, all the videos should be telling stories based on that script. The idea is that you always want to touch on different aspects of it. You don’t touch on everything in every post, right? But you touch on different aspects of this so that you’re always inviting people into the story that you’re trying to tell.

Mike: 30:10 – So I have a quote from you here, and I can’t remember where I found this on the internet, but it was in an article and it says most companies waste enormous amounts of money trying to tell their story. The truth is no one cares. People want to hear about their own story, right? So from your perspective, how many gyms out there are making that mistake? There must be tons that are trying to tell the story of their gym, but they’re not getting in touch with the client, am I right?

Jay: 30:35 – Yeah. I mean most of them are.

Mike: 30:38 – I’ll give you an example. Throw an example at you here. BMW changed their tagline. Used to be the ultimate driving machine. So that’s very focused on what they do. High quality. This thing is awesome. We are the experts. This is the coolest car ever. Their new tagline is sheer driving pleasure, and they’re not having the pleasure. That’s you, right? That’s right back on you where the tagline is completely different. I’ll give you one other one. McDonald’s. They had that campaign. It was successful for different reasons, but the two all-beef patty, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame-seed bun. That says very little about the client right. Now, their tagline that’s been the same since I think, 03 or something like that is I’m loving it, which is right back on the person. So these are shifts in business that you’re seeing. And again, Lego has been doing it since 78.

Jay: 31:21 – Yeah. Yeah. I mean the best companies do this. I mean Apple is, you know, the iPod was like 10,000 songs in your pocket or something, which is completely different from talking about like, you know, it has this amount of hard drive and all this kind of stuff. It’s really just about how you’re going to use it. What kind of person it makes you. They story that they’re bringing you into.

Mike: 31:41 – Chris has talked a little bit about this in Two-Brain stuff where he’s made the analogy of, you know, no one goes to the store to buy a drill bit, right? But you go to the store and the guy is like, Oh, this diamond trip tip drill bit. It’s going to just mow down whatever you’re drilling and you don’t care because you don’t actually want the drill, but you just want the hole in the wall. And that’s the analogy Chris has always used.

Jay: 31:58 – Yeah. So the thing that happened after we did this is we used to have this big script that we would follow when we did intros and we basically just tossed it out and just went back to using a blank sheet of paper, right? I mean it was just like, and we used to have like kind of a tour and stuff that we took people through and now it’s like you walk into the gym and we say, Hey, you know, thanks for coming in. This is our gym. It’s mostly empty space. Come with me. We’ll sit down and talk about your goals. And that’s really what the No-Sweat Intro is about. But the thing is like, the whole point is you’re making it all about them. And Oh, by the way, we have showers and changing rooms and lots of free parking. You know? And I think with most gyms, it’s like, Oh, look at all the cool stuff that we have or all the cool stuff that we do, and sometimes that overlaps with the story the customer is telling themselves, you know, you show a buff guy doing a snatch on your website, if there’s a buff guy who wants to learn how to do a snatch, that’s great. But if it’s a, you know, a soccer mom that’s never lifted weights before, those are absolutely opposite stories and you’re not going to get through to that person.

Mike: 33:13 – So to do this, to put all this stuff in place and make it happen, you really need to take like a long hard look at your business and your clients and figure out what problems your ideal clients have and how your business can solve them.

Jay: 33:24 – Yeah. And so one of the things they talk about is just sitting down with your clients. Like we always say, you know, sit down with your best clients. Ask them what are they struggling with? You know, listen to the words that they use. Maybe record it so that you get their actual language. And that’s how you put the script together. The best part about having this is that it’s almost like a playbook for everything else you do, right? Once you have an idea of what the story is, and that idea changes, it’s not always perfect. But you have an idea of what the story is so now you can use that to produce content. And that’s one of the things that we always talk about in Two-Brain is like if you’re not producing consistent content, then people don’t know you’re the authority.

Mike: 34:08 – Yeah. And I guess it’s like going back, if you looked at the story that a lot of CrossFit affiliates were telling say back in, I don’t know, 2009, 2012, something like that you’re looking at, if you’re looking from the outside, you’re seeing, wow, this guy came in as a Navy SEAL. He trained for 18 months and he went to the CrossFit Games and he vomited a lot in between and there was a lot of blood. That was the story a lot of gyms told. Right. And like you said, that applies to like that 1% of people that are out there. We got those guys, like they all came to our gyms, but then the other 99%, that story does resonate with them. They’re not in that story right there. And by definition they’ve been excluded from your marketing, your social media. They don’t feel like they could even come. And that’s why so many gyms have had this problem. CrossFit’s dangerous, I can’t do functional fitness and that’s too hard for me. I’m not in shape to come to your gym. Like that’s probably the funniest one I’ve ever heard. I’m not in shape and I can’t come to your gym. That’s a story gone wrong there. Right?

Jay: 35:02 – Yeah. Yeah. And you know, we don’t really even talk about CrossFit. If you listen to what I said with the script, don’t really talk that much about what we do. You know, it’s more like what you, what the customer wants. Right? Right. Once they come in, they’ll kind of figure it out. But again, it’s talking about the hole, not the drill.

Mike: 35:26 – And there’s a very specific market that wants to do quote unquote CrossFit or functional fitness. But what you’re saying in your story here is that there is a market of people that want to look better, feel better, you know, lose weight, be healthier, whatever that is. And they don’t really care what the product is. They want your, you know, you provide the solution. They just want to work toward that.

Jay: 35:48 – Yeah, to be clear, I mean, there are gyms that are much more competitive and have much higher-level athletes than mine that are going to have a different version of the story. This is the story for my gym based on the people that I work with. And so once I have this, it’s like, OK, great. This is the overall story for the gym. Now I can look at, for example, our teens program and create a story for the teens. You know, it’s like you’re looking for a way to get in shape for softball but you’re not sure what to do and et cetera, et cetera. You can go through the whole thing and it’s actually really easy to do that when you have the overarching story, because then you can just plug it in. Do the same for the strength program or the CrossFit light program.

Mike: 36:39 – So if gym owner or a business owner is listening right now, do you think they need to go to the StoryBrand workshop or what do you think, what’s their step here? If they want to learn more about this?

Jay: 36:49 – I mean I would start by reading the book and just doing the exercises.

Mike: 36:56 – Yeah. That’s “Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message so Customers Will Listen.” Donald Miller, it is an Amazon best seller. I’m looking at it right now. That’s the book.

Jay: 37:06 – Yeah, I would read the book and do the exercises and then once you’ve done them and you have an idea that you’re happy with, run it by either like your mentor or somebody that you trust and just see how it sounds to them. Right. And kind of go through a couple of iterations of that and then look for somebody that can answer when you say, you know, Hey, the problem is that people don’t have enough money. They can tell you like you live in New York City. You need to make sure that the message is not completely off brand. I think if you did that, if gym owners did that, that would be just such a huge step because the ones that I’ve talked to about this kind of thing. It’s like just changing a couple of words on your website makes a difference.

Mike: 37:55 – Yeah, and I’ve talked to a lot of gym owners and the common thing with a lot of them is from media perspective is what do I say? What do I do? What do I put on social media? Is that basic thing like I have no idea what to say to my market. So if they clarify first of all who they’re talking to and what those people need to hear, then that kind of guides the conversation a little bit I think.

Jay: 38:14 – Yeah. And so, the second part of the workshop is we start talking about creating a one liner so that you can answer this stuff pretty quickly and then updating your website. And here’s the different things that make a difference with the website. And then the lead magnet and stuff like that. Ultimately it’s just ways for you to use this language. And it’s ways for you to get it in action. If you wanted to just go and do the quick and dirty version of this and you just like read the book, created the script, just start playing around on Instagram. Just use quotes from things that you wrote in your script and see how it resonates with people, you know, take pictures that represent the things that gives you real-time feedback, how much engagement, how many likes, how many intros did you get. And it will tell you whether it actually works.

Mike: 39:04 – It’s funny cause a lot of this stuff again is not, this is not a rocket science in the sense that it was just invented and these are old-school advertising principles that most people ignore. And it’s funny because when I was writing radio ads back about 10 years ago, I could tell people what I think would be a good ad, but they’d say, no, I don’t want to do that. I just want to tell people about the features of this car, and customers, how many V8 engines can you really listen to before you don’t care? It’s probably like one, you know, unless you’re a gear head. Is there anything about the program, the StoryBrand concept and the framework and everything that kind of just didn’t work for you or you were sitting there listening, you’re like, man, I don’t know if that’s going to work at my gym or I want to kind of, you know, punt that part out. Is there anything that gym owners you think might run into something where they just, you know, skip that chapter kind of thing?

Jay: 39:51 – You know, I think most of it resonated. I think really the big thing and why and why I grabbed onto it so much is like you, I’ve just read so many different things about copywriting and trying to get people through ads or through writing to do what you want them to do. Right. And this was just like a new perspective on how to do that. But if it’s the first exposure you’ve ever had to copywriting then you’re not gonna get it at the same level, right? So, you know, it may be like you go through this whole thing and you’re like, eh, whatever doesn’t work for me. The biggest thing that you gotta do is just iterate through it and make sure that it actually resonates with you personally and with your clients and then track the results. Right? This is not a magic pill at all. Like you put it together, you try it, you see what the feedback is. You can actually look at your revenue over time and see if it makes a difference. So I wouldn’t say there’s anything I’d throw out, but I would say that it’s not the end state, it’s just the beginning.

Mike: 41:09 – And a lot of the things that we’ve talked about here, like lead magnets and sales processes and all that different stuff. We’re talking about a lot of that in Two-Brain Radio right now. So, people should subscribe, check our archives. I’ve got a series going right now with Mateo Lopez where we’re talking about all this stuff, copywriting, ad creative, landing pages, all the stuff that kind of goes along with the marketing package. So there’s a ton of that in there. I’ll give you, you watch Mad Men or have you watched that?

Jay: 41:32 – I watched the first few seasons.

Mike: 41:33 – Yeah. So I’ll give you a quote from a old Don Draper here. Just relates to what you said. “Advertising is based on one thing: Happiness. You know what happiness is. Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear.” So what he’s talking about there is that desired state, right? It’s like there’s success. That’s that new-car smell that smells like success. And then there’s the freedom of fear, which is the absence of failure and the negative things you talked about trying to avoid. So it’s really addressed to see how gyms can now use this to sort of frame their offerings essentially and try and generate clients. Do you have any tests planned or anything that you’re going to try and use this for the next little bit to see what happens?

Jay: 42:14 – Yeah. I mean, so what I did after I got back from this, is I ran all the stuff by my staff, because ultimately they’re the ones that deliver the stuff. And so I ran it by the staff and said, Hey, you know, do you resonate with this message, and once we kinda got all in agreement with that, I just started changing the website. Completely redid our website based on this.

Mike: 42:40 – What’s the website if people want to go look at it?

Jay: 42:42 –

Mike: 42:42 – All right, so check that out if you want to see an example. And of course the StoryBrand website as well. Like I said, the tagline on there tells you exactly, I mean, there’s not a lot to—when I was looking through the StoryBrand website, there’s not a ton of options. They’re kind of pushing, you know, bluntly over and over again, here’s what we do and we do it well, and they’ve got the whole social proof. And if you look at the StoryBrand website and you look at a really good gym website, you’re going to see some commonalities for sure.

Jay: 43:06 – Yeah, I mean really it’s like the expectation is not the first time you go to StoryBrand that you’re going to sign up, but you’ll know what to do if you want to do it. You go and do whatever their call to action is. It’s book a free intro. And I don’t expect that you’re going to do that the first time you come in. You’re going to see my blog post. You can see our social media and then you’re going to come back around.

Mike: 43:35 – And that social media and all the stuff that you’re producing is going to be framed the way you want it to reflect that message that you’re putting out on the call to action.

Jay: 43:43 – Yeah. And you know the other part about this, like when I look at websites, and think about yourself when you look at websites, you’re just scanning stuff. And so you just want to gather the information that’s going to tell you if this is going to solve your problem, right? So the more stuff that you put on there, the less you’re going to resonate with people. And so I simplified the site tremendously. I removed almost everything, and it works. I mean I’ve been getting more free intros since we started changing the language and we tweak and change it from time to time, but it works.

Mike: 44:17 – And that’s really what everyone wants. If it works, you know, you said it, track your data. If you try something and the numbers don’t prove it out. Get rid of it. If the numbers do, prove it out, keep her going. And that’s exactly is just a common—it’s common sense, but it’s also what we teach at Two-Brain regularly, is always analyze the results and if it doesn’t get better, punt it.

Jay: 44:38 – Yeah. The other thing, the way that I test any new language is I’ll put it on my Facebook ads. So I’ll run like a bunch of different pictures and then test different language with the same picture and see which one gets the most clicks and then get rid of the bad ones.

Mike: 44:59 – Facebook is a great place to test things like that. You can AB test, like John and Mateo, the marketing team was telling me in our previous podcast, with dynamic creative, a new service, you can test like huge combinations of taglines and photos and copy and Facebook will find out which one works and start pumping that one up. Get rid of the rest. So it’s an amazing place to test your marketing.

Jay: 45:18 – So yes, but this is why the StoryBrand fit in really well. Here’s the thing, I heard this quote from Seth, the guy who writes all the books. He said if you optimize your website enough, it will turn into a porn site. And that’s true. Like it gets so far away from the message and so much in different version that it changes into something else. Right. And that’s part of what I was kind of struggling with ads cause the best performing ads were not the ones that necessarily had the language that I agreed with. Right. And so this gives you a base to start with the language and then you can tweak little things here or there and then you see what kind of clients you get in and you see if they actually resonate with your message.

Mike: 46:05 – Yeah. I can tell you right now the, you know, the five people at my gym that I can throw up and get a hundred likes on Instagram, no questions asked. But it’s not because people want to come to the gym.

Jay: 46:17 – Yeah, exactly. It’s because of other reasons.

Mike: 46:20 – Exactly. OK. So wrapping this up then, is StoryBrand the be-all-end-all? Is it the answer to your marketing problems, is the end of the story I went to the StoryBrand marketing workshop and I became a millionaire?

Jay: 46:34 – No, I wouldn’t say it’s the end all be all. I think it’s a good system that gives you a framework. But really the big picture of this is like if you’re running a business, you’re in charge of your own marketing and you need to learn sales and marketing to be able to run a successful business. It’s really the difference between success and failure. Good marketing and good sales can solve almost any problem in business. And so it’s important for you to go out and learn everything you can to make sure that your message resonates with your clients. And this is one way that you can make some progress on that.

Mike: 47:08 – And that that is why we have sales and marketing and our Incubator. It’s not enough to be a great trainer anymore. You have to be a good business owner to be successful. And you teach that to your clients as a mentor, correct?

Jay: 47:19 – Yeah, absolutely. I mean we are always trying and tweaking and testing things and really catering it towards that particular business owner.

Mike: 47:31 – All right, that is the end of the story, but it will be continued in next episodes. Be sure to subscribe toTwo-Brain Radio. Chris Cooper is here all the time with all sorts of advice. I’m talking with Mateo Lopez regularly. We’re doing marketing stuff in a series right now. And you’ve got Sean Woodland who’s talking to the top people from the fitness world. Thanks for listening. I’m Mike Warkentin for Jay Williams and this is Two-Brain Radio. Please remember to subscribe. If you’re a gym owner and need some help growing your business, Two-Brain mentors can show you the exact steps to add $5,000 in monthly recurring revenue. Book a free call on to find out more.

Announcer: 48:04 – Thank you for listening to Two-Brain Radio. Make sure to subscribe to receive the most up-to-date episodes wherever you get your podcasts from. To find out how we can help create your Perfect Day, book a free call with a mentor at


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

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

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Branding 101: What Are They Hiring You to Do?

Branding 101: What Are They Hiring You to Do?

In the previous post in this series, I said this: “The best brands in the world don’t reflect their owners’ tastes. The best brands always come from the question, ‘What do our clients want?'”

The high-level insights here come from Clayton M. Christensen’s classic book “Competing Against Luck.” In the book, Christensen introduces the concept of “jobs to be done” with this story:

A couple of decades ago, Christensen was hired to help a fast-food chain sell more milkshakes.

The chain had tried making the milkshakes thicker; then they tried making them smoother. They had tried adding little chunks of fruit and chocolate. They had tried different temperatures. They had doubled their advertising spend. All their focus groups agreed their milkshakes were the best. But nothing they tried really helped them sell more.

Christensen set up his staff at the chain’s drive-thru. Anyone who bought a milkshake was questioned while waiting: “Why did you choose a milkshake? Why this milkshake?” 24 hours a day for the entire week, the researchers interrogated milkshake buyers.

The research team was astonished to find that a third of all milkshakes were sold between 7 and 8 a.m. “Who bought milkshakes in the morning?” they wondered. So they started digging deeper.

It turns out that morning-milkshake buyers were looking for something that they could drink on the way to work, that would fill them up, that wouldn’t leave crumbs on their work clothes. The buyers were “hiring” a milkshake to do those jobs. Fruit didn’t fill them up; cereal was too messy; eggs took too long or would leave their hands greasy. So they hired milkshakes.

Christensen spent the next decades teaching businesses how to identify the jobs their clients were really hiring them to do. His “jobs to be done” concept is the subject of books from dozens of authors and many YouTube videos from other experts. Christensen’s team charges hundreds of thousands of dollars to do client research. But there’s a cheat code. Here it is:

Ask people what they want.

Don’t guess.


How to Find out What Job Clients Hire You to Do


I wrote about “Seed Clients” in “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief.” Here’s the exercise:

First, identify who your best clients are. You don’t want to duplicate your worst clients.

I share that part of the exercise in the book.

You’ll probably find three to five Seed Clients. Take those people for coffee, one at a time.

Ask them these questions:

  1. What led you to my gym in the first place?
  2. What frustrates you most about the fitness industry in general?
  3. What’s your greatest challenge outside my gym?

Note that you’re not asking them survey-style questions, like “how would you rate your experience?” or “what could we do better?” The answers to those questions will leave you chasing your tail. What you’re really asking with these three questions are:

  1. What should I say or do to get more people like you to join?
  2. What should I avoid saying or doing?
  3. How can I serve you more?

When I first did this exercise at Catalyst around 2015, I was shocked by the responses. I thought my clients would say, “CrossFit attracted me to your gym.” I thought they’d say, “The workouts are hard but feel like a game.” I kinda hoped they’d say, “Because Chris is the best coach in town, widely renowned for his knowledge and spreadsheets.”

They didn’t say any of those things. Instead, they said:

“I can turn off my brain when I come here. You tell me exactly what to do.”

“I feel better when it’s done.”

“This is the only place all day where I hear ‘good job!'”

They also told me how else I could serve them (adding a nutrition program, which has made me many thousands of dollars since).

Performing the exercise was an epiphany for me:

My clients don’t want what I want. They’re hiring me for a different job than I think they are.

I’m not good at guessing what others want (ask my wife and family.)

It’s better to just ask them, and then build my service—and my brand—to match.

What job are your clients hiring you to do, really? If you ask them, they’ll tell you.


Other Media in This Series

Branding 101: Are You Poisoning Your Brand?
Branding 101: Clarity Is Greater Than Art
StoryBrand: Can It Help You Acquire More Clients?
Branding for Farmers, Founders, Tinkers and Thiefs

Dogging It in Every WOD: Alex Castiglione and Bully Breeds

Dogging It in Every WOD: Alex Castiglione and Bully Breeds

Sean: 00:05 – Hi everybody. Welcome to another edition of Two-Brain Radio with Sean Woodland. On today’s episode, I speak with the founder of the charitable organization, Barbells for Bullies, Alex Castiglione. First: Over the last months, I’ve interviewed some really great guests like Stacie Tovar, Tanya Wagner, Boz, Adrian Bozman, Chris Hinshaw, Rory Mckernan, Julie Foucher and more. If you’ve missed out on any of those interviews, you can check out our archives for the best stories from the fitness community, and to avoid FOMO, please subscribe to Two-Brain Radio. I’ve got a great guest coming every single week. Alex Castiglione is an everyday CrossFitter who wanted to do something to help dogs, so he started Barbells for Bullies back in 2016. Barbells for Bullies is a nonprofit organization that hosts fitness competitions all around the United States to raise money and awareness for animal rescues all across the country, with a specific emphasis on bully breeds. Alex and I talk about what motivated him to start his organization, the various misconceptions that are out there regarding bully breeds and what people can do in their own communities if they want to help local shelters or rescues. Thanks for listening everybody. Alex, thanks so much for doing this, man, how are you?

Alex: 01:24 – I’m doing well, Sean. Thanks for having me. How are you doing?

Sean: 01:27 – I’m doing great, thank you. It’s my pleasure. Before we get into what Barbells for Bullies is, let’s get into you and how you got into CrossFit. How did you find CrossFit?

Alex: 01:39 – I can thank my sister and my brother-in-law, in Feb 2012, so eight years coming up on it, OG, they just brought me to the gym once, I boxed in high school, kind of fell off in college and I was partying and drinking beer and they just brought me to a gym and it was so bad. I threw up three times my first workout. And I fell in love with it. It was wall balls, kettlebell swings and box jumps. And I was not prepared. I was not prepared.

Sean: 02:06 – When people haven’t experienced like that, they usually then don’t repeat it. What kept you coming back?

Alex: 02:13 – That’s my personality. I’m a chronic challenge seeker. I’m a glutton for punishment I think. But yeah, I enjoyed it. I loved the community aspect of it and we could chat about that a little later. But yeah, the community was great. It didn’t matter if you were dead lifting 315 or 95 pounds, everybody there was just so welcoming and just respectful and engaging. And that’s what made me fall in love with just the culture.

Sean: 02:34 – Where did your love for dogs and especially bully breeds come from?

Alex: 02:40 – That’s kind of a long story. So really, I’ve always been around dogs. My mom used to breed Pomeranians and like I would always go to dog shows. So it’s kind of funny that now I’m associated with like pitbulls and these big bully breeds. But I got my first bully 15 years ago. His name was Chops, one of the best dogs ever, man, he was just sweet, 115 pounds, snuggle monster and he was just a great dog. He got me through a lot, like my father had three or four heart surgeries and I just had him sit in with me on the couch and stuff like that. And then suddenly he passed in August the 20th, perforated the small intestine had to have surgery. So my wife and I spent thousands we didn’t have to try and save him, and he didn’t make it.

Sean: 03:28 – Sorry you dropped off really fast there, I’m gonna have to edit that out. There was—you just dropped off. Can we just start again on that? Here we go. So three, two, one. Where did your love for dogs and especially bully breeds come from?

Alex: 03:43 – Okay, so that’s kind of a long story. First and foremost, I always had dogs around my mom, bred Pomeranians. I was always in dog shows when I was a kid. And my first bully, I got about 15 years ago, his name was Chops, he’s a rescue, obviously best dog ever, 115 pounds of snuggle, just all around awesome dog. And that’s really when I started to learn about the bully breeds and just how they were vilified and people would pick up their kids and run across the street when they saw him and when he wanted to do was snuggle. And unfortunately we lost him in August of 2014 which was kind of the catalyst for Barbells for Bullies. And we can talk about that later, but he’s the one that really made me fall in love with the breed overall. And it’s not even really a breed and we can discuss that.

Sean: 04:28 – Yeah. What about that there is a stigma behind bully breeds. First off, where does that come from?

Alex: 04:36 – I think it’s media based and it’s also socially based. So the media, they need a villain. I think it was Cesar Millan that said that, you know, in the 70s it was Dobermans, in the 80s it was German shepherds and the 90s it was rottweilers. Now it’s bully breeds. And the reason that we like to say bully breeds and not pit bull is because there’s no such thing as a pit bull. That is a blanket term used to describe a dog that has certain characteristics that looks a certain way, has a certain build, a certain type of head. Bully breeds are Bulldogs, great Danes. Pugs are a bully breed. And then of course your American pitbull terrier amstaffs, things like that. So it’s really—it’s the media and it’s a bunch and I hate saying like, ph the media did it. But there’s a lot of stigma out there, and I’ve even talked to journalists where they’ve said it’s a very “if it bleeds, it leads” mentality where if it’s, you know, a pug will bite somebody, oh, don’t worry about it. Oh, pit bull attacks somebody, let’s put that in the headlines. And they make sure the breed is always there. But I mean we could discuss this, breed specific legislation which was put on the books to combat, you know, dangerous breeds, has never worked. It’s never stopped a dog bite. And frankly it’s the equivalent of racism where we’re discriminating against dogs for looking a certain way through not blaming their behavior. We’re just kind of saying you look a certain way, therefore you’re bad, and that’s obviously problematic.

Sean: 05:55 – What then motivated you to start Barbells for Bullies?

Alex: 05:58 – So initially I wanted to do something cause we went to a shelter two months after we lost Chops. All I did for those two months was just 90-minute sessions in the gym. The three-hour beat downs just cause going home and not having him greet me, it was tough. I mean you have dogs, you know, it’s tough. But eventually I worked up the courage to go to the shelter and adopt, and I noticed every single room, every single one was full of pit-bull type dogs. Every one of them. And then the one that was like a shepherd had an adopted stand by it. So I was like, I need to do something. I thought about it and this is in October of 2014, thought about it, said something and my wife, kicked the idea around. I had the idea, well we do all these CrossFit competitions where we pay, you know, a hundred bucks for an entry fee.

Alex: 06:43 – Where’s that going? Why don’t we do a charity event and see what we can do to raise the money. So we held our first event in June of 2016, but was really the catalyst is going to the shelter in Atlanta and seeing this is a problem and evidently it’s a problem everywhere and we can discuss that more in depth.

Sean: 06:58 – When you give people your elevator pitch for not only what you do but for Barbells for Bullies, what surprises in the most about the stats and facts that you give them about that breed?

Alex: 07:11 – I think the most shocking number is 1.2 million, I’ll say 1.2 million dogs every year in the U.S. are euthanized in shelters. That’s the population of Dallas, Texas, every single year. And then you could give them more stats, like pitbull-type dogs score higher on AKC temperament scale than every other dog, except for Labradors, they’re fantastic family pets.

Alex: 07:37 – I mean they’re misidentified over 60% of the time, where they’re just like oh, it looks like a pit bull. Meanwhile we do a DNA test and it has nothing to do with it. One of our dogs, for instance, Moxie, she’s a black bully mix, we swore she was amstaff and Labrador. We did her DNA, bloodhound border Collie and like 22% amstaff, like barely even Pitbull type dog. So it’s just proof that looks are deceiving. But those are the stats, when I bring those up, people are very much like 1.2 million, really? I’m like, yeah, and over half of them are pit bull type dogs. That’s not representative.

Sean: 08:09 – Why did you think that the CrossFit world and then the world of dog rescue were a good match for each other?

Alex: 08:18 – I honestly didn’t. I really didn’t. I took a shot. I saw that there were a bunch of competitions going on. We did some charity events. I didn’t think that there would be this correlation or just it would be that accepted. But it really was, and I’ve had people make the point to me when we’re discussing where CrossFitters and bully breeds kind of have something in common where they can come across as too intense or be intimidating in the way they look. But in reality, they’re just incredibly nice people, incredibly nice dogs. So I think there’s something there that we can kind of tease out a little bit, but I think that’s, to put a fine point on it, that, and people just, they love their animals, they’re emotionally attached and if they can do something that’s in aligned with their lifestyles that makes a difference in the world, they’ll do it. And that’s kind of where we’re garnering some traction at.

Sean: 09:05 – When you first started this, where did your initial efforts look like?

Alex: 09:11 – So me being again, a chronic challenge seeker, our first ever event was in June, 2016. It took six months of planning. We had 80 competitors, which was huge for our first event. And then about three months later, four months later, we did another one. So we did two events our first year.

Alex: 09:28 – There’s unknown unknowns. Like we went into it, I was all buttoned up but of course we had some things go off the rails or timing was off or we had to reevaluate our standards. I mean I remember now in our standards we have to put your heels must cross the plane of the box cause we had people Miami Vice rolling over for burpee box jump overs and I’m just like, I didn’t say you couldn’t. They’re getting from one side of the box to the other. So that I think it—those were our initial efforts, doing those two events. But we grew exceptionally quick and that was something we had to manage. Where in 2017 we did six events or seven events in six cities and big markets. So Atlanta, LA, Denver, New York and Danbury, Connecticut. And then in 2018 we did 12 events in 10 cities. So we had some twofers in some cities. So in 2019 we scaled back a little bit and concentrated on refining everything and really trying to figure out how we can turn this into a force for good, cause we were garnering some more momentum in the space thanks to you and people like you in sport.

Sean: 10:29 – What were the challenges that you face early on as you tried to gain traction with Barbells for Bullies?

Alex: 10:36 – I think it was really, it was more scalability than anything else, cause I work full time in addition to this, I’m also a grad student, so my expertise is in advertising and marketing space, so that kind of came easy. But other people I talked to in other gyms, they say that’s their challenge. For us it was scalability and not taking on too much too quickly and just growing organically because we would get a ton of inquiries and people that wanted to get involved. But frankly there’s only so many hours in a day. So scalability was the real touch point for us, that was something that we really had to learn about going into it.

Sean: 11:10 – How then did you apply what you learned and then take care of the problem?

Alex: 11:15 – I think it was really coming down to checking our ego at the door and not getting too emotionally invested and knowing that we’re going to make mistakes, we’re going to have to optimize. With most of our events, we do a post-event recaps and surveys and I read every single response. I want to know what people are saying. And by and large, we do a great job. I mean obviously there’s always incremental places to improve, but every now and then you’ll read that one person that’s like the BPM of the music in WOD 3 was way too slow, it’s like, yes, of all the things that went into this event, that was what I talking about, not how it was registration. How was the staff? How was the judging, how was the rescue on site? Yes. I was talking about the iPod that was running while we were counting your reps. But overall, I mean, I think it’s honestly just taking stock of it and avoiding mission creep and remembering we’re doing this to affect positive change in our community and just creating a community that can rally around fitness and rescue.

Sean: 12:09 – You talked about this a little bit, but when did things really start to take off for your organization?

Alex: 12:19 – I’ll give you different answers at different times for that. At least twice a year I say to my wife like, Oh, this is our tipping point, but I don’t know if I want to say take off. I mean, I’m 100% aware that we would be nowhere without the support of the community of athletes everywhere. People like yourself and just of the population at large, and I would, I’m not concerned with the notoriety or anything like that. I’m doing this to kind of move the needle. Again, I think I mentioned this, we’re volunteer based. I don’t pay myself. I’m not going to pay myself until we hit a certain number of revenue every year just because that’s taking away from what we’re trying to do. Right? Like, I want to donate as much money as possible, help as many rescues as possible. But I’d love it if five years from now we have to rebrand because bully breeds weren’t vilified in the media or they were getting adopted at alarming speed or they were the new it dog or whatever. But we’re not there yet. And ultimately I just want to get people active, get them engaged and get them to have some skin in the game in the rescue community.

Sean: 13:17 – What are some of the things that you’ve been able to accomplish? Not from an event standpoint, but really helping organizations or dogs that you’re the most proud of?

Alex: 13:26 – I mean that’s a loaded question, Sean, it really is. I mean we just had a milestone this past year as of you know, fourth quarter 19 we’ve donated over $100,000 as an organization. I’m extremely proud of that. But more than the money, cause you know, anybody can throw numbers out there. It’s having the conversations and changing minds. We did one event in Denver in 2018 where I was chatting with somebody and they’re just like, Hey, you know, I don’t have a pit bull but I have a dog. What’s this all about? And we’re just talking to them. And I was like, Hey, did you know that there’s breed-specific legislation in Denver where if I’m driving from Arvada to Aurora driving across the city and I have a pit bull in my car and a cop happens to know the law and wants to enforce it, he could legally take the dog.

Alex: 14:08 – And they’re like, really? I’m like, yeah, didn’t get out of the car, didn’t do anything, didn’t growl, tail wagging, whatever. They can take the dog, and just little aha moments like that where they’re like, Oh. And I’m like, yeah, it’s up for a vote and vote it down. If you can volunteer or shelter advocate, that’s the thing. And whenever we do events that we personally run, always do a little spiel at the end and talk about it. And just when I tell people, you know, it’s just random acts of kindness, you all can can make a difference. Like I’m not special. I just had an idea and I ran with it and I don’t know how to give up, but there’s not much else I can do that you can’t. You can do it. You can do what I do, basically.

Sean: 14:44 – Hey guys, before we go any further with Alex Castiglione, I wanted to ask you a question. Remember when pictures of bloody hands and vomit attracted clients to your gym? Well that stopped working in about 2011 or so. It’s also not enough to be a great coach or programmer. The key to success in 2020 is building a personal relationship with each client, then helping that client’s friends and family. Total ad spend on that? $0. The average gym owner can also add $45,000 a year in revenue just by keeping each client a few months longer. Two-Brain’s new Affinity Marketing and Retention guides will give you everything you need to know. You can get both and 13 other guides and books for free. Visit And now more with Alex Castiglione.

Sean: 15:43 – There’s that saying where it’s there are not bad dogs, there are bad owners. How much responsibility do owners bear in sort of perpetuating this perception that bullies are dangerous?

Alex: 15:59 – I think there’s a lot of onus on the owner and I get really upset when I see people either A walking around with unaltered pit bull type dogs, which aside from the fact that we’re full, like we’re all full, we have plenty of typical type dogs in shelters. Neutering your dog reduces a whole bunch of behavioral issues, they’re less likely to run away, a whole bunch of stuff like that. But then moreover, I hate when I see people that have like the chain collars on their dog, you know, like I don’t even know, it’s like actual chain and they made into a collar to make them look mean or they cropped their ears. But ultimately it’s the owner’s responsibility to make sure that dog is safely handled. And a lot of these things you read about in the news about somebody being attacked or any dog-related issue, you can almost invariably point to the owner and be like, well the owner didn’t secure it, it wasn’t on a leash, what have you.

Alex: 16:48 – And then in a lot of cases, right, quote unquote “pitbulls” involved, if you read up on it, it’ll be like, Oh, pit bull mauls Chihuahua. And then if you read the story, that Chihuahua was off leash, ran up to the dog and the dog just reacted. So I just like to tell people, you know, it all starts with responsible pet ownership, we’re responsible for these dogs and we need to keep them safe and keep our community safe. But it’s definitely the owner. There’s no such thing as bad dogs, just bad owners. And all of these behaviors are learned. Dogs are inherently good.

Sean: 17:16 – What are some of the events or partnerships that you have executed recently?

Alex: 17:21 – Well we’ve been super busy in fourth quarter, fourth quarter, 2019, we had two events back to back that were proofs of concept, but very successful. So we had Ruck Your Balls Off co-branded with GORUCK. Yeah, I love the name, you can thank my wife for that. So what that was was a co-branded initiative with GORUCK where essentially people would sign up and they would ruck, you know, walk with a weighted pack to raise money and awareness for spay-neuter initiatives around the country. Now we’re Barbells for Bullies. Our focus is bully breeds but we help all dogs. So with Ruck Your Balls Off, we managed to donate over $12,000 to various spay-neuter initiatives around the country like Chicago animal, care and control, snip bus, which is actually a mobile spay neuter clinic that’s in California, in your neck of the woods, lifeline in Atlanta.

Alex: 18:06 – And then the Pitty project in New Jersey who provides free spay neuter for any pit bull type dog. So that was a huge win for us. And then also we did something co-branded with our friends at vetwod benefiting operation side kick. What they do is they train primarily pitbull type dogs but shelter dogs to be therapy or PTSD dogs for veterans at no cost to the veteran, which there’s tons of research for that and obviously in the CrossFit community we do these hero WODs to honor our servicemen that paid the ultimate sacrifice, it makes sense for that synergy. And in that initiative, again proof of concept, we donated 7,500 bucks to them and we have a little more on the way cause we had a peer to peer fundraising element that was up. As far as the partnerships, we had a brand partnership with Hylete where half the profits from their Barbells for Bullies T-shirts go directly back to us.

Alex: 18:53 – We also just announced a partnership with 2Pood where we’re going to have two different bells, a underdog bells, and also Barbells for Bullies bells and then we have some other ones that are in the works that I don’t want to release yet. But suffice it to say that they’re big names in the CrossFit space and it’s just amazing to have all these brands that are willing to affect positive change in their community across all metrics, whether it’s animal rescue with us or just other things, like GORUCK has a Travis Mannion foundation, Green Beret foundation, Navy SEAL foundation. So it’s amazing that we’re seeing all these big fitness corporations and organizations really get behind charitable giving.

Sean: 19:28 – What is the underdog fund?

Alex: 19:30 – All right, so the underdog fund, the best way I can describe it is a discretionary fund that we have to alleviate some of the issues that we’ve seen in our lives. So what it is is it’s a discretionary fund where we pay for emergency surgeries, adoption fees, rescue pull fees. So for instance, a lot of rescues, they won’t be able to pull a dog from a high kill shelter unless they have the funding. And we consistently got tagged for the last three and a half years on all these social media posts that were asking us, you know, just tagging us like, Hey, anything you can do to help. Well, if 200 bucks gets a dog off death row and provides the incentive for a vetted and licensed rescue to pull that dog, I’ll do that all day long. So we created it out of a need and to date or just this year alone, we’ve spent over $3,000 providing emergency veterinary services, sponsoring dogs for rescue. And we even paid for the bulk of the TPLO surgery and knee surgery for a dog that was in the shelter walking around with two broken legs.

Alex: 20:33 – So that’s really the underdog fund. It just arose from a need where we saw people tagging us. And while we do donate all of our net proceeds to a local rescue in that community, again, we don’t take this money and run. If we do an event in Buffalo, it goes to a rescue in Buffalo, you know, San Jose, same thing, you know, Denver, same thing. With the underdog fund though, we needed to do more and we were in a position to do that. It’s a fundraising and awareness raising organization. So that’s what we’re doing with the underdog fund.

Sean: 20:59 – What do you guys have on the horizon now?

Alex: 21:02 – Well the sun. Dad jokes aside, we have a bunch of events coming up. So in 2019 we branched out outside of the CrossFit space. While that’s still our meat and potatoes, we did a USAW sanctioned and local weightlifting competition, which was awesome.

Alex: 21:19 – So a lot of crazy strong athletes there. Shout out to Hampton Morris, 16-year-old kid, guarantee you this kid will be in the Olympics. He snatched at 61 kilo body weight, a hundred kilo at 15 years old. Kid’s savage. So if you’re listening, shout out to him, he will be going to the Olympics most likely. We have other partnerships that we’re working on. So I just got off the phone with a GORUCK actually, we’re going to do another Ruck Your Balls Off initiative in the spring or summer, just doing our satellite events. And then also in 2020 I wanted to make it more accessible cause a lot of gyms they want to get involved but they don’t have the square footage or the know how, the logistics and we do that, if you reach out to us to host a competition, we handle everything.

Alex: 22:03 – Excess boots on the ground. All you need to do is have warm bodies and people that can count reps. We take care of everything else. I mean we do the marketing and we take care of prize fulfillment, shirts, you know, score sheets, you name it. Cause you’ve done 30 of these, we kind of came up with a system. But that’s a lot and people still want to get involved. So what we started to do is if you want to do a charity workout, if you want to have your gym be like a preferred partner for our online competition series that we’re launching in a few weeks. Again, we could talk about that, if you want to be a preferred gym, kind of like a Festivus Games or the Granite Games where people can drop into your gym and do the WOD there, awesome. So we’re just trying to think of more ways to get people involved in this community.

Alex: 22:43 – Cause again, if it’s about community and fitness that rallies around rescue, we’re a part of it. So we’re just kind of optimizing and creating more opportunities for gyms. Either CrossFit, weightlifting, power lifting or RUCK clubs or anything like that to get involved. The only thing we’re kind of staying away from is, you know your 5ks and things like that because a lot of shelters already do that and we’re not trying to step on that. Whenever people are like, Oh I want to donate to you. I’m like donate to your shelter. Just sign up for a comp. Like we want to give you an experience. I don’t want your money.

Sean: 23:12 – You had Dave Castro on Instagram doing some of the workouts that I think you guys posted. How did that help you sort of get the word out about this online competition?

Alex: 23:21 – Yeah, that was a huge and completely accidental. We didn’t reach out to him, so that was awesome. I think a operation sidekick might’ve, but our website traffic went insane and we got another like I think a hundred signups within a couple of days. We extended the deadline for that. But yeah, that was for Sitruck and we got 250 athletes involved and Miranda and Julian at Street Parking programmed it. So community is great. I mean I’m preaching to the choir, you know how supportive and amazing this community is. And I’m so floored every day whenever we open up our Instagram or I open up our email and people are like, Hey, I want to get involved, how can I help? And I’m like, faith in humanity restored.

Sean: 24:01 – What’s the reaction you get from the CrossFit community or even the strength community when they take part in one of your events?

Alex: 24:10 – Very extremely thankful and that’s sort of surprising to me and I’m so humbled by it and I just tell them like, no, like thank you. Like really? Like this would be nothing without you coming here and dedicating your time, sweat and effort and money to register for these events. They’ve been nothing but supportive and a lot of people have actually gotten more involved in rescue because of us. And that’s, I said, exceptionally humbling. Like I didn’t imagine it was going to be like this when I started it in 2016, it was supposed to just be a one off in Atlanta. Like where we just did an annual comp in Atlanta, it turned out problem everywhere and we have work to do everywhere and we’re going to continue to rise to that call.

Sean: 24:48 – You mentioned that people will contact, you said they want to get involved. What is the best thing people can do locally in their own communities to help dogs in need?

Alex: 25:00 – Just care. That’s the bottom line. And not everybody has to, you know, host an event or raise a bunch of money or donate thousands of dollars, like adopt, really just adopt a dog from a shelter. If you can’t do that, foster, we’ve personally fostered four dogs here at Barbells for Bullies HQ, our house. And that’s immensely rewarding. Is it tough? Yeah. But every dog we fostered has been on the urgent list and would have been euthanized and it turns out I still get texts from their owners now where they’re amazing dogs. So foster please everybody. If you have the space and you don’t really want to adopt or you’re not sure, just foster, I guarantee you you’re going to have at least one foster fail. Advocate, educate. If somebody says something ignorant, you know, check them on it. I admittedly have to disengage when people say ignorant stuff about pitbulls where I just have to be like, you know what?

Alex: 25:49 – We’re not getting into this right now. Here’s my website. Read some more information. But really it would just be just care. Go to your local shelter, walk dogs. There’s plenty of research and if people want to see this, email me, I’ll send it to you, that scientifically quantifies that dogs that get out and go for walks or do like a dog for the day program are less prone to cage rage. They’re not going to break down. They’re going to be more easily adopted, more easily acclimated. There’s a whole bunch of research in that regard. Just really get involved in any capacity, even if it’s donating blankets or newspapers, whatever you can do. Any random act of kindness is step in the right direction in my book. And that’s really what I tell people is you don’t have to participate with us. Just go to your local shelter and volunteer. They’re happy to have the help.

Sean: 26:33 – What’s the reaction you get from the organizations that you help?

Alex: 26:39 – Usually they’re floored. Cause a lot of them have come to an event and they’re just like, Oh, okay, cool. You know, we’re going to get a couple hundred bucks and then we’ll hit them with a $5,000 check. And they’re like, are you serious? This is amazing. And we love that reaction. Admittedly, we want to help smaller rescues, local rescues that are doing great work in the community rather than, you know, a large state-run ASPCA or humane society because they have the budget, they’re going to get government grants, they have the manpower, they have the resources. But we want to help these small organizations that are boots on the ground, pulling dogs from high-kill shelters, really out there in the community and advocating. But the reaction from them is obviously very thankful, but a lot of times I think they’re floored cause they don’t realize that we can really generate a lot of revenue and a lot of awareness from, you know, something like a fitness event where if you had a CrossFitter, a lot of these people that are in the rescue world, you know, they’re not involved in it and you just see their eyes bugging out of their head. Like, did that woman just dead lift 225? Yes. Yes she did. Yes she did.

Sean: 27:40 – We talked about how people can get involved locally. If there are people who say, Hey, I’m really into this Barbells for Bullies thing. I either want to host an event or I want to get involved with them, how can they go about doing that?

Alex: 27:50 – Just email us emails. The emails go to either and my wife or I, so If you want to host an event, we’ll send you some information ranging, like I said, from community events to competitions, online events to being a preferred partner to a full blown official comp where like myself and a small contingent of my team will go out there, we’ll run the entire event soup to nuts and make it like a whole event experience. But really we’re down to collaborate with anybody as long as they have a awesome rescue involved, people that are dedicated to fitness and wellness and being active. We want to be involved with you. So just hit us with an email, go to our website and you can email me directly. It’s

Sean: 28:32 – The work that you do and that rescues do is not easy whatsoever. What keeps you motivated day to day and coming back for more?

Alex: 28:44 – That’s a great question and it’s a tough one. My wife and I were talking about this the other day when we went to a fundraiser event for Friends of the Forlorn Pitbull rescue in Georgia, the guy that runs it, Jason Flatt, is just amazing. I mean, he’ll get up at three in the morning and drive to Florida to rescue dogs from like a dog fighting ring. He’s fantastic. And we were talking, I couldn’t do that side of rescue. It’s just so emotionally taxing and my heart goes out to you if you’re a rescue worker. Thank you for the work you do. It’s amazing. But I physically, I personally couldn’t do that. So what we can do is we can raise funds and we can raise awareness to keep that needle moving forward. Now what keeps me motivated is when I can hand that check to that small rescue and see their eyes light up and knowing that they could go pull 10, 12, dogs from a shelter.

Alex: 29:35 – But really it’s seeing the minds being changed, seeing the incremental steps, having these conversations people and like I alluded to, I work full time and I’m a grad student so this takes up maybe 30 hours of my week working on Barbells for Bullies and sometimes I think I need my head examined, but then when I can DM that rescue like, Hey that surgery bill you put up for 500 bucks, it’s covered. Hit me with your PayPal info. That makes it worthwhile. You know? Or just knowing that I can get people to have a buddy like Chops was to me in their life. Cause when I see these stats, like 1 in 600 pitbulls makes it out of the shelter alive, I think about the 599 that could be somebody’s best friend that won’t have that chance because of all these issues we’re talking about. Spay neuter is enforced as it should be. It should be the vilification of pitbulls, just that, all of that. But what keeps me motivated are probably those three things and it’s again, and rescue people power to you.

Sean: 30:33 – Yeah. Alex, listen man, thank you so much for doing this and honestly thank you for everything that you’re doing and just, you know, it’s like you said, faith in humanity restored when I’m able to talk to people like yourself and if there’s any ever anything I can do to help, please let me know.

Alex: 30:49 – I appreciate that Sean and again, thank you for the time and thank you for rescuing and doing everything you do and yeah, thanks. I really appreciate this

Sean: 30:57 – Big thanks to Alex Castiglione for taking the time to talk with me and for all the great work he does through his organization. If you want to follow Barbells for Bullies on social media, they are on Instagram and you can find them at @barbellsforbullies, and their website is Thank you for listening to Two-Brain Radio. Please remember to subscribe and leave us a review. I’m Sean Woodland and I’ll be back with more great stories from the fitness community each and every week. Be sure to check out our archives for interviews with your favorite athletes, coaches, and personalities. Thanks for listening everybody. We’ll see you next time.


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

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