Why You Want More Two-Brain Gyms in Your City

Why You Want More Two-Brain Gyms in Your City

Earlier in this series, I wrote that gym ownership is a positive-sum game: that every gym makes it easier for future gyms to open.

And if the gym is owned by the right person—with an abundance mindset—he or she will help your gym grow.

Best of all: If a new gym opens and shares your brand, your values and your pricing, everyone rises together. We all can win.


Laying Tracks


I was the third personal trainer in my city.

It took me about three months to fill my schedule. I was employed by the second personal trainer in my city, who took about a year to fill his. And he was friends with the first guy, Shane. Shane took three years to fill his schedule. As the third one in, I benefited from the hard work done by those who came before me.

Shane worked at a globo-gym. As the first personal trainer in Sault Ste. Marie, he had to teach the members what a “personal trainer” was; then he had to convince them they needed one. He had to sell—hard—all day and night. It took him around three years to build his business.

When I showed up five years later, everyone knew what a personal trainer did, and there was a surplus of at least 40 people who wanted one. I know, because those 40 signed up with me instead of Shane. But he did all the hard work for me back in 1997.

In 2008, it was my turn to carry the water: I became the first CrossFit affiliate in the city. The CrossFit brand attracted one client, a friendly early adopter named Joe. I had to teach 80,000 other people what CrossFit was, what it wasn’t and how it could solve their problems. I’d say I’m about halfway through those 80,000 now.

When another local gym affiliated in 2009, I panicked: They were going to build on my foundation! All my hard work had created a funnel into their gym! I saw the posts from earlier affiliates through a different lens: Yeah, I wanted a protected territory that I owned! I panicked. I compared my rates to theirs. I called them out for copying me. I tried to rip their coaching, condemn their programming and tear down their business.

Of course, that created a lot of animosity.

They did just fine. They’re still around, getting good results for people and making people happy. And obviously we did really well, too.

But what if we had worked together from the start?


When More Is Better for All


In Baltimore, in Denver, in Houston, in Atlanta and in more cities, entrepreneurs in the Two-Brain family are beginning to gather together.

They’re collectively educating the local population using the Help First philosophy. They’re inviting others into their boxes. They’re not competing on price, not running each other down, not texting each other’s members.

When everyone is doing well, and when no one is desperate, we all do better.

When everyone’s healthy, no one has to resort to dirty tricks, lies or price wars.

We call this “collaborative competition,” but it really means eliminating the bad actors. Wrestling with a pig just gets you dirty; lifting the pig out of the dirty sty creates a better life for everyone.

Over the weekend, the Two-Brain family grew by eight entrepreneurs. They came from:

Birmingham, U.K.
Stockholm, Sweden
Alberta, Canada
Georgia, United States
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Antwerp, Belgium
Arizona, United States
Indiana, United States

Some were referred by other gym owners in the Two-Brain family.

In Winnipeg, new clients routinely call the wrong gym to sign up. The Two-Brain gyms send the new client where they should be going. But general awareness helps them grow together instead of fighting over scraps.

In Stockholm, gym-owner meet-ups led by Two-Brain family members occur regularly. They share, teach and help one another grow in a positive way.

You can choose to make enemies or you can choose to make a difference.

Good fences might make good neighbors, but families don’t need them.


Other Articles in This Series

Playing the Infinite Game
We Can all Win
Never Have Competition Again
The Mindset Necessary for Success
1,000,000 Fitness Entrepreneurs: The Two-Brain Plan

Training Coaches: Scope of Practice

Training Coaches: Scope of Practice

We are fitness coaches.

CrossFit’s “Sickness-Wellness-Fitness” model highlights our opportunity to help humanity.

But it also shows us the limits of our practice: As a client moves to the left, from fitness to sickness, our expertise is diminished. We are not doctors. We are not physical therapists. We are not dietitians. And we don’t want to be.

Of course, we still care a lot. We desperately want to help people with Type 2 diabetes. We want to cure the lame, heal the injured, bring sight to the blind. Of course we do!

But the best way to help is to partner with true experts, not to replace them.


The Missing Piece of the Model


The real “far left” of the Sickness-Wellness-Fitness Continuum is death. But the relationship between fitness, sickness and death isn’t linear. Very fit people still die. Very fit people still get injured. And “well” people still get sick.

Greg Glassman, who created the Sickness-Wellness-Fitness continuum, said this:

“Physicians are lifeguards. Trainers are swim coaches. When you need a lifeguard, you need a lifeguard, not a swim coach. But, if you need a lifeguard, you probably needed a swim coach and didn’t get one.”

We, the swim coaches of health, applaud that message.

But that doesn’t mean lifeguards are bad.

And it really doesn’t mean we’re the lifeguards.


A Bad Image for a Good Reason


You’ve heard this one, right?

“CrossFit has been a huge gift to my surgical practice.”

It’s an urban legend, but it sums up the reason many coaches don’t trust therapists or doctors. The current medical model is full of problems: treating symptoms instead of causes, overmedicating, treating people only when they’re really sick.

I spoke to a local entrepreneur and physiotherapist about the problem on our podcast:

Episode 168: Exercise Over Opioids


On the flip side, many doctors, therapists and health-care professionals don’t like trainers. And I really don’t blame them.

Imagine your client told you, “My tooth hurts.” You sat him or her on an incline bench, pulled out a little pocket mirror and flashlight, and found a cavity. Then you said, “I can fix this; you don’t need a dentist!” You rigged up a little drill you bought online, mixed up some MortaRx and filled the cavity.

How would you expect local dentists to react?

Why would we expect physical therapists, massage therapists or dietitians to be any different?

And are we any different when a family doctor tells our patients to eat less fat or just walk more often?

When a client gets injured, we want to take action. We don’t want to wait. We don’t want to expose the client to negative messages about exercise or diet. We don’t want the client to lapse back into the cycles that made him or her unhealthy. And we don’t want to lose the client.

Our relationship with registered health-care practitioners is fractured. No one trusts anyone else.

But we all need each other. And our clients need us to work together.


Why You Shouldn’t Do Therapy in Your Gym


A client complains:

“My shoulder hurts when I do this.”

Being people of action—exercisers! entrepreneurs!—we take matters into our own hands. We watch some videos on Instagram, light a scented candle and proceed with the Laying on of Hands.

I’ve done it a thousand times—and definitely shouldn’t have. Here’s why.


You Really Don’t Know What You’re Doing

I’m a critic of most educational institutions. I’m a skeptic of credentialing and an opponent of most licensure in health care.

But let’s face it: DPTs, massage therapists and even dietitians know something you don’t. They’ve practiced diagnosing and treating injuries. Their education isn’t all fluff. Your duty to the client is to guide him or her to the best care. It’s hubris to think that you’ll always be the one to provide it.


You’re Not Insured to Treat Injuries

What if you misdiagnose? What if you miss something? What if you make the problem worse? Will the client miss work because of it or suffer because of it? Will he or she sue you because of it? And then what?


You Have to Protect Your Clients, Coaches and Gym From Liability

I remember watching a coach take a client of the opposite sex through a workout. At the start of the workout, the client complained of neck pain. The coach had the client roll the area with a lacrosse ball, but it didn’t help. The coach guided the client through six neck stretches, but the tightness persisted.

Then the client said, “Let me show you exactly where it hurts,” took the trainer’s hand, guided it to the right spot and said, “Yeah, right there.”

You’ve seen the end of that movie, right?

The client probably had no ill intent. The trainer certainly didn’t. But you just never know.

These are exactly the situations that cause problems down the line: complaints about unwanted touching, claims of harassment—there’s no limit to where these things can go. And when they do, people lose their reputations and their businesses.

We live in a litigious society. If you give people a reason to sue you, they eventually will.


Partnerships > Replacement


As I said earlier, I’m guilty of trying to be a therapist. I probably went way beyond my scope of practice in the early days because I was scared. I thought the regulated health-care providers would tell my clients to stop training with me.

But in reality, when I started sending clients to local therapists, I built a foundation of trust that eventually got me far more clients than I referred.

I created a referral form for my clients. When I sent them to see a physiotherapist, massage therapist or dietitian, they took the form with them. In almost every case, I got a call back from the practitioner to talk about the client. And when that happened, I always got the client back.

Here’s the kicker: No other trainers in town were doing this. So when a physiotherapist told a client, “You need to lose 30 pounds to take weight off your knee,” they didn’t trust anyone else to help them. I started getting referral forms back. That’s right: A tiny bit of trust got me a lot of referrals.

In fact, when I started taking sandwiches and coffee to local chiropractic offices, my gym membership grew faster than ever before. That’s how I met Andre Riopel (interviewed in the podcast episode above). And we’ve made hundreds of thousands of dollars off that relationship to date. I’d like to say it’s because Andre thinks I’m smart. But the reality is that he probably doesn’t trust anyone else.

Josh Martin, co-founder of Two-Brain Coaching, works with EXOS specialists when his clients need rehab. And they send athletes to him when that’s appropriate. Each partner knows the opportunities—and limits—of each practice.


The Best Solution


I could say that “the best way to make sure your clients don’t need rehab is to just stop hurting people.” But we all know that’s glib: Many new clients are on the borderline of “sickness,” and if we accept them into our care, we have to take them as they are. They might have existing problems we can’t see. Or they might be overdue for an overuse injury—or predisposed to one.

The best solution, in any case, is to build a network of trusted health-care professionals. Then prove that you are a professional by referring your clients to them, instead of trying to do their jobs.


Other Articles in This Series

Training Coaches: How to Find New Coaches
Training Coaches: Internships
Training Coaches: Continuing Education
Training Coaches: Building Careers

Buy an Existing Gym or Start From Scratch?

Buy an Existing Gym or Start From Scratch?

As Two-Brain gyms become more successful, they’re often approached to “buy out” another local gym owner. Or, after building replicable processes, they see the opportunity to expand to a second location.

As the gap between profitable gyms and unprofitable gyms widens, these opportunities will become more common.

So which is better: to start a new gym from scratch under your profitable brand or to buy an existing gym—and its revenues and problems?


Setting the Baseline


Let’s start with the cost to start a gym and compare the benefits and challenges of buying an existing gym against that anchor point.

You can start a new gym for under $30,000, including $5,000 for mentorship (to make sure it works), $20,000 for equipment (that’s more than enough), and $5,000 for space upgrades.

(You can get our free Ultimate Business Plan template here.)

But there are some cases where it makes sense to buy an established gym. Just make sure you answer the questions below first.


Questions to Answer Before Buying


Why do you want to own a second gym?

If I hear: “I just want to help more people. My first gym doesn’t take any of my time,” then we proceed with the purchase.

But usually, I hear this: “It’s a great opportunity. There are no other gyms in the area. My members could choose where to visit. It’s almost profitable. I know I could fix it.”

That last one is in bold because I hear it a lot.

The problem is that it takes three times the effort and three times the time to fix a problem than to avoid the problem. Here’s a case in point: Two-Brain mentor Kaleda Connell built a profitable gym and reached functional retirement in three years. It took me 10. She started from scratch; I had to fix my early mistakes.

Click to listen to Kaleda’s story.

And if you’re opening a second location to make more money, you should be sure that you’re maximizing revenue at your first location. Because a second location doesn’t double your workload; it quadruples it.


Is There a Third Option?

Here are the questions I ask next:

  • Is there a chance you could get the gym’s members even if you didn’t buy the gym?
  • Is there an easier way to increase your income in your current gym in less time than you’d require to fix the other gym?
  • Are clients in the other gym accustomed to lower rates? Do they match your target demographic?
  • Why is the other gym failing? Are you buying the problems that are killing it?
  • Does a higher membership count move you closer to your “perfect day”?
  • What liabilities are you also buying? (For example, a lease.)

After thinking it through, many owners decide not to buy out another owner. Here are some reasons I’ve heard recently:

“It would take me months to fix that gym. If I calculate the value of my time, it would be a lot easier to just increase my sales by $2,000 per month at my current location.”

“I’m pretty close to my perfect day already. I can’t imagine dealing with all the discounts and student memberships that killed the other gym.”

“I know I could fix the culture over there, but it would cause me a lot of stress in the meantime.”

“They want a lot more than their valuation. No thanks.”

“I realized it was just my ego saying, ‘I want to be the guy who owns two gyms.’”

Many decide they don’t want to buy the other person’s problems. But they do want to help. So sometimes they offer the other owner a job or pay for the client list or even buy the equipment.

There are ways to help that don’t involve sacrificing your perfect day (or your income!) to save someone else. But kudos for wanting to!


What’s the Other Gym Actually Worth?

If you’re sure you want to own two gyms and you’ve examined the less expensive, easier options, the next step is to anchor the conversation with numbers. You can use our valuation tool:

Rigquipment Finance DCF Worksheet for TwoBrainBusiness.com

Forget intangibles like “community” or location. How profitable is the gym? How long has it been open? How much of my time will this second location require?

If the gym has been open for 10 years and the owner earns $30,000 per year, take a hard pass—you can make more than that in your first year if you start from scratch with a mentor. And you won’t have to go through the work and pain of trying to change the gym.

After all, there’s a reason the owner is selling—and it’s not because he or she wants to “pursue other opportunities.” No one sells a profitable gym that runs itself.


Do I Have to Buy It NOW?

If you do want to buy out another, we’ve been through it many times. The path is clear. Just make sure your own house is in tip-top shape because you’ll have to focus your full attention on the second gym for a few months.

Clients who have been through the Incubator are generally successful when they buy out another gym—unless they decide they’re doing just fine with one.

After all, no one needs a second gym when the first one pays well.

You can download the two free guides “How to Buy a Gym” and “How to Sell a Gym” here:

Free Tools

If you have questions, don’t leap before you talk to us for free. Click here to do so.

Starting a Gym: Do You Need a Partner?

Starting a Gym: Do You Need a Partner?

Short answer: probably not.

Entrepreneurs accept partners for three reasons:

  1. Complementary knowledge.
  2. Investment.
  3. Fear.

In some cases, partners can help a business launch and scale more rapidly. But in an owner/operator gym, there’s really not much room for two owners.

In this post, I’ll share why you might not want (or need) a partner and how to find a good partnership if you do. I’ll also give you the tools you need to make the partnership work.


Why We Take Partners


I started Catalyst with two partners. I couldn’t have started without them.

My first partners served two important functions: They removed the obstacle of choice by basically dragging me into a lease on some gym space. And they loaned me $16,000 to buy equipment.

In return, they wanted a recurring return on their investment: $1,000 per month forever, plus the loan payment. In hindsight, this seemed like a bad deal. But I wasn’t thinking logically at the time: I was thinking emotionally.

What I was really buying was a way around my fear. I thought, “These guys are my parachute.” Also, subconsciously: “If I screw up, it won’t be entirely my fault.”

But two years in and $24,000 paid, I started to resent their partnership. I was doing all the work; they were getting paid in good months and bad. Even when I missed a paycheck, they didn’t. The novelty and gratitude wore off, and I started to ask, “How do I get out of this?”

The truth is, it’s really hard to get out of a partnership. So before you enter one, here are some easy alternatives to the three benefits of partnerships that I mentioned earlier (knowledge, investment and fear):


1. Knowledge

In tech companies, it’s sometimes wise to have a partnership between a visionary and a technician. One person sets the course and the other puts in the hours programming.

But in a microgym, that’s not really necessary: The owner is always the first coach, and the gym was built to fulfill his or her vision.

Instead of giving up a share of your money forever, hire a mentor. You’ll get industry-specific knowledge, much higher ROI and step-by-step processes instead of just a sympathetic ear. And you won’t tie yourself into paying someone forever.


2. Investment

A partner who provides startup funding in return for equity might seem like an angel. But if someone has $20,000 to risk on a fitness business, he or she is probably not dumb: the investor expects a return. And every investment he or she makes should provide an outsized return. If it doesn’t, the investor can always put the money somewhere else.

That’s fair. But, like me, many first-time entrepreneurs don’t see the long-term payments they’ll be making and eventually get mad about the agreement.

“He’s made enough money off me!” they think, as they open the door in the dark at 5 a.m. But the investor just assumed the operational partner understood the agreement and provided the opportunity.

This is why you should borrow money from a bank instead of seeking an investor in your gym: The bank might charge some interest, but the bank eventually goes away. The bank doesn’t want to talk about your programming. The bank doesn’t want $500 per month until the end of time. The bank doesn’t want to treat you like an employee. It just wants its tiny fee for giving you the money.


3. Fear

I’ve worked with several gym owners who decided to “spread the risk around” by opening with multiple partners. This is almost always a catastrophe: four people become exhausted and impoverished instead of one.

A microgym isn’t an investment-grade asset. But the people in many of these partnerships just haven’t done the math to figure out how many clients they’ll need (at what rate) to pay everyone involved.

Worst of all: Everyone ends up hating one another. And broke, and tired.

Entrepreneurship is scary. But if you want to do it, hire a mentor. Instead of having four people guess and argue, talk to one person who has been there, done it successfully and will eventually go away until you need him or her again.


How to Get out of a Bad Partnership


OK, so you’ve determined that you’ve outgrown your partnership. The simple way out is to get a valuation and then purchase the partner or partners’ shares.

If the company isn’t doing well, this is great news: You can buy the shares for very little. Just use the Shotgun Exit term you’ll see in our Sample Shareholders’ Agreement.

But if you don’t have the money (or you don’t have a shareholders’ agreement that spells out the terms of your exit), you’ll have to leverage something else. What do they care about more than ownership?

In my case, I was facing a court battle with city hall over an occupancy permit. I couldn’t afford the HVAC upgrades they insisted we needed. I was ready to go to war because it was the only way to keep my box open.

But my partners did a lot of business with city hall and didn’t want to tarnish that relationship. I explained that I didn’t have much choice but was willing to buy out their shares and let them avoid trouble. They immediately and graciously agreed.

If all else fails, use your failure as leverage: “Look, Bill, we both had the best of intentions when we started this thing. I know we’re partners, but I feel responsible. The business isn’t doing well, and I don’t expect you to take a loss here. I would feel better if you’d let me take on your share of the debt and then try to figure it out from there.”


How to Set up a Great Partnership


Great partnerships aren’t born; they’re made.

Before you enter into a contract that’s more binding than marriage (no joke), you should talk about your relationship.

Who will do which roles in the new company?

How will each of you make money in the new business?

How will you make decisions?

How will one of you eventually exit?

Download our Sample Shareholders’ Agreement here.


Equality Versus Equity


Who gets paid? How much?

There’s a difference between owning 50 percent of a business and being paid 50 percent of the profit.

The operating partner (the one who’s in the gym every day) should be paid a wage before profit is calculated.

It’s also fair for the lending partner (that mythical “money guy”) to build a loan repayment structure into the business’ expenses before profit is calculated.

But the important part is this: You don’t have to get paid based on your equity stake. You should be paid based on your role in the company.

If both partners will be working in the business, that’s fine—break down your roles, assign a value to each, and pay yourself based on the value you bring. Just don’t say, “We’ll split it all 50-50!” because no two partners are ever 50-50 contributors.

It might sound like I’m down on partnerships, but I’m not: I love partnerships. I just hate unnecessary servitude and expensive mistakes. Listen to my podcast on the topic here:

Two-Brain Radio Episode 81: Partnerships

Get a loan, get a mentor—make your debts short-term and grow your confidence forever!


Other Articles in This Series

How to Start a Gym
Starting a Gym: Location, Space and Equipment
Starting a Gym: Scaling Up
Starting a Gym: Adding Staff
Starting a Gym Marketing

How to Start a Gym

How to Start a Gym

At almost every seminar I give, I’m asked a question:

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

My answer: almost everything.


Work Smart From Scratch


Like most gym owners, I started with lots of enthusiasm. But I also started with no idea how to build a business, set my rates, hire and pay staff or get new clients.

So, like most gym owners, I worked 14 hours every day for 10 years before I realized that working harder wasn’t the answer.

There’s no excuse for that behavior anymore.

Many gyms in Two-Brain achieve financial success in three years. Some owners achieve financial independence in less than four years. It took me 14!

You can listen to Kaleda Connell’s story here. And if you want to download our step-by-step guide to opening a gym, you can get it here for free.

If I could go back to 2005 and start from scratch, here’s what I’d do.


Time Machine to 2005: Start-Up


1. Start with the minimum viable space and equipment.

I spent $16,000 on equipment in 2005 and only really used a barbell, plates and pull-up bars. You can buy that stuff for under $1,000. And I’d look for a small space that was easy for my clients to reach. I’d sign the shortest lease I could (month to month if possible) because I’d plan to grow in the next year—but not yet.

2. I’d start by doing personal training and nutrition coaching.

In the Founder Phase, my job is to deliver and refine my service. But it’s also to raise the capital to take the next step, so I’d want to focus on high-value use of my time instead of running classes with two people in them for $20 per hour.

3. I’d build my training schedule around my clients’ schedules (probably 5 a.m. and 7 p.m.).

But I’d plan to remove myself from those hours within the first year by training other coaches.

4. I’d keep the No-Sweat Intro, automatic billing and Prescriptive Model that we teach in the Incubator—things I didn’t have in 2005.

5. I’d pay myself every week.

Luckily, I got this right. I didn’t have a choice. That was an advantage.

6. Finally, I’d pay for mentorship instead of equipment.

As a good coach, I can get people results without Assault bikes and GHDs. But as a business owner and dad, I couldn’t afford a decade of poverty and trial and error.


Next Steps


After the first 9-12 months:

1. I’d start training a second coach and rotating him or her in with my 1:1 clients.

Alternately, I could train someone to handle the exercise or nutrition part of my program. I’d also replace myself in the lowest-value role (like cleaner) and reinvest the time into marketing.

2. I would start my Affinity Marketing plan (which we teach in the Incubator).

Working from my best clients outward into the community, I’d start with referrals. Then I’d ramp up my email list. And then I’d move to Facebook ads. The process would take around a year because I’d want to do a thorough job with each opportunity in front of me.

3. I’d start scaling my client hours by pairing people with similar goals and levels of progress.

This was Greg Glassman’s first step, and it was the one I skipped. When I found CrossFit, I thought, “I’ll just sell group classes now!” It was fun, and it almost bankrupted me. Luckily, enough of my 1:1 clients said “no thanks!” to group training, and they really supported the gym for three years.

But gyms who do well at this step sometimes just stay there, keeping classes to six people or less and charging for small-group coaching. Here’s one example. After pairing my clients, I’d add third people to the groups—but only rarely. And I’d usually do so only with referrals.

4. To create opportunities for new staff, I’d employ the 4/9ths Model (which I learned in 2001 and used successfully in 2005).

The first trainer I hired on the 4/9ths platform is still with me at Catalyst, by the way. But I’d do Career Roadmap meetings (which we teach in the Incubator) right from the start to make sure my staff know how to reach their goals with my support.

5. I’d expand only when clients complained.

I remember a night when we had five trainers working in three small training rooms: Tim (a DPT) actually did his sessions in a stairwell, and his clients loved it! He learned how to “sell” them on the value by explaining the precise purpose of each exercise.

Working with limited space and equipment made us really good at selling our clients on our service. We didn’t have a choice.

But meanwhile, across town, you could hear the wind whistle through our nearly empty CrossFit gym.


Around the 2-Year Mark


1. I’d work myself out of direct coaching and focus on sales and marketing.

I was really bad at both sales and marketing but didn’t take the time to get better. Instead, I filled my days with coaching hours and my head with stupid slogans about working harder than anyone else.

To improve, I’d follow the Value Ladder plan that we now teach in the Incubator. I’d start looking to expand—maybe even to buy my own building.

2. I’d focus HEAVILY on retention ahead of everything else.

3. I’d start taking days off.

Because that’s a habit, too. If you wait too long to take breaks, you’ll really struggle to do so when it becomes possible (the same as paying yourself).

4. At the three-year mark, I’d measure my opportunities: open a second location? Expand? Open a different business?


Skip to the Good Part


Now here’s the thing: If you had asked me on Oct. 24, 2005, to map out my next three years—I would have predicted the same result as I did above.

But I wouldn’t have been able to describe the path to get there.

And that meant it actually took me a full decade, cost me hundreds of thousands of wasted dollars, and impaired my health and my relationships.

It didn’t have to.

We’ve mapped this path now. We know it works. There’s no excuse to throw away seven years (or more) making the same mistakes others have already made for you.

That’s the biggest thing I’d change: I’d get rid of the stupid ego that kept telling me: “You’re smart. You’re just going to figure it out on your own. Put your head down and grind until the money appears. Your family will respect you for it.”

I’d skip the whole martyrdom part.

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

Why We Have a Partnership Program

Why We Have a Partnership Program

“If you’re trying to monetize your blog, you’re doing it wrong.” — reader comment on DontBuyAds.com, 2011


“How much does it cost to sponsor your podcast?” — software company, 2017


“How can we buy a booth at your Summit?” — insurance company, 2019


We don’t sell podcast spots. We don’t sell advertising. We don’t sell trade show booths.

Our mission is to make gym owners profitable. As a gym owner myself, I know that we need certain tools to run our business. And as a mentor, I know it’s my job to say “This is the best one” as definitively as possible.


Making Things Better


When I opened a gym in 2005, I made appointments in a paper calendar. When it was time for clients to pay their bill, we’d count the sessions in our calendar and give them a total. Then, around 2006, we began using an online booking calendar. And in 2007, we signed up for MindBody.

I mentioned MindBody in my first book because it solved gym owner’s problems: clients could book their appointments online and pay for them in advance. The system removed the “time to pay me!” conversation for coaches and trainers and gym owners. It was really revolutionary. And back then, there were only a couple of alternatives (I remember testing ChampionsWay, too—they mailed me a CD back then).

But now the fitness space is jammed full of products and tools. So my job has evolved from saying “here’s this thing that might help” to “this one is best.”

Two-Brain’s responsibility as industry mentors is to filter through tools and products and share the results with you. But our responsibility as industry LEADERS is to improve things. That’s what our Partnership program is built to do.


Driving Change


A few months ago, we published our Gym Management Software report.

Before we could measure the platforms objectively, we had to publish Software Compliance Targets for gym management software. It cost tens of thousands of dollars to put our study together and publish the results objectively.

But the best part was that we took the time to say: “This is what gym management software SHOULD do for gym owners.”

We set a high bar. And when we published our gym management software review, none of the platforms met the compliance standard.

But then, two of them went to work. While several platforms said “We want to be the best!” Wodify and Arbox actually devoted resources and capital to meeting the standard. They improved their platforms to help gym owners because we gave them a target to hit.

What did we make from those improvements? Zero dollars. And a huge difference.


The Very Best


On Sept. 1, we’ll publish our review of coaching software platforms. It, too, cost tens of thousands of dollars to put together. And our hope is that the report encourages improvement because we want fitness coaches to have better tools.

Now, back to our Partnership program.

When a service in the fitness industry reaches our compliance targets, they become eligible for Partnership in Two-Brain. They get mentioned on our site, in our podcast and at our Summit. Yes, they pay something—and that money funds future testing for standards.

They also build useful tools for Two-Brain clients, answer questions high-level gym owners ask and provide all kinds of extra support. Partners get an amazing ROI for their commitment, but it’s not because we push them to Two-Brain clients: it’s because they’re the best. They’ve done the work to prove it.

Great mentors separate signal from noise. Instead of saying “here’s an idea for you!” a great mentor says “here’s the clarity you need.”

Below you’ll find the official Two-Brain Partners for 2019. We don’t have exclusive partners in any category. But there are usually only one or two who actually meet our standard of excellence:

Healthy Steps Nutrition

AffiliateGuard (insurance)

Rhino Bootcamp Programming

RigQuipment Finance

ForTime Design (websites)

Driven Nutrition

Forever Fierce (apparel)

Incite Tax (accounting and bookkeeping)

Level Method


InBody USA

Two-Brain Media (media production)