We’re all Back in Founder Phase

We’re all Back in Founder Phase

You might be struggling a bit right now. That’s normal.

Your business platform has disappeared. Your payment processor might have stressed you out. Your landlord isn’t helping. And your staff can’t help you much.

You might feel alone right now. And tired.

In other words, you have a whole new business now. You’re back in Founder Phase again.

The good news: You’ve been here before. You know you can get through it.

The bad news: It was hard the first time. And you’re not eager to start from scratch.

Here’s how to get through Founder Phase fast, get ahead of this thing and actually come out better.


The First Steps


1. Give your staff a week off.

You’re going to go at this solo to figure it out. You’ll probably recall staff later. But for now, remove the stress of managing them.


2. Visualize yourself in 90 days.

Where do you want the business to be? How much money will it take to keep you afloat? Have you asked your landlord for help? Before you start doing the tactical work, remove as many distractions as you can.


3. Firm up your foundation.

Keep your clients. Pivot to customized delivery of your core service. Make sure they all know they’ll be billed at the start of next month.


4. Fill the cash-flow gap.

Run an online kids class or run a supplement pre-order to generate a bit of cash flow. (Both are in our new Online Coaching Course for Two-Brain clients.)


5. Check your Google My Business listing.

Make sure it doesn’t show “closed” on it.


Next: Steps to Ascension


Now you’ve stopped the free fall. Time to climb again.

1. Imagine you’re starting your business from scratch again. Get your mindset right.

2. Set up three tiers of your service: exercise only, exercise plus nutrition and exercise plus mindset coaching.

3. Send the details of your new service to your email list and post on your personal Facebook profile.

4. Build ads for a 21-day challenge with the 3 tiers.

5. Start booking No Sweat Intros with new clients.

6. Deliver your service to your current clients and your new clients.

7. Record your processes as you create them. Leave deep tracks.

8. Hire staff to help you where possible (probably on the delivery side).

All of the above is laid out step by step in our new Online Coaching Course. It’s part of the Incubator now.


Keep Going


Yes, it’s going to be tough.

Yes, it’s going to be overwhelming: You’ll feel like you’re learning a lot, implementing a ton and and zig-zagging around a bit.

But the only way out is through.

You’ve done it before.

You’re more than enough.

ALERT: What to Do About Coronavirus

ALERT: What to Do About Coronavirus

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

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

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


What You Need to Know about COVID-19


From our friends at AGuard:

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

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

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


What You Need to Do About Coronavirus


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

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

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

COVID-19 info 2.27.2020

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Build Trust During Trials and Tribulations


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

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

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

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

Nutrition Coaching: Challenges Vs. Appointments

Nutrition Coaching: Challenges Vs. Appointments

Launching a nutrition coaching service at your gym really comes down to one question:

What do my clients need?

Over the last 30 years, personal trainers have sold nutrition coaching as part of their packages. Some of the best have even sold their services in eight-week blocks called “challenges” or something else. They did it this way because they realized their clients would adhere to a plan better if it had a firm endpoint. Their success didn’t start with the question “What can I sell?” or “What can I get away with charging?” but “What do my clients need?”

Your clients need nutrition coaching. But how much? And when?


Nutrition Challenges



Challenges get your clients excited. And more clients stick to a challenge than to a traditional “diet” because a nutrition challenge has a fixed endpoint. It’s easier for a client to say “I can hold off for one more week!” than “I can give up chips forever.”

Challenges can also teach clients good habits—even if it’s just paying attention to what they eat.

Most importantly, challenges do get some results. Counting macros, fasting intermittently or even giving up carbs—any one will help people lose weight. And if they need a bit of encouragement to keep going, fast results can provide it. Motivation precedes success.



Nutrition challenges usually don’t produce lasting changes or results. I can remember several “Paleo challenges” at Catalyst where clients “celebrated” their success by going out for wings and beer. And yes—I was with them.

Challenges can also potentially sabotage long-term results. Five years ago, when gyms frequently offered “nutrition challenges” to their members, many of their clients would wait for the next challenge instead of fixing their nutrition right away. In trying to help their members, the gyms ultimately undermined their services.


When to Use

Use a nutrition challenge when your nutrition service is new—or when your clients are.

New clients can kick off their memberships, get fast results and get excited about your service with a challenge.

And when you launch your nutrition service, a challenge is a good introductory way to get clients excited about it. Like any product launch, a big kickoff will help you get some momentum.

But if you want to get your clients results, every nutrition challenge should lead to ongoing nutrition appointments.


Ongoing Nutrition Appointments



Clients form long-term habits that lead to long-term success.

Clients can also be guided toward a sustainable, lasting program instead of a binge diet they can’t sustain forever.

Coaches can alter a client’s program when results slow down instead of waiting and praying for a client to ask for more help with his or her diet.



Accountability isn’t sexy for the client or the coach. Check-ins can become routine. And as the coach and client become friendlier, the client might figure out “what I can get away with” instead of what he or she needs to do to be successful.

Remember when everyone at your gym went Paleo? After the first two months, someone figured out how to make “Paleo brownies,” right? Well, it happens with every diet. But this is a tiny tradeoff: Keeping clients on a plan for two years will make a huge difference in their lives, while having them give up carbs for four weeks won’t.


When to Use


Whether you own a gym or take PT clients at Gold’s, your coaching practice requires you to stay in constant contact with your clients. The best way to do that is to sell hybrid memberships that include nutrition coaching and exercise coaching.


Other Media in This Series

Why You Need a Nutrition Program
Hybrids Are the New Normal
Mike Doehla: Why Nutrition Coaching Isn’t Always About Food

Why You Need a Nutrition Program

Why You Need a Nutrition Program

We sell fitness.

Fitness is achieved through optimization of exercise and nutrition.

Fitness cannot be optimized without the inclusion of both.

That’s why the best gyms in the world sell exercise and nutrition together.

Though this combo is still a new concept for many gym owners, personal trainers have successfully sold nutrition and training packages—or “hybrid” packages—together because a personal trainer’s name is the brand, and he or she knows clients won’t get results without nutrition coaching.

Somewhere along the line, gym owners got the idea that they were selling exercise classes or private workouts. I certainly fell into that camp. But mature owners understand that they’re really selling results, so they begin to sell nutrition coaching with their exercise coaching.

If you’re just adding a nutrition component to your coaching practice, that’s fine. In this series, I’ll tell you:

The differences between selling “challenges” and selling ongoing nutrition coaching.

How to sell “hybrid” packages including exercise and nutrition (and why hybrids are the “new normal”).

How to get people to follow your plan (on Two-Brain Radio with Mike Doehla of StrongerU.com).

How to get started, what to charge and what to offer.


Why Not Just Sell More Exercise?


Everyone sells group exercise.

Looking into your gym from the outside, it’s hard to tell the difference between your fitness class and that cheap one at the YMCA.

Sorry, but it’s true: Your “free foundations” and “group on-ramp” courses are practically identical to the free versions offered by someone else. That means they’re subject to downward price pressure.

You really sell results. You provide coaching to get people results fast and with the least effort required. More exercise isn’t enough to get those results.

Listen to my conversation with Greg Glassman, the founder of CrossFit. His coaching practice always included nutrition and sometimes included “challenges.” It didn’t include upselling to “unlimited” memberships.


It’s Not What Your Clients Need


More and more clients seek our services for weight loss.

In the early days of personal training (25 years ago,) only elite athletes and Hollywood stars had “personal trainers.” When I started my career, having a personal trainer was still a status symbol.

But as HIIT group classes become a commodity, your clients need 1:1 attention. They need daily accountability. They need access to a coach more than they need three workouts a week.

You can still tailor a client’s experience if his or her membership is only for group classes. Following the Prescriptive Model, you can review a client’s goals and shift the client journey every quarter. But that journey has to include updates to a nutrition program. Clients won’t figure this out for themselves. And while they can find workouts for free on any app now, they can’t find coaching. I wrote more about this on TwoBrainCoaching.com.


Nutrition Scales Faster


Nutrition coaching doesn’t require much space. It doesn’t require any equipment. And because most nutrition coaching is about accountability, you don’t need a degree to help people fix their diets.

(In these states, you do require a licensed registered dietitian to prescribe a diet. But you can work with an RD to do it—find a local one or work beneath the umbrella of a system like Healthy Steps.)

A nutrition practice can scale up quickly: Most gyms in Two-Brain immediately add $500-$2,000 in recurring monthly nutrition coaching revenue just by offering the service to current clients. And unlike adding 10 new exercise clients, these clients don’t require more space or equipment.

Finally, nutrition coaching has a high effective hourly rate for coaches because they can serve many nutrition clients in the same hour. While the coach should expect to answer questions at 9 p.m., he or she doesn’t have to stand in the gym and watch a client perform reps.

Adding a nutrition program to your gym is great for revenue. It’s a good potential position for a coach. And, most importantly, it helps your clients reach their goals.

Instead of trying to push more heads into your group classes, adding a nutrition component should be the top priority of every gym owner. Then, when you start marketing hard later, you’ll have more to sell—and more ways to help.


Other Media in This Series

Hybrids Are the New Normal
Mike Doehla: Why Nutrition Coaching Isn’t Always About Food
Nutrition Coaching: Challenges Vs. Appointments

Habits of Highly Successful Gyms: Delegation and Pricing

Habits of Highly Successful Gyms: Delegation and Pricing

Over the last several years, we’ve been tracking the best microgyms in the world. Their success led us to build the Two-Brain Roadmap. In this series, I’m sharing the six things they all have in common—The Six Habits of Highly Successful Gyms.

I’ll wrap this series up on Jan. 24 with a free webinar on the topic. You can register here (500 people max, and it filled last time).

In the previous installment, I wrote that the first two habits of highly successful gyms are Focus and Metrics. Today, we’ll focus on the next two habits: Delegation and Pricing.




What’s the difference between working in the business and working on the business?

Working in the business means coaching classes and mopping floors. Working on the business means hiring staff, marketing for growth and improving your operational excellence.

When you’re a coach, you should work hard to get better at coaching. But when you own a business, coaching is no longer your primary job.

The best gym owners in the world know that their jobs changed the moment they opened their own gyms. Now, some love coaching, and some actually have the goal to just coach all day. But all the best gym owners know that if they spend all their time coaching, their businesses will die.

The best gym owners focus their time on the things that will grow their businesses. To figure out where they should focus, they calculate their Effective Hourly Rate.

Calculate your daily wage (your monthly wage divided by 30 days). Then count up the hours you spend working. Do a time audit to determine where you spend them. Divide your daily wage by the hours you work in a day. That’s your Effective Hourly Rate.

For example:

$2,500 / 30 days  = $83.33 per day

$83.33 / 13 hours = $6.41 per hour (ouch)

Now, prepare to delegate the lowest-value roles on your schedule.

Group tasks together to make up the roles. You can download all the roles and tasks in your gym from our guide “Free Hiring Plan and Job Descriptions,” found here.

After you assign an hourly value to each role, hire someone to replace you in the cheapest one. Use that time to work on a higher-value role, like sales. We call this “climbing the value ladder,” and it’s part of the step-by-step process we mentor you through in our Incubator and Growth programs.




The best gyms in the world know what they’re worth and charge that amount.

Other gym owners “know they should charge more” or “know they’re worth more,” but they don’t know exactly what they’re worth and don’t charge anywhere near that amount. The weakest gyms charge what their owners think clients can afford to pay (they’re always wrong and they always guess low).

How do you set your prices?

Weak gym owners look to see what everyone around them is charging and then subtract $20.

They think, “This is what the market will bear!” and then justify that myth with stuff like “I’m in a poorer demographic.”

They tell themselves stories that cripple their businesses.

How should you set your prices?

Set your rates based on what you want to make.

Let’s say you want to make $100,000 on a business with a 33 percent profit margin.

You’re going to have to work to make that profit margin happen, but you can do it. On the next edition of Two-Brain Radio, Peter Brasovan and Jared Byczko will tell you how they did it in a gym with revenues over $1 million (it’s a great podcast episode).

Here’s the math:

We use the number 150 (Dunbar’s number) to make the math simpler.

What about discounts? Even for marketing purposes?

Discounts mean you’ll have to work harder for less money. And they don’t work anyway.

With discounts and sales, you’ll need more clients. That means more coaches, more space, more equipment. You’ll need to spend more time and money on marketing and more time and money on retention. You’ll have to closely monitor your churn rate. You’ll always be seeking the next big marketing idea instead of comfortably banking on a loyal audience. You’ll always be victim to underpaid coaches leaving, discount gyms luring clients away and people complaining about your programming.

It’s been proven over and over again—if you haven’t heard stories from gyms that were killed because of the discounts they offered, it’s because they’re gone.

When we post stories about gyms that charge $400-$1,000 per month for membership, many other gym owners don’t believe it’s possible. They comment on our social-media posts and deny the truth before them. But gym owners who have successfully implemented what they’re taught in our Incubator know the truth and live it. They follow the six habits and see why the top gyms in the world are so successful.

Want a mentor? Click here to book your call and get started. 

Spoiler alert: Every one of the top microgym owners in the world has a business mentor.


Other Media in This Series

The Six Habits of Highly Profitable Gyms
Habits of Highly Successful Gyms: Focus and Metrics
Two-Brain Radio: The $1 Million Gym Built by Two Guys Who Once Rationed Paper Towels

How to Help Your Clients Win

How to Help Your Clients Win

Only you can put your clients on a podium.

Their bosses aren’t writing their names on the wall after a good week in the office.

Their kids aren’t giving them a round of applause after they mow the lawn.

No one else is celebrating them.

You have a daily opportunity to delight your clients. Not just to deliver a good class with individual scaling and cheerleading. Those are the basics. The best gyms put their clients on a podium.

Here’s how to do it.

1. Find opportunities for “podiums” within your scheduled workouts.

For example, in the workout Jackie, there are at least four opportunities to do something they’ve never done before:

A. Row 1,000 m faster than ever before.
B. Do 50 unbroken thrusters.
C. Do 30 unbroken pull-ups
D. Finish the workout in a PR time.

And I’m sure you already see more opportunities, right?

2. Before the workout, ask each client which podium they’ll aim for (or their personal goal in the workout).

3. Coach the client toward that goal when the workout begins.

4. When he or she hits the mark, write the goal on a small whiteboard and take a creative picture of the person holding it up and smiling. Stand the member on a plyo box with a small whiteboard listing PRs and use the #podium hashtag.

5. Post on your Facebook business page and your personal page. Tag the athlete. Make sure the post is “public” so the person’s friends can see it.

You’re probably already taking pictures of your clients during workouts, right? Uploading and tagging them? That’s not new to anyone. But context matters: a sweaty heap of Henrietta on the floor isn’t as appealing as a beaming Henny, standing on a plyo box, holding a banner that reads, “I DID IT!!!”


This is also helpful to your gym in other ways:

1. It gets your coaches thinking about celebrating success and delighting your clients.

2. It teaches the habit of internalizing small wins.

3. It presents a new way to approach old workouts.

4. It puts small wins in context (“the growth mindset”).

5. It allows for mucho celebration. If you’re using SugarWOD, the fist-bumps will fly.



1. Review your programming with coaches a week before. What are the best opportunities for podiums?

2. Get 10-15 small whiteboards and a lot of whiteboard markers.

3. Allow two minutes at the end of class for podium celebrations, pictures and hashtag time.

4. Post one picture from each class to Instagram; auto-feed to Facebook.

5. Create a Facebook album on your page for the other photos.

6. Tag every person in every picture.

7. Host a Podium Party every quarter.

8. Smile.

Our business isn’t “based on service.” It is service. The best way to service your clients is to show them the path to success … and help them celebrate when they get there.

Your best programming doesn’t matter nearly as much as celebrating success does.

When your clients celebrate success, they’re more likely to internalize joy and gratitude. That is the definition of delight.

Put them on a podium.


Other Media in This Series

How to Delight Your Clients
Delighting Your Clients: Giftology
What Jason Ackerman Learned From 10,000 Hours of Coaching
How to Delight Your Clients Online