Episode 114: The Baltimore Connection

Episode 114: The Baltimore Connection

The 2018 TwoBrain Summit is June 2-3 in Niles, IL! Book your spot here!


Episode 114 – Baltimore Crew


Think about the other affiliates in your city. Do you know the owners? Do you know their their spouses or even their kids?


Back in the day, we all had this rosy picture of CrossFit Gyms working together in their community, throwing fun competitions, having picnics together on the weekend. However, in reality, CrossFit gyms can be fierce competitors and regularly accuse each other of cutting prices and stealing members.


However, there is one beacon of hope within the city of Baltimore. These gym owners get together every month to talk about what is working and collaborate to improve their gyms. They send members to each other’s gyms. If this sounds like it can’t be possible, then listen in! Today I talk to seven gym owners and learn where they came from and how this culture of helping each other came about. This is a shining example of where I hope CrossFit will be going forward.


The Baltimore Crew meets up about once a month near downtown Baltimore. At the meeting the crew talks about what went well and what people need help with over the past month. They do this by going around the table and then collaborating to deal with issues and problems. Occasionally a member will get “beat up” when they do something wrong or are avoiding a problem at their gym. But this is always constructive in nature, and it is meant to challenge a member and be sure they are growing as a business and gym owner.  After meeting as a group, the members of the crew can take the ideas and actions back to their gym to work on it with their team.. ‘


One way in which the Baltimore Crew has helped one another is by recommending new clients to other gyms. Many times a client will be moving to the other side of town and it just makes more sense to try a gym that is closer to their residence or work. By referring clients to people you know and trust you can ensure that they receive a good experience. The Baltimore crew knows that if they can make CrossFit popular and successful in the entire city than it will help everyone involved.


Want to build a stronger community of gym owners in your city? This episode has tips to get started. These owners are a living example of collaborative competition. 



2:46 – The Baltimore Crew Introduction

5:00 – Meet the Baltimore Crew

6:10 – What brought CrossFit to Baltimore and how did the Baltimore Crew get started?

8:14 – Reacting to an employee leaving your gym to start their own

11:41 – Providing a holding spot for a fellow CrossFit Gym owner

14:39 – How Butch got started in the CrossFit World

16:26 – What it is like to leave a high paying job to start a CrossFit Gym

19:45 – Catering to individuals with a new take on the CrossFit Box model

23:50 – How rare is it to have box owners working together?

32:20 – What it was like to join Two-Brain after being a longtime box owner

33:58 – How to be vulnerable amongst your fellow gym owners

35:29 – What is the first step to forming a box owner group?

40:09 – What happens if there is a dispute amongst gym owners within the group?

42:00 – Here is what to do when you encounter a difficult client

44:26 – What does it take to be a part of the Baltimore Crew or to be kicked out?


In the Baltimore group:

Butch Santucci, WreckRoom CrossFit

Ardyth Hall, Push511 A CrossFit Life

Geo Rockwell, CrossFit Federal Hill

Matt Ropke, Clipper City CrossFit

Bronson Dant, CrossFit PCR

Kevin Lynch, Nevermore CrossFit

Rob Connors, Signum CrossFit

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Episode 113: Working With Entrepreneurs

Episode 113: Working With Entrepreneurs

The 2018 TwoBrain Summit is June 2-3 in Niles, IL! Book your spot here!


Episode 113 – Working With Entrepreneurs, with Eden Watson of TwoBrain Workshop


Entrepreneurs are one of my Top 3 target audiences at Catalyst. I think entrepreneurs are perfect clients for CrossFit gyms, because they have:


  • Time flexibility
  • Financial flexibility
  • A clear sense of priorities
  • No time to waste “guessing” what workout to do.


In previous episodes, we’ve mentioned the TwoBrain Workshop, working with corporate groups, and even the best workouts for entrepreneurs. But today, Eden Watson, manager of the Workshop, sat down to spell out EXACTLY how we’re tying founders to fitness.


Your gym is a platform. On that platform, you can sell fitness through group classes, or one-on-one. You can also sell nutrition coaching, or smoothies, or guitar lessons. I sell cognitive training on mine. And some gyms are starting to sell co-working space between their class times.


When the building beside my gym came up for sale last May, I jumped on it. I bet half a million dollars that entrepreneurship would save my city, and that the next generation of founders would need my gym to help them thrive.


YOU probably don’t want to do the same. But you can partner with co-working spaces, service professionals and clubs in your city to meet–and attract–some of the best clients you’ll ever have.


In this episode, Eden breaks down what we sell at the Workshop, what we teach Entrepreneurs, and how we get them next door–into the gym.


I also talk about the concept of “Skin in the Game”, what I think of “free” mentorship, and why CrossFit gym owners have to learn FASTER than other entrepreneurs.


For more, deeper reading, I recommend Nassim Taleb’s new book, Skin In The Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life. Get the audio version so you don’t miss the dry jokes.


Email: eden@twobrainbusiness.com



Got a question for Chris? Visit www.twobrainbusiness.com/podcast and ask away!

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Episode 112: Where Should Your Focus Be?

Episode 112: Where Should Your Focus Be?

The 2018 TwoBrain Summit is June 2-3 in Niles, IL! Book your spot here!


Episode 112 – Where Should Your Focus Be?


I still do between 5 and 15 free calls every week with gym owners. I’ve been doing that for over 5 years.


Over that time, the quality of questions has gone up, and the number of panicked “going-out-of-business tomorrow” calls have declined. I’m pretty grateful for that. It makes the thousands of blog posts, videos and books worthwhile. So congrats, gym family! We’re doing SO much better!


In the last six months, our educational content–including this podcast–has really focused on getting gyms to the next level: freeing up the owners’ time, creating passive revenue and paying themselves more. But what many current callers really need is FOCUS: they’re trying to do everything for everyone all the time, and really getting nothing done as a result.


Markets are different, depending on the age of your box, and your city’s exposure to CrossFit. Competition between boxes (and between gyms) is different. Every single gym requires a different strategy. And while most gym owners understand they’re not the same as anyone else, they don’t know how to play to their strengths, or avoid doing worthless work.


For example, many OG gyms–the first CrossFit gym in a major city, for example–used to brag about achieving success without “any marketing whatsoever.” Unfortunately, many of them are now gone, or struggling. As the market around them matured, and their target audience changed, their tactic of “wait for people to find me” just stopped working.


Let’s say you were the first CrossFit gym in Capital City (I’m making up a name to keep it anonymous, because I can name a specific example in every major city, and I don’t want the owners to think I’m picking on them). You opened your doors in 2006 or 2007. Slowly, a band of outcasts and rogues started showing up. These were the early adopters. They were evangelists. They would have posted pictures of their torn palms if they had Facebook accounts back then. But they WOULD bore their friends to death talking about CrossFit.


Then they left: do do a Ragnar race, or open their own box and try to qualify for the Games.


They, in turn, attracted the Early Adopters: the folks who wanted to be like them. These were the torn-palm pics (“see how hardcore I am, daddy? Just like YOU!!!”) These were the first to popularize CrossFit on Facebook. They were quiet evangelists, but they drew a lot of people with their crazy posts about doing Fran-Murph on Sunday.


But meanwhile, the OG gym owner wondered why his trickle of newcomers was slowing down. Maybe he read Nicki Violetti’s original article about OnRamp in the Performance Menu, and thought “Gee, I should do OnRamp” but was paralyzed by other business advice. So he gave every coach a share of the gym and went back to his firefighting job. Then he blamed the coaches when sales didn’t go up.


Meanwhile, the Early Majority clients began to flood into the newer gyms. For a little while, hanging a sign on a wall was more than enough to draw people in. I remember my friends Luke and Bree getting ready to open. They had a bright red rig. People could see it through the front window. Passersby would bang on the window and ask, “Are you doing CrossFit in there?” They opened with 63 clients on the first day, if memory serves (that was 2014.)


And then the story played out again, into the third wave…


Every city, every box, is at a different point in their lifecycle. Some places in Europe are still attracting early adopters. Some places in Southern California are fighting over the laggards. And everyone is trying to stay on top of the curve, because there’s still PLENTY of opportunity. CrossFit is still growing. But the guy who showed up in 2006, bought his Infidel t-shirt online, followed the CrossFit Greyskull and Couch Thread sagas closely, and camped overnight at the Ranch–he’s long gone.


In this episode, I’m going to help you figure out where your gym currently sits; who your target audience should be; how to zip ahead of your local competition; and what to do TODAY to focus your attention and grow your CrossFit family.



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Episode 111: Love and Logic with Garner Tullis

Episode 111: Love and Logic with Garner Tullis

The 2018 TwoBrain Summit is June 2-3 in Niles, IL! Book your spot here!


Episode 111 – Garner Tullis


Your business exists to serve you. And you, in turn, serve those closest to you first: your spouse, your kids, and your family.


But too often, your family is asked to sacrifice for the good of the business. At startup, this might be necessary–for awhile. But many gyms are still in making the sacrifices of startup after YEARS in business.


Today on the show I have invited Garner Tullis, of Our Greater Good, to talk about maintaining healthy family relationships, maintaining your values under stress, and just having a happy life. The balance between work and family is important and something we all need to continually be reminded of. Be sure to also check out our new live Q and A section after the show. Go to twobrainbusiness.com/podcast to ask your question now!


Garner has a lot of life experiences to share on today’s show. He is married, has five girls, and has also taken up four completely different profession throughout his career. Upon graduating high school in the early 1970s, he ended up moving to Oregon and working some dangerous jobs within the logging industry. After saving up over one hundred thousand dollars, He and his brothers bought a farm in Oregon. After working the farm for years and years, Garner realized he was going to become half bent over and crazy if he works on a farm for another 40 years and decided to jump into the futures and trading industry in Chicago in June of 1979.


It wasn’t until the mid-90s when Garner became a person of faith and decided to become a youth pastor at his church that his journey toward building an organization that can reach out to youth in his community began. Since beginning the ministry of Our Greater Good, they have been able to start many programs within local schools in Valparaiso, IN. This has been making a huge difference for not only the students in his community but also the parents as well.


It wasn’t long after the start of the foundation that Garner became heavily involved in triathlons and fitness in general. After being invited to workout at a CrossFit gym one day, he instantly became hooked on this new found passion. It was at this point that he met a local CrossFit leader at another gym across town and learned that he wanted to open a second gym. Together they opened Top Fuel CrossFit which is still running strong to this day.


Nowadays in Garner’s spare time, he has helped start Love and Logic which is a program being used in local schools that provides parenting classes to strengthen families.  Join us today as we discuss not only CrossFit but also how to build a better, strong family in the process!



2:10 – Garner Tullis Introduction

4:00 – Garner Tullis’s story about growing up and how he got to where he is now

6:37 – From the farm to trading livestock futures in Chicago

7:27 – Becoming a person of faith

10:48 – The beginnings for the idea behind Our Greater Good

14:14 – What actually converted Garner to a person of faith?

19:50 – The opening of Top Fuel CrossFit

21:24 – The Love and Logic program being instituted in local schools

25:28 – How do faithfulness and fitness strengthen each other?

29:25 – How do parents react to the Love and Logic program?

37:48 – Transitioning to a new business and putting past skills to use

41:35 – What are some steps gym owners can take to spend more time with their family?

45:33 – Garner Tullis on Barbeque!



Contact Garner:














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Episode 110: TwoBrain Mentors Dani Brown and Ana Bennett

Episode 110: TwoBrain Mentors Dani Brown and Ana Bennett

The 2018 TwoBrain Summit is June 2-3 in Niles, IL! Book your spot here!

I’ve always believed that CrossFit gyms have a higher proportion of female ownership than almost any other small business. HQ doesn’t have the data to support or refute that claim, but my empirical experience, when compared to industry data held elsewhere, says that more women own CrossFit gyms than any other type, and the success rate for female entrepreneurs in CrossFit is higher than almost any other option.


Today on the show we are joined by Danielle Brown and Anastasia Bennett. Both are longtime CrossFit box owners and mentors at Two-Brain. They both bring a wealth of business and CrossFit experience to the table as we discuss a range of topics on the show today. Be ready to take good notes and as always feel free to reach out to either mentor with any questions you may have!


Danielle and her husband started CrossFit 781 which they recently sold in November of 2016. Since then she has joined Two-Brain to become a full time mentor. Now a senior mentor, Dani has completed over 650 mentor calls since she started in September of 2016, all while raising a family and moving homes twice.


Anastasia Bennett grew up in Russia and moved to New Zealand soon after turning 19. She had to learn how to speak a new language and fit in to a new culture. Being an immigrant and being female, she found life very difficult. Through hard work and perseverance, Anastasia now owns  two CrossFit gyms. She has since become a Two-Brain mentor and enjoys helping CrossFit box owners in her spare time.  


Since both Danielle and Anastasia have experience as female business owners, we take a deep dive into what it is like own a business as a female and what sort of struggles take place on a daily basis. One topic that both Danielle and Anastasia talk about is the troubles of having people take you seriously. For the most part, everyone is very accepting of a female’s authority but both have had experiences when clients created difficult or awkward situations. One component of being a gym owner is to be able to deal with these issues. Sometimes coming from a position of a female it can be much more comfortable to approach females as opposed to males from the perspective of a woman.


Another component of being a female business owner is balancing family life and business life. Many children tend to view mothers as the more nurturing component of the parental unit and as a result, are needed when children are sick or need assistance. One way that Danielle and Anastasia have balanced this is to hire additional help in the form of nannies and caretakers to allow them to run their businesses while still providing their children with care. Balancing work life and home life is a constant struggle and something we highlight and discuss on this episode!





2:44 – Dani and Anastasia Introduction

4:44 – Danielle Brown’s story, selling her gym and becoming a mentor

6:30 – Anastasia Bennett’s story from her beginnings in Russia

9:31 – Why does the CrossFit model attract such a high proportion of female owners?

11:15 – Coaching men through the eyes of a woman

15:24 – Addressing female versus male clients within the gym

17:45 – How to balance a family while owning a gym

24:09 – How to decompress from the day and transition your attention at home

28:20 – The effect of business ownership on family

31:02 – Dealing with criticism for using a nanny or caretaker for your children

35:12 – Is it harder for a woman to coach a class if she is unfit?

36:59 – The pressure behind being a female mentor and leader in the business world

40:18 – The reaction Dani and Anastasia receive when introduced as a business mentor



Contact Danielle:




Contact Anastasia:





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Episode 109: Greg Strauch

Episode 109: Greg Strauch

Episode 109 – Greg Strauch


Today on the show we are joined by Greg Strauch of CrossFit Unkown Elements in Clovis, New Mexico. Greg joins us to talk about how he got his start with CrossFit after the Air Force, What it takes to build a successful gym, and his transition into becoming a mentor with Two-Brain. Be sure to listen in closely and take notes! As always, reach out to Greg with any questions you may have.


Greg grew up in a suburb of Chicago. After High School, he joined the Air Force where he found his passion for fitness. After receiving his personal training certification, Greg found a program to help more people through CrossFit. While still working full time in the Air Force, Greg began coaching athletes before and after work. Soon it became apparent that he should open his own gym and CrossFit Unknown Element was born.


Running a CrossFit gym near a military installation has many challenges. For one, there is a lot of turnover as people are constantly moving in and out of town based upon assignments. Greg focuses on providing the best experience he possibly can in order to get people coming back and drawing new members in on a consistent basis. One thing about the military is the importance of community. In addition to being just a gym, Greg makes sure that his gym is a community with members developing relationships and supporting members when for example their spouse is deployed. Truly caring about your members is critical to maintaining a successful gym.




4:24 – Introduction with Greg Strauch

4:54 – Greg’s story on how he started with CrossFit

9:53 – What is it like to operate a CrossFit gym near a military installation

13:06 – How does Greg buffer against the turnover faced with a military clientele

15:46 – Creating a co working space for other entrepreneurs

18:47 – Why is CrossFit so great for entrepreneurs

21:20 – Scaling your workout based upon the circumstance

24:52 – Greg on starting a co working space in his community

27:37 – How important is it to provide mentorship from the point of being in the trenches

31:51 – What about owning a CrossFit gym prepares Greg to mentor other business owners

33:45 – How Greg made it through the Two-Brain Mentorship program so fast  

40:59 – Why is it beneficial to have a young mentor like Greg join the Two-Brain team

46:14 – What is the future for Greg?


Contact Greg:










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