The Panic Vaccine

The Panic Vaccine

It’s the 28th of the month.

You don’t have enough for the rent.

You just remembered your insurance is due. And this is a three-pay month … .

Anxiety is your cardio now.

You live in constant fear of “what’s going to happen next?” because you’re stuck in a meteor shower, and you know that any little hit could be your last. You’re overwhelmed, overworked, and just kinda over it.

That’s panic.

And data is the vaccine.


What Data Does


Data tells you, “Here’s how other gym owners got through this same situation.”

Data tells you, “Next month will be better.”

Data tells you, “Here’s how to stop this from ever happening again.”

Data is the laser beam that blasts the falling rocks out of the sky before they get close to you.

Data is clarity. Data is a look into the future. Data is absolutely critical to the success of your business.

So why isn’t there any data in the fitness business?

Because, until now, no one would collect it, analyze it and report on it.


Data and Duty


Big chain gyms collect tons of data about their customers’ spending habits. They know when they’re busy. They create budgets around peak seasons. They know when to boost their ad spend, when to hire and when a client is about to leave.

But they don’t share.

Franchisors collect data on their franchisees but don’t give that data back for analysis because it’s their intellectual property. Gathering data is very hard and very expensive, and they want to keep it in the mothership.

And licensors, like CrossFit, don’t collect data at all because they charge too little to pay for that level of business support.

When I visited CrossFit HQ last year, I asked the question over breakfast:

“What if you tracked data for all of your gyms and just released it for anyone to analyze?”

The response: “Good idea. But we’re not going to do it.”

I quickly realized that our company, Two-Brain Business, was in a unique position: We were already the largest mentorship practice in the world, and gym owners trusted us. We had the resources and the ability.

That made it our duty to collect data, analyze it professionally and report back to the community who shared it with us.


The Two-Brain Dashboard


We unveiled the new Two-Brain Dashboard to those in our Incubator and Growth Stages last week. It’s simple and clean but very powerful—all of the individual gym’s information stays private, but we can analyze metadata trends that will benefit the whole industry.

Most importantly, the dashboard makes it really easy for a gym owner to enter data, track it long term and see trends in his or her own gym.

But this is just the start!

The Dashboard will also clearly show gym owners their next step in the path to wealth. Using data and experience collected from over 10,000 one-on-one mentorship calls, our mentor team has mapped several paths to Tinker Phase. Those will show up on the Dashboard soon.

No one else has done it. No one else will. But when you care this much, it’s your duty to give as much help as you can.

Take your hand off the panic button.

Write down your numbers.

Write down your feelings (they’re important, too).

Next time you’re panicked, look back.

Then look ahead. Build your path with stones instead of shifting sand.

And call if you need help.

Need more advice on common problems? Click here to book a free call with a certified Two-Brain Business mentor.

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.




Got a question for Chris? Visit 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 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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