Don’t Skip “LEG” Day

Don’t Skip “LEG” Day

When we teach metrics to business owners, we keep it simple.

Two of the metrics we teach in the Incubator are ARM (average revenue per member per month) and LEG (length of engagement). These are Two-Brain terms, but their simplicity is making them popular with others, so you’ll see them on software platforms and dashboards everywhere soon.

ARM is really a measure of sales and marketing. LEG is really a measure of your operations.

Each is a multiplier of the other. Amazing operations with no sales? You’re multiplying by zero.

Great marketing with low prices and poor retention? Zero. Failure.

We work very hard on sales and marketing. But our specialty is retention, and good retention isn’t about birthday cards and automated emails. Good retention is about systems.

What’s at stake here? An extra $45,000 per year for you without attracting one single extra client or taking on one more dollar of cost.


Breaking It Down


Let’s make it simple: If you charge $200 per month and keep a client for one month, then your marketing efforts were worth $200.

If you keep that same client for two months, your efforts were worth $400.

If you keep that same client for a year, your efforts were worth $2,400.

If you keep the client for 10 years, your efforts were worth $24,000.

And the cost to acquire the client was the same in every case!


Learn to Retain Members


Here’s how we improve LEG through mentorship:

1. We clearly define roles. We want one person responsible for tracking clients. This gives the person a clear focus for a few hours every week.

2. We clearly define success. We measure success by increased LEG. Are you getting better at retention or not? If not, we give you follow-up actions.

3. We discuss industry gold standards. What are the best gyms in the world doing?

4. We map the client journey. What happens and when? Listen to our podcast about it here.

5. We set up automations along the client journey. These automations include flags, emails, actions, rewards, badging, etc. Really, all the talk about “10-year gifts” and “sending birthday cards” is irrelevant without a system behind it. Those are all good ideas, but start at #1 to make sure you can do them consistently. Imagine sending half your clients a birthday card or PR text but not the other half … .

6. We track LEG long term. We want to know your LEG score every single month. Some software platforms (like Wodify) are getting really good at this.


Dig Into Your Data


We work 1:1 with around 500 clients from every continent in the world. We can’t visit every business in person. But using metrics like LEG gives us critical, unbiased insight into their gyms: If their retention score is low, we know there’s an operational problem.

Every one of us thinks our gym is nearly perfect. We think our systems are amazing, that our clients “get us,” and that we’re building some kind of emotional bank account with them. That’s a fantasy. If your service is bad, your clients will leave. And they should.

We’re blind to operational problems because we think our kid is the most handsome in school.

“Every girl should love you, schmoopie! You’re mommy’s handsome boy!” 

That’s why we need objective data, like LEG. And we need to track it over time to see the effect of our changes. Because we’re also totally enamored with our own ideas, when we start something new it’s the best idea ever!—and we tell everyone about it.

“My baby’s got a new haircut! Everyone else is jealous of you, snugglemonster!”

But is the new idea having any real effect? Unless we’re measuring LEG over time, we don’t know.

Objective measurements like ARM and LEG help your mentor remove personal bias from your business and give you clarity. It helps us prescribe action and build your profit. Sales are fun, but (don’t do it Chris) without retention (resist!) you won’t have a (he’s gonna do it!) LEG to stand on. (groan.)


Other Articles in This Series

Are You Already too Big?
The Cure for Commoditization
Selling Accountability
Ascending Your Clients

Ascending Your Clients

Ascending Your Clients

Imagine you’re out for a run and you see a steep hill ahead.

“Challenge accepted!” you think—you’re that type—and you speed up. You attack the hill. Hell, yeah!

When you summit, you see a broad, flat plane in every direction. You’re in the desert, and it’s endless.

At first, you’re excited by the novelty of the desert: “Look, a cactus!”

But eventually, you get tired of running around and around on the desert.

If you aren’t careful, that’s how your clients will feel in your business. To stay engaged, they need somewhere to go.


So What Happens Now?


Cyclists love to say that there are “no flat roads.” But cyclists and runners hate to run the same route over and over and over without getting anywhere.

Now let’s look at how your clients experience your business:

Step 1: A warm welcome, then a steep ascent (your gym’s on-ramp program).

Step 2: “Welcome to the desert! Look—a cactus!”

Step 3: Still in the desert. Neither ascending nor descending.

Step 4: Uh … the Games?

CrossFit brought more than novelty to fitness. It brought ascension. For the first time, there was a way to compete at fitness. (I’m not counting bodybuilding shows, which weren’t really a measure of fitness).

Early adopters loved it. I loved doing throwdowns and then Sectionals and then the Open. For a few years, anyway. But then I started to ask, “What’s the goal here?”

And, “Where am I going?”

Like many of my clients, I eventually started to look for something else. After 10 years of CrossFit, I descended the steps and got on my bike.


Clients Need a Destination


We teach gym owners how to map their Client Journey in the Incubator. Here’s an example of what I mean:

Episode 122: How To Map Your Client’s Journey


The Client Journey is an important tool for sales and retention. But long-term retention requires ascension.

No one wants to say “I’m just maintaining” for long. Maintenance is boring.

No matter how good your WOD times, no matter how big your deadlift, no matter how fast your 5K or how they all add up at once—if you don’t have goals, you’ll get bored. It’s literally how our brains work.

Client retention means proper goal setting and accountability. For a goal to be a good goal, it must be easy to identify and imminently achievable. In fact, the closer the goal, the better. “You’re almost there!” creates irresistible urgency. That’s called Lowenstein’s Gap Theory, and it’s so important that I wrote about it in my first book.

This is a reason we use The Level Method at Catalyst: Clients see their progress and the next closest goal. They know what’s next. They can ascend.


Episode 165: The Level Method


Rise Up!


Of course, there are other ways to ascend your clients.

They can become peer leaders and guide newcomers to your gym.

They can become coaches and share their gifts with new clients.

They can lead specialty programs that draw on their personal experiences.

They can compete.

They can become ambassadors and speak at your seminars.

They can be leaders in the workouts or nutrition plans.

They can form teams for local events.

They can be captains in your Intramural Open.

They can be part of your advisory board.

They can earn their “black belt” in your ascension program (whatever you make it).

The key is that your clients have to see their past, their progress and their future.

If you’re not painting the picture for them, no one is.

Do they know what’s next or are they just trying to avoid boredom?


Other Articles in This Series

Are You Already too Big?
The Cure for Commoditization
Selling Accountability
Don’t Skip “LEG” Day

Selling Accountability

Selling Accountability

You don’t compete on knowledge. Not anymore.

Knowledge is cheap. Knowledge is everywhere. If I want to find a workout or diet plan, I can. It’s so easy that it’s boring.

Luckily, no exercise routines or diets work without action.

That’s where you come in, coach. You sell action.


The Key: Keeping Clients


One of our mentors at Two-Brain, Kaleda Connell, once told me that “for every minute you spend setting up your marketing, you should spend 10 minutes on your sales process.” I think that’s about right. In a previous series, I wrote about your sales process, and how most gym owners just aren’t good enough at signing people up.

But I’ll add this: For every 10 minutes you spend selling to people, you should spend 20 minutes keeping people.

We actually teach retention before sales in the Two-Brain Incubator because keeping people is what separates good gyms from great gyms.

Here’s our full Retention Guide. It’s free. Go ahead, take it.

Many gyms now have a designated salesperson (usually it’s the owner, at least for a while). But they should have a designated retention person first. We call that person the Client Success Manager (CSM). Mine calls herself “the Joy Girl.” You can listen to a podcast on the topic here.

Two-Brain Radio: Incredible Client Success with Eden Watson


You can also download the full CSM job description here:

Done-For-You Hiring Plan and Detailed Job Descriptions for Gym Owners


A Focus on Retention

Many gym owners have adopted the No-Sweat Intro (NSI) process. New clients book a 1:1 conversation before jumping into a class setting.

But owners should also be scheduling Goal Review sessions with all their clients every quarter. We tell you exactly how to do it here:

Never Lose a Member Again: The Two-Brain Business Guide to Retention

Many gym owners now call people after their NSI has been booked. They’re willing to do that one hard thing—an extra step—because they know it could save the client’s life. Often, they’ll call a prospect two or three times just to get the person in the door.

But they should also be calling clients who don’t show up for appointments or classes.

It’s a lot easier to keep a client than it is to get a client.

And the more clients you lose, the harder it is to get new ones. Ad costs go up, and reputation spreads. Trust me: There are dozens of people in Sault Ste. Marie who say, “Oh yeah, I did CrossFit” even if they just tried it for a couple of weeks back in 2008, when I really didn’t know what I was doing.

If you spend one minute building a marketing funnel or setting up an ad, spend 10 minutes working on your sales process. Then spend 20 minutes keeping your current clients. Because 150 clients are enough—if you can keep them.


Other Articles in This Series

Are You Already too Big?
The Cure for Commoditization
Ascending Your Clients
Don’t Skip “LEG” Day

The Cure for Commoditization

The Cure for Commoditization

In the first article in this series, I wrote, “You don’t sell group training. You coach people. Sometimes you coach them in a group setting. Let’s start with that mindset and build on it.”

There’s a lot of competition in the group training space now. This is because we’ve figured out how to get results for people: intense exercise and a sound diet.

Many new gym franchises have emerged from that simple recipe. They charge low rates, work in small spaces and sell a service that looks the same as what most microgyms sell. They’ve commoditized intensity. And that has a lot of microgym owners worried.

The microgym owners who suffer when a new Orangetheory opens nearby are the ones selling group training and nothing else. Because Orangetheory is going to win at that game. But our business isn’t actually the same as their business.

Here’s how to set yourself apart.


Forget About This Stuff


First, here’s what you don’t sell:



No one is seeking out the best group programming. People look for the workouts that will benefit them most—including beginners and Games athletes.

Bad programming can cost you clients. Good programming doesn’t add clients.

Relationships keep clients. Sell your relationships.

Programming isn’t a differentiator between your gym and the franchises.



Like programming, bad culture in your gym can cost you clients. But good culture doesn’t add clients.

Relationships between clients are important. But not as important as the relationship between each client and each coach.

Your clients are not 50 percent nicer than Orangetheory clients. Their coaches are taught how to be warm and engaging first and how to teach the squat second. Community is not a good differentiator between your gym and the franchises.


Access to Equipment

You know who sells 24/7 access to equipment? The gyms with amazing equipment, 10,000 clients and no coaching.

When you sell 24/7 access to equipment, you begin to compete with Gold’s Gym. And you’re not going to win that one. Take it from someone who’s tried.

Selling access means surrendering coaching control of your clients. It causes clients to misinterpret your real value, argue about access during class times and leave when rules aren’t enforced the same way every time. Selling 24/7 access won’t help you keep the right people around; it will just help you attract the wrong people for short-term commitments.


Group Exercise

Pay your membership, show up when you like—that’s not a winnable model for microgyms.

Who sells that stuff? Orangetheory. Fit Body Boot Camp. F45. Les Mills. Jazzercise. Models built on a low-paid group leader (I won’t use the term “coach”) and a choreographed workout set to music.

These franchises have good branding, big classes and low overhead. They don’t need to know Mary’s background, only that she’s paid her membership. She doesn’t add to the group by joining or subtract from the group by leaving. The programming doesn’t change whether Mary shows up or not. The coach works no harder or less hard if Mary’s in the room. The system doesn’t change because of Mary.

That’s the definition of a commodity. And every commodity has downward price pressure. These big chains have enormous advertising budgets. They can spend more and make less per client. Their margins can shrink to almost nothing and they’ll still survive. They can have high churn and still be profitable. But you can’t.

Let’s go in the other direction: toward specialization.


Stand out From the Crowd


Here’s what you really sell:


Personalized Exercise and Nutrition Plans

You design workouts and meals that will get Mary the specific results she wants. You are selling the solution to her specific problems.

Ideally, she’d train 1:1 with you every day. You’d talk to her about her meals every day or even provide them to her. But few people can afford those options.

The cover of the e-book "Never Lose a Member Again"; a coach tries to hold a fleeing client back with a rope about the waist.

Click to download our guide.

A less-expensive option is to train Mary and the person who shares her meals at the same time. That way, you can provide the same guidance and they can split the cost.

Even less expensive: Train Mary and a small group of people with the same goals and eating habits together.

And finally, if Mary can’t afford anything else, your least expensive option is to put her in a group of people with similar goals.

You train people. Sometimes they work out together. But their overall plans should be different. That’s why you have goal-review meetings. Download our full retention guide here to read about how these meetings work.



You don’t sell memberships. You sell results.

Results depend on two things: knowledge and action.

Knowledge is cheap: I can find workouts online. Or I can attend a group workout on Or I can show up at Orangetheory and just let them tell me what to do.

I can buy a diet book. Or I can buy prepackaged low-calorie meals so I don’t even have to learn anything.

Action is the hard part: Most people don’t actually want to show up. Not every day. Most people don’t want to prep their meals or buy broccoli.

That’s where you come in.



“I love Catalyst because I can turn my brain off for an hour.”

When I heard those words for the first time, I was shocked. But now I hear it all the time because I ask, “What do you like best about my gym?”

People want me to make decisions for them. Because they already make too many—what to wear, what to say to the boss, what to put in that expense report. They don’t want to decide how to scale the workout appropriately; they want me to tell them.



How often does the average person hear, “Good job!”

Or, “It’s great to see you!”

Or even, “I’m glad you came!”

In an average day, probably not at all. That’s part of the reason people come to your gym: They know you like them. Because you tell them so.

They know you have their best interests in mind. You won’t let them do the wrong thing—including wasting their money or time.



A coworker is raving about a new diet. Should the person try it?

You already know the answer. Your client don’t have to waste time or money or painful effort on randomness. You’ll tell him or her exactly what to do.


Course Correction

If your program isn’t working, you’ll figure out why and give clients something else.

When people hire a coach, they don’t expect the coach to be right 100 percent of the time. But they do expect the coach to correct their course when they go off track.

I once shocked a bunch of gym owners by sharing that I sometimes tell clients to take a few months off from Catalyst.

Sometimes I say, “Take the summer away from the gym. Exercise every day—walk, run, bike or swim. Read 10 books.”

Does that prescription cost me money? Absolutely. But it’s the best thing for the client. And that’s my job.

As a secondary benefit, these clients tend to stick around longer because they know they can trust me to tell them the truth—even when it’s not in my financial best interest.


Build Relationships


These things all require a 1:1 relationship with the client.

Building a business means building systems that provide these things and hiring people who deliver those systems really well.

We teach you how to build these systems in the Incubator.

And we hold you accountable for doing the work, too.


Other Articles in This Series

Are You Already too Big?
Selling Accountability
Ascending Your Clients
Don’t Skip “LEG” Day

Are You Already TOO Big?

Are You Already TOO Big?

If I asked, “How big is your gym?” you’d probably tell me how many members you have.

And if I asked, “How many members do you want?” you’d probably say, “More.”

But the reason you can’t get more could be that you already have too many. You’re trying to attract a number instead of looking at each person as an individual. This is the reason most digital marketing ultimately fails: You run some kind of special, attract 50 people and lose all of them.

Because you can’t look at the whole as a unit, you have to look at one person at a time.


Order of Operations


We teach gym owners how to help the clients in front of them best, and we call that operational excellence.

Then we teach them how to help future clients best. We call that sales.

Then we teach them how to help a client’s family, friends and coworkers. We call that Affinity Marketing.

Finally, we teach gym owners how to find more people to serve. We call that digital marketing.

We go in that order.

Never: “How many women, aged 25-42 with an average income of $50,000 per year, live in your town?”

Instead: “How can we help Mary?”

In this series, I’ll be writing to you about retaining clients.

The cover of the e-book "Never Lose a Member Again"; a coach tries to hold a fleeing client back with a rope about the waist.

Click the image to get our guide.

Great gym businesses aren’t built on their ability to attract people; great gyms are built on their ability to retain people. And you can’t retain groups: You can retain people in groups by building a 1:1 relationship with each person. You can jump ahead and download our full Retention Guide here.

When I hear things like “churn rate,” “average run rate” or “X,” I know the gym owner has a mindset problem. He or she is trying to grow a service business as if it were a software company. To a software company (or even a product company, like Apple), it doesn’t really matter if you lose a client because you’ll try to get two more next month. Every purchaser is a faceless entity; the brand is the most important personality in the relationship.

But that’s not us. We’re not selling a product. We’re selling service.


Focus on the Client


The client is the most important personality in our relationship. Every single client.

When I hear, “This client left and took 12 clients with them!” I know it’s because the ringleader had a closer 1:1 relationship with those clients than the coach did. This has happened to me more than once. And every time, it was my fault. Nobody can “steal” my clients, but I can give them away. In this series, I’ll tell you how to stop giving clients away.

You don’t sell group training. You coach people. Sometimes you coach them in a group setting.

Let’s start with that mindset and build on it.


Other Articles in This Series

The Cure for Commoditization
Selling Accountability
Ascending Your Clients
Don’t Skip “LEG” Day

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