Average Sucks: Michael Bernoff on Changing the Way You Think

Average Sucks: Michael Bernoff on Changing the Way You Think

Andrew (00:02):

Welcome to Two-Brain Radio with Chris Cooper. Average just isn’t good enough. Everyone knows it. And Michael Bernoff wrote a book about it. His new book is called “Average Sucks: Why You Don’t Get What You Want (And What to Do About It).” In this episode, Chris talked to Michael about his new book and how it relates to the COVID crisis, in which excellent businesses are surviving and average ones are dying. Now here’s Chris Cooper.

Chris (00:23):

Welcome back to Two-Brain Radio. With me today is Michael Bernoff, author of “Average Sucks.” Thanks for coming on Michael.

Michael (00:31):

I appreciate it. I’m glad I’m here.

Chris (00:33):

Yeah. I was really thankful to get you on short notice because your book is so timely for gym owners as we go through this COVID crisis, and we’re going to dive deep into the book, but what led you to writing “Average Sucks”?

Michael (00:45):

It’s interesting. I wrote the book for me and for us. And the reason I say that is, I don’t know many books that were written for what I believe the biggest challenge in the world why most people don’t succeed, why our clients don’t succeed. Why success is hard for people to break out of the mold we’re in. And I literally wrote it for as the book that I needed in my life. I mean, I grew up very middle class. I’m not one of these kids that grew up poor and had to figure it out or grew up without, with a condition. Or my parents left me somewhere when I was six and I had to figure it out. Like my heart goes out to those people and I definitely didn’t grow up rich. And I wrote the book for people that literally grew up very average with above average desires. But for some reason, they were not able to get what they wanted. So I’ve always felt I had this wall in this world. And for 20 years I’ve been in research to figure out what the heck that wall was, why I stopped short of the things that I wanted globally in my life. And I wrote a book to help get people past that.

Chris (01:47):

And the book is really oriented around, you know, our personal average and how we tend to stick to that average. So what is our average?

Michael (01:55):

Yeah, that’s an interesting question. Cause I wear all the time, I even said in the book I wear my “Average Sucks” shirt pretty much 24/7, seven days a week. Everywhere I go, when people stop me. Oh man, that’s a great shirt. I get gym owners. It’s typically your CrossFit people. It’s your people that would do P90X would love me for it. I got a guy that’s, you know, producing in business. And I said, you know what it means? And they typically say, you know, they say, Oh yeah, you gotta be better than everyone else. I said, absolutely true, but not correct. What your average is, is your problem is that you’re average, is your issue. And I stop right there and you should see people’s reaction when I tell them, they think, I just said you’re average to a guy that or girl that is definitely not average. And I said, I’m not calling you average. I’m just saying that you have a force inside of you, we’ll call it your average, that really runs your unconscious mind in your life, your workouts, your economics, your sex life, and everything is all dominated by a force that you set up called your average.

Chris (02:57):

And how do we relate to that average? Like, are we conscious of it? Is it more of a subconscious thing?

Michael (03:02):

Completely subconscious. I mean, you create it without thinking. I mean, there’s one day Chris you say to yourself, like, you know, like, have you ever had a day in your life where you said to yourself, I’m never going to go back there again, like tell me an area of your life that you’ve said to yourself. I will never do that again. I know ones in my life, like whether it was weight or relationships, what have you said to yourself never again to?

Chris (03:24):

Yeah, absolutely. I had a really bad month in my gym business in August, 2008, and I didn’t have the money to pay the rent or to pay myself. And I said, I am never living through this again.

Michael (03:35):

And you really meant it. You had a peak emotional experience. You built what I call a wall and you built this trust behind you that said, even if I do look at that kind of, I will never go there completely. The second you accept you’re not where you want to be as a human being, this is what happens when people come into our gym, we have to help them with this. There’s a difference between wanting something and really meaning it. So when you say I’m not where I want to be, and you look in the mirror and go, I don’t like my gut. I don’t like the way I get treated when I go to the beach, I don’t like the way I treat myself. I don’t like that I can’t hold my kid without getting back spasms. You know what I’m saying? And when you say this to yourself, you immediately have a few things happen.

Michael (04:12):

You create possibilities in your life. Where right in front of you, it’s like, Whoa, here’s all the things I can do. You also get mass insecurity because you say to yourself, wait a second. Does this mean I’m not good enough? And that’s where your average gets freaked out because you’re basically saying who I am is not as good as I thought I was. And at the same time, a path starts to reveal itself. So a lot of your average controls your ability to run a better gym. But it’s also the psychology of every human being that shows up and gets a membership.

Chris (04:44):

That’s interesting. And we’re going to go down that route too later.

Michael (04:46):

I never thought about it like that, but I want to share it with you.

Chris (04:50):

Oh, it’s super important, I think, for gym owners to understand, but for now, like how does our average control us?

Michael (04:59):

Well, what happens is your average is made up of, I don’t want to get too in depth with it. Cause A, time=-wise would be, I want to give everyone enough that they can walk away with. Your average is that feeling you get that you do on a regular basis. So I’ll give you an example. We have, if we looked at our year, no different than average daily bank account, we have about what we weigh every year or every month. We have about what we make about every year, every month. We have about how many times we have an intimate relationship within our year, about how much about how well we go on vacation every year. So what’s fascinating is for most people, we don’t have to work as hard as we think we do. Because if you sit on your ass for 10 months of the year, like literally do nothing for 10 months, go into hibernation.

Michael (05:43):

Your average will say, wait a second. Something’s off. We’ve got November and December to catch up. Even though it’s the holiday season in that last two months of the year, you will make the money, do the workout, do the push-ups, do the squats, do your WOD, whatever it is that you have to do, you will literally do everything you need in that last two months to get you back to where you need to be. So as human beings, we don’t have to work so hard at being who we are. We have to work harder to becoming the person that we want to be. Not the person we already are. If you’ve been doing what you do for a period of time, you’ll probably do it automatically.

Chris (06:18):

That’s interesting. So what if we do want to improve our average? What’s that process?

Michael (06:24):

That process is a whole nother ball game, but it’s something everybody’s capable of doing. And it’s a little something I call throwing your hat over the wall. And what that means is most people are living their life based on what I want and what I don’t have, what I want and what I don’t have, what I want and what I don’t have, instead of actually working on what it is that they want. So the key is starting to get the things that you really desire in your life to start to become non-negotiable. Like we make room for our addictions in life, things that are non-negotiable. Like I started training. I don’t know. Have you ever done a Spartan race before? Joe Desena is the guy that owns Spartan race. He actually—the lady that does wealth management for us, she does for him.

Michael (07:07):

And she gave him a book. It sat on my shelf for three years. I’m not doing that. I don’t have time for that. I got my workouts, I got my thing. And I one day opened the book and I’m like, wow, this will be very interesting. This will fit in with what I’m doing with my CrossFit stuff, with the other stuff that I’m doing, what else is happening. This is going to fit in great in my life. And when I started, I’d never ran before. Like I did a half marathon, which means I didn’t really do anything. And I showed up and did better than most people cause I can get away with it. And I was 35. You know what I’m saying? If you want to do well at a Spartan race, you have to excel, which means you need to do different things than other people.

Michael (07:43):

So one of the things I recognize I’m going to have to do seven, eight, 10 mile runs on the weekends and people said, Michael, how do you do that? And I said, well, how do you make time for that? I said like anything in life you make times for your addictions, like things that matter to you, you literally will make time for. So I decided that that mattered to me. It was non-negotiable and you make time for things that are non-negotiable. And when you do your non-negotiables, it changes who it is that you are. So what I would tell most people is we don’t have to discipline ourselves. We need to work on making the things we want start to become nonnegotiable for ourselves. And there’s a process for that. And people can do it, but you first need to understand that that language, non negotiable, is really what makes people do and what makes people not do.

Chris (08:27):

Earlier you said that when a new person walks into a gym, they might be having a little struggle with what their average is. And is that part of the reason that they haven’t established these non-negotiables to be exercise and nutrition?

Michael (08:40):

One of the biggest reasons people have an issue is that they misread their emotions. I don’t remember. I’ve done so much content in my life that I don’t even know if this .surfaced in the book, if not, you get it here as part of your show, which is amazing. Is that let’s just say for a second, you look down at your waist and it’s not what you want it to be. You gained a couple extra pounds. It’s the holidays. It’s the summer. Hockey season showed up a couple of Tim Horton’s coffees and some beer. I’m speaking your language, right?

Chris (09:07):

Yes sir, Canadian.

Michael (09:07):

Couple of triple X, which we drank when we were kids, the hundred proof alcohol, we’d sneak over to Niagara to get it when we were kids. And you look down, it’s not what you want it to be. Or you see your neighbor or you’re, you’re at the gym and you look at someone next to you and what the hell are they doing? Or you’re on Instagram and you see them and it’s whether it’s their abs or their butt, they’re like, they look better than you or you look at your bank account. It’s not what you want it to be. We usually get depressed or we feel down. What I believe is most people are misreading their emotions. They don’t realize your average is always talking to you. So when you look down and your waist is not where you want it to be, it’s not, you are supposed to feel shame and guilt and bad. Cause your mind is telling you look idiot. I’m trying to get your attention. Hey yo, you, like when your neighbor is doing better than you, I feel like beetle juice. When I say that you over there, right?

Michael (09:53):

When you see your neighbors doing better than you, you’re at a game and they got better seats than you have. They’re sitting front row and in the dome. And you’re like, what the heck? What do they have that I don’t have? It’s not time to feel jealous. It’s time to become a better communicator and ask them what they’re doing that you’re not doing so you can actually have that as well. Or if your bank account is not where you want it to be, it’s telling you get motivated. So like, I always tell everyone, do you know why hangovers were put there? It’s very simple, because you were an idiot last night. That’s the only reason. You were dumb last night. Don’t do that again. You’re not to beat a hangover and go, Hey, if I could have extra water, drink charcoal between I’m going to beat a hangover.

Michael (10:35):

A hangover was designed to remind you don’t do that again. So when somebody walks in the gym, they are really good at playing the small game. And what I mean by really good at playing the small game is they’re really good at wanting what they are. Their identity for themselves is I’m a person that wants to be in better shape. I am not a person that has a relationship with health that is real. They don’t really mean it. They are really good. So their identity, who am I? Well, I’m a person that every once in a while, I feel bad enough to work out for a while until I feel better to not feel good again. And then get in there again, like we’ve got to understand the psychology of our, I’d call them our patients or our students or our clients is that they get off on the idea that if they do bad, they can do better.

Michael (11:26):

It’s like, you know, you’ve been to Canadian Wonderland? You got the ghoster coaster, right? I’m speaking your language. You’ve got the ups and downs or Six Flags or Disney, people go up to go down. So what happens is I gain weight so I can go to the gym to feel better. And I get a win. Most people don’t see consistency as a win. Their identity is a winner is everybody loves the Disney movie of the team that came back from nothing, whether it was major league or slapshot when we were kids or the Cinderella story, nobody gets turned on by the idea, Oh, there’s Jim over there, man. He’s always in good shape. He always works out. We need to work on helping our students. And I call them students, not clients, because let me just help you gym owners, I’ve worked with hundreds of thousands of people that go to gyms and work at gyms. They’re our students. We’re there to guide them to change their identity. And if you change their identity, you change what their average is. I’m a person that consistently takes care of myself.

Chris (12:27):

How can a gym owner best do that for their clients? Change their average.

Michael (12:32):

Teaching them the difference between addition and subtraction. Most people want to get rid of things in their life. Have you heard that technique before?

Chris (12:37):

No. Go ahead.

Michael (12:39):

Like for instance, I have a shake right here and I shot a video a couple of minutes ago about this and I’ve got a shake and I realized that in my life, I have a lot of choices. There’s a lot of things I want to change. I want to get rid of in my life. And it’s a lot harder to get rid of bad habits than it is to add new ones. Adding spinach to my shake is an addition, doing 10 push-ups is an addition, doing one burpee a day before I go in the shower is an addition. Teaching people the power of addition. Like I work with martial arts studios, teaching children to practice their stances while they’re brushing their teeth for 30 seconds is an addition. So we need to teach people about adding and not subtracting. The world wants to get rid of things, to get rid of their gut, to get rid of their bad habits. It’s easier to create a habit than it is to get rid of a bad habit.

Chris (13:29):

Very cool. OK. Well, thanks for that, Michael. What I really wanted to talk about today was the gym owner’s sense of average. You know what we find, and we have about 850 gyms in our mentorship practice. We talk to thousands every month. And what we find is that the average gym owner doesn’t have a very good sense of themselves. So their clients make more money than they do. They’re comparing themselves to other gym owners who they think are doing better, even though they might not be. And so they undervalue their time. They undervalue their service. Where can we start to reorient the gym owners average so that they understand their own value and improve?

Michael (14:14):

Well, one of the places I would talk about is really updating your identity. A lot of us go into, as a gym owner, you go become a gym owner cause you like gyms. You do, you like the gym. It makes you feel good. You work out. You can make a couple bucks and you can work out. And that is one way that you could run your gym. And if that makes you happy, congratulations, that’s wonderful. They would never be listening to your show because the show is about improvement. Getting better and being above your average. Am I correct about that? Nobody’s listening that’s content. So if you’re listening right now, congratulations being a gym owner, I also want to applaud you that you’re offering opportunity. The next thing I’m going to tell you is I don’t think most people are upgraded and updated their identity.

Michael (14:55):

And what I mean by upgraded and updated your identity is like, let’s say you’ve been a gym owner for five years. You’re still treating it as a brand new person. Most people don’t say to themselves, like what does a 42-year-old man or woman that’s been running a gym for 11 years that has worked with 10,000 people, what does that person do? Most of us say, in order to change my gym and pivot, like the whole COVID thing, everyone’s like, Oh my God, I got to start over again. And they become 22 years old, again, they become fresh out of university. They become fresh out of college. They become fresh out of high school, right off the farm. They’re like, Oh my God, what do I do again? Most of us don’t really update our identity. It’s like we’re using a fake ID.

Michael (15:34):

We forget we’re of age now. So what does a gym owner that is, really look in the mirror and ask yourself this question. What does a person that has been in business for 10 years that has worked with tens of thousands of people that has helped hundreds of thousands of pounds get moved through people’s bodies, does that make sense? Who has written the WOD on the wall a thousand times, do you know what I’m saying of what we’re doing today is our workout. What does that person do? How does that person grow their business? And I think the majority of people, like I look at my life and I remember right as the whole COVID thing was happening, our financial people talked to me go, Michael, even if you lost everything, what does a guy that’s been in business for 20 years that’s had a million clients they’ve worked with all over the world that’s written a book that has an incredible family, has incredible kids that knows how to make money. That’s made millions and millions of dollars. What does that person do right now? And it’s a radically different answer. So part of it is looking in the mirror and gyms have mirrors. You know what I’m saying? And look in the mirror and see who you really are because what you do is a gift, you offer an opportunity for people to grow, to network, to connect, to share, to care, to be who they’re capable of being. You are a conduit to introduce people to who they really are like Mr. Rogers was that person introduced myself when I was a kid, he was a big piece of our lives. They made a movie about him later on in life. That’s how much that guy moved our entire generation. We are that for our communities as gym owners, we are that person. We are the place that people go where they can actually be themselves. And you had the courage to sign that rent, to sign that ownership agreement to open that. And I think you’ve got to look in the mirror and put your shoulders back, take a deep breath, give yourself your muscle pose, or don’t do your muscle pose and look in the mirror and go, you know what? I did it. Now, what do I really want to do?

Chris (17:25):

Oh, really good. One of the traps that sucks gym owners back toward the average I would say is comparing themselves with other gym owners. And they feel like that person’s doing so much better, whether that’s the truth or not is another matter, but they do tend to compare themselves and they worry about even what other gym owners will think. That seems like they’re trying to take something away if they’re trying to resist that. So what’s something that they could add instead that would help them not be sucked back toward average?

Michael (17:55):

You mean working to be like somebody else, correct? There’s a difference between being motivated by somebody’s abilities that we want to be like, like we talked hockey before we got on and I play hockey still to this day, put a synthetic rink in my backyard. That’s how much I love hockey. I live in Arizona. And there were people I looked up, they’re heroes I had when I was a kid. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But being jealous about what someone else is capable of and not doing it yourself is really a weakness. And one of the things I’ll tell you is a lot of times people get into the fitness industry to prove a point and we’re looking to fix something that’s outdated in ourselves. I’m gonna talk a little psychology right now. My background is high level, I guess, intervention work. I do very, very high level. I have. I’m the guy that people talk to before they walk into a ring to do a UFC fight. You know what I’m saying? I’m the person that Olympic athletes are training in Alberta right now to, because I can’t train here in the States, are training right now. And there are clients that we work with. And one of the things that I recognized is a lot of us are looking to outdo something and prove a point of what we’re doing. And we get insecure from time to time because our old average is we spend a large part of our life being insecure. So part of your thing is if you spend a decade being insecure, we need to change that part of our identity. So maybe we own a gym because we want to prove a point. Like, let me help you get through this right now. Why did you go into business, Chris? What made you go into business? Like, let’s go back in time. Why did you do it? This is going to heal and help everyone listening right now. Why’d you do it, like the real reason.

Chris (19:34):

I went into fitness because in high school I was just a nerdy kid and very insecure. And a friend of mine dragged me into the weight room because we had this really weird lunch hour that nobody else had. And we started working out and that gave me a lot of self confidence and I kept it up through college. And then eventually pursued that as a career. After about four years as a personal trainer, I just couldn’t afford to live on that wage anymore. And I thought that opening a gym would be the only way that I could make a living.

Michael (20:05):

Gotcha. So your original reason for going into business was to eliminate an insecurity that started at a young age. So weightlifting meant if I lift weights, I’m less insecure, correct?

Chris (20:19):


Michael (20:19):

Yeah. I know the deal, dude. I used to go either to the library during lunch because I didn’t want to get picked on at lunch, went to the library or I went to the gym and lifted weights and that was my thing, dude. I was good at the military press cause I got 50 at 50 long shoulders. Does that make sense? So that was my thing. I was, that was my deal. Like I show you up, military squats, forget about it. You know, I’m six foot six. I’m not built for squats, but one of the things is that my original attachment, psychological, like, I’ll give you an example and then I’m gonna come back to you.

Michael (20:52):

We have the presidential physical fitness test and we were kids at school. Did you have that out there?

Chris (20:55):

Yeah. Very similar.

Michael (20:56):

  1. I don’t know who your guy was. You guys had Trudeau. When we were kids we had, I don’t know who it was, Ronald Reagan, let’s just say right. And I went in that day and I’m like, I’m going to go do pull-ups. And I was like nine years old and I went up to do pull-ups that day and I walked up to the bar and I thought it would be easy. And I couldn’t even do one. I tried to use my arms. I couldn’t do it. The teacher basically put me in a trance, said Mr. Bernoff.

Michael (21:22):

If you cannot do a pull-up, then you just hang there. So he tranced me, you cannot do a pull-up. I’m 38 years old at the time. And I still couldn’t do a pull-up because the teacher told me I couldn’t. My natural tendency was they can, I can’t. To top it off my friend, Courtney, and if you’re a boy named Courtney, you’re a badass, right? He could—you have to be right? He did like 10 in a row. He was a wrestler. So for me, gym class and pull-ups was scary, for him, gym class and pull-ups was good. So our natural reason for a lot of us going into business for ourselves, I’m backtracking with little ADD here right now is you did it to eliminate insecure. So basically what you’re saying is an insecure man started a business that if people work out, there’ll be less insecure versus a secure person building a business.

Michael (22:10):

I’m not calling you insecure. I’m just saying that most of us have our original reason for starting something we’ve already solved. You’re an extremely confident guy, but most of us haven’t really accepted that to ourselves. So I always tell everyone if your original reason for getting started in business or getting started, is already accomplished. Your original reason was for freedom. Your original reason was to prove a point. Some of us want to prove to our mom and dad we can do it. Our original reason was to prove to an old girlfriend, screw you. I’ll start my own business, who says I can’t. I guarantee 400 out of your gym owners prove it to an ex girlfriend or wife, that they’re not even with anymore. You’ve heard that story, right? I own this gym because of Julie. Right? So we’ve already succeeded past that.

Michael (22:55):

So now the question is, now that we have already done that, what would we like our new average to be? Meaning, I look at my life. Like my original reason for going into business was to prove a point and to own my own thing and not have a boss. So I’m a decade in the business. No boss, proven a point, but I’m still not living that way. So one of the ways to create a new average is to get honest with ourself and realize we’re not where we want to be, but we are so much farther along than we realize.

Chris (23:21):

And so now that you have to kind of reorient your average by looking at yourself and then do you next find a model for where you want to be? Or how do you form a clear image of that?

Michael (23:34):

Well, then my question is what do people want? And most people do not understand the difference between wants and dreams. They get them very, very confused. Like I’ll give you guys a hack right now on health that is massive. Everyone can steal this one. And I was in a room of a thousand nutritional people that sell supplements, right? Highest level doctors in the world. Some of them have companies that do hundreds of millions of dollars a year in shakes. OK? Like the owner of Viga is in the room. Does that make sense? And I said, he’s a Canadian too. And I said, how many of you drink shakes? And they raised their hands. I said, you know what? None of you should ever drink shakes again. I thought they were going to bum rush and kill me. Like I killed their industry. I said, the reason you shouldn’t drink a shake is you’re supposed to chew a shake because when you chew it, what happens is when you chew, something goes in your mouth, it sends out chemicals to your brain that tells you what enzymes to send to your stomach and break it down.

Michael (24:33):

Not all food is the same. I’m gonna explain why I’m saying this right now. So for myself, I recognize that most people call food food and it’s not true. There are three different language is the fastest way to change your diet. So what I teach people all the time is, and you’ve heard this lesson from me before is that language changes everything. So there is nutrition, there is entertainment and then there’s addiction. So let me give an example, broccoli, intelligent proteins. And I’m not going to fight paleo and keto and Atkins and vegan and vegetarian right now. But we all know that nutrition means you made it yourself, old school. You’re saying your proteins, as soon as you put barbecue sauce on it, it’s entertainment. Right. You know, this, somebody else made it, right. And then there’s addiction, which is your whole, all of your food, all like eating a whole bag of popcorn, a little bit of popcorn at the movies, entertainment, a whole bag, addiction.

Michael (25:30):

So what I realized is if you go into your meals and talk to your food, like it’s a relationship. If you say to yourself, I’m going to have a relationship with my food right now. And one of the relationships that I want to have is I want to know what your plans are for me. So my plan is, as I eat this food is to know who are you and where you’re from. It’s like dating. It’s going to be inside you for a long time. You’ve got to know where it’s from and what its name is and what its intentions are with you. Right? So number one is your nutrition. Great. So, but if it’s breakfast, you have Cocoa Pebbles or you eat something from your Whole Foods, just because it’s Whole Foods doesn’t mean it’s good for you, right? So read something. It’s entertainment.

Michael (26:04):

Just call it what it is. Lunch. Entertainment, call it what it is. Nighttime. You overeat at a fancy, go to the keg, right? You overeat and you eat a bunch of food you shouldn’t. The morning, if you knew what you did, you’re probably going to have nutrition. Why I’m bringing this up and why I’m saying this to you right now, why it’s important to understand is if human beings do that, they will course correct. And they will course reset based on their actions. What most people don’t do is they do not label the actions of things they do appropriately. And they don’t realize that when they say to reiterate your question again and to go back to what it is you said, and why I mentioned that is most human beings do not language to language what it is they’re doing appropriately in their lives. So if there’s something that you want to be doing and you asked me, I believe the question you asked me was how to get, what was the exact question you asked me because I’m going to backtrack to this.

Chris (26:56):

Is it if we’re trying to move our average, is it easier to build a model by looking at other people?

Michael (27:03):

Yeah. So the best way to look at this is to ask yourself, what do you actually want? So by just saying to yourself, the difference between a dream and a want, most people look at their gym and go, if this was only Lifetime Fitness, if this was only, what is that big one in New York? And they have it in Toronto with an E. Why can’t I think of right now that fancy Equinox, if this was only the newest Orangetheory and they forget that you have to build a wand. What if it was only a gym with incredible customer experience? What if it was only a gym with some of the best retention in Arkansas? What if it was only a gym that had the greatest referral mechanism ever? We can grow from there. But most of us go from our gym with a hundred members at a hundred bucks a month at 10,000 bucks a month.

Michael (27:55):

And we barely can pay our staff, to Equinox. And we forget what if we clean up our act? What if we work on our text messaging? What if we have the greatest community we could ever have in the world where our gym members, like we have a barbecue outside. I’ve seen so many CrossFits in our area. They do barbecues. It’s amazing. They have their paleo, keto. It’s great. Right? They get everyone together and they go outside and they eat, right? So what if you allowed yourself to have the in between phase? Because the fastest way to not get your next level is to lie to yourself. And I think most people lie all the time because they say they want something. And because we’re so obsessed with our current identity, which is your current average, like, let’s say you want to quit smoking, right?

Michael (28:41):

If I say, I want to quit smoking, I gotta admit I don’t know how, which means I’m not good enough, which means I won’t start. But if you said I’m going to work on being healthier. And one of the things I’m going to do is eventually quit smoking, your body will give you half a chance. We typically are obsessed as most of your clients and students that come in, see themselves as people that are going to quit before they get started. They already know they’re going to quit. They already know they’ve already calculated in their brain, I’m going to go for seven to 10 days, maybe a month. Maybe I’ll stay a month. I’ll go a few more times and in eight months, I’m going to cancel. They’ve already calculated your $112 a month, $182 a month. If your gym membership plus taxes, they’ve already calculated they can lose a thousand bucks. And they’re OK with that. We need to change their identity.

Chris (29:26):

  1. So we need an intermediary step there between what their current average is and the average that they want to be then. Is there something that gym owner can do that will help them understand or build that intermediary step?

Michael (29:40):

Yeah, we need get people OK with doing better. And we need to get people OK with understanding and really start educating people that we can get you where you want to go. But we will never apologize for—we will apologize once for the workouts being hard and the difficult days, but we will never apologize for being dishonest. And we are going to be honest with you. And I like to show you some of these butts and abs and stuff on Instagram, and we can get there, but I’m going to tell you, it’s going to take two to three years to be there consistently, but we can get you is really wonderful pictures of before and after every 90 days, we can do really wonderful things together. But we’ve got to work as a team and we’ve got to work with accountability. So one of the things we’re going to work on is the first stage in the gym, month one, is something called accountability. And it isn’t about perfection. It’s about being accountable. So we want to do better than your current average. So I’d ask somebody, how many times have you worked out in the last month? Like, let’s say I asked you that question. How many times have you worked out? Let’s say you’re brand new to the gym. You are your gym, white house. I’m using Canadians, right? So your first time to the gym, you haven’t worked out in a while. It’s January 1st. Let me ask the question. How many times have you worked out in the last 30 to 90 days?

Chris (31:01):

Zero times. Not at all.

Michael (31:04):

So do you understand if we get you in here twice a week, big steps in the right direction?

Chris (31:11):

Yes. That’d be a lot more than I’m currently doing.

Michael (31:13):

Did you feel that thing in your body right there where you actually were like, but that’s not enough. Did you feel that?

Chris (31:20):

Yeah, I did. And I think because I’ve got the context of this conversation, I realized, Oh, this is going to be step one. But I wonder if I didn’t know that if I would have felt like, no, no, I need something more hardcore.

Michael (31:32):

Yup. And you are going to feel that and you can say, great. We are going to get you to hardcore. Hardcore requires a different level of commitment. And if you want that, I’ve got that. Let’s understand our slide. Two days is the minimum, five days is the maximum, let’s agree to three days a week. Can we do that? So what I teach people is, and I talked about this in the book. And you remember that part where I talked in the book about the guy that I helped get the movie part for the movie 300. I don’t know if you remember that part where I helped the guy in the gladiator movie get that part. And it’s really about something, not about massive action. It’s about setting a new baseline for people. Like I know for me and like my wife does 20,000 burpees a year. It sounds crazy, but it’s 68 a day or 86 a day and it’s not complicated. That’s her workout. That’s her thing. That’s what she does. And the reason I’m bringing that up right now to you is that if people would set a baseline for themselves, you didn’t start there. But if we start a baseline for ourselves, it’s really important to understand, like we need to get people OK with a new low.

Chris (32:35):

So when you say a new low, is that just kind of your new normal, or is that—

Michael (32:41):

You’re old low if your gym white house was it’s OK to not work out at all for six months, right? I want your new low to the worst case you ever do for the rest of your life is once or twice a week. There’s not a gym owner in the world that’s saying that to anyone anywhere. And I’m telling you if we could educate the world to basically say, how often do you do that? How many healthy meals a week do you eat? Like, like, well, I eat about four. Great. If we can get you to six, which is about one a day, we’re getting somewhere. We need to get gyms to be about getting somewhere, where a lot of us are. Like, we don’t get it, man. I’m looking to like appeal to CT Fletcher. You know what I mean? And that crowd, very few people are CT Fletcher. Does that make sense? Very few people are building that way. They got the Rogue gym in their house and they’re actually using it. Right. Very few people. What people want, if you want to be an incredible gym, it’s about helping set a new average for people and let people read “Average Sucks.” Let them know that our point in the gym, and I’ll make certain to get you some average sucks shirts out for you and your audience.

Chris (33:45):

All right, thanks.

Michael (33:45):

Make sure to email me about that. Maybe some prizes and stuff in the future, but that’s the thing we want to, our desire is to create new averages.

Chris (33:55):

  1. So this has been really amazing, Michael. The last question that I have for you is what about backsliding? I mean, obviously the path to a better average is not going to be a straight line. So what do I do when I backslide a little bit, I get a setback. Like the COVID crisis.

Michael (34:12):

  1. So the COVID crisis was not a setback. The COVID crisis was an opportunity to recognize there are some things we missed, meaning that if you build a business that can not survive a two month issue, you did not build an appropriate business. I might right there just lost fans. But then when you look in the mirror, you’ll realize how honest I was. If you are a parent and you have not built a back strong enough to hold your child, you did not do right by your child. So what I’m getting at is we as professionals need to recognize COVID is a realization that there are some things in our business that have fragility that are fragile, that we need to be prepared and ready for economically, mindset-wise and relationship-wise. So I will tell you I’m 43 this year, in 01, I got hit by 01 in business and I got knocked over in business. 08 and 09 came over and I was a little more prepared. And I said with my wife, never again. When this thing happened, I go, wait a second. I knew this was coming. This was something I learned playing ice hockey years ago, we ran stairs so we were ready for overtime. Our coach made us shovel the stairs in the middle of winter, and we ran the stadiums at high school. And the reason he did that, which he probably would get sued for today, which would be illegal, so he could say to us, we in our third overtime, remember those stairs. So I’m going to tell all of you, we need to build businesses with a 90-day bump that could possibly happen. So when it shows up, we are beyond ready. So my thing is, if you missed it, you missed your mindset. You spent a lot of time learning new workouts, but did you spend time in your mind?

Michael (35:58):

You spent a lot of time, you know, maybe doing email marketing to get customers, but did you spend a lot of time building digital products? You spent a lot of time talking with your customers that are multimillionaires. Cause you know that, you know, a hedge fund guy works out at your gym, but did you get stock options for him? And did you know that Zoom was going to be a hot item to invest in? And maybe, maybe not. So I’m just calling every human being out. There’s no difference between a gym owner or a restaurant owner. We are people that took a risk and human beings that take risks also need to build strength, which is our core. I have a whole program called core strength for a reason, as we all understand core in the gym world, our core of our business is our relationships.

Michael (36:43):

What is the average of your relationships? Our core is our economics. Our core is our health. Cause I would tell you a lot of gym owners, your stress, if it got weighed is destroying your gut health and your gut health is a whole nother issue that you’re having right now. We need to get you to be calmer and maybe you need to go hit up your yoga buddies and maybe take a yoga class or something every once in a while to calm your ass down. Because if you can’t handle the stress, you’re never going to be able to handle the strength. But chapter two of my book, which is the Death of Adversity, it didn’t die. We just got it with COVID. I need to write a new chapter right now because adversity grows a muscle and adversity grows a business. Congratulations, 90% of your competition is taking a nap because they don’t have the courage to listen to you right now.

Michael (37:27):

They’re out of business. Here’s the time that you step up and grow.

Chris (37:30):

Adversity changes the average.

Michael (37:33):

The psychology of a person coming into a gym is no different than somebody walking up to a blackjack table. How do I not lose bad? Meaning I want this to work, but I already know it’s not going to cause it has never worked before. Cause all my references show that this will not work. How do I not lose bad? And how do I not be embarrassed? That’s the psychology of 90% of gym owners. That’s it. And we need to offer them a new modality to change that. That’s where relationships come in. The barbecues come in. The thing that Lifetime, we taught them how to do years ago, which was they called it a 360. We’re like, what would your body look like if you were 18, again, doing that assessment.

Michael (38:19):

And we train them on how to sell that. Here’s how far you could go. But where in between, where would you really want to go? What’s your first next step? Do you know what I’m saying? So when I teach people how to not change their diet, but just to change their orientation of how they see food, then they will then change their diet. See, we have auto programs for gyms that are failures in the past. Most people that came out of a divorce relationship will get divorced again because that’s what they do. They get divorced. Most people did not see high functioning relationships. So most people do not even know, and this is an important word that I would teach, what a relationship with a gym actually looks like. So for instance, like, like let me ask you a question. You work out? Do you have your own gym? What is your relationship with your gym? Think of those words in that context, what is your relationship? Or let me ask a different question. What is your relationship with the Toronto Maple Leafs?

Chris (39:20):


Michael (39:20):

That’s your relationship? Right? You’re actually planning on them to lose. Even if we give you Austin Matthews out of Phoenix, he’s our guy. He used to play at the little rink I coached hockey the years he was playing out here. And even if you are not even going in, you are like me at the Rangers, high aspirations with a knowing of losing. I guarantee the relationship of a Pittsburgh Penguins fan is if not this year, we’ll get them next year. We will win.

Chris (39:49):

That makes sense. Yeah.

Michael (39:50):

They have a different expectation, correct?

Chris (39:51):

Yeah. Oh yeah. Yeah. We start the season in Toronto getting ready to be really excited in November and that’s it.

Michael (40:00):

That’s it. And then maybe we can make it. So you guys are like a one 900 number turn on thing that’s not real. You’re not even helping the team win, are you?

Chris (40:09):

No, no, I’m not. I’m doing nothing to help them win.

Michael (40:11):

So if I was ownership, I would have a meeting about changing the psychology of the fan relationship. Do you understand the deep psychology I just said?

Chris (40:21):


Michael (40:21):

You don’t get it. OK. So a hundred million fans or 10 million fans in Toronto know that their team will lose. That is not good for psyche. Everyone that walks in the gym knows they’re going to lose. We need to change the psyche. So if I owned the Maple Leafs, I would have an outward conversation.

Michael (40:48):

We know for years we have let you down. We know for years we have not offered what we said. Could I ask that we walk into the season, not only with hopes, with the decision that this will be our year. Could we hold those hopes for six months? If we are wrong, we will recalibrate. I would like unriled, unriled belief for our players, for our fans, for our equipment managers. Could I ask you for that? It’s no different than asking somebody to stay home during COVID. I’m asking you for help. So we ask a person that walks into the gym, could I ask you, have you failed coming to a gym before? Let’s get that out of the way. Please can we leave that relationship in the past? That is not this relationship, please don’t do that to us or do that to you.

Michael (41:36):

Do you see what I’m doing right now?

Chris (41:36):

Yeah. Yeah. That’s really powerful.

Michael (41:38):

That’s what two divorcees that get married, make a relationship work because I’ve been divorced. You’ve been divorced. We both know what we will never settle for again. Let’s talk about that. You got it?

Chris (41:52):

Very interesting. Yeah. That’s great, Michael, thank you, Michael Bernoff. This has been absolutely fantastic. Thanks for raising our average, man. And I really appreciate it.

Michael (42:01):

I appreciate it my man, thank you so much. And I’m excited to be out there in front of you guys and any way I can help ever let me know.

Chris (42:06):

Will do. Thank you.

Andrew (42:10):

This is Two-Brain Radio. Please subscribe for more episodes wherever you get your podcasts. Two-Brain Business has the best strategies and tactics for dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. To see our essential resources for gym owners, visit TwoBrainbusiness.com and click COVID-19 at the top.


Chris Cooper delivers the best of the business world on Two-Brain Radio every Thursday.

On Monday, Two-Brain Radio presents marketing tips and success stories, and Sean Woodland has great stories from the community on Wednesdays.

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Paving the Way for Women in Sports: Carolyne Prevost

Paving the Way for Women in Sports: Carolyne Prevost

Sean (00:00):

Hi everybody and welcome to another edition of Two-Brain Radio with Sean Woodland. On today’s episode, I talk with the woman who finished 12th at the CrossFit Games in 2019, Carolyne Prevost. They say it’s lonely at the top, but what if entrepreneurs didn’t have to go it alone? Now you don’t have to. Chris Cooper has compiled more than a decade’s worth of hard-won wisdom into 15 free guides on everything from marketing and retention to hiring and firing. You can download them all for free at TwoBrain business.com/free-tools. Carolyne Prevost may be one of the best all around athletes in CrossFit. Not only has she competed at the Games, but she has also won, get this 11, 11 national championships in four different sports. She has competed in soccer, professional hockey and TaeKwonDo, and she currently works as a high-school math, science and phys ed teacher. We talk about how sports shaped her from an early age, her time playing collegiate hockey at the University of Wisconsin and the impact that she hopes to make on her students through fitness. Thanks for listening everyone. Carolyne, thank you so much for taking the time to do this today. How you doing?

Carolyne (01:19):

I’m doing great. This quarantine life is basically something that I enjoy, apparently. I haven’t had too much difficulty adjusting to it, so it’s been nice. And I guess I’m in a fortunate position as a teacher that I haven’t had to worry in terms of my job stability. So things have been good on my end. And I’ve been enjoying this kind of more, you know, down time.

Sean (01:47):

Yeah. You mentioned that you are a teacher, you’re a high school math, science and PE teacher. So how has this current pandemic affected the way that you do your job on a daily basis?

Carolyne (01:57):

I actually do my job here, which is above CrossFit Colosseum, which is my gym. There’s a clinic upstairs. And my coach gave me the key to it. Cause there’s like a big white board behind me and I just a lot of room and stuff for space. So I’ve just been doing all my lessons here. We’re teaching, we’ve switched to virtual teaching. We’ve also condensed the curriculum, so we’re taking away some of the stuff that we typically teach and we’re kind of focusing on the essentials of what needs to be learned for the following year. So they’ve reduced also the hours that we teach. So there’s only a couple hours in the day that I teach now versus, you know, a larger portion of my day that I was teaching before. So I’m actually working less hours, which has given me more time for training.

Carolyne (02:43):

So there’s no commute going to Oakville, which is about 25 minutes away to go to work. So I’m saying I’m just saving a lot of time. It’s weird teaching virtually because I don’t see the faces of my students. And when you teach, you like to look at their facial expression and be like, this person is completely lost. I’m going to try to change the way I’m teaching right now so I can get this person to understand what I’m talking about. But when you do it virtually none of them put their cameras on. So I’m just speaking to my computer and just like, all right, I’m going to try to teach another way, but I don’t know if anyone’s getting it. It’s OK. You know, you just adapt then, you know, that’s something I’m used to doing.

Sean (03:23):

You have been involved in sports pretty much your entire life. What are your earliest memories of competing either as an individual or on a team?

Carolyne (03:34):

Well, most of my memories growing up involved three or four sports. So I first started with gymnastics. So I have some good memories of those, just training sessions and learning a lot of discipline and, you know, hard work and stuff like that. And then the three sports that I did growing up were hockey, soccer, and TaeKwonDo. And I would say that I have equal memories of all of them. You know, hockey, I still currently play, and soccer, just TaeKwonDo I gave up. But you know, there’s been a mixture of just great teams that I’ve been a part of. You know, a lot of the memories I have are just like in hotel rooms and playing mini sticks in the hallways. Those are more of like the childhood memories of sports that I had is just like with your friends. So those are fun. And then Taekwondo that was an individual sport. So I have a lot of just memories of the training aspect of it, like training to Rocky music and going for runs. Like I remember just thinking I was Rocky half the time. It was, you know, just good memories of a lot of sports.

Sean (04:41):

That Rocky 4 soundtrack is hard to beat. That is a timeless classic. Why do you think that so many sports appealed to you at such a young age?

Carolyne (04:55):

I just love sports. Like I would wake up in the morning. I would watch Sports Center with my dad. My whole, like we have five girls in the family so I was definitely like the little boy that my dad never had and I just grew up playing sports and watching sports. That’s all I was surrounded with. And my parents gave me every opportunity, did it to participate in sports. Like those were like the main sports I did was TaeKwonDo, soccer and hockey, but even at the high school and elementary level, like I played badminton, volleyball, basketball, track, and field, like anything I could do, my parents were like encouraging me to do and to not specialize in a single sport, which I think a lot of kids have pressure to do is to kind of focus on one sport. But I just kind of loved everything of every sport that I did. So I just never wanted to specialize. And I just loved competing like at the end of the day, like I just had fun competing. And then when you’re good at it at the same time, it makes the experience better.

Sean (05:58):

I personally believe that, you know, the lessons that you learn from playing sports, especially team sports are pretty invaluable. What lessons did you learn as a youngster?

Carolyne (06:07):

I think you learn that you have a different role on your team. Like some teams, I was the top player, some teams I wasn’t necessarily the top player. You just kind of learn to play a role and to have these goals and to sacrifice for your team. And that goes into every day. The sacrifice that you have to make. I learned time management. That’s a huge one just with everything that was going on in my life. Like I had to be very, focused and very precise on the time that I had in my day. I learned just different coaching, feedback stuff. Like you, you just learned from different coaches, different athletes. I like this leader on this team. I like what this person brought and you kind of take the best out of every athlete that you’ve played with or with coaches and you kind of mold in to this, you know, all around better athlete, just from having different experiences with teammates and coaches. Like, I was very fortunate that I had high end coaches in every sport that I played and the athletes that I got to play with, or, you know, a lot of them had D1 scholarships or played at the Olympic level. So I had some good influences around me. And, you know, you just try to learn from people around you as much as possible and just become a sponge.

Sean (07:30):

Yeah. You competed on the Canadian junior national level in three different sports. So soccer, TaeKwonDo and hockey. How were you able to get so good at three different things?

Carolyne (07:43):

I worked hard. Like, I think playing a lot of sports helped me cause there’s stuff that just translates from one sport to the next. And you understand the concept, let’s say, you know, soccer and hockey, you know, in both games, you have an offensive team, a defensive team. Defensively, you need to position yourself between the goal and the players and you’re trying to defend whether it’s with a stick or whether it’s with your feet in soccer, your body, and then all offensively, you’re trying to, you know, move the puck around or move the ball around to, you know, generate offensive chances. Like there’s just like stuff that just translates between all the sports. And I just think that, you know, I became a better all around athlete and it made me better in each of each one of the sports that I did. Like I was generating good power from hockey. I was able to translate that as a sprinter in soccer and vice versa. And then the mental aspect of just like martial arts, you know, gets you prepared for different competitions. And the experiences that I had at the international level in one sport would carry on to the next sport. You know, you can see a lot of athletes that typically are good at multiple sports and they, you know, they carry over some skills. And that’s essentially what I did.

Sean (09:03):

Hockey takes you to the University of Wisconsin. How did you come to the decision to go there?

Carolyne (09:11):

At the time they were one of the top teams, they still are. So like, just like while I was in my recruiting process. So I was looking at basically all the D1 schools, financial aid ones, like the Ivy league schools, I kind of wrote off early just because that depends on what your parents make. And as a Canadian, I would have to pay a little bit and it was just too expensive. Like if I was gonna go to the States, I wanted a full ride scholarship and not go off of financial. I didn’t even have to pay, I don’t know how much it would have been like 10, 20,000 a year. It just wasn’t worth it to me. So then I started looking at different schools and Wisconsin was high on my list. And then you have these official visits that you go to where they pay for everything.

Carolyne (09:57):

And then they introduce you to the players and you watch the practices and everything. And the moment I stepped onto the campus, like I knew everything was first-class. The coaches were first-class, the facilities were absolutely unbelievable. I ended up visiting also Ohio state a couple of weeks after. And it’s funny because I was watching a football game, Wisconsin versus Ohio inside the Ohio stadium and I see the Wisconsin band playing and, you know, the Ohio state band is like probably the most well known band out there. But in my heart, I was sitting in a hundred thousand people stadium and I was going for Wisconsin. And as soon as I had that feeling inside me, I was like, I can’t go here. Like this isn’t right. Like you just, you get this feeling and you just know what university is right for you. And for me, I had that almost right away with Wisconsin and it was literally the best decision I ever made.

Sean (10:54):

What was it like playing for a premier program like that?

Carolyne (10:57):

It honestly, it’s a professional league, essentially. Like you’re treated as a professional athlete. Like we are for the women’s team, for women’s hockey, like we get themost fans. So we, I had games that were in front of 12,000 fans. It was called fill the bowl. So we filled the whole Cole center. We had outdoor games. We were getting charter flights to different, you know, games in our conference. Like we had a lot of money at the university and a lot of it is given back to the women’s hockey program. So I just felt like it was, it was unreal. Like we had a practice facility that was smaller ice. So whenever we would go out of town and we could play in a smaller ice surface, we would go there and practice.

Carolyne (11:47):

And if we played on a bigger ice, we had the Cole center, which was a bigger, and we had people carrying our gear from one rink to the next, like you, we had two sets of gears every single year given to us, like, I don’t even know 24 sticks. Like it was just ridiculous. Like, I just didn’t think that that was possible for like female athletes to receive that much. And then, you know, you graduate from that program and then you come to a professional league that was the CWHL and it seemed like such a downgrade from what you were experiencing at you know, the top university in the world for hockey. Yeah.

Sean (12:23):

How are you able to balance both the academic and the physical demands of being a student athlete?

Carolyne (12:30):

Well, playing a sport at university, any sport, it’s having a full time job. You’re, you know, for me, it’s about maximizing my time in the classroom. Like, you know, you’re in big lectures of 300 or 500 people. I was front row or in the first couple of rows every single lecture, because I knew if I sat in the front, I’m probably not on my cell phone, I’m paying attention. I’m, you know, connecting with the professor that’s teaching. And I’m going to maximize the time because if you paid attention in class, that was like 80% of the work. And I figured that out way before even university, that if you do the work at school, you buy yourself time after school for the stuff that you wanted to do, which for me, it’s, you know, playing hockey and competing at that level. So I just was very focused on school and worked really hard there and did well both academically and athletically and both were equally as important for me. I always wanted to do very well at school, bu it was definitely a full time job, like playing.

Sean (13:35):

You won two national championships while you were there. What stands out to you about both of them?

Carolyne (13:41):

The first one was my freshman year. It was, you know, you play on this amazing team. My role wasn’t as big as a freshman. So I didn’t like contribute as much or like as the next one that we won. But it was just such an unreal moment. Like you train the entire year, you play the entire year for this national championship. And then when you finally get it, it’s amazing. The teammates that you have that memories with is unbelievable. And then the following year, we lost a lot of players because we have Mark Johnson who is our coach. And that year he ends up being the US Olympic coach for the female team. We had at least five or six girls that left our program for that year to go play at the Olympics.

Carolyne (14:29):

So every time there’s an Olympic year, it’s difficult for our program. I don’t count the Olympic years because we just lose too many of our top players. And then all of a sudden, it’s just, we didn’t have a good year the second year. And then they came back the following year and then we won again my junior year. And my role was bigger as a junior that year. And it was just, that was probably the best team I was a part of was my junior year at university when we won that championship. Like I felt like we dominated the whole year. And our conference was the toughest by far, the WCJ Minnesota is always good in Minnesota Duluth. And, it was just unreal. And then my senior year, we were ranked first, basically the whole year. We ended up losing in the finals. So we got second that year to Minnesota and then Minnesota, were good for a few years after that. And then Wisconsin slowly taking it back over. So I’m happy about that.

Sean (15:22):

You have one 11 national championships in four different sports, and most people would kill for just one of those. So what’s it like having 11?

Carolyne (15:34):

It’s cool. I was given good opportunities growing up and I’ve worked extremely hard. Like I love playing sports and, you know, none of these were given like, but at the same time you don’t win championships without a lot of people that are surrounding you and for, you know, a lot of these were team sports, so team national championship. So if you don’t have a good squad, like you’re not winning, you know, you see a lot of these great athletes that, you know, just didn’t win a Stanley cup because their team wasn’t as deep or so. It’s a mixture of just having the right players that you’re playing with, or even individual sports. You know, you had your coach, you had your training partners that were good. And then on top of that, you just, you work hard and you focus on the details and, you know, good things happen when you work hard and you create good opportunities. So it’s fun.

Sean (16:34):

Yeah. You go on to play you mentioned this professionally with the Toronto Furies of the unfortunately now defunct Canadian women’s hockey league. So what did it mean to you to be able to continue your hockey career and play at a professional level?

Carolyne (16:46):

Yeah, it was cool. Like we, so after you graduate, so at that point I was, so I played for the under 18 national team, the under 22 national team for four years. And then I was 22, 23 years old. I was in the senior program. And then a hopeful player for the 2014 Olympics. And then I was, there were between a few players to centralize a roster in Calgary and I was on the bubble and then there was three or four of us that were left and then they took the other girls. Then they left me and they released me basically from the program. And at that age for female athletes, you know, you can’t guarantee that in four years from now, you’re getting reinvited. So at that point, I needed to make a decision on what I was going to do with my life.

Carolyne (17:33):

So that’s when I applied for teacher’s college, I didn’t live in Toronto. But I knew there was a Toronto team there in the CWHL. So I moved there and then went to teacher’s college. And I had a sister that lived there too. So everything just kind of fell into place. Then I found myself on that Toronto Furies team and the CWHL. Played, I think it was seven seasons before for the league folded. So I had a great time with them. Good experiences. It definitely wasn’t the same as the national, like the NCAA that we had played in the prior year, like in terms of the professional level of like the talent, the game was, was better, but the treatment was not, the resources were not, we had less fans there than we had at Wisconsin. I was paying for my own equipment.

Carolyne (18:28):

So like, we’re calling like it was a professional league, but it didn’t feel like a professional league when you leave this university program that you were literally treated as a professional. But it was great experience. And we’re moving on now to bigger and better things. Hopefully.

Sean (18:43):

Where do things stand now as far as getting a new women’s professional hockey league going?

Carolyne (18:46):

So it’s a little confusing for the fans, but essentially after university, there’s not much, you know, you get all these graduates that, you know, that graduate and there’s right now, the NWHL called the national women’s hockey league. And they’re a professional league that was started a few years ago in the States because we lacked in our league, the CWHL more American teams. So it was created basically to give more Americans the opportunity to play after college.

Carolyne (19:23):

Because there wasn’t that much for players, a lot of great level players have to retire after university. Cause there just wasn’t anything and people had to work and then they start families, et cetera. So you have that league that now has I believe five or six teams in that one. And once the CWHL folded, essentially the top players in the world, which include all the Olympians and the national team players essentially said like, enough’s enough. You know, we’re calling this professional, but in reality, it wasn’t professional. And you know, we’re having to bring our gear home and back and forth. Like we don’t have washer dryers, we’re paying for our own equipment. Like it’s, we’re not getting paid really like, so we were trying to push that forward. So we created, the PWHPA, which is the professional woman’s hockey player association.

Carolyne (20:16):

So essentially all of the Olympians and the national team players that were a part of that NWHL got out of that league because they didn’t see that the vision of that league was taking it to where we felt the sport needs to go. And they also are lacking the same resources, essentially. There’s a lot of the same problems that we had with the CWHL that are existing also in the NWHL. So this whole PWHPA thing is looking at essentially creating a league that would be a professional level similar to the WNBA. So I don’t know what they would call it, but it would be kind of associated with the NHL to some degree, and actually be a professional sport and a viable league that won’t fold where players can make, you know, a livable wage. We’re not asking for millions, but you know, we’re also not expecting 2000 or $5,000 cause that’s not a professional league.

Carolyne (21:12):

So that’s in the works right now. So I’m part of that group of players that’s trying to make this happen. And, there’s some good people on board with us and we had year number one last year and it took off very well. Obviously this pandemic has kind of made it a little bit more difficult. But you know, we have very strong, intelligent women that are just very persistent and they’re going to work hard to make something happen. I think the NWHL is a great opportunity for a lot of players. Like it could be a great opportunity for myself right now, as I’m at the end of my hockey career and I’m juggling CrossFit and I could play in the NWHL and use that as an opportunity to keep playing, but I don’t want to go there until this other league is formed and I’m really hoping that it’s pushing the sport forward and I’m making sacrifices on my own play and my own pay basically to help this happen.

Carolyne (22:13):

So hopefully something happens soon, but the PWHPA are looking at creating something that’s really for the elite hockey players of the world.

Sean (22:20):

How did you find CrossFit?

Carolyne (22:22):

When I got cut from the national team for the Olympics to not get centralized in Calgary, I was, you know, you go through university and you’re given a hockey program and you follow the hockey program. And I’ve always loved doing dry land training and just training in general. And I found myself basically without a hockey program anymore cause I had graduated. So I’m on my own with my training. And then for many years, a lot of people just kept saying like, you should do CrossFit. Cause I was always like one of the top ones in the weight room for all the sports I did and I liked training and then people were like, Oh, have you ever heard of CrossFit?

Carolyne (23:04):

And I was like, yeah, yeah, like, sure. But I never like really looked into it. And then I was home at my TaeKwonDo club and you probably know Kristine Andali, she’s from my hometown. And her dad said that there was a CrossFit gym just down the street from my TaeKwonDo club and said that I should check it out. And then I was like, OK, I’ve heard CrossFit from so many people. And then finally, like, he kind of directed me to where one of the gyms were so started there and did a few workouts right away. And my competitiveness, obviously I love doing it. And I wanted to compare myself right away and then compete. So jumped on board. And that was basically how my CrossFit career took off, but it was honestly, it was the best thing because a lot of players after university, they have a hard time transitioning to the real world.

Carolyne (23:56):

And a lot of them go through depression or they’re just lost because you go through your whole life. And for, as a female athlete, the pinnacle of every sport is going to the Olympics. Like there’s not many sports for women that actually make it a full career out of it. So you want to go to the Olympics, that’s your goal. And when that goal comes to an end, like you’re lost, cause that’s literally what you’ve been fighting for your whole life. So I had finally found like another door that had opened and it just allowed me to kind of repurpose this competitiveness that I’ve had my whole life, at least not have this like big down after the university of like depression or anything like that. Like I would just hop right on that. And it was like, cool, I like this. And then like everything just kinda fell into place.

Sean (24:46):

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Carolyne (25:33):

Probably day one. I did a workout. I was probably like, OK, when’s the next competition? Let’s do it. But in terms of like, I wanted to make it to Regionals, but I didn’t think it was possible to make it to the Games while I was playing hockey. Like I knew I would do like, well at like at that kind of level, because of just from all the experience of background, I knew I was a quick learner. Just cause everything I’ve done, I just learned sports very fast and I had a very good base in my fitness, but it wasn’t until really like 2016, 17, whenever there was in Oshawa, Ontario, what was it the invitational? So I went to go watch that I was on the demo team because they had a competition the day before for affiliates and my team ended up in second.

Carolyne (26:33):

And then Dave picked the first and the second place team to be the demo. And I’m looking at all the CrossFit Games athletes, I’m like, holy crap, these people are so good. And like, I’m pretty sure I PR’d my handstand walk in front of them. It was like a hundred feet. But that weekend Dave goes and announces that the CrossFit Games were going to be in Madison, Wisconsin. And like everyone in Oshawa like had no idea where Madison, Wisconsin were and they all expected Florida. And I was just like, Oh my God, like this is it. Like I can go back to Madison—I hadn’t been back since I graduated. It was just like, I can go back to Madison, Wisconsin and go back to the University I went to in another sport. Like it would just be like going full circle in my athletic career. So from that day on, like I remember driving home and I was just like almost in tears, just from the announcement and just being so happy that that was the place that we were going. And I just kind of dialed in my nutrition, worked super hard. And then I got really close in 2018 and then finally 2019, I made it. It was cool, but it definitely the idea of competing at the Games and just that dream was started at that weekend. Yeah.

Sean (27:47):

Yeah. Well you mentioned getting close and in 2018 you took third, third overall in the worldwide Open and then you go to Regionals, but unfortunately you take sixth and you miss out by one spot. So how did you deal with that disappointment?

Carolyne (27:58):

I was disappointed that that’s the year that they put the bench press in at Regionals and it just wasn’t a good movement for me. And like, I grew up bench pressing like in hockey, like you bench press, it just wasn’t a good movement. It honestly still is not that great of a movement. But you know, it wasn’t the first time that I’ve been cut or just on the verge of making that, like that senior team or, you know, that next world level. So, you know, I just kinda took it as an opportunity to be like, OK, like I’m close. I can get there. Like it was, it solidified in my head, the third place in the open, because you get third in the open and you’re like, what happened? Like, why am I here? Like, are people injured? Like what’s going on? Like were these workouts just like amazing for me. Like, there’s no way I’m like that high up. So you start just questioning your ability. So when I also was close at Regionals, I was like, OK, no, like you can do this. Like you’re right there. It’s not a fluke, so just keep on it. And so it just kind of gave me that confidence more so than that disappointment that I didn’t make it. So I just used it as fuel for the next year to just keep going.

Sean (29:10):

What did you think about your competitive future after that? Once all the changes of the season were made and the format is now completely different.

Carolyne (29:18):

When they said that you could qualify through the open, I just didn’t know what that looked like. And then I thought, OK. In 2018 I did well, but people maybe didn’t redo the workout as much, or they didn’t take the open and like as serious because they knew they were going to go to Regionals and that was where you qualify. So I just didn’t know how difficult it was going to be to qualify through the open. And thankfully I had some good workouts, for me, but I just didn’t like, you just didn’t know, there was a lot of unknown in that 2019 season, like the Sanctionals were beforehand for some of them before the open. As a teacher and as someone who’s playing hockey, like I can’t necessarily travel and go to all these places worldwide and compete and get there a week in advance and get used to the time difference.

Carolyne (30:10):

Like when I compete and I go to any place, I literally get there, like the day of the registration, I’m registering, I’m competing the next day, I leave the Sunday night. I’ve missed podiums before because I’m going back to work on that Monday. So it’s difficult for me to do the Sanctional season. I’ll pick and choose hopefully a couple that are close. I might pick one in the season that’s going to be a little bit further away, but it’s also expensive. So I was like, well, this is just going to help people that are doing this full time or have a lot of money to travel. Like I don’t have these sponsors that are going to pay for my trips and stuff and hotel and food and all that. So I was like, well, this could be good for some people, but it may not be good for someone like me, who’s working full time and can’t take the time off work or afford to just go everywhere. So I just wasn’t sure. So I tried to put all my effort into the open because I knew for me, I could, you know, I could do very well at those types of workouts typically, and just kind of put my head down and then avoid having to go to these Sanctionals and paying more money and taking time off work and stuff. So that’s my mentality is it’s trying to qualify through the open because, it’s difficult through, other times in the year.

Sean (31:23):

Well, you accomplished that in 2019, you make it to the Games. So what was it like for you to finally realize that I’m going back to Madison to compete?

Carolyne (31:30):

It was unreal. Like, I had been close in a lot of sports. Like it was like close in hockey. It was, you know, you’re on like different junior national teams for a lot of sports, but you never were like on the senior team or on the senior Olympic team. So it was like, this was finally for me, like the biggest stage in terms of like, I finally made it to the senior team or the senior competition. So it was, really like, I just was like super thrilled and relieved and happy to get the opportunity to compete at that level. And especially with it being in Madison, it was pretty cool.

Sean (32:11):

What were your expectations when you got there?

Carolyne (32:14):

I wanted top 20 from the get go. Like I just, I felt like if there’s good enough workouts, I know I could get in the top 20. Honestly there’s a lot of things out of my control. And if people at the end of the day are better than me and I’m outside the top 20, like I’m OK with that too. But I like just having that specific goal in mind, like, I think I can get into that inside that. And, but it was stressful, like, honestly out of all the competitions I’ve done, it’s probably the least amount of fun I had competing because you just couldn’t enjoy just being there at the Games. Cause it was like, I can’t just take a moment and like, you’re about to get cut if you do that. So you had to like really go hard and I felt extra pressure just because I was at Madison. I had a lot of friends that were there and I just felt like it was like going home. So it just was like, I hope I don’t get eliminated right away. Cause all these people paid money to come and watch me. So I put pressure on myself, a little bit, a lot but it was cool though. It was fun experience even though there was a lot of, you know, unknowable there and it was different experience, I guess, for everyone.

Sean (33:22):

I felt that especially that year, that people who have a background in sports, traditional sports dealt with the pressure a little bit better. So how did your athletic background help you deal with the whole do or die atmosphere that surrounded basically every event that year?

Carolyne (33:39):

That’s sports, right? Like you play a hockey game, you can be better on paper than someone on to play hockey game, but things don’t go your way. You’re hitting the post. That goalie is standing on her head. Like you just can’t control certain stuff, just like right now, what’s going on with, you know, with the pandemic and stuff. So I think like, and I think naturally my personality is a little bit like kind of, you know, you just create your own path, like you just deal with it. And I just think I was able to adapt to the events as much as possible with like knowing it minutes before. And it didn’t get too much under my skin in terms of what the events were, whatever they were. It was just like, OK, this is it. Do your best and live with the results basically. But yeah, I think playing a lot of sports and getting those experiences on different stage definitely helps experience-wise even though I lacked the experience at the Games, I have a lot of athletic experience that transfers over to that. So I don’t feel necessarily like a rookie even though I was.

Sean (34:47):

You wind up taking 13th, which is fantastic, but I’m guessing that you really wanted to be in that final 10. So how now does this motivate you moving forward?

Carolyne (34:57):

Well again, I took it with a grain of salt because, I also know that you know, certain events played in my favor and I could have been, you know, on the other side of the line at any given time. And certain people didn’t get the opportunity to showcase at different events cause they were cut. So you kind of take that year, you take your result and you go and say, OK, this is what I need to work on. But I mean, again, it validated the work that I put in and the fact that I knew I could be in that top 20, and you know, a lot of the events were athletic events, like the sprints and stuff like that. Like I could tell in the warm-up, people didn’t know how to go around a cone.

Carolyne (35:40):

Like I would see how they pivoted around the cone. I was like, you have never played soccer or anything like that. I was like, this is funny to me because I’ve done so many sports and you could be fit, but you didn’t know how to be like athletic quote unquote. So I was just like, this is great. But yeah, it was cool. I kind of, you know, I finished the Games, but at the same time, I had a lot of adversity there because I ended up getting rhabdo for the first time in my life from Mary, which I only talked about that for the first time last week on another podcast. But five out of the six events I did were outside and you know, I train in Canada and a lot of times I training in indoors and you can train in humidity, but it’s not the same as being out in the sun.

Carolyne (36:31):

So I think it was a mixture of dehydration. Just being out in the sun all day, I didn’t drink enough water. And then you get the high volume of pull-ups in Mary. And I remember not being able to extend my arms at all. And I had hurt my calf in the Mary coming down from the pull-up bar on the second round or not second round. But you know how you had the first section that you placed your mat, but when you made it to the next section, they had already placed the mat. And before then I had, you know, I had just gone unbroken on the pull-ups and then I get to the next section. And when I dropped down, the mat was too far back and I like, I just caught the front end of the mat and my calf tweaked up.

Carolyne (37:10):

So like, I didn’t even warm up for the sprint. I stretch my calf, my hamstring, like a little bit to make sure that my hamstrings were ready to go, but I could barely extend my arms. I had taped on my calf that I could barely extend. And I was like, well, at this point I was just going full send in Mary, give it all I have, try to make top 20. Once I got that, I was happy. I could enjoy the Games for the first time during the sprint event, I knew that was a great event for me. And then I started warming up for it and I was like, OK, it’s not hurting when I’m warming up. But as soon as I would stop, my calf would just like be in a ball. And I was like, Oh no, like I hope I can do this event cause I want to sprint.

Carolyne (37:50):

But I ended up doing it. It was fine, but a few weeks after the Games, like I still couldn’t extend my arms. I couldn’t do a pull-up for about three weeks to month after the Games and here comes the open and that’s what I put my money on because that’s what I was preparing for the following year. So I was like, Oh no, this is not good. But then slowly, you know, I just took care and I took a few weeks fully off and I took care of my body and slowly got strength back. Thankfully there was no pull-ups in the open in the first week. No pull-ups at all until the last week, which had muscle-ups. So by that time I was fully recovered and fine, but it was scary. That had never happened to me before. And I’ve done a lot of sports. I’ve done harder workouts than that. It just, I think being outside for so many of the events and just lack of hydration and stuff and the mixture of a bunch of stuff, but yeah.

Sean (38:45):

You are now one of the people who went from being solidly in the Games now having sort of a lot of doubts about whether or not you’re going to make it because of the format change. What were your initial thoughts when that announcement was made?

Carolyne (39:05):

Not surprised at all. Like honestly, I read it and I was like, I expected it. Like I guess in my head thought about the worst case scenario, which would be fully canceled. And then when they said that it wasn’t canceled, they were still kind of doing something or at least hoping to do something, I started looking at my placement, which was between the blue line and top 20. In my head, I was like, there’s no way that they’re going to invite all of underneath the blue line, which was around like 32nd. Plus they had already done 10 sanctionals. I was like, they’re not going to take no one from the sanctionals because then it takes away from people that are doing the sanctional events and it’s not gonna look good if they do that. So I was like, OK, there’s at least 10 there.

Carolyne (39:48):

They may take even top 10 from the open. Like, I didn’t know. And I was like right now, my spot’s not guaranteed. I’ll still train regardless of whether I qualify or not as if I I’ve qualified. So when that announcement was made, I was like, OK, so this is what’s happening right now. I at least have some information more than yesterday. And it is what it is. You know, at the end of the day I got food on my table. I got somewhere to sleep. My life is pretty good. Like there’s bigger things happening in the world than having the opportunity to play or to compete at the Games. So I kind of put that into perspective and you know, like I said, I’ll be ready if the fill back spots happen. Cause I think I’m just going to be a couple, maybe one spot shy when this is all said and done. And we still don’t even know if it’s going to happen and everything with the travel restriction. So, I’m going to continue to train as if I’m going to the Games because I have a feeling I may still get there somehow. Like it is what it is. Like you can’t, you can’t control it. Like, I said, I’ve had friends that have had Olympics canceled and world championships. So, you know, it is what it is at this point. You know, you adapt and that’s what CrossFit is. So nothing new.

Sean (41:07):

Yeah. What drew you to teaching?

Carolyne (41:11):

I grew up, I did a lot of coaching of like different soccer clinics, hockey clinics. I did private lessons in TaeKwonDo where I like taught people how to fight or do their patterns and stuff like that. I just enjoyed teaching people. And at school I liked tutoring people that didn’t know what was going on in different subject. Like I just liked just helping people learn a skill. My mom worked in a school. One of my sisters is a teacher also. So I just think it was in the family. And then the hours are also very good because you know, I’m not working nine to five, I’m working like eight to 2:30, three o’clock. So it still allows me to get a good chunk of my evening. So the scheduling hasn’t really changed for me since I was little it’s literally still school and train. And then now it’s teaching and train. So it’s a schedule that I’ve kind of just learned to work with. So I think that helps me a lot, cause I’m a very like routine type person. Like I don’t need a bunch of different stuff every day. So I think the routine works well and I enjoy teaching. Like I I’m in my sixth year, I think now.

Sean (42:28):

What do your kids think about what you do? Not only with CrossFit, but with all the other sports that you play?

Carolyne (42:36):

They know I do sports and stuff like that, but like, let’s say in physical education, like I never participate in the class. It’s not for me. It’s for them. Like, I will never take the spot of a kid in PE like that’s not my job. And that was a big pet peeve of mine. Like as if I see different teachers, like you’re not there to show off. So I try not to talk too much about that part, but some of my kids follow me on social media, so they know what’s happening in my life. So they’ll ask me about it, but they think it’s cool. I’ve had my whole school goal to one of my hockey games before in the playoffs.

Carolyne (43:17):

So that was really cool. They took a few buses, filled up one whole section in the stands. So that was cool. We have a CrossFit gym that I’ve actually got affiliated at the gym at the school now called CrossFit Gage. I did that last year. So we moved into a new facility, so they gave me the budget for the fitness room and I was like, you’re giving me the budget. Like I get to pick what goes into this room? And they’re like, yeah, we trust you. I was like, OK, let’s do this. It’s not a huge room at all. Like I teach at a very small French high school. But you know, there’s a rig, there’s one assault bike, a couple rowers, skierg. Just everything that you see in a regular gym, like there’s weights, there’s wall balls, boxes; it’s a CrossFit gym.

Carolyne (44:10):

I had some students do the open this year, so that was the first year that they could do the open because before it’s typically in March and that was March break, so I could never do the open with them. So I had a few students participate. It was fun. They would come at lunch and do the workout and you’d get a bunch of students be like, what is going on in there? And there’s kids are like, just like giving it their all. It was really, yeah, no, it’s fun. The kids know what’s going on, but I’ve had a lot of questions from the kids be like, and then I’m like, why are you teaching us? Like, why aren’t you playing your sports full time? And I have to tell them, like, this is the reality of a female athlete that we have to juggle a full time career and playing a sport.

Carolyne (44:55):

Like that’s the reality of women’s sports. Like you have very small percentage of people that are able to do it full time and I’m just not able in my sport to do it full time. So it’s funny when you kind of get that conversation going and it’s like, this is what I’m fighting for with the PWHPA. So that these women that are so talented in their sports don’t have to be halfway and in different glasses. And they can actually like, their score can actually get better, faster because they’re actually investing everything into that. So that’s always interesting, but at the end of the day, I try to just teach them, I mean obviously like what I’m supposed to teach, but just keep giving them different advice from different experiences I’ve had. And trying to be a good role model for them in different ways.

Sean (45:46):

Yeah. Along those lines, you are uniquely positioned with what you do with sports and also being a teacher to have quite an impression, not just kids, but also young girls. So what is the impression that you want them to leave with when you’re done teaching them

Carolyne (46:04):

That they can do everything that they set their mind to. And that there’s not one body that works for every female and that they can love their bodies and that they don’t need to give up their sport at the high school level. Like this is what we’re fighting for, that these girls don’t need to quit their sport. Cause there’s, I think that I read a statistic. I think it’s like one or two out of 10 females are still playing sports in high school and they all quit because there’s no opportunities. So they focus on their school to go to college or university, et cetera. So we have actually a program called fit spirit at our school where it’s only for girls. And it’s literally because there’s such a drop off in physical activity for girls at the high school level. And it’s about getting these girls exposed to physical activity.

Carolyne (46:54):

We have them do like a 5k or 10 K run at the end of the year. And these girls come together and they train and they might not even know each other. And I’ll do Zumba classes with them. I’ll do martial arts classes with them. We’ll do CrossFit classes. I just kind of get them to do physical activity and learn to get more self confidence and to have a goal and let’s work to get there. And then let’s accomplish this goal and see that you can do stuff. So I think it’s just, you know, creating an atmosphere in the school that, you know, I want these girls to take their place in the school, like to not shy away from gym classes to not sit on the bench and watch the boys play. Like every time I go and I have duty to watch people in different classes or in the gym, like, I’ll see some girls just like sitting on the bench, I’m like, get out there.

Carolyne (47:46):

Like you can play, like, let’s go. And then they’ll like slowly go up. So I think it helps them to see, it’s easier when it’s a female letting them know like to do it. Cause I think sometimes they’re reluctant when it’s a male telling them to do. They’re like, well, yeah, like it’s easy for you, but then it’s like, no, like you can do it. I can do it. You can do it. Let’s let’s do this together. So at lunchtime, I open up CrossFit Gage and I take maybe five minutes to eat. Like I don’t train at school cause I just don’t have time. But I take about five minutes to eat. I open my gym there. I would say that 90% of the people that come there are females now. And they come to work out at lunch with me, not with me.

Carolyne (48:32):

Like I’m letting them know like what to do and I’m teaching them how to do it. And like that just comes from, you know, an atmosphere that you just create in the school. And I think that, you know, the girls are starting to take their place and they’re starting to understand the benefits of physical activity and that it’s more than just working out so that you lose weight. Cause that’s the goal every like every time the girls come to me, how can I get a six pack? And how can I lose weight? And it’s all about losing weight and it’s very physical. So I’m just trying to get them to think more about performance and what can their bodies do versus what their bodies can look like. Cause once they realize what their bodies can do and they can start appreciating how difficult that is to do, then all of a sudden they’re starting to become less focused on the physical part and they’re starting to be happy with themselves. Cause they’re, you know, they know that was hard to do and they accomplished it. So, it’s really, it’s just cool to see that switch happen. It still needs to happen for a lot of these girls. But when you see it happen in a particular student, you’re like, yes, I know I did something at the end of the day and it’s cool to see.

Sean (49:40):

Well, Carolyne, listen, I really appreciate you taking the time to do this. Best of luck with not only the CrossFit stuff. I hope we get to see you compete in the Aromas. And I hope you are back on the ice with all the other talented female athletes who definitely deserve a chance to showcase their talents.

Carolyne (49:54):

Oh thank you. Yeah. That’s the plan.

Speaker 2 (49:57):

Big thanks to Carolyn Prevost for joining me today. If you want to follow her on social media, you can find her on Instagram. She is @cprevost27. If you’re in business, you need to know something. Certified Two-Brain mentors have been through it all and they’re available to help you reach success. To learn how a mentor can help you transform your business and add $5,000 in monthly recurring revenue, book a free call on TwoBrain business.com. Thanks for listening to Two-Brain Radio. I’m Sean Woodland and we’ll see you next time.


On Wednesdays, Sean Woodland tells the best stories in the CrossFit community on Two-Brain Radio With Sean Woodland.

Two-Brain Radio presents marketing tips and success stories every Monday, and Chris Cooper delivers the best of the business world every Thursday.

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Online Coaching: Pro Tips for Excellence and Efficiency

Online Coaching: Pro Tips for Excellence and Efficiency

Mike (00:02):

Online coaching was a thing before COVID-19 but it’s a much bigger thing now even as gyms in some locations reopen. But expert Josh Grenell says many people don’t understand what online coaching actually is, which means they’re going to struggle to provide it or sell it. In this episode of Two-Brain Radio, Josh will get into the finer points of online coaching, including service creation, delivery, and finding an audience. Want daily tips from Chris Cooper? You’ll find them there in the Facebook group Gym Owners United. If you’re looking to rebuild your gy,m, you need to be in this group. Chris provides daily actionable advice and it’s a great place to talk to other gym owners who are dealing with the exact same problems you are. That group is Gym Owners United on Facebook. For access, be sure to answer all the intake questions. This is Two-Brain Radio. I’m Mike Warkentin.

Mike (00:43):

Our guest is Josh Grenell. Josh is the co-founder and program director at Progression Fitness in Rochester, Minnesota, just South of Minneapolis. Go Vikings. He’s also the Two-Brain Business specialist for online coaching. Josh helped us build resources on online training before the coronavirus hit and when gyms were shut down around the world, he added to that pile fast. Two-Brain gyms were equipped to move online with great speed and Josh had a huge hand in that. Now he’s online in our private Facebook group with office hours three times a week and we’ll serve up his wisdom here for all of you. Josh, welcome. How are you today?

Josh (01:14):

I’m doing great Mike. Nice to talk to you.

Mike (01:17):

Yeah, my pleasure. A couple of Northern guys without tans sitting here on the internet. I have my finger hovering over the end meeting button right now and I got to ask you a question. Are you a Minnesota Vikings fan?

Josh (01:27):

When they’re doing well, I am. Just going to be honest.

Mike (01:31):

I’ll accept that; this podcast can continue. A very quick update. So I want to know, you’re in Rochester, Minnesota. Tell me just a quick update. Where’s progression at? Are you open or you’re not open? What’s the government telling you and where are we at with this whole crisis?

Josh (01:45):

So we are currently closed. Gyms are closed. Yhey are allowing some personal services and restaurants to do service outside starting June 1st, but gyms are not included in that.

Mike (01:57):

Yeah. And it’s tough up here. We’re allowed to do outside classes, but as you know from the area mosquitoes and rain and unpredictable weather and all sorts of stuff is going to make that not super fun very quickly. So we’re kind of waiting for some updates too. So it sounds like you’re in about the same boat.

Josh (02:11):

Yeah, pretty much. Exactly the same boat.

Mike (02:12):

All right, little to update as we wait on the government, we’ll get right into online coaching. So COVID hits, suddenly coaches everywhere forced online. Some coaches have been a hundred percent online for years and they’re just going about their business as usual. But in the crisis, people with bricks and mortar were forced into online coaching. Many of them don’t actually understand what it is. So the big question, Josh, you’re the expert. What is online coaching and what does it not?

Josh (02:34):

So, at its most basic, Mike, online coaching is helping people achieve their goals from a remote setting. So no in-person interactions, no time in the gym, no classes at all. You may work with someone you’ve never actually physically met. Programming is provided via emails, spreadsheet, texts or an app. So, basically it is helping people to get to their goals without being with them in person is the most simplest explanation.

Mike (03:04):

These goals, do they have to be fitness goals?

Josh (03:06):

That was like how it started, but we’re finding that no, they do not have to be fitness goals anymore. All kinds of stuff you can work on.

Mike (03:13):

  1. Now how long have you been doing this? How long have you been offering online coaching?

Josh (03:16):

So, I started training runners and triathletes around 2011 or so I was UACT certified. That’s the USA triathlon coaching certification. I was certified for four years in that. Then I switched primarily to runners. Mostly marathoners. I helped a lady in her forties, finally qualify for the Boston marathon. That was pretty cool. And then 2016, I started training OCR athletes. That was fun. A little switch from just running. And then, in about 2018, I started adding in people at the gym or people who were contacting me from friends that were far away that wanted to work on their stuff but didn’t have a gym to go to. So that’s when I started the real online. And then the flex model that I developed came to be when we were talking to people that travel a lot in the gym or didn’t actually seriously have time to get to the gym.

Josh (04:08):

So we started the flex model, which basically was, they would come to the gym once a month. They do an InBody scan if that related to their goals. We’d sit down, talk about what went well the last month, what didn’t went well, what didn’t go well. And then we talk about what’s going to go on the next month and their programming. And then if there were any movements they weren’t sure of, I would quickly take them into the personal training room. And we go over those moments pretty quickly. So that was flex. But online, it’s closing on 10 years now. So it’s changed a lot.

Mike (04:43):

When people hear online coaching, a lot of people who hear about it for the first time think that that means a coach is watching you perform a workout via a, you know, a Zoom link or whatever. Is that the case? Or I suppose it can be, but what are we really talking about here?

Josh (04:56):

No, that really started with the whole COVID thing. Originally online programming is more about accountability. And that’s another other thing that people don’t understand is you’re not paying for a set of workouts and then being pushed on your way. The coach is there to guide you if you have any questions about the workouts, maybe you’re not sure what a movement is, you’re going to help them out and then they’re watching over you and making sure you actually complete the workouts every day, which is probably the biggest thing that helps people get success as opposed to just downloading a free program online and then never following it. I’ve had plenty of people that have had zero success usually when we’re doing our no sweat intro and they tell me they work out one time a week, I know that means never.

Mike (05:44):

I only have one beer a night, too.

Josh (05:44):

So, yeah, exactly. So when I start working with them and they’re checking off their workouts, you know, usually I program three days a week for most people, so they’re checking them off three days a week and the results come really, really, really quick. And the only real switch is that they know someone is watching them.

Mike (06:08):

We’re talking watching them in terms of accountability, you’re not actually watching them do their workouts. Right?

Josh (06:13):

No, no, no. Yeah, I am just someone is there checking to make sure that they’ve done the work.

Mike (06:18):

So is that the biggest misconception now cause you’re dealing with in the online group, in Facebook you are dealing with tons of questions about this. Is that the biggest misconception right now about online coaching is that I need to physically watch this person say push your knees out and push your chest up when you squat?

Josh (06:31):

Yeah. I think that is the biggest misconception and a lot of people just jumped right to Zoom classes and they saw that rapid fall off. We knew we didn’t do that. Of course we were set up to roll into this right away. So we went to online right away. We did do a couple Zoom classes, a few coaches volunteered and again, participation dropped off really, really quick. But it’s more about accountability and that’s what they’re really paying for. It works for pretty much everyone. There are a few people that still struggle with it, but I know it works for me. I mean, I have two mentors, so two coaches. So, I know that if I don’t get my work done, they’re going to know. And that right there, that’s all it takes to get me to do my work.

Mike (07:13):

And I know that you do online coaching for Chris Cooper, is that correct?

Josh (07:15):

That’s correct, yes.

Josh (07:16):

Did he do his workout today?

Josh (07:20):

I have not got a notification that he did his workout yet.

Mike (07:22):

  1. So Chris, if you’re listening, get on it buddy. I know you’re creating lots of content, but it’s time to get on that bike.

Josh (07:27):

He’s done very well.

Mike (07:30):

So yeah, Chris’ work capacity in all things is pretty high, so I have no doubt that he’s getting those workouts done. He’s probably typing on his laptop as he crushes the miles. It’s interesting, I talked to Josh Martin from Two-Brain Coaching in the episode before this. Check the archives guys, if you want to see that. And Josh said kind of the same thing where for a long time coaches have been really focused on like their programming, their equipment, their space, their atmosphere and their technical cues. Right? Like, I’m really good at making people snatch better. This, that and the other. This online thing really changes that. And you brought up the same point that Josh brought up in that we’re really selling like a more holistic approach and a lot of it comes to accountability.

Mike (08:06):

So more than just like telling someone how to do a workout because again, how many workouts have you been in where you’re slogging through burpees and the coach is like giving you technical cues and you’re just like, I’m dying through burpees here. What I really need is someone just to keep me going, to get me to show up to that class and do the burpees that I don’t want to do. So there is really this incredible accountability option that is really the most important part of online coaching, I think. Here’s the question for coaches that are skeptical about this, do clients get good results in online coaching? Are they better or worse or equal to the results that they’d see in the gym? What’s your opinion on that?

Josh (08:39):

Oh, this is a great question. On my Zoom call for the Two-Brain group last week on Tuesday, I talked about this a lot and I had slides and everything because it’s, it’s amazing. I hesitate to say this, but generally speaking, my online clients get faster results and better results than the gym clients I have because of the accountability. I know people talk about community and accountability in the gym, but it is different when you know, one person is watching over you. So yeah, it was very interesting to me and most coaches when I show them that they’re blown away and that’s usually the key to them saying, OK, I can actually really do some good here. It does work because again, most people think that, Hey, I’m selling this programming, my programming is so awesome, people want to buy my programming.

Josh (09:30):

But that’s not what it is. You’re selling your eyes and your time and your care. So I mean, yeah, the results are great. It was very surprising to me when I started doing this, especially for, I know I get good results for runners and triathletes and my OCR people. But endurance people are a different breed than someone who comes to you and just wants to get better at life, wants to lose weight. So, the results of those people got was really striking and really fast.

Mike (10:02):

And it’s neat because we did the Two-Brain plan when we got shut down and we pivoted to direct, our coaches text each member every day of the program, modify it for the equipment that they have, the space. We run a few Zoom classes as well. But really, the idea is that we’re trying to do that one on one relationship and that’s the online coaching. The Zoom classes are extra, we have people that don’t even do them. Right. And what we’re actually finding is, you know, we wish we’d been doing this all along. We wished that we had been talking to people daily and giving them this accountability. Because, you know, we had retention systems, but you know, after a week we noticed, OK, someone hasn’t been to class for a week. What if we caught them six days earlier?

Mike (10:39):

And what if someone with a personal relationship had said, Hey Jen, I know that you’re super busy right now. What’s up? And she’s like, Oh, I’m traveling. Sorry. Oh, can I send you a travel workout to do in your hotel room? Instead of I got back, I broke my habit. I don’t need to go to the gym anymore. You know, like, I wish we had been doing that. So I think you’re right. That accountability element is so huge. And let’s be honest, we all think we’re great programmers, but like there’s so much programming out there, you can find probably literally a million CrossFit workouts on free sites all over the world and probably the same number for any other sport, you know? So the accountability is really a thing right. Although some coaches are finding trouble that mentally, they’re having trouble with the switch, and I talked about this a lot with Josh where they’re used to selling a certain thing. Now they’re selling something completely different. And the reason I really want to talk to you about this is because you can help them understand the value of what they’re providing. And I’ll ask you this question. Is online coaching in terms of value, is it more valuable or less valuable than the in person experience again, or is it equal like where coaches are saying, man, I used to sell my space, my expertise, now I’m selling accountability. Is there value to that? Will people buy that?

Josh (11:39):

Yeah. And it’s more valuable. And again, this is another area that the coaches sometimes struggle with. Like, Oh, I’m giving them an online program and it’s supposed to cost more than my gym? Yeah. When we transferred everyone over to online and they’re providing the oversight and the workouts and the interactions, the texts. And the phone call calls, all that stuff, they quickly realize that yes, this is more valuable. It should cost more because it’s a lot more work. Like well before I could service 15 people in one class and I was done in an hour, it’s like now 15 people will take me a lot more than an hour. And everyone’s different. It’s not just the same thing. So, yes it is. It is more valuable. You can charge more for it.

Mike (12:28):

That’s perfect cause a lot of people aren’t and they’re discounting the service saying, Oh that’s not as good as my, you know, my polished rowers. And it’s like, it’s actually, you are spending more time with these people now. So I want to dig into this for a second. So we’ve pivoted to online coaching at our gym. Like I said, based on the Two-Brain plan. Right away we were trying to figure out how to manage a large number of clients. Like how much work is online coaching? Can you describe the workload for us and offer us some guidelines on time per client and are there efficiencies to be found eventually?

Josh (12:55):

Yeah. So starting out, we’re not going to lie, as you discovered it is front loaded time heavy. Especially if you’re not used to it, which most people were not used to it. So, our coaches were taking upwards of 30 minutes per client when they first started.

Mike (13:12):

Is that per week, or how does that go?

Josh (13:12):

That was per interaction. I had a very large gym, so they were getting through as many as I could every day. And then that was a week to 10 days, probably, they’re getting through everyone. But that didn’t last long. Now it’s looking like, you know, three minutes a day. Max. I would say for them it’s per client, three minutes max, I would say. Yep. Efficiencies. So I don’t know which way you wanted to go here, but the longer you do it, the better your systems get.

Josh (13:47):

Obviously you’re going to find a lot of efficiencies. You’re going to get better at it. Reps are key. Reps are key for everything in life. This is no different. For me, I developed what I call now this is kind of going to pure online training. So I developed what I call a skeleton programs and it’s a program that I developed that’s going to work with a wide range of clients that have a certain goal set.

Mike (14:09):

Like weight loss or something.

Josh (14:09):

So yes, exactly. So as I get a new client, I’ll do my NSI over the phone or via Zoom or whatever it is, talk to them about their goals, talk to them about their equipment, where are they going to work out, what do they want to do? And I’m going to take one of my skeletons, drag it in, and then I’m going to personalize the skeleton to that person’s situation. So, I do usually program for a couple hours on Saturday mornings, because I enjoy it and I like to improve my skeletons; I’m always trying to improve my skeletons. But these programs then are used by my entire coaching staff. So, it’s well worth my time to do that. And it makes things a lot faster for them cause I’ve taught them how to do the exact same thing They’re just taking the skeleton and then customizing it or personalizing it to that person’s home, what they have there, what they want to do.

Mike (14:58):

And that’s really the key. Like what you’re saying there, the key part is the personalization and the, you know, taking into account that client’s space, the client’s goals, the client’s mental state, the everything, all the different things that apply to that one person because the old story that I’m sure you’ve heard back in the day as you know, a bunch of bodybuilding clients check their programming and it was all three sets of eight bicep curls, three sets of eight tricep extensions. And it was the same thing with a different name at the top. But in some cases the coach would forget to change the name at the top. That is not valuable. That is just delivering programming, template programming to a bunch of people and assuming that every person is going to respond the same way and it’s borderline worthless, although people have paid lots of money for it.

Mike (15:34):

What you’re talking about here is actual personalization according to their needs on that day. So it’s like, I know you’re beaten down. You had a 12-hour day. We’re going to do three sets instead of five. I know you have 20 pound dumbbells, not 50. So we’re going to add a tempo to this. I know that your nutrition is important. I need you to have your post-workout shake and more than anything else, I need you to put this on your calendar and do it between three and 4:00 PM today when I know you have some down time. That’s what you’re getting at, right?

Josh (15:58):

Yeah, man, that’s great. I can tell you’ve done that.

Mike (16:02):

Or maybe I need it. Maybe I just know it cause that’s what I need someone to tell me. But that’s the idea is that it’s personalization and it’s not just like cut and paste. Fran, Murph, Helen, go. We’re actually personalizing this stuff. So that’s a huge efficiency. Do you have, along with that like a movement library or anything where you can tell people like a list of like if someone’s like, I don’t understand the dumbbell snatch, do you have a, like a list of things that you’ve either recorded or a list of resources that you can send them or how do you do some of that teaching?

Josh (16:29):

So I do use True Coach, so there’s a lot of videos in there. I’ve only made one or two of my own videos. Otherwise I literally search YouTube and just plug it in because they don’t care that it’s not me. And to be honest, a lot of these people do a better job demoing it than I could. So yeah, there’s tons of videos. I’m not gonna remake anything unless I have to. So, and then again, you can always have them shoot you a video via their phone. So if you really need to take a look at something, you can, Hey shoot a video of you doing this movement, I’ll let you know if it’s good or not. So.

Mike (17:05):

So here’s a question related to that. With time management as a coach you’ve got and you’ve now got online people and whether you’re using an app or using text or whatever, you’re probably getting quite a bit of contact. How do you manage that? Like, so cause you’re getting probably texts, I imagine all day or so, do you, for coaches who are out there managing our 30 or 40 clients, do you recommend that they block off time, like in the morning and evening to respond to texts in a block? Or do they just get them as they come in and drop whatever they’re doing or how do they manage that process?

Josh (17:32):

So it’s kind of how you set it up and the expectations you set for your clients as well. Using the app that I do, I communicate mainly through the app, which makes it easier for me to block my time. I do have some clients that are paying higher levels and they do have my personal text and it’s not like 15 or 20 texts a day. It’s usually one or two.

Mike (17:58):

And that costs more.

Josh (17:58):

It costs yes considerably more. And I do answer those people as soon as I get those texts because they’re valuable to me and I want to take good care of them. But as far as coaching goes, yeah, you have to have them block your time, otherwise it becomes very overwhelming. We saw this with nutrition coaching as well. Our nutrition coach was just getting overwhelmed. She had 30 some clients and they were texting, her PM-ing her nonstop and like, Hey, you need to block this out and just deal with it at certain times of the day and just let them know that, Hey, I’m not going to respond to these till, you know, 7:00 PM every night or something like that.

Mike (18:39):

So that’s two takeaways right there is that first off, setting up an online coaching program is going to be challenging at the beginning, but there are efficiencies to be found. So you’re going to do some work at the beginning, but it is going to get easier as you get better at it. Like many things. So if you’re overwhelmed right off the bat that this is a lot of work, know that it does get easier and the best thing you can do is probably formalize things with systems and procedures. Two-Brain Business mentors will teach you how to do that where you document all your stuff so that it can be replicated and so that you can offload tasks as you see fit. The second thing related to that that you just said that’s really important is that having a coach on demand, like a client texting and saying like, Hey, I need something right now, and you responding that is hugely valuable. That’s not like a hundred dollar a month service. Right. I think a lot of people do that though.

Josh (19:25):

Yeah, yeah. They’ll learn or they’ll burn out. It’s one or the other.

Mike (19:29):

Yeah. Yeah. Learn or burn. We gotta put that out in a hashtag or t-shirt somewhere. I like that. So we talk often about sales on this show. So let me take a step in that direction. This is the big question. Who needs online coaching out there and how do you create offers that appeal to these guys? What kind of services are they looking for?

Josh (19:49):

Yeah. OK. Well, the short answer is everyone needs online coaching and you know, it’s not just fitness related. So, I’m not a marketing specialist, but what I’ve seen and what I like to do is focus on the type of person I want to work with in my marketing, or the gym wants to work with. And then try to use language that relates to them. Generally speaking, if you want to talk about the situation right now is we’re seeing that focusing on your warm leads, so people you’ve been in contact with before would be considered warm leads, former members of your gym. People on your email list, people that have come to a friends and family day, former members, people on your Facebook page, all of those people are like warm leads. They know about you, they know who you are. Focusing on those people right now seems to be your best use of your time and your money. I’ve been seeing a lot of people struggle with broader types of marketing or posting on their personal pages. So we’ve been telling people to try to niche down what type of person do you want to work with and then or what type of person are you, maybe—I don’t want to go on a tangent here, but I’m going to try not to.

Mike (21:10):

No, that’s important. The niche part is important, so we’re gonna follow that up anyways.

Josh (21:14):

  1. Yeah. So I mean for me, OCR was something I really enjoy doing. So I started posting that on my Facebook page and talking about it and created some groups and that was quick and easy way to get OCR clients, whereas opposed to if I was just looking for general people, most were just going to scroll by that. But I say, Hey, I did this OCR race last weekend. I’m a certified SGX coach. If you’re interested, contact me. And, you know, bam, it works. So also sharing your personal story and then looking for people with similar stories or experiences has been pretty effective for a lot of people. And that can be whatever your personal story is. Have you had a big weight loss? Have you struggled with different things in your life? Depression, all kinds of stuff, that can get you clients really, really quick too as, whereas again, a broad, I’m looking for five people in Rochester isn’t gonna touch someone when they scroll by it.

Josh (22:09):

So Facebook leads right now are really cheap, but we have found that they are really hard to close. So yeah, our Facebook lead costs were upwards of 70 or $80 last fall, which was one of the highest I’ve seen. We have four really good CrossFit gyms in our city and they all know what they’re doing. So the ad costs were extremely high. Right now we’re getting leads for seven or $8 a pop, which is a drastic drop. But all of our online, all of our new clients that are not warm leads have been they had been through Facebook posts talking about Hey I helped my mom lose 10 pounds. Are you interested or is your mom interested, stuff like that. I have a newer coach that is a military wife and she has niched down to helping military wives. So that type of stuff, who do you want to work with? You know, moms, dads, single moms, old people. If you can find that niche it becomes a lot easier. I think Rob Connors from Signum CrossFit talked about that too. He’s focusing on golfers.

Mike (23:30):

Rob is going to be on the show shortly. We haven’t got him booked just yet cause he’s busy teaching people about golf. But Rob will be on the show very shortly. So if you’re looking at niche discussions, as soon as we can pull Rob off the fairway, we’ll get them on here to teach you how to putt and sell it. You know what you’re saying though is really in the Two-Brain, you know, nomenclature is essentially audience building, right? So you’re out there and it doesn’t cost any money. It just costs your time to go and put Facebook posts up, tell your story, write blogs, get in Facebook groups, interact with people and start becoming an authority figure. So you’re establishing your authority that you do this thing and eventually people want it as you warm them up, right? You’re not, we always ask people inTwo-Brain to do the organic stuff and do the, we call it affinity marketing.

Mike (24:14):

Talk to like the people who know, like, and trust you. Then talk to their friends, then talk to their friends and keep going down that list. And eventually you’re going to find yourself with these, you need to find leads, cold leads. And that’s where you bring in the marketing. And now we’re not saying that you can’t market right now, but exactly what Josh said reflects with Jeff Burlingame, Mateo Lopez and other sales specialists have said in previous episodes, sales are tough right now. Lead costs are cheap. Conversion rates are very, very, very low. So it’s going to be really tough to sell those guys. However, we’re finding that people are moving services and they’re doing it by talking to their friends, their friends of friends, their old clients, next door neighbors, people down the street, people who know them. So those are two things you can take away from this guys is get out there, start building your audience through content and then start warming those leads by helping them out. You’re in a Facebook group and someone says, man, like I’m really struggling getting over the wall in the OCR race. I’m a great runner, but I can’t climb that thing. Hey, I can help you with that. Here’s a couple of quick tips. If you want more, I offer online coaching. Here’s a program that’ll get you to do it right. Like is that the kind of thing that you’ve done Josh?

Josh (25:19):

Yeah, that’s exactly what I’ve done. I had a lady contact me the other day, she had a competition coming up this weekend. It’s a very niche sport, OCR related but with guns.

Mike (25:37):

So what is that called?

Josh (25:45):

I’m not even sure. I had never heard it. I had never heard of it. And she was like, you haven’t heard of this? I’m like, Nope, never heard of it. So she needed to climb a rope. So she contacted me. We found a place outside where we could climb a rope. And I showed her the Spanish wrap cause she’s got to have a, I mean the amount of weight she had to have on her. Cause I mean it was amazing. Like I have pictures of it, but I haven’t posted anywhere cause you know, there’s guns involved. But, taught her the Spanish rap. She learned how to climb the rope. And then, yesterday she signed up for an intro session and joined the gym. I’m like, cool.

Mike (26:31):

Is it like a biathlon rifle or what do they use for that? Or it’s just like the old 12 gauge from above the mantle?

Josh (26:35):

No, it’s tactical. So she actually carries a pistol and an AR.

Mike (26:41):

Oh wow. I’m curious to see how this sport goes.

Josh (26:46):

A full vest as well. So she had 35 or 40 pounds on her in equipment.

Mike (26:54):

Yeah. So then you got to learn how to climb a rope. But that’s just an example there guys. You could do that with literally anything. I mean, you could find at home workouts for moms, stay at home moms or dads, whatever, you know, and then get in those groups and start talking to them. And man, it’s like, I just can’t seem to get stronger. I have no idea how to get stronger because I’m just doing air squats all day. Hey, well could you fill a backpack with rocks? Could you do this? Could you do that. Offer that help, and at some point as you establish your authority in these groups and through your own organic Facebook posts, someone is going to want your services because you’re becoming the expert. So that’s a cool thing. And Rob will talk to us again coming up about niching down, which is the term meaning find out exactly who you want to work with.

Mike (27:34):

Find those people, help them, and eventually they’re going to buy some stuff. So that’s a really cool thing you guys can take away from this. If you are struggling right now and just putting out random posts about at home workouts, maybe like at home workouts for stay at home dads to build strength, you know, try some ways to put a finer point on that pencil so to speak. So let’s talk about this. You’ve got online coaching hours, you’re in the Two-Brain groups. So we have a private Two-Brain group for growth clients and these are some of the best gym owners in the world. And Josh is in there three times a week, sometimes more and fielding their questions. What are some of the biggest pain points that you’re hearing right now? And this might be from guys that are just starting out, or people that are more experienced at online coaching that are finding some new problems. What are the pain points?

Josh (28:16):

So the biggest pain points for gym owners when they were starting out was figuring out how to handle the increased workload with dealing with all the people and delivering the service and that just took time for them to figure it out. And now they’ve got that pretty much nailed down.

Mike (28:35):

The only way through it is to do it, right?

Josh (28:35):

You just got to keep going. So now what we’re finding in the group is the biggest pain point is motivating their members, right? So the member signed up to join a gym. That’s not what’s going on right now. So, they’re finding online isn’t for everyone, but what we’ve found has worked best for them is goal reviews basically. So if you have someone who’s trailing off, not participating, doesn’t want to do anything, maybe wants to cancel, the best thing to do is sit down with them, have a goal session, and say, Hey, we have time now, let’s work on a skill. Let’s get pull-ups, let’s work on your running. Let’s work on pistols. Let’s do double unders. It’s a great time to focus on a skill. And that has seemed to work for a lot of people to reignite some motivation. Other people were switching to like a hundred percent, Hey, well let’s focus on nutrition right now then. And they’re cool with that. So it seems like a goal review session or simply asking, Hey, how can I help right now is a great way to deal with the lack of motivation.

Mike (29:39):

You essentially have to find out what your clients want.

Josh (29:43):

Yeah. You have to figure out what they want and they don’t know what you offer. I mean, you try to communicate as best you can, but they’re like, Hey, the gym’s closed. I’m not doing online. So I’m canceling. And it’s like, Hey, what do you want to do right now? We can help you with that. You want to get stronger. I have a program for that. Let me plug you into that and I’ll make sure you do it. So that type of thing,

Mike (30:07):

A lot of members probably don’t even know these programs exist or that you could create them because it wasn’t something a lot of gym owners focused on. So like in the worst case we had gyms, and I don’t mean Two-Brain, but gyms in the world that would just focus only on group classes, which we have found out can be a fragile model if you lose your physical space, the Zoom thing, it wears out quickly for a lot of gyms unless you’re really good at it. And even then there is retention problem we found in our data. But you have, you still have the ability as a coach to put together a strength program. It’s easy, right? You’ve got this group thing, you can just—like, a five-by-five squat is a five-by-five squat whether it’s in a group or whether it’s individual, which your members might not even know you have that, so if you’re not talking to them and asking, if you’re just assuming everyone loves group classes or Zoom coaching or whatever and you’re seeing retention problems, it would probably behoove you to speak to those members and find out exactly what they want to do, especially if they’re canceling and then find a way to do that.

Mike (30:59):

We found this. We’re selling more nutrition services right now than fitness. We can’t sell any fitness stuff for whatever reason, nutrition stuff is working because as Burlingame brought up last a couple episodes ago, the COVID-19 pounds is starting to become a thing for some people and they’re realizing, man, I need to look at my diet because I’m sitting at home eating because of the snacks are there and Chris Cooper and the email that went out today, this is May 22nd, he said, create content for a client who says, I’m having trouble stopping snacking because I’m at home working all day. And so that goes back to what we talked about. That’s audience building, but it’s also finding out what your clients need. So have you had a client who’s going to cancel and had one of these goal review sessions and sold a completely new service to them?

Josh (31:41):

Yes, absolutely. It’s worked many, many, many times. I had a guy who wasn’t going to the gym. He’s said well, I’m just going to cancel because it’s going to be spring anyway and I’m a big triathlete and I’m like, Oh triathlete. I do that. And he said I have this program I’ve been doing a long time. It’s like, OK, cool. Anything else you need to work on? He’s like, well, my upper body strength isn’t very good. I’m like, cool. I have a 12-week program that I call Thor and I can plug that in for you and I’ll make sure you do it. And he’s one of our biggest raving fans right now because he’s got biceps, he’s got chest, he’s like, I’ve never looked like this. I’m a biker and a runner.

Mike (32:23):

And I’ll say right now if you’re listening, you get a guy like that or a girl like that you collect, ask him, dude, may I get your thoughts on the service that we’ve provided and your success and goals and put them on camera saying I was a runner, I was scrawny. I never thought I could have muscles like this. And this coach gave me this stuff in like three months and I’m thrilled. And then collect that, share that story, put it on your website, put it on YouTube, get on Facebook. That stuff that’s called social proof in the marketing world, that will get you more clients because it’s people like me doing stuff that I want to do. So if you find that stuff guys, you got to do it, collect it. And get it up on there. That’s really interesting.

Mike (33:05):

I love that. Where you know, you’ve got a guy who’s going to quit and the one that we see, so I’ll give you a scenario. Pretend I’m your client Josh, and I’m saying, Josh, I’m going to quit. I just, and let’s pretend you’re running Zoom classes. I don’t know if you are or not, but let’s just pretend because I know a lot of people are. Josh, I’m going to quit. I cannot make the Zoom class times. It doesn’t work for me. I don’t have an hour. I only have 20 to 30 minutes a day and I’m quitting. What do you say?

Josh (33:29):

Say, Hey Mike, what do you want to work on right now? I can easily find something for yo u that takes 20 or 30, 20 or 20, 30 minutes.

Mike (33:37):

Is it gonna work? Am I gonna get fit?

Josh (33:37):

Yeah. I guarantee it will work. I’ve had great success with this in the past with people. I work with plenty of busy people and actually they get, sometimes they get better results than people that are going to the gym.

Mike (33:46):

Oh, tell me more. And here’s my credit card. Right. Like that’s kind of how the conversation goes. As easy as that. When you’ve got a guy who can’t make it to class and you don’t really need them in class to be honest. So, and again, that also works. We’re going to find, I’m sure as gyms reopen and I’m sure that the gyms that have been doing goal review sessions before COVID probably found that when members were leaving and they did a goal review session, they probably found a service that they could give them as they were, you know, to replace, I can’t get to group classes. I’m traveling a lot. Do you want a hotel program? Done.

Josh (34:16):

Yup. And that was another, yeah, that was another reason that the flex program developed. It was for that exact situation.

Mike (34:21):

This is great. So the flex program that is now, where can people find that?

Josh (34:28):

It’s in the Two-Brain modules. So there’s a whole course on it. I think I did four videos explaining the whole process and most people can do the course and they can implement it just from the course. And if that doesn’t work, you can get more help to develop it and install it into your gym.

Mike (34:47):

If you’re a Two-Brain client, check that course out. If you are not a Two-Brain client, you can become one and get access to that course. Let’s talk a little bit about taking action here. So how can people out there who are maybe, you know, either they’ve done online coaching and they’re struggling with it or they’re thinking about starting it. How can people get better at it? What is going to make them better online coaches?

Josh (35:08):

My first advice is always hire your own coach. I know it seems counter interactive, but it’s a great investment, not only for you personally, but you’re going to see how another coach does it. You can learn a ton from doing that. The other way, the other best option of course, is join Two-Brain. You can talk to me. I am three days a week next week in there, and then I move to Tuesdays at 11 o’clock Eastern. Two-Brain Radio podcasts, right? Episode 124 with Brad Overstreet was great. And then episode 130 with Chris Cooper and Josh Martin. Also I’m just going to plug Two-Brain all the time. Hope it’s OK.

Mike (35:51):

That’s OK. That’s essentially what we’re here for. We’re building our audience just like we said people should.

Josh (35:56):

Yeah. So, Two-Brain Coaching has a how to coach online course. It’s a really, really good, I’m almost completed with it. I love it. And then of course you have the Two-Brain.com/free tools. So that’s what I would do. Hire a coach. And then join Two-Brain.

Mike (36:17):

Give me your free tips. So this is if there’s one thing that an online coach should take from this episode and do right after the episode ends, what is that thing for free? What should that person do?

Josh (36:32):

Is this person doing online coaching already?

Mike (36:34):

Let’s give one. Let’s give one for a person who’s not doing online coaching and is going to start. And let’s give one for someone who’s just started out and wants to make it better. One tip for each.

Josh (36:43):

Honestly, I think the best tip for someone who hasn’t done anything would be to hire a coach. And that’s probably the best thing.

Mike (36:54):

So that’s it. If you guys are out there and you don’t know how to do this, find a coach and then figure out how that coach does things. If you like something, find your version of it. If you don’t find a better version of it and build your service around that tailored to the clients that you want to attract. So for someone who is, now you’ve got a client, sorry, a coach who is doing online coaching wants to get better. What’s the thing?

Josh (37:17):

I would take that online coaching course. Even I’ve been doing it for 10 years and the course has been really, really great. I’m taking something away from each and every module. And you can do it online. You don’t have to go anywhere and it’s very affordable.

Mike (37:34):

Is that over at Two-Brain Coaching, correct?

Josh (37:34):

Yep. Twobraincoaching.com.

Mike (37:34):

Right on. All right, that was Josh Grenell. We are on Two-Brain Radio. I am Mike Warkentin. Josh is an online coaching expert. Check him out. You can go look at his gym, Progression Fitness.

Mike (37:52):

Check him out. If you want to hear more from Josh, check him out there. And we do have him for our Two-Brain clients. He’s regularly inside oue private groups. If you want more actionable advice based on data, you need to check out Gym Owners United on Facebook. In it, you’ll find daily topics from the one and only Chris Cooper as well as the support of a host of business owners from all over the world. That group, again, Gym Owners United on Facebook, join today. Thank you for tuning into Two-Brain Radio. Please subscribe for more episodes and we’ll be back with more next week. Thanks guys.


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Chris Cooper: Increase Revenue and Retention Through a New Client Journey

Chris Cooper: Increase Revenue and Retention Through a New Client Journey

Andrew (00:02):

It’s Two-Brain Radio with your host Chris Cooper. How do your clients engage with your business and what does their arc look like as they enter and eventually leave your business? Most importantly, could you change something to keep your clients longer? Here’s the good news. You can increase retention by examining and adjusting your client journey. Chris helped an online group of gym owners do exactly that on May 24th. What follows is the audio from that presentation. Now here’s Two-Brain business founder Chris Cooper.

Chris (00:34):

Hey everybody. Good morning, happy Sunday. Thanks for joining me again. It’s been a pretty exciting week. Lots of gyms reopening around the world, lots of gyms finally getting kind of like an opening date. And a lot of the gyms that are reopening are actually finding that they’re getting brand new clients or they’re getting a lot of their formerly canceled clients back. So it’s been a week just full of wins. If you’re still waiting to reopen, I hope that you know these stories shine as a light at the end of the tunnel for you and show you like not only are you going to emerge from this crisis, but you’re gonna emerge stronger than ever. A lot of people too are starting to say like, well, what if I want to emerge from this COVID cocoon a slightly different butterfly than what I went in and that’s totally acceptable.

Chris (01:18):

I’ve had three people this week say, I think I’m going to move my coaching practice completely online. And while you know, at first glance, it’s always sad to hear that like a physical gym is closing, I’m actually really thrilled for these people because they’ve understood that they can shift their coaching practice without actually ending their coaching practice. It’s just a different platform. And you know that one of the top three business stories that gets recounted in 2020 is the Netflix story and how Netflix made this massive pivot from mailing DVDs to online. But the thing is Netflix didn’t actually make a massive pivot. Their operations stayed exactly the same. They were, they are selling videos and movies, they’re selling access to content. Their audience stayed exactly the same, right? They’re still selling to the same people when they went online and they added more people because they were online, all they did was change their platform.

Chris (02:14):

And so while I don’t think that the Netflix story is an example of, you know, a massive pivot, I do think it’s a great example of success. And I think that the same thing can happen in the service industry. Even if you want to keep your gym open, have a physical location like I do, you can still add by doing online training. So what we’re going to talk about today is the new client journey. And this journey is true. Whether somebody meets you online, somebody starts at your bricks and mortar gym, somebody starts at one and goes to the other, or somebody does both. And the reason that we’re really talking about this right now is that retention rates in gyms are too low. As more and more data becomes available and you know, we started really digging into this stuff back in February, it’s clear that gyms are getting clients, like the marketing knowledge is out there now, but they’re only keeping clients about half as long as they should.

Chris (03:07):

And that means that gym owners are getting onto this marketing treadmill of like, I need more clients, need more clients, need more clients, but it’s only because the clients are running out the back door almost as fast as they’re coming in the front door. If you’ve been trying to market your gym for the last couple of years, you know that while there are great new tools like Facebook, it doesn’t mean it’s any easier or necessarily any faster to get new clients. So I want to make sure that every new client that you get sticks around longer so that you can maximize your ROI on that client. You can help them change their life and you have to spend less time marketing and selling. So to retain clients longer, we dug into the data during COVID because data was really important during COVID. COVID was a test of retention.

Chris (03:58):

If you had amazing retention before COVID, you probably held onto a lot of your clients. You still lost a few. That was unavoidable. If you had really poor retention before COVID, you probably lost all of your clients during COVID and even if you were OK at retention before, you had to get really, really, really good at retention during COVID. Now what worked during COVID, the one-on-one communication with your client and every day pivoting to say, what can I serve you with now? What do you need most from me? And really giving you that new perspective on coaching, that I hope, was a real eye opener for a lot of people because that’s what’s going to have to continue if you want to build a thriving coaching business and today we’re going to walk through that model of learn, design, deliver, refine. JoshMartin at twobraincoaching.com is really the pioneer of this simplified version.

Chris (04:52):

I love it, but this is really like the bones of the new client journey. Learn, design, deliver, refine. So we’re going to walk through all four of those. The last reason that we’re talking about retention today is that gyms are seeing an uptick in interest. So they reopened the doors and suddenly their members are coming back and they’re bringing their friends and suddenly new people who have found fitness online during the crisis are saying, I want to take the next step and do this with a coach. And also a lot of other people, you know, the urgency of the COVID crisis made the decision to join a gym more important. So they moved that up in their budget and on their timeline. So gyms might be tempted to just go back to running free trials and to signing people up. And in the short term, I think that’s actually going to work.

Chris (05:38):

But the problem is that that never worked really well for retaining clients. It worked for signing people up. It helped the sales process. And so back between 2007, 2009, the most common practice that you used to hear at gyms was running like a free trial. People would come in, they’d have like community Saturdays or something. Hopefully they might sign up, you know, but that never really worked and those people weren’t retained well. So today it’s really important that we talk about the client journey. So more than ever before, the new client journey has four stages. There’s the learn stage, the design stage, the deliver stage, and the refine stage. All right. And of course, as always, if you have questions, by all means, just post them in the chat. And I will say your name and repeat your question before I answer it in case this goes out as a podcast.

Chris (06:30):

So learn, design, deliver, refine that is are the bare bones of a new client journey. And today what we’re going to start with is learn. The learning phase that we have always taught was the no sweat intro. Now the no sweat intro is a shortened, scalable time restricted version of a strategy that’s called motivational interviewing. And motivational interviewing is something you’re going to hear a lot about in the next six months. And it’s something that’s been used a lot by therapists, by you know, any kind of psychology workers or psychologists, psychiatrists, you know, psychotherapists, it’s something that high-end diet nutrition coaches have been using for a while, like through especially Precision Nutrition, you know, today we’re going to talk about the three different versions. The key to understanding what to use and when and how deep to get with people and when to use motivational interviewing is this. The more personalized your service, the more expensive your service has to be because the more of your attention somebody needs one-on-one, the more of your focus, it means the less you can scale. So your attention has to be expensive. The minimum for a high value service. So if you’re prescribing a hybrid service, and I described this as like the NGPO offering in the last few podcasts, the more expensive that service is, the deeper your intake process has to go. OK. So the absolute minimum is the no sweat intro. No sweat intro is what brought me, or what brought you to my gym. What would you like to have happen here? Why is that important to you? And then here’s a prescription. OK? No sweat intro is a short version of motivational interviewing that you can do in about 15 minutes. It works really, really well and compared to come and try a free class or bring a buddy Saturday, it’s way better at retaining people and moving people into the right service, right?

Chris (08:35):

You have to know their goals and you have to know their reasons before you can give them a prescription. That’s just coaching 101. The next version of that is short-form motivational interviewing. So it goes slightly deeper than a no sweat intro. It takes a little bit longer, but it shows a higher conversion rate for higher ticket personalized coaching. This form motivational interviewing like Precision Nutrition’s the five whys takes about an hour. But if you’re selling nutrition or personal training or online coaching, this is probably necessary. And every expert that we’ve interviewed and brought into Two-Brain in the last couple of months has repeated this. So step one, the bare minimum of is a no sweat intro. Step two is a short form motivational interview like Precision Nutrition. Five whys, I’m gonna share my screen with you here and walk through it.

Chris (09:27):

And step three is a truly deep motivational interview and I’m going to talk about that in a moment. So here’s second level worksheet. The five whys from Precision Nutrition. I will link to this in the blog post and I uploaded it to our Facebook group. If you want to just pull it out. The reason that five whys works is you get to like the reason behind the reason for success. So when somebody comes into your office the first time, they know you’re going to ask them why this goal is important to you and they’ve got a response plan, OK? And that response does not expose them to you. It protects them. So you have to keep going. So the five whys you’re going to start with, you know, why are you doing this? Why are you joining my gym right now? Why do you want to start a nutrition plan right now?

Chris (10:12):

OK? But then you have to go deeper. And so you say, why do you want to achieve that now? What’s your reason for wanting to lose 10 pounds? What’s your reason for wanting to shape up and get in shape? What’s your reason for wanting to build immunity? You know, and five bonus points for anybody who hears I’m joining a gym to build my immunity. Then you want to go deeper again and say, why is that important? And so what you’ll notice as you go through these five whys as you’re getting deeper into psycho psychological reasons instead of external motivations, like, Oh, I just want to look better. The key is you’re getting into internal motivations. Like I just don’t feel good about myself when I weigh this much. OK. And then the fourth question, the fourth why is why will that make a difference?

Chris (10:56):

How will that change your life? And now you’re actually having the client like project this change that’s going to happen. They’re kind of starting to define the end point and they’re being very vulnerable and open with you about what they’re hoping to achieve. And then finally, why will that matter? So the five why’s again, I mean you can get it from the precision nutrition worksheet, but the first is why are you doing this? Second is why do you want to achieve that? Third is why is that important? Fourth is why will that make a difference? And faith is why will that matter? Now, this series of whys has been proven to work, but you can definitely come up with your own as long as each goes deeper and deeper. When I was talking about this worksheet with Kevin Wood a few weeks ago, maybe it was only a week ago, time really compresses.

Chris (11:43):

He was saying that there’s a predictive value to using the five why’s at intake and he says that, you know, if somebody has an emotional moment with him, if they cry, if they need a Kleenex, he knows they’re going to stick around for at least nine months. If they don’t have that emotional moment, if he can’t forge that deeper connection, he knows that they’re probably not going to stick around for at least nine months to a year. And so during the COVID crisis, he said that he could have predicted the people who are going to quit during COVID and it was the people who really didn’t get deep into the five whys and they wouldn’t give him like the real reason for wanting to work out. The people who did trusted him to deliver his coaching no matter what the platform was that he used.

Chris (12:26):

And so if he had changed their prescription to be more online or more habits based or more mindset based or more nutrition based, that would have been fine with them because they knew that Kevin knew their deeper motivation for wanting to achieve what they wanted to achieve and that he was guiding them on their journey to achieve that whatever road that journey took. That’s a really key part of the new client journey is understanding what they want to accomplish and their motivation. What they want to accomplish is never fixed my movement, it’s never, I just want to try CrossFit. It’s never, I want to move better. Their motivation is always, I need to feel better about myself or I need to give people a reason to like me. You know, you have to get deeper than the service that you’re offering. OK? So that’s five whys.

Chris (13:19):

The third level is motivational interviewing. Now, long form motivational interviewing is good if your service is very long term and mostly centered around behavior change. So if you’re doing therapy on someone that requires a massive mindset shift, psychotherapy, maybe physical therapy, that’s when you would do a long form motivational interview. And I’m going to append a video from our resident psychotherapists Bonnie Skinner, on how to do motivational interviewing if you’re in the therapy business. If you’re in the coaching business, there’s a fantastic intro from Josh Martin in our Two-Brain Coaching first degree program on how to do motivational interviewing in a gym right now. What do you have to do? What are your steps? You have to show the client their plan in advance. They have to see a vision of the future and you have to really connect on a deeper level than ever before.

Chris (14:14):

At the bare minimum, you need to be doing a no sweat interview. A no sweat intro, even better if you can do it is like the five whys from precision nutrition. OK. So if the client journey follows the path of learn, design, deliver, refine, the learn stage comes through this kind of interview where you form a deeper connection and get to their root. Why? All right, I’m just going to take a look at questions here. If you have them, by all means, just put them in the chat. And I’m glad Bonnie is actually with us. If you have questions, you can see Bonnie in the chat and you can just ask her questions about what motivational interviews I’m going to share her later. OK. So next, the design phase of the new client journey. Now I’ve got a video here that I’d like to share with you called how to solve any problem in fitness. When you’re designing a client’s program, that is more than just designing their workouts, right? We commonly use this term programming, especially in microgyms right now to refer to the workouts that a client is going to do and usually that programming is broad, general, inclusive because we’re giving it to everybody. It’s the same workouts for everyone, but that’s not the same as their program. Their program includes the four cornerstones of your business, so nutrition group coaching, online habits, coaching and personal training. Not every client will do all four. Not every client will prioritize one specific one. Some clients might prioritize nutrition and they might back that up with exercise coaching and they might prefer to do that exercise coaching in a group or another client might need to start by creating solid habits in their lives. So they do your online coaching program for a little while before they work into your coaching.

Chris (16:01):

And some clients might come in the door knowing that they want group coaching, but you say, you know, to bringing you up to the speed of the group, ensure your safety, make sure that you get the most out of this experience, we start everybody with personal coaching so that you know, you learn the movements and stuff, OK? And that is the client’s program. That is their long-term view. And that’s what we’re going to talk about designing here. So good fitness coaches, they know how to help a client reach their goal, right? So if you start with a goal, let’s call that point B, then you’re going to measure the starting point. So let’s call that point A. And a good coach maps the path backward from point B to point A, OK to get you here, starting from here, here are the steps that we’re going to have to go to.

Chris (16:49):

So after they’ve mapped that process, a great coach prescribes the fastest path to their clients, right? Like this. Well, Alice, here are the steps that you’ll need to take to reach your goal, to get there quickly. You’ll need to exercise five times per week and follow a simple nutrition plan. How does that sound? Then the coach overcomes barriers like price objections or previous injuries like this. So if Alice says, I can’t afford that, then the coach says, no problem. If you can’t afford to move that quickly, we’ll take it a bit slower with the budget you just gave me. I’d say we should train twice per week, but one-on-one and really focus on that nutrition plan. Or if Alice says, Oh man, my back is just so tight, the coach can say, no problem. Your back is tight from work. We’ll take it a bit slower at first. With the limitation you just gave me, I’d say that we should train three times per week and have one specific mobility session per week instead of four workouts, and this is all part of the design phase. You still haven’t actually dictated what their program is going to be. You’re asking them what they can commit to so that you set a framework around what the program is going to be designed to look like, right. But the next step is that the coach motivates their clients by reminding them of their wins, showing them their progress and calling them when they don’t show up, and everybody just got really, really good at this. You’re in COVID. Along the way, the coaches track their progress and they adjust their plan because no plan survives first contact with the enemy and the enemies now our big sugar, Netflix and stress, and those enemies are pretty damn good at this game and they’re bombarding your clients 23 hours a day.

Chris (18:32):

So you need to be better than they are at telling a sticky story and making sure that your clients resist their urges and temptations, right? So Two-Brain gyms meet with their clients every quarter to adjust their plans. We’re going to, we’re going to come up to that in a minute. The thing is like nobody can ever afford to lose sight of the client’s goal. The coach can’t afford to lose sight of the client’s goal because the client never stops thinking about that goal. Clients don’t do your workouts for the sake of being good at your workouts. They do them because they want to achieve that real goal. And if you haven’t started with some kind of interview, you don’t know what that real goal is. You just know the surface level, the fake explanation that they’ve given you at intake, right? Clients are willing to trade short term pain to reach a goal if they trust their coach.

Chris (19:20):

Now we call this the prescriptive model because great coaches don’t sell group programming. Great coaches sell one on one relationships and they sometimes deliver exercise in a group setting. So here’s the prescriptive model. Just as a review, I’ll share my screen and what you’re going to see when I share my screen here is basically learn, design, deliver, refine it. And right now we’re talking about design. So you know, a no sweat intro is the bare minimum now, to bring in a new client. During no sweat intro, we’re going to start thinking about how to design a client’s program. That program will include four cornerstones, nutrition, group exercise and or personal exercise and or online exercise. We’re going to take an objective measurement that the client cares about. So if a client comes in and says, Hey, I just want to lose 10 pounds, and you say, why?

Chris (20:08):

And they say, so I look better in a bikini. You say, why is that important? And they say, so that people will be jealous of me at the beach. And so that I’m not self conscious about yourself. You say, why is that important to you and you know you keep getting deeper. It doesn’t make sense to then measure, you know, functional movement screen because they don’t care about that, right? What you have to measure is like body fat percentage or or measure skinfold or circumference measurements. Something that’s going to measure the client. Now the client comes in and says something like, Oh, I can’t even touch my toes anymore. I’m losing flexibility. I’m always tight. Great. Do a functional movement screen, by all means. From there you’re going to make your prescription and that is the design phase. The key though to understanding the prescriptive model, if you’re looking at this, if you’ve been through this in the Two-Brain incubator or ramp up program if you’ve been reviewing this with your coaches, is that deliver is the part that most people focus on, but it’s actually the least important part.

Chris (21:07):

You guys all know how to deliver workouts with excellence. Many of you have received coaching in how to deliver nutrition with excellence. Some of you are even pursuing how to deliver mindset and habit training with excellence. You’ve taken weekend seminars, you’ve read the books, you’ve watched the videos, you know, you’ve been certified of the four stages of a client journey. Learn, design, deliver, refine. Deliver is the least important part. It’s just the most popular. It’s the most fun, it’s the most sexy. When you’re looking at the prescriptive model here, what you’ll see is a breakdown of nutrition and exercise and that defines your delivery. So when you’re designing a program and you ask a client the question, would you prefer to do these workouts one on one with me or in a small group? What you’re doing there is just creating the program around the delivery method that they prefer.

Chris (22:00):

If you say, would you like to do some of these workouts at home, you’re just asking them how you want the workouts to be delivered, right? And then from there you’ll design the whole program. Then you’re going to deliver on the program with excellence for a few months. But then the most important part and the most overlooked part is refine. You have to come back to the client. You have to measure their progress. You have to show them their progress. You have to be transparent about it and be honest about it and then you have to prescribe either continuation of what they’re currently doing or a change in tactic. Now this is where the learn stage becomes so important. Motivational interviewing, no sweat intro, five why’s that establishes this foundation of trust. You’re saying, I am on team Alice. We are going to work together to get this and if the program isn’t working after three months, Alice doesn’t have to say CrossFit doesn’t work for me.

Chris (22:57):

Alice just has to say to the coach, this isn’t working. What else should we do? That’s what makes a great coach. It’s what makes a great business mentor, is that foundation of trust. The continual revisiting, measurement, update of their goals and then the pivot to something that is working because if your client is left to decide on their own, is this working, then they’ll have to make another guess. Maybe they guessed when they found you. Maybe they guessed when they tried CrossFit. Maybe they took a guess when they followed their friend’s advice and came to a Pilates class with them, but if they start guessing again, they’re going to choose something else and they’ll always be able to say, I did CrossFit and it didn’t work. This is something that has plagued me since we launched our CrossFit gym in 2008 we brought people in.

Chris (23:46):

We did not onboard them correctly. We just did free trials. Then we put them through like this two day on ramp where they did over 300 squats regardless of their physical condition. Most of them quit after on-ramps saying, this is too hard. I can’t do this. Instead, what I should have done was what I was already doing in my personal training gym, which is a no sweat intro, a conversation, habits, building, nutrition coaching, one on one training and then introduction to a group when it was appropriate and desired. Learn, design, deliver, refine. Learning, we talked about that. That’s your intake process. Designing is making your prescription. It’s the prescriptive model. It’s including the four cornerstones. Deliver. You need to deliver with excellence. This is where business systems come in. You need to know that not only you, but your coaches are delivering consistently up to a high standard.

Chris (24:36):

And so you need to be evaluating your coaches. You need to be improving your education and your delivery, not just taking more certifications but learning things like, how to have a presence at the front of the room and public speaking and hiring people for personality instead of just technical knowledge. All right? That’s the deliver phase and that’s the phase that I’m going to spend the least time on. The fourth phase of the new client journey is refined. And I already said that this is the most important part, but it’s the most overlooked part because you have to measure over and over what matters to a client. And you need to plot those results against their plan. You have to review their progress and change their plan regularly. So goal reviews are more important than ever. What we learned over the last two months is that gyms go out of businesses, but coaching businesses don’t.

Chris (25:31):

Coaching businesses do OK. And when they come out of a crisis, not only are they emerging into a field with fewer competitors, they’re also emerging into a field with a whole new crop of people who want your coaching. There are people right now who have been kicked out of their gym. The fragile model of selling access, 24/7, 19 bucks a month, come to my gym, use the equipment, is dead. All the people who paid for that model have no gym anymore. This is your chance to show them what coaching is. It’s an amazing opportunity for you to demonstrate the value of coaching versus selling the value of access. It’s not just selling a program like saying CrossFit is better than your spin class, or CrossFit is better than your bodybuilding workout at Gold’s gym. That’s not what you’re selling. You’re selling coaching. So, I want to talk about data and retention, but before I do that, I want to just take questions on the new client journey, on the learn phase, design phase, delivery phase, and refining phase.

Chris (26:36):

We’re also gonna talk a little bit about goal reviews and what’s included. All right, so Vitor from Brazil, my friend says it’s usually no sweat intros were meant to last 20 to 30 minutes. Do you think it’s possible to fit the five whys in it? I think so. I mean, you know, you learn the structure of an NSI so that you can become a master at it, right? So that you can deliver it masterfully. An NSI takes me about 15 minutes. Not because I’m rushing anything but because there are parts that I know I can skip. And the thing is like the step after mastery is artistry. And after you’ve delivered 500 of these NSIs, you’ll find that there are parts of the structure that you can skip. Now if you haven’t done 500, forget that I even said that. Follow the structure. Master the structure, right?

Chris (27:26):

Mastery is really, really important. Artistry is something different. Could you fit the five whys into a 20 to 30 minute, no sweat intro? I don’t think so. And the reason is that you have to sit there and listen. It’s not a tick box. You are filling in the blanks so the client can see that you’re engaged. But a lot of the times you can’t take somebody from, Hey, I’m here to join your gym to crying in your office in 20 minutes. And that’s not the goal. But that’s what often happens when you start peeling back these layers of emotion. So five whys is new to me. We mentor based on experience and so I sought out experience from people who use five whys and these people all say that an interview at intake using the five whys takes about an hour.

Chris (28:19):

Brian says, we’ve done the five whys with our nutrition clients frequently, but have not done it in the NSI. We only ever went surface level. I’m guessing we should get our reps in regularly in advance of implementing with your team. So Brian has found either, one, you ask them the five why’s off a script and it comes across as cold and scripted. Well that’s a good point. Or two, you go totally off track and a client goes down a rabbit hole on one of the why’s and never get to why four or five. I’m guessing reps is the best way to get this nailed down or even a scenario deck. Yeah, man, it’s reps. Brian, you nailed it. OK, so you have to practice this and just get really good at listening. What I’ve learned after almost 20 years of using a no sweat intro at intake is that the less I talk, the more likely the client is going to sign up and the more likely they’re going to sign up for a higher level package.

Chris (29:15):

Think of the no sweat intro as revealing the client to themselves. You want to ask the questions that let them take a look inside themselves. Keep in mind like when somebody comes into your gym for the first time to sit down, they know you’re going to sell them a gym membership, meaning they’re almost sold. All you have to do is get out of the way. And this was a really hard lesson for me to learn in the intake. I thought I had to sell them. So I was giving them facts and figures and data and I had like this really, really thick binder with graphs in it and like, here’s an article that I wrote for teenagers and here’s a graph of here’s what linear periodization is. You know, here’s a yearlong macro cycle. I was literally showing this stuff to people who wanted weight loss.

Chris (30:00):

Then I realized I just had to get the hell out of the way and let people talk themselves into it before I could talk them out of it. So I just started asking questions. Now I see there’s another great question coming up here. If you’re going through the five why’s and somebody gets to the third why, you know, why is that important or whatever, and they say, the bottom line, Chris, is, I’m just ready to change. So what can you do for me? Then you’ve gone deep enough, right? You don’t have to keep going. You don’t have to make people cry. You don’t have to turn into a therapist. You don’t have to install a couch in your office. At that point, you’ve gone deep enough, they know that they want to sign up, you can get deeper later. So you’ll say, all right, here’s my prescription, here’s what I want you to do.

Chris (30:48):

How does this sound? If they give you a limitation, maybe it’s budgetary, maybe it’s time, maybe it’s physical condition, then you refine their program to fit that. As I said earlier in the design phase. But yeah, if you don’t get through all five why’s, that’s OK. Get as deep as you need to get. If the client cuts the interview short by saying, just sign me up, then just sign them up. Take the money. OK, Andy says, what happens when you try and use the five why’s? but the client doesn’t give anything than surface level responses. So Kevin actually answered this question, Andy and you know, as usual, you’re a step ahead here. I asked him this question when I was talking to him last week and he said that it doesn’t always happen, that sometimes, you know, they’ll just give you the surface level answers and if that’s the case, then sign them up anyway.

Chris (31:36):

Right? They’ve already sold themselves on your service. They know, here’s what I’m going to do, I’m going to try it. I think the key though is to revisit some of the why’s later and kind of work it in slowly, right? Like relationships have a ratcheting effect. You pry your way in and then you sit at that level for a while and then when there’s an opportunity, you pry your way in deeper. So you ask your client, Hey, how was your husband’s surgery? Are they OK? Are they recuperating well? And you’ve worked yourself in a little bit deeper. And then you work with them a little bit longer and maybe a month later you say, how’s your husband doing? You know, and the deeper you get, the better affinity marketing works, honestly. But also the longer that client is going to stay. So even if you can’t take a deep dive with the five why’s right at intake, you can fully work your way in over time by implementing goal reviews and having these conversations preset with a client.

Chris (32:31):

Bonnie, our resident psychotherapist, says with any of these methods, it’s the connection that’s essential. It sounds more complicated than it is. And Bonnie, that’s my fault. Also with motivational interviewing, the most important question is what has gotten in the way of your progress in the past? It allows you to have the client tell you what you as coach needs to be aware of and help the most with. That’s fantastic insight. Thank you Bonnie. Mike says Coop. So you do the NSI, then set up another chat to do the five why’s. No. You do one or the other. So if somebody is coming in, they mentioned group training, we do an NSI, you know, and then at the goal review session, I might get deeper into the five why’s. If somebody else is coming in a brand new and I’ve got an hour, I’m going to go through five whys as deeply as I possibly can.

Chris (33:24):

They’re not additive. It’s really like one or the other. OK. Should we be moving away from the NSI and go to the five whys intake process only? No. So you have to have some kind of motivational interview at intake. If you have a large gym and you’re getting 10 to 20 new people every single month, then the NSI is fine. You know, it’s a good start. The key though is that you have to book these people for goal reviews and constantly work your way deeper with them over time. OK? You don’t have to go straight into the deep end the first time you encounter a swimming pool, you can work your way down. But that’s what’s important is if you’re doing an NSI at intake to speed up your intake process, that’s fine. But you have to have a plan on the back end to keep getting deeper with a client instead of letting them, you know, just fade away.

Chris (34:12):

However, if you’re pivoting straight to online, your physical contact with this client is going to be pretty sparse, maybe never. And so you have to get deeper. And so if you’re going to be coaching somebody online, number one, the value of that service should be high. But number two, you have to get deep to build that bond of trust really early. So, if somebody’s, you know, taking you up on the online training, that’s a higher value service. You need to go for the five why’s or a motivational interview. If somebody is coming to your bricks and mortar and they say right from the start, I just want group training, then the NSI is definitely enough, yeah. Brandon says, so like you said, it’s about getting the reps in, testing both our traditional NSI and five whys. With time we will get better and better at reading what the potential client needs.

Chris (35:02):

Yeah, I think so. Brandon. I, you know, I don’t know if I’m any better at reading people, but I just stopped guessing. You know, I stopped projecting what I think they need onto them. And this has really been true about many areas of my life. I’m not good at figuring out or or guessing what people want. So I ask them. Five whys just gives you a template, right? It doesn’t have to improve your NSI. It doesn’t have to replace your NSI. It just tells you like you need to be asking more questions and telling fewer answers during your intake process. A client comes in, you’re excited for them, you know you can solve their problems. You’re just waiting for your turn to talk so that you can tell them the answer. That’s the wrong approach. I know it feels good to you right now, but you’re just barfing on them.

Chris (35:50):

What has to happen is you have to trust that you will get the chance to tell them all those things over time. If you can get them to sign up today and if you can build a relationship that will keep them around long enough to learn all that you have to teach them, even if that takes 10 years. OK? That’s the key is you have to buy yourself the opportunity to tell them everything that you want to tell them by doing things like a motivational interview at intake. Now, the key guys to all of this, and I think like the answer to all of this that you’re really seeking is goal reviews. So the intake process is great. Yes, it’s more work than do a free trial. It gets people to sign up. The problem is that the sales process doesn’t end there. The coaching process doesn’t end there.

Chris (36:43):

  1. You know, if you had a heart attack or you know, worse, you had like a chronic condition like diabetes and you go into the doctor’s office and the doctor talks to you, 15 minutes, here’s your prescription, go and never checks in on you to say, how are you responding to that drug? How are you responding to that treatment plan? Then it’s pretty much worthless. Like what? I’m supposed to just keep doing this for the next 90 years? Even though new drugs, new treatments might come on the market? The value of coaching is not in that initial interview, right? That’s a lot of the work. But the value comes in the follow-up and the pivot. That’s critically important to here. As we’re measuring, you know, length of retention in gyms, red lights are starting to flash in my brain because while it’s going to take you two to five years to really make a life changing difference in a client, we’re seeing that clients aren’t even sticking around for half that length of time.

Chris (37:42):

You know, in non-Two-Brain gyms, average client retention is like less than six months. You can not make a meaningful change in somebody’s life in less than six months. You might sell some memberships, your marketing might work, you might track your ROI on your Facebook spend, but you’re not actually changing the client. And if you’re on that flywheel of get more clients, lose more clients, get more clients, lose more clients, you’re not going to last very long. Eventually, you’re going to run out of clients and you’re going to have to try to create them from scratch. All right. Jeff says, I’m finding that spending an extra few minutes on the phone with them to get through some, maybe not all the interview questions from the first degree program is getting more people to show up to the NSI. I think the little effort to build some trust on the phone makes a difference.

Chris (38:28):

I think that’s absolutely true. If you’re not seeing somebody in person or you haven’t met them in person yet, you are going to have to work harder to build that trust online. Right, and Jeff says, the goal I’m trying and he’s tracking data this week, atta boy, is to listen and build trust on the phone as opposed to just set the appointment. I think that’s absolutely true. You know, if you approach every conversation as this is the new neighbor who moved in next door, I’m going to have to have a good relationship with this person for the next 30 years or life is going to suck. Then you treat that intake process or that first meeting a little bit differently. If you approach each one of these meetings as this person might be my best friend, this person might be the love of my life.

Chris (39:15):

Or you’re on your best behavior because it’s your first date. Think about the habits that you use that right. What do you do on a first date? Well, you know that you should probably listen more than you talk. See, you ask prompting questions about the other person and you invite them to talk more about themselves and you listen attentively. That’s what we’re really selling here when we’re saying we’re selling a relationship, you need to model your first meeting the way that you would have your first date on a relationship, right? Same habits. So let’s talk about goal reviews here. The learn design, deliver, refine approach really pivots on how often you meet with the client to talk about their goals, how often you update their plan based on their results. Most coaches don’t do this. Personal trainers do this really well, and that’s why client retention for personal trainers is like five times higher than client retention for group coaches.

Chris (40:12):

Now, the key thing that we’ve been saying is that you need to plan a goal review with every client, you know, every quarter. If you have a gym with 300 people in it, that is a lot, right? And unless you’re willing to pay your CSM or a coach to run these goal interview goal reviews for you, you know, it’s going to be a lot of time on your plate. The thing is though that like you have to look at this as retention spend the way that you look at Facebook as like marketing spend, you know, you could spend the same dollar in either place, which is going to have more effect? I think it’s easier to keep a client than it is to get a new client. I think that it’s doing the right thing for the client. So you know, what is your retention spend?

Chris (40:55):

You could also allocate like your sales and marketing budget toward keeping clients around longer because retention is just, you know, daily recurring sales. Right? So this does get pretty critical. It doesn’t have to be done every quarter. Right? The question is not do you need goal reviews with the client? Yes, you do. Period. The question is do you have to do it every quarter or is that too much? What many people find when they go through the incubator or the ramp up is that clients who aren’t used to doing goal reviews might not want to do it? Right, and so they just say, Oh, I’m going to do a client survey instead, or I’m going to send them this form, you know, and they kind of skip it. Or like, I’m just going to grab them after class and ask how they’re doing. This is the wrong approach.

Chris (41:36):

You have to have one on one conversations with people so that you can upgrade their prescription. It doesn’t necessarily have to be every three months. What we’re doing right now with your data is we’re determining where clients fall off in their client journey and then we’re setting up goal review processes to be to happen just before that. So let’s say that your gym is Catalyst and let’s say for example, and this is just totally random, I’m not using real numbers from Catalyst. Let’s say that we break all the clients in Catalyst up into cohorts. OK. Depending on when they started and how long they’ve been around. And when we look at those cohorts, we find that people who came in in the last three months or people who came in at the beginning of 2019 only stuck around for six months and people who came in back in 2017 tended to stick around for a year and a half.

Chris (42:31):

All right? So now we know that our first drop-off point is at six months and we also know that something changed in that time that lowered our retention rate and that we do that by breaking people into cohorts. You know, we’re hiring an analyst right now, but Mike Lee, the chief information officer at Two-Brain, calls these cohorts LEG bands after our retention metric. So what can we determine from that? Well, we know that if people right now quit after six months, then we need to schedule a goal review at the five month mark because we need to talk to them. We need to adjust their plan before they start second guessing the plan and just quit because they don’t know what else to do. OK. The next step is let’s say that, OK, we learned that clients who stay longer than six months tend to stick around for 14 months.

Chris (43:17):

Great. We need another goal review at the 13 month mark. At the 12 month mark. So that we can catch those people before they quit and immediately the return on that goal review is like seven months times your ARM. So if the average client pays you $200 per month and doing a goal review at month five keeps them around for another seven months, then that 30 minute goal review is worth $1,400 to you and that’s how you prioritize your time and that’s how you use the prescriptive model to make more money. One of the interesting things, and we did a brief dataset with 50 gyms. This was really cool, is of these 50 gyms chosen at random, if a client was around at the 14 month mark, they were probably going to be around at the 24 month mark. In fact, it was almost like a lock.

Chris (44:04):

So what that told us is if you do a goal review at the 14 month mark and you change their plan, you talk to them about their goals, you make a new prescription, you reinforce your coaching model, that goal review, that point of contact is worth 10 times your ARM, right? Another 10 months of membership. So if your membership is 200 bucks a month, then that’s a $2,000 interview. Like where else could you spend your time better? All right, so learn, design, deliver, refine, refine is like the most important part. Andrea has another amazing question. Any suggestions on implementing this process with multiple staff? I.e., do we need to have the same coach do NSI and five whys also do the goal reviews? I don’t think so. And in fact I think you’re actually better off to do this with like your client success manager or you the owner.

Chris (44:54):

So let’s look at the four phases of entrepreneurship because the answer is different at each phase. When you’re in the founder phase and you’re doing most of the coaching yourself or all the coaching even, and you’re doing personal training and you’re doing the no sweat intro and you’re doing the goal reviews. Yeah, you’re going to do all that yourself. You need to get good at it. When you get into the farmer phase and you start adding staff to help you though, you need to make your staff really, really good at no sweat intros, five whys, motivational interviewing and goal reviews. Now not every staff person is going to be good at this, right? Like it took me 15 years. You don’t have that long to wait to get good at this. What you have to do is identify the staff who are the great listeners and put them in charge of these things rather than say, OK, coach, you know, here’s how you do a no sweat intro.

Chris (45:40):

Here’s how you do a goal review and go. Because not every coach is going to be good at this. Not every coach is going to understand the value. Not every coach is going to want to. So I think you’re better off to train people to do it really, really well. For me, that would be a client success manager. You know, if somebody is struggling at Two-Brain for example, or they want a new perspective, they want to change mentors, you know, I think people should probably switch mentors about every year, but or maybe it’s like, Oh, that mentor possesses experience that my current mentor doesn’t. That’s fine. What I’d prefer them to do is sit down with Eden or Krista and say, my goals have changed. My previous mentor have brought me to this point. Now I’m looking at a slightly different horizon. Who is best for me? And let my CSM make that prescription because the CSM is like, they are dialed with all the options, and that’s the other thing is if you spread this evenly across your coaches and you have some part time coaches, they might not even know what all the options are.

Chris (46:41):

Right? Like they might not know, Oh, it’s OK if this person goes from five times a week to three times a week or they might not know much about your nutrition program. Right. The fact of the matter is they might just be uncomfortable selling something that’s more expensive than what the clients currently pay. So I really think like you need to develop specialists in this. If learn, design, deliver, refine is the key to retaining a client long term, then it becomes like the most important part of your business. You’ve got the four cornerstones, but the beams that link those things up are the conversations that you have with your clients. So for most of you and you’re in the farmer phase of entrepreneurship, I think you, the owner should be in charge of the intake process and goal reviews and let the delivery of your service flow through your staff.

Chris (47:27):

Because this is the crux. When you hire a GM later, you know you’re in the farmer phase, you’re trying to get to tinker phase or like you, Andrea, you’re in tinker phase already, what you need to do there is like train the GM to be amazing at NSIs and goal reviews and then maybe have a select team of people who run these for you. The other reason, you know, and this doesn’t get talked about often enough, is if you’ve got one coach doing the intake, doing their personal training sessions, doing their nutrition coaching, running their group class, doing their goal reviews, your client really doesn’t have a relationship with your business. They only have a relationship with that coach. You might call that coach for life or whatever, but like what happens when that coach leaves? You know what happens when that coach has hours change, they start coaching less, or even they just shift their class on the schedule?

Chris (48:21):

Well, you’ve got a fragile relationship there because it’s just one on one client to coach. Really to level up in this business, if you want to have a business instead of just being an owner operator, then you have to forge the client’s relationship with your brand. And that means bringing in somebody like a client success manager, a GM to do these interviews for you. If you don’t have those roles, I would still suggest that it’s probably valuable at least once in a while to have an objective eye on the client’s progress. So let me give you an example here. If for example, at Catalyst, you know I’ve had a client, she’s been with me for five or six years, we’re friends, I went to her daughter’s wedding and now we’re sitting down at a goal review and I say, are you satisfied with your progress? Maybe it’s just the Canadian in me, but she’s probably going to say, yeah, pretty good.

Chris (49:15):

Even if she’s not totally satisfied. At least once in a while. It’s great to have an objective, caring, empathetic person. Say, are you really happy with your progress? So that she can say, Andrea, maybe I’m not. You know, yeah, we’ll need a solid process for documenting client info answers and design prescriptive model. Yeah, exactly. And so this is like, this is where documentation and maybe even software come in. One of the things that gym management software should do, if it really was gym management software, is be client management software. Keep your clients’ notes and progress somewhere. You know, this is why a couple of years ago we said, well, gyms really need a CRM, right? Like tracking a client journey. Because if you can’t make notes on a client’s progress, I mean, what are we doing here? How do you prescribe something new? Right? The key to the foundation of all of this is understanding that people are not buying CrossFit.

Chris (50:16):

They’re buying a solution to their problems. They’re not buying Pilates, they’re not buying, you know, XYZ. They’re, not signing their kid up for jujitsu. They’re signing their kid up to be bully proof because they were bullied as a kid and they don’t want their kid to get bullied. They’re not buying the method, right? What they’re buying is the solution. And sometimes the method doesn’t work as much as we want it to. Sometimes they don’t like the method even when it does work. And so as a coach, we need to pivot to give them a new method that will help them achieve that same solution. All right. I hope that helps. You know, there’s an old adage, I think it was probably “Good to Great” or something I read a long time ago about people going into hardware stores and people, you know, they’re going down the aisle for drill bits and they’re looking at drill bits and you know, what kind of drill bits should I buy?

Chris (51:06):

And the sales person will often say, well you need titanium or you need this one or you know, this one’s really high speed or this one you don’t have to use a chuck to insert in your drill. It’s a quick release. Instead what they should be asking, and this is like the motivational interviewing of a tool store is what are you using the hole for? OK, why do you want a hole in your wall? And if the client says, well I just want a hole in my wall so I can hang this picture. And you’ll say, why do you want to hang that picture? Well this is a picture of my mom and it’s really important that I have, you know, my mom’s picture up in my dining room so that I can remember. And then you know, why do you want it in the dining room?

Chris (51:47):

Well, this, and then the salesperson can say, what you actually need is something that’s going to be more permanent and you know, here’s the solution that I would recommend. Or they could just sell them the drill bit and say, come back and let me know how it went. Right? Sometimes the right drill bit is the answer. You know, sometimes CrossFit’s the answer. Sometimes boot camp is the answer. Sometimes personal training is the answer. Sometimes they’re not the answer, but the answer can change. And the key is establishing trust so that when the answer does change on your side or on the client’s side, you’re still their coach. That’s the lesson here. And learn design and deliver refine is really the bones of the new coaching business. Maybe they always were. I hope that gives you something to think about as you’re enjoying the rest of your weekend. If you’re in the States Happy Memorial day, if you’re a gym owner anywhere in the world, happy thoughts on surviving the COVID crisis, you’re almost out. And we’re seeing some thrilling results from gyms who have made it through to the other side, which is, you know, more clients coming in, more people interested in their health. The urgency of the situation has created demand as urgency often does. It won’t last long, but enjoy it while it does and make sure that you keep those clients while they’re coming in the door now.

Andrew (53:11):

This has been Two-Brain Radio. If retention is top of mind for you after listening to this episode, you need the Two-Brain guide, “Never lose a client again”. You can get that guide and more than dozen others for free on Two-Brain business dot com. Just click on free tools at the top. Please remember to subscribe for more great episodes. Chris Cooper will be back next week.

Chris Cooper delivers the best of the business world on Two-Brain Radio every Thursday.

On Monday, Two-Brain Radio presents marketing tips and success stories, and Sean Woodland has great stories from the community on Wednesdays.

Thanks for listening!

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Madison Nights: The Fitness Ballad of Cole Sager

Madison Nights: The Fitness Ballad of Cole Sager

Sean (00:00):

Hi everybody. Welcome to another edition of Two-Brain Radio with Sean Woodland. On this episode I talk with six-time CrossFit Games competitor and all-around nice guy Cole Sager. What’s the difference between a good athlete and a great one? An amazing coach. The same goes for great business owners. If you’re ready to level up your business book, a free call with a certified Two-Brain mentor at twobrainbusiness.com. Cole Sager has been to the CrossFit Games six times in his career. He’s finished in the top 10 overall three times. His best career finished was fifth in 2018 and he also received the Spirit of the Games award in 2017. We talk about his time playing division one college football at the University of Washington, his knack for coming up with big performances when his back is against the wall and why his dad decided to name him after a fictional character portrayed by Tom Cruise. Thanks for listening everyone. Cole, thank you so much for taking the time to do this today. How are you doing?

Cole (01:05):

I’m doing really, really good, you know, especially with all things considered, you know, I know that definitely people who are much worse off than I am. I’ve been very fortunate to be relatively unaffected by things. So just getting the chance to just keep doing my thing.

Sean (01:20):

So how has your training been affected by this whole coronavirus thing?

Cole (01:24):

Yeah. You know, it’s, I am actually still able to do about 90% of what I would normally do. For people who don’t know, I train out of my garage anyways just about full time. And I would say about 90% of my training is done in the garage. The only reason why we would go outside the garage is, one social interaction. That’s kind of on a pause. So, you know, typically if you know, the same four walls start to get a little too familiar, we’ll get outside of the garage and we’ll go see people.

Cole (01:59):

But you know, now that CrossFit gyms are closed down, or just any gyms are closed down, obviously not doing that. But the other reason why we would get outside of the garage is if there was a movement that I just don’t have access to in the garage, you are limited on space. For most of the time, for me that means head space. I don’t have the space to do bar muscle-ups, so if bar muscle-ups are something that I gotta do, I gotta go to a gym to do that. So, but between bar muscle-ups and let’s see, yoke carries. There’s not really many things that I have to go do. I have, like I said, I have mostly everything that I need in the garage, which is really nice.

Sean (02:34):

How do you make sure that your fitness is where it needs to be in case we’ve, it looks like we’re gonna have the Games, but assuming that that happens, how do you make sure that you’re ready to go when you don’t have access to everything you need?

Cole (02:49):

Yeah, that’s actually something that you have to, you know, when the whole coronavirus outbreak occurred, between me and Ben Bergeron, who’s my coach, we sat down and we kind of asked ourselves like, what’s our trajectory look like? What’s the runway to the rest of the season look like and how can we be best prepared for any circumstance that we come to. We were planning on doing multiple more sanctioned events. I did Wodapalooza, but we were going to do several more or at least a couple more. And so when that was taken off the table, I was like, OK, great. Let’s reset. How can we change our training perspective and prepare for, let’s just say just the Games and let’s just assume that the Games are going to happen. And so we kinda took a step back and said, OK, well, where are our weaknesses?

Cole (03:41):

What are our strengths? We do SWOT analysis all the time, multiple times throughout the year, strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. And we’re always looking at like, OK, what are some areas that we need to work on? And so that’s what we reset. As soon as we found out that most seasons for most sports were either being postponed or paused, it was like best case scenario, we’re competed in August. Another scenario, they postpone it and then worst case scenario they have to cancel it. And it was like, OK, where can we start building a base now? Cause we have a pretty long trajectory. If we think about this, when the coronavirus outbreak occurred, it was right around the same time the Open would have been or right in the middle of the Open. Yeah. when the Open used to be in March.

Cole (04:27):

So if you think about that, that’s a really long runway and trajectory from then to the Games. A lot of time to prepare. So, that’s essentially what we’ve done is how can we take and build out a cycle from what would be the Open, you know, when we used to have the Open in March to the Games. And that’s kind of how we’ve looked at it so far.

Sean (04:49):

I’m curious as to why your parents decided to name you after a fictional character, Cole Trickle.

Cole (04:53):

That’s really good. That’s really funny. Well, Days of Thunder is an epic movie. Just a classic. My parents actually, I think the name that they were planning on naming me or at least talking about was Cain, is I think what they were planning on possibly naming me. And I think Days of Thunder came out to two to four months or something like that before I was born.

Cole (05:29):

So if you can just think of it like my dad loves racing, loves racing. He was into sprint cars and he had a sprint car at one point in time. And he always raced go-karts like I think from like maybe 12 years old or something like that. Growing up he’s racing go carts. And so he loved racing. So you come out with the Days of Thunder movie and it’s all about NASCAR and racing, you know, I know that his blood is just boiling. The way the story goes that I’ve been told is they were planning on naming me Cain. He walked into the delivery room after I was born and he said, Nope, his name is Cole. And I think it was just so much inspired by his just enthusiasm for that movie. And I can’t tell you how many times we’ve watched that movie. On repeat when we were children, I loved it.

Sean (06:16):

Other than Talladega Night, it’s probably the best NASCAR movie ever made, honestly. You often refer to yourself as a small town kid. What kind of values do you pick up growing up in that environment?

Cole (06:32):

Oh man, I love, you know, I think sometimes small towns get a bad rap, just because they’re, you know, I guess a little bit sheltered from some of the outside world. But at the same time, like I picked up on such good values and morals of just like kindness, caring for each other, community. And I think that’s something that why I was so attracted to the CrossFit community to begin with is because growing up I realized how important looking out for each other was. And that was just coming from a small town where everybody knew everybody. People would say hi to each other on the street and, you know, ask you how you’re doing and see if they can, you know, help or do anything for you, you know. So, you know, I think the most important thing I picked up from being in a small town and probably why I talk about it, why I will identify as a small town kid, is because it paints a clear picture of some of the things I’ve learned and that’s caring about other people, you know, and not saying that, you know, big city folk don’t do that. Right. But it’s just a little bit easier to get, you know, form that connection in a small town.

Sean (07:44):

Yeah. So growing up, I know you wanted to play in the NFL. When did your obsession with football begin?

Cole (07:51):

Oh, that’s actually a really good question. I played a lot of different sports when I was growing up. I mean I dabbled in just about everything up until about, I would say I was almost 11 years old when I started playing football. Most of my friends had been playing football for years before I had even considered it. But my older brother started playing first and that’s when I was like, Oh yeah, this could be really cool. Tossed on some shoulder pads and a helmet, hit somebody and was hooked. I was like, this is amazing.

Cole (08:24):

I was a pretty high strung kid. Like I said, I dabbled in everything and it was because I just didn’t want to sit still. I was super active, just wanted to move, move, move, move, run around and do this. I tried BMX, rollerblading, you know, just all the, all the, you know, fringe, extreme sports that I could kind of thing. I think when I first hit somebody and made contact and then realized that there’s also skill to it, I was like, Oh, this is a cool sport. Yeah. So about, about 11 years old is when I really was hooked.

Sean (08:55):

Well, it worked out for you go to being, you know, you were a really good high school player. I gotta give you props 162 yards rushing four touchdowns and one interception in a playoff game. So yeah, pretty, pretty impressive. But then you go from that to having to now walk on at the University of Washington. So what was it like for you when you go from, I’m pretty much a superstar to, for lack of a better term, cannon fodder.

Cole (09:17):

Yeah. Yeah. You know, that’s actually, it was 100% expected. It was not outside of my expectations. And I think that, you know, one of the things that I did notice in a small town, and this is kinda what I referred to is sometimes small towns can get a bad rap is because small towns have a way of kind of being like a magnet. They pull you back to it, or the they’re like a vacuum and can sometimes can suck you in and keep you there. And if you’re outspoken about your dreams of getting outside the small town, there’s skeptics who had the same things and jus in their circumstances of life, they didn’t get out. And so I got a lot of, that’s awesome. Like keep dreaming, but it’s unlikely that it’s going to happen, you know.

Cole (10:08):

So I had that a lot. So that my expectations weren’t blown out of proportion. I was what I would consider a running back in high school, but I was technically listed as a fullback. And the reason why it was because a lot of through growing up and playing sports, certain people just have influence and they’ve been around longer and the coaches know them better, can trust them. And so for whatever reason I was actually—not only that, I was also one of the bigger of the skill players on the running back. So I just weighed more. So that also played into it. So I got to put at fullback and that was kind of like huh. Like I expected to be running back my senior year.

Cole (10:56):

I figured that, you know, I was talented enough, but it wasn’t going the way that I wanted. And so just like continuing to be conditioned that way of having people telling me, Oh, it’s unlikely, you know, having that circumstance, like it’s just not going the way that I wanted. It started to paint a picture of like, OK, this is actually going to be a tough journey. You got to buckle down and get ready to do this. So I was actually talking, I went on, my junior year, after my junior year on that summer before my senior year, I went on a scouting, my own little scouting trip and I went to a bunch of different football camps in the area. I brought game film, resume statistics. I brought everything with me in nice little like manila envelopes that like I packaged it really well, you know, and I went to all the major schools in the Northwest that I could, I went to their camps and just trying to be seen.

Cole (11:51):

Eventually started talking to some about like some possible scholarship, maybe being seen. Just all of that also depended on how I performed for my senior year. So after my senior year, things were going good. I was having some communication with some of the coaches at UDub. But that year they had their 0 and 12 season and all of their coaching staff was fired after that season. And a new coaching staff was brought in. Well, that year, we had the smallest recruiting class in UDub history at 12 guys. And so anyone who has already signed, they were kept on. Anyone else was like, it was all just completely nullified and they were just going to focus on building out a new program kind of thing. That means that I had no contact at UDuB anymore. And that was, I was born and raised in the Northwest, born and raised in Washington.

Cole (12:41):

So I was a dog my whole life, you know, like everybody in my family. So that’s, that’s why like UDuB was the goal. And that’s also where I walked on. And so not having a contact at UDub anymore, it was just like this is, I mean, this is kinda what you expected. It wasn’t going to be easy, so you gotta figure out a way to get down there. I signed myself out of class my senior year. I had just turned 18, so I could do that now. So I was like, I signed myself out of class and I drove down to UDuB and I sat in the UDub football office for four hours until the running back coach would come out and see me and handed him the same concept that I took around to the camps.

Cole (13:27):

I had a DVD with my highlight reel stat sheet and everything. And I sat there and sat there until he would see me and then I called him once a week for four weeks until like I got the answer that I wanted pretty much. I was just extremely persistent, just beat down the door. So, that was kind of the journey of walking on just knowing that it wasn’t going to be easy. And I think that set up the rest of my career as a walk on. It’s like, you’re going to have to work for this.

Sean (13:56):

And then after your freshman year, you earned the scout specialties player of the year award for your hard work. What did earning that mean to you after that season?

Cole (14:05):

It was actually a really big deal for me because one of the things that was said when they said, OK, you can come play, but we don’t have scholarships to give out. We’re not doing that. So you can either, you can come, you can walk on and try to earn your scholarship or you can go somewhere else. It was pretty just pretty cut and dry. But the coach did say he was like, if you, if you come and earn a spot, you will earn your scholarship. You just have to earn a starting spot on one of the teams, whether it be a special team or offense, defense, whatever. And so having that, getting that reward at the end of the year was almost like the hard work does pay off if you really put the work in and you really want it and you put, you throw your whole self at it, like you can, it will pay off and you can get what you want, but you have to give everything. Yeah.

Sean (15:05):

So when you look back on your time playing for the Huskies, I know you were in some big time environments, but one of the things that stand out the most to you about that experience?

Cole (15:14):

I think you just kind of talked about it just like being some of the big, big environments. I remember my freshman year, the first time I walked out onto the field, it was bigger than I expected. We practiced on the game field in the main stadium. So it wasn’t like it was an unfamiliar spot for me. But, I think I would liken it to the same way that if you, if you went to the StubHub center right now and you walked out into the tennis stadium, what would it feel like? It would probably feel like a tennis stadium, kind of a small, you know, just whatever. But when you walk out on game night and you come out of the tunnel and they start spraying out the smoke and the band is playing and the crowd is cheering and you run out there, you can feel the thunder of people’s applause in your chest.

Cole (16:04):

It is so incredible. And I wish—I’ve said this so many times, I wish that more people could experience that kind of thing in life because it’s like it is electrifying and just thunderous in your soul and it will just like pop you away. It was, that’s the first time getting to experience that at UDuB was absolutely incredible.

Sean (16:25):

How do you go from division one football into CrossFit?

Sean (16:28):

Oh, you know, that’s actually a really tough thing to do for a lot of people. Because you go from some of the biggest stages in the world. Honestly. I mean, I was talking about it. I played, you know, I played in Louisiana and I played in Nebraska. Those are 110,000 people stadiums like so, you know, so and not to mention like UDuB is considered one of the prettiest college football settings on Earth.

Cole (16:58):

Like it’s a beautiful setting. So going from that to CrossFit was really, really difficult for me, especially with the dream of like I want to play in the NFL and like I’m not so idealistic that I didn’t realize or just expect that it would be a really hard journey to get into the NFL. I knew that, I mean it was the same way that going from high school to college was, but just going to be even harder, you know? But, but again, same concept, if you throw your whole self at it, like you can make something happen. So I was willing to do that. But it was after having a conversation with a friend who really encouraged me to try CrossFit, well actually he didn’t even encourage me to try CrossFit. It was like 100% you’re going to stop playing football and you’re going to go compete in the CrossFit Games.

Cole (17:49):

There was no like, Hey, come do a CrossFit workout with me. I had decided to do CrossFit and go to the CrossFit Games before I had even done a CrossFit workout. I was like, I’m going to be a Games athlete and I’m going to compete to win the Games. And I hadn’t even done my first workout. So like it was and the reason why the transition happened, and I think that the reason why, the most important aspect of it is having a purpose behind what you do. And I talk about that all the time, but it was the reason why I wanted to go to the NFL was to build a platform to impact people’s lives in a positive way, to be a light, to be a beacon of hope for people who maybe who have given up on their dreams and had people, you know, maybe tell them that it’s not going to happen.

Cole (18:34):

And be that voice of reason in people’s lives with like if you work for it and if you care and if you give of yourself and like you can make those dreams come true. And that’s really why I wanted to play in the NFL because I had NFL players all throughout my childhood influence me in that way. And I just, that was an impact to my soul so much that I wanted to be that voice. And essentially what it came down to for me is when I was getting to the end of college and have a friend influenced me to start doing CrossFit or to start competing in CrossFit. He said, just look at the community, look at the people who are in this space. You can achieve the same thing. Just go look at the community.

Cole (19:19):

And that’s when I did, he sent me a video of Dan Bailey and Rich Froning, and you may have heard this story, but you know, it was just a video of them just talking. They were talking about the community, about being a positive influence, talking about their faith. And, after watching that video, I was like, wait, these guys are like, one, they’re ripped, two, they’re the leaders of this community at this point. They’re there like some of the best athletes and they’re talking about being good people for the community. Like, that’s really cool. That’s something that I have a lot of interest in like, and so that’s when I told him, OK, like send me another video. Like what else do you got? And that’s when he started sending me footage of the CrossFit Games. And in my head I had painted this picture of when my older brother had done CrossFit, when I was in high school.

Cole (20:10):

He was talking about like doing like push-ups and pull-ups with bands and different things like that. And I was like, I don’t have any interest in doing that. Like I do bench press, I squat heavy. I’d be like, I’m a football player, I move stuff. And so I just had this big ego surrounding it. And after my friend sent me some footage of CrossFit Games, so old CrossFit Games footage, I was like, Oh my gosh, these guys are so cool. This is awesome. I definitely want to do this now. So, that was a transition, but the biggest part going from college football, like, and like, don’t get me wrong, it is really easy to get caught up in like, Oh, look how much success I’ve had. I can’t go to a small community. It’s like, no way I’m better than that.

Cole (21:00):

Took my heart was how much the community cared about people, how close they were. And it was like, I want to be a voice of reason or a voice of hope in a community that cares about growth, a community that really wants to grow and challenge themselves. And when I started to see that I was like, this could be a really, really cool place. So yeah, let’s do this. Let’s go compete at the CrossFit Games.

Sean (21:27):

Well you get to Regionals like just a couple months after you got yourself into a gym and started working out. So how were you able to get so good so fast?

Cole (21:34):

You know, I kind of alluded to it early on in this interview, even playing sports as a young kid, that is one of the biggest things because I know plenty of football players who all they did is they played football.

Cole (21:48):

They could not come into CrossFit, they wouldn’t have enough body awareness to master some of the things that we have to be able to do. Whether it be from body weight to gymnastic stuff to moving a barbell efficiently. Like they just don’t have the motor patterns built up within them. They can develop it. Absolutely. So I’m not saying that, like you can absolutely develop it. And there’ve been plenty of athletes who are great CrossFit Games competitors who didn’t play a lot of sports, but they got really good at CrossFit. But I think for me to excel so quickly was because I had exposure to a lot of different sports. And then not to mention having my college football background, people look at us like, Oh, you played football. But in reality, what I did for four years was trained for four years.

Cole (22:38):

I mean, most of our time in college football was spent training. 75% of our season is spent in the weight room, not on the field. So, not to mention I was also, and I think this is one of the things that was the most important for my success as an athlete in CrossFit was the fact that I was a walk on and I had to earn it because essentially the route that I took was I have to show up at 6:00 AM and do the team workouts to the best of my absolute ability. But I also have to show up at 2:00 PM when classes are over and I have to get my own workout and I have to go above and beyond what all the other athletes are doing. Because if I don’t, I’m not going to get better than them.

Cole (23:20):

Like I’m, these guys are like, I’m telling you, like college football players are natural freaks. Like they’re incredible athletically. And it was like I’ve seen some of the most athletic individuals that you can see on this earth, like it’s they’re specimens. So seeing that and being aware of that, it’s like I have to put in the extra work. Well, that started to develop a foundation for the work that I would have to do as a CrossFit athlete. Train multiple times a day, do multiple different modalities within a training session and different things like that. So having that base in college really helped me excel once I started doing CrossFit.

Sean (24:02):

Hey guys, let’s take a pop quiz: Which is better for business, getting new clients or retaining old ones? Both are good, but the longer clients stay, the less you have to spend acquiring new ones and the more money you’ll make. In fact, the average gym owner can add $45,000 a year in revenue just by keeping each client a few months longer. Want to learn how? You can, with Two-Brain’s free guides to affinity marketing and retention. They’ll teach you exactly what to do with step-by-step actionable advice. Get them both plus 13 other guides for free at TwoBrainbusiness.com/free-tools. And now more with Cole Sager. You took 13th your first trip to the Regionals. What did you think then about your ability to be really competitive with some of the best athletes in the world?

Cole (24:55):

I actually was a little disappointed with 13. Yeah, to be quite honest. I knew, I had a deep feeling that I could at least place in the top five, and wouldn’t have been surprised if I made it in the top three, not because of, I wasn’t so full of myself, but it was more so like I am just one of those persons like I will shoot for the stars, like shoot for the stars and you land on the moon. Like, OK, like, like great, perfect. But I’m going to shoot for the stars. I’m going to go out to the, I’m going to find the farthest star I’m going to shoot for it, you know, so it was like, this is actually, this is one of the things that was just echoed over and over and over and over at UDuB, but find a way to find a way.

Cole (25:46):

And that principle was something that I was really taking in my start to CrossFit and those first few months it was just like, you know what, just find a way, find a way to find a way and just make it happen. So going into Regionals, I was very like also like realistic that, you know, like you could end up in 13 place, you could have been dead last. Like, you know, that’s going to be totally fine. You’re gonna learn something from it. And that was one of the things that I was OK with this, cause I know that it’s something that I can learn from, but part of me was shooting for getting to the Games that year, like six months into CrossFit. Like, that doesn’t mean anything to me, but my effort and ability and willingness to find a way to do it, that’s what mattered to me.

Cole (26:38):

And so, yeah. So I mean, absolutely 13th was great, but yeah, like secretly wanted to be on the podium.

Sean (26:43):

How did your training change after that?

Cole (26:45):

It began with a lot of questions, a lot of trying to seek answers from people. You know, I had just started, well once you perform like that so quickly, you get people in the community like, Oh wow, like this kid could be pretty good. And so that opened up some doors to start asking some other people, actually, Mo was actually a CrossFit Games athlete, back in 2012 and 13. And she’s from my hometown. So I had actually reached out to her and she was gracious enough to kind of take me under her wing for a little bit and just show me and teach me some things and say like, yeah, this is some of the things that I would probably focus on if I was you.

Cole (27:38):

And I was still living in Seattle, so I didn’t get a lot of time to, you know, like we didn’t train together or anything really. But I’d come up on the weekends and I would try to get as much knowledge and information as I could. I mean, I think I watched every single YouTube video on CrossFit, you know, and listened to every coach’s or read every coach’s like, you know, forum or blog or video or anything that I could just to glean some information. It was about gaining knowledge for me.

Sean (28:13):

So one year later, you’re at the Northwest Regional again and you win it. So what did that do for your confidence?

Cole (28:21):

That was a big confidence booster. But it was more so it was more so, like something that, how would I say, like it was just proving that again, the work would pay off and that you were meant to be here. Like what you set out to do, like don’t count yourself out. It is really, really easy to start doubting yourself. It is really easy to do that, especially when you’ve had, you know, maybe a childhood full of some voices that were maybe full of doubt or just saying that you couldn’t, it’s easy to let those creep in and it’s even easier to let that your voice become that voice. And that’s something that I practice a lot of drowning out those voices or my own voice of self doubt.

Cole (29:16):

And so in that year of prepping for another year of CrossFit, it was essentially just like, Nope. Like you’re just going to do the work. You’re going to expose yourself to as many things that challenge you as much and as often as possible. And you’re just going to prove to yourself that you can do it. But the only way that you can prove that to yourself is by challenging yourself in ways that you would be challenged at the CrossFit Games or at Regionals. So I’m doing every single regional workout you can think of from the past. One of the things that I gleaned really early on was if you want to know the future of CrossFit, just look at its past, like you can kind of build off of it from that standpoint. And really quickly, you can see the development of that.

Cole (30:00):

Even back in 2014, you could see that, Oh, OK. Like we’re all getting fitter. They’re just going to continue to build off of the past because they have to because we’re getting fitter and we’re doing this better. So learning that. And then also that year, I befriended just a wonderful human being, Rory Zambard. We ran into each other. I was actually, there’s a mountain, just outside of Seattle called Mount Sai. It is super steep. It’s I think 4,000 feet elevation gain in four miles. Like, it’s just a super steep hill that people actually will use to train to climb Mount Rainier. And we were out doing, uh, my wife and I were out doing a run, and we ran into Rory and I had kind of been thinking like, man, I really could use a training partner, somebody who knows what they’re doing.

Cole (30:55):

And we just happened to run into each other. And she was like, Oh my gosh, like you are doing so good. Like I’ve just kind of seen some things that you’ve been doing. And, you know, I was wondering if we would ever be able to cross paths down here in Seattle. If you ever want to come join me for a workout. I’d love that. And she had just gotten back from, actually she was preparing for the 2013 Games at that point. And so you fast forward like six months. We finally connect, we start working out together a little bit. And that’s when we started training together for you know, probably six months before the 2014 Regionals. And that was super helpful. Obviously she was on level one staff. She had a ton of information and knowledge. She had connections to people who had even more knowledge. And so having that was extremely, extremely, valuable.

Sean (31:44):

I’m guessing I know the answer to this, but what were your expectations going into the Games in 2014?

Cole (31:50):

Actually the expectations in 2014 were go see what you got. I am an individual who takes a long game approach. I don’t look at things and say this is going to happen instantly and, or just like the conditioning of life that I’ve had as a young kid growing up, but it was anything that I set out to do never really came like that. It was like everything I had to work for and it came slower than I expected and that was fine. So the 2014, it was like, go give everything you got. Take some risks. They might pay off, take a chance, go do your thing, see where you end up, see how it pays off. And again, it was just very much a learning experience, but at the same time, everything that I was doing, it was like if you take this risk and it pays off, it could actually put you in a really good position. In 2014 a lot of that didn’t pay off. But again, a great learning experience and not upset with the performance there.

Cole (33:02):

I think I took 17th that year and that’s great. That’s awesome. I’m at the CrossFit Games. But I was definitely hungry for more. I was definitely thirsty for more.

Sean (33:12):

So what did you learn from that experience then?

Cole (33:15):

That I had to be a little bit more of a mature athlete. You know, I think that you can go out and just be a reckless individual and this is something that I really should have understood because this is the same way as football. I mean, I’ve been playing sports my whole life. It’s the same way in all sports. There are phenomenal athletes who are reckless in their behavior and they miss a lot of assignments. They’re not lined up in the right spot. And because of that they miss plays or they have plays made on them that otherwise shouldn’t have been and they should have been prepared for. Same way goes in CrossFit.

Cole (33:51):

If you are prepared physically, which is also something that was a learning experience, you have to be prepared physically. You have to know how to capitalize on your fitness and this as much strategy as it is being physically prepared. And the strategy just wasn’t there back in 2014 and the understanding of how to be strategic with my fitness, because I was a football player, we went for 20 seconds maximum and then we got a minute rest. I was like, all I gotta do is go hard for 20 seconds. You can’t do that in CrossFit. You know, maybe I think the only reason why I excel at it is maybe Grace. Grace is the only workout that you can go as hard as you can for just like until you die and hope that you outrun the other competitors.

Cole (34:43):

And that’s actually, that was the first workout that I ever did, was Grace. And I think it was because, Oh, I only have to do 30 of those. Great. Yeah, I’ll just go hard for 30, you know? CrossFit isn’t that way. It’s way more strategic than that.

Sean (35:01):

The West regional. I think it was 2016 is one of the moments that I think of when I think about you. You needed a huge performance in the final event to get into the Games and then you go out and you win the event. How did you deal with the pressure that, I’m guessing you must have been facing going into that final bit?

Cole (35:18):

Yeah. Yeah. You know, that was fast forward two years from 2014 and a lot had changed and all of a sudden I had become a reoccurring athlete at the CrossFit Games.

Cole (35:28):

There was the expectation sponsors had just start to really come on the scene for CrossFit athletes around that time too. So I was looked at as this up and coming athlete. And so because of that, some brands were willing to, you know, take a chance and sponsor me as an athlete and that starts to add a little different layer of pressure. But at the end of the day, like I said, I look at everything from a long long term approach, a long game approach. One of the things that people don’t know is I had just left my full time job a few months before the 2016 Regionals. So when I got into, and 2015, I was in a similar position going into the final event in 2015, but it didn’t have the same pressure. And it was because I was essentially just proving that I was meant to be at the CrossFit Games in 2015.

Cole (36:27):

I also didn’t have all of the sponsorship pressure that I did in 2016 and I also still had a full time job in 2015 so like there’s backup plans, right? But not in 2016. So we get into that final event and we’re like, I was currently down by the largest largest deficit that anybody had overcome at the time. And, I didn’t know that though. I didn’t know that, I wasn’t aware of that at the time. All I knew was I had to go out and give everything I had and that is either going to be enough or it’s not, and then you’re going to have to own the consequences of how you prepared that season. And this is going to be a wake up call dude either way, but you got to wake up now and you gotta go and make something happen.

Cole (37:25):

So I definitely could feel some of the pressures of all of that, but at the end of the day, it was like, look, you set out to do this for one very specific reason. So go do what you gotta do. We will handle it on the back end, however you need to handle it. Like life’s going to go on, you’re going to be fine and you’re going to keep competing. So just go do your thing. But from here on out, go give your absolute best because what you’ve been giving earlier this season, and the reason why I keep saying earlier this season is because your preparation is essentially what allows you to perform at the level you do, you’re going to have to own up to the consequences of whatever the outcome is. Just an absolute miracle. I stepped on the floor and I took care of business and it’s one of my favorite combinations, thrusters and rope climbs. So that was great. But there was a lot of things that had to align. Like, if you go back and you do the math of what person had to fall off to what place and had to struggle at what time. And like you add all that up like divine intervention, cause I don’t know how that happened.

Sean (38:39):

You were on this upward trajectory where if you took a seventh at the Games and then you took fifth, but then in 2017 you fall out of the top 10, but you won the Spirit of the Games awards. So what did that mean to you?

Cole (38:53):

Yeah, the Spirit of the Games award has probably been the greatest accomplishment, if you will, or just award I guess, that I’ve received in sports. And the reason why is because it was like winning an award for character. Something that is far more important to me than any sports accomplishment. It’s the perspective that I keep on sports. I am doing this because I want to grow as a human being. I want to grow as a person. I also want to be a good example for people for younger generations or people who are struggling in life. I want to be a voice of hope. And so to receive that award was very, very humbling. It was like, you know, keep focusing on being a good person because that matters way, way more than any sports accomplishment that you can achieve.

Sean (39:50):

Why is having a positive impact on people such a big deal to you?

Cole (39:55):

I think it’s so much so a combination of having people, friends when I was younger, doubt me quite a bit. And again, not because they were malicious, it wasn’t that, it was just what their reality painted was like you have very ambitious dreams, young man, like probably not going to happen. You know, so having a combination of that and then also growing up I had and saw a lot of people give up on their dreams. And it was something that just kind of broke my heart. And, you know, I don’t know if it’s a personality thing or maybe there’s something that made me just aware of it when I was younger. But seeing that and seeing just the, you can almost kind of see it in people’s eyes when they give up on something you can, like, you don’t want to see like, just a little bit of life leave them.

Cole (40:52):

And I am a very, a man full of faith. I’m a very faithful man. And with that, I think that something that has developed in me is the value of people’s soul. I believe that one of the most important things on earth are the souls of men, the souls of people. You know, you can achieve all the things you want. You can get all the possessions you want, but at the end of the day, like if you are just empty and your heart is just a wreck, like what good is life? You know? And, I just saw that with a lot of people. I saw that with a lot of friends who maybe just didn’t have the privileges that I had growing up or the parents that I had who were so supportive and loving, and saw them slowly one by one, give up on themselves, give up on their dreams.

Cole (41:45):

And saw that with a lot of adults and realizing that a lot of the reason why adults would tell me that my dreams are probably not gonna happen is because they had something bad happen to them and they gave up on themselves. And having some mentors, a few mentors or just even some athletes and like I kind of mentioned before some professional athletes who were a voice of hope in my own life, just having that is something I was like, you know what, like I’m going to choose to devote my life to being that person for other people because it, I don’t know, it just really, it really hit something and really plucked something in my heart that I just don’t want to see people go through life that way, you know? So, yeah.

Sean (42:30):

We are under this crazy new kind of season structure before everything happened with the coronavirus. What’s it like as an athlete trying to navigate your way through this new structure?

Cole (42:41):

I, you know, for me it’s pretty simple. I’ve referred to it a lot. But I look at things on a longterm perspective, and just that gives a sense of patience. It’s like, you know, and then the other sort of thing is a lot of this is outside of our control. I can’t whine and complain about anything because at the end of the day, I am still very fortunate with where with where I’m at. And so zero complaints, and then at the same time I am truly, I truly believe that if we come together as a community, as people, as a world, we can really make a difference. And so it’s essentially like I have put my focus on where can I do my part and how can I just kind of keep doing and staying focused on my path while supporting other people. And being a helping hand. And so I don’t really have the extra bandwidth to spend worrying about other things and where the season’s going and what’s going to happen to it because I think it’s more important to be focused on how can we get past this as a society.

Sean (43:52):

Yeah. In 2019, the Games, I think were a learning experience for everybody given the cuts and everything that happened. And you were barely on the outside looking in when it came to the final 10. So what did you learn about what it takes to be successful at the Games under this new structure?

Cole (44:08):

Yeah, that was actually one of the things that really hit home after the 2019 season was you used to be able to get by with having, for lack of a better way to put it, like a throwaway event event that you just didn’t perform too well. You don’t have that luxury anymore, in my opinion. I believe that the way that our sport is going, it means that you have to capitalize on every opportunity that you have from the beginning. Because if you don’t and you find yourself in the back of the pack, you’re going to get cut. And here’s a good example. In 2016 we talked about 2016 Regionals. Well, let’s talk about 2016 Games. I was in dead last at one point in time after the second event, I took dead last in an event. And so because of that, had it been the second cut or even the first cut, I would have been cut from the field that year.

Cole (45:09):

But you fast forward through the rest of the weekend. That was my best place, best placement at any CrossFit Games to date. And essentially my point being, you can’t have those anymore. You can’t can’t afford to have that. You have to set the bar, set the standard from the beginning that you belong in the top 10 or the top 20 or whatever the cut is going to be and you have to get there and then stay there. And yes, it pays to win, but it doesn’t pay to win until later in the weekend now. If the point structure is the way that it is, it doesn’t pay to win until the end, but what it does pay is to capitalize on where you’re at, or getting into and making those first few cuts.

Sean (45:48):

When your competitive career is eventually behind you, are you OK with people remembering you for how nice you were as opposed to how fit you were?

Cole (46:01):

Absolutely. Absolutely. When you think of, and I think that goes back to winning the Spirit of the Games award, you know, if people remain remember me for my character or just my personality or just being a good guy, that means way more to me than my physical accomplishments. I think that my physical accomplishments are not an end. They’re a means to an end. So, you know, whatever I get from competing, I will use to the best of my ability to continue to be a voice of hope, to be kind to people. That’s one of the things that that really touches my heart is can I get to the very top? Because there you can just love on more people. You can be kind to more people. And maybe give some attention to some of the people who otherwise wouldn’t ever get attention.

Cole (46:56):

And that changed the perspective and the trajectory of their life. Like how cool would that be if more leaders looked at the forgotten and said like you matter too. You know. And that’s something that really means something to me and is a really, is a driving force and it’s why I can lock myself in a garage in kind of a lonely place for, you know, and just beat myself down day after day after day after day because that kind of thing matters to me.

Sean (47:26):

Cole, it is always a pleasure to speak with you, man. I really appreciate you taking the to do this and best of luck with everything and I hope to see you compete in Aromas at some point this summer.

Cole (47:35):

Yeah. Yeah, me too. Me too. I’m really looking forward to it. Thank you so much for your time.

Sean (47:40):

Big thanks to Cole Sager for joining me today. If you want to follow him on social media, he is on Instagram, you can find him @colesager35. Thank you for listening to Two-Brain Radio. Make sure to subscribe and join me every Wednesday for inspiring stories from the fitness community and interviews with your favorite athletes and coaches. Miss an episode? Don’t worry cause you can find them all in our archives at twobrainbusiness.com. I’m Sean Woodland and we’ll see you next time.


On Wednesdays, Sean Woodland tells the best stories in the CrossFit community on Two-Brain Radio With Sean Woodland.

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Post-COVID: The New Breed of Fitness Coach With Josh Martin

Post-COVID: The New Breed of Fitness Coach With Josh Martin

Mike (00:02):

The fitness industry has been under assault for months and it’s forced everyone to reconsider absolutely everything. Now, gym owners who prided themselves on teaching squat mechanics find themselves working more as life coaches and less as tacticians. Today on Two-Brain Radio, I talked to Josh Martin about how coaches can reimagine themselves as they work to sell services and help clients. Josh is here right after this. If you joined the Facebook group Gym Owners United yet? If not, why not? If you’re looking to rebuild your gym, you need to be in this group. Inside, gym owners from all over the world are learning from and supporting each other. You also get daily actionable advice from the one and only Chris Cooper. That group is Gym Owners United on Facebook. For access, be sure to answer all the intake questions. This is Two-Brain Radio. I’m Mike Warkentin here with Josh Martin. He’s the owner of CrossFit for Glory just East of Tampa, Florida. He’s a certified Two-Brain mentor, the co-owner of Two-Brain Coaching, the son of a major league baseball pitcher and an all around good guy. Today, he’s going to talk to us about the hyper-speed evolution of the fitness coach over the last few months. Josh, how are you down in Florida?

Josh (01:05):

Mike, I’m doing great. Thank you so much for having me back on the podcast.

Mike (01:09):

It is always a pleasure. If you guys are not checking out the Two-Brain Coaching website where Josh and Chris Cooper are blogging, you guys need to do it. I’ve been following along Josh, and that prompted this podcast. You guys have some really cool kind of mindset stuff that I want to get into, but before we do that, give me the quick update on For Glory and Florida. Where are you guys at right now? And again, this is being recorded May 19th for airing a little bit later.

Josh (01:30):

Yeah. So, you know, by the time this airs we will have been given permission to re-open gyms here in the state of Florida. Our governor just announced the prior Friday that we could open. He did give us permission to open on Monday, May 18th, but we’re opting to take things a little bit more cautiously. Make sure that we could deliver an amazing experience at our gym that really prioritizes our members’ health and safety. So we’re bringing our staff in, we’re actually walking them through some mock scenarios of what it should look like. And then we are going to open on Wednesday, may the 20th. Ironically that is literally two months to the day of when we officially closed the physical location due to the C OVID crisis. So, yeah, I mean we’re super excited to be getting back into our physical space.

Josh (02:25):

Florida’s requirements in terms of, you know, what gyms have to do are actually pretty conservative. Meaning we’ve got some occupancy things, the cleanliness piece, we’re going to take it a couple of steps further and limit the number of people in classes. But other than that, the members have really been super accepting of what we’ve put out there. They’ve just been wonderful during this whole time. And honestly, the heroes of this whole thing are my coaches. And it’s why I love talking about things like this because I do have an amazing staff that really delivers service that we sell, which is coaching. So we’re ready to rock and roll and hopefully by the time this airs, things are operating pretty smoothly at our gym here.

Mike (03:09):

We’ll definitely, I’ll be following along personally and if anyone wants to check it out, definitely go look at CrossFit For Glory and see what they do as they reopen. Let’s get right on to coaching then. You mentioned that your coaches are really the stars of the show here. The mentality has changed, right? So three months ago, most coaches would have said their primary job was cueing and coaching movement, right? Teaching, squat, knees out, chest up, all that stuff. Now they’re finding at least many of them are finding that isn’t the game. And maybe it never really was. As we go into selling with a new mentality, like I’ve seen your blog about this. What is the primary role of a coach now?

Josh (03:41):

Yeah. So this is a great question to start off with Mike. I really believe that the mission remains the same. Meaning, you know, we want to keep a client. That’s always what I tell people is the first role of the coaches retention. You want to keep the client, but ultimately so that you can get them to their goal. So I think the mission is still the same. What we’re finding though is that the strategy is what really differs these days. So what you talked about is one strategy where I’m cueing, you know, movement, corrections, movement faults, fixing these things, identifying things. But what we’re saying now is that you need to have a broader perspective whenever you are trying to get somebody to that goal. It’s not just, Oh, squat a little bit deeper, you know, lock the bar out a little bit stronger.

Josh (04:37):

One of the principles in fact that we teach it at Two-Brain Coaching is something that we call sleep, eat, move and manage. And the last piece manage is in reference to managing stress. But we want to work with clients and getting them to their goal by looking at how well do they sleep? Are they getting enough of it? Looking at their movement? Yes. Movement is a part of it. Looking at their nutrition and then finally looking at their stress management. You know, do they have a daily practice to manage it well and then manage it often? So tactically I think we’re all doing the same things. We’re offering services online, we’re offering them in person. The mission is the same, still getting the client to the goal, but the strategy is really where the coach needs to become a lot more flexible so that they can continue to get that client to their goal.

Mike (05:28):

You know, it’s funny because when I was coaching, I would look, I think I stopped my thinking a couple of steps too early where I’d say, OK, I want you to squat a little bit deeper. In the client’s, you know, why would I want the client to do that? Well, you know, full range of motion is going to be better for your joints. It’s going to be stronger, more muscles engaged. It’s going to help you, you know, just do this movement properly according to our standards. OK, so what does that really benefit the client? Ultimately this whole, the next steps that I stopped asking questions about were, what does that do? And now what if the client squats to the standards, the client is going to get stronger, client’s going to avoid injury, the client’s going accomplish the goals. That’s really the steps that I missed is that the client’s not there to squat to depth.

Mike (06:07):

The quiet is there to accomplish a goal of being stronger, fitter, healthier, picking up a child, whatever that goal is, and so my instruction squat to depth is related to that goal, but I stopped short of that in my thinking because I wanted, I was looking one step short I think. So it’s really cool. What you’ve got there is you’ve got this four pillar thing where movement is just one of the aspects. But interestingly enough, in the coaching world, it seems to be the one that we almost focus on, at least many of us focus on way too much to the detriment of probably the other three. And like you said, if I’m the best tactician in the world and I can make anyone squat well, it doesn’t matter if I’m a jerk and I can’t get that client to keep showing up for classes or doing my workouts. Right.

Josh (06:47):

Yeah. I mean, nobody ever came into the gym and said, you know, Hey coach, I’m looking for somebody that can make sure that I’m squatting to death. That’s my ultimate goal. You know? And even the client that walks in and says, you know, I want to lose 20 pounds. You know, if we just take that at face value, we’re really going to be missing out on the deeper connection that we can make with that client. And ultimately being able to ask those deeper questions or questions that get you deeper is what’s going to inform how you coach that client on a day to day, weekly, monthly, yearly, decade, long basis. Right.

Mike (07:23):

I go back to the thing that Chris has said many times, it’s the analogy of you don’t go to the hardware store to buy a drill bit, you’re actually going to buy a hole. The drill bit is just a tool that creates the hole and you don’t really care, it could be any product. Right, and so that’s the same thing where you know you guys are what’s been called method agnostic, right? Where it’s like CrossFit is a tool. Pilates is a tool, boot-camp style training is a tool. Whatever fitness thing you want to call, that’s just a tool to accomplish the client’s goal. And so I really love what you’re saying that coaching is about getting clients to their goals and that can be through, it was sleep, eat, move and manage was the last one. Did I miss that?

Josh (08:00):

Manage. Yeah. Yeah. Can I share a little story with you though?

Mike (08:04):

Yeah, do it.

Josh (08:04):

You’re talking about like, the idea that we put out that we’re method agnostic and like Pilates, you know, CrossFit, whatever, a lot of us came from the bodybuilding background.

Mike (08:16):

I did.

Josh (08:16):

It was very isolationist like curls and skull crushers. So I’ve never publicly acknowledged this, but I’ve told my staff, but I’ll come clean during this COVID crisis, once a week, every week for the past two months I said we’ve been closed, I have done a old school, traditional bodybuilding workout. I go outside, I write down like, you know, bicep curls and you know, skull crushers and dumbbell bench press. And it’s been great, you know, and I’m not getting caught up in like, Oh, is this going to make my Fran time better? How is this going to help my clean and jerk?

Josh (08:57):

The goal is to move for me, right. In that session. But the goal is not, you know, those other things. So the bodybuilding work has been great. It allows me to still kind of stay in what Chris talks about all the time is flow state. So I get a lot of deep thinking done. It’s how I conceptualize a lot of things, whether it’s for the gym or for Two-Brain in some capacity. So I’ve really had a lot of fun doing that. It’s probably not something that we’re going to program like in the gym in like a traditional CrossFit class setting. But for me personally when my coach was asking like, Hey, what do you need? You know, out of your workouts that you want to do, it was simple. I just wanted to move during the day and when he through that stuff in there, it was a great change up for me.

Mike (09:43):

You know. And I’m right there with you. I grew up on that stuff and when I’m in times of stress, which we’re definitely in, I gravitate back towards some of that stuff and it’s because I maybe don’t have Murph in me right now. Like that’s a really hard workout. Bodybuilding training is unbelievably difficult as well, but it’s a different style of difficult where I can motor through a set of eight bicep curls sooner than I can motor through, you know, 300 squats. Right? To loop this back, cause this is a rabbit hole we should go down a different time, but to loop this back, you’ve got—you as a coach, you need to know what your clients are needing. And if I was a coach working with, or if I was a client working with you, I’d be saying like Josh, dude, I have unbelievable workload right now.

Mike (10:25):

I know I need to be healthy. I know I need to be fit. I’m trying to like, I’m not going to do Murph. I don’t want a beat down. I don’t want Fran. And it’s not that they’re bad workouts, it’s just like my stress levels are way up here. I don’t need to fight my demons and go three minutes of Fran and whatever it is, what I really need here is just to move. And my wife, God bless her, when I was struggling with some of this stuff, she said to me as a coach, just go in the basement and do 20 minutes of something. She’s like, I don’t care what you do but just move for 20 minutes down there. Then come upstairs and we’ll have supper. And that for me was, you know, that was life coaching more than it was fitness coaching. Cause she didn’t know what I did, but I felt better, you know? And so that’s kind of what I want to get at in this podcast is helping people understand that there are these other aspects. So I’ll give you this, I’ll circle back with another question. We’ll get us back into that discussion. You know, it’s like we talk, it’s possible that some of us have focused too much on lumbar curves in the last decade. So you brushed that little bit, but tell me a little more about this. As gyms reopen now, what should coaches have been focusing on the past and what should they focus on now as these clients are coming back or not coming back in this stressed kind of uncertain state.

Josh (11:31):

Yeah. So I think first Mike, what people need is right now, it demands a realization that the barriers that folks have to exercise in a structured setting like you and I are used to, going to the gym, doing thrusters and pull ups. But the barriers that folks have to exercise as a means to getting healthy are really much more rampant than we actually probably realized. And what I mean by that is for you and I, it’s a normal lifestyle. I get up, I go work out and I just continue on with my day. It’s just become this habitual thing that I don’t really have to put forth the thought that what I’m doing is in the best interest of my health. But when you remove something like a physical location, you know that somebody has kind of attached this habit to go exercise in order to be healthy, it’s like, Oh well I don’t want to exercise at my house. It’s not something, you know, that I ever wanted to do. That’s not what I signed up for. And not to beat this pun to death, but in the CrossFit space, we refer to our gyms as the box and really a lot of gyms just need to step outside the box in what they’re delivering to their clients. And we mentioned it briefly earlier a couple of times, but that really, I fundamentally believe that means adopting those four pillars and integrating them in whatever way you can, the sleep, eat, move and manage pieces. Because these are really the four pillars as coaches that we need to focus on to make a difference in somebody’s life. Especially given, you know, the stresses like you identified that people are under, you know, you talk about Murph and if you are a CrossFitter who has done that workout a couple of times, even just hearing that word, you can feel the surge of adrenaline because you know what it’s going to take to kind of dig into yourself and to put forth like an honorable time because it is a kind of a very purposeful thing that we’re doing.

Josh (13:36):

But that also negates or necessitates a tremendous stress response from your body.

Mike (13:41):

I’m going to take a bathroom break right now, Josh, I’m just going to stop you right there because you mentioned, Fran and Murph. It’s crazy how it does that, your heart rate bumps up right away.

Josh (13:50):

It really does. And we’ve all got these like little things you know that do that to us and right now is not the time to introduce like all this excess stress into our clients’ lives. So I think what coaches need to do is realize that there is more that we should be focusing on delivering to our clients. Here’s ultimately what it’s going to do. It’s going to make the accountability piece that is necessary for success infinitely easier because the client is going to be majorly bought in because we’re not asking for a wholesale change of their life. It’s just these little things that done consistently over time that make a tremendous difference.

Josh (14:32):

It’s going to be motivating for them. You’re not going to have to continually make that phone call. Hey Sally, I saw you didn’t do your workout again from home today. What’s going on? And then you try to joke with her or trick her into working out. But if it’s, you know, Hey did you turn the thermostat down two degrees in your house last, night, Oh great. Did you sleep better? Awesome. Then you can connect that to how Sally is going to get to her goal down the road. And then kind of putting those two pieces together. It’s about retention and compliance. Are your clients sticking around, you know, if you’re doing a good job and they’re making strides towards their goals? Yes.

Mike (15:12):

So that’s the interesting part now is we’ve kind of established here that coaches are not just mechanical things. There are four pillars that they’re trying to address there. It looks to me more like life coaching and behavior modification than it does as just hardcore straight up fitness barbell movements and things like that. So here’s the hard part. We always try and give people actionable stuff as a Two-Brain principle, especially on this podcast. So we’ve got coaches now that maybe didn’t see themselves as this and maybe this was a wake-up call and you know, we’ve got these guys who have long prided themselves on being tacticians and perfect programmers and this is what they took pride in and how they value themselves. They’re now forced to provide something else entirely. You know? So how do people, and we know confidence is like a huge deal in selling, right?

Mike (15:55):

So if you’re going to sit down and sell your services, it was very easy for some of these guys before to say, I am an amazing programmer. I an amazing coach. I will prevent injury. I’m going to get you stronger. I’m going to make you fitter. Now they have to start selling services that maybe they’re not as comfortable with, where it’s like, I’m going to provide accountability, I’m going to provide motivation. I’m also going to provide the movement stuff. But I’m going to help you learn how to sleep and eat better. And I’m going to give you accountability to bring you into that. We’re going to keep setting goals and I’m going to interview you. We’re going to maybe do it more online consultations and talking. I’m not going to watch your Snapchat videos as often as I’m going to talk to you about your goals. How do coaches change their mindset now to sell that with confidence when it’s something new for them?

Josh (16:33):

Oh man. Yeah, this is a big one. So I think the first step is in doing some self reflection as a coach and admitting that you have more to learn. And this goes back to something that we, I got this from Chris probably 10 years ago and have talked about it so often. It’s in all the courses we built on Two-Brain Coaching, but it’s adopting this beginner’s mindset. I think the term is shoshin in Zen Buddhism, but it is in realizing as a coach that like it’s a journey for you too. And right now is the perfect time to go back to square one and realize, OK, the first thing that I have to do is actually sit down and learn where my clients want to go. And don’t just take it, like I mentioned this earlier, don’t just take it at face value because what many coaches are finding out right now is they didn’t actually know what their clients want.

Josh (17:35):

So early, early on in this thing when we were saying, OK, you need to customize today’s workout for each client based on their goals. We were getting these questions like, well I don’t know what my clients’ goals are, you know? And so I think that that’s the first thing. And so you’re looking for action steps. So the first thing that I would tell people to do is sit down with all of your clients one-on-one and find out what it is that they want. Then you’re going to come alongside them and design a plan that meets them where they are and something that they can start doing without a whole lot of change in their everyday life right now. Because ultimately that is what is going to stick over time. And so not to beat more principles from Two-Brain Coaching into this podcast—

New Speaker (18:27):

Please do.

Josh (18:28):

But the four-step piece that we use is called learn, design, deliver, refine. So first you want to learn what it is your client is coming to you for, and don’t just take it at face value. They don’t care about a bigger clean and jerk or Fran time or you know, like you said, squatting to death. Nobody says those things on the first day and you’ve really got to ask those deeper questions to get to the root of why they walked into your door or today, you know, in a lot of cases we’re doing consultations on Zoom. So that’s the first thing. Then you want to come alongside them and design a plan that is going to meet them where they are and progress them nice and steadily. Then you’re going to figure out how are you going to deliver it? Are they going to come in person?

Josh (19:17):

Are you going to coach them online? Are you going to do a hybrid of both? And then finally, this is the piece that we know coaches were missing out on because when you ask them what their clients’ goals were and they didn’t know, it’s because you skipped the refinement, which is basically goal setting. So you want to make sure that you are continually checking in on your clients, knowing how they’re progressing and doing it in a formal setting, not just a text of, Hey Mike, how’s your goal coming? It’s no sit down, let’s take a look back at all this work we’ve done over the last 60 to 90 days and measure are we getting closer to that goal? And then you refine the plan and it’s just like this infinite feedback loop and that’s how a relationship between client and coach really blossoms.

Mike (20:05):

Guys, if you’re listening right now and you want to work through a process like this, you can go on the Two-Brain Business blog at TwoBrainbusiness.com, go to the blog and we’ll get this link in the show notes and there is a series that Chris has written and it’s six different articles in two parts and it’s Your Gym 2.0 series and Chris guides you through it. There’s worksheets you can download and what he does is he leads you through this exercise where you identify your clients, you find out what your best clients want, you prescribe, you figure out the services that will help them most to reach their goals. You prescribe those services, and then you develop service packages relating to the needs and wants of your entire clientele. And he’s got pricing tips, everything. So there is a ton of actionable stuff that you can find on that blog.

Mike (20:44):

So do go check that out if you want to work through that. He’s also got a webinar that you could watch and work along with him. That falls right in line, of course, Josh, with what you’re saying. People just often just don’t know what their clients want, right? And now when they find that out and you know, you’ve blogged about this as well at Two-Brain Coaching, you’ve got this, you’re trying to interview people, figure out what they want and there’s techniques to that that you guys are explaining how to do. Then you’ve got the prescriptive model where you’re taking, you know, you’re not a doctor, but you’re looking at the needs and wants and the problems of this client. You’re prescribing a solution. So here’s where I think some people are getting hung up on stuff.

Mike (21:21):

This is a completely different mindset for a lot of people and for so long they thought my physical space, my shiny toys, my atmosphere, my cueuing, those are the things that I sell. That’s what I derive my value from. I love my clean gym. I love my Aleiko bar. I love the atmosphere, I love my community. But now online you’re kind of selling like milk jugs. Sometimes living rooms, workouts done independently where you don’t actually see a client, at least if you’re working online. So how does a coach, like what’s the value of the package that you’re offering? So if you say, you know, you’re providing all these different elements of coaching, movement is only one, is this more or less valuable than what we were offering before? Like how do you put a price on that? How do you get your mind around it to think what I’m selling is super valuable.

Josh (22:05):

So I’ll tell you a funny story that kind of brings this message home. And when you talk about the value of coaching, you actually told a part of this story earlier of like, you know, you don’t go to a hardware store to buy a drill bit. You go to buy, you know, the hole, so when all this started, excuse me, all of this being the COVID crisis, my wife reminded me that we had a pull-up bar that I had never installed into our new garage and we moved out of our old house a couple of years ago. It’s just been sitting in the corner collecting dust and I was like, man, I’m really need to put that thing up. So I’ve got a tool set, a drill and everything and I have some drill bits and I know that I’ve successfully installed this pull-up bar before at my old house.

Josh (22:55):

So I knew that I could do it. So I get started, you know, drilling into this thing and I know that I’m hitting the stud, but it’s just not working and it’s because the drill bits that I have, even though it was hardheaded, were not the correct wood drill bits. So I could have sat there for hours just kind of plodding away at this thing. So I had a drill bit to get this hole, but ultimately what I needed was the right drill bit. So I hopped in the car, drove down to ACE Hardware and this is, they actually had it like cordoned off. You could barely get into the store. They said, what do you need? I said, I need some drill bits to go into wood studs. They came back with two options. I didn’t care what the price was because I knew that this was the right tool for the job.

Josh (23:39):

So I buy them. I don’t even remember what I paid for these things. And within 30 minutes of getting home, guess what? I had that pull-up bar ready to go and I was doing it. If I would have just kept the other drill bits, I would’ve gotten that thing up eventually. But it would have been hours and hours and hours of my time. So the reason I tell that is because to me the value of the right tool is just gone up tremendously. And here’s why I say that. If you were just telling clients to, Hey Sally, go find a milk jug, fill it up with some rocks and we’re going to swing this thing like a kettlebell. I’m sorry, that’s just not fun. Nobody signed up to do that. And as a coach, you probably didn’t sign up to try to get somebody to find something around their house to do your workout with kettlebell swings. And so if you can adopt the mindset of sleep, eat, move, manage, and realize that there’s more than one pillar you need to focus on to get your client to their goal, build that relationship, probably starting from scratch now. But if you can do that with your clients today, man, the value of that to me from my perspective has gone up tremendously.

Mike (24:57):

So for people who are out there, let’s say they’re selling an unlimited CrossFit membership and it’s $185, whatever it might be, and they’re looking at this plan of, you know, life coaching, accountability, stress management, you know, telling people how to sleep and eat the whole deal and move of course, does that, if I would just present that to you, are those two things equivalent? Is one more valuable than the other? Is the life coaching plan, is that not worth $185? Like how do people frame that? Do you think they’re equally valuable or how does that work?

Josh (25:26):

Oh yeah, I think that’s a tough, tough one. Honestly, Mike. What we found is that if the messaging and the communication that gyms have been talking about prior to COVID crisis was about, look at my shiny equipment, look at how clean my gym is, all of these things, really what’s happening is now your clients are associating the value that they’re paying every month with the equipment that they’re getting. You know, that they’ve got all the new shiny toys and the Aleiko bars and all this stuff. But the ones that were saying it’s about the coaching because ultimately that is what truly gets somebody to their goal is the coach and athlete or client relationship, I think that’s probably the tough part that people are having right now is making sure that that communication is about the coaching service, not about the access to a facility and equipment.

Josh (26:28):

So what I think the gyms that really probably see that their clients are identifying with access to a facility, they need to start talking about what coaching is providing to these clients and how it gets them to their goals. And you can start to introduce these other elements. This is really become like in a way, you’re turning a cruise ship so you can’t tell your client, Hey, I’ve been offering you this unlimited CrossFit membership, you know, for $185 a month and you’ve been getting to come into the gym and use these barbells and this pull-up rig, but now you’re not going to have any access, but I am going to tell you how to sleep better and how to eat better and how to manage your stress. That’s because to them, truly that’s not what they signed up for. So it’s got to be kind of a slow introduction of these things if that is what you want to ultimately do. But it starts with that relationship that you’re kind of having to rebuild by meeting with each client individually, one-on-one again.

Mike (27:35):

Yeah. And that mirrors my experience where we switched to online stuff and we’re doing the Two-Brain plan where we’re messaging clients their personalized plans. We also are running some Zoom classes and some clients just right at the beginning were like that’s not what I’m into. I don’t like it, I don’t want to do it. And we totally respect that because that is 100% not what they signed up for. We had others who were like, I’ll give it a try and loved it. We’ve had others that were like skeptical, gave it a try and loved it. But it was like the Indiana Jones when, you know, the gold idol where he switches it for a bag of sand. It’s like there was a transition there, you know, and I’m not saying it was like a shady transition, I’m saying it was, there was a different perception of value that needed to be created and we worked really hard to do that.

Mike (28:17):

We tried to overdeliver and say, OK, we can’t give you barbells and Assault bikes and all this other stuff now, but we can give you increased personalization, more check-ins, more accountability, more. And you know, we’re running like nutrition classes and we’re doing like group social nights and trivia nights, all the things that, you know, a lot of the Two-Brain gyms came up with, games and things like that. We’re trying to create more so the value is replaced even though there’s no physical facility and it’s interesting, Chris just published a blog and it’s called, you’re gonna want to check this out, Expensive or Free, how to charge what you’re worth. And so if you guys are struggling with ideas right now and the value is like, I don’t know how to ask people to pay this for this, this thing, this new coaching, the first thing that Chris has got on this list, there’s eight different things, but the first one is be worth it.

Mike (29:04):

You know, and Chris just said, your value to a client doesn’t come from what you know, it comes from how you make him or her feel. And that’s really an interesting thing because how you make a client feel doesn’t relate to a space. It doesn’t relate to a barbell. It relates to a personal relationship. So that really, that really syncs up and it’s great that Chris published that blog right at this time. Josh, I’m gonna ask you one more question here and this is a big kind of a summary one, but you know, for gyms that have opened or will reopen, what are the greatest things that coaches can learn from the COVID crisis? How can we help our clients better going forward after we come through this like crucible stress experience?

Josh (29:41):

So this is such an awesome opportunity that has come through all of this. I’m an eternal optimist, and so I’m always looking for the opportunity, you know, even in a crisis like this. And to me the opportunity is to get to know your clients again, you know, figure out what it is that they were really struggling with through this. And then you can start to kind of tailor the service now that you are offering that client to better fit what it is that they’re dealing with today. Because if I’ve learned anything through this, it’s that people’s goals change much faster than we probably thought that they did. You know, three months ago, because when we went from gyms open to gyms closed, you know, and now I’m dealing with, you know, we’ve got two young kids at home. My wife is, you know, deep into the homeschooling stuff now with them.

Josh (30:45):

The goals that people have are right out the window. You know, my goal is to make it through the day without just trying to pull out the little bit of hair that I have left. Right? I mean, so I think it’s just an amazing opportunity to sit down with all of your clients. You could do it on Zoom, call them on the phone, don’t do it through text message or email. That’s a one-way communication street. You need to have communication be two way for this to really work. But it’s an opportunity to reinvest in what it is that matters most to them because ultimately that’s, you know, what is going to create this long lasting, fruitful, fulfilling relationship between, you know, the client and the coach long term.

Mike (31:32):

When you present it like that as a like an in-depth, long-term fulfilling relationship in which I have an expert who knows my goals and helps move toward them, that going back to my question before, that sounds like $185 service or more. That sounds like it might be more money than that.

Josh (31:50):

Yeah. I mean, I don’t even know what I would have paid for the right drill bit to be delivered to my house that day. But if I posted like this is frustrating to me, somebody get me the right tool and they said for a hundred bucks, I’ll drive it out to you, I would have paid a hundred dollars for that thing. You know? And so the same thing as here is, yeah, the value is just, it’s tremendous. But man, what an amazing opportunity we have all really been gifted right now.

Mike (32:14):

Guys, this is Josh Martin. He is at twobraincoaching.com. You want to check that site out regularly. He and Chris Cooper are blogging all the time about the evolution of coaching, how to be a better coach, not just a better quote unquote fitness coach, but a better coach overall, and that means behavior modification, helping your clients get to their goals. Please visit that site. Josh, thank you so much for being here today. We appreciate it.

Josh (32:37):

My pleasure. Thank you, Mike.

Mike (32:39):

Yeah, and thank you all for listening to Two-Brain Radio. I’m Mike Warkentin with Josh Martin of Two-Brain Coaching. If you want more actual advice based on data, check out Gym oOwners United. That is a group on Facebook. In it you’ll find daily topics from one and only Chris Cooper, as well as the support of a host of business owners from all over the world. That group again is Gym Owners United on Facebook. Please join today and remember to answer all the intake questions. Thanks for tuning into Two-Brain Radio and please subscribe for more episodes wherever you get your podcasts.


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