How to Delight Your Clients Online

How to Delight Your Clients Online

Facebook groups are a powerful tool for client engagement between classes. Unlike Slack or any other group chat service, your clients are already on the platform.

But most Facebook groups suffer from low engagement, lack of quality discussion, criticism, arguments or all of the above. Some groups attract a wide variety of opinions without any kind of filter to discern fact from—well, crazy. Sometimes clients try to sell their Amway products to each other. Done wrong, Facebook groups are just a huge distraction for you—and for your clients.

Here’s how we’ve built the best Facebook group in the world, why we don’t let everyone in (even our own clients until they’re ready!) and how we keep the content valuable.


The Two-Brain Business Facebook Group: The Most Valuable Group in the World


The Two-Brain Facebook Group contains just over 500 members and over 50 posts every single day. Many contain sample materials that gym owners generously share with others (blog posts to copy, social posts to swipe and—most valuable of all—honest experience). When gym owners reach the Farmer Phase of entrepreneurship, this group provides most of the peer support they need to be successful. It’s a retention tool and adds a ton of value to gym owners: You could literally make more than $500 every month just by copying the stuff others share!

Here’s how we keep it valuable. You can copy these lessons to build a Facebook group that delights your clients.


First, We Keep Our Group Private


We don’t allow people who aren’t in the Two-Brain family inside because we want to maintain the huge wall of trust that surrounds our tribe. Many of the problems that plague other Facebook groups come from a lack of transparency: People are scared to tell the truth about themselves so they either over-hype themselves or stay silent.

In our group, all know they can’t hide the truth about their businesses because their mentors know their numbers. In other groups, it’s incredible to see gym owners posing as “experts” while their gyms are practically bankrupt.

We don’t even allow members of the Two-Brain family into our private Facebook group until they’ve reached the Growth Stage of mentorship. This is because entrepreneurs in the Incubator need focus more than they need peer support. Our Incubator program is done 1:1 with a mentor: We actively eliminate noise, great but distracting ideas and time on social media for Incubator clients to help them focus.

In your gym, this means you should remove people from your Facebook group when they cancel their memberships. It means you should make a big deal about inviting new people (and welcome them one by one when they join). And you should actively remove people who aren’t a good fit. Your Facebook group should be a bonus to your clients, not a right.


Second, We Lay out Expectations Clearly in Advance


Here’s the top post in our group:

*****START HERE*****
This is a group for high-level business discussion. It’s private for TwoBrainBusiness mentoring clients.

Questions are encouraged. Ideas are prized. Dogma is forbidden.

Dead horses have their own thread. If you’d like to ask about booking/billing software, search for the “master thread” on software.

Please keep the discussion focused. Memes and jokes are the backbone of Facebook but don’t fit in this group. Likewise, criticism of non-Two-Brain practices is discouraged.

There are no “experts,” no icons here; everyone is asked to be open to mentorship and play the role of mentor to others. If you’re not familiar with the concept of Beginner’s Mind, read this before posting:


Third, We Actively Uphold Our Rules


It’s extremely rare, but we remove people from the Facebook group immediately if they don’t follow the rules. The Facebook group is only a complement to our mentorship practice, and our duty to the group’s members is paramount. So if one member is negatively affecting the experience of another, we remove the problem person immediately. No warnings necessary and no doubt about the action.


Fourth, We Remove Distracting Conflicts Before They Arise


In some cases, an entrepreneur in one city will have a conflict with another. That’s none of our business, and we believe every entrepreneur should have a chance to succeed. But members of our Facebook group can request that another entrepreneur from their city be excluded. The second owner can complete our Incubator program and even join the Growth Phase; they just can’t join the Facebook group.

The funny thing is that this happens far less than you’d expect. Most gym owners realize that it’s in their best interest to have nearby gyms operating at the same standard they are, so they actively recruit their neighbors to join. Out of over 500 members in the Two-Brain group, we’ve only received four requests to block another gym owner—and three of these were for the same person!


Fifth, We Lead by Example


Mentors think before they post. Mentors don’t have spelling mistakes or grammatical errors in their posts. No one posts memes, rants or other time-wasters, because group leaders don’t bury good content under that stuff.

We don’t allow criticism of anyone, even the people who attack our strategies. Because that doesn’t help the people in our group.

We encourage thoughtfulness and positive internal dialogue. For example, every Friday, dozens of Two-Brain entrepreneurs post their Bright Spots to help them practice gratitude.

In your gym, that means you need to be actively engaged to spur conversation. Start with something like Bright Spots Fridays—it’s been copied by many gyms, and it helps with their retention in a measurable way.

It means that the group’s tenor and engagement are a reflection of your tenor and engagement. Use it to build people up or don’t do it at all.


Sixth, Gift People With Fame


Give them a podium early and often.

Every new person in the Two-Brain Facebook group gets a specific introduction: Here is this amazing gym owner; here’s what the owner accomplished in Incubator; here’s what he or she will add to the group. Then several dozen others respond with a warm welcome. It’s a great opportunity to show new people a red-carpet greeting.

You can do the same thing. Introduce a new person with a great memory from your on-ramp program, a good picture and some personal detail that you remember about him or her. Put the client on a podium. Brag about him or her every chance you get, like this:

“Hey all, Harvey brought up a great question this morning in our group … .”

“Guys, I just have to take a minute to brag about Helen. Last night, she … .”

“Just in case any of you missed it, Alena got her first double-under on Saturday!”

Look for opportunities to make your clients feel famous.

When you start a private Facebook group, you’re going to have to be the catalyst: Spur it into action. Share openly. Start conversations. Make it what you want it to be. Don’t wait.

You’ve probably heard this phrase: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Those people can pull you forward or pull you backward. And you can do the same for them.

“No man steps in the same river twice.” —Heraclitus

Like it or not, every interaction you have with the world—and the people in it—changes them. And it also changes you. So lead your people in the direction you want to travel yourself.

The people I spend most time with are in the Two-Brain family. I prefer to be around people who will change me in a positive way. That’s why our Facebook group is private. That’s why you have to complete the Incubator and start Growth Stage before joining: I want you to master the basics, then add complexity.


Other Media in This Series

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

What Jason Ackerman Learned From 10,000 Hours of Coaching

What Jason Ackerman Learned From 10,000 Hours of Coaching

Chris: 00:02 – Welcome to Two-Brain Radio. I’m your host, Chris Cooper, here every week with the best of the fitness industry. Got a sec? We would love to hear from you. I write emails to my mailing list every day, and it’s a highlight when somebody takes the time to respond. If you’ve got feedback on my show or a guest you’d like to hear on Two-Brain radio, email and don’t forget to subscribe to Two-Brain Radio wherever you get your podcasts. Jason Ackerman has been a coach for a long time. He’s also coached tens of thousands of coaches around the world on the CrossFit seminar staff, and now he has a brand new book called “The Best Hour of Their Day.” In this episode, Jay and I are going to talk about what really matters when you’re coaching people. Is it technique? Is it smiles? Is it cheerleading? Is it being a technician? And Jay’s going to give you some amazing actionable directive steps for making the classes that you run at your gym the best hour of your client’s day. I think you’re going to really enjoy this podcast. This man is such a deep well of knowledge that we can talk on different topics and we have in other episodes, too. Today, Jay Ackerman with “Best Hour of Their Day.”

Chris: 01:10 – Jason Ackerman, welcome back to Two-Brain Radio.

Jason: 01:15 – Thank you very much for having me. I always appreciate you having me on the show.

Chris: 01:20 – Yeah man, you’ve got so much knowledge that we’ve had you on for a couple of different topics now. And so your bio has really been featured here before in the how to sell your gym episode especially. I thought that maybe we could spend a few minutes just catching up, like, you know, now that you’ve sold your gyms, what’s keeping you in the fitness world?

Jason: 01:40 – That’s a great question. I think ultimately what it comes down to is I love it. I was talking to somebody last night about how they weren’t working out enough, you know, they have let life get in their way. Work gets in their way and often the first thing for them that goes is training and eating right. And I was telling him how I’m the exact opposite. I wouldn’t take a job if I felt as if I couldn’t work out when I wanted to or I wouldn’t commit to something if I felt like I wouldn’t have the opportunity to train and eat right. So I think it’s that foundation of I love doing it so it’s more fun for me to help others.

Chris: 02:22 – That’s really interesting. And it reminds me of a James Clears’ book “Atomic Habits,” where he’s talking about, you know, instead of setting goals, setting an idea of the person that you want to become and then back filling that with what do I need to get there. That’s really interesting. Tell me about the nutrition business. So after you sold your gyms, you know, you were still traveling for CrossFit L1s and you had this online nutrition business. Tell us about that.

Jason: 02:48 – So “Own Your Eating” is still alive. It’s still doing well. We still get a few clients. We have a certificate course that’s accredited by CrossFit. You know, if you have your Level three or eventually take your Level four, you can use us for credits. That’s still going well. And I enjoy it. I enjoy helping people with nutrition. As anyone listening knows, it’s a challenging and daunting task because nutrition is rarely, hey, eat meat, vegetables, nuts, seeds, some fruit, little starch, no sugar, right? It’s, hey, how messed up did your parents make you? And you know, what type of obstacles do we have to overcome? Which I love and I’ve really loved diving into the psyche and all of that, but it’s tough. So, you know, I’m still a big part of it. My wife, Roz, runs the company, but you know, like I said, it’s still alive. It’s still there. But I wanted to venture out and get back into what I enjoy even more, which is the coaching of coaches.

Chris: 03:50 – Yeah. And you’ve been doing that for a long time. Like how many people, if you counted up all the seminars that you’ve done, how many people, coaches, have you coached in person now, Jay?

Jason: 04:00 – Well, you know at the last trainers summit for CrossFit this past October, they were—every summit Dave Castro kind of has this kind of like funny running gag throughout the two days. It’s in the middle of week and this year it was all about how many seminars, you know, who’s worked a hundred, who’s worked 200 and then we got patches reflecting how many seminars we worked. And as they were going through it I was like, I’ll probably be around a hundred that’s pretty cool that I’ve worked a hundred and he got through all the one hundreds and I was like, oh man, I guess I didn’t work a hundred seminars. And then he gets to the two hundreds and I had worked 204 at the time. Now a little bit more than that. So you know, I was in my mind immediately, I was like, that’s a lot of weekends, you know, that’s a lot of time on the road.

Jason: 04:48 – But then I started thinking about the question you just asked and I’m like, hey, 50 people take 200 seminars. That’s 10,000 people. Not to mention people at boxes, people that have taken other seminars I’ve been a part of, you know, before the Level 1 or doing my own nutrition seminars. So it’s pretty cool. You know, I’ve had, you know, speaking of “Atomic Habits,” I recently read that book and other books that talk about those 10,000 hours that you need to put in. And in my mind I was like, man, here I am, 41 years old and I’ve not really put those 10,000 hours into anything. Cause I think we often think about it as like guitar or you know, jujitsu. And I’ve put a lot of hours into those types of things but not the 10,000 and then I realized I have, and it was in coaching.

Chris: 05:37 – So as someone who has put their 10,000 hours into coaching coaches, and congratulations by the way, it’s really interesting to look at your new book called “The Best Hour of Their Day” and ask yourself, you know what, what are the top lessons that this guy thinks that coaches need? So why don’t we start there? Why or what lessons I guess, do coaches need more than anything else?

Jason: 06:05 – I think, you know, I’ve said this before, it’s like you can teach anyone how to coach an air squat. It’s a challenge to teach people how not to be an asshole. Right? Or you know, to be the person that people want to be around. And I think that’s the biggest lesson. You know, when it comes to the book, “The Best Hour of Their Day,” it’s not a, you know, step-by-step guide on how to be a good business owner. If you want to do that, read “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief” by Chris Cooper. But you know, those are the types of books that help your business grow. This is more so, you know, the intangible things. A lot of it’s honestly mostly mistakes I’ve made. And most of those mistakes were just not being a good person that other people want to be around. Not stopping and listening to other people’s perspective, not, you know, being empathetic. And I think that’s a struggle as a coach, you have to really put what you want aside for that hour to make it the best hour of their day. The book isn’t called best hour of your day, you know, it’s best hour of their day for that reason.

Chris: 07:09 – I think that’s amazing. And we’re going to dig deeper into that very soon here. But you know, two years ago a lot of coaches were talking about developing the soft skills. To me, I think what they’re referring to as the soft skills are the real skills of coaching. So what’s more important Jay? Is it the ability to teach or spot problems in the air squat or is it the ability to empathize?

Jason: 07:34 – I think at the end of the day you need both of course, right? You, you know, Mother Teresa or some other Saint or you know, whatever out there is probably a shitty CrossFit coach. Right. You know, but she’s probably really nice and you probably really want to be around her for an hour, but your squat’s not going to go up too much. So I think you probably need both. But I think first and foremost you need to develop those soft skills because without them you could have the best eye in the world. But if people just don’t like your communication skills, if people don’t like being around you, it doesn’t matter. And I think any one listening can probably think of a coach they’ve had in the past, be it, you know, high school, college or a coach in the box they go to that they avoid their classes, you know, off on a tangent. But if you’re a box owner and your members want to see who’s on the schedule, that might be a problem. Right? And I don’t think it’s right or wrong. I don’t think you should go and remove everyone’s names, but you should want your members to not care because they love everybody. And if there’s someone they don’t love, and it could be for other reasons, but maybe it’s because they don’t like their soft skills.

Chris: 08:46 – You know I had to learn that the hard way myself, Jay, I thought that being a great coach was being like the expert. And when I had to replace myself in my 6:00 AM class, I did it with a girl who was very bright and bubbly but young and uneducated, you know, she was a college student, and attendance went up in that class and that blew my mind. So I know that you’ve learned a thousand little lessons like this along the way. What made you want to put those lessons into a book?

Jason: 09:14 – I think it was like many things in my CrossFit journey, accidental. I think that, you know, you were probably a big influence on it. We’ve talked a lot in the past and I’ve had you on our podcast and I’ve heard you talking just about writing every day. I mean you get up at what, 4:00 AM in Canada, so it’s like negative a hundred degrees and you somehow manage to get up and make it to the office to write. And other people like Seth Godin and Tim Ferriss who talk about, you know, just putting 200 words on paper type of thing and just trying to create those habits like we discussed. I started just writing for me for maybe a blog one day and then as I started doing it I said, wow, these are kind of cool stories and I would maybe post part of them on an Instagram post and people would respond to them and I just started writing more and more until eventually, I mean I limited it to 30, but I think at the end I had maybe 50 stories in there and I kind of dwindled it down to the best 30 or combined some, but it just came about out of my desire to create a new habit, really, and then start something new and challenge myself.

Chris: 10:24 – Well I think, you know what makes the book so great is all the stories in there, you know, you’re not just speaking from theory, you’re not lecturing at a university. This is all like in-the-trenches knowledge, hard-won battles. What are the biggest questions that you’re trying to answer in the book? Or the biggest opinions that you’re trying to change?

Jason: 10:46 – I think by reading the book, hopefully box owners, coaches or even members can just take from it, you know, again, it’s a lot of just listening to other people and then also being true to yourself. There’s a few chapters in there dedicated to my journey in the sense that as box owners, and I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of—you probably have experienced but we get into this world because we love fitness and we love helping people and then oftentimes that overrides or takes priority over our own health. You know? And there’s a few times in my journey where I’ve completely disregarded my own training and like we talked about earlier, that’s the foundation. That’s what keeps me happy. If you look at my values, it’s health and then happiness. Because without health I’m not happy. So here I am not focusing on my values and then I’m expected to help other people and it wasn’t happening.

Jason: 11:41 – I’m a miserable person to be around when I don’t eat right or when I don’t exercise. And I came home, it was two days ago, and my wife and I, you know, typical marital arguments, like nothing big, but I left the house and I’m like, I’m going to work out. And I came back maybe an hour later and I was like, just pleasant to be around. She’s like, did you do drugs while you were out? And I was like, I guess I kind of did, like I improved something in my brain and you know, dopamine and endorphins are running and we have this little app on our phone that we use to kind of keep points of what we’ve done. Right? And some of them are chores, but some of them are, hey, we helped each other out and she added to it exercise because she realized how important it was for our relationship for me to exercise.

Chris: 12:33 – That’s really, really interesting. And so I think a lot of the clients at our gyms probably don’t know that about themselves but probably could if we can keep them coming back often enough to figure that out. So what are the key components of making their hour at your gym the best hour of their day, Jay?

Jason: 12:52 – So let’s look at tangible things that you can go in and change right away. I would say for one, something that gets overlooked a lot is just be punctual and run your class on time. Right, back in maybe 2008 I had a coach, like you, was the first coach that I hired. Great guy. There’s a chapter in the book about him. I changed some names so I don’t remember. I think I left his name cause he’s got thick skin. His name’s Matt and he would always run class like 15 or 20 minutes long. And I said, Matt, what do you—first of all now there’s two classes overlapping. And he’s like, who cares? We’re giving these guys more. And I said well what if they have somewhere to go? You know. And so start on time and end on time, whether it’s, you know, if someone’s showing up at 5 a.m. at your gym, they’re punctual, they have somewhere to be. Start on time and end at six.

Jason: 13:44 – And if someone’s showing up at 5:00 PM, they’ve had a long day and they want to get home to their family or to do whatever they do, end on time. So little things like that. Being organized and making sure that the class isn’t about you. And what I mean by that is, you know, we talk a lot about the whiteboard brief and how that’s really the foundation of a good class. But too many people at the whiteboard just talk and talk too long. And I tell people, if you’re standing at that whiteboard for more than five minutes, this is now about you. This has nothing to do with your class. So make sure that everything you’re doing is about the members, about your community and not about you as a coach. And it starts with that organization. Have a timeline and run on time.

Chris: 14:36 – What about the personal habits of the coaches, you know, between classes?

Jason: 14:43 – Yeah, I think, you know, as a box owner, you need to make sure the people that are coaching your classes actually care about members. And it should be obvious. If you’re having to tell your coaches to stick around for 15 minutes or to get here early, they probably don’t care enough. Too many coaches or you know, whether it’s just punching in or doing it for their free membership, you know, however your box is organized, but it needs to really be about giving back to the community. As you know, and anyone listening knows, I mean there’s 15,000 affiliates and they’re all basically the same, right? We all do functional fitness, you know, based on price and based on location that has an impact on your membership. But really, at the end of the day, it’s your culture and your community that separates you from the other boxes.

Jason: 15:30 – And that comes down to what’s going on in between classes. My good friend Chuck Carswell, not to name drop, but Chuck’s a good buddy of mine. He’s in the book and one thing he said years and years ago, and he says it all the time is ask one more question and I think that’s important to take away at the box level. And you don’t need to be, you know, insane about it, you know, but that just means, hey, when you’re talking to one of your members, find out one more thing about them. Find out what makes them tick. And it really—I love that when you like talk to a member and their eyes light up because most people go through their day and they don’t ever get to talk about things that they love and reminisce about their high-school football days.

Jason: 16:19 – I mean, if we ask Chris Cooper about his, you know, hockey accomplishments his face would light up—

Chris: 16:23 – That’d be a short list.

Jason: 16:23 – I scored four goals in one game and all that kind of stuff. But, you know, it’s fun. Too often it’s all about like we want to talk, but it’s nice to just to listen. I was in Kailua, CrossFit Kailua in Hawaii, and I started talking to the owner of the box and I kept asking one more question to the point that my wife was like, we have to go, like we have to leave. But this guy was telling me just these family stories and he’s like, wow, I haven’t even thought about these in years. And it was just fun to see that and that has to be something you enjoy. If you don’t enjoy that, you might not be a good coach.

Chris: 17:08 – Hey guys, Chris Cooper here. I wrote the bestselling fitness business book of all time, but I often think about taking it off the shelves. Here’s why. Business evolves quickly and while the ideas in my book “Two-Brain Business” still have value, my program has evolved. That’s where my most recent book comes in. In “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief” I break the entrepreneur’s journey into stages because the things that work in the first stage don’t work in the second and vice versa. Everything I put in that book is based on thousands of hours on the phone with gym owners and tens of thousands of dollars in research. I know what works, when it works and why it works. I’m not just going to try and inspire you with pie-in-the-sky philosophy and memes about grinding and hustling. I’m going to give you step-by-step instructions based on what the best gyms in the world are doing to succeed. You can spin your tires like I did 10 years ago as a struggling gym owner or you can avoid my mistakes by reading a book based on a decade of knowledge. Check out “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief” on Amazon. I wrote it to help people like you. And now, back to Two-Brain Radio.

Chris: 18:12 – Ask one more question is great advice. I hope everybody here starts practicing that today. What’s one thing that you’ve learned from being around CrossFit HQ and being on seminar staff that you would tell a coach in a gym to do?

Jason: 18:31 – Continue to learn. I think too many people show up these days at the Level ones and that’s kind of the end for a lot of them. And then I also work on Level 2s and they come back and they’re terrible, like terrible coaches. You know what I’m saying, you know, if you’re listening and you have your Level 2, you know what I’m talking about. You got feedback. And I tell them like, same thing we’ve kind of discussed, like they look at me and or the other coaches on staff. Like you guys are so good. I’m like, this is what we do and we’ve put in our time. There’s not many things you can do in life not having either a mentor or not having this desire to improve and actually get better at it. Right? So you need to have this desire to get better.

Jason: 19:20 – You need to seek out better coaches. And from box owners, we often get frustrated that our coaches aren’t developing, but we’re not doing anything to foster that. And one of my biggest pet peeves is, I don’t know which groups you’re involved in online, in Facebook there’s a ton of like affiliate owner groups and I know you’re in a couple of, but I see that question all the time. Level one or Level two, which should I, you know, do? You see that question pop up. And it’s so frustrating to me because if you’re a coach, that should not be a question. I don’t understand that. Like why would you not want to get better?

Chris: 20:03 – Yeah. The answer should just be yes.

Jason: 20:07 – And I see other people chiming in. I avoid it because I don’t have the time to get sucked down that rabbit hole. One of the guys on staff, his name’s Dan Hollingsworth, I always see him commenting on it and I’m like, Dan, why do you do that? And it’s because he cares really at the end of the day. But you know, and right now, especially in the CrossFit world, they’re the same price. Back in the day, it was a little cheaper to go back and get your level one. But now I believe it’s $1,000 either way. So go on and get it. I have my Level 4 credential and we have to do CEUs for that and my mine’s about to expire in July so I need to submit it. And I was like, I went in and I said, I hope I have enough CEUs. You need 50, and I had like 102 and I still haven’t even gotten—some of the credits are still, you know, not posted yet. So it’s like clearly even—it never ends. It never ends and you shouldn’t want it to.

Chris: 21:04 – No, I mean I haven’t taken the level two but I’ve taken the Level one five times and learned something new each time.

Jason: 21:11 – What’s stopping you from taking the Level 2?

Chris: 21:12 – Nothing. Just still learning from the Level 1.

Jason: 21:16 – Yeah, it’s true. And that’s true. Like you can always go back, the level one’s always changing. The level two just changed. So you know, this year it’s brand new. The test is different. There’s nutrition portion to it. So there’s some great stuff happening. But yeah, we should always be—and I don’t want to harp on just it’s all about certificates and credentials, but that might mean as coach at a local box, just go to another box, seek out someone that’s been doing it longer or you know, there’s over 200 people on the CrossFit staff. You probably don’t live more than an hour or two from one of them. Go there once a month and learn from them. It’s the same thing I do in other aspects and I continue to do it at seminars every weekend.

Chris: 22:03 – OK. So these are like some of the most simple directives that you can do. What’s something that you’d like to stop that you see in coaches all the time? Something that kind of makes you smack your head and go, God, why do people still do that?

Jason: 22:15 – So something very small, and again, this is just, I’m not the only answer. This isn’t right or wrong. When you’re teaching a new movement, avoiding saying, don’t do this. Don’t do that. So in other words, all right guys, we’re going to do the air squat. Here’s what I want. I want you to keep your chest up. What I don’t want you to do is round your back or overextend. I want you to get below parallel. What I don’t want you to do is stop before your hip crease is—only coach the things that you want to see. All those other things are going to be opportunities to coach. But at the same time, I think we forget, hey, this might be someone’s first time ever air squatting and if I tell them don’t do X, Y, or Z, they may forget which one they should do and which one they shouldn’t do.

Jason: 23:04 – So the analogy I use, because years and years ago, I was lucky enough to train with some high-level MMA guys and Randy Couture was talking, a former UFC champion and he preached it. And that’s kind of where I took it from. But I was like, he was like, I hate the expression, don’t get taken down. So you’re in the middle of a fight, imagine, and your coach yells, don’t get taken down. Next thing you know, you get taken down, you’re on your back and you’re already upset. And I’m like, I’m in this bad position, someone’s punching me. I really shouldn’t be here. But then the second thing that’s going through your mind is, and I’ve disappointed my coach cause he told me not to do this. So it’s the same principle with CrossFit, you know, don’t do that. And now you’re like, man, I’m sorry. Do I do anything right? You know, it’s like when your wife tells you not to do something, like, do you like me at all? Like why are you here? All you do is tell me what I don’t do right. Why are we still together?

Chris: 24:01 – That’s so great man. You know, most of the debates that I get sucked into, and I honestly, I’ve tried to get out of most Facebook groups because I just don’t have time for the debates anymore. But, most of the ones that I get sucked into revolve around does a coach have to be full time to be a good, helpful, legitimate coach. And so in my mind there’s a difference between a job, a vocation and a coaching practice. Do you think there is a difference? Does somebody have to be a full-time coach to be a great coach? You know, where are the shades of gray there?

Jason: 24:39 – I don’t think you have to be full time, but I also think it helps. It’s just again, it’s time under tension. You know, if you coach two classes a week, you’re going to coach like you coach two classes a week, and it’s like anything else you do in life, you know, whatever your hobby is, if you put more time into it, you’re going to be better at it. And coaching is a skill that you can develop but also a skill that you can lose. And the more time you’re there you’re just going to also have the experience of seeing other people, coaching different types of athletes. So certainly a full-time coach is ideal. And then obviously what you’re doing out in the world is what’s helping people achieve that. Back in 2007 and 2008, it was very hard to do that. But now, I mean, I think maybe, I don’t know, you probably have a better knowledge of this, but 50% of boxes maybe have full-time staff?

Chris: 25:35 – Yeah, it’d be hard to pinpoint that statistic for sure. But more importantly than anything else, like when you and I found CrossFit, even the box owners weren’t full time. Now it’s an actual, it’s not just a vocation anymore. You can be an owner operator and make this your career. And a lot of careers are actually being built on those platforms too, which is fantastic. So this is the question I ask all professional coaches, Jay, what’s your limit? You know, how many hours of coaching, how many clients can you see in a day before you can’t put out at the Jason Ackerman level anymore?

Jason: 26:12 – Well, I’ve not been in that situation in a while, but I would say if I went back and opened a box or you know, really wanted to be full time somewhere again, which isn’t, you know, out of the realm of my, you know, thoughts, probably four to five classes a day, five would be like the upper limit. Like you said, that fifth class is diminishing and it would also not be in a row. So you know, I coach the 7:00 AM and the noon and then back to back in the afternoon. But I mean if you do more than that, it’s just, you know, coaching is not an eight hour and obviously that’s part of the challenge out there. But coaching is not an eight-hour-a-day job. You can’t expect that. And like you said, that would include 15 minutes before, 15 minutes after. So four hours of coaching is really six hours on the floor and six hours of dealing with and interacting with people. And it’s hard. It’s hard to do more than that. Absolutely.

Chris: 27:17 – OK. Jay. So to wrap up, what I’d love to have you do is go back to one of the first comments you made, which is it’s the best hour of their day, not the best hour of your day. What does that mean and what does it look like in practice?

Jason: 27:28 – I think I really hit my stride with this actually after I’d sold the boxes. I was coaching in Florida when I was living there and it was a box called North Naples CrossFit, great community. And I think that’s really where it hit home with me, what that looks like. And it’s a lot of the little things we discussed, it’s show up on time. I mean, I coached the 3:30 twice a week, but I was always there by 3, 3:15 at the latest. And that means, you know, whether it’s lights on, the music’s on. I’m kind of looking around. I have my timeline either written out or in the app, whatever the programming they were using at the time and actually doing some laying out of the class because it needs to be organized.You know, the people are there and they deserve to be coached by a professional. And it’s very obvious when you’re not prepared. And that might look like, I can tell if you’re looking at the whiteboard and seeing the workout for the first time or not, immediately. But you know, and also knowing I had the luxury of coaching the same people very often. So knowing, OK, you know, today is snatching and Theresa’s going to be here and I know kind of her limit and Eric’s going to be here and I want to push him to do this. So really thinking about that ahead of time and giving everyone that, making sure they know, hey, I’ve thought about you and I’m aware of it and I’m going to look at your form going around.

Jason: 28:53 – I would do that all the time. Hey, let me see three reps to make sure that’s a good weight for you. Or let me, you know, let’s check this out. And making sure they felt like they were actually cared for and almost like they were the only one in the class. I mean, that’s where CrossFit started from with Coach Glassman, right? One on one to two on one to four and eventually you know or more. But making sure they still feel that. And then all those other little things, spending five minutes or less at the whiteboard, making sure the general and specific warm-ups make sense. You know, setting goals for them. And I think too often it’s like, hey, here’s the workout. It’s Fran, set your weight up, versus hey Coop, I want you to be sub six today. And you know, Theresa wants you to try to go unbroken on your pull-ups.

Jason: 29:40 – You’re giving little, dangling those carrots for them to actually feel like they left accomplished, because CrossFit’s terrible at the end of the day, right? We all know how terrible it is. It hurts. Oftentimes you leave and you feel discouraged. But if I can leave you with a win, then all of a sudden you want to come back again. And if you’re the coach that’s always leaving people with the win, they accidentally enjoy being around you, right? It’s like dating someone. Like, if you just make them feel good over and over again, you know, in passing ultimately they’re like, I want to be around that person, and that’s who you want to be as a coach.

Chris: 30:20 – And I think actually Jay that you just pointed out, the missing link in going from one on one to two on one et cetera, up to group is that the group members still have to feel like they’re being coached individually. And I think that a lot of gym owners in my experience miss that. And is that something that you’re seeing in coaches too?

Jason: 30:39 – Yeah. Well, and it’s hard. I mean, so many boxes. I mean, we talk at the level twos and I’ll often ask like, how many do you coach? And then there’ll be people with significantly less experience than me coaching 20 to 30 people in a class. You know, and having done that myself, I know I’m not as effective as a coach. And you know, this is a business ultimately and you need to make money. But part of that is the issue. How do we figure out how to make that happen in these larger classes? Is it limit class size? Is it bringing on more secondary coaches? And there are ways to kind of mitigate that problem. But really at the end of the day, even if you are that coach coaching 30, find one win that you can give somebody, just one little thing and it doesn’t have to be always a PR, you know.

Jason: 31:30 – Again, Fran, the ultimate example is, hey, today your only goal is to go unbroken on those 15 thrusters. Like that’s a huge win. I remember the first time I did that in Fran, you know when I’m broken for the first—I don’t care if it takes you a minute longer than your previous time, but I need you to do that. And I love it at the level ones, I always tell people at level one, so the workout, you know, not a complete spoiler, but it’s thrusters and burpees and around the second round people pick up the bar and they, I can see it in their eyes. They’re like, what is happening? Like, cause they go crazy on round one and then immediately they’re like, I cannot do that again on round two. And I’ll find that person that I can tell doesn’t want to do it but can do it. And I get in their face and I make sure they hold onto that bar and go unbroken. And then afterwards they’re always so grateful and thankful. Like I’ve never pushed myself like that, because now it’s eye opening. Now it’s you can do that all the time without me. It helps when someone’s in your face yelling, but you don’t need me there. So if I can show that to, you know, Theresa or Eric at the box, now when they come to someone else’s class, they still know what they can do. And that’s, you know, again, now it’s making it the best hour of their day even when you’re not there.

Chris: 32:47 – Well, being put on a podium would definitely be the best hour of my day. And I’m sure that most people don’t even get to hear praise anywhere else in their life like I do. So, I think this is an amazing book. It’s probably more important to read this book than to take your Level 2. Would you agree with that Jay? Just kidding. I’m just kidding. But critical. I mean, you know, people go to the seminars and they learn cues and tactics and stuff, but you know what most people call the soft skills I think really are the real skills and Jay’s a living testament to success in coaching. He’s coached probably 10,000 other coaches by now easily and this is really the message that I think all coaches should hear. So Jay, thanks a lot for writing this book, man, and thanks for sharing some of the highlights with us.

Jason: 33:35 – Well thanks for having me again Coop and thanks for all you’ve done for the community as well. I would not have had the opportunity to write this without you, so I appreciate it.

Chris: 33:43 – Thanks man. Take care.

Andrew: 33:49 – Thanks for listening to Two-Brain Radio. Be sure to subscribe for more great episodes, and if you’d like to learn how a mentor can help you build a successful business, book a free call at Chris Cooper’s team will show you exactly how you can add $5,000 a month in revenue and move closer to your Perfect Day. Visit today.


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!

To share your thoughts:


To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help, and we read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes.
Emily Bridgers: Five-Time Games Athlete, First-Time Mom

Emily Bridgers: Five-Time Games Athlete, First-Time Mom

Sean: 00:05 – Hi everybody. Welcome to another edition of Two-Brain Radio with Sean Woodland. On today’s episode, I talk with five-time individual CrossFit Games athlete, Emily Bridgers. First, over the last month, I’ve interviewed some truly amazing guests like Stacie Tovar, Tanya Wagner, Adrian Bozman, Chris Hinshaw, Rory Mckernan, Julie Foucher and more, so if you’ve missed out on this stuff, check out our archives for the best stories from the fitness community and to avoid FOMO, please subscribe to Two-Brain Radio. I’ve got a great guest coming every single week. Emily Bridgers has competed at the Games five times as an individual and once on a team. She made her individual debut in 2014 when she finished a career-best sixth overall in Carson. Her final year competing was in 2018. Emily and I talk about her gymnastics career, how that led her to CrossFit and what fitness looks like now for her now that she’s the mother of a three-month-old girl. Thanks for listening, everybody. Emily, thank you so much for being here. How you doing today?

Emily: 01:14 – Doing well, thanks for having me.

Sean: 01:16 – You started gymnastics at three years old. What do you remember about being involved in that sport at that young age?

Emily: 01:27 – I remember a good bit. I remember starting in this little mommy and me class at a rec center nearby. I have a few memories of it. I remember quite a bit from when I was four and I was put in a class with two other girls that I ended up like growing up in the gym with.

Sean: 01:50 – You said your competitive career, I read this, started at seven years old. How did that experience influence your early career as an athlete?

Emily: 02:03 – I mean I remember being seven years old and like nervous to compete but like nervous in a good way that, you know, fuels adrenaline and like I already cared about what I was doing. I wasn’t just like flopping around like some little kids are, I like wanted to do well. And I mean I think a lot of what you do under age 12 determines a lot of just like athletic development and mental toughness and things like that.

Sean: 02:34 – Gymnastics is such a unique sport because of how grueling it can be at such a young age. How did you deal with that as a kid?

Emily: 02:42 – Yeah, I mean the hours tend to ramp up really quick as you start going, you know, three times a week and then that goes to five times a week and then sometimes that goes to six times a week. So yeah, the demand is high. I never even went to the elite level, which is, you know, what you do to compete internationally and try to qualify the Olympics, but I still trained 25 hours a week. So yeah, the training age on your body adds up pretty quickly by the time you’re 18 years old or you know, if you go to college with it, it takes a big toll on your body. I remember one year in college, I think 11 of my teammates got surgery during the summer. So I mean it says a lot to what you have to deal with in order to be really good.

Sean: 03:31 – You mentioned the physical toll it can take. What kind of mental toll does that sort of regimen take on you?

Emily: 03:38 – I mean, honestly, gymnastics takes an enormous amount of discipline and you know, growing up you have to make a lot of sacrifices with friends and I mean your best friends end up being your friends in the gym. But honestly I would say CrossFit takes much more of a mental toll because it’s so much more suffering. Whereas gymnastics was more like fun. Like learning new skills was thrilling. The competition aspect was, you know, high pressure, you only get one chance if you fall, that kind of ruins your entire meet. But mentally I think I was still pretty sane.

Sean: 04:17 – You were obviously pretty good. You got to go to the university of Georgia and be part of their gymnastics team. But what ended your career?

Emily: 04:25 – Yeah, so, basically I was recruited. I had a few options and I ended up walking on at Georgia to be close to home and just, I really meshed with the team the most there. I went through my freshman year, we were undefeated that season. I didn’t get to compete a whole lot because I was on the team with like a bunch of former Olympians and only six people compete on every event. So oftentimes I would be that seventh person that was trying to make their way in. But I was also dealing with a lot of back pain that I hadn’t identified exactly what it was at the time. Doctors told me I had degenerative discs, but I sort of dismissed that as like, oh, well that’s going to get worse whether I stay in gymnastics or not. So I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to that. But I ended up retiring after my freshman year and then found out I had a compression fracture. So I dealt with that after the fact.

Sean: 05:29 – What did that then do to your competitive fire?

Emily: 05:36 – So when I was done with gymnastics, I had been doing it for about 16 years or essentially most of my life. And I went through a phase where I did not want to be inside of a gym at all. I was kind of just like turned off by the idea of being inside and like kind of like I wasted my whole life being inside these four walls. But so I took up running and you know, just started running a whole lot. That’s actually when I noticed my back was getting worse and determined the compression fracture. So during the time of dealing with the fracture, I went into a pool and like did all my workouts as swimming workouts. So this is all kind of like leading up to helping my CrossFit career, which I had no idea what was going to happen.

Emily: 06:24 – But eventually I, you know, went back to just regular gym workouts. And one of my former teammate’s brothers introduced us to CrossFit. And so we started following I had really had no idea what I was doing cause we were doing it on our own, but we would pick the body-weight workouts and do those and post our score. And then after I left Athens, which was the college town, was when I officially was like, oh, well maybe I should go to a CrossFit gym and figure out what I’m doing.

Sean: 06:56 – What was it about CrossFit that hooked you?

Emily: 07:01 – Well, I think I had a little bit of like anger and resentment about my gymnastics career being done not on my own terms, so when I found it, I mean I had gained a little bit of weight from college. I, you know, I had still been working out throughout those, I guess four years that I had off. But I started just to get back in shape. But then I realized like I was able to like let out that anger and when I started being the best one in class, that kind of fueled me as like, oh, I’m the best at something again. And then I just wanted to be better and better and better. And we had like somewhat of an older gym population. So I didn’t know if I was actually good at CrossFit in comparison to others my age. So that the first year of the Open rolled around in 2011 and that was kind of like the first competitive thing that I did. I think I got about 50th in the world that year, so I determined that I might actually be decent at CrossFit.

Sean: 08:05 – What was it like then? Not only finding out that, OK, I’m good at this, but then setting the goal of getting to the CrossFit Games and actually achieving it?

Emily: 08:16 – Yeah, so I guess 2011 was when I found out that there was a CrossFit Games and I remember a group of us from our gym sitting down and watching the live stream. I had competed at Regionals, so I knew what it was. Yeah. That was 2011. But I didn’t necessarily set a goal of making the Games until the next year. So I got ninth at Regionals in 2011 and like, essentially that was my first competition. I didn’t have weightlifting shoes. I didn’t have a belt. I didn’t really even have like the same clothes that everybody else had. So I was like, OK, I should probably get serious about this. Like at that point, I wasn’t even ever going into the gym on the weekends. So I decided to start going to the gym on Saturdays, which was a big deal. And then going into 2011 I was like, well maybe I should do some stuff outside of class. And then I really wanted to make the Games in 2012. Cause I was like, if I can get ninth in my first competition, I can for sure get top three the next year, which didn’t happen.

Sean: 09:26 – How did what you have been through with gymnastics and the way that is regimented, how did that help you amp your training up for CrossFit?

Emily: 09:35 – Well I guess it sort of felt like the same, you know, going to gymnastics practice every day was like a routine. You would go to school, you would go to practice four or five, six days a week. So that’s kinda what CrossFit training felt like for me. Just with the opposite schedule. So I’d go in every morning, get my training in, and then at that time I was coaching gymnastics in the afternoons. So it just kind of became my daily routine. Wake up, workout, do the class workout, maybe do a little bit of extra and then eat and then go coach the little kids I was coaching.

Sean: 10:12 – You finally make it to the Games in 2014. What was it like showing up to Carson, California, for your very first CrossFit Games?

Emily: 10:21 – It was awesome. I mean, so 2012, I missed it by one spot and I ended up going as a spectator. Seeing that in person really fueled the fire. The next year I got fifth at Regionals and I was able to go on a team in 2013. I didn’t have a whole lot of fun, but I did get to compete in the tennis stadium. After I competed as a team, every day I would just sit up in the stands and watch the individuals and, you know, kind of take notes and see what there was to do. Cause I kind of knew in the back of my head like this is where I’m going to be next year. Even though I had already missed it twice. So yeah, 2014, I was prepared. I, you know, I was used to the crowd because of gymnastics. So it wasn’t one of those moments where I was like necessarily like star struck or like feared the crowd or anything like that. I definitely was fueled by it. The first event in the tennis stadium was the one-rep-max overhead squat. And I just remember like feeling the nerves, but knowing that the nerves were a good thing.

Sean: 11:34 – You take sixth overall that year and you finished second in Midline March. I mean, that’s a heck of a performance. What stands out to you about those four days that you had as your first individual competition at the CrossFit Games?

Emily: 11:47 – So I had a really good first day. I was proud of myself for swimming in the ocean for the first time and I did pretty well. I think I left the first day, like in 10th or 11, so I was like really excited. Like, oh cool. Like I’m in there with the rest of the girls. And then I remember Friday and Saturday being kind of just like very frustrating for me because you know, at Regionals you can take a lot of first place or top three finishes. And then at the Games I would get mad when I would get 10th place. But as the years went on, I realized that like 10th place at the Games, like you should probably be excited about that. But I was pissed. It’s like I remember Saturday I was like crying to Ben and he’s like, you don’t have to do this. And then I went into Sunday and had like an amazing Sunday and was like, OK, never mind, forget about what happened on Saturday. That was me being dramatic. So yeah, I would say that I definitely wanted to win. And I think that’s, you know, almost good being naive as a rookie. And I mean, you see that happen. We’ve seen that happen quite a few times in CrossFit where a rookie goes in and almost has like too high of expectations, but it helps them.

Sean: 13:06 – How did that performance motivate you then moving forward?

Emily: 13:14 – It opened up a lot of opportunities. That’s kind of when I started signing sponsorships and things that, I mean I hadn’t made a dollar in four years of doing CrossFit. I had only spent a lot of money trying to get to competitions and things. So it made it easier in that aspect. And then it was just like I wanted to continue to compete. I think two or three weeks after the Games I went to Granite Games that year and then it was just like one of those where you keep getting invited to things and I kept wanting to say yes to every opportunity. And then, you know, you get to train with people who are the same or better than you, which just, it made it a really enjoyable process. So I continued to get better and better those next few years.

Sean: 14:02 – The 2015 Games started off pretty well for you. You finished eighth in Murph, but not everything was well with you at that point. What happened after that event?

Emily: 14:16 – Yeah, so the 2015 to 2016 Games are probably like my biggest disappointments of my entire career. Because I was no doubt the fittest that I’ve ever been. But I, you know, hindsight’s 20/20, but you know, leading into the Games at that point we didn’t know many of the events, but what we did know is that we had that sandbag over the wall event that was really not good as a short athlete. But you know, I made it through, I think I got 30th place out of 40, so I was pretty happy with that. And then the only other thing we knew at that point was that there was a snatch ladder and a max clean and jerk. And so going into Murph, I was like, well I guess I gotta you know, give it my all in Murph cause I mean my goal was to win the Games that year.

Emily: 15:03 – So I’m like, all right, if I’m going to start out with a 30th place finish, like I’ve got a bust ass in the ones that I know I can do well. So Murph, I took eighth place, I was really happy, I felt fine. But I didn’t realize the toll that it was going to take that night in Heavy DT. I realized something might be wrong with my arms, like jerks are one of my best movements. And I was like failing to lock them out. And then the next day I woke up and was just completely wrecked and it just continued to get worse and worse as the weekend went on. So honestly that year, I think it was an accomplishment to even finish the Games. But I was pretty mad. I got 24th place that year and it just, I felt like it didn’t represent where I was at, but it also exposed a big weakness, which was recovering between days of competition. So I worked on that in the coming years. But 2016 didn’t prove to be much better.

Sean: 16:09 – That event, you know, Murph and that Games in particular, you know, wrecked a lot of people after that point, why did you decide, even though you knew you weren’t 100%, why did you decide to keep competing?

Emily: 16:24 – Because I’m a competitor and I mean, I felt like it was like giving up to back out at that point. I mean it was tough. Like I think Saturday it started out with like, maybe like sprints on the field. So I was like, well, I don’t need my arms for that one. Oh yeah, it was like the hurdle event. So I kind of was like, OK, well at least do that. And then the next one was like the Pig and legless rope climbs and handstand walks and I was able to do that in the warm-up area. So, you know, it was basically like I took it one at a time and then, I mean the hardest part was going into the final and realizing that it could have been a really good event for me. That was the first year we saw the pegboard, but at that point I had very little function of my arms.

Emily: 17:14 – So just like, I don’t know, knowing that I was going to go out there and give it my best shot. And obviously at that point I think like two or three people even made the pegboard once. So it wasn’t like I stood out that much. But in the warm-up area, it was the first time in my life that it was questionable whether I could even do a handstand or not. So you know, I went out and it was, we had parallette handstand push-ups. I think I got five total. But honestly that was a victory at that point. Versus just going home and saying I didn’t make it through.

Sean: 17:51 – Hey guys, before we go any further with Emily Bridgers, I wanted to ask you a question. Remember when pictures of bloody hands and vomit attracted clients to your gym? Well that stopped working in about 2011 or so. It’s also not enough to be a great coach or programmer. The key to success in 2020 is building a personal relationship with each client, then helping that client’s friends and family. Total ad spend on that? $0. The average gym owner can also add $45,000 a year in revenue just by keeping each client a few months longer. Two-Brain’s new Affinity Marketing and Retention guides will give you everything you need to know. You can get both and 13 other guides and books for free. Visit And now more with Emily Bridgers. You have this experience in 2014 where you leave the Games and you’re really happy with what happened and then you fast forward a year and now you’re disappointed. How did you deal with the off season then in 2015 that was so much different than what you had just been through?

Emily: 19:01 – Yeah. I mean, I did a lot of—like in the month after that, it was a lot of recovery and I dwelled a lot on the leaderboard. I went back and, you know, I would look at who placed better than me in certain events and like was pretty bitter just cause I knew that I was better than some of these people. But you know, you can say that all that all day long but it’s kind of like when you compete against them in other events and the Open was always really good for me. So anyway, I had to let that go and just move on to the next year and just have fun with it again. Like things like the team series and the liftoff really kind of like, were very fun times for me. Getting to travel around, make friends, go different places with different sponsors, like it fuels you to keep wanting to do the sport. So I guess just learning like it wasn’t just about that one event every year. There’s a whole season that you start making a lifestyle out of it. And I mean that’s what kept me going.

Sean: 20:13 – Your final appearance as an individual at the Games was in 2018 and I know it ended earlier and much differently than you wanted it to. So first off, what happened to you that year in Madison?

Emily: 20:24 – Yeah, so going into the 2018 Games, well really 2017, I was debating on that being my last Games just because I had just turned 30. We knew we wanted to have kids. I was kind of over winning the CrossFit Games, but at that point I was still making a career out of it. I was able to, you know, manage owning a gym and still competing. But I had a pretty good year in 2017. We had a lot of fun going to Madison the first time. So Ben and I kind of looked at each other on the last day of the Games and we’re like, all right, we’re going to do this one more time. So I committed to doing it one more time that day. And there was a lot of times that fall trying, I just, I was kinda just tired of suffering all the time, like knowing what it took to get continue to get better at that point after like seven years of training and you know, it just, it hurt.

Emily: 21:21 – But you know, you would still have days where you’re like, dang, I’m still getting better. Like, guess I got to keep going. So I got through that year of training and we had a few different things happen during the open. Our dog died who was 17. My grandpa died, Ben got in a car accident. So it was just like a rough series of few weeks getting through the 2018 open. So Regionals, I just tried to like take the expectations down a little bit. I even bet Ben going into Regionals that if I won I could get a puppy.

Sean: 21:58 – I remember that, that was great.

Emily: 21:58 – And I came pretty close. But that was like, that was the most fun Regionals I’ve ever had. Like the people that came from Terminus, we got to hang out at the hotel every night. Like they were all there cheering me on.

Emily: 22:10 – I set a couple of records for the first time. So yeah, it was just a really fun year leading into the Games. And to answer your question, we get to the 2018 Games and I mean, I knew it was my last one. I was kinda sad about it, but kind of excited. You know, I had been preparing all year that this was it. You know, a lot of competitors I think stay quiet because they don’t know whether it’s going to be their last year. We’re all pretty psycho, so you never know if you’re gonna like get the urge to just do it again. Like Sam Briggs I think has retired about seven times, but I was certain so I wanted to make it known. You know, I didn’t care if like sponsors chose to keep me around or not due to that decision.

Emily: 23:03 – So I made it through the first day or two. I made it through the marathon row and then the next day was, what was that? It was called Battlefield. First event on Friday. That was when I went over the wall and I landed and my ankle was facing the wrong way and I immediately knew, I mean I pretty much immediately knew that my Games were over. Medical came running over and I was like, is my foot facing the wrong way? Is my foot facing the wrong way? And they’re like, yes, it’s going to be OK. We’re going to get you a brace. And you know, they laid me down on my back, taking my pulse because I guess dislocations can be a big deal. But at that moment my foot popped back into place. So I like stood up and was like, is it OK if I keep going?

Emily: 23:57 – Like the huge cargo net was next. So in the back of my head. I’m like, there’s no way I’m making it up that cargo net. So anyway, that ended my Games because there was a certain time cap I was going to have to put back on my shoe and I went to medical and my foot dislocated again. So that actually like was terrible, but it gave me peace of mind that like, OK, this is actually really bad and I needed to come off the field. So yeah, that was disappointing, especially because I missed all the fun events that year. I missed the first handstand obstacle course. I don’t remember the other events, but I mean I had a good time watching and still trying to be as much of a part of it as I could. The ankle was just, you know, at that point everybody’s like one more year. I’m like, no, no, no.

Sean: 24:47 – Well, so why wasn’t there one more year?

Emily: 24:52 – I mean, I was already mentally prepared to be done. So in my head I was going to be done in two days anyway. So the commitment to do a whole other year is like a huge commitment. And then that was at the time where there was all those changes to the season. And honestly, it took a long time, I mean, my ankle is still not recovered, so it ended up being actually worse than I thought it was. I mean, granted, I probably would have rehabbed a little better knowing that I was still competing, but yeah, we were ready to have kids, I guess. I mean, I wanted a little bit, I wanted about, you know, I wanted a little bit of time to just relax and enjoy life. So we didn’t like leave the Games like, oh, we’re going to have a kid tomorrow. But I mean, it did happen pretty quickly. So by January I found out I was pregnant and there was no turning back after that. But like at that point, you know, people would ask like, are you ever going to compete again? And I was like, no, I’ve competed for however many years now since I was seven years old. I think I’m done competing. But now I’m like, you know, I don’t want to say never, but like there’s definitely no thought of competing in the immediate future.

Sean: 26:16 – You mentioned that you became a mother late last year. What is life like now for you as a parent?

Emily: 26:25 – Yes. So it’s just really like balancing everything. I mean number-one priority is taking care of Riley, and then, you know, managing the gym. But then I realized pretty quickly, you know, in pregnancy I worked out the whole time, but those workouts were different and I missed doing lot of things and you know, things that you hated for a long time. For instance, like running for me, I’m like, man, I would do anything to go for a run right now. So, you know, as soon as I was able to work out again, I’m like, all right, I want to take advantage of every day, no matter what, I’m going to get something done. So just figuring that out. Also during pregnancy we moved a little further away from the gym, so we used to live one mile away from Terminus, which is easy and convenient, but we decided to move closer to my parents and Ben’s parents and our babysitters, that is.

Emily: 27:22 – So now we’re about 25 minutes on a good day, 45 minutes on a bad day away from the gym, which, you know, makes a big difference when you have a baby. So I actually, I kind of keep this on the down low to our Terminus members, but I joined another CrossFit gym. So that’s like, you know, three minutes away so I can just go in, get it done, get in, get out and I have no responsibility. So I try to do that gym about two days a week and I get to Terminus about three to four days a week. An, luckily we developed a good staff while I was pregnant, so they kind of hold down the fort on the times where I’m not able to be there.

Sean: 28:02 – What does your training look like now?

Emily: 28:07 – It just looks like an hour of class workouts a day. And you know, I went to like a postpartum PT and I tried to do the homework that she gave me. I told her my ankle was still bothering me, so she gave me some PT for that. So basically I just try to get there a few minutes early to warm up, do some PT exercises, do the class and then, I don’t know, the last few days I’m like, well maybe I should play around with a few other things. I tried muscle-ups for the first time. But yeah, just, I don’t know, not putting any pressure on it and just getting something in. Whether it’s, you know, hopping on a rower for 20 minutes or taking a class just, it doesn’t look anything like it looked before, put it that way.

Sean: 28:51 – Do you find that you are enjoying yourself more in the gym now?

Emily: 28:57 – Yeah, I mean I’ve always loved working out and like, I’ll always love the suffering aspect, but like there’s a difference between pushing yourself through one 10-minute workout as hard as you can and doing that four times a day, you know, seven days, six days a week or whatever it was. And just like planning your whole day around training versus like, all right, I just have to plan this one hour we’re getting in, we’re getting out. So I mean like there’s some days where I would like to do more than I’m doing right now, but I definitely am loving it again. I think anytime you have a setback where you can’t work out, it kind of just, I dunno, it makes you appreciate it lot more in the future. So like anytime I do something new or lift a heavy weight again, it’s kind of like a new accomplishment again.

Sean: 29:52 – One day your daughter is going to be old enough to understand what you did as a competitor during your career. What do you want her to take from knowing about that?

Emily: 30:05 – I mean really I want her to develop like the mental toughness side more than anything. And kind of like that never-quit mentality. Like always following through with a task and obviously just living a healthy lifestyle. I mean, I loved growing up in a gym. I feel like it helped shaped me to the person that I am. So I think, you know, in the next few years we’ll start her in gymnastics. If she likes it, I’ll let her keep going. If she hates it, she doesn’t have to do it. But, I mean, hopefully we can ingrain the fact that fitness is a lifelong thing that’s not something to dread. It’s not punishment; it’s what makes you a better person.

Sean: 30:52 – How do you turn off the competitive side of yourself when you do walk into the gym?

Emily: 31:00 – It’s really difficult. Right now in my gym, we have a couple people that are pretty good, pretty good. One girl I coached as a gymnast starting when she was 16 and she actually ended up going to University of Michigan and became a college rower. So she has like the gymnastics background, the endurance background, and now she’s going on about two years of CrossFit. Right before I got pregnant, we were going head to head in like every workout. So I was still like being kind of competitive with her. And throughout my pregnancy she got really strong and really fit. And the idea of me beating her again is pretty like pretty far off. And it actually bothers me a lot. So we still text about our workouts quite often and you know, I still, for whatever reason, I still want to get better or like, you know, I know that I might never get as good as I was before, but there’s always that I want to get better than I was the day before mentality.

Emily: 32:04 – So I don’t know if you can shut it off. In order for me to watch the Games this year or in 2019, I like set up a betting pool on it and like, so I dunno, it kept it interesting. I was like, I don’t want to have any like personal biases. It was fun, but yeah, I don’t think you ever turn off the competitive mentality. I don’t want to be like the crazy gym mom with Riley if she does end up being good at something. But I can see how it does happen because at some point you got to turn off that the competitive mentality a little bit if you don’t want to focus on yourself all the time.

Sean: 32:47 – You mentioned that never say never about maybe coming back to the competitive side of things, what would it take to get you back into the competition side of CrossFit?

Emily: 32:55 – Yeah, so like, one of the most fun things that I did in my CrossFit career was the three years, the team series with Scott and Stacie. One of those years with Paul Tremblay. And so there was always a team at CrossFit Terminus that like wanted me to go team. But you know, this sounds bad, but I was like, I don’t want to go team unless I know that we can have a chance of winning the CrossFit Games. And so I was like, if we ever were able to form super teams, I would go team because it was just so fun. It was part, you know, I was part of a team in college. I would do it again, you know, but that wasn’t an option until like probably three weeks after I retired, they announced there was going to be super teams and I’m like, dang, of course they did this now. So I guess if I did it again, it might be in that aspect. But I don’t know.

Sean: 33:53 – So you’re saying there’s a chance.

Emily: 33:53 – It would take me having to get much stronger than I am right now.

Sean: 34:01 – Final question. What’s your message now for the new generation of CrossFit athletes who are starting to take over the spotlight at this point?

Emily: 34:12 – Oh, that’s tough. I think I said the other day, like if you’re a coach, fall in love with the people first. Like if you can’t relate to people, do not even try to make a living off of being a coach because you can love fitness all day long, but if you don’t love helping people, it’s just not going to work out. And kind of the same thing goes for competition. Like you know, people are inspired by watching it and motivated by seeing their progress. But there’s something, a little psycho about all the people that continue to make the Games year after year and it’s that they really love the pain and the suffering and all the like brutal stuff that goes behind it. You know, it’s not just doing a 20-minute workout, it’s doing a 20-minute workout to the point where you feel like you are going to pass out and that happens every single day.

Emily: 35:01 – So, I guess just like making sure that you truly love it. Like you love it when you work out with your best training partners, you love it when you’re doing it in your garage gym alone. You love it if you have music blasting, you love it if you’re doing it in silence. You know, like make sure that you can’t go a few days without it. And then like as things have gone on, social media has become so big. The gym was always like my sacred place where like I could put my phone away and you know, I think that’s part of why I don’t have as many training videos as other people, but now it’s even escalated to like a whole new level where there’s like, you got to have a vlog, you gotta have like a media team. And I guess I would just like say that you know that’s great and like you can make a living by doing that, but like don’t feel like you have to do that because the main thing is like, are you getting better? Are you getting stronger? Are you getting faster? It’s not like, did you make sure to post that workout on your Instagram today? Because there’s a lot of things that I’ve done that never made the Instagram highlight reel.

Sean: 36:11 – I know. Did a CrossFit workout happen if you don’t post it on Instagram?

Emily: 36:14 – Right. No, I still like to use that platform and like it’s been so helpful in some ways, but like it’s still—if working out is your happy place, like put your phone away sometimes because it’s only getting worse. Like that’s the only time of the day where I can get away from it. So I guess those are my two takeaways for the upcoming generation.

Sean: 36:40 – Emily, listen, thank you so much for taking the time to do this. Best of luck with your family and, you know, fingers crossed that maybe we see you back out there on the competition floor again sometime.

Emily: 36:50 – Thank you. I appreciate it. Thanks for being in touch.

Sean: 36:53 – Big thanks to Emily Bridgers for taking the time to talk with me today. If you want to follow her on Instagram, you can find her @EmilyBridgers, all one word. Thanks for listening to Two-Brain Radio. Please remember to subscribe and leave us a review. I’m Sean Woodland and I’ll be back with more great stories from the fitness community every week. Be sure to check out our archives for interviews with your favorite athletes, coaches, and personalities. Thanks again for listening everybody, 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.

Thanks for listening!

To share your thoughts:


To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help, and we read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes.
How to Write Facebook Ads That Make People Click and Buy

How to Write Facebook Ads That Make People Click and Buy

Mike: 00:02 – All right, we’ve left the fitness machine on and it is cranking out so much fitness we have to give this stuff away. For this month only, buy a membership and get a free toaster? Do people still do this? I need help. Mateo, Mateo. Should I give away toasters in my ad like for free?

Mateo: 00:16 – Well Mike, actually to answer that question, it’s a little bit more complicated than just saying yes or no. I think that toaster might make your ad a little bit more compelling, but there’s definitely a certain group of people who would advise you to not give stuff away. So we should probably talk about it.

Mike: 00:34 – Yeah. And the low-carb guys aren’t going to want the toaster. I might have to have a back-up. Let’s talk about it. Tell you what we’ll do. We’ll devote this week’s episode of Two-Brain Radio, we’ll devote it to writing ad copy. Mateo Lopez has written thousands of ads. We’re going to talk to him and get some advice. I’m Mike Warkentin, I’ll be your host for this week and we’ll be back with Two-Brain Radio right after this.

Mike: 00:52 – If you want to add $5,000 in monthly revenue to your gym, it can be done. If you want to know exactly how, talk to a Two-Brain mentor for free. Book a call it at and we’ll tell you how to add $5,000 to your monthly revenue. Mateo, have you seen a gym do that, add five grand in revenue?

Mateo: 01:09 – Oh, countless.

Mike: 01:11 – Countless. It is not a gimmick, it is actually a thing. So book that call. Now we’re going to tell you how to make some money via some ads. We’re talking about ad copy. I’ve written a few of these. My claim to fame, Mateo, is actually in the advertising industry. I once wrote a 30-second car commercial in less than 30 seconds. That’s probably the coolest thing I’ve ever done.

Mateo: 01:31 – That actually is pretty cool.

Mike: 01:32 – Yeah, I thought it was funny cause I got so sick of writing them, I just started hammering them out and I thought I could do it one time and I actually managed to do it. I don’t know if it sold any cars, but it was fun for me.

Mateo: 01:42 – Oh no, that’s awesome. That’s great. You should probably just do this whole episode without me. That sounds amazing.

Mike: 01:48 – Well I don’t think it was a very good ad. So I think I’m gonna need you. You’ve probably made more sales than I have. So let me ask you the first question right off the top. Do you need to be a professional writer to write a good ad? What’s your background?

Mateo: 02:00 – No. The answer your question is no, that’s the short answer. So the long answer is also no. Keep going, Mike. The long answer is also no.

Mike: 02:16 – So how did you get into it? Cause I know like we’ve talked on previous shows, you worked at a gym and you know, you do a lot of different things. But when did you decide that you were going to be able to write advertising copy?

Mateo: 02:27 – Well, I want to put a quick caveat in here. John Franklin, my partner, writes a lot of the ad copy for sure. He’s kind of the brains behind that operation. I’ve written some ads though before and definitely feel confident in giving you all the tips on the ins and outs of copywriting 101. But I just wanted to throw that out there.

Mike: 02:50 – But you told me that you guys are basically two halves of one amulet, right? Like I put you guys together, I don’t even need to talk to both of you. I just talk to one of you.

Mateo: 02:55 – No, a hundred, 100%. Yeah, in terms of my background. Yeah, no, I think I was, I don’t know, in school—I think I can toot my own horn a little that I was pretty good at writing essays, and you know, I think critical reading on the SAT was probably my highest score. So reading and writing, I would say I’m pretty confident in spelling and writing and reading, but yes, copywriting is a totally different art and something that honestly, I wish you did learn in school. Because it’s one of those skills that I think is really important to learn and develop. There’s a guy does a copywriting course, but he spells it with a K, I think his name is Neville Medhora. He says “copywriting is the rearranging of words to make things sell better.”

Mateo: 03:52 – And it’s just the text form of sales. So, you know, it’s a really awesome and vital skill to develop and to learn. Having said that, you don’t need to be a pro at it. You don’t need to put in what is it? You have to put in 10,000 hours to become a master or a professional of some thing, right? You don’t need to put in your 10,000 hours. Because I think the most important part about creating a successful ad campaign, a successful ad, period, is the offer. Right? It doesn’t really matter how many, you know, references you’re able to weave into pop culture to make it sound more relatable. It doesn’t matter how many jokes you can squeeze in or wordplay, it really just comes down to the offer. That would kind of be my stance on it. So, you know, you can have some ad copy with spelling mistakes. I know we’ve had some and it won’t matter if your offer is amazing, it really won’t matter. So that’s kinda my take on it.

Mike: 04:58 – Yeah, that’s fascinating cause I’ve had the same experience where I spent 20 years doing journalism, things like that and brief periods here and there running a business and a working radio for a bit, I did write some ad copy and it’s completely different and it’s almost I have to take off one hat and completely put on a different one because it is not the same language anymore. And again, like you said, spelling mistakes, sometimes the way that you would write quote unquote grammatically correct is not how you want to do it in an ad. I’ve seen lots of ads that use much more casual language or even insert errors on sometimes on purpose just to like pique up someone’s ears. So yeah, it’s a fascinating thing.

Mateo: 05:30 – Especially if we’re talking about Facebook ads and Instagram, you’re using emojis, you know, you’re not using emoji in your college application letter.

Mike: 05:39 – Modern hieroglyphics, that’s how we communicate now.

Mateo: 05:42 – No, you’re not doing that. And you mentioned journalism. I mean, yeah, headlines, they’re most of the time not grammatically correct. Purposely so, they want to be short and punchy and eye-catching. So, it’s a weird kind of sphere of writing. You can be really good at writing sales copy in wood and would write a terrible poem or a terrible piece in a journalistic newspaper and you can have an amazing journalist who would probably be really bad at, you know, selling that free toaster online.

Mike: 06:17 – We’ve seen some amazing, amazing ad copy people come out of just the marketing group. Like we look at some of the stuff that I see our people go through. And these are just gym owners. Some of them obviously have some writing skills, some of them have some training and so forth, but many of them are just gym owners who have gone through the course that you guys do, learn how to do it and they’re creating some amazing stuff. So it can be learned, too.

Mateo: 06:37 – Oh yeah, it can definitely be learned. The tricky bit is, you know, and that’s why when you called me about doing this episode on copywriting, I was a little bit intimidated because, you know, there are people who have dedicated their own online course seminars, hundreds and hundreds and thousands of books dedicated to this subject alone. So squeezing it into a 30-minute podcast is going to be tough, but we’re going to try.

Mike: 07:05 – Let’s go right into it and I’ll ask you. So you know, you and John have written thousands of ads. Give me the 10,000-foot view of what does your process look like? Where does your idea come from? How do you sit down and start doing this thing? Like do you have offer first or copy first or what do you do?

Mateo: 07:17 – Yeah, you definitely want the—it’s easier when you have your offer and kind of the, you know, we can even talk about some of the stuff we’ve created for Two-Brain. You know, it’s typically, you know, Chris wants to offer some kind of piece of valuable information to the gym owners in our audience. And then from there we’re able to craft the copy and it’s like, all right, well what’s the actual end result that, you know, this video, this webinar, this ebook, this PDF guide that you’ve designed, Mike, what is the value that we’re gonna give away here? What’s the end result for the gym owner after they read this or watch this or consume this piece of media? And once we have that we can more effectively, you know, write the ad copy. So yeah, it’s definitely easy to—

Mike: 08:06 – Like what you’re solving, you’re figuring out like this thing is—people want to click on this thing for a reason. They’re called lead magnets. We’re going to get into that in another show, but they’re clicking on this thing that once you know why this person might want this thing, you’re probably able to then start framing your copy around their emotions, their needs, their wants.

Mateo: 08:24 – Yeah, exactly. And again the more compelling or rather the more attractive, the more value you’re giving away in the offer, the more attractive the offer is, the more compelling the offer is, you know, the easier it is to write the copy. I mean, you know, you’ve seen the ads for the free six-week challenge. It’s not hard to write ad copy for that because that’s pretty awesome. Especially if it’s at a CrossFit gym. You know, people have now come to understand CrossFit gyms are you know, a little bit more expensive than your Planet Fitness, your Blink, your, you know, whatever have you. And so if people see they’re going to get six weeks free at like this really expensive place or they know CrossFit’s expensive, yeah, I’m going to click on that all day. So, you know, again, it all really comes down to the offer.

Mike: 09:10 – OK. So you’ve got either like a lead magnet or some kind of offer or in some cases your offering, like you just want people, you’re gonna motivate people to book a free call or something like that.

Mateo: 09:20 – Yeah. If you’re talking in the gym space, even other businesses, you know, think about dentists or doctors, you know, free consultation, free evaluation, free in our world, body-fat test or you know, free, I don’t know, running a Spartan race? Come take our free, you know, Spartan race test to see how ready you are or whatever it is. I don’t know, I just made that up. But that kind of a, yes. So you want to have the offer first and then you’re able to kind of go from there.

Mike: 09:54 – Okay. So you’ve got your offer in place. At that point, are you thinking about like the voice that you’re using for, say the audience, like say my ad is going to be targeted at, you know, 18 to 45 or 45 to 60. Are you tailoring things that way or are you kind of just writing in a language that you know, kind of works and flows on Facebook? Are you tailoring it for the people of the audience or the medium?

Mateo: 10:14 – Yeah, so there are different kinds of lenses that you can use, if that makes sense. So, and yeah, this will definitely also depend on the audience for sure. So I mean, there’s lots of ways you can kind of describe this or you know, some people say there’s five lenses, 10 lenses, 10, different kind of approaches or tones of voices. I think there are three popular ones that I’ve seen referenced by different people and copywriters in the internet marketing space. The first is kinda like that competitive lens. And so the idea here is that your headline or your ad copy, it’s a little bit more aggressive. And this is if you’re targeting, you know, people with Type A personalities, people who are competitive. So actually this might kind of, this might work for certain people who are attracted to CrossFit and that the competitive aspect aspect to training.

Mateo: 11:12 – You know, the famous one in our space is the old Mike Chang ads. And he wasn’t even the first one to come up with these. There were people doing this in the 90s, but it’s like trainers hate this guy. Find out the revolutionary Chinese herbal supplement that he’s discovered that allows him to eat like a pig, but like look shredded 24/7 or whatever it is. You know what I mean?

Mike: 11:34 – It didn’t work for me.

Mateo: 11:35 – You tried them?

Mike: 11:37 – Bought it, didn’t work.

Mateo: 11:39 – But that’s like the competitive kind of aggressive kind of lens, if that makes sense. The tone of voice, the way of speaking.

Mike: 11:47 – It’s a bit challenging, right?

Mateo: 11:49 – Or you see this on, you know, headlines in a lot of the YouTube spaces now, especially if you go down any kind of political rabbit holes where, you know, college student destroyed by, you know, so and so, pundant when he visited a college campus or whatever.

Mateo: 12:11 – So this kind of aggressive language, it’s attractive to certain people and it piques your curiosity, makes you want to click.

Mike: 12:17 – So setting up a bit of a confrontation, right? It’s kind of like train wreck kind of stuff. Gotta click.

Mateo: 12:24 – You know, you want to dominate the search results with this one SEO trick. Like that’s, you know, so that can work, right, depending on your audience. And you can have fun with that kind of a tone. Sometimes you can, I know John likes to be a little bit irreverent, and that tends to get noticed because yeah, you know, you want to be kind of confrontational, kind of feisty. So that’s one kind of lens. The other one is the benefit-driven kind of a lens. And this is geared more towards like analytical people, people who basically need like a rational reason to do something.

Mateo: 13:04 – I need to understand, I need to have like a, a clear, logical reason to take the next step of clicking this ad.

Mike: 13:10 – The Spocks.

Mateo: 13:10 – Yeah. The Spocks of the world. Exactly.

Mike: 13:13 – Mr. Spock needs a reason to buy this product.

Mateo: 13:16 – So, you’re showing the benefits of your service or your program, you’re using numbers, data, statistics, that kind of thing.

Mateo: 13:26 – So it’s kind of data driven and it’s really like you’ve gotta show them the logic, you gotta to show them the data and you’ve got to give them kind of clear links between everything.

Mateo: 13:34 – Yeah. I’ve seen a quote, I don’t know if this—a couple of people have been given credit for coining this quote or for saying this quote. You know, numbers are like brain candy, right? Our brains are attracted to numbers.

Mateo: 13:50 – And so if you’re throwing that in there, you know, especially for the more analytical people, your ad might get noticed a little bit more.

Mike: 13:57 – Top five reasons your gym is failing.

Mateo: 14:00 – Exactly. The most famous one that I could think of is, you know, Geico, 15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance. Very effective headline, very effective ad copy. And you remember it. I remember it cause you know, well obviously they have commercials everywhere, but again, the numbers thing, right? And that’s the benefit, right? Your benefit for you is you could save 15% of your car insurance. So, that’s the benefit-focused lens. You said top five reasons, you know, 60, you know, all that stuff. The third one is the, you know, more inspirational lens, right? So this is the idea that you’re kind of highlighting what’s possible for your prospects after they use your services, right?

Mike: 14:52 – We’re talking cocoon and the butterfly here.

Mateo: 14:53 – Yes, exactly. And you know, something that we’ve used for Two-Brain is, you know, learn how to market your business on Facebook with zero technical knowledge, right? It’s like you’re already starting to kind of overcome some of—you’re starting to handle some objections that I was like, Oh, I don’t want to use Facebook ads cause I’m, you know, computer illiterate. Like don’t worry, learn how to do it with zero technical knowledge, right? Zero technical experience. I’m not a techie person or the, you know, Facebook marketing for your gym, for the non-computer geek or whatever. Right? That’s kinda the idea.

Mike: 15:32 – So that’s an aspirational kind of thing, right? Like that’s aspirational where you’re showing that you’re taking them, you know, you’re at a spot and maybe you think that you can’t get to this thing, but we’re going to show you how, and we’re gonna help you do it.

Mateo: 15:41 – Yeah. For the gym owners, right? Like, you know, the gym for non-gym people or you know, CrossFit for people who are scared of the gym. But that’s kind of the idea, right? You know, the six-week challenge, if you’re talking about that, if you’re talking about some kind of a program, your ad copy is going to mention like, you know, for total beginners, don’t worry, we can take you from zero to hero in six weeks or whatever it is. Right? So that’s kind of the other lens, that you can kind of work with. So that was a long way of answering your question about yes, so tone is taken into consideration. I don’t know that we lead with that when we’re writing our ads. You know, we’re kind of just writing, kind of based on, you know, what comes out’s usually just kind of just like an aspect of our personalities. But you do want to think a little bit about your audience, and make sure that your tone reflects that.

Mike: 16:50 – Well, the reason, you know, the reason it comes out I think like that is because it’s hard wired for you. Like you’ve done this for so long, you know this stuff. It’s not like you’re looking up the three lenses or whatever every time you’re trying to write an ad, you’ve just got that in there where it’s like, I’ve got a challenge kind of ad, I’m going to write a second one that’s gonna be a little more inspirational. Like you’ve got this down. Again, like when I write blogs and stuff, I don’t have to sit there and go through like I don’t write an outline and things like that. It’s just I know the piece and I can go. But those ideas are super helpful for people out there who are trying to think of how can I frame an ad or I don’t know what to say. You sit down and you got the blinking cursor and they’re struggling. Those are three really good ways that people can now take a look at presenting an offer.

Mateo: 17:29 – Oh no, I was just gonna—you made me think of something. The other cool part is it, you can write an ad with all three lenses, and what’s great about Facebook is it’s going to tell you which one wins better. You know what I mean? Or does better, right? Facebook will pick the winner or show you the winner for you, so then you know for next time, okay, well my audience really responds to this kind of a tone or doesn’t.

Mike: 17:49 – And that goes back to what you said before where you’re testing stuff. So it’s like whatever you write, if it doesn’t work, write something different, then try that again, then test it and start evaluating. You also talked a little bit, we won’t get into the weeds with it, but you’ve talked about dynamic creative, where if you are really good at writing stuff, you can write a whole bunch of different stuff. Let Facebook serve it up to people and then Facebook will tell you, this one sucks. It’s out. This one is working really well. More people are gonna see it. Correct?

Mateo: 18:14 – 100%. Yeah. I mean, John does that. He writes like five to 10 headlines and you’re able to plug them all in and it’ll match it up with all the different images, different ad copy that you wrote, and it’ll find for you the winning combo.

Mike: 18:28 – Okay. So we won’t get into the details of that because that’s a lot of people aren’t gonna be able to just crank out five. Like John can do it like a machine. You can do it. A lot of people, you know, all those combos are gonna be tough. They’re thinking about how do I write one thing? We’ll give some advice here. What are some do’s, essential stuff for ad copy when you’re writing, what is some stuff you just, you kind of have to do?

Mateo: 18:51 – Well, what you could do is just sign up for Two-Brain and we’ve got a catalog of ad copy that we’ve tested that you don’t have to write for yourself and you can copy and paste right into your Facebook ads manager. You don’t have to worry about a single thing.

Mike: 19:08 – So you just need to know control A, control V.

Mateo: 19:10 – Yeah, exactly. Yep. You just copy paste and you’re good to go there. So that’s step one. Step two is yes. If you’re trying to you know, get involved yourself, step two would be find a professional and have them do it for you. You know, that’s the other way, especially if you’re an entrepreneurial minded and you’re trying to set up systems and you’re trying to get to your Perfect Day where you’re just sitting on the couch drinking coffee and then coming in to coach two classes and then you’re done.

Mateo: 19:41 – And then you get to play with the dog. Yeah. You want to find someone to be able to do this for you. If you’re not there yet and you need to kind of innovate and do it yourself, you know, something that helped us, I know that has helped me is there are a lot of templates online that can kind of help you get started, right? You don’t want to rely on templates because then all your ads will start to sound like a robot made them, but they can at least help you get your mind going in the right direction and it’ll kind of help you understand the flow and then you can start to inject, you know, what’s really relevant for your audience and then you put in your personality and all that good stuff. So I mean, if we’re talking headlines, for example, this might not be completely relevant for the ads we write for gym owners, but one I’ve seen is, you know, end result that your people in your audience want plus a time period and then plus like an objection-handling thing.

Mateo: 20:46 – Right? You know, increase walk-ins this month without paying Zuckerberg for ads, right?

Mike: 20:56 – That’s all three.

Mateo: 20:56 – That would be a headline maybe we might write for the gym owners. Maybe if you are creating an ebook, maybe a recipe book for people in your audience and you’e a gym owner, how to make gluten-free pizza in 10 minutes under five bucks. That could be another headline and that’s again, just following that really simple formula I just gave you.

Mike: 21:23 – Say that formula for me one more time.

Mateo: 21:24 – So it will be end result that the person wants plus the time period plus plus handle the objection. People you know, want to eat paleo, but they know it’s expensive. So if you had a paleo cookbook, you know, that headline could be, like I said, how to make gluten-free pizza in under 10 minutes for under five bucks.

Mike: 21:45 – Lose 20 pounds in six weeks without working out.

Mateo: 21:47 – Exactly. I don’t even know if either of those things are possible. What we just said. I don’t know if you can get ingredients for a gluten-free pizza for under five bucks. I don’t think you can lose weight without working out, but yes, that’s kind of like, you know, one way to go about it. Another one is, you know, take this action plus this time period plus the end result. Right? So, watch my video series. It’ll take five minutes, become an expert closer or whatever, become an expert at sales, just making stuff up here. But that’s kinda the idea, right? And there are tons of formulas out there. Those are just two that I Googled before this talk to kind of jog my memory of where I’ve seen them and what I’ve used before.

Mike: 22:41 – And there’s infinite variations you can start to play with, I’m sure, when you have your offer in mind, you can then tailor those things and kind of play with things a little bit. And by always linking them up to features and benefits and some of the lenses that you talked about.

Mateo: 22:52 – Exactly. So that’s your headline, and I mean that’s not an exhaustive talk on headlines. There’s so much more that we could go into about writing effective, clickable headlines.

Mike: 23:07 – Hold on. Mateo, hold on. Chris Cooper just handed me some ad copy here. I’m just going to test it out for you. Give me one sec. Hi guys. Before we go any further with Mateo, I want to ask you a question. Remember when pictures of bloody hands and vomit attracted clients to your gym? That was a thing, but it stopped working in about 2011. It’s also not enough to be a great coach or programmer. The key to success in 2020 is building a personal relationship with each client, then helping that client’s friends and family. Total ad spend: zero bucks. The average gym owner can also add 45 grand a year in revenue just by keeping each client a few months longer. Two-Brain’s new affinity marketing and retention guides will give you everything you need to know. These are lead magnets. You can get both and 13 others for free. Visit Is that ad copy any good or do we want to redo that?

Mateo: 23:55 – Oh man, I mean it went so fast. I’d love to like break it down piece by piece, but like the one thing—let’s talk about the first part, right? So if you’re trying to write the body of your text for your ad copy, there’s a few ways you can start. The first one is not the first one, but one of the popular ones, which Chris literally just, what you just read hits is, ask the question, right? So, what you’re talking about is you need, you need a hook, right? The first piece is like a hook. Well, the first piece, you got to get their attention. You’ve got to get their attention. That’s what the headline’s for the or the image or whatever it is. You’ve got to get their attention.

Mateo: 24:38 – You got to get them to stop scrolling, right? So that’s what your headline is. That’s what your picture is. And we can talk about pictures in a little bit here, but you’re trying to get them to stop scrolling. Once they stop scrolling, you’ve got about like five seconds for them to like maybe read a little bit and you need to hook them in that amount of time. So itThat needs to happen right away, right at the top of that body of the Facebook ad text. And so, there are many ways to do a hook. And one of them is the one that you just said, which is, ask the question. And so it was like, you remember when you used to see those images and then it’s like, ah, I remember that. Or it’s like, hey, quick question, are you looking to lose weight in six weeks? Or hey, quick question. Have you ever tried eating paleo but it’s too expensive? You know, all those.

Mike: 25:27 – Cause the brain wants to answer, right? The brain just wants to answer.

Mateo: 25:30 – So that’s the ask-the-question kind of way of starting off your ad copy.

Mike: 25:37 – So that’s a good point that you’ve made. Like just I want to really emphasize like what you just said is you have minimal time to get someone’s attention. That’s why you like on YouTube, when you see an ad pop up on a video that you’ve clicked the video, you want, an ad pops up and you can skip in five seconds or whatever. They’ve got five seconds to get your attention. They’re front loading everything into that five seconds to try and get you watch more and not hit skip. So a big action item guys is when you’re writing ad copy is you got to get that front, the very first part has to be something that impacts people.

Mateo: 26:07 – Yeah, I mean another one, I used to do Facebook live videos in the group for our clients. And I would go over some of these ads that we would see. Someone who was in our space, not a obviously direct competitor, but like the guy who does kinobody, Greg O’Gallagher, he’s gone viral cause he has that YouTube video where he pretends he’s like Bruce Wayne and he basically sells like an online training program. It’s like a PDF and teaches like macro stuff. And I think he also like now sells supplements. But anyway, he has a really, really great ad and it says, quick question, have you ever wondered how Hollywood celebrities get so shredded so fast, so quickly for their roles? That is a great hook cause like, yeah, I have wondered that and a lot of people in our audience, a lot of guys especially are probably asking that same question and then he goes and breaks it down.

Mateo: 27:01 – So anyway, asking a question is a great way to hook a hook your reader. Another one is use an anecdote, and that’s kind of sort of, this ad copy kind of combined the two. It was both a question and like an anecdote of like this used to be that thing you would see, remember. And the anecdote’s like a relatable story, right? That you can use to grab people’s attention. And that was a relatable story. We used to see those posts of bloodied hands on Instagram after the Open or just working out all the time.

Mike: 27:35 – And then all the Navy SEALs and military guys and girls signed up for CrossFit. Now we’ve got to find someone else.

Mateo: 27:40 – Yeah. And using an anecdote is great cause it also allows you to build rapport and connect with your prospect. It makes you seem like, oh, like you’re a real human who’s had real experiences like I have, know what I mean?

Mike: 27:52 – Chris is good for that. Cooper’s great at that.

Mateo: 27:52 – He’s a master at that. If we’re talking about ad copy, you gotta stop, get people’s attention. That’s I guess step one and step two is you got to hook them.

Mike: 28:08 – Okay. I’m going to skip t, the thing that I think might be—you tell me if I’m right. I think this might be the second most important thing after that first, you know, grab their attention. You got to give them a call to action. Am I right?

Mateo: 28:22 – Yeah. That’s at the end for sure.

Mike: 28:25 – If I miss something, fill it in.

Mateo: 28:28 – Yeah, that’s definitely the last step. But once you hook them, you kind of want to start talking to them about, you know, you’re highlighting some problem and then you’re going to talk about your awesome, the benefit of your service or some kind of promised solutions.

Mike: 28:55 – Features and benefits, transformational stuff, aspirational things, motivational stuff, everything that’s going to tell people how they’re going to get from their current state to their desired state via your product or service.

Mateo: 29:06 – Exactly. Couldn’t have said it better than you just did right now. So, again this is almost kind of formulaic and you know, we talked about how you want to be careful of that stuff, but yeah, it’s like ever wonder how Hollywood celebrities get shredded so quickly? How do they do it? Well you can now get shredded this summer with our awesome six-week challenge for a limited time only at half the price. So you’re highlighting that kind of benefit or your promise or whatever it is that your program is going to do for people who are, you know, in your audience, right? Another way to do that instead of the Hollywood thing is like, are you looking to get shredded this summer? Get shredded this summer with our six-week challenge, right? Like you can’t use that on Facebook which is why I’m talking about it now. Like you won’t get approved with that kind of an ad, but that’s kinda the way you want to think about it, right? You want to ask the question and then provide like, you know, have you ever got started with a fitness routine and then just stopped? Well, do you want to like stick to one and actually get results? Join our six-week challenge for a limited time only, it’s half off. So it’s just a very simple promise-based kind of piece of text.

Mike: 30:28 – Yeah. And one of the things that you mentioned in one of your, I think the third example, previous, was some scarcity. You know, you said limited time here and that’s one of those ones that definitely in copy seems to motivate people. There’s a current video game that I’m playing and you know, there’s some stuff that you can buy and when it says, you know, you can buy it, I don’t care, but when it says expiring soon, I want to buy it. Right. That scarcity definitely motivates people.

Mateo: 30:50 – Yeah. We’re bouncing around, but yes, 100%. If you can work in scarcity and urgency, especially when you get around to asking about taking action, you definitely want to do that. And that’s why I said, you know, there’s no really one template for this cause you can put that in various places. You know, just depending on how you want the copy to flow, you can put at the beginning, you could put at the end, you can put in the middle, you can repeat it over and over and just say it in different ways. If you’re doing long-form copy, you know, there’s no one right way to do that. So you your hook. You’re stopping them from scrolling, you’re getting their attention, you’ve got your hook, and then you’ve got your awesome promise or your benefit of your service or your promise and then everything else under that, it’s just going to support that, right?

Mateo: 31:43 – So everything you’re writing should support and lead back to that either by talking about social proof, so, you know, are you looking to get shredded this summer, get shredded this summer with our ultimate six-week challenge for a limited time, only at half the price. This is the same six-week challenge that’s been given five stars by 1000 Hoboken locals. Or this six-week challenge designed by Mateo Lopez, trainer to the celebrities. Or this six-week challenge was designed by scientists in a lab from the CrossFit kingdom and so you know it’s gonna work. You know, something like that where you’re supporting the benefit or you’re supporting what you’re claiming, right? You’re supporting your promise.

Mike: 32:30 – Structure around that claim and you’re proving it, basically, it’s telling people why it’s gonna work or why they should trust you or, you know, building your authority essentially.

Mateo: 32:41 – And the next thing you want to do is you want to make sure that this relates back to the reader. You may have already done some work if you started with your hook as like an anecdotal story. So that’s kind of in that ad you read me from Chris, he kinda did that. This is a relatable story, so you’re already—

Mike: 32:59 – I won’t blame Chris for that one. That was me. I won’t pin my mistakes on Chris.

Mateo: 33:01 – Oh well there you go. You already kind of started to do that, but if you haven’t in your ad copy, you know, you can transition back to the reader and be like, basically you’re just saying, if you’re this kind of person with this kind of situation, then this program is the right one for you, right?

Mike: 33:26 – You’re qualifying a little bit.

Mateo: 33:27 – Exactly. If you’re a Hoboken local looking to get in shape but don’t know where to start, then this program is for you. Right? That kind of transitioning there to tie it back to the person reading. So the last piece is what you said, Mike, is that final call to action. So what do you want them to actually do? If you’re ready to get started, if you’re ready to get shredded this summer, click the link below and book your intro at the gym today or download this paleo cookbook now to be the master at gluten-free pizzas and impress all your friends, whatever it is.

Mike: 34:09 – It’s funny cause you don’t see it all that often. But if you look at ads enough you will see ads that forget a call to action. And there are some funny ones I’ve seen people put up where it’s like they’ve got what looks to be an okay ad and then there’s just nothing. It’s like there was a funny one, it wasn’t a good ad, but someone put it up in the group the other day. Pardon me. And it was like a snow-clearing service or something like that. And there was just, I’ll do this, here’s the price, here’s the thing, here’s the benefit. And there was like no phone number, no contact info or something like that. And it was like a flyer that someone had printed and no call to action equals no sales.

Mateo: 34:41 – Where I see this error the most actually is on people’s websites. It’s like people will land on someone’s website and there’s no kind of a benefit or promise or a brand promise or benefit to the reader. And there’s no call to action on the site when they land there. Like there’s nothing.

Mike: 35:00 – Book a call.

Mateo: 35:00 – Exactly. Book your intro, book now. Looking to get in shape? Book your intro now. Like that’s that’s really a simple—you have to have at least that on your website.

Mike: 35:21 – How do I do this thing? How do I do the thing that you’re telling me to do?

Mateo: 35:25 – Exactly. So we bounced around a lot there, but that’s essentially the flow for writing. You know, that’s like the 101, the basic, just like if you want to get just something written down that can be effective, that’s kind of the flow. But again, it really comes down to the offer, you know, get shredded this summer with a free six-week challenge, I mean, that’s gonna get a lot more clicks than the one we just wrote 10 seconds ago. You know, I mean, now not everyone can offer that, so there’s somewhere in the middle between those two where I think, you know, there’s kind of the sweet spot if you can get there.

Mike: 36:09 – So I’ll give you from listening to this and learning here, I’ll give you a summary and you tell me if I’m astray here. You wanna you want to catch their attention early with a headline and the very first line or two, maybe five seconds, whatever it is, you got to capture attention. After that, you’re going to, you know, present your offer and support it with either social proof, expertise, authority, research data, something like that. And that can go on very—that can be a short thing or it can be a long thing. I’ve seen you guys write long and short ads, see which one performs better. And then you’re gonna try and relate this to the person’s needs and benefits. Likely you’re going to swing it back their way. You know, people like, you need this thing or have succeeded with this thing.

Mateo: 36:50 – You’ve been suffering with this problem for this long. Like this is the solution here.

Mike: 36:54 – Yup. And then you’re going to close by telling them what to do. And I think if our listeners take a look at ads that they see or listen to stuff, Super Bowl ads are coming up, big ones are coming up. Take a listen to stuff. If you listen to these ads and look at them, you’re going to see those parts in there, and you’re going to see variations of it and you’re going to see some really clever, weird stuff that brilliant people come up with and totally break the mould. And that’s like, that’s where some pretty professional people come up with some amazing stuff that you’ll see probably in the Super Bowl, but they’re all going to have some elements of that in there.

Mateo: 37:25 – Mike, you summarize it better than I could and that was amazing.

Mike: 37:29 – Well, I’m taking your info and just spitting it right back at you. So, people out there, Mateo, you brought this up, if people are listening and they’re just like, I do not want to do this, at Two-Brain, we do have stuff that you can cut and paste. You don’t have to figure out ad copy yourself. Correct?

Mateo: 37:45 – Correct. Or like, you know, do what I did, which was just spy on everyone else’s and see what people in your neighbors, your industry are doing and see what’s working. And then you know, don’t reinvent the wheel. Just make it your own. Look at the big franchises, right? I mean, Orangetheory, their offer is pretty much the same every time. And they’re just kinda rotating through different images and different ways of phrasing it. But it’s try a free class, book a free class. That’s it. That’s all they really pump out. And they just present that in a different way, remix it when they need to refresh their campaigns. But, so that’s an option, right? Look at the Orangetheory, go to the business’ page on Facebook, go to page transparency and go to the ad library and you can just see what people are doing around you and see what’s working and go from there.

Mike: 38:45 – And of course, as we always recommend, test. Check your data. If you write something you think is great, but the market thinks it sucks, then it therefore sucks. If you think it’s bad and the market thinks is great and it’s crushing it and bringing you leads, you need to hit more of that. So check your data all the time. It’s not like it was in the past where you would just throw something up and just hope it works. Now you can check it, alter and then recreate stuff that really works. So always check it out. Look at your data. I’m going to give you a call to action right here. I’m Mike Warkentin with Mateo Lopez. This is Two-Brain Radio. Please remember to subscribe for more great shows. And if you’re a gym owner and if you need some help growing your business, Two-Brain managers can show you the exact steps to add $5,000 in monthly recurring revenue. Book a free call on to find out more iv you’re a person who wants to do this. I don’t know. Did I close it out Mateo? Is that okay? It wasn’t bad.

Mateo: 39:34 – I think you got the job done, Mike.

Mike: 39:36 – All right, we’re good. All right, thanks for listening guys. We’ll catch you next time on Two-Brain Radio.

Announcer: 39:41 – Thank you for listening to Two-Brain Radio. Make sure to subscribe to receive the most up-to-date episodes wherever you get your podcasts from. To find out how we can help create your Perfect Day, book a free call with a mentor at


Two-Brain Radio presents marketing tips and success stories every Monday.

Chris Cooper delivers the best of the business world every Thursday, and Sean Woodland has great stories from the community on Wednesdays.

Thanks for listening!

To share your thoughts:


To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help, and we read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes.
Stockholm Success: How to Build an Audience With Per Mattsson

Stockholm Success: How to Build an Audience With Per Mattsson

Chris: 00:02 – Per Mattsson is a Two-Brain mentor. He is the founder of Coaches Congress Sweden, a huge multi-day event for gym owners and coaches in Stockholm. This week we’ve been talking about building an audience, and I wanted to get Per on the podcast to talk about how to build a huge audience, whether you’re running an event or a competition or like summit event, or you just want to grow your business because the way that Per did this step-by-step is really fascinating. He didn’t use any Facebook ads, didn’t really use any attention-getting marketing at all. He built it one person at a time. I also want you to hear how he established trust with his audience because last year after 280 people signed up to come and hear Greg Glassman talk, Greg couldn’t make it at the last minute, and so the trust the audience had in Per really carried him through that.

Chris: 00:53 – Now he’s going to tell you the story in his own words, so I don’t want to spoil it. Per’s also going to tell you how to extend that audience to talk to people in the periphery, how people in the Coaches Congress group invite their friends and bring their coaches the following year and how that attracts other people who add value like other speakers and sponsors. It’s a great deep dive into how to build an audience, how to sustain an audience, and how to make the people in that audience feel special even as the audience grows. I think you’re going to love it.

Chris: 01:22 – Welcome to Two-Brain Radio. I’m your host, Chris Cooper, here every week with the best of the fitness industry. Got a sec? We would love to hear from you. I write emails to my mailing list every day and it’s a highlight when somebody takes the time to respond. If you’ve got feedback on my show or a guest you’d like to hear on Two-Brain Radio, email and don’t forget to subscribe to Two-Brain Radio wherever you get your podcasts. Per Mattsson. Welcome back to Two-Brain Radio.

Per: 01:52 – Thanks. Nice being here again.

Chris: 01:54 – It’s great to have you. You’re a man of many talents. You’ve been on the show before to talk about having hard conversations and leadership. And today we’re going to talk about building an audience because you’re also good at that.

Per: 02:04 – Yup. I hope so. And I think so. Yeah.

Chris: 02:06 – Yeah, definitely. And so today we’re going to be talking specifically about a big event that you host every year, Coaches Congress. Tell us a little bit about that. What is Coaches Congress?

Per: 02:18 – Coaches Congress, is an annual summit that I started here in Sweden in 2012 I think it was. And we tried to be like, a place for coaches and gym owners to meet up every year to share experiences, learn new stuff about being business owners or about being more professional as coaches. So it’s basically a summit right? Every year for coaches and gym owners.

Chris: 02:53 – What said to you, I need to do this, you know, like why did you want to do it?

Per: 02:59 – I think it was because before, you know, starting a gym or actually at the same time as running my first CrossFit gym, I was working. My professional background is in school systems. I’ve been a teacher and I’ve been a principal and I also worked a couple of years as a leadership consultant. And doing that I was like training teachers and principals and politicians around leadership connected to the school system. And I was often one of the speakers at different kinds of events and conferences in Sweden and in Finland mainly. And then when I started a CrossFit gym, we had like three or four CrossFit gyms in Sweden. So the community was quite small and I felt that after a couple of years we had no real gathering point except from competitions. And I wanted to create the place where we could meet up, where we could grow as leaders, as coaches and as professionals.

Per: 04:04 – Because I think one of the main reasons that I started a CrossFit gym from the beginning was that I really wanted to prove something to, you know, people in Sweden that what we think we know about fitness in general is often quite wrong. So I think it’s a mix of me being quite competitive and me wanting to help people. So I wanted to help gym owners and coaches and I was a bit competitive with the fitness industry in general and really wanted to prove something and I can’t do that on my own. So we need all of us who run microgyms, CrossFit gyms, we need to be in it together basically. So I just saw an opportunity to help, I think.

Chris: 04:52 – So you didn’t want to include a competition. I think if you’re listening to this, the advice that Per is going to share with us on building an audience would really help you if you are running a local competition because you probably don’t have a marketing budget for it, but more in a general sense of just building like an audience of attention for your business, I think these are the big lessons that we’re going to learn from you today, Per. So what I want to talk about first is like you said that the reason that you started Coaches Congress was because nobody else was doing it and you thought that something like this should exist. Why didn’t you want to include like a throwdown or some kind of CrossFit competition in there?

Per: 05:33 – Because I was also running one of Sweden’s largest elite competitions in CrossFit. Mainly for the same reason; I wanted to prove that competitions could be done better than the ones that people were doing in Sweden at the time. So I already had that project going and I think I would say it’s two totally different things. If I meet up with owners and coaches to learn more about being a business owner and being a better coach, I think that is what I would like to focus on and not just throw in a competition the same weekend or something like that. And me personally, when we did the competition, I was always the speaker, so I never had the time to actually talk to anyone. So you know, all of these people that I really loved meeting, gym owners, great athletes, I never had the opportunity to talk to them throughout that weekend and they just, you know, messaged me afterwards and thanking me for a great competition and I’m like, OK, so you were there in the audience. Cool. All right. So I just I wanted to have the opportunity to talk to people also.

Chris: 06:48 – And that opportunity is hard to find when you’re at a competition.

Per: 06:52 – Yeah. Because focus is on that competition, right? Especially if you’re one of the organizers, but yeah.

Chris: 07:01 – Yeah, we found the same really. You know, when we’re invited to speak about business at a competition, boy, it’s really hard to keep people’s minds on the business because they’re so attracted to the competition and are worried about their athletes and, you know, I would be the exact same way. So, OK. So when you were starting to plan Coaches Congress, you know, several years ago, what did you think would be the hardest part of putting this event on?

Per: 07:30 – I have to think on that one because, if you would ask my girlfriend, she would call me a bit naive every now and then because I don’t think before I act. So I think I just had an idea and in my head it sounded really great and fun and I asked my business partners, what do you think guys? And they said, yeah, go for it. So I don’t think I actually thought it through. I couldn’t see any potential problems because we didn’t take any big risks or anything. We booked a place outside of Stockholm with cheap accommodation and food and stuff like that. So we wanted to make it easy for people to come. And that’s where we started. So there was no like financial risk in it for me or for us in the beginning at least.

Chris: 08:27 – So when you started Coaches Congress, was it just you, were your gym partners involved or did you have other partners too?

Per: 08:34 – It was me and my business partners in the gym. Yeah. And then we just, you know, asked around people that we knew and respected and that we thought had knowledge that could be valuable for gym owners and coaches. We asked them if they wanted to present.

Chris: 08:50 – OK. And we’re certainly going to come to that. I want to start with how you got attendees to show up. So, you know, you started by just saying I’m going to do this. You found a location, then you started finding speakers. But how did you get the attention of the first person who paid you money to come to this event?

Per: 09:09 – I think I had two different methods. I think one of them was through the network that we had thanks to our being competition arrangers or organizers. So we had a fairly large network and also because I was quite early in the CrossFit community in Sweden we were a tight-knit community. So I reached out to them and told them, I’m going to do this. What do you think of this idea? Yeah, sign us up. So I think that was it. And then we have a group in Sweden, a Facebook group called CF Sweden and I just posted in that group, and I think that every gym owner and most athletes and coaches are in that group as well.

Chris: 09:59 – So, OK. So you were leveraging audiences that you already had, took a second to think about who do I know. So did you send an email to the other gym owners and say, here’s what we’re doing, here’s the price, or was it something else?

Per: 10:15 – Actually I just wrote them on Facebook, personal PM them on Facebook first. The first year. Yeah. I think I only used Facebook the first year, actually.

Chris: 10:26 – That’s very interesting. And one of the things that you use on Facebook was a Facebook group. And since then you started your own group for Coaches Congress. How is that different from the CF Sweden group?

Per: 10:39 – At least, I tried to make it a bit different because I wanted a group with owners and coaches only. So in the beginning it was a private group, so you had to be invited into that group. Then we went the big back and forward. So then we made it an open group. So I’m not sure now if there are other people in that group that are not coaches or owners. But we started by, you know, starting with a private group with invitation only to try to have a group that was more valuable in terms of the discussions being made in it.

Chris: 11:17 – Was it originally for people who might come to Coaches Congress or people who were definitely coming to Coaches Congress?

Per: 11:24 – I think actually that we started that group after the first year’s event. So I think I started it then to keep like, yeah, keep momentum, keep people engaged and as a way of building my audience for the next year’s event.

Chris: 11:41 – I think that’s a great idea too. When you were setting your original prices, how did you decide what to charge for Coaches Congress?

Per: 11:49 – Like an amateur, you know, projecting and but also to be fair, I wanted to make the choice of coming really, really simple because I knew that most gym owners were, you know, doing it the way I was doing it back then, as a hobby. So I think we charged like $100 a person or something like that for two days, a two-day event. And they also had to pay for, you know, accommodation and stuff like that. So I wanted to make it really, really easy. So it was very cheap.

Chris: 12:29 – How many people attended the first year?

Per: 12:30 – 83.

Chris: 12:33 – Well, that’s really fantastic. I’m pretty sure, well, I know for a fact that’s more than we had at the first Two-Brain summit because I think that number was like 26 or something. Might have been 30.

Per: 12:42 – Yeah, yeah, yeah. It was super fun. I was like, I had a dream goal of a hundred and a worst-case scenario in my head was 40 to 50. So 83 was cool, and we had gym owners coming from Finland and Sweden, so I was quite happy.

Chris: 12:59 – How did you find speakers for that first event?

Per: 13:03 – Personal network work, I would say. So we asked one guy that we had taken an education from like a physical trainer education and he was really knowledgeable. So we asked him. We asked around in our network and in the CrossFit community, who do you want to come? I knew or I know Mat Jacobson, asked him and he wanted to come. And he’s a great guy and a great presenter. So, I think also we asked people who were a bit nerdy around their special topics. And I think that people like that, they always like to tell people about their hobbies or their special interests and they really appreciate it when you ask them if they want to talk or speak.

Chris: 13:56 – That’s very true.

Chris: 13:57 – Hey guys, Chris Cooper here. I wrote the bestselling fitness business book of all time, but I often think about taking it off the shelves. Here’s why. Business evolves quickly and while the ideas in my book “Two-Brain Business” still have value, my program has evolved. That’s where my most recent book comes in. In “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief” I break the entrepreneur’s journey into stages because the things that work in the first stage don’t work in the second and vice versa. Everything I put in that book is based on thousands of hours on the phone with gym owners and tens of thousands of dollars in research. I know what works, when it works and why it works. I’m not just going to try and inspire you with pie-in-the-sky philosophy and memes about grinding and hustling. I’m going to give you step-by-step instructions based on what the best gyms in the world are doing to succeed. You can spin your tires like I did 10 years ago as a struggling gym owner or you can avoid my mistakes by reading a book based on a decade of knowledge. Check out “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief” on Amazon. I wrote it to help people like you. And now, back to Two-Brain Radio.

Chris: 14:59 – What about sponsors? I mean one of the things that impressed me the most when I visited last year was how many sponsors there were. And you know, how professional they looked.

Per: 15:09 – Yeah. First three years we didn’t have any sponsors except from Eleiko. So we’ve always been very close to Eleiko, they have always been helping us with our gyms, with our competitions, and with this event. So, and the location where we were, we weren’t allowed to bring in any other sponsors, so we couldn’t really use sponsors. So it was just Eleiko the first years. And then actually last year was the first year that we had more exhibitors and sponsors.

Chris: 15:43 – So how do you attract more sponsors? You know, how do you approach them? Is it an email? Is it a phone call, and how do you sell them on the idea of being there?

Per: 15:54 – Email, definitely. I think same thing as, you know, with people with nerdy interests and stuff like that, you know, many of the sponsors or partners or exhibitors connected to CrossFit is they are also really nerdy about their businesses. That’s what I think at least. So they love events like this, a bit more smaller in scale than big fairs and exhibitions like that. So they get the great opportunity to really talk to all the owners and coaches longer than just two minutes or something like that. So they appreciate that, I think. And also, last year, we were promised from CrossFit HQ that Greg Glassman was going to come to the event so we had a lot of people signing up and if you know that you have like 60, 70, or even 80 gym owners from all over Europe coming, and if you want to, you know, do business with gym owners, then that would be a great place to be. Right. So I don’t even think we had to ask some of the exhibitors because they emailed us and asked if they could come.

Chris: 17:09 – And what questions did the exhibitors ask you about the venue? Was it just tactical stuff like what kind of space will we have or was it more, you know, who’s coming, how should we approach them?

Per: 17:21 – Who’s coming? How should we approach them? And also they wanted to know about the presenters and speakers also. So, at least the professional exhibitors and sponsors, they ask questions like that. Who’s coming? How should we prepare? Is it mostly gym owners or mostly coaches? What do you think would be good things to present for us? Stuff like that. So the professional ones, they ask you a lot of questions.

Chris: 17:51 – That’s good. And we’ve had the same experience with the summit too. Companies, they have booths and they get an amazing return just from the number of people that they meet there. So my question is, you know, how do you attract people who are beyond your personal connection? Let’s imagine that, you know every gym owner in Sweden. Well that’s impossible, but you definitely don’t know every gym owner in Finland or Norway. And I also met people there from the UK. You know, why did those people come to Coaches Congress?

Per: 18:27 – I think it was mainly because of two different things. One of them was like people who had been to the Congress had been telling their friends and other gym owners in their country or area about it. And I also had a couple of personal friends in Finland because when I used to work there as a leadership consultant, I actually helped a couple of guys start a CrossFit gym there. So I had a little personal network there. And also the other thing was that we had this guy, Chris Cooper, was coming as a presenter and we had Greg Glassman and I think every year we have had presenters and speakers in world-class the best of the best, basically. So you can’t really ignore that year after year if you want to be a professional gym owner. And to be fair, yeah, I think that Greg Glassman was the main difference last year. I mean, otherwise we wouldn’t have had gym owners from Croatia or from Latvia or Germany or Ireland or even Greece. No, definitely. But to be honest, Chris, a lot of people signing up, they actually said it was because the strong presence of Two-Brain Business also and you.

Chris: 19:54 – Oh, that’s flattering to hear. You know, honestly Per, like I wasn’t planning to ask this question, but yeah. I’ll say it this way. I felt like HQ kind of backed out at the very last minute. I’m sure that’s just my personal perception. But for whatever reason, Greg couldn’t come and Jimmy was there and you know, Jimmy gave a great talk but it’s not the same. How do you handle that?

Per: 20:21 – It was like the last minute definitely. I think it was like two and a half weeks before the event. So we had been marketing this event like a lot around him of course, but not only because, for me the main attraction wasn’t that, but I knew it would attract people, but I wanted it to be this professional event with a lot of other stuff as well. So we just talked about it a day or two. Me and my partners around this event and then what we agreed on was that I was going to email everyone who had signed up and say, yeah, he’s not coming. I’m sorry guys, but this is still a great event. If you want your money back, we’re going to give it to you, but I really think you should come. So I think we had two people asking for their money back and that’s it. And then I brought it up on my opening speech at the event and I just said, yeah, we all know he’s not coming and it’s not good, but still there’s 280 people of us here. We have great presenters, so enjoy the weekend. And I heard nothing about it during the weekend.

Chris: 21:32 – That’s amazing. So you started with the audience who trusted you the most, your personal connections. Then you went to a slightly larger audience with whom you had something in common, CF Sweden, and then you gradually leveraged that trust over the years to build Coaches Congress, and add speakers and add sponsors. And then when you were tested because your biggest promise, Greg Glassman, didn’t work out, do you feel like trust was the reason that people didn’t complain and most didn’t ask for refund?

Per: 22:11 – Perhaps. At least among the people that I know. And also the fact that it was really close to the event and people had booked their tickets, they had booked their flight tickets, the hotel, et cetera. And also I know that most gym owners, they come for the knowledge around being business owners, and not to listen to Greg Glassman for one hour. That’s what I think.

Chris: 22:34 – The message that I took from the crowd, nobody said we’re disappointed in the event or its organizers. A few people did say we’re disappointed that HQ backed out, and I think that’s because you have such a strong sense of trust that they knew that it wasn’t your fault. And I think that actually probably strengthened the validity of the program. So you had 280 people there. I heard just amazing comments all weekend. So where’s Coaches Congress going, Per? What happens now?

Per: 23:12 – Well, we’re doing it in like three weeks, so it’s between the 24th and the 26th of January. So, it’s still like an international event. We have a lineup of speakers and presenters and workshops that is world-class. I’m using that word over and over again. But you know, we have presenters from—we have Healthy Steps Nutrition and Precision Nutrition coming. We have mentors from Two-Brain Business, we have Jim Crowell and Carl Hardwick from Opex, Keegan Martin from Brand X. Eleiko is bringing a strong team. So, we’re still just trying to provide a great value. That’s it I’m not changing much, right. Still just trying to give people what they need.

Chris: 24:04 – So this really is a world-class event, folks. And you know, I went to Stockholm last year. Had an amazing time. And you know, it might feel like Stockholm is quite a ways away. But honestly, as an English speaker, I don’t think I encountered anybody who couldn’t speak English. Even the Uber driver was fine. And then, you know, Per has a great facility. I slept on the plane, so as soon as I got off the plane I was ready to go, had a shower at Per’s gym and I think went on stage within like 10 minutes. It was great. And the, the other speakers in the lineup were so great that I sat around and listened to presentations all weekend and learned a ton of stuff. And you’ve got some very veteran speakers coming with Nicole. I haven’t seen Keegan since maybe the 2012 or 2013 CrossFit Games when he was still a little kid. He’s a teenager I guess. But you know, Jim Crowell, you know, he’s on the speaker’s circuit a lot. He’s a great speaker. You just got an all-star lineup there and I think that just builds trust more and more. So my last question, Per, is really how many people come back every single year? Like what percentage of the audience is returnees?

Per: 25:21 – I would say around 70%, almost. One thing that I like is that most of the people coming back, they are bringing a bigger team. Right? So let’s say they came as a single owner or an owner or a coach, or two owners, and now they’re bringing all of their coaches and stuff like that. So that is for me a sign that they really liked the event. If you bring eight coaches, then something must’ve been good the year before.

Chris: 25:54 – Yeah. And you know, I think when it comes back to audience building, I think that trust factors into that too because you would not bring your staff or your parents to something where you didn’t think they would have a great time. OK, Per, do you have any other tips for people who are looking to build an audience for their events or their competition?

Per: 26:17 – I think I would mention something that I mention a lot to my mentees as well. And that is around social media and being very consistent on communicating. So I think what I did last year for instance and I have been doing for a couple of years, like everyone who signed up, I emailed them and said, wow, I’m glad that you’re coming. What do you hope to get out of the event? Do you have a picture of you and your team? I can post on Facebook or Instagram. So that’s what I did. I always posted, so CrossFit Escapist from Germany’s coming and they are bringing in a couple of coaches, are you going to be there? Stuff like that. So that made them very happy. It’s like being introduced into the Facebook growth group right in Two-Brain Business. So you need to be very consistent on communication.

Chris: 27:07 – Yeah. So really, you know, creating those podiums for people, making them feel special, grows their trust for you and their influence. So Per, thanks a lot for coming on the show, man. I know, I just gave you the topics this morning. You did a great job and I think everybody can learn something about building audiences through trust.

Andrew: 27:33 – Thank you for listening to another edition of Two-Brain Radio. Don’t forget to subscribe and leave us a rating or review. We really appreciate that. To find out how a mentor can help you add $5,000 in revenue to your gym, book a free call at


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!

To share your thoughts:


To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help, and we read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes.
Why Kevin Ogar Wouldn’t Trade the Last Six Years to Walk Again

Why Kevin Ogar Wouldn’t Trade the Last Six Years to Walk Again

Sean: 00:05 – Hi everybody. Welcome to another edition of Two-Brain Radio with Sean Woodland. On today’s episode, I speak with adaptive athlete and owner of CrossFit WatchTower, Kevin Ogar. My friends, I do not own a gym, but I can tell you this. If I had one, I’d be on Chris Cooper’s website a lot. Chris cranks out helpful content daily and he’s created a huge pile of free guides that solve common problems for gym owners. To get 15 free resources, including a guide on member retention, visit Kevin Ogar is one of the most well-known adaptive athletes in the CrossFit community. He suffered an accident at a competition in 2014 that left him paralyzed below the waist. He is the subject of the documentary “Ogar: Will of Steel.” After his accident, Kevin went on to become a member of the CrossFit seminar staff, open his own affiliate, start a charity, and compete on the US Paralympic powerlifting team. Kevin joined me on the phone during his commute home from his affiliate in Englewood, Colorado. Enjoy the conversation everybody. Kevin, thanks so much for taking the time to do this. How you doing man?

Kevin: 01:20 – I’m doing just fine. Just got done coaching, now heading home.

Sean: 01:24 – All right. What did fitness look like for you before you found CrossFit?

Kevin: 01:31 – OK. Before CrossFit I was, you know, one of the meathead powerlifter-type guys. Actually competed in powerlifting for a very long time prior to CrossFit. I mean I picked up the barbell for the first time when I was like 12. Didn’t find CrossFit until I was 21. 20, 21 years old is when I found CrossFit. And so before CrossFit it was, you know, lift something heavy, you know, back, bench, deadlift, maybe some curls, then waddle my fat butt out of the gym.

Sean: 02:08 – What was it about powerlifting that appealed to you?

Kevin: 02:12 – I just love a heavy barbell. Like there’s something about moving something heavy and doing the work to move something heavy that really appealed to me.

Sean: 02:23 – What then led you to find CrossFit?

Kevin: 02:28 – Well, a couple of things—I found CrossFit through—I was working for a guy as a personal trainer. Jeremy Yates was his name, if he’s out there still, and he started doing CrossFit. He was in the Marines and kinda challenged me to it and I kept turning it down and finally like, I was also starting to play rugby at this point in time and realized I couldn’t run 400 meters without having to sit down. And one day he challenged me to a workout and he’s like, yeah, you know, you should come do it with me and the other the trainers, like my girlfriend’s gonna do it with us and she’s like a tiny little thing. And you know, me being a meathead guy was like, well, if she can do it, I’ll be fine. And then they programmed the workout 21-15-9 handstand push-ups and L pull-ups.

Kevin: 03:19 – At the time I was about 230, 240 pounds, somewhere in there. And had never flipped upside down on my hands a day in my life. And so there ended up being a Kevin-sized hole in the wall.

Sean: 03:34 – Oh man. Yeah. It is not fun when you’re that size trying to get inverted for the first time. Why did you stick with it? What hooked you about it?

Kevin: 03:43 – I lost to everyone. I mean I finished the workout, you know, at the time I probably was benching somewhere around 400 pounds and I was, I was doing 20-pound dumbbell push press instead of handstand push-ups and struggling. It took me like 20-some odd minutes, you know, probably close to the 30 if I’m being honest and everyone else was done in six minutes. And so I just realized I was really bad at it.

Sean: 04:09 – You go from being really bad at it to being a competitor. What led you to being a competitor in CrossFit?

Kevin: 04:17 – Well, Sean, I don’t like being told that I cannot do something. And the exact reason I started competing in CrossFit, I was doing workout of the day and they had posted a video, and this is back in 2007-ish, 2008. And they posted a video of Chris Spealler doing the same workout and I think I was like two reps behind him on an AMRAP and like my training partner at the time, I was like, hey man, that’s pretty cool. I’m only two reps behind Chris Spealler. Like, that’s legit. And he like, yeah, dude, there’s no way you’ll ever be able to compete with Chris Spealler or get to that level. And I go, all right, well I guess that’s what I’m doing now.

Kevin: 05:07 – I do believe the first year I got to compete against Chris at a Regional, I think it was like 2012, I’m pretty sure I snapped a picture of him and sent it to my friend just to rub it in a little bit.

Sean: 05:22 – What then did training look like for you as a CrossFit competitor?

Kevin: 05:27 – At first it was just like everyone else, it was one workout a day. I’d go in, I’d warm up, I hit the workout as hard as I could with every last ounce of strength that I had and I maybe I’d mess around with some skills or playing around with some barbell work. But that was it. Like literally one workout a day for the first, I dunno, probably four or five years of what we’ll call my CrossFit career. It wasn’t until like my last probably two years trying to compete that I started adding more than that.

Sean: 05:58 – What happened on January 12th, 2014?

Kevin: 06:03 – I was competing in the OC Throwdown, a fitness competition in California and due to some unsafe set-up, they stacked some plates behind me during a snatch portion of the competition. The barbell ricocheted off the plates behind me and hit me in my back and gave me really great parking for the rest of my life. Or paralysis, however you want to look at it.

Sean: 06:21 – What, you obviously knew something was wrong when it happened, but when you hear from a medical professional that you are paralyzed from the waist down, what is that like?

Kevin: 06:42 – Being an athlete a whole life, it was pretty gut wrenching. Luckily at that point in time they had already put me on some drugs. I mean I remember it, but I think a lot of the worst of it is forgotten in my mind. Just cause I was kind of drugged up, trying to get into surgery. I remember the doctor walking in and be like, hey, I have some bad news. And I was like, yeah, I’m paralyzed. Like, will I ever walk again? He said, no. And you know, I lost it. Cried. Yelled. Probably screamed a little bit, but I think I took it at least decently well, I guess.

Sean: 07:17 – You wound up at Craig Hospital for rehabilitation after your injury. First off, how were you able to get admitted there?

Kevin: 07:27 – I got admitted there because of the CrossFit community and my best friend Ryan. So Ryan grew up next door to the vice president of Craig Hospital and between Ryan and CrossFitters in the area that knew Craig, they harassed them so much that they had no choice but to let me in. I think the story goes, and I don’t know how true this is, the story goes that they actually had so many people calling and Ryan was calling so often that they actually had to open up a secondary line for like a hotline for them. So they basically got harassed until they let me in.

Sean: 08:03 – What was that rehabilitation process like for you?

Kevin: 08:10 – Frustrating. I mean, I’d always been someone who was fairly physically gifted. I never really sucked at any sports. Like I was pretty good at picking things up physically. And pretty quickly. And so going from someone who, you know, physical task were something he was comfortable with to not being able to tie my own shoe or sit up on my own or like use the restroom by myself, it was a pretty rough time. But I think Craig does a really good job of, you know, helping you through it and kind of getting you to the other side.

Sean: 08:46 – I’m sure that there were low moments in there for you from a mental standpoint. How did you deal with that?

Kevin: 08:53 – There definitely was. I mean, I would lying if I didn’t say that I chucked my chair across the room a few times or, you know, yelled or screamed or scared some people with how mad I was. But I mean, I got through it first and foremost, probably, you know, my personal faith, I’m a Christian and I feel like God put me on this earth for a very specific reason. And I think even though it sucked and I didn’t understand at the time, I think I always kind of understood that me being paralyzed as part of a bigger picture for me, for what God wanted me to do. I think the other side of it that I was also surrounded by the CrossFit community. I had thousands upon thousands of messages and people supporting me. And so really, between those messages and my friends was never given a chance to go down the wrong path.

Sean: 09:49 – You were surrounded by people at Craig who I’m assuming were going through similar ordeals. How did that help you through your time there?

Kevin: 10:00 – It made making the paraplegic jokes a little easy, there was more than one of us making them at the time. You know, just seeing other peoples’ struggles and other things people go through, just like in CrossFit, shared suffering is a very powerful thing, a very powerful thing. And I think the shared suffering that we went through at Craig, I mean, I still talk to like a lot of the people that were in Craig with me.

Sean: 10:22 – You mentioned across the community and how much they helped you. What types of things did the community do for you specifically to help you get through that time?

Kevin: 10:32 – I woke up from my first surgery with a fundraiser of like $300,000 to help pay for medical expenses. And that was four or five days after the accident, it was already that high. They did this massive fundraiser, Barbells for Boobs stopped everything for a week and like and focused on helping me, and they’re just really phenomenal and great people, that—their job was like breast cancer detection, and then resources after detection, and they stopped what they were doing to help some guy who just got paralyzed. So that’s huge of them. And then outside of even just the monetary thing, like I said, thousands of messages from all around the world that, you know, from Germany, Japan, Australia, South America, just, you know, words of encouragement. I had people who were already in a wheelchair that had been dealing with this for a while who reached out and became mentors of mine. You know, Chris Stoutenburg, Angel Gonzales and Steph Hammerman, like immediately reached out to me and kind of let me know like, hey, this sucks, but you’ll be OK. And I think none of that would’ve happened without the CrossFit community.

Sean: 11:41 – Why do you think what happened to you resonated with so many people?

Kevin: 11:48 – I think all of us in training have had those scares where we almost got hurt or we almost got injured and, you know, kind of squeaked by or, you know, had narrow misses. And I think having someone, you know, I talked to a few guys that I used to compete with and they’re like, yeah, that could have been any of us, any of us could have bailed backwards and had that barbell from behind us. And, you know, I think people, at least the competitors that I worked out with and other people who train hard, kind of understood like what it meant to have that taken away.

Sean: 12:20 – How were you able to come to terms with what happened and not only do that, but then move forward and get to accomplishing the things that you wanted to do in your life?

Kevin: 12:34 – Well I’ve always said that I think that there are some common denominators I’ve seen with people who have done really well with situations like this. And they’re a sense of humor. You know, family, whether that be like blood-related family or your community, and then faith. I think those three things combined can pull someone through any situation, period

Sean: 13:01 – Less than two years after your accident, you open your own CrossFit affiliate, CrossFit WatchTower. What did it mean to you to be able to accomplish that at that point?

Kevin: 13:13 – Honestly, I never saw myself as an affiliate owner. I didn’t think that was where my life was heading. Unfortunately the gym that I had been working at for like, five, six years was shutting down and you know, I’d worked really hard to build that community. And I don’t want to say I was forced to because I really love what I do and everything. But it kind of just was one of those things, it was like either lose the community you built or open your own gym. And so I just chose to open the gym and try to keep that community that had been such a powerful impact on me alive.

Sean: 13:46 – Why is coaching people so important to you?

Kevin: 13:52 – I think it’s important to me because coaching can literally change someone’s life. If I look back at the most influential people in my life who shaped me as a man, almost all of them are coaches. You know, my dad was my coach growing up for all the sports. I’m basically like a younger version—younger and better-looking version of my dad. You know, I had coaches through, you know, high school and coaches through college who just had a huge impact on who I became as a human being. And, I think that’s important to pass down. You know, I think all of us want to leave an impact on this world and I think we all gravitate towards the field that had the most impact on us. And for me it was coaching, you know, being able to talk people through things, improve their lives, like build confidence in themselves, not just in inside the gym, but also outside the gym. I don’t take that responsibility lightly.

Sean: 14:52 – Same day you opened your affiliate, you started the Reveille Project. What is that?

Kevin: 14:57 – So the Reveille Project, we are a nonprofit organization and me and Ryan, my best friend Ryan, he was in the Marines and got blown up twice while he was in, kept all 10 fingers and all 10 toes, but had some, TBI issues and neck issues and some behavioral issues because of all that kind of stuff when he first got out. And, you know, through like fitness, nutrition, community and faith kind of turned his life around from kind of drinking and doing stupid things to now being a loving father of three kids who is, you know, out there helping other people and is very successful at what he does. And so I think we recognize the power of, you know, fitness, nutrition, community and faith. And we wanted to give back to veterans who don’t have access to it. So we provide a year scholarship and that year we pay for a CrossFit gym membership near them. We pay for nutritional counseling if they choose to seek it out. We’ll pay for some physical therapy sessions and then we’ll encourage them and try to get them linked up with other organizations like Faith Rx that do like faith-based action projects within their community.

Sean: 16:08 – We’ll let Kevin Ogar take a quick break while I tell you about 500-pound deadlifts. To get a big deadlift, you need to follow all the steps in order. It’s a journey. You can’t just step up to a heavy bar every day and pull. It is the same deal with business. So Chris Cooper has mapped out the exact steps a gym owner must take to level up and eventually reach wealth. All these steps are based on research and data. There’s no guesswork anymore. A Two-Brain mentor can help you analyze your business, figure out where you’re at, and then tell you the exact things you need to do to grow. It’s all in the new Two-Brain road map available to clients. To find out if working with a mentor is right for you, book a free call at Now, more with Kevin Ogar. How does helping others help you?

Kevin: 17:03 – Oh man, big question. I think we’re not meant to live alone. I think God put us on this earth to help other people. We’re not here for ourselves. And I think living for yourself or living selfishly, will always leave you wanting something. You’re always second guessing yourself. But living to help others, living to build this community and help your fellow man, I think that no matter how bad your situation is or maybe even how depressed you get, like helping other people, I don’t know, it’s never been about, helping myself, but helping other people will always kind of turn things around. I don’t know how to put it eloquently, but I think the more you live for others, I think the more selfless you live, no matter the situation, the happier you’ll be.

Sean: 17:59 – Why did you decide then to try out for the US Paralympic powerlifting team?

Kevin: 18:07 – Well, that’s easy. I just like lifting heavy things. And I was kind of told at the beginning of my quest for that, that I would never be able to bench enough or be strong enough because CrossFitters don’t know how to move a barbell well enough.

Sean: 18:23 – What was it like to then be able to call yourself a competitor again?

Kevin: 18:29 – I mean I already had at that point, I’d done some like, I did Wodapalooza a few times. I worked out at like the WheelWOD and done some of the WheelWOD competitions. But to be able to call myself a competitor for the USA, it was a pretty big deal. I got to compete in a few international competitions and wear the USA colors and USA name and represent my country. So I think that was really cool. Once again, I was told I was not supposed to. So of course I chased it down.

Sean: 18:58 – CrossFit has always had, you’ve mentioned this, an incredible adaptive athlete community. What’s it been like for you to be able to bring more attention to that group?

Kevin: 19:12 – I feel like that’s, what I was put on this earth to do. Like I think I was put on this earth and built up my entire life to help, you know, a population that I feel like was kind of overlooked and underserved and told time and time again that no you can’t and no you shouldn’t. And I like being able to be a part of the group that’s kind of furthering that movement has been, it’s been basically the job of a lifetime. Like I get opportunity that I never I saw coming and could not—once I had the opportunity, could not believe how much I loved it.

Sean: 19:50 – We all know what the sense of community is like in the CrossFit realm. What’s it like with that adaptive athlete community?

Kevin: 19:59 – I mean, it’s no different. Community’s the exact same. We just have better jokes. Literally that’s it. Like it’s like, I don’t feel like there’s two communities. There’s not this adaptive community and then like the CrossFit community, it’s just the CrossFit community. And you see that within gyms like my own, who we don’t have special adaptive classes. We don’t have like our adaptive athletes come at this time and then our able-bodied athletes come at another time. Everyone’s in one class. In fact, we tell like one community, one class. Like we don’t want people to be separate. So I don’t think there’s a difference. I think it’s the exact same. Some of us have better parking and some of us have to walk in the gym.

Sean: 20:46 – What is your reaction when somebody, regardless of who it is, says that you are an inspiration to them?

Kevin: 20:55 – I know it comes from a good place and I know it frustrates other people, but I get that they’re trying to be nice and so I don’t like to return being mean or being frustrated from someone just trying to be nice to me. It’s a teachable moment. Like, you know, maybe like, hey, thank you so much. Like what have I inspired you to do? Or like, hey, thank you so much, but you know, I’m just living a life that everyone else would live and I think those who get frustrated with it and kind of snap about it, you know, that’s on them. If that’s how they want to deal with it, that’s great. But, again, that’s a way to live selflessly. Like, let them have that. They’re saying that almost more for them than they are for you. And if you can realize that, then just let them have it.

Sean: 21:44 – Are you uncomfortable when people tell you that?

Kevin: 21:46 – Yeah. Well I’m super awkward as it is, Sean, I’m very awkward. Oddly enough, as much as it may sound weird, I don’t generally like being the center of attention. And so compliments make me super awkward.

Sean: 22:03 – I’m sure you talk to people who have gone through or are going through a similar situation to yours. What is your message to them to help them get through it?

Kevin: 22:17 – Oh yeah. I talk to people from Craig or new patients from Craig Hospital fairly often. In fact, they come to my gym like probably every other month or so with new patients and we put them through a workout and we sit there and talk to them, and I tell them the same message every time. Like, your life isn’t over, just cause your legs don’t work or because this doesn’t work or you know, you can choose how you want the situation to go, and I’ve seen people be very successful. Even like I’m probably more successful now at what I do than I was before I got hurt because of the opportunities that the wheelchair afforded me. And not because like it inherently happens with the wheelchair, because I chose to take those opportunities. And so I always tell them the three things, man. When you’re dealing with that kind of stuff and you’re really kind of beat down, like make sure you get out of the house, make sure you do something physically active and make sure you shower cause no one likes someone smelly in a wheelchair.

Kevin: 23:08 – And so I think, I don’t know, I think that’s my kind of message. You kind of can choose this for this to be a very, very good thing or a very, very bad thing, but it’s 100% up to you.

Sean: 23:18 – The first time I met you in person, I was shocked at the aura of positivity that just resonated from you. Where do you think that comes from? And I’m not joking about that.

Kevin: 23:28 – Oh man. Well thank you. Getting awkward.

Kevin: 23:33 – Yeah. I grew up with some pretty amazing parents who instilled some pretty amazing perspective in my life. You know, I had a great dad and a great mom who are still together to this day and are tremendously amazing humans. And my mom used to always say like, yeah, this may suck for you, but remember, someone else always has this worse and wishes they had your opportunities and your gifts. And so don’t waste them just cause you feel bad about them. And I think my dad taught me that the value of hard work and you know, no matter how bad the situation is, like hard work can always pull you out of it. An, you know, they also instilled that kind of selfless help-others attitude in me. And I also feel like the faith that they brought me up in also allows me to kind of see things like, this is not—that my life is not my own. Like I’m not here for me, I’m here to do the work I was put on this earth to do. And like, I think with those perspectives on things, it just makes it like everything’s great. As long as I’m out here helping people, you know, I could not have a penny to my name and as long as I’m allowed to help people, I’m cool with it.

Sean: 24:35 – Do you find that people treat you differently because you’re disabled?

Sean: 24:39 – Yeah, for sure.

Sean: 24:41 – Why is that? So first question, why is that?

Kevin: 24:47 – I mean, to be perfectly honest, I think it’s because people don’t know. Outside there’s a fire truck going by, Sean.

Sean: 24:54 – No problem.

Kevin: 24:54 – A lot of is that people don’t understand or people don’t know. Like even for me before my accident, I never thought about, you know, how hard being wheelchair was or you know, the stripes next to the handicap parking are for them to get their chair out or any of these things. And so like, I think it’s just people don’t know. And so—I’ve never met someone who even if they do something wrong, was trying to be a jerk. I think everyone’s trying to be nice and do what they feel like is the nicest and most respectful thing they can think of. And even if they’re wrong, instead of getting angry, I just like to use that as like a teachable moment.

Kevin: 25:36 – Like, hey man, I know you parked in handicap parking. Just so you know, I have friends who can’t go to the grocery store when people park there, so maybe don’t do that next time. Instead of getting all like up in arms and angry about it, I feel like we can help and teach other people and then build it up. And you know, just like people have—a good example is like, people don’t know what CrossFit is or how powerful it is until they get into it. People don’t know what having a disability or a handicap is until they know someone with one or they experience it for themselves. And so I truly don’t believe anyone ever has treated me differently because they’re trying to be mean. I think everyone was treating me differently because they were trying to do what they thought was the most respectful thing they possibly could.

Sean: 26:20 – You recently just got married. Congratulations. How has that changed your life?

Kevin: 26:30 – I get less of my bed now.

Sean: 26:32 – Get used to that, man.

Kevin: 26:34 – Yeah, we have a California King and I get maybe a two-foot-by-four-foot section of it.

Sean: 26:40 – Yeah.

Kevin: 26:41 – And then my wife gets, you know, a third of it and then the dogs get like two thirds of it. But it’s actually, it’s been really great. I really have enjoyed it. Having someone to come home to and chat about stuff with, and I love cooking, but I hate cooking for myself, so it’s allowed me someone to cook for. So I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s been great.

Sean: 27:07 – This is still a new thing for you, but what things do you do that really just annoy the hell out of your wife?

Kevin: 27:18 – Oh man, there’s so many, so many. I think one of the biggest things that annoys her is like, I’ll cook a bunch of stuff. But I’m in like cooking mode, so I don’t clean as I go. I cook everything and then try to clean afterwards. And so there’s a pretty big mess until I get done eating at least, and then go to clean it up and it drives her crazy that I don’t just like clean things up as I go. I think that would, if I had to answer for her, that would probably be her biggest one. Either that or she obviously comes to the gym and she is way smarter than I am and is an athletic trainer and so has her master’s degree in sports medicine. And so sometimes I forget that she’s smarter than I am and so I’ll tell her things and she’s like, yeah, Kevin, I already know those things. That probably annoys here pretty big time, too.

Sean: 28:15 – Looking back now, over the last six years, what are the most valuable lessons that you have learned?

Kevin: 28:24 – Patience is a big one. Patience is a huge one. I’m still not good at this one, but communication, like talking to your friends, talking to your family and letting them in on your life instead of trying to do everything by yourself, which is still very hard for me. And just going back to I think if more people tried to help others instead of always trying to help themselves, they would a be a lot happier and this world will be a lot better.

Sean: 28:53 – You have a very strong sense of what your purpose is now. How does that compare to what your sense of purpose was before your accident?

Kevin: 29:05 – It’s pretty similar. I just didn’t know what direction to take it. I’ve always known that my purpose on this earth was to help other people. Like I’ve always wanted to be a coach or a teacher or like be able to, you know, help other people, period, no matter what it’s ever been. If I could help, I will. I think the injury just kind of focused it a little bit more. But I think it’s always been that. I think that’s what drew me to coaching. I’ve always just wanted to help other people.

Sean: 29:38 – If someone told you that you could have the ability to walk again, but you had to trade all the experiences, all the things you’ve accomplished, your affiliate, the friends you’ve made over the last six years, would you do it?

Kevin: 29:49 – I would not trade a single second of the last six years for the ability to walk again.

Sean: 29:54 – Why is that?

Kevin: 29:54 – What’s a pair of legs? Cool, I can’t reach tall shelves and you know, like standing up was cool and being 6’3 and tall was awesome. But like, the reach I’ve been able to have and the amount of people that I’ve been able to help from a wheelchair and all the cool things I’ve had the opportunity to do and the relationships that I’ve built, like who cares about a set of legs? Like looking back on all of it, I would not trade a single second of it to be able to walk again.

Sean: 30:30 – What do you have going now, in the years to come with your gym and with the Reveille Project and then all the other stuff that you’re involved with?

Kevin: 30:39 – I mean, a lot of the same stuff. Just trying to get the gym to grow and bring more people in who need help. You know, the people who haven’t tied their shoes for 30 years, those are the people we want. The people who think they can’t do CrossFit. We want you to come to the gym. We want you in there. We want you to realize that it’s not just the CrossFit Games. Like we’re here to make you a more functional human being and make your life better. Like, I want every impairment, everyone that thinks that them being a physical human being isn’t possible, I want them to come to us. I want, you know, we’re working with the Reveille Project. We’re trying to grow that and get us into more gyms and get more veterans back to a holistic self through, you know, fitness, community, nutrition and faith. And I think those are the two big things I’m working on as well as, you know, trying not to piss off my wife too much, I think that’s a big one as well.

Sean: 31:30 – Well good luck with that one man.

Kevin: 31:32 – Yeah, I mean I think I’m just gonna keep kind of doing those two things and working with the Adaptive Training Academy, used to be the CrossFit specialty course Adaptive Training, now we have our own entity. We’re still a CrossFit preferred course, great terms with them and same support we’ve always had from them. Now we just get to do our own thing. But the Adaptive Training Academy, man, we’re going across the world and teaching people how to work with adaptive athletes and make it— I think our goal there is to make adaptive athletes and people with disabilities in CrossFit gyms so commonplace that we actually work ourselves out of a job.

Sean: 32:11 – That is a noble goal to have, man. Kevin, listen, I really appreciate you taking the time to do this. I know you’re super busy and I look forward to seeing you again soon, my friend.

Kevin: 32:20 – Yeah, me too. I can’t wait to see you in person. Give you a hug. Talk Star Wars.

Sean: 32:23 – Oh yes, we will definitely do that.

Kevin: 32:27 – Build some Legos, talk some Star Wars.

Sean: 32:29 – Absolutely. I’m all for it, man. Well take care and I will talk to you soon.

Kevin: 32:32 – All right, talk to you later, Sean.

Sean: 32:32 – Huge thanks to Kevin Ogar for taking the time to join me, and I definitely forward to talking Star Wars with him. If you want to follow Kevin on social media, you can find him on Instagram. He is @kevinOgar. Thank you for listening everybody. I’m Sean Woodland and this is Two-Brain Radio. If you’re a gym owner and need some help growing your business, Two-Brain mentors can show you the exact steps to add $5,000 in monthly recurring revenue. Book a free call on TwoBrain to find out more. We’ll see you next time, everyone.


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.

Thanks for listening!

To share your thoughts:


To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help, and we read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes.