Episode 179: Q & A With Coop

Episode 179: Q & A With Coop

Chris: 00:00 – Hey everybody, it’s Chris. Since 2009 I have tried to give you guys daily content that helps you grow your gym and that was the start of dontbuyads.com, that was the thousand blog posts or so I did that led up to my different books and now we do that with free help calls online. But sometimes we get really amazing questions that get repeated over and over again. And so every few months where I like to do is take these questions, highlight the best ones, and answer them on this podcast. So in this episode you’re going to hear some of the best questions that we get sent through email every single day. If you have a question and you haven’t booked a free call with our mentors, that’s the best way to get your question answered. If you have a question that you think is abnormal, the best way to ask it is to email me chris@twobrainbusiness.com. Sometimes people shoot me these long, long messages that are hard to read on Facebook Messenger. And then honestly I get lost on Facebook Messenger, sometimes, so I don’t get them. But every single email that hits my inbox gets answered. So if you have questions you think that are new that other people could benefit from hearing the answer of, I promise to keep you anonymous and we will play them on a future episode. Enjoy.

Greg: 01:15 – Two-Brain Radio is brought to you by Two-Brain Business. We make gyms profitable. We’re going to bring you the very best tips, tactics, interviews in the business world each week. To find out how we can help you create your Perfect Day, book a free call with a mentor at twobrainbusiness.com. We’d like to think another one of our amazing partners, Level Method. As a CrossFit gym owner, I know retention is key to keeping my business going for years to come. Retention is not easy though. People want to see success and if you don’t show them early, they’ll find a place that does. This is where Level Method comes in. With Level Method, you are now able to guide your members through an amazing structure that’ll give them a path to success. Once you have success, you instantly have motivation for them to continue, which will now be delivered to your members. Start systemizing the creation of powerful moments for your members today. Go to levelmethod.com to book a free call.

Eden: 02:10 – Hello everyone, it’s Eden Watson here coming to you from the Two-Brain workshop, and I am lucky enough today to interview Chris Cooper, the one and only. Chris, welcome to your own podcast.

Chris: 02:26 – Thanks a lot, Eden.

Eden: 02:26 – As you folks know, Chris writes to us almost every day. Well, he does write for us every day, and he tries to answer some of the reoccurring questions that he receives in some of your emails and he answers those love letters. But on occasion he sends us directly some of the themes that come up. So as you may or may not know, Chris has recently published a book called “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief” and it’s got a definition for the four stages of entrepreneurship. Chris, will you share a little bit what it means to be in each of the stages?

Chris: 02:59 – Yeah, sure. So the four phases of entrepreneurship are Founder, Farmer, Tinker, and Thief, and in the Founder Phase you’ve just launched your business and you’re trying to survive, basically. You’re trying to get cashflow positive. You don’t have any clients yet. Maybe you’ve got a space, but you really make . In the Farmer Phase, your business has been been open, you’ve hit the break-even point at least once and now you realize that you have to turn this from a job that you bought for yourself to an actual business. And so the big steps involved in the Farmer Phase are really like hiring staff, replacing yourself in lower-value roles, maybe even replacing yourself in the primary delivery role and ascending to this level of like manager. Then the Tinker Phase is when your business is solid and you’re using that first business as a foundation for your wealth platform. So now you’re diversifying, maybe. Might be opening a second business. You might be duplicating the first, you might be doing something completely different like buying a building. But what you’re trying to do is set yourself up for a reliable platform of wealth. And then in the Thief Phase, you have that platform of wealth and what you’re trying to build in Thief is your legacy. So you’re trying to leverage all of your success to create a legacy for your family, but also for your community.

Eden: 04:44 – OK. So given those four stages of entrepreneurship that you’ve explained, I would suggest and others have suggested that you’d probably be in Thief Phase. What phase do you actually feel you’re in now?

Chris: 04:56 – I’d say that I’m in Tinker Phase with Two-Brain and you know, so listeners know, like I still own several companies. Two-Brain is the largest and it’s the one I’m most passionate about, so it commands the vast majority of my attention. But I’m in Tinker Phase with that. And so what that means is I need to build a platform and solidify Two-Brain by hiring people who are more specialized and more expert than I am at certain areas and replace myself there. Means that I’m introducing a management layer into my life for the first time, like C-level executives. You know, CSO, CFO, COO. It means that a lot of these people are more talented at their particular skillset than I am. And it also means that I have to be willing to allow big ideas to like crop up and replace my original ideas. So Tinker Phase is where a lot of successful entrepreneurs actually tank and some of them wisely sell their companies to people who are more experienced CEOs instead of trying to grow into a CEO or leadership role themselves. In many cases that’s really, really wise. Some of us who started the business out of passion don’t want to give up that seat. And so we have to go through this hard journey of like leadership development and being comfortable with, you know, spending a lot of money, being comfortable with trusting people to do things better than you originally would have. And there’s also like imposter syndrome that goes on with a lot of people. I’m lucky that I’ve never really suffered from that. And then you know, you have to invest in other things too, like data collection. You know, I never thought that I would spend $1 million a year collecting numbers on a spreadsheet, but we do. So yeah, I’m in Tinker Phase right now and I am taking some steps toward Thief Phase, one of the benefits of the book that most people report is like, OK, I know what I have to prioritize next. And the biggest struggle in Tinker Phase is really focus. There’s so many opportunities, so many people want partner with Two-Brain that it can be hard to focus and just do the work that will help gym owners. And so that’s where I struggle on a daily basis. And I think we’re going to come to that question later, but knowing like what the next phase is for me, which is making sure that this legacy of entrepreneurship and helping my community can continue is really what guides me in the day to day.

Eden: 07:20 – So in Tinker Phase you’re having some resources to chase down all these ideas and work on all these ideas to avoid getting lost .

Chris: 07:36 – Yeah, I mean I get three or four great ideas a week and they’re almost always good. And we’re very tempted to do them. And I’ll give you an example. Like a year and a half ago we said we need a better way to track gym owner success. Nobody else is gonna do it. Nobody else has the resources or the reach to do it. Therefore it’s our responsibility. And so we said the best way to do that would be to develop a reporting app that we could bolt on to any gym owner’s website. It would track their revenues, create a dashboard for them, and then they in turn can turn around and report that to us. So we put about $70,000 into the first phase and then I realized like I don’t want to own a software company, and there are far better places that we can invest, and so from that experience we learned like you need to let the experts in software keep building software. Our job as the leader in the industry is really to set the standard and say, here’s what you should be providing and you know, we learned three or four months ago that we can do that. We proved it. We published a report on like what is the best member management software? When we published that report, we also said like, here’s the gold standard that every management software should meet. Here’s how to be a good member-management platform, in other words. And three or four of the of the companies that we worked with immediately said thanks for giving us a target. We’re going to step up, and made immediate improvements that, you know, maybe they’d never thought of before or maybe they even been processing for years, and just because it was coming from us, they took quick action and actually made things better for gym owners. And now I realize like that is a better initiative for us to pursue is to define what the gold standards are and give people a target to aim for.

Eden: 09:19 – So we did allude to it a little bit right now about the different challenges you’re facing. What do you see as probably the biggest challenge you’re facing?

Chris: 09:35 – Probably development as a leader. Like you know, fitness coaches have been largely led to believe that like being the best coach is going to give you the best business. And I think everybody listening to this podcast understands that’s not true. We all get it. Like it’s two completely different jobs. One is not an extension of the other. One is not like the second level of the first. Well what happens in Tinker Phase is now you have to become a leader to people whose job you don’t really understand well yourself. So when you’re in the Farmer Phase, yeah, you have to be a leader to the other coaches in your gym, but you’re a coach, right? You can relate to them, you know when they’re doing something right or wrong or you know, leveraging their time effectively, you know how to help them improve. And you also can tell when they’re frustrated because you’ve been there. When you get to Tinker Phase, though, you’re hiring people with areas of knowledge or specialization that are vastly greater than your own. And so you have to learn how to lead people based on what they care about instead of what they know. And that is very challenging for a left-brain guy like me who has to practice empathy instead of instead of a right-brain expert like you, that is tough, right? Like you have to learn how to read and also filter emotion out of things. So yeah, it requires a different type of mentorship. You know, the other challenges are really just I love great ideas and my brain is attracted to novelty and people pitch this stuff all the time. You know? I’ll put time and resources and money into that. And the other thing, too, is that a few years ago I was listening to some stuff by the Dalai Lama and kind of realized that the path to happiness is through service. And that’s when I wrote “Help First” and “Help First” was about marketing, but it was really about like how to be happy. And so my first instinct when I wake up in the morning, it’s 4:00 a.m., before I even like open both eyes, I’m checking my email. Because that is the most immediate opportunity to help first, is people sending me these questions. But that’s not where I should start my day.

Eden: 11:59 – So, given those challenges of leadership, how do you face that challenge?

Chris: 12:05 – Well, number one, I really rely on transparency and patience from my senior team, like, you know, you and the senior staff at Two-Brain, Danny, Jay, Mike our COO, Josh Price, Jeff Smith, John Franklin. You know, luckily you’re not all just big thinkers, but you’re also very generous with your time and patience. But at this level you need a ton of transparency. Like somebody has to tell me if they’re upset or mad or if I’ve said something that I didn’t mean, you know. So I have a mentor for that. Marci Swenson is my mentor right now. We spend an hour every single week working through leadership challenges one-on-one. And then on the focus front, I have a different mentor, Todd Harmon, and we work in like 90-day focal periods. So we basically like say this project is more important than everything else. We do an assessment at the start of the 90 days and we sprint on that one thing. And sprints are very, very powerful if you’ve got a very stable base to work from. If you don’t, it’s like you’re going to go sprint in the track, but your shoes aren’t tied, you know, like you’re going to have a big worse problem than you thought you did if you try to sprint. So, you know, luckily, I’m getting a lot of help focusing on projects, but that’s always my biggest challenge. And the third thing is actually just learning more about flow state and doing things that optimize flow state for me. So a lot of listeners know now that like I’m not doing CrossFit as much anymore. I still own a CrossFit gym. I still love it, but cycling gets me into flow state. Cycling is where I resolve most of my problems, on my bike, and I just couldn’t do it in CrossFit.

Eden: 13:50 – You can if Chris has been on a big bike ride, there’s a lot of profound stuff that comes up.

Chris: 13:50 – Well, maybe I’m just more calm. But like even senior team people that I speak with are like have you had a bike ride today? Cause they want to know who are they talking to, right?

Eden: 14:12 – And it sounds like another thing I don’t think you’ve really struggled with but it’s around changing people at the door. Hiring people who have more knowledge, more understanding of these situations themselves and you have to be willing to let them spread their wings.

Chris: 14:23 – That takes practice for sure. My ego got obliterated when our company almost went bankrupt back in 2008, and ever since then I’ve just really been like an open vessel.

Eden: 14:35 – That’s very nice. Another question coming to us often is that people are incredulous about the amount of content you produce and why you produce so much, how you produce so much, and I guess another question would be, do people really stay subscribed to these mail lists?

Chris: 14:58 – Yes. So the reason I started writing—and like we’re just past the 10-year anniversary of me blogging to help business owners every single day. So 10 years, something’s come out. The reason I started was to take notes to help myself and then quickly some reader feedback was like, this isn’t very helpful for your readers. You need to be more directive. You can’t just say don’t do this or this was a mistake. You have to say do this one thing. And so I learned that like, you know, almost a decade ago. So everyday that’s what I try to do. I try to help first by giving a directive solution that actually solves a problem. So instead of just talking about a problem or you know, complaining about something or saying, don’t do it this way, we, you know, it’s our ethos that we’re directive and we say, do this thing, follow these steps. And so every month we publish like a big guide, step by step, how to hire, how to pay your coaches, how to run the Intramural Open. It all really came out of a desire to solve gym owners’ problems because as a gym owner myself, it’s very easy for me to relate to like what they’re going through. So how do I do every day? Number one, it’s a habit, but then number two is we haven’t run out of problems to solve yet. And I literally can’t not do it. So, you know, the previous day I’ll get an email from somebody. Oh, my coach wants to quit because they can make more money as a substitute teacher. And so I’ll spend some time on the bike thinking about that and then, you know, the next morning that will be the love letter. I think a lot of people are surprised that the love letters aren’t always written two weeks in advance, you know, and most of the time their response is something that’s just come up. The habit that I’ve established is to have two windows during the day. One we call a focus window. One is more of like a ship window, get stuff done. I write about it in “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief,” basically like in your focus window you are doing the thing that moves your business forward. And Mike Michalowicz calls this the Queen Bee role in his book, “Clockwork.” But you know Todd Herman who I’m working with right now, something that he told me the other day really resounds here and that is when you’re in the Tinker Phase, there’s nothing in your email box that’s going to move your business forward. Everything in your email is people asking you to help them with something. And that’s an amazing gift. But that shouldn’t be your first focus. Like my primary responsibility is to the clients and staff at Two-Brain. It’s not to people who want to pitch me on a new supplement line. So I need to not answer my email first thing in the morning. I need to sit down and write. In the ship window, for me, always comes after exercise. I’m zoomed in, I’m focused. Sometimes I’m so focused that it’s like I forget to eat lunch because you know, I’m fresh off my bike, I’ve solved a few problems, I want to work through them. So if you can set up those two windows during the day, I think you can probably move your business forward. The real danger to entrepreneurs is staying very, very, very busy, but not doing anything that’ll actually make their business progress.

Eden: 18:11 – OK. So we touched on this about how you laser in, focus in really well by biking; what is another trick you use to stay focused? What have you used in the past that has worked?

Chris: 18:24 – Mentorship, number one. You know, so every quarter, every month, every week I’m on a call with a mentor and they’re saying like, what’s your priority right now? So writing has actually helped me focus a lot because when you type it slowly as I do, you actually have to think one word at a time, right? You can’t think in sentences, you can’t think in paragraphs anymore. You have to think one word at a time. And you also have to think about clarity. Like how can I say this in fewer words. And what that does is it structures your thoughts. So if I get up in the morning and I write, and for me it’s usually 750 to 2000 words, then for the rest of the day my thoughts flow in order. They’re not scattered all over the place. There’s some structure to what I’m doing. And that is basically like the mechanics of focus. If I don’t do that, then my thoughts are all over the place. I’ve got 50 browser windows open in my head and on the screen, and you know, I want to tell jokes, I want to be on Facebook and Slack and everything all at the same time. So cycling helps, absolutely. It helps put me in an emotional place to make important decisions, which is great. It helps give me clarity. Sometimes I’ve worked through problems on the bike. But really, writing every day gives me the structure stay focused. It’s flow state. If you want to—actually, OK. So if listeners want to download my free book about flow state and how to get into it and what it is you can go to twobrain.com/flow, get that book for free. I think it’s critical for every entrepreneur in every stage, but when you’re in Tinker you literally can’t not do that.

Eden: 20:18 – OK. So it sounds like meditation.

Chris: 20:25 – Yeah. Yeah. And the bike, you know. Meditation exists to organize your thoughts and remove the emotional lens through which you process things. Would you agree with?

Eden: 20:47 – Yeah.

Chris: 20:47 – OK. So the bike removes that emotional lens for me and writing organizes my thoughts.

Eden: 20:54 – OK. So some folks have benefited off you sharing all of the challenges, all the ups and downs, all the problems that you’ve faced in these last 10 years, so you’ve got a real retrospective to go back on, you’ve seen some of the problems they’ve faced and the problems you’ve faced, what’s the biggest mistake ?

Chris: 21:06 – There’s a few. So in the gym industry, I think it’s lack of focus—or sorry, lack of vision. So vision is knowing exactly what you want for your gym three years from now. It’s not like, what can I sell? It’s really what do you want this thing to be? And what that does is it gives you perspective on the tools that you’re using and the people that you’re hiring and also the clients you’re attracting. So the new thing in gyms now is that the marketing problem is solved. We know how to get people in the door. That has never occurred before. You know, in my 20-year career, nobody until the last two years has able to say, we can guarantee you five to 10 leads or 40 leads even a month. Right? Like that just didn’t happen. The problem is that that is such an attractive proposition. It’s so novel that a lot of people are focused just on that. And what they need to do is say, who do I want to attract to this gym? Who do I want to hang out with for the next five, 10 years? Who do I want on my team and what do we want to do for these people? If you’re just following somebody else’s vision, like Greg Glassman’s even, you’re always subject to the whims of what are they going to do? And that’s always going to leave you in a panic when that direction changes or that vision changes or it goes away. So you have to look at, you know, what do I want to provide here? What are the tools that I can use, you know, CrossFit is a tool that I use, boot camp is a tool that other people use. Nutrition is a tool that everybody should use. And then you want to say like, how does that look in practice? How will I deliver? So that’s one thing. The second thing is that, you know, in the business world, there’s always been the dark side, which is like the get-rich-quick scheme. It’s like the huckster standing down on the pier in Chicago doing three card Monte or like selling snake oil, right? And that has plagued entrepreneurship since the dawn of time, like either the first or the second entrepreneur, the first one was legit and the second was a rip-off. So in our path to make entrepreneurs wealthy, part of that path is to sell, you know, these snake-oil salesman, and these bad practices, the easy money stuff, right? And the big one that’s out there now honestly comes from Facebook marketing. So there are experts out there who tell you that to make a lot of money really, really quick, what you need to do is grab attention of your audience and basically compel them to buy. Now compel in this sense is a negative, right? You’re grabbing their attention through different means. You’re shuffling cards like the three-card Monte dealer. You’re sing the praises of the snake oil before you leave town.

Eden: 24:15 –

Chris: 24:19 – No, no. Here’s how it plays out though. And like our clients, I think, don’t fall into this category, but there are people selling these systems now. So it’s not just a matter of like selling snake oil. It’s like people are telling you how to sell us shit on a snake oil really, really fast. And so like what they’re telling you is like if you want to capture an audience quickly, you have to go after attention. And so instead of having your own ideas, publishing your own platform for 10 years, like that’s hard work, don’t do it, just attack somebody else. And it works. Honestly, you can grab a lot of attention by doing that. Thanks to like hashtagging and all that stuff online now. So you don’t actually have to have the foundation of material, you don’t have to have anything to tell people. All you have to do is tell them that this other thing is wrong, right? The very lesson that I learned 10 years ago, not to do, thankfully. A lot of people can do that now and some people have done that to CrossFit. People have done that to political leaders, right? Like you’re running for office right now, you can either build your own platform or you can attack the other person. And we know that it works. The problem is that those people don’t get reelected. Those people don’t change the nation or the world and they don’t have a long-term business. The thing is like what you actually need is some authenticity; you need to be able to say, do this thing. You need to be able to give directives. And before Mel Siff died, you know, he was getting attacked for talking about like different programming models and different periodization models. And really in hindsight it was nothing. But it was a big deal to me at the time. And what he told me was like, Chris, as soon as you plant a flag, people are going to start shooting. And that’s very very true. I just didn’t understand what their motivation was until now. I thought they were just jerks. Now I understand that it’s actually just a bad business strategy that the get-rich quick guys are gonna always be attracted to.

Eden: 26:27 – And try to make things polarized so people will agree with them.

Chris: 26:31 – Exactly. I mean if you listen to—I don’t want to get political here, but if you’ve listened to podcasts about like, why is the president on Twitter? These are the kinds of things that you’re going to hear. If you make polarizing statements, you force people to choose. And polarizing statements might not even be what you actually believe or what you actually teach. It just has to be like the exact opposite of what most people hold to be true. Exactly. Yes. You know, we see this locally with different businesses now, like the upstarts, instead of building their business through authentic help first and like “I have the best service, I have the best product,” what they’ll do is they’ll attack somebody that’s been in business for 30 years, and it always backfires. Like every single time. People are smart and they realize that person’s a jerk. I don’t want to work with them. We see it online too. You know, like, it’s funny like Instagram, people tag Two-Brain Business because they want to start an argument, and we’re not going to give them that because, we don’t have to. And what they want is attention. And like the greatest gift that I could give them would be to react to their garbage because that’s going to shine our huge spotlight on that and we’re just not going to do that. And it happens everywhere, and it always backfires because people are smart and over time they finally figure out like, wait, that person is selling snake oil or nothing at all. They’re just yelling. You know, when I started in mentorship or when I started a gym, there was a person selling like gym business advice and a box owner who I knew was paying him for it. And this box owner showed up at our gym for a competition and I was like, how do you work with this guy? Like he’s so abrasive and you’re all like—and this other gym owner said, well, I don’t have to like him to listen to what he said. That actually I thought doesn’t seem right to me. Like if this person doesn’t share my values, how can I possibly get anything from them? I’ll never take them seriously. And that person’s gone now. Like this business coach or whatever is largely regarded as a fraud. Something I said half an hour ago rings true here. It’s like you can change people’s minds, but you can never change how people feel. If you aren’t approaching situations with authenticity and teaching people in your community, like, here’s why you should squat and here’s why I care about you and here’s why I want to teach you this. If all you’re doing is blasting the Facebook posts and like making false promises and breaking your word or like attacking other people, you’re going to get attention, but you’re not going to have a business for very long.

Eden: 29:27 – So the biggest mistake is that people aren’t choosing to be more authentic.

Chris: 29:28 – Yeah. They’re chasing attention instead of providing authentic help first. It’s not a recipe that’s ever lasted a long time in any arena. You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time. I think that’s what they used to say, the hucksters down the boardwalk. It’s true in every business, you know, on every platform in every field.

Eden: 30:03 – So said there are several mistakes folks are making. That’s probably the biggest one. Are there any additional mistakes you want to help explain right now?

Chris: 30:12 – I think it’s—this is a very innocent mistake and I’m guilty too. It’s like entrepreneurship is cool now and there’s so much information out there. So many ideas. Most of them are good, that the big mistake is just try all these things all at once and start a whole bunch of things and not finish anything, or not like try one thing at a time and test it, you know? So, fitness trainers listen to this podcast a lot. And when a client comes in, they start seeing some results and they immediately jump on like a stack of supplements, right? They got creatine, they got protein, they’re doing the workouts, it’s the first time you’ve ever touched the barbell, it’s the first time they’ve ever run 3k, and they’re losing weight, right? Well what caused them to lose the weight? What was it one of those things? You don’t know. Like you have to control your variables. So, that’s very hard to do. There’s just so many great ideas online. So most of the time when gym owners get on free calls with us now, they don’t say, I have no idea what to do. What they say is like, I’m doing everything. I’m on Instagram, on Facebook and you know, I’ve got ads rolling now, I’m trying to put stuff on YouTube. And the reason I wrote “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief” was to give them like a lens on what do they need to be doing depending on which phase of entrepreneurship they’re in. Because the answer changes.

Eden: 31:37 – So for everyone listening, don’t try all the things at once, slowly add layers after you’ve tested gradually.

Chris: 31:46 – Yeah, take action on one thing all the way through. Finish it, test it before you start working on the next thing. You know, the reason that most people do that is doubt. They don’t have complete confidence that what they’re testing right now is going to help. So that’s why they’re testing 50 things at once, but they’re not actually doing a good job on any of them. And, you know, entrepreneurial confidence is a huge problem. In the fitness industry it’s very easy to start a gym. So you’re overconfident at the beginning. Then you realize it’s very hard to keep a gym open and you lose confidence so quickly that by the time we meet people a lot of the time their confidence is gone in, and we wonder like, how is this person going to make the hard changes they have to? This is where a mentor really comes in. Like you’ve got to help give the person back enough confidence to give them some quick wins that they start seeing progress. And like I’ll tell you, the people who go through the Incubator who see those quick wins build up the confidence. They’re the ones who eventually do the hard things that make them really successful. The people who start the Incubator and they don’t see the quick wins, they don’t build up that confidence, they’re generally so burned out that they can’t do the very hard things or they don’t do them all the way or they don’t commit. And you know, at the end of the Incubator, they’re treading water, they’re making more money, but they haven’t actually solved the root of the problem. And that’ what we’re always working to fix.

Eden: 33:22 – So in your experience, mentorship came along at that time when you were struggling, but you turned over your confidence in this guy even though you weren’t sure if he was gonna have great ideas for you or not.

Chris: 33:32 – So I mean, you know, I joked before that I’m an open vessel, but what had to happen was that that vessel had to empty first, and it was full of ego. So, you know, I thought, I’m smart. I’m going to figure this out. Or I can work harder than anybody else. You know, I’m going to make this business successful just through my own martyrdom and nobody’s going to outwork me. That was like a mantra. And that all had to fail and it like had to impact my self-esteem, my life, my marriage, everything before I was finally willing to say like, I’m going to listen to somebody else.

Eden: 34:14 – So it doesn’t have to be that way necessarily.

Chris: 34:16 – No, no. I’m just more stubborn than anybody else.

Eden: 34:22 – But that is the role of the mentor, right, is to help give you that clarity and structure so you do focus on one thing at the exclusion of other things.

Chris: 34:35 – Yeah. Like the meta picture that a lot of people pick up on is well, you know, Chris and the team gave me some early, some easy things to do at first and when they’ve finished the Incubator, this light bulb goes off like, oh my God, OK, I get it. And because we’re teaching them to do that in their gyms first, like the most important thing when somebody visits your gym on day one is that they leave thinking, I can win at CrossFit. OK. Or I can win at this thing. I can be good at this. It’s not, wow, now I know something new. And it’s definitely not, wow, I’m in worse shape than I thought. You’re not going to impress people with knowledge, right? Because you can’t change the way they feel, you can just change what they think. So what you have to do is leverage the way that they feel and show them you can feel better. You have to do that on day one. So we do that with business owners too. Like just quick wins in the Incubator. They start feeling really good. They’re getting that whole candy crush thing. I’m leveling up. I’m addicted now. I can’t stop. Oh my God, I can’t wait to raise rates. I can’t wait to tell my landlord I want—you know. They keep leveling up into harder levels and they need to start with success, because motivation follows success, not the other way around.

Eden: 35:56 – Great. Thank you very much for your time. It was really great to talk about these topics and dig into some big things here, and you’ve given us a good perspective on how mentorship has helped you and how Founders can level up to Founders and beyond.

Chris: 36:15 – Thanks, Eden.

Greg: 36:19 – 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 twobrainbusiness.com


Greg Strauch will be here every Thursday with the Two-Brain Radio Podcast.

Two-Brain Marketing episodes come out Mondays, and host Mateo Lopez focuses on sales and digital marketing. 

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

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Two-Brain Radio With Sean Woodland, Episode 12: Stacie Tovar

Two-Brain Radio With Sean Woodland, Episode 12: Stacie Tovar

Sean: 00:04 – Hi everybody and welcome to another edition of Two-Brain Radio with Sean Woodland. On today’s episode, I speak with eight-time individual CrossFit Games athlete Stacie Tovar and her husband Dustin. First, are you a stressed business owner who’s working too much and still struggling to make a profit? You want to grow your venture and reach the next level? Two-Brain Business is here to help with a free 60-minute call. It’s not a sales pitch, it’s just an opportunity for you to get real actionable advice from an expert who’s built a successful business. For one-on-one guidance on how to take your business to the next level, you can book a Free Help call today at twobrainbusiness.com. Stacie Tovar first competed at the CrossFit Games in 2009 in Aromas. Her final year was in 2017 in Madison, Wisconsin. She and her husband, Dustin, own CrossFit Omaha in Nebraska, a gym that has been around for nearly 12 years, and they recently became parents with the birth of their first son, Gavin. We talked about Stacie’s career as a CrossFit competitor and how they have built their affiliate into one of the best gyms in Omaha. Thanks for listening, everyone.

Sean: 01:17 – Stacie and Dustin Tovar, thank you so much for joining me. How are the two of you doing?

Stacie: 01:21 – Thanks for having us. We’re doing really, really good. Just getting used to have a new little guy with us all the time and adjusting to life without a little bit of sleep and running the business, you know, taking care of business.

Sean: 01:33 – So first question, how is life as parents?

Stacie: 01:42 – It’s awesome. It’s stressful. It’s a lot of work. But at the same time when you look at him, when I look at Gavin, you know, just see a smile or snuggle. It’s really awesome. One of the coolest things I’ve ever probably done.

Sean: 02:01 – Well, congratulations to both of you.

Dustin: 02:01 – It’s been a long time coming. We’re about to have our 11-year anniversary.

Sean: 02:09 – Wow. Well, congratulations. That’s awesome man. Good for you guys. Well, OK, Stacie, first off, what was it like growing up on a farm in Nebraska?

Stacie: 02:22 – Oh man, it was the best. I love going back to the farm. We try and get back as often as we can, which isn’t as much as we’d like, but you know man, like people make fun of me. We had, and you’re gonna laugh, but literally one of the antennaes that you had to like move and adjust in order to get a channel to come up that wasn’t—

Sean: 02:40 – I grew up with one of those.

Stacie: 02:44 – Did you really? We didn’t have cable, so Dustin, like we watched every Disney movie. I know every Disney movie by heart and Dustin like knows every other movie and every TV show. I mean, we just didn’t watch TV. We were outside all the time and just playing. And I, you know, it was awesome. I loved growing up on the farm.

Sean: 03:03 – What’s your favorite Disney movie?

Stacie: 03:06 – Oh, Beauty and the Beast, probably.

Sean: 03:09 – OK. Dustin, do you have a favorite Disney movie or are you not into that?

Dustin: 03:14 – Gosh, I would say Lion King, probably, the original was probably my favorite, I’m excited to see the new one.

Sean: 03:22 – All right. OK. Yeah.

Stacie: 03:26 – What about you?

Sean: 03:27 – If I had to choose my favorite Disney movie—now you’re putting me on the spot—it’s hard not, like I love Lion King. I like Beauty and the Beast a lot, too. And I’m trying to think what’s come out recently that I saw that I really liked.

Stacie: 03:42 – Well, there’s a new Aladdin now.

Sean: 03:45 – I liked that one. Yeah. I think there was a run in the 90s where they were really strong. Like it was like home run after home run after home run. So yeah, that was kind of my era. Growing up on that farm though, what kind of life lessons do you learn in that kind of environment?

Stacie: 04:02 – Hard work. You don’t really get to complain much, you just kinda put your nose to the dirt and you just do it and you do it until it gets done. I mean, we would not eat dinner, I remember—well they call it supper on farms—I mean my mom and Dad, dad was in the field, mom was an insurance agent, she still is. And there were days where we had to cook dinner and I think that’s where I get a little bit of my nutrition talent and I’m not much of a cook, but I am pretty good in the kitchen. We would make dinner and we wouldn’t eat until sometimes nine o’clock at night, 10 o’clock and we better had our homework done, you know, and we just made it work. And I really think that I, not only sports, you know, allowed me to become an athlete, but just throwing pigs around, hauling five-gallon buckets of seed, detasseling, walking beans. I mean we would get paid 50 cents I think to walk like three rows of beans. Do you know how long and hard that is? If you didn’t have a hoe, it’s like OK, no, wear gloves and pull the weeds, for 50 cents! And it went up to—where are we putting our money towards? And Mom and dad would be like, wherever you want, some of us put it in the savings account. Some of us said we want to go to Six Flags theme park and they took us and we worked for it. So you just learn a lot of those life lessons that carry forward throughout all of your life, really.

Sean: 05:37 – My mom grew up in Burlington, Iowa, and she would always tell me about detasseling and how miserable that was. How every kid in the neighborhood would have to do that. So I admire you for getting through that task.

Stacie: 05:46 – My nephew is 13 which is the age you can start and you know this heat wave’s going through like all the Midwest right now. He literally detasseled yesterday and I you have to wear, I mean I would wear a handkerchief over my face because the tassels would sometimes cause you allergies and like there’s bugs and things flying everywhere. Flannel shirts and jeans and boots because sometimes pivots would go through the field. I mean, and you’re in a field with no breeze. I mean it’s a death trap, and these kids, they’re still detasseling! Isn’t that terrible? I mean, people today would be like, you’re gonna kill these kids! It’s hard work, man. That’s what you just do.

Sean: 06:31 – I always say it’s amazing that the human race survived with all the things that we can’t do today. It’s good, back-breaking Labor, man. It teaches you a lesson. When did you figure out that you were really competitive?

Stacie: 06:45 – It has always been in my family. We would play games. We live in the middle of nowhere. So in the wintertime you don’t really get out much. You really rely on family. And we would play card games, we would play board games. We still do. And I learned really early on, not only did I have an older sister, but my siblings are very competitive. Both sides of the family. So it is I think inherited and I think it’s just part of who I am.

Sean: 07:16 – You wind up getting scholarship offers for both track and volleyball out of high school. Why did you go with volleyball?

Stacie: 07:23 – I don’t know. I sometimes ask myself that. A part of me always wanted to live in Omaha. So I played club volleyball, gosh really early on, like as early as fifth grade. And I would travel to Omaha; Humphrey’s about two hours away from Omaha, and I would come to practice every Wednesday night and then we’d have tournaments on the weekend and I’ve just always fallen in love with Omaha and I got a scholarship to play volleyball and some of the teammates I played club with, so there was a really good connection there and I felt team camaraderie and when I got a place that I already loved. I just decided to take it. But I’m very team-oriented as much as I am individual. And so I think that’s what naturally gravitated me towards CrossFit, too, was it kind of brought back that individual spirit, competitive spirit that I always had but I didn’t really get the opportunity to kind of like let shine. So kind of a blessing in disguise I guess that I chose volleyball over track, but I love them both.

Sean: 08:23 – Yeah. How did you find CrossFit?

Stacie: 08:28 – It’s Dustin, actually. Well, it kind of goes back many years ago. The former owner of CrossFit Omaha was a strength and conditioning coach at the University of Nebraska, Omaha, which was that college that I was playing volleyball at. And in the off season he had us do CrossFit-like workouts. Actually we did do some workouts from dot-com in the summer conditioning. And that’s kind of how I fell in love with it. Well first found out about it. And then Dustin actually graduated college and turns out those strength and conditioning coaches opened up CrossFit Omaha, he was their very first member and had been doing it the whole time and eventually 2008, December, 2008, I mean, they had talked about it, you know how it goes. Story has it, you know, they don’t shut up about it. I heard about it all the time and he just kept telling me like give it a try. Like you’d be so good at this. And so I went and was very humbled and was hooked ever since.

Sean: 09:31 – Dustin, what did you think when you finally got her into the gym to try this out?

Dustin: 09:37 – What the hell took you so long? No, she was looking for something to do, she was jogging every day.

Stacie: 09:43 – I would do some sprint intervals.

Dustin: 09:48 – And yeah, was fine. She was getting bored.

Stacie: 09:52 – I was complaining about my knees hurting all the time. And he was like “I’m tired of hearing you complain, come and join CrossFit.”

Sean: 10:01 – What was your first workout?

Stacie: 10:04 – I don’t remember all of it, which saddens me, but I do remember I had to scale the deadlift weight. I couldn’t do a box jump and that’s what really irritated me is I was a volleyball player. I can jump through the gym and I couldn’t do a 20-inch box jump because my legs were so tired from deadlifts. And I think there was a lunge involved. And I used a ball, slam ball, so I don’t really remember all of the details. But that was it. And it was like, once I had to step up on that box, I was like, you’ve gotta be freaking kidding me. Like, oh my God, I’m so out of shape. We have to do something about this.

Sean: 10:40 – Why did you decide to stick with it after kind of running into some adversity there?

Stacie: 10:45 – There’s always something to accomplish and achieve and strive for. I loved that challenge. I looked forward to having, you know, not the same routine every single day, but something different and I’m still getting stronger. So who doesn’t love to see numbers improve and you know, you just continue to see yourself get more fit. That was exciting. And it’s appealing and it keeps me coming back.

Sean: 11:15 – So after just a year of CrossFit, you wind up at the Games. How did you get so good so quickly?

Stacie: 11:24 – Well, it was less than a year. It was about six months.

Sean: 11:27 – Wow, all right.

Stacie: 11:29 – I don’t know. I think part of it was back then, Sectionals were programmed by whoever was putting on the competition and maybe Skip Miller was the one that programmed, maybe he, you know, everything fell into my strength category, I don’t know,

Dustin: 11:44 – Oh, come on, give yourself a little credit.

Stacie: 11:44 – I actually snuck in, I actually took fifth, but the top three women were all from Skip Miller’s gym, of course, Front Range CrossFit, naturally. And they all decided to go team. So that’s how I actually snuck onto the third place spot and got to the Games. But yeah, I mean I think that you kind of see a trend, especially these days, you know, it’s very rare, far and few between that an athlete that gets to the CrossFit Games wasn’t a college athlete. And I think that’s just because you’re well rounded and to be good at the sport you have to be well rounded. So that was a strength of mine.

Sean: 12:26 – That year, 2009, is still viewed as one of the toughest Games ever. What stands out to you about that competition?

Stacie: 12:34 – Two things. I actually sprinted up—Amanda is one of my favorite workouts, and the hill sprint. We just had to like run up that stupid hill, that was it, and I remember sprinting past Amanda and that was a really vivid memory I have of her. And then you got to the top of that hill and like literally a gator called you down. Like it was all out max effort. I’ve never felt my leg—I mean I have before, but that was really awful. And then the run, I remember it was so dusty and dirty, it was so hot. Nobody knew the trail. It felt like eternity kind of like Camp Pendleton. You just kept running asking like when’s the next checkpoint? And they would be like, you’re halfway, almost there. Almost there. And almost there was like 30 minutes later, and you’re just wondering when is this ever going to end? But I will never forget. You had to basically bear crawl up this hill and somebody was at the top and there was dust. Like I saw heaven. Dust is just flying from the in front of you. And he’s like, touch the barbed-wire fence, you have to touch—the barbed wire fence? In order to turn around? What is this? And I mean, sure as shit. We all touched the barbed-wire fence cause the guy told us to. But it was awful. It was just awful.

Dustin: 14:06 – It was what, six events in the first day?

Stacie: 14:06 – Six events, not one vendor, no water.

Dustin: 14:06 – I remember eating one time—we were in over our heads, basically.

Sean: 14:14 – No, I love that story about touch the barbed-wire fence.

Stacie: 14:18 – Touched the barbed-wire fence and I kept coming back. I mean, what the hell?

Sean: 14:21 – Yeah. So along those lines, how did you stay so competitive for such a long period of time?

Stacie: 14:28 – Well Sean, you gotta remember, when I started, I was just doing one workout a day with the CrossFit Omaha community. I kind of eased into this whole, I guess professional, and you can call it a professional sport. I got to over several years, over nine years, kind of gradually increased my training hours, the volume. So I feel like I’m blessed and lucky because I never really got injured. I kind of had this linear progression of strength and just kind of slowly but surely increased in speed and power and ability, all these things that you need to be a well-rounded CrossFit athlete. It just didn’t happen overnight. Like some of these athletes that are aspiring to be a CrossFit Games athlete, I mean they’re looking at upwards of six hours of training volume. And if you’re not used to that, you can put yourself at risk of injury, of course, like any sport. But it’s just that much harder. And so I, you know, naturally as the sport progressed, I improved my fitness, too. And I think, you know, that just kept me coming back for more.

Sean: 15:49 – This is my unofficial research, but I think you are just one of three women to compete at all three Games venues as an individual. I think Becca Voigt and Annie Thorisdottir are the other two.

Stacie: 16:02 – Yeah, I think so. I don’t think Camille was around until 2010.

Sean: 16:05 – No, she started in 2010. So you’re in a group with Becca Voigt and Annie Thorisdottir. What’s it like to be mentioned along those two?

Stacie: 16:15 – I look up to those two so much. I’ve always looked up to Annie even though she’s like 10 years younger than me or whatever. She’s so beautiful in and out and just so graceful with the way she moves and proceeds and her strategies and her team. She’s just got an awesome team. It’s no surprise, she’s going to keep going forever. I mean, I feel like. And Becca is no doubt, she’s the most well-rounded athlete ever and she keeps improving. And she was a training partner of mine. I know Annie on a level, but not as deep as Becca, Becca was a training partner of mine when I was training with Squat Mafia and we would travel to Atlanta. We stayed in hotels together and she is a hard worker. Her mentality is so strong, she does not take no for an answer. She was always like, what are we doing? What’s next? Or let’s stay and do like five minutes of this so we can just, you know, get better tomorrow and this will help us, you know, next time. And she’s always just like never enough. And so it’s no surprise that she’s still sticking around. But there’s two great, great girls, awesome athletes. Even better friends.

Sean: 17:32 – Which is your favorite location?

Stacie: 17:37 – I would say California for sure.

Sean: 17:41 – Why is that?

Stacie: 17:44 – There was just something about it. It was big. It was so cool being underneath the lights. I mean I will never ever forget walking through that tunnel and being underneath those lights. I don’t know.

Dustin: 18:01 – There’s something about California, something we looked forward to every year, going out.

Stacie: 18:02 – Good vibes.

Sean: 18:08 – Yeah. That tennis stadium atmosphere—I mean I love the coliseum in Madison, but that tennis stadium was something special, especially at night.

Stacie: 18:16 – For sure.

Sean: 18:18 – Your last appearance at the Games was in 2017 and you had this great moment, you get the send-off from the crowd. You leave your shoes on the floor. What was that moment like for you?

Stacie: 18:28 – Yeah, I remember it like it was yesterday. Special, memorable. It was hard cause I knew that the moment I put those shoes down, it was the end. Super cool.

Sean: 18:48 – How did you know that it was time for you to step away?

Stacie: 18:54 – Oh, I knew that I needed to start a family. I could tell the sport was shifting. I just had a feeling something was up. I don’t know what it was and I’ve always had really good intuition, but I just felt it was time. And I don’t know if it was the change in the venue. I don’t know what I was really feeling. But my intuition was kind of spot on. And I figured, you know what, had I qualified in 2014, it would’ve been 10 years, and I just really felt like at my age, I was kinda having more dings and nicks, pains, little illnesses and injuries I couldn’t quite conquer and you know, take one step forward, two step back kind of thing. And I tried decreasing my volume, I tried changing my nutrition and I tried, you know, taking less hours at the gym, coaching fewer, you know, hired a third-time employee to kind of fill my role at the gym. And when it wasn’t changing, I just was like, OK, it’s time, time I step away. And age just, you know, age plays against you, unfortunately.

Sean: 20:15 – Can’t beat it.

Stacie: 20:15 – No, no. And I surely felt it. That’s why it’s amazing that some of these athletes are in their upper thirties are still competing as individuals. Amazing. And so I just felt it was time.

Sean: 20:27 – When people look back on your career as an athlete, what are the things that you want them to remember you for?

Stacie: 20:35 – What you see is what you get. I wear my heart on my sleeve. Passionate. I’m grateful. I had a ton fun. A girl that inspires other people and takes one workout at a time and waves at the crowd. Leaves it all out there every single time.

Sean: 21:08 – For sure. Well, we’re going to miss watching you compete. And we appreciate everything you did for the community, that’s for sure. I know that the Games fans always enjoyed watching you out there on the floor. Let’s talk about your affiliate. Why did you and Dustin decide to become affiliate owners?

Stacie: 21:27 – Well, the opportunity—so like I said, Dustin was the first member at CrossFit Omaha. I’ve been a part of it since 2008. Kind of been our second home, a home away from home, it’s been a big part of our life. And when the previous owner approached us, you know, he just has a lot going on, got a family, traveled a lot, working for HQ. He was on the road and we kind of felt honored. We kind of felt like this is something that was a slow transition in the works and maybe would have happened had he not approached us anyway. So we kind of felt like, man, this is the way for us to give back to the community. Stay a part of something that’s been a part of our lives for so many years and make it better. And so we jumped on it. And we make a pretty good team. Dustin really does a lot of the business part of things. And you know, my background, exercise science, I know a lot of the science, I know a lot of the coaching, been a coach for many years, having been an athlete in the competitive world and just someone who is part of the community, someone who just goes to normal class, kind of know a little bit about programming and how classes should be run. And yeah, it’s been a wild ride. Almost four years.

Sean: 22:58 – Sometimes husbands and wives do not work well together. How do you guys make that work?

Stacie: 23:06 – Well, that statement is true.

Dustin: 23:09 – If you can answer that then you could probably sell a lot of books, and that’s the thing, you know, we’re constantly searching for information and trying to get better. I read business books, you know, we reach out to mentors, but there’s really nobody, I mean there’s not a lot of people that run a business with their spouse and that’s probably the hardest thing for us is finding that balance, work-life balance, as she breastfeeds right here. You know, knowing when we should stop talking shop and we should be home. That is the toughest part. So for for you to bring that up, you know, I wish we could say we have the answers, but we’re always trying to improve in that regard and it’s definitely not easy to work and run a business with your spouse—a couple of different businesses if you want to look at it that way.

Sean: 24:02 – Who usually wins out in the arguments?

Dustin: 24:11 – It depends on what we’re talking about, business or fitness?

Stacie: 24:11 – If it’s business, Dustin wins, if it’s fitness related I usually win.

Sean: 24:14 – There you go. See, as long as you know your lanes that that’s probably the secret to making it work. What are some things that go into running a good business that you may have overlooked when you first started?

Stacie: 24:28 – So I mean the business of fitness is many hours during the day. And so prior to owning the gym, we had all hourly coaches and we knew that in order for people to come through the door, you have to be open. And sometimes I think businesses are, oh, we’re open from five to seven, and then we leave and then we’re open again from 11 to 1 because that’s the busy lunch hour and then we leave. And we knew we just couldn’t run a business that way. And it’s open for many, many hours during the day. We can’t be there all the time. So overlooking the fact that it takes a lot of manpower and you got to invest in your employees, delegate a lot and know that it is long days, but if you have the right team and the right team in place, it’s very rewarding.

Sean: 25:37 – What do you think makes a good affiliate?

Stacie: 25:40 – Well, I would say leadership. It’s probably one of the—it’s super hard, something that I take pride in but constantly working—yeah, buddy. You waking up?—Constantly improving myself but with the right leaders in place, that actually have mentorship as well. You know, Dustin and I, we’re trying to be mentors, we are mentors to our coaches, but we also have mentors outside of the community that we really rely on. And it takes teamwork. It’s finding the right people. I’m a big energy, I don’t know, I just like good positive vibes. So having the right people on your team, we always say that people leave for a couple different reasons. They don’t feel appreciated.

Dustin: 26:36 – We’ve like to look at it like this. You know, you can look at employees this way, you can look at your members this way, but people usually leave an organization for one of three reasons, it’s because they don’t feel appreciated. They’re underpaid or maybe they’re not getting the value they want or they don’t feel like they’re a part of something special. So, you know, we’re always striving, whether it’s an employee or a member, we need to have those three things or they’re eventually gonna leave.

Stacie: 27:07 – And they’re brand ambassadors for you. I mean, if they don’t believe in your product then the product out on the floor isn’t going to be good and it’s all about the experience. So we, you know, we find the right people, make the best experience possible and make them feel valued and loved and, you know, always be grateful for that.

Sean: 27:30 – You mentioned your coaches. How do you train your trainers?

Stacie: 27:37 – Well, we’re lucky in the fact that I mean we’ve been open for 12 years. It’s been 12 years actually. We’re celebrating our 12-year anniversary this fall. We have coaches that have been around for longer than I have. Like I have a coach that’s been coaching for almost 11 years and so decades of experience. And so we’re really lucky that we’ve had a previous owner that came from an L staff. Now he’s a Flowmaster. So he taught us a lot while he was with us and we’ve literally carried all those tools along with us ever since he’s left. And my head coach has been around as long as the business has been around and she’s really, really good with those skills and stays up to date on her certifications and education. And the two of us make a really good team. So we have quarterly meetings with all of our staff members. We have weekly meetings with our full-time staff and every meeting we talk about what are some of the things you’re seeing on the floor? Have you seen anything new on social media that’s worth maybe exploring, how about reading this article or listening to this podcast? We’re constantly broadening our horizon and expanding our education in whatever way we can. Not just by attending seminars and certifications all the time, but just by having dialogue with what’s happening on a daily basis.

Dustin: 29:11 – Before they ever can get on the floor, they go through a pretty extensive internship process, lots of observations. And then we make it a goal to try to continue with observations, whether that’s Stacie sitting in the class every once in a while. I mean we make sure they go through a lot of training before they ever actually run a class. So, yeah. And then of course taking continuing education and that stuff, it definitely keep them sharp.

Sean: 29:42 – Some of the best athletes don’t make the best coaches because things come so naturally to them. So Stacie, how do you relate to your clients so that you know you’re coaching them as effectively as possible?

Stacie: 29:55 – So we actually have—that’s a tough one because when you’ve been around for 12 years, you’re naturally going to have competitive athletes that would make fantastic coaches. But it’s a personality trait. You got to have the right personality and understand not only people, but yeah, how do I explain movements and demonstrate movement? So a lot of times, we like to hire from within, and you just kind of know, like, this person is going to become a great coach and there are times where, you know, the internship process that normally takes a couple of months, we had a coach that took almost a year. We just knew that he had it and he just moved at a slower rate. You just have to give them the opportunity. And so we always give someone the opportunity to try, it just might not be the right fit for them, but they have to experience it. And if we don’t allow them to experience it, then you know, we’re kind of leaving them high and dry and that’s no good. But we really have streamlined processes. So every hour a class is ran consistently. We have timelines built to the minute that our coaches follow. I myself and another coach put those together. And then we kind of follow CrossFit.com’s lead in the fact that, you know, we have new members that are been there a day and we have members that have been there for 12 years and everywhere in between, I think our average age is like 43. So middle age, and so you have to program that way and you have to be smart about how you warm people up, how you cool people down, and just keep the product on the floor consistent.

Sean: 31:41 – What do you think the one attribute that a good coach has got to have?

Stacie: 31:47 – You just have to be genuine. You have to be a people person and you just gotta believe in the product. And I know that’s like three things I listed. If you have all those qualities, you know, you do it because you really do love it and you love helping people. I think that’s the bottom line. You love seeing their improvement. As much as you love seeing yours, you’ll do whatever it takes to help them reach their goals.

Sean: 32:14 – You mentioned you’ve been open for 11 years, you’re getting ready for your 12-year anniversary. Your gym has been voted best of Omaha for three straight years. What are the things that you think you do on a consistent basis that make your affiliate so successful?

Stacie: 32:28 – Well, our mission statement is to, you know, give the members the best experience possible. The moment they walk in our door, everything goes away. It’s a stress-free environment. They don’t have to worry about a thing. All the things that were on their mind at work or family life or whatever happened with a friend, that all leaves. It’s up to our coaches and it’s up to us really to give them and make it the best hour of their day. Can we really, truly live by that mission statement? And if our members don’t feel that, if they don’t feel like they’ve left, accomplished for that day or they don’t feel like they got a great workout or whatever the case, then we didn’t do our job. And so it’s really about being grate—we’re grateful for every single one of our members, every single person that comes into the door. We love on and grateful to have them. And then the last thing here is we celebrate often. We celebrate birthdays, we celebrate anniversaries, we have community events all the time, it’s about, you know, making people part of your life and really being, you know, a community of people that are like-minded, in it for health, fitness, for the love. And just having a lot of fun in the process.

Sean: 33:55 – Yeah. What’s the best piece of advice that you have for someone who is trying to build an affiliate or someone who is maybe looking to start an affiliate?

Stacie: 34:06 – It’s a lot of work. I think you have to have a brand. First of all, that’s important, because people want to be, people want to feel loved and be a part of something special. Something bigger than themselves, it’s not about you. It’s about everyone else. So you need to remember that your fitness may take the back seat, and everyone else is brought to the front. You gotta have a staff put in place. You can’t do it all. There are so many hats that Dustin and I wear. We have two full-time employees. We have 11 part-time coaches and we’re a huge team and we’re all in the process together. We’re all in the mission together. And everyone is part of the team because they want to make it about the members and that experience. And I think if you’ve got those things in place and processes, systems, all these things will follow, but you certainly can’t do it by yourself. It takes a lot of work. You got to invest in people. Invest and get help, for sure.

Sean: 35:26 – Final question. And both of you feel free to answer this, but what do the next five years look like for CrossFit Omaha?

Stacie: 35:34 – Well, Dustin might chime in on this, but we’ve outgrown our space, which is awesome. So we’re looking to build a at new location, which is just a mile down the road. Dustin and I purchased a couple of acres there and like everything, it never moves as fast as you want, but it’s slowly coming along and it’s one of the things that we had to do. It’s a huge investment for us, Sean. But we knew that if we didn’t do this, our business was going to kind of stay right where it’s been at. We’ve grown about 50 members every year and we’ve capped. We’ve kind of been staying consistent right now. Not sure like if it’s just the changes within the CrossFit world, lack of media attention, all these things or what the deal is, or maybe it’s just because we’ve totally ran out of space. But in order for us to grow, we had to move. And so we’re invested in a new building and a new location. And so the goal is to continue to grow in membership every year after that, continue to grow our team, continue to change lives.

Sean: 36:47 – Well, listen guys, I really appreciate the time. Best of luck with the new location and your business and best of luck in your new journey as parents.

Stacie: 36:59 – Thank you.

Sean: 37:02 – Big thanks to Stacie and Dustin Tovar for taking time out of their busy schedules to talk with me. If you want to follow them on social media, they’re both on Instagram and you can find Stacie @stacietovar, that’s Stacie with an i e, one word, Stacie Tovar. And you can find Dustin @dustintovar. “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief” by Chris Cooper is the blueprint you need to start or grow your business, but don’t take our word for it. Reader Mary Boymillah says, quote, “If you’re thinking about being an entrepreneur, are an entrepreneur or know an entrepreneur, wait no longer and dive right in,” end quote. Get your copy of “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief” on Amazon today. Thanks for listening everybody. We’ll see you next time.


This is our NEW podcast. Two-Brain Marketing, where we’ll focus on sales and digital marketing, runs every Monday. Your host is Mateo Lopez!

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Two-Brain Marketing Episode 20: David Oquendo

Two-Brain Marketing Episode 20: David Oquendo

Mateo: 00:00 – Hey, it’s Mateo of Two-Brain Marketing. On this edition of the Two-Brain Marketing podcast, I’m talking with David from Rapid Fit KC. You’ll learn about his approach to selling high-ticket packages and personal training. You’ll learn about his unique approach to the 90-day front-end offer and you’ll also learn how he spent $500 on ads and generated $6,000 in front-end sales. So you don’t want to miss this. Make sure to subscribe to Two-Brain Radio for more marketing tips and secrets each week.

Greg: 00:36 – Two-Brain Radio is brought to you by Two-Brain Business. We make gyms profitable. We’re going to bring you the very best tips, tactics, interviews in the business world each week. TO find out how we can help you create your Perfect Day, book free call with a mentor at twobrainbusiness.com.

Chris: 00:56 – Hey guys, it’s Chris Cooper here. If you are headed to the CrossFit Games, I would like to buy you breakfast. So here’s what we’re doing. Together with Healthy Steps Nutrition, we have rented out the banquet facilities at the Sheraton across the road from the CrossFit Games and we’re taking about 250 people a day. You can come in and have breakfast with us. We’ll be talking a little bit about business, but the most important thing that always happens at these breakfasts, aside from the bacon and coffee, is the conversations. We have limited seating that’s gonna fill up, you can fill in the form in our show notes and make sure that you reserve yourself a spot. We’re going to do it at 7:30 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday of the CrossFit Games. We will see you in Madison.

Mateo: 01:37 – David, how are you?

David: 01:38 – Great, and you?

Mateo: 01:40 – I’m great man. So for those tuning in, tell us a little bit about who you are, where you’re from, and a little bit about your business.

David: 01:47 – From Kansas City. I own Rapid Fit KC, so personal training, group training studio, we aren’t a CrossFit affiliate. So that’s kind of one of the biggest differences between us and I would say most people, but at the same time it’s very, very similar to what we do. Just a little bit less barbells.

Mateo: 02:04 – Awesome. Yeah. Tell me about that. How do you, how do you balance the personal training and the group fitness?

David: 02:10 – So pre-Two-Brain, it was kind of just a mix and just kind of total chaos. I only talked to people about personal training when they came in that request it and I only talked about group to the people that came and requested it. And I mean the biggest thing I would say, we did GymLaunch actually before, so I had somewhat of an idea about the marketing, but it was really built—GymLaunch was built to provide a massive amount of people not necessarily quality, and that wouldn’t help my team be successful. That would just help me be successful. And so when I opened up my gym my whole thing was how to make my team be successful and not just be me and so Two-Brain was talking about doing PT first and I was thinking to myself, we started doing pretty good with it, I start understanding it, and I was like, man. Why am I allowing people to come into this gym without having one-on-one individual coaching? I’m paying for it with Two-Brain’s mentoring and I’m getting great results out of it. So why would I allow other people who should be getting it to come in and not have a good amount of foundation built on it. And that’s kind of what we started doing. So now it’s like, hey, you wanna come in here, PT only and that’s it. And not to take away from the group or anything like that. I just know that if I really get them a good foundation. They’re going to be way better off the long run, which is the whole goal we’re trying, what we’re trying to do anyways, is help people longevity wise, health. So.

Mateo: 03:32 – So tell me a little about that. How long has your gym been open?

David: 03:35 – Three and a half years.

Mateo: 03:37 – And so were you only offering group before or?

David: 03:41 – No, we did the hybrid model when we first came in, it just wasn’t the focus.

Mateo: 03:46 – I see. So you were basically — you weren’t telling people what to do or you weren’t prescribing a solution. It’s just someone came in, I’m interested in personal training, great, I’m going to sell you that. Or it’s like, oh, I’m interested in group. Great. I’m going to sell you that. And then with the GymLaunch method, it was just a buttload of people. I mean, and you kind of have to filter through all that yourself and, OK. All right. So then what motivated you then to seek out mentorship with Two-Brain or a different, you know, kind of a different perspective?

David: 04:18 – Oh, actually David Pope, CrossFit Northland, he used to train here before he got the opportunity to buy out CrossFit Northland from the previous owners and he kind of showed me the book. So I had read the book and then he told me that he had started with them and that he did enjoy it. I just kinda got to a point where I was like, we’re doing really well. Or we’re doing decent I should say. And then I, it was all my fault, we lost like 16 grand because I wasn’t paying attention to systems and stuff like that. Like October I go, holy crap, there’s $16,000 missing. I was like, OK, I have to do something about this. This is not going to feel good for us. Owning a business is not just for you, you are supporting everybody else underneath yourself. You close down, all those people feel it. It’s not just you. And so I was like, crap, I need to do something about this. And then that’s why I joined Two-Brain.

Mateo: 05:12 – And then was that kind of one of the first things you work on in the Incubator’s like the mission and values, you know, for your businesses. And so was that something that you kind of discovered or you worked to in doing the Incubator or is this something where you’re like, that was originally why you opened the gym and you lost sight of that and then you were kind of coming back to?

David: 05:32 – You know, actually we had a client that dealt with that, that kind of walked me through that a little bit. So I kind of had an idea what I wanted. It’s changed and morphed. The more I got into Two-Brain, the more I understand and it meant a little bit different than when we very very first started. So the mission it helped clarify—I already had a little bit of it, helped clarify it and then it helped me I would say reach deeper into it after a while and say, OK, this is really what we do.

Mateo: 05:59 – And what is it that you do?

David: 06:01 – So my thing was one, and this kind of goes back to my story is when I first started working out, it was to gain confidence. Doesn’t matter about health, and in general, health is super important, but sometimes it’s not the first thing you do to get going. And so confidence not only gives you the ability in a sense I would say walk into room with your head held high, but you live life and do other things you may not do. So people who tend to hide away the more or less confident they are, or they don’t do certain things, they don’t have the confidence to do it. And so my idea was like, well, I love the fact that I can help someone that walks in the room, their head down, not looking anybody in the eye, and then four to six months later walk in, held high, and they’re going and telling me about how they’re about to do this triathlon. And they were so scared to do it, you know, six years ago they wanted to do it or three years ago they wanted to do it and they just couldn’t do it. Now they’re finally doing it. So our goal is help people live happy, healthy—live healthy, happy, and more confident lives.

Mateo: 06:59 – That’s awesome man. That’s great. And so awesome. So. OK, so you had a friend who was kind of knew about Two-Brian, was showing you the books, you read the books, you sign up for mentorship. What else did you see as a big change for you in your business as you’re working through this? I know we were talking about, before we hopped on this call, it sounds like the way you were offering your services was something that you had to change. Tell me about that.

David: 07:30 – Yeah, so I mean that was the prescriptive model was just something that, you know, that he definitely instilled and said, hey look, you should be doing this. And after a while and it’s like right. I mean I’m paying Two-Brain to help me and guide me and exactly the reason why I got him. And so knowing that most people needed some attention up front to really be successful and that’s probably the biggest thing that’s changed. And then putting in like what systems and processes, like what people are supposed to do. We’re mainly PT so it’s not as big of a difference, like the way that we run things, they’re kind of, I mean everybody, luckily I work with are phenomenal. So their goal is to do the best they can. So it really hasn’t been that big of an issue in a sense, switching things around and obviously the structure is probably the biggest thing that we needed when we walked into Two-Brain.

Mateo: 08:24 – So what was that process like of having to streamline your offer and kind of focusing on offering these two things. How did you make them come together and then how did you get your staff on board?

David: 08:38 – I would say just kind of like we knew that that’s what everybody here started off as. We all were personal trainers, so we thought we knew the value of it. So it wasn’t like it was group training—we knew the value of it. The biggest thing was just, you know, I just changed how I talk to people. Hey, you obviously have some habits we need to break, and short term isn’t gonna create anything for you. So we need to build habits for like recent 90 challenge. And what we focused on was we said hey look, three months, it’s what it takes to really build anything into it. The first month you’re getting into it, the second month you’re starting to get the ball rolling and your third month, you’re like really get moving and that’s when you see those changes. So we start talking long-term. OK, you’re gonna do it long-term-wise. So you’re just shooting for a quick fix, go and do a 21-day fix off the Internet, but you’re not going to keep it. You know that, I know that. So what we do here is we offer something to help you get over that hunch of the first 21 days or when it gets really hard and you’re kind of trying to change things and, and you need that support and then we help you push through that. So that by the end of the 90 days, you’ve built these habits that stick with you rather than fall off after two or three weeks.

Mateo: 09:49 – Right. So you kind of answered my next question, which is great. What is it that you sell and how do you sell it; tell me about the front-end offer that you guys have now after the mentorship.

David: 09:58 – It really is like it’s the main focus is PT is to say, look, we know that we have to have personal training. We know that people are most successful personal training for at least three months. That’s just how we’ve done it. I’ve been doing it for 12 years and I know for a fact this is successful and it just kind of goes to the No- Sweat Intro idea and we present it, I’m like this is what we have. And I show them—it’s changed because we begin to use HSN. So now I just talk all about how you don’t have nutrition with the fitness, it’s not going to matter, like you’re not going to see the results you want. So what we do is we teamed up with a dietician. We have now a nutrition coach that’s separate from the fitness coach, that way the fitness coach focuses just on the training and the nutrition coach focuses nutrition and it gives you a point of contact with somebody who knows everything about nutrition wise, so any questions and we dial it in to and we customize everything to exactly your goal. The sales have been probably the same each month, they haven’t really changed. My close rate is probably lower than a lot of peoples’ because you know we’re asking for 460 bucks a month, three months, to everybody. But at least the people that are doing it, the return rate is pretty good. Their retention rates are pretty high and they’re getting better results than just being shoved in a class.

Mateo: 11:14 – So I just want to clarify that for everyone listening. So will you do is you do a 90-day program as your front-end offer, and it’s personal training for all those 90 days. Do you have any tiers in terms of the amount of personal training?

David: 11:31 – So we have three times a week and twice a week is our main focus on those. We have 30 minutes, 45 minutes. I’m like, I just tell everybody, the biggest thing is even if they get 30 minutes, it may not be a lot of time, but it’s much easier to upsell somebody on just the next 120 bucks than it is to upsell them on 460. So basically before, they go for it, cool. After a month you can probably talk them into upgrading because they only have to spend another 120 bucks to get there. So we have two times a week, three times a week. We have one. I wouldn’t show anybody it unless it was like that last little bit where they were just thinking about it and they just kept pushing for money one time a week.

Mateo: 12:17 – Awesome. OK, great. So your front-end offer is 90 days. It’s all PT. They have to do it. But you did mention, I think before we hopped on, people can add on group classes, correct? Later on.

David: 12:28 – Yes. Yes. So after the first month, like when we sit down and dealt with them one full month, I just feel more confident for them coming into classes and being able to do the things you’re supposed to do. And so that’s kind of what I was thinking about. I always preach foundations, like look, if you can give a house great foundation, you’re golden. You buy a house, crappy foundation, no matter how fancy it looks, issues will come and then you’re going to pay for it again. So let’s make sure that we’re not throwing someone into doing something and have ‘em getting hurt or you know, I don’t want to say scaling is really bad or regression wise, but it is kind of, you walk in everybody’s doing something and the coach comes up to you and says no you can’t do this. You have to do this, kind of separates you from the class a little bit. So my concern is kind of like, hey look, we get them right. They walk in there, it’s more smooth. They don’t have to change as many things and won’t feel like they’re the newbie and stuff like that. They’re just like hey cool, I’m part of it, I can do what they’re doing. I have a little more confidence doing it.

Mateo: 13:28 – I liked what you said about the foundation there because it’s going to hurt you in the long run. One, the person, the client, right. If they don’t have a good foundation they’re at a greater risk of getting physically hurt themselves. But two, it’s going to hurt you as the business owner in the long run too. Because even if they leave, you know, just like, yeah, it just wasn’t for me. Like even if it’s not like some nasty review outcome, that’s still more time, energy and effort you have to go through to replace that person. You know what I mean? So like it’s all that energy and time and money is, is still gonna be detrimental to lose your focus. So it’s bad for both parties involved. So I think what you said is awesome. I love that it’s 90 days and it’s one on one. My partner Ashley, we do a lot of one on ones as well and our groups. If we do have groups, they’re small, like they’re capped at eight people. So, I think that’s, yeah, I think you’re totally right on that. So as how is your space laid out where you can fulfill both those services at the same time?

David: 14:35 – We’re very crunched, it’s not ideal, that’s why we’re going to a bigger spot. The truth is we have people training, we’re good, as soon as a third person doing one on one comes in, if there’s class going on, we’re cramped. And so that’s kind of been a limiting factor in the next growth phase. And my biggest thing was, well what can we do to add on? We had a nutrition business, but I want to add on small group, like capping it at three or four and like solidifying that in the new space. We’ll have a section for PT that’ll be good and open, a section for small group and a section for large group.

Mateo: 15:20 – You’re making it work, you’re making it work and it sounds like, yeah, you haven’t had any now. And I think that’s, I mean you’re also doing it the right way right. It’s better to be in this situation where you’ve grown and now you’re going to look for more space versus starting with a big-ass space that you are desperate to fill. So that’s awesome. We were talking a little bit about this before in terms of your paid advertising system. It sounds like you don’t have your finger on the pulse as much in terms of lead nurture, in terms of tracking some of these numbers, which you know, for those listening, do as I say. The reason I bring this up is because you know, you’ve still got a positive ROI, you still are making money, you still are able to take advantage. And I think the lesson here and what I wanted to note on is I think it’s because your package sizes are larger than average. Right? Are you the most expensive place in town?

David: 16:24 – No, definitely not the most expensive. I would say we force people to do the most expensive things compared to other people. That’s probably how I would look at it as.

Mateo: 16:31 – Nice. Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah. And I think that goes that, you know, you’re able to make it up right because your package sizes are larger and what you offer is a much more one-on-one high-touch experience. So with people they’re probably going to stay longer. I mean your retention numbers are probably higher than average and it’s because it’s one-on-one. It’s because it’s high touch and it’s because, yeah, the barrier to entry is probably higher. So your sales are probably going to suffer, but it’s worth it in the long run because people are going to spend more and they’re going to stay longer.

David: 17:09 – Yeah. That’s the biggest thing we found out. I mean it’s hard. I said, I always say it’s hard. I mean I was thinking about it the other day as like, well am I hurting myself by doing this? But if my goal is to, you know, have a staff that has the ability to generate a good career income. Cause one of my biggest ideas was how do we have, I would say maybe two thirds of their income be from PR and the rest be from other stuff so that when they have like the downturns and you know, like July or June was a big downturn for us. Or let’s say November when people start going on vacation or going as a family, how do we keep their income from dropping below a certain level so that they’re good all the time and when it’s great it it’s great, but when it’s an issue it’s still good. And so my idea is focus on PT and more higher income or more higher priced tickets, we can afford to have them do other things and pay them well in that sense, so that they’re having these good months even though like they are technically bad much for the gym.

Mateo: 18:18 – Oh, OK. Yeah, I see that. And then because they’re fulfilling these higher ticket packages you’re able to sell, sounds like you’re able to supplement them with—

David: 18:29 – That’s the idea, is we can do other things for the gym. The CSM role was a big one that we’re implementing. Actually having a GM that gets of the percent of the profit, so people are actually wanting to do good and not just like, OK I’m going to beat you. It’s like, hey, make them really gives back everybody as much as possible.

Mateo: 18:52 T- hat’s awesome man. Tell me a little bit more about when someone actually sits down in front of you, you know, what is your sales process, cause selling high ticket packages, you know, people want to do that. People want to learn more or want to be more confident in asking for them to spend $500 a month on personal training. So what is your process?

David: 19:13 – It’s exactly the same thing except for I don’t ask if you’re comfortable with PT or group. I’ve been trying to figure out some things to ask that may help people get more emotional with it after we’ve put them through the InBody testing. Are you happy with these results? Like, is this something that you’re happy with? And we usually get taught to say yes, I think you mentioned this. But a no can be a powerful like thing when they’re talking about that. So I’m not that great at it, truthfully. I don’t feel like I’m super good at it, but I just think it’s like, hey, get told no a thousand times, get used to it. You’d be more confident to ask no matter what. So I been told more often no than anybody else. But it doesn’t matter. It’s like, hey look, I know what’s going to be right for the person. If they’re not ready to do it, they’re in the UpLaunch lead nurture back on that.

Mateo: 20:08 – No, I think that’s great advice. You know, it’s building up that resilience like, yeah, you’re going to hear the word no when you ask for them to finally, you know, take the plunge and yeah, you’re probably going to hear the word no more often than you hear the word yes. Especially as you’re trying to grow. But as long as you’re able to have the confidence and push through and know that you know, you’re confident in what you’re offering, in the service, I think that’s definitely really key for sure. So what do you think is—you have any advice for someone who’s trying to switch to a more, who’s been in group doing the group model, who is trying to incorporate more personal training, you have any advice for someone who’s trying to get started with that?

David: 20:54 – You know, I think you have to really, truly believe in it. I tell people all the time, paying for Two-Brain kind of makes me do things. And so paying for some one-on-one individual attention, I tend to do better with it. You can’t get that accountability from anybody unless you’re paying for it, because they have a really vested interest in it. So you have to really, really believe it when you tell them, because that’s the hardest part. It’s like, hey look, I know this is good for you. I know you’re not gonna like this price. If you don’t do it this way, you know you’re going to have issues. So if you’re fully invested in it when you’re saying it, you’re more likely to come off more confident. And truthfully, like our CSM, she killed it. She just started doing this and she’s killed it but it’s because she hasn’t, she didn’t have the bias that I would’ve had of going through on the lower income stuff and just killing that and then trying to jump to a bigger income. I guess is what we do is what we sell, so it’s the confidence is way better. And then even for me and that changes your reflection on how you say it. You get nervous a little bit, you start to stumble but if you’re super confident, they receive it a lot better.

Mateo: 22:13 – I think that’s super important. Like for anyone trying to get better at sales, it’s regardless if it’s high ticket or not. Conviction is key. I mean, kind of been a theme of this conversation. You got into fitness to build your confidence. You try to teach that to other people coming to your gym. And I’m sure that sounds like your staff too. It’s a very much a part of the culture to have that confidence, to have that conviction and when you have that, yeah, it’s gonna, that plays a big role in getting that person to know, like, and trust you and then eventually purchasing that service from you. So you know, it sounds like you’ve gone through a lot in just the three and a half years you’ve been open. It’s been quite the journey, but you’re growing, you’re moving to another bigger space. July, which is normally a really a tough month, it sounds like you’re hitting, you’re on target to hit your sales goals. So what do you think’s been the key to success so far?

David: 23:08 – My team, I would say. Having the confidence in the people that we work with. They 100% believe in what we’re doing. So having them on board, I think that’s like number one key, you know like if you have confidence in them, and they have confidence in you and you know for sure that whatever you’re doing, you’re selling, you’re selling the right thing. And then again getting that structure down like what do we do when this happens? What and why they’re doing it really helps out.

Mateo: 23:44 – I guess before we sign off here, tell me a little bit more about that. It sounds like you’ve got a great team behind you. Sounds like you’re putting them first and have them in mind when you’re making certain decisions, you’re passionate about making sure they’re able to grow. What is your process for meeting with your team and checking in with them and getting everyone on the same page?

David: 24:06 – We just started doing more of like team meetings again, did it for a while. We did a couple of times but we weren’t really structured with it. I just started going back into being more with them. I think the truth is just us being on the same page, we all know what we want to do and we all are sitting behind like the values, which is huge. What do we want to do for clients? Like why are we doing this? Are we’re doing it right? And so I really haven’t had an issue with that I really haven’t been at all. Again, I think I’ve lucked out sometimes, but I think it’s just because we’re all on the same page. It’s almost, it can be way better. It will be way better. It’s just that right now I lucked out with just finding people on the same page as me and it’s been easy to push forward because they want to push forward the same way.

Mateo: 24:56 – The right people. Getting the right seats on the bus or getting the right people on the seats on the bus, I think. So if people want to learn more about your front-end offer, how you structure your 90 day, how you’ve added some of these new features, like, you know, nutrition coaching, they just want to learn how to sell PT. Where can they find you?

David: 25:19 – So like my email is rapidfitmethod@gmail.com. I mean really that’s probably the best way to do it besides Facebook. There’ll be pretty soon—I mean the truthful like is all the stuff I’m saying is just so simple. It’s just doing stuff. I mean, that’s really what it is. It’s really just simple. It’s just taking what you know should happen and like creating an ad saying, hey, we’re just gonna do it and then follow through with it no matter what, no matter how you feel and how crappy it is at the beginning. Like just go 100 percent into it and not allow yourself to backstep.

Mateo: 25:57 – Awesome man. Thanks for hopping on, man. It was awesome.

David: 26:02 – Appreciate it, man.

Greg: 26:04 – 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 twobrainbusiness.com


This is our NEW podcast, Two-Brain Marketing, where we’ll focus on sales and digital marketing. Your host is Mateo Lopez!

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Episode 178: Selling With Sherman Merricks

Episode 178: Selling With Sherman Merricks

Greg: 00:00 – It’s Greg Strauch of Two-Brain Media. And on this week’s episode we talk to Sherman Merricks. He is a Two-Brain mentor, owner of CrossFit Dynasty. But what we dig into is the art of selling: common issues, marketing and sales. We talk about the Incubation process and the start of sales and then how we can elaborate on top of that. We talk about making sure you’re asking the right questions and the most common objections that you may hear and how to overcome them. Subscribe to Two-Brain Radio to hear the very best ideas, topics to move you and your business closer to wealth.

Greg: 00:36 – Two-Brain Radio is brought to you by Two-Brain Business. We make gyms profitable. We’re going to bring you the very best tips, tactics, interviews in the business world each week. To find out how we can help you create your Perfect Day, book a free call with a mentor at twobrainbusiness.com.

Chris: 00:56 – Hey guys, it’s Chris Cooper here. If you are headed to the CrossFit Games, I would like to buy you breakfast. So here’s what we’re doing. Together with Healthy Steps Nutrition, we have rented out the banquet facilities at the Sheraton across the road from the CrossFit Games and we’re taking about 250 people a day. You can come in and have breakfast with us. We’ll be talking a little bit about business, but the most important thing that always happens at these breakfasts, aside from the bacon and coffee, is the conversations. We have limited seating that’s gonna fill up, you can fill in the form in our show notes and make sure that you reserve yourself a spot. We’re going to do it at 7:30 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday of the CrossFit Games. We will see you in Madison.

Greg: 01:37 – All right, I’m on another amazing episode of Two-Brain Radio with one of our amazing mentors. Sherman, how are you sir?

Sherman: 01:43 – I’m doing great, Greg, excited to talk to you.

Greg: 01:47 – I’m always excited to have you on and I wanted to dive into something. And it’s the S word, sales, that everyone talks about. Especially from any business sense, right? If you own a business, you have to sell something, whether it’s your services, your product or whatever. But it definitely is something that is a necessity, but it gets scary. I mean I opened my business for having people come through the door and be able to be healthier and live longer. But that also means I have to sell them on what we’re able to do and our services. So I kind of want to sit down with you cause you are the guru of sales and we’ll dive into a little bit of the amazing things you’ve been doing within Two-Brain and the Growth clients and everything through sales. But let’s kind of jump into it. Talk to me about your sales process. So talk to me from the very beginning. Somebody finds you guys or contacts you and then they’re coming in through the door. Talk to me how that process kind of works.

Sherman: 02:47 – Yeah, definitely. So sorta like you mentioned before I jump into it. I think that one of the big things that sort of scares people is the S word—it’s funny cause when you first said “the S word” I was thinking Sherman. So you were talking about sales. Seriously, I think that sales is super important because everyone, you know, like we talked about earlier, every coach is coaching and selling from day one. When they first opened the doors, they’re going to coach, they’re going to sell, right. The issue is some people don’t know that they’re selling and that’s when we run into these major problems, you know, that we see in our micro-gym community, in businesses at large for that matter. So for us, when someone comes into a funnel, we reach out to them fairly quickly. You know, we’re trying to follow up with them within, you know, five minutes if possible, as soon as possible we’re following up with these guys to basically check on them and let them know, hey, we’re here for you. We’re excited to meet you, if they’ve already booked an appointment. But if they haven’t booked an appointment, we’re reaching out to them and saying, hey Greg, we saw that you’re interested, how can we get you in? From there, if we can get them in, we will send them a few confirmation emails and text messages just so they know, hey, we’re waiting. And when they come in, that’s when we really get excited because we know if they show up, you know, I think this is a misconception that people like to say that, oh, you know, people just aren’t sign up or they don’t have the money. And now that’s the case sometimes. But it’s not the case most of the time. If someone goes online, they find you, they fill out a form online, they interact with you back and forth, they drive across town, they come into your business and sit down with you for a No-Sweat Intro or free consultation, whatever you call it, they’re interested. They are looking for a change. So now it’s on us to provide that value. And that’s really where for the last couple of years, few years, my staff and I, we’ve really been working on the sales process because if we can’t show these people how we can help them, we’re doing them a disservice. Right? Like we really are. So when they come in to us, it’s all about them, right? It is not the sort of the typical used-car salesman that everyone likes to talk about, which I know some great used-car salesmen so that thing is getting sort of played out, you know? But it’s not that high-pressure, only trying to close a deal. We’re trying to figure out, hey, why are you here? Why are you looking for a change? What are you currently doing? What have you done in the past so that we can basically help them get to where they want to go. And at the gist of it, that’s it. Like it’s really that simple from a macro level.

Greg: 05:48 – So, diving into that, if a gym owner is listening, would you suggest that they talk about the benefits of their gym or of their community, of their programming or anything like that?

Sherman: 06:06 – Great question. So absolutely not. We all have—I haven’t met many business owners, micro-gym owners, that don’t care about their business or don’t care about their community or don’t care about their product. Right? You don’t meet many of those, ’cause you don’t go into entrepreneurship to have a sub-par product or service. Right? So when you’re talking about the best community in Philadelphia, or our equipment is the best in town and we have 78 rowers or 68 Assault Bikes. Right? That’s fine. But I think we’ve all heard the saying you sell the vacation, not the travel. Right? Like not the travel to the vacation. For instance, I’m getting ready to go on vacation at the end of this month. My wife and I are celebrating our anniversary and we’re going down to Barbados. Right? Barbados is going to be amazing. But what, they don’t sell us, they don’t sell us the car drive to the airport. The four-hour, five-hour flight down to Barbados, the car drive from the airport to the hotel and back. They don’t sell you that because that’s not what sells. Same thing with us in the micro-gym community, the CrossFit community. We’re not selling best programming, best community. We are selling what the clients want. We’re selling, you’re going to lose weight, you’re going to feel better. You’re going to be more lean. You’re going to have more confidence. You’re going to get off this medication that you’re on. So often, I see everyone talking about the stuff that doesn’t matter. And we need to really change the way that we’re doing our marketing in general.

Greg: 08:02 – So you’re saying we should focus in on not what we can offer, but really what they want out of it?

Sherman: 08:12 – Yes, exactly. Because I’ve been in the CrossFit community long enough. What we offer is very—it’s a very good service. There’s not too many gyms, too many CrossFit gyms around that if was someone came to us three times a week and they did customized nutrition, we could not absolutely change their lives in six months. Not many gyms can say that. Right? So we need to be talking about how are we going to help them get to where they want to go.

Greg: 08:48 – So what is your process then when they come in and sit down? What are the questions that you’re asking them?

Sherman: 08:55 – One of the first questions that we ask them after we spend about a solid five minutes or so getting to know them, right? Like we’re spending time just getting to know this person, right? Like yes we want them to sign up and all of that, but we’re really spending about five minutes just getting to know them. Where are they from? How long have they been in town? You know, we’re trying to get to know them as a person. But after that, one of the first questions we ask is, what are you wanting? Why are you here? Why have you jumped through all these hoops to sit down in front of me right now? And that really directs the rest of the conversation, Greg, when we sit down and ask them, hey, great, why are you here? What are you hoping that we can do for you? And from there it can go a thousand different ways because you know, I’ve been sitting in intros where it was great all the way through and I’ve been sitting in intros where people are crying their eyes out because they’re unhappy with their body or maybe they have other stuff that’s gone on in the past directed to their health and fitness. So sitting down with them, the first question everyone should be asking, why are you here? What are you wanting us to help you with?

Greg: 10:13 – OK. And now let’s say you get through those questions and you’re asking them everything and you find out, OK, one of the services we have to offer is going to be best for them. And meeting and exceed those goals, how does that process go? Cause that’s usually that sticking point, I would say, when somebody is on the other side of the table actually offering their services, that’s where they kind of feel like, OK, well I’m gonna just give him my lowest price or I’m just going to give him all these options to choose from. What exactly should people be doing and what is your process?

Sherman: 10:47 – Yeah, definitely. So I’m going to talk about my process because that’s what everyone should be doing, I think. So basically when we are talking to them and before we start talking about pricing, because most of the consultations in any type of business, they go well up until you start talking about pricing. But the whole sales process doesn’t start until you get your first objection, right? Like it doesn’t start. So basically we’re sitting down, we’re talking with them. Let’s say you and I were going back and forth, Greg. You and I, we’ve been talking, you told me that you want to lose 15 pounds. You know, work is crazy. You have kids and a wife. Life has just gotten out of hand these last few years. So you want to get some confidence back and drop 15 pounds. So we’re gonna go through all that and then I’m going to say, OK, great. I am going to definitely help you here. But Greg, I have a question for you before I make a recommendation for you. Tell me this, Greg. Is there anything that could stop you from signing up today, right now? Now the reason that that we do this is because we want to start handling objections before they become objections, right? So if I ask you that question and you tell me it’s the schedule, I am going to handle that before I move on. So I’m going to say, OK, Greg, tell me this. What would you ideally like to work out? And whatever you tell me, I’m going to look at our schedule and say, yes, we have classes that could work with that, if we don’t have group classes, we know that we all have personal training. So either way the schedule is going to work out for this client at our facility, right? So from there we may say, hey, is there anything else they could stop you? Most people are only going to give you one or two objections at the most, but the biggest issue of this is you want to deal with these objections early before you get to the price point. Because basically if you’ve gotten through all their objections, there’s really not a reason that they wouldn’t sign up.

Greg: 13:10 – Very true.

Sherman: 13:12 – Yeah. So you know, once we go through that, now, once you get the person to commit until you hey, like there’s nothing else that could stop me. I’m just like, you have to have a smooth and easy transition. You know, I see myself as a funny guy, so I use humor a lot. You know, humor sales, you know, people like to laugh, people like to be made feel that they are funny and special. So like, I use humor and comedy in all of my consultations. But even if you’re not a funny person, you need to have a smooth transition. And what I like to say is, OK, great. Now you told me that nothing’s going to stop you from signing up, which is great. I’m very excited. But Greg, I just wanted to make sure you and I are on the same page because once I work very hard right here and think about what you need, I don’t want you to tell me that you need to go talk to your wife or you need to think about it for a night. Like I know you’re ready to go.

Greg: 14:08 – Would you say those are the two most common objections that you have happen when you do No-Sweat Intros?

Sherman: 14:17 – Yeah. Yes, yes, definitely. Price or I need to talk to someone else. Definitely.

Greg: 14:23 – Now how do you actually handle those? When somebody does say, when you asked earlier, hey, what objection or what things may come in the way of you not signing up today? How do you overcome when they say, well, I need to talk to my spouse or I need to think about it. Those kinds of things.

Sherman: 14:42 – Those are easy because we haven’t talked about price point yet. Now this is where the sales process starts to get like—it takes practice, right? Like I can say it easily now, but I wasn’t saying this easily eight years ago. I was reading books and practicing and taking courses and trying to figure all this stuff out because I was seeing that man, I’m getting in front of a lot of people. A lot of people aren’t signing up. Now, this was when CrossFit was very, very new. When people just thought we were crazy running around with backpacks on and all of that. But let’s say that someone tells me, hey, the only thing that can stop me is my spouse, like, I’m not sure if they’re going to be on board. I’m going to say, OK, that’s not a big deal. Now we know, again, humor, smooth. Like this is key. I’ll say, now Greg, you know that your wife wants you to be extremely good-looking, right? You know they’re going to say, yeah, you’re right. You know, want to say, OK, I tell you what, I’m going to step out of the room for five minutes. I want you to call them and then I’ll come back in so we don’t have to worry about that before we move on any longer cause I don’t want to waste your time. I know that your time is important, so I want you to call your wife right now. I’ll step out and then I’ll come back in. How does that sound? Now you’re going to get one or two answers. The person is going to call or are they going to say no, no, I’ll just wait till I get home. Now nine times out of 10 they say they’re going to wait till they get home. They’re just giving you the push-out cause they don’t want to tell you no to your face. You know, and you may not be able to get the real objection, right. Because it’s easier for them to just tell you, hey, I’ll think about it, to your face. And then we’ve all had this happen a thousand times where they say yes, let me think about it or call me tomorrow, and either A, you call them and they never pick up your call. They never return your text message, or B, you call them and they answer and say no, they said no. And they blame it on them. I mean, I use that technique as well. I mean, you know, easy technique, make my wife the villain when she’s not around. Hey man, my wife would kill me, you know. Oh you should call her. She has three kids. She’s not gonna answer the phone right now. That’s me politely saying, hey, I’m really not interested, for whatever reasons, you know. And so that’s the spouse.

Sherman: 16:54 – Now the price, this one is fun, right? I really enjoy this one because the price, again, this is also great. This is definitely the objection that most business owners absolutely botch, for lack of a better term, because what we’ve seen over the years, people are going to project what they think onto the situation or what they can afford, right? And that’s a huge, huge mistake. Now, before I go on, I’ll say that I’ve made this mistake, I still remember this mistake every single month. So let me give you a little story. So that when I first started my gym, you know when you first start, Greg, it is basically you have to fill out all the paperwork. When you deal with the people that are going to be processing your payment is they sort of gave you a minimum and a maximum amount that you will charge without triggering some type of email or something. So back when I first started mine, you know, the minimum was whatever, but the maximum, I was like, well it shouldn’t be, what? 1000 bucks, right? No one’s ever going to pay me 1000 bucks per month. So like that’d be safe. So if something over a thousand bucks per a month comes up, shoot me an email because it’s probably something I need to look into. I didn’t think anything of it. Fast forward to now, for the last few years, I get multiple emails every single month for people that pay us over $1,000 per month. But the reason I don’t go in and change it because it helps me realize that that projection right there is what you need to be helping other business owners with. Because that projection that I set forth years ago, when I never thought anyone would pay us a thousand dollars a month. Now I get multiple emails every single month that say, hey, you have suspicious activity on your account. There’s a charge for $1,300, $1,200. But to come right back to the objection, when you talk about price, I would ask you, hey, Greg, so if price is the big objection, tell me this: What’s your budget? Because I don’t want to recommend these amazing packages for you, these amazing services that we can give you if it’s way out of your budget. Most people are gonna say, no, I really don’t have anything. This is where it gets fun and you throw out just a random large number. I usually say, OK, well tell me this, how does a thousand dollars a month sound? They’re gonna say no, definitely not. I say, well, you told me you didn’t know, so I’m just throwing out a number. Right? OK, so if it’s not a thousand bucks, give me a better idea. Is it 300, 200, 400 what is it? And this works most of the time, because you’re going to get a real number. Now, the next question that I get most of the time is people, they’ll say, well, what if they say $20 a month? OK, that’s fine, right? You know that you can’t service them at your gym for $20 a month or $99 a month. There’s nothing wrong with that. You say, hey, Greg, listen. I’m not sure we can help you right now at $99 a month. However, I do have this package, and you basically look at your cheapest package and you show them that. I say, we do have this. Now this is a good starting point. It’s not the best starting point, but this is a good one. So I would love to get you signed up for this package right here today, if at all possible.

Sherman: 20:12 – And you hand them that and you let them decide. Now here’s the thing. If they just said they have $30 a month and you’re showing them a package for 199, well, you’re just sort of throwing a Hail Mary and hoping that they go for the 199 package. Is it the absolute best package that you offer? Absolutely not. But is it better than them leaving? Absolutely. Nine times out of 10 if someone names a really low number, they’re not going to sign up. Right? And that’s OK. We can’t serve everyone, right? Like we’re not big box gyms. So we know that we’re not going to have 10,000 members in our gym. That’s OK. You know, a lot of the gyms that I work with, we’re trying to get, you know, 150 members, that’s sort of that Dunbar’s number, and if you have 150 members with the average revenue per member of 300 bucks, you have a very healthy gym, right? You have very healthy gym at 150 members and if you keep your profit margin stuff where it needs to be. So there’s nothing wrong with telling someone they can’t work with you. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But to bring it back, let’s say that they, you know, you say $1,000 per month, this person says, you know, the most I can spend is 300. That’s no problem. Most gyms have something that they can produce for a client for around 300 bucks. And then I just move on. I just say, OK, that’s not a problem. We have plenty of options. I know we can help you with that. And I just move on through the process until I come back to actually trying to sign them up. But that’s the way to do it. Now here’s the thing. I’m saying it like it’s something easy. It takes training, it takes time. It takes practice. Because most of the time, most of the people that I work with, they tell me literally their hearts are beating out of their chest when they start talking about pricing, right? Like they start talking about pricing their hearts are beating out of their chests. It’s funny, I was just training two of my staff members yesterday, so I was giving them a story. So I’ll give you guys the story as well. I had a lady reach out to me and she was asking about our memberships. She was saying that she was—so I’m in Gainesville, Florida, University of Florida, right? Big college town. So she was telling me, hey, I’m a college student. I really want to get in shape. You know, I want to have abs and all of this stuff. I’m like, hey, we definitely help you. She like, what’s the price? Like she’s asking this over email and I’m like, hey, our prices sort of range anywhere from 199 to $1,500 a month. But what’s your budget? She like, oh, I budgeted for like 150 but I may be able to make the 188 work. I’m just like, OK. I was like, I tell you what. The best thing for us to do is get you in so we can talk about what’s best for you and then we’ll figure out the best package, but I think we can definitely work together. So she comes in. Long story short, when she left that day at the meeting with me, she signed up for a $300 package. Now how does that work? She just told me the most she can spend is 150, she may be able to make 199 work if she stretched it out, but after she’s meeting with me now, she signed up for $300 a month package. Because the price is the easiest thing for people to talk about. It’s easy for them to ask you because they don’t know what else to ask. How much is it? It doesn’t matter how much it is. What do you want? Right. Because if you want it bad enough, you will do it. People pay for what’s important to them. My best friend, he’s a surgeon, you know, so he told me years ago, he was like, I have people that come to me and you know they need to have a procedure that may cost $10,000. Like when they first come to me, maybe it’s not urgent. So I tell them, hey, it’s $10,000. You need to get this sooner than later. They’ll say, oh, I don’t have $10,000, how am I supposed to pay for this? But when they can’t sleep at night and they’ve been up for a week straight because of the pain, when they come to me, when they’re in dire need, somehow they have $10,000. Because people pay for what’s important to them. And I’ve been equating that to my business for years. If it’s not important to them or I can’t show them the value, they’re not going to do it and that’s on me or it’s on them. But either way, not prices, and that’s the way it is. And I don’t get involved in that well you get a discount or I’m sorry, and like all of that stuff, you know.

Greg: 24:46 – Yeah, no, I like that statement, too, of people are going to value what they see that is important. I know when I jump on calls and somebody talks about pricing or objection to pricing, and perfect example is I actually had a client that talked about how they want to pay for these certain roles and do these certain things, but they didn’t have the money, but they went and just bought a bunch of equipment. And I’m like, you got to understand that—I understand you value things and I’m never going to judge you on this. But you say that you don’t have the money, but yet you are willing to go buy all this equipment. You just put your emphasis on what you thought was the most important to you at the time, which is OK, but understand that it’s going to be a sacrifice then if you’re trying to do these other things and pay for these roles, if you’re willing to do something like that. I always use the equation too of a Louis Vuitton purse. You can buy one in Louis Vuitton for whatever amount, let’s say $1,200, and you can get one that looks just like it at like a flea market for 20 bucks. And they were probably made in the same factory and made by the same people, but one’s Louis Vuitton because it has that branding in it. But it’s the same materials. There’s no real difference to it. But you have that illusion that Louis Vuitton purse from the store is more expensive when it really isn’t.

Greg: 26:16 – So now, and this is something that was brought up in the Summit and my head coach was the one that brought it up and I’ve seen you do it before and I love it and I want to get this information out to everybody. So when let’s say somebody, let’s say I came in and I told you, yeah, I want to lose 15 pounds and I want to get lean and do all these things, look good naked. And price isn’t—I say, OK, I don’t have a budget, don’t have a number. And you say thousand and it’s like, well, let’s see what that offers. Can you explain how you go through that process? Cause I love the process that you have built out with your pricing sheets.

Sherman: 26:57 – I think that one of the biggest things that we want to talk about when it comes to pricing is it is our duty as professionals, right? Like we’re health and fitness professionals, to offer the client the absolute best service that we offer every single time, right? Like, I don’t care if they answer on the intake questionnaire, and I hope everyone has intake questionnaires, I don’t care if they say they’re interested in personal training or they’re interested in group. We want to talk about the absolute best thing for them when they come in. So what we do, we have a tiered structure that we offer every single thing and I like to call it a selling from the top down. Right? And what I mean by that, we are going to sell or offer our premium service first every single time. And what that looks like, someone comes in, we go through the entire process. Now we’re getting to the fun part where we’re talking about price. And I’m saying great, OK, based on the results that you want. I know, Greg, I’ve been doing this long enough, for you to get to your results the quickest, best thing for you is three times a week personal training plus customized nutrition. Now when we do that, we’re doing that for a couple of reasons. We are doing it one, because we’re offering them the best service. You know, we can get into the back and forth of, oh well what if they want group or what if they don’t like PT? No, we’re talking about the best service. Is it better to learn—I play basketball. Is it better to learn basketball from a coach one-on-one while I can have their undivided attention? Or is it better for me to be at basketball practice trying to learn how to get better? We all know athletes are made in the summertime when they have to work on their skills individually. Same thing rings true for fitness. So we offer personal training every single time. Now when we do this, we actually tell them what we know is best. So you know, we say, hey, three times a week personal training plus customized nutrition. But here are a couple of other offers. Now this is only a one sheet. Again, this is premium service so prices range anywhere from 700 to $1,500 a month. And I’ll say, great, this is the one I recommend, but you can choose any one off of this sheet. Which one of these work for you, Greg, and I’ll hand you that sheet, Greg, and then I sit back and I shut my mouth and I don’t say a word until you tell me I will not pay for this.

Greg: 29:30 – And is there a reason why you do it that way?

Greg: 29:35 – So the reason we do it that way because one, just because someone says something is expensive doesn’t mean they don’t pay for it. Right? Like people that know me personally, I’m a frugal guy, right. Like I drive an old, old car. My wife hates it, but I’m just like, it does the job, right? Like it does the job. Like however, the price of most things don’t really affect my buying decisions. So like I’ll go in and I’ll ask for a discount everywhere I go, you know? But if they tell me no, that’s fine. I was just asking. What if they say yes, then I had a discount just for asking a question. So the reason that we do that, because I want them to see one, this is how you want to get your results the fastest. Two, I want them to see these price points because I’m basically price anchoring them, right? So when they see a sheet with $700 a month, $900 a month, 1200, $1500 a month. Now only 10 to 15% of people are going to go for that type of service walking in off the street. That’s totally fine. So for the other 85 to 90% that is for them to see, hey, I could be coming to this gym for $1,200 a month. And now when we move onto the next piece, I say, hey Greg, that’s OK. Like if they tell me they just can’t do it, right? If they tell me they just can’t, I’m going to say great, no big deal if you can’t do it. I just wanted you to see the premium service that we offer so you can know if at anytime your results slow down or you’re not extremely happy, we have something else to offer you. Right? And that’s where we start every single time. And then we basically move our way down. We’ll move to our mid-tier offer from there. Now, once we go from a price sheet with 900, 1200 ,$1,500 a month on it, now they’re going to see a price sheet with three, four or $500 a month on it. This price doesn’t look so bad, right? It doesn’t look so bad. Now, they’re not getting the premium service, but they’re still getting a very, very good service here and most people fall into this category. You know? After they see that premium offering most of their hearts are beating fast, they’re thinking have I wasted my time. That’s more than my mortgage. I can’t pay that. And then now when I show them a sheet with $300 a month on, they’re like, yes. Like yes, I can take that one. I know it’s not the best, but it has pretty much everything I need and that’s where we go. Now let’s say that I handed them the sheet and we played this game again, you know, hey, Greg, which one of these work for you? I’ve had plenty of people look at one of my price sheets and say, oh man, I can’t do this like this so much. I’m still sitting there in the awkward silence cause I love awkwardness, right? So I’m still sitting there sort of looking and then they say, bbut I can do this for two or three months. I can’t do this long term. And I’m like, great, perfect. You don’t need to do this long term. You do this for two or three months. We’re getting you off on an excellent start. So let’s get you started here and in two months you and I and one of my coaches, we’ll sit down again and figure out what’s the best step to proceed. And then we have a signup, right? What we see a lot of times is, you know coaches, you know coaches that we’re training, they’re new to the sales thing. I’ll say, hey, sell from the top down. So they understand that, they will hand the client the price sheet, they will make a recommendation for the premium service. Soon as the client says, wow, this is kind of expensive. They say, oh, this is OK, they snatch the sheet out of their hand and they hand them another sheet that they’re comfortable with and they really didn’t give the client a chance to buy. They didn’t give the client a chance to get the service that will get them the results that they really wanted the quickest, you know. So that’s the way we do it. In our gym we basically have three offerings. So it’s premium, mid-level service. Our final offer, I don’t call it our low-service, our final offer, and that’s sort of our summer/slash boot camp-type program, doesn’t um, you know, doesn’t require it’s basically, you know, body weight stuff, moving around, conditioning and then we offer them that price sheet again and each one of the levels we are telling them what we think they should do. And then we do let them decide though, but we tell them every single time on every single sheet, hey Greg, this is what I think you should do. However, here are your two options. OK, that doesn’t work. This is what I think you should do, but you can choose whatever one works for you. And then from there when they choose, we still tell them, hey Greg, I’m glad that you chose this option.

Sherman: 34:22 – And then we sort of give them sort of some little marks and we say, hey, Greg. You know, as you saw, I recommended a couple things before you chose this. Now this is a excellent option for you, you’re going to get results. However, if you come here for 60 to 90 days and you’re not seeing the results you want, come back to me because you know offerings and this has been a huge help for us, Greg, because I mean you’ve been in gym ownership long enough, you know, how often do we have people that come to us for 60, 90, a hundred, you know, six months, 12 months. They’re like, they are great members, they are consistent members. But all of a sudden they come to us and say, hey, I want to take a break because I’m going to try to run three days a week. Well, that’s because we haven’t told them that, hey, if you’re not getting the results you want, come back to me so I can get you in the right membership. And they know, well, you know, Greg, did tell me that there were a couple of other options that were better than what I was chose. I was chosen just for budget. Why don’y you try to make one of those higher level offerings work? So that’s the way that we do it every single time. That’s the way I’ve train my staff for years to do it, that’s about how long it takes to get everyone truly trained on the sales process. But that’s the way we do it every single time. And we’re selling from the top down and really trying to figure out what is the absolute best for the client, not what’s best for their pocketbook.

Greg: 35:53 – No, I love that idea of having those different options, especially being able to say, OK, if that top tier didn’t work for them to have the next one. And because I think the other thing is too many people jump to that lowest price point, especially if price was an issue when they mentioned it in the beginning, and they completely change their pricing to the lowest option when possibly that middle tier could have been perfect for them.

Sherman: 36:21 – Well, that’s the thing, right? If you start off at your lowest offering, like so many business owners do, you give them the lowest tier offering, that’s the first offering that they see, let’s just say man, that’s too expensive. Well, what do you go from there? You don’t go up. What if they say no, I really don’t want that. I’m pretty sure I’ve lost—I don’t wanna say lost. I didn’t help a lot of people early on before I started offering personal training when I had a really small gym. I know that a lot of people would have liked to get involved with CrossFit or a type of training, but not in a group setting. They wanted to get involved in doing these type of workouts, but they wanted to do it in a one-on-one setting. And you know, years ago, unfortunately we weren’t offering personal training. So it was just like hey, if you can’t do it in the group, I don’t know what to tell you. And that’s not a way to change the community, change the town, you know, by not offering what people really need.

Greg: 37:24 – Yeah, very true. And I think too many of us, especially in the beginning, always want to help out everybody, but we don’t realize that we need to charge what we’re worth and we need to stop thinking that, hey, we can help everybody, but we need to be able to get to the point where we have the funds to be able to do that. If you want to do like a scholarship program or something like that for the people that absolutely can’t afford it. But you need the clients that can first. So in Incubation we kind of dig into sales and talking about sales and those objections and the smoke screens and all this kind of stuff. But you’ve kind of brought on this new specialist product to ongoing clients, people that are in Growth. Can you kind of dive into a little bit of what that is?

Sherman: 38:17 – So the sales that we have in Incubator, like it’s good. Like it’s an excellent starting point, right? It’s an excellent starting point. It’s going to get most gym owners a little more confidence, going to give them a little process, you know, to their systems as our Incubator does phenomenal job at. But I was just seeing a huge need. I’m still seeing a huge need of, hey, like gym owners and coaches, they need to be consistently trained on the sales process. Right? Because if it was as easy as watching a video or talking to someone for an hour and you are greatest sales, well everyone would be great at sales. And it would be easy to be like, hey guys, I recommend you go listen to Zig Ziglar’s articles on sales and you’ll be an excellent salesman. It doesn’t work like that, you know? So we saw the need there. So we just come up with—as you know, Two-Brain’s all about mentoring. Yes, we’re going to train them, we’re going to mentor these owners and these coaches, hey, this is how you get great at sales. You know, and they can do that on a monthly basis now. And what I’ve seen with just about all of the clients that we’ve been working with, there’s been huge increases in revenue with small changes here and there. And as you know, Greg, we’re just getting started. So sort of my vision is two years from now, every gym will be absolutely crushing sales because that is what’s been holding us gyms, micro-gyms, a lot of businesses as well, that’s what’s been holding them back for so long is the sales process. Now obviously, I’m biased towards Two-Brain, we have absolutely crushed the business side of it. You know, our man Chris Cooper has created this incubator that is next to none. It takes your business from being whatever it is to a well-oiled machine, right? And then we added marketing last year, which has been a game changer for me personally. Make thousands of dollars off of that marketing every single month. It is a killer product, but we know that, you know, people need sales training and they need it ongoing, so we just basically tried to fill that need and we’ve been implementing changes and helping people and these coaches and these owners have been blown away by how even, you know, some of these guys after talking to me about one or two hours have increased their revenue. You know, like we had someone last month that spent, I want to say they about $700 on marketing and then their sales, that’s what we had been working on, they were signing up people for personal-training packages, personal training plus nutrition packages, group fitness plus nutrition packages. Their average revenue per member went from, you know, about 150, to about 450, you know, in one month for the new people coming in. And that’s all about process. That’s all about really having the client’s best interest in mind and trying to help them with sales. So I’m just really trying to fill that gap and help us as a community at large get better. Because let’s think about a scenario here. We’ve all done it in the micro-gym community. Someone comes to us, great. Tell me what happened? And I want to say the Greg now, because you’re pretty good at this gym life stuff, let’s say four years ago, Greg. Four years ago someone comes to your gym, Greg, they come in for a bring-a-friend day. Tell me what happens when they leave your gym.

Greg: 42:10 – Back then I said, thanks, hope you had a good time and let us know if we can help you with anything. And I just let them go.

Sherman: 42:20 – Perfect. That is still what’s going on today for the most part. We may have gotten a little bit better. Maybe we’ll put them in a funnel or they get some emails from us like maybe, but that’s still what’s going on. Now let’s look at the other side of the coin. Let’s look at these franchise gyms with or these big box gyms. What happens when you go to a free, you know, you get a free week from them. Yes, they’re gonna give you a free week, but these guys are calling you. These guys are emailing you consistently until they can get you in. If you go try a free Orange Theory fitness class, like, yes, that class is free, but they just basically bought your contact info and anyone will tell you, they will call you every single day for months and months and months until they get you back in. Or you tell them no. Either one is fine from a sales standpoint, you don’t want maybe, you know, you want people to tell you, yes, I want it, or no, I don’t. You don’t want the maybes. The maybes will drive you crazy. But that’s where I want us as a community to be because, you know, I know that—and I like to use this scenario. Let’s say you have a member, great member, and she’s recommended her friend to come to you, one of her coworkers. So her coworker, she comes to you, she comes to Bring a Friend Day. Even today, she comes to your Bring a Friend Day. She loves it. You know, she wants to go home and think about it. You know, you don’t have much time to talk to her on Bring a Friend Day, it’s usually crazy. So you try to contact her a time or two. She’s like, oh, I don’t know. You know, let me think about it. I’ll get back to you. But then a week later, she goes to Orange Theory. She drops in to Orange Theory, they’re going to follow up with her every day until she gets back. Right? She’s not going to hear from you again, except maybe, you know, maybe a phone call, one more, maybe an email once a month when you send out a monthly newsletter. But that’s not really sales, right? Like it takes about seven to 10 exposures to a business for people to really consider doing business with you. So if they’re coming in and doing a workout and then you call them two times and say oh they’re just not interested, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice man. So I’m trying to build that gap for the micro-gym community. We are trying to fill that gap. And I think there’s huge opportunity here for us to help a ton of people, you know, while also making our businesses better. You know?

Greg: 44:48 – Agreed. And this is for, now, people are doing this specialty call with you is if they’re a Growth client. And that doesn’t mean they have to use their only one call. They can actually get two calls a month where they work with their mentor on top of working on sales and some of the other specialties we have coming in, correct?

Sherman: 45:05 – Correct. Ideally, you know, we would like for them to do two calls so they can stay on track with their mentor. If they’re doing a call with me, they would do a sales call. That would be ideal. However we understand, you know, some people just say, hey, I want to use my Growth call this month. And that’s fine as well. But yes, like the specialist calls the, you know, when you want that extra help, it’s not a free call. You know, I love to help people, but I don’t want to talk to everyone for free. So, but yeah, they can do that. They have two options when it comes to that.

Greg: 45:42 – Awesome. Now if somebody is interested in getting ahold of you, they want to work on their sales, what’s the best way to reach out to you?

Sherman: 45:52 – Simple. Sherman@twobrainbusiness.com or they can find me online. I prefer email; keeps it a little bit more professional. I get a ton of Facebook messages and all that stuff, but you email me, I’ll get back to you within 24 hours except on the weekend and we’ll be able to get rocking and rolling and increase, you know, those sales skills and processes and everything like that.

Greg: 46:13 – Excellent. Awesome. Well, Sherman, thanks again for jumping on to Two-Brain Radio, sharing your sales process, and enlightening everyone. Hopefully somebody got at least something out of this so that they can turn around and build out their sales process to be more fortified and be able to handle objections and make the sales to help people.

Sherman: 46:34 – I hope so too.

Greg: 46:35 – 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 twobrainbusiness.com.


Greg Strauch will be here every Thursday with the Two-Brain Radio Podcast.

Two-Brain Marketing episodes come out Mondays, and host Mateo Lopez focuses on sales and digital marketing. 

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

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Two-Brain Radio With Sean Woodland, Episode 11: Mekenzie Riley

Two-Brain Radio With Sean Woodland, Episode 11: Mekenzie Riley

Sean: 00:02 – Hello everybody and welcome to another edition of Two-Brain Radio with Sean Woodland. On today’s episode I talk with four-time CrossFit Games athlete Mekenzie Riley. Two-Brain Radio is brought to you by Two-Brain Business, a proud partner of HSN Mentoring. If you’d like to learn how to implement an effective nutrition coaching program in your gym, don’t miss their business and nutrition mini-workshop and breakfast on August 3rd at the Sheraton in Madison, Wisconsin. It is free for gym owners. Breakfast is included but space is limited. Sign up now growyournutritionbusiness.com. Mekenzie Riley is getting ready to make her fourth career appearance at the CrossFit Games and her third as an individual. She finished 11th overall in the worldwide Open to qualify this year. I talked with her about overcoming adversity. Mekenzie dealt with some pretty serious stuff when she was younger and she was able to overcome all of it, become a successful CrossFit Games athlete. We also talk about how she is preparing for the Games in Madison and what she would consider a successful season. Thanks for listening, everyone.

Sean: 01:12 – Mekenzie, thank you so much for joining me today, I know you’re super busy getting ready for the Games. How are you doing?

Mekenzie: 01:18 – I’m doing all right. Tell you what, I’m glad the Games are next week and not in like three weeks. I’m not sure I could make it.

Sean: 01:26 – Yeah. So you are getting set to return to the CrossFit Games as an individual. You are in California right now getting ready to do that. What is your training look like at this point of the season?

Mekenzie: 01:37 – Yeah, right now, honestly, well, personally for me, I’ve been traveling a little bit and just training with different friends so it’s a little more flexible in that sense where I have, you know, my solid amount of training, you know, four, five pieces of work a day, various obviously time domains and whatnot, but it’s not like I have to execute that 100%. If I’m with other people and they are like, hey, “we’re going to do this” and it’s still fitness and it’s still, you know, high-intensity functional movement, like I do that too. So it’s kind of a mixed bag right now. But definitely we’re still putting in the volume and that’s kinda what matters, volume and intensity. But you know, throwing up in the air sometimes and just doing what sounds fun that day with some people I enjoy, sometimes.

Sean: 02:33 – I know that in a week you can’t really get that much fitter. So what are your goals with what you’re trying to do with your training right now?

Mekenzie: 02:41 – Oh, right now. Oh geez. So like I said, it’s kind of that point where, I mean, I’ll be a hundred percent honest, like the past two years I’ve had the same experience for about a week out from leaving and it’s about time for like tapering down. And I just hit this almost physical and mental breaking point where that’s where that’s when I know I’m absolutely trained. I’ve trained hard because I’m starting to kind of hit that wall of training hard day in and day out. Your body’s broken down, you don’t feel awesome. But that’s why you start tapering and that’s when you’re like, yeah, I’m ready now, because if I have to keep going, it’s not pretty and it’s not enjoyable and it makes you start kind of having a bad attitude. So to be honest, that’s kind of where things are, but that’s where I get to. So yeah, within the next week, it starts to taper down. And yeah, just kind of starting to let the body kinda recover a little bit so that it’s actually ready to go. You can’t drive yourself into the ground all the way up until competition. So yeah, nervous system and all of that needs to be kind of taken care of as well. So that’s where we’re going in the next week and a half. Thank God.

Sean: 04:08 – I wanted to do talk to you about your ability to overcome adversity, especially earlier in your life. And you wrote a letter to your younger self that was published online. I read that, it was very emotional. And I’m curious, how did your struggles with body image begin?

Mekenzie: 04:28 – Yeah, I mean, that’s a great question. I don’t know if I can give you an exact answer. I can speculate a little bit because, you know, where does that come from? I mean, it’s everywhere. With a lot of girls and dudes, I think it’s very prevalent. So like we can all speculate. I mean, you know, media is a thing. Seeing a lot of stuff of what’s out there, you know, happy people, people that seem to appear happy and you know, really doing awesome in life and what they look like makes us feel like maybe that’s what we need to look like to be happy and awesome in life. I don’t know. But I think for me, I definitely remember having these experiences, I was, I want to say like, you know, like junior high, going into high school, maybe 14, 15 years old. I was an athlete my whole life. I swam competitively, very dedicated year-round at that young of an age. And I had a different physique than a lot of my friends who didn’t really play much sports at all to be honest. And I don’t know, I like to think that it had to do with appearance, but it could have been a lot of other things. Like they had, you know, the boyfriends and the boys chasing them, and I was always just like one of the dudes, not really on that level with the boys, and so I thought that it had something to do with how I looked. And so for me, that’s kind of what I was like, oh, they want a dainty, petite girl. And so for me, I remember having those feelings and that’s kind of what pushed me that direction with how I treated my body and what I did. But I mean, like I said, it could have been a number of other reasons, but that’s specifically at that age, you know, when you started to become interested in the other sex and I think that was a part of it for me. So yeah, that’s one thing that I know I can speak on for my reasons, but yeah, it turns out that’s not the best for athletic performance when you start caring about how you look too much.

Sean: 06:51 – Yeah, for sure. How were you able to overcome that?

Mekenzie: 06:55 – So I very vividly remember, well—honestly I had to two awakenings in my life, I would say. When I went through that time in my life I was around 14 and I remember I developed this horrible disordered eating, a little anorexia, bulimia all of those things wrapped up. Um, and there, there’s probably a good eight years where I struggled with those sorts of things. But when I was 14, I remember I, I lost like 30 pounds in one summer. I went from like 130 pounds, which is like probably a healthy normal like weight for like a 15 year old. But, um, I went down to like 105 pounds. I remember. And I had to go to the store and I hadn’t actually had to like compete while I was going through this and my mom, like I knew my mom was worried about me and I was like, I’m fine, I’m fine. I go to swim practice every day, like I can get through this. But I remember I literally like wanted to stop. Like my body felt like it was shutting down. It was an awful feeling. I felt so helpless and I can meet that scared me because I worked really, really hard to be an athlete and I’ve put my life into that. And when that became like threatened. That was something I was proud of and that was my identity and and when that happened that completely was like, whoa, whoa, we can’t have this. Like I’m going to get my shit together. So that helped me out of caring so much about the scale and being like a skinny little girl. Granted I got my eating together a little bit more, still struggled, like I said, for, I would say a better part of a decade with different ups and downs with, like restricting and all of those sorts of behaviors with my relationship with food all through college and up until, I mean, even literally up until I found CrossFit. I would say that was that was essentially what changed me to where I am now. I haven’t had any of those struggles since I’ve been competitive in CrossFit. Because again, like realizing my body is an amazing machine and like I’m proud of the work that I put in and what it does for me and I need to feed it appropriately to get the response I want out of it. Seeing that actually be how—like we can say it, but seeing it actually be true and letting it like be proven to myself from going through the experience of it. It’s 100%. Like I said, I haven’t had any of those sorts of tendencies since I started being competitive in CrossFit at the age of 25. So, yeah, I would say over five, six years, seven years now almost that I’ve been out of the woods with that, so essentially being like first and foremost an athlete and really proud and hardworking as far as my training and what I stand on every day. That’s how I worked through that and overcame that. I think at the end of the day, yeah.

Sean: 10:24 – Yeah. You mentioned that this is a much more prevalent problem than I think a lot of people would realize in both men and women. If there are people out there who, who know someone who might be struggling with this kind of issue, what are the things that they can do to help that person?

Mekenzie: 10:39 – That’s tough. So something that I observe, cause I’m also registered dietician and nutrition coach, which also came out of this. I went through so much struggles with food, but it’s ultimately like what I went into as a profession, which is kind of funny, but probably also not coincidence. But you can notice behaviors and people even when it doesn’t seem like, oh, they don’t have an issue. Like somebody who appears completely quote unquote like “normal” with food, but it’s all internal. You don’t know what people are struggling with and there are certain things that—you can’t help somebody who doesn’t even know that they have an issue or aren’t willing to be open about an issue. So I think the first step is getting people to really just be honest with themselves and get them to really do some searching with are you happy? Do you feel an internal struggle daily to like be proud or accept things? Are you like having anxiety or stress over things when it comes to like food and body image, and if it’s something that is truly, truly taking a toll on you and affecting how you treat your body or if you love and accept your body or if you treat it horribly and put it through a lot of like abuse essentially, you have to want to change before you can go through that. So like I said, for me it was realizing that what I worked hard for every day was becoming, you know, threatened. And to me that’s what motivated me. I don’t know. I hope it doesn’t get to that sort of point for people. But at the same time I think that it has to hit you hard somewhere. But definitely having to be honest with yourself, if that’s something you’re struggling with, before you can expect anybody to be able to help you. You know, like they say, you can’t help people that don’t want to help themselves or whatever the thing is. But, I mean obviously talking about it the first step in getting comfortable talking about it and being honest about it. But it is a very, very hard thing to want to change because it’s like a weird compulsive sort of feeling even though you know you have a problem and you want to fix it, but you can’t fix it. Cause something inside you won’t let you have that breakthrough. So it’s very complicated thing, and a lot of times it’s a—what I’ve learned, it’s obviously something—that’s not the issue. It’s something else somewhere and it’s coming out as a, you know, struggle with what it looks like, but it’s a little bit deeper. There’s something else going on somewhere. So yeah, it takes a lot of work to kind of dig into it, but you gotta be willing to just talk about it and be open and honest and be vulnerable. That’s step one. So I think that in a nutshell, what I just said, you have to want to let yourself become vulnerable and kind of get to know yourself a little more to figure out what’s going on inside you.

Sean: 14:17 – The sense that I got from reading your letter to your 15-year-old self, is that your mother was your hero. I hope I’m right about that, but what made her so special?

Mekenzie: 14:31 – It’s so wild, I had the wildest dream about her last night actually. So, I mean, so for the greater part of my life, my mom was essentially a single mother raising my sister and I, and just, it’s one of the things that as kid you don’t really realize it because you’re just being a kid and you don’t really know what it takes to be an adult in the world. But now that I’m an adult, I realize like how hard that had to have been. Like, I mean, just to be candid, I mean going through—I mean my father had a substance-abuse problem and then going through a divorce and you know, having to keep a happy face on in front of your kids and be strong and let them continue to live what they know as a normal life. I’m just imagining that for myself. I mean I have a husband I’m very happily married to, but just imagining having to go through something like that, not only for yourself personally but for your family. Cause she kept it all together. I knew very little about the struggles that were going on. I didn’t know the—you know, it’s hard to not let stuff show, and I really didn’t know like the bigger, deeper struggles that was going on in her life and having to deal with those sorts of, you know, like tragic, dramatic, horrible experiences that a person in a relationship, you know, can go through. So I think it’s just kind of knowing that she just took care of business. Like, you know, she didn’t let her feelings get in the way of holding it together. And like I said, for lack of a better term, like letting my sister and I continue to live what we knew as normal, whether that meant getting two or three jobs or you know, somehow like getting the money together to like let us continue to partake in all of—we played like every sport and every activity to where that shit adds up, you know, you don’t realize that. So, really just having her continue to just be supportive and somehow make the time. I mean, she’d drive me 40 minutes one way to swim practice like five days a week. Like after working a full-time job, it’s just like the sacrifices that you realize that she made, but you don’t realize that until you’re an adult and you realize how time management and like your days are making time for that sort of stuff. So yeah, just this amazing amount of sacrifice to provide. That’s really what it is. And just continuing to be a strong, like she she would work out, when we would work out, she would work out. Very active, you know, always there, always, like I said, taking us everywhere, being everywhere, just being supportive. Somehow made time for all of that stuff. And you know, didn’t let it show that she was dealing with a lot. Yeah, I don’t know how she did it. So that’s why.

Sean: 18:05 – Yeah. Then, you know, we talked about adversity, you know, you dealt with the body-image issue. Then you have to face the fact that you know, you lose your parents four years apart and in your 20s, and I can’t imagine what that does to somebody. How were you able to overcome, not only overcome it, but come out as better on the other side?

Mekenzie: 18:27 – You know, I honestly don’t know. And like I’m saying, like when you’re in it, you don’t realize–it’s awful, but once you get past it, it’s like you forget what it’s like to be in it. But absolutely, it’s like your whole world is completely like—sorry, I am like having a really hard time bringing it into words because, I haven’t blocked it out, but it’s one of those things where you can’t do anything about it, it’s nothing that you ever think you’re going to have to deal with. Even when you have time to prepare. My mom was super sick with cancer and it’s like, you know it’s coming. So it’s just what your life is after it is different. It’s never the same. And it doesn’t make it easier. Like I still miss her. And I mean my dad as well. So you just learn to adapt because you have to. I mean, I’m sad about it but like I can’t use that as an excuse to just give up on myself and my life. Because my mom made the sacrifices, like that’s what makes me want to continue to thrive, is knowing that she did all of that, for me to just like decide that I’m going to be sad and have an excuse to just stop trying or feel sorry for myself, like then what was all the good that she did for me, you know? So yeah, it’s horrible. I think about what my life would be like today if my parents were still married and together and alive, and I think about that and I’m just like, my life might be entirely different to where the things that I’ve accomplished and the path my life has taken, that might not be the case. Like maybe those things have somehow been part of how I’ve got to where I am. So in the moment, yeah, your life is—you just don’t know what’s going on. You’re super confused, melting down, my relationships— my poor husband, fiance at the time, a lot of like weird dynamics and weird stuff. And it’s just the grieving process. But I hundred percent know that as sad as it sounds, and—I could make it into like a really sad story. I could make it into a really awesome story. And for me, I just use that as, I want to make them proud and I want to make what they did for me and my life, like into something bigger and greater. So that’s kind of where I’m at with that.

Sean: 21:49 – You’re certainly I’m sure making them proud and achieving what you’ve wanted to through CrossFit. And that kind of brings us to the next part of this. So how did you get into CrossFit?

Mekenzie: 22:01 – How did I get into CrossFit. Honestly, well swimming for the majority of my life. I went from, I was 21 when I retired from swimming, so about the age of 25, and I was the champion of all group-fitness classes at the rec, I would do spin classes and Pilates and body pump and all of that stuff multiple times a day. And I was a Zumba instructor also as part of my pre-CrossFit life. And I hit a lot of that stuff. But it wasn’t like I was training for anything. I was just working out a lot. And I remember my teammate from college was like, Hey, you should try CrossFit. He explained it to me and I didn’t really understand how a seven-minute workout, was anything that was like a good workout when I was used to like two hours in the pool. But my husband, we were only engaged, we relocated to a different town and we were looking at gyms I saw a CrossFit gym popped up, and I was like oh, CrossFit, that’s what I heard about, that’s what my friend said. And so we went and checked it out and I liked it. Turns out he was right and I’m not sure we even thought about not going back. I think he’s like, once we were in it, we were like in it. And that was June of 2012, so yeah, I was 25. That was also my 25th birthday and that was also the same month that I lost my mom. So there was a lot of things that were overlapping at the time. And when that came into my life, I was just like, it was right at the time that I was obviously like going through massive tragic loss and adjustment. And I also believe that that wasn’t coincidence either. So, that’s when and how I got into CrossFit.

Sean: 24:22 – When did you figure out that, you know what, I’m actually really good at this.

Mekenzie: 24:27 – I was just telling this the story. Let’s see, back in 2012, I didn’t even know what the CrossFit Games were; I didn’t even know they were a thing, to be honest. And we didn’t even watch the Games that summer cause I didn’t even know it was happening. And then it was the next year that I learned that there was a competitive avenue of CrossFit and 2013 was my first Open and that was back when individual scores for Regionals, so like an individual qualifies out of your gym their score still contributed to the team score. So we took a team to Regionals. I’ve been to Regionals every year since I’ve been CrossFitting, technically. So, 2013, I went on part of a team. And I would say by then that was like the floodgate of like, oh shit competing—I feel like a badass and I want to do this. I remember I did literally like five out of six weekends in a row I did like a local competition of some sort. I was just like, I was in it and I like thought I was badass and I wanted to be like a competitive CrossFitter with like the numbers on my arm and like I thought I was so cool. So yeah, that’s when I like started really—that was like a year into it. Like you quickly get better at the beginning of your CrossFit career. So I remember just like making progress real quick and people being like, oh yeah, this might mean you have potential. You’re athletic, like you’re picking this up quick. And so, yeah, I didn’t ever think that I would be doing what I’m doing now, but I definitely was gonna try and get to be as good as I could be. So yeah, forget when it was my husband that said it to me, like I didn’t want to admit it to myself. I didn’t want to say like, oh I want to go to Regionals or oh I want to make the Games. Like that stuff took me a long time to be able to like, say out loud cause it’s, you know, if you don’t achieve it then you look like a failure. So I would just like do a lot of extra—like I would take class and then I would do extra or I’d like to go to the track. I’d be like trying to like do extra workouts but not seem like I was caring or wanting to like put in extra effort. But I was doing it and I just remember my husband was like, yeah, you’re good at this and you just need to be OK with like admitting that you want to try to be good at this, like, just do it. Just do it like you’re good at this, just do it. And I was like, all right, well I’m just gonna see what happens, I guess. So, yeah, it’s just like nervous taking that jump of saying you want to do something. But yeah. I just kind of like organically evolved.

Sean: 27:28 – You have now qualified for your fourth overall appearance at the CrossFit Games. What are the lessons that you’ve learned from competing in that setting in the past?

Mekenzie: 27:39 – Everybody’s different, so the things I say are going to maybe sound different than what others will say. But personally for me, I mean, first of all, like enjoy it. Like, yeah, like I’m going to break down and cry because I’m at a breaking point. Like we need to compete because I can’t do this anymore for the rest of the summer. I feel like I also in that same day that I might cry because I’m failing lifts, I also dry my eyes and I’m like shit man, this is an experience that people will never have. Like this is something that I am so grateful for it. So just like always remaining grateful and always just like even when it sucks, even when you know, like you’re on the other side of the world at a CrossFit competition and your flight gets delayed or like you’re uncomfortable because you know, in a different environment but you’re doing something awesome because you’ve afforded the opportunity to this crazy sport. Like just remain grateful and take advantage and embrace the experience. That’s just something from a non-competitive standpoint, that’s just something that I’ve learned is like always remain grateful and embracing the experience because this is something that like people can only hope to experience. Like it’s crazy. I’m very, very blessed, so I’m not taking it for granted. That also goes for being in a place you don’t want to be, or doing horrible in some events at the CrossFit Games or whatever. Like there’s always something to be grateful for to be in this position. Other than that, from a competitive standpoint, I would say personally for me, I will say I tend to do pretty well under pressure. And that I think that it was kind of like a competitor and not, but putting pressure on myself is not something that I do well with. So it might be a high-pressure situation, but if I just say, you know what, I’m just going to do it and not put an expectation on the situation or care too much about how I’m going to finish or what my plan is going to be or what the other person’s gonna do and where I should be at, what time on the clock or that sort of shit. The less of that that I do, the better I tend to do. So really just taking the pressure down and taking the expectation off the situation for me. I seem to thrive. So that’s something that I’ve personally come to really know about myself. There’s time to be confident, of course, but being too confident and sometimes just gotta be like you know what, let’s go do this workout. Those are I would say some of the bigger things that I’ve learned, that would be the two major ones. I would have to say.

Sean: 30:48 – This season has obviously been unusual for a ton of different reasons. How did the new structure affect the way that you train?

Mekenzie: 30:56 – Well, to be honest, I had this conversation with my coach at the beginning of the season knowing that, well, mostly the team season, just because of the structure of the Games, granted the whole season in general, like the Open was still at the same time. And I knew I’ve done well in the Open in the past, so nothing’s changed in like Open prep leading up to the Open. And it was more reflective from the Open where I would go because there wasn’t a Regional, you know, per se, depending on what happened or was I doing one or two Sanctionals, or what was actually gonna be—we didn’t really know the structure of what it was gonna be for me. So it’s kind of like get through the Open and then we’ll have to kind of reassess where we go from here. So lucky for me, I performed to my abilities and qualified out of the Open. So what happened from there was kind of not, not really make or break, it was like, hey, do you want to go do a Sanctional, do you not? You can afford to not, but maybe you want to, you know. So I went ahead and did one in May, which is around Regional time. So that was good timing to kind of stay with the flow of what I’m used to training for the past seasons. So I did do that, I went to Brazil and competed in May. But then, it was like when do you start Games training, because let me tell ya, like I just said, can’t start that too early or you will not make it to August. So we stuck with what we had done in the past, which was I kind of was nervous to trust only because I’m like, we have extra time, shouldn’t we be doing stuff to like take advantage of the weeks I have? And my coach is like, yeah, no, because you’ll never make it. Which she was right. So we waited and started the same week as we started the past few years. I was the third week in the Regional past year, so we started the same time and followed the same six weeks versus like eight or 10 or whatever some people have done. And that’s been, like I said, very, very comfortable because I know that, what I’ve always kind of followed, but knowing that the cut system that was only ever speculated about but now is 100% confirmed, it’s kind of like, OK, what might that be like? What sorts of things might we need to start really training in the event that that comes up as one of the major cutting criteria. So we’re training a little differently in regards to—granted, we never really know what the test will be. If it was a, like last year marathon row, who saw that coming? Nobody. We’re going to be prepared for that. Probably not, no one’s training their three-hour row. So we’re like we know something like that isn’t entirely crazy, you could run 150 people through. If it was like half- marathon run, like let’s make sure that if that came up, I’m not going to be like on my heels, oh shit, I should’ve worked on longer running, or heavy one-rep maxes, or stuff like that you could eliminate people with a simple test of very basic CrossFit, like a special modality like that. So we’ve made sure to touch on kind of specific niches a little more, but still just training classic CrossFit, of course. So yeah, I wouldn’t say it changed a whole bunch, but it was like hey, maybe we make a certain point to touch on something that could, you know, be an outlying type of test. But other than that, pretty much the same hat as the last couple years, but I’m OK with.

Sean: 34:56 – You’ve been around a lot of different athletes. I see, or I know you were recently in Cookeville, now you’re in Southern California. What are they saying about all the changes that have been made this year?

Mekenzie: 35:08 – I mean, honestly I think the attitude is kind of the some as far as competitors at least. Mostly, I mean I’ve been around veteran competitors who have obviously qualified in the former fashion, in the classic fashion that we know, that sort of setup. So I think the structure change in general, everybody was kind of not super excited about. I would venture to guess people that qualified in this new fashion with, you know, the backfilling, they probably love it. I don’t know, like the national champions are probably super stoked. It’s nice to have some more inclusion, but I think it’s just causing a lot of chaos and thinking of how this is actually going to be executed in Madison, so I think that anytime the conversation starts up, you can go with the, oh, what if, what if, what if, and then the anxiety sets in and then you’re just like it exhausts me to play those games. So I’m just like, whatever. Like I don’t even care, whatever. I’m just gonna show up and I’m gonna do what they say to do. We usually get into like the eye-rolling and like I don’t even know what’s going on. That tends to be how the conversation ends, in the circles that I get in. So I think that, yeah, we can talk about it, but only honestly gets you nowhere. You know? It’s like worrying and building anxiety. And so the conversations are similar. It’s like whatever. I mean, I think everybody, like I said for the most part that I talked to is on the same page. It’s just like, yeah, what the heck, how is this? Like I don’t even know what’s going on. And people ask me like, I get my family like asking me like, so what’s it’s gonna be like, how many days, and I’m like you guys, I don’t even know the rules anymore. I really don’t know what’s gonna happen, I wish I could tell you, but honestly, I don’t even know. Or they’re like, oh I heard a change, and now you can qualify, and then I have to like draw a fucking diagram for them to understand what’s going on. It’s not even fun to like explain anymore cause it’s just confusing and a cluster. But anyways, so yeah, I try and be positive and open-minded, but it’s a little bit exhausting to try and follow the whole changes.

Sean: 37:45 – There’s no doubt about that. I get questions all the time I don’t know how to answer. I know you’re super busy and you got to get back to some Games prep, so final question here for you, but what needs to happen for you to be able to look back on the season and say, you know what, that was a success for me.

Mekenzie: 38:01 – Oh, that’s a great question. Honestly comes back to kind of what I said where it’s like just taking a second to remain present and like being happy and recognizing the situation I’m in for what it is, no matter what the outcome is. Because at the end of the day, like it doesn’t matter if I—it might matter in the check that I might back, but like from like 10th place to 20th place like, you know, no one’s probably going to remember that. But you’re going to remember like the friends you make, the relationships you maintain down the road, the opportunities that come out of those sorts of things versus your placement or you know, how well you do on a leaderboard. I also think that it’s more about personal victory with, you know, what, like, I could blow up here or this is where I’m going to struggle in this workout, and making it through the workout and being like I freaking did that and I didn’t think I could. So taking the pressure off myself for how I’m going to come out of the weekend and taking the weekend for what it’s worth, and really just soaking in the experience and trying to have some fun and just perform and let just let myself perform, just let the hard work take care of itself without putting expectation on it. Maybe take a few risks here and there, but for the most part it’s doing what I know. Turning my brain off and letting myself flow. Having some fun. Why is it so hard to have some fun at that level? Like sometimes we forget that and it ruins it all. Like, you can’t have fun doing this then like, what are we doing? So constantly reminding ourselves, because it’s tough.

Sean: 40:07 – That’s a great way to approach things. Best of luck, Mekenzie, at the CrossFit Games. Thank you so much for taking the time to join me and good luck with your training. Don’t burn out before you get to Madison. All right.

Mekenzie: 40:18 – Don’t worry, we got it. We’re almost there.

Sean: 40:20 – All right. Thanks, Mackenzie. I appreciate it.

Sean: 40:24 – Big thanks to Mekenzie Riley for taking time out of a very busy training day to talk with me. If you want to follow her on social media, you can find her on Instagram. She is @itsKenzieRiley and that’s Kenzie, spelled K. E. N. Z. I. E. Nutrition coaching services can generate profit and take your business to the next level. To learn how to start or expand a nutrition program at your gym, have breakfast with Two-Brain Business founder Chris Cooper and Healthy Steps Nutrition founder Nicole Aucoin on August 3rd at the Sheraton in Madison, Wisconsin. Enjoy coffee, food and a free mini-workshop. This seminar is for gym owners only and space is going fast. You want to register now at growyournutritionbusiness.com. Thanks again for listening, everybody. We’ll see you next time.


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Group Training IS Your Discounted Option

Group Training IS Your Discounted Option

You sell coaching.


The best coaching is done 1:1. Top performers in every category have a personal coach (including sports, CrossFit, and business).


Most microgyms sell group coaching. The best microgyms provide personal coaching in a group setting; but participants in a group can receive only a tiny bit of 1:1 time with their coach. And many microgyms sell choreography: a “do this, do that” group workout involving no personal coaching at all.


Coaches who started as personal trainers have an easier time with this concept: when you sell coaching, group training IS your discounted option. Clients trade off personalized programming and 1:1 attention for a lower price. Greg Glassman’s journey was the same as the rest of us: when his schedule was too full to take more personal training clients, he began pairing them up. He sold the idea of sharing time and attention by promising a slightly lower rate. And, in a happy coincidence, his clients actually trained harder when they had a partner. Many of us had the same experience.


But there’s a problem with group training: because it’s not a personalized service, your clients compare group training gyms based on other criteria:

  • Price
  • Programming (more advanced clients, a tiny percentage)
  • Convenience (schedule and location)
  • How the coach/gym/other clients make them feel
  • Peer support (whether their friends like the gym or not)


Those are points of differentiation, but less powerful ones. Think of your business as a castle surrounded by a moat: the more personalized your service, the deeper the moat is. And the deeper your moat, the less susceptible you are to competition. Low prices; different programming; and convenience–these build only a shallow moat. Eventually, someone will be cheaper. Eventually, someone will build a gym that’s closer to your client’s house. And your programming is never more novel than the other guy’s is.


Your services should fall along a Bell curve of price and value:


On the left side are your group-only options. These are your lowest-priced options (and they don’t need to be discounted further). These are your most transient clients. They’re most likely to price-shop or move to another gym.


In the middle are your “personalized group training” options. Clients receive some personal coaching, and some group coaching. For example, a client might like training with a group, but receive a personalized food plan from you. Or vise versa: they might participate in a group nutrition prescription but train 1:1. Or they might come in with 3 of their friends and do small-group training.


On the far right are clients whose experience is totally personalized: individualized programming, individualized nutrition plans, measured recovery and real-time feedback.


Now, imagine if your clients fell along this Bell Curve: 20% did only group training; 60% did some combination of group training, with a personalized experience; and 20% were fully personalized. What would that do to your profitability? How would it affect your clients’ success rate? What would happen to your retention?


Our data, taken from thousands of gyms, shows that the further right you move on the Value Curve, the better your client retention; the better your ARM; and the stronger your business.


The problem most gyms face is this: their value curve doesn’t match the services they offer. Instead of asking “What will help my clients most?” they think “What can I sell comfortably?”


Then they focus ONLY on the left side of the Bell Curve. So they try really hard to recruit the lowest-paying, shortest-staying, rarely-obeying clients. And they don’t offer what the highest-value, long-term, price-agnostic clients want. Not at all.


In fact, many gym owners look at the above Bell Curve and think it’s just a daydream–but hundreds of Two-Brain gyms prove that it’s very real. The difference is a change in mindset; a different approach to service; and excellence in delivery.


Here are the most common questions we get when we present this paradigm:


Which Group Options Should I Sell?

2x/week? Three times per week? Unlimited?

First, sell your group program based on the number of visits a client will use per month, not per week. For example: 12x/month or 16x per month, instead of 3x/week or 4x/week. Very few gyms are still making this mistake, but if you are, change your membership now.

If you’re in the Founder Phase of entrepreneurship, you need to let your clients tell you what they want. That means offering more services at first, and then slowly culling the low-performers. Start with 8x/mo, 12x/mo and Unlimited group memberships.

When you move to Farmer Phase, you can increase your ARM simply by discontinuing your lowest-value package. If you’re following a Prescriptive Model, this is easy: when performing an Athlete Check-In, simply tell the client why you think they should exercise more often. Or, if they should exercise less, tell them how to continue their training 1:1 or with an online option (see below).


What About Punch Cards?

Punch cards hurt your adherence rate (how often people show up for workouts). The problem is that people are more scared to lose something than they are eager to gain something. So if they’re down to their last class credit, they’re more likely to hang onto it until they see a workout they really like, or they feel “ready” to train.


It’s hard to build habits when clients have to make a conscious decision every day: “Do I exercise today, or not?” Instead, a recurring model means the decision has already been made: “It’s Wednesday, so I’ll pack my gym bag today.”


Punch cards are also brutal on your predictive cash flow. And if someone buys a punch card or class pass or package, you have to carry it on your books–possibly forever. Check your local laws. It’s not easy to put an expiration date on your service UNLESS you’re selling a recurring monthly membership.


How Do I Handle Cancellations and Holds?


First, clients with Hybrid and 1:1 packages are far less likely to ask for holds. Most holds or suspensions are requested for summer travel (or Christmastime bills). Clients who can afford higher-value training plans don’t run out of cash at Christmas, and don’t stress about missing a session or two while they’re on holidays.


We don’t allow “Holds”. But we WILL cover the drop-in rate at other CrossFit Gyms for our clients if they’re vacationing. They simply connect with the coach at their destination in advance; we provide the client’s background information and a credit card number; and the coach knows our client details and processes our payment.


For cancellations, we make the client aware that they’ll need to redo OnRamp if they’re gone longer than 3 months, and then enter them into our recapture campaign. Most clients aren’t gone forever; but that’s a different blog post (or even a whole book.)


How Do I Compete With The Big Chains?


I was at a gym owners’ gathering in Atlanta when I heard the phrase “commoditization of intensity”. It’s a great phrase, and it means that the “big chain HIIT gyms” are going to offer a better experience than you are. They’re going to run a tight ship in 2500 square feet, pay their coaches less, keep their bathrooms cleaner, and sell cheaper memberships. You can’t win against that model, because you’re trying to make careers for your professional coaches and yourself instead of running a low-priced turnstile.


If you’re only selling group classes, you’re selling a commodity. Most people can’t tell the difference. And you’ll never be able to sell it cheaper. BUT they can’t offer the 1:1 coaching that YOU can. They can’t make individual prescriptions, and most can’t offer nutritional coaching. This is why Two-Brain gyms are doing better while most group-only gyms are doing worse than they were two years ago.


How Do I Sell Hybrid Memberships?


First, you have to have a clear vision of what you’re selling.

Then you need to get your pricing right.

Then you need a clear way to share that vision (we help you set your rates, build a pricing binder, teach you how to present your options, and then practice with you in the Incubator.)

Then it’s actually much simpler than you think. Quoting JK, who sold his first $660 per month package yesterday:

if you are reading this and are afraid to recommend high-priced options…here is another person who just did it. Make the right recommendation. Tell them this is the best route for them to get to their goals. And then say “what do you think about this option?,” and then let them talk. I didn’t make this stuff up. I learned it from here, so I am paying it forward.


How Do I Sell Online Training As Part of a Hybrid Membership?


If you’re following the Prescriptive Model, it’s not really hard. You would just insert one more question:


“Would you prefer to do this training with me in person, or on your own schedule outside my gym?”


I own a CrossFit gym. My current focus is a 100km cycling race for charity in September. So I have a remote cycling coach. He presented a few options for training, and I took the one that suited me best. I didn’t choose the cheapest.


How Do I Add Nutrition To My Gym?


We recommend Healthy Steps Nutrition. It’s led by an RD (Nicole Aucoin). As more states ban the practice of prescribing nutrition to your clients, you NEED a program led by a Registered Dietitian. And HSN’s program is step-by-step: you can bolt it on, create a great opportunity for one of your coaches, and help your clients get great results faster.


Why Don’t More Gyms Sell High-Value Services?


Frankly, because the owners couldn’t afford it themselves. Most gym owners don’t charge enough, so they don’t make enough. And then they project their poverty onto everyone else.


The real reason most gyms promote their lowest-priced option? The confidence of the owner. In the Founder phase of entrepreneurship (and even through most of the Farmer phase), the gym’s clients earn more than the gym’s owner. It’s very, very easy for the owner to project their budget onto the client in front of them.


Owning a private microgym isn’t going to get easier. As big chains commoditize intensity; more affiliates open in your town; and knockoff chains appear, you’ll find it harder and harder to sell group workouts. But that’s okay: they can’t do what you can, which is to provide 1:1 personal coaching. Call it bespoke, call it personal training, whatever: it’s time to turn your weakest portion into your greatest advantage.