Top Twelve of the Last Twelve

Top Twelve of the Last Twelve

We publish every day.


Between blog posts, podcasts, our YouTube Channel and social media…it can get a bit overwhelming.


And oh yeah, I’ve written three books about the gym business.


In case you’re new to TwoBrain (or just trying to eat our elephant), here are the top ten blog posts we published in the last twelve months. Each has been read over 1000 times, and they all started deeper conversations.


If you want, you can jump to the head of the class and book a free call with me (Chris) to start taking action. If not, enjoy the education and inspiration for as long as you like.


1. Theseus’ Boat – Maintaining Your Culture and Replacing Yourself

2.  3 Reasons You Should Love Orange Theory (and Other HIIT Trends)

3. Killing The Canary: The Paralyzing Effect of the Vocal Minority

4. Why We’re a Mentorship Practice

5. Love + Letters – SUPER important

6. How Many “Likes” Do You Need? – an important, and very thorough, explanation on the value and purpose of Social Media

7. How To Kill Your King (The WRONG Way to Open A Gym)

8. Let’s Get Real (Or Let’s Not Play) – on the need for more data in CrossFit, and why we’re going to invest $2M to save The Movement

9. 5 Tips to Not Suck At “Sales” – actionable steps to sell more, following the “Help First” philosophy

10 . Why You’ll Never Need 300 Members – we’re coaches, not recruiters.

11. How To Say “No” To Discounts

12. Salaries Breed Laziness and Complacency–a thought-provoking piece on the “intrapreneurial mindset.”


You might love some of these (you might hate others) but the writing is always of a high quality, and each one was written to provoke deep consideration.


When you join our list, you’ll get a love letter from me almost every day. These letters are usually answers to problems I hear from other gym owners, either online or during our free consultation call. The best part is that the questions keep getting BETTER, and that means the answers keep changing. Thanks for your messages after each email, and thanks for growing with us!


Introversion, Extroversion, Clients and Coaches

In 2010, I wrote “Cowboys vs. Shepherds” on my first blog, It was later included in Two-Brain Business (now available on audiobook.) But new research has prompted me to revisit the issue from a different perspective.

In this post, I’ll compare the minds of the introvert, the extrovert, and the ambivert; then I’ll write about ways to optimize training for coaches and clients who fall into either category.

Want to see if you’re an introvert or extrovert? Here’s a 25-minute test  from PsychologyToday, or a 4-minute test from LifeHack.

First, a comparison of introverts and extroverts as clients:

Extroverts become energized by noise and crowds. Introverts become fatigued and overwhelmed by the same.
Extroverts are likely to ask questions of the coach (often, they’ll need to be “heard” during a class, even if they already know the answer.) They’re talkative, quick to welcome new members, and excited by the prospect of coaching a group themselves. They might choose one-on-one training over groups, but will be drawn to the crowd quickly. They’re held accountable more by social risk (“everyone will know if you cheat on your diet”) than by anything else.

Introverts are more likely to think through a movement. In fact, if you see an athlete close their eyes while practicing, it’s a sure sign they’re an introvert: they’re subconsciously blocking out external distraction. They’re less likely to ask a question, but more likely to absorb what’s taught. They’re also more likely to avoid the group setting and choose one-on-one training. Introverts are best held accountable through a one-on-one relationship and might need more frequent contact by a coach (“I’ll be watching your food intake through the app.”)

Second, a comparison of introverts and extroverts as coaches:
Extroverted coaches are energized by a large group. They relax into coaching: several classes in a row won’t bother them. They’ll be more likely to engage in “sharking” and identifying movement deficiencies on the fly.
Pros: great leaders of groups. Exciting, fun and energetic. Loud.
Cons: Less likely to think through their words. Won’t want to stick to a “script.” Attracted to novelty over best practices (recency bias.)

Introverted coaches are more likely to form deep personal relationships with clients. They’ll remember every member’s dog. But they’ll also take a client’s decision to quit the gym personally, which can be exhausting. Introverted coaches are more likely to report feeling like a client’s “therapist”, because they take the time to listen to each person’s troubles.
Pros: fantastic in a one-on-one setting. Won’t forget a client’s birthday or goals. Can focus on refining tiny details instead of “gaming”.
Cons: exhausted by large, noisy groups. Can feel like they’re “herding cats” when trying to control large classes. Will feel frustrated when others don’t pay attention or show the same attention to detail.

Third, the science (you can skip this part if you like):
Chemicals: we all have chemical “reward systems” built into our brains. When we perform certain tasks, dopamine, acetylcholine, and other chemicals flood our brains and make us feel good. Dopamine makes us more talkative, more exploratory and less risk-averse. Acetylcholine makes us focus intensely inward, reflect, and think deeply.
Everyone has the same amount of both, but dopamine is the more active reward system in extroverts; acetylcholine is more active in introverts.

When their dominant reward system is engaged, either becomes happy. That’s the most important part here.

Neither extroversion or introversion is better. Both have strengths that can make them incredible coaches when put in the best spot to make them happy. And no one is completely introverted or extroverted: we each fall somewhere on the spectrum.

Fourth, my favorite: the Ambivert.

Daniel Pink (“To Sell Is Human”) writes that an ambivert falls between introversion and extroversion on the spectrum. An ambivert is usually developed, not born: introverts can learn to act extroverted, and vice versa. In fact, a natural introvert who is trained to act like an extrovert might have an advantage in client retention and sales.

You can take the Ambivert Assessment here.

In 2013, The Wharton School’s Adam M. Grant measured sales aptitudes across introverts, extroverts and ambiverts. He found that ambiverts had hourly revenues of $155, which was 24% higher than the “outgoing” extroverts. Why?

They’re flexible. An ambivert can mirror the personality of their client or their coach. Unlike magnets (which can attract or repel,) an ambivert can stick to anyone.

They can roll with the punches better. With both social support and a strong sense of self-focus, and ambivert can handle critique and correction better. They can absorb feedback but not internalize criticism.

They’re intuitive. They “get it” because they can see the other person’s perspective more easily.

Ambiverts make better clients AND better coaches. And you can control the latter.
When training coaches, it’s not enough to say, “This is how you identify a squat.” A great coach will make the client WANT to fix the squat. That was the point of “Cowboys vs. Shepherds”: to illustrate the need for both types of coaches in your gym.

Coaches who are natural “alphas” can be taught empathy. Quieter, more studious coaches can be taught to “turn it on” during class, and maintain control for the full hour. Expertise in “triaging a squat” is great…but it’s more important to keep the client coming back for decades.

To start a gym, teach movements. But to create a movement, teach leaders.

Episode 37: Moments from the 2016 TwoBrain Summit

Episode 37: Moments from the 2016 TwoBrain Summit

JTNDYSUyMGhyZWYlM0QlMjJodHRwJTNBJTJGJTJGd3d3LnN0aXRjaGVyLmNvbSUyRnMlM0ZmaWQlM0Q3NTYwMSUyNmFtcCUzQnJlZmlkJTNEc3RwciUyMiUzRSUzQ2ltZyUyMHNyYyUzRCUyMmh0dHAlM0ElMkYlMkZjbG91ZGZyb250LmFzc2V0cy5zdGl0Y2hlci5jb20lMkZwcm9tby5hc3NldHMlMkZzdGl0Y2hlci1iYW5uZXItMzAweDI1MC5qcGclMjIlMjBhbHQlM0QlMjJMaXN0ZW4lMjB0byUyMFN0aXRjaGVyJTIyJTIwd2lkdGglM0QlMjIzMDAlMjIlMjBoZWlnaHQlM0QlMjIyNTAlMjIlMjAlMkYlM0UlM0MlMkZhJTNFThis episode is sponsored by Liquid State Design and Healthy Steps Nutrition.

The TwoBrain Summit ended yesterday. It was JAMMED with great conversation, some excellent presentations and amazing food. We might have lifted a few weights, too.

Our goal at TwoBrain Business is to ask bigger, better questions, and create an entirely new paradigm for gym owners and coaches. Why DON’T average gyms gross in the millions and net in the hundreds of thousands? Why is a coach who makes $100,000 per year something to brag about, when it should be the norm?

More importantly, what does it take to be HAPPY?

Ribs are part of the answer, as we found out. So is comradeship with our peers: the best and brightest in the industry, brought together over coffee and barbells, in a supportive environment.

Yes, we talked about new possibilities in Facebook marketing. But we also talked about industry tipping points, huge opportunities that dwarf most gyms’ perspective, and the bright shiny future the best gyms will enjoy.

These are tiny keyhole insights into the weekend. I hope they help. This weekend I’ll be doing the same thing at the Games.

Recorded from July 15-19, 2016.

Consumers and Clients

Consumers and Clients

If you’re selling a product, they’re the same people.
But we’re selling a service. What’s the difference?

A consumer is paying attention. They read your blog posts, download your podcast and watch your videos. They’re fans. They might even pay for your material.

A client has a two-way relationship with you.

In my practice, I’m lucky enough to have hundreds of consumers. Two-Brain Business has sold thousands of copies; Two-Brain Radio has over a thousand listeners every week; and hundreds have even consumed my advice in person through seminars and free “Help First” phone calls. Their attention drives me to get up at 4am and write; to brainstorm ideas for webinars and podcasts. They push me far.

But I have far fewer clients. These people are my focus. These are the ones I’ll respond to on Sunday morning while my kids are in the hotel pool. These are the folks who keep me up late with worry, or make me punch my fist in the air when they win. These are the friends who get my focus and the majority of my attention.

Most consumers will never become clients. That’s okay: their “thanks for all you do” messages are more than enough for me. I’m happy to produce content to help them.

But after today, only my clients will have access to this focus group.

There are more free things coming for everyone else–I promise not to run out of ideas–but it’s critical to focus my attention on the tip of the spear. Keep an eye on those who stay in the group; ask them for help; model your gym after theirs. They’ll be happy to lead. Thanks for your attention!

The Intramural Open 2016 – Your Complete Guide

  1.  Choose four Captains. These shouldn’t be the top athletes in your gym, but the members who you’d describe as “most fun.”
  2.  Each Captain chooses a team name.
  3. Create five Facebook groups: one for each team, with you (the gym owner) and each captain as an ‘admin.’ Create the fifth for you and the Captains only, so you can get messages to Captains and teams quickly. Note: these aren’t your official Affiliate teams. I could still be on the official Catalyst team attempting to make Regionals AND the “Kipping It Real” squat (my Intramural team.) There’s no need to build all four teams on the Games site.
  4. Divide your “serious” competitors between the four teams with a Draft. In our draft, we presented the Captains with a list of athletes already registered for the Open on draft day. Each were allowed to “protect” two athletes–mostly spouses or best friends–for their team. The rest were thrown into a hat.Draft order was determined each round by randomization (e.g. 1-2-3-4, 4-2-1-3, 2-1-4-3, etc.) This year, Captains drew names randomly; last year, they could choose their athletes from the list of preregistered Open athletes. It’s up to you. If the draft isn’t done by random choice, I recommend keeping the order of the draft secret so no one is the “last one picked.”

5. Immediately after the draft, the rest of your gym membership is open for recruitment. Captains can bribe, coerce or otherwise attempt to sign up any member for their team. Members sign up on the Games site to indicate their intention to compete. Captains report the recruitment of each athlete to in our Facebook group so two teams don’t lay claim to the same person. 1. Remind your clients that your goal is to provide fun, collaborative competition. Here’s how we presented it. Copy the post if you like (just link back to the catalystgym site from whence it came.) 

6. In our case, because scoring favors the largest team, we have a recruitment limit to keep things even. Any team can recruit up to 25 members–but must then wait for other teams to recruit 25 members before recruiting more. We have two Captains who are VERY good at recruiting–one left the draft with a list of texts already waiting on his phone. Expect more people to sign up for the Open because they’re asked by the Captains; this is the whole point of the Intramural Open. We had 22 signed up before the Draft, and hit 60 before 6am the next day.


Leading up to the Open, consider the main areas of potential “Bright Spots” for clients:

  1. First time hitting a gymnastics skills, like toes-to-bar
  2. First time reaching “Rx” in a workout
  3. First time eating for performance
  4. First time competing like an “athlete.”

Schedule a specialty seminar for different skills or habits for the four weekends leading up to the Open. For example, several of my mentoring clients have a “pullup clinic” template they use mid-January. Attendees pay $20-$200 for the clinic, depending on the length and amount of homework, then spend the next four weeks working on their pull-ups. Many hit their first during the Open.7. Encourage teams to celebrate their spirit with shirts, noisemakers, etc.

8. Points are awarded to encourage participation and FUN.

9. A sixth event is added to level out the scoring. Last year, we used road hockey.



The Intramural Open is built to increase participation and fun. Scoring reflects those goals:

1. Teams are given 1 point for every athlete who completes a given Open workout.
2. Teams are given 3 points for every athlete who finishes among the top 3 women or top 3 men in the gym per workout.
3. Teams are given 5 points if they win the “Spirit of the Open” award on any given week, including Week 6 (your secret “fun” event.)

A free scoring template is downloadable here:

Two-Brain Coaching Intramural Open 2016 Tracking Sheet


1. All regularly-scheduled groups on Fridays during the Open will host Open workouts. Athletes can attend any group and score points for their Intramural team.
2. We promote the Friday evening group heavily to get as many people in the building at once as possible.
3. Members of our competitors’ program go first at 5:30, followed by everyone else. We try to have 1-2 members of each Intramural team represented in each heat.
4. We also host a “last-chance qualifier” on Sunday afternoons for athletes who can’t make any group on Friday or those crazy enough to attempt the workouts twice.


Admission fee for the Intramural Open is simply the athlete’s registration on the Games site. I believe it’s important for them to register.
Athletes attempting a “redo” on Sundays (or visiting from other gyms to be tested at ours) can purchase a special 5-class punch card. Registration in the Intramural Open at Catalyst includes being judged one time per event.
We sell a “2016 Catalyst Intramural Open T-shirt” but most teams will show up with homemade Team shirts. That’s great.


Many gyms do a “Friday Night Lights” event. Since you know how to run a group, I won’t write about how to promote the actual workouts. But make it loud, and make sure your gym is spectator-friendly, even if only temporarily.
Want a great example? Look at Brian Costello’s events at CrossFit Long Island. He’s doing a “You’ve Been Nominated” page, and his live events are as good as the actual live event announcements (I’ve been to both.)


Keep the hype level high. Build up to Dave Castro’s event announcements; interview athletes on video after each workout, and share them through the week. Talk about point spreads with “expert commentary.” If you see something done on the Games site, you can do it too: client stories, interviews, commentary.

Tag your photos with your gym name, #crossfitopen, #intramuralopen and #twobrain (so we can share your gym’s pics!)


Our “grand prize” is a private BBQ for the winning team.


This is HQ’s largest branding expense of the year. Capitalize on it!
The Intramural Open is a fantastic excuse to invite families and friends into the gym. Using our “Mavens” strategy, approach spouses and ask them to take pictures, or run the BBQ, count reps or otherwise help out; reward them with a gift certificate for free OnRamp to be used within the next 30 days.
If you don’t have a photographer on staff, hire one. Tell them to focus on the human element over the sweat. And let them bring lights if necessary, but don’t let them stand directly in front of anyone with a flashbulb.IMG_0961
The top team should be celebrated with some sort of “medal ceremony.” We’ve used shiny wrestling belts, medals and trophies in the past. But last year, we raised a banner to the winning team, and they took pictures of themselves with it. Great social media hype!

Follow the Open with a plan for expansion, like Fit it Forward. You’ve stirred up all sorts of pride and love within your gym; now turn that outward.

Finally, this is a fantastic opportunity to have a goal-setting session with your clients (unless you’re already using the “Bright Spot” system, in which case you have that covered.)