Gym owners are panicking because their clients are panicking.
A lot of gurus are making noise right now, and a lot of ideas are being thrown around. Why should you listen to us?
Only 500 years ago, we had the plague. Our best idea at the time was bloodletting. In the absence of science, we had only faith. There was no testing of alternate ideas, no filter for what worked and what didn’t. Millions died because no one asked for proof.
We live in the age of reason. We think more logically. We use the scientific method—but only when things are calm. When things become emotional, we sometimes abandon reason and just start cutting veins again.
My mission for the last five years was to bring science to the fitness business.
Coronavirus and Gyms: The Need for True Data
Five years ago, I was sitting at a cafe in Scotts Valley, California. Some of the decision-makers from CrossFit Inc. were talking over breakfast. The COO asked me, “How are things going with affiliates?”
We started talking about how to measure success and failure and how to track what was working and what wasn’t. I said, “You know, someone has to actually track these things.”
I was talking about CrossFit Inc., of course. But if you’ve ever been around CrossFit HQ, you know what happened next:
They said, “You’re right! Someone does. Go do it.”
I’ve never wanted to own a software company. But after wrestling through it mentally, I finally came to grips with the fact that, as the CEO of Two-Brain Business, it was my duty to figure out what was actually working. No one else had the combination of exposure, resources and desire needed to track and analyze the data.
My first stab cost me $75,000 and reminded me why I didn’t want to own a software company.
When that failed, I turned to gym management software companies and said, “Here’s what we all need to track.” Most of them were enthusiastic, but ultimately Wodify and Arbox made the big moves: Both built specific dashboards to tell gym owners what they actually needed to know.
But building a scientific process is about far more than the tools; it’s about the tests and the filters and the scientists themselves.
The Worldwide Coronavirus Response in Gyms
I built the Two-Brain Business mentorship practice to be a two-way street. We collect data and best practices from gyms around the world, test and filter it, and then share the distillate with everyone else. The ideas are great, but the science is really in the filtering. Because what matters is proof. And everyone benefits from proof. It’s made gyms far more profitable, saved gyms from bankruptcy and saved everyone years of trial and error.
Because of this systematic approach, many gyms in Europe and Asia (even Africa) have been able to “see into the future.” My impression, after traveling extensively to visit gym owners, is that many gyms in Europe are two or three years behind the best practices of North American gyms, and Asian and African gyms are two or three years behind the Europeans.
This is just because of newness and brand exposure. These gyms are actually way further ahead than we were at the same point in gym ownership; they’re benefiting from a flatter learning curve. They don’t have to repeat our mistakes.
But coronavirus has flipped that script. Now, North American gym owners are benefitting from the hard work of those gyms on the front lines. The Two-Brain gyms in Italy and China are giving us daily feedback on what’s working. When Berlin closed down last night, we had strategies to share—proven strategies. Because they’ve been battle tested.
And we’ll continue to share the best strategies as we find them and as the panic spreads around the world.
Listen, Learn and Survive
In normal times, a single business mistake isn’t fatal. You can stack up half a dozen of them before the compounding effect kills you. But in times of crisis, when many gyms are already susceptible, one bad move can be fatal. But, unlike with coronavirus, the answer isn’t self-isolation. The answer is full immersion. Isolation is a good move until a vaccine is found; then you want the herd together to spread immunity.
We already have the vaccine.
The most susceptible gyms need to get vaccinated. They need to get the fruit of our science instead of going to the local bloodletter.
I didn’t build this structure as an early warning system. I never envisioned it to be a rapid-response plan for triage. But it’s turning out this way.
This is not a shot at CrossFit HQ. I work with many franchisees who get less support than CrossFit affiliates do. I’m not even saying, “Don’t have faith.”
I’m just repeating what my grandfather told me: “God helps those who help themselves.”
In times of panic, we all turn to leaders. Some will turn to faith healers and bloodletting.
I’m turning to science and data.
Click here to watch Chris Cooper’s March 13 emergency coronavirus webinar, including a detailed Q&A session.