Sick of Bad News? Read This.

A business storefront with paper on the windows and a sign that says "closed due to coronavirus."

This week:

  • Good news from the business community.
  • A Granite Games workout breakdown.
A head shot of writer Mike Warkentin and the column name "Pressing It Out."

The pandemic is destroying a lot of businesses in Canada.

You don’t have to look very far for proof. You’ll likely see vacant storefronts or “for lease” signs when passing through your local business district.

I know several gym owners who are trying to decide if the they should pull the pin now, and I suspect more closures are coming if restrictions are added or extended.

According to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, 70 percent of small businesses have taken on debt because of the pandemic. The average debt level: CDN$170,000.

These are troubling numbers, and the web is full of them. I generally hate reading the news for that exact reason. You’ll always get about 20 negative stories for every positive tale—pandemic or no pandemic. The old saying “if it bleeds, it leads” exists for a reason. Reporters generally only write about good things on very slow days.

But good things are happening, and if you’re feeling down, here’s a little hope—whether you’re working through a lockdown or already on the other side and looking to start growing again.


Success Stories

Over at Coca CrossFit, Kate Spinner (Rawlings) has been adding members and revenue. She’s actually more than doubled her gross—and we’re not talking about a $2,000 to $4,000 “easy double.” She went from about $7,000 to between $18,000 and $20,000 per month. She tells her tale on Two-Brain Radio.

Billy Gorham is crushing it over at CrossFit Jax. Check this out: He’s doubled his membership and his average revenue per member (ARM). He went from 55 to 130 members and from $94 ARM to $190. The significance of that achievement can’t be understated: He added lots of members at much-improved monthly rate. That’s a double win. Five months into 2021, he’s already beaten his 2020 revenue total. Listen to Billy’s story here. (As an aside, check out this great tagline for the gym: “Where beginners start their journey!”)


Ruth Cheng’s Brilliant Idea

Finally, Ruth Cheng at CrossFit PTBO is doing good things even in the midst of a seemingly endless stay-at-home order in the province of Ontario. She’s had to work hard to stay positive, and she shared some strategies for that on Two-Brain Radio as her business entered its third lockdown. We actually had to delay our call because Ruth’s business was preparing to close due to government order on the day of the original interview.

Despite the tough times, Ruth is going out of her way to support other local businesses by promoting them on her social media channels—and I was thrilled that Global News reported on it.

Check out PTBO’s Instagram account here. Cheng has profiled over 40 companies as part of her Small Business Sunday campaign.

The stay-at-home order has been extended twice and is still in place at press time. It will continue “until at least June 2,” according to the Ontario government.

What Ruth is doing during a stressful period is both heart warming and brilliant. It’s heart warming because Ruth’s not walking an easy path right now with a shuttered business. But instead of moping, she’s still trying to help others. The brilliant part: She’s creating an ever-growing web of more than 40 local business owners who know who she is and what she’s all about. Even better, these owners will no doubt view Ruth as a friend, ally and community leader.

Two-Brain founder Chris Cooper has long advised gym owners to take coffee to the other businesses around them and create relationships, but Ruth can’t do that right now. So she found a way to build those local relationships online.

Later, when these businesses are open and serving patrons, where do you think they’ll send any clients who mention they might like to get fit or learn to eat better? And Ruth will be able to offer her members referrals to trusted local businesses that will treat her clients like gold.

Get Two-Brain’s free guide to Affinity Marketing.


Nerding Out on CrossFit Seminal Workouts


The Granite Games is trickling workout announcements on social media in advance of the June 4-6 event that will serve as a CrossFit Games Semifinal. I found this test particularly interesting:

Thruster Run 3.0

18 dumbbell thrusters (50/70 lb.)
200-m run
15 dumbbell thrusters
200-m run
12 dumbbell thrusters
200-m run
9 dumbbell thrusters
200-m run
6 dumbbell thrusters
200-m run
3 dumbbell thrusters


Thruster Race?

I’ll assume all the top athletes will do the dumbbell reps unbroken, so it will be very interesting to see if this workout becomes a simple thruster race. It’s hard to make up or lose a lot of ground on a 200-m run, especially when athletes’ top running speed is affected by a high-power-output movement like moderately heavy thrusters.

Competition couplets and triplets are always interesting. A perfect pairing—like thrusters and pull-ups—creates an amazing test. A small programming mistake often makes one or two workout elements irrelevant. Take, for example, Individual Event 1 at the 2011 CrossFit Games Regionals:

Run 1,000 m
30 handstand push-ups
Row 1,000 m

This test—especially on the women’s side—was essentially 30 handstand push-ups for time. The run and the row were almost completely irrelevant. Rest an extra 30 seconds between sets of HSPU and even the fastest runner would lose a 30-second lead. (Those who were at the Canada West event will recall the run was actually much shorter for some when a course marshal left a post and a host of athletes missed a turn and headed back to the hockey arena too soon.)

The Granite Games might have gotten this thruster-run pairing just right in creating a situation where athletes are forced to run hard between fast sets of thrusters. And the descending rep requirements increase the value of the sprints in the late stages of the test.

If all goes as planned, fans will be treated to a high-speed thriller that will utterly destroy competitors. On the other hand, if the athletes all choose to jog the 200-m runs at more or less the same pace, 63 thrusters for time—or thrusters and some different movement—might have been the better challenge.

I hope it’s a thriller.

Either way, it’s fascinating to see how incredible athletes challenge programmers each year.

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