Eating the Elephant: One Bite at a Time

A young girl about to take a bite of an apple - one bite at a time

What’s the best way to eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Every fitness coach knows that the best way to achieve any goal is to set the milestones and work backward to the starting point.

Yesterday, I shared the hierarchy of your business. Here it is again:

The Business Hierarchy

The purpose of your business is not to give Mark Zuckerberg money. The purpose of your business is to create wealth.

That means you might not have to climb the pyramid to the top to be successful. But you will need marketing to extend your influence. And without a good sales process, your marketing is useless. Without solid retention, your sales process is just a hamster wheel. Without consistent delivery of excellent operations, retention is impossible. And without a clear mission, your operations won’t make sense because no one will know what you’re trying to do.

So build your business in this order. Here are my top resources to help.


Mission: have a clear picture of what you’re trying to do.

My mission for my gym: extend the lives of 7,000 people in Sault Ste. Marie, Canada.

My mission for Two-Brain: make gym owners wealthy. Watch a video on wealth here:

Top resources: Read “Vivid Vision” by Cameron Herold and follow his steps to write your vision down. This is very, very hard to do without an objective third party (like a mentor). I’ve tried to do it myself many times and failed. You can work through this process with your mentor in about 30 minutes.


Operations: Spell out exactly how you want things done. Set your standard and tell everyone how to meet it in every aspect of the business.

My operations: guided by our playbook. I have systems and checklists for everything, from where to park your car to how to sell memberships. My staff delivers to my standard of excellence and has completely replaced me in the gym. They don’t have to guess. If they’re not performing something at a 10/10 level, we can take remedial steps to fix it. I rarely have to fire anyone.

Top resources: Read “The E-Myth,” “Good to Great” and “Fix This Next.” Take a few months to break down everything you do and a few years to refine your processes over and over again. Or get our templates in our RampUp program and finish in a couple of hours.


Retention: keep people long enough to change their lives and stop marketing all the time.

My retention plan: a client journey that begins with 1:1 training and then follows a Prescriptive Model. We install client Goal Review Sessions at our most common drop-off points.

Top resources: Read “Influence,” “Made to Stick” and “Never Lose a Customer Again” and everything you can on behavioral science (this has been my primary focus for over a dozen years). Or use the data from the best gyms in the world and tailor our step-by-step plan to your gym in RampUp.


My sales plan: a motivational interview leading to a Prescriptive Model. Conversion rates over 80 percent, even with clients who aren’t referrals. High-value first purchase of over $500.

Top resources: Read “The Like Switch,” “Never Split the Difference” and “Motivational Interviewing in Nutrition and Fitness.” Get a lot of reps on warm audiences first. Practice a ton with your coaches until your close rate is over 80 percent and your appointment “show rate” is over 70. Or follow our scripts in RampUp and play with our Scenario Deck instead of getting reps on a live audience.


My marketing plan: referrals, love letters and Affinity Marketing every month. Increasing value of my best clients over time.

Top resources: our free Affinity Marketing guide. Or read “This Is Marketing,” “All Marketers Tell Stories,” “The Referral Engine,” “The Wealthy Fit Pro’s Guide to Getting Clients and Referrals,” “Generating Business Referrals Without Asking,” “1000 True Fans” and “The Long Tail.” We spend a lot of time on these strategies in our mentorship program.


My advertising plan: Actually, I don’t advertise. I’ve been creating content and building my ecosystem for 20 years in my city of 65,000 people, so asking for referrals every month is enough to meet my goal of 150 clients. But in higher-traffic areas or for gyms that need more clients, Facebook is still the best option by a huge margin.

Top resources: pay $16,000 for a Facebook marketing course or read one of the Facebook marketing books (there’s a new one every day on Audible) and figure it out through trial and error. Or receive mentorship in building ads and funnels for your gym in our mentorship program (with all of the copy and pictures you need to be successful).


Yes, I advocate mentorship, because mentorship is all about clarity and accountability. As every fitness coach knows, the best way to achieve a goal is to set the milestones and work backward, step by step. That’s how huge goals are reached.

Here’s how we break Mission, Operations, Retention, Sales, Marketing and Advertising down into achievable steps on the Two-Brain Growth ToolKit:

Other Media in This Series

“Eating the Elephant: How to Do It All”
“Eating the Elephant: Your Unique Genius”


One more thing!

Did you know gym owners can earn $100,000 a year with no more than 150 clients? We wrote a guide showing you exactly how.