Episode 99: Building, Teaching and Protecting Your Culture

Episode 99

Announcer: 00:01 – You’re listening to Two-Brain Radio. We make gyms profitable. Getting you on track to making every day your Perfect Day. Every week we’ll deliver top-shelf business tactics to help improve your gym, advance your fitness career and move you closer to wealth. Get ready to start building your bigger and better business with your coach, best-selling fitness author of “Two-Brain Business: Grow Your Gym” and “Help First,” Chris Cooper.

Chris: 00:30 – This episode is brought to you by Zen Planner. If you’ve read my books, you know that I’ve been a Mindbody guy since about 2007, but this year something happened that made a massive difference. I met Zen Planner. And talking to these guys, I realized how responsive they are and how much they actually care about CrossFit affiliates and the gym industry in general. These guys are willing to listen. They’ll make changes based on what gyms actually need instead of the window-dressing stuff that gym owners just kinda like, they think it makes them look cool. Things that will actually change the client experience. Metrics that your coaches can use to gauge how well your clients are reacting to your programming. Check-in tools, attendance tools, WOD tracking and scoreboards, the ability to plan and have people book appointments online and pay online. True automation of your business.

Chris: 01:26 – I love working with these guys. We’re gonna have a great relationship. They’re building a customized Two-Brain dashboard and they’ve got so many amazing upgrades in the pipeline that will cancel out the need for other software. You should check them out. Zenplanner.com; they’ve been around forever but they keep getting better.

Chris: 01:43 – Hey guys, it’s Chris. The end of the year is coming up and it has been amazing for me and my family and the Two-Brain family, too. I want to thank all of you out there listening for your support, your encouragement. This year we expanded to almost 400 gyms that we’re helping out. We’re very grateful for that. The Two-Brain workshop opened up its first bricks and mortar location in Sault St. Marie where we’re helping out local entrepreneurs and I think we elevated the game for a lot of affiliates worldwide. As a thank you, I have two gifts for you.

Chris: 02:12 – The first is “Two-Brain 2017” a book that I put together maybe by accident. We write every day stuff that’s going to help out gym owners and when I asked our editor to compile all of those blog posts from twobrainbusiness.com into one document, it came out to 380 pages. I took out the pictures but I left in the links and I had my interview with Greg Glassman transcribed and included that in the book. You can download it for free, for nothing, at twobringbusiness.com/Two-Brain2017 two zero one seven. You can also find that in the show notes for this episode. The second thing that I’m doing for you is I’m giving our 2017 summit video recording series to you for free if you sign up for the 2018 summit in Chicago. This is about 17-hour high-quality recording, high-quality audio course that you can get on our site automatically if you get your tickets to the 2018 summit before January 1st. I’m happy to give that to you for free. We’ll be selling it for $400 after January 1st as a standalone product. There’s some great stuff in there from Dave Tate, from a lot of the Two-Brain mentors. I’ve got a few hours of content in there on some higher-level stuff that we don’t talk about on our blog. There’s also the coaching side included in there too with some really high-level coaches like Jason Brown, Ray Gallet, and a host of others. You’re gonna love it. It’s yours free. Merry Christmas. Happy Thanksgiving. I hope that 2018 is the best year of your life, both on the business side and from personal side too.

Chris: 03:43 – Excited to have my guest today, Josh Martin of CrossFit For Glory, and fairly new Two-Brain mentor. Welcome Josh.

Josh: 03:49 – Thank you Chris. I appreciate you having me on the podcast.

Chris: 03:52 – It is absolutely my pleasure. Josh is one of the most positive people you’re ever going to hear on this podcast or meet in real life. He has a very family and faith-centric focus. His gym is built around all that stuff and we’re going to get into each of those. But Josh, maybe I’d just like to start with your story. Go ahead man.

Josh: 04:11 – Yeah, I was just sharing with you a few minutes ago that our gym has now been open for six years, so going into 2018, we’ll have been open for, this is our seventh year, but the path to get there was paved many, many moons ago if you will, and I will keep this short, but I don’t think you know this about me, but I was actually born in Kansas City and we moved down here to the Florida area when I was three. I’ve been down here just over 30 years now and love every second of it and had a phenomenal childhood. Mom and dad and two younger brothers, played sports growing up and my mom and dad are enormously supportive of everything that I have ever done and I got to make sure that I thank them for that. My mom is one that was a confidence booster, if you will, that kind of mom to where she made me think and believe that no matter what I wanted to do, that I was capable of doing it and my dad showed me very quietly and you’ll like this part, very stoically, that all you need is a ton of hard work to achieve whatever your dreams are.

Josh: 05:20 – What that meant for me as a child is that anything that I wanted to try out athletically or academically, they were 100% behind me and giving me a push whenever I needed it. So I played baseball, basketball, got into speed skating whenever I was younger and I’ve carried that with me for a very, very long time. I went to the University of Florida. My first thought was to do exercise science as a major and fell in love with that, thought that it was like the greatest thing ever. Came home from one semester of school and there was a place that my parents had taken one of my younger brothers to call it Velocity Sports Performance. It was right here in our hometown. And the coaches there had heard what I was going to school for and they said, “Hey, why don’t you bring Josh by?

Josh: 06:10 – I think he would like to check out what we’re doing. Maybe he would like to hang out with us.” Long story short, every waking moment that I was home from school, I spent hanging out with those guys. So that was my first kind of exposure to mentoring back then. I had no idea that that’s what they were doing, but that is in fact what they were doing, was just kinda teaching me the craft. So stayed in touch with those guys throughout my career and that kind of comes full circle towards what I know that we’re probably gonna get into with EXOS here. Finished up my degree at the University of Florida, and I know people can’t see this, but I have a huge Gators banner and a huge Gators Yeti that I always have with me. So I’m very proud of that. Let’s see.

Josh: 06:51 – After that, I worked at the International Performance Institute down at IMG academies in Bradenton. And I got to work with professional athletes, youth athletes, amateur athletes, so this huge exposure to the private sector of strength and conditioning in addition to all the stuff that I did when I was at Florida. Then after that, fast forward I was selected to be the assistant strength-and-conditioning coach for the Yankees, and I was amazed. Yeah, yeah, and I was based down here in Tampa, they have a satellite location down here and they are responsible for all the rehab of the big league guys. So if guys got hurt and put on the DL they came down to our Tampa office and we took care of getting those guys healthy and backup to the bigs. But then we are also responsible for coordinating the entire minor league system.

Josh: 07:43 – So it was a blast, to be honest, I don’t know if I’ve ever told you this, Chris, but as much fun as it was working with professional athletes, it was also—I was still very young, at least in my opinion in my career as a coach. And it kind of soured me on working with those high-level athletes, not because of anything that they ever did, but you’re very limited on what the management will let you do. So this is my favorite story. I was working with one of the big league guys at that time, had come down for rehab. I’m working with him and the GM of the Yankees at that time walks through the training office and the training area that we had was really, really small. I mean, it was full of machines, a couple of dumbbells, but you know, we made due with whatever we could. He passes through, Brian Cashman. We just kind of nod, wave. He goes into the board room next door and about two minutes later I get called into the head coach’s office and he’s like, “Hey, yeah, you know, no more going overhead with this guy.” And I was like, “What do you mean?” And he’s like, “Well, I guess Cash just walked through, saw you doing some—” you know, whether it was pressing overhead, I don’t even remember what the exercise was, but no more going overhead. And being much older and much more mature now I understand that, that when you’re working with guys that are worth $150 million, it is a very scary prospect that, you know, you may do some damage to them. But my much younger, less patient self didn’t like that. And it really kind of broke my heart more than anything because that was like my dream was to work with these professional athletes.

Josh: 09:26 – So after I left the Yankees, I actually went to work for a completely different industry, a company that my dad works for called Ferguson Waterworks and it’s basically a distributor of underground utilities. And within the course of working there—yeah. I mean it was totally different, but I still did all my strength-and-conditioning stuff on the side. That’s still what I love to do, so I worked with a lot of youth athletes at that time, just gen pop clients. But I ended up getting to the role of operations manager, which I didn’t know it at the time, but would become hugely beneficial when I left and then opened my own gym. So I was with that company for five years. About two years in, I took my parents out to dinner and just completely lost it, like broke down, just told them I hated what I was doing.

Josh: 10:19 – I was making really, really good money. You know, I was married at the time, still am married, sorry. Still am married with two beautiful kids, was married, had a great benefits package, had an expense account, had all that kind of stuff, but was just miserable in what I was doing. And that really started the conversation of, OK, what do you want to do? What is gonna make you happy? It was about this time that I found CrossFit and in my Googling of CrossFit, I came across this silly little blog called Don’t Buy Ads and read like every single post that you had ever written. And it just clicked immediately with me in terms of what your thought process was on treating a CrossFit gym like an actual business and got involved in CrossFit, quit that other job on my five-year anniversary. The fun part of that story is that at that time I had made that decision with Mandy that I was going to quit my job, open the gym, and we’d be off to the races.

Josh: 11:22 – Well, two months after that we found out that she was pregnant, which was tough, but we decided we were still gonna make it work. So when I quit, she was actually seven months pregnant. Wow. So we gave up, you know, all the insurance benefits and everything. Two months into us being open the baby was born and it was like talk about jumping into the deep end. It was sink or swim. So thankfully I can swim halfway decent. Six years later, here we are.

Chris: 11:49 – That is incredible, Josh. Such a great story. And you know, one of my favorite all-time stories from you and we’ve been talking for a long time, is you walking your little boy to school. And what he told you about his goal was. Go ahead, you can tell that story.

Josh: 12:04 – Yeah. You know, so my son turns six in February, on Valentine’s Day, actually. And my little daughter, she turns three in two weeks on December 17th.

Chris: 12:19 – Day before my birthday, buddy. Perfect.

Josh: 12:19 – Look at that. And it’s the day after my middle brother’s birthday. So one of the—for those that don’t know, if you’re not familiar with the Two-Brain process, one of the key components leads back to this thing that we refer to as Perfect Day. And one of my pieces of my Perfect Day has always been to do my morning routine with my son, which includes taking him to school. So he’s in kindergarten now and I just really cherish that time with him in the morning because it’s something that looking back, I really cherished with my dad. He used to be the one to get me up in the morning and make sure that I got to school on time, take me all the way across town to this high school that I went to.

Josh: 13:01 – So I wanted that to be a part of like our thing. That’s our thing, man, it’s still is to this day. But kids have a very unique way of keeping you very grounded. So the story this you’re referring to is, we were walking to class one day and we’d always just have these silly little conversations. And so I asked him, you know, I was like, hey buddy, you know what is your goal for school today? Like, what are you looking forward to? And he told me, I just want to be the happiest boy in school.

Chris: 13:34 – Don’t we all?

Josh: 13:35 – And I was like, my goodness, if that is not like the most profound thing that I have ever heard, and to come out of a, you know, five-year-old’s mouth at the time, he’s, you know, almost six now. But it was, it really stopped me and I stopped and looked at him and I was like, wow. I was like, OK, well what are some things that you know, we can do, you know, to make sure that you’re happy? What’s gonna make you happy? And of course then I take this back to like myself and my gym and my family and he’s like, well, you know, I think it would make me happy if I held the door open for my other classmates. And I was like, oh man. I was like, OK, well he didn’t go to like, well, I can go to the treasure box or I can get this play time. It was, I can give to help somebody else. And he started naming off all these things. I can smile and say, good morning, I can do this, I can do that. And everything that he said was just like giving of himself. It wasn’t me, me, me, it was, you know, give, give, give, and I was just—that that just stuck with me. That was pretty cool. That was a cool dad moment.

Chris: 14:40 – Well, obviously he learned it from you. That service is critical component on the path to happiness and it’s a real testament to you, Josh, that your kids already understand this even though maybe you haven’t overtly had that conversation before. That’s crazy. So you and I had been speaking for a while on the phone before I actually met you in person and I didn’t know it until we met in person, but as soon as I met you in person, I knew that you were going to be a mentor for Two-Brain. And so when we started talking about that, it was a while ago, but I’d love for you to just kind of share what that process entails, because it’s very easy to say I’m an expert in something. It is very hard to humble yourself enough to go through a stringent process like mentor training. Will you walk us through that whole thing?

Josh: 15:28 – Yeah, absolutely. So you know, when I first started working with you, our first conversation that we ever had, you were with 3, 2, 1 at that time. And I knew from the get-go that I was going to work with you no matter what you said on that conversation just because of the groundwork, you know, that you had laid before then. But I think that it was really solidified for me that I’m a very, very big-vision, visionary type person. I don’t just want, you know, a gym where people come to work out. We want to be much more than that. And no matter what the level of vision that I had that I shared with you, there was always this genuine, first of all, genuine belief that like, yes, we’re going to make this happen for you.

Josh: 16:19 – But then also following it up with like the processes to make that dream become a reality. And so for me, I think that there are so few people that we come into contact with in this world that share that. Meaning that if you share a big huge dream and vision with me, if I’m your mom and dad, I’m probably going to be like, OK, yeah Chris, you can go do that. You can be anything that you want to be. But outside of that, maybe some close friends, but from a business perspective, at least in my experience, that’s very rare. So I knew once you kind of gave that to me that I one day wanted to pay that forward. So throughout my coaching career, I was just very fortunate for the people whose footsteps that I was graced with following. And they took a lot of time out of their lives to make sure that I would become the best coach that I could be.

Josh: 17:12 – And so when I found that equal in the business side through you and through Two-Brain, of course I wanted to just jump in, dive in with both feet. So after some poking and prodding from you and from Jay and from some of the other mentors, you know, we started that process with Jay and it was a tremendously humbling and deep learning experience. I think that I do a fairly good job of coaching and a fairly good job of running the business, the gym that I own. But there is so, so incredibly much that I didn’t know. And in terms of like peeking behind the curtain. So like the first steps was, OK, you’re going to go back through all the Incubator stuff that you had already done twice over, but you’re going to go through this time and you’re going to take notes and I want you to boil down every one of these modules to like what is the salient point that you need to take away from this?

Josh: 18:15 – Which I thought was huge because anytime that somebody brings a question to you, if you want to refer them to a specific module or a specific system or process, you need to know exactly where to send them or what to tell them or how to help them best. So that was really unique and man, if you guys have not met or talked to Jay, he is a very direct, get straight to the point guy. And he was like, hey, this is Friday. I want you to be done with this on Monday. And I was like, ah, OK. And he’s like, that’s like 24 hours of content you have to watch. Can you do that? And when I’m put under a deadline, I’m like, oh, I’m going to knock it out, no problem. And I had to email him like late Thursday or like first thing Monday.

Josh: 19:03 – And I was like, dude, I’m not complete with everything. He’s like, no problem. I didn’t expect you to, but I wanted to see what you would say. So he did offer me a little breathing room of that. So that’s kinda like the first part. It’s just number one, you need to know, we needed to know, I needed to know what the curriculum actually looks like, right? Because it’s one thing to be on the side of receiving the mentoring and it’s another to be on the side of giving it. After that there was a period of basically where you shadow a senior mentor on their calls that they’re doing and it’s very much like they’re giving a call and you’re just sitting there listening. And then afterwards Jay would call me and be like, all right, what’d you think? You know, what did you learn?

Josh: 19:47 – And then probably the hardest part for me is he asked me what would you have done differently? And that’s a precarious position to be in because here you are as kinda like the student telling the teacher like this is how I would’ve done something differently, which is potentially me saying you did something wrong or you could’ve done it better. So that’s a very—that was like a very tough piece for me to get by. But I think the coolest learning piece for me of that was was Jay’s willingness to accept what I said and take it as a learning piece for himself of like, hmm, I never thought about it that way. That’s really cool. Which gives that mentoring training a lot of confidence that like we wouldn’t have put you in this position if we didn’t believe in you. So that was really neat.

Josh: 20:34 – So there’s the live shadowing and there’s the him forwarding calls that he had already done and your job there was to take notes of, you know, what did you see, what did you hear, what would you have done differently? What could you have told them better or what could you have explained better? So there’s this whole process that goes on like that and then it’s the big one of, you know, OK, now you have this Incubator client and you are going to run the call while I sit on the phone and just shadow you. Which was terrifying. And it brought me back to the first time that I was ever thrown in the deep end of coaching way back when I worked at Velocity and it was like, all right, hey, by the way, you’re coaching and we’re just gonna stand here and watch you.

Josh: 21:20 – You know, and the senior mentor is always right there to step in should anything go wrong or if you need help or if you get stuck. And then, so we went through a couple of calls like that and there was a period where, I mean, you can step in and tell me how things work behind the scenes, but I believe that he takes it to you and some of the other senior mentors, gives his feedback and then, you know, you kind of blessed us on. All right, he is free to go.

Chris: 21:47 – Yeah. I wish I could say it was like a knighthood where there’s a gigantic ceremony at the end, but frankly, affiliate owners need a lot of help. And so we want to make sure that our mentors are completely trained. But once you’re good to go, I mean, you’re good to go. You’ve been doing this for a few months now. Have you had one of those dark nights of the soul where you know that somewhere in the world there’s an affiliate owner who’s not going to sleep because they’re so stressed and you’re starting to carry some of that weight yourself. Have you had one of those yet?

Josh: 22:17 – Yeah, absolutely. And it just crept up about a week and a half ago. We’ve got one of my Incubator clients who is about to go through the rate increase. And I remember when I went through this with you about a year and a couple of months ago and how deeply invested you were—or first how deeply invested you said you were going to be and then how invested you truly were. I mean, it was beyond anything I could’ve ever asked for. But even just the anxiety for myself of like knowing, having been through that process and knowing what they’re going to go through, and the piece that you repeat in your head is that you build it up to be so much worse than it really is. But that doesn’t make it any easier.

Chris: 23:02 – No.

Josh: 23:03 – And so that’s already begun for me and we haven’t even gotten to that point. That’s probably—that’s been the hardest one. And then we did have the first call that Jay was with me on the very first Incubator that I got. We knew from five minutes in that we were going to have to tell these people they need to fire one of their coaches.

Chris: 23:23 – OK. I think I know who this was.

Josh: 23:25 – Yeah. And it was like, afterwards, Jay called me and he goes, so what do you think? My first thing was like, they need to fire that coach. And he’s like, OK, good. I’m glad you saw that. And so we went back and forth and there was a lot of sleepless nights on my behalf because I mean, you really, you carry that burden with them right alongside and that’s tough, but at the same time I wouldn’t have it any other way. I mean, it’s just the greatest thing when you hear that affiliate owner breathe that sigh of relief that they can pull into their gym and be happy. That’s a big moment.

Chris: 24:00 – Yeah, there is a burden, but there’s also a lot of shared glory and just like your gym, we are happy to share in that glory. We’re also happy to share in the work that it takes to get there. So that’s what made you a perfect fit, Josh, and I want to kind of segue into the culture at CrossFit For Glory because you are one of the best in the industry at knowing what your culture is and staying true to that. So I’m going to start us from square one here. How do you define culture in a gym setting?

Josh: 24:30 – Oh man, this is a topic that if we had many hours, I’m sure we could just knock out a book on. But I think about this a lot. And for me it boils down to this: Culture is your internal values expressed outwardly. So for me, my gym name is CrossFit For Glory. And if you saw our logo, you know, if you want to go check that out on our website, there is no denying that the barbells are aligned so that it looks just like a cross. OK. So that’s step one for us. And from day one we used to have people walk in off the street cause it said CrossFit For Glory on the raggedy old sign we used to have. And they’re like, is this a church? I was like, well no. So for me it started with the name and it was, I kid you not one of those situations where Mandy, my wife, I knew that we wanted the name to have some sort of tie to our Christian roots.

Josh: 25:34 – So our gym is Christian owned and operated, proudly. So we knew that the name needed to have that element in it because I think that that’s where the culture begins for me. So it was legit one of those, I woke up out of a dead sleep, wrote some scribble scrabble down, and then when I looked at it the next morning, that was the name of our gym, was CrossFit For Glory.

Chris: 25:54 – Awesome.

Josh: 25:56 – So there has been a lot of conversation over the years generated by people walking in. And when we do our No-Sweat Intro, they’re like, well, hey, I see that your logo looks kinda like a cross. And the gym name. Like is there— and religion is a interesting topic. You know, it’s one of those things that like nutrition and politics, people are like, ah, you don’t really want to get too involved in.

Josh: 26:18 – But I always tell them, yeah, we’re Christian owned and operated and leave it at that. It doesn’t mean that we are, you know, waving Bibles around and singing gospel songs, but it does make it very clear what people can expect whenever they come to our gym. So, for instance, we’re not open on Sundays. Never have been, never will be. That’s just—you know, and my wife keeps me in check in terms of like Christmas, even though you want to go work out, like you’re closed on Christmas, you know, there’s specific pieces for us that helps reinforce that, you know? And then other things, you know, in terms of internal values, at the end of the day I want people to walk into my gym, seeing a smile and walk out of my gym with a smile. So meaning if you walk into my gym, no matter what it looks like, your day has been like for you, you should see one of our staff, myself included, greet you with a smile.

Josh: 27:15 – It’s nice to see you. And if we know you say your name, cause there’s something very powerful psychologically about hearing your name. So legit in our staff handbook, it is greet somebody by name. So that is one of our pieces. Other ways to define it for me would be, this sounds so silly, but it’s so darn important for me is like starting every class right on time. You know, you don’t start at 9:01, you don’t start at 9:05 because you’ve been talking or even building relationships with the members. You do that before, and you start class right on time. So yeah. So the culture is your internal values expressed outwardly, so that the Christian-owned-and-operated piece for me is like my driving force. So we’ve got a very specific playlist that we play. And again, it’s not the CrossFit gospel playlist, but my rule quote unquote for that is if you wouldn’t listen to it with your grandma in the car, it’s probably not appropriate for the gym setting. And not that there’s anything wrong with that because I grew up like I’m sure we all did, listening to some music that was maybe not so appropriate, but we have families, people are bringing their little kids up there all the time. So I don’t want something—I wouldn’t want my own kids to listen to that. And so I don’t want it to be with somebody else’s kids.

Chris: 28:32 – Yeah. I mean, even if somebody didn’t quite have the same values themselves, you know, as our friend Matt Phillips says, I use the F word like a comma. You know, who are you excluding from your gym who might not have that value? So why not play it safe? That’s just my thought. Josh, how do you—so your coaches are your amplifiers in the gym, right? You say something, they repeat it a thousand more times. How do you get them to buy into your vision and reinforce that vision with everything they say and do to your members?

Josh: 29:05 – So I’m very present at my gym and I think it goes back to what I said earlier is that I am—I want my coaches to treat the members like they would want to be treated. So if they would want to be greeted with a hello and a smile, if they would want to get attention during the workout, if they want to get cheered on, you know, that’s what I have to give to them. And I think that it is leading from the front. So if I am quick to fly off the handle because somebody misses a cue, you know, or if I’m impatient with this coach or if I’m non-responsive to that coach, then that’s what they’re going to think is OK at the gym. And that’s absolutely not OK. So I think being present and taking ownership is one, but another one is really standing up for what you believe in.

Josh: 29:55 – So I’ve written, I don’t even know how many hundreds of blog posts over the years. I love to write very similar to you. I have my own podcast so that I’m able to kind of get my thoughts out all the time as well. But I’ll give you two examples. So over the years—I think every gym owner can relate to this. Over the years I’ve had countless members and even coaches come up to me and say, hey Josh, have you noticed this? Sally is never going below parallel on her wall balls. Have you noticed that she’s always finishing the workout way faster even though she’s not doing all the reps? Or what do you do with this and what do you do with that? And my response is always the same, is first you need to worry about, you know, yourself. And second, let’s remember that at the end of the day, we’re exercising for time, right?

Josh: 30:49 – So not to take it too seriously. However, I do realize that some people do take it very seriously. So we’ve got a couple of world champion weightlifters at the gym and a CrossFit Games athlete. So for those people, they do take it very seriously. So what I’ve done in the past is write a blog post and one of my probably most famous blog posts, I talk about, we use Wodify the leaderboard. And I wrote in there that me, I’m still an athlete in some fashion at my gym. I do all the workouts with the classes that I can. But I very rarely check the Wodify leaderboard. And really the reason that I do, Chris, is because I want to make sure that we’re delivering on results for our clients, it’s not to see where my score falls in relation to somebody else’s. Because at the end of the day, I’m there for me.

Josh: 31:36 – So I wrote this post about that. And then in there, and this was also for my staff, we had just talked about this in a meeting, but I thought it would be good for the members, but we have a staff handbook that outlines everything, that we try to account for every scenario that could ever come into place. But sometimes you know, we need to give them the freedom to go off script and think on their own. So my rule of thumb is answer three questions for yourself when you’re coaching. With regards to the client and yourself. Did you get a good workout? All right? Did you have fun and did you leave happy? If I can say yes to all three of those, then I don’t care how low Sally went on her wall balls. I don’t care that she did 18 instead of 21. It doesn’t matter to me that they cut one lap off of, you know, their 400-meter run, you know, none of that stuff matters. You know, it’s did we deliver the best hour of the day for that client?

Chris: 32:32 – That’s amazing. You know, it took me years, I think, to come around to that similar conclusion on my own. You know, we rebranded as the Happy Gym only last year after 12 years of owning a gym. Josh, were you always that way?

Josh: 32:48 – Yeah. So I say that I am, and I think I’ve told you this before, but I am fiercely protective of the culture at my gym, fiercely protective. And I’ve told my staff that somewhat emotionally in a meeting with them because you know, they had had some, they have received some pushback from clients and members of the gym, you know, if changes are made or anything like that, they’ve come down hard on my staff or just if they’ve been treated poorly, you know, I want to convey to my staff that like, hey, you know, I have your backs so long as you have our back. And what I mean is the gym, right? So it needs to be not only a safe space for the clients, but it also needs to be a safe space for the staff, so they need to feel happy and protected there.

Josh: 33:33 – So I’m fiercely protective of that and yeah, I’ve always been like that. You know, Chris, I can’t tell you why or what that comes from. Maybe it’s just the organizations that I’ve been a part of in the past is that they have such very strong cultures and I just, I clicked with that. You know, when, for instance, this is a funny story, when you get traded or drafted to the Yankees, you have a meeting with the guy who’s going to kind of help you out with everything. And in one of those meetings, if you have facial hair or long hair, you are told the next day you’re going to have a clean face and your hair is going to be tightened up. And there’s no if, ands, or buts about it. It is this is the way that it’s done. And I love that.

Josh: 34:17 – And I think that whatever your culture is, you know, if you’re the culture that is still very old-school CrossFit and that’s the way that you roll, then great, then you need to be fiercely protective of that. But it’s a tough road because you, no matter what the culture is, you need to realize that not everybody is going to get down with that. So if somebody leaves my gym because they didn’t like the way that I was doing things, I have to be OK with that. And I’m very secure in that. We give so much to our clients that if they’re not receptive to that or maybe they want something else, then I can refer you to a gym down the road that maybe is more your style. But I have to be OK with that decision. And I don’t know if it’s just mom and dad always being that way, but that’s just the way that we are.

Chris: 35:05 – And has that happened? Because you know, Josh, a lot of people will say, oh you don’t have to keep everybody, you should fire a client if they’re not a good fit, but they haven’t lived through that. Have you ever had to do that?

Josh: 35:17 – So I’ve never had to outwardly fire a client. No I can’t say that. But yeah, we’ve had people leave our gym over the years and it’s tough because being an affiliate owner, you’re in a unique position. When you go to Starbucks, you’re not interacting directly with the CEO of Starbucks, the guy that’s actually making the decisions on what your coffee is priced at, what hours this particular store is open. So there’s not that level of deep connection with the owner. Whereas at the affiliate level, you know, I’m present in my gym almost every day in some capacity, if I’m just coaching or evaluating or just kind of building relationships. So you become friends with these people and if they leave it’s because something wasn’t right, whatever that is. Whatever they tell you or whatever story you tell yourself in your head, something wasn’t right.

Josh: 36:11 – And that’s really, really difficult. So there’s a client that left our gym about a year ago and this person had been with us for a number of years and at first, I wasn’t hurt in the sense that like, man, she didn’t like me, but I was hurt in the sense that I feel like I missed the opportunity to give this person what they really wanted, that we didn’t do justice by this person. You know, because if they’re a really big part of the community or they’re just a well-known face at the gym, or this is probably the most common, a very high-level athlete leads your gym, you know, Oh my gosh, what’s going on? What’s going wrong? Maybe they just needed a change of pace. And so the message that I give to my members and to my staff is that, hey, if so-and-so leaves, I genuinely within my heart hope that they have now found happiness. Because if it’s not my gym, then there’s no reason that you should be there. If you’re not gonna find like happiness with me and with our gym, I really want you to be somewhere where you are.

Chris: 37:17 – Do you find that affiliates who aren’t making enough money have a tougher time with that?

Josh: 37:23 – Absolutely. Because at that point it’s I don’t want to take the chance of losing anybody, and I’ll do anything to keep anybody in the doors. Yeah, for sure.

Chris: 37:33 – And you know, that’s a huge reason why we work so hard, I think, at Two-Brain, to make sure that affiliate owners are making enough money so that they don’t have to go through that exhausting, heartbreaking process of trying to keep clients with whom they don’t have a solid relationship or just don’t like. I went through that myself and kept a client for probably two years longer than I should’ve. Dreaded every Tuesday morning for that exact reason, you know, fantastic person, amazing person. She’s still doing CrossFit somewhere else, but not a good fit for me.

Josh: 38:03 – Yeah. You know, my wife who I think will be coming to Chicago, I’m trying to talk her into it.

Chris: 38:08 – Yes, Mandy! Come to Chicago.

Josh: 38:11 – She’s like, how long are you going to be in these meetings? Will we get to hang out? And I was like, yes, you’ll get the hang out. So the culture thing, this is so big for me. It has to be protected daily and it has to be reinforced. And she is a big piece behind the scenes for me on this. I’ll give you an example. If she ever listens to this podcast, she’ll get a chuckle out of this. So we have always had a rule where, you know, you mentioned family being very important to us and it is, and so that’s why the days that we’re closed down is not just because I don’t want to go in and coach, but because I want to spend uninterrupted time with my family and I think that is supremely important.

Josh: 38:55 – So we have always had a rule where the day after Thanksgiving we’re closed, or excuse me, the day of Thanksgiving, we’re close because I don’t think anybody should have to be burdened with going into work at the gym, whether it’s myself or some other coach. I’ve never put it on a coach to do that. And last year we had a coach who begged me, begged me, begged me to let him go the gym on that Thursday morning and run a class. And he did and it was great. I didn’t go in, I didn’t have any part of it. Well this year we are actually home. And she was asking me what my plan was for Thursday morning and I said, well I think I’m going to go in and work out. And she just thought maybe I was going to get up really early and go in and work out, you know, cause the gym’s closed and then get right back home to be ready for turkey time.

Josh: 39:43 – Well I said, no, no, no, I’m going to the 9 a.m. class. And she’s like, are you kidding me? We’re closed. We’re closed that day. And I was like, no, no, no, so-and-so is going to coach the class. And she’s like, no, we’re closed. You know, this is super important. People need to be with their families. And at that time, I think it was like two days before, so we kept the class going, but we had a very good conversation about that. About here is why we close and here is why we do things the way that we do, is because of our values. That’s part of our culture of who we are. So I’ve got a big rock behind me to try to keep me in check to help me make sure that I reinforce these things daily.

Chris: 40:24 – That’s what you’ve got to have it, right, right-left brain You have a very complementary relationship. I’m lucky to have something like that too. And sometimes you really need a third person saying enough is enough. Your better half.

Josh: 40:36 – And here’s the interesting part, Chris, is that she’s not somebody that is immensely involved in the gym. She likes CrossFit and she will get involved with it, but she’s not a daily presence at the gym. So I think that it’s been a blessing in disguise for her to be that way because it allows her to remain very objective when it comes to any issue that crops up. It’s first is does your decision align with our values? OK. Now let’s go ahead and move forward with it.

Chris: 41:08 – Very cool man. All right, well, I want to bring this full circle. You know, you started your career in strength and conditioning with an organization that’s now called EXOS. Tell us about them and then tell us what’s happening between you and them now.

Josh: 41:21 – So, I mentioned that the first kind of big foray into strength and conditioning was with a company called Velocity way back in the day. And the guy who was the general manager of Velocity at that time was a gentleman by the name of Jeff Cesone. And Jeff eventually moved on to work with Athletes Performance and Mark Verstegen, him and Jeff actually started the International Performance Institute down in Bradenton right before I went there after college. So all this stuff is very, very interconnected and interrelated.

Chris: 41:55 – If you’ve been in the strength-and-conditioning world for longer than a decade, you know these names, these are not random people. You know, Verstegen, that name should at least stick out to you. But carry on anyway, Josh.

Josh: 42:09 – Yeah. So last year I wrote a blog post, or maybe I shared a podcast that we had done where people were asking about my story and my background in the industry and I took time to express gratitude to all these guys who really paved the way for me. And some way, somehow or another, it got back to Jeff who had become the president of, well it’s now called EXOS, but it was Athletes Performance. So he got into contact with me and he’s like, hey, great to hear from you. I really appreciate all the kind words, but I want you to know that you were very instrumental in getting me to where I am, which absolutely blew me away because here I am the owner of this little micro gym and he is overseeing a billion-dollar company and he is thanking me for helping him get there.

Josh: 43:00 – So I was blown away by that, but he told me, he’s like, hey, I’m going to be down in Tampa in a couple of weeks, I’d love to catch up with you. Let’s grab some breakfast. And I said, sure. So we went out to breakfast. He actually came all the way out to my little neck of the woods. We went to this little breakfast place and he was just asking, you know, about the gym and, and he’s like, hey, have you ever thought of having a, you know, a physical therapist or do you have one there? And before he could even finish a sentence, I was like, oh, I’d love to, my vision has always been to have a one-stop shop for anything health and wellness related under one roof. And that was because of what I saw when I was with, IPI or IMG academies back in the day, was that all these things could be interconnected.

Josh: 43:46 – And he’s like, OK, cool. He’s like, well, what would you think about us putting a physical therapist in your gym, do you think that that would be beneficial? And I’m like, ah, yeah. And so we talked about a bunch of different things and he was like, OK, you know, and we went over a bunch of stuff, you know, visited the good old days and he’s like, I’ll be in touch. And I was thinking, OK, this could be really, really big and a really cool opportunity for both of us, but I didn’t know what to expect. So about a week later he had gotten back to Arizona. At his EXOS headquarters and he had already talked to his executive team and they have never done anything like this before. They have their flagship locations and then they have their corporate wellness side of things where they go in and they do all the corporate wellness for big companies like Google and Health Systems, but they’ve never done a one-off where they insert a component of the EXOS methodology in with another private-label gym.

Josh: 44:49 – And he said, hey, you know, this is going to be trial and error. We don’t know how it’s gonna work. We don’t know what it’s going to look like. But here’s our thoughts. Is that we’ll bring an EXOS therapist down and we’ll basically rent space out of your gym, so to speak. We’ll serve your clients. But then we’ll also open it up to the public. So actually just this past week, we confirmed that we are going to be partnering with EXOS to bring physical therapy right into our gym. So now when somebody comes in, they will not only see the performance and the training aspect, but they will also know that we can serve them holistically through the therapy piece.

Chris: 45:31 – It’s incredible. So big.

Josh: 45:34 – Thank you. And the big piece for me, Chris, that they do so well is there’s such a gap in the market between therapy and performance. And so when somebody graduates a therapy program, a physical-therapy program now, there’s still like that lull between them being able to jump back into if they’re doing CrossFit or if they’re doing boot camp or something like that. Well now we’re going to bridge that gap. So we’ll be able to take them through therapy through a ramp-up program right back into our full-time CrossFit program.

Chris: 46:05 – Wow, that’s amazing. What a connection to have, man. I know that I have a physiotherapist who just came back to town. I tried him when he was 12 years old. That’s how old I am. You know, it’s taken me 15 years to make that connection or whatever that amount of time is. But for you, making that connection just based on both your history and your personality is massive. And I hope that every listener of this podcast understands what that bridge could do for CrossFit affiliates in the future. You know, you’ve become a link to legit strength and conditioning to legit therapy and to legit care for a lot of other affiliates in the Two-Brain programs. Josh, thank you for all of those things.

Josh: 46:47 – Oh, I appreciate it. Thank you.

Chris: 46:49 – Yeah, buddy. So my friends, we’re going to be wrapping this up. This has been a fantastic talk with Josh. I can never get enough talking to this guy and a lot of our affiliates can’t either. How can people reach you if they want to talk to you more?

Josh: 47:03 – Well, you can reach me at my email, josh@twobrainbusiness.com, you can find me on Instagram. It’s @jmartcfg, am I allowed to plug my own podcast, Chris?

Chris: 47:20 – Yeah, please do.

Josh: 47:20 – Yeah. Our podcast is called The Art of Coaching.

Chris: 47:24 – Yes. And it is fantastic. I highly recommend it.

Josh: 47:28 – And yeah, that’s it.

Chris: 47:29 – Great. We’ll link to that in the show notes. Josh, thanks so much for coming on, man. It is always a pleasure. We will see you very soon.

Josh: 47:36 – You’re welcome, Chris. It was an honor.

Thanks for listening!

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