Episode 93: Greg Glassman

Chris Cooper (00:00:00):
Have you ever met Greg Glassman? If you have, I’m going to bet you remember everything about the encounter. You probably remember where you were, maybe what he was wearing. You definitely remember what he said to you. To the outside world, Greg has a very iconic appearance. He’s one of the most renowned people in fitness and health today, but to the inside world, to those of his affiliates, he has a much closer connection. I first met Greg in person in 2012 at a regional event where I was the media director. In 2013, I flew out to Seattle to accept his job offer in the parking garage at the Four Seasons to work and write for CrossFit Journal for a year. Last month, when HQ invited me out to do their podcast, I responded to their invitation with a request to get Greg on this show so that he could speak directly to affiliates.


Chris Cooper (00:00:48):
Finally, we worked out that I’d fly out to Portland, sit at Greg’s kitchen table with him for an hour and a half and just ask them anything that was on my mind. And so, I asked him about the origins, for which some affiliates are still unclear. I asked him about how things should be in his affiliates today, and I asked him what the future held. At the table were Jimi Letchford and Nicole Carroll; you can hear them chime in a little bit through this interview. This is an unscripted, unedited, free-flow discussion with Greg, of the kind that he no longer really does very often anymore. And so, I feel incredibly privileged and proud to have done this interview from Greg’s house and be bringing it to you. Without any further ado, the man who needs no introduction: Coach.


Greg Glassman (00:01:33):
Working with the best people in your community, during what is for them—and due to no shortcoming of their own; it’s just how cool it is—but what might be the best part of their day and the start of their day. And that is a perk. What you’re doing is you’re having the strongest and most positive impact on their lives that any professional service is likely to have. And that even includes for services like psychiatry, medicine. If you’re hurt in a car accident, I know there’s some people believe that you lived because your doctor was very, very good at what they do, and although that happens, likely you lived because you weren’t critically injured and the health care you got was routine. It was to the standards of the profession. And so, I have to say, “How different would it have been if you’d been in the care of a different physician?” And often that it won’t make much difference. But in the case of what we do, the people that didn’t train with me, they didn’t get to do CrossFit. What did is they found themselves doing lateral raises and curls or working out, standing in line with William Kramer at the Smith machine. And so, at the end of the day, what we have is an unprecedented impact on the best subset of your community that you can imagine, a relationship that transcends the professional and becomes at once personal. I don’t know why that is. You know, somehow you can have a relationship with your clients that you wouldn’t have as a lawyer or a physician. How many people have married their clients in our boxes? You know, hundreds. It’s hundreds. It’s a cliche. I can’t imagine a better way to make a living. I really can’t, and I don’t see what I do for a living as being different really. It’s not quite like opening the door every morning, but I’m closer to those people than anyone else or anything else that happens in a workplace anywhere I know. And I may even understand them and what they do better than I do my own staff and what they do for me—often specialized, often not. But I remember in the last days of riding my bike in and unlocking the door that things were changing for me, that my responsibilities were making that less and less like what each day was going to be. And I boldly and bravely went in this new direction, but it also wasn’t lost on me that like, look, I got my dog following me down East Cliff on my way to the gym with the waves breaking on—you know, like this is great. And it was.


Chris Cooper (00:04:54):
And it still is. So, at some point you realized in the gym that you kind of had—you were kind of called to another level maybe. What was that transition like?


Greg Glassman (00:05:10):
Very difficult. Very difficult. And the growing pains that are the growing pains that a business endures come as—see, the way a business grows is that all those things you’d metric as “business grow,” but the network that is the relationship of the principles is also a thing that grows. And what happens is that everyone in the process has to iteratively trade focus for scope. So, you go from there in the details doing something to backing up far enough to watch someone else do it, several people do it. And you don’t see it right away, but what’s happening is that you’re getting a better and better scope with less and less focus. And pretty soon you’re seeing all the moving parts and don’t have clear vision to any of it. And you can use the analogy of taking off in a rocket ship. You know, there’s a level at which you can see the trees and to the point where you can make out the leaves, say something about the individual health of a tree. With not much altitude at all, you can see the tree, but no longer the leaves. And then pretty soon, you’re able to finally see the forest, but you can see no tree, right? Just the forest. And that’s it. And you’ve sacrificed focus for scope. Now, that growing pain in the individuals involved creates a psychological dilemma of the first order, and some of those people get left behind, and it’s tragic. And the difference can be as simple as being a great brick layer, a lousy instructor of bricklayers and an even shittier instructor of bricklaying instructors. And it’s just getting worse for you. Really you had but a singular skill, and it was bricklaying. And you know, I can sit here and give you names, but boy, we’ve, we’re—littered is the wrong word because most of us that were here at the beginning still are, but many that aren’t, it was it was that kind of pressure. I’m going to use the good example of my brother David Castro. He is one of the few people that I have ever seen reinvent themselves.


Chris Cooper (00:07:53):
How so?


Greg Glassman (00:07:55):
He’s just a different, better, newer version of what he used to be. It’s just a beautiful thing. You know, he’s a—it’s not easy to do. It’s not easy to do, but he’s that strong of a person. I don’t want to get into any more specifics. It’s not fair to Dave, but I was going to point to somebody—and Miss Nicole too. I’ve watched her go from someone who doodled pictures of us at the first cert she went to to running the most successful, important training organization on Earth. I’ve watched her go from a little girl to a widely respected business leader of the first order, you know, and not everyone can do that.


Chris Cooper (00:08:40):
No. Very few. So how do you maintain that focus on quality as you increase in scope?


Greg Glassman (00:08:51):
Well, by the exacting standards of expectation and you know, I’ve told you before, many have heard me say, I’m not an endpoint guy; I’m a process guy. And so, without endpoint, there’s never perfect; there’s only better. You don’t have to worry about being done because we’re not going to be. It’s an inducement to being indefatigable. People ask me, “When are we going to kick soda’s ass?” And I said, “I have no idea. I know this: that we will win.” And what’s that win look like? I’m going to drive them out of the health sciences. That’s what it means. I’m not trying to get people to not drink. I have the world’s most effective avoidance program, or what would you call it? Consumptive reduction plan. And it sounds like this: meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. There. That was it. We were done with it. It wasn’t an issue in our community or our lives. But then there was intrusion into the fitness space. So, let’s talk about Pepsi and Gatorade, with the help of the American College of Sports Medicine, killing athletes with exercise-associated hyponatremic encephalopathy. The people that were behind that hideous scandal, deadly scandal, were involved in the CHAMP piece, which was one of the first and what would have been tortious assaults on CrossFit were it not—were the plot not hatched on DOD property at the Uniformed Services University, they would have most certainly been sued for that crap. But they knew what they were doing, and they did it there.


Greg Glassman (00:10:48):
I’m kind of on a rant here, but yeah, I’ll bring it back home. This is all just training for me. I’m protecting the training space. I’m protecting the best work of the affiliates and promoting the best work of the affiliates. And what that is is the health component. The soda thing, you know, no issues of consumptive reduction. I want them out of the fitness space, and I want them out of the health space, and that’s what the victory looks like. And will it take five years, 10 or 50? I don’t know. I have no sense of that at all, at all. For me though, those things that I just tell you, we’re going to keep at it, and we’re not going to stop. They tend to happen faster than you would have thought. You know, we got to a place on the hydration battle in a fraction of the time I was thinking it might take, or I was prepared to take. And I think that’s the thing too, Jason, when you’re not an endpoint guy, but a process guy, and then the job ends up completed, you’ve always, “wow,” because I was ready to do this forever, and so, it’s always kind of a pleasant surprise.


Chris Cooper (00:12:00):
So when you’re—as CrossFit increases its scope, your name is still written on every individual affiliate, how do you know that the affiliates are helping in this battle for the health of the country, the world?


Greg Glassman (00:12:15):
Well, you know, I told you I know what the affiliates do, and I understand that better than anything. And so, I can tell you, if you’ve got hundreds of members that you’ve seen one-hundred-pound weight loss, you know damn well—like who’s coming up and telling me, “It’s not about the Games; it’s not about the Games”? It’s the guy with 300 clients. But your first 50 clients are all your really fit friends that love you and support you. If you’re new to the game, right? And then the next 50 aren’t so fit. And then when you get out there, like client number 200, you’ve got someone with diabetes, and you’ve seen the overweight and then you stay in this game long enough, and I think for the best of us, that’s the part we enjoy most. And it dawned on me that I had become that guy when I realized that I got more out of Sally getting her first pull-up at 65 and bawling like a baby; that was more enjoyable to me than Garth winning the world championships of Brazilian jui-jitsu and telling me he couldn’t have done it without me. I think most of us are wired for that. I think so.


Chris Cooper (00:13:23):
That’s certainly one of the biggest rewards of owning a CrossFit affiliate, is that opportunity. And that opportunity was certainly never provided to me through the NSCA. So, you know, with that in mind—


Greg Glassman (00:13:38):
You have the CSCS cert?


Chris Cooper (00:13:40):
Yeah. When I—


Greg Glassman (00:13:40):
Hold onto that. Keep a picture of it, keep it framed; that’s not always going to be around.


Chris Cooper (00:13:52):
Well actually I wrecked it because when I was writing a story on Gatorade for the Journal, I poured Gatorade and cornstarch on top of it, and we didn’t use the picture. So now it’s gone. But, you know, along with that opportunity comes the responsibility to actively promote health, obviously. And so, you know, if your mark is on every individual affiliate, the leaf in your forest, what should we be doing in this crusade? At the affiliate level?


Greg Glassman (00:14:23):
I’ve been speaking with staff about—and this came up at the Trainer Summit—about the need to reiterate that we are a high-fat, low-carb concern, and to do CrossFit on a high-carb diet is CrossFit with glycation, inflammation and oxidative stress, even if you’re burning it to stay skinny. And you’re going to induce a maybe visually attractive, metabolically deranged outcome. And if it is possible to win the Games on a high-carb diet, I would suggest that you’re putting yourself right where Sami Inkinen put himself when he won the world championships of the professional triathlon only to be diagnosed as a type-2 diabetic. And so that kind of thing concerns me. I’d like to share something; I think you’ll like this: I learned how to make world-class athletes by applying to very talented people all of the lessons I learned with very normal people. The Sallys taught me how to make Greg Amundsons. From the Greg Amundsons, I have learned nothing. Not to pick on Greg. I love him; he’s a friend. But I mean—look at what the CrossFit Games best do and try and develop some sense of how you might train. You would’ve found five years ago that you really didn’t have much chance in the Games without compression fabric. The following year, no one believed that, but that year, they were pretty sure that if you weren’t putting on the hard-to-get-on shit, you weren’t going to be here in the Games because they were all doing it. And then we learned that if you don’t soak yourself in ice between the heats, and maybe that’s what makes the heat easier is the ice. Maybe it was one of those things. You know, the opposite of a heat is an ice. And so, “After my heat, I’ve got to be icing; that’s why I’m winning.” And then it was the ridiculous fucking tape all over your ass. Everyone’s got the tape on themselves, and that’s what you need to win. Where’s the tape going? It’s not going to be around for a while. And they’re going to do this with lucky socks and with nutritionists and herbalists and steroids. These are all things that are rearing their heads. We’re using world-class standards. We’re testing with—we’ve cut no corners here. You know, we may not be as big as the Olympics, but their testing is no more rigorous than ours, and the protocol is no different. We’re farming this out just like they do.


Greg Glassman (00:17:44):
The athletes are what they are. God bless them. You know, look, I’ve had professional-athlete clients, and if you’re in the NFL and you’re asking me, “Should I quit steroids?” I’m not going to answer that. Because it’s not—I’m not going to be the one to tell you here that I think you got to pull the plug on your career right now. It’s not my decision to make. Ask me if I think it’s enhancing the quality of your life. The paycheck? Yeah. Health? Probably not so much.


Chris Cooper (00:18:19):
Is it the affiliates’ responsibility to have those conversations with their clients?


Greg Glassman (00:18:25):
Yes. If you’re my affiliate, yes. “Bud, how you doing? How the kids? Did your daughter take the SAT? Did your husband have his collarbone repaired? And what’d you have for dinner last night?” You know, I mean, it’s part of every conversation. Unless—I know you’re like Greg Amundson. You know, he brought Tupperware, and he gave me a magic marker, and he wanted me to show him where to put the cottage cheese up to, and he wrote on that thing “cottage cheese,” and it was going to get filled to that line every day, and I go, “You know, you can try other things and put—” “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.” He said, “Really, it’s easier for me if I just like—” Awesome. Awesome. You have to have that discussion. You have to care. You have to care. And when I don’t see results to my liking at the pace that I’m accustomed to, we’re going to talk more and more. And I was always jealous of Skip Chase and his home intervention. I just love that—I haven’t heard a lot of times where like, “Man, I wish I’d thought of that,” in the training space, but I did on that. And he basically, without much verbal harangue, if he wasn’t seeing what he needed and at the pace that made him happy, he shows up at your fucking house with a cardboard box, and he wants to see the fridge. Lets himself in, he goes to the fridge and he loads up the bad shit, and he’s taking it with him. And I think that’s brilliant. I don’t know if—that might just require a personality to dovetail with that. I don’t know, but I was jealous of it.


Chris Cooper (00:20:03):
I think it’s a skill you can practice. Yeah.


Greg Glassman (00:20:04):
Yeah. Good on him, though. Good on him. CrossFit is not an exercise program; it’s a fitness program. And thing that differentiates it is, for me, the fitness program involves the food part. It’s huge. How much? Axel Pflueger thinks it’s 40%. I think it’s more like 60. But we can argue about that. What I can’t do is, but with a few, few narrow exceptions, I can’t point to an eating adaptation that isn’t also an exercise adaptation. Increased bone density: I can do it with diet alone. If you don’t exercise and you eat shitty, I can increase your bone density without exercise. I can decrease your insulin resistance. I can increase your muscle mass. I learned that for—I had the wonderful experience of, in 1995, I wasn’t training for the first time in forever, but I was traveling with Barry Sears, and we were Zoning people. And so, for the first time ever, I got to have impact on nutrition where I wasn’t providing one physically, and I’d never seen that before. I knew what it looked like if you exercise and ate the way I told you. And I knew what it looked like if you exercise and eat the way the American College of Sports Medicine wants you to eat—you know the way that causes the chronic disease. But I’d never seen anyone eat right and not exercise. Never seen that. And so, to come back and revisit locales and find that there was an increase in muscle mass and bone density, and you know, it’s like, “Wow, you look like you’ve been exercising.” “Nope, I haven’t.” What happens if you do both together? Ah, it’s a jet stream of positive results.


Chris Cooper (00:22:01):
I think we affiliates could maybe use some help in knowing how to broach that conversation and just some of the things that you’ve mentioned already were: Here’s what I would talk about with my clients. That doesn’t always happen in my box. What kind of conversations should we be having, and how do you introduce nutrition into that conversation?


Greg Glassman (00:22:25):
Well we were promoting the hell out of the Zone diet since 1995. And what that meant is that when you came into my box, I would give you a prescription and tell you about the Zone. And we had purchased hundreds of copies of the book, just handing that out. It was everywhere. And we were doing that, and we charged for that like we did training. So ever since they’ve known me, there were people around that were introductory sessions and nutrition clients. I learned that trick from Gold’s Gym, or I did that for them. And so, you’d get, I don’t remember what it was, six weeks of training and a meal plan that you were expected to follow. And if you didn’t have some reduction in your percent body fat by the end of that, I don’t remember now if it was six or 12 weeks, whatever it was, you’d get your money back. I think it was 12 weeks and a drop of six percentage points. That may have been what it was. But you couldn’t—you had to be—you couldn’t miss a—you had this book, and you couldn’t miss any time. And we did, Lauren and I did exactly that in Santa Cruz, and it was—it’s great. It’s great. I wouldn’t train people without some sense of a—without having in place some constant pressure on the nutrition. Some boxes have it just culturally; it just happens. These boxes are doing Paleo challenges, Whole Life Challenge; you know, there’s a lot of that going on. It’s an indispensable part of what they do. I’ll make a shameless plug for my friend Sami Inkinen, my superstar triathlete who was a diabetic, now is the CEO and founder of Virta Life, Virta Health Corporation. They do handholding off the metabolic precipice. They do diabetes, type-2 diabetes reversal for just hundreds of dollars a month, you know, like 400 a month. I can do that work too, cost you a whole lot more than that. And so, if I were training today and someone came through the door that I didn’t think—for whom I thought their nutrition had served them poorly—it’d be almost everybody—I would encourage him to spend the 400 a month with the Virta Corp; how long you have to do that, four or five months? I think Sami gets 70% of his cohort from Purdue off of meds in six months, I think it was. Seventy percent of the 400 people were off meds in six months. Well, you know at the point you’re off meds and you’ve been eating well for six months, I don’t think you need any more Virta or anything else. You know, it’s not possible to eat in a manner that brings your A1C down to 5 and then when the instruction stops, not know how you did it. It’s not possible. It’s not possible. You’ve become an expert, a world-class authority, because it’s not an easy thing to do. You’ve had to display so much willpower that you’ve learned—it’s been a journey, a very personal journey for you. Forget the getting off diabetes meds, I’m talking everything in your life you’re better at because the denial that’s required with that, you know. It’s an amazing thing.


Chris Cooper (00:26:01):
It’s far tougher to change your nutrition than to start exercising, right?


Greg Glassman (00:26:08):
Yeah. So, my best tool for getting people to eat right once they’ve been working out with me—and you don’t have a lot of tools for those that don’t want to play. But one of my best tools was to mark, plot the progress of the person that was doing well. And I remember in—people came around and thought, “Well I’m just never going to be Greg Amundson. So what.” But when Mike Weaver started running past people that had been working out longer than Weaver had been around, and they were like, “Alright, what’s he doing?” And I go, “One thing different than you.” “What’s that?” You know, listening to what I’m saying about nutrition. I’ve also used that to get bike riders that I wanted. Big name bike rider, I’m taking someone that was not a threat and just had them over their shoulder all of a sudden. And now you got two or three of these guys on my ass where they didn’t used to be, and that has brought in some big-name cyclists in the door to me, for me. Going way back, back in the days of Tom Rogers and guys like that; there’s no one riding today that remembers those names.


Chris Cooper (00:27:27):
Well, actually, I don’t want to go down too many rabbit holes, but I love cycling and just bought 10 bikes for my gym. And when I was at HQ—like I know cycling has always been a part of what you did. Was there ever a point where you were introducing cycling into the gym itself?


Greg Glassman (00:27:44):
Yeah. We had a fleet of bikes.


Chris Cooper (00:27:45):
And what would you do with them?


Greg Glassman (00:27:47):
Well, go up about 2,000 feet into the woods with a pick-up truck full of dumbbells and hide them in the redwoods. Come down and tell them to get on a bike and go to the top of the hill at Rodeo Gulch, and I’ll be there. You’ll see me, and I’ll have dumbbells, and you got to do 50 thrusters and then down the hill and a hundred pull-ups, and we’ll stop the clock or something like that. Maybe it was a hundred thrusters and 50 pull-ups; I don’t know, but on the regular.


Chris Cooper (00:28:19):
Oh, that’s great.


Greg Glassman (00:28:20):
Oh, it was wonderful. They hated those bikes. And let me tell you where the bikes came from. I was at that crossroad, you know, do I need a bigger space? Well, I’m getting complaints. I don’t have the money for an expansion. Not just sitting around at any rate. You just don’t know if that’s the right thing to do or not. And so, I went down this angle: Will it provide a better programmer surface? And I was like well, hang some cargo nets. I’d get mountain bikes; I had a list of things I’d do. And then you ask, OK, you know, and this was due to more room. I couldn’t when we were at 1,250 square feet, what kind of moron is going to put eight bikes in there? At 2,500 square feet, I’m the moron that would do that. And we rode the hell out of them. Rode the hell out of them.


Chris Cooper (00:29:24):
That’s good to hear.


Greg Glassman (00:29:30):
And you know something too, man, anyone that like—”so you’re a bike guy?” “Yeah, I love bikes.” “Do you deadlift?” “Uh-uh.” “Have you ever been on a glute-ham developer?” “No.” “You know what, I’m going to make you a better bike rider.” Almost instantly. The report from any level of output, and all you cyclists out there, you think you are as good as you can get. You probably are with your current methods, but if you don’t deadlift and you ride bikes, you’re not as good as you could be. And I can add other things to that, but the report you always get back is, there’s that hill that you would tend to shift up and stand; you know, now what they’re doing is staying seated and spinning it out and grabbing a harder gear and grinding on it. You know, just stuff like that. You know that hill, you know what your typical climb pattern is, and it’s clearly been altered in the path—more power.


Chris Cooper (00:30:28):
Is there anything else in that same vein that maybe, you know, we affiliates aren’t seeing that we should be thinking about when we’re outfitting a gym or growing?


Greg Glassman (00:30:42):
I’ve mentioned this other places, and so I don’t know who’s probably tired of hearing it or not, but the dumbbell thing, I can’t get past that. The difference between a ring man and a parallel wire man in terms of strength is due to that independent axes of the rings, and the dumbbell-barbell analogy is perfect. Perfect. There is no comparing the strength of—and you know, I was in the era of specialists, so there were guys that did the rings and only, most competitors were that way. A small percentage of gymnasts were all-around guys when I was a kid, small percentage. And the sport hasn’t been improved because of it. I don’t think. I don’t think it’s been good for it, but whatever. You know, it’d be like, imagine going out into track and field and everyone go home except the decathletes; you know, it’s kind of interesting. But there was never any doubt as to how much stronger the ring men were within the parallel bar guys, and dumbbells would do something similar too.


Chris Cooper (00:31:48):
So those were self-indulgent questions because I just like that stuff, but—


Greg Glassman (00:31:54)
Let’s stay with the list; presses to handstand. There’s not enough done with it. OK, and there’s a progression of presses from a bent leg, bent arm, bent hip to straightening arm, hip and leg, and they grade out nicely, and they’re all learned the same way in the negative, and the strength that you get out of that—if people would spend more time with dumbbells, commit to a long-term path to the power presses, the planche press, there’s a straight-arm, straight-body press, you’d probably get—for sure be able to do on parallel bars before the floor. And straight-body, bent-arm press and then straight-arms, straight-leg press, bent-hip. Anyone can learn those, but it takes years. But it takes a little bit of playing with it all the time. A bigger deadlift, more dumbbell work, and those presses to handstand can be a shortcut to better Olympic lifts at our level of expertise and exposure than a lot of the training that we’re currently doing, I believe. I’m pretty cocky, confident of that too. Dan Bailey claims to have tested this theory, and it paid off. I don’t know how or what, but he had let me know that it clearly was working for him. He’s a good dude. I think he wanted me to feel good. That all Games athletes can’t get in a push-up position and then slide those hands down and arch the back and drive that up to a handstand is a mistake for them. It’s a mistake. What happens in these presses-to-handstand, one thing is the likelihood of you falling out of a handstand again just plummets, because if you can get that low—and you’ll learn it in the negative. So, the way to learn a straight-body, a straight-leg, no bend at the hip, so just straight-body and bent-arm press is to get into a handstand and lower into that ever more and more slowly, more and more slowly, more and more slowly, and then one day you can finally reverse it. But what you get practice at is your body being three inches off the ground and you driving it back to a handstand is the practice you’re getting. And so, you might stumble just like you would on your feet, but the likelihood of having to put your hands on the ground, or in this case, your feet on the ground, goes real low, real low. Then there’s the strength component and the balance component. It’s wonderful. And there’s another piece too. These presses require—like the straight-arm, straight-leg, bent-hip press-to-handstand; we used to call it the stiff-stiff, so it’s a straight-arm, straight-leg press to a handstand, requires that you be pretty flexible and pretty damn strong. And I’m talking by gymnast standards. It’s a good but not a great, you know; it’s a B move. It’s a B move. But if you’re not flexible, then you have to be very strong. And if you’re extremely flexible, you don’t have to be as strong. But in the end, it requires significant flexibility and strength, and it’s just a great tool. That’s another one. Every one that’s been doing CrossFit for two or three years should be able to do that.


Chris Cooper (00:35:47):
That’s interesting.


Greg Glassman (00:35:48):
And if we’re not, you know, that’s my shortcoming.


Chris Cooper (00:35:53):
How is it your shortcoming?


Greg Glassman (00:35:54):
Well, it would have been nice; there’s another Journal article that could be written out on these progressions. I’ve done it for in-house staff. I’ve made that material and just never thrown my name on it. Doing other stuff.


Chris Cooper (00:36:06):
Yeah. Busy. You can’t do everything.


Greg Glassman (00:36:08):
And the big deadlift. So, these are my things. There’s presses-to-handstand—and I’ll outline these. I’ll send that to you. I’ll give it to you. I’ll show you the progression. It’s fun to play with. Presses-to-handstand, more dumbbell work, and a bigger deadlift. A bigger deadlift. There’s that point in your clean where you—you know, at 225, I slipped right under at 230, like, “I’m stuck. I don’t—I can’t—” What happened was the weight got too heavy. And if you have a 325-pound deadlift, you’d be happy with your 225-pound clean, because that’s all you—any weight you clean with good technique comes off the floor in a very unintimidating manner. OK? And so, these monster cleans belong to people with monster deadlifts. And we had the best time—Strawson, Dire Minds guy, used to make a weightlifting videotape, training tape that cut out all the nonsense. It was just lift, approve, cut, lift, approve. So, in an hour tape, you could watch hundreds and hundreds of lifts. And I’ve watched these things with Tony Budding for hours. We’d just sit there and loop this thing. And then I started noticing things like it was really significant to notice the change in countenance, the expression of the athlete, and to watch hair—what it was doing. If your hair all of a sudden stands straight up, what’s that mean?


Chris Cooper (00:38:05):
Moving fast.


Greg Glassman (00:38:05):
You’re fucking going down, man. Only one direction, and that is down and fast. And where you marked against the lettering, is it a poster on the wall? You know, just started doing some looking at vectors and watching this stuff, and you came away with a world-class understanding of what’s going on in these lifts. That was really fun. The successful clean, the load comes off the floor with relative ease and as soon as that torso rotates to perpendicular, which is the cause of the scoop or the double knee bend, the bar is still rising, but you’ve rotated the torso forward. And at that exact instance, there is a significant change in the countenance of the athlete. And the next thing you see is the hair go up. And what has happened is that these people have pulled the trap door on a moderate weight that they were accelerating handsomely, and then as they exploded on it at the moment of full after-burner, the knees get sucked up and they’re shot underneath the bar, bow-and-arrow style. Imagine if we put, you know, find the max weight you can possibly shrug, then add 10 more pounds and tell you to shrug it as hard as you can, and then I pull the trap door. You’re going to beat the weight down. It’s bow-and-arrow-like, and that’s exactly what’s happening in that lift. That’s exactly what’s happening in the lift. Get me a bigger deadlift and the balance of the press-to-handstand is going to translate to bar control in the jerk. Promise it. Promise it. And we’re going to get some other things along the way that we might not have gotten committing all that time under the barbell and the barbell alone.


Chris Cooper (00:40:15):
Very interesting.


Greg Glassman (00:40:18):
This is fun. It’s old school.


Chris Cooper (00:40:23):
Yeah, it is.


Greg Glassman (00:40:24):
I can have these—you know, there are people I can have these conversations with. I’ll tell you one that I just saw the other day. Romanov.


Chris Cooper (00:40:36):
Yeah. Why Romanov?


Greg Glassman (00:40:37):
I don’t know why. Make myself sound good here. I just—I really like talking to Nikolai; he’s a good dude. He’s sharp. He’s thought about a lot of things. He’s kind of a hard-science guy too, you know?


Chris Cooper (00:40:54):
I just met him at the Games, but you know, the hard-science guys like Mel Siff haven’t always been kind of open to everything you’ve said, right?


Greg Glassman (00:41:02):
Yeah. Mel thought everything was bullshit. And since 99.9% of shit is, he was right a lot. So that’s, you know, that’s OK. And I really enjoyed him. I enjoyed his spirit. No one benefited from Mel not being here. And Ed Burke. And Jim Fixx. I think I have it right. You might look this up: the guy that wrote “The Cyclist’s Bible for Nutrition.” My problem with exercise is medicine, it’s not that I don’t think it works—that is that you can exercise away fat. My problem is if that allows me to them to consume more product, and I’m talking about Coke or Pepsi or anything like that, and that is the excuse to do more exercise—to burn off more product—now I don’t like what’s happening. Now what I’m doing is I’m running more product through the system, doing what? Glycating, inflammating and creating oxidative stress. Exercising or not, it’s doing that, and we don’t want that. So, if you ever make me pick between the eating and exercise, I would rather you eat right and don’t exercise then exercise and eat like shit.


Chris Cooper (00:42:34):
And at what point is it the box owner’s responsibility to say to a client, “Hey, I’ve got a problem with how you’re training”?


Greg Glassman (00:42:42):
I did all the time. I mean, I would never fire a client for that. And that’s the language I use, and clients have been fired but not for that. You can eat any way you want. And I had a guy that’d come to me, never took any of my nutrition advice, George. And George worked out one day a week, and that was his hour with me. That’s it. That’s all he’d do all week long. And the son of a bitch, I was disappointed in the fact that he was getting results and he had for years, and there’s part of me that wished he wouldn’t come, but I wanted him to come more. I always asked, “Did you do anything this week?” “No.” “What’s the last thing you did?” “That thing we did last Friday.” And so, you know, I would just kick the ever-loving shit out of George. Just beat him up bad. “Why are you doing this to me? You treat me like you hate me.” “I train like you’re not going to do anything for a week. That’s what I’m training like.” I go, “Come one more time; I won’t charge you.” “I can’t do it. I don’t have time. I don’t have time.” And I’m like, “Jeez, George, please,” and I’m making deals like, “If you come twice, we’ll go a third as hard.” No deal. No deal. Son of a bitch. And he was fat and getting skinnier on one hour of exercise a week. Everything else I have to believe was held constant. He’s certainly wasn’t undoing it with food. He was making progress.


Chris Cooper (00:44:05):
And was it food?


Greg Glassman (00:44:09):
I don’t think he changed anything except that hour. I think he was shooting me straight. That’s all you’re going to get, I’m giving you an hour a week, you know? And he’s still alive. I looked him up recently, wondering about that.


Chris Cooper (00:44:21):
Did you call him?


Greg Glassman (00:44:27):
No. You know, I think I left a message. I think I left message in a law office. Yeah, I did call.


Chris Cooper (00:44:36):
So a client wants to come into my gym. They want to come in one time a week. You know, your response to that client is absolutely?


Greg Glassman (00:44:45):
Yeah, because I think I’m going to get you into more involvement than that.


Chris Cooper (00:44:51):
But saying no is not going to get you—


Greg Glassman (00:44:53):
No. It’s just a start. Look, I just want them to come in once. I want you to come a second time, I hide that behind my back until we’re done. And I’m not going to mention it during the suffering. I don’t want you to make a rash decision while you’re at max heart rate, right? And afterwards, after I’ve told you how that was fucking amazing, I mean for the beginner, “Look what you did; that was some of the best PVC work I’ve seen this week. OK, so I’ll see you Wednesday,” and tricky me—I’ll lead with that assumption that you’re coming back. I didn’t even give you a chance to say no. Wednesday, same time, high-five. And I might call Monday night. I’m not going to call you Tuesday because it might be your chance to say, “Hey, I got something that came up; I’m really sorry.” You know? And so, I’ll just call you Monday and tell you how good that was, and that you’re going to be really, really sore, but don’t listen to it.


Chris Cooper (00:45:56):
Is there a nutrition talk in that first day?


Greg Glassman (00:45:58):
Always, yeah. It was always there. Always there. Barry Sears was a part of my and early CrossFitters’ lives. I mean, he came around at the gym, you know; we traveled with him. A bunch of us had involvement. I know he and his brother very well. And he’s a friend; Barry’s a friend, and we were working with him prior to him writing the book. And the book did wonderfully well. It’s been a big, big piece of this whole movement.


Chris Cooper (00:46:52):


Greg Glassman (00:46:54):
You know, and you can listen to me, and like I’m alright; don’t accept that. You know, I think maybe we’ve not made a big enough point of it, and I’ll just sit right here and accept that. But we are in discussions about dusting off a nutrition cert. I had a problem with some of our nutrition friends, and it was this: What we posted on the website was a workout, not a hyper-theoretical discussion of exercise stimulus and response. There was no Krebs citric acid cycle because that has no fucking relevancy. It’s important to biochemistry but not to exercise science. And so, for William Kraemer to make sure that the Krebs cycle is in his book while he squats at a Smith machine is insanity. It’s to be not in the field of exercise science. You’re pretending to be doing science while you exercise. That’s not exercise science. What was I talking about? Started hating on that bastard for a second.


Chris Cooper (00:48:13):


Greg Glassman (00:48:13):
Oh. And so, what I didn’t want was theoretical nutrition. And so, what’s the equivalent of “do this workout”? It’s “this is a meal plan.” And so, when we’re talking about this recently, it caused young Leif to say, “Well, then what we want is cooking classes.” And I said, “Yeah, that’s exactly right. You know, we need to show”—we’ve done exactly that. You remember we did that in San Diego? Where we cooked, we barbecued Zone meals? Do you remember doing at the Lucas gym? No, it wasn’t there. So, we’re going to revamp, do some experimenting, but I really don’t want to run down the rabbit hole of—here’s what I want to avoid: There used to be a thing that was done by Amway, I believe, and it was this weight-loss pill, and the little bottle had you do an hour of cardio and then take one, and the guy promised it worked. Yeah, it does. What’s working is that you’ve been fooled it was working. But the only thing that’s happening here is the cardio, an hour of cardio. And the pill is just you getting ripped off. Well, you can do that with CrossFit too. I can have you do CrossFit while holding this lucky poster. And when I look at the lucky poster, or have you wear RockTape or do ice baths, or there’s all kinds of shit—and so people are wanting to differentiate themselves by adding their third element to the mix or their unique something or other when they have nothing to offer in that regard. And I listened to someone recently on a podcast that was exactly of that—


Chris Cooper (00:50:26):
If it was me, you can say that.


Greg Glassman (00:50:30):
It was OPT.


Chris Cooper (00:50:32):
On my podcast?


Greg Glassman (00:50:33):


Chris Cooper (00:50:33):
OK. Here we go.


Greg Glassman (00:50:35):
Man, you know? He’s been that for a long time, but I get it; it’s hard to differentiate yourself when the essence of the whole thing has been given to everyone, and we all sit in possession of roughly the same skillset. Do I know something magical about training that Nicole doesn’t? No. Do I think there’s some magic extra factor? Well, you know why I think not? If chromium or fish oil or ice baths or RockTape were important, I would expect to have seen people that did what I wanted and didn’t get results but for lack of RockTape—or something. What’s with the non-responders? And then it might turn out they don’t eat right for their type or—but when I get a non-responder, I got a noncompliance, and there’s only a couple of things I have to look for. Compliance: Are you here, and are you trying? And the rest is food. And I got really, really fucking good at seeing what people were eating. And the best way to do it is have them write it down, and no one can, for long, fake write shit down. Rini Van Every tried. But you get caught. You get caught.


Chris Cooper (00:52:05):
So how much of your time, or how much of a CrossFit coach’s time in a given week is supposed to be spent going through nutrition plans?


Greg Glassman (00:52:13):
If you haven’t convinced me that you’re eating right and moving in the right direction, and I know shortly after starting your meal plan, if I see any kind of a failure to thrive, but more importantly, I see changes in physiognomy, either moving in the right direction, and that next to never happens, or we don’t keep getting leaner and leaner at some point. And once you’re there, I’m not going to talk to Nicole about food so much, right? Jimmy a little more, me a little more, you know, until I get what I want. Until I get what I want. As a trainer, I’m always out there on the floor looking for anything you do that’s not perfect. Someone asked once, “You know, it’s so much better to teach if you point out the positives.” And I was like, “OK, let me think about that for a minute.” You know what I’m saying? Fuck you. Like I’m going to tell you, it’s not like that. It’s not like that. Perfect technique means you’re not doing anything stupid. You know, it’s all the things I don’t want it. I can’t help it, you know, come to full extension, you’re not. It’s a negative thing. Stop it. You’re pulling with your arms. Quit that, you know, look straight ahead, not up. You teach gymnastics this way. I teach you to do tricks by getting you to pick up some behaviors, and then we real quickly get into the “stop this shit.” The thing I asked you to do may not even be capable. You know, “I want you to, with your left hand, reach under your right armpit, and I want you to touch yourself in the center of your spine, OK? As soon as you pull back on those rings, I want you to look underneath and with that hand I want you to drive these fingers and touch your spine.” And I’m like, I’m trying to initiate a spin, right? Because what you’re doing isn’t getting it there. And then it comes to the point where you go, “OK, listen, next time up, here’s where you’re going to do, Jason. Something fucking different. OK? Just you get up there. I don’t care what it is, but I want to see something different.” You spend so much time like that. So much time like that. Training to people to do things is taking out the non-perfect parts until what you’re left with is something around which you have nothing to say, and Nicole knows this from the training certs, where you know, you get out there in the middle, and when we were first doing Level 1s, oh my God, did you have to work. There’d be 15 things I’d have to tell you, 20 things I’d have to tell you. And then you roll the clock forward 10 years and man, there are people who get groups here like, “OK look, I’m going to widen your stance slightly, I think. Let me see. No, put it back where it was.” I mean, damn, there’s some great movement coming through the door, which is really a neat thing to see.


Chris Cooper (00:54:54):
It’s pretty amazing.


Greg Glassman (00:54:55):
It is.


Chris Cooper (00:54:58):
So if a client—or if a coach’s responsibility is to spend as much time on nutrition as it is on exercise, then—


Greg Glassman (00:55:06):
Well look, because listen, listen, there’s a couple things going on. I’ve got an hour with you, and I’ve got the formalities of, you know, “Did your daughter take the SATs?” “Is your dad still visiting? I know that’s making you nuts.” OK, now they know where I’m really at. That’s all just the prelude to “Let’s get started.” I’m going to talk to you about what we’re going to do today. I’m going to let you know kind of what my standards are, what I expect, what I think you could do, one way or two we might go at it and then, immediately, you know, “How are things? How’s the eating going?” I’ve got an hour, and I’ve only got a couple of things I can do; I can explain the exercise to you. I’m not going to lecture you on exercise physiology. I never did that ever. And I got the small talk out of the way. The very next action item frankly is the eating because that’s the part I’m not seeing. And I can ask you in between sets or reps or all during the warm-up, certainly during the cool-down. I brought in handouts more often than not. And they were almost always on nutrition. Almost always. I was a hyper-insulin-ism warning zealot, and it was a big part of what was happening in the box all the time. Why wouldn’t a trainer want to use that tool to leverage every rep of every exercise? It’d be stupid not to.


Chris Cooper (00:56:41):
So how do you do that? You know, a lot of affiliates now are running classes with 20, 25 people. How do you do that in such a big group environment?


Greg Glassman (00:56:51):
That’s a lot of people. I’ve done it and can do it, but it’s hard. They better be of—I don’t mean of similar capacity; they better be all well initiated. I can’t have five of those people there that they’ve been here a couple of weeks now. Or I’m not going to be able to handle it.


Chris Cooper (00:57:23):
On the nutrition side and the exercise side.


Greg Glassman (00:57:28):
Uh-huh. Everyone in my groups had been one-on-one with me.


Chris Cooper (00:57:36):


Greg Glassman (00:57:38):
Isn’t that true, Nicole?


Chris Cooper (00:57:43):
And how did that progression look from one-on-one into a group?


Greg Glassman (00:57:46):
I was doing group classes for my jiu-jitsu friends. Because I had just come in and you know, I had limited time, and they got 30 students, so I’d set up stations, and we’d do stuff. In my one-on-one training, I’m working, you know, 50 hours a week. That’s 50 hours and 50 clients. I always tried to keep Sunday free and rather than losing a client, some would go into Sundays and the quality of my life turned to shit. And I was coming off a period where I had gotten back where my Sundays were free and then I had some high-profile clients that I was very interested in. And so, I started to double up, and it was “Take a deep breath. We’re going to try and talk this person into this.” But I remember saying that, “Hey, you’re paying me 75; you know, I can make it 50, and I think you’re going to like her, and let’s just start please. I need it. And if you don’t like it, we’ll go back.” And they took me up on it. And so now I’m making $100 an hour to 75, and I found at once I could do as good a job, and I could do that three, four, especially if I expand on that kernel. But I can give 10 people all the one-on-one instruction they would care for in the space of an hour. And it very quickly gets to those that you don’t say much to, it’s because they’re not doing as much wrong. And so, there was no one that would come out of the class and go, “I wish he’d said more to me.”


Chris Cooper (00:59:45):
That’s huge.

Greg Glassman (00:59:48):
Because you know, if we’re in a group, and I’m all of a sudden now here with you. OK, come on. And the rest of them. I think it was that way in PE. You hear the whistle and your name yelled, you know; it was like, “Oh fuck.” I don’t think I was—I made it fun though, right? Did we have fun? I talk like I wasn’t fun, but you know—there was a lot of laughter and maybe that’s what I’m calling fun is the fact that we were laughing. Often when there’s laughter, not everyone’s having the same fun.


Chris Cooper (01:00:40):
Is that one of the hallmarks of a great affiliate then, is you walk in the door and you hear laughter?


Greg Glassman (01:00:44):
Oh yeah. I use levity as my most—levity, or the lack thereof, is my favorite preclinical harbinger of overtraining. So, when I come in in the morning and “Hi!” and everyone’s like—or two people don’t even bother to turn around and say hi that normally would. Hmm. Very nice … what did we do last? And I’ve had this—done this: Here’s what I want to do today. I just want to stretch. And someone turns around and like, because I’ve seen them cry, right? Like, oh. You could’ve said something. When the enthusiasm for the effort diminishes, the intensity’s likely exceeded the psychological tolerance of your crew. So, Jason Highbarger used to watch classes for us when we would travel together. And pretty soon nobody wanted Jason because he’d thin your class for you. And one of his columns was whether you puked or not. I finally found on the board. What would happen is he’d erase it, but it ghosted. And so, I was like, “Dude, look at this. This is what you did with my fucking people?” You know? And I actually thought he was trying to reduce the numbers to make it easy for himself. But I was gone for two weeks of a three-day-a-week class, and it went from like 21 to 15, 12 like one of my workouts, you know? It was going to be 9-6-3 and done. And he had this fucking column up that said whether they puked or not. So, he’s brought that value into the system, and he’s going to—we have a puking clown as a mascot because someone told me you could never have a successful business with that mascot. I mean that was a big part of it; made me laugh. And that’s not going to make or break a business. That’s ridiculous.


Chris Cooper (01:02:42):
So you know, CrossFit, to circle back to the beginning here, presents this unique entrepreneurial opportunity. It’s created 14,000, you know, 20,000 new entrepreneurs, 14,000 small businesses, whatever. What is our responsibility back to HQ?


Greg Glassman (01:03:01):
I don’t know that there is one. I shouldn’t speak to that. I would probably let my affiliates answer that, and they’d probably be moved to tears at what they perceive to be their responsibility. But look, I’ve got an organization of the willing, I’ve built an affiliation, an alliance that it would be important for me to be a part of, and I would make damn sure that I’d taken $3,000 of my money, and I probably converted that into how many clients that would be. And I asked myself, “Would they pay it?” And the answer is, “I fucking would, and I’d be proud to.” Someone asked me recently about the value of affiliation. I said, “If it’s in doubt, you’re the wrong affiliate. If each year you’re like, ‘I don’t know, I mean, what do I get for this?’ Please. There’s no hard feelings, but it isn’t right for you if you wonder.” Contrast that with—let’s compare—let’s talk about a couple of SEALs. Let’s talk about Mark Twight who was—in everything he did, it was the antithesis of CrossFit. Now, everything he does is—unless it’s changed again, and he’s found someone else to poach from—it’s became CrossFit, and he claims no loyalty. At his cert was another SEAL named Duffy Gaver, and Duffy had been training celebrities certainly in a more CrossFit manner than anything Mark Twight had done. And it was very, very successful, probably the most successful celebrity trainer ever. And I know there are some that promote themselves as celebrity trainers, but they don’t have a list like his list of clients, and he won’t talk about it, which is amazing, but we all know who he has trained, and it’s everybody. Duffy Gaver went and took the seminar, thanked us for the material and then went out on his own. Seven or eight years later, he affiliated, and his essay was that he’s been using this method for a long time, and he doesn’t fly the flag, and his customers keep asking, “Isn’t this CrossFit?” And every time they asked, he says he feels like a thieving douchebag. And so, he says, I guess I’ve got to pay some money, so I don’t have to feel like a thief, you know? And I was like, there’s a translation of that that makes me proud to stand alongside him. What he’s telling me is that the methods are something that he’s profoundly committed to and that he doesn’t feel right standing apart from the people that brought that to him, that the alliances means something to him. Now it would be nice for someone to maybe feel a little better about that, but I get it. It works for me. And I would be like that too. I’m not going to scrape anyone’s name off of anything and pretend like it came from me. I don’t understand that. You know, when the Marines do CrossFit and call it something else and then say they can’t endorse a brand, their boots have a brand on it. Their weapons have a brand name on it. Their sunglasses have a brand name on it. Their helmet carries a brand name, but they’ve got to scrape the CrossFit name off of something and put something else on. You know—we might want to be careful with that. We actually have a very good relationship with the Marine Corps, but there’s been a faction of the Corps that was wanting to scrape the name off and call it something else due to a corrupt civilian influence.


Chris Cooper (01:07:01):
That happened in Canada, right?


Greg Glassman (01:07:03):
It happened in—the discussion’s been had everywhere. You know, my problem is that to have adopted this methodology so completely for it to be so crazy different than what you were doing and to not feel compelled to tell whose material it is, lacks integrity.


Chris Cooper (01:07:42):
Well, there’s a lot of that out there, right? Tens of thousands.


Greg Glassman (01:07:44):
Of course. A bunch of things are odd to me. If I tell a joke, I’d like to tell who told it to me. I love attribution. Whenever I can do that, I will. If you and I were to open up a taco place, well one of the things we might do is call it “Jason and Greg’s Tacos.” But the very first thing I’m going to do is fucking check Google. And if there’s a Jason and Greg’s Taco anywhere in the world, we need another name. I can’t imagine wanting to use someone else’s name. Do you remember the guy that—it was a—the name even had this wonderful touch of irony. ForgeFit. It was a—I’m not going to mention his name again, but I’m going to write it down because I don’t want to return hell on this kid, because he actually told me that it would destroy his life, but this is the guy’s name. Well, this guy puts up a website, ForgeFit, CrossFit Forge. ForgeFit. And he’s got pictures of Annie Sakamoto and even my dog. The guy doesn’t even get his own fucking dog. And what was he? An illegal affiliate was the deal. And told us basically to fuck off. And this is prior to having—Dell is our only lawyer, and maybe we hadn’t even met him; I don’t know what the deal was, but yeah, it was very early. And so, we just put up on Google, showed the world, look at this guy, used his name and go, “Look what’s happened. Look what he’s doing.” Well, it took like 15 or 20 minutes and when you put his name into Google, that came up first, and after a while the thing was, he’s like, “I can’t even get a job.” And I felt bad for him, but I didn’t know what to do now. Like I wish you hadn’t stolen from us and then told us to fuck off when we talked to you about it. We’ve never—we’re really a bunch of really nice people. The whole crew. There’s no one mean-spirited on my staff. Not a one. Not even Dave.


Chris Cooper (01:10:39):
No, that’s the misperception, though. So why isn’t the affiliate fee 10,000 by now?


Greg Glassman (01:10:42):
I didn’t—I wasn’t looking for it to be a—it’s my least-rents model. I mean that’s the easy answer. I wanted as many people as possible to have this opportunity, and that isn’t consistent with, “How much can I get for it?”


Chris Cooper (01:11:08):
OK. So, why—what’s the definition of a thriving box? I’m not going to take too much more of your time here.


Greg Glassman (01:11:21):
I’m doing good, Bubba. You know, this is a—Nicole helped me with this. Not saying you’ve got to come back, but she did. We were going to—with some quants, SAIC; we were going to quantify the work of our affiliates. And we were going to be able to identify best practices. And a lot of this—there was a lot we could do, and these guys were technologically very, very savvy. But what we couldn’t do was produce an algorithm that didn’t just on a cursory inspection create some decision-making, some ranking that we just weren’t willing to accept. And let me give you—I can speak very specifically here. It’s hard to—what about a box that is just looking for sick people? And the most reluctant to train and follow your advice, compared to a gym of a bunch of younger people. How do you compare to training a hundred people with good results, even impressive results, to training five that were in a horrible fix and now aren’t? You know, I just don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to rank it. So, is your gym unsuccessful if there’s no sick people in it, and there’s hundreds of people there, and everyone’s happy and smiling? Sure, sure. How about if you only work with children? Yeah. Women only. Only the sick. A mixed bag. I always ask, “Are you growing?” Because I like growth. I like growth. Not a lot, but some. Couple of new people every month. That’s more than enough. More than enough. I want to know if people are having fun; that’s really important. It’s a—you’re not going to be successful without it.


Chris Cooper (01:14:07):
Any other metrics or keys that you could point at that a successful affiliate would have in common with other successful affiliates?


Greg Glassman (01:14:16):
Well, yeah, I mean, the successful affiliates earn more than they spend.


Chris Cooper (01:14:21):


Greg Glassman (01:14:22):
Yeah, and you know, that’s important. I always did, but you know, I mean, the way to do that is to not spend more than you earn and keep working hard. There’s not a lot of mystery to that.


Chris Cooper (01:14:41):
It’s algebra.


Greg Glassman (01:14:43):
Yeah. I’ve never done any kind of marketing or advertising or promotion or deal-making, none, nothing. You don’t get a discount with more sessions. Nothing happens good to you by paying up front. Because I don’t want you to pay up front. I found the business of this to be exceedingly easy, but I also left it largely to Lauren. And she was—and with the simplest of tools, an Excel spreadsheet, she did a marvelous job, a marvelous job. How many clients are you going to have? A couple of hundred? That could be done with a Number 2 pencil on a brown paper bag every evening. And you could use your iPhone for a digital backup in case the bag catches on fire. You know, is that ideal? Probably not. But will that make or break you? I don’t think so, but I think your attitude could. I like to ask people that come up to me all sunny face and happy affiliates, the younger, the more fun it is to ask, “How’s business?” And they’re generally astonished at the question. “What do you mean?” I go, “I know you’re cute. I’d work out with you. I’m just asking because I think you’re a neat person.” You can be incompetent and fun and do very well in this business. I’ve met those. And you can be competent and an asshole and struggle—I’ve seen that—and fail. If you’re an asshole and incompetent, you’ll never get off the ground. You won’t even get a training job in a gym. But to be competent and to be pleasant, to be a source of inspiration, not just for this next rep, but in general, those people thrive. Those people thrive. And I like to tell the story about, you know, being at—I’m at Sonia Khan’s 50th birthday party, and you know, the lawyers aren’t there; the accountants aren’t there. Just a few of the sailing team is there. All the people they work with, they’re not there, but I am; I’m there. I went everywhere. I was part of that family. And then Nicole had that job, and you were a family member. You traveled with them, you know, like no one else. And at the end of the night, when all the professional people went home, you’d stay there for dinner if you want. There’s an intimacy in the client relationship that is unusual.


Chris Cooper (01:17:58):
And that’s the mark of a successful affiliate, is that strong relationship?


Greg Glassman (01:18:06):
You know, or is that just one of the perks of the job? I don’t know. Are you close to your clients?


Chris Cooper (01:18:16):
Yeah, absolutely.


Greg Glassman (01:18:18):
Do you socialize with them?


Chris Cooper (01:18:18):
Yeah. Yeah.


Greg Glassman (01:18:18):
Are they your friends? Right, that’s who I play with. And I understand, you know, we marry those people, and we fall in love with those people. That’s who you know.


Chris Cooper (01:18:36):
Now, I’ve kind of been hoarding this episode for a couple of weeks. I’ve listened to it five times already and taken notes every time. I thought about editing it to highlight key points, but I wanted you to hear it in a free-flow state. There are a few things though that I really want you to take away from this episode. First, that we’re not selling an exercise program. We’re selling a fitness program. That means nutrition needs to be a huge part, maybe 50% of your curriculum. We spent a lot of time on that because it’s so important. Second is that although it’s included in your curriculum, it’s not included in the price. Greg talked during this interview about how he would charge people for nutrition consultation, how he would encourage people to get on the nutrition bandwagon and the different types of plans that he would have for people.


Chris Cooper (01:19:20):
That’s worth listening to again. Second, Greg referred to kind of an onboarding or like an incubation stage where a client spends time one-on-one before they get into a group class, and different people who were part of those days, you know, pre-2001 when they were training with Greg, have told me stories about going from one-on-one into being paired up with a partner into a group of three, maybe four. They weren’t brought into a CrossFit gym, or you know what Greg was calling it back then, and just thrown into a group of 10 or 12. They weren’t even on-boarded with that intent. They were on-boarded as a one-on-one client and gradually introduced to a partner or a triple. I think that’s worth covering more than once. Third, what’s really important here is the way that Greg talks about people who have criticized him in the past.


Chris Cooper (01:20:10):
There are people, and I’ve been witness to this, who have loudly criticized Greg’s methods, who have done everything they could to like discredit him. I brought up Mel Siff, but also, you know, William Kramer’s in that category. The “Exercise is Medicine” crew. The way that Greg talks about these people is that he doesn’t hold anything back, but he also doesn’t criticize them as people. He criticizes their methods. And he questions their methods because he’s doing so for the greater good. He’s trying to help everybody else in the world actually see results instead of just following along this path that doesn’t work. Greg is a genius in a lot of different ways, but his biggest genius is the ability to surround himself and rally support from very powerful people. Nicole Carroll, Jimi Letchford, both sitting at the table with me. The people who are closest to Greg have been there since the early days.


Chris Cooper (01:21:03):
They came up with Greg; they were exercising at his gym, and now they’re massive leaders in the fitness industry. This is not a mistake. This is not just luck. Greg is extremely adept at surrounding himself with the best possible people at the top, and that is what makes CrossFit go. Last week, I exposed you to the leaders of the media team except for Sevan, because I want you to know that CrossFit HQ is built by powerful people trying to do their best to change the world and create a meaningful career for you, the affiliate. I hope you enjoyed the episode. I hope you listen to it three or four times. I hope you share it with your friends, and I hope it helps you get a clearer understanding of what it means to be a successful CrossFit affiliate. Have a great week.


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