Two-Brain Summit Preview: Jason Khalipa and the AMRAP Mentality

A photo of Jason Khalipa with the title "The AMRAP Mentality."

John Franklin (00:02):
Welcome to this week’s episode of “Run a Profitable Gym.” I am your host this week, John Franklin, the CMO of Two-Brain. And with me, I have a very special guest. It is the fittest man in the world, the ex-fittest man. Do you call it fittest man or ex-fittest man, or are you always the fittest?

Jason Khalipa (00:21):
You know what term I like? Former. Former. How about that?

John Franklin (00:24):
The former fittest man, the once fittest man, the founder of NCFIT Gyms, TRAIN HARD online training, the host, of course, of the Jason Khalipa podcast. And just a general thought leader and someone the Two-Brain community looks up to as a whole. None other than the man, the myth, the legend: Jason Khalipa. Thanks for making the time to do this, man. We always appreciate when you come on the show.

Jason Khalipa (00:48):
Yeah, no, I’m glad I’m here. You know, today—it’s funny. You know, we have a variety of different business verticals, different things going on, but last night I was hit up by one of our coaching directors, and she’s like, “Dude, we could really use your help tomorrow.” And this has not happened in many, many, many months. And so, I went in, and I feel like I was back in the trenches a little bit, coached the 6 a.m. class. So, I’m fired up to talk to you right now about all things business and fitness.

John Franklin (01:17):
So yeah, your head’s close to the product right now, and we appreciate that. When I think of Jason Khalipa and I listen to some of your content, one of the things I don’t think is burnout. Have you ever experienced that feeling before in your life? You know, we were talking a little bit about it before the show, but you don’t strike me as someone who ever gets tired.

Jason Khalipa (01:35):
No, no. I mean, if anything, I have a terrible attention span, and I don’t get tired easily. And it’s something that, from a business perspective, I think it’s been great for us. And I also think at times it’s been difficult because I have been reactive at times, and I’ve been really working on those things as a leader in the organization—recognizing that if you are a leader in your organization, the skill sets that you have, the rest of your team may not have. Or—and they shouldn’t; like, they should have other skill sets, but if you are one of those “hard charger,” “got to go, got to go,” sometimes that could turn some people off. You need to recognize when to turn it on, when to turn it off. But in general, yeah, I’m that guy. I’m that just kind of “got to go” guy.

John Franklin (02:18):
Well, look, you’re obviously a successful businessman, a successful gym owner, and we talk a lot about that on the show, but one of the things that we care a lot about at Two-Brain is crafting well-rounded, successful entrepreneurs. And it sounds like you’ve been having some thoughts on what that means recently. Can you kind of give us an insight into what you’ve been thinking about in terms of what it means to run a business?

Jason Khalipa (02:45):
Yeah. I mean, well, if you look at my background, when I first got into CrossFit in 2008, there weren’t many business resources. And I came from a background where I came up in the traditional gym system, and I was in—through high school and college, I had mentors who were very business focused. Less coaching focused, more business focused. And when I got into CrossFit, it was very much so coaching focused and less business focused. That was just the way it was. And so, over the years, I tried to blend those two, and I tried to communicate with HQ and other gyms. We did things like “Box to Business.” We’ve done all kinds of different things to try and support gym owners, to treat their gyms, to create profitable gyms, to provide trajectory for themselves and their family. That’s always been important to me. And you can look at my track record since 2008, trying to put out content and trying to share those types of things for the better part of almost two decades.

Jason Khalipa (03:37):
And as those like 15, 20 years have come around, the industry’s evolved, and I’ve evolved. And I think that that’s important to note is that you’re not going to be the same leader, the same owner, the same person you were 10 years ago. And frankly, you shouldn’t be. And I think it’s important to speak authentically about the things that you’re going through, the things that you experience, the things that you want to share with others, because chances are, if you’re experiencing those, other people are as well. And so, that’s kind of how I’ve evolved over the years, is that you go from a single site to multiple sites. You go from having no kids to multiple kids. You go from having—it is just your mindset shifts, your perspective changes. And I think it’s important as a gym owner not to get burnt out, to recognize what your why is and to reinvigorate yourself on a regular basis of the work that you do matters.

Jason Khalipa (04:26):
And I think that’s really important to note. And so, things that I’ve been going through lately are like: What I want to speak on at the Two-Brain Summit? Like, what is important to me? Because if it’s important to me at the time, I could speak passionately about it and speak from experience. And I think that that ultimately will help resonate with the gym owners that are there. And last year I spoke on the idea of forging elite leadership, and it was kind of like a play on forging elite fitness, obviously. And I spoke about three factors: I spoke about to forge elite leadership, which I found was like—at the time I had just finished a leadership course, and I was really inspired by the way that this course impacted the way I looked at things. And I didn’t think that in our space we talked enough about leadership.

Jason Khalipa (05:07):
So I felt like I wanted to talk about it. And the reception seemed good on this. I spoke about three different things: I talked about the art of detachment, I talked about AMRAP mentality, and I talked about making to give. This year, I want to kind of evolve that more and definitely dive into AMRAP mentality, which is about mindset, about prioritizing and executing on what you’re doing at that given time. But because of life and because of business, there’s other things I want to continue to speak on. I’ve been kind of having a brainstorming session, actually with you just before we started recording, on exactly how I want to mold the talk about what’s important to me today. And that’s kind where I’m at right now. I can talk more about it, but I want to give it a second. I went long-winded.

John Franklin (05:48):
It’s fine. I was actually at that first “Box to Business” Summit. I think it was almost 10 years ago now. And yeah, I remember you did a talk, and it’s like, “Yeah, if you have employees, you should write down what they’re supposed to be doing.” And everyone was like, “Pff.”

Jason Khalipa (06:03):
Mind blown.

John Franklin (06:04):
And that was the state of CrossFit business at the time. “Yeah, your class should be consistent.” Everyone was like, “This is insane. This is some cutting-edge stuff.” But that’s an aside. So yeah, I’m looking at your TRAIN HARD site right now, right? And I’ll pull it up if you’re watching on YouTube here. And obviously there’s pictures of the man himself just looking absolutely huge. And then on here we have “train, protect, provide.” Let’s talk about that. What does that mean, and why did you choose to put that in the most important part of your website here?

Jason Khalipa (06:36):
Yeah, I mean, so, back to what you were saying: So, “box to business” 10 years ago was like, “Hey, have your employees as W2 have job descriptions.” And it was like, “Whoa.” You know, “Start class on time.” It’s like, “Oh my gosh.” Have your team wear a uniform.” “No way.” But now it’s like, that’s just second nature. You know, you have to evolve, or you’re going to perish is kind of like the theory. And CrossFit has evolved, and the gym owners have evolved. And for me, I’ve evolved. And so, TRAIN HARD, so, our business today, as of April 24th 2024, it has three different verticals. So, we have NCFIT, brick and mortar gyms and corporate wellness. That’s one. We have the NCFIT Collective, which are session plans, programming and coaching tools for gym owners. That’s another vertical.

Jason Khalipa (07:24):
And then we have the TRAIN HARD aspect, and TRAIN HARD is not for the same demographic. So, our brick-and-mortar gyms are for exactly that. They’re for members that could find our locations and join us. Perfect. Our collective is for B2B. It’s a business-to-business model where we support gym owners and coaches, but we weren’t doing a very good job speaking to the end consumer who wanted to engage with us, in particular me and what I’m interested in. And so, we rolled out TRAIN HARD as a metaphor for something that’s really important to me. Like I believe that we should train hard so we can protect and provide—and I’ll share more about what that means to me—and also reach an audience that isn’t just CrossFit, meaning I love ju-jitsu; I’m super into ju-jitsu. I like the tactical games; I like all those things.

Jason Khalipa (08:13):
And so, I wanted to provide a solution for people who are in their garages or in their gyms worldwide who wanted to engage with us, but couldn’t make it into one of our gyms and weren’t a gym owner. And we wanted to roll out a brand that was consistent with that instead of it being part of NCFIT. And I think as any gym owner listening, I think it’s a good learning lesson that we’ve had, where your brand can’t be everything to everybody, and following your passion, I think, is important. And so, for me, that’s why we chose to roll off a new brand instead of having it underneath NCFIT, because we were trying to be everything to everybody for gym owners, for brick and mortar and for end users, and just came off too much. So this way I could speak on the things that I’m passionate about underneath the TRAIN HARD umbrella, while also speaking about the things that I’m passionate about to gym owners and coaches on the NCFIT side.

John Franklin (09:02):
So let’s talk about it. You’re passionate about it. What does this mean? Obviously, I get the train part. What about the protecting and providing, and how do those tie together?

Jason Khalipa (09:11):
Well, and this is something I’m thinking about for the Two-Brain and I’m still kind of—I’m still refining what this looks like, and I’m going to test it and test it and test it. When I say test it, I mean I’m going to record myself given this presentation. I’m going to really—my goal for the Two-Brain Summit, and I hope everybody listening is going to attend, is to overdeliver. Just when people walk away, be like, “Holy shit. Like, that guy prepared. He executed, and his goal was to add value into my life and share things that are important to him.” That’s really important to me. Not because of money, fame, none of that. It’s because I care. I care that these people are showing up, taking time out of their day and their gyms to grow and learn and evolve. And I have a duty as a presenter to give my full heart, my full soul, my full attention into that speech, that presentation, because they’re giving their full self to be there.

Jason Khalipa (10:06):
So what does “train, protect, provide” mean? And this is something that maybe it’ll come up at the Two-Brain. It means that what we do at our gyms matters. What we do in the garage, it matters. What we do as men, as women, as adults—especially those with kids—it matters. And if you’re a gym owner listening, the service you provide is going to make a dramatic impact on people’s lives. And it’s not just going to make a dramatic impact as they come in. They have the best hour of their day, they grow emotionally, physically, all that kind of stuff. Yes, of course they’re going to leave there feeling better than when they walked in. No question. But how about this idea? They come in, they train—or maybe they, someone uses our app and they train—and it gives them the ability to protect.

Jason Khalipa (10:49):
And as a father, I can’t think of two things that are more important to me than to protect and provide for myself and my family. And in most cases, community. I do weekly free workouts for men every week. We’ve been doing it for seven months here, just in the parking lot. But anyways, when you think about what protect means, I think oftentimes people gravitate towards fighting or whatever, but I actually think that the likelihood of you getting in a fight—I mean, imagine, I don’t know exactly how old you are, John, but how many fights have you gotten in your life, especially as an adult? Probably very few, right?

John Franklin (11:20):
Post-college, it’s a small amount, you know?

Jason Khalipa (11:23):
Very small amount, right? But how many times are people listening having to run after their kid, having to go and lift something, having to go climb something, having to go do something to protect themselves or others physically? That happens more times than not, especially for me, because I’m out doing hikes and doing different things. And if you don’t have that physical ability, if you don’t train, you’re not going to be able to protect yourself and your family, especially like, I don’t know if you’ve seen those videos of like the shopping cart with the kid in it that’s going into the street, and the person sprints after it and grabs it. That’s an example of what we’re providing. But I also think there’s this idea of “provide,” and this one I think is even more important, and this is something I want to talk to gym owners about.

Jason Khalipa (12:04):
We train so we can protect, run, jump, climb, lift, and if needed sure, fight, of course. But the “provide” piece I don’t think we talk about enough, which is providing experiences—and also financially, which I’ll get into—but experiences, I think, are so important. As a dad, as a husband, my goal is to—all I’m going to have left is experiences with my kids and experiences with other people around me. And so, I never want my physical fitness to inhibit what I need or want to do ever. I always want to be able to provide those things for my kids. I always want to be the dad who’s like, if the kid asks something, like, “Let’s go,” and “Do you want to go do this? Let’s go.” But training allows me to provide those experiences because I never have to worry about physically being incapable of doing those.

Jason Khalipa (12:52):
And that is a gift that gym owners are giving to their members every single day. You’re giving them the gift to provide, to go on vacation and never have to worry about “name the thing they want to go do” because they don’t have the physical capability. And when you dive down to that deeper level, it’s super meaningful as a gym owner to look at the impact you can make across hundreds, thousands, x amount of people and how you’re allowing them to train so they can protect themselves and their families and provide experiences. But on top of that, we’re also giving athletes another gift, which is to provide financially. You know, I’m a big believer that someone comes into the gym, they have a great workout, they mentally and physically are in a better position, and when they go to work, they show up differently. They show up more prepared; they show up more—they show up with a better perspective. They show up in a clearer state of mind. And I believe that over time they will be able to provide more financially for their families because they’re training, because they show up with that type of self-confidence and worth. And those are gifts that we’re, as gym owners, giving. And those are gifts ourselves that we can get by training: train, protect, provide.

John Franklin (14:02):
I talked to Moe from Beyond The Whiteboard this week, and apparently he went to one of your weekly workouts, and he said that he felt like he wanted to run through a wall after he finished with it. So, whatever you’re doing out there, he said it’s pretty magical. I’m a new father, so I have two small kids. This idea of providing experiences for kids and showing up and providing as a husband is something I think about a lot because it’s so easy to just fall into this rut and this routine, and unless you’re like being very conscientious about the way you show up as a father and as a husband, I can see how a lot of that can go by the wayside and turn into bigger problems down the road. I’ve seen videos of you working out with your kids. I’ve seen videos of you going to the park and playing with your son and doing different things. Do you have a framework or a way you think about doing stuff with your children or doing stuff with your wife? Is it like every Thursday’s date night, every Tuesday’s workout day with the family? Like, how are you going about and thinking about showing up as a husband and father?

Jason Khalipa (15:03):
Well, this is something else that at the Summit—again, right now you’re kind of firsthand, if you’re listening to this and you’re going to the Summit, you’re firsthand kind of hearing some of the things that are important to me right now. Right? But date night has been important to me forever. When our daughter got diagnosed with leukemia, the first thing that I was told is to keep a date night. And we’ve been pretty diligent about doing that. And that’s a little bit more structured. I think in regards to kids, and this goes for any gym owner in their business, is being intentional. I think being intentional is really all it is. And if you’re intentional, if you’re really reflecting, like, “Hey, am I doing the best I can with the information I have,” if I’m really out there being intentional with my approach as a gym owner, as a father, as an athlete, whatever, you know, there’s really no way to have regrets.

Jason Khalipa (15:44):
And it’s something I reflect on a lot because as an athlete, you ask yourself when you’re competing, “Did I do the best I can?” It’s like, if every day in training you are doing the best you can to prepare yourself for the CrossFit Games, however you stack up at the games, it is what it is. You’ve put yourself in the best position. That same thing applies I think as a husband, as a father, is like: Can you have micro check-ins on a regular basis to see, “Hey, how am I doing?” daily? So, you don’t reflect later on and say, “Man, I made these huge mistakes.” Because you were asking yourself on a regular basis. So, at that point you’re making the best decision you could. And so those are some of the things that I think about all the time is like intentionality as a dad.

Jason Khalipa (16:20):
You know, my daughter’s 13, my son’s 10. And you know, I think what we do matters as gym owners, man, and just in fitness in general. You know, my daughter’s getting back from 10 weeks—she was gone at a residency program for some health issues she’s been having, and she’s been gone for 10 weeks. And as a dad, it is so difficult, but the training allows me to stay calm, to stay controlled, to learn these microdoses of adversity that I could then overcome and then take that in our daily life. And I think that those are—I keep going back to, as a gym owner—these are gifts that we’re providing to our members that maybe we don’t realize because it’ll help us stay inspired to leave the Two-Brain Summit and keep kicking ass for the next year until the next Summit. Because the work we do, it’s hard. You know, coaches don’t show up. This happens; that happens. There’s always stuff going on, right? But the work we do is also impactful in more ways than I think we oftentimes see it as.

John Franklin (17:21):
I think I’m going after you, like right after you in the Summit, and I’m just sweating right now. I’m going to get off this call and just start practicing. I’m already—you’re raising the game for someone here, you know, at least me. Because I’m like, “Oh my god, I’ve got to go after this guy.” OK, so I get it on a high level. I understand the concept. Now, it’s a room of a thousand gym owners. Some of them are going to be doing this well; some of them are going to be doing it poorly. Like, how do you live this? How do you live this brand, how do you live the Jason Khalipa lifestyle and train, protect, provide?

Jason Khalipa (17:56):
Well, I think, and the train, protect, provide thing is just where I’m at as of today, but I also think like the lessons that we talked about last year, they’re even more important to me today than they were last year. Meaning the AMRAP mentality, being present, being focused, being—you know, so the AMRAP mentality, this really came to be in like 2016 at the time I was trying to—or 2014 or even earlier. I was trying to win the CrossFit Games, competing year-round. At the time we had like 20-something locations, brick and mortar. And I recognized that unless I prioritized and segmented out my day, like first off, I wasn’t reaching my potential in those different areas. And secondly, I wasn’t going to have strong relationships because I was one foot in, one foot out. I’d be with the kids but thinking about competing at the Games. I would be on conference calls but trying to ride the assault bike, and it just wasn’t working.

Jason Khalipa (18:50):
It wasn’t working, not being present. And so, I started asking myself like, “When am I the most productive?” And typically, it came from when I’m in AMRAPs. Like, if I ask you to do seven minutes of max pushups, like, dude, you’re just going to do it. You’re not going to stop and answer your phone. You’re not going to go talk to anybody. You’re just going to crush it. And that was the mentality that I started incorporating in my life, and I still do today where it’s broken down into certain segments, and I’ll just share it with you. So, the AMRAP mentality is “as many reps as possible.” Most people listening know what an AMRAP is. You would then segment out your day. So like, for example, this morning I got up at five, I went to the gym, I came back, I’ve now been on three hours of calls or whatever it is.

Jason Khalipa (19:29):
After this, I’m going to go to ju-jitsu or to go train. And I think that’s a good example of switching gears and prioritizing. So, the way I like to break up my day is when I’m at something, I’m being very present and focused in it. I then switch gears like riding a bike, and I then become present and focused on the next thing, and I work hard within that domain. So right now, I’m not being distracted by anything else. I’m just talking to you. After this, I’m no longer going to worry really about this conversation. I’m going to prioritize my next thing that I want to do, which is training. After I’m done training, I’ll then not think about that anymore and prioritize my next focus, which will be work again. And then, boom, as the night comes on, we’ll have family dinner, et cetera.

Jason Khalipa (20:10):
And so the AMRAP mentality is about kind of segmenting your day in these micro-focuses, being present focused there, working hard, and then evaluating what your deep why is for each one of those focuses you have. And that’s what we’ve talked about in the past at Two-Brain. And I think the reason why it’s important as a gym owner is that your day is action packed. But oftentimes I think we’re a lot more busy doing but never actually completing anything. Like, we’re scrolling Instagram when we should be just like locked in writing emails back to members. We could prioritize our workouts for an hour or two, but all of a sudden if you try and prioritize other things, you get distracted really easily. And so, you’re taking that same mindset, and everything we do, I think will support productivity. And I have a full talk on this. That’s going to be a piece of what we’ll be discussing at the Summit as well.

John Franklin (20:59):
So every year after the Summit, we have a large debrief where we talk about not only the speakers, the people who attended, the vendors, basically like a full tear-down, and a universal piece of feedback shared about not only you but your team was that you guys were incredibly present. You know, you were on the floor; you were not putzing around on your phone. You were engaging with guests off the stage and on the stage. And you guys were just like a great partner and a great ambassador. So, I’ve seen you live this, and I appreciate that, and that’s part of the reason why Two-Brain likes NCFIT so much, but just kind of talking with you and consuming some of your content, this doesn’t seem like something that comes naturally to you. Just being able to plan and be focused and stay task-oriented for long chunks of time. So how did you develop this skillset? Is it like anything else, like training, you just kind of do it a lot, and you get better at it? Or was there some type of like “come to Jesus” moment that allowed you to make the switch?

Jason Khalipa (22:04):
Well, definitely, you have those moments, and this was a long time ago. It was like—I was walking with my wife, my daughter, and Ashley asked me something. I just had no idea what she was talking about because I wasn’t present and focused there. I was just thinking about the CrossFit Games—this is many years ago—and I just reminded myself like, “Dude, what am I doing? Like what am I doing?” Like a good example is for owners who are coming up to this Summit, and sometimes I’ll see this at presentations: I just don’t get it. It’s like you’re going to spend your money, your time to come to something to improve your business. That’s the goal. The goal is “I want to take something away, so my business gets 10 x return of

what I invested here from time and money.”

Jason Khalipa (22:41):
But then when they come, they’re unengaged. They’re just kind of like sitting there. Sometimes they’re even on their phone. It’s like, “Bro, what are we doing?” Like if you make the decision to commit, like let’s go all in. And when we made the decision last year to show up at Two-Brain and coach classes and do all the things, like the commitment was made. And so, once we make the commitment to a specific thing, it’s like reaching our full potential within that is something I think about all the time. And it’s hard for me to focus, but I don’t think there’s another option because what I refuse—I’d rather feel the tension of me continuously asking myself, “How am I doing?” than look back and regret not reaching my full potential on anything I’m doing. Even this conversation right now—like what would bother me even more is finishing this conversation, but I’m super distracted on whatever else is going on and being like, “Did I really do a good job with John?”

Jason Khalipa (23:34):
And “I don’t remember even if I answered his question well.” Those things really would hold me back. And it’s the same thing, like when I was on conference calls all the time with Asia, we were opening up like 20 locations in Asia, and I would always be doing it when I was on the bike. And I had to really put myself in check and be like, “Dude, you couldn’t wait like an hour to get on the assault bike?” Like, just prioritize what you need to prioritize because otherwise you’re going to regret those conversations, and maybe there was something you missed, and that sucks. So, that’s kind of where I’m at. And it’s a continuously working circle. Like I don’t claim to be perfect at this. This is just something I’m aware of. And for that reason alone, it allows me to be intentional in my approach.

John Franklin (24:13):
So do you have unscheduled time, or are you just one of those mutants that schedules every minute of every day?

Jason Khalipa (24:18):
No, no, no, no, no. So, I definitely have unscheduled time because it’s important to also have time to reflect and brainstorm and work on the business and not in it. You know, I don’t really coach regularly. I am I—from an ownership perspective, I am definitely not in the gyms. Like I’ll go to the gyms, but like in general, I’m looking at it from a different perspective because we have the TRAIN HARD over here; we have this going on over here. But from that, it’s important that you give yourself time for critical thought. And I think that if you jam pack your schedule too much, you don’t give yourself enough time for that critical thought. For me, a lot of that happens in the sauna early in the morning or on rucks typically. But if you don’t give yourself those allocated times, I think that you’re missing out, and your business won’t reach its potential because you’re not having free time to brainstorm.

John Franklin (25:12):
People love a good morning routine. And so, is the sauna how Jason Khalipa starts his day every day?

Jason Khalipa (25:19):
Yeah, yeah. No, it is as of as of the last couple of months. It is. And I’ll tell you why. So, it used to be—I mean, well this morning I was at the gym. Tomorrow morning I’ve got a group of guys coming over, so that’s going to be a little bit different, but then we’re going to jump in the sauna. What I found is that if you are waking up in the morning with a specific level of stress for whatever reason—it could be family, it could be business, it could be whatever, and a lot of people listening went through some major stress during COVID—but if you wake up and you already feel like a sense of anxiety, you’re not going to be able to attack the day the same way you could if you took on that day with a more composed approach.

Jason Khalipa (25:55):
And that goes for the way you talk to your team, it’s the way you talk to your spouse, it’s the way that you show up. And so doing the thing you need to do to feel the way you want to feel is very important. And so, identifying what that is for you, if that’s a walk, if that’s whatever. For me, the sauna is a great way to kind of level set and then jump in the cold plunge, and it just like kickstarts my day like nothing else. And especially, like I said, with Ava being gone for the last couple months, it was a time where my stress is a little bit higher. Kind of like, I almost felt like similar anxiety, a little bit different to when our gyms were being shut down for COVID. And I need to do what I know I need to do in the morning to help me show up for my team and myself, my family. And so, that’s why that’s my routine now is because that puts me in the right state of mind to be the best I can.

John Franklin (26:45):
And are you like a 5 a.m. every day—like a Chris Cooper: You wake up before the sun and grind away? His is like writing, so yours is a sauna. He just goes and smashes on a keyboard for an hour and a half, and that works for—that’s his grind, and it works really well for him. Are you waking up super early?

Jason Khalipa (27:02):
Yeah, I mean, I’m definitely before the sun, but not as early, not like five, but I mean, some days five; some days, we have groups that meet up on the weekends every weekend at 6 a.m. so generally around six. But I think what’s important there too is like, don’t get too wrapped up in this morning routine where you end up spending hours and hours just doing a bunch of shit because you heard it on the internet as something that’s going to help improve your life. Like what really matters is productivity and getting work done. But if starting your morning off the right way helps you be more productive and get your day off to the right foot, then that’s the key for it. So, finding what works for you is important.

Jason Khalipa (27:42):
And you should get ideas from other people like me or whoever, but you’ve got to find what works for you. So, I’ll tell you what, as a leader in your organization, it’s important that you show up a certain way for your team, and there’s a lot of stress to show up a certain way. And the only people who know what that feels like are other leaders, other owners. And so, coming from an owner-leadership perspective, I hear you. I see you. I know how you feel, how when you show up on calls, when you show up in meetings, you’re the guy and or the girl. And you have to be that person. You have to be the inspirational component that allows your team to thrive. But if you’re not at your best self, then you can’t be there. You can’t be that person for them. And so, you need to do what it needs to take to show up. And if that’s pre-meeting meditation, if that’s whatever that is for you, you’ve got to know what that is. So that you can help your team thrive.

John Franklin (28:33):
It’s funny that you brought up having some people over and hanging out in the sauna. Like I literally saw—let me see here, I can share my screen. I literally saw a post from Eric Posner. He owns Swerve Fitness, which is like a chain of cycle places. He’s out of California as well. And he mimicked the exact same thing. He’s like “Here’s this life hack for entrepreneurs. I just invite groups of investors, creatives, and entrepreneurs together, and we just bake at 200+ degrees and talk about our goals.” And he said that’s been like a transformational thing for his network. Like there’s something about frying your brain with other guys that allows you to think differently or bond on a different level. I don’t know what it is, but you know, you make me want to buy a sauna now.

Jason Khalipa (29:14):
Yeah, well, I mean, so the sauna thing—I mean, again, what I’m currently doing today, and this is why I said that things evolve. Ten years ago, I spent 90% of my time in the gym. Now, I spend a lot of my time outside the gym. I spend a lot of my time in the garage, on the ju-jitsu mats, outdoors, getting into different disciplines, and a lot of the stuff like on the weekends, every weekend for the last 32 weekends, I’ve been hosting free men’s club workouts in a parking lot. And I don’t ask for anything. I don’t say anything. I just say, “Hey guys, I’m going to be here at this time doing this thing. Come join me.” And people would ask like, “Why wouldn’t you just drive them to your gym?” And of course I’d want to drive them to my gym, but this is something that is very meaningful for me, and I want to try and remove all the barriers possible.

Jason Khalipa (30:01):
This is not a business thing for me. This is a personal thing that I want to help support my community, be the fittest community in the world. And I asked myself like, “What am I doing to support that?” And I wasn’t doing enough. Because there are barriers. And as soon as you start talking about having them in your business, now all of a sudden, you’re talking about money and waivers, and it’s just once a week, so it’s kind of weird. What are you doing? So instead, it’s like, “Hey, we’re going to meet in a parking lot,” and if people want to join the gym, of course they can. But that’s what we’ve been doing now for 32 weeks. We get a lot of guys out there just to train hard and show up for their families better when they get back home. And that’s important to me.

John Franklin (30:33):
That’s so cool. I watched a video of the GORUCK founder, and I think every Sunday in his neighborhood, he hosts like a workout/ruck, and then they all have beers after. So, kind of an interesting idea. Maybe I’ll have some friends over on Sunday, start the movement. You should affiliate this thing. You should; this is a cool movement. Maybe this is a business.

Jason Khalipa (30:52):
Well, I mean, it is just like we’re trying to get guys, and this isn’t exclusive to guys. The ones that we’re doing are because that’s where I’m initially trying to connect at. I am seeing a need, especially for guys who want to get together and do hard things together and suffer shoulder to shoulder. I see a need for that, and I connect with that because I am a guy myself. Women should be doing it too, right? One hundred percent. But right now, that’s what I’m seeing. And the bonds, the discussion, it’s only going to make me show up better for my family, for everybody around me. And that will have value on our business—maybe not financially, because you’re not going to get people who are going to come to this men’s club once a week to join our gym. That’s not the intention. It’s going to level me up because I’m going to create more bonds and connections and whatever. I’m going to learn more, and then I’m going to be able to lead better when I’m back at the gym. So, for that, I’m grateful for it.

John Franklin (31:49):
So, speaking of spending less time in the gym and speaking of these other disciplines that you’re doing, I actually did a TRAIN HARD workout in anticipation of this call. So, if you notice why my back’s so huge that’s why.

Jason Khalipa (32:03):
I thought I noticed something; your back’s—

John Franklin (32:05):
Why I’m busting out of this chair. Yeah, I’m going to buy another one. And it’s like triple the volume I usually do. So, I’m getting huge. How has some of this bled over into the Collective? So, in case—like the NCFIT programming for gym owners, if at all?

Jason Khalipa (32:21):
Yes, I mean, our flex track is available for the gym owner. And a good way to think about it is like our current NCFIT Collective is, is definitely focused for the CrossFit gym. So, it’s going to have a little bit more complexity in it. The TRAIN HARD is a little less complex. So, you know, today’s NCFIT workout had snatching and handstand pushups in it. TRAIN HARD would not have those two movements. And it’s just a different way of training where TRAIN HARD’s mentality is more like, “How do I create a baseline of fitness to be able to go train, protect, provide?” whereas our NCFIT gyms—I don’t want to say they have more sport component—but they definitely have more complexity. And I think that there are benefits to both. I think that one of the benefits to having complexity in CrossFit is that it keeps people inspired and fired up to continue coming into the gym for many, many years. I mean, it’s one of the very unique fitness programs that keeps people around for a long time because there are those new skills to chase. But I chased them for many years, and now I chase other skills like ju-jitsu, and I’m looking for a really solid program to develop my overall base. And that’s what TRAIN HARD provides me.

John Franklin (33:25):
So if you sign up for NCFIT programming as a gym owner, you have access to all these. I see a little bit: compete, flex, go. They have access to all of those.

Jason Khalipa (33:35):
You have compete, you have flex, you have the NCFIT workout, which has a performance and a fitness track, which is great. And you get your daily session plans and all of those good things. I think what we’re doing on the Collective side is like just the beginning of—like right now we’re putting out, I believe, the world’s best session plans and programming. So, if you’re looking for that as a gym owner, I believe we’re putting out the best. We own gyms, they’re successful, and we use the same plans we use.

John Franklin (34:01):
What’s different about them? I’m sure people have tried a couple different services on here. This is a—you know, sell away. We want to hear it.

Jason Khalipa (34:10):
I think for me it’s the fact that when you could generate gyms that are doing six figures a month, I think that there’s something to be said about the program—it matters. And when you have a lot of members who come in and they’re providing you feedback, you could adjust accordingly. So, it’s the daily videos; it’s the fact that every workout is tested. It’s the fact that it’s being tested by coaches who are coaching in a gym. Like we’re not a competitor gym. That’s just not what we do. We own brick and mortar gyms that are for the general population. And I think for a lot of people listening, that’s the type of gyms that they have. So, for that reason, I think that we could thrive in that area. Obviously, I think what also makes it unique is that the people who are writing the session plans and testing the workouts are coaches themselves, and they coach regularly. It’s not like they just used to coach. I don’t write the session plans because I’m not as qualified to now. Like, yes, I’m a CrossFit Level 4 coach, I’ve taught on Seminar staff, but I still don’t write them because I’m not in the trenches every single day like these guys are. So, for that reason, that’s why I think we’re the best.

John Franklin (35:12):
How are you feeling about CrossFit HQ and the affiliate community right now?

Jason Khalipa (35:15):
I think that CrossFit has made a lot of steps in the right direction. A lot. And it’s funny because I used to have similar conversations like what they’re having now many years ago, and obviously, ownership has changed; things have changed, but I think they’re trying really hard to move the brand and the community in the right direction. And my hope is that it’s not too late. My hope is that there is growth to be had, but I think time will only tell. I think that they’re doing a lot of the right things. And again, my question would be, I think we need to reflect back and look back on this a year from now and see if it made the changes that CrossFit wants it to make. Because I do think—I think they’re making all the right pivots, but maybe not, maybe they need to be happening faster, or maybe they should have happened several years ago to get to the growth that they’re looking for. But as of right now, I do think that they’re doing the best they can to support gym owners to grow the brand, but they have a lot of, they have a lot of—it’s not easy being HQ, especially with new ownership and leadership because you have to thread the line between your OG affiliates and where the brand was and where it wants to go. And they’re still trying to figure out what that dynamic looks like, in my opinion.

John Franklin (36:33):
And I’ve definitely seen a lot of action happening.

Jason Khalipa (36:36):

John Franklin (36:37):
You’re obviously thought of as a huge leader and influencer in the space. When we look at our data from the State of the Industry Report, it shows that the average affiliate owner is still struggling. You know, they’re still making less than the median household income in virtually every market. So, as someone who owns affiliates, travels to affiliates, has taught however many thousands of people how to do CrossFit, if you could affect change across the affiliate community, when we’re talking from a business standpoint, what would you advise your average affiliate owner to do? Where are we running—or where are we falling short as a community?

Jason Khalipa (37:19):
I mean, I think in general—and this is going to sound super broad—I think in general we need to treat our business like a business and not a hobby. I think at its highest level, that’s what it comes down to, is that if you’re getting into CrossFit because you love it and you want to open a gym because you love it, I think that’s fine. You could—two things can be true at once. You could love CrossFit, but also be interested in running a very successful, profitable business. And I don’t think those are mutually exclusive. And I think that for a while in CrossFit it was negative to talk about making money. And I think we need to remove that stigma and recognize that unless we make money, unless we show growth, we’re never going to be able to impact more people’s lives because you’re always going to be hamstrung by this hobby mentality.

Jason Khalipa (38:01):
And so, I think the goal should be as an industry to reflect and say, “Hey, what am I uniquely good at? Am I uniquely good as a coach? Am I uniquely good as a leader? Am I uniquely good as whatever?” And then identify other people to surround yourself with to step up. I think a lot of people—if you look at it like a restaurant—I think there’s quite a few people get passionate about CrossFit, who fall in love with it and get life changing results, and they decide to open up a CrossFit gym, and maybe they’re really good at coaching, let’s just say. But if that’s like the food you’re delivering on the table, everything else matters. Like, you can’t have a successful restaurant unless you have a nice front desk experience, unless you’re able to make a reservation, unless you’re able to have a clean, excellent location.

Jason Khalipa (38:49):
All of those things start to matter. Even if the food is great, you probably won’t go back again if you can’t make a reservation. And so that’s a good way to look at the business is like, “How do I take something I’m passionate about but recognize that it is not a hobby, it is a business? And how do I surround myself with people that could help me set up front-desk procedures, set up business practices, make sure the coach on the floor is excellent and consistent every single time, have a facility that’s clean and organized, and have a lease that’s in an appropriate location?” That’s what I think the industry needs to look at as a whole. And instead of like, you know, “I’m opening this up because I love it” because you could do both at the same time.

John Franklin (39:23):
So, it’s not mutually exclusive. The people who say that they’re doing it because they’re passionate about it, that’s OK, but make money as well because then you could do it for longer.

Jason Khalipa (39:31):
Well, I mean, I remember, dude, this was like years ago; I’ll never forget this. It was like 2009. We opened up our second location, and I remember someone said to me like, “Hey, so why are you selling out and opening up a second location?” I’m like, “What?” I was like, “Bro.” At the time, I’m like teaching seminars, I’m like teaching—I’m on CrossFit. I’m like, “Who’s selling what?” And I remember saying to myself like his perspective was that if I wanted to grow financially to support myself and my family, that for some reason I was selling out. But at the end of the day, that’s the only way this whole thing survives. The only way this ecosystem survives is if gym owners are financially secure, so they could then compensate their team in a financially secure way so that those coaches can then impact the members in an effective way. And unless that system is there, it’s just going to be broken. And you’ll have a lot of gyms with 50 to 60 members that are barely struggling to get by, and they get sold to the next person and sold to the next person instead of looking at it like a business where they could build a thriving community, where they could then give to things they care about, and then they could support gym owners with a wage that allows them to actually live. So yeah, that’s the way I look at it.

John Franklin (40:39):
You heard it directly from Jason Khalipa: “Treat your business like a business.” And if you want to fast track your fitness business success, you’ve got to come to the Two-Brain Summit June 8th and 9th in Chicago. We’re talking about virtuosity. Jason is going to give the finished version of the talk we did here today. And there’s an incredible lineup of industry leaders all across the fitness industry, not just from the affiliate community. I will say there are only 50 tickets left. That is not marketing-ese; that is the actual number. And we are recording this three weeks before it’s going to come out. So, there may be less. So run over to, and we’re going to end it here. We really appreciate you listening to this episode of “Run a Profitable Gym.” Jason always brings the heat. If you enjoyed it, be sure to like, subscribe, leave a comment. And as always, Jason, we appreciate your time. Thank you so much for being a great partner and an amazing part of the community.

Jason Khalipa (41:36):
Thank you for having me.

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