Sneak Preview of the 2024 Two-Brain Summit (and Free Books!)

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John Franklin (00:02):
Welcome to this week’s episode of “Run a Profitable Gym.” I am John Franklin, the CMO of Two-Brain Business, and with me this week is a very special guest coming on his own show—the man, the myth, the legend himself, the millionaire gym owner: Chris Cooper. How are you, sir?

Chris Cooper (00:20):
Good. Yeah, nobody would’ve expected me to be on this show. I know.

John Franklin (00:23):
Yeah, it was tough to schedule him, but we got him nailed down, and we’re glad you are here because we got a lot of things to talk about. The most important, which we’ll be talking about this whole week is our once-a-year event called the Two-Brain Summit. I have called it the “Woodstock for Fitness Business Owners.” You talk a lot about it; you make some content around it, but I know you. I spend a lot of time around you. I got the inside track, so maybe I’ll ask you some questions that other people may not know about, so they can get a deeper understanding on why this event is so important to you and our community. So, my first question: What is it? What is the Two-Brain Summit aside from just an event where people congregate?

Chris Cooper (01:04):
Well, the most important thing is it’s an event where we bring people together so that they can kind of feel the momentum and support and connection of other gym owners. And everything that we do is always to answer the question, “What do gym owners need the most right now?” And once a year, at least at minimum, we think that they need to get together with their other peers and just let them know they’re not alone, and that they’re on the right track, and that the industry is changing for the better, and that they are the tip of that spear.

John Franklin (01:29):
Every year when we are planning this event, our plan is to break even, and the exec team will set these goals, and we’ll put our head down, and we’ll do what we need to do. But somehow, we always end up losing tons of money on this event because you just add more and more and more and more and more and more stuff that you think is very important and adds value to the community. Maybe you can talk about why you would throw an event that just incinerates your own money.

Chris Cooper (01:58):
Well, it’s an investment, and I mean, a couple years ago when the Summit got really, really big, and I think for the first time ever we were going to show a loss of $100,000 on the Summit, I really had to think about, “What is this?” And honestly, I think it’s just the best investment that I can make. We try to do a lot for charity, but the reality is the people that I want to help the most are gym owners. And so, while this is not a free or charitable event—it does cost us a significant investment to put it on—but I think it’s worthwhile because I think it’s really important. And if we think that a given speaker, like Jocko Willink, is exactly who the people need to hear from right now, or Seth Godin or Lisa Nichols or Todd Herman or Dan Martell, those are the people that I’m going to bring in. And you know this John already, but a lot of these speakers cost $60,000-70,000 an hour. And what’s important to me, though, is this is what gym owners need, and this is a place where we have the leverage; we can afford to do this that nobody else can. And, if that’s the leverage that gym owners need to get through something or need to grow, then that’s the investment that we want to make.

John Franklin (03:08):
So let’s talk about some of these investments that we are making this year. So, one of the speakers is someone I’ve met who reminds me a lot of you; he’s your Canadian brethren. It is Jon Goodman. Why are we having Jon Goodman there?

Chris Cooper (03:25):
Jon’s an expert who’s been coaching fitness businesses for well over a decade. He’s got a great company that does that—mostly with online trainers—and he’s got this fantastic new book. Last year, we shared some stuff that we had learned from Jon around Instagram, and it was a massive hit. A lot of people said that your talk paid for their entire trip to Summit. This year, his book is called “The Obvious Choice,” and he shared a couple of passages of it with me. That’s what he’s going to be talking about. I love it so much because it really brings together a lot of the principles of affinity marketing, social media, Help First. But he’s so good at making things concise. And a lot of the speakers out there, they possess this unique genius where they can take things that are very complex and make them simple and actionable and like, “Oh, I get it now, and I can do it with you,” and I like to surround myself with people like that. Greg Glassman’s like that. You’re like that. Jon Goodman is definitely like that. And you’re going to hear the same thing about a lot of the speakers. So, I love it because Jon is going to deliver a talk that people can act on as they sit there with him and do the work and grow their business on the spot.

John Franklin (04:35):
And I’ve developed a network outside of just CrossFit over the last few years. And one of the things that I hear from those people when they’re evaluating whether they’re coming to the Summit or not is “Is this event just for CrossFit gyms?” and headlining a guy like Goodman is a very clear stance that. The first time Jon did CrossFit was this year. So, he is an online training expert, and before that he has a great reputation in the strength and conditioning small-group training community. And what he talks about is relevant to you regardless of what corner of the fitness industry you are in. His whole thing is basically how to stand out in your local market and how to stand out online if that’s your thing. But it is relevant to literally anybody in the fitness industry, no matter what corner you are in, as are a lot of the talks we’re going in. But one of the second speakers is not; he’s a little more CrossFit specific, but he’s not going to be speaking on a CrossFit-specific topic. And that is none other than the man, the myth, the legend: Jason Khalipa. Why are we putting Jason Khalifa on stage?

Chris Cooper (05:44):
Well, he is actually going first, and because Jason Khalifa is a fireball of energy, and not only has he had some amazing experiences outside of the CrossFit games, but he’s had these amazing life experiences that you don’t always hear about: his daughter’s cancer, his gym’s massive expansion and then contraction and now it’s growing again, starting an online business, starting 10 other businesses that he later shut down, building a personal brand, switching to jiu-jitsu. And when somebody is this prolific with starting businesses, you do want to hear from them, but you also want to know: How do they do it all? And so, Jason’s going to talk about that. He’s going to talk about virtuosity; he’s going to talk about balance priorities, working in sprints, the AMRAP mentality, and he’s going to do it with a lot of firepower from the stage. He was one of the favorite speakers last year. People lined up to talk to him. They fought over who got to sit next to him at dinner, and if you just get to meet Jason one time in your life, it’s worth the trip.

John Franklin (06:43):
And he’s famous in BJJ now, right? Like, he’s built a brand up over there. So, he’s hit escape velocity as well.

Chris Cooper (06:52):
Yeah, and I think that’s interesting too. Like, the guy started out as—literally nobody even in CrossFit knew who he was. And when he won the CrossFit games, they didn’t even have the cameras on him. And now he’s become so big that he has actually superseded CrossFit. And again, we’re method agnostic. You want to do CrossFit, that’s great. You want to run a Fit Body Boot Camp? That’s fine. We’re model agnostic. I don’t care if you want big group, personal training, semi-private, small group—it doesn’t matter. This is going to help you. But Jason is a great example of pulling all of that together and coming out with a coherent, virtuous package.

John Franklin (07:29):
And for those who don’t know, he didn’t start in CrossFit; he was a Globo Gym guy. He did like the backroom sales. So, this is a guy who’s literally worked every corner of the fitness industry and has kind of scraped the bottom of the barrel, like yourself. And so why don’t we talk about what your talk is going to be on this year, Mr. Chris Cooper.

Chris Cooper (07:49):
Well, I want to talk about starting at that bottom and getting to a 100k a year as quickly as possible, and we’re going to briefly show three or four very clear paths. We’re going to share some data, like, “Here’s what Two-Brain gyms do—the ones that grow the fastest.” And then I’m going to hand it over to you to talk about how to go from income to investment and getting to be a millionaire gym owner.

John Franklin (08:11):
Last year I taught you how to pay for your trip to the Two-Brain Summit; this year I’m going to teach you how to pay for your kids’ college. It’s going to be great. But I’ve been to a lot of these events. I’ve been to other groups. I think one of the things that’s worth mentioning here is that when you are the size of Two-Brain and you’ve worked with as many gyms as Two-Brain has, it allows you to be a lot more prescriptive. One of the things that I see just as an industry observer is that a lot of people in the information space will say, “Here is the thing that worked for me.” And that is great when you are starting out a type of business like that because you don’t have that information. But when we are talking as Two-Brain, this is the path that has worked for the largest number of gyms in every single market.

John Franklin (08:56):
So you’re learning something that didn’t work for some guy who started a gym at the front end of the trend and has been riding that wave for a while. You are—you have those people, of course, but you have newer gyms, you have CrossFits, you have non CrossFits. These are things that universally work. So, you’re getting something that you’ll be able to implement and will be relevant to your business at that day. Speaking of data, we will be having a panel with some of the large gym management companies to talk about data. So, maybe give a quick overview of what the “State of the Industry” is and why we’re going to have this platform and this panel discussion.

Chris Cooper (09:33):
Yeah, I mean, Two-Brain is not about just giving my opinion on things. Two-Brain is all about: What is proven to work? What do the numbers prove? Because there’s a lot of BS out there: people hyping their thing and maybe they’ve been successful in time or whatever, but when you’re working with 2,000 gyms around the world, you can’t do that anymore. And so, every year, we publish something that’s called the “State of the Industry,” where we work with partners to get actual data, real metrics. So, revenue: How many clients do they have? How many classes do they run? What do they pay their coaches? Like, the real numbers from 15,000 gyms worldwide. And we couldn’t do this without our partners like Kilo, Wodify, PushPress. And so, what’s interesting is when we get this data from them, there’s always a discussion about “What does it all mean?”

Chris Cooper (10:18):
And while Two-Brain hires an independent analyst, of course they have their own opinions too. So, this time we’re going to bring them on the stage and just have a panel where we talk about: What do you think is the most important thing for gym owners right now? Where do you see the industry going? What does this mean to you if clients generally fall off at the eight-month mark? How do you see gyms improving that? And we’ve got three really brilliant minds on this panel. It’s going to be really interesting to hear their perspectives. And we’re going to let people in the audience submit their questions in advance, so this isn’t like a “What feature is coming on PushPress next?” forum. This is “What do you think it means that gyms aren’t keeping clients as long as they used to?” forum. Very interesting.

John Franklin (11:01):
And this is a gym owner conference, right? But Two-Brain, at its core, is a gym mentorship company. We don’t teach people how to be great coaches. We don’t sell equipment. We’re just singularly focused on how to run an excellent business. That said, we acknowledge that the class experience is very important. And so, we decided to partner with some of the best people in the world to provide that expertise. So maybe talk about our workout and coaching partners for this year at the Summit.

Chris Cooper (11:34):
Yeah man, super jacked about this. So, Mayhem is going to be at the Summit this year, and they’re going to run our morning workouts for us. They’ll have probably two classes in the morning, Saturday and Sunday. You can sign up in advance. You can do a workout with Mayhem, try out their programming, and then they’re going to be speaking on the coaches stage about some common mistakes or common challenges that you see with clients in a class setting. We’re super stoked to have Mayhem here. Very popular. And I know, my coaches tell me that they’re excited to go on a trip with me: They’re excited to meet Mayhem and Khalipa and these guys. So, I think it’s a thrill for the coaches, and it can be viewed as a perk. But the reality is that if your coaches are better at business, they’re going to grow your business too.

Chris Cooper (12:17):
There are a lot of places out there—like CrossFit, NSCA, ACSM—who are going to teach them how to be beginner coaches. But we know that if we can elevate their game and elevate their career, you’re going to keep them longer. They’re going to be really excited, and they’re going to grow the business for you. So, we started using this coaches stage back in 2017 and bringing in experts on coaching, experts on building specialty programs like Legends programs and kids. We brought in industry experts this year, like Bill Parisi from Parisi Speed School. Super-duper stoked about that. And they’re going to help your coaches. Coach tickets are super cheap. I think the best thing that you can do is bring your coaches to Chicago with you, make it a bit of a weekend, take them out for dinner Saturday night. Not only will they leave there with ideas and examples and templates that will grow your business, they’ll be excited about it. And you—

John Franklin (13:09):
So just to clarify, because I don’t think we did that yet. There are two tracks going on throughout the weekend. So, there are two separate conference rooms. In conference room number one, that is the owner stage; that’s where the likes of Goodman, Khalipa, the Two-Brain mentors will be presenting on topics that are focused around getting your gym to 100,000 net owner benefit and then scaling to that million-dollar net worth mark. A lot of gym owners find it very valuable to bring their staff for staff development. And so, on the other side, we have a coaches room. And what are the topics in the coaches room? Is it business specific? Is it coaching specific? Is it all the above? Like what is the focus in that room?

Chris Cooper (13:47):
It’s both. There’s a good balance there. Like some of it is they’re going to get up and move and coach each other and stuff, but some of it is how to make a career. You know, man, I don’t know if I’ve even told you this story, but I had a guy apply at my gym this week named Felipe, and he works at another gym in town, and he wasn’t really attracted to the Catalyst brand as much as he was attracted to the Two-Brain brand. And he is like, “I read all the Two-Brain stuff. I know that I can make a real living for myself and my family at a Two-Brain gym. I want to work at your Two-Brain gym, Catalyst.” And it’s interesting because this is a guy who’s in Canada from Brazil, and he has to make a living or go home, and he really wants to do that at a Two-Brain gym.

Chris Cooper (14:28):
He’s more confident about that. So, there’s a couple things here, and what that means is—first of all, Peter Brasov is going to do a career planning exercise with your coaches, and they’re going to be able to actually see their future at your gym. So, most of us started our gym because we couldn’t see a future where we were. And we thought, “Well, the only way to make any money in fitness is to go start my own gym.” And that’s what we did, and we became the competitor of our previous gym. Well, there’s actually a better way. And so, Peter’s going to help them map that out for themselves. Then, they’re going to learn how to do a better job for your clients, like how to build habits in your clients. This is what Alex is going to be teaching.

Chris Cooper (15:09):
There’s going to be specialty groups like the Prime group that I mentioned before. There’s going to be speakers on different demographics like Bill Parisi, I mentioned before. And honestly, a lot of these speakers, they’re engaging; they want to get your coaches up and moving. They’re going to get your coaches excited about the business, but they’re not going to teach them, like, “Here’s how to read a spreadsheet.” OK. So Matt Temby is actually going to teach them sales too, which is amazing. Chris Plentus is going to teach them unreasonable hospitality in the microgym industry, like going above and beyond just like you, the owner, would. Brian Bott’s going to teach them how to program for semi-private, which is a super-duper hot topic right now. Yeah, there’s just an amazing lineup. Like Oskar Johed, he’s been on CrossFit Seminar Staff forever. He’s going to speak about crafting world class coaches. So even if you’re not a CrossFit gym, you will benefit from this. Mayhem Nation is going to be up there talking about handling some of the most difficult coaching challenges. And Josh Martin is going to talk about finding and reigniting your passion for coaching.

John Franklin (16:10):
And this is a situation where—you still have a teenager, Chris—when your kids get a certain age, they won’t listen to what you say. But if someone else tells them the exact same thing, it may hit in a different way because it’s not coming from you. And the coaches stage is kind of like that; they’re hearing the things that they need to hear, the things that are in their best interest, but they’re hearing it from a third party. So, we’ve seen a lot of situations where gym owners will bring their coaches, they will say something that the gym owner has been saying to them for five years, but for whatever reason it just clicks in a different way, and it leads to transformations within the business. So yeah, I would—what percentage of gym owners actually bring some coaches? It’s pretty—it’s a pretty high amount, looking at the tickets so far.

Chris Cooper (16:59):
It’s really growing. Yes, some people bring 12. So, I would say a third of gym owners bring coaches; most bring multiple. People who’ve been to the Summit before are way more likely to bring their coaches because they’re there by themself, maybe with their spouse. And they’re like, “This is amazing.” And then they hear there’s a riot going on next door. There’s lots of laughing, coaches are having a great time, and they’re like, “Man, I need to get my coaches to this. They would love it.” And a lot of people actually buy their coaches tickets before they even leave the Summit after the weekend’s over.

John Franklin (17:32):
And there are probably some coaches out there who maybe don’t have a long-term oriented gym that they’re working for and may want to attend something like this. Can they buy tickets without having a gym owner attend?

Chris Cooper (17:43):
They can now. Yeah. It used to be limited just to coaches who were attending with their gym owner. But now absolutely; that’s been really fulfilling to me too. Last year, I met a lot of coaches who had just taken the initiative on their own to show up and be there. And the gym owner who hires these people is holding the golden ticket. I mean, they already know how to make a living for themself. They don’t want to open their own business, but they want to be entrepreneurial up to that point. And I mean, there’s no better credential you could hold, honestly, in my mind, than having attended the Two-Brain Summit when you go to apply for a job at a gym.

John Franklin (18:15):
And if you’re someone who’s unhappy in your current position and wants to see upside, putting yourself in a room with a thousand gym owners who are looking to hire and grow their business, yeah. It creates a very nice networking opportunity. So, you’re going to be hard pressed to find a better room that can open doors and create stuff for you if you show up well and participate and get involved. So, if you’re a coach who maybe is unhappy or doesn’t have an owner who sees you as someone who can build a career within that current gym, we welcome you to come and learn and meet some of the other Two-Brain gym owners.

Chris Cooper (18:48):
Yeah, we could probably have a coach bachelor and bachelorette auction on Saturday night, and there’d be a bidding war for people who took that much initiative to better themselves.

John Franklin (18:58):
Speed dating. Yeah. And one of the things we noticed in previous years was coaches and gym owners like to move around a little bit. The hotel gyms were just kind of swamped. And so, we’re not the brightest tools in the shed, but we took the feedback, and we started offering workouts. And then this year you announced a pretty large long-term partnership with Rogue Fitness. So, talk a little bit about what they’re doing at the Summit.

Chris Cooper (19:27):
Yeah, so Rogue is like us: very, very invested in the success of micro gyms. And there’s a practical reason, of course; that’s our business. But more than that, Rogue’s deep commitment to the success of the microgyms and the future microgym owners—man, it’s unmatched. You know, I went down to the Rogue Invitational last fall, and what I saw there was really affirming; of course Rogue is heavily tied in with the CrossFit community, but there’s always this fear that when CrossFit sells to the next private equity company in a couple years, like, “Oh man, that’s going to throw cold water on the community.” And I’m here to tell you it’s not. There are partners like us and Rogue who are so invested in this community that it’s going to carry on no matter who owns the CrossFit baseball card.

Chris Cooper (20:17):
That said, Rogue is also very heavily involved in strongman powerlifting, strength and conditioning—like every facet of the industry now. And that’s why we really wanted to partner with them. So, they’re showing up, they’re bringing rigs—hopefully Bill and Katie will be there, but they’ll have their crew there too. They’re bringing a ton of equipment, and they just want to be part of it, and they want to support gym owners. And we’re going to be taking a cohort of our highest-level gym owners to Rogue later on this year and continue to support them like they’re supporting gym owners.

John Franklin (20:51):
So, let’s talk about that Tinker Group and the Tinker Meetup. To be clear, if you are not in Two-Brain, this is not something that you can attend or be a part of. This is something that you have to come through the Two-Brain system to take advantage of. But the goal of the first year of mentorship with Two-Brain is to get a gym owner to the point where they’re doing 100,000 in net owner benefit. And then once they get to that point, we have a special group with the explicit goal of getting to 1 million plus net worth. And so maybe talk about that group and what they’re going to be doing at the Summit.

Chris Cooper (21:22):
Yeah, so Tinker is the third tier of mentorship. So, these are people with a steady income, and now they’re working on investment. And what they’re trying to do is scale to two, three, four gyms, or they could be like me: They’re trying to buy their building or maybe they’re making another investment. They’re buying Airbnb’s stocks, bonds, Bitcoin, whatever that is. They’re trying to figure out the next steps for themselves and build wealth. And the wealth is—the conversation is really what led to the new book, “Millionaire Gym Owner.” And so, the Tinkers get together four times a year, and they work on their own plans for themselves, but they work in a group, and we bring in speakers just about every month on different topics, like tax strategy and wealth building, owning multiple locations, building personal brands, stuff like that. When they get together in person, we bring in a couple of speakers to talk to them.

Chris Cooper (22:15):
And at Summit, it’ll be the same. We’ll bring in two outdoor speakers just for the Tinkers. They’ll be there a day early. They get together in their groups. They chat about, like, “Here’s what John did. Here’s how John bought his building.” You know, “Here’s how Brian leveraged an SBA loan.” “Here’s how Ashley is going from four locations to five, and Chris is going from two to three, or Nick is going from two to one,” or whatever, right? They work together in groups like that. They have coaches there with them; they build up plans for the next 90 days, and then they go out to dinner together. And I think that’s one of their favorite things about the group is that—like anybody listening to this already knows, the CEO life is very lonely. It’s very hard to find people who are going through the same struggle as you are.

Chris Cooper (22:57):
Most of your friends don’t understand it. They only have the experience of business through the eyes of the consumer. If you’re unsuccessful, they think you’re rich anyway. If you are successful, they wonder what you did—like, who you tricked to get there. And so, it really helps to be in a room around your peers. That’s what the Summit is for. The Tinker group is kind of the next level group where these are successful gym owners, and they’re dealing with, “How do I get work life balance now? I had to sacrifice so much to get here. How do I reconnect with my family or my faith or even get my fitness back?” So yeah, at Summit, they’ll be there a day early and talking to a couple of speakers and building out their next 90-day plan and then going for dinner.

John Franklin (23:37):
And these aren’t—a lot of times these aren’t people from within the industry; though, we will have very high-level people: people with 20, 30 locations, people who’ve sold their businesses for large sums of money. But we also have the mindset coach of professional athletes and $100-billion CEOs. And we have—if we want to do public speaking, we’re going to find the best public speaking coach and get them out there. And so, this is Chris drawing on his network of mentors and inviting them into the group. And Chris has disclosed that—what do you spend? About a quarter million dollar a year on mentorship. So, the Rolodex is deep, and he’s got a pretty decent Rolodex. So, there’s some good speakers in there. It’s a lot higher level. And something I’ve always said, and something I’ll be speaking on is this idea of, like, once you’ve gotten your gym to a good point, and you’ve gotten yourself removed from all the parts of the business that you don’t want to be working in, that is typically where gym owners make their biggest, most expensive, most irreversible mistakes.

John Franklin (24:36):
And so, having a group like that to kind of shepherd you through that journey and avoid the landmines is worth many times what you would pay to be in a room like that. So excited. I go and listen on it and just blown away how much the conversation has evolved from when I was a member of that group in 2017, 2018 versus today. So where do people go if they want to sign up?

Chris Cooper (25:00):, and I believe there’s still 100 bucks off the tickets. Right now—the ticket tickets escalate in price because we do sell out, and this year we have a cap of 1,000, and we’re already well over 700. So, this isn’t one of those fake marketing tricks where I tell you “limited time offer.” And seriously, if you want to come, you should get your ticket today because I don’t want you to miss it.

John Franklin (25:22):
Yeah, I booked my hotel room because last year I almost didn’t get one. So, if you are intending to go, at least make the commitment of booking a hotel room now because they will sell out. They sold out last year, and it’s going to be probably 50% bigger than it was the year before. You can always cancel it, but don’t do that. You’re going to get an investment—you’re going to get a return on this investment. It is one of the best events. I look forward to it every single year, and I go to tons of gym events every year, but this is far and away my favorite one.

Chris Cooper (25:56):
I think I should mention this, man. So, the speakers that go on stage at this event, they’re not just random people who are willing to pay $5,000 to get on stage and lecture to you. There’s a competition to get up there. And so, people pitch to make our stage, and then if they’re successful, they have to go through professional speaker training. Like they have to have a good presentation. Their presentation gets audited by the media team. This year, there were so many good pitches that John and I barely made the stage, and we have to share a speaking spot, and we’re the CEO and CMO—like that’s how good these presentations are. I’m so stoked for them.

John Franklin (26:35):
And he’s not lying. He actually removed himself from a speaking spot. He wasn’t going to speak at the Summit until it kind of shook him a little bit and was like, “Hey, you should probably—you know, I think some people are going to want to hear you speak. So, yes, he chose a full roster of people before his own talk. And that is a true story until the rest of the executive team talked a little sense into him. So yeah, go buy some tickets. The second thing I want to talk about today: You have a new book out. It’s behind you there, and I saw you waving around a copy. It’s called “Millionaire Gym Owner.” How is it going? What’s that book about? How are sales going?

Chris Cooper (27:12):
Well, this is the path from income to investment. So, what we found was that when we would get people to a certain level of income, they would hit their target number with Two-Brain: high five. Everybody’s thrilled. Congratulations. It’s almost like a graduation. They become almost like Two-Brain alumni. They’re proud; we’re proud. See you. Eight months later, they’re back. “Oh man, I blew it. My gym has gone backward,” or “I got distracted, and I opened a coffee shop,” or “I took three months off and now I’ve got to fix my gym again.” And the problem that they were having is not that they’re not hardworking anymore or dumb; no, the problem was they didn’t have a next level to aim for. And so, we started our Tinker program way back in the day to give people that next level.

Chris Cooper (27:55):
And we’ve actually just launched a separate Tinker Europe program for that exact reason too. The same thing was happening there. The goal now is you’ve got a good income. That’s wonderful. How do you create enough wealth that you’ve got time and financial freedom? That’s important because while you know now you’ve bought yourself a good job, you’re not going to be able to do that job forever. And for you to ever be able to retire, pay for your kids’ college, you’re going to have to have a little bit more income. And you’re going to have to have some kind of money set aside for life. Like, we’re entrepreneurs. Nobody’s going to pay us a pension. You have to set those things up for yourself. And if you don’t have them set up for yourself, you’re not going to be able to stay in the industry very long. And if you can’t stay in the industry very long, you can’t help people.

Chris Cooper (28:40):
So it really is important that you get to the point where you’re building wealth, you’re planning for the future, and because you’re successful, that you’re successful enough to acquire or start more gyms and help more people. This is the way that the gym market should go—that the best gym owners rise to the top. They create better opportunities for their staff, they create longer, better opportunities for their clients, and they just duplicate that over and over and over again. Sometimes that means that they’re buying up other gyms or starting other locations or whatever. Sometimes it means, like me, that they’re buying buildings and giving lots of money away—whatever that is for them. We want to help them get to that stage. Ultimately, somebody is going to win in business, and I want it to be the most passionate, dedicated, hardest working, generous people out there. And that’s gym owners.

John Franklin (29:34):
And there’s a lot of talk on the internet about running a profitable gym, operational excellence, and those things matter. They matter a lot, but that’s the foundation, right?

Chris Cooper (29:47):
Yeah, that’s the base.

John Franklin (29:48):
I’ve spoken to—we’ve spoken to dozens of gym owners who’ve been operating amazing gyms, like brand name gyms that everybody listening to this podcast would know of for 10 plus years, but they’re no better off financially than where they started. So, they’re kind of like—you pitch your members, “Hey, you come here for an hour, but what you do in the other 23 hours of the day?” matter; the same goes for gym owners. Like you have your business, but there are all these other elements of your lifestyle and your financial strategy that matter and put over the course of 10, 20 years can separate you from never having to worry about money, paying for your kids’ college, and being financially secure versus just being on a treadmill and being in a situation where you’ve got to be 75 and being wheeled out to the floor to coach classes. And my understanding is this book gives you the blueprint. You profiled—what was it? 13, 14? The number always changes. I don’t know what the—

Chris Cooper (30:47):
14 plus me.

John Franklin (30:48):
OK, 14. So 15 gym owners who got to this point, and you’re not just saying, like, “Hey, here’s the plan. You do this one thing,” right? Because once you get to that $100,000 point, you get a lot of optionality. There are many things that you can do, and some are right; some are wrong for certain people. So you say, “Hey, here’s what a bunch of different people did,” and allow people to kind of self-select based off of where they are. Correct?

Chris Cooper (31:16):
Yeah, man. Just like I have a gym, but Two-Brain is not built around “What does Chris do at his gym?” It’s built on data and the best practices of the best gym owners. This book, it’s the same, right? I am a millionaire; I’m proud of that. But this book is not just like, “Here’s what I did.” Instead, what I wanted to do was take about 15 of the 50 millionaires that we have created at Two-Brain—and keep in mind, these are people just like you. They started off with a $20,000 loan. They started off maybe even in their garage in some cases. They had a business that looked like it was going to fail for a while, and now three or four years later, they’re actually a millionaire. And I wanted to share their paths, their stories, because they’re all different, but there are things that are the same.

Chris Cooper (32:03):
They made a good income; they made a gym that could run without them and sustain itself for 30 years. They took the extra income, and they invested it in another gym or themselves or other properties or buying their building or whatever—a church. And I wanted to share all their stories because I think that we’re all raised with a poor conception of wealth. We’re all raised to be suspicious of money. And it’s my mission now to teach people wealth is good; in the right hands, money’s a tool. And I think these are 14 great examples of people who are doing really good things because they’re so successful.

John Franklin (32:40):
Let’s talk more about that because it is more mindset than anything else. Right? It is similar to a gym in that when you are talking to a prospect, what they need to do is relatively simple, and they know what they need to do. You can explain it in a couple sentences, right? Like, “You need to eat whole foods,” “You need to lift heavy,” “You need to sleep eight hours,” “You’ve got to drink some water.” And it’s easy to conceptualize that. But there are a lot of these mental barriers that stop them from doing that on a consistent basis. And I think there’s a similar thing going on with gym owners when it comes to finances, right? There seems to be—like, you can explain the blueprint in three or four sentences, but it seems like there’s a lot of mental barriers. Some of the most common ones we see is that they project their finances onto their members. And then a second thing is this idea that charging what you’re worth, raising prices is a bad thing. So how do you coach gym owners through these hurdles? And why should they think of money as a good thing and not this evil thing that they should feel guilty about trying to pursue?

Chris Cooper (33:50):
Well, it’s a massive question. The reality is that we’re all raised to be suspicious of money, right? Like your parents probably had a good nine to five job, and anybody that was rising up the ladder faster than them or suddenly had a new car, they looked at with suspicion. Like how did they get that? Who did they trick? What game were they playing? And even popular media, the rich person is always the bad guy, but that’s not real. And if you think about the wealthiest people in your gym, if you follow them around, you’ll probably find there’s some of the most generous people with their time and their money. And I think putting money into the hands of a gym owner is a guarantee that you’re going to get generous application of those funds; they’re going to use it for leverage.

Chris Cooper (34:35):
They’re going to create good in the world. That said, the biggest obstacle to that happening is often between our own ears. And so, what we found when we went back through all these millionaires and we said, “What do they have in common?,” it wasn’t geography. It wasn’t the size of their gym or how many staff they had or whether staff were full-time. It wasn’t even their prices or whether they sold a high ticket or whatever it was mindset. Do they have these skills? Were they able to focus that? Like, that’s a key one, right? Do they have an abundance mindset? A lot of people talk about that, but very few people actually understand what it means. You know, were they able to deal with overwhelm? Did they have some reps at hard leadership? Were they good communicators? And what’s interesting about these skills is that they’re very hard to acquire.

Chris Cooper (35:20):
You need a coach to help you get them. But once you’ve got them, you can’t get taxed on them. Nobody can take them away from you—bankruptcy filing or a divorce—like you have them forever. And these are the skills that you need to get you to that next level. There’s a whole section of the book written by Bonnie Skinner from Level Up Coaching—who’s really helped me with a lot of these skills—where she tells you, “Here is how you develop them, and here’s where you notice opportunities, where these skills are being tested and where you can grow.”

John Franklin (35:52):
You mentioned an abundance mindset, which is something I hear people talk about all the time. You said most people don’t understand what that means. So, what does it mean? Because, man, I don’t think I understand.

Chris Cooper (36:01):
Yeah. I mean, a scarcity mindset means that you think, “OK, there are 5,000 people in my town, and if there are two gyms, then we’re splitting those 5,000 down the middle. And if there’s three gyms, then that divides up the number of people who want to go in my gym.” Like when I opened up my gym, I thought, “In this city there’s maybe 100 personal training clients. So, what I’m going to do is I’m going to open up, I’m going to charge $5 less per hour, I’m going to get all those clients, put the other gyms out of business, and then I’ll raise my prices.” And I literally told my partners that. And they’re like, “Why would you want to do that?” Instead, what you want is an abundance mindset where you’re growing the pie for everybody. You’re increasing the number of clients available. So, for example, an abundance mindset means that when a new gym opens up in your town, you’re the first one there with a cup of coffee and an offer to help them.

Chris Cooper (36:49):
You know, some of the mentors on Two-Brain are so good at this. Like Eric Connor: A new gym opens up nearby, he’s not suspicious of them. He’s not trashing them on Instagram. He’s showing up and offering to help them because what he understands is that what they’re doing is drawing more people to fitness. And even if he’s a CrossFit gym, and they’re CrossFit a gym, they’re not competing with each other. What they’re actually doing is growing the pie, attracting more people to fitness, introducing more people to their method, which is CrossFit, and eventually ascending them. And this is one of the skills that are very hard to come by. You know, when you start off, man, you’re scared. Every client that leaves your gym and goes to that other place down the road, you feel that that’s coming right out of your grocery bill.

Chris Cooper (37:33):
And so it’s hard to have this abundance mindset, but eventually what you figure out is like, “Hey, all I’ve got to do here is be the best, and the best clients are going to find their way to me. The clients who are not great for my gym are going to find their way over there, and we can copy each other on what’s working.” So now in my town—I love doing this—I get some other gym owners together once a month for lunch. I show them all my Facebook ads: Here’s what’s working, copy them. And they do that. And guess what? They don’t take clients away from me. They attract people to fitness. And that’s what it’s all about. And, again, you don’t get that skill without reps. You don’t get that skill in high school. You have to go through it, and you need a coach that’s helping you reflect on it and actually grow, or you’ll just stay in that scarcity mindset for your whole life.

John Franklin (38:19):
Yeah, I used to do this in New York. I would have a five-person dinner, and I’d try to do it every quarter. And some of those relationships, some of those people have gone on to become like very big names in the fitness industry, and that just paid off really well. Another example that comes to mind is there’s actually a group of gym owners of Two-Brain gym owners who are all across the street from each other in Atlanta, right? And they just have—they get together once a month and do exactly what you’re saying, rotate. And we’ve kind of tracked on how it’s working. Seems like that cohort is just outpacing other Two-Brain gyms because the information spreads faster. It’s easier to tell the signal from the noise. And one of the things that I hear sometimes being said, but doesn’t get said enough, is this idea that you brought up that most of the people in your town don’t belong to a gym.

John Franklin (39:07):
So, the biggest opportunity is not the people at the CrossFit gym across the street or at the GoodLife; it’s the people who are on their couch and doing nothing. And so, that’s also something in sales, right? Like I think sales indecision is one of those things. Like people feel that selling is slimy. That’s a common mindset error that I hear in fitness all the time. And a lot of people think, like, “Oh, I’m selling against the gym across the street. Like, I’ve got to beat out the gym across the street, so maybe I’ll lower my prices, so I have an edge over them.” But in reality, for most of the people who you are talking to, you are not selling against the gym across the street. What you’re selling against is indecision. Because most of the people that come in for a consultation and don’t buy, don’t buy across the street. They just don’t buy at all. They just go back to sitting on the couch. And so, yeah, it’s just a different flavor, a different metaphor of this idea that there’s plenty of fish in the sea. And CrossFit across town is not your real competition.

Chris Cooper (40:04):
That’s right, man. And you know what? That is hard. I mean, and there’s a lot of people in every gym business who think, “Another location is opening up two doors down. It’s going to compete with me.” You know, a few of your clients might shift over to that gym, but ultimately you’re introducing more people who are interested in the gym. Like they’re teaching people to love CrossFit or Pilates or whatever kind of gym you have. That’s good for you. It’s tough for me. And you know, it’s hard to be on the other side of it too. Like, we have people who want to build their business coaching service off trashing Two-Brain. Like, OK, what do you believe? Well, it’s not that; it’s not TwoBrain. We think something else. OK. You know, and eventually, if you really want to hit the highest levels of success, you have to understand that they’re still in that scarcity mindset, that they’re not a threat to you, and eventually you might even be partners.

John Franklin (40:55):
I think it’s easy to punch up, but—and I don’t blame some of those people because you want to attack the largest person in the space. So, if you are someone—if you’re a gym owner, a large town who’s been around the longest, like naturally people are going to come after you. But you know, it’s a worse look if you punch down, which is why it’s rare to hear. Like you haven’t engaged in a lot of these conversations, even though you do take shots online a lot, and I think you do a good job of being very professional. And that’s something we hear a lot from people who come on calls. So, tip of the hat to you. I’m still developing that skill.

Chris Cooper (41:32):
But that was learned through my gym, right? And that’s one of the blessings of gym ownership. You can start a gym for $3,000, and you can learn lessons that will help you run a $10-million-a-year business, right? Like, ask me how I know. And that’s one of the gifts that gym ownership will give you is—I took shots from other gym owners; I didn’t deal with them well, but I learned my lesson, and now, I’m better at this. So, and this is really why we’re a mentorship practice is because we want to not just impart: “Here’s the marketing funnel that you need to build.” We also want to impart these skills because I know that if a gym owner has these skills, and they can learn from our mistakes, they can keep them for life at very low cost. The mistakes that I made with my staff cost me probably $150,000 in two years. You don’t have to make those mistakes. You can just learn from my mistakes and save 150 grand.

John Franklin (42:24):
All right, well, let’s talk about making some of these listeners some money because we do have a reward, right? So, if you’ve made it this far, thank you. Be sure you’re subscribed and that you’ve liked the podcast and left a comment. We appreciate you. But one of the things that we know about you, if you made it through this 45-minute podcast, is that you like listening to long-form audio. And we have good news for you because Chris’s book, “Millionaire Gym Owner,” is now available as an audio book on Amazon, and we got something going on. So, Chris, what do you got? What is the special? I don’t understand how it works. Explain the special codes here.

Chris Cooper (43:04):

Well, so when you publish a lot of books, Audible does this favor for you where they let you give away, usually, about 50 for free. And because “Millionaire Gym Owner” is such a popular book—thank you to everybody by the way: 1,000 copies gone in the first week. Incredible. Thank you. Because it’s so popular, Audible recognizes, “Oh, maybe, this is something.” And so, what they’ve done is they’ve given me 30 codes for the U.S. and 30 codes for Europe. And if you want to get a free copy of “Millionaire Gym Owner” on audiobook, all you’ve got to do is DM me on Facebook and say, “Can I have a code?” And if I’ve still got a code left, we’ll just give it to you.

John Franklin (43:44):
And we’ll post about this in our Facebook group. So, we run a group with 8 or 9,000 gym owners. It’s called You can just go there and sign up. It’s one of the most value-packed Facebook groups on the internet. Chris is in there all day every day. I don’t know how, but not quite. But he has cultivated a very strong social media addiction, and it’s worked well for him. So don’t listen to anybody saying social media is bad. It is unequivocally good for Two-Brain Business and Chris Cooper. So go to that group, sign up, there’ll be a post in there, outline the details, and like Chris said, DM him if you don’t, and if we got a code, we’ll give you the code, and if not, we’ve got some goodies we can give away for you as well. So, if you’re listening now, the faster you act, the more likely you are to get a code. So, head over there or just blow-up Chris’s DMs now, and you’ll get to hear his silky-smooth Canadian voice in your ear. For—how long’s the audio book? Four hours, three hours?

Chris Cooper (44:43):
Three and a half hours.

John Franklin (44:44):

Three and a half hours. So, the drive from Saskatchewan to Calgary, you’ll just be able to hear Chris Cooper. It’ll be great.

Chris Cooper (44:52):

OK. Yeah. Saskatchewan’s a province. Calgary is a city in a different province, but if you’re driving from Northern Sask—

John Franklin (45:00):
Oh, what’s the city in Saskatchewan?

Chris Cooper (45:04):
Oh, there’s a few.

John Franklin (45:05):
The capital.

Chris Cooper (45:05):


John Franklin (45:06):

Yeah, yeah. OK. From Saskatoon to Calgary. Yeah.

Chris Cooper (45:11):
It has many cities.

John Franklin (45:13):
I’ve driven through the whole province, and many cities is an exaggeration. That is a gross—like, I get a “D” on geography for that one. But many cities is a horrible—yeah, many cities if you are from Sault Ste. Marie.

Chris Cooper (45:29):
The Saskatchewan Tourism Board, we apologize.

John Franklin (45:33):
Yeah, we’ve got one Summit booth left. So, if you want to come and fix the wrongs, john@twobrainbusiness is my email.

Chris Cooper (45:41):
Bigger than one audio book. That’s their license plate tagline now.

John Franklin (45:45):
We’ll get out of your ears now, gym owners. This has been a very special episode of “Run a Profitable Gym.” We thank you for your most valuable resource, your time. Go to to get your Summit ticket, and go to to get your free audio book of “Millionaire Gym Owner.” We will see you later this week with another episode. Over and out.

Thanks for listening!

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One more thing!

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