Two-Brain Summit Recap: Virtuosity in the Gym Business

A photo of Chris Cooper and the title "Two-Brain Summit Recap."

Chris Cooper (00:02):
The 2024 Summit was the best we’ve ever done. I know I say that every year, but it’s because it just keeps getting better. A thousand gym owners and coaches descended on Rosemont in Chicago to listen and learn and work with some of the best speakers in the microgym space. I’m Chris Cooper. This is “Run a Profitable Gym,” and today is my Summit debrief where I’m going to share one thing that I’ve learned from every speaker on both stages at Summit this year. Of course, there’s so much, and the point of Summit is not just to have you come and sit in your chair for 16 hours over the weekend; it’s to come and do work with the speakers. It’s to come and be inspired. It’s to come and make friends with other gym owners. Many gym owners now bring their teams, and those teams get stoked up.

Chris Cooper (00:50):
In fact, secret tip, when you’re thinking about registering for Summit 2025, which is back in Rosemont next year in June, bring your team because if you put your team in the coaches room and they get coaching on sales training, or they learn how to build a kids program, or they learn how to implement nutrition coaching, that will pay for your Summit trip for you and the entire team. It’s an amazing way to just maximize your ROI. This year, the Summit in Rosemont was sold out. We had 1,000 of us there. We can’t take anymore. We’re back in the same venue next year. It will definitely sell out too. You can get your tickets at the early bird rate right now at Just go there, and book for 2025. Get yourself a ticket if it’s your first year. If you’re coming back, make sure that you get your coaches tickets because the coaches room usually sells out quickly, and the whole thing will sell out for sure.

Chris Cooper (01:42):
OK, let’s get into the speakers and what we learned. I’m going to actually start with the owners stage here because that’s where I spent all of my time, and this year, man, I was so torn between the two stages. I wanted to run back and forth, but you couldn’t because the speakers on the owners stage were so compelling that you just couldn’t get up and leave. I’ve been to so many business conferences and seminars and Summits in the past where you are waiting for kind of the weaker speaker so that you can go and get lunch. I remember doing this at one of Gary V.’s events, and this year, that was impossible. A lot of people, not only would they stay in in the Summit room the entire time, listen to the speakers, even if they had a little kid or a baby with them, but when lunchtime rolled around, they wouldn’t even go out and get lunch.

Chris Cooper (02:27):
They would stick around and talk to the speaker. They would line up, or they would wait to get their book signed by one of the speakers, or they would start talking to the people around them, and they would just get so wrapped up and so excited about their business that they would forget to go out and get lunch. It was wild. So, let’s start on the owners side. Now, we have two stages going at the same time. One is for owners, one is for coaches, and our theme this year was virtuosity. And the point of virtuosity is that most of us are too distracted by chasing novel ideas: “Oh, here’s that new book I read. I just heard this on a podcast. I’ve got to try it.” And we don’t see the idea all the way through until we’re attracted to the next thing. And as a result, we don’t get things done and we never, ever, ever repeat things even when they work.

Chris Cooper (03:10):
You know this is true in your gym. It’s also true in your gym business. And so that was our theme this year. And Jason Khalipa led us off with a talk about the AMRAP mentality. If you’re not familiar, if you don’t run a CrossFit gym, the term AMRAP is as many rounds as possible or as many reps as possible, and the AMRAP mentality can be boiled down into this: Set yourself a specific time window for working on each thing, and then focus all of your attention on that thing while you’re working on it. So, for example, every day I do one thing to grow my business before I do anything else. I come downstairs into my basement, I’ve got a cup of coffee, and I spend the first 25 minutes of my day doing one thing to grow my business. I don’t check email, I don’t check social media, I don’t watch TV.

Chris Cooper (03:58):
I don’t read the news. I do one thing to grow my business. That thing changes day by day, but I’ve got a set pattern. So, every Monday I do a blog post. Every Tuesday I do social media planning. Every Wednesday, et cetera. Jason’s point with it, the AMRAP mentality, is that you need to be all in on what you’re doing right now without distractions. So, if he’s with his wife, he is all in on being with his wife. If he’s working out, he is all in on working out. This is a skill that you have to practice over time, especially as a gym owner, when we’re trained to just react and react and react, and we’ve got our phone on all the time, and we’re getting pinged with notifications while we’re trying to do a workout. We have to build this skill.

Chris Cooper (04:40):
And at first maybe you can only do that for 10 minutes at a time, then you have to push it to 15 and then 30 and then 60. And you have to learn how to focus. Focus is a skill. I recommend that you set up focus windows through the day where you do your AMRAP mentality. You set a timer, 20 minutes, 25 minutes. First focus window: grow your business. Do one thing to grow your business before you do anything else. Second focus window is maybe emails and social media. Boy, that’s a hard one to turn off. Third focus window later in the afternoon is maybe your workout where you turn off notifications. But the key is that you not just mix up your priorities. You don’t try to multitask; you focus hard on one thing at a time, and that’s what you do, and it goes for your personal life too.

Chris Cooper (05:23):
It was a powerful message from Jason. He was really, really, really on this year, as he always is, but so focused and dialed in, and I can’t wait to have him back again next year. The next speakers were a pair of mentors from the Two-Brain team. There was Kieran O’Dwyer and there was Nick Habich, and Kieran was talking about lead generation, and Nick was talking about sales. Now these are both amazing speakers, and what Kieran taught us was so powerful that I took a picture of his slide, and it was one of the best slides of the whole weekend. Basically, what he told everybody to do was schedule time every single day to do one marketing task. And so, he had people doing the work right there. We were using a strategy called the 5130 post. And he had people set three alarms on their phone for that day. First to make a 5130 post, then to send it to their email address, and then to do follow-ups with leads.

Chris Cooper (06:16):
Then he had them set calendar appointments for the next day, two days later, and seven days after that to follow up with other specific actions. This is one tiny tactic, but it’s a great illustration of virtuosity and some people in our program, they learn the 5130 post, which is just a social media post to attract new members, they make that post once and then they never do it again. But the reality is, instead of learning the next thing, you’re actually better to do the 5130, and then do it to your email list, and then do it again, and then do it a slightly different way. Do it for your youth program or whatever, and keep repeating that over and over. And Kieran taught us exactly how to do that using one tactic, let alone the 50 tactics that are in the Two-Brain toolkit. Then Nick Habich took the stage, and Nick talked about conversations that lead to conversions.

Chris Cooper (07:10):
The amazing thing about Nick is he’s so personable. He’s somebody that you just like to go have a beer with or do a workout with. He’s a lot of fun. He’s very charismatic, he’s funny, and when he is up on the stage, you just want to talk to him. But he is also an amazing salesperson, and the two are not in conflict with one another. Nick is extremely honest. He had a really funny story about signing up for the Army when he was a kid, and the recruiter made him some big promises, like he thought he was going to get a $40,000 signing bonus. If you’re ex-military, you’re probably laughing at that as the audience was when Nick was talking. Then he was told that he would probably be sent to someplace fairly exotic for training. He wasn’t. He was sent to upstate New York. Then he was told it would probably be two to three years before he was deployed, and then he showed a picture of six months later, “Here I am in Iraq,” and again, you’re probably laughing if you’re from the services, but Nick talked about how that was sleazy sales, and that actually prompted him to become good at sales because he wanted to do things in an ethical way.

Chris Cooper (08:17):
And so at his gym, Nick is actually great at sales, and Nick hosts our weekly sales roundtable in Two-Brain. So, Wednesdays we have office hours where you can come in and do role play with Nick. One big barrier that most gyms have is that the owner has this bad feeling about sales as if we’re tricking people; we’re taking their money. But the reality is if you believe in your service and you know that your service works and you know that it can solve a problem, the first act of coaching that you can do is to get somebody to sign up for your gym. Nick walked us through those conversations. He made it feel normal. And when people ask a question like, “Hey, what if somebody isn’t a good fit for my gym?” He’d say, “Tell them that.” And somebody would say like, “Hey, what if they actually can’t afford it?”

Chris Cooper (09:01):
He’d say, “OK, they can’t afford it.” And while he talked to us about objections, he didn’t get into like how to force our program down somebody’s throat. In fact, what he said was that if you’ve got a good sales process, you don’t have to overcome objections. If you’ve got a great product, you just have to showcase that. It was an amazing lesson on just being a human and having real conversations with people to coach them to start with your company. Our next figure was Jonathan Goodman. And Jon is an amazing social media marketer. He’s got a new book coming called “The Obvious Choice,” but what his talk was—it wasn’t about how to DM people on Instagram; it was how to get more referrals and how to sell more to help the people who are already in your gym. His speech was called “People Who Buy … Buy Lots.”

Chris Cooper (09:51):
And what he was talking about is you’ve got somebody in, they’re doing the workouts—the workouts alone are probably not solving their problem. And so, it’s our duty as a coach to tell them what actually will solve their problem. This fits in perfectly with the prescriptive model that we teach in Two-Brain, where after three months you bring a client back, you measure their progress, and you update their prescription. Sometimes they need more. That’s often because usually they under assume what they need when they start up. Sometimes they need less. I’ve told a client they need to take time off, or they need to just follow a walking program for the summer. But the point is that that prescription is being updated and every time you do that, you’re forging a deeper and deeper and deeper relationship with the client. Jon also focused really heavily on referrals, and he talked about how to make your gym the obvious choice for people in your locality by working with other businesses, partnering with them.

Chris Cooper (10:48):
Now, we don’t mean setting up a formal partnership agreement where you agree to refer five clients a month, and I will pay you $20 every time you do. He talked about forming relationships with these people so that when they are asked, “Which gym should I join?” you are the obvious choice. So, for example, you want the local hairdressers, you want the neighbors coming into your gym and working out, even if that means you’re going to do like a lunch-and-learn seminar for them, even if it means that you invite them to bring their staff in one night after you close, and you’re going to do a workout. Maybe you don’t sell to people from the staff, but you become the obvious choice when they are asked. For example, if you’ve got a hairdressing salon across the road from your gym, you want them talking about your gym because these are people who have conversations all day, and when somebody’s sitting in their chair, they’ve got the whole apron on, they’re getting their haircut, and they’re looking across the road at your gym, they’ll say, “Hey, what’s that gym like?”

Chris Cooper (11:43):
You want the hairdresser advocating for you, not just shrugging their shoulders and saying, “I don’t know. They play loud music, and they’re there at 6 a.m.” So that’s the key, is becoming the obvious choice in your neighborhood. Our next speaker was Joleen Bingham, and Joleen is the lead of our Tinker program, and she talked about building a world class client experience in your gym. A lot of the tinkers recently have been reading the books and studying: “Setting the Table,” “Unreasonable Hospitality,” books like that. And while it would be amazing if all of us could provide the level of service that you would get at a Michelin star restaurant, that’s not realistic for overwork gym owners. Most of us are owner-operators. We run our gym too. We can’t be thinking about, “How are we polishing the barbells after every class?”

Chris Cooper (12:34):
But that’s luckily not required to provide a world class client experience. What is required is the attention to the things that you do with the clients while they’re in their gym. And these are often way more important than your programming. They’re way more important than what your coaches are wearing. These are things like greeting the client by name, knowing enough about the client that you can talk about their families and their friends, knowing the client’s exercise history, explaining to the class or to the client, “What is the intent of the workout, and how will it help you?” Also giving people just an amazing welcome to the gym. A lot of the reason that people don’t join gyms is not the price. It’s all up here. They’re scared. They’re intimidated. They don’t know anybody. And so, Jolene talked about how to create that world-class customer experience, and it includes introducing new people to other people.

Chris Cooper (13:26):
This is something that a lot of us forget. We get down in the weeds, and it’s 5 a.m., and we don’t want to be at the gym again today, and we mopped until nine last night. And you’re strung out, and you’re tired, and you got your hood up, and you don’t really look professional. Maybe you haven’t even brushed your teeth yet, and these people are coming in the door. And what’s most important, because you’re the first person they’ve seen today, is that they get a, “Hey, good morning.” You got your game face on and that they get an amazing welcome, that they have a great time, that they are celebrated because these are things that they don’t get anywhere else in life. And that’s what an amazing customer experience is all about. It’s not how many certifications or degrees you have; it’s not where you buy your programming from.

Chris Cooper (14:07):
It’s not how many glute hand raises you have; it’s “Does the client value the experience?” And to do that, you have to know what the client values in the first place. The next two speakers on the owner stage were John Franklin and me, and we really hit hard the notion of virtuosity. So, John talked about how to get to a 100K, and he actually went step by step in doubling the size of a revenue in a gym. So, what he did was basically went through each of one of our metrics and said, “OK, look, if you can improve length of engagement by four months, you can increase your net owner benefit by up to $40,000 a year. That’s take home.” And then he said, “Here’s our top strategy for increasing length of engagement, for retention. If you can increase your ARM by X amount, then you will earn an extra $20,000 a year.”

Chris Cooper (14:57):
And then he gave one specific strategy for increasing ARM and then client headcount. He went through that and sales. He went through that and then he said, “OK, now if you do all of these things together, you stand to earn another $100,000 dollars a year in revenue top line or $50,000 a year in net owner benefit. Take home.” And what’s interesting was he just repeated the stuff that everybody in Two-Brain has been taught but usually fails to repeat because we’re searching for the next thing all the time. I’m guilty too. I don’t mean to point fingers. This is every entrepreneur. “What’s the next thing? What’s the next thing I need to learn it before my competitors do?” when the reality is that if you work with your mentor, if you look at your numbers and you say, “Oh, this thing was most successful,” and you just repeat that thing over and over to increase ARM, and you find the best way that you’re acquiring clients, and you repeat that over and over, and you find the best way that you’re increasing length of engagement, and you repeat that over and over, all you have to do is just keep repeating those things in the strategy that we call “The Simple 6,” and you will grow really, really fast.

Chris Cooper (16:00):
He talked about that for 30 minutes, and I saw a lot of forehead smacks. And so, the top lesson from John is look at your metrics, work with your mentor, decide what’s working the best for you right now, and repeat that for several months and just watch your revenue and net owner benefit grow from there. I talked about the journey from $100,000 in income to $1 million net worth, what comes after a million dollars in net worth, and finally, the golden age. You and I as fitness entrepreneurs have a unique opportunity that has never happened in the history of humanity. And that is what we call the golden age, where we have both wealth and health at the same time. You’re going to get to wealth at a much younger age than anybody in history because you’re an entrepreneur. You have leverage over your income and your time.

Chris Cooper (16:44):
Wealth is freedom of income and time. You’re also going to stay in health for anybody longer in history. You’re going to live longer, and you’re going to be healthy right up to the end because you’re in fitness. And this combination of wealth and health is going to create this golden age for you that’s going to last maybe 30 years. If you think about your parents, they probably had a golden age of about five to seven years where they retired with enough wealth in their savings and their pension plan to not really have to work anymore. And maybe they had enough health at age 65 that they could golf. But after about five or seven years, they put down the pickleball paddle, and they stopped traveling, and they sold their little trailer in Boca Raton and their golden age came to an end because while they still had the wealth to survive for another few years, their health was pretty much used up.

Chris Cooper (17:32):
We are going to have 30 to 40 years of wealth and health at the same time. You’re going to get to wealth by the time you’re 50; you’re going to stay in health until you’re about 85. This has never happened in the history of humanity, but if you think about all of the people who have pulled humanity forward, they all did it in this very short golden age where somebody sponsored them. You know, Charles Darwin gets on board the HMS Beagle because his grandfather, who’s a doctor, sponsored him to go away for two years, and the Royal Society paid for his passage on the boat. Anybody that you can think of who’s dramatically pulled our species forward had a sponsor at a young enough age that they had financial independence, freedom of time, and their health at the exact same time. You and I get to create that.

Chris Cooper (18:21):
We get to be our own sponsors, we get to create our own health, and what we do with it is super-duper important. I shared four things that I think that every person should do when they get to the golden age, but one of those was inspire others. Use that period of wealth and health in your life to turn around and teach other people how to do it. Because making money is a skill. Getting fit is a skill, and most people don’t have either. In fact, for the first time in human history, our lifespan is shortening. We’ve achieved all this wealth, and we are blowing it. We’re going backward in both health, and we’re not using the skills, the opportunities that we have in wealth to actually become wealthy and create freedom for ourselves. So, I shared four tips that people have to do once they get there.

Chris Cooper (19:08):
I told people how to get to their net worth goal and retire, and I also talked about how to become a millionaire. This is maybe something that we’re going to release later, but I do have an upcoming book on this topic too. So, I’ve covered a ton of ground already and what you need to know is that we’re not just up there speaking. You’re working through a workbook at the Summit, and if this is already compelling to you, go to You can get your tickets for next year after lunch. Carrie Wilkerson, who’s my business coach, took the stage, and she talked about creating an ultimate lifestyle. Often as entrepreneurs, we try to achieve lifestyle balance, but there’s no such thing. It’s really lifestyle integration. Years ago, Carrie wrote a book called “The Barefoot Executive” when she went from being a CEO of a massive company to working from home and having her kids.

Chris Cooper (19:54):
And Carrie shared a lot of those lessons on stage with us, but she also talked about her experience in building massive companies since as a business coach and helping the founder achieve the lifestyle that they want instead of just going all in on their business, sacrificing their fitness, their health, their faith, their family, and all their positive habits and finally building wealth and then dying at age 51. Carrie is an expert motivational speaker. She’s been on some of the biggest stages. She came straight from a Zig Ziglar conference to ours to talk about it. And her primary tips were do a personal check-in every month. “How am I doing with my faith, with my fitness, with my family?” And while you’re in the startup phases of business, yeah, the scales are going to be tipped; you’re going to be working way too much.

Chris Cooper (20:45):
But eventually as your business gets bigger, you have to keep auditing yourself and your time and where it goes. The bottom line is your business will not grow until you put time and attention into it. And depending on what stage of business you’re at, you need to put more time and attention into growing your business. You also need to prioritize income in the first stage and then wealth and then time as you progress as an entrepreneur. And it was interesting to see her like kind of progression that she shared in the framework that she called “The Three Margins.” After that Brian Bott took the stage, and he shared the four client avatars. Now this was super powerful. This was probably the most requested follow up of any speaker after the Summit. So, Brian was sharing how to sell to the four avatars.

Chris Cooper (21:31):
And he has broken this down in our podcast before. I’ll share a link in the show notes. He’s talking about how to talk to each one of these avatars. So, you’ve got the expert introvert who knows everything about fitness, everything about your product. They don’t want to be in a group setting, you just have to convince them that you know as much as they do and that you’re being guided along a logical plan. At the other end of the spectrum, you have kind of like the extroverted person who doesn’t know anything about fitness. They want a party, their friends are doing this, they want to be part of it. “Let’s go. Get me into your group program. I want to do what they’re doing,” and how to sell that person, how to keep them engaged and even how to coach them. This is a really powerful framework because number one, it teaches you like not everybody’s the same.

Chris Cooper (22:15):
Number two, not everybody is like you. That’s super important. And number three, when you identify somebody who’s not like you, how to relate to them and how to give them what they want. So, Brian’s stuff is always incredible, and these four frameworks that he broke down were super-duper helpful for marketing, for sales, for retention, and to actually help the client get their goals. So, the top lesson here is that not everybody is the same. Not everybody is like you. and you need to know how to work with people who aren’t. Our next speaker was Ben Bergeron. Ben is a very popular speaker for gym owners. He used to run a seminar, I think it was called “Business of Excellence” back in the day, and I followed along with the CrossFit New England stuff for over a decade. But Ben got really, really real at the start.

Chris Cooper (22:59):
He was talking about how early on in CrossFit, he had this successful affiliate, and he had teams winning the games. He had individuals winning the games. One year I think he had an individual win on both the women’s and the men’s side. He was running seminars, he had five red shirts, five CrossFit seminar staff on his staff. They were all making a great salary. And he was talking about how, in front of things from the front view, outside looking in, things looked amazing, but they were not. And inside he felt like he was slowly dying. He didn’t want to be there. He had all these kind of struggles, and I won’t share the story because it was a very intimate conversation between Ben and us who were attending Summit. But he told us exactly what the problems were.

Chris Cooper (23:49):
He eventually sat his staff down at a picnic table. They still called the picnic table talk and said, “Hey, look, we need to get aligned here on our values and what’s actually valuable to this gym, and a lot of you won’t be here by this point next year.” And he started making radical changes, and he basically like gutted his system. Now that is extremely hard. It’s an extreme act of humility when everybody around you is touting you as the expert. And CrossFit is making you famous as like the perfect business with the perfect coaches, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for success in CrossFit. And behind the scenes it’s not actually working. It’s very hard to have the humility to actually make those changes. And as much as I respect Ben, I respected him even more during and after this talk. You know, we got a few hundred copies of Ben’s book and after his presentation. The line to get the book signed was an hour and a half long, no joke.

Chris Cooper (24:44):
And we had to do more later even. Ben’s a very popular speaker. In fact, here’s a funny story. Ben arrived Friday night. I was in the lobby waiting to go to dinner with a few people. There were maybe three of us. And Ben, who was kind of incognito, shows up in the lobby and I said, “Hey, we’ll wait for you come to dinner with us.” “Great.” Well, as soon as people started seeing Ben Bergeron, they wanted to talk to him. So, it was 40 minutes before we even left the lobby, and by the time we got to the restaurant, there were 19 of us because people just stick to this guy. This brings me back to his primary lesson is you have to be very, very clear on what your core values are. You have to hire for those core values, filter people out early. You have to repeat those core values to your staff every single week.

Chris Cooper (25:29):
You have to bring those core values into your evaluation because people change, and they want different things at different times. And you have to be willing to fire people over those core values. So, he puts people first, specifically his staff, and leads from the top down that way. And you better believe that those core values are very apparent when you talk to Ben. Those core values are obvious when you talk to his staff, and they show up in his gym. So, while his gym looks a little bit different now than it did a decade ago, it’s a better gym, and Ben is happier for it. After lunch on Sunday, we had a panel from four different software providers. And this was really interesting because Wodify, PushPress, Kilo, these are the people that we partner with every year for our state of the industry guide, and they have massive amounts of data.

Chris Cooper (26:19):
And our job is to take that data anonymously, of course, and apply it, use a data analyst, somebody to professionally look at the data and make sense of it, and then publish our “State of the Industry” guide. And so, this year I thought it’d be fun to bring the CEOs of these companies up on the stage and just talk about what they’ve learned from their data and what they’re seeing the trends. So, we had a really great conversation. I did learn a couple of things. Number one, that across the board, all the CEOs believe that we should be focused on client retention, not acquisition. And this was interesting to hear because a lot of these software companies now have added acquisition funnels. So, they can do lead nurture for you. They might integrate with a website or whatever. But really they’re all saying retention is the key to long-term client success.

Chris Cooper (27:05):
And Brendan Rice from Wodify actually made a really interesting point now, Wodify hires three or four data analysts, data scientists to work for them all the time. And one thing that they’ve noticed that really stood out is software adoption matters in client retention. So, if your clients are taught how to use your tracking software, and they use your software and they don’t hate it, there’s not like five different apps that they have to use, they’re actually likely to stick around. So, what’s interesting here is that a lot of us piece together five, six different apps, one for booking and billing, one for making appointments, one for WOD tracking and maybe something else too. And our clients are like, “What is this business that I have to use four different apps to figure out what’s going on?” or “Where do I look to find the workout today?”

Chris Cooper (27:52):
Or where do I go to log my scores, and how do I track my progress in that app? And this actually leads to frustration on their part, and it undermines the efficacy of your other ops, and they might quit over software—let’s put it that way. If they can’t figure out how to use your software, they are going to say, “I can’t figure out how to use this service. I’m not getting good value. I’m out.” And they might actually quit. So, software adoption is key and people should be training people on how to use their software and choosing software that’s simple. Wrapping up our stage this year was Brian Chontosh. And now Brian, if you look at his Wikipedia entry, I mean the guy’s a war hero. You know, one of the stories on Wikipedia is that he got ambushed while he was in Iraq with his platoon or his group of Marines.

Chris Cooper (28:39):
I’m sorry if I got the lingo wrong there. And when his M16 ran out of ammunition, he took a weapon from an enemy soldier and killed 20 people and saved his platoon or his group or whatever. I mean, the guy’s a hero. Recently, he rode across the Atlantic and to raise money for the Big Fish Foundation on which he speaks now. He’s also married to Nicole Carroll, if you’re a CrossFit fan. And so, I asked Tosh to come in and share lessons on leadership. And what’s really amazing is this guy has degrees in leadership, but he also has real world battlefront experience in leadership. Like he knows what works. And he talked instead of “Here’s the latest strategy on leadership. You’ve got to do hard things. You’ve got to come to my ranch and do an overnight thing.” What he actually talked about was what’s most important to develop.

Chris Cooper (29:31):
There’s the sense of self that you have, there’s the sense of self that other people have or the perception that they have of you, and then there’s this future self that you’re trying to develop. And his point was that if you’re always trying to develop that future self, “How did I get better today? How am I making myself better? Does this action make me better in the long run?” If you’re constantly working on that, then the way people see you and the way that you see yourself will converge on that and get better and better. Maybe you need to work on how you see yourself. Maybe you need to put a little bit of time into talking to your staff and talking to your clients so that they see you. But the real effort and the bulk of your time should be spent on improving the person that you will be, the person that you’re becoming.

Chris Cooper (30:17):
It was an incredibly powerful speech. Brian would never even mention his background. And I told him that before he went on stage. Like, I want people to know your story. He’s too humble to share it because that’s the kind of person that he wants to be, and he is growing into. It was a very emotional session for a lot of people in that room. I know that a lot of people were late for their flights, late getting their Ubers, late to meet their teams because they did not want to leave. They were hanging on every word Brian said. And at the end, we managed to raise $5,000 for the Big Fish foundation. We made that donation yesterday. We’re incredibly proud to support them and to have Brian on stage. So that has already taken me about 30 minutes to explain just the owner’s side stage, but we also have a separate stage for your coaches.

Chris Cooper (31:03):
And the point of this is to help you improve your product. We want your coaches to be better. We also want them to have opportunities to grow as an intrapreneur building on your platform, growing the pie for you and for them and for the clients, improving your service, getting your clients better results, helping your clients in other ways. And a lot of people bring their staff to Summit because they say, “Well, the ROI is massive.” And while growing the owner grows the business, so does improving the staff and the product. You know, in the worst times when you’re struggling, your business shrinks to the level of your operations, and the better your operations are, the higher your baseline, your foundation. In good times, you grow to the level of the entrepreneur. And so, the entrepreneur is the ceiling on your business, and your staff is kind of the floor.

Chris Cooper (31:56):
And so you need to develop both if you want your whole business to keep growing. So, with that in mind, here’s what happened on the coaches stage and the top lessons that we picked up from them this year. Chris Plentus was our first speaker on the coaches stage, and his topic was unreasonable hospitality in the gym industry. Now, I earlier mentioned that a lot of the tinkers are really into this book right now. “Unreasonable Hospitality” or “Setting the Table.” And if you haven’t seen the Netflix show called “The Bear,” the whole series, especially the second season is really about this book. And Chris and Nick Habich to do research actually went and visited the Chicago Original Beef restaurant where “The Bear” is set. They’re really into this. And what Chris really wanted to teach your staff was similar to what Jolene was teaching the owners on the owner stage.

Chris Cooper (32:47):
And that is what actually benefits the clients, what’s actually important. And it’s not how fast your barbells spin, and it’s not the programming, and it’s not “spot the flaw;” it’s how warmly they’re welcomed. Is the gym clean? Is it ready for them? Is the atmosphere exciting? Do they go home talking about it? Or are they talking about the romance between the two coaches, or are they talking about, “Oh geez, I didn’t want to do burpees on that dirty floor.” That’s what’s really important here. And hospitality is more than just having a clean and beautiful environment. Hospitality is greeting people by name, knowing what they want, anticipating their needs, going out of your way to do special things. Chris is a master at this, and he was teaching people how he acknowledges, recognizes, and talks to his clients in ways that other gyms don’t. Chris is of course a very mature gym owner.

Chris Cooper (33:43):
He’s done a lot of things, and some of the things that he does you’re not ready for in your gym yet. He’s set up a charity within his gym that funds memberships. If you are not making your target income at your gym, don’t do that yet, but that is possible. And so, some of Chris’s tactics are there for inspiration. Some of them are there for things that you can do right now. For example, if you look at the top gyms in the world, most of their staff are wearing professional good-looking uniforms. They’re not leading a class barefoot. It doesn’t mean they always have polo shirts on, but they look sharp. And that is a signal to your clients that you are a professional organization that’s going to take care of them. They are very great at doing goal reviews, talking to clients, having conversations.

Chris Cooper (34:28):
They’re great at sharing notes about clients behind the scenes. You know, one thing that’s that great restaurants have in common, and I mean like the Michelin-star restaurants, is they know all about you when you walk in the door. One great story from that book is there was a family visiting Chicago, and they wanted to see every site, they wanted to experience everything. And they had booked a table at this Michelin-star restaurant on their final night. And they happened to casually mention that the only meal that they hadn’t tried was to get a legit street dog on the streets of Chicago. And so, one person from the restaurant actually went out, bought them a street dog and had this five-star chef prepare it for them, make it kind of fit with the whole meal.

Chris Cooper (35:16):
And it’s not about the street dog, but it’s about the experience and knowing your clients well enough to surprise and delight them. So, Chris’s talk was amazing for your staff to hear. I mean, if you feel like your staff isn’t living up to the level of delivery that you are or isn’t living up to the level that they could, wow, that was amazing for them to hear. You could probably have closed down the coaches stage after this talk and had it been amazing value. The next speaker was Bill Parisi of Parisi Speed Schools. Now there are 200 gyms in the States that come from Parisi, and the thing that I love most about Bill is not just his big heart and his care, but that he actually leads with science. If you’re a fitness nerd like me, you just want to talk about the science of fitness all day.

Chris Cooper (35:59):
But our clients don’t really want to hear that. Like they’re bored by it. They don’t want you drawing graphs on the floor as I used to do or showing them charts in your sales binder. But Bill has led with science from the start and he’s very, very good at it. What Bill is amazing at doing is pairing the science with the outcome that the client wants to get. So, what Bill gets for the client is speed. He trains youth athletes to get faster, and that’s it. He talks about science all the time, but he does it in a way that the parents understand, and he sets up his entire speed schools, which are gyms to look like “I’m going to make you faster.” And that’s it. So, Bill is an expert at niche, he’s an expert at business, he’s an expert at making kids fast, and he’s such a great speaker that a lot of people left that talk saying, “I want to start a speed program. I want to start a kids program.”

Chris Cooper (36:50):
But more than anything else, the coaches left that talk understanding niche. And that was enormous value. Instead of just trying to attract everybody to a broad general inclusive program, they actually understood working with the people that you can serve best on the product that you are expert at to achieve the target outcome that the clients care about. Our third speaker on the coaches stage was Matt Temby, and Matt’s the head of sales for Two-Brain. Matt gets business coaching and sales a lot, and what’s interesting is that the real sales experts are not the slimy used car salesman who will do anything to get you to buy, and you’re going to sign this long-term guarantee that you can never get out of, and you know they’re going to trick you. And that’s the impression of salesperson that we all carry in our heads. But really expert salespeople are just really, really good at helping and coaching.

Chris Cooper (37:40):
So helping means that they define exactly what you need. And coaching means that you get to the point where you’re ready to start. That’s what sales is. It means being good at conversations, but you’re not tricking people. It means being good at accountability, but you’re not giving people high pressure that they’re going to regret later: “You have to do this.” And if your coaches can learn how to be good at sales, your whole business will grow. And that’s why I asked Matt to be on that stage. So, while we had Nick Habich talking about sales to owners, we had Matt Temby teaching it to coaches because while the owners eventually all realize “I have to sell,” the coaches will sometimes not have that experience or that incentive, and they’ll only see sales through the eyes of the consumer, and they’ll be suspicious, and they’ll think, “Why do we have to sell?”

Chris Cooper (38:25):
“Why can’t we just let the product speak for itself and do free trials?” So, while the owners are mature enough to know that those don’t work, the coaches need to know that sales is an act of coaching. And if somebody books a No Sweat Intro, they’re sitting in front of you, they want you to tell them how to star. They are not there because they want to poke holes in your program or argue with you. They are there to find a reason to start, and you need to be able to give them that reason. It was incredibly powerful. I’m so glad that coaches got to hear this talk because it’s really important for them to understand a key function of the business, which is sales. Our next speaker was Brian Bott, and Brian was super requested from every owner in the Two-Brain program to talk about semi-private programming.

Chris Cooper (39:13):
Brian for the last year has been advocating for semi-private training. There are other mentors in Two-Brain who do small group or semi-private training too. This is really the bridge between personal training and group fitness. It’s a very high ARM, incredible retention. It’s a great opportunity for coaches and the owners. And what we’re seeing in the data is that the semi-private gyms in Two-Brain are slowly rising to the top of revenue leaderboards, ARM leaderboards, length of engagement leaderboards, profitability leaderboards. And so, Brian was talking about one of the missing links, and that’s programming for semi-private. So, let’s talk about what semi-private is. Semi-private is when you’re doing personal training with about four people at a time. And semi-private is different from small group training because of the programming in a semi-private model; each of the four people in front of you are following their own customized special program.

Chris Cooper (40:06):
And the coaches going from one person to the next, coaching them, teaching them, supporting them, but they’re all in the room at the same time. Small group is when you have four or six people, and they’re all doing the same program. And that program has changed every six weeks or so depending on the needs of the group. So, in a semi-private setting, maybe you’ve got one person who’s working on their pull-ups, one person who’s working on their deadlifts, one person who’s working on aerobic capacity, one person who’s working on their flexibility in the small group setting, all four to six people are working on pull-ups this round. And then you audit. Now this is what Greg Glassman did, that small group setting, and both can work, but the key is that there’s a difference in the programming. And programming for semi-private is challenging because everybody has to have their own program, measure their own outcomes, and have that programming change.

Chris Cooper (40:57):
It’s labor intensive. And Brian is a master addict. I mean, this guy has gyms in Jersey that are doing a million dollars, and they’re doing it in like 2,000 square feet. Programming is such a key component to how his whole program runs, and how it’s done is so important. And I know a lot of coaches stuck around after this presentation to ask him questions, and they just love nerding out on this stuff, which I do too. Wrapping up the coach’s day on Saturday was Peter Brasovan. Now Peter built this massive gym in Indianapolis now called Myriad. He’s recently had a good exit, and he built careers for so many coaches at that gym, and that’s what he was teaching us—the career roadmap. He was teaching your coaches how to build careers in your gym. And it’s not by asking for raises or taking a bigger slice of the revenue pie.

Chris Cooper (41:47):
Because let’s face it, that pie’s not big enough. It’s to grow their own income and opportunity by growing the entire pie for the gym. We call this entrepreneurialism, and it starts with “What do you want out of life?” And then “How much income do you need to get you there, and how much time can you spend?” And then “Here are the opportunities at the gym, and here’s how to build those opportunities.” So, for example, “If you want to only work at the gym, and you want to make $45,000 a year, OK, now we go to the opportunities. Here are some classes, but you’re really going to get there by doing personal training or specialty groups or semi-private training. Here’s what those mean, and the owner is willing to build those with you. Here’s how you can speed that process up and help the owner build it.” Imagine your staff learning something like that.

Chris Cooper (42:31):
Like we all think, “Oh, why isn’t our staff growing our business?” It’s because they don’t know how. And these career roadmap sessions teach them that they are responsible for growing the pie instead of just taking a bigger chunk of the little pie and how to help you grow it too. Crazy, crazy, crazy important session from Peter Brasovan. And one thing that he touched on there was building personal training and the value of it. Some people who work for you probably just do group training themselves. They’ve never done personal training, and they don’t understand its value. When Peter breaks it down for them in their career roadmap sessions with his own staff, they understand the value, and they see the value of continuing to sell it to clients at intake and continue it with clients after on-ramp and talk about it with your existing clients and how that impacts their career.

Chris Cooper (43:18):
Because ultimately all we care about is “How does this affect me?” And that’s what the career roadmap is set up to do. On Sunday, my friend Oskar Johed from CrossFit Medis in Stockholm, Sweden led a session for coaches called “From Ordinary to Extraordinary: Crafting World Class Coaches.” And he talked about the progression system that they use at his gyms in Sweden. And he talked about how much coaching the new coaches get. He talked about how much oversight new coaches get. He talked about how they do evaluations, and here’s a great takeaway for you: You don’t just tell your coaches what to do, you don’t just send them to their CrossFit L1. Like Oscar is on the CrossFit L1, L2 staff, and he has been for a long time. He has the most CrossFit L4 coaches of anybody in Sweden and possibly in Europe.

Chris Cooper (44:06):
But he doesn’t just leave their training to other people. So, the way that he evaluates them is when they’re coaching a class, he will literally stand right beside them and say, “OK, how could the client do that better?” or “How could you have explained this better to the client?” He’ll give them real time feedback. Now a lot of us think like, “Whoa, that’s awkward. It’s going to be embarrassing for the coach,” but if you do it the right way, it’s not embarrassing for the coach. It actually shows that the coach is growing and invested in being a better coach, and the client sees it and says, “These guys really care about the quality of coaching here.” You know, it’s something that I would never have thought of, and I might’ve even said, “How can that possibly work?” But it does work. Oskar has amazing staff careers, amazing staff retention, and incredible client retention at his gym. After lunch in the coaches room on Sunday, Aleksandrina Angelova-Brandt from Germany, she’s a Two-Brain mentor, came in and talked about how to get clients to change.

Chris Cooper (45:06):
Look, we’re all in the outcome business. We’re not in the product business. We’re not selling programming. People can sell programming online. We are in the business of getting people results. And the best way to get them results is to get them to change their habits. And so, Alezandrina’s presentation was a guide to transformative communication with clients. Changing habits is tough. Like we all practice our habits every day. They’re our default setting. And changing them requires very frequent communication. And so, Alex talked about how to talk to clients at intake, at their goal reviews, in classes, and even between classes to help encourage them to change their habits long term. And that’s what gets clients results. It’s not even like how spicy your program is or what certification your dietician has or anything like that.

Chris Cooper (46:00):
It all comes down to how finely can you chop up your message. How frequently can you get in front of the client? And if you can talk to the client every single day, they’re way more likely to change their habits. Sunday afternoon we had Josh Malone and the others from the Mayhem Nation team. Now Mayhem, just as a sidebar here, they did our morning workouts this year. We were so thrilled to have them. They ran some great workouts. I stopped in at 6 a.m. on Saturday. There were 150 people working out with Team Mayhem in one of our ballrooms set up by Rogue. Rogue is a sponsor of this event. And they sent sandbags, they sent air bikes, they sent rigs, they sent dumbbells. They sent everything we needed, and Mayhem did a great job using that equipment. So, this time they talked about handling the most difficult coaching challenges, and they were actually talking about delivery on the floor.

Chris Cooper (46:51):
And you know, when, when Mayhem speaks, your coaches listen in. And so, a lot of coaches left that session, and they were hugging the owners. “Thank you. I can’t believe I met Khalipa, Bergeron, Mayhem all at this one event.” You know, “I can’t believe I got to spend an hour with Mayhem learning about coaching.” It was just an incredible value for the coaches, and it really improved buy-in for a lot of gyms after that. Brian Foley, a newer mentor on the Two-Brain team out of Ireland, did a session on how to grow a 50+ program in your gym. Bill Parisi on day one talked about growing a youth program and knowing your niche. Brian actually showed some facts and figures about the 50+ age group. These are people who usually are maybe entering their own golden age. They’ve got a little bit of disposable income.

Chris Cooper (47:39):
They’re close to retirement, and now they’re starting to think about their health. If their parents are still alive, they’re probably not in great health. And so, they’re all in. From my own personal experience doing this 50+ group, it really reminds me of the old days when I first opened a CrossFit gym in 2009. Like, they’re all jacked to be there. They’re all best friends. They’re all really attentive. What are you going to tell me now? They’re all refreshing the workout at midnight. They all want to buy every T-shirt. They all want to look a Catalyst client. They’re amazing. I love coaching them more than anybody else. To the extent that, personally speaking, we dropped our kids program this year to focus on having more time blocks available for the 50+ crowd. Brian told your coaches exactly how to build it, where to start.

Chris Cooper (48:24):
And his first tip was get the parents of your current clients in, invite them to come and try your Legends program—it’s what mine call is called or Silver Sneakers or whatever you want to call it. But everybody in your gym wants to get their kids in there, and they want to save their parents, and so they’re likely to refer. And then finally, we closed out the coaches stage with “An Invitation to Mastery: Building a Career in Coaching” with Josh Martin. Now Josh is the founder of the Refined Art of Coaching, and he posts on Instagram and Facebook every single day tips for coaching. And it really comes down to virtuosity: mastering the basics and doing them every day. So instead of going to the Level 12 certification for gymnastics, your coaches are actually better to learn how to relate to people, to talk to them, to encourage them to remember your members’ names, to remember if they have a dog or not, to know their favorite car.

Chris Cooper (49:18):
Coaching is not a trick. It’s not about like, “Let’s ask the question of the day at the whiteboard.” That’s facile. It shows that you don’t know enough about them. Real coaching is great when you greet somebody by name. When they walk in, you high five them: “Hey, how was that 5K this weekend? Hey I saw you got a new car out in the back. That’s so cool.” It’s knowing each member individually, even if you’re coaching them as a group, it’s having the skill of introducing them to the other members and forging those bonds with them. It’s knowing what actually matters to coaching instead of just memorizing cues instead of just being a better athlete yourself. And that’s what Josh is all about it—The Refined Art of Coaching, and that’s what he brought to the stage. Mastery means doing the basics over and over and over doing them and getting better at them, doing them when they become boring, doing them when it seems like, “Ah, everybody knows that.” That’s what Virtuosity is all about.

Chris Cooper (50:18):
And I wanted Josh to finish out the Summit by teaching that to your coaches that virtuosity doesn’t mean learning new cues to teach the air squat; virtuosity means helping your clients want to show up to do more air squats and pursue fitness for the rest of their life. I’m Chris Cooper. This is “Run a Profitable Gym.” That’s my Summit overview from 2024. We’ve already got tickets on sale for 2025. If you go to Look, we sold 250 tickets on Sunday afternoon for the 2025 event. It’s going to sell out. There will be 1,000 people there, the best gym owners and their staff in the world. We’ll bring in more top-notch speakers. The event gets better every single year. I really want to be there with you in person, and I hope you join. In the meantime, thank you for your service. Thank you for changing lives, and thank you for pursuing your own golden age for yourself and your staff.

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