Rising From the Ashes of Addiction: The Phoenix

Rising From the Ashes of Addiction: The Phoenix

Mike Warkentin: (00:01)
Welcome to Two-Brain Radio. Today, Chris Cooper talks with Scott Strode of The Phoenix. The Phoenix uses activity to help sober people rise from the ashes of addiction all over the United States. Here’s Cooper with Scott, who founded the program in 2006.

Chris Cooper: (00:16)
Scott, welcome to Two-Brain Radio.

Scott Strode: (00:18)
Hey, thanks for having me. Happy to be here.

Chris Cooper: (00:21)
Yeah, we’re really thrilled to have you. And I can’t believe we haven’t had you on before. I think what we should start with is just the backstory of The Phoenix and where it all came from, and what you do.

Scott Strode: (00:31)
Sure. So The Phoenix is a 501(c)3 nonprofit. We use the inherent transformative power of meaningful activities to help people who are healing from substance use and coming out of addiction, and people that choose to live sober also. And you know, you come for the activities, but really what you’re doing is building new friendships and creating positive coping mechanisms, and starting to dream of what’s possible in your sober life. So your world gets a lot bigger in recovery versus a lot smaller, which is what happens for a lot of folks who don’t have something like The Phoenix. The program’s free, and you just have to be 48 hours sober to be part of it.

Chris Cooper: (01:16)
We’re gonna get into that. I love that concept of making the life bigger instead of shrinking. So I’m definitely gonna come back to that. But how did The Phoenix start?

Scott Strode: (01:25)
Yeah, really kind of born from my own experience. You know, I got sober in Boston. I started in a boxing gym, and there was something, you know, I had some self-esteem wounds and from childhood trauma, and I was trying to numb that pain with my drinking and drugging. And there’s something about getting into the ring for the first time that that started to transform the way I saw myself and I started believing in myself in a different way. I always say that I got scooped up with as much love as you can find in a boxing gym, , which is not that much. But it was a good crew of folks, a couple sober people there. And it started to be my community. And I would be the kid outside with my gym bag, waiting for the gym to open to go in and train.

Scott Strode: (02:16)
And that was where I went instead of drinking and using. And then after years of that, I had built a network of friends, you know, some sober folks I climbed with. One was a clinical social worker, another had worked in experiential education, and we thought, we need to formalize this and create a pathway for other folks in recovery to cross a finish line in a triathlon or climb a mountain or whatever it is. This is before CrossFit even existed. And we started to build what later would become The Phoenix.

Chris Cooper: (02:54)
So before we get into how this works in delivery, how does it work in each individual person? I mean, obviously nobody stops drinking because, Oh, now I’m a gym-goer. Yeah. How does that transformation actually happen?

Scott Strode: (03:09)
Yeah. Well, I think, see, I’m a big believer in sort of, we don’t talk enough about the “why” that we’re drinking and using. I think a lot of addiction, and, you know, I refer to it more as people seeking emotional wellbeing externally, because it’s hard to find that from within. So we’re always seeking it by, maybe how much money we make, or do we have that job tite?, Or what do we look like, or how many likes and followers do we have? Or, you know, do we have abs or not? So there’s all these things that we sort of believe if we arrive at this place, we will then be happy. And then you start to realize that it’s being happy in here that is really what’s important. That helps you kind of feel fulfilled in life.

Scott Strode: (03:56)
And I think addiction is just one of those coping mechanisms. It’s a more extreme one and it’s loud enough that you have to listen to it. And I think that’s why so many people who struggled with addiction have these big life transformations because they have to listen to their negative coping mechanism, whereas other ones are more sort of insidious and may be with us for longer. So I feel kind of actually fortunate that I was on that path, but what I see of folks coming in is in those early days, it’s not happening at that level in your brain yet. You’re not saying, Wow, I really could use a positive coping mechanism and something to heal my self-esteem wound. So maybe I’ll try CrossFit , right? , you know,

Scott Strode: (04:41)
You’re saying, life has become really miserable and the dreams that I had of who I could be in life have been stripped away from me, and I feel broken. And you come into a place where somebody says, I believe in you, even if you don’t yet believe in yourself. And through their belief in you, you try things that you never thought you could accomplish. And in that accomplishment, you start to own that belief in yourself. And that’s ultimately the path for you being able to share that with others and help others rise from the ashes. Once you’ve been through that, you’re uniquely positioned to be able to reach back and help somebody else on that journey.

Chris Cooper: (05:24)
You and I met through the CrossFit Foundation, but you started in a boxing gym. Did you get that sense of external support on day one boxing?

Scott Strode: (05:35)
No, not really. But it was like, what I did get was this distraction from the narrative in my brain, right? Like how I was viewing myself, my self worth stuff, how I thought of myself. And you just start hitting the heavy bag and you’re so focused on where you’re holding your left hand and throwing your jab and the combination of punches and whatever it is that all that other stuff kind of just drifts away and you’re in that moment and it’s sort of a meditation. I think of like a long workout when that clock starts, you know, halfway into the 15 minute AMRAP, you’re kind of just in the zone, just sort of moving your body through it. And I found that in boxing. I also found this goal setting opportunity where, you know, hitting the pads was great, hitting the heavy bag was great, but getting into the ring was the next level. And so pushing through that fear and achieving that goal is an accomplishment that I then owned and became part of me. And it started to help me believe that I could also accomplish other things in life. You know, being a good friend or a good son or a good coworker, or stay sober. And started to play out in other aspects of my life.

Chris Cooper: (06:55)
Very interesting. Okay, man, so bridge the gap for us here. What led you to CrossFit?

Scott Strode: (07:00)
Yeah, so, The Phoenix launched really in about, I guess 2006. And we were mostly outdoor stuff, ’cause I went from boxing into triathlon and that led me into climbing and then mountain biking and other things. So we mostly did sort of endurance sports and outdoor activities, and we were coming into cities with our program, so we were gonna start operating in sort of a building and we didn’t really know what to do there. And somebody said, you should check out CrossFit. And I thought, you know, like most people early on I was like, I don’t know, man, it sounds a little crazy. It’s kind of a culty thing. But I went and I took the L1 as my first intro to CrossFit. Wow. Cause I had coached endurance athletes and I had been a personal trainer and I’d worked in gyms and all this stuff.

Scott Strode: (07:53)
So I thought, well, I’ll go get the cert. You can learn a lot about an organization by their certification and what they teach and the culture they build there. And I got there and they’re like, Oh, we’re gonna do Fran. And I was like, Okay, what’s Fran ? Oh my goodness. And I had a hard time walking for like three days. Oh yeah. But on the fourth day I was like, there’s something to this, you know, this is gonna be powerful for the Phoenix. And a lot of Phoenix members were already doing CrossFit and I thought this is such a powerful tool to bring into cities as we had physical locations, and in communities where you can’t ride a bike every day like you can in Boulder, Colorado, where Phoenix started . So that’s how CrossFit got sort of folded in. And no surprise, today it’s sort of our third biggest program. I’d say CrossFit, climbing and yoga are three big ones that have the most attendance and are serving the most people nationally.

Chris Cooper: (08:58)
I’m really interested in that. But a lot of the listeners to this podcast, they didn’t go to a CrossFit level one certification circa 2006. You know, I went in 2007. Can you paint us a picture of what it was like back then?

Scott Strode: (09:14)
Yeah. You know, it was interesting. I mean, my perception of it then was that the brand itself was still trying to establish itself as a way or “the way”. Yeah. So, you know, I think it did it somewhat at the expense of other things. Like they talked about why it’s so much better than training for a marathon or why it’s so much better than just doing one endurance sport. And I think they didn’t realize it probably then, but they were shedding some people by sort of devaluing what people were already doing that was meaningful to them. And I think nowadays it’s much more inclusive in that sense of like, it’s about the training modality, but it’s also about the community that builds around it. And there was sort of an awakening that the community was really the magic around CrossFit and the fitness is great, but the community is what you stay for. So I’ve seen that change over the years. And I was definitely the only person in there who didn’t know what Fran was.

Chris Cooper: (10:23)
Yeah. I’m picturing you being at my level one. And so if you guys weren’t, if the listener wasn’t involved in CrossFit ever, or especially if you weren’t around in ’07, it was almost like the instructors had something to prove with these things. Right? And so like, okay, we’re gonna warm up with a one mile run, everybody to the door, 3, 2, 1, go. And of course I’m the kid that goes out way too fast. And I come back and I’m first in the group and Jon Gilson’s standing at the door and he goes, You’re that guy. Why don’t you do burpees till the last person gets back ? And I think we did probably seven crazy workouts over the next two days, including Fran. You know, that’s just what it was like back then, right?

Scott Strode: (11:09)
Yeah. Yeah. It was. And I think that it’s been cool to see CrossFit evolve and expand as Phoenix has done the same.

Chris Cooper: (11:20)
Ok. I’m just picturing you getting your introduction to CrossFit, amazing.

Scott Strode: (11:26)
Ok. I could tell there were some chuckles when it was me and one other person who stood up and said that we were personal trainers and that we hadn’t done CrossFit in the intros. And I knew when people were chuckling about Fran that I was in trouble.

Chris Cooper: (11:40)
It was kind of an exclusive call back then, for sure. So my next question is about like the intensity and efficacy. So what I was going to ask is like, if you’re trying to achieve this single-minded focus where you don’t have to think about anything else except for the workout, how intense does it have to be to achieve that? Because you’ve talked about yoga, you’ve already mentioned mountain biking, you know, is there a relationship there between intensity and efficacy?

Scott Strode: (12:07)
I think so. I mean, I do think that, and I think you can kind of see this maybe across Phoenix programming that people may come to different activities. ‘Cause since then we’ve expanded into all sorts of things. I mean, we have a music program and art and meditation and mindfulness and social events. Like there’s a coffee social gone on right now on our gym, where people are just kinda hanging out. But I think that when I think of myself in early recovery and the sort of pain that I was carrying and the angst and discomfort inside of my own body, I think I needed boxing, right? I needed to go smash the heavy bag. I needed to just hit the bag until my hands were sore and come home at the end of the day.

Scott Strode: (13:02)
Like I was still sort of seeking in those activities. So, you know, I think that there’s room for all ends of the spectrum of intensity. I think sometimes folks that are deeper into that intensity maybe have deeper things. They’re actually working on purging , you know? So, we sometimes have to be a regulator for folks that come in whose regulator is sort of broken at the time, you know? So it’s like the person who comes to five workouts, and the next thing you see ’em is at GNC buying every product they can get to try to get yoked. You know, and it’s like, dude, slow your roll. Take a rest day. Let’s talk after your rest day and talk about how your body actually adapts to stimulus, you know, that kind of thing.

Chris Cooper: (13:55)
Well, and I guess that’s kinda what I’m getting at is, the culture back then was just show up and we’ll cross you. And at that time if somebody puked in their first workout at my gym, we would give them a free hat, like, congrats . And that’s changed now, but people can still show up as long as they’re 48 hours sober and try a class. How does the instructor of that class kind of moderate intensity to help the person that’s visiting, but also not kill them if their regulator’s broken?

Scott Strode: (14:23)
Yeah, yeah. I mean, I do think we had to realize that we had to make coaching and training inside of the Phoenix hours a little bit more. Like, we can go to L1, we can start our journey and evolution as a coach. But what I always say to Phoenix instructors that the desired stimulus for today’s workout is inclusion. That is the desired stimulus. If it’s a push, if it’s a pull, if it’s metabolic conditioning, if it’s whatever it is, the real desired stimulus is inclusion. So even if the person isn’t moving the body part or doing the movement that is for the day, but the scaling they’re doing is keeping them in that building and connected to people, then the coach has done a great job. Because for our folks, what they’re showing up from and where they go back to when they leave our space could be a pretty dark place. And if they go home and they don’t feel like they can come back or that they will be welcome back or that they had a place here, then we may actually help keep them in their disease.

Chris Cooper: (15:40)
So when somebody’s attending, they’re brand new, it’s their first visit. Are they attending a Phoenix specific class then?

Scott Strode: (15:47)
Yeah, so when you come in, we basically, we have a mobile app. If folks go to the app store and they’re interested in either volunteering to be a coach or run some Phoenix stuff or if they themselves could use it or you know, somebody who could benefit from it. You pull down the Phoenix app, it just says “a sober community, The Phoenix”, there’s a big red bird, which is right here.

Chris Cooper: (16:10)
Super cool. Yep.

Scott Strode: (16:11)
Yeah. And you geolocate an event near you and you pop in and the only requirement is 48 hours of sobriety. There is a code of conduct. It’s sort of our ethos that you have to adhere to, to be part of it. And that’s really designed to create a nurturing environment. Because so many of us have come from places that weren’t so nurturing in our addiction story. And so we wanna create that safe and supportive space so that maybe you come to Phoenix, you only have 48 hours sober, the next day you go out and drink and use. In reflection, you’ll say, Wow, Friday was amazing. I was surrounded by these incredible folks who believed in me, an,dthe next day was the same old drama and heartbreak and whatever else I’m going through. I wanna do more nights like I did when I went to work out at that place with those folks. So, you know, we find it’s really special if we can engage people, get ’em coming back their third time. It just shows a certain level of, they’re expressing a certain level of agency and desire to be engaged with the community.

Chris Cooper: (17:23)
What is so special about the third time compared to the second or the fourth?

Scott Strode: (17:27)
Yeah, I don’t know. We don’t really know yet. We’re still trying to look at it in our research, but folks that come that third time, we’ve seen recovery outcomes be way higher than others who sort of taper off. And to the point where about 86% of folks that ar engaged active members that hit that three engagement mark and above, stay sober at three and six months. So wow. That blows away a lot of the other data out there for the formal treatment space. And no surprise to you and the folks listening that, believe it or not, there’s other solves and solutions to complex health issues in our society than what happens in hospitals. So, wow.

Chris Cooper: (18:19)
Yeah. Not a shock to anybody listening, I don’t think. But that three visit rule is something that you told me, I would guess 2017. Maybe at the Games. And it’s stuck with me since. And I think that’s incredibly powerful for anybody to know about any new client coming in the door is, three visits really makes it stick. So, you’ve got special classes for people who wanna come in and, you know, they’re 48 hours sober, they’re coming to the Phoenix class. Are these coaches trained differently too, or are they coaches just from the regular gym or what?

Scott Strode: (18:56)
Yeah, so someone at that activity is trained in the Phoenix model. Okay. So oftentimes it is the coach. So a couple ways we scale, we have a few buildings of our own and working with Eric Roza, we stood those up as CrossFit community centers. So they’re essentially spaces where all of the blank time in our calendar, we try to bring in other nonprofits in the CrossFit space to give them a home also. But we also scale through affiliates opening their doors to us and giving us those sort of “off peak hours” to run Phoenix programs. And so we’re in a hundred plus affiliates across the country, and hoping to double or triple that. And what often happens is, a Sunday at 11 when there maybe isn’t any class and a volunteer from their gym who’s been touched by addiction, wants to be the L1, we might help them get their L1 cert.

Scott Strode: (19:59)
But the gym owner’s giving us the space, or maybe the gym owner or coaches there themselves have been impacted by this through a loved one or themselves. And they end up coaching, we train ’em up in our model, which is really more about that psychological safety, creating a space where you can dare to try challenging things and feel supported in that sort of brave move. And then if a coach just wants to coach, and they have the CrossFit thing dialed and they wanna lead the workout, but they want one of our volunteers to be the cultural guide, then we stand up a volunteer who will be at that event every Sunday, helping ’em run that class.

Chris Cooper: (20:46)
Do you offer that to gyms who don’t have the wherewithal to run a Phoenix program? I’m just thinking like, I loved every course I ever took through CrossFit, but the one that really helped me coach best was CrossFit Kids. And what you’re explaining right now is, it’s hitting me as something I should know and most coaches should know.

Scott Strode: (21:06)
Yeah. I think so. I think that sometimes we can get into a rhythm of coaching and running our business or whatever it might be in a certain way. And you know, so often when I do drop ins and it’s not a Phoenix event, and even coaches at Phoenix sometimes, if they’re newer, you go in, here’s the workout, here’s two ways you can scale it. Let’s hit the clock and go. And they’re doing some great instruction, but CrossFit is infinitely scalable only if you scale it. But infinitely implies that there’s a wide spectrum that we can work in. And rarely do I see people go into that spectrum of options in a way that they’re really thinking about inclusion, right? Sometimes we get stuck in these mental models about how to coach. Like, I remember somebody telling me once that the best way to get a strict pullup is to practice strict pullups.

Scott Strode: (22:06)
And that’s great if you can move your body weight off the ground. I’m 280 pounds. I’m a big dude, I’m 6’3″. If it’s me from the earth, I got it. I mean, sorry, if it’s it from the earth, I got it. If it’s me from the Earth, it’s a lot harder. So yeah. That’s not gonna work for me, especially if I was really deconditioned on my first day of sobriety. Really. So I would imagine that would also apply to other gym owners that you could think about your, you wanna make your addressable market bigger. You wanna make your front door to your space bigger to draw in more people. To do that, you’re gonna think have to think in a more inclusive way about what your athletes actually look like. I kind of ask coaches at Phoenix to look around the room and think about who’s not here and how do we get those folks here. The folks that are already there, whatever you’re doing is converting them into a member. But what about the people that aren’t there? And how do we have to change the programming a little bit to make that possible?

Chris Cooper: (23:15)
That’s incredible. What an epiphany. And you’re right about mental models. I agree. We recently went back to having lat pull-down machines in my gym because if somebody’s overweight, the best scale for a pull up is pulling down.

Scott Strode: (23:32)
Yeah.

Chris Cooper: (23:33)
Modified, I think. Well this is really, really great man. So, I know that you’re big in the States. I know that you’re expanding in Canada because a Phoenix affiliate, John Max sent me this email last week and said, Hey Chris, we need to set up a Phoenix program, at Catalyst up in the Sault. And I said, Thanks John. You know, Scott’s coming on the show next week anyway. But how does the Phoenix generally grow and and what does it take to host a Phoenix affiliate?

Scott Strode: (24:02)
Yeah, so essentially, if an affiliate is interested in hosting Phoenix or they have some members in their gym in recovery that might be interested, they can get in touch with us. I’ll share a link to an affiliate landing page. We have a specific page for it, and there’s a track there where they can say, we have the volunteer or we just wanna open up our space to you and you guys run the program. And then we have the staff that run, that actually work on the seminar staff also. Wow. So a couple CrossFit coaches and coach coaches are working for the Phoenix also. So they help get people integrated. It’s great ’cause they understand CrossFit and they understand what affiliates need to do to kind of run their businesses.

Scott Strode: (24:57)
And we just work with them to find a space in the calendar that that works for Phoenix members, but doesn’t impact the revenue side of the gym. And I actually believe that there’s opportunities in the future for even more revenue because of an engagement with the Phoenix. I mean, in part because you’re picking a cause and you’re stating that you care about it and you’re gonna make a supportive space, I think that is telling to potential members to your gym. Yeah. The kind of culture that that operates in that space. I also think that Phoenix can be a thought partner with you on how you might work with people more in the clinical space. So what we used to do back, there’s a window of time where Phoenix tried to operate our own affiliates, you know? Like, where we were creating revenue and all that stuff.

Scott Strode: (25:54)
We realized that to run a good nonprofit and to run a good business in a totally separate space at the same time is really difficult. It’s hard enough just to do one well. So we pivoted away from that and just work with other affiliates now. But we can help affiliates figure out how that local treatment center might bring a van load of people by for workouts consistently. Maybe there’s a revenue opportunity there, that you’re sort of running their fitness programming in your space. But what it’s also gonna do for Phoenix, the benefit for us is it’s gonna bring our core constituents and connect them to a space where Phoenix already exists. So maybe I’m coming in that van, driving over a couple days a week and there’s some relationship between that treatment center and the affiliate owner. But when I leave treatment, I know that Saturday is still the Phoenix class and I can still plug in there and be part of the community that’s building. And folks in recovery are deeply loyal when somebody reaches out a hand to help lift us up. So chances are when they join an affiliate ’cause they wanna do CrossFit more than the couple classes a week that Phoenix has, they’re gonna join that affiliate that’s shown that they care about them.

Chris Cooper: (27:11)
I would guess with 90% certainty that there are programs in Canada that would actually drive some revenue into the gyms if you were doing a Phoenix type program mm-hmm. . So, it might be different in the States, but, okay. So if people- well let’s, first off, I don’t want to just narrow our scope here, Scott. So you said that CrossFit is like the third most popular activity of the Phoenix. What are the other two?

Scott Strode: (27:36)
Yeah, climbing and yoga. 

Chris Cooper: (27:39)
Climbing and yoga. Wow.

Scott Strode: (27:39)
Yeah, yoga’s huge. And you know, I think climbing is a big draw because initially it’s like, whoa, I get a free punch pass to go to a climbing gym. That’s pretty rare. But the community that builds up around climbing, it’s so powerful when you tie into a rope for the first time and I’m holding the other end of that rope and you get to the top and you come down and then you hold it for me and I go to the top and come down. We are bonded in a different way. And I think that’s what happens at Phoenix in general is, we face a greater adversity together of the whiteboard workout or the climbing wall. And as we push through that together, maybe push through some fear, through some challenges, whatever it might be, we build a bond and it’s in that friendship that our sobriety really happens. And then yoga is really, I think that getting centered and being present and creating a space where we become more vulnerable and we’re still, and we’re quiet together and it helps us sort of get in touch with part of ourselves that that also helps us on our recovery journey.

Chris Cooper: (28:55)
What are some other activities that people might not think of that the Phoenix takes part in?

Scott Strode: (29:00)
Yeah, well, our virtual programming blew up through the pandemic, as you can imagine. But what was really cool is we started recording some of that content and actually distributing it in prisons. So you can do Phoenix while you’re on the inside, while you’re incarcerated. And they’re through educational tablets and there’s Phoenix workouts and then we update that content regularly. So the hope is that if you find Phoenix on the inside, that you can also transition as you come out of the criminal justice system and find Phoenix in your community. So that’s one thing that’s unique that we’re doing. I think also our step into music, music has been a creator and a driver of culture and movements forever. Yeah. So the idea that it can also change the way the country’s approaching addiction by breaking down stigma and having artists be more open about their sobriety and their own struggles, and how they’ve overcome addiction or mental health issues, and also creating sober, supportive spaces at venues.

Scott Strode: (30:09)
So that’s something we’re stepping into where, you may go to a concert and there’ll be a Phoenix tent there and there’ll be mocktails offered and it’ll have air conditioning. It’ll be a place to tuck away from the mayhem of the festival or whatever. But it’s also a sober space. So it’s empowering people who choose to live sober or have struggled with addiction, back to music. Because so often in recovery we feel like we’ve lost that as an option because the space can be so triggering to go out to listen to live music, to be at a music festival, and to be there sober, you can feel pretty alone. So we’re trying to connect people in those spaces.

Chris Cooper: (30:54)
Ah, brilliant man. That’s great. You know, before you mentioned the availability of Phoenix programming inside Prison. I was gonna ask you, is it more impactful for people to go outside of their home and do something than to do it within and is it just a case of good, better or best? But I can see in places like jail, where there’s no other option where this can be tremendously impactful.

Scott Strode: (31:26)
Yeah, absolutely. And what we didn’t, I think you talked, you know, you obviously work with a lot of business leaders and I think every now and then we realize that our way of thinking about something has limited our addressable market or the market share that we can capture or something like that. So for Phoenix, we didn’t even think about this, but to show up to a livestream Phoenix CrossFit class and to be able to have your camera off and to be muted but dip your toe in that way is so much more accessible than two days clean and sober. You know, driving to a gym somewhere, getting out of your car, walking by the cast of 300 as they leave the morning workout with their shirts off. Yeah, exactly. And doing your first CrossFit class where you can show up that way. And then what we find is the next time in the icebreaker, somebody’s coming off mute and answering and then the next time, their camera’s on, next thing you know, they’re joking and laughing and talking with everybody else. And then a couple weeks later they might actually come in person to a Phoenix event somewhere. So it kind of makes it more accessible. People can show up on their own terms a bit more when they come virtually.

Chris Cooper: (32:46)
I think it’s actually helping the inmates for another reason too. Years ago we used to go into a US prison in Michigan twice a year to do power lifting meets. And one time I was there and I had a CrossFit hoodie on, and an inmate, he goes back to his cell at lunchtime, he comes back to compete in the afternoon in the deadlift event. And he brings me this handwritten sheet and he’s like, This is my CrossFit workout. And it’s like three hours long and it’s every possible exercise you could ever think of all at once. Right. And he’s like, I do this every day. And I mean, I don’t know if he actually did or not, but if he did, wow. Yikes. So just bringing that coaching in too is probably going to keep people on a better fitness regime longer term.

Scott Strode: (33:36)
Yeah, absolutely. And I think that that’s the stuff I’m excited about exploring even more is to actually work with CrossFit more formally or to work with, like, HWPO and I know Matt o Ke and Matt and you know, just sort of try to continue to bring the transformational power of these sort of modalities to folks in a way that, you know, ’cause becoming a student of something helps you build new identity. You know? So when I was active in my addiction, I thought of myself in one way. And when I saw myself as a boxer, it was very different. And when I went from that to actually being a coach, I remember the first time the coach asked me to hold the mitts for somebody else, I was now a coach, right?

Scott Strode: (34:26)
And I started coaching and I felt this sort of evolution of my own journey. And I think the magic of all of these things is really born more from the self-actualization journey. You know, we find something that we have a passion for, that we can do well, and we can do that for a long time and be happy, but when we get to use that skill to help lift another person, there’s something magical that happens. So I think that there’s probably something that affiliates could actually do within their own member base to empower members who’ve been there for years to step into that mentor role for newer members that will help help folks on their own self-actualization journeys too. Cause you always see it, you know? So you come for three years, you fall in love with it, then you go get your L1, then what do you really do with it? You know, like you’re trying to figure out. So anyway, I’m rambling a bit, but I think there’s a lot of power in what you were talking about.

Chris Cooper: (35:32)
Well, it’s interesting to hear you talk about the evolution of someone’s identity. And I think you’ve answered my next question, which was, are they better to just pick one thing and stick with that? Or are people better to try CrossFit one day, rock climbing the next, yoga the third? And it sounds like they’re best to pick one thing and form a new identity around that.

Scott Strode: (35:58)
Yeah, I think that’s where it starts. And then from there, it starts the probe out. So it’s like, and we have that all the time, right? You have the person who looks at the whiteboard and they’re like, Oh, I’m a weightlifter. This looks like cardio, or whatever, but that weightlifter interacting with the guy that never does anything but a metcon, so it’s like they help each other grow. And so I think it’s the same thing at Phoenix. Like, you may come to yoga all the time and then those movements that you’re doing there, or you look at climbers and you’re like, it’s kind of similar in some ways. Like, maybe I can try this on the wall. And at the same time, you’re helping them get onto the mat and get a little more grounded and maybe work on some imbalances or whatever they developed in the climbing. And so I think there’s a lot of mutual benefit in sort of bridging to other things once you really start to shift your identity.

Chris Cooper: (36:58)
That’s brilliant. Well, Scott, how can people become a Phoenix affiliate then?

Scott Strode: (37:05)
Yeah, you can just email The Phoenix. If you go to our website, there’s actually I think a tab for affiliate owners. Or email us at info@thephoenix and let us know that you want to bring Phoenix to your affiliate and we’ll connect you to our CrossFit team and they’ll help you from there. And I will say that we’ve looked at a lot of different ways to scale our organization. You know, we went from three communities in Colorado to over 40 states and 130 communities across the country. And a big part of that is because of the entrepreneurial thinking and the community minded culture within CrossFit affiliates. The fact that gym owners across the country understand this is an important issue. It’s affecting people that they love and that their members love and they need to make space for Phoenix to grow into their gym has brought us to places in the country we never could have imagined being able to expand to. So it’s been really powerful.

Chris Cooper: (38:19)
That’s great, man. Thank you so much. And this has just been a great conversation. I’m gonna put the links in the show notes so that people can get in touch with you when they’re ready.

Scott Strode: (38:30)
That would be great. Thanks so much for having me on and thanks for the work you do. I think that evolving companies and businesses in a way that they can create this really positive impact in the world is how we change the system to something that’s, it makes more sense than what we’re using now to address chronic illness and including substance use and other things.

Chris Cooper: (38:54)
Thanks.

Mike Warkentin: (38:56)
Thanks for listening to Two-Brain Radio. Please subscribe for more. Now, Coop’s back with a final message.

Chris Cooper: (39:02)
We created the Gym Owners United Facebook group in 2020 to help entrepreneurs just like you Now, it has more than 5,600 members and it’s growing daily as gym owners join us for tips, tactics, and community support. If you aren’t in that group, what are you waiting for? Get in there today so we can network and grow your business. That’s Gym Owners United on Facebook, or GymOwnersUnited.com. Join today.

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