Leaning Into Uncomfortable Stuff: Noah Abbott on Mentorship

Noah Abbott

Mike (00:02):

Not making a hundred thousand dollars from your gym? The Two-Brain RampUp program is designed to help you create the foundation to do just that. Today on Two-Brain Radio, gym owner Noah Abbott will tell you what RampUp did for his business.

Chris (00:14):

Chris Cooper here to talk about Level Method. When it comes to owning a gym, it can be really tough to show your members their progress and keep them engaged long term. Level Method provides experienced gym owners with a visual step-by-step fitness progression system that’s fun, engaging and easy to use. With Level Method, your clients can reach their fitness goals faster and safer than ever before and become raving fans of your gym. It’s a total game changer that creates powerful moments that you’ll never forget. I use it at Catalyst, it improved my conversion and my retention. Go to levelmethod.com to find out more.

Mike (00:48):

We’re back on Two-Brain Radio. It’s Mike Warkentin here. We’ve got another success story for you. Noah Abbott finished our RampUp sprint in late February, and he’s here to tell us how his business has changed. So Noah, welcome to the show. Can you give me some broad strokes right off the topic? How dramatically did your business change during the course of the RampUp?

Noah (01:06):

Broad stroke wise, I think some of the changes are still being borne out. I think some of the financial stuff is certainly improved, but it will continue to improve, but I think intention and intentionality has been the biggest change.

Mike (01:22):

So a mindset thing?

Noah (01:22):

I think mindset and I think sort of it translates both in the way that I interact with my staff and then the way that me and my staff interact and direct with our membership, I think has changed a lot from sort of something that was just sort of, kind of informal and sort of like we did things when we wanted to, because they seemed like fun at the time or a cool idea to something that was more planned and thoughtful and really trying to kind of answer specific questions. And I think that has really been the most helpful part.

Mike (02:02):

I’m going to dig into that with the clients in just a sec, but let me ask you first, you mentioned that the way that you interact as an owner with your staff has changed. What do you mean by that?

Noah (02:10):

Well, I was a coach for a long time before I was a gym owner and I always think of gym ownership as kind of split into two big pools, right. The people who started as owners who decided, Hey, I love this stuff and I want to open a gym. And then people who started as coaches and got the sort of understanding from a coaching side first, before they went to be an owner. Right. And I was one of those coaches. I was one of the latter, somebody who coached first and I think it’s a blessing and a curse in some ways. I think I’m very sympathetic to my coaches and to trying to do right by them and to trying to be sort of like close knit and responsive to them. I think sometimes it can be a curse because I think often it makes me as an owner sort of afraid to do things that I think might ruffle feathers or, you know, even just kind of things that would change sort of the status quo because I can sometimes remember being a coach and feeling frustrated by the things that the owner of my gym did, even for no reason other than the fact that I didn’t have, you know, either like a full view of the picture or something like that.

Noah (03:27):

Many of those things after I became a gym owner, I was like, oh, I get why he did that now, you know? Oh, that makes sense. So, I don’t know if that totally answers that.

Mike (03:38):

It does. And I was very similar. The question I’ll ask you related to that is, you know, so you have to, as an owner, you have to make tough decisions. You have to change things. You have to communicate your vision to your staff. Are you in a better position to do that now? An, I’m going to say, I bet you have a playbook and SOPs in place now, am I right?

Noah (03:55):

Yeah. They’re still evolving. But yes, it definitely helps. And we’ve, you know, hired a bunch of new staff recently and it’s been a lot easier to get them sort of up to full speed versus before where we did it very much as this sort of like learn by osmosis by being involved in the gym for a long time. And if maybe we were hiring somebody who hadn’t been a member before or something, it would be pretty challenging. So yeah, playbook’s definitely helped. But I’ve always wanted to be very transparent with my coaches. And I think I was worried that by doing something, by doing some things that were more sort of like concrete on the business side, my internal worry at first was it that would, you know, that could be a challenge from the transparency side and I was wrong. I mean, I think I was able to maintain transparency. And in fact, that explaining things often, you know, with coaches was what kind of like brought them on board for it.

Mike (05:04):

Yeah. See, I’m an emotional guy and I’m very hesitant. Like I like to please people as well. So being the heavy, you know, who would have to change policies and procedures or even reprimand people is very tough for me. The thing that changed all that though, was the playbook. And you know, Chris Cooper’s talked about it in the Two-Brain blog, being able to just say, we’ve made this decision in advance about what’s going to happen when this happens. And then looking it up in the playbook and going with that, it takes the emotion out of it, takes the gray area out of it. And that like a real boon for me because things changed at that point where I could become more of a business owner than just the guy who happens to pay the rent. Has that been your experience so far, even though it’s fairly fresh?

Noah (05:40):

I mean, it wasn’t the playbook that did it for me. I still think that like, I maintain a level of communication with my coaches that like, you know, it’s still hard for me to say like, well look, it says it here. That’s how we’re doing it. I still want to be collaborative. I still want to take their, you know, them into account. But I think the biggest thing for me is sort of explaining, and especially after this last year, especially after the pandemic and things like that, you know, in some ways made it easier to explain things as this, like this needs to happen, right? It’s not because I want this to happen and it’s not because I’m doing this to sort of like elbow you out of something or, you know, increase my bottom line at the expense of yours, this needs to happen so that the gym will thrive.

Noah (06:27):

And that making these decisions, even if they’re either changing the way that we do things in just like a kind of like uncomfortability of the new, or whether it’s, you know, changing, you know, revenue share or the way that you’re paid or whatever that is, that the ultimate goal is this will be better for everyone. And I think being able to explain that and, you know, have them trust in my vision, which is in some ways me trusting in you know, Two-Brain’s vision, or Two-Brain kind of like greater architecture, was what let that happen.

Mike (07:02):

So it’s more of a communication thing for you, like where you’re communicating your vision to your staff.

Noah (07:07):

Yeah. I think that for me is still like priority number one. I think, you know, the SOP is for us a little more logistical than anything else. And it’s still evolving. It’s still, you know, I think not—we’re pretty tight knit and we’re pretty like, you know, small and kind of like people know the deal before they get started. So it’s more of a reference right now than it is like a Bible. And you know, eventually it may get there. And I think that’s probably a step eventually for me to kind of like take another step back is just say, you know, the more we flesh out the, you know, some SOP on things to be able to say like, Hey look like, I don’t need to show you how to do this. This is all right here.

Mike (07:53):

I understand that from your mentor, Ashley Haun, that you revamped your intake process. You alluded to that a little bit in the previous part where you were talking about how you interact with clients. Tell me a little bit about that process and how it’s changed now.

Noah (08:07):

Yeah. So we already did intros, things were just like a little scattershot. They were a little all over the board. There wasn’t a great consistency of process to how we did things. And so we kind of tightened that up and a lot of it was stuff that I had already implemented some of it. Like I read Help First probably like two years ago or something. And that was probably the first big change I made to some of the processes. You know, I came from an old school, what I consider like a CrossFit 1.0 gym, like one of the early adopters. And, you know, it started in 2010 or something like that. So I was very used to this sort of like you come in and we’d do like a free class with a whole bunch of people once a week.

Noah (08:58):

And, you know, if you’re experienced, you just take a couple classes and then like that you basically, if you like it, you sign up on your own. And there isn’t a lot of followup. So, you know, shifting to a model where there was much more of like, in some ways, you know, and this shouldn’t mean that pejoratively, but like, you know, me as a gatekeeper of those kinds of things, and as a sort of like, you know, a gatekeeper and like a tour guide, right. So, you know, instituting like everything starts with an intro. Especially, you know, I think talking about new people first, you know, brand new to this kind of fitness. We already did like a version of an NSI. But it, you know, it had a workout in it and things like that.

Noah (09:43):

So, you know, we cut the workout and, you know, nothing changed or in some ways, like it actually made things easier. Being more prescriptive was certainly something that, you know, I started working on and I’m still working on, you know, I think that’s something that’s still kind of like a work in progress to have a point where it’s like, here’s what I think versus like, Hey, let’s come—I’m a big collaborative decider and a big kind of like take everybody’s temperature person sometimes to a fault. So I think in some ways still working on, you know, being the sort of like, you know, voice of authority and saying, here’s what you should do. So yeah, getting those just like more in line and then getting everything to kind of talk to each other a little better as far as like, you know, automation of systems and things like that.

Noah (10:27):

We had it in some degree, but certainly like tightened that up. And then most recently we’ve switched, for experienced people, which we get a good number of, going from the like very low effort on our part, like, Hey, just jump into class a little bit and see how it goes to, you know, start with an intro, start with sitting down and talking. Often I do that like before a class with people now and kind of like talk and be like, if you want to take this class and see how it goes, go for it. But then it gives me like a really good follow-up point. So just again, kind of like tightening some procedure up there.

Mike (11:05):

  1. That’s interesting coming from a coach perspective at an old school gym to running your own, I love it because I was one of those old school gym owners, and now we run an online thing. So our business has evolved as well, but I love hearing about how you transitioned into that ownership role. So tell me, why did you choose to sign up for RampUp? Like you’ve obviously been involved in CrossFit for a long time? Tell me, first of all, I guess how old CrossFit Lumos is and then why you decided to get into the Two-Brain family.

Noah (11:31):

All right. So Lumos is a little over four years old. We started in, we technically opened in February of 17. I moved from New York City to Austin, Texas, and opened a gym with basically no membership. I knew I wanted to move. I knew I wanted to open a gym. So I was like, ah, it’s a great idea to combine them both. Not a great idea. Or not the easiest way to do it. Now, I was lucky. I actually had a number of clients who had been clients of mine in New York who are here and are still members of mine. So, you know, I had built a level of like kind of some networking and some trust that helped, but the beginning was very lean. So even though we’re four years old, I think we’re like really more like three years old. And then, you know, one of those years is a pandemic year. So I don’t know, we have some like weird stunted growth. You know, we like, you know, had an iron deficient diet when we were—

Mike (12:35):

So why did you take the Two-Brain supplement in a pandemic year?

Noah (12:38):

So, this last year has certainly been, you know, challenging and an issue. You know, it required some flexibility and things like that, but in some ways we were able to kind of at least get through the beginning of it OK. You know, we had a lot of, I think something we’ve always done well is built a lot of trust with our membership. So we had a lot of, you know, we had a decent enough core that kind of stayed on even when we were like, you know, transitioning to all online, transitioning to online and maybe like a park workout here and there where we were like shouting at each other from like a hundred feet away. And so, you know, we had that core stay with us and that plus, you know, reduction in a lot of costs for some time, you know, we got a grant that helped a lot.

Noah (13:32):

And so we actually had some like extra cash and we were in this, I was in this point where like my day to day was in some ways less, you know, I didn’t have quite as much work on my plate cause I was still coaching a lot. And there was just like less general gym administration to do. So I was like, you know, I need to use this time to do something. And I’ve known from the beginning, I never considered myself a business guy. That’s still not what I consider myself. I was a federal law enforcement officer before I was a gym owner. I consider myself more of like a sort of community and creative side person. So I always knew that was a weakness. And I knew that, you know, I’ve grown up playing sports and being in a, you know, sort of like academy environment and things like that.

Noah (14:18):

And I knew I was somebody who, you know, responded well to having, you know, I did a lot of academic stuff. I knew I was somebody who responded well to having somebody who I had to produce work for, somebody who I had deadlines for and expectations and things like that. Because at the end of the day, when you’re an owner, especially when you’re a solo owner, really the only person you answer to is yourself. And I can be pretty easy on myself sometimes. And so, you know, putting in a level of oversight was important.

Mike (14:53):

So accountability and structure from a mentor you thought would kind of help you be a little bit less easy on yourself and move you along, keep the business moving.

Noah (15:03):

Yeah. And somebody also just to kind of encourage me to lean into some of the uncomfortable stuff, you know, or to say like, Hey, I know you feel crazy about doing this. Do it and, you know, trust me. And most of the times there’s been something like that, it’s worked out and it’s, you know, the call after has been like, yeah, that was fine. I thought it was going to be really hard and it was fine. You know, I think there’s definitely some times where Ashley and I have talked or I’ve, you know, there’s been stuff in the Two-Brain curriculum where I’ve said, Hey, look, this isn’t a fit for me or this isn’t a fit for my community. And I think Ashley has always been very supportive about like, yeah, you know what what’s right for you from a culture perspective, and has always been like, you know, take what works and, you know, leave what doesn’t, but at least try stuff. I think has been a big thing.

Mike (15:55):

That’s one of the things that Chris has tried to do when he set this up is find the very best of everything and get all the data. And we have so many gyms that we’re tracking, so much information, then creating systems, procedures, and strategies that are on the Two-Brain Growth ToolKit, where you can select, and everyone is not going to do every strategy on the Growth ToolKit because there’s literally hundreds of them. So you can select the ones that work for your specific gym and the mentor’s job is to figure out exactly which strategy to use at exactly which time. So I’d love to know, you mentioned a couple of hard things that, you know, turned out not to be so hard necessarily, but you needed a bit of push to do. Can you give me an example of something that you were maybe hesitant to do that Ashley suggested and then what happened at the end?

Noah (16:33):

The easiest and I think it actually sort of blends both of the things we’ve talked about, both a kind of something I was hesitant to do. And then something also where I was like, you know, I want to do this slightly differently and where we were able to kind of like square both of those circles. If you’re like, Hey, give me something else, there’s certain something else. When I first started our pay model was based off the pay model in my old gym, and it was a 70/30 split on private stuff going to the coach, very coach focused. Yeah. And that had worked really well for me as a coach. And it worked well, I mean, certainly from a financial aspect. But it worked well for the gym in general because the sort of like culture and expectation there was that the coaches would basically do everything themselves.

Noah (17:28):

Right. So I created tons of, I mean, this is part of what led me to saying, I think I could own a gym, was I was creating tons of programs on my own. I created, you know, I stood up a kid’s program and created a gymnastics specific program. And these were all things that I was sort of like, you know, ideation, execution, logistics, all of that. I was handling myself. And really the gym was, was in some ways, just sort of like providing the space and like a little bit of support. And that was the idea. And it worked pretty well. It wasn’t working for us. It wasn’t working for anyone really. We had basically no private training clients. We had no real nutrition business. We had, no, we had you know, the concepts that we wanted to do it, but because the revenue share was off.

Noah (18:18):

And because I as an owner was very hands-off with it, nobody was doing anything. I was saying, Hey, look, there’s good money here if you want it. My coaches were kind of basically, you know, saying, without saying, we don’t know how to do this, or, you know, we don’t know where to get started. And so nothing was happening. So, you know, we switched models. Now. I didn’t switch to four ninths. We switched to a 50/50 split, which, you know, is, is almost the same from a financial standpoint as four ninths. At the end of the day, it wasn’t a huge thing. And it was a, you know, I think for me, it gave me sort of some of the mental space and the feeling that like I was still, you know, I don’t know, things were still fair with my coaches or something, whatever it is, I think it was an easier sell to them.

Noah (19:10):

And so I sat down with my like main, you know, PT and nutrition coaches and explained, Hey, this is what we’re going to do. And you know, this is what we need to do. And that, you know, the idea here is that I will be doing a lot more support to make sure that you have business. To make sure you know, my job now, and the reason that we’re changing the split is that now all you have to really worry about is doing the coaching. And I will, you know, the gym will handle the building. We will handle, you know, marketing things and getting the word out and getting people signed up and we’re gonna work hard to get you stuff. And so we did that and, you know, it’s changed hugely and dramatically.

Chris (19:52):

Chris Cooper here to talk about Beyond the Whiteboard, the world’s premier workout tracking platform. Beyond the Whiteboard empowers gym owners with tools designed to retain and motivate members. We all know clients need to accomplish their goals if they’re going to stick around long term, and Beyond the Whiteboard will help your members chart their progress. They can earn badges view, leaderboards, track their macros, assess their fitness levels, and a lot more. Your job is to get great results for your members. Beyond the Whiteboard’s job is to make sure your members see those results and celebrate them. For a free 30-day trial, visit BTwb.com today.

Noah (20:31):

I mean, you know, sometimes it’s one of those things where it’s hard to say, it’s like, oh, well what started this? Why now do we have tons and tons of PT clients? And I mean, tons might not be the right word. We’re still a small gym, but you know, probably, you know, 500% more than we did before we switched the model and things like that. You know, and this coincides with, you know, doing better intros, this coincides with doing goal review stuff, right? All of those are part of it where all of a sudden, you know, we’re doing affinity marketing where all of a sudden now, instead of like, oh, I, the owner, have one private training client, and that’s all we’ve got at the gym. You know, my PT coaches have, you know, four or five private training clients each, my nutrition coach has, you know, ongoing clients.

Noah (21:21):

And we also do this kind of thing that we devised that we call a nutrition cohort, which is like periodic small group nutrition, private training kind of thing. And it just, you know, it exploded. I had a coach who joined my gym, who came from another gym to work with me during the pandemic and said, Hey, I’ve basically been the head coach at this gym. I’m not happy there anymore. And I’ve heard, you know, you’re a good person as an owner and that’s what I want. And I said, that’s great, but I really don’t have anything for you right now. He wanted to be full-time. And I said, you know, I’ve got some hours. I don’t have a lot of PT. I don’t have a lot of this. You know, I’m worried that we can, you know, make it work for you. But if you trust me, I am going to make it work for you. I will make it happen. And now we’re at the point where it’s like a legitimate thing where he’s got a full roster, where he’s getting big paychecks and stuff like that. So that’s been a big change. And I think it started to change when we changed the model.

Mike (22:25):

Yeah. And that’s an interesting thing because I was the same way when we ran our gym, we would say, OK, you can create any program you want. And we had, you know, we figured out whatever revenue plan there was in place at the time before we were working with a mentor and it was very difficult for a lot of coaches to create content or to start up those programs. And it made perfect sense to me when we got working with Two-Brain to put in place that four ninths model, because I had problems. I was the same as you where I’ve thought, oh, the coach is doing all the work. But when I really realized what the gym was providing, it was an active partnership. In that I’m going to help you market this. We’re going to do all these different things to generate programs, that made a lot of sense to me.

Mike (23:00):

And the four ninths plan worked for the coaches and it worked for the gym and it really made sense. And you’ve obviously made a small adjustment to that, but only we know we’re talking five or 6% that makes you feel like you were at a good spot, but also reflects the way your gym operates. And, you know, Two-Brain obviously gives you that flexibility. But you’re creating careers now. Is it safe to say that both the coaches and the gym are making more money as a result of kind of the programs that you’re putting in place? Like you said, no PT to a lot of PT?

Noah (23:24):

Absolutely. I mean, I think—I was on a call with Ashley and she said, you know, our goal now is to get your coach revenue numbers up. And I was like, oh really? And she was like, yeah, it means more is happening at the gym. I was like, yeah, that makes sense. So, you know, that’s definitely happened. I think the big thing for me, just to like to backtrack it a little bit, and one of the big kind of learning points has been I’ve tended to be somebody—I’m very, self-reliant, I’ve always been, you know, I used to shout at my parents not to bother me if they asked me to help with homework or something, I’m a kind of like, I want to figure it out myself person. And I would extend that to my coaches in this way, where sometimes I think I would just assume they knew how to do things or assume that they would take care of things.

Noah (24:10):

And then it would set me up to be either disappointed or angry when it didn’t happen the way I wanted it to. And I think a big thing that, you know, my mentor Ashley has shown me. It’s like, you have to show them. I mean, you you have to walk them through the first time. You have to be part of that process. You have to, you know, and in some ways it doesn’t give you the out as an owner to be like, ah, it didn’t work out the way I want to. You know, you’re more involved now, but it works better. So, you know, I think that was part of it. It was this sort of like, Hey, let’s, you know, let’s think about this program and I’ll meet with you for an hour and we’re going to sit down.

Noah (24:48):

And I sometimes forget that I’ve been doing this for over 10 years and that I have a lot of experience, you know, I’ve run a billion nutrition challenges. I’ve done all sorts of workshops. I’ve done, you know, XYZ certification. So I sometimes forget that that’s just sort of like living somewhere in my brain. And that, you know, a coach who’s been doing this for a couple of years doesn’t know that, you know. I think it’s an easy thing to overlook and, you know, being pushed to work on that was really, really helpful.

Mike (25:20):

Yeah. Chris has talked about that many times where no one can read your mind, but you forget that a lot of times, because you know how you would open the gym and you know that how you would coach a class. But if you don’t put that stuff down, you can’t expect people to follow, you know, your internal standards. And I was definitely guilty of this where I thought like, oh, people should know that this should be done or this should be cleaned at the end of the night. I had, you know, but that was my own, you know, OCD nature where I would do that stuff, but it’s not obvious to everyone else. And it wasn’t until we started putting checklists in place that things started shaping up and being done properly. So I thought for me that structure, because I am a structure guy, but I’m an internal structure guy. Communicating it was a huge deal that changed our business because no one could figure out why I was mad. You know? Do you have any growth metrics or anything like that? You wouldn’t mind sharin? How’s the business doing post RampUp and sort of what’s changed?

Noah (26:10):

I mean, we’re back. I mean, I think probably the most interesting thing, and this is sort of rough, but I mean, we’re back to basically our best membership number at any point. You know, from sort of number of memberships sold, we’re actually slightly under it, but we’re far past it in revenue. And we’re a small gym, you know, from a sort of square footage standpoint. So there is always this kind of issue of a, you know, maybe the numbers that we thought at some point of people that we could have at the gym are not realistic just from like a, you know, how many people do we have before we’re kind of falling out the doors capacity size, and being able, you know, now with our average revenue per member being that much higher, and it wasn’t bad to begin with.

Noah (26:59):

I’ve never been afraid of being like a higher price option. But it’s gotten even better from there. And so being able to, you know, I mean, we’re doing more revenue month over month than we have, pretty much any time and we’re still kind of building membership back. So I would say that’s a big thing. I mean, and then just building the membership back, I mean, happened very quickly. It happened, you know, you know, basically we doubled our membership size since, you know, February or so. So, you know, that was big.

Mike (27:38):

How much space did you say you have?

Noah (27:38):

It’s like just under 3000 square foot total gym, the actual like training space is like 1700 square feet or something.

Mike (27:51):

The reason I ask is because Chris was blogging about this recently, where he’s looking at gyms that have good revenue and good profit and then low expenses. I’ll also ask you, like, where’s your business located? Is it like, you know, in retail, storefront high-end area, or is it a smaller, a different kind of area?

Noah (28:07):

It’s in a different kind of area. I’m actually a big believer in a non warehouse gym model. Yeah, so we took over what was a barber shop and a veterinarian’s office. It’s actually owned by one of our members who was a client of mine in New York. So, you know, I was really lucky with that. Our overhead rent-wise is really good. Especially in Austin where rents are just like, you know, astronomically increasing. Every so often I could get, you know, a wild hair and I’m like, well, what if we expanded? And I’ll spend about 10 minutes looking at real estate and be like, oh, absolutely not. That’s crazy. So we’re in a good spot. You know, we are, you know, the owner of our building is bought into what we do. It’s a freestanding building that we don’t share with anything.

Noah (28:54):

So we have like a lot of autonomy and control over what we do with the space and, you know, our surrounding space. But yeah, I think small is very doable and works really well with this model. Works really well with this sort of like, you know, let’s clean things up, let’s get tighter and tighter procedure-wise. So that you don’t just run into that like just kind of always feeding the beast of growth with no profit and certainly like no rest.

Mike (29:30):

And that’s, you know, that’s kinda what I’m getting at is like the temptation there is to expand right. Is to always go bigger, bigger, bigger, and I’ve seen some gyms do that. And they were always moving into bigger spaces and I could never figure out they were doing it in advance of revenue. And I think they probably were where it’s like, oh, you know, we’re doing pretty good, but we might as well get a bigger space and then try and fill it. And I think a lot of times it probably cost them, right. Because they were kind of—these were gyms that I know were offering a lot of discounts and things like that. And I knew that their average revenue per member probably wasn’t that good. And Chris has written about this, where if you’re constantly chasing bigger and better and shinier, you can really always, like you said, always feed that beast where you always have to keep chucking a huge percentage of your profit away onto like rent and things like that. Whereas a lot of gyms that have been very successful have started in small spaces, driven up their average revenue per member, made their systems and procedures so tight that then they had a great profit margin. And then could say from a position of strength, let’s go a little bit bigger. And without hurting our profit too much. And I was particularly curious because I know Austin is one of those crazy areas. I was really interested in that. So now you’ve got a good number of members, but they’re at a higher rate in a small space. But when you decide to expand, you can do it from a very calculated perspective and not kind of damage the income levels that you’ve created. So what’s the plan going forward? Like, you know, going into post pandemic, we’ll call it post pandemic. I know Texas is in a different situation in some places. I’m still very much in a lockdown up here in the middle of Canada, but what’s going forward for you? Like, is expansion a long-term plan or short-term plan? Or what are you guys looking at next, in this next period before as you go into 2021 post pandemic in Texas?

Noah (31:07):

I mean, I think it dovetails well off like what we were just talking about gym size. I mean, I was in a gym there where they expanded, you know, sort of like leap of faith style. It worked out because they run, I mean probably the best gym product I’ve, you know, or among the best gym products I’ve ever seen. They do a phenomenal job, but I know the owner of that gym had many sleepless nights when he doubled his square footage. And I think like tripled his rent month to month.

Mike (31:38):

And that’s in New York, right?

Noah (31:39):

That’s in New York. He took on a big—and there weren’t members yet to fill it. I think the big thing would be, you know, whether it’s our expansion or any gym considering it is not do you want to just do the same thing but bigger, but do you want to do something different? Would be a big thing about expansion, right? Is this like, does your space no longer work because you also want to add a different kind of class that needs different, you know, equipment or whatever it is, that would be a reason or you want a different, you know, set up or something like that. But just being like, oh, we just want a bigger spot I think means there’s still more, you can still get more juice out of the orange before you do that.

Mike (32:20):

That’s such a good statement. I love that, I’m going to steal that one,

Noah (32:24):

Go for it. For us, as far as going forward, I always talk to my coaches. One of the first things I tell any coach when I hire them, because I know I’ve heard all the horror stories in the industry is like, is I want to support you. And if you ever want to do something on your own, if you ever want to own a gym on your own or this or whatever, I hope that you talk to me first and I will help you. Right. I will help you. I will partner with you, you know? And you know, and then treating the coaches in a way that they would actually want to do that. Cause you can say it, you can say that and you know, at the time of their hire, they can say, oh, that’s really cool.

Noah (33:02):

But if, you know, if the way you treat them is not in line with that, I don’t think it works very well. So we’ve had, I’ve had some conversations with some coaches about potentially doing that. I think that probably for me would be what I would look to is building another gym of a similar size down the road versus building, you know, the same gym bigger, and you know, empowering my coaches who, you know, know how to run things either to take over, you know, operations at the current gym as I go and stand up the next one, or if it’s, you know, they’re moving, you know, 20 minutes outside of town, you know, have them do that and assist them and basically, you know, replicate processes, replicate what’s worked, share, you know, a big thing is like sharing some like branding stuff and things like that.

Noah (34:01):

And building kind of brand language into it. So that’s, you know, there’s been some sort of some early conversations about that with some people, we got a little further with one of my coaches and then, one of them, one of their spouses got a kind of like can’t resist job offer somewhere else and had to split town. So that’s something we’re looking for, you know, looking towards, you know, now things here in the US are getting, you know, more and more open. So it’s looking like we can start doing some things like a seniors program is something that’s always been near and dear to my heart. So we’re starting to get going and building that out. And those, you know, that population was very reticent, even when we were keeping things pretty like pretty safe and controlled, you know, I think anybody over 55 was like, there’s absolutely no way I’m going to a gym until, you know, I’m sure I’m safe. And I respect that.

Mike (34:59):

Love it. I love the idea of potential expansion by replicating a small space and a small community elsewhere. And it’s really cool because, we’ll put in the show notes, there’s a link to the guide where Chris is talking about how to make a hundred thousand dollars from your gym and it’s not to say you can’t go big, but 150 clients is kind of a sweet spot. And especially when you’re in a high rent area, you know, a smaller gym might work really, really well to do that. So guys, if you’re listening out there and if you’re a gym owner who’s thinking about expanding or a gym owner who’s or an entrepreneur who’s thinking about opening a gym, get that guide and take a look at it because it might help you. And I love the idea of, OK, I’ve got this thing dialed in in this small space where the rent is affordable and now I might replicate it.

Mike (35:40):

I might support a coach, help doing that in another small space where you can create that same great model by leveraging the systems and procedures that are in place. And that’s really cool because once you have those things, you can literally drop them with small changes, you know, into any different new business. And that’s what kind of makes you an entrepreneur at that point is you have the systems and procedures. McDonald’s is probably the most obvious example of that, where they have SOPs for everything, and they can open up a building literally anywhere in the world in a small period of time. So it’s cool to see, I want to catch up with you in a couple of months, or maybe a year and see where you’re at with that procedure. So we’ll chat again. How does that sound?

Noah (36:20):

Sounds good.

Mike (36:20):

I have one important question as we leave. When you guys moved into this space, did you keep the red, white and blue barbershop pole out front?

Noah (36:27):

They didn’t have a pole. It was called ideal fades with a Z. They didn’t have a pole. They did have, like, the veterinarian side was real spooky. It was a real old school vet. And we had to demo out these like old cinder block cages. And they were like, there were hypodermic needles everywhere. And the building looked like it was like in Stranger Things, kind of like brown and the lights were flickering all the time and it was real spooky, but yeah, sadly, no pole. Had that been there I absolutely would have kept it. I knew

Mike (37:08):

I knew you probably would have. So I had to ask about it. But Noah, thanks so much for your time. I appreciate it. And we’ll talk to you again in a year or so and see where your business is at. I’m Mike Warkentin and this is Two-Brain Radio. 93% of gym owners recoup their investment in RampUp in less than 12 weeks. If you want to learn more about the program, book a call with a certified mentor via the link in the show notes. And now before you go, join the Gym Owners United group on Facebook. You can literally ask your gym business questions in there and get answers from gym owners, certified Two-Brain mentors and Two-Brain founder Chris Cooper himself. It’s the only public group where Cooper offers his insight. That’s Gym Owners United on Facebook. Join today and I will see you in there.


Thanks for listening!

Thanks for listening! Run a Profitable Gym airs twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays. Be sure to subscribe for tips, tactics and insight from Chris Coooper, as well as interviews with the world’s top gym owners.

To share your thoughts:

To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help, and we read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes.

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.