How a Business Mentor Helped Andrew Alvarado Improve His Gym


Mike (00:02):

A mentor can help you run your gym. Don’t take my word for it. I could be completely full of it. So today we’ve got a real gym owner who’s gonna explain why he signed up for mentorship, even though he couldn’t afford it at the time. It’s Two-Brain Radio and I’m your host, Mike Warkentin. Please subscribe and hit like wherever you’re watching or listening. Now onto my guest. Andrew Alvarado. He runs CrossFit Fairway Park in Hayward, California. That’s in NorCal. Andrew was also a pitcher who was drafted by the Houston Astros in 2004. So I’m gonna pepper this show with baseball references. Andrew. Welcome here.

Andrew (00:33):

Hey, thank you guys for having me.

Mike (00:35):

Before we get into the serious stuff. I gotta know. It’s bottom of the ninth bases loaded three, two count. What’s your strikeout pitch?

Andrew (00:41):

I threw a spike curve ball that would get ’em every time.

Mike (00:47):

  1. I was gonna expect a fastball, but I had a whole major league reference going there, but you got a curve ball. I like it. All right, we’ll get right on to business. Now, I got a lot of questions for you as a recent graduate of onramp into the growth stage. So you completed the ramp up program at Two-Brain in December. Give me some broad strokes here, like right off the top. How dramatically did your business change over the course of the ramp up?

Andrew (01:10):

So, OK. During ramp up, it really taught me what I’m selling because before I used to think that I was trying to sell the CrossFit class, right. Like a good time, a good vibe. And it really got me to understand that I’m selling results and coaching, and that changed like my whole perspective on everything. They also got me to really dive into like individual relationships, which made me a lot more excited to come to the gym in recent time, because like, I feel like now, we’re actually moving towards something right. At some goals. Know what I offer. And then also too, like they helped me really figure out like what I’m worth and how much I need to charge.

Mike (01:54):

That’s a big one. That was huge for me too.

Andrew (01:57):

Huge because, the whole time, like when I first started, you want people to sign up, so then you just keep cutting yourself down and pretty soon you’re left with just a gym full of people that aren’t paying what you’re worth. So they really helped me,with that and, figuring out like what I’m offering too. Like, that’s the big thing, like I’m offering now personal training group training and then nutrition coaching. And I’m able to like really dial those in. So yeah, it’s been, it went by fast, but it went really well for me, for sure.

Mike (02:30):

  1. We’re gonna dig into some of the details of that, but let me know, how long were you in business before ramp up and why did you choose to sign up, especially you didn’t have the cash at the time. Why did you do that?

Andrew (02:40):

I’ve been in business seven years. When I started I didn’t to know what CrossFit was. Right. So it was an opportunity and I filled this spot and I tried to make it my own, but I never knew what it was. And so for years I just kept doing the same thing over and over again. And then until finally I really got some help with the coaching side, the class side. I definitely figured that out first, but then finally, like, it was last year, I took a vacation and I just was like, I can’t do this anymore. I can’t afford to do this. And when I came back, I started some changes on my own. But I never felt like I knew if I was starting in the right spot.

Andrew (03:25):

And so, you know, I didn’t have the money at the time, but I just, I told myself that I was gonna do it. Like I was gonna make enough, I was gonna follow everything that they told me to do. I don’t care what it was. I was gonna change it. And, I was gonna earn it back. And that feeling that you get when you sign up for something that you don’t have the money for is nothing, I’ve ever—I’ve had good parents. My wife makes good money, never had that feeling of like being starving. And that’s what it gave me. It gave me that feeling of having to really to do this. And, otherwise I was gonna fail and it was between failing or doing it. And now, you know, I just keep going.

Andrew (04:05):

It’s like every day, since then, it’s just been so fresh. And now I can see, like before I couldn’t see the end, I just, I’ve never seen what it looked like. Like, I’ve never thought it was gonna end. It was just always something to do. And it just never felt like it was gonna end. I was so tired. And then now I’m still tired. Don’t get me wrong. But I see like, I see what the end looks like now. Like I can see it and I’m going now.

Mike (04:31):

It’s hard to see the horizon when your nose is to the grindstone. Right. You know, when you’re down there pushing, and I was the same way, like I could work those long days, teach those classes and just push. But when I looked up, I didn’t have a clue where I was going at times, you know? And that was important. Have you heard the Chris Cooper story about his park bench moment when he went and got a mentor and he, you know, spent his last $500 and wrote a check would bounce?

Andrew (04:52):

So that, yes. I heard that after I did it. And I was like, yes, that’s what happened. It’s the same.

Mike (05:00):

And, but that’ss the entrepreneurial thing where, you know, you commit to figuring it out. And that’s what Chris did, you know, it changed his life. That was his big moment where he made the change, asked for some help, got it. And then went on to everything else. You’re kind of doing the same thing. So I’m fascinated to see kind of how this goes. So let me ask you this. What was the first moment in the ramp up program where you knew that it was working for your business? As I imagine you were skeptical to start, you had just gambled like the money and you were maybe worried that this wasn’t gonna work. When did you know that it was working.

Andrew (05:31):

For me when I started to do the no sweats. And then I started to learn, they taught me that being a salesman isn’t what I used to think it was because I’m selling something that my clients want and it’s just a faster way to get there. And so I sat down with some seed clients and I really got know them. And then, I asked to do personal training and, you know, the first time I sold it, I was like, man, this is way too expensive, they’re gonna say no, but they didn’t. And, yeah, they did it. And then I started working with them and then they started getting better, faster, so fast. I never did personal training before this. I only focused on group.

Mike (06:08):

Me too.

Andrew (06:09):

I used to see people just like fade away because they’re, you know, people have been here two years. Can’t even do a pull-up like, oh my God. And I helped guy in two weeks and now he’s doing strict pull-ups. And, uh it’s yeah. So I noticed then, with obviously, that I can do it. Once I figured out how to like really the basics of selling, what you’re selling. They helped me with the pricing binder and really put that in order and then give me the confidence to sell. That’s when I knew that I can do this. And then I was thinking like, well, once I get it down, then it’s gonna be time for me to train someone else to do it. And I can eventually see how I’m gonna step away, but right now it’s definitely me right now. I’m learning how to do everything myself. I’m learning to be a salesman. I’m learning everything. And then I’m hopefully gonna pass that on, you know, that’s the goal.

Mike (07:02):

So it sounds like, you know, you really, you first figured out what you were selling and it sounds almost silly, but I was in the exact same boat where I didn’t know what I was selling. I was selling group classes, group CrossFit, some hand tears and some muscle-ups and that kind of stuff. Right. And that’s what I was selling by default, without making a choice. I didn’t even realize at the time that you could sell CrossFit in a personal training setting. Right. I didn’t do any of that stuff. I didn’t have a nutrition program, none of that stuff. So I hadn’t even made a decision about what I was selling. And now that when I did, then you could actually start offering those programs that would help people. The thing that you mentioned, sort of the help first sales, you get Chris Cooper’s book on Amazon that will tell you exactly about that. It’s the idea that I’m not forcing something on someone that they, you know, something they don’t want, they want it right. They actually want it. And I did the same as you where I thought all the time, like, oh, this is expensive. I wouldn’t pay this, but my clients were only too happy. Did you have that experience where like your clients just said like, oh my God, this is so worth it.

Andrew (07:55):

Yes. Yeah. And it’s mind blowing and every time that happens, then it makes the old feeling go away a little bit. And, you know, it’s yeah. It’s just worked out really good. For sure.

Mike (08:08):

Yeah. So then you’ve also got your sales and that’s one thing that, you know, working hard and ramp up is to figure out what you’re selling, figure out how to sell it. Right. So we want some quick wins in the ramp up program. So you can earn that money back and start seeing those results. You learn the sales process, and now you’ve got what we call climbing the value ladder, where you’re looking to now replace yourself in that role. So you can go on to building other things. I’m gonna get slightly ahead of myself and ask you if you do replace yourself, what are you gonna do next?

Andrew (08:33):

Yeah. Well, I don’t think I’ve got to that point.

Mike (08:36):

  1. It’s not a fair question cuz I have thrown it at you outta the blue, but I was just curious if you had a big plan.

Andrew (08:41):

No. I really like coaching. My goal here is 75 members. I’m a really small gym. And I really like being here with them. I do wanna be here less and focus on the things like maybe doing the introduction classes. Like I really like helping the people when they’re just starting out, getting them to kinda fall in love with fitness. You know, so I can see myself going there. I definitely have a plan though for like, in terms of my metrics, but what I’m gonna do after, I mean, I’ll probably go fishing or something like that.

Mike (09:16):

Like, I’ll join you for some fishing. That’d be great. Although I dunno about NorCal fishing. There might be some sharks down there, but you mentioned metrics. Do you have any key growth metrics that you wouldn’t mind sharing or, you know, how is your business doing post ramp up? And now that you’re working in our growth stage.

Andrew (09:29):

So I started having conversations with people because the one thing that Two-Brain gave me was confidence in what I’m selling. And it became really hard for me to see people that were paying a lot less in with other people that are now paying my rate. And so I started having conversations with people and then people started to leave a little bit. So, but before that happened, because I’m actually getting ready to raise my rates. Before that happened I had seen it was an easy two grand, per month for two months, just right off the top, because I started adding personal training.

Mike (10:03):

So you added two grand to your bottom line right off the top.

Andrew (10:05):

Yep. Because of personal training and because I started doing fundamentals, which is now $400 when they come in. It’s eight 30-minute sessions. And so every new person coming in has to do that. So then I got, yeah, there was one day where I made it was like almost $1,100 in one day. And the most I’ve ever made in one day was like 350 bucks. And yeah, I know I took a picture of it, sent it to my mentor and he was like, well, he was like, oh, he’s like, let’s get you every day like that. And I was like, ha ha. But he was being serious. And that’s when I knew, I was like, holy, let’s do this.

Mike (10:40):

Who’s your mentor?

Andrew (10:41):

Russ Francis. He’s from Jersey.

Mike (10:46):

Very cool. Yeah. I just wanted make sure that I knew who was giving you the right advice there. That’s fascinating. So right away, you’re seeing some results on these things. Before, were you just dropping people into group classes or what was the entry to your business before you had a ramp up or a fundamentals program?

Andrew (11:01):

Come take a free class. Yeah. And just try to impress ’em that day. And then I would spend the whole time trying to help them cause they didn’t know how to squat correct. And then my other members would be left behind for sure.

Mike (11:14):

Yeah. We led the same life. Like I did the exact same thing and it wasn’t until I started doing the consult, you know, the prescriptive model that it really started to change. And in that model, I imagine now when you’re getting new clients in the door, instead of, you know, doing that thing where you’re, you know, I gotta fix your squat in the middle of class, you can actually find out what they actually want and then say, Hey, you need nutrition and personal training. You would do better in group classes. And then it makes the sales process easier. Is that what you’re finding?

Andrew (11:39):

It’s way easier. And it’s better for them to come in and do personal training right off the bat because then some of them decide to stay or definitely will add it, like the whole thing I’m pushing now is to do your membership and then at least one per month, personal training.

Mike (11:58):

Yeah. Have you seen your average revenue per member rise significantly as a result of these changes?

Andrew (12:05):

Yeah, I never kept track of any metrics before this. Now it’s cool, I know what to keep track of. I know what’s important. It doesn’t feel like every day is just like a cluster, you know what. And it’s never gonna end. So, you know, the metrics, are going well and it’s nice to actually see it, you know?

Mike (12:27):

Yeah. The hybrid model that you mentioned and for listeners, that’s that like personal training and nutrition plus group classes or some combination of stuff, it’s a really cool way to add value. And if you think about, let’s just throw out the number of like, you know, $175 for a group class or whatever it might be. Add on one personal training session a month. And let’s say that that 30 minute session is, I don’t know, 50 bucks or whatever you wanna call it. All of a sudden you’ve got yourself a $225 member, 225, or you add those up by the number of members you want. All of a sudden you can make a pretty good living on that.

Andrew (12:58):

So my end goal is, cause I’m a small gym. My gym is I can fit eight people with squat racks. And so when we get busier, we share bars and so it’s small. So my goal is 75 members. Once everybody, we do rates, 225 is the full time. And then we do 175 for three days a week. But I can see like once things fill up and then I get to the point where I can’t fill anymore, we’re gonna move everybody to full-time members. You know, we’ll probably lose some, but then, you know, eventually once they become full, then I’m gonna start requiring, Hey, you know, let’s sign up for four personal trainings per year and then that’ll turn to eight and then 12. So my, my eventual goal is like, is gonna be, yeah, this is gonna be probably $335 per member.

Mike (13:43):

And you know, there are gym owners out there when you say that who’ll be like, it’s impossible. I’ve literally talked to Two-Brain gym owners all over the place who have hit $300 and above. And there are shows in our archives where I’ve interviewed them. It is possible. And it’s often the model exactly what you’re talking about, getting those service packages together. Some of them of course do with some high ticket coaching where they’re selling like super high touch, $1,500 a month packages and things like that. But then there’s other people that are doing it rates of like 335 a month. Something like that based on personal training and group or just personal training and nutrition. So when you say that number, you know, if listeners are out there saying, whoa, that’s crazy. It is possible.

Andrew (14:22):

I used to think it was crazy. First I went to a gym, CrossFit Hale with Jason Williams.

Mike (14:28):

I know Jason. Yeah.

Andrew (14:29):

So I went there, just cause I had a member who said, Hey, this guy’s got his shit together. And he gave me Coop’s book, but he told me it was like about personal training. He told me how much he charges at his gym. It was like 275, and I was like nobody’s gonna pay that. But now four years after and seeing the changes, I can see it’s just about finding the right people. Right? And then once you find the right people it’ll be slow like right now, you know, but we have the right people here that value it. And then the value of the personal training and have the money. And that kinda will lead to more people like that. I’m noticing that that’s happening.

Mike (15:09):

Yeah. And the cool part of about your model is you’ve got a small space, which is, you know, I know real estate is expensive in Silicon Valley area and so forth in NorCal, but you’ve got a smaller space. So your overhead is gonna be lower than a gym that says, oh, I got 12,000 square feet or whatever it is, that’s very difficult. Then you’re looking, you have to have super high rates or high volume or some combination of that. So you’re able now, and especially in an area, I don’t know much about Hayward. I’ve driven past it on the way to Santa Cruz a bunch of times, but you are in an area in the San Francisco bay area where there’s some, there are some good jobs and some money floating around. You can find those clients. Right.

Andrew (15:43):

You can, but you project what you grew up with. Right. And, you know, I wasn’t always super poor, but I definitely didn’t like when I first started, I couldn’t afford my service. And they’ll come, they just, yeah. I don’t know. Maybe the power of positive thinking. Right. Put the vibe out there, but it does happen.

Mike (16:03):

It’s hard to get over that. I was the same way.

Mike (16:07):

You know, when you think about it, like, you know,when I was a struggling student or when I started working handing out towels at a globo gym, and then you go to say, having someone pay you $175 a month, that’s a tough one. Cause I wouldn’t have paid that. I was like, I was paying 29.99 to do bench press in the corner. Right?

Andrew (16:23):

Yep. No for sure. Yeah. No, I’m really happy with everything. And then I’m actually, I’ve been shooting videos of myself, like how things have been going, because I really believe that in like two or three years, I’m gonna look back and be like, that was the moment that you decided to like really do it. And, you know, cuz I could have quit. I came to the point where I was gonna sell my gym to the gym down the street and I just was gonna do construction, but my wife and I were like, Nope, let’s really try.

Mike (16:57):

I’d put major league comeback in between there, before you go to construction, get back on the mound.

Andrew (17:04):

I was gonna say too, cause like my neighbor gym, we’ve been friends now seven years and they have like 270 members. I think they charge ike 185. I used to wanna compete with that. And they’re bigger. They got more stuff, more coaches and it’s just not, I talked to ’em the other day and it’s just like, it’s not where I’m going. Like I’m not competing with you anymore. My gym is totally different than yours, you know, like what we’re offering and how we’re doing it.

Mike (17:27):

And that’s great. And like you said, you know what you sell now. And I realized that too, I sell coaching, which is worth way more than just access to a gym that has barbells and a bunch of other cool stuff. It’s completely different thing. But that mindset, you know, if listeners are out there and they’re saying, wow, this, I don’t get it. That’s the mindset shift is that you are actually selling coaching as opposed to access or just, you know, random group classes. You are selling life coaching. And we’ve noticed that with a lot of gym owners coaching now extends, yes, you’re doing fitness, but it might be one on one. It might be group. You’re doing probably some nutrition coaching in there. You’re probably doing some like mindset coaching, even like habits, coaching, all that stuff. Like the skillset of a coach. If you can get someone to squat and do burpees and do these horrible CrossFit workouts, you can get them do some other stuff. Right? Oh

Andrew (18:11):

Yeah. I’m finding now though that I have my seed clients that I’m spending more time too like just with them outside the gym and going to functions. And it’s just, yeah, it’s really changed everything it’s made me, like, I don’t feel like I work. I used to feel like I had a job and I’m now it’s not like that.

Mike (18:31):

Ah, that’s music to my ears. Do you have any other metrics that we didn’t cover? And if you don’t let me ask you about the metric that you would be targeting to improve next.

Andrew (18:41):

So I keep track of leads now. And so for me, I did last month, only 10. So like I said, I don’t do a whole ton of volume, but I’m keeping track of the closes now. So I do pretty good. I’m about 50% of whenever I book something, they come in. and I would say my goal is as to get 10 new members per month, that’s always like a goal of mine. But I’m not also not doing any advertising right now, my mentor and I just decided that we wanna focus on trying to change the important stuff first. And then when I can handle it, I’ll try to get, you know, some ads out there.

Mike (19:22):

Yeah. Cause the last thing you wanna do is acquire people when you’re not ready for it and then lose them right away. Cause you made some mistakes. So what are the things, I guess we’ll call ’em the fundamentals of the foundational stuff that you’re working on. What is the big stuff you’re doing right now with your mentor?

Andrew (19:34):

The roles and tasks, separating that and then coming up with the playbook. Yeah. And then he wants me, I have two, the way I had to do it, I had to let go of some people for coaching, you know, cause I’m doing the four ninths model and and yeah, so we have members that are becoming coaches and we’re in the process of training them right now. And so that’s really big. And then also, getting them to like fill out evaluation sheets and the contract, basically the terms of agreement things. So I’m meeting with him next week and we’ll have that done. And then he’ll give me another focus.

Mike (20:16):

So going forward, how does mentorship figure into your plan? Like, are you seeing, like when you talk to Russell, does he give you like a clear, OK, hit this, hit this, hit this, talk to me, message me when it’s done and let’s go forward. Like, how is mentorship gonna guide you for the next, let’s say three to six months.

Andrew (20:31):

So for me I thought about that question when you wrote it in the email. And so with me, I wanna make him proud because I see him, I follow him and I see his gyms and I see his members the other day. He had a birthday and his members just wrote this awesome little thing for him. And it’s like, he has people that love him that wanna work for him. And that’s like, what I want. So for more than anything, I wanna make him proud. And my goal is to be able to afford to be able to take a trip out there. And so that’s just on me, like, but in terms of, he just holds you accountable. OK. Like when you have somebody that is, you tell that you’re gonna do something, you do it. And I just, it’s as simple as that’s just like accountability coaching with nutrition, you know, it’s not about the diet, it’s about them following through. And so, I just, yeah, I don’t see it ending. I would love to keep going and I don’t to stop for sure.

Mike (21:28):

And that’s really what it’s set up for is that when Chris originally set up his program, he had like a video course kind of thing people could do on their own. And you know, it had great content, but people weren’t doing the work and weren’t getting the results. Chris ripped the whole thing apart, put it back together and focused on mentorship because that one-on-one relationship makes you wanna do something. So, like if I told you I’m going to do this thing and I’m gonna email you when I’m done, I need to do it or I’m letting you down, you know? And that’s the whole principle is that you need to find ways to take action. So sometimes our mentors, they know all this business stuff, but it’s not necessarily about the business stuff. It’s about helping someone take a step and it might be overcoming fear or not knowing what to do or any of that different stuff because they just give you motivation. So, you know, for you, is it like, do they, is it the accountability or is it the knowledge that you find more important? Which one would you prioritize?

Andrew (22:16):

Right now knowledge for sure. Cause I didn’t have any. And we’re using a software for social media. He’s helped me like figure out how to use that stuff. That’s made my time so much easier. And then it’s just nice to know that, like I have, if I have questions, I ask them, so that in the beginning, but now that you know, we’re moving on. It’s more about the accountability and like having him there if I need it, because that’s the thing we, I think we often doubt ourselves. And then we just don’t do anything. So I would just be frozen in fear and then just keep doing the same thing every day. But now it’s like, oh, OK, let’s talk to him. And then let’s see how he feels. And he always gives me a choice, you know, it’s my choice. But he lets me know, you know, what he would do basically. Yeah.

Mike (23:02):

Yeah. And it’s easy. I remember when I was overwhelmed in the gym, it was easy to just say, I’m gonna fix those barbells or I’m gonna change these lights or I’m gonna do this, you know, grunt work that like, basically it was me avoiding the big thing. Right. Like I didn’t wanna raise my rates. So I thought, well, I’ll just work harder and make the facility cleaner. And that didn’t fix anything. I, you know, things were OK, but it didn’t fix the problem. It wasn’t until we had a mentor, we did that. We did that rate increase that you’re planning, things like that made a huge difference far more than, you know, how clean the squat rack was and things like that. So it was really for me, it was taking those big steps. I’ll ask you this as we close this out, people out there who are thinking about mentorship or are nervous about it, or like look at the price, like, ah, what would you say to those people who are thinking about it?

Andrew (23:45):

Well, I mean, since I did it my way I would say, well, here’s the thing. You have to be ready. And if you’re ready, you’ll know it. But if you’re really like, eh, you know, like, I don’t think you’re ready. You’ll know. If you’re ready, you’re ready. And I would go for it. A hundred percent do it.

Mike (24:10):

Yeah. If you’re not ready and we actually, like, we understand like as a team of mentors that some people aren’t ready, ’cause if you’re not ready to do the work and it is work, right. Like the ramp up was not, you know, easy quote unquote, you had a lot of stuff you had to rip your business apart. Think of your vision, like put things back together. And it’s like, you really had some long nights where you had to sit there and do some work and think, and really plan, not easy. If you’re not ready to make those changes or listen to someone, you shouldn’t sign up for mentorship. For those guys.

Andrew (24:37):

But if you are and you you don’t know like where to start, like this is your answer. This is it.

Mike (24:48):

And if you’re at that point where you aren’t ready to start out there, I’ll tell you go to the free tools section on, get those free tools, subscribe to our YouTube channel, subscribe to this podcast because we crank out tons and tons of free information that will get you ready. And honestly, Chris has decided to put out this much info because he wants you to make the money that you could then use to pay for mentorship. And the final part of that, join the Gym Owners United group on Facebook. We give out free guides out there every week on important topics. So tons and tons of options. And then when you’re ready, give us a call. Andrew. I can’t wait to see what you accomplish. I wanna see you get to 75 members with like 200, $300, you know, $300, average revenue per member. And then we’ll talk again. How does that sound?

Andrew (25:28):

That sounds great. I appreciate you guys having me.

Mike (25:30):

I really appreciate your time and advice. That was Andrew Alvarado on Two-Brain Radio, I’m your host, Mike Wartkentin, and I’m all about telling the stories of amazing gym owners. Please subscribe more episodes. And if you’re on YouTube, hammer that like button too. Now here’s Two-Brain founder, Chris Cooper with a final word.

Chris (25:47):

Thanks for listening to Two-Brain Radio. If you aren’t in the Gym Owners United group on Facebook, this is my personal invitation to join. It’s the only public Facebook group that I participate in. And I’m there all the time with tips, tactics, and free resources. I’d love to network with you and help you grow your business. Join Gym Owners United on Facebook.


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