Entrepreneur’s Pandemic Plan: “We’re Going to Make It Work”

Ruth Cheng and title text.

Mike (00:02):

The last 12 months have been brutal. A pandemic, lockdowns, heaps of government restrictions. If you’ve had it with the negative, you’ll want to listen to Ruth Cheng’s success story, which was written despite a host of challenges. She’s here right after this.

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 as a catalyst. It improved my conversion and my retention go to level method.com to find out more.

Mike (00:49):

It’s Mike Warkentin back with Two-Brain Radio. At the 2019 Two-Brain summit in Chicago, I was taking candid photos and looking for smiling people. I spotted Ruth Cheng right away. The owner of CrossFit PTBO was having a grand old time with new friends at her table. Over the last year, Ruth has provided tons of updates in our private Two-Brain group. And I wanted to share her story with you today. Despite adversity, she’s resolute, she’s got a plan and she’s got big goals. Hi, Ruth, and welcome to Two-Brain Radio.

Ruth (01:15):

Hey, how are you?

Mike (01:17):

I’m doing well now, I’m excited to talk to you today. I did a search for your posts in our growth group. It was a spectacular read. You know, you talked about a number of challenges in there, but between all the struggles and there were many the last year for everyone, you posted, you know, a consistent string of revenue PRs.

Mike (01:33):

So I’m going to ask you the big question first that I’m sure everyone wants to know. How much have you grown your business and how did you manage to do it over the course of what was just a terrible year in the fitness industry and the world in general?

Ruth (01:43):

So we keep track of literally every month and year over year on a spreadsheet and comparing 2019 to 2020, we’ve grown actually about 20% in gross revenue even with what’s going on, what went on last year. Surprisingly, so something to be proud of. I can only imagine if 2020 didn’t happen the way it did, what that number would be. Right.

Mike (02:12):

And you’ve grown quite a bit, even from like 2018 before that, correct?

Ruth (02:16):

Yes. Yeah. From 18 to 19, it was 26%, the year before it was 41%.

Mike (02:22):

So it’s just year on year growth. I mean, that’s incredible. And especially during a challenging situation, you know, you’re between two cities, Toronto, Ottawa, that are getting hammered by lockdowns and so forth. And we feel like we’re probably on the date of recording here. We’re probably an hour away from another stay at home order for the entire province, Ruth and I happen to be in the same Canadian province of Ontario. Give me some secrets here. Like how have you managed to do this? And again, we’ll get into some details and so forth, but just what’s the overarching reason that you’ve been able to grow through a terrible time for businesses.

Ruth (02:54):

I guess it helps that Dave and I, through our whole business, we’re complete opposites. His strengths are my weaknesses, vice versa. So we’ve got kind of our designated roles, which helps streamline everything. There’s no secrets. It’s been super challenging. There was lots of crying and frustration. And just trying to navigate day by day.

Mike (03:27):

Well, let’s dig in a little bit, cause you know, there maybe isn’t an overarching secret, but you’re doing something right. So we’re going to find out what that is. We’ll talk it out a little bit here and see what else we can go over. Take me back to January, 2020. Where were you and PTBO at? And you said a little bit what we know the financial stuff, how your gross has gone up for the year, but where were you at in January, 2020 before all the pandemic stuff started?

Ruth (03:47):

Yeah, we were hitting milestones and so January we hit—January, February, we were about 25,000 for January 29, almost hitting our, you know, mythical 30,000 per month, super excited, momentum, and then March hit. So we were just skyrocketing and on a roll.

Mike (04:16):

So when the pandemic hits, how fo you feel? Did it just feel like the wind fell out of your sails and or happened for you in Peterborough? Did you have like, was it a lockdown for you or how did, what was the scenario?

Ruth (04:24):

Yeah, it was dead on the streets. Literally. Like everyone was scared, stayed home. We as a business, we didn’t react too quickly. We thought, Hey, it’s going to only be two weeks. Right? So we shared some workouts on Wodify, didn’t transfer over to personal coaching just yet, didn’t lend out equipment. And as we figured that this is going to be much longer than that’s in April. So after the two weeks we transferred to what we call our online personal coaching, assigning coaches to each individual, checking in twice a week. And we were really hesitant on renting out equipment, but Hey, we needed more revenue. Rented our machines, barbells, dumbbells, everything had a price tag to it and people that wanted it paid for it. And it really helped bridge that gap.

Mike (05:18):

We were in the same boat. We ended up shutting down our physical location, but we were the same thing where we like, I did not want to lend out that gear, you know, because it’s basically like a carpenter loaning out the tools that he or she would use to build stuff. And you might not get them back. You know? Like how many books have you lent out over the years never to see again? You know, I was terrified of that, but then we realized that it was going to help our members out because there was no fitness equipment available. And it was also gonna help us out with some revenue. So I took the plunge too, but you know, was it hard for you to watch the stuff go out the door? Cause I was just fearful.

Ruth (05:50):

I think definitely more so for Dave, because he maintains every little piece of equipment in there and it was hard, but our members honestly know how we take care of things. They know how to take care of it. So it came back all in one piece. Luckily.

Mike (06:07):

So personally, how did that feel when, you know, you’re on this arc where you’re not even an arc, it’s a curve going up and you’re hitting PRs in revenue getting close to your big 30 K goals and so forth. And then all of a sudden you get the brakes slammed on for two weeks, quote unquote, which turns into more and longer and longer. And how did that feel personally for you? Like, was it just a gut punch?

Ruth (06:28):

Super deflating. Personally we’re experiencing our third lockdown right now. So every time, cause I’m the one that does the backend and each lockdown, you get the, Hey who’s continuing, who’s canceling. And within the hour, the amount of notifications of I’m going to put it on hold, I’m going to cancel. Like I did not want to even look my look at my phone, the tears would come out, you know, the anxiety and that’s super overwhelming.

Mike (06:59):

And I appreciate you talking about it because there’s so many people out there, there isn’t a real face to some of this stuff, right? Like you hear all the small businesses are suffering and you hear all these general just generalisms. But when people actually talk about it, it really helps other business owners in particular. And that’s the whole point of this podcast to understand that like, yeah, you’re not alone. Your anxiety, your stress, you’re not alone on this stuff. And I’ve seen a lot of people on Facebook today, especially because Alberta and other places are getting into lockdowns, people speaking out and kind of, you know, voicing their frustration and so forth. And that’s one of the reasons I really wanted to have you on the show is to talk about, you know, some of the hardships, but also some of the positive stuff. So, you know, you’re getting punched in the gut. You don’t want to touch your phone because you don’t wanna see cancellations. How do you turn that around and pick yourself up and say, OK, I’m going to keep this going. I’m going to dust myself off and I’m going to figure out a plan to serve my members and keep my business going. Did you take a couple of days to just kind of just like, you know, suck it up or how did you find the positivity to keep going?

Ruth (07:53):

With the current lockdown we were right in the middle of like at the gym, classes are running, I was transparent. Like we just were open with our members and one of the ladies asked, like, how are you doing? And with my mask on started like tearing up and she could tell I was upset. So I guess not suppressing my feelings a hundred percent helped. Facing it. Knowing like, Hey, this is reality. We’re all going through it to some degree, sharing our emotions.

Mike (08:31):

Talk to me about the quiet nights. You know, you’re at home with your partner and you’re figuring the situation out and you’re like, OK, well we’ve shut the gym down. We changed things. How do you guys find the strength? Where’s the positivity come from? And the wherewithal, obviously, you know, you run a CrossFit affiliate, you do some tough workouts and you’re a tough person, but how do you find the willpower to then go back into the breach one more time?

Ruth (08:53):

I guess our motivation would be our kids, keeping the roof over our heads. Our employees depend on us. They literally had the biggest paychecks for March ever. And then now it’s going to be quarter, maybe half, not even. So we don’t want to have to get to the point of laying them off. We don’t want to do that. So I guess that’s kind of the motivating factor.

Mike (09:21):

So it’s kind of a sense of a sense of duty. Both to you know, your family and your extended family at the gym.

Ruth (09:28):

There’s no choice. We don’t have a choice. Just like I’ll use a good example of when I went to the summit in 2019, three days later, I quit my job at the university. Sink or swim right? Now we’re down to one self-employed income versus a steady benefits pension job. We’re going to make it work.

Mike (09:49):

Yeah. And that’s the great attitude that, you know, I’ve been inspired by some of the entrepreneurs, not just in the fitness industry, but in other areas, watching some of them. And there’s a restaurant in Winnipeg and the owner, I interviewed the owner, and he said, I’m here serving customers when I can. And I’m delivering on the—I’m the server now. And I actually do deliveries and I do everything else that the owner would do. He’s working a huge amount. He actually had his wife taking care of a high-risk person. So he wasn’t even seeing his wife because he didn’t want, you know, to risk transmitting disease or something like that. But he said like, this is what I do. This is what I’m going to continue to do. So people like that, that resilience and grit is really inspiring. And are you one of those, are you kind of like one of those tough people that’ll just go through it no matter what, is that your character?

Ruth (10:35):

I would definitely say that’s definitely Dave. I’m definitely more soft, more emotional. I’ll show it more, but together, I guess, we have to be that way, right?

Mike (10:49):

Yeah. There’s a limited choice. You moved into a new space, correct?

Ruth (10:55):

Yes. We moved last May. So during the first lockdown. It was very different than the last two lockdowns. The first lockdown, both kids were still at home. They couldn’t go to daycare. We had to move locations. It actually kind of worked out because Dave did it all on his own. He’s a solo worker, you know, we’re not the type to get the whole gym, let’s move the gym together. So we were able to renovate, get things moved over and get it set up for whenever we reopened. And it was exciting for people because not only are we coming out of lockdown, but we’re going to a new home.

Mike (11:33):

But I’m sure that was an added stress that you maybe didn’t need during the lockdown. I mean, in some ways it was a blessing right. Where you didn’t have to coach classes and stuff. So you could do all that stuff. On the other side you’re like, Whoa, I’m moving into a brand new space and I’ve got all these other things going on and I’m trying to manage my gym.

Ruth (11:47):

Yeah. And I couldn’t really, I wanted to help out because this is our new space, but the two kids are at home. So I be, you know, a hundred percent part of the move either.

Mike (11:57):

So did he just move like 70,000 pounds of gear more or less by himself?

Ruth (12:01):

When it got to the equipment and the actual equipment, we did get two of our coaches to come and help. So it was literally like a morning and a half and that was done, but everything else, painting mats, et cetera, was all Dave.

Mike (12:16):

That’s incredible. And you said he’s a very stoic kind of like nose to the grindstone kind of guy.

Ruth (12:21):

Oh yeah. Get out of his way. He’ll get it done.

Mike (12:24):

Well, that’s great. That kind goes back to what you said at the beginning of one of your secrets there is that you guys kind of balance each other out, which is really interesting. So you kind of, you know, maybe more emotional and taking care of the backend stuff. And he’s just like, I’m going to paint this wall till 4:00 AM and away we go, right.

Ruth (12:42):

Before the gym, he was a foreman for, he poured basements, like concrete basements for 14 years. So good at managing and stuff like that. So, you know, this is our dream, own our business. Make our schedule, make however much money we want and it’s on hold right now.

Mike (13:01):

What was the biggest challenge over the last year? You know, again, COVID is probably the obvious one, but is there a certain aspect of things, like, was it, you know, retaining members? Was it acquiring members or tell me about what the biggest challenge that you’ve overcome is.

Ruth (13:14):

The first lockdown with the month after month, it’s the retention, keeping people interested, motivated, you know, if it’s a month, bottom line is not going to hurt. We always come back with even bigger revenue PRS. But if it lingers longer, that’s the biggest challenge.

Mike (13:33):

Right. So it’s retention. And then when you’ve reopened, when you’ve been able to, have you experienced a surge of people coming in, or have you done anything to kind of encourage a new group of signups? Or how does that go?

Ruth (13:46):

Yeah, when we reopened, so we reopened July, mid July, and August, we hit 31,000, November. We hit 40 for the first time.

Mike (13:57):

Wow, congratulations.

Ruth (13:58):

Yeah. Last month we hit, I think 46,000, like record, record numbers. And I guess, yes, people want to get back into fitness, word of mouth. People know like the integrity of what we’re providing to our members. Not only just like, get a workout in, it’s fixing their health in whatever way. They want to be a part of that.

Mike (14:24):

And so your gym is currently open right now?

Ruth (14:26):

No, no, we’re not.

Mike (14:29):

What the health region that you’re classified as?

Ruth (14:31):


Mike (14:31):

Yeah. OK. So you’ve been in the gray lockdown restriction for some time. Is that right?

Ruth (14:39):

We were yellow. And then when the outbreak at the local college hit, we switched to red, which luckily we’ve always been 10 per class. So nothing changed. We’ve always kept our classes small and it worked out in our favor. We had no changes, so, yeah.

Mike (14:57):

So what’s the plan. We expect, you know, a stay at home order coming up and so forth. Are you falling kind of the Two-Brain plan of assigning coaches to people, delivering their workouts, staying in touch daily? Or how are you, what are you doing to retain members right now?

Ruth (15:10):

Yeah. So how we’re doing our online personal coaching is David has very specific programming for our members. So he kind of developed two streams, bodyweight and minimal equipment. So our coaches have access to those two streams on True Coach. We’ve assigned our members to our two full-time employees.

Ruth (15:30):

They check in twice a week. I’ve got like, you know, five people that I check in with and we’re paying a percentage of their membership. So we’re kind of taking that cut, but to still provide employment. And we’re trying to keep as many of their personal training clients going on zoom as well, because that’s still the same, you know, high value per hour rate. Just, I keep telling our members like, don’t compare your workouts at home to the gym. Right now, lockdown, our goal is try to move. If you can do, you know, one portion of the workout, Hey, that’s better than not doing anything. I guess setting expectations is really important.

Chris (16:09):

It’s Chris Cooper here. Your gym’s programming won’t attract new clients, but it can help you keep your clients longer. Good programming includes benchmarks, novelty, skills, progressions, leaderboards, you know all that stuff. But great programming contains something more: a link between each client’s fitness goals and the workout of the day. Your coaches need to tell your clients more than what they’re doing every day. They need to explain why they’re doing it. Gym’s whose coaches could explain the why connection had a 25% better retention rate during lockdowns. Imagine how that translates into better retention when things are back to normal. Now, I want to solve this problem for gym owners. Programming is the service you deliver to your clients. So I partnered with Brooks DiFiore, who had one of the highest adherence rates in the world for his group classes at his gym to build twobrainprogramming.com. We built this for Two-Brain gyms and we give them free access in our mentorship program. But I’m now making this available to the public. Programming proven to improve retention and cashflow in your gym. Visit Two-Brain programming.com to get it.

Mike (17:16):

  1. And what has that done for clients, like to clients by and large stay around or are some taking time off? Or how does that work for you?

Ruth (17:24):

We’ve probably, for this third lockdown probably lost 30 to 40 people already that just are not into online stuff. They want to be in classes.

Mike (17:37):

So when you get to open up, do you kind of, is this a hold thing or is it a cancellation thing? Or do you have a plan to kind of re-acquire these people? Or how does that go?

Ruth (17:44):

Yeah, so that’s nose to the grindstone for me, contact every person, you know, when we’re starting back up the state. Great. It’s all ready for when we have the green light. OK.

Mike (17:57):

Basically you’re saying bye for now and gonna talk to them as soon as soon as things are better and get things going again.

Ruth (18:04):


Mike (18:04):

And you’ve got those plans laid out, I’m guessing for previous lockdowns now that you’ve got experience.

Ruth (18:11):

And another thing that I’ve been getting feedback from our members, every time there’s been lockdown, we’ve perfected the turnaround time. Announcements made, Dave and I talk about the plan, which is usually the same plan. Within two hours email sent out, spreadsheet is going for like, who’s staying, who’s going, who’s transitioned to True Coach. It’s all done within like 24 hours. We know what’s going on. So, our members are super impressed with, you know, how fast the communication is, how concise, and they appreciate that, right? Local gyms in the area, we hear like the owner didn’t even tell us they’re locked down and just kinda ghosted them and that’s not the right thing to do for our members.

Mike (18:57):

So I’m going to steal your thunder here, or I’ll blow your horn potentially is a better metaphor. One of the secrets, I think probably of your success in this whole thing is probably communicating a whole lot, having a plan, communicating that plan and just being in touch with your members and being open with them. You know, when I’m listening to you talk about this stuff here, you’re talking about meticulous detail, right. And having a plan, knowing how to do this, and then implementing really fast, because I have seen exactly what you’re saying, where I’ve heard and it’s general gyms in the community that I read about, not Two-Brain gyms, where I hear people talk about, you know, my gym just closed and I didn’t even know I went to the front door and it was locked and they have no idea what’s going on. Their shoes are locked inside. They don’t know if they’re being open. I’ve seen some auctions out of the blue of large amounts of fitness equipment that clearly came from some gyms. It seems like you’re doing the exact opposite of that. And really the communication and the planning is probably one of the reasons why you’re showing so much success. Do you agree with me?

Ruth (19:57):

Totally agree and going into the second lockdown, I’m going to totally credit Jay Rhodes. He went into lockdown before we did. And he posted in the growth group that this is what I sent out. When I sent it out. I followed his steps, did a pre little pre-lockdown email. Hey guys, we’re expecting this. We will be in touch when we know more, when we knew more immediately sent out, this is our plan. So yeah. Thank you, Jay.

Mike (20:26):

Yeah, Jay is one of our Two-Brain mentors who runs a gym in Hamilton and I saw the same thing. He knew lockdown was coming and he took some pretty aggressive steps. And he’s the same as you were. He’s experienced a lot of growth over the last few years he’s turned around a gym and made it into something really special to the point where now he’s able to help other gym owners. And he clearly did that here with you. And that’s honestly like, you know, with our business, we chose to pivot online and we closed our physical space down, but all this came, all these decisions were made because back in March of last year, we were hearing from the Two-Brain gyms in China and Australia, New Zealand, like everything on the Asian wave of what was happening. And then we heard in Europe what was happening. And then when it got to North America, we had a pretty good idea of what was going to happen. And we made some decisions, you know, very quickly. Did you find that same thing when the kind of wave was coming toward North America? Did you find that the advanced warning from the Two-Brain gyms over there was helpful?

Ruth (21:20):

I didn’t pay too, too much attention. I guess my parents live in Taiwan and they did everything right during COVID so we can’t compare to them because life is normal there. But, yeah, I guess hindsight’s like, yeah, we knew what was coming right.

Mike (21:41):

It was helpful for me in the sense, like, I just, you know, a couple of people asked us over the last little bit, like, how did you know this was going to be longer than two weeks? And, you know, the reason I knew it was because I had read what Chris had put up and shared from some of the gym owners in Asia and in Australia and so forth saying this is what was happening. And we were able to make some quick moves and it’s great to even in your local community, like, are you pretty tight with all of the Toronto area and Ontario gym owners?

Ruth (22:03):

Yeah. Yeah. Definitely try to keep in touch as much as I can. We’re the only Two-Brain CrossFit gym in our city. So we’re kind of the lone wolf here, but I definitely look to other Two-Brain gyms in Ontario.

Mike (22:20):

As we close this out, talk to me about kind of hope for the future here. Probably getting the lockdown stay-at-home order coming up right away, at least probably gonna be into May before we can operate again, I’m going to guess. Talk to me about May when you’re able to open, what is your plan and what are your goals for the next year? Let’s assume that May is the last of the lockdowns. What are you looking to accomplish in the rest of 2021?

Ruth (22:40):

Jay and I are already have a thing going saying, who’s going to reach 50,000 first.

Mike (22:45):

He’s not competitive at all, right?

Ruth (22:51):

So we want to blow it out of the water. I want to write the biggest checks to our employees over and over and over again. And we want to be unstoppable like yeah. And provide the best service to our members. When I also say this is part of the bright spot posts that you saw, we don’t have any weed clients. It makes our jobs so much easier because we want to help these people. I want to help.

Mike (23:17):

Did you fire them or did they leave?

Ruth (23:18):

Most leave on their own. Yeah, we’ve never really had to fire anybody.

Mike (23:28):

Weed clients are your worst clients. They’re the people that take the most of your energy and give you the least happiness. And they often pay you the least. And so we often talk about people who just don’t fit in. There is a seeds and weeds exercise that we use to help our gym owners figure out what to do with them. And weed clients often, if you’ve got the right culture and atmosphere, they often just pull themselves out and leave. In some cases, you get a really bad one that you have to fire, but you’ve clearly created a culture that allows your clients to kind of think, Oh, this isn’t for me or I’m all in. And I love this place.

Ruth (24:00):

Yep. And that’s where we’re at. We’ve got lots of seed clients. People are very happy.

Mike (24:04):

Target is 50K in gross revenue coming into May toward the end of 2021 in a race with Jay Rhodes in Hamilton. Do you have any tactics in mind, specific things that are going to be the key to that 50 grand? Like, or is it going to be personal training revenue or is it going to be nutrition coaching or what’s going to be the key to that?

Ruth (24:23):

We have very—group classes, our weightlifting club and personal training. Those are three pillars for us. And our personal training portfolio is very, it carries a lot of weight and people are, again, our seed clients want to be helped and they want to pay for the help. Those problems don’t get addressed in classes, and not necessarily problems. People might want to get a rope climb. They want to get a muscle-up, that equals personal training. So we are going to really, you know, grow our group classes back up to our regular numbers. And then just really rebuild our PTs backup.

Mike (25:03):

It sounds to me like you’re doing goal review sessions. Am I right?

Ruth (25:07):

Actually, I’ve been lacking in that area.

Mike (25:09):

So, tell me how you build that up. So if you’re not, and again, we talk about for listeners, goal review sessions every 90 days, we recommend that gyms do this, sit down with their clients, find out where they’re at, measure their progress, give them a new prescription, which includes potentially upgraded services. So how are you doing that without goal review sessions? Are you just talking to people, you know, kind of on the fly, right?

Ruth (25:26):

I guess listening to the clients, what they’re saying. They’re saying stuff without, they’re asking for help without realizing it. My shoulder aches, or I can’t lift my arm over my head. OK. Let’s fix that. Let’s do a mobility, flexibility, strength assessment that Dave is very, very good at. And if they want to get that fixed, that means personal training. So that means down the road, they’re going to be able to do workouts as usual instead of completely modified. Oh, my snatch isn’t very good. It’s not clicking. OK. Let’s work with Cody, our head weightlifting coach and work on your Olympic lifts. Hearing those equals opportunities.

Mike (26:09):

It’s formalized in the sense that you’re not scheduling people and saying, come for your goal review session and doing this, but you’re doing it in classes. Or whenever you talk to someone, you talk to someone, find out what they need. And then immediately you just like, do you quote unquote, close the sale in that conversation? Or how do you implement the prescription?

Ruth (26:25):

Yeah. Just simply asking them, I guess.

Mike (26:30):

I’ve heard other gym owners talk about this as well. And some gym owners have a very formal goal review process. When we had our gym, we tried to work with this. We didn’t succeed and it was our fault, not the member’s fault. We didn’t succeed in getting a lot of people do goal review sessions just because it wasn’t part of our culture. And we hadn’t implemented with new people coming in and so forth. But I’ve heard other gyms have had really good success with that. And then there are a few like you who are very, very good at listening to clients on the fly and just hammering it out. And that’s actually one of the things that Chris Cooper, Two-Brain founder, has written about that you can sometimes, if you’re struggling to get goal review sessions done, it’s as simple as just, Hey, can I talk to you after class for a couple of minutes? How are you doing, what have you accomplished lately? Is anything bugging you, any challenges? And from there, Oh, you’re terrible at snatching and it’s frustrating you? You need to book a weightlifting session. So it sounds like you’re kind of taking that approach. Am I right?

Ruth (27:19):

Yes. And it sounds like how your gym was run for goal reviews is the same as us, I felt like it’s a little bit—when I want to prescribe something, I felt like it was more of a sales thing and we’re good at it, but just not in that formal setting. So this works for us.

Mike (27:35):

Yeah. So you’ve just taken the process and kind of unformalized it too, which works with the character of your gym and business and people. And but you’re doing the exact same thing where you’re helping people with these upgraded services and so that’s coming out of lockdown. You’re obviously going to talk to as many people as you can, and just find out where people are at. It’s like, Oh, I gained 10 pounds in lockdown that equals a nutrition prescription and fitness. Anything else that you’re targeting for the last half or I guess we’ll call it the last two thirds of 2021?

Ruth (28:00):

No, I think that’s our main focus.

Mike (28:03):

I love it. And the last thing I’ll ask you is if someone’s listening out there, there’s probably a gym owner who’s just like beaten down by this whole thing. What advice would you give them? You’ve obviously, you’ve gritted your teeth and you’re setting a goal of 50,000, a new PR revenue goal. What would you tell someone who’s struggling and is feeling a bit beaten down right now by the whole thing?

Ruth (28:22):

For someone that is very good at suppressing their feelings, let your emotions out, feel the frustration, vent about it and have a focus and a plan to implement when you’re able to go full tilt.

Mike (28:38):

Scream at the ocean, and then make a plan and then implement it with your nose to the grindstone.

Ruth (28:45):

Yeah. And you know, and communication, if you have a partner, is super key.

Mike (28:50):

I like that one. That’s an interesting one. And Kenny Markwardt, another one of our mentors, recently wrote about working with your spouse or partner. And it was a really insightful thing for me cause I work with my partner as well. And it’s interesting for you. You’ve really noted that this is a strength for you. You know, your partner covers things that you don’t and vice versa. I’ve heard other people like, man, I could never work with my spouse. You know, it just wouldn’t work. I love that that’s a strength and I love that you guys have kind of found this, you know, resilience and strength from just being two halves of the, you know, the amulet, so to speak.

Ruth (29:22):

It’s not easy, that’s for sure.

Mike (29:26):

But you’re succeeding anyways,

Ruth (29:30):

The strengths and weaknesses balance each other out, but it is a whole, yeah, there’s a whole lot that goes into like proper communications.

Mike (29:39):

And that’s what Kenny talked about. So guys, we’re going to put a link to that Kenny series in the show notes for you. If you do work with a spouse or partner, take a look at Kenny’s series and we did have him on Two-Brain Radio as well. Ruth, thank you very much for taking the time here on, you know, in the middle of, you know, getting more bad news. But I really appreciate hearing your story because I really like—I look forward to your posts in the growth group, because I like seeing that, you know, you’re open about the challenges you’re facing, but then you’re still finding success and kind of, you know, I feel motivated by watching you, so thanks for putting those posts up, but also for talking to us today, I hope other gym owners find some motivation.

Ruth (30:14):

Oh. And another thing for people that are listening. When it’s really crappy, still trying to look out, think of something positive that’s happening.

Mike (30:21):

That’s the bright spots Friday principle, right? Like in the Two-Brain group, we all put up our bright spots and there are days like, I’ll be honest where I don’t feel like putting out bright spots because I don’t feel very bright. You know, I’m sure you feel the same way, but the purpose of doing it is to find some gratitude for something, because you know, we’re still eating, we still have roofs over our heads. You know, you can find something. And I found that by doing that, and then by looking for other bright spots from people like you, I feel better. Do you feel the same way?

Ruth (30:46):

Yep, absolutely.

Mike (30:47):

So if you’re out there and you’re feeling crappy, find some gratitude in your life and tell someone about it. There’s the other piece of advice that I’ll close with. I’ll let you get back to running the business. Thank you again so much for your time.

Ruth (30:58):

Thank you so much, Mike.

Mike (31:00):

That was Ruth Cheng on Two-Brain Radio. I’m your host, Mike Warkentin. If you haven’t done so, join the Gym Owners United group on Facebook. Chris regularly posts articles, instructional videos, and advice in there. It’s the only public group he’s in. That’s Gym Owners United on Facebook. Join today.


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