From Drugs to Double-Unders: The Chris Doster Story

Chris Doster and title text.

Mike (00:00):

From drug addiction to gym ownership: Chris Doster of CrossFit TYL tells his incredible story, right after this.

Chris Cooper (00:09):

Hi, this is Chris Cooper, and I founded Two-Brain Business to make gyms profitable. Over the last years, as we’ve compiled more and more data, more and more tools, gotten better and better at mentorship, we’ve really made a lot of gyms, hundreds around the world, thousands over the years, profitable, doing better. What hasn’t kept pace is the quality of coaching in a lot of gyms worldwide. There are great programs out there that will introduce you to a method like bootcamp, kettlebells, Olympic lifting, powerlifting, CrossFit, running, whatever that is. And so we can make coaches who know the subject matter, but that doesn’t make them a great coach. To be a great coach, you have to be able to change somebody’s habits. You have to be able to change their behavior and to do that requires deep understanding of their motivations to do that means amazing adherence by the client. And it means amazing retention because as gym owners, we know it’s harder and harder and more expensive than ever to get a new client. Retention is more important than ever. Referrals are more important than ever. Peer to peer marketing, word of mouth is more important than it’s ever been. How do you get those things? Through client results. So I founded Two-Brain Coaching with Josh Martin to get coaches the skills they actually need to make a career in fitness instead of just familiarity with a methodology. has courses to help you start a career with personal training, to scale up with group training, both in person and online, and to diversify with nutrition, coaching, and mindset coaching. We have the best programs in the industry that will prepare you and your coaches to deliver any method that you love now or you might love 10 years from now. Twobraincoaching is really a project of love for me. And if you visit, you’ll get a ton of free resources, just like we produce every day on

Mike (02:08):

It’s Two-Brain Radio, and I’m your host, Mike Warkentin. Today’s guest has a wild tale and we’re going to get right into it. Chris, welcome to Two-Brain Radio.

Chris (02:16):

Thank you, Mike. Thank you so much. Looking forward to this.

Mike (02:19):

I am too, and I’m just going to get right into it because I’m excited about your story. So you’ve run CrossFit TYL in Iowa since 2014 and you help people become healthy, but your life was once really different. When and why did you start using drugs? Can you tell me that story?

Chris (02:33): 

Well, sure, absolutely. That’s quite a question. Put me right on the spot. I’m gonna just do my best to speak from the heart. And so, I mean, drugs and alcohol became part of my life at a fairly young age, probably by the senior year, my senior year of high school, I was drinking and using drugs too more than I needed to and using them as a coping mechanism, I guess you could say, but I often look back and think, you know, the old chicken and the egg question, what came first, the chicken or the egg. And for me, I was always like, did my drug addiction create my thinking problem? Or did I have a thinking problem before I used drugs and alcohol? And that led me to drinking and drugging, but either way. I got into that lifestyle at a pretty young age and had some fun, you know, partying back in the days and went to college, but probably by my mid twenties or so, you know, it was really starting to cause problems in my life. And I started looking at, you know, or I was getting in trouble at times, you know, legal problems and I was able to hold a job and whatnot, but it just was really limiting my potential in life and deep down, you know, I know I didn’t feel good about myself about it. I was hiding things from my family and, but so yeah, it took a while until I really reached a turning point. And do you want me to get into the part where, you know, where I had my son came along?

Mike (04:22):

Yeah. Like, you know, the reason I ask this question is there are listeners out there right now who are probably struggling with some of the same things that you struggled with. And I want them to kind of understand, you know, where you’re coming from. And like, you know, the question I’ll ask you first is like, you know, how bad did it get for you? Like, because there’s a lot of that, you know, they don’t understand how far you’ve come and recovered from what you recover from. So how bad did your life get? And then what was the moment that made you turn it around?

Chris (04:49):

Yeah, that’s a great question. Yeah. I mean, like I said, through my twenties, I kind of just looked at it as partying and having a good time, but you know, I was still using it to deal with any of life’s problems. And, but then, you know, it just kept getting worse and worse. And I kept, I started crossing off my list of nevers, right. Like I would never go to work drinking or high. And I crossed that list. I started doing that. I got a DUI and totaled my car at one point. I said, I’ll never drink and drive again. Well, I did again and got another DUI later. And then, you know, I said, I would never use drugs intravenously, and I seriously thought I would never do that. But somehow I crossed that off my never list and started doing that.

Chris (05:42):

And that’s when it really got bad. And I just got physically addicted to opiates. And I couldn’t, you know, there were days I couldn’t get out of bed unless I got it in my body and I got to point where I was getting dope sick, and then, but so really what came around into my life and it was an accident, but I met a woman and got her pregnant and I didn’t know what to think about it. And we talked about abortion, but we went ahead and had the child and that son of mine, Zachary, ended up really becoming a miracle in my life because yeah, I mean, I was at the point I just remember having thoughts, Mike, of, you know, I just wanted to live the rest of my life high, or just somehow stumble upon a bunch of money and drugs and just be able to just be high because I didn’t know any other way to live life at that point.

Chris (06:47):

Yeah. I mean, it was a very low spot, but after Zach was born, I wasn’t able to get clean right away. But I just remember thinking my dad struggled with drugs and alcohol too. And rest in peace. He passed away from the disease of addiction and alcoholism. But, I just remember thinking, you know, and my mom would say this to me, she’s like somebody needs to break the cycle in our family, Chris, because my grandfather had died from alcoholism basically too. And I just was like, you know, I could give up on myself right now, but I have got to give this boy a chance in life. I’ve gotta be there somehow. I’ve gotta be there for him. And his mother was struggling with a lot of the same problems and we split ways. And I ended up with Zachary.

Chris (07:39):

I ended up with Zachary and I was, you know, he was one to two years old and I was still struggling to get clean at times I would get off it. And then I went to treatment an, I was introduced to 12 step groups and those have been so powerful and meaningful in my life in meeting people that showed me hope that there was a way out and that I could live a life without drugs and alcohol, and I could have fun without them. And I could, you know, there were other ways of coping with life and that’s when I really, the day I really finally got clean for good was I think 2004. And I just remember waking up in my apartment, my son was asleep. He, I think he was three at that point, maybe just under three, but his mom was gone and I just remember cleaning up a bunch of empty beer bottles and drug paraphernalia and just throwing it all away.

Chris (08:37):

Before I kinda always saved something or saved phone numbers of drug connections. And I just was like, I’m done, I’m done feeling miserable. And I found my neighbor had a boy about Zach’s age and I took Zach over there. And I went for a jog. I always prided myself on the health and fitness, but damn, when I was that sick on drugs and alcohol, I was not exercising and I was not taking care of myself, but that morning I went for like a mild jog, it about killed me, and I did some push-ups and sit-ups, and every day after that, I just started slowly, you know, doing a little bit more for my health and I’ll stop there and let you ask any more questions, but from there it’s been amazing.

Mike (09:24):

It’s fascinating. And the thing that’s really important that you mentioned is that you found some people in those 12 step programs that showed you what was possible. And then the interesting part now is that you’re kind of that person for other people and, you know, people who are listening, maybe they’re struggling with their own problems. They’re going to benefit by hearing your story. And the interesting part for me is that, you know, it wasn’t, like you said, that birth of your son was a key moment, but it wasn’t like all of a sudden I’m sober and clean, right. You have a struggle, you had to work through it. And the really cool part is that, you know, when you had that day and you throw out all the stuff you found, you kind of got back into fitness at that point, you know this is probably the right point to ask you, like, how did that first jog that first horrible one mile jog, how did that lead into 2014 opening a gym? Like what happened in those periods?

Chris (10:13):

Yeah. OK. So, well, I think what it was is I really started regularly attending 12 step groups and I got a mentor or they call it a sponsor in there. And he really helped guide me and, because like I said, I had some issues before I started using drugs and alcohol and I had to work on those. Right? Like, there’s lots of things that people struggle with in life beyond drugs and alcohol, even people that don’t have problems with those, we end up forming unhealthy coping mechanisms because we have issues usually dealing with emotions.

Mike (10:45):

There’s something underlying, right?

Chris (10:45):

Yes. So I had to really start working on that. And that really was a catalyst. I look at it as there were people in my life that loved me until I could love myself. And I really try to put that into practice when I, you know, help people with their fitness and health too, if they’ve let themselves slide to that point to where, you know, they just don’t like themselves.

Chris (11:12):

Then we gotta start with that. Some small victories to start liking ourselves again. And building that confidence. Like I always tell people, even in my no sweat intros, when I sit down with them, everything you do that is good for your health, everything we do, whether it’s just, you know, adding a vegetable to a meal or just going for a walk once a day, or, you know, three times a week or anything, that is sending ourselves a positive message that we care about ourselves. And we need that. Everybody needs that. And then of course our gym, we want to add that we have a lot of cheerleaders for you too, along the way. Cause we all need a cheerleader. But so anyway, those early months and years of my sobriety, I just started adding up those little wins. Just those little wins, get 30 days clean and sober. You know, that was the first big one. That took me forever to get that first 30 days. And I was so just, I was like, OK, I can do this. And I went back to school. What’s that?

Mike (12:17):

It’s like a first pull-up or a first muscle-up.

Chris (12:17):

Yeah, absolutely great. And they celebrated it in the meetings, right? Like they ask you to stand up and acknowledge that and be proud of yourself because it is huge. Drug addiction and alcoholism, like you said, it is no small matter getting off that. There is many people dying all over the world all the time from it.

Mike (12:38):

It’s physical and mental too. People don’t realize that like there are physical and mental aspects of that. That it’s not just like snap your fingers and make a choice.

Chris (12:45):

Yes. So that was why it was huge that I started working, doing some self-work and working the steps they call it with a mentor, just like Chris Cooper’s big on having mentors in all our different areas. I have that like with my spiritual, in my spiritual area, I still have mentors. And now I have a business mentor with Two-Brain Business. And I totally believe in that, that we need that mentor in our different areas of life and a coach to help us see the things that we don’t see that are holding us back. And so that started that process. But as far as the fitness, I just really early on started feeling this high from working out and it was endorphins. I mean, there’s a physical, you know, there’s a science explanation behind it too.

Chris (13:35):

But I replaced that high that I was getting from the drugs, with this exercise high. And I started pushing myself more and more jogging farther. That was really all I did in the beginning. It was mainly running, maybe a few push-ups and sit-ups, and pull-ups if I found a tree branch, but I was not, that was like 2005. I hadn’t heard of CrossFit. I don’t even know if it really started yet. But so then I got into triathlons and I, like I said, I went back to school. Zach was really young and he started school and he’d go to school with me sometimes to college classes, it was a beautiful time in my life because my son and I were growing up together. Right. And I was in school, working part time. So I had actually a schedule of a student to where I could spend more time with him.

Chris (14:20):

We’d go on vacations in the summer. But fast forward to about 2010, I moved back to southwest Iowa, which is where I opened CrossFit TYL.

Mike (14:31):

Just south of Des Moines? Correct?

Chris (14:31):

Yeah. Yep. South and West of Des Moines, Iowa, which is the capital of Iowa. And so, I started working for a public health agency after I got my degree from Iowa state and I was working in an office. I was working in health, but it just wasn’t my jam. It was too much just having a boss isn’t always the best thing for me, going through the red tape of working for government. It just, and I didn’t get to work one-on-one with people. And so like maybe you and just so many people’s stories I hear in CrossFit, I just started doing some of these CrossFit workouts online and I loved them. And then we went on a trip, a training trip for my public health job.

Chris (15:15):

And I looked out the hotel room and there was, they said CrossFit Decatur in Atlanta, Georgia was where the trip was. And I was like, I’m going to go there and try this CrossFit out. That was 2012, maybe 2013. And I went there and they did Helen for a workout and I was hooked, hook line and sinker. I just was running kettlebell swings and pull-ups, and the people there were so welcoming. And I just, when I came home, Zach at that point was like 10 years old, my son and I had sole custody of him by that point, we just went through a lot together, but I made him get up at 6:00 AM in the morning and do CrossFit workouts,

Mike (15:58):

And I’ll use the old analogy. Now they say like, marijuana is the gateway drug is like, Helen is the gateway workout for you and all of a sudden you are right in there.

Chris (16:07):

I love it

Mike (16:09):

Because so many people have done that. Right. It’s just, they try it once. It’s like, I’m in.

Chris (16:13):

So literally I came home and I was like, I rode my bike to work. And I rarely used my car. We just lived in a small town and I had a one car garage and it was full of junk. And I’m like, I’m getting all this crap out of here and turn this into a gym, into my little CrossFit gym. And I started telling some friends around town. And before you knew it, you know that January, I’m like, we’re going to be doing CrossFit here in the morning. Who wants to join me. And few people join me. And then all of a sudden there’s a bunch of people coming. I was like, OK, I guess we’ll do night classes. And I remember you talking about this is on a podcast or maybe reading it from somewhere that you had people working out in your yard. And that brought back such good memories because I started in January in my one car garage and it was just frigid, but we kept the garage door closed, no heat out there. But you know, we were jammed in there about seven or eight of us. Most we could fit. But by that summer, there were times I had 15 or 20 people out in my yard doing lifts, throwing the barbell down in my front yard, making all these big dents in my yard.

Mike (17:22):

I can imagine what your front yard looks like.

Chris (17:24):

My neighbors were just like, what in the hell is going on over there. And it grew so quickly that I’m like, I need to get a space. And then within a few months, I’m like, these people are looking to me as their coach. I need to go get certified. So I found the closest L1 in St. Louis, Missouri. I literally had, I didn’t have enough money to pay the thousand dollars. But I got a tax return that year. I got some money back for my taxes and that’s what I used. But I drove to St. Louis and slept in my car the Friday night before the training. Not in a hotel I slept in a hotel parking lot next to where the training was and slept in my car there that night. And then I got a really cheap motel Saturday night, so I could study for the test and I passed.

Chris (18:13):

And that really that getting that L1 really did give me the confidence to really start coaching people. And then probably about a year after that was when I decided to open an affiliate because I’d been doing this garage gym and these classes with Mount Air Iowa, which is kind of my hometown. It’s a really small town, 30 miles away from Preston. It’s only like 1500. So I had this garage gym going there. Preston was, it has a community college. It’s a little bit bigger. And I’m like, if I’m going to make a living doing this. Cause at this point I was coaching classes in the morning, in the evening and then working in my eight to 4:30 job at public health. And just realizing that all I looked forward to was coaching CrossFit, doing CrossFit before and after work.

Chris (19:02):

And I was wasting my time. I hope my old boss doesn’t listen to this, but dang, I was, most of the time during the day I was researching CrossFit and you know, learning CrossFit videos and learning to be a better coach. But luckily for my son, I let him stop doing CrossFit. Although he kept doing CrossFit between sports, but he got into sports. And but yeah, then that led to me. I mean that dream, getting that letter from CrossFit, that they accepted my affiliate in 2014. I just remember thinking this is a dream come true. I can’t even believe this is happening.

Chris Cooper (19:41):

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Mike (20:14):

So CrossFit, TYL, what does it stand for?

Chris (20:16):

Yeah. Great. Yeah. TYL stands for transcend your limits. You know, I tried a few different names, but a lot of the words that I felt were cool to use an affiliate name were taken. My garage gym was called misfit CrossFit. And that’s the first one I tried, but misfit athletics, which is a pretty popular name, or obviously they’ve been around and they know what they’re doing. That was too close to that. So, but yeah, TLY has ended up being a great name for us because we use it as a verb now, like when somebody gets their first pull-up or their first toe-to-bar, you TYL’d, you transcended your limits. And TYL tough. It’s kind of a hashtag to use all these things, but yes.

Mike (21:07):

We talk a lot Two-Brain about your vision, about, you know, getting members to repeat your vision. And that’s actually interesting thing where you’ve now got, you know, you’re using the name of your gym as a word for them to use as they train. And that’s kind of an interesting way to have your members, you know, know and embrace your vision. That’s really cool.

Chris (21:23):

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it was interesting because I had a friend from Boston, Massachusetts who kind of was in marketing and I had submitted maybe three or four names that got turned down from CrossFit. And I reached out to him, I’m like, Hey, you know, l’m trying to come up with a name and he was into CrossFit and he sent me, I think he sent me that phrase transcend your limits. And so I went, I was like, yep, that’ll work. Let’s do it. I’m just kind of tired of looking for a name but it has ended up working out well for sure.

Mike (21:56):

Well, let’s talk the business end of it now. So, you know, it’s very common, your story and my story are very similar and it’s not that rare in the community to find someone who got hooked on a workout, started training, found themselves surrounded by 10 20, 30 people started a gym and it kind of worked, but then the business end of it kind of comes back. And after the, you know, after Cindy and Fran and Helen are gone, you’re kind of like, OK, I gotta make some money here and I gotta figure this thing out. I struggled with that for a long time. I did it like you were, I had a full-time job. And that was kind of my fallback plan obviously, was to keep that full-time job. But the business was tough and it wasn’t until I hooked up with Two-Brain that I kind of started to figure things out with their help. So tell me about how did the business go for you when you started and where’s it at now?

Chris (22:42):

Yeah. Well, I’m just gonna start by saying I’m grateful. I found Coop and his blogs online and Two-Brain Business. And I used to read your stuff too. Didn’t you write for the CrossFit Journal?

Mike (22:54):

Yeah, it was my day job.

Chris (22:58):

  1. So my day job like kept that as long as I could, but when I opened that affiliate, I just took that leap of faith and thought, well, with this many people in Creston, I should be able to get to a hundred members and that’ll, you know, get my equipment note paid off and this and that within a year. But did I severely underestimated like how much money it was going to cost basically and how, you know, just how things would go. Maybe I was being a little more optimistic or more accurately. My mom always says, I just wanted somebody to play with when I opened that gym, it was just about, I just wanted to do CrossFit with a bunch of people and coach people.

Chris (23:42):

I loved coaching of course, but I was into the competitive side of it and it did grow fairly quick. I already, I had a few people from Creston that I knew that knew a lot of people and it grew, and I had a cushion built up so I could pay the bills a year or two, even if I wasn’t, you know, making great money. But as it went on, it was, you know, probably three or four years into coaching every single class, pretty much, you know, from Dawn till dusk and then trying to wear all the other hats that I didn’t even know there were other hats really. I just thought there was coaching and owning and coaching and doing CrossFit as an athlete to make sure you had credibility, I guess, but then, you know, of course you have to start having customer service and you had, I didn’t even think about marketing for the first few years.

Chris (24:37):

I just posted stuff on social media, got enough response from that, usually in word of mouth, but it got to be a grind. And there were times that, you know, it just got to be tough that, you know, you can’t always be liked by everybody. That weighed on me at times. And, I don’t know. I guess it just started reading Coop’s blog posts. And I even had a call with him a few years ago. I wish I would’ve pulled the trigger, then but I said, no, that’s too much money for me right now. I can’t do that. But it got to be a grind of just, and I went to my level two training. I remember, and I told them how many classes I was coaching a week. And they were like, that’s not sustainable. You’ve got to, you know, you have to coach less so you can do some other things.

Chris (25:28):

They didn’t really, they weren’t using the Two-Brain Business lens as far as like, you need to get into higher value roles and start training your staff and evaluating your staff and having a system for retention. And that’s the other thing, like, I just did a horrible job of keeping track of any numbers. My only metrics of whether my business was working was do I have enough money at the end of the month to pay rent and pay the other, pay my bills? And usually I did, but sometimes I didn’t and there were times I had to figure out, you know, I didn’t usually borrow money, but it just seemed like something came up, you know, I’d get taxes back and stuff. And every dime I got, I would put back into the business, but it wasn’t ever really turning a profit.

Mike (26:11):

You were probably getting crushed at that point just by how much work it is to break even.

Chris (26:14):

And it really took Coop’s blogs about, I just remember things like, if you’re doing your customer service and your marketing and your, you know, whatever else, all these different hats we wear, coaching, then you’re doing it at like 20% capacity because you just don’t—I remember maybe it was even one of your blogs, but there was a blog about just, you know, talking about like after a long day of coaching and you come home and you got messages for members, you don’t even feel like responding to them. Or at best you respond to them just quickly and abruptly or even resent it sometimes. And I was just like, that’s not productive. All right. This has to be their best hour of their day. And when I was getting burned out on coaching, there were times that I started realizing I wasn’t the best coach for that class. If I’m burnt out. I need somebody in there that’s smiling. And so it just, yeah, just reading more and more. I was like, I need somebody to help me with this business because I’m not seeing my blind spots or I’m not, I need somebody to tell me what to do.

Mike (27:32):

So you went the path, you took the path of like the mentorship, which you know, you said you’ve taken before. So for you to get a mentor, wasn’t really that weird, right? Like you’ve done that path before to get out of addiction. And you said that that’s been an important part of your life, but what made—you said that when you first talked to Cooper, you didn’t pull the trigger. What made you pull the trigger this time? Was it just that like a growing sense of like, I’m kind of spinning my wheels or was there a specific incident that made you do it?

Chris (27:55):

Yeah, there was, I mean, so first of all, when you said I I’ve had a mentor before yes, I have, but I still had to fight the urge of not wanting to ask for help. I think that’s why I put it off. Like, you know, I just didn’t want to admit that I had no clue what I was doing. And I was afraid to look at my metrics and admit to a mentor that, you know, I don’t know why these numbers are, where they’re at with my expenses or my staff and whatnot. But so the thing, honestly, I didn’t actually hire Two-Brain Business until I got closed down for COVID for two months, you know, we were mandated closure and I actually qualified for this small business loan at the time. And I just knew that I needed Two-Brain Business’ leadership and mentorship at that point to help me get through the closure.

Chris (28:54):

And I mean, honestly, I kind of had that extra money. I mean, it was supposed to be used for payroll, which I did. I used it for expenses, but I also used that cushion to be like, OK. And I just, I also did not want to give up on this business. I had reached the point that it was just like, if I don’t start turning a profit here, I can’t help. You know, like you say, if you can’t keep your gym open, you can’t help anybody. And my mission is to help people, just my journey led me to creating this mission. My mission statement, my personal mission statement is I devote time on a daily basis to my physical, emotional, and spiritual health, thereby allowing me to help others do the same and that’s my compass in life. Right. Even if I’m struggling really hard with personal issues or whatever, right in the morning, I can just write that in my journal and say, Hey, if you strive to accomplish this mission today, you’ve done your job, Chris. But I just had reached the point. Well, I mean, the prospect of having to go back to working eight to four, nine to five or whatever in an office scares the hell out of me Mike, I don’t want that.

Mike (30:06):

Yeah. I know. I don’t like it either. I like where I’m at right now, doing podcasts with guys like you, but, you know, this was nine months ago. I understand. When you got shut down, if I’m not mistaken. And I know you said that you’ve made more progress in the last nine months than you did the six years prior. So I wonder, like what changed once you started during a COVID lockdown, working with a business mentor?

Chris (30:27):

Yeah. Great. So, well, I think the very first task I remember, Matt and I deciding on was for me, I had to start delegating because I was still just—Matt VanSchoyck. And they paired me up with another mentor at first, but I looked at the profiles and Matt’s gyms. They have two gyms, him and his wife, but they’re in the exact same demographic as me, small Midwestern town. And I’m like, Hey, if they can be successful in that market, then I can be successful in Creston, Iowa. So I chose him, but yeah, the main thing was right in the beginning. OK. You got to start offloading some group classes. So you can devote some time to CEO work and building the business instead of working in the business. And that took a little bit of time, but I had some people that came forward on my team and we had some newly certified coaches and we found a client success manager.

Chris (31:28):

She’s been great. And so slowly I was able to, you know, like I say slowly, I mean, it’s only been nine. Well, it’s been over, it’s been almost a year now since we closed last March. But as far as Two-Brain Business, probably nine to 10 months, but yeah, I had to just start trusting people to do things and realizing they wouldn’t do things exactly the same as me, but then like my client success manager, her being able to just work on that, she’s doing it to a hundred percent of her abilities, you know? And whereas I was doing it to like the 30% capacity cause I was doing everything else. And plus that’s not my forte. I mean, I’m nice to people. Sure. But cause like she’s the joy girl, like Coop calls it, she’s nice to everybody and she’s got a smile on her face.

Chris (32:20):

I can tell her bad news and she finds a good way to look at it. She’s become, you know, just we’ve developed a good relationship, right. To be able to help build the business with what she does. And then I started noticing as I delegated more, just little victories here and there of, OK, now I can breathe a little bit and I can, you know, do this for the business and really focus on the marketing or really, and even things like, you know, I just remember last May or June, my son Zach is now 19. I have another son who just turned 10, but I’m able to be more present for them. What more could we ask for my, you know, TYL we’re still trying to turn the corner financially, but we’re doing better there, but I was able to go watch my son Zachary’s golf meet, a couple of his golf meets last year, you know, for his freshman year of golf. And I swear to goodness, Mike, I would not have been able to do that before Two-Brain Business, because I would have just thought that I had to be at the gym and nobody else could coach. And I just Two-Brain Business helped me move out of my stuck mindset, basically.

Mike (33:39):

So what’s next? So you said like, obviously we’ve come through, probably what I’ve said many times is the most difficult year in the history of fitness where many gyms have been closed more than they’ve been open. It’s just been kind of, you know, a disaster for a lot of service businesses and so forth. And it’s just, it’s a tough time. On the positive side though, we’ve seen a ton of Two-Brain gyms, you know, grow and thrive and figure this thing out and actually, you know, start turning a profit, even getting, you know, more profitable because they’ve really focused on serving their clients and doing the things that we know they need to do to be profitable. So what is your arc look like now as you’re coming? I’m not sure where Iowa’s at in the COVID lockdown so forth, but what is your arc look like from now until, you know, a year from now?

Chris (34:20):

Yeah. Good question. Well, the way I see it for TYL is we have built a good foundation and added new services. So we have nutrition coaching now. We’re doing a lot more personal training. We are, you know, I’m focusing a lot on goal reviews and marketing and no sweat intros, you know, where I thrive and just really fully integrating every staff meeting we have, we’re talking about integrating this prescriptive model. And I always go back to saying, what’s the prescriptive model? In essence, it’s building a one-on-one relationship with everybody we have coming here. And so just really continuing to build on that. But then also my staff is doing more and more of the nutrition coaching and our fundamentals, which is our version of the on-ramp, you know, and onboarding new members, they’re building their skills. So they’re, you know, climbing towards having a career in this.

Chris (35:21):

And I’ve a couple staff members I’m really working with to try to build that career for them. And so, yeah, we’re really just, I mean, now we did have our best months since, before we closed COVID last month, but it’s been a really slow uphill climb back up there and I’m paying more staff now. So the business still isn’t necessarily turning a profit. We’re paying our bills. I guess you could say we’re turning a profit cause I’m paying myself too. That’s the way my mentor puts it. So I’ll go with that. But yes, it’s just.

Mike (36:00):

I’m gonna stop you for a sec there because that’s actually a huge thing. Like there are so many of us who started gyms and we didn’t pay ourselves. Right. We just, maybe there was something like leftover at the end of the month or whatever, but you know, paying yourself is a huge, huge win. And that’s like, you’re going, you know, if you look at the language that Chris has used in his book “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief,” you’ve gone from that founder stage where you just started the thing, you’re wearing all the hats, doing all the stuff, you’ve graduated to, where you’re now trying to create careers for people you’re trying to help people and you’re paying yourself. So now you’re actually a business owner rather than just doing the grind yourself. So like, I don’t want you to minimize that, that what you’re doing, maybe you’re not at that profitability stage, but that is a huge transition from doing everything to now leading a team. So, you know, I just want to point that out because it’s such a big thing that I went through as well. And it’s huge.

Chris (36:52):

Thank you so much, Mike. I appreciate it. Yep. You’re right. And I mean, along with that too, is that another one, a blog I read from Coop I believe is, you know, when we free up more time for CEO time, as in building the business to also consider CEO time, like when I’m doing self-growth work on myself to be a better leader and I’m able to do more of that and I see that paying off, right? Like when you say where’s our focus on the future, I still have to continue to focus on, you know, that part of me that wasn’t doing well, that led me to my addiction in the first place, which is, you know, not loving myself or not thinking I’m enough or not thinking I deserve to have a successful business. And so I’m able to work on those self limiting beliefs, through reading and podcasts and journaling and all these things that I just didn’t really have time for before.

Chris (37:52):

And those are super important. I mean, especially any business owner faces this, but dang it can be rough at times, especially when you change your system at your gym to where it’s different than it has been for a long time for our old members that have been there forever. And they don’t always like changes. And so I have to protect myself from taking on, you know, their complaints or, you know, that I have to make sure that I don’t take it personal and maintain this vision that what I’m doing is what is right for TYL in the long run. And those that want to stay and see TYL grow into this thriving temple of wellness in Southwest Iowa, which is that is our vision. They will stay, they will stay, everything will be OK.

Mike (38:47):

Thriving temple of wellness. You’ve got to write that down on your wall. If you haven’t it already,

Chris (38:51):

It’s written down. Yeah, you’re right. I should probably put it on a wall big and bold.

Mike (38:56):

Guys, if you’re listening and you’re interested in topics like this, back at our archives, we’ll get this in the show notes for you, Colm O’Reilly, a Two-Brain Business mentor. He actually had a suicide attempt and he talked a lot about what he went through and how he got through that and how we built a successful business over at CrossFit Ireland. So if this is a topic that’s interesting for you, because again, Chris, what you were talking about about that constant work on yourself and self-improvement, you know, again, referencing Chris’s whole plan. When you, as you grow as a business owner, it’s less about working on the business and more about working on yourself. And a lot of people figure that out as they get to this certain limit, they need to spend more time on themselves. So there is that reference. I’ll give you guys, if you want to listen to Colm talk about his experience coming back from depression and so forth. As we close this out.

Mike (39:42):

Yeah. It really is like, and I’m just so fascinated by that. And interestingly enough, we’re talking a lot at Two-Brain about mindset coaching now, you know, and again, we’re not treating clinical depression, things like that, but we are helping people maintain a positive mindset because we are coaches and we can coach squats. We can also coach habits and nutrition and all the other stuff. So the mindset key part is so important as we close this out. I just want to ask you this. For anyone who’s in a dark place right now, whether it’s financial, business, addiction, anything like that, what advice would you give them, help someone change right now? Because you’ve been there too. What would you say to that person?

Chris (40:16):

Well, I guess I would say, first of all, don’t give up. No matter what, don’t give up. But also reach out to someone that, you know, loves you. I hope you all have someone that, you know loves you no matter what. And be honest, be honest with where you’re at. Don’t hold that all inside. You gotta find somebody to be honest with. And boy, if you don’t have some family or somebody that you know loves you, there’s the spiritual side of it. It’s praying about it. But also there is help out there. There is help out there to find, whether it’s mental, emotional, or addiction wise, there is help. Don’t give up. You’re worth it. Your life is worth it, guys.

Mike (41:06):

Chris, thank you so much for sharing your story. And I wish you all the best at CrossFit TYL. Would like to talk, you know, in a year or so and see where you’re at.

Chris (41:14):

Thank you so much, Mike. I know you can’t see me right now, but I have a really big smile on my face talking to you, and you letting me share my story. So take care brother.

Mike (41:24):

Thank you so much. That was Chris Doster and this is Two-Brain Radio. If you have not done so, you need to join Gym Owners United group on Facebook. Two-Brain founder Chris Cooper regularly posts articles, instructional videos and advice in there. And it’s the only public group he’s in. That’s Gym Owners United on Facebook. Join today.


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