The Future of Coaching

Josh Price and title text.

Chris (00:01):

Hey, welcome to Two-Brain Radio. It’s Chris Cooper hosting an episode, my first hosting in a long time. And I really wanted to be the one to welcome Josh Martin from Two-Brain Coaching back to the podcast. So welcome Josh.

Josh (00:14):

Thanks, Chris. I’m happy to be back.

Chris (00:15):

And you and I get to talk about every week about the coach of the future, and we’re going to share three big topics with the audience today about how coaching has changed in 2020 and what it looks like in 2021. And you know, through 2023. We’ll get back to the show right after this.

Chris (00:33):

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Chris (00:50):

Why don’t we start with, how did COVID and the 2020 year, I almost said era, because it feels like 30 years, how did 2020 change coaching, Josh?

Josh (01:05):

I think the biggest thing that COVID, I want to use this term blessed us with for the coaching profession, is it really revealed that the coaches that have great relationships with their clients did the best at retaining those clients. I don’t think we retained all of them, but the coaches that had the deepest, best relationships and could pivot and not just focus on like one thing, one what we call pillars, just focus on one pillar of like movement, those are the coaches that ultimately came or have come out of this thing most successful.

Chris (01:44):

Let’s just describe what these pillars are because you and I have been talking about this internally in Two-Brain Coaching and also in Two-Brain Business, but not everybody in the audience knows what the pillars are.

Josh (01:54):

Yeah. So there’s four of them, the way that we see it and we call it sleep, eat, move, and manage. And we’ve kind of internally, like you said, referred to this as the SEMM model. So S E M M. The manage piece is what we’re referring to there is managing your stress. And what we’re really looking for in each of those four pillars is that you do them well and you do them enough. So for sleep, we want you to sleep with good quality and we want you to get enough of it, same thing for eating, for movement, and then for stress management. So those are really the four pillars. And so when we look at world-class coaches, as we define it, it is that you are as a fitness coach working with your clients on all four pillars to get them to their goal.

Chris (02:41):

So we’re all used to coaching the exercise pillar, right? Like the movement part. And I think a lot of us love that. And that’s why we got into the industry. What does a coach have to do to be able to coach the other stuff like sleep, nutrition, self-management.

Josh (02:57):

Yeah. So I think there does need to be curiosity from the coaching or from the coach themselves of, you know, almost using yourself as like a little guinea pig. You know, I noticed when I got 10 hours of sleep last night, that I felt way better. I would guesstimate that if my clients got a little bit more sleep, that they might feel better too. It’s also a realization that maybe saying to your client that is running a company, has multiple kids, that is only sleeping six hours a night tonight. It’s not right to say you need to sleep eight hours. It might just be, you need to sleep in a cooler, darker room. So to answer your question, like how does a coach get to that point? I think there needs to be an education process that happens. And to me, that is really through curiosity.

Chris (03:48):

So first when you say sleep only six hours. I mean, my goal on my habits app is to get six hours of sleep.

Josh (03:56):

Right? Yeah.

Chris (03:58):

  1. So, you know, we love coaching exercise and why can’t we just do that? You know, why can’t we bring these entrepreneurs or these CEOs or whoever, you know, these moms, these grandmothers into our gyms and just teach the movement?

Josh (04:15):

Well, you could. I can speak for myself. That is when we first opened our gym—actually yesterday, just as a side note was the nine-year anniversary of our gym, I just realized that. Thank you. And I did do that for a long time, and I think that the part that sometimes gets missed and you learn this as you’re around longer and longer, is that you can do that and get results for people. But in all the gym owners that we talked to, we all want to be the best. We want to be the best option for our clients. We want to prescribe the best service for them. And I believe that if you are staying true to that belief, it has to be more than movement. You have to recognize that from the movement perspective, when they’re in your gym, they’re only there for an hour, right? So let’s just say that they’re in your gym five times a week for an hour. So that’s five of the 168 hours that somebody has in a given week. What are they doing with the other 163? And so if we’re saying, we’re going to offer you the best service to get you to your goal, we have to take into account those other pillars because, and in my experience, those are the ones that can ultimately have the biggest impact when combined with movement to getting your client where they want to go.

Chris (05:43):

That’s interesting. And, you know, from a personal training background, I know that sometimes these conversations just happen organically, even if not intentionally. How do you do this in a group training background?

Josh (05:56):

It takes a really well-defined system and it takes a lot of focus. You know, you can’t just take it for granted that, Oh, well, I’ll just wait until it pops up. You know, we’re really good at planning out I want this number of thrusters. I want this number of pull-ups because this is the stimulus that I want. We need to be just as diligent as, OK, this is the point when I’m going to talk about, you know, what this stress is going to do to the body and how it interacts with all the other stresses. Like we have to be deliberate in talking about that in the group environment. So, you know, I can talk about, Hey guys, how did you sleep in the first five minutes of class or whatever it is, but it really boils down to planning ahead and integrating that part into the class.

Josh (06:46):

There’s also a psychological component that we talk about in the first and second degree courses, where in particular with the group, you’re not just talking to the group, that is part of it, but you’re also speaking to each individual within the group. So there’s the psychology of the individual and the group as a whole, and really, really great coaches recognize that and they’re on the floor being deliberate with these conversations. Like you said, in a one-on-one PT setting, they just happen to come up. I think that you have to be much more deliberate in the group setting.

Chris (07:22):

  1. So I’m a coach and I’m coaching five, six hours a day. Right? And that, for me, that would be enough to burn me out. After 24 years, I still love coaching, but I can’t do that much. It sounds like I have to do extra work here. You know, why should I start doing all this extra stuff?

Josh (07:41):

Well, if you really love this coaching thing and you want to make it a career, this is how a professional continues to level up. So your service is becoming more and more and more valuable. Now I would also say that if you’re delivering a higher valued service to your clients, you should be charging more for that service. So if before, all I was doing was writing some workouts, saying three, two, one go and, you know, calling out names so I can write their score on the whiteboard. OK. It was X dollars. Let’s just say a hundred dollars just to put some sort of figure on it. Well, now I’m talking about nutrition. Now we’re talking about their sleep and stress management. So I’m really a much more holistic coach. Maybe I charge 50% more. Maybe I charge a hundred percent more. Now, ultimately we need to show the client how much more value they’re giving. But if I’m a coach and I want to make this a career, I have to make a professional wage to do that. And so continuing to develop and get better, deliver more value to the client, is really the way to do that.

Chris (08:56):

I think that’s a really important point, Josh. And, you know, from the business side, you know, more and more as we get through the biggest data set ever collected in the fitness industry, period, it looks like the model is emerging is about 150 very high value clients. And what stops most gyms is not, you know, how to price it or how to raise my rates, but it’s how do I deliver the value that’s going to help me make a living with 150 clients? And I think this is probably one of the ways, so maybe you can give us some examples of that. Like where have gyms implemented systems like this, or even added one of these, you know, these foundational pieces and seen an increase in revenue and profit.

Josh (09:37):

Yeah. So I’ve actually got a great example of this. So on the Two-Brain Business side, one of the fundamental things that we talk to people about is what we would describe on the business piece as diversifying your revenue stream. And so if we’re just coaching movement, a very logical next step is to coach nutrition, the eating portion. And so we have an example of a client who implemented our nutrition program. So they went through the Two-Brain nutrition coaching course, and they took their—they did about 56,000 in revenue for nutrition in all of 2019. And as of, let’s see, October 31st, I was just talking to her as of October 31st, she at her gym had already done 115,000. So over doubling the revenue. And there’s still two months ago. And by the way, this is in the season of COVID. So just by adding and upgrading their nutrition coaching service.

Chris (10:44):

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Josh (11:30):

Yeah. It was a big, big mindset shift. You know, for so long what we’ve seen done in gyms is that people were getting prescribed macros and meal plans. And just kind of like we were talking about at the beginning that you can just coach movement and get some results. But if we want to deliver what the best services for the client, it’s not macros and meal plans, it’s establishing habits that the client can maintain for a lifetime. So that was really the big shift in what we teach in the Two-Brain nutrition coaching course is how to create sustainable habits that lasts a lifetime. So that’s the big difference there.

Chris (12:08):

I think teaching it that way also is really important to establishing value. I think if you’re prescribing meal plans and macros and stuff, that’s OK, but it will always be seen as a separate thing that you’re selling instead of part of the whole. And you know, from my own perspective, I have a coach who’s been coaching at Catalyst now for, I think, eight years. This is all she does. This is her career. I want her to stay with me for the rest of her life. And when COVID hit, she went online. And when we were finally able to reopen about four and a half months later, she said, I want to stay online. But she realized to make the same income doing online only she would have to change. And so she actually pivoted to the Two-Brain nutrition coaching course away from what she was doing with nutrition and the gap for her has been now I can make a full-time living online. I think her business is going to grow, and she’s actually going to make more just saying online, but for now, you know, it was enough to plug that gap. And I think that extrapolates out to gyms that are trying to make revenue too.

Josh (13:14):

Yeah. You know, and something that I was actually thinking about as you said that Chris is, you know, the whole macro and meal plan thing. I spend a lot of time looking just at the fitness space in general, and it’s really become commoditized. I mean, I know you back in the day, you could go on, you know, what was it, T-Nation or And like, they would have these rudimentary macro calculators and it might spit out a sample meal plan. But when you go to something that is habits based, what that necessitates is you developing and nourishing a lasting relationship with that client because you’re really digging into their life. And so it’s not a commodity, like you can’t commoditize one-on-one relationships with your clients. And so the value that you now give to the client has gone up exponentially.

Chris (14:09):

You’ve just drawn a really interesting line for me there. And I think probably the listeners got there before I did, but what I understand, and you can tell me if I’m wrong here, is that selling like a diet or a macro space is just like selling online programming, right. It’s a commodity.

Josh (14:26):

Yeah, exactly. And we know just by how quick, you know, the tech world continues to accelerate everything, it’s just going to be a race to the bottom.

Chris (14:35):

Yeah. I mean, back when I started reading CrossFit Journal, they were having you go to Barry Sears’ website, I think it was, enter your BMI or something. And they would spit out like a zone prescription. And now you can just do that at anywhere basically. It’s a very interesting line to draw. I think there’s been another really interesting development that I didn’t see happening in advance, Josh, and that is the coaches that go through this type of coaching, who understand my job is to be a coach, they also start producing content for their clients. And non-clients.

Josh (15:10):

Yeah. Yeah. So the content creation piece is interesting because as owners, the people that started our gyms, we knew that we had to do that in order to show that, Hey, I have an answer to the problem that you are experiencing. Come sign up for my service. And I will, you know, walk with you every step of the way to it. Some of the challenges, and I experienced this personally at my own gym in the early days when I was bringing on new coaches was getting them what we call us to establish their authority. And they thought that it was just going to be, I hold out my hands and Josh plops clients into my hands and I go off and train them. But what we actually found is that the coaches who—and it doesn’t even have to be anything fancy.

Josh (16:02):

And I know that our listeners can’t see this, but I’m taking my phone out and putting on, you know, the selfie camera recording, something as simple as, Hey, if you want to get better at your pull-ups, try this grip versus that grip. Like that little nugget right there produces some authority, maybe not to everybody, but if it’s enough to change one person’s mind, well, guess what, that’s an opportunity to provide more value to that client. And so what we’ve actually had happen in specifically the first degree course with Mike Watson is part of the homework that he’s giving to these coaches is to produce content and full disclosure. This is not something that I wrote into the course upon creating it. Mike and I were just kind of getting together one afternoon, just kind of recapping, I like to check-in see how things are going.

Josh (16:55):

And so he shared this story with me. He goes, yeah, I was talking to these coaches and they needed to get comfortable producing content to bring their authority up. So people would seek them out. And I was like, wait a minute. So you’re on these calls with these green coaches and you’re having them produce content already? And he’s like, yeah, yeah. And they’re taking it to the owner and showing it to them. And I was like, OK, right there, that is worth the price of admission and that’s speaking, just from an owner’s perspective that if I put a coach or a coach went through this course, and the only thing they learned was how to produce content that was valuable to our audience, it’s worth its weight in gold right there.

Chris (17:38):

Yeah. It’s interesting. I’ve put all of my coaches through the first degree program now, and many of these people have been with me for over a decade and they’re producing content for the first time. So these are people who have heard it from the source since day one. They’ve had me hold up a camera and say, talk to their face and they’ve never done it on their own until now. It’s great. Absolutely great. And do you think Josh that that’s part of establishing a valuable service?

Josh (18:04):

Absolutely. I mean, it’s so easy these days to record a video, record a podcast like we’re doing, write a blog and get it seen. And especially when you’re—and I’m just speaking for Two-Brain gyms right now, but if you’re a coach at a Two-Brain specific gym, you’ve got an amazing platform. Take this content to the owner and they’re going to put it out on every channel that they possibly can. And that’s when either current clients are going to seek that coach out for some additional help or new clients are going to see that, Oh my gosh, at XYZ gym, there’s this coach that’s providing a solution to this problem that I have. I want to go.

Chris (18:46):

So building affinity coming from the coaches, which also builds value. Amazing. So Josh, you know, from this dataset, we have seen that about 63% of micro gyms are now offering some kind of nutrition coaching service. Very interesting. And that’s a huge shift from three years ago when that number was below 5%. The other cornerstone that you mentioned is mindset, and that’s kind of a broad topic. What’s included in mindset or mindfulness or that kind of coaching.

Josh (19:17):

Yeah. So I guess I could say it publicly is that by the time I think this podcast goes live, we will have a mindset course available for coaches to go through. And that was created by Colm O’Reilly. He created just this amazing course because we know that mindset is such a big piece of the puzzle when we’re getting somebody to buy into what we are helping them with. So sometimes clients get very bogged down in what they’re seeing just out in the world with, I need to be on this, you know, diet or this exercise plan, and maybe you’re telling them something completely different. So it is you’re asking the client to make a big mindset shift. But the question for coaches when I talked to them has always been OK, I get it. I understand that. How do I actually coach mindset?

Josh (20:19):

And that’s what this solution is providing. So he has actually built the course to walk a coach from, this is where you’re starting from, the first interaction that you’re going to have with a client, all the way up to, you know, step 29 or step 200, that this is what it’s actually going to look like in practice. So we talk about the theoretical side of it, but then also the tactical side. What’s the system, how I put this into practice, you know, X’s and O’s is the sports analogy maybe that we can use to say this is how you’re actually going to do it.

Chris (20:56):

So is coaching mindfulness, Josh, just a matter of like leading a daily meditation or is it telling your clients to meditate or is it something bigger than that?

Josh (21:05):

It’s definitely something bigger than that, because I think we talked earlier about establishing the value that you were providing. And so you need to be deliberate with talking to your clients like, Hey, Chris, it really boils down to your mindset whenever we’re talking about using this plan to get you to your goals. And so I do think that we need to do some deliberate work on your mindset and here is what that’s going to look like. Step one, step two, step three. Now that may be a daily meditation practice. It might not be, but the point of the course is to teach the coach, OK, how do I interact with this client? And how’s it different than this one? And how’s it different than that one?

Chris (21:51):

It’s interesting the way that you just broke that down. To me, the bare bones of value is having a person who says, do this thing right now. And through COVID personally, I really needed somebody checking in on me every day saying go meditate for 10 minutes at nine o’clock. And that’s a lot of the value that I think these coaches can provide is really a framework. I think everybody is aware of their own mental state. I think everybody kind of realizes that maybe they should meditate, but they don’t know what to do or how to get started.

Josh (22:23):

Yeah. You know, I’ll share a quick story, just from our interaction. And it was just yesterday. I brought something to you that I was kind of struggling with in my head. And it was really just like a question, a vent or a rant is how I put it. And I didn’t really ask for any specific feedback or anything, but you said a couple of very key points. Do this thing was like the CliffsNotes version of it. And it was very clear and it was very calming to me because instead of worrying about all the other things that I had in my head, which exist, it was just, that’s great, but let’s do this thing. And since looking at that and just focusing on doing that thing, the other stuff is just gone. And I think that’s super powerful to be able to do that as a coach, but you do need the continuing education to learn how to actually create a system to put that into practice.

Chris (23:27):

That makes a ton of sense. The interview that I did with Alison, who wrote, “An Economist Walks into a Brothel,” and I’ll link to it in the show notes, she was talking about the trainer that she paid for through Equinox. Now she’s paying more than double what most gyms listening to this would charge for group training. And the extent of what she gets from her coach is basically two texts a day. One text says, here’s your workout. Here’s why it’s important. Do you have any questions? And the second text is something like, what did you eat for dinner? Or send me a picture of your lunch. These are personalized, but this is what provides tremendous value for Alison. It’s not let’s do squat therapy, which might provide value for somebody else, but for her, it was really that accountability. And that’s what I’m looking for as a client too. And I think more and more, that’s how people find value.

Josh (24:16):


Chris (24:16):

Well, that’s great, Josh. I mean, do you want to talk about tech a little bit too, because with all these different things, I think clients are starting to get overwhelmed and more and more, the way that you show your value as a coach is to just say, this is the answer, do this thing. How does tech feed into that positively or negatively?

Josh (24:37):

I think that it can definitely be a force for good, for a lot of a lot of things. So we can gather data on how often our clients are showing up. We can gather data on, OK, do I notice patterns on what days they’re showing up, based upon the workout, we can look at the seasonality of our class schedules, things like this. Where I think that we look for tech to provide solutions that they shouldn’t be is in scaling relationships and in automating the personalized value that coaching really provides when done right. And this was a really, really hard lesson for me to learn just in the past couple of years, I kind of leaned away from having a ton of like personal interactions with clients and things like that, because in my head it was like, OK, I can automate this process.

Josh (25:37):

And so I can get more clients and get more things done, serve more people. And that sounds great in nature, the whole serve more. But what I really found out was that it—and this is just personally for me, I really like the depth versus the breadth. And so tech is really good at allowing the breadth to scale the number of people, but in a really high value relationship based service, like we’re providing with fitness coaching, I think the depth is really the answer. So if you can use the tech to see some of the patterning and like the data that we collected Two-Brain, great, but then kind of the implementation comes from the personal relationships. And so far, like tech can’t replace this conversation that we’re having, you know, the relationship that you and I have built over the years. And I wouldn’t want it to.

Chris (26:31):

That’s interesting. I think that a lot of coaches hire tech to do something that they can’t do. You know, I just saw an ad this morning for sign up for our software and get clients back. Well, I mean, if you can’t pick up the phone and call a client and say, how are you doing then the tech is not going to solve your problem. I’m thinking more of things like Whoop, Josh. So a lot of people use Whoop. I’ve got mine on right now.

Josh (26:56):

I’ve got mine on.

Chris (26:58):

Beautiful. I don’t know if it’s like the super secret decoder ring that we press them together and there’s a big explosion or whatever, but how does using something like Whoop add to, or take away from your coaching practice?

Josh (27:11):

I think it is amazing because it provides an opportunity to educate the client. So if you’re just, if you notice, like I noticed this really early on when the gym first opened, you’ll appreciate this, being a cyclist, because cyclists are a decade ahead of everyone else when it comes to like tech and usefulness of it. I noticed clients coming in with polar heart rate monitors on that had the endurance cycling background and it just provided opportunity for conversation. And I could speak to the usefulness of it. OK. What are you noticing? OK. Here are some ways that we can adapt your training. And it provided that space for the client to be vulnerable and say, I’m using this Whoop, I’m using this heart rate monitor, this Apple watch. I’ve got clients that have all three on, believe it or not, at one time, and this is why I’m using it.

Josh (28:11):

And so then as the coach, it’s not just like, all right, high five, like, I hope you like the pretty colors. Now, when I’m checking in with them, I’m thinking, Hey, what was the difference that you saw with your watch, your heart rate or a chest monitor and your Whoop? Hmm. That’s interesting. OK. Well, let’s try this. And so again, I’m deepening that relationship. So it’s not the tech that is actually providing the education to the client. It’s me. It’s still the coach. I’m just leveraging what the technology is telling them to deepen my value to that client.

Chris (28:48):

That’s incredible, Josh. If you’re listening to this, you’ve just heard exactly why Josh Martin is a better coach than I am. Because if a client had come into Catalyst wearing a polar heart rate monitor in 2005, I would have used that opportunity to prove that I was smarter than them by telling them why they were wrong or why heart rate monitoring was stupid. Instead, what I should’ve done was used that opportunity to slowly start a conversation and educate them, or even use that data to guide their training. So for example, Josh would have taken that polar heart rate data and said, OK, the workout that we’re doing today is geared to help you improve blah, blah, blah. And if you’re wearing your heart rate monitor, this is what you will see. He could have leveraged that technology instead of trying to compete with it. That’s something that’s taken me decades to learn, Josh, congratulations, man, glad people are getting this right from the source.

Josh (29:43):

Oh, you’re welcome. It took me a long time to figure that out too.

Chris (29:47):

You know where that hit me, just being candid. I was doing that and doing that and doing that with everything that came into my business, I saw it as a competitive threat. If somebody was doing a diet, then they were buying a competing service. And I had to like slam that diet. You are wrong. You have to do it my way. And for a few years, I was against bariatric surgery. I wrote articles about it. I would talk to clients about it. If a client came in and said, I’m thinking about bariatric surgery, I say, don’t do it. You’re crazy. And then one day, this fantastic woman pulls me aside and says, you know, Chris, I’ve had it. Now, this woman was competing in masters CrossFit. She and her whole family came to the gym. One of her kids was coaching for me and I couldn’t believe it.

Chris (30:32):

And I said, what do you mean you’ve had bariatric surgery? Like there’s no way. And she said, yeah, I had to do it before I felt confident enough to join your gym. Wow. Yeah. And that really changed my perspective, but you know, not everybody gets to have that smack in the face to say, wake up stupid and you know, come alongside your clients instead of competing with them. So good for you, Josh. And I hope that everybody from this podcast episode, you know, takes what Josh just said. Uses technology, uses these four cornerstones to become the coach of the future instead of just fighting against what your clients want to do. Josh Martin from Two-Brain Coaching. Thank you so much for coming on here. Really simplifying a massive, massive topic and telling us exactly what to do.

Josh (31:18):

My pleasure, Chris, it’s always a joy to talk about coaching with you.

Andrew (31:23):

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