Two-Brain Radio: Playing the Infinite Game

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Andrew: 00:02 – Welcome to this very special edition of Two-Brain Radio featuring Chris Cooper. Over the next 22 minutes, Chris is going to help you set your mind on success. If you ever felt like you’re focused on the wrong things to say in your business, this is the show for you. If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed or threatened by your competition, Chris will let you know how to put on the blinders and pull ahead. If you struggle to cultivate the mindset needed to be successful, Chris has you covered. If this episode helps you put your business on the right track, be sure to subscribe to Two-Brain Radio for more tips every week, and if you need help with your business right now, book a free call on Coop by visiting

Chris: 00:36 – If you’ve had a bad week or a bad month, it’s easy to think I’m losing. But you’re probably not. You’re probably just playing the wrong game. In the context of a 40-year business, a bad month is nothing. Hell, five bad years is no big deal. That’s only like 12 and a half percent of your career. No pro athlete, no superstar entrepreneur and no politician is at their peak 100% of the time. Five years spent learning hard lessons and 35 years spent reaping the rewards is a great trade-off. Take it from the guy who did it the hard way for 10 years. In the Founder Phase, playing the Infinite Game is easy. You’re just trying to survive. Every day you win just by opening the door, but eventually you need your business to sustain itself and feed your family. These are the goals of Farmer Phase. Most gym owners though are playing finite games. They try to get the most members, they try and get the highest gross revenue or average monthly billing and they try to get their athletes to the CrossFit Games.

Chris: 01:45 – Instead, they should be trying to build a business that lasts 40 years, provides great careers for their coaches and makes them wealthy. Simon Sinek calls this the Infinite Game. He has a new book on the subject and it’s pretty good. Sinek says there are five keys to success in the Infinite Game. Number one, you have to have just cause You must feel compelled to serve your mission whether you’re going through good times or fighting for your life. If you started a gym, I know you’ve got this one covered. You didn’t do it to get rich. You did it to get people healthy. Your just cause it so inspiring that helping you achieve it is my just cause. No exaggeration. Number two, you must have a worthy adversary. You must have someone else trying to compete with you. I know you have other gyms nearby. I know they copy you.

Chris: 02:36 – I know they undercut your prices and blah, blah, blah. Guess what? You need them. You need them to make you better. You need them to justify your high rates. You need them to force you to get better at business instead of better at coaching the snatch. Number three, you need an open playbook. You must pursue a fixed cause with a variable strategy. You must choose methods without being trapped in an ideology. HIIT and paleo are really effective, but they’re not what you sell. You sell weight loss. HIIT and paleo are tools. When better tools emerge, you will test them and adopt anything that’s better, right? Here’s a test. Could you change your gym’s name and still attract new clients? If your gym name is Bill’s Pilates or Harry’s Barre and Boxing, you’re probably trapped in an ideology. Your clients should know that you’re updating your skills and knowledge all the time, that you’ll find what’s best for them and you’ll filter out the rest.

Chris: 03:33 – Number four, you must have a vulnerable team. You must have a culture where people feel free to say, “I don’t know,” or ask, “How do I do this?” Your coaches must balance being an authority with maintaining a beginner’s mind and you, the leader, can build trust by telling your team, “I hired a business mentor to help me build a sustainable platform for you.” Number five, you must have courageous leadership. You must have leadership that focuses on the just cause instead of the competition or what’s being said on social media. Now, this is pretty tough. It’s easy to get distracted by what the other guys are doing, what HQ is doing or what the critics are saying, but none of that matters. What matters is helping people live better, healthier lives. The more focused you are on the mission, the easier it is to block out all these distractions, but it takes practice.

Chris: 04:21 – Three years ago, Dave Tate told me, you’re playing a game of attrition. You don’t have to win. You just have to last three years from now, everyone else will be gone, and he’s almost always right. As other gym-consulting businesses in the CrossFit space wither or even fold up their tents and join Two-Brain, we’re growing, and the key reason why is this: We’re focused on making gym owners wealthy. They’re focused on us. It’s pretty amazing to see Tate’s advice born out three years later. The competition in 2016 is either gone or they recommend us at their seminars or they’re among our clients now. That means we can all focus on making gym owners successful together. Sure, there are still some playing the finite games of getting followers or likes or attention and there always will be. When they die, someone else will take their place.

Chris: 05:09 – You and I will never be without critics or short-term competitors, but if you play the Infinite Game in your business as I try to do in mind, they won’t be distractions for long, because it’s easy to ignore the mud on your shoes when you’re gazing it infinity.

Andrew: 05:22 – If you’ve ever felt threatened by a competitor, Chris wants you to know a simple truth: We all can win.

Chris: 05:29 – Yesterday I wrote about playing the Infinite Game. Here’s how the philosophy applies precisely to your business. Gym ownership is not a zero-sum game. To get a new client, I don’t have to take one of yours. In fact, it’s a positive-sum game. As more gyms open, the cost of opening a new gym goes down. Equipment is cheaper now than it’s ever been, and best of all, the expensive lessons learned by tens of thousands of gym owners is available in our Incubator.

Chris: 05:54 – You can pay a little and dodge hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs and pain. Microgym owners can make a great living from 150 clients. That’s it. 150 great people paying the right rate and staying long enough to stabilize the business. You don’t need to fight me for clients. I don’t need to fight you for coaches. The reason new fitness founders think they have to compete are simple. We’re mostly first-time entrepreneurs. We’re scared as hell. We don’t have a buffer. We need to make money right now to eat and we think the market is limited. That was me. In 2005 I opened Catalyst with 30 clients, but that wasn’t enough and I thought I had to take clients from other local trainers to succeed. I remember saying to my partner, “I’m going to bankrupt everybody else,” but I didn’t. Many of the microgyms that were around in 2005 are still around today.

Chris: 06:49 – They kept some clients and they got some new clients. Some of theirs came to me and some of mine went to them. If they were good at business, they’re still operating. The key to a good gym isn’t getting clients, it’s keeping clients, and in a small city, even when the major employers go bankrupt, there’s more than enough clients if you build your business the right way. In the next video I’ll be talking about why this is true, how you can avoid having competition and the mindset necessary for success and why you want a Two-Brain gym next door and how we’re going to make a million fitness entrepreneurs wealthy.

Andrew: 07:26 – Every entrepreneur feels pressure from other business owners, but there’s a way to escape. Here’s what to do to never have competition again.

Chris: 07:33 – Escape competition through authenticity is a credo printed on my wall. The phrase comes from Naval Ravikant. You can watch his short video on the topic in the link below, but I learned it far earlier. I first built up a client base in Sault Ste. Marie by publishing content. Even when I took a job as a trainer under someone else, I still published under my name. I just submitted articles about health and fitness to every local news site I could find and I quickly got a few dozen clients from it. Then I kept publishing and grew Catalyst to the dominant gym in our city. We’ve never run a Facebook ad because we don’t have to. Clients at other gyms graduate up to Catalyst when they’re ready. Globo gyms feed us clients. Other personal trainers are preparing and filtering clients for Catalyst. They’re not my competition. I don’t have any because no one else can be Catalyst. I started writing about the gym business in 2009. A few other people were doing it then, but they’re all gone now.

Chris: 08:31 – The difference was that I was authentic. I told real stories about struggles and failures instead of trying to sell them something, and I kept writing and grew Two-Brain Business to the largest mentorship company in the fitness industry. Clients of other business consultants graduate up to Two-Brain when they’re ready. Facebook groups feed us clients. We even have critics. While I write about stuff to help gym owners, the critics write about us, and then they copy us. All the while they’re filtering and feeding us the best gym owners on the planet. They’re not my competition. I don’t have any because no one else can be Two-Brain Business. In the next video I’ll share with you the mindset that’s common to all successful gym owners, but today I want to give you some directive advice. Publish your story, tell people why you started the gym, tell people why you continue to run it instead of going back to the secure nine-to-five salary, because I know you’re tempted sometimes. Tell people about the best client stories that happened yesterday.

Chris: 09:36 – Tell them how you solve the weight-loss problem, the strength problem or the aching back problem. Don’t parrot what I say or Greg says or what Naval says. Tell them how you do it. No one can compete with that. They might disagree. They might argue, they might post ridiculous rants or Instagram videos about how wrong you are. Yeah, Facebook ads can push people across the finish line. Yeah, social media might speed up the sales cycle, but eventually everyone is going to ask, “Who are you?” And then “What do you do?” And then eventually “What do you stand for?”

Chris: 10:24 – If you don’t tell them the answer to those questions, then the answer is nothing.

Andrew: 10:28 – In the mindset necessary for success, Chris lays out the differences between rich entrepreneurs and poor entrepreneurs.

Chris: 10:34 – Robert Kiyosaki’s real lesson in “Rich Dad Poor Dad” isn’t buy lots of buildings, it’s how to have the right mindset for success. Kiyosaki’s book, “Rich Dad Poor Dad,” is one of my favorites. I keep 20 copies in my office and I hand them out all the time. In the book, Kiyosaki tells the story of his rich dad, actually his friend’s father who owned businesses and was really wealthy. He also tells the story of his poor dad, Robert’s real father, a university professor who worked really, really hard but died broke. You need to read the book for yourself, but I can sum it up in this little anecdote. Kiyosak’s poor dad would see something that he wanted and say, “I can’t afford that.” Kiyosaki’s rich dad would see something he wanted and ask, “How can I afford that?” The difference in language is subtle, but the difference in mindset is worlds apart. A few weeks ago I shot a video about doing expense audits using the Two-Brain Dashboard. I worked you through an exercise to determine whether you could afford to hire a new staff member or not, and you can read it by clicking the link below this video. The most important part of the article though was the question “How can I afford that?” This is the difference between rich entrepreneurs and poor entrepreneurs.

Chris: 11:54 – Let’s say you’re combing through your monthly expenses and something sticks out. A piece of software maybe that you’re not using or some expensive subscription with like unclear ROI. A poor entrepreneur says, “I need to get rid of that billing. Get rid of that expense, cut that off.” You know, “I can’t afford to pay for something I’m not using.” A rich entrepreneur says, “How can I use that thing better to improve its return on investment?” Now, you’re not in business to keep the software companies in business. You’re not in business to keep your mentor in business. The opposite is actually true, we’re in business to keep you improving your business. But my first question when I’m looking at my monthly expenses is why am I not getting the results that I thought I would?

Chris: 12:44 – So I do the same thing with time investments. I ask why isn’t this workout plan working for me? And then I look at my diet, my sleep, and my commitment to the program. And if one of those is the problem, I call my coach and I ask him, how can I improve my results? I’ve even done the same with my own mentorship. Whenever I felt that my mentor calls were decreasing in value, I’ve thought about maybe canceling; when you pay 40 to $80,000 per year for a program, you tend to notice the monthly billing. And since the ROI on mentorship compounds forever, it can sometimes be murky in the short term. So for example, I wouldn’t have scaled one business from $260,000 to 2.5 million without mentorship, but it’s hard to track that compounding effect on a spreadsheet. So instead of saying, is mentorship worth the cost, I ask how can I make mentorship show a more immediate ROI? And then my mentor says, “Focus on this short-term thing for the next week,” and I get a big return. And then I go back to the big-picture stuff. It’s even easier at Two-Brain because clients in our Growth Phase can move from mentor to mentor according to what specialty they need that month. Here’s another example. I was one of the first people to sign up for Healthy Steps Nutrition because the value is obvious to me, but the staff person I chose to lead the program wasn’t intrapreneurial. We weren’t using the program to its full potential, so after many months I said, how can I improve my ROI on this? I asked Miranda if she’d like to take the course. We started from scratch. Now we see a huge ROI on Healthy Steps. The purpose of an expense audit isn’t to cut, it’s to maximize. Every expense should create value. If it’s not, before you cut it, ask, “How can I afford this?” That’s the question separating good entrepreneurs from bad ones.

Andrew: 14:35 – A new gym opens up nearby, and you feel scared. But what if that gym shares your values and what if you can help each other grow? Here’s Chris on why you want more Two-Brain gyms in your city.

Chris: 14:46 – This week I posted a video that says gym ownership is a positive-sum game. That gym makes it easier for future gyms to open. And if the gym is owned by the right person with an abundance mindset, they will help your gym grow. Best of all, if a new gym opens and shares your brand, your values and your pricing, everyone rises together. We all can win. I was the third personal trainer in my city. It took me about three months to fill my schedule. I was employed by the second personal trainer in my city who took about a year to fill his, and he was friends with the first guy, Shane.

Chris: 15:23 – Shane took three years to fill his schedule, but as the third one in, I benefited from the hard work done by those who came before me. Now, Shane was the first personal trainer in Sault Ste. Marie. He worked at a globo gym. He had to teach the members what a personal trainer was. Then he had to convince them that they needed one. He had to sell hard all day and night. It took him around three years to build his business. When I showed up five years after he started, everyone knew what a personal trainer did and there was a surplus of at least 40 people who wanted one. I know because those 40 signed up with me instead of Shane, but he did all the hard work for me back in 1997. In 2008, it was my turn to carry the water. I became the first CrossFit affiliate in the city.

Chris: 16:08 – The CrossFit brand attracted one client, a friendly early adopter named Joe. I had to teach 80,000 other people what CrossFit was, what it wasn’t, and how it could solve their problem, and I’d say I’m about halfway through those 80,000 11 years later. When another local gym affiliated in 2009, though, I panicked. They were going to build on my foundation. All my hard work had created a funnel into their gym. I saw the post from earlier affiliates through a different lens. Yeah. I wanted to protect the territory now that I owned. I panicked. I compared my rates to their rates. I called them out for copying me. I tried to rip their coaching, condemn their programming and tear down their business. Of course, that created a ton of animosity and of course they did just fine. They’re still around getting people good results and making people happy and obviously, we did really well too, but what if we had worked together from the start? In Baltimore, in Denver, in Houston and Atlanta, Kansas City, more cities, entrepreneurs in the Two-Brain family are beginning to work together.

Chris: 17:11 – They’re collectively educating the local population using the Help First philosophy. They’re inviting others into their boxes. They’re not competing on price, not texting each other’s members. When everyone is doing well, when no one is desperate, we all do better. When everyone’s healthy, no one has to resort to dirty tricks or lies or price wars. We call this collaborative competition, but it really means eliminating the bad actors. Wrestling with a pig just gets you dirty. Lifting the pig out of their dirty sty creates a better life for everyone. Over the weekend, the Two-Brain family grew by eight entrepreneurs. They came from the UK, from Sweden, from Canada, from Georgia, from Cambodia, from Belgium, from Arizona, and from Indiana.

Chris: 18:06 – Some of these were referred by other gym owners in the Two-Brain family. Some of them have gyms that are less than a mile away from gyms in the Two-Brain family in Winnipeg. New clients routinely call the wrong gym to sign up. The Two-Brain gyms send the new client where they should be going, but general awareness helps them grow together instead of fighting over scraps. In Stockholm, Sweden, gym owner meet-ups led by Two-Brain family get together regularly. They share, they teach, and they help one another grow in a positive way. You can choose to make enemies or you can choose to make a difference. Good fences might make good neighbors, but families don’t need them.

Andrew: 18:45 – Want to know Coop’s big plan for Two-Brain Business? You’re part of it. Here are the four pillars of the Two-Brain plan to make 1 million fitness entrepreneurs wealthy.

Chris: 18:54 – My mission is to make 1 million fitness entrepreneurs wealthy. Here are the four steps that we’re taking to get there. Step one: Fix the gyms that are already open. Make those founders wealthy. Now we’ve figured out what’s working and we teach people to do those things. We’ve been doing that since I found my first mentor in 2009. Now we use data to help us figure out what’s best faster. We find the new best ideas in the industry. We test them and then we deliver them to the owners of Two-Brain gyms. It’s harder to fix an existing gym than it is to open a new gym, so we’ve spent years mentoring gym owners to fix the early mistakes they made just as I did back then, but when we take these lessons and we share them with people before their gyms open, those entrepreneurs zoom to wealth in three years instead of like 15.

Chris: 19:50 – Step two: Make coaches more entrepreneurial. This happens by encouraging fitness coaches to build their own brand under another person’s umbrella or to open their own gym with the help of their current owner. We’re going to accomplish this by taking our existing best resource, the coaches in Two-Brain gyms, enriching them with business knowledge, and then weaponizing them by helping them to build their careers. In some cases, gym owners will license their brand to their coaches and help them their own business. In others, gym owners will help the coaches make more money coaching. If you want a gym, you can jump straight to this step by downloading our free Intrapreneurialism 101 Guide through the link below this video. You can help your coaches build their careers in a way that builds your gym instead of building your future competition. Step three: We’re going to make more coaches.

Chris: 20:48 – This is what Two-Brain Coaching is for; to help us pump a million new fitness coaches into the world. If each coach can change 150 lives, we can affect change in the world’s health, and we can do it the right way. All the right things for all the right people, for all the right reasons, with data and proof instead of fake supplements and influence legislation. We’re method agnostic. We don’t care if coach improve fitness through pull-ups or pole dancing. We just want a healthier world. Step four: Make more clients for Two-Brain gyms. This is where Two-Brain Media is already helping. We need to educate people on the value of fitness, how to avoid the opiated decline into death and how to take control of their lives. We can do this. We don’t have to wait for people to find CrossFit or Pilates or boot camp and then wait for them to fall in love with that ideology and then wait for them to decide to open a box of their own.

Chris: 21:51 – We don’t have to hope the doctors will embrace our philosophy of fitness and somehow create an audience to support themselves. We have all the parts. We have all the data. Best of all, we have the will to do so. We don’t have to wait for anyone else, not anymore. We want to make current gym owners wealthiest of all because they deserve a reward for figuring this all out. Here’s the thing about wealth. It’s the best reason to open a business. Wealth is the freedom of money and time. Wealth is unattainable in a nine-to-five, despite what you were told in school. You can’t save your way to wealth. You can’t cut your way to wealth. Wealth requires risk and growth, and entrepreneurs who risk everything to help others become healthy, well, they’re the most deserving people on Earth. If more gym owners become wealthy, more people will be drawn to gym ownership. Current gym owners will stay in the game longer because they’ll see a light at the end of the tunnel, and then more lives will be saved. We’ve mapped this path to wealth. When you’re ready for some direction in your business, book a free call with my team.

Andrew: 22:59 – Thank you for listening to this special edition of Two-Brain Radio. Don’t forget to subscribe, leave us a rating or write a review; we’d love to hear your thoughts. and if you’re inspired to take action today but need some guidance, head over to to book a free call with a mentor.

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Did you know gym owners can earn $100,000 a year with no more than 150 clients? We wrote a guide showing you exactly how.