Growth in Lockdown: Australian Gym Owner Adds Clients, Revenue


Andrew (00:02):

The COVID crisis continues, but some gyms are adapting and actually adding revenue and members. How is this possible? Chris Cooper gets the answers from gym owner James Mawson right after this.

Chris (00:13):

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

Chris (02:13):

Everybody welcome to James Mawson from Tribal Movement in Melbourne here. James, maybe you can just kind of recap what you were saying about how long you’ve been in lockdown and what the situation is there.

James (02:24):

Chris and I were speaking to those guys, who’ve only just joined us. We’re in regional Victoria where we’re about two hours away from Melbourne central, where the heat was. We have two sets of lockdowns, one from Melbourne, one for regional. So those guys that are listening that are from Melbourne, which is again, only two hours down the road. I feel for them, if you want to talk about lockdowns in the rest of this world, we have been in lockdown longer than any other country state in the world. It is Melbourne, to some of their gyms in Melbourne.

James (03:03):

Two-Brain gyms, have been and still are not open. They’ve only gone back to PTs outdoors. They are not allowed to travel. They had a curfew. And still, I don’t think the curfew’s now, they abolished that two weeks ago. They had a curfew. They weren’t allowed to leave their homes between 8:00 PM and 5:00 AM. If they were caught leaving their homes between those hours, they had a $5,000 fine. They weren’t allowed to venture 5ks away from their home. They were only allowed to send one person shopping per day. So if you want to talk about lockdowns, I think Victoria is the strictest lockdowns in the world. Now, if you have a look at the cases and I’ve spoken to Chris about this, we’ve only had, and it’s not only because it’s a life is a life.

James (03:52):

I think we’ve had about 900 deaths, total Australia, which is, it’s not in terms of the overall death rate. It’s not high. And most of those people have been people in the elderly homes. Most of the victims are 80, 90 or a hundred year olds. And it’s funny that I’m not a conspiracy theorist, Chris, but it’s quite funny that we haven’t had a flu or flu influenva related death since April, this year. Total deaths for flu this year has only been 36 the entire year with this time last year, we’re at 460. So I’m just putting it out there that, yeah. And we’re still using the testing kits here in Victoria that can’t distinguish between influenza, hepatitis, Sars. What else was the other one? So they all, if they test positive, they test positive for any of those, as well as COVID.

James (04:56):

So they can’t even determine. If you want to talk lockdown guys, I’ve got a smile on my face and this is a lockdown beard to prove how long we’ve been there.

Chris (05:07):

That’s right. That’s right. Well, I mean, this is a great conversation and I hope that when it’s all over, you know, we can kind of look back at it as an opportunity. And the reason that you messaged me the other night, James was, you said, Hey, look, we’ve grown. And, so I said, well, we would definitely want to share that message with people. So maybe you can kind of give us some stats about how much you’ve grown and that kind of thing.

James (05:31):

Yep. No worries. Um, so we we’ve been locked down. Our first lockdown was 23rd of March, this year, which was full, lock down. So that was complete closure. Unlike like everyone else.

James (05:44):

We were lucky here in Australia, we had, I guess two to four weeks notice before we got locked down because of Two-Brain and what other gyms were doing around the world. I think we went second to last, I think the last to ago was New Zealand. So we were watching that. I think America is always ahead of what we do here in Australia. So I follow very, very closely on what America is doing. And it paid off this time in terms of the information that was fed back through Two-Brain and through you, Chris. So we acted very quickly. We had everything to go. We managed to transfer a hundred and hundred and 45 clients in 24 hours from brick and mortar to online training.

James (06:39):

So we transitioned within 24 hours. We had all our members assigned to a coach. We had, we didn’t act quick enough. We eventually halfway through the first lockdown we picked up the app. We got on True Coach halfway through, that was probably a little bit too late in my, I guess in why I would have done it because we were all doing it via text. So we were sending out 40 texts a day per coach. And it was all personalized. So we learned from that what we also did, I think guys, and I think this is imperative and I think this is the biggest thing that one of the biggest nuggets, golden nuggets that I can give you guys when you’re doing it put together, because if you’re going into shutdown for the second time, you need to put a COVID suspension form in place. So what I mean by COVID suspension form is a form that they fill out that States, as soon as the restrictions are lifted, any way, shape or form, whether that be PTs or outside training, their membership will start back up straight away,

Chris (07:50):

Back to the show in just a minute. The people at Incite Tax know you’re working long hours to improve health for the world, but it can still be hard to turn a profit. You just can’t focus on your mission without money in your account. So Incite founder John Briggs wrote “Profit First for Mirogyms” and created a system that increases your cashflow so you can be home for dinner with a thriving fitness business. Bookkeeping, profit first, cash flow consulting, taxes, whatever your financial needs, Incite can help. Join their free five-day challenge at profitfirstformicrogyms/five days to get a snapshot of the financial health of your gym. That’s profitfirstformicrogyms/five days.

James (08:30):

  1. Because therefore you will, instead of people canceling, they’re going to suspend, therefore you don’t have to try and restate their memberships, they just start. So then they’ve got to physically cancel their memberships again. OK. That saved us so many people quitting, in terms of their membership was always there. We didn’t have to regain a customer cause it was there. We didn’t have to ring them and say, hi, would you like to jump back on board, they were already there.

Chris (09:00):

Did anybody have any hesitation to sign that James?

James (09:05):

Nope. Not one.

Chris (09:09):

How do you handle that conversation?

James (09:09):

So, someone may message you or email, right? So if I said, OK, we’re going online, this is what we’re going to do. I’m not interested. It doesn’t suit me. I don’t want to do it. Cool. Awesome. What I’ll do is I’ll send you a COVID suspension form.

James (09:28):

So as soon as we explained to them quickly, it just seemed to form, have a read of it just means when we’re open in any way, shape or form, then your membership, and you know what, if they want to be part of the organization and tribe, they’ll stay on. Just that just consolidates our, I guess our retention strategies really. I think we only had two members complain when it went back to say how we’re not inside. And they looking at the contract, they found the loopholes in, it was two members and said, well, you’re actually not back inside. You’re outside at the moment. So realistically we don’t wait, we’re not coming back. And we just turned around and said, you know what, you’re two weed clients anyway, see you later. And both of mine are not with us now.

James (10:08):

So that was good. So was easy, easy way.

Chris (10:11):

Thanks for making it easy for me.

James (10:14):

And that’s pretty much. Yeah. So yeah. So we got rid of those weed clients, Chris. That’s that one then moving forward. From there, we, which was one of the hardest things for me we had to do is we lent out the equipment, so we didn’t hire it out. And far as I’m concerned that hiring out the equipment, I think to me personally, these guys were showing me the, I guess, the faith, you know, by hanging in there with me anyway, the last thing I’m gonna do is say, Hey, I want you to pay for my equipment. So I said, OK, to repay the faith, I’m going to make you sign a document that says, if you don’t bring it back and it’s not in the same condition, then I’ll charge you for it.

James (10:59):

But I’m going to lend this out, just to say thank you for sticking with me. So we hiredthat out and we look, we only hired out our dumbbells and our kettlebells. OK. We also, the only other thing we did is we gave anyone that didn’t have a skipping rope. We gave them the free skipping rope as well. All right. So just little things, just a little. And that kept us going. We ran the Zoom classes, in terms of we’d run a Sunday morning zoom class, we get four or five people there. We used to run Friday night, zoom parties between our groups of coaches, which had had theirs, the morale with the coaches the first time around wasn’t there. We weren’t allowed to train, we weren’t allowed to do anything. We’re homeschooling all that stuff.

James (11:49):

We’ve just let people know too. Cause what I’ll about to go into second lockdown, what we’ve learned and give you some more nuggets. We’ve got three kids under 11. So all the schools were closed. We had to remote teach or remote learning our three kids as well as try and run a business. Both my wife and I had a client base of 40 as well. So we were also doing the messaging and all that sort of stuff as well. Plus trying to homeschool and everything else. Yes. So it’s not like we were two people that didn’t have lives outside of this. My wife also runs a nutrition online business and has 50 active clients on that as well. So she runs a business on the side of this as well. So that happened. We also got flooded during that time as well.

James (12:34):

So the whole gym got flooded by a rain leak. So we had our share of problems, but I think what I want to tell everybody here, it’s your attitude moving forward. You can let these things drive you and dictate to you and you can become sour or you can go, Hey, we’ve been flooded. Cool, the insurance will cover that, we’ll get brand-new gear. Yeah. We’ve been shut down. I’m going to cry about it. I’m gonna be upset about it. Or you can look at it and go, you know what? I’m going to use this time to revise all my policies, my procedures, I’m going to read, I’m going to study. I’m going to make things better and be positive. Don’t worry. The first two weeks of shut down, like everybody else, the world was over. I was gutted.

James (13:15):

We’d made huge changes. We’ve taken our revenue up to from 20,000 when we started with you guys to 50,000, I was having my best month, like everybody else. So I was gutted. Yup. But you know what, after two weeks of it, you have to change that point of view. You have to have a strong opinion that you’re gonna succeed and people are looking, like we said, you’ve got to be the calm leader. OK. And we did that. So we only lost like most people, we lost the average 25, we lost 25% of our total membership base. And we lost over 30% of our revenue. First time around. Which is still not bad. We could pay all our staff. And what is we kept all our staff on. Yup. So whether it be like, just had to mow the grass for me, I was keeping them on, you know, you had to keep your staff.

Chris (14:04):

Was there any kind of, is there any kind of government incentive to keep them on or was that just part of your plan?

James (14:10):

So we didn’t know at the start that we were going to get, we’ve got a team here in Australia called job keeper. We didn’t know we were going to get that. So before we got job keeper, I just basically said, I’m going to keep my staff on where I can anyway. Cause I’m gonna need them. I had a new coach that had just moved from Melbourne. So made the move from Melbourne, three-hour move, to move up here. Had no job other than us and quit his $2,000 a week job in Melbourne to move with us. The first day he started wias the day we closed down.

Chris (14:39):

Oh my goodness.

James (14:40):

So from our perspective is I needed the guys. I knew I was going to need these guys when we did re-open. So I kept them all on. I tried the kids’ programming. I tried everything. Yes. In the end I learned a lot. I learned what not to do and what to do. So we got reopened, which meant we’d go outside, which was middle of winter for us here in Australia. So you’re talking where we are probably minus up to minus five degrees. We moved all our matting. So I picked all my matting from inside. And made basically spots for everyone outside, in our car park. Now people are going to go, yeah, but you’re lucky. You’ve got a car space or a car park that you can operate in. Yup. Now I’ll go into that in a sec because I don’t count that as luck, I count that, you make your own luck.

James (15:34):

Right. So I set that up. We basically just did outdoors. We just need dumbbell and body weight stuff. So, we didn’t take any bars, rowers or bikes outside.

Chris (15:45):

So James, if you had lent your dumbbells out, did people bring their dumbbells back to the gym before?

James (15:55):

Within 24 hours or 48 hours, we had all the equipment brought back. Now you’re talking over a hundred bits of equipment. We didn’t lose one single piece of equipment. And that is hard to let that go. As a business owner, they’re my babies. I treat them, I treat them with respect. I treat everything and everything gets looked after and to sit there and watch it all go out the door. It’s like, you’re closing a facility. And that’s the hardest thing, I had to walk away. Literally I had to walk away.

James (16:25):

It was breaking my heart and said, y’all out. But that’s something gotta do. Anyway. So we did that. We ran that after two weeks we introduced barbells and stuff back out of the car park, got people’s interested, all that sort of stuff. Now we went from running thirty classes a week to end up outside running, and then eventually being allowed back inside with groups of 10. Going from 30 classes to 46 classes is what we run now. We run per week. We run nine classes to 10 classes per day. OK. Now, yes, we’re on restrictions of 10, when we went back inside, we all had to have our own space. So we were lucky enough we purchased good investment. We purchased, made sure we had 10 rowers, 10 bikes. So no one was sharing equipment. Yup. We were lucky we can do that.

James (17:24):

We’ve been in the position where we’ve put our money away for a rainy day. So we did that. We went back inside for four weeks and then we got shut down again. And I was like, no, here we go again. And to say I wasn’t gutted again, I was gutted. I sat there on the Sunday watching the TV with my wife, with Dee, and I think Dee was, I looked over and I think she had a bit of a tear in her eye and I’m like, Oh, well, here we go again. So I think the biggest thing we learned was from the first one was the confidence. And what I mean by that is the confidence to make quick decisions and the confidence to make the decisions that inform our members confidently that we’ve got this under control. So any news that came through, we would be on a live feed to all our members within an hour.

James (18:27):

  1. We do a live feed and would also have an email to back that up, Chris, to go out to all our guys to say, this is what’s going on. So we used both two forms of communication, the live feed Facebook group, and also our MailChimp. So we did that. So people were confident. So they started trusting what we had say. So in other words, be convincing, be confident, saying this is just the new norm. Yeah, it’s a pain in the ass and sympathize it because it is a pain in the ass, but you know what, so be it. You’ve got two choices, either you train or you don’t train. And that’s what we said to these guys. A lot of the guys this time, we were a bit lucky because we were allowed once we got shut down the second time.

James (19:10):

So telling people we got shut down, we were total locked down the first time, all online training, eight weeks or seven weeks, we went back inside seven, sorry, outside for seven weeks. So no indoor training. Then we went inside for four weeks. Then we got locked down again, outside no training. So online this time we’re allowed to do one on one or one on two personal training outdoors, seven weeks. And now we’ve been outside this time for four weeks. So far, our potential open date, even though we do not have one regional case. Yup. We have 130 infections for the whole state of Victoria, 130 infections all up the state of Victoria. And we are still not allowed to train indoors. Melbourne cafes aren’t even open yet. And we have 130 cases, none regionally. All right. So when you talk about how strict our rules and laws are here, they’re pretty strict to the extent where the government tried to pass a bill the other day to allow JPs, so justice as a peace union workers, giving them the power to be able to community arrest people with the suspicion of breaking the COVID restriction laws.

Chris (20:40):

Arrest under suspicion?

James (20:44):

Yup. So when people talk about restrictions, we have had a visit. Now it might sound like we’ve done this fairly easy and we’ve been going through it. We have had the police around at our venue every two weeks since we first locked down. So March 23rd, we’ve had a visit or a phone call, not just from the police, them asking if we’d been dubbed in by locals because they don’t know the rules, noise complaints. Cause we’ve had the speakers have been a bit louder than normal cause we’re outdoors. The local council jas been ringing us. We’ve dealt with everything. We’ve had every rule that we’ve been accused of breaking, which we, every single time we have adhered to every single rule because it’s a $10,000 fine for us here in Victoria, if we break, $9,966, fine. If we break the rules, I can’t afford that. So, getting back on that, which we are now outside the proposed opening date for gyms in regional Victoria or Victoria alone, we have to have no active cases for a period of two weeks and unknown cases. So the earliest that can happen, a date is attached to that is the 23rd of November.

Chris (22:17):

That’s when the meter starts running?

James (22:18):

So when people say we will not be out of this COVID norm, any, yeah, so this is a norm for us. OK. Get used to it. It’s going to happen. And if we’re successful, the rest of the world will follow it. They basically said that they’re not going to change this until there’s a vaccine, which I’m not going to take anyway. So we’ve had to make, and I guess the reason for telling everyone and giving the story is you’ve got to make the best of the situation. It’s not going to go away. Don’t hide in the grass, don’t wait for things to get better. You’re in control of your destiny. Use the resources that were given through Two-Brain and be smart, be confident in making the calls. OK.

James (23:12):

If you’re allowed to go indoors, as in, when you have an office, we’re allowed to work at our office, right? So we can have people in our office, we’re just gonna let her run training and the same as other places. Most people’s will still be out at work. Some of our guys aren’t allowed at work at the moment. Some of the other businesses. If you can allow it, like we can still do NSIs, you know, as long as we’re social distancing, we’ve got a mandatory mask. So we’ve got to wear the mandatory mask here in Victoria as well. No other state does in Australia except us. So we still run NSIs. Yep. So I still run them. I still do my nutrition consults face to face. I still do. Cause we’re allowed to, we’re not breaking the rules. Yeah. So you’ve got to make sure that you know your rules inside or out, so check all your local government rules of what you can and can’t do and play by the rules, but stick to close to that line as you possibly can.

James (24:11):

  1. So we still do our body scans. We still do all that sort of stuff because we’re allowed, we weren’t allowed to the first time, but we did this time. So we were doing NSIs over the phone. Now I would say first time around, we didn’t really worry about getting too many new customers, it was about consolidating our customers that we currently had. Focus on that and that only in my opinion. We tried to do the 21 day challenge that you guys ran and all that sort of stuff. We wasted two weeks trying to do that. And brought no one through when we could have been spending that time on. So consolidate first, that is the first thing consolidate. That’s my opinion. OK. Look after your current members. Cause they’re the members are going to be there when you get back. Second time round. We’re outside.

James (24:57):

We open up. And I think that what read through to me was the interview that was on the Two-Brain podcast, I think was with Seth Godin. And he was still talking about, if we lose 10% of our members so is the other gyms down the road. And he said, be ready. Be ready for when gyms do open, so start preparing your staff now for when you do re-open, because if you’ve lost 10% so has the other gym down the road. So ahs the other gym down the road and the other one and the other one, they’re all going to be looking for new homes. So be ready. And I’m going to tell you now guys be ready because we have picked up. We’re outside.

James (25:47):

So what we do, we picked our rack. We picked my whole rack from inside and I moved it outside. People go do that. Yeah, we did. We unbolted it, I got six trainers. We grabbed an NH, I moved the whole rack outside. And I’m about to attach wall ball targets. I’ve put all my rubber on it. I’ve done it. Best investment I’ve ever done. And will it stay there? Absolutely. Cause I don’t know whether this world’s going to change or not. So now I have an inside, outside gym. People are gonna go James, we haven’t got the space. You know what? Go around to your park. Load your car up with your dumbbells, your kettlebells. People don’t care. They just want to train. If you’re allowed to train outdoors, do what you have to do, make it work, go to a park, go to a side of the road, do something because people will pay it because they want to train.

James (26:30):

And that’s how passionate I am about that because we could’ve sat there and wallowed in our pity and all that sort of stuff. And we didn’t, we were active and we are now leading the community in gyms. People are just coming to us to the extent where, and I’ll speak to you about this, Chris, we have been back outside now for it’s coming up four weeks, this Thursday. So three weeks. We have signed on 21 new members. OK. It was funny. I had three NSIs booked for this week. As of Sunday morning, yesterday morning here in Australia, I now have eight NSIs booked in for this week. We have a close rate of 95%. So potentially by the end of this week, we’ll have 25 new members all paying $95 a week membership.

Chris (27:23):

That’s per week, I want everybody to catch that. The other piece too, you mentioned is that when you went outside the second time you were doing 100 to 110 personal training sessions a week, how did you pivot to that?

James (27:43):

Good question. Cause I had that in my notes here. Staff to complete the extra PTs. So this time what happened was a lot of the people that canceled last time or put their membership on suspension didn’t cause we could do PTs. People say, yeah, but they were only paying $45 a week last time. So why would they pay? And that was for three sessions. Why would they pay 45 for one? Cause they want to train. They don’t care. And you know what, it’s not even about the training. It’s about the communication. They’ve been able to talk to somebody and that’s what it ended up being a half an hour of exercise and a lot of talking.

James (28:26):

So we transferred probably half of the people that put their memberships on hold last time to personal training. How we did that is we had the staff. So during the lockdown we put on another staff member. Now the two staff members actually, because we knew this was going to go. So we now have, we had one, two, four PTs working, during the outside period, they were doing up to one of my PTs did 48 sessions in one week, by himself. We would do, yeah, so we did about a hundred. I think the best we got was about 110 or something like that for the week. That PT has now said, you know what? I think I’d rather do PTs than group classes. My office manager is sitting behind me. She’s just giving me some more notes. Plus that’s not only doing 110 PT a week or 48. They also had the online client base that’s 30 to 35 members to handle as well.

James (29:45):

They were taking home up to a thousand dollars a week plus. Australia, my trainers for businesses, lockdown.

Chris (29:54):

Good for them.

James (29:56):

And I’m happy to mention metrics and figures here. We went from first locked down from 30k for being locked down for the first two months to this time, our total shutdown, we went back up to $38,000 in revenue. OK. So we’ve increased our revenue by almost like 25%.

Chris (30:24):

The most impressive part of that for me, James, is that we could confidently predict that that’s going to continue. You know, the big fear that a lot of gyms in the States had was that, well, people are trying to help. They’re doing me a favor, but eventually that goodwill is just going to wear off. And so if we have to shut down a second time, people aren’t going to be that generous. And what you’ve shown is that as long as you can provide enough value to people, that it’s not really about them feeling generous.

James (30:54):

No, no. We had a lot of our guys that started with the PTs, just doing one. A lot of them did two. Like they’re upping sessions. Like, so what we did is we had, we identified our five clients who spent the most through the second lockdown and we sent them a bunch of flowers each, $50 bunch of flowers, which is nothing. And they all shared it. And we found that a lot of these customers, a monthly spend was nearly $800 Australian, versus 250 in normal spend. So they three times, 3x’d their spend, you know? And that’s because they were receiving value. And what we did to increase and it’s probably something that you guys wouldn’t advise. We found it’s again, it’s listening. People will tell you what they want.

James (31:57):

Yep. So if you listen to people, they’ll tell you. So when you listened to the people, yes, people always want something to nothing or something cheaper. Sometimes you gotta listen to that. So we found the biggest thing between the lockdowns. Cause we did go back in between the two lock downs in the four weeks. We identified 8 of my seed clients and I took them out for coffee in between the lockdowns. And they told me if we went into lockdown a second time, they wouldn’t be happy and probably wouldn’t stick on if we were charging the normal rate. So we dropped our rate, our average is $45 a week. We dropped it down to $37 for online coaching, but that was basics. So when I say basics, it was send them the program adjusted accordingly.

Chris (32:36):

How popular was that?

James (32:41):

Perfect. Yeah. A hundred percent. I think we lost this time. We lost when we came back, I think we only had five people that had finished up, because we weren’t any different than anyone else. We found that once we got back out of isolation, the first time back in, we had a lot of people leave us because they said we were thinking about it, but we didn’t want to be nasty and do it during it. So we waited. So we’re no different, and I think people were tired. So I think that the home thing just didn’t work for them. And that’s cool. And that’s fine. We just don’t take it personally. But yeah, the 37.50, like it was, I’d rather people pay an extra $7 less than lose 10 of them.

Chris (33:27):

Yeah. To be honest, James, like we heard that from a bunch of online coaches too, about having a down sell option. And I can share this with you. The reason that we didn’t publish that option in the beginning was that so many gyms were immediately putting themselves in competition with online programming only for like $20 a month and that would have closed them. So I’m glad you took that step. And actually, the online training course, that’s on the Growth ToolKit now actually has a down sell option on it. You’ll see that tomorrow. But yeah. I mean, it’s another great example of learning through COVID collecting the data and saying, Oh, this works and changing.

James (34:09):

You just need to listen to your people. Like we’re not going to give it away for free. It’s like, and you just gotta listen to your people. Like we looked at it, what we’d recommend, what was a fair price point, you know? And we sort of, and we did that as collective, not just me making a decision. I spoke to a coach, I spoke to my ops manager and we all made that as a decision, you know, so we didn’t want to give it away for free. But we also wanted to make sure that we could stay in business too.

Chris (34:36):

Th this is another thing that I’ve noticed as a recurring theme with you, James, and you might just be too humble about it, but one of the things that you’ve been really great at through this whole thing is communication. So, I mean, I can attest to it. You are always the first to send me updates when they happen in Australia, but you were quick to talk about changes with your team. When you watch the news report, you said you immediately went live on Facebook to your members and within an hour you had sent an email out. I think that I don’t want people to miss that, that is so important.

James (35:12):

To us that was it. Communication’s thing like, and when communication is to be done properly, it needs to be spoken about properly, it needs to be instructive. It also needs to come across as confident. Cause can we, could we have gone in and, uh, right. We’ve been closed down again. It’s the end of my life. I’ve got three kids at home. Like my business is going up in smoke. You know what, no one cares Chris, no one cares. They’ve got their own worries, they’ve potentially lost their job. Like, you know, I’m the last thing to worry about. Like, you’ve got to look at people, who’ve got bigger problems than we have. We’re still breathing. There’s other people that aren’t, so you’ve gotta be confident in your decisions. There’s no use being down on life. Yeah. You might be, but you know what communicate it well and communicate it like, Hey, it’s a pain in the ass.

James (36:08):

I get it. What are you gonna do? Sit at home on the couch. Like, you’ve got no options. You just gotta move again. Yeah. And we said that to our guys, if it means that I can’t open in my car park, that means I have to go around in the park. Guess what? I’m doing it. You know, I don’t care. I’ve just told them and made it a hundred percent down the line that we will be training in some way, shape or form. Whether that’s me yelling at you through the phone or yeah, we could have given up and don’t worry the first time it was, I had my moment, you know, it was like, I could easily just close this business up for six months, put it into storage and re-open it. But what are you telling your customers that you don’t care about them?

James (36:56):

They want to know that you’re there for them, that you got their back because if you haven’t got your back, why should they have our back? We’re going to be the leaders, because as you said, many a time you need to be strong in communication and leadership through this whole period? You know, like, I’ve spoken to other Two-Brain members in Australia, I’m constantly in contact with a couple of them. They know who they are and I think it’s fantastic, you know, and they’re no different than I am sort of thing. And I think just the communication’s the difference, it has been a difference. I think it’s knowing the rules and communicating it and wanting to succeed. I think so.

Chris (37:38):

That’s great. James we’ve got a couple of questions here. So first off Holl y would like to know the name of Deanna’s nutrition business.

James (37:49):

So we’re Wag, we’re under Wag, Dee runs her own website or not website, but her own, Instagram, it’s D_mawson, they can check it out there. So we’re just to give the heads up we are Wag’s biggest affiliate worldwide.

Chris (38:10):

Congratulations. Good for you.

James (38:11):

So we’ve got over 50, they published the listings the top 10 every month and we’re number one. So she does really well.

Chris (38:23):

Good for you, that’s great. Well, we’ll post a link to her in the show notes here. Holly also asked, did you have to consult your landlord before you started doing the outdoor training?

James (38:36):

We definitely did. We were lucky, he gave us rent reduction for the first month. And we said, that’s fantastic. When I say rent reduction, he just canceled our rent for the month, and added to the end of the term. So that’s fine.Wwe said, if we can pay the rent, we will, which we did the second month. So we only had one month leeyway wiht our rent the whole time. In terms of the outdoor stuff? Yes. We took a rig outside and anyone can check out our Instagram page or our website and probably our Instagram page and check out the outdoor rig. We had to drill it to the ground. So we obviously had to take bolts and bolt it to the ground.

James (39:21):

So drill into lovely concrete, to the extent where he actually lent me the drill to drill the holes. So yes, he was all above board with it. I think you’ll find most landlords will be if they want their money and it’s in their best interest to make sure that you’re doing what you need to do to survive. So when talking to a landlord, my advice would be, is say, this is detrimental for me to continue to try. If you want your money, you’ll allow me to do it and I’ll repair it and return it back to its original state when we leave.

Chris (39:55):

That sounds pretty reasonable to me, James. The next one is, when you had your staff doing so many sessions every day, was there ever a point where a staff person said, look, this isn’t what I signed up for? I’m getting burnt out or I just don’t want to do it anymore.

James (40:14):

No, there wasn’t. The first time around, yes, the first time round our staff were isolated. There was not a lot of communication, from I guess me, or any other person. So they were on their own. So they got bored, they were used to seeing people every day and that’s what they want to do there. They love being around people. So the first time, yes, first time like this sucks. I’m not doing online again. Come around the second time. He said, well, I’m not doing online ever again. I said your choice. Do you want to do it? Or you don’t want to do it. And he goes, what does that mean? Well, it means that you’re going sabbatical until this is over and you don’t get paid.

James (41:04):

So, they didn’t really have a choice, I guess. But communicated. So you gotta joke with the staff. You’ve gotta be in line with your staff. You’ve gotta have fun with your staff. And if you’re on the same page and you’re willing to work alongside your staff and share the pain with them, I think they resignate with you rather than going, you will do this. I will dictate to you. You will do it. You will do it. Rather than going, Hey, let’s, let’s do it together. So this time round, we learned that. We learned that they were isolated. So we turned it into a lot different. So thanks to Anastasia. She gave us a few ideas. The first, so we got shut down. I think it was a Wednesday. The second time we took all our guys out and shared them lunch.

James (41:57):

So every Fridays was our do something for our staff day, over the lockdown period. So we did, we ordered, uh, we ordered boxes, boxes of foods or vegetables from our local supply and had it delivered to them. We went and hired a set of the norm tech boots and set up a recovery zone for our staff. And just set it up with all the water and the boots and the chair. And we set up, we bought a chair and made into a real little relaxation zone for them. We ordered in fish and chips and other day. So we made sure that the staff are appreciated, because they’re getting awarded well, they’ll get paid well, but yeah, no, we didn’t. We didn’t have that. If you spread the workload and listen to your staff, I think you’re you’re OK. It’s I dunno. I think that staff only work for you if they like you, you know, and they’re being rewarded, like if you’re a prick, they’re not going to want to work, I don’t know. It’s taken like it’s taken me a long time to learn that. Anyway.

Chris (43:11):

I think it was hard enough working through COVID and they had unknowns and they had family concerns and health fears. So just doing what you could do, probably made them look to you as kind of the lighthouse in the storm. The new clients coming in, James, where are they coming from? Are these people who were interested in your service before? And now they’re saying I’m ready to make the leap, are they people who have no idea what you do?

James (43:43):

The answer to that question is that these guys are coming to us now. They’re new members from other gyms, because we have chosen to, we have chosen to publish the fact that we’re open. The other guys are running their boot camps. And I think the globo gym is one of the globo gyms is still closed. They’ve done nothing. Another one. So an Anytime Fitness, they’re just running a bootcamp, which only started a week ago out in the car park.

James (44:11):

And like, this is a corporate organization that don’t have a strategy. F45, we’ve got F45. So when you’re talking about, we’ve got them all here, we’ve only got 25,010 people in the town, right. So they’re F45. They’re doing their workouts down the park by computer screen, you know, it’s still all. So they’re all open. They’re just not doing it well, you know, they’re just not doing it. We have shown that we’re the industry leaders, we’ve got a niche as Seth Godin says, be the purple cow. We’ve got that purple cow at the moment. We know what we’re going to do. Area of innovation is changed. We are making sure we get that and we’re charging for that people are coming because we’re making it aware that we’re open, and we’re going to look after them.

Chris (44:54):

So James, this is my final question. Let’s say that it all ends tomorrow. There’s a vaccine. Reopen. Are there any of these changes that you’ve made that you would keep if you were allowed to go back to business as usual, tomorrow?

James (45:09):

A hundred percent. We are not going back to any more than 10 in a group class. We’ll take 10 in a group class, I think 10 is a number. I think the coaches will, coaches can coach better. You can get a better service. You can give a better service. I think that people are more comfortable with the smaller group. What else? The booking system, we’ll keep the booking system as well. We didn’t have that before. It allows the coaches to know who’s coming in. It also allows the coaches, someone passed, I stole an idea from someone at Two-Brain where they do their little boards at the start where we write a little nice little note on their whiteboards.

James (45:52):

So it allows our coaches to know. So we’ve got two sets of whiteboards. So we write that up before the start of the class each coach does. So it allows us to do that better cause we know who’s coming in, allows us to know who the injuries are. So we’d keep that. It’s allowed us now our PT models, so before Two-Brain, we didn’t really do PTs. Our PT model now is just, it’s gone through the roof. It is now included in every single one of our packages that we do. It’s just part and parcel with now. And it’s something we didn’t really do before. What else would we keep? The cleanliness that’s always been there anyway. I think that’s, we’ve done that fairly well in terms of most places. We do that well anyway.

James (46:40):

Those are probably two main things. The class sizes and the booking I think is a, probably two main ones. The online training, it works for some. We’ve got it there, so we didn’t close our True Coach down. We kept it open for five people, to be honest, we’ve got now five people doing online training who weren’t doing it before. So that adds an extra what’s that that’s an extra, I guess 1500, 15,000 a year to our revenue. I don’t know. It’s an extra revenue stream. What I do find what my biggest thing is, what we’ve found, Chris moving forward is what you’ve been preaching is it’s the whole fitness thought or thinking. So not just training. So it’s the mindfulness sleep, eat, move.

James (47:37):

Yeah, it’s that model we’ve gone down that track big time now. That’s probably one thing that we’ve learned out of this. There’s not just about the coaching. It’s about the mindset. It’s about the eating, it’s about the mindfulness and what we have now in our packages. They’re called not nutrition consults, they’re nutrition and lifestyle consults. We call them now. And that’s what we do now because we’ve found that that’s what people want. They want to talk. So, one thing I did want to say to you, Chris, I mentioned briefly just quickly is, don’t let COVID stop you, don’t let the restriction stop you. I had a chat to Anastasia about it. We’re looking at opening a second location, where people are looking at closing their locations and moving forward and just be stuck in a rut.

James (48:32):

We’re looking at another location to open up in the middle of COVID in the middle of the restrictions. I think what it’s done is taught us as a couple of things. It’s taught us that you don’t need a 4,000 square meter space. You don’t need these big venues. You need smaller venues. You made need to make sure that that venue has got the ability to be able to train outdoors as well as indoors. An be the industry leader. Don’t let it stop you. Cause if you stop and you stop moving forward, you might as well close your business today.

Chris (49:03):

I think that’s a great place to end it. James, thank you for your leadership. You’ve been very, very generous with everybody and especially me. And you know, usually if I’m going to get a text at 10:00 PM Eastern time, it’s going to be from you and it’s going to be an update on what’s happening in Australia. So thank you for your leadership, sir.

James (49:23):

No worries at all.

Andrew (49:27):

To help your business adapt to COVID restrictions, Chris Cooper has published a new ebook. The second shutdown plan for gym owners. It will tell you exactly what steps to take to generate revenue, add clients and retain members. Read the guide via the link in the show notes. Thank you for listening. Please subscribe to Two-Brain Radio for more episodes.


Thanks for listening!

Thanks for listening! Run a Profitable Gym airs twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays. Be sure to subscribe for tips, tactics and insight from Chris Coooper, as well as interviews with the world’s top gym owners.

To share your thoughts:

To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help, and we read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes.

One more thing!

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.