Gym Owners: Mindset Coaching for Mental Health

Colm O'Reilly

Josh (00:02):

Welcome. And thank you so much for tuning in to Two-Brain Radio. I’m Josh Martin. And in this episode, I get the opportunity to speak with Colm O’Reilly. He is the course creator and mentor for the Two-Brain Mindset Coaching course, on top of that, Colm wears a lot of different hats. He’s also a mentor to gym owners on the Two-Brain Business side, and he owns his own gym, CrossFit Ireland.

Chris (00:27):

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

Josh (01:35):

Colm, welcome to the show, my friend.

Colm (01:37):

Thanks, Josh. Pleasure to be here.

Colm (01:38):

How are you doing today?

Colm (01:39):

I am great. As I was saying, just before we hit record, I am enjoying the wonderful Irish summer of 48 hours constant rain and in Fahrenheit it’s about 55. So yeah, that’s my May weather. No shorts just yet.

Josh (01:56):

Yeah. And I know that the listeners can’t see me, but I’m based in Florida yet I’m always wearing a hoodie perpetually. If it’s below like 85, the hoodies come out.

Colm (02:05):

That would cause Irish people to like spontaneously combust, that weather.

Josh (02:10):

They wouldn’t know what’s going on, too hot?

Colm (02:12):

Yeah. Too hot, too hot. I mean, I’d love it for 10 minutes and then I’d just be absolutely burned to a crisp.

Josh (02:20):

That’d be it. It’s like I was telling you, like you said, before we hit record, we were in Asheville, North Carolina, my family and I last week and you know, we got up there, we were expecting mid seventies, beautiful weather. And it dropped into the forties, like high forties, low fifties, rainy. And I mean, Floridians like we’re bundled like two, three layers deep. And you could tell the locals from the tourists because the locals are maybe a long sleeve shirt, but still shorts, sandals. And we stick out like a sore thumb. So I mentioned that you own CrossFit Ireland. I’m going assume that you have owned that for a while because you have the affiliate name of an entire country.

Colm (03:05):

Yes. At the time it made perfect sense to name it after the entire country. So 2007, discovered CrossFit. Well, someone had actually told me about it maybe a year or two before, and it made no sense to me. Like I went on and I was like, what does power clean three, three, three, three, three mean? And what does 21-5-9? What the heck is a thruster? Like made no sense to me. So I kind of dismissed it and then a friend did it and he’s like, no, this stuff is cool. So I tried it and fell in love with it very quickly. And at the time, I believe we were the sixth affiliate in Europe. Like there was four in the UK, one on an Air Force base in Germany, as I remember. So we’re like number six or so in Europe. So it’s like, yeah, CrossFit Ireland. That makes perfect sense. Now there’s four CrossFit gyms within 500 meters of my gym.

Josh (03:57):

Wow. That’s wild. I always love looking at the names of affiliates that are directional or like, you know, identify a big population because it’s usually the signal that like, OK, this is an OG right here. They’ve been around for a really, really long time. It’d be like having CrossFit Florida or something like that.

Colm (04:17):

Yeah. Maybe I think someone probably has CrossFit the galaxy or something like that.

Josh (04:22):

If not, TM. We’re going to write our letter in after the show. Well, so that’s a brief foray into like you getting into CrossFit, but what about just getting into fitness in general? How did you get your start there?

Colm (04:37):

So, my journey to fitness I got into karate. I saw “The Karate Kid” when I was younger. So of course joined the local karate school. You know, I learned some wax on wax off, then from there, I got into mixed martial arts and initially went to college to do a commerce degree and dropped out and switched course after a year as I got into mixed martial arts to a sports management degree. The great irony of that is as far as I’m aware, I’m the only one in my class who actually manages a sporting facility now.

Josh (05:12):

Isn’t that ironic.

Colm (05:15):

And then from mixed martial arts, it led me to CrossFit and then the rest is history.

Josh (05:21):

Couple of things that I want to unpack a little bit, I find it really poetic what we’re talking about today is like mindset and your mindset coaching course with Two-Brain Coaching. But you kind of got your start with, you know, you said the karate kid, the wax on wax off, that’s very like mindset, that was kind of a setup for where we’re at today is that, you know, maybe? Is that a preview?

Colm (05:46):

You know, now that you mention it is possible like, cause it did, it’s funny. You can only really see all the, you can only join the dots, looking backwards as Steve Jobs said. I will say though, that like ever since the Cobra Kai series came out, I’ve been more of aJohnny Lawrence fan than Mr. Miyagi fan. So I don’t know what that says either.

Josh (06:11):

We have more mindset unpacking to do, I think is what it says.

Colm (06:15):

Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, I think it’s a great example of that there is no just pure good or bad things, the lens through which you look at them determines whether they’re going to be good or bad things. There’s a great tale I’ve told people a few times and I think the listeners would benefit from it’s the Zen master and the horse. Taleof a young boy for his 12th birthday. His dad gets him a horse and everybody in the village goes, oh, how wonderful the little boy has a horse. And the Zen master says, we’ll see. And a few months later the boy gets thrown from his horse and breaks his leg. And everybody in the village goes, oh, how terrible the young boy broke his leg. And the Zen master goes, you’ll see. And then a couple of months after that, the war breaks out.

Colm (07:01):

So the general’s coming around and taking all the able-bodied men to go to war and it was like, oh, how wonderful, he gets to stay at home with his dad and the Zen master says, we’ll see. And it’s always great comfort strategy that when you hit disappointments, like you don’t make that PR, you don’t make that sale in your gym. You know, you don’t get that promotion that maybe that’s leading you to something better. And it’s a nice way of dealing with it. I’m not saying, Hey, every disaster is going to lead to something great. We can take like, coronavirus has definitely helped people understand that there is more than just go to work and come home. Maybe I should take an interest in health. And I think we’re seeing that now where more people are willing to invest more in their health rather than having as an afterthought of their lives.

Josh (07:53):

Yeah. My wife and I have spent a lot of time talking about this, you know, just with regards to like changes that we’ve made in our family. So I know you can see my background, but for the listeners that can’t, I’m in my, what used to be just like my office, where I do all the work and mentoring calls and all that. But, last year we made the decision to homeschool the kids full time. And so now this is their homeschool classroom. And so that’s been one of the benefits of, you know, we just made this decision and it’s actually worked out great just by how our family is run, the freedom and the flexibility, not just because of my schedule, but just because of the things that we want to do. I shared that we were in Asheville last week and the kids around here are still in school and the kids up there were still in school too. So we go there and we basically have all the hiking trails and mountains to ourselves. So that was definitely one of the unintended benefits that came out of just such a really depressed year for a lot of folks.

Colm (08:59):

Yeah. And it’s a good sign that you can also, it’s your response to things that determine how they work out. It’s not that, oh, something happened to me. Something else will save me. It’s like, what can I do now to improve this situation? How can I take ownership and agency. That’s part of what we teach.

Josh (09:22):

Yeah. I’ve really been fascinated with the way that values and priorities, just speaking personally, like in my life have just been clarified even further over the past 15, 16 months, but something that you just spoke to like that that idea of Jocko would call it extreme ownership. But I think of it as like personal responsibility is, you know, yeah, this thing is going on, but what do I have control over and what can I do from a reaction standpoint and just going forward?

Colm (09:54):

Absolutely. Absolutely. And that’s not to say that, like, we don’t need each other. We all do. None of us are 100% independent and we can always take 100% responsibility for our thoughts, our feelings and our actions.

Josh (10:11):

Yeah. I’m sure that far less people would listen to this if it was just a monologue of me talking to myself versus having another person to chat with.

Colm (10:20):

I dunno, it could just be me interviewing you.

Josh (10:25):

So I know we’re here to talk about, you know, mindset coaching and the course that you built on the Two-Brain Coaching platform. But before we get to that, what I’m really interested in is like, it’s from you and your history. Why mindset? What is it about this topic that you are so passionate about it and driven to work with people in such a specific kind of niche area?

Colm (10:52):

  1. Well, I’m going to lovingly argue with you that it’s a niche area because everybody has a mind. So everybody has a responsibility to take care of their mind. So I don’t think it’s that too niche of an area. I do understand what you’re talking about. I had a previous podcast I talk about my struggles with like severe depression and anxiety and mental health. That definitely led to it as well, but to sum it up for the listeners or if you don’t want to go back and listen to that episode, like mindset is a very key component of your life. And I’m not saying it is be all and end all, or indeed the foundation. What I’m saying is it is a key component of your life. And that’s not to say you don’t have to get fit in your body and you don’t have to like create security for your family.

Colm (11:37):

But if just being fit or just being successful athletically was enough, you wouldn’t hear of like Andre Agassi, who was at one point the world’s best tennis player, but he was absolutely 100% miserable because he didn’t love the game. He didn’t enjoy the game. He didn’t feel in control of his life. He battled quite a lot with his demons, a fantastic book and I encourage everybody to read it. If money made you feel secure, you wouldn’t have billionaires trying to make themselves even richer. I think we can all agree that having a billion dollars means you’re doing pretty much OK financially. Spoiler alert for anyone at home, I don’t have a billion dollars.

Josh (12:16):

Me neither.

Colm (12:18):

And if you feel this is causing you a burden, I will happily take it off your hands as well as best I can. Of course I’ll upgrade my bike first. Well, I’m using very extreme examples. The thing is that sometimes we think it’s just a purely external thing is going to make us happy inside. And we can do a lot of things motivated out of fear. We can diet and exercise motivated out of fear, or we can diet and exercise motivated out of self-care and self-love. And the key difference is the mental approach you’re taking to the game. Now. That’s why I got into it. Now, one of the things, when people think mindset is they tend to think of either one of two sides of the spectrum. One like you’re Kobe Bryants, your Michael Jordans and your Tom Bradys. That might upset some diehard fans of Florida, does it?

Josh (13:10):

I’m a Bucks fan here and Tom Brady’s the quarterback. So we’re good, man.

Colm (13:18):

Now you love him, right?

Josh (13:21):

I actually, I’ve always been a huge fan, just strictly because of what you’re talking about here. I have great respect for how he takes care of himself.

Colm (13:27):

So we could talk like people think it’s mindset is just for the Mat Frasers, the Tia-Clair Toomey’s of the world. That’s what people think of mindset, or they can think of say someone who is like needs quote, unquote anti-anxiety meds, needs to go to a psychologist weekly or a counselor weekly. And they don’t think that what happens in the middle and that’s important as well, because if you’re trying to build your mindset just to be a better CrossFitter just to be a better dad, a better dog owner, a better athlete in your gym, you cannot build competitive and performance-based mindset without a base level of health. So that’s what really gets to me is like, OK, someone who quote unquote, has it all, why are they unhappy? What do they need to change? And then quote, unquote, someone who wants to get to the next level, what’s holding them back and it’s generally something to do or component that’s mindset.

Josh (14:24):

So when you were first started talking about this and just briefly kind of referenced your journey, you know, and you poked a hole in my argument about this being a very niche topic, you said, you know, cause everybody has a mind and where it made my brain go is, you know, I’m the only one that spends a hundred percent of time with myself. And something that I talk to our members a at my gym about is that idea, but like wrapped around this notion that if I go to the gym as punishment for something, or if I use it as a way to escape, the same thing can be said for the way that you view your nutrition and the way that you eat, things like that. So when we talk about mindset, those are the things that I really think about is like you said, having this base, you know, and building from that so that you do do it from a healthy standpoint.

Colm (15:27):

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And we talk about like the SEMM model, no one is, I don’t think anyone’s arguing that you can get away without sleep. I mean, those terrible dark eyed people who like constantly have a coffee in their hand and are mainlining monsters and red bulls all the time, they might try and argue, but you’re like looking at them going, no, dude, just get some extra sleep. You absolutely need to move. You need to eat. And of course the M is manage and reduce stress, which, I mean, we don’t live in a natural environment anymore. We’re talking to each other a couple of thousand miles away on computers sitting in air conditioned or in my case, heated rooms in May. And that’s a lot of inputs for our brain to take. So we need something to take care of our mind. And everybody says, Hey, you should take care of your mental wellbeing. The thing is, is that nobody’s taught us exactly what to do. So that’s why I wanted to come up with a very simple, powerful way of daily routines that you can take care of yourself.

Josh (16:32):

And maybe that’s why I said that earlier is like, it seems to be like a niche niche topic, and maybe this is just my personal bias, but especially over the last year, you know, mental health has certainly been thrust kind of much more into the spotlight these days. But to your point, a lot of people are talking about it. I’m curious, what are people actually doing to better their mental health? And so, you know, you kind of provided a beautiful segue into, can you kind of define or talk about what is mindset coaching? Like what is the course that you built?

Colm (17:15):

So we’ll just use the term mindset because it’s very easy to understand term again, like if you tell someone exercise, exercise can mean a hundred million different things. Does it mean Zumba? Does it mean CrossFit, powerlifting, cycling, yoga, that’s all exercise. Right? Well, mindset is just how we take care of our thoughts and our emotions. And we all have them. And mindset is absolutely 100% not trying to win the battle with your emotions or clear your brain. Cause that’s not going to happen. That’s like me saying, Hey, Josh, just do me a favor and stop your stomach producing digestive enzymes and stop your heart beating for a couple of seconds.

Josh (17:57):

Just take a break real quick. You’ll feel better.

Colm (18:00):

It’s not gonna happen. And that’s one of the things that stops people from getting started is like, well, I can’t meditate because I can’t shut my brain down. And that’s actually what we teach first thing in the course is like, well, how do you take time for yourself? Give your brain that chance to recover. Most of us from the moment we wake up over bombarded with information, we probably use our phone as our alarm. So we wake up, we’ve got a string of messages. And even if not, then of course, we’re just going to get on Tik Tok for that awesome dopamine hit. After we get up, we have kids, we’ve dogs, we family we’ve noise with the TV. You’re going to listen to talk radio or gangster rap in the car on the way to the gym.

Colm (18:48):

There’s music in the gym. There’s noise. Your brain is constantly dealing with inputs. And if we don’t give it a chance to sort that, we just get more and more overwhelmed. And that’s how we start teaching the skill of just being present and focused. I mean, present means just concentrating on what you’re concentrating on now. So for your athlete who gets into a workout and goes out in the 400 meter run, but all the way through the 400 meter run, they’re thinking about the wall balls when they get inside and when they get to the wall balls, they’re thinking, oh my God, I’m so out of breath and midway through the wall balls, start thinking, oh, Josh has got new shoes today. And then that’s

Josh (19:24):

Probably a true statement.

Colm (19:27):

Yeah, I know, we’ve got to talk about your shoe addiction at some point. But we’ve got to lay the foundation first. And then they go to the deadlifts in the workout and start thinking, well, someone’s ahead of me. And I’ve got a few rounds left and then they might start drifting off into thinking, oh, I’ve got that report due, I don’t know when I’m going to do it. And my kid’s recital and I’m so tired and where am I going to stop for food? And like, oh, are they gonna shut us down with a mask mandate again, are they going to shut gyms down again? Like, so for 90% of the workout, you’re not at the workout. And what we want to do is begin the process of sitting with our brains, just taking times with our mind. So we can just be in the moment.

Colm (20:08):

Right? And in case this just gets on a flowery thing as well. This is what Michael Jordan’s coach told him. And I don’t think anyone would agree. Like basketball is not big in Ireland. I don’t think Jordan has, you know, laced up a pair of basketball shoes to play in 20, 30 years. But everyone still knows who he is. And his coach was like, where’s your mind? Is it on your game? Is it on something else? So that’s the first skill we teach. And then from there we teach people how to tune into what’s going on in your body as well. Like what are you feeling? And again, feelings aren’t something to be scared of. They’re just signals from your body that you have a need. And from knowing what you’re thinking, what you’re feeling, then you can start deciding, well, OK, I do have 20 meetings today, but how am I going to show up today?

Colm (20:55):

What agency am I going to take? And it’s very, very empowering to start doing that. That’s why small wins are so important that we teach people in the mindset course like set one intention, you know 100% that you’re going to achieve today. What you’ve done is you’ve built up the image. Then you’ve put one little vote for I’m a winner. I’m someone who takes care of myself. I’m someone who is in control. So yeah, like, technically I’m not in control right now because I’ve blocked out my calendar this time for the podcast. I get to decide that A, I’m going to sit down and attend. I could also decide not to attend. Now there’s repercussions. Obviously. I get to decide what attitude I show up with. I get to decide what questions I answer and how I answer them. So there’s all the elements of control that I have.

Colm (21:41):

Bring it back to your clients in the class. OK. They don’t get to determine what the workout it is. Brooks does because you’re using Two-Brain Programming. Right? So it’s like, OK, we’re just going to say it’s run, wall balls and deadlifts. OK. Not my favorite movements, but I get to decide how I’m gonna approach that. I get to decide what attitude I have towards being out of breath. Do I say, oh my God, this sucks. I’m out of breath. I must be terribly fit. Or do I say, oh, I’m getting out of breath. This is getting me fitter. And there’s like a real physiological physical effect of how you do that. When we start building that, then we also learn the flip side of like, how do we wind down our day? How do we put the day to bed? And that’s really learning how to let go and forgive.

Colm (22:27):

And we can do this for everything. The time the wifi drops, the time we, you know, burped in the middle of a phone call. But the time we wrote a terribly worded email that made no sense all, the mistakes, the times we forgot to post to Instagram when we promised ourselves we would, we get to forgive all that. From a athlete in the gym point of view, it’s can you let go of the previous thing? So can you let go? Let’s say we’re going for a one rep max, cause it’s the easiest one to talk about. You’re going for your max deadlift from the floor, and you’ve got a couple of pounds over. It’s going to be PR, you go to reach the bar, but it’s just a little in front of your toes. You don’t get it right off the floor and you drop it on your shins.

Colm (23:08):

You wait a couple of minutes, your body is physically recovered. Now you approach that bar again. Are you going to be better with like, got a better chance of making that lift if you’re still replaying the loss, the miss, or if you’re focusing on bar against the shin, push through the floor or whatever cue your coach has given you? And that’s forgiveness in action, which again, forgiveness just gets rid of an awful lot of mental burden, which frees you up to be in the moment. And then from there we build the course out. We decide, you talked a little bit earlier about what my identity, what my values and priorities are, because we’re clear on them, then a lot easier to say what habits are in alignment? So if I decide what does being a healthy person mean to me? Well, a healthy person to me means I eat fruit and veg every day, drink a liter of water. I don’t drink. Cool. What does a healthy person mean to someone else? It’s like, well, that’s someone I’m weighing and measuring my macros. I am 100%. I never get takeaway. When I dine out, I don’t eat the chips, sorry, French fries to translate.

Josh (24:15):

We do chips and fries here.

Colm (24:18):

I know, chips are called crisps. It’s very confusing. And to give you another example of like, then you can decide what your priorities are. So mine are my peace of mind, my dog and my mission. So my dog wants to go out. That means my mission takes a pause.

Chris (24:37):

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Colm (25:14):

For other people that could be say their family, their work on their fitness. And people could have the same thing. The guy whose number one priority is his fitness might be taking eight hours, Saturday and Sunday to run ultra marathons. Guy whose priority is his family, is like, no, from five o’clock I leave work. I don’t care what’s going on. Family’s number one priority. I’m going to make all my kid’s recitals, Saturdays kids’ sports. And Sunday, we all spend together in the house. When you have the priorities, then you can start making progress on your habits, how to nurture yourself through the habits, instead of just relying on willpower alone, because willpower is finite, you can’t just force things. Where things are proud of who you are. They’re easy. And you’re like being compassionate with yourself. They’re are a lot easier to do.

Colm (26:02):

And then to wrap up the course, the last remaining skills we go through are your self-talk and also how you talk to others because let’s face it. People can be the source of our happiness and the source of a lot of our problems, right? So if we’re a mess in our head and we communicate in real messy way and someone else is also a mess in their head, the chances of us getting clear communication are pretty low. If we get clear in what our thoughts are, what our narrative is, what our feelings are, what our needs are. And we communicate that in a way that doesn’t invite any resentment, that invites cooperation. Even if the other person is a mess in their head, we can be a lot clearer what our communication and that’s what we teach in the course, the fundamental mental skills you need to take care of your mind.

Josh (26:51):

Have you experienced this? And again, this could just be my own, my personal experience talking to coaches, but, I’ve noticed when I come to talk to them about helping clients manage their stresses, use mindset, you know, things like that, I get one of two responses. Either A it’s just kind of dismissed and oh yeah, yeah, yeah. We talk about that. We tell them to, you know, jot down the things that they’re happy for, grateful for or the other one is the coach that’s like really overwhelmed. And I just can’t add another thing to the plate. And I’m already doing so much. What are some of the challenges that you found if they’re not just like the ones that I talked about?

Colm (27:37):

I think you hit the nail on the head pretty much. So we all have that bias towards external things. Cause when we were babies, every single one of our needs got taken care of by someone else. So you have kids. So you know how utterly dependent they were on you at the start. We all are babies at times, right? Like we’re a baby before we even made sense of the world, someone is feeding us, sheltering us, teaching us language. Like the reason you and I think in English is because someone taught us English. And then they teach us how the world works. Don’t put your hand in fire. And that slippery thing in the grass is not something you pick up. Right? I mean they’re like real basic thing. So our brains reason that solutions to our problems are outside of us.

Colm (28:28):

And this is why we chase them. And again, I’m not saying you shouldn’t go after that PR deadlift, that 10% body, fat, that dream job, that dream relationship, that dream house. Absolutely. I want you to go and conquer the world. I just want you to be happy and content while you’re doing it. And so that’s one of the first things we’ve got to overcome is that how often have you had a stressful event and think, well, once I get through this, then I’ll be OK. Or how often have you had, once I get that next achievement that I’m going to be happy. I get that iPhone. Then I’m going to be happy. Once I get down to 10% body fat, then I’m going to be happy. I mean, we’re gym owners. We definitely gone through that. But once I get my premises, once I get that lease, then I can relax. Once I open up, then I can relax. Once I get the members, then I can relax.

Colm (29:19):

Then I can relax. The next challenge is going to present itself and we totally need that. We totally need some meaningful pursuit every day. It’s the attitude we take today that’s going to determine both how far we get, whether that challenge is something we want to accept. And like, you don’t want to chase the corporate job, the six figure salary if that’s not what you really want, if you really want to be an artist, for example. So that’s one thing is to help people get around is that like, you can’t wait for stressors to disappear or you can’t wait for happiness to arrive. It’s something you’ve got to work on as you’re working in your life. For coaches who are overwhelmed. I totally get that. Like we talked earlier that, you know, they’re on a clock and they have a class planned.

Colm (30:08):

It’s two minutes to greet members. It’s four minutes of a warm-up. Then it’s eight minutes of a warmup game. Then it’s the workout brief. And then with all our plans, there’s always the unscheduled bathroom break. That’s going to push you right up to the hour and make your classes get really, really frantic. So I totally get that. So what we do is we introduce, how to just talk about mindset more and more in your classes. And you don’t want to force this on people. It’s the same way that that guy who will never shut up about paleo, zone. That’s turning you off improving your diet.

Josh (30:42):

Yes. I’ve been that guy.

Colm (30:44):

Yeah, totally, totally. You know, like how do you know someone’s a CrossFitter? Don’t worry. They’ll tell you. You don’t want to force this down your throat. You want to be a good example to them. But simple things we can do in class is most classes start with some sort of breathing drill or some sort of, you know, learning how to brace, say, we’re doing a deadlift class or squat class. We’re going to teach people how to brace. Now the best way to teach people how to brace is like literally put their hand on their stomach and breathe in and tense. Apologies to anyone who goes into the deeper finer points of bracing, I’m just trying to make a point here.

Josh (31:23):

We got it. We’re generalizing here.

Colm (31:29):

You know, we know that person, that mom who runs in, you know, with her baby half dressed, half fed, she’s got her Frappaccino. She’s also on the phone to work as well. And she runs into class two minutes late. She is not present. She is not going to know that like today we’re hitting strict presses at this tempo and we’re going to do intervals on the assault bike. Cause that’s really gonna, you know, help burn off some of that abdominal fat that she wants to burn off. She’s so stressed. What if we gave her the gift of, Hey guys, we’re just going to take 30 seconds to a minute just to breathe and relax. Let go of everything before the class and allow us to get the most out of this hour. That’s mindfulness. That’s teaching them focus, right? That’s giving their mind a break. That’s a gift to clients because they have nowhere else where they’re not running around stressed. Most people are behind schedule all the time. Google do this. Whenever they have a meeting, they have of course Google call it their G minute. And they found that their meetings were like 37% faster. Like it saved time.

Josh (32:36):

I’ve never heard that, but that’s not surprising. Yeah.

Colm (32:40):

So rather than having someone running into a meeting and they’re like, oh, I’ll just grab my phone. I just send these couple of invites. And then, you really want to get the meeting going, but I really want to chat to someone else. And then someone else wants to show me this, funny key and Peele skit that they just saw or some meme, like, Hey, we can focus. We can all get our time back. And that’s the first thing I’d always advise coaches to do is we can teach them intent. We can say, Hey guys, decide how you’re gonna approach this work. We’ve got 150 wall balls to do today. You’re staring at a wall, occasionally getting smacked in the face by a big Dynamax medicine ball. How are you gonna approach that? And we can approach it two ways. The harder way is like, OK guys, these are our strategies. You’re going to do sets of five with 20 seconds rest. Cool. Stick to the clock and see how long you can get that done. Who’s going to do sets of 15 with 10 seconds rest. OK. Who’s going to be the idiot and goes unbroken at the start. And then is going to take long walks across the gym, back and forth? That’s me, I’ll take that role.

Josh (33:50):

Thinking about life as you walk back and forth.

Colm (33:53):

What decisions that I make that led me to this moment? And that’s the hard way, but that’s how we set an intention for a workout. Are we going to go in and deliberately do this, right? Or we could be like hey Jay, I know you’ve had knee trouble before. So on this today, I don’t want you to worry about the target. I want you to worry about squatting as low as you can, keeping that chest up, that back tight, and just throw and catch the wall ball. I don’t care if it’s just at eye-level, do that 150 times and that’s going to be so good for you. That’s an intent and that’s giving them an intent and a victory.

Josh (34:27):

That’s such a big shift because I’ve definitely been that coach who will just like offer the strategies, you know, to say like, Hey, you can choose from this, this or this, but the intent piece. I’m curious because I do talk about intention a lot with our clients. Does that speak to the individual? Do you know what I mean with that is like, so when I’m just talking to Jane, you know, and I know everything about her, I’m really focused on that one-on-one relationship. Is that where the intent comes from is being able to connect with just that one person, because the way that I’m thinking about it, my brain is like the strategy is I’m just kind of giving this blanket thing for everybody. Versus when I’m talking about intention, it’s one to one.

Colm (35:20):

So I mean, you can do both and we we’d argue that a good coach should do both the general and then dialing the individual. When you’re giving the strategy, it’s not a massive thing to go, OK, guys, who’s doing 15 unbroken every round? I am. Who’s doing seven and eight? I am. Cool. Then Josh, are you resting 10 seconds or 20 seconds. I’m going to rest 20. I mean, that’s just starting to, but you’re giving them intent and you can even go back. Cause like guys, to get the most out of this workout, we’re going to work on strategy and intent because we can just put on the clock and work mindlessly for 10 minutes. Or we can take 10 to 30 seconds to think about how we’re approaching it and the benefit we’re getting from it. And now we’ve gotten so much more out at the same time.

Colm (36:07):

So the softer side of intent, and I’ll just use the terms that they make sense to people. I don’t necessarily agree with them. The softer side would be it’s like, if I’m doing push-ups and I’m like, yeah, this is improving my shoulders. I’m getting some, I got some pecs for, you know, hot body summer. I’m sculpting the guns. I’m gonna be able to give people directions to the beach. That’s way better than, I’ve got ten push-ups to do. We know this. It’s just reminding clients. Hey guys, we’re going to get really out of breath today in today’s workout because we’re really building good lung health. What I don’t want to happen for anyone is I don’t want anyone to blow up and be like wheezing for air. I want you to stay nice and steady. Cause that’s going to lead you to push harder.

Colm (36:50):

When we have our throw down at the weekend, that’s one side, the other side is Jason Khalipa used to do it. He said, are you coaching yourself? What’s the voice in your head saying? And humans notice naturally, we’re doing a partner workout and it’s my turn to do the wall balls. And I’ve got three to go and I drop it and I just start like wheezing. You probably, we’ve never done a partner workout, Josh, but I’m going to guess you probably wouldn’t go, man. You’re pathetic. I can’t believe how out of shape you were. I can’t believe I got partnered with you. You are such a loser.

Josh (37:22):

No, I would not say that.

Colm (37:24):

  1. I don’t know. Maybe that’s your coaching style and maybe it’s worked for you. What would you say? You’d be like, OK, come on, man. When that clock gets to the minute, pick it up.

Colm (37:35):

Take three big deep breaths. OK. You’ve got three to go, two to go. One to go. We naturally know how to reassure other people. We just never practice it on ourself. And it does feel totally weird. The first few times. You don’t think you don’t think Fraser or Tia-Clair Toomey, the absolute dominant athletes in the sport, aren’t coaching themselves through every single second? You don’t think Fraser is like, OK, just breathe. Five strokes, breathe, five strokes breathe, on swimming events, which he was notoriously bad, right? For Fraser’s level of bad.

Josh (38:07):

Yeah. His level of bad.

Colm (38:10):

You don’t think, you know, Tia-Clair was like, OK, I couldn’t do my seven muscle-ups unbroken. Right. Shake it off. Go. Do you honestly think she’d come down after an unbroken set and go, oh my God, you’re pathetic. You’re letting Shane down, such a loser. Brooke is going to beat you.

Colm (38:26):

And now you’re on TV. There’s no way. Constantly train ourselves like that. And that’s one way that we can train athletes really simply in the gym. What I will say though, is that no one takes advice from the CrossFitter who doesn’t do CrossFit or is out of shape. No one takes advice from the overweight nutrition coach. No one’s going to take advice from someone who doesn’t do this themselves. Who doesn’t take care of their own mind. Again, you don’t have to be perfect. And even with Mat Fraser retiring, I didn’t make the Games this year.

Josh (39:04):

You didn’t? I’m still trying.

Colm (39:06):

No, I have 14 years worth of evidence that says I’m a solidly mediocre CrossFitter in this sport. That doesn’t mean that I can’t help people with CrossFit, that I can’t turn around when the open’s up and say, OK guys, you should be able to do your front squats unbroken. And when you get your toes to bar, it’s early in the workout, let’s do them in sets of five because you’ve got chest to bar and bar muscle-ups and you’re planning to get to the bar muscle-ups. Again, you don’t have to be a Zen monk. You can talk to clients. It’s like, OK. My self-talk used to be really bad. I worked on it. It took time and I still slip into, oh my God, I’m so out of breath or, oh my God, I can’t believe how inflexible my hamstrings are, but I know that I can either give myself destructive self-talk or productive self-talk.

Josh (39:56):

I like that. That’s such a big shift to say, to make that distinction there, of being destructive with your self-talk, because that’s exactly what it is, or doing something that’s going to build you up and thus help you be productive. As a coach, you know, in fitness, we’re constantly looking at, you know, if I’m coaching you, you mentioned the front squat and week one, you front squat 135. And by week 12, I can see that you have made measurable progress. You know, maybe you’re squatting 225 by the end of week 12. So it’s easy to sit back, zoom out and say, OK, my fitness coaching in Colm’s movement has been successful. You know, he has gotten better. What about when it comes to mindset coaching? Like what do you, are there metrics that you look at, you know, when it comes to defining success, working with somebody on their mindset?

Colm (41:00):

Yes. Yeah. So you’re asking if there’s metrics and again, we go back to like define fitness and we’ll just use CrossFit, for example, like there’s so many areas of CrossFit, your running could improve, what does that mean your one rep maxes, or your muscle-ups, your ability to handstand walk, there’s so many areas where you can make progress, which makes both CrossFit incredibly enjoyable and incredibly frustrating at the same time. The simplest way I can talk to you about noticing how your mindset improved is how much you’re reacting versus responding. So reacting is you’re getting dragged away. So I show up late for this call and your mind goes into, well, this guy’s disrespectful about his time. He’s going to push my other thing back. I’m not going to get a podcast recorded today. That means I’m going to have to work late. And that means they’re not going to be able to have fajita Fridays with the family. That means my wife’s going to divorce me. That means I’m going to be depressed and lose my job. And that means I’m going to die alone under a bridge somewhere. That would be a heck of a reaction to someone showing up late for a podcast.

Colm (42:08):

A more responsible thing is like, oh, he’s showing up late. OK, I’m going to be curious about this. What’s going on with him? You know, Hey dude, you’re really letting me down versus Hey, is everything OK? Huge difference. But that’s how you react to news that gyms are closing. You can totally be disappointed and then say, OK, I’m disappointed. Right? What do we do? So, OK, well I can get on the phone to members and talk to them about how we’re going to hit zoom classes and personalized accountability. I can make sure to see if there’s any government assistance, I can get on to the landlord. That’s what I can do. In the immediate thing. It’s like, am I looking at work? We go back to fitness and we’re talking to fitness coaches here. How often are you reacting to little annoyances in your life?

Colm (42:53):

That’s the simplest way. Am I reacting or responding? Because responding is I’m making the choice of how I deal with it. I’m noticing I’m a little annoyed. Why is that? Because I value my time and et cetera, et cetera, or whatever, whatever reason, then I can go and ask people, what are your stress levels? Like just rank them out of 10 for me. What are your happiness levels? And what is your perceived level of control of your life? And you’ll get the data point, the numerical data point. And then you also get the story behind that. And then you can say, is that working? So there are simple things. Now, the great thing is that like so many coaches will come to me and say, oh yeah, I know someone who this is going to be great for. I can’t wait to talk to my members about this. And then they go and they’re like, whoa, I never realized what a mess I was inside my head. I’m like, yeah, totally. We all are, by the way.

Josh (43:50):

I was just about to say that. We all are.

Colm (43:54):

And then they find is like, oh my God, I can be way nicer to myself. Which means I can be way nicer to other people, which means I can help more people. I can stop telling fat Jane in my class God damn it put down the Dr. Pepper and drink some water. Apologies to anyone who’s Jane who’s struggling with overweight, she’s fictional in this example.

Josh (44:16):

And loves Dr. Pepper, which I do.

Colm (44:18):

You can get through to her better. You can stop trying to like pound your message of for God’s sakes, get nutrition coaching, and instead be a little bit more curious with them like Jane, I really think nutrition coaching would be good, but that’s my story. Tell me, what’s your feeling about nutrition coaching? What do you think about nutrition coaching? And she tells you about all the times she failed and she might tell you that something when she was 13 and had anorexia and she got super skinny. So now she’s really worried. And unfortunately, she’s gone to more overweight. Now you’ve got compassion to work with someone, and that’s a way you can get through to them. I know I’ve drifted a bit.

Josh (45:00):

No, no, no. This is great, man. This is really, really good.

Colm (45:03):

The coach has noticed that they can take better control of their mind and all of a sudden they can take better control of their actions. So, I mean, my gym has been closed since new year’s Eve. We were given the option to open on I can’t remember what date in May, but we were given the option to open outdoors. Now, given that I’m looking at again, 49 hours of rain in a row, we decided to wait until June 7th when we reopen indoors. So like, I don’t have any control over the government decision to open. I did have control up to what I was going to do with my memberships, what our reopening strategy is going to be. How am I going to use my time during lockdown? And that’s huge benefit that when you say right, OK, I’ve got a lot going on in my head that I can control. And that sense of control is huge. And there’s some of the ways that you can see that, OK mindset is valuable and is working for me.

Josh (45:57):

Yeah, man, that’s so powerful. That piece that you kind of outlined with, you know, maybe in the past, as a coach, you’ve said these things to this client, and it might not have been as extreme as the example that you used, you know, put down your darn Dr. Pepper and pick up some water or something. But I think as coaches, we can all, cause I know that I’ve got, you know, I’ve been in the game long enough to know that I’ve screwed up a lot and I’ve got conversations and you know, situations with people that I wish I could walk back and tackle from a different perspective and mindset is definitely a big one. I had one final question that I was going to ask. And it was about, you know, if, if somebody, a coach or an owner is thinking about taking this course, you know, what does it look like from an ROI perspective? But I almost think it that’s kind of irrelevant. If you’ve listened to the conversation up to this point, it’s like very self-evident that like, why would you not do it? Why would you not want to connect on a deeper level with your clients? Is there something that I’m leaving out and in terms of, from your perspective, what this has done for you personally, like working with your clients on mindset?

Colm (47:13):

I love this. I geek out because I’m getting all hyped up now and I’m like, it’s a pity that we’re, you know, we’ve got to wrap up the podcast. Otherwise it’d be like a four hour chat for people to listen to. In terms of just a pure financial ROI. Cause I understand like you’ve totally got to take care of your finances. You can make it back with your first client and then boom, the course is cost neutral and then you’re gonna make it back again. And again, and again. I’m not going to say you’re going to see like Doge coin or GameStop returns that were earlier this year areas outside my expertise. What you’ll find though, is that you can get through to people more, which is your job as a coach because you understand your failings, your fears.

Colm (47:59):

But when you say them out loud, everybody’s fears are ridiculous. Everybody’s fears when they say them out loud, they’re like, well, that’s kind of silly. And that’s why people are embarrassed to talk about them. And we all have them and we can be like, Hey, don’t be stupid, Josh. There’s no need to be afraid of putting down the Dr. Pepper. That’s not going to get through to you, but we can get through to clients, which means then we can approach them and say, dude, you really need to work one-to-one. You had a motorbike crash. Your hip is not good. You need one-to-one and you’re no longer thinking, oh my God, I’m trying to gouge this guy for 80 bucks a session, or there’s no way someone will pay $900 a month in personal training or for nutrition coaching. And then you’re like, well, hang on.

Colm (48:42):

If they pay, they’re going to be invested and their life is going to improve so much. It’s not just going to be about the weight they lose or the muscle they gain, they’re going to be more energetic person. They’re going to be a better employee, a better boss, a better dad. That’s huge. So that’s the ROI. You can totally make your money back on the course. And I get that, you know, if you want to make an investment, you want to see a return on it as well. What I will say since we’ve talked about Dr. Pepper is one can of Dr. Pepper makes no real difference to your weight and your health overal. I don’t drink it. So I don’t know. Maybe it’s complete poison, but we’re just

Josh (49:18):

We’ll get Jen on here to talk about that.

Colm (49:24):

We’ll get a message the second this comes out just like, dude, let me tell you about Dr. Pepper. I’m not even sure he’s a real doctor. This is the thing. One Dr. Pepper versus one glass of water makes really no difference. One burpee makes no difference. One deadlift makes no difference. One pop makes no difference. One minute of sitting quietly. Well, funny enough people reported that it has made a difference because they instantly become calmer. You compound this, you compound 365 days of drinking a glass of water instead of a Dr. Pepper, you have a different waistline. You compound, you know, 12 months of working out three to four times a week or getting five minutes, 10 minutes an hour, extra sleep in bed. Your mental acuity is so much stronger. You compound daily making micro investments in how you talk to yourself, how you respond to events, how you check in with what’s going on with you and how you act in the world. You’re a different person. You’re the person you want to be. And it’s all just a bit of compounding.

Josh (50:27):

I think that’s a great place to leave it, man. I really do. If people want to reach you, talk more about mindset coaching or even get started. What’s the best place to go?

Colm (50:39):

Well, I am a huge fan of people sliding into DMS. So you can just cause I love the expression. It’s just a beautiful expression. You can email and you can reach my personal Instagram at @oreillycolm or you can look me up on Facebook and you can also email

Josh (51:04):

Awesome. Well Colm, it’s been a joy, my friend to talk to you about mindsets and I look forward to future conversations.

Colm (51:10):

Awesome. Thanks, Josh.


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