Why Two Croatian Gym Owners Invested a Year's Salary in the Incubator

Igor Jelcic-BLOG

Greg: 00:02 – It’s Greg Strauch of Two-Brain Media, and on this week’s episode we talk to Igor and Dino. Both of them do not own gyms together. They own gyms separately, but both of them are from Croatia. And if you didn’t know, in Croatia, for the cost of our Incubation process, it’s the average annual salary of someone from Croatia that is working, that is in the working class. Which makes it unique because could you imagine if you are from anywhere else in the world where you had to pay your annual income to a 10-to-12-week program and really making sure that it’s going to work. And I get to sit down with them and talk to them about their journey through Incubation. Kind of what led up to that point of making that decision. Because I can only imagine what happens in somebody’s process when you have to give up your entire year’s salary to go into this and you have a family that’s counting on this.

Greg: 00:53 – So listen up and get some nuggets of information out of this. You guys are gonna love this episode. Make sure to subscribe to Two-Brain Radio to hear the very best ideas, tips, and topics to move you and your business closer to wealth. Two-Brain Radio is brought to you by Two-Brain Business. We make gyms profitable. We’re going to bring you the very best tips, tactics interviews in the business world each week. To find out how we can help you create your Perfect Day, book a free call with a mentor at

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Greg: 02:03 – All right, I’m on another episode of Two-Brain Radio with Igor. He is the owner of 20350 Athletics, and he is not in the U.S. or in Canada or even on the same continent. He is actually in Croatia. So, welcome.

Igor: 02:20 – Yeah, thank you. Happy to be here.

Greg: 02:23 – We love having guests on, especially ones that aren’t always, hey, they’ve heard everything we’ve done and followed it to a T prior to Two-Brain. Or better yet when we first started Two-Brain, but I wanted to get you on because you have a few things that I think a lot of gym owners out there run into. And that’s the mindset. But really what I want to talk about is kind of your path to opening your gym and then making the leap into Incubation. Because if anyone out there is listening, the cost of Incubation for you would basically be an average annual salary. So something you’d pay yourself an entire year in Croatia was the cost you had to have up front to then be able to get access and start into Incubation. So I want us to kind of talk about, we’ll start from—we’ll talk about that, but let’s start from the very beginning. So, what kind of led you up to CrossFit, finding CrossFit and then deciding to open up your own gym?

Igor: 03:23 – Yeah, sure. I mean, I didn’t find CrossFit per se, before opening, but it was something, sort of like functional fitness stuff. And as I progressed in that, I started like watching YouTube videos and then I found CrossFit. So our current gym wasn’t offering that because there was no one who can show us like stuff like Olympic weightlifting and gymnastics and all that.

Igor: 04:00 – And I saw opportunity and obviously one thing led to another and I decided to open it for myself. And in the beginning I had a partner, but that fell through like, OK, couple of months in, and since then it was only my wife and I.

Greg: 04:23 – All right. So you and your partner decided to split ways, so you and your wife basically opened. And how long ago did you guys open your gym?

Igor: 04:33 – So the gym is open since August, 2016, and yeah, we had really rough time since then. We had to relocate one year into from our opening and that almost closed the gym because the financial was pretty devastating. So yeah.

Greg: 05:04 – When you started opening your gym and you came to finding a higher level of thinking and kind of how can I be better? What kind of led you up to finding Two-Brain?

Igor: 05:24 – Yeah. OK. So prior to Two-Brain, I was working with a mentor. We had roughly like one or two months, and I have been reading Chris’s books for forever, basically. I mean, I got them all in both ebooks and paper. So, I always followed Two-Brain, and Two-Brain was always a goal for me. But the thing is like, yeah, in Croatia, the price of Two-Brain is really steep. So that was the biggest obstacle. But after talking to a few people and when I found out one of my friends from Italy is in the Incubator, I contacted him, his name is Roberto Muncie. I immediately PM’d him and just started asking questions and all that. And basically what happens is I talk to my family and given that the gym was almost at the end, we were at the point where either we are going to be closing our doors or we have to do something. So I decided to take a short-term loan and just jump in. And buy into Incubator. Yeah.

Greg: 07:07 – And as I said before, everyone out there that’s listening, that’s your average annual salary. So I can only imagine the conversation you had to have with your family to say, hey, we’re giving up a year’s worth of what we need to live to possibly continue with this business or close it down, which I can only imagine that conversation, what that was like.

Igor: 07:30 – Yeah, that was really tough. Now that I think of it like I’ve had to convince a lot of people to just make it happen. And obviously my family supports me 100% on this and now when I look at it in all honesty, like 5k to me was—I would pay even 10k now for the things that I know now. So yeah, it’s that worth it.

Greg: 08:11 – Well, and you’ve seen—and if we have to put the statistics out there, 43% of all CrossFit gyms in Croatia are actually in Two-Brain now, which is amazing. And I think that supersedes even Chris Cooper’s home country of Canada. I think that’s more than any other country out there. But, let’s kind of jump into it now. I mean, you’ve gone through Incubation, you said about a few calls in a is when you actually started turning on some of the ads and started getting people to come into the gym, but what, what has happened due to that? What was the end result for you?

Igor: 08:51 – What do you mean?

Greg: 08:53 – Are you having a lot of people actually show up to your doors now? Like what is going on with going through incubation and where you are now?

Igor: 09:03 – Yeah, I mean, at the start, like when we started Incubator, there was a ton of work to be done. Talking with my one coach, at the time. Now we do have a second one and we had some tough talks and all that, some members left and all that. But as soon as we got to the phase with marketing part, things just got like really crazy, really fast. So as soon as we released our ads, we weren’t in getting a lot of leads in the beginning, but as soon as we made some tweaks to it kinda just when crazy. And we signed roughly 27 people in September. And the thing is prior to this, our gym didn’t offer private coaching at all. I mean we did, but we didn’t push it. We didn’t sell it. We didn’t try to set it, we only relied on group model. So what happened was after we turned the ads on, our revenue is split almost 70/30 now in favor of private coaching. And we had a 300 percent boost in revenue, from last September. So that was huge because this has been our biggest month yet since we opened. Plus we are really getting a lot of people through the door. Like even the people who are already signed for the private coaching, they’re bringing their spouses or friends or whatever. I mean, we didn’t even ask to do that. Like they just keep just keep bringing them,

Greg: 11:17 – Yeah, that’s amazing, right? It shows that the product and the culture that you’ve created is something of, hey, we’re not gonna incentivize you to ask your spouse to be here and anything like that. It’s just naturally been born to show the service and offerings that you guys have. Now 27 people in one month. I mean there’s gym owners out there that are listening that are probably going, that’s crazy. That’s I need that to make my business survive. But only few that have actually done it know how many 27 new people one month is. How has the retention been with those people? With all 27 of them?

Igor: 12:00 – We lost one due to the relocation like business-wise, but everyone else is just like already telling me that they want to renew the private sessions. So retention is amazing at the moment.

Greg: 12:19 – With having a gym that was based around group training and then going to a gym that now offers private coaching, you said that you offered it before but it really wasn’t a huge hit or you couldn’t get people to actually buy into it. Why do you think that?

Igor: 12:35 – Basically, I’m the one to blame for that because like I said before. I was scared of offering that because I wasn’t bought in to that. So how can I sell that to my customers. Like I was projecting my fears onto them and that was a huge, huge weakness of mine. I can say now that I have finally fixed it, so yeah, because all 27 new people, every single one of them is private sessions, not a single group session. So that’s not like a minor increase in our revenue because our group sessions are on a cheaper side. This has got like a average revenue per member, 100%-plus in ARM basically. So prior to this, it was in Croatian kunas it was something around 300 and now it’s upwards from 600 plus. So.

Greg: 13:58 – Wow.

Igor: 13:58 – Yeah, we just doubled that. Now we only need to worry about LEG, basically. Try to get the retention and all the systems going now.

Greg: 14:11 – So have you guys, now that you guys did start the ads, do you still have the ads going today?

Igor: 14:17 – Yup. Yeah we do.

Greg: 14:19 – And are you still getting a ton of new people coming into the gym?

Igor: 14:24 – It has been a bit slower cause we are in a basically rural part of Croatia. Our town is only roughly 15,000 people. That’s on a good day basically, because we did have a lot of migrations, young people leaving to find a job in other countries like Ireland, Germany, Australia, Canada. Stuff like that. So our reach is not that huge. But yeah, we are getting really, really decent numbers at the moment.

Greg: 15:10 – Yeah, that is awesome to hear. I mean it’s crazy to think that before, I mean you were on the brink of possibly closing the doors. And now it’s kind of gone full circle, especially if a year ago compared to now you’re over 300% in revenue. What does the future look like for you? As in are you and your mentor planning together to build on top of this structure to continue moving forward?

Igor: 15:37 – Actually we haven’t discussed that like thoroughly, but we are going to do that. As for plans goes, my biggest goal at the moment is building my own gym from the ground up, which I want to find the property and start planning because that’s my ultimate goal. I don’t want to lease a space anymore.

Greg: 16:12 – So you actually being able to build your own facility and then own your own building basically.

Igor: 16:16 – Yeah, exactly.

Greg: 16:18 – Well, Igor, I wish you the best of luck. I know you don’t need it though because you’re already doing amazing. You’re a go-getter that has, like I said, I mean just implementing these systems has caused you to have a 300% revenue increase from last year. I mean, spending an annual average salary of a Croatian there on Incubation and taking that leap, which if the majority of the people in the U.S. Decided to do the same thing, I mean, or any other country, the Incubator would cost way more than that to equal that out, to do the same thing you did. But you were willing to take that leap and you had your backing of family that supported you and pushed you to do it. And it’s only shown the potential that is out there for people who are willing to take that leap. So I commend you on that bravery and that ability to make that choice and do it and go full board into it and see the results of it. So thank you so much for jumping onto Two-Brain Radio and being able to share your story with us.

Igor: 17:20 – No problem. Thank you for having me.

Chris: 17:22 – Hey guys, it’s Chris Cooper. If you’ve ever run out of money, you know that it affects every single corner of your life, all of your relationships, your business, even your self-worth. And so when I found a mentor in 2009, I said, I want to share this gift with everyone. Since then, I’ve been building and refining and improving a mentorship practice that we now call Two-Brain Business. We break our mentorship into several stages. The first stage is the Incubator, which is a 12-week sprint to get your foundation built, to get you started on retention and employee programs and finding the best staff, putting them in the best roles, training them up to be successful, and then recruiting more clients. It’s an amazing program. It is the culmination of over a decade of work. It’s also the sum of best practices from over 800 gyms around the world. These aren’t just my ideas anymore. What we do is track with data what’s working for whom and when, and we test new ideas against that data to say, is this actually better? Then when ideas have proven themselves conclusively, then we put it in our Incubator or Growth or Tinker programs. I just wrote “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief” to define who should be doing what in what stage of entrepreneurship. But no matter where you are, the Incubator is your first 12-week sprint to get as far as possible in your business. We’re a mentorship practice for one reason: Mentorship is what works. We work with gym owners for one reason: Because you have the potential to change the world with us, and I hope you do.

Greg: 18:51 – All right. I’m on another episode of Two-Brain Radio with Dino. Dino is another one of the Croatian gyms that has taken that leap and jumped into Two-Brain Business. Welcome, Dino.

Dino: 19:01 – Hey. Thank you. I’m fine. Thanks for having me.

Greg: 19:04 – Happy to, man. Happy to. I love being able to talk to people all around the world, whether that’s mentoring or even on Two-Brain Radio here. Because every scenario is different, whether you are in Croatia or the U.S. or Canada or Australia, every scenario is gonna be a little different. And that’s where we kind of get into this because, we’ve already talked to Igor who’s on this episode as well. Let’s kind of start your journey into owning a gym. What kind of led you up into that point? To saying, hey, I want to start a gym and actually start two locations, even, at that point?

Dino: 19:43 – My journey started I think around 2009. I was first introduced to CrossFit in a gym. I saw a guy doing some crazy stuff and I just ask him, “What are you doing?” And he told me “I’m doing CrossFit.” “What’s CrossFit?” He told me what is CrossFit, he knew everything about CrossFit back then and I think he was the first guy in Croatia to do that. I started CrossFit with him, but soon I got injured because we didn’t know anything about it. We were just going hard like in the old days. So I got injured and I didn’t work out for about a year.

Greg: 20:26 – So after getting injured, and I’m guessing you must have rehabbed, you must’ve came back from that.

Dino: 20:33 – The rehab took me almost one year. I was in college and I somehow ended up in a one gym just training there and one day I just asked the owner, can I work for you at the reception or something? And it was that he was just, he was needing a receptionist and a trainer and that’s how I started. That was like 2012, I think. And I was working for him for three years. We changed the whole gym to do just CrossFit and we were in competition mind and stuff. So I was working for him for three years and somehow I got fed up with all the competition and that stuff. And so I didn’t like the work there anymore. And so he fired me. I went to the other gym, I was there for two or three months and I saw that I can get new clients.

Dino: 21:47 – I got like 60 or 70 clients in a small 60-square-meter room. And I just said, I have to do it by myself. And it took me around three months to find the first place. I have signed the lease, I went to Thailand for 40 days and after I come back, I opened the first location. It was February, 2016. So the first year we weren’t affiliated. The second year we took the affiliation and the name was CrossFit Reijka. But the funny story was back then in 2009 after the first session that that guy gave me, I said, I want to do that for the rest of my life. And I said, I will open the first CrossFit gym in Reijka and we’ll call it CrossFit Reijka. And I did.

Greg: 22:49 – And you believed in it. And so you actually pursued it and said, hey, this is what we’re doing. What were the struggles when you opened that first location, I mean, were you able to take those 60 clients that you had from this other location that you were coaching at? Did they come with you or did you have to basically start all over again?

Dino: 23:15 – No, when we opened, the first month we already had like 50 members. So that was pretty cool. And we started good. So, but basically we didn’t have any money and we didn’t have a lot of equipment. So slowly we were building it up, but I was working like 10 hours, 12 hours a day. So finally, after two years, I got help from one girl. That year I got a baby. So it was kind of hard for me to do it by myself. And the baby was the first like, I knew, I need to get some help, because the baby was coming. And so after my daughter was born, I hired this girl and she works for us until today.

Dino: 24:20 – And the struggles were, I mean, basically we were just doing fitness. We didn’t track any leads. We had a lot of new members coming in each month, but we couldn’t pass the 100, 115-mark. We had like 15, 20, 25 new members coming in every month. But we were always at that mark, 100 to 115. I didn’t know why that happening. I knew that we were good. We had good programming, we had fun workouts. Everyone loved to come in, but we just lost members every month. So I knew I was doing something wrong, but I didn’t know why. And I had it in my mind what I have to do, how I have to track new members, I have to talk to my existing members, but I just didn’t know how to start.

Dino: 25:34 – I had like 100 things in my mind that I have to do. That was a big list and I didn’t know how to start. So I think it was around two years ago, I found Two-Brain on Facebook or Instagram or maybe on some CrossFit podcast, and I started following them and I saw from the beginning that those are the guys that know what they’re talking about because every concern that I had, they had the answer. So then there was a few times I tried to book the first call, but I never did it. And I think the first time when I tried to book the call they had the cost of the Incubator on the website. They don’t have it now. And it was around a thousand dollars, I think, back then. And that was too much money for me then. And now that I finally decided to join in, I paid a lot more, but it’s totally worth it. So, yeah.

Greg: 26:54 – Let’s kind of talk about that because, when we were talking Igor, and it’s going to be the same situation for you, but jumping into Incubation was not a cheap route for you in the sense of, I mean in Croatia, the amount of money that the Incubator costs for a 10-to-12 week period is the same as an annual salary in Croatia. So it’s not cheap at all. What was the persuasion to do it? I mean you said you had the right answers and Two-Brain had the right answers that you were looking for, but I mean, that’s a large amount of money. And it would be very hard, I’m sure to make that decision. So what was, what was your mental state when you were trying to process through that? Were you talking to somebody to help you kind of navigate through it? Did you just say, hey, I just need to do this? Like, how did you kind of process that?

Dino: 27:53 – I was by myself and it was around May this year, so just before the summer and the gyms were doing always OK. But I saw that I could do like 10 times better. And I think I started reading Chris’ book around March this year and when I started to read “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief,” then I saw that like every sentence that I read was the problem that I had and he had all the answers, and I said, that’s it. I just had to do it and I had a feeling that after this summer I have to do something because we are going—there was not a lot of members coming in this year as past years. And I just had a feeling that I have to do something big to go back to that state where we were like the best in town. So I had some money, that was the last money I had, and I just booked a call and I said, I want to do this, and that’s it. In June, we had that first call and I was in.

Greg: 29:22 – Let’s talk about this journey because that I think is what viewers will and listeners will see as, I mean, incredible. You went from doing this and saying, OK, I’m gonna pay an annual salary that somebody would make here on a 10-to-12-week program and praying that it’s going to go in the right direction, which you are in great hands with the mentor that you had and within Two-Brain of course. But looking at the results now, I mean, you’ve jumped up crazy amount in new memberships and stuff like that. Let’s kind of talk about what have been the results from incubation and then into growth even.

Dino: 30:03 – So we started in June and it took me almost three months to start implementing things from the Incubator. And, but basically I just—I didn’t finish still staff playbooks and contracts and that stuff. I just did No-Sweat Intros. So I started with No-Sweat Intros. I bought a camera and I made like one-minute No-Sweat Intro film, video. And when I posted that on Facebook, it was around 23rd of August, I think, I put like $20 on it and it brought like 15, 17 people in maybe 5 days.

Greg: 30:54 – Wait, wait, hold on. I don’t mean to stop you, but I gotta. You put $20 on a video that you filmed with a camera and you got 15 to 17 people coming through the door on just that one video for 20 bucks?

Dino: 31:07 – Yeah, yeah.

Greg: 31:09 – Tell me what was the front-end revenue that people were paying to join then total out of those people coming in that gross revenue from those15 to 17 members?

Dino: 31:20 – Oh, let me just calculate, sorry.

Greg: 31:27 – And the reason I say that is that’s unheard of. I don’t think I’ve heard of anybody. Even you were doing that, like 20 bucks on an ad.

Dino: 31:38 – So that’s in dollars around $2,000 from that video, from the first five to seven days. But we got so many leads and I wanted to do them all by myself. So I got so many new people coming in and with those new No-Sweat Intros and PT first, I started to do like 15 to 20 private sessions per day, like that for 30 minutes. Because when I had to stop the ad, that’s why I only spent $20 because when those 15 people come came in, in few days, their wives were coming in, their husbands were coming in, their friends were coming in and in three weeks or four weeks we got 45 new members just from that. I mean, I think it was just from that video because I stopped the ad and those 15 to 17 people that came through Facebook got me another 20 or so people. So we were so full last month. That was incredible. And the revenue just sky roofed. So I was amazed though.

Greg: 33:15 – I mean, I am too. I mean that’s a lot of hard work to put in yet. But for context for people, you basically doubled your gross revenue from one month to the next, and the only increased costs that you would have, wouldn’t be fixed costs, cause they’re all the same. It would only be really staff costs if you had staff taking on some of those PT sessions or if they were taking on more classes for you or something like that. So that was the only incurred cost that you really had.

Dino: 33:41 – Yeah, yeah.

Greg: 33:43 – That’s amazing. That is huge numbers. Now that you’ve gone through this, I mean, taking that leap, I’m sure hindsight is always 20/20, right? You can always say that, hey, it was, it was worth it. But what do you feel like—do you feel like the ad itself was the biggest turning factor? Do you feel like the systems you put in place to make sure that these athletes you could take on 15 to 17 clients and even 40 clients in a month, were sustainable in being able to grow and expand and scale properly? What do you feel like it was? Do you feel like it was the ad or do you feel like it was your guys’ ability to execute on giving a great experience?

Dino: 34:28 – No, I think it was the ability to give them great experience with a No-Sweat Intro because everyone that came, they were, they were surprised about the No-Sweat Intro and they were really glad that they had to start with private session, because like 95% of those people that came in never did a training session or workout before in their life. So that’s kind of my mission, to give people some hope that it’s never too late to start working out and that we have the tools to show them that anyone can do a workout.

Greg: 35:15 – Dino, I love your mission. I love what you’ve done. Now, I mean having two locations, too, and being able to implement all these systems and having a staff, man, that was a huge leap and I really commend you on being able to take it. I would say anyone out there that is in the same shoes as you, well you can always tell them to step through that door, that it’s going to be safe, but you really never know. As mentors we do. We can tell you, hey, we know what works and if you do the work, you will be successful. But when you’re walking through that step, especially when it comes down to you paying the same amount what the average salary in Croatia is, I can only imagine the stress that you guys were going through, you and Igor and everybody else that has a gym in Croatia that has jumped on with Two-Brain. But I really commend you, man. That is not something easy to do and I’m really happy that you did it and you’re part of the Two-Brain family now. And we’re able to share that story out there with everyone so that they can see, hey, there’s people out there paying the average salary that somebody would make in that country just on Incubation, compared to somebody that maybe makes that in a month in just profit in their business or their regular job if they’re thinking about starting a gym. And seeing how much ability that takes and fortitude that you have. So I just want to commend you and thank you so much for jumping on Two-Brain Radio and share that with us and the listeners out there because it just shows anyone can do it. You just gotta put in the work. Even when it comes down to paying an average salary, if it took that, to be able to get there. So thank you so much, Dino, for being able to jump on Two-Brain Radio and share that your story with us and I can’t wait to hear you guys double again and again and you guys are just doing awesome out there cause I know you’re going to continue doing that. So again, thank you so much for being able to jump on Two-Brain Radio and sharing that with us today.

Dino: 37:07 – No problem. Thank you for contacting me and for helping us to do that. We will do our best to be even better.

Greg: 37:19 – Thank you for listening to Two-Brain Radio. Make sure to subscribe to receive the most up-to-date episodes wherever you get your podcasts from. To find out how we can help create your Perfect Day, book a free call with a mentor at

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