Two-Brain Radio With Sean Woodland, Episode 3: Margaux Alvarez

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Sean: 00:04 Hi everybody and welcome to another edition of Two-Brain Radio with Sean Woodland. On today’s episode, I am joined by six-time CrossFit Games athlete Margaux Alvarez. Two-Brain Radio with Sean Woodland is brought to you by Two-Brain Business. Learn how to generate profit and take your business to the next level: check out “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief” by Chris Cooper, available now on Amazon. Margaux Alvarez has been to the CrossFit Games six straight times, her best finish was ninth in 2015; it was the same year that she won the Pedal to the Metal 1 event, the event with the pegboard being introduced for the first time. She is also the owner of the wine company, The Vine Yard. She joined me on the phone to talk about her recent appearance at the Rogue Invitational, her decision to step away from individual competition and how her athletic career has helped her become a successful business owner. Thanks for listening everyone. Margaux, thanks for being here. How you doing?

Margaux: 01:03 I’m doing great. How ’bout yourself?

Sean: 01:04 I’m doing well. Really appreciate you taking the time here. Just wanted to talk to you about the past weekend really fast and we got to see you compete at the Rogue Invitational. Final event, you did really well. You got an awesome send-off from the crowd and I’m just curious, what was that moment like for you?

Margaux: 01:19 Yeah, it was an amazing experience to be able to have the crowd out there cheering and celebrating, obviously not only that workout but just the past years in the sport. It was just really euphoric and I’m very grateful for that moment and I hold it really special to my heart. Being able to see video of it and like see pictures. It brings a big smile to my face and I’m just really grateful for the community that have been a part of my journey since the beginning.

Sean: 01:43 And it was fantastic. I had goose bumps when I was watching; you gave a great interview with Ro. And it was just a really emotional moment, and a really cool moment. But how did you come to the decision that, “You know what, I’m done now with my competitive career? It’s time to move on.”

Margaux: 02:01 Yeah, I mean looking back on the past eight years, there’s a point where I think, you know, you kind of see where you’re at in the sport and you know, if you’re evolving forward and growing forward and obviously every year it gets harder and harder, and there’s other talented individuals coming up. And I think that’s the point where I was trying to spend the same amount of time in the gym while also trying to build the wine company and my wine business and get it off the ground running and give both projects my attention; it was becoming harder and harder, and honestly, I was able to make it happen the past few years, but it was getting to the point where you know, what I want to do with the business, I want that to grow more with the wine and be able to get into distribution. It’s like I was coming to the realization that I need to spend more time there and that training individually just wasn’t in the books anymore. It wasn’t getting to the point where I could physically be able to do both. Like you can do it and I’ve been able to do it, but obviously one thing might suffer, the amount time in the gym might have to be compromised a little bit ’cause I need to spend more time in the business. So it was kind of getting the point where it’s like, “All right, I need to figure out what I want to focus on,” and I’ve had a great run in the sport competing the past eight years and I think it was my time to say, “All right, let’s maybe close this door for individual competing and let me spend that additional time that was in the gym maybe towards building the business and growing the company.” And that was kind of leading up to this this past year, like these last few months, four, five months. And realizing that the Rogue Invitational would have been my last individual competition was something that became a little more set in stone as it got closer and closer to me.

Sean: 03:35 OK. Let’s go back now. How did you first find CrossFit?

Margaux: 03:39 Well, it’s a long time ago. I had heard about it through some friends and they’re like, “Oh, you should try, you know, this CrossFit.” I was like, “Nah, I’m doing my running, I’m doing obstacle courses.” Some friends had kind of told me about it and I had heard about it through mutual friends and it was kind of like the little trickling in the background was like, “Oh, you know, you should check it out.” And months went by and I never did. And then I finally, to a friend, decided, I was like, “All right, I’ll go drop in in the class and check it out.” And I remember it being snatches and burpees and I’d never done a snatch, I didn’t know what a snatch was, I had never really used a barbell, so it was like completely foreign and unique. But I fell in love with it and I think that component of pushing myself against myself was really unique and different that I hadn’t had. And the community for sure was something I never had in the gym before. So it was something that stuck in my head, burned in my head and I was like, “I want to do this more.” And that was back in 2011, so eight years ago; over eight years ago.

Sean: 04:36 What was it then that motivated you to become a competitor?

Margaux: 04:41 I think the first inkling I thought of it was at the SoCal Regionals in 2011. I remember seeing Katie Hogan and Becca Voigt lining up for the thruster ladder. I was like, “Man, this is so rad; this is really cool and I want to be able to do that.” I would love to be able to push myself and see if I can be on that floor competing like these women. And that was the first little bit of competition that I saw that I wanted to try. And then two months later, or a month and a half later, being at the Games, when I volunteered that year and seeing the athletes of the Games, I was like, “Man, that’s amazing. I want to be able to see if I can do that too.” And I was a very naive Kool-Aid drinking girl at that point where it’s like, “I’m going to go to the Games,” and people were like, “You’re crazy.” But in my mind I was like, “Hey man, I don’t know what’s possible or how I need to get there, what I need to do to get there.” So I was just like, “I’m going to try whatever I need to do.” So that was the first kind of start of me wanting to compete.

Sean: 05:36 When was sort of the rude awakening where you kind of figured that, “Oh, OK, this one-class-a-day thing just ain’t gonna cut it and I really have to up my training to the next level”?

Margaux: 05:48 I think right after the Games there was a shift. In the month prior, in July, I declined—the job that I was at was moving and I declined to move. I said, you know, “I won’t take the position, I’ll take a severance package” and you know, I’ll focus on coaching, because I had just received my Level 1 the month before that in June. I was like, you know, I’ll coach and I’ll do whatever I need to take to be able to have time in the gym and train. And so I think that was kind of a pivot point where I was like, all right, I need to train more, more than just a class a day. And that was five months in, six months into CrossFit. And again, it’s funny because now I look back at my younger self and it’s like, man, I was definitely naive, I was like yeah, I want to do it six months in.

Margaux: 06:32 Now, it’s like you have people that have been doing CrossFit for six months, I recommend like, “Hey, get a good year of experience under your belt.” Not saying that anyone can’t do it underneath that. But you just, when you’re in it, I don’t think you know, you don’t understand that that ignorance can be bliss in a way. And so I would say there was kind of a six-month time period where I was like, “I need to do more.” And so I started training more. I would do, you know, the class or I would do a session in the morning lifting and then two metcons and just trying to do more to learn and understand what I need to do to get at that competitive level.

Sean: 07:02 Do you remember the moment where you said, “You know what, I really can do this” and you knew that you could be a Games athlete?

Margaux: 07:09 It’s interesting, because I think back like at 2011 Games and just thinking like, “I can do that.” Like, I don’t know what it takes to get there, but I can do it. Just in my mind I had that belief and again, that ignorance thing that I can get there. And then, I mean, that was 2011 and I think the point where—it was 2013, leading up to 2013, I had been with Alex about a year and he had coached me, and he helped me. We’d been together for about a year at that time. And I think there was a point where it’s like, I believed and I visualized myself being on that podium, that it’s like, not that I expected to be on there, but I was like, I see myself on a podium, I can do it. And at the same time, on the other side of the coin, it was like, I don’t know what’s going to happen, I don’t know the guaranteed results, I’m competing in a field that’s so deep, people have been competing for years. It’s like, what’s the realistic numbers or percentage of me actually getting on that podium, and if you look at who I was as a competitor back then, it was like, ah, there’s no way you’re going to make it. But in my mind it was like, “Oh yeah, I can do this.” And then when it happened and I qualified and they called my name, I was like, “Holy crap.” At first it was kind of unreal, but I think I was at that point where it’s like, “I made it, I did it.” And obviously it was a lot of hard work that went into it. But it’s like I think that belief and that faith and that visualization and that ability to just say, “Hey, this is what I want.” That was like the moment where I was like, “Man, I did it, and I can be competitor because I now am a competitor at that level of being able to call myself a CrossFit Games athlete.

Sean: 08:43 So you competed at the Games six times. And when I think about the moments I remember from your competitive career, I think of the Pedal to the Metal event where you got the farthest of anybody in that one. And then I think about last year in the row marathon. What is your most memorable moment at the Games?

Margaux: 09:00 I think those two for sure are up there. I think the row for sure. Just because having the workout go exactly, I mean pretty much close to exactly how I wanted it and having it all fall through was amazing. I think another amazing experience was in 2013 that, I think it was the 2007 workout. Where it was the 1-k row and 25 pull-ups and 7 shoulder-to-overheads. I think at the moment, kind of having things come together with like my butterfly pull-ups and being in the stadium with the lights and the crowd cheering and yelling and just getting to cross that finish line and look up and just see everyone so supportive. It’s like that’s the community that you see in the gym on a daily Workout of the Day that you go to a gym in a box and people cheering you on whether you’re first, last, in the middle, doesn’t matter. But kind of seeing that and seeing that parallel between, even though it’s this huge stadium and it’s a different context than what you might see in the gym on a daily workout. But it was like that parallel of like now we’re all here supporting one another, like that was amazing and epic and it gives me kind of goose bumps like talking about it right now. But I think those would be the top three moments that I’ve had.

Sean: 10:05 When that row marathon was announced; I remember thinking, “Oh, Margaux will do well at this” because we’ve always talked about, at least, the Update Show crew, we would always talk about how mentally tough you were. What are your memories from going through that workout? Because that just seemed like it was awful.

Margaux: 10:21 Yeah. The biggest memories I think of were like, focus on my pace, focus on my breathing. Just trying to think of everything and anything that brought a smile to my face or that would maybe distract me. At the same time, it’s like I knew I had a plan for like the first 1 k and the second 1 k and then the remaining meters, I think the one thing that stuck in my mind, the biggest was like, just think of it in a positive manner. Meaning as I was rowing, instead of like, “Oh man, I’m only halfway,” or “Oh, I have 20,000 meters.” It’s like, “Cool. I have 8,000 meters down” or “Oh, I’m already past the halfway mark” or like, “Oh man, like I only have 10,000 meters left to row.” Like any positive connotation was something that was huge in my mind. And then the other thing I remember, I had friends that were directly in front of me, Jen and Amanda, and every once in a while they’d yell my name when it was like kind of quiet ’cause I mean you’re sitting in the stands for like three, four hours. And so I think it was them and then having friends, and then having my family off to the left and having them, you know, looking up at them and seeing them smile and you know, something that was really memorable if I look back at it, and obviously being able to finish that row and get off and just be like, “Hell yeah, that was awesome.”

Sean: 11:36 Yeah. I don’t know why, but that was such a cool event. I know it was just a bunch of people sitting on rowers, but it was just, I was really shocked at how many people were in the crowd watching just a bunch of people on rowers. And that’s when I said to myself, “I was like, these fans will watch the best athletes in the world basically do everything, you know, or do anything.” Y

Margaux: 11:54 And it’s funny because I remember in 2013 when the half-marathon row was released, people were like, “Man, no one’s going to watch people row for half marathon.” But it’s like, people literally watch like little rowboats on their computer and on the screen, and go on for like an hour and a half, but it’s like, that’s where it’s like, as much as it might seem mundane, at the same time, it’s kind of unique. So it’s like, “Man, like, what’s going to happen? Who’s gonna get it?”

Sean: 12:18 What about your career do you think you’re the most proud of?

Margaux: 12:23 Oh man, that’s a great question. I think the biggest thing is, obviously, like, looking back to the past eight years, staying true to myself and just being able to be part of the community from Day 1. I think that’s something that I’ve loved, I mean as much accomplishment I’ve gotten at the highest level within CrossFit, that’s been great and I think that’s the moment that people might see the most because that’s what’s highlighted with the TV’s or the cameras, or you know, the sharing on social media. People see that, but it’s like, the community being able to go into a gym and meet the people that are coming in every single day that are making time out of their day to work on their health and fitness and being able to share that moment together at the gym. I think that’s something that I have the most memories of and that’s where I spent most of my time, you spend most of your time training, more so than you are on the competition floor. And I think I’m most proud of being able to just share that experience with the community and share that with people along my journey while them working on their own journey as well.

Sean: 13:23 Some people may not know that you are quite an accomplished golfer. Where are you at right now with your golf game and what you’re planning to do with that moving forward?

Margaux: 13:38 I would say the focus going forward is to focus on World Long Drive specifically. I grew up playing golf for about 10 years, played in junior high, high school. I was an all-state level golfer in high school. Then continued in college, just would play for fun and on the side with friends. And now that my CrossFit career is coming to a close as an individual, I’m now shifting my focus more to the long drive. And I think there’s a lot of potential there, not only for myself but people that are also interested in possibly getting into golf. And I’m excited to explore that because one, it’s something I’ve enjoyed, I love it, I love being outdoors, nature is something that I’ve always kind of connected with. And so being able to spend more time with that and being able to see the athlete that I’ve become over the past eight years, I can now use my strength and speed and technique and everything that I’ve learned through weightlifting, I can actually apply that, obviously, to golf. And there is a lot of technical things with golf in terms of the swing and the shaft and the club that you’re using, but I’m really excited to spend more time with that and be able to share my knowledge and experience with the community and the people that are following my journey.

Sean: 14:42 What’s your longest drive right now?

Margaux: 14:45 Longest drive right now is 329. The goal is to get to 350 and 375 and eventually 400. So yeah, I’m excited for that.

Sean: 14:55 That’s awesome. What is it about the sport of golf that appealed to you from such a young age?

Margaux: 15:04 You might be on a team of four other players and yourself, so you’re a team of five, but I think it ultimately comes down to you versus yourself. It’s a very big mental game. Like you have 18 holes if you’re playing on the course or you have, for long drive you have eight shots, you can’t let one shot get to your head and mess with your mindset because you have so many more holes or so many more shots to go. So I think that’s something that’s really intrigued me is that you have to have patience, a lot of patience with golf, but I think a lot of people would agree with that.

Sean: 15:34 Oh, no doubt. That’s why I was never good at it.

Margaux: 15:38 That’s the biggest component; that mental aspect is really intriguing to me.

Sean: 15:43 And it seems like that we always talk about your mental game in CrossFit. How did golf help you develop that when you transitioned over to being a CrossFit competitor?

Margaux: 15:56 I think it definitely helped refine that mental aspect. Picking up a sport that requires a lot of patience and a lot of—you have to keep that cool mindset and not let the frustration or let emotions get to you. I think learning that as a young age helped mold me as an individual. Having that mental fortitude and again, you’re walking the course for four or five hours and you have to stay calm. You can’t let emotion get to you, you have to almost compartmentalize; if you’re getting upset or angry you have to be able to like maybe recognize that and push that to the side. And I know that something that people practice in yoga was like you might have thoughts, you need to push them to the side. So I think developing that at a younger age helped me transfer that as I got older, into my mid-twenties, late twenties, when I started CrossFit.

Sean: 16:44 Would you ever want to get your tour card?

Margaux: 16:47 I don’t know. We’ll see, that’s maybe to be determined. I’m going to focus on the World Long Drive first, and then if there’s an opportunity that presents itself to do, like a qualification for the tour, then that might be something that I entertain later down the road.

Sean: 17:01 OK. Let’s talk about the business that you have going. You have a wine business and I know nothing about wine business, so just give me the elevator pitch. What does your business do?

Margaux: 17:15 We take, obviously, wine that we’ve created, that we’ve developed from Paso Robles where we do all the wine making and we’ve packaged it in a way where we’re presenting not only a product to our customers and our consumers, but also a lifestyle and a message that you work hard and you can wind down at the end of the day. We all are on our own journeys. We all bust our ass, whether it’s in the gym or in your career or your schooling or your profession, whatever it might be. At the end of the day, we should be able to celebrate the successes and celebrate the struggles that we go through and that, you know, it doesn’t always have to be wine you come down and relax with, it could be bon-bons on your couch, it could be hanging out with your kids. But the goal and the message that we’re sharing with people is that, you know, you work hard, like, celebrate the successes at the end of the day because life is short and you want to be able to enjoy the process and you’re spending so much more time in the grind towards your goals more so than actually achieving that goal. And so we want to be able to promote that message like, “Hey, you know, enjoy the moment that you have now. Tomorrow, next year might not be guaranteed, so just be present as much as you can.”

Sean: 18:21 How did you get into the wine business?

Margaux: 18:24 So we’ve done home production wine for the past like five, six years and we wanted to be able to share that message and share our passions with wine. If you look at the parallel of wine, how to make wine, you know, it takes a long time. You need the wine to sit in barrels and be aged for 12 to 18 months or longer. You can’t just make wine and drink it the next month, you know? And so the process that we did for the past five years, learning how to make it and share it with ourselves and our family was really unique and exciting. We loved it and we thought, “Hey, let’s share this with people and let’s actually create a wine company and be able to share our products.” And obviously it was a lot harder than we anticipated; in our minds we were like, “Oh, this shouldn’t be that hard or challenging.” We were way wrong in that aspect. We’ve learned a lot of legalities and issues with having to deal with alcohol specifically and it’s been obviously a huge climb up mountain but it’s been rewarding at the same time. ‘Cause I think if you look at the parallel between CrossFit and a business is in the CrossFit realm, if you go train, right, you want to go learn how to snatch or do a pull-up, it’s like, you have to put in the work, you have to be patient. You’ll eventually get to the goals. You won’t snatch 200 pounds right away or you won’t be able to do 30 pull-ups unbroken, it takes time. And so I think the biggest thing that we’ve learned with this business is obviously having to be patient, but constantly working and evaluating our work to find out what’s the best way to market, what’s the best way to get into distribution? How can we connect with others and tell our story. And so obviously getting into it because I have a passion for wine has been great, but also knowing how to adapt and learn from what works and what doesn’t work has allowed us to keep pushing. And its hard, I mean, it’ll be two years this July with the business and it seems like it’s been way longer, but it’s like obviously the work that you put into it can draw things out. But it’s been amazing to immerse myself within the community and I’m constantly learning obviously as a business owner of what works, what doesn’t work. But putting myself in an environment where I can challenge myself and allow ourselves to grow, it’s a constant battle, but it’s a good battle.

Sean: 20:37 What is your specific role?

Margaux: 20:38 I would say all of the above. It’s funny, Alex and I were just talking about it yesterday. It’s like we are the sales team, we are the representatives of the company. We are, I mean, everything from the beginning. We do all the orders. We do all the fulfilling, we do all the sales events, in-person events, marketing events. I guess we’re everything. We’re from the A through Z position. I mean, I like it cause I like having that hands-on, I like being part of the process. It just comes down to time management and being able to do it all. If we’re trying to travel for events, in being one location and it’s hard to be in another location to promote it at another location or restaurant. And so I love being part of every process and every role, but it can be challenging at times and we have limited time in a day.

Sean: 21:25 When you decided to get this thing off the ground, what were some of the biggest challenges you faced right off the bat and how did you overcome those?

Margaux: 21:33 The biggest challenges were getting licensing, being able to get that approval because obviously nothing would happen without the licensing. It was something that we had to struggle with. We had to kind of break it down into processes. So Alex and I sat down with like, what’s the first step focusing on the harvest? And the second step was applying for the licensing and we had had to wait for about five, six months for that. Once we got the licensing, then it was the infrastructure of getting the wine bottled, getting the wine shipped out, and then being able to get that process set up. So it’s like anyone that orders online, okay, what’s the process? They place the order, then we need to fulfill it. Making sure all that happened, kind of one step at a time was great cause trying to do it all at once, it just wasn’t realistic. We didn’t have the manpower or woman power to do it all at once. So we set up a process of like what’s the steps you want to do and what order do we want to do it? And that allowed us to overcome it, and that took about, in the first year it took a whole year to be able to get all that. Licensing took about six months, so we had to be really patient with that, but we couldn’t have done anything without that license. So that was the hardest. I would say that was one of the biggest, hardest steps of being patient with that and kind of hoping and praying that we got it. Knowing that we did everything in our power to get it. And then you know, you go from there.

Sean: 22:46 What is the biggest misconception that people have about wine and winemaking in general?

Margaux: 22:53 I think, I think a lot of people, at least that we’ve learned recently is that when you go to drink wine, it’s like “Well I don’t know anything about wine.” You need to know the exact wine and you need to know the grapes and the soil; you need to know everything about it to enjoy it. And I think there’s a big misconception with like, you know, you enjoy what you like, think breaking that barrier, thinking that it’s something that is exclusive. Like you can’t be a part of it and you can’t have it unless you know everything about it. And I think breaking that barrier down and talking to people about it and making it maybe a little more relatable, it’s like, “Hey, what kind of wine do you like?” It doesn’t have to be like, “Oh well I like these type of grapes.” It’s like, it could be red or white.

Margaux: 23:26 It’s like, “Oh, I like white wine” or “I like dry wine,” “I like fruitier wines” or sweeter wines. And so I think being able to break that barrier down and explain to people, it’s like, hey, what it comes down to is what you like, what you enjoy. And I think a lot of people think like winemaking can be really hard. And there’s a lot of like chemistry to it for sure. And once you learn how to make the wine and the process behind it, it’s not that challenging. The hardest part in the harvest, I think barrier that people don’t realize is actually wine selling, like being able to sell your product, because you’re out there with 10,000 other brands or 10,000 other labels. Like how does yours stand out from everyone else? What distinguishes yours? Why should someone buy your product or your wine or someone else? So I think that’s the hardest part now is being able to see, you know, how do you sell the wine? How do you package it so someone purchases your wine over someone else’s or they come buy my wine over someone else’s?

Sean: 24:26 Yeah, I wanted to ask you about that, what you just mentioned. Living here in California, I mean there’s just so many winemakers and so many wineries. So how do you set yourself apart in that world?

Margaux: 24:32 The biggest thing that we’ve established here in Vegas was creating those relationships with people. It’s like, hey, we’re not just selling our products, like here’s our wine, good luck. Sell it. We want to create relationships with people. We want to create not only that one-sided, “Oh, here’s my product that I’m giving you, that you’re going to be putting in your restaurant, you’re gonna be selling on the shelf.” We want to be able to create those relationships and a story with people so people can connect to it. I think that we’re in a time now where people want to feel like they’re a part of something. They want to feel like they’re cultivating or like giving back, or they’re going to be a part of something as it goes along, and that’s something that we’ve established right from the beginning. It’s like, “Hey, I want to share my journey with people because I want us to go through this together.”

Margaux: 25:14 We may not go through every step together, but it’s like, we want to share this part together. I want to celebrate my successes with other people’s successes. I want to share my struggles so people can understand that they’re not the only ones going through that. And so for us it’s been really important to communicate our message and our brand and our story of, “Hey, we’re all in this journey together.” We all might be on different paths in terms of where we started and where we’re going, but we’re all in this process together. It’s like let’s celebrate together, let’s be a part of it together. And one of our wine labels is called The Goat: Greatest of All Time. And I think it’s relatable obviously to maybe the younger generation, but I think it’s really, I think it’s a place where people can connect in terms of, hey, you’re the greatest of all time in whatever your field is, or whatever your passion is. And I think people kind of relate to sports because that’s where they hear greatest of all time. And it could be relatable with sports, but also to be relatable to your job and your career. Like you’re the greatest broadcaster or you’re the greatest mom or whatever you’re going for. That’s something that we want to share with others. And so that was a perfect label and wine to be able to showcase that as our kind of our carrier pigeon, if you think of it.

Sean: 26:19 How do you determine what flavors you want to take to market?

Margaux: 26:24 Obviously spend a lot of time tasting the juice, making sure it’s something that’s enjoyable. We want to be able to create a good product and a good wine, but also want to package it into something unique and different so it stands out, right? You look at a wine label, you look at a wine bottle, you know, you might see something that kind of grabs your eye, that catches your attention. And so for us it’s like we’re tasting the wine, we’re blending the wines, we’re spending time mixing those percentages. Like, do want 50% petite sirah and 50% petite bordeaux or who want to do 80/20? And so people might think like, “Oh, that sounds like a terrible, hard, job” and obviously they’re joking; like wine and research development is so hard. But a lot of it comes down to, you know, having the wines blend together and how they’ve aged, and how they’re going to work together in the bottle and then what we want to showcase to people. So it’s a lot of time, but it’s worth it, it’s enjoyable, because it’s like there’s so much history that goes into it, both in terms of what we want to mix and then we get to present that people, we get to tell them about the journey and share that with them and people’s faces kind of light up, like hearing about the story, like how they decided which wines ro go together. So I think that’s really cool.

Sean: 27:32 What would you say your specialties are right now? As far as flavor goes?

Margaux: 27:42 I would say I would say petite sirah, like blend—I’d say blends in general, like red blends in general would be our specialty. A majority of our wines are red blends. I think one that I love and a lot of people have given us really good feedback is the petite sirah blend. So we have The Goat, which is petite sirah, sirah grenache en snap, and then we have Moderation, which is a petite sirah and grenache blend as well. And I would say those would be our specialties.

Sean: 28:08 What are the biggest challenges that you face as a business owner?

Margaux: 28:12 I would say the biggest challenges would be, one, being able to stand out in a very saturated industry, being able to make ourselves well known since we’re a smaller company. Another big hurdle is financial, being able to make sure that we’re growing, being able to continuously find resources so that we can grow and build so we can put more money into marketing or advertising so we can travel for events. I would say those would be the two biggest kind of obstacles or constant challenges that we face as a small business.

Sean: 28:45 It really sounds like, as I’m listening to you talk that you are set up really well to be successful in this line of business, given your golfing experience, having to be patient with that, given your CrossFit experience, given that you said you had to be okay with micro-progressions; how did your athletic career prepare you to be a business owner?

Margaux: 29:08 That is a great question. I think all that patience and that time leading up to it, like from Day 1 to where I’m at now, like you think of my athletic career within CrossFit, it took eight years from Day 1 to Day now. Also, the process of golf, I mean I was golfing for 10 years, but it’s being patient through that entire process. I think like the entire experience within my sports have transferred over with like small business. It takes time. You can’t just expect to, you know, grow from day one to day 30 or six months down the road, a year down the road. I think being patient in that process, I think you look at like the process of winemaking, right? It is a very long process. It starts with a harvest, right? You’re harvesting the grapes, then it goes to maceration, where you’re crushing the grapes, you’re letting the grapes sit in the skin and you have fermentation. Fermentation can take a week, multiple weeks. Then from there you need to let the wine age and how does the wine age, I mean it could be anywhere from 12 months to 18 months for the aging just in the barrel. Then you have the bottling and then after the bottling, the wines sit in the bottles for another year or so depending on the wine. So I think that process that I’ve gone through in fitness and seeing the process in winemaking has allowed me to be in a position where now it’s like all right, this is a small business. I kind of have to think the same thing. I need to go through the first step, is like building my brand, building the company, bringing awareness to my name and my company. And then after so many months and years, I’m now having the final product, the final wine ready to present. It’s now like I have this company that I’m able to share with the world, not just a small niche market. And it’s been incredible cause obviously being able to start that with CrossFit is a very small community, but it will grow and we have aspirations of growing to be able to have that network within the entire world, and be able to share that with everyone again. It just takes time and patience.

Sean: 31:08 Right. So along those lines, what is your kind of long-term plan? What do the next five years look like for your business do you think?

Margaux: 31:14 We’d like to get into distribution. So we’re in distribution in Vegas right now. The goal is to get into distribution in other states. We would like national distribution meaning in every state possible. And that will take some time. We’d like to be able to do more in-person events. We’d like to be able to have our product on shelves, not only in restaurants but also liquor stores. We’d like to be able to get to the point where we can bring in athletes of all backgrounds and showcase and teach them, bring educational pieces about the wine-making process, about small business, about mentorship, about empowering people to go after their goals. And that’s something we’d like to be able to grow in the next three to five years. I mean obviously the sooner the better. But again, it’s a process and we gotta be patient with that.

Sean: 32:00 Everyone has things that they would do differently when they start their business. When you look back on the beginning of it, what are some of the things that you wish you could go back and maybe do over again?

Margaux: 32:11 Oh man, that’s tough. I would say, if I had to go back and tell myself from the beginning, it’s like, obviously have patience and know that it’s gonna be harder than anticipated. It’s tough because I think back to like when I first started CrossFit, I had that very innocence-is-bliss, kind of like “Oh, everything is gonna work out, it’s gonna be great, I’m gonna make it,” and I think looking back now, it’s like I would tell myself, hey, like what would I do differently? It’s like, be a little more patient or maybe prepare or plan to know that, you know, financial resources—knowing that that’s going to be a little more of a challenge and maybe planning for that a little bit more in advance. I think that’d be one thing that I would definitely be able to share with myself and change differently so it would allow us for more growth. It’s tough cause like we’re at where we’re at because of the decisions we make. And sometimes that’s a good thing. Sometimes it’s, you know, it’s not a good thing because you learn from it. But I think those would be the main, those two things would be the main thing that I would kind of tell myself at the beginning of this process.

Sean: 33:13 What have you learned about yourself in general going through this whole thing?

Margaux: 33:21 I’ve learned that I’m one tough cookie.

Sean: 33:24 I think we already knew that.

Margaux: 33:29 It’s funny, I was just talking this morning to Alex. It’s like, I feel like no matter what work that needs to be done, we would do it. We would get it done that like whatever the hard task that is in front of us, we would get it done. And I think I’ve learned that like I’m very resilient. I have very thick skin. I’m able to compartmentalize a lot of things, whether that be emotions, frustration or happiness or whatever it might be. Something that Alex and I talked a lot in my fitness career and it within CrossFit and like competitive athlete career is that, you know, you’ve got to be accountable to your goal. You’ve got to review what you’re doing, you’ve gotta be able to have a plan and be able to execute that. You have to be able to enjoy yourself and be patient. And so I’ve learned a lot about applying that not only in the gym but now applying it to business and applying it to running a small business and, you know, making sure that I’m accountable to what I’m doing each day. And I think just, you know, keep striving forward. It’s like, I know I’ll continue to take that next step as much as it might be hard or you know, that foundation that I’m gonna step on might not be there but I know that I’m going to put in the work to create that foundation for that step and create that foundation for the next process with the business.

Sean: 34:38 I mean, I see pictures of you on social media out there with the wheelbarrows, you know, and getting your hands dirty and doing what looks like back-breaking labor out in hot temperatures and sweating. It’s like, it’s not glamorous, but what is the best part about this whole endeavor for you?

Margaux: 34:54 I think being able to look back at the end of the day, and reflect on where we started to where we’re at now. It’s a perfect example of saying, you know, we’re in the field, we’re harvesting, we’re out there for 10,1 2 hours harvesting grapes, slow, monotonous work. But like looking back and reflecting back on that, it’s like, man, like we started with nothing. We had no infrastructure set up. We had no labels. We had no bottles, we had nothing set up, we were nonexistent. And then now almost two years later, it’s like we created something that we created. It’s like our baby in a way. It’s like we created a business, we created these labels, these wines, we’ve got into distribution, and it might seem small compared to other companies and other brands, but it’s like man, we actually have formulated something to actually have it come to fruition. It’s like, I think it’s something that reminds me, it’s like, hey man, give yourself a pat on the back.

Margaux: 35:45 Cause I think that’s really hard to do. I feel like who I am as an individual. it’s like I’m constantly pushing to the next best thing. And I think people can relate out there that are going for goals. Like you’re constantly “What’s next?” Like business goal or you know, fitness goal or kids goal or family goal; whatever it is you’re constantly pushing. It’s like if you never take a moment to step back, and again it might seem cliche or ironic, you know, stop and smell the roses, but as much as it is cliche, it’s so true, and that’s something that we try to continue to preach and push, it’s like, take a moment to step back and relax and enjoy the journey, enjoy the process because you’re constantly working to the next thing. It’s like you might look back in you know, 40 years and you’re like, “Holy crap, I didn’t even stop and enjoy what I was doing.” You know? I think it’s something to remember to celebrate those struggles, ’cause those struggles are, going to be allowing you to also celebrate the successes.

Sean: 36:33 That’s really good advice, I think to anybody in any walk of life. What does your sort of CrossFit future look like now?

Margaux: 36:44 So CrossFit future, as an individual competitor, I’ve closed that door. There’s a possibility that I will do team if there’s an opportunity to be on the team with another girl and two other guys and I will definitely take that opportunity. I’m also going to obviously, like I said, you know, focus on the Long Drive. There’s a lot of opportunity there that I’m looking forward to pursuing and being able to share my passion for fitness and passion for wine within that golf community. And then obviously continue to grow the business, have more of our name here as a staple in Vegas to kind of be able to say, hey, I’m a local winemaker here in Vegas, but let’s promote that brand and support the community here. I think a lot of people within the Vegas community are very supportive, and you see that a lot with CrossFit, right, the CrossFit community’s very supportive. And so I think there’s a lot of good future things to come with that. I will be at the Granite Games competing as a team. So I’ll give you that little—

Sean: 37:46 Can you spill the beans on who’s on your team?

Margaux: 37:50 Can I spill the beans? Yeah, probably. It’ll be with the team with CrossFit Invictus.

Sean: 37:58 Oh, OK. You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting an Invictus team, it seems like. So I’m sure that’s going to be, it’ll be a good group. From a selfish standpoint, I’m glad I get to see you continue to compete.

Margaux: 38:12 Yeah, I’m excited. Again, as an individual, I’ve loved it, enjoyed it, but I think it’s time to close that door with the individual and again, team is something I’ve done in the past with the Invitational and Team Series and so that was something I really enjoyed and so I was like you know, that’s still an option, to be able to do that in a little bit, about two weeks.

Sean: 38:33 Last question. When people look back and remember you as an individual competitor, what do you want them to remember?

Margaux: 38:42 That’s a great question. In terms of like, you think of like a word that describes me or just a presence?

Sean: 38:50 Yeah, just the words that come to their mind. Like when I think back, I think, “Mentally tough.”

Margaux: 38:56 Mentally tough; I would say, perseverance and determination, that no matter what’s ahead of me, that people—that’s what they think of. I think community representative for sure. I wouldn’t be here without the community. I wouldn’t be here without their support. And I think something that, another word that I would hope come to mind, that would be entropy, like you think controlled chaos. Like you look at CrossFit and a workout can be so crazy. Whatever we got to do, like I think of this workout from the past week, and the first workout with a rucksack, you have to climb a rope and then you’re running. Then you’re throwing sandbags and as much as crazy and chaotic on the outside, you need to stay calm and mentally sound on the inside. So I would hope that’s what people resonate or think of.

Sean: 39:45 And if people want to learn more about your wine business, where can they go?

Margaux: 39:49 They so they can go to; that’s our website that we have all the information with the wine and then they can check out my Instagram, @321gaux and @thegoatwine on Instagram as well.

Sean: 40:02 Great. Margaux, thank you so much for doing this. I really appreciate you taking the time. It’s been a pleasure watching you compete for the last six years and I wish you nothing but the best moving forward and I’m glad that you’re going to maybe pursue the team angle. It’s going to be great.

Margaux: 40:16 Thank you so much. I appreciate it, Sean.

Sean: 40:18 Best of luck, Margaux. Thanks.

Sean: 40:20 Big thanks to Margaux Alvarez for taking the time to talk with me. If you want to check out her wine business, you can go to You can also follow Margaux on Instagram at @321gaux, “gaux” being spelled ” g a u x,” Two-Brain Radio with Sean Woodland is brought to you by Two-Brain Business; for free advice and tips from the bestselling author, Chris Cooper, visit Thank you so much for listening everybody, and we’ll see you next time.

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