Victory by Association: Your Ecosystem

Two gym-goers high-fiving after a workout

Your connections can lift you up or drag you down.

You’re the average of the five people you’re around most. And everyone knows it.

If you’re the fifth person in a mariachi band, everyone will assume you can play the guitar. Because if you couldn’t, why would you be there?

If you post a picture of yourself with four people in lab coats, people will assume you know something about science.

The microgym community is connected through crisis—and opportunity.

While the covid pandemic closed many of the “big box” gyms—some permanently—many microgyms survived. Some are already stronger.

Of course, some failed. But they had the same opportunity as the rest. So why didn’t they make the pivot online? Why aren’t all microgyms thriving right now?

It’s not access to information—we publish that stuff for free every single day. And we have a gym-saving collection of resources available here.

It’s connection: they simply tried to fight Covid alone.


Uniting the Fitness Community


The biggest problem with the CrossFit affiliate model is that we’re not a unified body of 15,000 gym owners. We’re 15,000 islands, each with its own culture and customs. We have rituals and traditions. But we don’t have science. And microgyms without any affiliation have even less: They have no one to talk to.

My mission is to make 1,000,000 entrepreneurs wealthy. We’re starting with gym owners because—well, that’s obvious. They’re hardworking and generous and trying to solve huge cultural problems.

Here’s how we can unite microgyms and coaches:

1. Data

We need a broad, inclusive data set. We need to know what the best gyms in the world are doing and then teach it back to the rest. We also need to know why some gyms fail so that we can get those poisonous mistakes out of our collective bloodstream.

What we’re doing about it: Over the last four years, I’ve spent more than $500,000 building dashboards and data-extraction tools. Now we have the largest data set in the industry. It’s growing (literally) by the minute.

2. Conversations

We need positive collaboration, not “competition.” You’ve seen the worst-case scenario: gym owners calling each other names, attacking others’ ideas, accusing potential collaborators of “stealing” clients.

What we’re doing about it: We have the most progressive Facebook group in the world. But we need more than that: We need to bring gym owners together.

When the Covid Crisis pushed us to alter plans for our annual Summit, we came up with something that I honestly think is better: 30 Regional MeetUps worldwide. Join a dozen or so other gym owners in your local community, learn from each other and work together on the lessons from our Summit speakers—including Seth Godin.

3. Representation

While I’m no fan of a board-of-directors scenario (imagine if your clients had a vote on how you ran your business), it makes a lot of sense to identify your top performers and teach their strategies to everyone else.

Some franchises do this, though not many. But the CrossFit Games does it really well. It creates aspirational models of fitness. We can pick apart routines, habits, training and diet and build new models for success from them. We need to identify the top microgyms in the world through real tests, interrogate the owners and share what they know.

What we’re doing about it: This is literally how our program works.

4. Transparent Leadership

Like me, you probably saw a dozen calls to “sign a petition” or “join our GoFundMe” when covid hit. And if, like me, you dug deeper, you probably uncovered a hidden motive in many of these cases.

For example, one of the “free Facebook groups” was a cover for a licensing body. Basically, by signing their petition you recorded your name as in favor of having them sell you a license in the future.

The ACSM and NSCA aren’t going to step into the role of transparent leadership because their boards are full of scientists who rely on grants to survive.

What we’re doing about it: We’re not sure yet. But we’ll keep publishing what we know.


Make Connections


What won’t unite gyms and coaches:

“Affiliation” in one particular method. The method doesn’t really matter. Don’t let it become your religion.

Criticism of other gyms’ methods won’t work either. Yeah, I used to get really worked up about joggers (it’s embarrassing to admit it now). I hated jogging and I thought shoe salesmen were crooks. But almost every client at Catalyst tried to lose weight by “just going for a jog!” first. Eventually, people will choose what they like, and that will determine success.

Be the connector. Talk to local gyms. Don’t wait for them to show up with coffee: Have the courage and care enough to go first. Unite your local community.


Other Media in This Series


Bringing People Together: Your Ecosystem
Making Local Connections: Your Ecosystem
Build Then Give: Supporting Others in Your Ecosystem

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