When Ashley’s top coaches walked out the door with 40 of her members to open a gym 2 miles down the road, she contacted Chris Cooper (of Two Brains) to figure out where she’d gone wrong.
– What mentorship is and how it can benefit you
– How to use extrinsic and intrinsic motivation to build and maintain a solid business
– What makes Two Brains special in the crowded, sometimes shady world of fitness business coaching
– What does “successful” mean now?
– A formula to help you determine how much to invest in mentorship
– How to manage big changes at your gym
Back then, we had no roadmap for exploring why we do what we do and what our members/clients get from that why. We couldn’t answer the question, “What do our session plans give our members?” in a way that wasn’t super obvious. We could only see features — “You get 7 session plans a week, and they each include…” — which was preventing us from seeing how what we do benefits our members on a deeper level.
But things recently clicked for us in an entirely new way because we’re taking a course on needs-based relating, The Compassion Course.
The foundation of the course is that everything we do as humans, we do to meet a need.
Going for a walk.
Buying a house.
Getting a job.
These are strategies to meet needs.
Going for a walk = movement, space, beauty…
Buying a house = freedom, acceptance, belonging…
Getting a job = security, meaning, purpose, connection…
The strategies and needs depend on the person and their context.
Sometimes our strategy for meeting a need succeeds and sometimes it’s a total fail.
The course lists these universal needs — shared by all humans, across cultures and ancestral heritage — as follows:
to know and be known
to see and be seen
According to this way of seeing the world, when we judge ourselves or others, or when we’re in conflict with someone, we can trace it back to unmet needs.
As someone who owns or operates a gym, you might be asking yourself how this applies to your current situation — running a gym during COVID-19.
We asked ourselves that too. As people whose livelihoods depend on gyms surviving and thriving, we’re trying to look at this situation from as many angles as possible so we might see strategies we couldn’t before.
With an open mind, we sat down with the list of needs, and then asked ourselves, “How do we help gyms meet these needs? How is our product a strategy for meeting their needs, or the needs of their people?”
As people who like a lot of examples when we’re learning new things, we’re sharing the results of our inquiry in the hopes that it might help you see your product or service differently.
We’ll go through the list alphabetically. At the end of this post, there are some resources to help you do this exercise too if you’re up for it.
Okay, from our perspective, here’s how we help gym communities meet their needs:
Choice Our Choose a Fair Price payment structure gives gym owners the freedom to decide what they pay every month. We do not want price to be a barrier of entry for gyms who want to be a part of what we’re doing. We’re also unlearning the scarcity or lack mindset that says more for you is less for me, and that tells us to believe that people are not inherently generous or fair-minded, which we know to be untrue from many personal experiences. If we want to live in a world full of abundance and giving, we have to change our inner world first.
Our very detailed session plans (videos, scales, subs, intention, coach notes, etc.) save gym owners and coaches time, which means they have the freedom to give more of their life to their loved ones and the activities that make them feel energetic, upbeat and rested.
Belonging and Community
With our private Facebook group, we give gym owners and coaches a space to connect with likeminded people from all over the globe. If you’re into GPP and variance and building resilient cultures that ask people to leave their egos at the door and chase difficulty, we’re your people. We share in the struggles and celebrate the good stuff together.
Care and Support
We provide direct access to us, Pat and Taz. We are not just the faces of the company — we are the people you call when you need to talk about something, we’re the ones directly answering help tickets or responding to Facebook group posts. You’ll also have the support of gyms in the Facebook group who often ask and respond to questions and share resources (like hiring manuals, SOPs, etc.). We’ve got your back.
We walk and talk fitness-biased, GPP, gen-you-whine CrossFit. After running gyms and writing session plans for 10 years, we know it’s the most effective way to keep people fit for decades. We’ve seen how members continue to experience growth and progress, while not being overworked and too exhausted to show up several times a week. Which is rarely true with daily strength + metcon programs. If that’s your opinion too, you can breathe easy and stay in alignment with your values and authenticity with WUWO, because we focus on fitness. You can read more about why we’re believers in GPP here.
Every month, we like to challenge members to work on skills that are difficult for the majority. We call this practice our “Monthly Projects.” You can expect to see things like Project Inversion, Project Squat, Project Midline Madness, Fitness Testing, etc. We find this keeps things exciting and surprising and builds confidence in a variety of skills and movements.
The Monthly Projects and a commitment to variance help us build competence in your members, but we don’t wanna stop there. We want to help you improve your product, the service you’re selling — coaching. We’re obsessed with expanding your coaches’ capabilities and skills. As former Coach Developers of over 60+ coaches, we love us some coach dev. We write our session plans to push coaches beyond their comfort zones and to invite them to step into the fullness of their gifts. You can read more about that here.
We’re integrated with SugarWOD, btwb, and Wodify, so you don’t have to enter the workouts into those platforms manually. This more efficient workflow makes life easier and calmer.
The tracking platforms help you monitor an athlete’s performance over time, but we also Fitness Test twice a year to make sure people are getting the results they want with our program. On a monthly basis, we usually aim for 3 – 5 benchmarks. We’ve found that number keeps people involved and excited without feeling like overkill.
Growth and Learning
In every session plan, you’ll see a section called “For Further Study.” This is where we push for growth beyond technical or mechanical knowledge because, for us, coaching isn’t just about fitness. In this section, you’ll find articles and videos on conflict resolution, communication, empathy, emotional intelligence, etc. It’s where we ask coaches to expand or challenge their reality, their way of thinking and seeing, so they may contribute to their clients’ lives in a meaningful way outside of movement. The skills that can be gained from this sort of growth make coaches your allies in creating the culture your dream clients want to be a part of.
We’ve designed the plans to make life easier on gym owners and coaches. You have everything you need — Pat’s daily coach video, a custom warmup, workout scales, subs, the “why” or intention of the session, things to look out for, goals for different levels of fitness, etc. The idea is to give you everything you need so that you can focus on the delivery.
We’re a 2 in 1 solution: You get programming and a coach development tool. Which means more time for you to do the things that make you feel nourished and restored.
Practices for You to Do
Okay, to give this a try, here are some resources:
Needs List — Google doc — A list of all the universal human needs on one sheet of paper.
How Your Gym Meets Clients’ Needs — Spreadsheet — An exercise to help you connect with how you serve your community so that you can more effectively communicate these things on your website or social media accounts. Which could draw more of “your people” to you and help everyone better understand what exactly it is that you’re offering them. You’re essentially painting a picture of your culture, what’s meaningful or important to you, and the specifics of how you intend to follow-through so it’s not just pretty words.
Client Needs Check-in — Spreadsheet — You can use this with your clients or members as a tool to help them get clear on their needs and what’s missing in their life. As their coach, you can then help them develop creative strategies for meeting these needs and provide the accountability they need to put the strategies into their calendar and actually DO them. As coaches, we know the value of what we do goes beyond movement or fitness. We help people step outside of their comfort zones so they can build the lifestyles they truly want. Maybe that’s a breathwork practice or meditation or dancing or surfing or hiking…the list goes on and on. It’s our privilege to be trusted with this role and to give the guidance people have asked for so they follow-through on the life they’ve envisioned and longed for.
You can also read our Vision and Values page to see how we’ve articulated our beliefs and why we know our service can improve the lives of gym owners and coaches.
As you might already know, we’re taking The Compassion Course, a communication methodology rooted in something called “needs-based relating,” which, simply put, is this:
Everything we do, we do to meet a need, consciously or subconsciously, successfully or not.
The long list of needs is sorted into these categories: Autonomy, Connection, Meaning, Peace, Physical Well-Being, and Play.
It’s not that this way of thinking is necessarily true — it’s just one way of seeing the world.
For us, we’re less concerned about what’s “right” or “fact” than we’re interested in answering, How can I think in a way that helps me create the world I want to live in?
What interests us most right now is learning how to communicate in a way that leads to more understanding and connection, and less shame and blame.
Four weeks into the course, we’ve explored Needs, Feelings, Judgments, and Strategies to meet Needs.
And that’s what we’d like to think about right now — strategies to satisfy needs.
Actually, what we’re really interested in thinking about right now is what happens when things fall apart, when your strategies for meeting needs fail.
That is, what happens when you’ve envisioned a future, tended to the fire of its creation with long hours of hard work, and then everything goes sideways.
Or, what do you do when you’ve done everything you can to prepare for every eventuality, when you’ve done your due diligence to make sure this scary, awful thing doesn’t happen, and then that scary, awful thing walks right into your life.
In CrossFit, we train for the unexpected. We prepare for “surprises.” When things get weird, we say it builds resiliency.
But what about when uncertainty creeps into every bit of our lives.
Simon Sinek defines a “finite game” as one with a clear beginning and end, fixed rules everyone agrees on, a clear objective, and identifiable players. “Football, for example, is a finite game. The players all wear uniforms and are easily identifiable. There is a set of rules, and referees are there to enforce those rules. All the players have agreed to play by those rules and they accept penalties when they break the rules. Everyone agrees that whichever team has scored more points by the end of the set time period will be declared the winner, the game will end and everyone will go home. In finite games, there is always a beginning, a middle and an end.
Infinite games, in contrast, are played by known and unknown players. There are no exact or agreed-upon rules. Though there may be conventions or laws that govern how the players conduct themselves, within those broad boundaries, the players can operate however they want. And if they choose to break with convention, they can. The manner in which each player chooses to play is entirely up to them. And they can change how they play the game at any time, for any reason. Infinite games have infinite time horizons. And because there is no finish line, no practical end to the game, there is no such thing as “winning” an infinite game. In an infinite game, the primary objective is to keep playing, to perpetuate the game… there are no finish lines and no winners. There’s no such thing as coming first in marriage or friendship. No one is ever crowned the winner of careers.”
The tricky part is cultivating that awareness, identifying what game we’re playing (finite or infinite) when we’re standing in the heat of the moment, and then developing more appropriate strategies before we shout “onward!”
Speaking of strategies…
According to this needs-based way of thinking and relating, all human acts can be seen as attempts to meet needs.
These are the specific needs you’re asked to refer back to:
to know and be known
to see and be seen
Physical Well Being
*Notice how long the “Connection” list is in comparison to others. Interesting…
Strategies to Meet Needs
Sometimes it seems like there’s conflict between our needs, like say, the need for progress with a project but also the need for rest and relaxation. These needs seem to oppose each other — progress and productivity vs. rest and relaxation.
But the conflict isn’t between the needs. It’s between the strategies we come up with for fulfilling those needs.
Thom Bond, the course creator, writes, “When I focus on needs, instead of the strategies I might engage in to fulfill them, I can see things that I simply couldn’t see before. You could say that when we are in “strategy mode”, we only have two choices, do the strategy or not. When we are in “need mode”, we have ten thousand strategies available to us to meet any need (metaphorically speaking, of course).”
With this way of seeing the world, a lack of strategies is a lack of imagination.
Okay, but how do you tell the difference between a need and a strategy?
If you look at the Needs list above, you won’t find “job” listed there. But you will find needs that are met by having a job.
Coaching or running a gym is a strategy to meet needs. It’s not THE strategy, it’s A strategy.
Just like joining a CrossFit facility or a gym is A strategy to meet needs.
There is no ONE way to meet needs.
This is hard to keep in mind when things fall apart.
Like when we lose our job. When half our community loses their jobs. When we shift from coaching in-person to coaching mostly online. When we don’t know if our business will be open in 3 months. When we’re not sure how to show up and serve our communities anymore.
Life can get very sad very quickly when we’re stuck on making one strategy work.
Part of this week’s course homework is to do this practice:
“Needs Liberation — Think of someone that you think is preventing you from getting a need met. Write down the need from the Needs List. Then, think of 3 ways you could get this need met without that person. It helps to use your imagination a bit here too.”
Blaming and shaming is part of our overarching culture. In a lot of ways, it’s what we were trained to do, to become. We’re taught to judge ourselves and others as doing and being “good” or “bad/evil,” and to create a world of heroes and villains.
We’re learning to unlearn those habits.
It’s interesting to contemplate all the people or things we see as “in the way” of our needs getting met.
To explore your needs and strategies, and the so-called obstacles in your way, try sitting down with the needs list and ask yourself what needs you’re fulfilling with a career in fitness. Be as specific as you can and stick to the words on this list.
You might also ask new clients what needs they’re trying to meet by joining your gym or hiring you as a coach. Helping people learn about and connect with these needs makes it possible for you to show up and serve your community more effectively — by providing solutions to problems people may not know how to put words to themselves. For us, coaching and mentoring is not just about fitness or movement. The relationship is about lifestyle, unlearning unhelpful beliefs or mindsets, and letting go of validation to make more room for what’s meaningful. Basically, it’s about living a truer, richer life.
If one strategy falls apart, it’s time to create a new one.
We are only limited by our imagination.
Resources are limited, true. Time, energy, money, and so on. But this has always been a fact of life.
Again, we are only limited by our imagination.
We’re struggling with this work right now. Analyzing our needs, then coming up with multiple strategies on how to meet those needs without requiring someone else to show up and contribute to our needs is not easy stuff.
It feels like important work, though.
Especially with so much uncertainty in the world right now.
When plans and futures are falling apart or fading away, slipping through the fingers like smoke.
We cannot give everyone peace, safety and security. We wish we could.
At the very least, maybe this needs-strategies way of seeing things will help you see your situation differently so that you dream up more creative solutions to your biggest problems.
As Viktor Frankl, said, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
It’s too late to join the course, but The Compassion Course Book: Lessons from the Compassion Course is available on Amazon and (probably) your favorite indie book store.
I am lucky to know many highly-skilled, hardworking people who’ve been incredibly successful in changing lives through fitness and movement. These folks also tend to be generous with their knowledge, paying it forward so others can share in the abundance.
With so many changes in the fitness industry due to COVID-19, and with so many of us considering hybrid gym models (running online and in-person memberships), I wanted to talk with people who knew how to offer that personal touch in an online space.
Mike and Adee Cazayoux lead the Working Against Gravity (WAG) community, which offers 1:1 personal nutrition coaching. They build a custom program around your needs to meet you where you’re at AND get you the results you want.
They’ve been offering their services through WAG since 2014.
What makes WAG so interesting to me is that Mike and Adee have chosen to run a premium-priced model, which goes against the typical volume-based membership service that relies on a constant turn-and-burn to keep afloat, like something that’s $20 a month.
In this webisode, the duo shares some of the mistakes and wins they’ve experienced while working with over 20,000 people and 35 coaches online. They offer up some great information on how they’ve built better systems for their program delivery, coach check-ins, and member tracking.
Some of the highlights:
All their coaches have to respond to messages within 24-hours.
All their coaches are former WAG members.
They have every member of their team take the Kolbe test to learn their strengths and weaknesses.
They believe online coaches need to be more patient because they don’t get that immediate feedback that happens naturally with in-person, face-to-face interactions.
They teach their coaches to build relationships with the FORD model.
Why they decided on a premium-priced model, and why they believe their product is worth what they charge.
How to determine what to pay a coach, how many hours it takes to coach x amount of people, and how many clients each coach can handle.
Why online services can be so valuable and deliver such great results.
What to do when a client isn’t responding to accountability check-ins.
This is a great conversation to listen to if you’re considering online memberships or a hybrid model at your facility.
If you’d like to learn more about WAG, here are some places to visit:
And, if you’d like to see how we’re using a hybrid model here at WUWO, here’s what our session plans look like. The link takes you to a 1-day preview, no email or info required. The “Partially Loaded” track is for people who work out at home. All they need are a pair of dumbbells (or objects from around the house) and a jump rope. We’ve found that providing at-home clients with similar or the same programming keeps them feeling connected to and a part of the larger community.
As cities, counties, states, and nations call for organizations to close temporarily and people to stay at home, we’d like to talk about how to keep your community healthy and strong during this outbreak.
This is by no means an exhaustive road map, but it’s one that we’ll continue to add to as developments occur and affiliates share what’s working for them.
**SKIP TO PHASE 2** (This part is already out of date)
In this phase, your local community has not been as affected by the virus yet. Your doors are open, people are attending classes, and you’re concerned with best practices for how to keep your people healthy and happy.
Educate Yourself on Covid-19
Look to the CDC’s Youtube account and other resources to educate yourself on the virus, how it spreads, and what you need to do to keep your members safe.
You can carry Covid-19 for 14 days after exposure without experiencing any symptoms. Which means if you have members who’ve been traveling, they could be carriers of the virus for 2 weeks before they realize they’re sick. Knowing this, you’d call these members and ask that they stay home for 2 weeks before returning to the gym. You can offer them at-home workouts and virtual coaching (more on this later) to keep them moving and resilient. At the end of that cycle, if they don’t have any symptoms, they’re welcome to return. By offering up a virtual coaching solution, you protect your entire community while also taking care of a member who may potentially become ill (more on what to do when that happens later).
From there, with knowledge of the virus, you can create your procedures.
Develop an SOP Document — Standard Operating Procedure
A Standard Operating Procedure is a document of step-by-step instructions on how to execute a task. It’s a detailed explanation of the process. The idea is to make the SOP so clear, so easy to understand, that anyone could walk-in and “get it.” Essentially, you make yourself redundant as a leader. They don’t need you around to know what to do and how to do it.
Develop a plan for what processes you want to put in place and how you want to communicate that to your staff.
What are the processes around social distancing?
Will you cap classes to a certain size?
How will you cap? Will people have to pre-register? What system will they use to do so?
What are the processes around cleanliness and sanitation?
Will you provide hand sanitizer, or require people to wash their hands upon arrival?
What supplies will be available for people to wipe down equipment before AND after their workout?
How often will the gym be cleaned?
How do you intend to keep your people safe? And who’s responsible for what?
Alyssa Royse of Rocket CrossFit in Seattle wrote about how they created an advisory panel of doctors (who are also members of the gym) and what they did to keep members safe. Here’s the article: Running a Gym & Covid-19. She includes screenshots of Facebook post announcements where she’s explaining the new procedures to members so that everyone is clear on what the gym is doing to protect people from the virus.
Educate Your Staff
Train your staff on your new procedures — what you’re doing to keep them safe and members safe. Coaches will be cleaning body fluids (sweat, etc.) off the floor and equipment, so they need to be educated on how to do that properly so they don’t get sick.
You also need to educate them on Covid-19, what they can say to members, and who’s responsible for what.
Educate Your Members
Overcommunication is not a thing right now. It does not exist. You need to frequently (more frequently than you probably think) update your members on what you’re doing to keep them safe, how you’re responding to new developments, and what they’re required to do to protect themselves and others.
Bottom line: Use your social media channels and email to clearly lay out your plan and what you expect from them. Nothing fear-based. This is our time to lead, to remain calm so we make better decisions, and to educate our members on health & wellness.
Be Really Obvious About Cleaning
When people walk into the gym, it should smell like sanitizer. Don’t hide the cleaning process. Be really open and obvious about it so that everyone understands you’re doing what you can to keep them healthy. They need to see it and smell it.
Going back to the SOP…
Members also need to know their role in cleaning. Are they washing their hands upon arrival? Are there cleaning supplies to use to wipe down the barbell before AND after they workout?
What are members expected to do? And what are coaches expected to do?
Make sure everyone is 100% clear on who’s responsible for what.
Again, this goes back to education.
Educate on Covid-19 and the risk of body fluids. Explain how often you’re cleaning equipment, how they’re supposed to clean the equipment, how often you’re cleaning the floors (sweat angels are a risk now), etc.
Give step-by-step instructions.
Remind people that you’re keeping class sizes small and cleaning frequently to minimize the risk of exposure. Explain what else you’re doing to keep them and their families healthy.
Everyone needs to know how to safely sanitize to decrease their risk of exposure while cleaning.
If cleaning isn’t your skill, hire someone.
Remember, people justifiably feel like their lives and the lives of their loved ones are on the line here, so be respectful and act accordingly. This is not a drill. This is real.
If people doubt your ability to keep them safe, they’ll cancel their membership.
In short: Overcommunicate and Overclean.
Remove High-Risk Carriers from the Space
If you have doctors, nurses, paramedics, etc., you need to call these members and move them to at-home workouts with 1:1 or virtual coaching. We don’t know any medical professionals who would put up a fight. They got into their fields to save lives. They understand preventative healthcare. They understand people are scared. They are also fully aware that they have the highest chance of exposure.
When you bring a solution to the table, like at-home workouts and virtual coaching, it lets them know that you care about them AND you’re willing to do what’s necessary to keep everyone else healthy too. (More on at-home workouts and virtual coaching later.) They’re going to be willing to work with you to come up with something that makes sense.
Side note: You might also consider opening up a group thread with nurses and doctors (who are members at your facility) so they can share developments with you that you can pass along to your whole community. They are a wonderful resource for your gym right now, and could really help you keep your folks more informed.
Remove Potential Problems
If you have Open Gym, shut that down for now. You have no control over who’s showing up, how many people are working out together, whether or not they’re cleaning their hands or the equipment, etc. It’s a risk you don’t need right now.
Also, now isn’t the time for drop-ins. You don’t know where they’ve been traveling to and from, whether or not they’ve passed through high-risk areas, what they do for a living, etc. Someone might tell you what they think you want to hear just so they can get in their workout for the day. It’s a liability issue and it’s not worth it.
Closing these down will show your members that you’re doing your absolute best to protect them, and that’s worth more than drop-ins.
If you’re a gym with a lot of drop-ins, find a way to connect with people via virtual coaching. Give passer-by’s an at-home or virtual coaching option. Get creative if you really need that revenue. There are platforms/apps you can use. But protect your community FIRST.
Talk with High-Risk Members About What to Do
If you have elderly members, children/teens, or people with compromised immune systems, you need to talk with them about the facts, their risks, what you’re doing to keep them safe, and then give them some options, like moving to at-home workouts.
Role Play Scenarios
Phase 1 is about figuring out your procedures. What you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it. If this, then that sorta scenarios.
If you don’t anticipate potential situations, you won’t plan or accommodate, which puts you in a defensive or reactionary position.
Here are some potential scenarios you’ll need to role play with your staff:
A client has been exposed to the virus at your gym (because of an infected member)
A client is diagnosed with Covid-19 (but not because of your gym)
An ER nurse, who’s a member, wants to keep coming to normal classes
Our suggestion: At-home workouts
An ER nurse wants to join the gym as a new member
Our suggestion: At-home workouts
A couple has just returned from traveling to a place with confirmed Covid-19 cases
Our suggestion: At-home workouts for at least 2 weeks. If they don’t show any symptoms after 2 weeks, they can attend normal classes and follow safety/sanitization procedures.
A member wants to cancel because they’re afraid
Have some alternatives that you could offer, such as at-home workouts or virtual coaching. That way, they’re still a member and they get to work out in the safety of their own home.
Relax your rules on freezes or cancellations.
Keep in mind: People are genuinely terrified right now. And when the dust settles, they’re going to remember how you treated them when they were terrified. Not only will they remember, they’ll tell everyone they know too. Just do right by your people and figure the rest out later.
Regarding ill clients: We would not share names with other members, but we would alert our community to the fact that someone has been diagnosed with the virus. We would clearly state how we intend to offer support to this member, and what we’re doing in response (to keep everyone safe).
Personally, we’d freeze or cancel their membership (now is not the time to work out), but continue to offer them mobility/restorative movement that is low-key and beneficial.
We’d also have a PDF or list of things they could lean on. That might be simple recipes (check with licensed nutritionists), informative videos/articles, anything that will make them feel more empowered in such an uncertain situation. The objective is to offer is to serve and support these people as best we can, within legal limitations, and without exposing ourselves or our loved ones to risk.
We’d also offer to pick up some groceries and supplies and drop them off on the front porch. Or find some other way to offer them support.
We’d close the gym for a day and do a deep clean. Probably even hire professional cleaners and alert them to the situation.
You also need to know what sort of advice you can offer legally. For instance, what sort of nutrition advice does your state allow you to make? We find that during times like this, people will lean on you more and ask a lot of questions. You need to know what you can and can’t say, and maybe have a list of references you could pass along. These could be local professionals, like nutritionists, etc., or could be helpful blogs or social media accounts that provide a lot of education and are run by licensed professionals.
If ever there was a time to educate your members on nutrient-dense foods, it’s now.
This is one of the main tools in the kit for prevention. Education around food & the immune system could benefit a lot of people.
Create and share simple recipes that are nutrient-dense, affordable, accessible and doable for the masses. Grocery lists (with associated recipes) make it so much easier on folks. One grocery list that gives you X number of meals…now that’s showing up and serving your people!
Lead daily check-ins to see how everyone is eating and feeling.
Share resources by licensed professionals or trustworthy sources. Nothing fear-based or out of reach.
Here are a few places to check for nutrition resources:
You could also share tips on tools for stress management. Videos on breathwork, lifestyle changes that people could make that might protect them from the virus… Just ask yourself: How can I help my people feel calmer? Get more rest? Have a better attitude or mindset? What’s going to help them get through this?
Even if they don’t get sick, their job might be affected, they might be house-bound and feel isolated, they might be experiencing more anxiety or stress than normal (which isn’t great for the immune system) because they’re worried about their grandparents, their friend who just had a baby, or their aunt with an autoimmune disease.
As coaches and mentors, our role and impact go far beyond the barbell. What we offer is not just access to equipment or a group fitness class. We are not an alternative for a 1990s workout video. We offer health, resiliency, longevity, community, and support for the whole human.
In this phase, you’ve either opted to temporarily close your doors or been required to do so.
Programming: At-Home Workouts
We’ll be posting at-home workouts every week to this blog post. These are free and meant for everyone.
Each workout is bodyweight or low load. You can use gallons of water, laundry detergent jugs, or other objects you find around the house.
To make things super easy on you and your people, we’ve also included movement demonstration videos. That way, there’s no confusion over things like “Barbell Wipers” or “Hip Flows” or “Sumo Squats.”
(Members of WUWO: We’ll also send you a daily video that’ll go deeper into each workout.)
How to Deliver At-Home Workouts
You can run at-home workouts in a variety of ways.
You could host group Zoom/Skype calls and offer coach-led classes this way.
If you do this, be sure to educate your members on how to use the platform of your choice. Someone might skip the workout because they’re nervous that you’ll see them work out in their pj’s in their messy living room. Teach people how to log-in, blackout their screen, etc. The less friction people feel with the platform, the more likely they are to actually use it.
You could offer personal training type of sessions, very 1:1, via Skype/Zoom.
What we’re suggesting is to divide your members amongst your coaching staff and then text them the at-home workouts. Here’s how that would look:
Coach Jenny gets everyone whose last names begin with A – F, Coach Steve gets G – N, etc.
Every day, they INDIVIDUALLY text each person. This is not a mass text, group thread, or mass email. You send each member a personalized text message saying, “Here’s the workout. Here are the videos that will demonstrate the movements. Here are the scales/subs for you (individualize this). And here’s what YOUR goal should be for the day (again, this is personalized). (If you can work-in the “why” behind the workout, that’s specific to them, that’s awesome sauce.) Text me your results. If you’re not up for working out today, when would you like me to check-in? Tomorrow?”
You can share these results to your private Facebook group for members, etc.
We like this process because:
It’s simple and easy. Everyone knows how to text.
It gives coaches a daily touch-point with every member, which is an opportunity to see how people are feeling, get feedback on how you could serve your community more, send people more information and resources, and so on.
It makes people feel like you’re taking care of them. Which you are.
Remember: The service you provide, as a coach, isn’t tied to a specific space or a specific set of equipment.
People can download all sorts of workout apps or videos these days. If they wanted a fitness instructor at the front of the class, shouting at them through the screen, they could have that for free or for very cheap. That’s not what you’re providing them. You’re not a group fitness instructor. COACH them.
As the coach, you’re going to make or break this process.
It’s up to you to dig down deep and take even better care of your people than you already do.
How to Keep Coaches Working
Small businesses and economies are going to suffer because of this outbreak. That is a given.
However, it doesn’t have to be doom and gloom. At least, not yet.
Just because people aren’t showing up to your physical space, doesn’t mean that you’re barred or banned from providing them with tremendous value and service.
Send them at-home workouts.
Offer great nutrition resources and support.
Provide an online space where people can connect with one another during a time of social distancing.
Share positive videos and articles that will give your people tools they can use to take care of themselves and their loved ones in times of uncertainty and anxiety.
Be a leader.
Your coaches may not be showing up to the gym and coaching a full hour but they will be reaching out and coaching people with at-home or virtual workouts. You can also delegate tasks, like creating recipes or nutrition PDFs, researching content that could be helpful, etc.
Ask your coaches how they want to contribute.
Share your financial reality with them: Everyone needs to step up in ways they haven’t before so that we make it through this storm.
If you have part-time employees who you know will face extreme hardship without your paycheck, see if you can afford to give them an advance for classes they’ll coach in the future. Or find other ways they can contribute right now and pay them what you can for those services.
We’re reminded of stories from the 2007/2008 financial crisis when many businesses were on the brink of closure. Instead of laying off dozens or hundreds of employees, they asked all their employees to give up some of their benefits, take 2-3 weeks of unpaid time off, or to work less hours. The idea: It’s better that we should all suffer a little than any of us have to suffer a lot.
Honestly, this idea translates to members too. Some won’t be financially hit by the economic impact of Covid-19, and some will. Perhaps you could have open conversations, when the time comes, about reducing pricing for those who are hardest hit while asking those who can afford it, to pay the normal rate. If your messaging is village-minded and appeals to everyone’s humanity, people will rise to the occasion. These situations can yield beautiful, unanticipated results where people come together in ways you didn’t think possible.
Share Your Reality, Tactfully
A lot of affiliates are concerned about a mass exodus. Rightfully so. That would not be good for business.
Strategies to prevent this:
If people are concerned about their safety, offer at-home workouts or virtual coaching.
If people are concerned about their finances because they might lose their job, have some solutions to offer them.
Are you prepared to offer scaled/reduced pricing?
Do you have other products that you could sell them that would benefit them?
Something like a significantly reduced rate for 2 or 3 at-home workouts a week
Or even a PDF with at-home workouts where you take a template and customize it for them so it’s more personalized than a list of workouts.
Or a membership to an affordable nutrition program
Or even a PDF of recipes
If people freeze their memberships, schedule a goal review in 30 days. Say, okay, “I’d like to schedule a goal review with you about 30 days from now so we can check-in to see how you’re doing.” This gives you an opportunity to reach out at the end of 30 days, and it often leads to keeping that member around.
If you’re going to have public conversations about your finances, you need to really think about your language and messaging.
There’s integrity, and there’s damage control.
The truth is: You need memberships to stay alive. People understand this.
They also have their own troubles.
So, it’s going to be more complicated than you sharing your financial reality. They have theirs too.
Which is why instead of panicking and trying to protect your current business model, you need to adapt.
In Simon Sinek’s The Infinite Game, he talks about resiliency amidst cultural change: “Publishers saw themselves in the book business instead of the spreading-ideas business and thus missed the opportunity to capitalize on new technology to advance their cause. They could have invented Amazon or the digital e-reader. Had the music industry defined themselves as the sharers of music rather than the sellers or records, tapes and CDs they would have had an easier time in a world of digital streaming. By defining themselves by a cause greater than the products they sold, they could have invented services like iTunes or Spotify. But they didn’t…and now they are paying the price for it.”
Be the solution to your members’ problems.
Show up and serve.
If you can forget yesterday, set aside your perfect picture of how it’s supposed to look and how things are supposed to be right now, get curious, stay open, and serve your people, you’re going to be okay.
Expand Your Reality
If you have more free time, and you don’t want to give it all to Netflix and terrifying news reports, here are some mind-opening books:
Thank you to everyone out there doing right by your people. It is our intention to keep putting out free workouts throughout Covid-19. You don’t have to opt-in to an email list for us to market to you and try to sell you stuff. That would be super lame. You can find all the workouts in the list in this article (go up the page a bit) or just look at this page: At-Home Workouts & Covid-19.
We will do our best to share resources until this crisis is over.
Take care of yourself, your loved ones, and your community.
Now is the time for us to be our very best selves.
The biggest trap an evaluator can fall into is: “Are they me?” That is, do they coach exactly as I coach? Instead, you should be evaluating their effectiveness as a coach and whether or not they actually connect with the people in front of them. Ultimately, it’s about how well people respond to them.
This video goes into what I’ve learned after years of evaluating coaches.
Are you a gym owner whose in the position where members keep coming to you about things instead of going to your coaches? If you want to redirect those conversations to your team, this video has a few ideas for how to establish coaches as authorities in your facility.
Know Your Product
When you opened your affiliate, surely you did it with the intent of selling CrossFit. You wanted to make people better by using the best strength and conditioning program that is attainable for all walks of life. How quickly after did you learn your product was actually coaching? Oh, spoiler alert: if you haven’t come to that realization already, your product is coaching.
CrossFit is self-sustaining. I can buy a few pieces of equipment, do main-site workouts or subscribe to programming or even create my own, and it would be a lot cheaper than paying a monthly membership. You might argue that there’s no community and the gym space provides that. To which I would ask, who is truly at the forefront of creating that community? Hint: Rhymes with shmoaches.
So, how well do you know your product? Are your coaches fully equipped to execute the vision of your affiliate?
“You Give Before You Get”
Great coaches are constantly giving. With every cue, every modification on the fly, every time they step into the gym, they are instantly in a state of giving (even if they’re not technically on the clock). They spend time thinking of what the perfect class music will be while remembering everyone’s injuries and how they’re going to drill the snatch and be entertaining at the same time.
When a person gives so much, they need to replenish their reservoir. They have to work in time for themselves, but how can they? Because the minute they stop, they’re not making money. This can be a recipe for disaster that then trickles down to the members and the whole community.
As a small business owner, payroll is probably one of your highest expenses. So, it’s understandably hard to justify high salaries and benefits. You might only have one full-time coach and probably a high number of part-time coaches. But, there are other ways you can set your coaches up for success aside from paying them fairly.
As a manager/owner, it’s important to continually check in with your coaches to ensure they are not on the verge of burning out. You must get ahead because if you’re not careful, it will happen. Take them out to lunch. Listen to what’s going on in their lives. What are their goals? What are their passions? Let them vent about that member and listen to their suggestions. The important thing here is that they feel heard, so make sure you listen.
Some coaches prefer mornings, some prefer two classes in a row, while others prefer to space them out. Take the effort to best accommodate their preferences. It’s difficult to do this all the time, but knowing that there is effort and that you respect their time goes a long way.
Focus Only on Coaching
Coaches should focus on coaching only. Hire someone else to handle sales or handle the gym cleaning. Don’t spread them too thin with other responsibilities. The only exception is if they’ve otherwise expressed interest in those areas.
Have a group text, newsletter, FB group, carrier pigeon, etc. Do what you have to do to always be in continuous communication with your coaches. Let them know updates about the gym before you announce anything to members. Get their feedback. This builds trust, and being in a trusting environment for a coach is very important.
We are in the business of giving. And it’s a constant cycle that will ensure the success of your business. It starts with how you treat your product. How you value your coaches will flow down to how your coaches value your members, which flows down to how your members value your gym.
Try these tips out and see if you notice a difference!
When I see new (or new-ish) faces in a class, I love to use icebreakers as a fun way to introduce them to everyone. Using these questions can totally change the vibe of a room. Everyone relaxes. The group feels more connected, more welcoming and open. And the newer people feel more a part of things, less like an outsider.
The best questions to use are ones that are quick and easy to answer — If you had one extra hour of free time every day, how would you use it? What’s the weirdest gift you’ve ever received? If you were a boxer, what entrance or walk-up song would you play? What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy day? What’s your favorite vacation spot?
You could use these for coaches meetings too, as a way to have a little fun together before talking business.
The result is still the same: The feel of the room softens, lightening the mood or tone. A more familial energy settles in, making people feel more comfortable and connected to each other. And you have a bit of a laugh while getting to know everyone a little better.
You could also start with a little game of Would You Rather…
Would you rather go into the past and meet your ancestors or go into the future and meet your descendants?
Would you rather have more time or more money?
Would you rather be able to talk to animals or speak all human languages?
Would you rather read an awesome book or watch a good movie?
Would you rather explore space or the ocean?
Would you rather be stuck on an island alone or with someone you strongly dislike?
Would you rather be too busy or be bored?
Would you rather live where it is constantly winter or where it is constantly summer?
Would you rather be a little late or way too early?
Would you rather live in Antarctica or the Sahara Desert?
Would you rather be able to take back anything you say or hear every conversation around you?
Would you rather be a werewolf or a vampire?
Would you rather be fluent in all languages or be a master of every musical instrument?
Would you rather have your own boat or your own plane?
Would you rather sing like an opera star or cook like a gourmet chef?
Would you rather be able to breathe underwater or fly through the air?
Would you rather live without music or T.V.?
Have fun with it. Keep the questions light, easy to answer, and free of triggery stuff.