Business Strategy For The Individual Design Model w/ Jim Crowell

Jim Crowell, CEO of OPEX Fitness, joins us today to talk business strategy. His background in Finance and Economics led him to play in the hedge fund world for years before successfully managing multiple fitness facilities in Pittsburgh. Today we discuss things like human behavior, storytelling, and implementing systems and strategies to make the individual design model work.

There’s a lot of great dialogue in this episode that makes me confident in saying you’d be SILLY to not listen to this one if you’re a fitness professional.

People don’t always want leaner, faster, and stronger. They want to be happier. How can you give that feeling to more people in your gym? We discuss the three pieces to the community, thoughts on how artificial intelligence will affect the fitness industry, social media strategy for coaches and gym owners, along so much more.

Also available here:

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Show Notes:

  • (4:40) – Coaches and gym owners want futures
  • (8:57) – Thoughts on maximizing the group fitness model
  • (10:13) – Human behavior
  • (12:55) – How to make the individual design model work
  • (16:20) – Gym owners — providing growth for coaches
  • (24:15) – Storytelling and filling your business model
  • (27:32) – Communicating the value of individualized design
  • (31:26) – Assessment and data to communicate results
  • (35:00) – Lead generation strategy
  • (39:00) – Automation and knowing your customers
  • (44:40) – Social media
  • (48:36) – Your story
  • (50:50) – Sales process
  • (59:08) – Systems and strategy
  • (1:10:35) – How will AI affect the fitness industry
  • (1:14:45) – Long term patch for coaching
  • (1:21:42) – 3 pieces to community building

Bite-sized action items to go from dreaming to streaming your podcast.

    Podcast Transcript:

    Jim  00:00

    Hey, this is Jim Crowell and you’re listening to the Airborne Mind Show.


    Misbah Haque  00:34

    Hello, everyone, this is Misbah Haque. Thank you so much for joining me today. And welcome back to the show. Whether this is your first, second, 10th or 30th episode, I appreciate you tuning in your time, your energy, your attention, and your ears mean the world to me. Without you listening, this show would not be where it is today. So once again, thank you. Before we get started, the biggest compliment that you can give is by leaving a review on iTunes, you have no idea how much that helps in terms of rankings, bringing more awareness to the show, and bringing on more interesting guests. So if you could take two or three minutes, not while you’re driving, but take two or three minutes go ahead, leave a review it would be greatly appreciated. 

    Also, be sure to head over to where you can check out some free resources and the full show notes there as well. today’s podcast episode is brought to you by If you enjoy books, and you are looking for something new to read, something that is relevant to problems that you’re trying to solve, I made a list for you at the airborne forward slash reading list. You can see a Sailrite compilation of all the books that previous guests have recommended on the show. And if you decide you want to go for it, you can grab a free audiobook and a 30-day free trial there as well. Once again, that is the airborne mind comm forward-slash reading list. 

    So today my guest is Jim Crowell, who is the CEO of OPEX fitness. He joins us today to talk about business strategy. His background in finance and economics allowed him to play in the hedge fund world for years before successfully managing multiple fitness facilities in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Today we discuss things like human behavior, storytelling, and implementing systems and strategies to make the individual design model work. I still feel like there’s a ton of questions that come up around how you can make a profession out of the ID model, whether you are a gym owner, you’re a coach, maybe you’re a physical therapist, and you own your own private practice. If you’re working with humans on an individual basis, and you find value and fulfillment, out of that a one on one connection. I think that this episode is extremely valuable. 

    There’s a lot of truth data and just great dialogue in this episode that makes me confident in saying that you’d be silly not to listen to this one. If you’re in the profession and delivery of fitness. People don’t always want to learn faster and stronger. They want to be happier. And so we talk about how can you give that feeling to more people in your gym, we discuss things like the three pieces to community thoughts on how artificial intelligence will affect the entire fitness industry, social media strategy for coaches and gym owners setting up sales process how to fill that funnel with the right people, along with so much more. Check out the show notes for a more detailed look. And I also linked up how you can connect with Jim through Instagram, Facebook, and email if that’s something that you want to do after listening to this. But I hope you enjoy this episode, as always, and more importantly, hope you do something with it. Jim, welcome to the show.

    Jim  03:54

    Hey, thanks so much for having me. Misbah Haque. It’s gonna be fun.

    Misbah Haque  03:57

    I saw a little clip on Facebook, where you were talking about the realistic point of view that we need to be looking at the profession of fitness at this point. And what’s kind of going on in the industry where we have people who love what they do, they can do meaningful work, but you have a coach that’s getting paid, let’s say $20 an hour and they’re working for 20 classes a week, at the end of the day, you were able to kind of provide the math for that and be like, is this sustainable? Is this providing a place for coaches to kind of grow so I’m excited to dig into some strategy because building businesses and mentoring coaches seem to be like it’s your forte.

    Jim  04:41

    Just to quickly touch on the coaching piece. I really like to view business from the top down and when you’re looking at a business I think what we’re seeing specifically in the micro gym, whether it be group individual personal training, any of it, you’re seeing it mature and because it’s maturing, you’re seeing a lot more competition, but you’re also seeing there is more talent in the field and the coaching side, and that talent is going to demand increase in pay really what they want is a future. And so if you can’t provide somebody with a future, by the way, yourself included as an owner, then how in the world are you going to continue to innovate with this field? Because it’s moving really quickly?

    Misbah Haque  05:24

    And we’ll unpack that a little bit. But before we do, give me a little bit of background, I know, you mentioned that you were in the financial arena for quite a few years before you got into coaching and into the fitness industry.

    Jim  05:40

    I’ve kind of been a coach in some capacity for my entire life coaching soccer teams, coaching baseball teams, even in my high school years. And I’ve always loved the mentor side of it, and the learning side of it, whether I’m the one that’s learning or teaching somebody. And so I went to school at Penn State, and I double majored in finance and economics thinking that Wall Street was the play that I knew at the time that I needed to go that route. So I ran with that and ended up working for a commodities hedge fund for about five years, and I was a crude oil trader, natural gas, and really under, I learned what that industry was and what it means to grow quickly and what it means to be a part of the global economy. And it was basically a startup at that time, too. So I saw what it took to grow a company. And that was fascinating for me. 

    But during that time, I realized that I wanted to be in a field where I could continue that coaching methodology might be the best word. And so within that, I guess I was confident enough to think that I could do it financially successful as well. So while I was at the hedge fund, I found CrossFit and fell in love with it, like so many did, and ended up I’m sure that him Jeremy teal, and those guys across fit Central, I started working out there in Austin, Texas, had a great experience with those guys, and ultimately decided that I wanted to open my own gyms. And so I had gone to high school in Pittsburgh and met up with a former high school buddy of mine, and we ended up opening a gym in Pittsburgh, this typical story 1100 square feet underneath a pizza shop figuring out how to do carpet underneath the matting, just awesome. We grew that really quickly, moved out of the first facility and nine months grew into a much bigger facility. 

    A couple of years after that opened, the second facility we put had about 500 members when I ultimately sold my stake in the company. And a big reason that I did is that I had found OPEX, which was PT at the time, James Fitzgerald and those guys. And I realized that the style of coaching that I wanted to do was different, and not to take anything away from the group training methodology. But I wanted to teach a little something different. And I wanted to go down the knowledge rabbit hole. And that’s what I found from James and the team here. So as I was getting ready to sell my shares, James and Mike Lee kind of started the recruiting process whether I knew it or not, and ultimately ended up at OPEX as a coach, but realized really quickly that my passion really did lie on the business side. And so there was a good opportunity for me to sort of creating my own role at OpEx. 

    And so I moved completely into the business side about four months after getting there, and just really helped everybody at OPEX, put some structure to the business, build out all the marketing channels, build out the business line, launch the licensing program, and then ultimately took the CEO role about maybe six months ago, I’m not sure. But it’s been a really cool experience. And I’ve really enjoyed it. And I love the people that I’m working with. And it’s just fun to be in the fitness industry. I think that you can sort of be or do what you want in the industry. And it’s just really fun to see how that plays out for people.

    Misbah Haque  08:57

    What a ride it’s kind of been for you. Talk to me a little bit more about your days with group fitness, right? What were some things in hindsight, now that you’re looking back? Would you have done certain things differently to kind of maximize what you were kind of getting out of that model?

    Jim  09:19

    It’s a really good question. I think that one of the things that I didn’t do well enough back then, and I see it very often is I didn’t define the true business model that we were using. Yes, we were doing CrossFit. Yes, we were doing group training. But that was about it, right. You show up, you put something on the board, you try to treat your clients as best as you can. You try to give them as much of it as much of yourself as you can on a day-by-day basis. And I didn’t necessarily think about really long-term growth of all three stakeholders. And so the way that we define them at OPEX is the coach, the client, and the owner. And so I didn’t really define The game plan for all three of those different buckets of people. And as my mind started opening up to that, for me specifically, I thought that it could be done a little bit differently.

    Misbah Haque  10:12

    And so when then what happened, you transitioned into individualized fitness, you were intrigued by,  how OpEx was kind of putting out this information in this model? What kind of happened from there?

    Jim  10:29

    This is bringing back a lot of good memories. So I started the CCP program, which is OPEX for education. And as a lot of people are just kind of enthralled by it. Because the first thing that I did was essentially human behavior. And so there’s a consultative portion of CCP. And so you immediately get into this idea of, well, how am I actually understanding my clients, and whether it’s group or individual or whatever else, if you don’t truly have frameworks in place to understand what your clients are doing and saying and feeling, it’s difficult to really give them long term success. Because success is not always leaner, stronger, faster ultimately, most people in any gym environment want to be happier. And so you have to understand what the underlying values and priorities are. So I got there and I opened with that, and instantaneously I got really interested in how I can give this feeling to more people inside of my gym. 

    And so what we ended up doing is we started to try to do, essentially, as individualized a program as we can for a bunch of people. And what I recognize is that that just wasn’t as effective as I wanted it to be. So at the end of the day, ultimately, I was just you can’t scale your way to individual design. So ultimately, what I was doing is I started writing a bunch more, let’s call it what it is, templates for people because I was trying to get to be as individualized of a design, per what each of these buckets of people was. And by the end of it, I had something like eight or 10 buckets of templated programming that was somewhat effective. But it was very difficult to do. It wasn’t aligned with what group training in my opinion really is, which is everybody’s together. And so I knew that I wanted to go into more of an individualized entire environment. And that’s where I got into OpEx. 

    I started remote coaching as a client with James Fitzgerald. And then as I got into working with OPEX, I was obviously a remote coach for them. And then kind of grew from there into really thinking about how the gym environment could be laid out in that’s when we put out the gym licensing program. So it’s been an interesting evolution, to say the least.

    Misbah Haque  12:55

    That brings up for me, something that I’ve been getting asked about more and have had the opportunity to communicate with people. Since I’ve taken on this position at revival strength and heard questions about how does this individualized design model work? Right? What goes into taking care of this one client? How does the structure work? How do you scale it, it’s still something that’s kind of foreign, for people like so I want to dig into that a little bit. What is the overall strategy behind how you can make an ID model work?

    Jim  13:31

    So ultimately, it comes down to dollars per hour, if we’re really getting to brass tacks. And personal training, you can make a lot of money individually as a personal trainer. And if you have a number of other coaches inside of your studio, you can make a decent bit of money. But at some point, you’re run, you run out of time, it’s just what happens, right. So whether it’s 15 clients, 30 clients, whatever, you run out of time. So either you’re going to have to increase your prices, depending on the area that may or may not fly, or you’re going to stay where you are for a while, or you’re going to burn out. And so I’ve seen a lot of personal trainers get really, really tired because they’re on the floor for 10 hours a day for 10 years. And again, I’m looking at the long term to try to understand what is the best scalable option for a coach, a client and an owner. And so in an individualized design model, you can spend good quality time in consultation sessions with your clients. But you can still have them in a team or group environment on the floor working out with guidance from one coach. 

    So it’s a really cool model where you are designing programs individually, but those programs don’t take hours and hours. Maybe they do right when you first start but as you get proficient with it, you make your efficiency better and better. You put better principles on the page for them and you build in your own efficiencies on managing your clients on a day-by-day basis. Whether If you’re a remote coach through video, or if you’re on-site, you’re having conversations while you’re on the floor. But you can actually make a better dollar per hour doing that. And believe me, I’ve done the math, you can do better dollar per hour doing that than you can in a number of other models. And from a coaching standpoint, essentially what we like to do as we like to pay coaches a percentage of revenue so you also have this pathway that you can see in your future to say if I do this, and I work with this many clients, this is what I’m going to make every month, it’s just math. 

    So I know, that’s a very simplified version of it. But it comes down to the growth of a coach in the creativity of their program designed in the creativity of the relationship building with their clients. But it has to also come down to economics. And if you can’t show that coach growth, just like we open the conversation with, at some point, they will seek out someplace else that can provide the growth, because they have no choice. As much as coaches want to be noble, and they want to do the right thing. And they want to just give all of their time to their clients. At some point, they need to be rewarded for that if they are a great coach. And that’s obviously a big debated question. But if they do treat their clients correctly, if they help their clients get really good results, they should be rewarded for that over time.

    Misbah Haque  16:19

    Absolutely. And for most people we’re not even talking about making a killing out of this, it’s just talking about making a sustainable living, where you can actually do this as a profession, and not really as just a side hobby, right, or having to do two or three other things to be able to sustain this passion of yours. And what this reminds me of is that clip that I originally saw, that got us in contact with each other were you talking about, there’s let’s say there’s a coach getting paid $20 an hour, they are coaching about 20 hours a week, and they feel kind of capped out the next logical step there is for a lot of people is like, Oh, well, I’m just gonna go open up my own gym. Right. And that leads to a host of other challenges and obstacles along the way. But what are some of those opportunities that you can provide coaches with that allow for that growth?

    Jim  17:14

    I think every coach is a little bit different. And this is where we come back to the What model do you want to run as a business owner? And what sort of environment do you want to provide, and everybody’s going to be different, and my hope is that everybody builds a business that is authentic to them so that they’re not trying to be something that they’re not. But specifically on the coach’s side of things, they either are going to be somebody who wants safety, or they’re going to be somebody who wants an opportunity. And certainly, there are some who are in between, but essentially, somebody who wants safety, they will probably prioritize a monthly salary commission that is fixed, so that they know exactly what’s coming in. 

    Whereas somebody who wants opportunity will, opportunity cost themselves a little bit of base salary or base commissions so that they have bigger upside on the backside. And I think like a business owner, you want to identify what type of coaches you want to bring in. Just to give you an example, we go on the lower end of upfront payment, because we don’t cap our upside. So if a coach comes in, and the business and the coach are successful, we do want them to earn six figures, that would be a utopia for us. Because as a business owner, or as a company like us, we want our coaches to earn a lot of money, because obviously, that means we’re doing better as a business, that means they’re retaining their clients. And that means that whether it’s our marketing, or their marketing, or their social media presence, or their networking has to be effective that they’re bringing clients in. So we want to give a structure that allows them to feel what is most beneficial for them

    So if I kind of take that down into whether it be our gyms or group gyms, or personal training, I think you want to identify do I want to go with the safe mode, which essentially pays for play? What I mean, you show up, you get paid no matter what? Or do you want to go with more of an opportunistic model, which by the way, is a little bit scarier for a coach upfront? But if you get the right coach, and if you align the fact that you are looking for an entrepreneur and a coach, as well, and I don’t mean that they’re doing everything I do, I don’t believe in that at all. I think the house business needs to be doing a lot of that. But if you can show a coach upside, and you can say, I don’t know what the number is 30, grand, 50, grand, 80, grand, 100 grand, whatever the number is, if you can show them a truthful, legitimate pathway to that, I believe that they will work harder and more effectively to achieve it because it’s in their best interest. And if you align your business to make your business succeed as their best interests are met, that in my mind is a great long-term business model.

    Misbah Haque  19:59

    They’re happy to be that buy-in that the house is actually providing that type of infrastructure for these people to grow. So I can think about when I first started personal training, this is before coaching CrossFit or anything like that the model seemed really attractive at first, right is like, okay, the trainer is walking away with so much, and the house is making a little bit but at the same time, like, you look at it,, you do the math, you’re like, if I get 20 30 40 clients, I could make a pretty decent living. 

    But then on the other side of that is, if the house is just kind of like, here’s the model, here’s what you got to do. Now go do it, right. And they don’t provide you with any guidance as to how to kind of go about that, like, here’s how you need to communicate your story. And here’s how you need to communicate what we’re about and provide them with the support that they need, then you’re left in a pretty weird position, is because I feel like that’s the case with a lot of facilities around the country is the support to develop that coach and give them the tools necessary to be able to pursue that model that they’re proposing is just not there.

    Jim  21:18

    Just because I know our model intimately, I can kind of attest to what we do. And as we’ve built out our licensing model, we’ve recognized that the education that goes into our owners, is just as paramount as what goes into their coaches. And so one of the things that we’ve done is we’ve instituted a weekly call that’s just into perpetuity for all of our owners and their coaches to come on a Monday morning, it’s actually coming up pretty soon, a Monday call where they go over client avatars and discuss exactly around programming for them and relationship building. And that education that they get from that is incredibly important to their overall path if we keep coming back to this word of the path, and if I know something for a fact is that a large percentage of coaches in this field micro gym coaching, want to increase knowledge, they absolutely want to become masters of their craft. 

    The trouble is, there are not enough outlets for coaching consistently. So where do they go to continuously learn that to ask questions, and you’re, I think you’re spot on. If the owner of the facility is not available to them consistently, then they’re just going to cap out and they’re not going to learn. And then if they’re not making enough money, there’s no education, there’s no financial support. And if you’re also saying that there’s not a marketing component, or a client acquisition component to their business, what’s the coach supposed to do? I mean, they’re not getting any support. So to go back to the business model, you as an owner have to be clear on those points. 

    Because just as I do that, if a coach is coaching all the clients and the owners coaching, no clients, what happens if the coach walks out, clients go away? So as the owner, we believe in all of our facilities, we can’t force it, force it. But all of our facilities are highly encouraged to do a coach owner model, where they are also coaching clients, they’re also building that capacity as a coach, they’re having experiences that they can share with their coaches, and then they can come on to our calls. And they can have conversations about those clients so that they can get a different perspective. And just to give you an idea, James Fitzgerald and Henry Toronto are the guys on the call. So they’ve got an unbelievable support system, helping them to learn how to continue to coach. So how do we help a coach who comes in perhaps at a very low draw on a monthly basis while they’re building clients, education, so it is very valuable for them? And then as the clients start to grow, now they’re seeing the economic benefit plus the knowledge benefit. And so far, that’s been really effective for the gyms that we have.

    Misbah Haque  24:12

    What this reminds me of is coming down to and I want to get your thoughts on this is the storytelling aspect, right? The narrative that you are communicating to people of what individualized design is about and why it’s worth it, why it will help people live healthier, happier, and more fulfilling lives, right? How do you begin to encourage the coaches that are on that call, to help them craft that narrative, right to be able to effectively communicate what they’re about? Because I feel like that’s the next step . Once we have this model, where the coach, the owner, and the client win, what’s the next step? Well, it’s finding people who are going to fill that model. So what are your thoughts on that?

    Jim  24:59

    We do a six-month accelerator program for anybody who’s going to become an OPEX gym. So they’re on calls with James and me for six months straight every week, there’s homework, there’s everything we check all the homework, it is extremely hands-on, to make sure that they understand all of these components, one of those weeks, and it’s certainly within the context of a number of weeks on marketing, one of the weeks is storytelling. And every owner and we generally have two owners on this call, every owner has to work through the story that they’re trying to tell. And that call every single time we’ve done maybe six groups of licenses at this point, that is always people’s favorite call because it gives such real rationale as to why they’re doing what they’re doing. And when somebody is clear on why they’re running a gym, that’s when they can start to recruit the right coaches. 

    So to your question, if the coach owner is very clear on what they’re doing, and if they use really good hiring practices to find aligned individuals who also share those same stories, not exactly the story, but the desire to be a part of that narrative. That’s when it be the marketing channels, the social media channels, that’s when it all can align. But at the end of the day, that’s when the fulfillment of the service itself is going to be effective. And you and I both know that in gyms, the referral system is the strongest source of leads at the least expensive. So with a really good referral system, because those coaches are working with clients effectively, that’s when they start to tell a lot of other people around them. So it’s not that our gyms aren’t doing a lot of social media and marketing, and they put CRMs in place and SEO and all that great stuff, right? It’s that they’re building a foundation of networking and referrals that are consistent. 

    And that is, that’s been extremely beneficial. Because the gym can align itself by saying, We believe that a one-to-one relationship, in the long run, is more effective. So that’s our model. That’s our belief. And of course, there are a number of other models out there that can be effective. But that’s what we think. And that’s who we recruit into our licensed model. And that’s who we want them to recruit as their coaches. And we also have the CCP system with over 2000 coaches, that’s a great starting point for these gym owners to recruit coaches into their facilities.

    Misbah Haque  27:31

    It seems like an essential piece, because like we mentioned earlier, there’s a lot of questions around Okay, what does individualized design actually consist of? Right? When you see, it’s kind of the question that you would get, maybe when you’re first joining a CrossFit gym as well, right? Like, wow, I’m paying 150 bucks, 200 bucks a month? What am I actually getting out of this? I get to show up and work out with other people. Do I get any extra coaching on top of this? There’s a lot of those questions there when it comes to individualized design as well. And there’s a lot of care that goes into the IDX model, like you mentioned, it’s a relationship business, and you are investing a lot of time into each client getting to know them. And really, there’s a long game in view here, right? It’s like, Hey, we’re going to be working together for the next, let’s say, 12 months, six months, 12 months, and hopefully beyond that. But what is some features or benefits that you find is essential to highlight when communicating the value of individualized design?

    Jim  28:41

    I think the word that you just said, a value, that’s the key. So if we’re talking about a client’s perspective, in general, a client wants to get better and have fun so fun means a lot of different things. So in the context of a coach-client relationship, they want to feel supported, but they only want to feel supported if they get results. So at the end of the day, a coach has to be able to say, Well, we started here and went here. And the difficulty of a group environment generally, is that it’s very, very hard to know, realistically, if somebody has gone from point A to point B. So it’s one thing if somebody puts a PR up on the board, it’s another thing to say, oh my gosh, your hormone levels have done this and you’re able to actually fall asleep at night. And within the IDX model, the coach has to dig into those things. 

    Now, I’m not saying they dig in like a naturopath, doctor, okay, so, but they certainly get reports on those sides of lifestyle, and they have to make sure that they are helping people inside and outside of the gym. So the notion that everybody is an athlete, I think, is unfortunate. initially hurting a lot of gyms, in that too many people are doing things that are too complicated to be central nervous system dependent. And in the long run, I don’t think that that’s necessarily a good thing for people, right? Because if they work nine to five at a desk all day, what are they? What are they training for? So they want to be doing things that ultimately line up with their priorities. And a lot of people want to look good, feel good, feel athletic and have and have a good time at the gym, and build relationships. So in individual design, you have to set up a structure that allows for that.

    So the coach is always aware of where their clients are each single one. So they understand not only what their numbers are in the gym, they understand what their food looks like, out of the gym, they understand what their lifestyle looks like, out of the gym, they understand that they’re sleeping, they understand how effectively they’re having bowel movements and all that stuff. And like, we can laugh about how crazy that sounds to a lot of people. But if somebody is in a bad spot, we need to have an understanding of that. So either we can help them, whether it’s an increased program, decrease a program, more volume, less volume, anything around that on the floor, but we need to help them off the floor. And so our goal is to be a comprehensive, all inclusive style of fitness and health and wellness that allows the clients to ultimately succeed in and out of the gym.

    Misbah Haque  31:26

    This is where the beauty of I think the assessment module in the CCP kind of comes outright is because you can effectively assess people in a variety of areas. And that is what influences the design that you’re going to give them right. And it shows people like, Hey, we’re going to retest this type of stuff in four weeks, eight weeks, whatever it might be. And so it gives people an objective view at, here’s where I was at. And here’s where I’m kind of going. And you’re doing that for each and every individual. So now that they see that progress, it’s like you’re building consistency with yourself. You’re showing people that they can win. And it feels like it’s almost like a cycle after that, right? The more people feel good about winning with themselves and making a little bit of progress. It kind of feeds the fire.

    Jim  32:19

    I think the coach has to be a professional. So a lot of times coaches want what’s best for their clients, but they’re ultimately led to do things they don’t necessarily think are right because their clients are pushing on them so much. So when you actually put somebody into an assessment and tell them the truth, that changes a lot if you tell them to say, hey you have no ability to press out on your right side, like you’re not snatching, and I know that that sounds crazy to a lot of coaches. But if somebody has no structural support, how in the world are they supposed to hold the barbell overhead without destroying the shoulder? And so what we want to do is we want to put the truth out there so that we can say, we’re going to look at this a lot. But until you can do ABC 123, I need to do these movements, I need to work on this structure, we need to do these things with your diet all of those points so that you can get to that goal of x, whatever the goal is, but the same idea as what their priorities are if somebody doesn’t have a priority of snatching every day, like life priority of snatching every day, why are they snatching? If that’s not biomechanically sound for them.

    And I’m not against snatching, I think it’s a great movement. But it’s not a good movement done in higher reps, if somebody doesn’t have the support the structure to handle it. But the trouble that we find too, is that if the coach isn’t measuring how effectively the results of a client are moving forward, well, how do they know if a client’s hurting,  because the client wants to, they want to impress the coach, too. And so they don’t want to tell their coach that they’re hurting, they just want to show up and work hard, because there’s kind of this leader-follower mentality, which is not a bad one, but there’s that mentality, and a coach has to be willing to be the professional to say, you can’t do this. 

    And here’s why. And when you do that, and you align really good coaching principles, with a good program with a bot in the client, that allows them to calm down enough in their CNS so that they can actually start to progress. And it’s just it does take a few more minutes to do that with each of your clients, but that’s the model and that is what we believe leads to much higher retention and for all of our gyms, all of their retention rates are just massively higher than what they were seeing in other models. And that’s what we want to put out in the market so that works really well for us.

    Misbah Haque  35:00

    I want to get your thoughts now on the lead generation strategy. So okay, we have, we have this model that we believe in the ID model, the coach, the owner and the client all when we’ve got this kick-ass product and service that we’re able to provide to people. Now, how do we actually have people that we can communicate this value? What is the start to that, and maybe let’s hone in on a brick and mortar facility?

    Jim  35:30

    Sure, I think what we have seen that works most effectively is a combination of a couple of things, we always want our facilities to prioritize where they are the best. But in general, there are a few things that are in my opinion a must, and the first one is actually not digital. The first one is actually to go meet people. And I know that sounds old and tired and whatever, but the thing is, just like this is a podcast, and so they’re gonna be listening to but you and I see each other face to face, right? When you actually meet people and see people and feel what the other person is thinking, that changes a lot.

    And so we want our coaches and owners to actually build relationships with people because it’s that individualized relationship that gets a lot of the referral components put together initially for a gym to get out of the gates, it also leads to potential business partnerships, which can put a lot of cross-selling type clients into the mix. 

    The second part definitely has to be social media, it has to be in today’s day and age because that’s how people consume data. That’s how they consume news. That’s how they consume fun. That’s how they talk to people. And so our owners not only need to have business accounts on social media, let’s just assume Facebook, Instagram, potentially Twitter, but they also need to be working with their individual accounts, so that they can essentially do what’s the term essentially, they need to share stuff between their platforms to get a bigger reach, right. And they also need to utilize a lot of tactics so that their friends, their clients, etc, also share some of that stuff. And that’s this from building a business, right, that requires tactics, and it requires just brute force work. It’s like viral stuff doesn’t just happen, right? Either you put together a really good product or a really good platform, or you’ve got something that’s so intriguing. Sometimes we don’t buy into what’s intriguing, but the market does. But for our gyms, we need to have consistency. 

    And that consistency starts to build credibility. So as they get clients, obviously, they have to utilize good tactics around success stories, etc, because that gives them initial credibility on how they’re building relationships. And then the third side of it is just got to be a standard website plus CRM, so we want the consistency of the tactics used for lead generation. So the idea of speed to lead and all of those other baseline components don’t exist in enough gyms, they’re not utilizing good talk to people quickly, tactics. And you and I can sit here because I’m sure that you’ve talked to a million people about this SMI. And it sounds so simple to us. But when you put those three components together, and then you prioritize the one that is yielding the most clients that will lead to consistency of growing the entire foundational platform, and that will lead to clients coming in more consistently over time. 

    And for our gyms we’ve got right around, we’re working on 50 gyms right now. So we’ve seen a lot of different styles of this, the most effective is the combination of those three, where the web and the CRM are built out and then automated. Social media is consistent between the business platforms and the individual platforms. And they’re very quick to speak with people that show an interest. And then networking is massively important. And building relationships in their area is incredibly important.

    Misbah Haque  39:00

    The first and third point that you mentioned, is super important to highlight, I think because, in a world where things are becoming more and more automated everywhere, you can show just a little bit of care and a little bit of connection, right? Like as you said, we’re doing this face to face, when you can go out and actually talk to people and treat people like people there’s value. 

    There’s a sense of connection when you can get on the phone with somebody versus having an automated survey kind of go out for example. And of course, you’ll use both of those things may be to an extent, but the more individualization that you can show and the more actual old-school carrying in a sense that you can bring to the table. I think it becomes more and more valuable as the industry is kind of progressing because automation is at such a high level.

    Jim  39:51

    I’m really fired up on the strategy side. Gym owners in general don’t think about understanding their market enough. They don’t really know their market. They’re hoping that clients come in, they’re hoping that they get referrals. And they’re hoping that people opt-in on their website. But what business owners need to do is understand their target market intricately. And people need to do some research to actually understand who their target market is. So not only do they need to start with themselves and ask, well, who do I really want in the facility and why. But then they need to go out to the market and actually ask some questions. Who are you? How old are you? What do you do for fun? Where do you eat food? How do you consume data? Do you have kids, all of these questions become important? It’s standard demographic, psychographic information, and it doesn’t take very long to do, go get a SurveyMonkey account and put it out on a Facebook group in your area, right? 

    Just see how people respond to some of these questions. Or go out into the market and talk to people face to face and ask them questions that will help you identify who your perfect client is so that when you do automate, you’re speaking to that audience because you’ve identified who you want and why and you’ve asked questions to understand what you need to say in order to attract them to your business. And if you’re not doing that, you’re falling behind. Because very small businesses are now hyper-targeting people. Whether it be through retargeting, remarketing through Facebook, social media, whether it be any type of web, pixelation, all that stuff, and that’s not everybody on this call needs to know what that stuff really is. Or if it’s just speaking very succinctly, and specifically to different target segments. That is what people are up against. And if you think the orange theory is not doing it, you’re wrong. No, it’s just, it’s just to be honest, right, like CrossFit is trying to protect against cross the word CrossFit being part of the target segmentation on Facebook. 

    That’s what I’m hearing is happening, which is good for them, right, like I would try to protect it if I was them. But you think the orange theory is not targeting your clients. And again, welcome to Business, that’s just what it is. If you’re not, I don’t want to say defending, it’s really more like offense, if you’re not playing offense to understand your market effectively enough to speak to them clearly enough, you won’t attract them.

    Misbah Haque  42:22


    And it’s the absolute root of everything. Because if you slack off on that part, then everything else that you do from there, when it comes to utilizing social media and putting out actual content because I think we can also agree there’s like a content war going on right now. Right? Like you have to be putting out relevant information that’s speaking to whoever it is that you’re trying to speak to. And that’s where if you feel kind of at a loss like a man, I don’t know what to put out, chances are that it roots back to you not knowing who it is you’re trying to speak to.

    Jim  42:55

    Without a doubt. And that is what is defended against easily. And it’s very simple. It’s asking questions about what, what your target audience does. So to give you an example, let’s say you’ve got five clients, and you really like four out of the five but one’s just not quite aligned with what you’re doing. Talk to all five for one, because I think that’s important, but the four clients that you like, go figure out what the similarities between them are,  where did they come from? How did they hear about you? What was the medium that they heard about you? And then you can start to build out your call it your entire marketing engine, to start to speak to that group of people. But not enough people do it? And it’s unfortunate, because when you said, well, they’re not quite sure what to say? Well, they don’t know at all what to say, they’re hoping that it works, right. 

    And they might be mimicking the strategy of a bigger company. But if you’re mimicking somebody you’re behind, so what is it that makes you different to go back to your storytelling? And how are you speaking very specifically to people in your perfect target market so that they recognize the value that you’re going to provide to them? That’s a series of steps where it used to be, you had to talk to somebody three or four times now it’s 15 or 16 times in the social media world. So these gyms are out there putting one ad out, getting no clients and thinking that it’s like, oh, my God, this perfect strategy didn’t work the way that I thought it’s like, that’s not a perfect strategy. I mean, you’ve got to build, you have to build content, you have to build interesting content. It has to be with high def photos. It’s got to be with video, all this stuff, and I don’t want to overwhelm people. But if you want to play in the social media game, that’s what it takes.

    Misbah Haque  44:39

    Let’s dig into social media a little bit more right going into crafting content that speaks to your target audience. What are some things for brick and mortar facilities to kind of look into because we have to, it’s very easy to think about. Well, I’m going to look at what x y, see, like these remote coaching companies are putting out. And it’s like a bunch of tips around movement and Training and Fitness and this high level stuff. But that may not be what your target market needs to hear, they may need to see success stories of who’s already within your gym and where they came from, what they’re able to accomplish. But what other types of content, are you kind of brainstorming or helping these gym owners kind of come up with to be able to speak to their target?

    Jim  45:30

    I think if you look at sort of the foundational framework of selling relationships first, they have to understand that you’re a human being. So there needs to be a look into what you’re doing. And that could be into the gym, that could be into your coaching. But people need to understand that you’re a human being, especially if they’re going to come to your gym in person. The second is that you have to build rapport. So you have to put information or posts out into the market that people like. And I’m not saying they have to hit the like button, but they have to enjoy the content. Because if they don’t ever engage with your platform, you’re just going to go to the farther bottom and bottom and bottom of their newsfeeds because of the algorithms. 

    The third is that you have to have credibility. So to your point on the success stories, success stories are a very, very fast way to build tangible credibility in your business. Because now you’re not the one talking about people’s results, somebody else is talking about those results. And the people who are looking at your platform can resonate with that person,  so if your target market is 45-year-old males who want to feel athletic again and wrestle around with their kids, do you think that somebody’s PR of 405 on a clean is probably the best piece for that audience? Maybe it is for some curious reason. But overall, you need to show people who they can resonate with who they’re like, oh, my god, that’s me, that guy is me. And I want to do that. And so I feel like this guy might be able to do that. And then the next part, you’ve got to build the value proposition. 

    So once they have some attention on your platform, you now have to start to transition that attention into an interest in demand so it’s advertising one on one. So that demand has, they have to understand what your service is, they have to understand how you’re going to help them, they have to understand the value that you provide. And then you’ve got to get into the actual action plan, which is ultimately you’re going to have to close them. Now when I say close, if we’re talking about social media, you’re not going to close a sale hardly ever on social media, you’re going to get them to either call you or email, you request a consultation, whatever your entry point into the sales funnel is, that’s your action. That’s your clothes on social media. 

    So there’s a number of steps. And you don’t have to say, well, Monday I’m doing this and Tuesday I’m doing this and Wednesday, I’m doing this, you have to do them in lockstep so that people can get a consistent taste of your entire business, how it runs, and how much you’re going to care for people. And that by the way, that’s no different in any business model, any gym fitness business model, but you do need to identify your perfect target. And you need to be able to articulate on social media, how you’re going to provide value and how you are different. So something that’s highly misunderstood in the fitness world is that you have to tangibly show how you’re different. And that’s not easy to do sometimes. But if you can’t show differentiation, your product is a commodity. If your products are commodities, Welcome to having to lower your price, at some point, the moment that there’s enough competition.

    Misbah Haque  48:35

    So touching on how you demonstrate how you are different, do you think this comes back to that individual’s unique experiences? Because when we think about the service, and the product that you’re offering, a lot of times it comes back down to not the same thing. But essentially, we’re offering fitness, we’re offering individualized design, two or three people can be offering the exact same thing. But what might differentiate you is the unique experiences in the story that you have to tell people and certain people might resonate with the person. A story certain people might resonate with Person B story. What are your thoughts on even beginning the process to kind of differentiate yourself?

    Jim  49:21

    The story is incredibly important. And if we go back to the sales Foundation, right, that’s the start of a relationship digitally. So that’s how you start the conversation if they start to get interested in who you are as a person. That is definitely your experience level and the stories that you have. If those experiences don’t lead to results for people, they’ll fall off. So it’s, it’s the person who not only has a great story but who can then show people how that story has benefited so many people so positively. That’s the kind of the combination of the two, that’s a utopia in my mind, so you can’t only have a story. So the best internet marketers in the world. They tell these unbelievable stories. They’re in front of Lamborghinis, Bugattis, and whatever. 

    But then the moment that it gets to tactics, the moment you click, they move into, and here’s how I’m going to do it. And here’s the people that I’ve had success with. And here’s what I’ve helped them do. And here are the dollar values that they’ve increased their business by, right. It’s a standard formula. So what’s the story to get them emotionally bought in once they’re emotionally bought in how people understand what that means and how you are credible. And once you’re credible, it’s giving the value proposition, and then essentially, whatever the offer or the ask for the sale is at that point.

    Misbah Haque  50:50

    I want to transcend we’re already kind of talking about it. But I want to transition more into the sales process, right? And first of all, I mean, it’s important to have won in the first place. But what does that kind of look like for let’s stick with that brick and mortar facility? That’s all bought into the ID model, and needs to and is now maybe they have a system for lead generation. What is the next step? How do we move through the rest of that process?

    Jim  51:19

    Our goal is always to talk to people who live and live could be on the phone, or even better, it could be in the facility. So when people request a consultation, that’s generally our biggest lead into actual sales prospects. When that happens, the goal is to talk to them as quickly as you can. So that is not always the easiest thing in the world to do. Because people don’t like to answer their phones. So part of the automation process might be emailed, part of the automation process might be text. But in reality, if somebody opts into your page, the goal is to call them fast, because you want to keep them, you want to speak to them while they’re in the moment, right, you want to, you want to have that conversation as quickly as you can. So speed the lead. 

    Any research I’ve ever done says it’s incredibly important, once they’ve shown actual interest in your product, not just looked at a piece of content, but they’ve actually shown interest in your product, the sales process for us essentially looks like you have to have some kind of a pre-qual discussion. So if they, if they come in, and they don’t want to do fitness, I don’t know why they opted in, but they don’t want to do fitness, they’re probably not going to move through your whole sales process. If they don’t have any cash, they’re probably not going to move through your whole sales process. But if they get pre-qualified, and they show an interest, and they want to move forward, now you can move them into a sales call, or if it’s not a call, it’s an in-person consultation for us, we like to do a free in-person consultation to start to talk about how we can help them so we want to get to know them, we want to start the relationship-building process, we want to meet them and see them. 


    And then our first sale is generally a low barrier offer, which is a three-session consultation assessment. Because that is, frankly, not as scary as a 12-month contract. But it also gets them to build a relationship with a coach. And that relationship is our entire business. So we don’t have any group training in any of our facilities. It’s all one to one. And so when we can do an individual consultation with somebody that gets them bought into the idea, and there’s no confusion, like, I can, you can do group, you can do individual, you can do spin, you can do whatever it’s like, this is our service. And here’s the entry point into it, here’s how we’re going to help you. And here’s the truth of where you sit with the assessment, and that truth is very beneficial to the sales process. And our gyms are highly effective at once they’re in that consultation assessment, closing 12-month contracts.

    Misbah Haque  53:51

    That pre-qualification aspect that you mentioned is super important as well, right? Because you want the right type of people to fill the model you. Because if you have people who aren’t fully bought in that it comes back to the retention, right, is that that’s not going to be as high. The coach and the client aren’t going to be as fulfilled as if you have people who are bought into this unique vision. 

    Jim  54:19

    You hit on retention, I generally talk about essentially acquisition and leakage. And so if you can bring clients in, it’s great unless you leak more clients than you bring in. So we actually track retention not only for the gym as a whole, but we track retention by coach every month, and all of our gyms track retention by coach every month. So when you’re doing that, now you can have proof that says, here’s where you sit, and certainly, on a one-month basis, that’s not going to lead to somebody being fired or promoted or whatever. 

    But over the course of three month averages and six month averages, you can really see trends in which coaches are able to retain their clients So the pre qual process should help align not only if you have a salesperson, front desk person, the owner, if a coach is doing the sales process, whoever is doing the sales process has to also align that to retention on the backside. Because that’s going to lead to the longest term success of your gyms is because if you retain clients better, awesome, now you can go out and acquire a boatload of clients and know that they’re in really good hands.

    Misbah Haque  55:26

    How important is hand-to-hand combat, right? So like, when we are thinking about using social media, often the image that comes to mind is like, Alright, I’m putting this post out there, this is going to reach hundreds of people, or hopefully, if you’re lucky, 1000s of people. But you could also use social media and other marketing channels to essentially reach out to people on an individual basis, right and make essentially come back to that relationship-building aspect. So in the old days, it may have been cold calling, right? Today, it could be cold emailing, it could be Instagram, DMS, it could be Facebook Messenger, it could be a variety of things. But what are your thoughts on utilizing that aspect to kind of fill the sales funnel and for lead generation?

    Jim  56:14

    I think there’s definitely some truth to it. So I think that it can be effective. That being said, I think that people have to prioritize a couple of things, you have to have a platform of credibility for that to work. Because what are people going to do, if they get a direct message from somebody they don’t know, they’re going to see it, let’s assume they even care and look at it right, they’re going to look up this person. So if they look them up, whether it be a website, or a different social media platform, or whatever, if that platform is not set up, let’s just say professionally as the word, then they’re gonna, they’ll just fall off so you have to build out a credible platform so that people get interested to go right back to build the story, build the rapport, build the credibility if you’re going to direct message somebody, they had better go to step number one and see that progression if you expect them to, to message you back. 

    Number two is that that potentially could take a lot of time to do effectively. So in a micro Jim model, assuming you really are cold calling, meaning there’s no lead, these people are not warm at all, right? If you’re gonna do that you have to be unique. And just to give you I’m sure that you feel the same way, I get dozens of these messages every week from people, whether it be through LinkedIn, Facebook, or whatever. And so many of them are so bad, that you just don’t even respond. But just to give you an example, I got one from a young woman, she’s just graduated from Columbia, aka credibility. And she messaged me, and it was a really unique and individualized message that made a ton of sense. And so for her, I jumped on a call with her, because she distinguished herself as unique in a field of sounds harsh, but nobody’s I don’t care what those other people are. Because they didn’t capture my attention. He captured my attention. 

    But how did she do that? And I asked her this on the phone because I was curious. She looked through my social media profiles, she obviously recognized that I love strategy and business building and fitness and blah, blah, blah. And that’s how she tailored her message.

    Misbah Haque  58:30

    So absolutely an art to it. 

    Jim  58:33

    She did research, and once she had research and truth, she built out a specific message for her target. So the idea of copying and pasting messages, I think, is ultimately probably a losing one, because people are going to flag you for it. And also, you’re not going to actually reach people who will then want to take the next steps of either doing research for you or having another conversation. It can work, but it’s under those pretenses. I think that you would want to kind of look at a strategy like that.

    Misbah Haque  59:07

    This is where I think the overall strategy and systems come into play, right? As we as we’re having this conversation, we can see how the first part that we talked about, of having coaches who are in a thriving environment, how that connects to setting up the infrastructure for lead generation and then setting up a sales process that works and that can be repeated all this stuff, once it kind of works together and integrates together. Now. It’s kind of like a machine where the coach, the client, and the owner are winning. But let’s, let’s go into, let’s say you have somebody who is trying to get their first 10 clients, right? How do you direct somebody, where do you tell them to start? 

    Jim  59:51


    I actually generally like them to start in person. Just because when you actually start to learn some of the things that are going on in your area, you start to recognize where your clients are. So if I go to a bike shop and I start talking to somebody at a bike store, they’re probably going to help me understand where the bike meetup groups are. And if I can then go do talk to the bike meetup groups, I’m probably going to talk to a lot of people who are fitness-oriented but have cash, because they’re driving $5,000 bikes,  seem to be in an environment of growth, and like to be in an environment of learning. And just from that bike group, if I can get a couple of clients, they are often very networked, right? Because a lot of times people ride bikes, a lot of them are executives, honestly. So if you get into a group like that, now all of a sudden, you can become the James who uses the word Manyana, right? If you can be the Manyana of a group like that. Now, you are the content creation engine for that group.

    And now you have credibility within that group. From that group, you can branch out into the running group, you can branch out into the other fitness groups in the area. And now you’ve basically become the educator of those people. And that separates you from all the other garbage out there that they’re not educating anybody. So again, it’s about building uniqueness that does not come at the expense of posting on social media and talking about the bike group that you just spoke to, and talking about the bike shop owner, who you’re now Tony Robbins uses a great terminology, right? Like you notice this all the time, he always says, My dear friend, and if you think that that’s not by design, you’re wrong, right? He is always trying to connect with his partners and influencers on a deeper level so that they will continue to influence him. So you have to build out your credibility, and often that’s through influencers in your area. So within social, how are you tying it into that influencer strategy that you’re working on? And by the way, that assumes that you’ve got something to say to these people, which I think most coaches would.

    Misbah Haque  1:02:07

    I feel like we touched on a lot here. Let’s, if we were to give coaches maybe like, one to three action items, that you can use to kind of, maybe it’s getting into your story becoming clearer with that. Maybe it’s formulating a lead generation strategy, but something that you feel would be worth people’s time and effectiveness, what are 123 actionable items that coaches can dig into.

    Jim  1:02:32

    In 15 seconds, I want to explain how we kind of does this in our program. Over that six-month program, we touch on all of these components, and all of it isn’t an implementation format. So I want to be careful in saying that all of this happens today. So any action items that I would say need to be thought through, planned out, executed, measured, refined over and over and over and over and over again. So I preface by saying that, but some of the things that I think are incredibly important are cliches at the moment, but you have to understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. So what is the deeper purpose that makes you want to be a coach makes you want to coach other coaches makes you want to help people achieve their goals, that authenticity is an attention grabber for an audience. So if they see that realness, if they see that passion, that attracts people to you.

    The second one is I’m a huge person. So I want to know exactly where I want to go. Not enough coaches are planning out where they want to go. So if you have 20 clients, and you want to go to 50, great, when do you want to be at 50? Okay, cool. What’s the plan to get to 50? If something happens, how are you going to pivot? If something else happens? How are you going to pivot? But if you don’t know that you want to go to 50 by X date, you’re not going to 50 you’re just hoping that you’re going to continue to attract clients here and there. To get into a little bit more granular tactics or strategy. I think that people, I think that people have to build consistency around what they’re doing. And it sounds so simple, but you need a calendar to tell you, Oh, yeah, I got to post a blog today.

    And you need standard operating procedures in your business so that you can say, okay, steps, ABC 123 are how I go through my sales process. And I’m going to use this script. And then when I sign a client up, I’m going to take three of these three steps so that I know that all of the things that they need to have their client nurturer are taken care of. I’m going to make sure I go through my consultation in a very effective way. I’m going to make sure that the client has the new client package, blah, blah, blah. There’s just not enough consistency. In the fitness business game. It’s like, oh, you want to sign up? 

    Let me see your credit card. I’ll get your run. And then yeah, I guess the next class is Tuesday.  It’s unfortunate. But that’s not going to win in the long run, consistency builds trust and trust builds success. So as you build consistency through standard operating procedures through consistent actions that will benefit you. And then if I were to kind of say one more point, measurement, gyms don’t measure nearly effective enough, effectively enough. So just the idea of measuring your attention by coach, it’s very, very difficult to do in a group environment, because people can move between classes and stuff. But if you can measure by coach by month, that will change your entire world. Even as we’ve gotten more effective with OPEX, we’ve seen a nice increase in retention rate because of the measurement. But it doesn’t just stop at retention, measuring financials, and understanding what’s happening on the income expenses, even the cost of goods sold, people don’t even understand stuff like that. 

    But you have to understand how that’s all interplaying. And what’s leading to your success in all of those areas, you have to understand what you’re doing on social media, and what the measurement is, so that you can recognize how many leads are coming in how many of those leads are requesting consults, how many of those prospects are ultimately closing into your service or your low barrier offer? Without measurement, you’re just floating, and you’re while you’re hoping to float. So those are four big parts: outcomes purpose, standard operating procedures and measurement.

    Misbah Haque  1:06:30

    And I think something to highlight is that there are two different things, right, there’s a strategy and then there are tactics. And the tactics are something that is always moving and always kind of changing as the world does, right? Like what you could do 10 years ago, the same tactic of using, let’s say, Google AdWords, or something, is no longer as effective as it used to be. And maybe now that attention is better used with Facebook ads, for example. So that’s always changing. But if you’re solely relying on tactics without a solid strategy, then you’re always kind of jumping from tactic to tactic versus if you have a solid strategy, it’s easier to pick up on Okay, which tactics are most effective, to maximize this strategy, this overall bigger picture that I have.

    Jim  1:07:18

    Without a doubt, I like to think 60,000 feet down to the weeds. So I want to know what we want to do in the big picture. And then I want to strategize on how we’re going to go about doing it. And again, I’m a big believer in identifying those outcomes. And then from the outcomes come to the tasks or the tactics that you’ve got to do in order to get it done. So just for OPEX, for example, we use agile project management in terms of our bigger projects. So on a weekly basis, we’re working through a lot of components that ultimately yield tangible products at the end of the week, whether that’s content, whether that’s a marketing strategy, whether we’re completely redoing our CCP education. So that’s been a very big project for us for a number of months. So we’re making sure that we’re moving point by point. But the big strategy is the same, right? So we know that the strategy needs to lead us to this outcome. But within that, we’ve been working week by week to ascend to hit that bigger picture play that we’ve had in place for a while.

    Misbah Haque  1:08:23

    Absolutely. I want to go into a couple of rapid fires, right? And let’s, let’s assume that you have a couple of billion dollars, okay. You have a staff of 40 people, and these 40. People can be top thinkers, top performers, in whatever it is that you recruited them for. And you wanted to use that for something, whether that’s to make some type of impact, some type of change, pursue something you’ve always wanted to pursue? What kind of comes to mind for you? How would you utilize those resources?

    Jim  1:08:50

    Two components? My wife is probably the most giving person ever. And she is very much her mind works around? How can I help people? She gives a lot of her time and charity. So number one would certainly be some of the top leaders in policy around a couple of different places. It would be emerging countries and rights for people and it would be women’s rights. The second one would be kind of an interesting thing for me would be around artificial intelligence between health, wellness and fitness. So I think that I don’t necessarily think there will ever be an all-encompassing answer because everybody is so unique. But I think that there will be really interesting technology that will emerge, not in the too distant future. That’s going to change a lot. Because think about all the DNA pieces that are now out there. Think about how smart systems are right now. 

    And so now it’s going to be sort of a data input and export type of a scenario where if you can get a platform that actually reads the data The right way, there could be some really, really interesting implications for that over the long run and talk about personalization, it’s going to be that,  so it’s going to be really interesting. So I’d be really interested to build that out with some of the smartest people and shameless plug for my sister, she’s actually going to take a huge job as a marketing director in artificial intelligence for one of the major major tech players. I don’t know if I’m supposed to say that. So I won’t say the companies. So we’ll see what happens. But I’m fascinated by it. And obviously, her brains wrapped around that idea right now,

    Misbah Haque  1:10:33


    How do you see AI playing out for how it’s gonna affect the fitness industry?

    Jim  1:10:40

    I think I’m a big believer that relationships are everything. And so I think I don’t think the coach is going away, I don’t see that. But I do see the efficiencies of the coach getting better and better, where as the coach builds up their own knowledge base and experience base, they are putting better inputs into the systems and the systems are helping them put out better outputs in terms of consistent programs, consistent nutrition protocols, ABC 123, but I think that the relationship piece is key. And people need to feel human interaction. So the coach and the relationship is ultimately, in my opinion, Paramount. So systems and I’m sure that there will be a system that says we build relationships through artificial intelligence. But I just think that there’s a human component that is a pretty intricate one that’s really important.

    Misbah Haque  1:11:36

    Absolutely. Let’s say you’re still a billionaire. And you could give two to three books to every person in the nation this year, what would they be?

    Jim  1:11:44

    The first one I just read, it was really good. It’s called The Lean Startup. If you’ve not read that, one, it really gives a good overview for entrepreneurs and startup businesses to think through not only their business model but how they are actually going to experiment and test and Grow products. So essentially, the idea of proving your concept first, and then growing from the proven concept, that’s a really important one. I read this one a long time ago. I’m not positive, why it came to my mind, but I did really like it. It’s called, it’s my ship by Admiral Michael Abra Schaaf, just some really good points of leadership in that book that I think are really important for people to see and hear. Honestly, right now, I’m reading a book on macroeconomics. And it’s not actually part of the school. So. So I, I think that and I posted something on social media about this maybe a week ago, or something where I think it’s really important for people to understand the system around them. 

    So I think that people need to be reading books that help them understand the framework of the business that they’re playing in. So for me, OPEX is a global company, I need to understand what’s happening in the world, I need to understand the economies in the world so that we can better create strategies to help more coaches all over the world. And so for me, it was really important to read macroeconomics. If I was a coach in a gym, I had better be reading about strength and conditioning principles so whether it be super training, honestly, it’s probably way too complex for a lot of starting coaches. But the science and practice of strength training by Kramer and Zotz IR ski, I think is incredibly valuable for people who are looking to supplement any type of strength and conditioning practice. 

    But it’s the idea of understanding the underlying component of what you’re trying to do on a day-to-day basis. And I think that’s what attracted me. And what attracts so many people to James Fitzgerald and OpEx is that it’s a principle, right? It’s not like we’re debating one specific idea. It’s true. And this is what leads to adaptation. And here’s how you can put this into your coaching practice. And ultimately, that is how we’ve turned that into an OPEX system of coaching. And so that, that specificity when you put somebody into a framework of coaching now, now the program design doesn’t, it doesn’t seem so daunting.

    And now the relationship building is now much more creative and fulfilling for a coach than it might be if you didn’t have a framework to build on it. So I kind of took the question of books and went way off, but I think understanding the foundation of what you’re trying to do is just so important, and for a coach who is in the right field, they will love what’s in those books.

    Misbah Haque  1:14:45

    It’s a breath of fresh air to have come across the CCP because it takes all these moving parts just like there is with business ownership there. There’s a lot of moving parts when it comes to coaching as well. There’s so many different pieces that you want to become fluent in. And like you said, it provides a framework for you to effectively move from one thing to the next. It’s been tested over and over with different people. And ultimately, at the end of it, you walk away with a certain framework to kind of you can be creative with that framework from that point and that’s where the uniqueness and the stories and all that kind of cool stuff kind of come out is, once you are executing on all this knowledge and all these systems that you’ve learned, okay, how do you kind of tackle and execute from that point?

    Jim  1:15:33

    I think to kind of go back to your opening statement, coaches need a long-term path. They want to be coaches if you don’t get into the coaching field because you’ve failed out, right? Like you, you get into coaching, because you want to help people, I should say, most people, so if you’re trying to get into a field that demands you help people, well, that’s changing based on your audience, right. So think about 50 years ago, if you were a coach, very different equipment, very different social media equals none and social media, there’s no such thing as email marketing, you don’t have any of these other things out there that you have to deal with. So if you’re trying to help somebody, it’s a very different game from 50 years ago, as it is today. 

    Now half of the battle with a lot of clients is getting them to turn their phone off 30 minutes before they go to bed so that they can sleep. It’s just little things like that when a coach can see knowledge and creativity and economic prosperity, and the success of their clients. That is, that’s fun. I mean, and that’s something that they can do forever. And that’s what they want to do. So if you can as a business owner, if you can help coaches see that, and if you can help them achieve that, they will stay with you. It doesn’t mean forever, because people change, but it will be a lot longer than if you don’t?

    Misbah Haque  1:17:00

    Absolutely. Do you have a morning routine? And if so, what does it look like?

    Jim  1:17:07

    I am finishing up my MBA right now from North Carolina. So I’m working an awful lot, and I go to school an awful lot right now. So any routine generally revolves around one of those two. So my morning routine, generally, I’m usually up at quarter to five or five o’clock, I basically brush my teeth and go right into OpEx. And what I’ll usually do is I will actually start with a couple of emails, because that just calms me down a little bit, just to get some of that stuff handled. And then I’ll go downstairs to the gym. And I’ll read on an assault bike, so and so this morning, actually, before I jumped on with you, I was reading macroeconomics again this morning, I might read cases that I have to do for school, but I like to kind of put some of those thoughts into my brain for the day. 

    And then I’ll spend 10 to 15 minutes on a daily basis, doing essentially planning for what I want to do for the day for what the teams are doing, making sure that I’m checking in on all of our metrics we track very specifically at this point. And then I’ll kind of go into what’s going on for the day.

    Misbah Haque  1:18:16

    Now, if we were to take a look at a decade ago, right? And when you come across some adversity or encounter obstacles and challenges, which I’m sure you have, and the internal self-talk that revolves around that, versus the internal self-talk that now happens for you today. What are some of those differences? And how do you feel, what’s the difference in your approach from back then to now?

    Jim  1:18:40

    That’s a really good question. I think probably a decade ago, I was always extremely focused, I’ve always outworked everybody around me. But I didn’t necessarily have a big enough picture in my mind. And that was either for my own life or for the company that I was working with. I think today, I’m much more aligned on the hard work and the focus and the big picture of where I want to go or where I want to help OPEX go or our gyms etc.

    Misbah Haque  1:19:22

    Is there anything else that you feel like you’d like to leave listeners with?

    Jim  1:19:30

    I would say when you think about owning a business, or potentially owning a business, you have to be really clear on what you want from that business. I think a lot of gym owners got into the game because the barrier to entry was very low. And because they wanted to lead fulfilling lives and help other people and there’s nothing more noble than that. But I don’t think that they really thought through what they wanted that business to achieve. And so 3457 years later, the business is where it was before, which   isn’t viable enough to live the rest of your life doing. And a lot of gym owners don’t necessarily recognize that if you pay $50,000 for equipment and build-out and whatever, and when you sell your business for $50,000.10 years later that that’s a negative return. 

    And it’s unfortunate, but if you’re not making enough money, you do hope to sell it. But in the beginning, had you thought through the game plan of what you wanted to do, I know for a fact that thinking through that gameplan, even though you’re going to have to pivot and tweak your strategy or your tactics along the way like you said, it will look different a decade later. But if you think through it in the beginning, you are much more likely to have a successful built to last business or built-to-exit business. And a lot of gym owners right now, I get a lot of calls with people, they either want to exit, or they want to change because they don’t see the future in it. So when you’re getting into this thing, see the future of what you want it to be, understand how you want to be fulfilled, and then really put the pieces to play in order to grow it. 

    And we say this all the time, James and I are just broken records with it. But you’re either growing or you’re dying. So if you don’t know what you’re doing to try to grow, that’s a problem. It’s okay if you’re not growing at the moment, but you’re putting all the foundational components together. But if you’re not putting those pieces in play, that’s trouble. Because the industry is growing fast, it’s getting smarter, and people are getting more effective at doing everything. So you’ve got to compete with that.

    Misbah Haque  1:21:42

    This brings up one last thing for me that I wanted to make sure I touched on is community. Right, when we think of individualized design we talked about this with Marcus when he was on the show as well. But I’m curious to get your thoughts when you have somebody who is coming from a group fitness model, where they enjoy that communal aspect of working out with other people and being around them. How do you communicate that and demonstrate that there is still community when you are going through the ID model.

    Jim  1:22:14

    I think I look at the community as three pieces. Number one is what happens on the floor during workouts. So in a group environment, there are people on the gym floor talking to one another doing the same thing. In an individual design environment, I’ll just use OpEx. Because I know what our model is, in an OPEX model, there are people doing workouts talking to one another just as much as in a group environment, except they’re doing different workouts. The second component is what happens during warm-up and cool down. And I think that that’s kind of a missed opportunity for gyms. So if you can have, whether it be an area or that’s just an area, that’s really important, because people like to interact and engage with one another warming up and cooling down, no difference between group and individual design in that scenario either. Then the third one is what the gym owners do to foster a community environment, whether that be outside of gym hours, or in different areas. 

    And same thing, they’re in a group facility, it’s all up to the gym owner, right? It’s how much do you want to interact or engage with your clients, no different than an individual design model. And that doesn’t mean that everybody has to be incredibly social. But again, that’s no different in a group model versus an individual design. So maybe something that we need to do a better job of is just explaining what happens in an ID gym. Because at the end of the day, it looks very much like a group facility, except people are doing workouts that are custom Lee built for them so that they get the best results from them.

    Misbah Haque  1:23:49

    Absolutely. I love how you broke it down to those three different pieces that make it really easy to understand.

    Jim  1:23:58

    That’s actually off the cuff a little bit. I’ve not actually taught on that before. So I’m glad it landed.

    Misbah Haque  1:24:04

    Awesome. Thank you so much, Jim, for coming on and doing this. I feel like there’s a ton of actionable insight in this episode that gym owners, coaches, trainers can kind of revisit and actually put some of this stuff to the test.

    Jim  1:24:16

    No, I really appreciate you having me on. I’m glad we could connect. And I’m happy to do it. And hopefully, it’s really beneficial for people.

    Misbah Haque  1:24:23

    Absolutely. And we’ll definitely have to have you back on some other time to dig into the strategy. And there’s so many other areas that we could have tackled and gone into great depth and would love to do it again.

    Jim  1:24:35

    I’m all for it. Let me know when you want to do it. It is really fun.

    Misbah Haque  1:24:40

    Thank you so much for listening, guys. Once again, I highly appreciate the time, energy, attention, and the support that you give each and every week of listening to these episodes. I hope you were able to walk away with something useful from this one, or at least entertained by it. One request I have for you is to head over to and take a couple of minutes just leave a review with your thoughts you have no idea how much that would mean to me. Next please head over to to check out the three-day sample programs. 

    You can use this stuff as accessory work to supplement your existing training. Of course, each individual is a little bit different and so we have ones that are specific to pull-ups if that’s something you’re working on, one that’s specific to handstand push-ups, one that’s specific to pistols, shoulder stability, so go see if that is relevant to you. Once again, that is If you ever have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. I love hearing from you guys. But thank you so much for joining me once again. Until next time!

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