I just got back from a week in Orlando. My wife and I took our first full vacation since opening our gym in January of 2012. We wanted to take our son to see the ocean while he is still young. It was worth it.
However, this makes me wonder.
I love my gym. When we opened three years ago, it was like I was becoming a parent to this incredibly needy, terribly expensive but wonderful baby. It required all of my time and attention, as well as all of the money I’d accumulated in my life. Not to mention a lot of the money I needed to accumulate! But this baby was so fulfilling and lovable that I didn’t mind the investment that much.
A vacation?! I can’t shut down for a week, let alone a weekend. And I’m not trusting my baby to some goober who just got their Level 1 and will probably have the classes doing wall balls with our atlas stones and dropping empty bars.
I needed a plan. As much as I loved, and still do love, my gym, it’s not healthy to spend 80-90 hours per week there. So, I got some advice from my mentor and we put together an action plan.
Year one: Don’t die. My number one task for the entire first year was simple. Build things up to the point that I can pay all my bills and feed my family. If it required me to be at the gym from 5:45 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. every day, so be it. I was wearing all the hats — Coach, personal trainer, bookkeeper, marketer, emailer, etc. It was exhausting, unsustainable and necessary.
Year two: Build a team. Getting Coaches is one thing, but training them for excellence is something completely different! I needed Coaches that I could trust with my baby, not just people who were “qualified” and wanted to help. We had staff meetings every week with training times for our newest teammates, and we began to implement a Coach’s development program that I hope to get to in a later blog.
This took a lot of work and often times, I felt like a hamster on a wheel. It was common for me to have to remind myself that even though it would be infinitely easier to just do a task myself, it was better for us long term to help a team member do it instead. Ultimately, I am fortunate for the solid individuals who have been and who continue to be part of our team here, because we have a spectacular and diverse group of Coaches.
Year three: Trust. Once I had a solid team in place, it was time to delegate responsibilities to them and step back and allow them to prove whether they could handle it or not. We started small and occasionally had to have difficult conversations, but over time my team has proven themselves to be trustworthy. I slowly gave up the reigns for a day or two here and there, and our recent vacation was a full victory for them.
Year four and beyond: Continue to invest in my team, build them up and trust them with greater responsibilities.
I love coaching. I especially love teaching CrossFit to beginners, but my baby is growing up. It’s important for me to have freedom to not coach and to not be at the gym from time to time. The beach was worth it. Going home early sometimes is worth it. Working out with a class is worth it. Not having to get to the gym at 5:45 a.m. every morning is absolutely worth it.
Ultimately, it comes down to the proverbial wisdom of Michael Gerber when he encouraged his readers to “work on their business instead of working in their business.” It’s the difference between owning a business and buying a job.