Don’t be Held Hostage by Your Business


I recently took a weekday trip to NYC as an early birthday present for my wife. I had the opportunity to do some amazing things while in the Big Apple – visit the 9/11 Museum, walk the Brooklyn Bridge, watch a live taping of Live With Kelly (#husbandoftheyear) and of course we dropped in at some local Affiliates for a workout.

However, the thing that was most refreshing about this trip was the fact that I was able to take the trip.

In the middle of the week.

With minimal notice to my staff.

And not a care in the world as to how my business would perform in my absence – it was actually our highest selling week in memberships that month.

The reality is there are far too many gym owners that are unable to relish in life’s little joys like taking a spontaneous vacation. This hit me hard one morning during our trip after exchanging emails with a gym owner currently in this predicament. Throw a Starbucks red eye into the equation and I shot a quick video outside my Manhattan hotel that has been well received within the Affiliate owner community.

There’s only so much time, energy and money for you to invest into your business. I feel the one area that is highly neglected when it comes to investment is our staff and Coaches. The brand new competition bumpers, 50-pound dumbbells and ski ergs will never, ever create the ROI that a highly competent staff member can provide.

Here’s my top three items to consider when developing a team that can fully replace you and give you the level of freedom you’re looking for from your business:

1. Hire Quality People. Not Quality Coaches.

Too many of us are searching for seasoned veterans with a L2 and multiple specialty certifications. Though having basic scholastic knowledge of human movement is required, in my opinion, it’s not the X-factor that creates phenomenal staff members.

So much of our job lies within working with people outside of their squat mechanics. Showing up early for their shift with a great attitude. Making the members laugh during a warm up. Cleaning up the changing rooms – even though it’s not technically in their job description. These are the attributes you need to look for as you develop a deep bench.

As Glassman once said, “I can make anyone a better Coach. But I can’t make you give a shit.”

2. Replace Yourself.

Imagine there were two of you. Would your gym profit more? Would classes run smoother? Would quality control be at the highest level possible? Would you feel at ease when you left because your clone had everything under control?

Then that needs to be your top priority. Replacing yourself with someone just as good, if not better, at the tasks at hand.   When you change your mindset from, “I need to just find someone to coach the 5 a.m. class” to “I need to groom someone to be the spitting image of me,” your approach in development evolves and you can finally start putting together a plan to create a reliable team.

For most gym owners who started off as a one-man show, we alone are the reason the gym is standing and why everyone has joined our tribe. We are the best trainer on the floor and we can sell anyone who is sellable.

We are Batman. We just need a Robin.

3. Audit Your Time.

If you’re currently not content with your staff’s performance, realize that there’s only one person to blame: YOU. Think about the amount of minutes and hours you’ve spent sitting down with each individual staff member – not group staff meeting – and actually put in the work to mold them in your image. Have you ever sat down and even asked these people what THEY want out of this role in your business? Do you even care?

Audit your daily schedule and you’ll find a 30 to 60 minute window every single day in which you can schedule personal appointments with members of your team. These meetings should be planned ahead of time and choreographed around the topics that you deem a priority for that particular Coach.

Sending them to get their L2 is great. Taking the time to add customization to their development and show that you give a shit about them as a person is even better.

Stuart Brauer is a 15-year student of strength and conditioning, and he was fortunate to find CrossFit in 2006. Since then he's dedicated his life to building a fitness business simply based on the pursuit of excellence. From humble beginnings making three figures and running park workouts to owning a million dollar gym, he's now ventured into business consulting for gym owners looking to chase their dream. You can find his content on Facebook and Instagram @wtfgymtalk.