Keep Your Trainers Happy | Part Two

By | Blog, Building Community, Business Help, How To, Tips | One Comment

Welcome back WOD killas, if you missed part one, check it out here. In part two of this series I will share with you three more systems that can be implemented into your facility to keep your trainers happy and your box growing. It’s important to realize that a high turnover ratio for trainers is not only a pain, but does not reflect well on your facility.

In a box gym every member knows who the owner is, but the trainers become their therapist and friend. They build stability throughout your facility and should not be looked at as easily replaceable. Sure you can always find another level 1 coach but you cannot find another Jack or Lisa. Realizing their importance is something all owners should be aware of.

Below are three more systems that take about as much time as doing Cindy to implement. Take pride in them and make them your own. The important part is that you take action before you loose an important piece to the puzzle.

1) Education

Bu what if they leave right after I invest in them? I know the arguments, but we are supposed to be thinking with the glass half full here.  If you help educate your trainers they are going to look at you as someone who cares, a friend. It is hard to screw over a friend. Easy to screw over a boss.

The obvious choice would be to help pay for a certification. You could also get creative and hire a rowing specialist to come teach all five of your trainers at once. A writing, coaching, or speaking course could also help them in the fitness field.


  • Get a specialist to come in for one hour
  • Coach them yourself for one hour
  • Buy them books or instructional DVD’s
  • Set up a library for them full of the best fitness books

2) Eliminate stress

Quality of work matters, your not paying them enough to deal with a stressful work environment. You might be thinking, “Yeah yeah they are not stressed, their job is easy.” How do you know?  You may have to suck up some pride, and actually ask them. Create an anonymous survey (free on survey monkey) to have your employees fill out at the end of each month (yes each month). You just email a simple ten second multiple choice survey so they can evaluate your work as an owner. Yup, you need checking up on too.

Example of a Survey: 1- definitely 2- sometimes 3- not at all.

  1. I genuinely believe this company has a higher purpose beyond profits
  2. I feel my role in this company has a real purpose, it is not just a job
  3. I feel as if I am in control of my career path and I am progressing in my personal and professional development
  4. I am happy with my job
  5. I consider my co-workers to be like family and friends

(Survey from “The Zappos Experience”)

Feel free to use these or tweak them to your liking. Although, it is really not about what you ask it is about actually asking. Along with sending this survey out once a month you can have a separate facebook page, website, forum, or meeting to get employee’s feedback on the gym.  I have found a private facebook page to be the best. It is free easy and people tend to speak more openly behind their computer. This creates another form of bonding between the trainers and you.

One more point on surveys, send out anonymous ones to be completed by the members of the gym. Make them specify a coach then give them simple multiple choice questions about their coaching/training style and what they can improve on. Make this information available to your coach/trainer. Not only will it improve their work at your facility it will give them something to work towards.


  1. If you owned a gym would you hire Tim to be a trainer?
  2. Do you attend Tim’s class because you have to or you want to?
  3. Would you encourage your friends to come into Tim’s class?

3) Study Leadership

Study leadership like you study the squat snatch. Learn what makes people tick. Ronald Riggio is a professor of leadership and organizational psychology at the Kravis Leadership Institute at Claremont McKenna College and according to his survey people admire two characteristics in a good leader. Integrity and self motivation – someone who accomplishes things and is inspirational.

It is easy to tell yourself you already possess integrity and self-motivation, but as I have been saying you need to dig deeper. Take out a pen right now and write down five ways you inspire your trainers. When you are finished take a look at your list and think about how you can improve or add to it.

Remember, you need to act like a leader. Have fun, promote happiness, and always lead by example. Negative pessimistic people are not leaders. Use these systems and you will be on your way to growing your box and developing your staff into something truly special.

Leave a comment below and let me know which system you are going to try.

This blog post was kindly written for us by Geo Rockwell, the owner of CrossFit Mission Gorge in San Diego and founder of, where fitness entrepreneurs share their secrets to success. He has his CrossFit level one certification, CrossFit Endurance Certification, ACE Certification, and a Bachelors in Physical Education.

Keep Your Trainers Happy | Part One

By | Blog, Building Community, Business Help, How To, Tips | 4 Comments

Is a level one certification and a garage all I need to open a gym?

As an Affiliate owner, I am sure you have heard that one before. You’ve got a warehouse, and people start to join. In some cases it might be that easy, but as your community grows you go from coach to manager. Teaching a squat clean to three people who show up for the five o’clock class is a thing of the past. Now there are billing issues to handle, membership questions to be addressed, and trainers to manage. You’re now providing jobs for your trainers so you need to lead, manage, and develop them into amazing coaches and respectful employees. Wait, was that part of the level one cert? The ease of opening a box gym is amazing, but as an owner you need to prepare yourself to be a great leader and excellent manger.

Gyms cycle through trainers like body builders cycle through steroids. When trainers leave they may go to another gym or open their own and bring “your” clients with them. Frustrating, rude and thoughtless right? Well let’s take a look in the mirror before we blame it all on them. What could you as an owner have done to prevent this in the future? I realize some people want to own their own gym. It’s their dream and passion, but if you implement these systems they won’t open a gym behind your back and steal your clients.

One last thing before I go into the systems you can implement in your business today, I really encourage you to be retrospective in this process. Many people who fall into ownership of a box gym have a passion for fitness and when they end up in the role of CEO it’s difficult, heart wrenching, and can drive a business downhill. Hiring is fun, firing sucks, but having great trainers could turn your small garage gym into a super successful warehouse full of kipping, snatching, and rowing obsessed athletes.

1) Develop a Connection

In Affiliate gyms around the world there is an amazing community. There are many factors that play into developing a strong community, but a huge part is suffering through those intense WODs together. How about a trainer only workout? Offer a prize for the winner, lunch for all or $10 to show up and give it your all. The possibilities are endless, but do not underestimate the importance of going through Cindy as a group of co-workers. It is like your own team building retreat for every WOD.

That’s an easy one; most people might even implement it already, so lets dive deeper. Think about the workplace in a fun and play context. You should be having employee meetings, but are they fun or all business? Are you genuinely trying to develop happiness for your employees? Are they genuinely happy to walk in your box. What drives happiness for them is money, time, sense of commitment, involvement, ownership? Riley Gibson the CEO of Napkin Labs suggests that play helps attract and keep great people. Is it fun for your trainers to come into work? Find out, by taking a survey.
Examples of Developing a Connection:

  • Group workouts
  • Field trips to other gyms
  • Team Meeting/Lunch on you
  • Going to a sporting event
  • Playing a game in the gym

2) Reward Recognition Program

Do you reward employees who have the most sign ups for the month? How about the best client feedback or most random compliments? You should have recognition programs in place that give employees more then just a pat on the back. From cash to gift cards, keep them happy and motivated to grow and develop in your facility. Come up with a simple set of criteria right now that will be rewarded.
Examples of Reward Recognition Programs:

  • An extra 2$ for every person over 10 who shows up for their class
  • Sign up 5 people- get a $20 dollar bill/$10 gift card/new water bottle
  • Get 5 positive reviews- get a t-shirt/lunch/drink

Then try a reward recognition program for trainers to trainers. Give each person a $40 allowance and every 6 months they must gift the $40 to another employee for a specific favor or act of kindness. “I have 10 trainers that is $800 bucks a year.” The price or prize is not set in stone, adjust accordingly. “Well, what if they just give it to their friends.” This might happen, but the point is they now have a bonus to give to whomever they want. They will take ownership and will greatly appreciate you giving them the opportunity and responsibility.

3) Sense of Ownership

They need to have something that is theirs. They make their own rules and are rewarded for growing and developing. Every trainer usually has a specialty. Find out what it is and ask if they want to develop their own specialty class. If they like to write, get them doing weekly blog posts for the gym. If they like facebook put them in charge of the facebook page. Get creative and give them a sense of ownership in the business. If they grow and develop this part of the business compensate them for a job well done.

This also gives them an opportunity to advance. This is an extremely important aspect to incorporate in any job. Teachers are on a pay scale that goes up each year, realtors get more money for selling more houses, you get more money for each member. If a trainer gets $20 an hour no matter how many people are in class they will hit a ceiling.

A creative way to give a sense of ownership is letting them pick a charity event for the gym to sponsor. It can be local, national or something they are passionate about. Giving back is powerful. Imagine the connection your trainers would develop with your gym and you if you spent money, time and effort fundraising for community events every few months that they are emotionally involved with.

The transition from trainer to leader is not an easy one, but you can make it fun. Hone your craft and try to develop into a manager you would like to work for. Be creative in how you spend your money and reward your employees. Remember it is hard to screw over a friend, but easy to go behind the back of a selfish boss.

Stay tuned for part two of this series. In the meantime leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts on the first three systems.

This blog post was kindly written for us by Geo Rockwell, the owner of CrossFit Mission Gorge in San Diego and founder of, where fitness entrepreneurs share their secrets to success. He has his CrossFit level one certification, CrossFit Endurance Certification, ACE Certification, and a Bachelors in Physical Education.

Exceptional Experiences Grow Boxes

By | Blog, Building Community, Business Help, Tips | One Comment

Why is it that you can have two boxes in the same area and one does really well and the other can’t figure out why they’re not growing?

They both teach the box methodology, have good trainers, equipment, etc. All the right stuff you need. So what’s the difference? How can one box be successful and the other can barely afford to keep the lights on? The answer’s already been given in this post title. An Exceptional Experience. Do you really believe it’s that easy? What box are you? The one who has been open for a year or so and is seeing solid growth or the one who just can’t seem to figure it out.

Creating an experience for your clients actually is not easy and doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and effort. Because of this, affiliate owners try to shortcut this method and try other “marketing efforts” (newspaper ads, Groupon, under-cutting their local competition) All this is short lived. You may get a few new people in your box, but will they stay? Probably not. Unless you provide for them a reason to stay. If you want committed clients and ones that become your referral sales force, give them an experience they can’t find anywhere else.

My wife, Julie, and I were talking today about whether box programs will be around for the long haul or will fall away like P90X and the others. Julie, (Spealler’s sister, also addicted to box programs and has a 2:59 Fran, just saying 🙂 made a good point saying, “Yes the fitness part is important, but the community is what really motivates most people to come back. People desire community. We were designed for it.”

So then give people what they want. An incredible experience.

No one said it was easy, but it is absolutely necessary to evaluate every aspect of your business. Building your exceptional experience is where the separation happens between the average affiliates and the great affiliates. Are you willing to step back from your routine and look at your box from the eyes of your client?

A professional brand and website is important, but a solid plan for success will separate you from your competition.

For another great article on building exceptional experiences, check this out.

CrossFit OLAF Case Study

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“321Go Project helped us create a new logo and a site that went above and beyond are expectations. Chris and Clay did a excellent job of taking an image we had in are head and turning it into a functional tool for are clients and newcomers. Clay did a great job of sending us weekly updates and keeping things moving forward in a timely manner. When it came to getting shirts, stickers, and business cards printed up, they had contacts for all of them which was very helpful. Chris and Clay didn’t stop there in helping us, as they were more than happy to answer any other questions that we had regarding are box. I would recommend 321Go Project for any affiliate that has any questions on how to push there box in the right direction.” – Kyle Zimmerman | CrossFit OLAF

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Lose the WOD Blog

By | Blog, Business Help | 3 Comments

Something tells me having the WOD blog on your homepage is not doing you any favors.

Let’s look at an example that probably plays out almost every day:

Betty keeps hearing the words “box programs” pop up in her community. She’s standing in a check out line and over hears two ladies talking about the box. She picks up her kids from school and hears a teacher talking about it with another mom. She sees a commercial on a Sunday afternoon NFL football game:) Okay, so she has heard about a box gym three times now. She decides to look online to see if there’s a box gym in her town. (We are assuming she is able to find you. If not, you should read this post) Great, she found you online and visits your website. What’s the first thing she sees on the home page? Hmmm. What is this? A picture of some guy lifting heavy weight and something about a WOD, AMRAP, and other words she has no idea what they mean.

This affiliate owner potentially lost a member who may have visited another local affiliate website in her area which was easier to understand, had clear explanations of what she could expect her first visit, and also a call to action to let her know her first intro, session, or one-on-one was free. Maybe there were even large before/after photos or even a graphic with an invite to an upcoming open house. Studies prove over and over you have about 3-5 sec. to capture someone’s interest when they visit your website. Maybe a couple years ago, you could get away with having a less than stellar website because you were the only box in town, but my guess is times have changed and now you have some competition.

Here are some steps you can take right now to help your site become more of a call to action, then just an area to post your WOD’s

  • Make sure on your homepage you have a clear call to action for a visitor and your phone number is as big as possible. Believe me, it builds trust.
  • Try and setup a post that always remains at the top of your blog that has a welcoming photo along with a summary of what you are about and how they can easily contact you for more info.
  • Get rid of any firebreather photos you have on your homepage. It does nothing to dull the fear any newbie has when they first visit your site.
  • Take a look at all of your local competition online. You don’t have to look the best, but you also don’t want to be the worst. The goal is to encourage newbies to come to your box for that first visit. From there hopefully your passion will shine through and they will become members for life:)

We started 321Go Project to help affiliates build successful boxes in their communities. If you do feel like your box’s website needs an overhaul, give us a call: 435.901.2173 or contact us as we would love to help turn your website into a lead generation machine.