Five Filters for Fitness Business Advice

TAGS: Chris Cooper, business advice, mentor

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If you’ve ever been to a kids’ sports game, you’ve heard this stuff from the bleachers:

“Shoot the ball at the net!” – Thanks Dad; good advice.

“Run hard!” – I am running hard, Mom.

“Don’t let her get past you!” – Jeez, wish I’d thought of that sooner.

I volunteer to coach kids’ hockey. Luckily, the glass and boards around the rink shield the players from hearing the noise from their parents. But in most sports, athletes struggle to pick out their coach’s directions from the static of the crowd.


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ice hockey players on bench

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And this is very true for entrepreneurs, especially in the gym industry.

“Be a great coach!” – Thanks Dad; good advice.

“Hustle and grind!” – I am grinding hard, Mom.

“Don’t let the other guy take your clients!” – Jeez, wish I’d thought of that sooner.

The problem is that there IS good advice out there, but it gets buried in all of the noise. Most gym owners quickly reach the Farmer Phase of entrepreneurship and then get stuck. Not because they don’t have good ideas but because they get buried in them. Good mentors act as filters: Listen to them, and block out everything else. But if you don’t have a mentor yet, here’s how to separate the signal from the noise:

The Five Filters for Fitness Business Advice

  1. The BS Filter: Is this an idea or a proven strategy? Did the gurus actually use this themselves, track the data, and test alternatives? Or are they just excited about a new idea?
  2. The Math Filter: Which metric will change? By how much? And what will happen if I do nothing? Should you actually be investing your time in something with a better return?
  3. The Time Filter: Do you need to do it now? When is best? Which of your other activities will this replace?
  4. The Variables Filter: What’s the actionable step here? Is there something I can do here, or is this just criticism that doesn’t help me?
  5. The Context Filter: Is this right for MY specific case right now?

When I’m in the stands myself, I try not to add to the noise. I know how hard it is for coaches to reach their players. Instead, I like to watch the parents and wonder about their motivation: Why is that overweight dad really telling his kid to “Dig! Dig! Dig!” or “Skate faster!”? Why is that mom really losing her mind at the ref? Why is that guru–who’s never actually owned a gym–suddenly so passionate about telling gym owners how to do it? It’s fun to guess at their hidden motivations as long as it doesn’t affect the players.

You can tell when a good coach is on the bench, as players will look to him or her for instruction instead of reacting to the crowd’s noise. That's why my gym has a mentor.

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