Home / Elevation Articles

Elevation Articles

CONSISTENCY > INTENSITY

CONSISTENCY > INTENSITY

Mechanics, consistency, & then intensity. This is what we learn at all Level One Certifications. It's the training philosophy we try to instill in the members of our gym. But it’s as much a powerful principle for how you life your life & run your business as it is as a prescription for fitness. The writer Simon Sinek likes to say, “Intensity is going to the dentist twice a year, as prescribed. But if that’s all you ever did, your teeth would fall out.”

Intensity is sexy. More than that, it’s easy to measure. That’s why we like it so much. We can wrap our heads around short, unsustainable bursts of intensity better than we can a low trajectory toward some distant horizon. The intensity feels like we’ve done something. The consistency requires faith.

Intensity is a single, year-end review with each of your coaches. Consistency is taking one of their classes every week & offering feedbaack every time.

Intensity is waiting until a member quits before learning why she's unhappy. Consistency is a quarterly check-in meeting where you talk with her about her goals, fears, & what she needs from you. (And then acting on what you learn.)

Intensity is calling your mother only on her birthday. Consistency is calling her every Tuesday on your drive home from work.

We have two fundamental principles at CrossFit New England. First, that we are in the relationship business, not the fitness business. Second, that the single most determining factor in macro health & happiness is the strength of a person's relationships. If you agree with those, you can see why consistency matters more than intensity.

Consistency is what builds relationships, because it's what builds trust. Trust leads to vulnerability, which matters because only when someone is vulnerable do they open themselves to the possibility of change. Change is another word for growth, which is another word for progress, which is another word for evolution. (Hedge fund magnate Ray Dalio writes: “Evolving is life’s greatest accomplishment and it’s greatest reward.”)

Change is scary, & most people will avoid it. Consistency matters because without the trust it engenders you cannot inspire change.

Writer Steven Covey refers to it as the Emotional Bank Account. It works a lot like a regular bank account does. You build wealth by depositing more than you withdraw. You make deductions when you are inconsistent with someone with whom you have a relationship. When you break a promise, lie, or gossip about them, you reduce the balance. As Covey writes, “Our most constant relationships, like marriage, require our most constant deposits. With continuing expectations, old deposits evaporate.”

Only when you’ve built up a surplus with somebody do you have any real trust.

The benefits of intensity are almost always temporary in the absence of consistency. The value of a seven-day meditation retreat diminishes if not followed by a daily practice of mindfulness. The grand gesture embedded in that act of intensity might feel like progress, but is as much an exercise of avoidance. Doing the hard work of showing up every day, of dedicating yourself to a process, of trusting that your patience & dedication will pay off is much scarier. It's also more effective.

Mechanics, consistency, & then intensity:

Brushing your teeth once accomplishes very little. Only brushing twice a day, every day, will have an impact.

No single day of training will shed those pound or reduce a member's dependency on medication. Only showing up five or six times a week, every week, will do that.

Giving a piece of feedback won't make your coach see movement more clearly. Only sustaining a dialogue that never ends will unlock their true capacity.

Then, every once in a while, go to the dentist, commit yourself to a 30-day nutrition challenge, or sit down with your coach for an hour-long review.

You are what you repeatedly do. You are not what you do occasionally.

HOW TO HAVE THAT HARD CONVERSATION

HOW TO HAVE THAT HARD CONVERSATION

This is an excerpt from our Guide titled 'Always Be Caring.'

Every gym has a member that, when he walks through the door, the coach and the members think, "Dammit, he's in my class."

Certainly fewer, but not an insignificant number of gyms also have a coach on staff who isn't meeting the expectations of the owner or the other coaches.

How do you deal with these different, but similar, situations?

The easy thing to do is ignore it and hope it goes away on its own. Maybe the member quits or starts taking another class. Maybe the coach quits or (even more unlikely) shows up one day a changed person.

The more likely scenario: Nobody quits and nobody gets better. The only thing that happens is your community suffers.

The harder thing to do with that member or with that coach would be to sit down and have a tough conversation. But even that isn't enough.

Since that conversation will be fraught with conflict or drama, we need to first begin building up their emotional bank account. We need to first give and give and give, before we ever think about taking. We need to build a surplus before making a withdrawal -- because, to be sure, any conversation about how a person isn't meeting your expectations is going to be a withdrawal.

If you spend two weeks making deposits into their emotional bank account, making them feel like you truly have their best interest at heart, they'll be far more receptive to you when you have that conversation.

They'll be less defensive and more open to your suggestions, which will lead to less drama, less conflict, and a better community inside the gym.

STARTING YOUR GYM'S PODCAST

STARTING YOUR GYM'S PODCAST
It's the unfair advantage of CrossFit affiliates that we're able to spend so much time with the people who choose us. We get upwards of five or six hours of face time with each of them every single week. Very few businesses can say that.

But we wanted more.

For all the time we spend with them & all our attempts to communicate, we had one fundamental problem. We were unable to get all our members in the same place, at the same time, to tell them the same thing.

We were mulling this over before an Affiliate Excellence Seminar in Chicago a few months ago.

Ben talks often to the members of his 8:30 class about issues other than thrusters & pull-ups. He talks to them about happiness, nutrition, & what we're trying to accomplish at CrossFit New England. But Ben only coaches the 8:30 these days. For members who aren't in the gym at that time, they miss these conversations.

We were out to dinner, trying to solve this, when the obvious answer finally came: We should do a CFNE podcast. It was one of those times you feel stupid for not having thought of it sooner.

For the past year, we've been doing a podcast called Chasing Excellence. We talk about a lot of these bigger issues, but it's pointed outward. Some of the conversations are valuable to our members, but none of them are specific to our members.

We came home & four days later recorded the first episode. Eleven episodes in & we're convinced this is something every affiliate should be doing.

Our aim here is to give you the tools, strategies, & tips to get you moving toward creating your own affiliate podcast.

Part I: WHY

Relationships get built by two forces: trust & communication. The more a relationship has of either, the stronger it is.

As affiliate owners & coaches, it's imperative we understand that we are not in the fitness business. We are in the relationship business. We should be seeking every opportunity, then, to build trust & communicate.

As much time as we have with our members, though, it's still often not enough. Even the most efficiently run sixty-minute class can feel jam-packed. Even if your members stick around for fifteen minutes after the workout ends, we don't always get a chance to talk with them. There's always more to say.

Entrepreneur & venture capitalist Gary Vaynerchuk likes to implore business owners to act like a media company, no matter what they actually sell. The reason is simple. In a world where we are constantly communicating, those whose communication creates the most value to the end consumer wins.

Put another way: Valuable communication builds trust, & trust is oxygen to a business.

Five years ago, our suggestion might have been to have a blog on your website, & to update it every week. That's still not a bad idea. But the reason many affiliates haven't done this is twofold. First, because many affiliate owners & coaches don't consider themselves writers. Second, because many don't appreciate how much value there is in communicating with their members on a consistent basis.

If you're a good writer (or even a decent one), then writing a blog is a great place to start. In many ways, it's easier than a podcast. All you need is an internet connection.

If you haven't written anything longer than an Instagram caption since middle school, though, podcasting might be the ticket.

PART II: HOW

Author, investor, & podcaster Tim Ferriss asks himself a question when he's starting a new project. It was one of the questions he asked himself when he started his own successful podcast, in fact:

What would this look like if it were easy?

That's where we're going to begin.

We're in a different boat than most affiliates at CFNE. We've been running another podcast for a full year. We have all the necessary tools, & we know how to use them.

Your podcast does not need to look, sound, or feel like ours. Your aim should be to execute on the simplest possible version of this project. As you gain experience, you can make it as complicated or complex as you wish.

If you overcomplicate this from the beginning, you'll lose steam fast. You are not a professional podcaster, but you are a professional communicator. Focus on your strengths & let your weaknesses shore up organically.

Toward that end, let's steal another piece of advice from Mr. Ferriss: Commit to at least six episodes of your podcast. Why six? In Tim's words: "I felt like that would give me a certain critical mass, where I could develop new skills, maybe remove a few verbal ticks and decide and assess fairly whether I enjoyed it or not. So I committed to six episodes."

You're not going to be very good at the beginning, in other words. Take the pressure off by giving yourself enough runway to work out the kinks. Only then will you actually know if this is a useful & enjoyable way to communicate with your members.

There are many ways to do this, but we're going to focus on easy & inexpensive. We're not going to worry about creating a podcast that will show up in Apple Podcasts or any other app you may use.

The reasons are twofold: First, they'll require extra steps that can be annoying & might be the roadblock that stops you before you've begun. Second, despite podcasts growing in popularity, most people still don't listen them, & therefore don't know how to listen to them. We don't want you to put anything in the way of your members listening.

We're going to focus on creating a podcast that you can host on your website & add to your daily WOD posts. They'll live there & your members can listen when they check the details of tomorrow's workout. (Click here for general instructions with Wordpress. Click here for general instructions with Squarespace.)

A note on why hosting the audio on your site makes sense:

All podcasting apps or audio hosting services get built with distribution in mind. In other words, they exist so creators can make something & then find as big an audience as possible.

We're not in that boat. Our target market is small & consists of our current members who already visit our website. We don't need to distribute any wider than that, so we don't need to use tools designed to do so.

Hosting on your site puts the audio exactly where your members already are & makes it stupid easy for them to listen. That's the only success metric we need to measure.

Here's a look at some options for which tools you might want to use, in order of most to least simple. Keep in mind, things can get far more complicated. Take a look at the set-up for The CFNE Way:


Option 1: Smartphone

You have everything you need already to make this option work. (Unless you're still rocking the Nokia 1100i.)

Most smartphones come with an audio recording app built in, & we recommend you start there. (If you want to get a little fancy, you can check out Audio Recorder [Android] or Griffin iTalk Recorder [iOS]. They both have great reviews & some advanced features.)

Option 2: Smartphone+Microphone

There are no two-ways about it: Audio straight into your phone won't sound amazing. If you want to improve the sound, you may want to invest in a decent microphone, of which there are plenty. What you choose will depend a little on what you want to do.

Here are a few options, in order of least to most expensive. (Keep in mind, some of these need headphone jacks, some need lightning jacks if you're using an iPhone 7 or later. Be sure you double check the microphone is compatible with your device before you buy.)

Option 3: Microphone+Computer

This option is the one that's going to get you the best results, & the one that will need more effort & expense.

If you're using a Mac, you already have an app called GarageBand that makes it simple to record audio. (Here's a quick how-to guide to get yourself going.) If you don't like GarageBand or are using a PC, you can explore Audacity, which is a free piece of software that's been around for a while. (Here's a video covering the basics of how to use it.)

These will have a little bit of a learning curve, so be patient & play around before recording an episode.

The real magic will come with a higher-end microphone, which you'll plug into your computer's USB slot. As always, there are lots of options. Here are a few you might want to consider:

One thing to keep in mind when looking at USB microphones is whether you'll want to use a single mic for two people. If so, we recommend the Blue Yeti. It has a bidirectional option for recording people sitting on different sides of it. Here's an example of CrossFit OGs Pat & Taz Barber using one (skip to 1:20 to actually see/hear it):



Option 4: Audio Recorder

You can skip the phone, computer, & microphone by getting an all-in-one recorder like the Zoom h4n. More technically advanced, it can serve as both microphone & recorder for under $200.

If you don't have a decent laptop or use a Chromebook, this might be the best option for those wanting to go beyond recording into a smartphone.

Regardless of which option you choose, here are a few basic rules to keep in mind before you hit record:

  • Get Clean Audio - Find a quiet room or a time when the gym stereos aren't blasting the latest Kendrick Lamar track to record. Then get as close to your microphone as is comfortable. If your audio is too low or there's too much background noise, people won't stick with the episode.
  • Talk Like a Human - Don't script out what you're going to say, but know what you want to talk about. Write out bullet points if those help keep you focused & on track. If you're interviewing a member, have a couple relevant questions queued up to get the conversation rolling.
  • Avoid Awkwardness - Think about how you want to start & end each episode. These are the two most self-conscious, rambling parts of every new show. Plan beforehand how you want to handle them. 
  • Delete Videos of PRs from 2008 - Make sure to double check how much space you have left on your phone's hard drive before recording. Audio files aren't big, but if you're already maxed out, you'll run into trouble. 

PART III: WHAT

There are two formats your podcast can take. The first is single-person. Here's an example from the late, great Chris Moore of what this sounds like:



The second is a conversation between two people, which is what we choose for The CFNE Way. Unless you are a particularly elegant orator & already have a habit of talking to yourself (out load) for 10 or 15 minutes at a stretch, we'd recommend going with the two-person format.

For us, episodes consist of Ben sitting alongside one of our coaches, Dan. They'll figure out what they want to talk about before recording. To ensure spontaneity, though, they won't go any deeper than that. Dan welcomes viewers & cracks some jokes (usually about the history of turtlenecks), then gets into the topic. At the end of the show, they cover whatever events are upcoming.

We try to keep the episodes around fifteen minutes, but occasionally go longer if Ben gets revved up. Aiming for ten to fifteen minutes per episode will keep you free from too much rambling. It will also have the added benefit of not taking up too much of your already limited time.

If you want to remove as many barriers as possible to execution, here are a few of the subjects we've covered so far. Steal them if you feel like you've got something to say on the matter.

  • Core Values
  • Recording scores on the whiteboard
  • Nutrition
  • Why the programming is not random
  • The health care industry
  • Our Elements program

We record once a week, at the same time & in the same place. We can't stress the importance of this enough. The fact that it's on our respective calendars means it doesn't get pushed aside if the day gets busy. If it doesn't get scheduled, it won't happen.


We'd love to hear what you make. Please be sure to send us links of your new podcast so we can check them out.