Category Archives for "Mash Business"

My Desire for Exercise Science Students

Before I get into my vision for the field of exercise science, I want to first tell all of you how excited I am for the future.

A dream of beginning a new university program is finally coming to fruition after 7 years. In the fall of 2020, I will begin my position as Head Coach of the Lenoir-Rhyne University Weightlifting Team. Recently I took my team to see the facilities and to check out campus. We even had the chance to train in our new home, and I think that I speak for all of us when I say we loved it. It felt like an Olympic Training Center, which is exactly what I am going for.

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On Tuesday I took the majority of our team to see what I’ve been working on for the last six months. If you take into consideration how long I’ve been planning and dreaming of a University Weightlifting Program, it’s more like 7 years. In this video you will see the main weight room complete with: Inverse Leg Curls, Reverse-Hypers, Glute-Ham Developers, @westsidebarbellofficial Belt Squat Machine, racking system with all the toys including jammer arms, monkey bars for days, every specialty bar you can imagine, turf area, multiple @assaultairbike air runners, air bikes, ski ergs, and of course we will have all the nice kilo bumpers and awesome bars. . There’s also a nutrition station as you exit for athletes to grab their post-workout shakes. . The Athletic Training Room is my favorite complete with Cold Tub and Hot Tub, @rapidreboot ‘s, and Athletic Trainers of course. The goal is to get each athlete an individual recovery plan. . You’ll also see the spillover room that is also beautiful for individual two-a-day sessions. . Another thing is the Heated Indoor Saltwater Pool. For all of you CrossFit Athletes that can also Snatch and Clean & Jerk well, I am 100% interested in having you, and I am totally fine with you continuing to do both sports weightlifting and CrossFit. Therefore indirectly creating the first University CrossFit Program. . If you’re interested in attending and looking into scholarship opportunities, you can DM me right here. Then I will give you my email. . FYI to all the coaches, we want you to remain the #1 coach of record and can keep your club name except during the University Nationals. . I want this to be a Team USA Program, and nothing to do with Team Mash. I hope we can work together to give athletes opportunities within the sport. Therefore giving them a reason to pursue our beloved sport versus one of the other sport like football or basketball. . Ask any questions right here as well, and I will answer. . @shruggedcollective @andersvarner @usaweightlifting #usaw #weightlifting #strengthandconditioning #powerlifting @alex_j_koch @lenoirrhyne @bearssports #lenoirrhyneweightlifting #crossfit

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I want the athletes on my team to have everything they need to succeed. However there is much more that I want for them. I want them to leave Lenoir-Rhyne with a degree and a future. I am also beginning the long process of working toward my PhD. Guys, I haven’t been in school in over 25 years. Luckily, Mash Elite Performance has kept my nose buried in research, learning, and writing of course. I definitely feel more prepared than when I first graced Appalachian State University with my presence. All I cared about back then was football, lifting weights, and girls. Now I want to make a difference in as big a way as possible.

The staff at LR is incredibly progressive and forward thinking. When I am around Dr. Alex Koch and Dr. Keith Leiting, I feel like the possibilities are endless. I’m excited about the research we will be capable of performing with elite weightlifters under our roof. However there is something that intrigues me even more. I want to make sure our exercise science students have futures in their chosen field.


The buzz around the world lately is that college isn’t as important as we once thought. People are either taking up a trade, starting work right away, or skipping school to start their own business. With my goal of becoming a professor, I want to be a part of the solution. Exercise Science is comprised of students who are intrigued with health and fitness, and most of them simply want to help others. To me this is an admirable major filled with good people, and I want to help the students at Lenoir-Rhyne put their passion to work.

My dream is to integrate major specific business skills within the exercise science curriculum. I want to teach our students:

  • How to brand themselves with social media
  • How to create content to help others via podcasts, blogs, or vlogs
  • Networking skills
  • Entrepreneurial skills to develop their own businesses online or brick and mortar
  • The actual job search itself

One thing I have learned listening to Gary Vaynerchuk is that brand is just about everything when it comes to one’s career. I am not just talking about entrepreneurs. I’m also talking about those want a job as a strength and conditioning coach or even as a personal trainer. In a competitive field, you have got to do something that sets you apart, and then you have to let the rest of the world know about it.

If a student begins the process during their freshman year, they will be able to build quite the brand by the time they are seniors. If they want to focus more on their futures than partying, we all know there is plenty of time to grow a brand and a following. I am not talking about four years of posting pics with your friends. I mean four years of sharing all that you are learning or sharing nutrition and exercise tips. The goal is that you graduate being known as that guy – with that guy being whoever you want to become in this noble field.

If you desire to help people with the knowledge you are gaining in your studies, you don’t have to wait until you graduate. You can start creating content on your favorite aspects of exercise science right now. The key is discovering your favorite way to produce content – whether it be podcasting, writing, or vlogging. Of course you don’t want to write about something that you don’t totally understand. Stick to the truths that you are learning along the way. The goal is to focus on the niche you enjoy and the particular aspect of exercise science you know the best (nutrition, speed training, athletic performance, etc.). Remember the goal is to become that guy or that gal in the field.


The latest and greatest methods from Travis Mash as he continues to innovate Mash Mafia programming.

Weightlifting - Powerlifting - Super Total

Garage Gym Warrior - Functional Fitness - Strength and Conditioning

Getting a job? Starting a business?

Here’s the truth regarding how one gets most jobs in the exercise science world: it’s whom you know. It might not be the right thing, but it’s a harsh reality. But there is an art to networking. Way too many people who are trying to network come across as annoying and desperate. It has to be a natural thing. The best people to network with are people you jive with. Then there is a high probability that your new acquaintance will introduce you to other likeminded people – and the next thing you know you will have a circle of folks that you love. There’s more to it, but you get the idea. We just need to make sure that our talented students get the idea.

And let’s not forget that many students can create their own jobs. Most college students simply don’t understand they aren’t held hostage by the hopes of someone hiring them anymore. This is the age of the young entrepreneur. However, it’s also the age of the broke entrepreneur. These young folks need guidance and someone who can be brutally honest because everyone isn’t cut out for entrepreneurship. If you’re lazy, you’re doomed to fail. If you aren’t self-motivated, you are doomed to fail. If you don’t have thick skin, you’re doomed to fail because everyone is going to tell you that you’re crazy.

The job will be to assess the students and see who is and who isn’t cut out for entrepreneurship. If they are, the next job would be to see what ideas they might have, and then give them direction. The key will be to get this going as soon as possible, so they can use their time in college to brand their future business. For example, maybe they love working with weight loss clients. They should spend their extra time writing and/or creating video of the dangers of obesity and making wise choices at the grocery store. Then they will graduate having created a solid following that they can begin to market to.

The most obvious place that these graduates need help is finding actual jobs. Most of them have no idea about the opportunities that are afforded them. For example, they could look for something in the strength and conditioning field, personal trainer, corporate wellness, physical therapist assistant, chiropractic assistant, personal trainer on a cruise ship (this is a real thing), or in cardiac rehab. The list goes on, but the key is informing the students and helping them map out a path toward their goal job.

The good thing is that Dr. Alex Koch and I have already been throwing around ideas. Since he helped me start this whole new program, I guess we believe anything is possible at this point. If you are looking for a school right now, you might want to consider what kind of job placement record they have as a school. I can promise we are going to make some changes you will all be reading about very soon. I want all of our students leaving Lenoir-Rhyne University ready to attack their chosen field and confident they made the right choice in a university.

If you are interested in our new University Weightlifting Program at Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, NC, message me on here or shoot an email to I will have a Lenoir-Rhyne email within days, which will be

Perseverance and Starting a Coaching Career with Peter Kenn – The Barbell Life 290

It’s not really a surprise that Peter Kenn is pursuing a strength coach career.

After all, his father is my friend Coach Joe Kenn of the Carolina Panthers. And Peter joins us today to talk about what it was like growing up as the son of a great strength coach.

But Peter is a skilled athlete in his own right, and he is determined to make his own way in the world as a strength coach. I think he’s going places – and as you’ll hear about in this podcast, he has some strengths that might even make him a better strength coach than his father.

We talk about all of that – and we also get to Peter’s plans for breaking into the strength coach industry… and what has already brought him tremendous benefit.

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  • Why track requires a lot of mental fortitude – and what makes Peter so mentally tough
  • Having a successful Block Zero
  • What it was like growing up as Coach Joe Kenn’s son (and what Coach Kenn has learned the hard way)
  • How Peter’s “court room experience” made him a better coach
  • Peter’s tactical plan to enter the coaching world and what you can learn from it
  • and more…

Owning a Gym and Training Young Athletes with Scott Paltos – The Barbell Life 289

Scott Paltos has come highly recommended as a guest for this podcast – apparently we have tons of mutual friends.

And I can see why after this podcast. Scott has seen so much in the strength game, and he has a lot of wisdom to share.

We talk all about his experience in several different sports, owning a gym, training kids, and some advanced thoughts on speed work. I could talk to Scott all day.


These samplers of programs cover weightlifting, powerlifting, functional fitness, athletic performance, and more. With all these programs at your hands, coaches can handle any athlete who comes their way - and athletes can explore a variety of approaches.


  • “Dinosaur” days and “Beach” days in the training week
  • How he uses contrast training in his own way
  • His advice for young coaches
  • The real story of owning your own gym
  • Speed training lessons from the dream team
  • and more…

A Better Way to Plan

2019 has been a roller coaster of a year for my team and for me personally. There have been some extreme highs and lows, which unfortunately seem to go hand-in-hand.

My business has noticed steady growth – something I am extremely thankful for. My baby girl, Magnolia Taylor Mash, was born in February – which was the highlight of the year. But this is not a year in review, this is more of my thought process heading into 2020 based on the happenings of 2019. I think a lot of you will be able to take this process and apply it to your own life.

Highlights… and mistakes

If I listed all of our successes this year at Mash Elite, it would appear we’ve had the best year of any gym in the world. Here’s a look at some of the highlights:

  • Two gold medalists at Junior Nationals
  • Two athletes at Youth Worlds
  • Two bronze medals at Youth Worlds
  • Silver medalist at Senior Pan American Championships
  • Best male and female lifter at the Senior National Championships
  • Two athletes at the Youth Pan American Championships
  • One gold medalist at Youth Pan Ams and Best Male Lifter
  • Great year for Tommy Bohanon in his final year in the NFL (maybe his final year)
  • Two athletes at the Pan American Games
  • Two athletes at the Junior Pan American Championships with two medalists as well even though both were still Youth Athletes.
  • Multiple American and Pan American records
  • Winning the team championships at Youth Nationals including multiple gold medal performances
  • Best overall male athlete at Youth Nationals
  • Qualifying four American, two Danish, and one Irish athlete for the Senior Worlds
  • Visiting Jamaica twice with Stronger Experts to help their track athletes
  • Tate Carney compiled 2,000 yards of offense as a sophomore in high school
  • Tate and his teammate Cam Beck were nominated all-conference
  • Cade Carney played his last season of Division I Football for Wake Forest University
  • Creating the newest University Weightlifting Program in the country at Lenoir-Rhyne University
  • Youth Athlete Ryan Grimsland won the 67kg class at the Senior American Open.

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These are just a few of the highlights. If you look at this list, you’d think I had a great year. I would be omitting a lot of the bad things that happened, but it would make me look awesome. But that would be a lie, and it wouldn’t help any of you. So I want to talk about the biggest issue I ran into this year, and I want to explain some of the steps I plan on taking to counter this snag.

Culture, Capacity, and Commitment

Our culture took a dive at the end of the year. We lost several top athletes. Of course some needed to go, and some I will miss forever. The questions are:

  1. What happened?
  2. How do we avoid this happening again?

The biggest mistake I made was bringing on too many top athletes in a year that would require them traveling all over the world. Most coaches have at most one elite athlete, which is easy to handle. Even the ones who have multiple elites normally have seniors, juniors, or youth. This year we had multiple of each age category. We had four youth qualifying for international trips, including Youth Worlds and Youth Pan Ams. We had two junior athletes qualifying for Junior Worlds and Junior Pan Ams. We had four seniors qualifying for Senior Pan Ams, Senior Pan American Games, and Senior Worlds. This doesn’t even cover the international athletes we coach – and we had youth, junior, and senior international athletes qualifying for meets all around the world.

Does this sound like a lot? Well, it doesn’t even cover our powerlifters and athletic performance athletes. Oh yeah, I’m a husband and father to four children who need my attention, and I run multiple businesses. This is not an excuse. I am simply setting up the mistake that I made. I simply didn’t consider my capacity as a coach, and it bit me in the butt.

Pretty much all of the problems originated from the fact I was too busy – causing me to ignore issues, to communicate ineffectively, and to allow things to slip through the cracks. A big part of the problem was bringing on athletes simply because they were awesome, without considering if they fit the culture of my team or me as a coach. All of this combined has caused me to think deeply about how I do things. I don’t know about you, but in my experience, an extreme trial normally precedes extreme growth.

Considerations moving forward

So what do I plan on doing about it? That’s the real question. All of us have bumps in the road, but it’s how we respond that makes us who we are. The first thing I plan on doing is figuring exactly what the values of our team are. I am not basing this 100% on what I think. I am taking into consideration what my athletes and coaches think as well – so the set of values that decides how our team will be conducted is developed from our team as a whole. I want the entire team to take 100% ownership in our set of values moving forward.

I am also having each team member hand me his or her personal goals. I am going to help them develop these goals into a macro and micro set of goals they can check off almost weekly. This will govern the way I expect them to act.

For example, if an athlete tells me he or she wants to make an Olympic team someday, then I will expect their actions to match their goals. If they are staying up all night playing video games and demonstrating terrible nutritional habits, then I am not going to take them seriously. At that point, we will either:

  • Change their behavior
  • Alter their goals
  • Ask them to change or train somewhere else

These same goals and values will follow us to Lenoir-Rhyne University and will help govern our team there as well. Each new crop of athletes will give their input – making the set of values a living document. So far I love what our team has evolved into. Everyone is working hard, focused on their goals, and ready to take on 2020. We still have multiple senior, junior, and youth athletes here in America and around the world who will be traveling to multiple international competitions. We are looking to smash American, Danish, Australian, and New Zealand records along with some world records next year.

One thing I am doing as a university weightlifting coach is allowing current coaches to remain the coach of record, so they will do the traveling with the athletes they have developed. I also plan on working closely with the coaches in regard to programming and technical cues. This will help cut down on my travel time and will help keep me focused on the training of each athlete.

Planning Ahead

I’m excited that all of this happened now – causing me to think hard about the way I plan on growing our program at Lenoir-Rhyne University. I want to develop a program we can all be proud of. More importantly, I want to form a culture that will allow the incoming athletes to have the best collegiate experience possible during their tenure at LR.

I hope all of this helps you guys as you grow your own clubs. More importantly, I hope all of you can learn from my mistakes, so you don’t have to go through a season like I just did. Twelve countries in one year was a bit too much for me.

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Developing a Champion Culture

The word “culture” has become such buzzword over the last decade. The word is used in businesses, churches, and gyms.

Culture is an important part of our facilities and an important part of our teams.

So what is gym culture?


Here’s my definition of gym culture:

“Culture refers to the beliefs and behaviors of the members within a gym or team that affect training atmosphere, each other’s view of the mundane tasks required to be great, each other’s view of reality, and the interaction of members with each other inside and outside the training facility.”

Culture should be defined by the owner and cultivated by the coach. Normally the owner and coach are one and the same, as in my case. However, it’s probably optimal for the roles to be separate. In a perfect world, someone can be working on the business while someone is inside the business coaching the athletes. Both are full-time positions, but it’s tough to find good fits for each.

There was a time I thought “culture” was simply a buzzword with little to no value. I thought I would fill my gym with athletes, coach them up, and they would be great. Luckily I have the ability to draw athletes, so I did it. I started a gym in Advance, NC, and within a year or two we were filled with over two hundred young athletes – mostly high-school-aged. If you’ve never heard of Advance, NC, don’t sweat it because that’s my point.

However, filling a gym with athletes is one thing, while keeping those athletes and forming an optimal environment is another. The first thing I want to do is to define the real benefits of forming a solid culture as it relates to the bottom line and creating amazing athletes. If you understand the benefits of a great culture, you might be more inclined to work hard at developing the culture which fits your goals.

Benefits of a good culture:

  • Produces enthusiastic results
  • Cultivates lasting relationships
  • Increases referrals
  • Increases retention
  • Creates an entity that takes on a life of its own and people want to be a part of it


This five-part clinic series stands above all others as the most comprehensive event for coaches and athletes alike. Level up your knowledge of technique, programming, business, and coaching.

Culture of Chaos

In 2017 I had a massive team. At the 2017 National Championships, I had more athletes than any other coach. I thought I had a great team, but all I had was a lot of good athletes. There’s a big difference! I had collected a lot of talented athletes with no consideration for culture. I hadn’t even considered the kind of culture I wanted to nurture. Therefore I nurtured a culture of chaos. It was a lesson I will not soon forget.

It was Sean Waxman who brought this to my attention. It’s funny he could see my gym imploding all the way in California. Luckily I have a friend like him who’s not afraid to tell me the truth. He told me I was going to have to make some really tough decisions, or my entire gym was going to fall apart. It wasn’t long before I could see the exact thing he was talking about.

I found myself hating the gym and hating coaching for the first time in my life. For the first time in my life, driving to the gym was like driving to work – and that’s never what I want the gym to feel like.

To make a long story short, I decided to define my culture, to eliminate the athletes who didn’t fit, and to continue to nurture my desired outcome. Most coaches wait their entire careers for just one Team USA athlete, and I needed to get rid of several. This was the hardest task of my life.

Building a good culture

But when I defined our culture and cut some people, things improved. Our culture is now one where people strive to be their absolute best, and their actions match their goals. We have an atmosphere where everyone gets along, and there is absolutely zero drama tolerated. We have produced way more Team USA athletes with way fewer top ranked athletes. Most importantly, I love the gym again – and I love my athletes again.

You don’t have to be a Team USA athlete to train at our gym, but you do have to want to be the best you can possibly be. Last year in 2018 we had four athletes at the World Championships. In 2019, we have eight including our international athletes. We have cultivated an environment where people succeed. We don’t tolerate excuses anymore for anything. If you miss a lift, it was no one’s fault but your own.

For all of you trying to run a business, this environment is one people want to be a part of. It means more members – and more importantly, it means more happy members. It’s in this environment that relationships can be cultivated because we are all on the same path. I am not saying everyone is trying to make the Olympics. I’m saying everyone is trying to become the absolute best version of themselves, and that is relatable among all my members.

Building Relationships

Courtney Haldeman is one of my newer lifters. She’s also in nurse practitioner school. She might not end up in the Olympics like Hunter aims to be, but they both come in and give it their absolute best. The common goal is something they both can rally around. It’s in this culture they have become the best of friends. It’s all I ask of any of our members – to give all they have to give. I want them to learn lessons which will carry over in life way after sport is no longer a part of their personal lives.

When people are in an environment that fits their personality, with all the necessary tools to help them reach their goals (coaching, equipment, and team support), they will tell others. Those people will be their friends and coworkers who are like-minded, so now your gym/team will grow with people who are more likely to fit your culture.

Of course you will need to continuously remind your team/members exactly what the culture is, and sometimes you will have to coach your team members up on the culture – helping them grow into better athletes and people. It’s the biggest part of coaching in my opinion. People will always make mistakes. A good coach sees mistakes as opportunities for growth.

A defined culture filled with members referred by team members will grow a gym filled with people who feel at home. It’s in this environment very few people will ever quit. Therefore retention rates will be high, which is where most gyms fail. If we would only focus half as hard on keeping members, there would come a time in all of our gyms where new members would no longer be needed. If we would all focus on the culture of our gyms, we wouldn’t have to put as much effort into marketing and advertising. We could focus on what we love, which is coaching up our athletes to be better men and women.

Part of Something Special

My main point is the most important thing I want you to take away today – if you want to create something special which people will want to be part of, you have to focus on the culture of your gym. At this World Championships, I have eight athletes – four from the United States, one from Great Britain, two from Denmark, and one from Ireland. I’ve had three international athletes from Australia, one from New Zealand, and several from Canada. My point is we have created something special at Mash that people from around the world want to be a part of.

This has been a dream of mine since I started Mash Elite. I want to positively affect people from around the world with my love of the barbell. I want them to experience the same growth I have as a human. I want them to set big goals, focus on reaching those goal, exceed those goals, and them apply what they’ve learned to life.

Culture can help you create something much bigger than a gym. Westside Barbell is no longer a gym. It’s a way of life. I don’t share their same values, but I definitely desire to leave an impact on the world much like Louie Simmons has done. My favorite compliment ever was by Coach Joe Kenn, when he said I was becoming the Westside Barbell of weightlifting. Those are some big shoes to fill, but I definitely hope to influence the world outside of my gym’s four walls. I want the world to see the beauty of the barbell. I want the world to see all the lessons that can be learned from the piece of steel in their hands.


This five-part clinic series stands above all others as the most comprehensive event for coaches and athletes alike. Level up your knowledge of technique, programming, business, and coaching.

If you want to create something special, you better start focusing on the culture of your gym today. I am going to tell you just like Coach Waxman told me. If you want to build a place that is sustainable for athletes, you better pay attention to what’s going on. Athletes will come and go as they get older or lose interest, but you are there to stay. You better like what you have created, or nothing will last very long. I hope all of you will create entities that will last several generations after all of us are gone from this earth. That’s the real test.

Creating a Barbell Business in the Post CrossFit Boom Era

Hanging out at the Pan American Games was an incredible experience. It was an honor to be a part of Team USA with all the amazing athletes from the other sports. It gave me a glimpse into the future of just how cool the Olympic Games will be.

However, there was another benefit I am going to talk about in this article that will hopefully provide all of you with value.

The Boom Is Ending

My roommate was Dave Spitz, the Godfather of Cal Strength. Cal Strength exploded onto the scene along with the CrossFit Games, and they motivated and inspired a lot of us to open a barbell business. Some of us opened CrossFit boxes, while others opened Strength and Conditioning facilities. Some of us have been courageous enough to open weightlifting and/or powerlifting gyms. It was an era that I am proud to have been a part of.

However, now we have all experienced the pinnacle of the era I am calling “The Great Boom” – and now we are all witnessing a slight decline. The industry is self-regulating, and that’s fine. All that means is that the real players will survive and eventually thrive, while the pretenders will fade away. My goal is to help all of you be a part of the gyms that thrive. It simply means we are all going to have to operate like we are real businesses… because we are real businesses.

If you are struggling, don’t worry. Dave and I are both learning to adapt to the new era I have titled “The Post CrossFit Boom Era.” CrossFit introduced the world to the barbell, and along with the Cal Strength videos it caused a sort of barbell craze. Everyone wanted to pick up a barbell and feel powerful. People wanted to slam bars like Jon North. Some wanted to squat massive amounts of weight like Dan Green. Yet others wanted to embrace the barbell grind like Donny Shankle and live in a philosophical world that paralleled the barbell journey they experienced each day in the gym.

The good thing is Pandora’s Box is opened now. That can never be undone. The question is what are we going to do with it. The new has worn off, but the curiosity is still there. Now it’s time to become the cream that rises to the top, leaving the rest behind.

More than Passion

A lot of you got into this industry because you wanted to change other people’s lives. That’s wonderful. You wanted to build a gym, open your doors, and coach hundreds of people each and every day. You fell in love with the barbell, and you wanted to share that love with others. Man, I get it! Me too! Some of you wanted to teach people how to get strong, some of you wanted to teach people how to get healthy, and some of you wanted to do a bit of both.

Perfect! That’s a great start. You have to be passionate about what you are selling. However, passion is just a part of the process. There are other aspects of business you will have to master if you want to survive in the new Post CrossFit Boom Era. There’s more to business, but these are the areas I am going to focus on in this article.

Become the Best

First, you really do need to become the best at what you’re doing. A lot of you think you are, but your videos say something different. If you want to be a weightlifting gym, you need to become awesome at coaching and programming for the sport of Olympic weightlifting. If you want to help people lose weight and get fit, you need to become an expert regarding nutrition, functional movement, and general health. The same goes for powerlifting, strength and conditioning, strongman, and all the rest.

How do you become the best in your chosen field? That’s the real question. Here’s the answer:

  1. Education and certifications are a start
  2. Know the research
  3. Find a mentor

Some of you would like to believe education doesn’t matter, and you’re just kidding yourself. You need the basics of anatomy, physiology, physics, and biomechanics to make educated decisions on the specific elements of programming, technique, nutrition, and metabolism. You need this basic background to weed through all of the information out there. This background can help keep you from making mistakes and keep you from following idiots who have no business putting out information.

Of course, all the science in the world without the practical experience of spending time under the barbell or spending time making healthy decisions on your own is worthless. You need both to become a true expert.

Guys, if Greg Nuckols can find value in a higher degree, all of us can find value. I promise none of you are smarter than him, and none of you have more experience than me. The moral of the story is to spend some time with your nose in a book or two.

Certifications sure don’t make you an expert, but they show the world that you care enough to study, pay attention, and pass a basic test. My favorite certifications are:

  • NSCA C.S.C.S. for basic science in the strength and conditioning realm
  • USA Weightlifting Level 1 Coaching Course for the practicality of teaching the basic movements that are important in the strength and conditioning world – like the snatch, clean, squat, press, and pull
  • Mash Elite Clinic Super Series for the science, practicality, and the business experience
  • Precision Nutrition Level 1 for the basics in nutrition and best practices.
  • Mash Elite Strength University for an Online Course on all things strength and conditioning


This five-part clinic series stands above all others as the most comprehensive event for coaches and athletes alike. Level up your knowledge of technique, programming, business, and coaching.

Once you have a degree and get your top certifications that relate to your chosen field/passion, now it’s time to check out the research.

Is research everything? Absolutely not, but it can keep your from making mistakes. The work of Greg Nuckols makes the lives of all of us much easier. Greg and his crew perform multiple meta-analyses on topics like programming for women, truth about the back squat, and the use of caffeine – combining all the research and explaining what the data really says. However, you are going to need to familiarize yourself with PubMed because it’s the home of all the research. The research will only tell you what we already know. Then it’s up to you to figure out what we don’t know.

Last, you need to find a mentor. Who’s a good mentor? Well, you need to find someone who produces results with his or her athletes and someone who runs a great business. I think of people like Martin Rooney who have produced some of the fastest athletes ever to run in the NFL Combine, all while helping to build the Parisi Speed School Empire. Dave Spitz comes to mind for strength and conditioning and Olympic weightlifting, which makes him even more valuable because he has succeeded with two areas and two revenue sources.

You need to write your mission statement clearly, defining exactly what you want your company to become. Then you need to look around for someone who has already built such a company. Most people like Dave or me are more than willing to help out new people in the industry if you are simply nice and show us you are willing to do whatever it takes for your athletes.

If you get a chance to get mentored by someone like Zach Even-Esh or Martin Rooney, you need to pay them whatever they are charging even if you need to mortgage your home. These men and women are going to teach you more about succeeding in this industry than ten PhDs ever could. They are going to show you how to get results for your athletes. More importantly for your family, they are going to teach you how to get paid.

Marketing and Advertising

Once you understand how to get results for your athletes, you need to learn how to get your athletes. If you don’t have anyone to coach, you’re not a coach. Not only are you not a coach, even worse, you are broke.

Too many of you came into the industry believing if you built a gym, then people would come beating down the doors to workout with you. Then you opened your doors, and now you can’t even get your friends to bring their children to your gym. Is it their fault? Nope it’s 100% your fault. It’s always your fault, and once you realize that you are free to be successful.

The first element of marketing is identifying a need and then identifying your audience. Is there a need for a weightlifting gym in your town? Is there a need for a better weightlifting gym in your town? What type of person needs your service? Once you identify the need and the audience, then you can begin developing your product and brand.

For example, at Mash Elite we are known to coach some of the best athletes in the area and even in the world. We are the place where someone goes to become his or her absolute best. Our gym is beautiful with all the best equipment. We have men’s and women’s locker rooms with showers, a hardwood floating floor for stretching and warm up, and our equipment is from the best suppliers.

You don’t have to be the best in the world. You just have to desire to be the best version of you. Our market is either athletes or the general public who desire the best coaches, the best equipment, and the best facilities. It’s a niche market, but it’s also a market that shares something good with their friends.

Once you’ve identified your audience and defined your product and brand, you have to choose a plan to get your product out to the identified audience. This process is called advertising. This process has never been so easy. Social media makes this process easy and cheap.

I recommend that all of you become experts on social media. Why? Because you can use social media to target the exact audience you have identified. Both Facebook and Instagram have made the process completely easy. You need to learn about the ins and outs of both Facebook and Instagram advertising. You need to learn about pixels. You can pretty much Google or search on YouTube to find out all about these areas. You can grow your market with quality information and a good understanding of each social media platform. Personally I recommend the following social media platforms:

  • Facebook, especially for developing a strong local business
  • Instagram for developing your brand with pictures and videos
  • Twitter for communicating and teaching to your target market
  • LinkedIn if you are doing anything business-to-business (for example, corporate health and wellness programs)
  • YouTube for developing your brand deeper and developing loyalty. Your audience will get to know you and your athletes or staff on a deeper level. You can develop the characters people will find at your facilities.

There are others, but these are the ones I recommend and use. There might be other platforms to use, but these are the platforms I know for a fact will help you. You have to develop your own strategy for each of them. You don’t want to share the exact post on all platforms. That simply won’t work. I have defined how to use each of them above. Here are a few suggestions for organic growth of each:

Daily $1.80
This is my favorite piece of advice from Gary Vaynerchuk. You can go on Instagram and search for a place or topic that relates to your location and/or business and find people to communicate with. Go on their pages and honestly give your two cents. Once you’ve identified people in your community who either come to your facility, are members who you would like to have, or have children who would be a good fit for your facility, you can go on their feeds, comment on their posts, and communicate with their friends. Their friends probably live in your community as well. The key is to be real with them. You can do the same on Twitter. The goal is to give your two cents (sincere comments or questions) 90 times every single day – equaling $1.80. Maybe you need to start with $0.90 or 45 times, but you need to start somewhere and be consistent.

Post content regularly that educates and entertains
Gary Vee does a great job of doing both. I recommend posting one to three times per day on your Instagram and Facebook feeds. You can post more regularly on Twitter with comments, reposts with statements, and questions. Twitter is great for coaches because you can discuss various topics and teach people. The key is getting to the point in a direct way that doesn’t offend others.

Go Live and film the whole thing
You will have communicated with your audience live, which they love. Then you have a YouTube video, an IGTV video, and multiple clips you can post on Instagram in your feed. You might even share the video or a few clips on Facebook, but I would probably share a different clip. You can educate your audience on Twitter, and then post a link to your IGTV video as proof. You can use the audio for a podcast. Do you see how one video session led to as many as ten social media posts or pieces of content?

Blogs and podcasts
Of course, I personally love blogs and podcasts to educate my followers – but the key is I love to write and I love to podcast. I suggest picking sources you love to do. You can’t podcast just because someone else podcasts. It has to be a medium you enjoy, and one you are good at.

Regardless of the platforms you choose to use to get the word out, you have to be consistent. You need a social media plan, and you have to be committed to that plan. Pixels are great for getting your followers who consume your free content to buy your paid services that best apply to them. For example, if you make a great free video about vertical leap training, you can retarget your followers that watch that video for your athletic performance classes. You can google ‘pixels’ to understand how that works.

I have come to believe that social media is where most of your money and time need to be focused, but there are a few other areas that need some attention as well. For example, newsletter marketing is still very powerful. Of course you can use lead magnets along with social media to grow your newsletter list. For example, you could write a small ebook about vertical leap training or training for a faster 40-yard dash. Then you could give that resource away for free in exchange for a simple email address. You can use Facebook and Instagram to target the exact customers that you have identified.

Last, there’s still a need for some good old-fashioned guerrilla marketing. You need to make a calendar with daily goals for getting out in your community and meeting your neighbors. My favorite tool is free seminars once per month. You need to pick topics that will interest the customers you have identified. Then get out in the community and invite people, give away fliers, and simply get to know people. For example, plan to host a free vertical leap seminar. Then get out in the community and invite every coach, every parent, and every athlete who would care about a higher vertical leap. I used to send evites from Facebook and/or to every local coach, every parent I knew, and anyone else who possibly knew of an athlete who would like to jump higher. I would follow up those evites with a phone call. Then I would visit the people and coaches I could. It was a powerful tool.


Once you have the people in your facility, you need to keep them there and keep them happy. It’s a lot cheaper to keep a member than it is to recruit a new one. How do you keep people? Here are a few ideas:

  • Get them the results they are after.
  • Listen to them. They will tell you everything you need to know to keep them if you simply talk to them.
  • Keep the place clean.
  • Be nice. This seems simple, but many people frankly aren’t good at this
  • Build a community. Plan baseball trips together or watch an MMA Fight at your gym together.
  • Know their names and use their names when talking to them.

Guys, if you simply do the little things, not only will these people stay in your facility, they will also become your number one source for new members with referrals. If you can afford to hire one person responsible for retention, I recommend doing so. This job is the number one way to grow a facility. If you open the doors with 40 members from your pre-sales and advertising, you can easily have over 100 members within a year with only adding five new members per month… if you keep your members.

I hope this article helps a few of you with some new ideas to build your business. I can’t wait to see you guys and gals at our Mash Elite Clinic Super Series. My goal over the next few years is to help this industry take its next step in this Post CrossFit Boom Era. Together we can make sure that the barbell world is a thriving one for many generations to come.


This five-part clinic series stands above all others as the most comprehensive event for coaches and athletes alike. Level up your knowledge of technique, programming, business, and coaching.