I went to a party at Debra’s dance studio to celebrate that it was full of toxic mold and that it was shutting down.
That could have been the end of Design Dance, but – after getting fired from a call center that “a dog could work at” – Debra decided to start calling schools to see if they needed an after school dance instructor.
10 years later, Design Dance isn’t the studio she originally envisioned. Instead, they run after school programs teaching dance all throughout the Chicagoland area. And Debra runs a non-profit called Prismatic focused on teaching students entrepreneurship in the arts – because not all companies have to be started to create some sort of app.
Check out this conversation to hear:
How a mold-infested dance studio morphed into a company focused on dance education
How to balance the needs of multiple stakeholders in a business: school administration, students, contracted teachers, and parents
How to handle being talked down to and minimized as a female business owner
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As someone who has been a chronic disparager of social media and its impact on our lives – it’s tough for me to admit that I’ve been thinking a lot more recently about how to utilize Instagram and Facebook appropriately for my fitness businesses.
For South Loop Strength & Conditioning – as a brick and mortar gym – our website and the customer experience of our members are far more important than our social media presence. And – in the past when we’ve experimented with attempting to drive more leads and business through our social presence and through advertising – we’ve found the long-term retention of those members to be severely lacking.
For Legion, however – as an online coaching company – Instagram seems to be a legitimately viable driver of consistent business. This is a difficult pill for me to swallow, since I find the way that most people in the CrossFit community relate to social media to be toxic and counter-productive.
This seems to be a pretty solid case of “If you can’t beat them, join them,” though.
Sure, this post is cool – but i don’t think it really teaches anyone anything. And, it honestly just probably makes a lot of people feel bad and stress about their squat numbers relative to Mark.
We do have plenty of other posts about movement, motor control and program design, though that I think are legitimately helpful. Problem is – those posts struggle to flip the algorithm switches that drive engagement.
So, figure I’d share one of those here since I think it will actually help a bunch of folks reading this who struggle with catching ring muscle-ups.
Now this is a post that I actually think makes the world a better place.
There’s a bunch of people wasting their time doing silly ring muscle-up drills and doing progressions to improve their upper body pulling strength to get better at ring muscle-ups – but they don’t have the control over shoulder extension (the ability to bring the arm behind the body) that they’d need to actually perform the movement effectively.
This pisses me off – since there’s a lot of people working really, really hard, but they’re wasting their time focusing on the wrong thing.
In Borges’s 1976 short story “The Book of Sand,” a series of unfortunate individuals are tormented by a demonic, infinite book – in which – no matter how you open it or flip through it – you never see the same page twice.
This is deeply and darkly relevant in 2018, when we all have our own infinite books riding along in our back pockets.
Independent of the privacy and data-mining concerns that Facebook has run afoul of recently, I think the bigger issue is the way that these social networks prey on our attention and upregulate the most negative status anxiety pathways in our primate brains.
But, I also think it’s important to recognize the human beings that make these social networks are often good-intentioned humans responding to incentives and trying to figure things out in a messy world.
This recent interview with Mark Zuckerberg from Freakonomics shows the level of thought and concern that companies like Facebook have for how their product is impacting the world – and hopefully we can see some changes in the coming years (if not months) with how these social networks interface with our data and with our more base human instincts.
Sometimes it’s a good idea to dig into the questionable material from some of your favorite artists. Most bands that have been around for decades have all kinds of material outside of their classic or canonical work – and some of it can be surprisingly great. But that’s not always the case…
Bruce Dickinson’s first solo album was released while he was still in Iron Maiden. The reality is that most of this material is not very good – and many of the songs are obviously derivative of other hard rock styles. “Ok, let’s write a song that sounds like Aerosmith.” “Ok, let’s write a song that sounds like John Mellencamp.”
And – of course – “Hey, let’s write a song that sounds like Def Leppard.”
The title track off of Tattooed Millionaire is a pretty blatant copy of “Photograph” in both riffing and structure – and this is a good thing.
Cal Wysocki is the founder of Fulcrum Education Solutions, a company dedicated to improving the quality of instruction in our schools.
As South Loop Strength & Conditioning has grown, we’ve found it more and more important to re-focus on the quality of the product that we’re offering in our facility – and the main arbiters of that quality are our coaches who are working with our members on a daily basis.
We’ve begun to build several systems for continuing education, dialogue, and feedback with our coaches – and we’ve seen massive changes in what’s happening in our classes. Logistics run more smoothly, workout explanations are more clear, and our coaches do a much better job of handling the social dynamics of delivering coaching and correction to members who may be frustrated, distracted, or confused – without running into nearly as much pushback.
In this discussion with Cal, we focus on the strategies and tactics that he uses to elevate the processes by which schools improve their own teachers. This is not a simple discussion of a few “quick tips.” Instead, Cal is thinking in multi-year processes surrounding building trust with staff, getting quick wins for teachers in the classroom, building trust with students, developing consistency in order to change the dynamic of feedback in a school’s culture, and integrating all of this with long-term professional development strategies.
As a person who is concerned with the quality of coaching going on in my gym on a daily basis, I found this discussion invaluable – and we’ve immediately implemented some of the ideas from this conversation at SLSC. From the bigger picture of a person who is concerned with the quality of education and the pitfalls of misaligned incentives in the school system, this conversation gave me a better foundation with which to think through the problems that we encounter as we try to improve the quality of our public schools.
[2:13] Teachers having meltdowns and abandoning children due to improper feedback
[6:36] When tactics fail – why building trust before implementing changes is paramount
[8:54] What is the process that Fulcrum Education Solutions uses to work with schools? And how do you actually improve teaching performance?
[17:30] How do you build trust and cut through skepticism with teachers since you’re an outside consultant”?”
[22:37] What are some of the typical quick wins” that you see work well for teachers to immediately improve the quality fo their instruction?”
[28:42] Using role-playing to practice skills of classroom management with teachers.
[36:00] What is the assessment process for figuring out what a teacher needs to work on – and what a school needs to work on asa whole?
[45:47] The nuts and bolts of the observation and coaching process for improving teacher performance.
[59:28] How do you coach teachers to handle students who are disruptive or who push back?
[1:04:06] Creating systems for deliering feedback effectively to create behavior change – and avoiding resentment and mistrust
[1:16:46] The many parallels between the fitness industry and education consulting.
Resources and Individuals Mentioned
“I’ve come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or dehumanized.”
-Haim G. Ginott
Carleen Matthews is a multiple time individual CrossFit Games competitor. It’s always interesting to hear how people competing at the highest level in a sport think and operate on a daily basis – but Carleen’s story has another layer.
She has a history of addiction as well as eating disorder, and this gives her insight into the mental battles people fight underneath the surface that we don’t always see.
Carleen owns and operates CrossFit St. Helens in Oregon, and also runs a program out of her affiliate specifically for people who are on the path to recovery from addiction.
Through some enterprising members and her connections in the local community, Carleen was able to get government help to fund this program. If you’re interested in working with the recovering population in your area, Carleen almost certainly has some insight in terms of how to set up a program, hurdles you may face, and how to potentially get help from your local government. Direct message her on Instagram if this is something you’re interested in: @teamcarleen
From the above photo, you may think that James is an intimidating and frightening man.
But, it turns out that he is one of the weirdest and funniest people I know.
It’s difficult to appropriately categorize and convey all the disparate traits that exist in this enigma of a man, and hopefully this interview does his character justice.
Check out this discussion to learn about James’s long-standing fascination with Fear Factory, the process of stealing riffs for Harm’s Way songs, and how he trains for powerlifting while injured and on tour.
Austin and Megan have both spent significant amounts of time at South Loop Strength & Conditioning as both athletes and coaches, and – last year after competing at the Central Regional – they’ve moved out to Scottsdale, Arizona to be part of OPEX‘s sponsored athlete program.
The goal of this program is to allow athletes to train full-time – and not have to worry about coaching classes, working a day job, or running from gym to gym throughout the day. Getting better in training is all about maximizing your ability to respond and adapt to stressors – which means minimizing the stress in your life outside of the gym.
Check this episode out to learn how Megan and Austin have learned to trust the coaching process (and avoid self-doubt and constant questioning of what they’re doing), what they do to prioritize their recovery outside of the gym, and how they approach the mental grind of training on a daily basis.
[3:12] What is the OPEX Athlete program? What does it look like to professionalize the process of training for the sport of CrossFit?
[7:45] Transitioning from a remote coaching relationship to working with a coach on the floor – and how to accept constant feedback and what could be perceived as criticism
[14:06] The dynamics of being around so many high level athletes. How do you stop yourself from just constantly doing more training?
[24:30] Balancing external stressors and finding your own personal “why” – and what do Austin and Megan actually think about during tough sessions?
[30:50] A slight SD card error – and how to be consistent over tie. What personality traits correlate with maximizing time spent outside of the gym, and how do you make decisions on what to prioritize as far as recovery and stress management?
[38:53] What is the biggest learning you’ve had from having a coach watching you on the gym floor?
[42:30] Competing for Instagram followers
[45:51] What does prepping for the Open look like? How do you maintain a culture with a healthy competitiveness amongst so many elite athletes without them starting to bicker and cut each other down?
[56:00] How do you handle the pressure to succeed during the Open – and how do you prepare emotionally for the stress that will come during the Open?
“An alpha hippie is a tree-hugger who can rip out the tree and smash you with it, too.”
I’m not huge on inspirational quotes, but I think that quote has inspired me.
Angelo is one of the most interesting people I know – which is saying a lot because I know a lot of freaks (and you may have heard some of them on the podcast).
We first met way back in 2011. I was a new CrossFit coach and he had recently opened O’Hare CrossFit. Since then, we’ve both continued to learn and soak up information – which is pretty fascinating to see from two totally different personality types.
Angelo has built O’Hare CrossFit into a thriving business, which is much, much harder than it seems in this market, and he was also head of coaching for Barbell Business/Barbell Logic – which means he was overseeing the coaching for 100s of gyms.
Check out this conversation to learn what bizarre depths Angelo will sink to in order to keep learning, how he finds mentors, how he changed how he changed his on mindset and relationship with conflict despite having tons of success, how he helps business owners prioritize what they need to work on, and why strange men harass him because of his chest.
[2:55] Angelo showed up to a kipping pull-up clinic at Atlas CrossFit that was intended to be just for members. Why put yourself out there and go into situations that you don’t totally belong? How did Angelo learn about CrossFit and training methodologies when there wasn’t a ton of information online?
[7:35] Having a bootleg pizza business selling pizza outside of bar – making really good friends with everyone and making sure that relationships are not one-sided
[11:58] Starting to train people in the “early adopter” days of CrossFit – and why people skills have become much more important over time as the marketplace changes
[15:11] Tipping points in the growth of O’Hare CrossFit over time – how becoming a better listener and unlearning emotional habits that had led to a certain level of success were both crucial to long-term business development
[20:13] Becoming an alpha hippie – “An alpha hippie is a tree-hugger who can rip out the tree and smash you with it, too”
[27:08] Finding a mentor in Jason Leydon – Taking a trip to Milford and staying at a seedy motel,
and relentlessly following through on advice given
[36:23] Jason Leydon’s fear of male nudity
[40:38] How to prioritize areas of focus for business coaching clients – aligning your perfect day with your vision for your business and making sure that your product is good enough to achieve the level of success that you want
[50:20] Creating a specific client experience in a gym – “People are coming here for an emotion”