I’m Ben, owner of Ulysses fitness and nutrition in Middlesbrough
For our none U.k. reader, were based in the North east of England
I’m Guessing if your reading this, you know what Level method is already?
No? Level method is a fitness grading system, used in gyms to help Assess a clients current fitness level.
For context a brief outline in my words
The MAP (Method of athlete progression) is a 8 foot x 4 foot physical, attractively coloured map for your gym wall. It comes with an app and most importantly a great team behind it.
The Level Method mantra is Assess/Address/Progress
You assess your clients level, taking them through 15 tests that will highlight strengths and weaknesses. We do this over four sessions, 1:1 with a personal trainer
Now we know there the clients starting point is, we can set goals together. We will sit down every 90 days and give guidance and if needed prescribe other services
With guidance ( a prescription) the client can work to improve on the things that hold them back. 90% of our clients have desk jobs and struggle with postural flexibility/weak or inactive glutes (ass/booty) from sitting down to much
Where did it all start?
I opened our gym in April 2016, like many excited owners, blinded by passion and now I’m more self aware, driven by my Ego
No business background, I had several years of functional fitness training, Personal training experience/group training experience from the Army and years of football
Gym’s are businesses, not hobbies
If you started a gym recently, are thinking about it in the near future, here’s my simple advice
Find an experienced mentor
Figure out who your prefect client is (Avatar)
Figure out that clients problem
Solve the clients problem
Market and communicate to your Avatar and no-one else
Make a plan
Build a team
Test and refine
How did a fitness map save our gym?
Rewind to April 2018, we had been open 2 years, the business was stagnating and I was thinking about giving it all up. We had built a team of coaches and we were stuck in limbo.
April 2018 listening to the Two brain radio podcast I heard owner/legend and a personal hero of mine Chris cooper (owner of Two brain business) talking about a new system for grading Fitness.
Two brain business, since February 2019 became our business mentors.
Chris recently wrote a blog for Level Method- find it here https://www.levelmethod.com/why-i-love-level-method-by-chris-cooper/
My thoughts at the time were, if Chris coopers gym is taking this on, why am I not?
This led to my discovery call with Owner Nathan and our relationship started there.
We didn’t have the money at the time to launch Level method, we didn’t have the money either to launch the program on-boarding. I took the risk and paid extra each month for a year to jump on board.
Risk vs reward
Roughly around the time I was listening to Tim Ferris, another hero of mine.
One sentence stood out from his teachings and always will, I tell this to clients, peers, friends and family when they need guidance.
“Try doing the opposite of what you’ve always done and see what happens”
I took these words, jumped onboard with Level Method and made the changes to implement them at our gym.
No one was using a personal approach locally to functional fitness, In my eyes, the system that I refer as group fitness is broken, everyone unfortunate follows sheep as the system, why? because they see no other way.
No one certainly wasn’t and isn’t using Level method locally
It was where it all began for us
At the time Level Method was still in it’s early stages, you could call us an “Level Method OG”, being with the for 27 months
Only a handful of gyms across the world used it and only 1 in the United Kingdom at the time( still only 9)
We did our staff training, launched it to the members and that’s where the fireworks started.
Members backlashed, they didn’t want to be graded
Staff thought Level Method was stupid and team bonding fell apart
Rifts appeared as staff and members spoke out and a faction of opposition grew.
Looking back, it’s took my over 2 years to write this for many reasons, It was a hard an emotional time, I lacked the written communication skills and lacked direction and leadership skills.
Offence vs Defence
I got defensive, members were leaving and the staff arguing, at the time I blamed them. I was wrong, looking back it was my fault. Not that I blame myself.
I was in tatters to be honest
All stories have a hero, in this case, our knight in shining armour arrived. level Method team member Scott Rammage
Scott took the time to listen to me, helped me break down the issue and set me up with a plan and mentoring me going forward.
These days, post 2 years relationship I often talk to Scott and hold him as not just a mentor, but a great Friend.
Scott helped me realise that it wasn’t the staff or our members faults. I started a path of self discovery, self reflection and Stoicism.
What I learned
The issue started with my tips from earlier, like a majority of business owners, I didn’t know who my perfect customer was. This led to mixed messaging that I won’t even call marketing.
Attracting the wrong clients, not knowing what my values are as a person (values that now run our company) led to cliches of small groups with uncommon values, no respect for each other, the staff and certainly not Level method.
If you’ve had your head down and the arse up as they say, things will have been happening in the background, bubbling away like a volcano ready to erupt.
Scott’s 1st piece of advice was to go read a back call crucial conversations– all about tools for talking when the stakes are high.
This book helped to see emotions like and anger, leading to blaming others never helped. I read this, kept talking to Scott and tackled the staff members 1st to see where the misunderstandings were.
First we started to remove problem clients (weeds), some problem/weed staff and things magically started to improve. Removing cancer from the body is important before starting the recovery process
We then identified our favourite clients(now our seed clients), seeds of trees that are loved and feel supported, will grow mighty.
From these seed clients, starting to grasp why we were using Level Method and how it would benefit them,we started to get clients onboard. (Something I now understand as benefits over features)
Benefits over features
With a simple change of mindset and improving verbal, written, visual and video communications we set out to bridge the gap
How will Level method help our Avatar/perfect clients?
One of our major reasons we loved it at the time was, it would massively reduce injury risk, something that our clients understand now, but not then.
Our current clients who are all hard working professional love-
The 1:1 personal training at the beginning as it helps them feel confident going into class and safe
They love knowing the starting point, the quarterly goal reviews and the journey of improving or moving up the map. COACHING!
They love the certificates you get for levelling up, recognising the hard work and app notifications and recognition
They love ringing the PB bell for any new achievement, extra pull up or extra weight on the bar
They love the daily training (programming)that we get along with level method, they like to check the app to see what we are doing that day and what level they will be.
They love the changing program that helps improve overall, fitness and flexibility that massively helps with stress.
They love our company values that are simple and visible in our gym on the walls, in our verbal and written communication. Lead by our Staff and followed by all clients in what we call our tribe.
Gone of the days of ripped young athletes for us, our clients are mainly 35-50 year old, hard working professionals who have different needs. (Athletes are welcome if they fit our tribe, are happy humble and supportive)
Thanks to the Level Method team we started identifying the most important things in business that really matter for success
Client happiness and stress reduction
Staff happiness and team cohesion
Staff to client and client to client relationships
A safe place to train but physically and mentally- see my blog on that here
A happy place, with happy people who support like minded individuals, who come togerher as tribe
From the outside looking in, new clients spot the type of people on our blogs and social and its naturally attracting them thinking- “that looks fun” “I could do that”, “Nutrition and health comes 1st”
Thanks to the Level method team, especially Scott and our business mentors, we know who we love to train, what our values are and why we want to help people.
If your ready to become part of a supportive tribe and use an amazing system like Level method, book a free intro today
https://www.levelmethod.com/directory/If your reading this from another country or other area, search a Level method gym near you here-
At time of writing, there are only 9 U.K gyms
I’ve set it out to the universe that I will one day work for both Level Method and Two brain business, to help others onto a path self discovery and business health
To help gyms be clearer about why they do what they do and how having a strong and clear culture is the most valuable thing they can provide