On this episode, Dan talks with Morgan Bungerz! In 2020, Morgan opened up the first completely virtual CrossFit Affiliate. Listen up as Morgan shares his passion for helping people get fit through a world-class virtual experience.
Morgan Bungerz earned his "Doctorate in CrossFit" from CrossFit New England under the guidance of Ben Bergeron. In 2008, after a six year battle, Morgan lost his father to ALS. Seeing what ALS took from his dad, Morgan made it his mission to help as many people as possible realize what a gift it is to be able to move around and do what you want to do. After coaching CrossFit for over 10 years, and given what's going on in the world today, delivering that message of gratitude and helping people get fit in the process through a virtual platform was an obvious step.
Who is Morgan Bungerz? [1:05]
Channeling your inner Katy Perry. [2:25]
When COVID-19 hit CrossFit New England. [4:07]
The story behind Gym Bungerz. [5:42]
Running a world-class virtual fitness class. [9:51]
Brutally Intricate. [15:31]
Your members are your product! [19:38]
Dan Uyemura 0:00
Welcome to the gymOS podcast, helping fitness professionals become better business owners one episode at a time.
Alright Morgan, welcome to the show. It's great to have you here today. We've got a special guest today on the gymOS podcast. Morgan Bungerz, did I say that right? I should have asked.
Morgan Bungerz 0:26
Dan Uyemura 0:28
And we're gonna be talking about virtual fitness today in today's world of COVID. Virtual fitness is kind of all the rage. I have pro and con feelings about it. And I really wanted to talk to Morgan about his stance because he's opened a gym that's completely virtual. Is that correct?
Morgan Bungerz 0:43
Dan Uyemura 0:45
All right. Cool. So he's going to talk to us today about how to get a virtual gym stood up, why you might want to get a virtual gym set up how the culture and experience for your customers at home or important, basically, how you might want to go about getting a virtual gym going, right? Yes. Why don't we start off with your background? Like, where did you come from and what got you into a virtual gym?
Morgan Bungerz 1:05
Totally. So I've been doing CrossFit coaching it for 11 years, started high school actually went away to college, started a gym on my college campus and nonprofit like college club, basically, that was awesome. Graduated from there, and then went on to get my doctorate in CrossFit at CFNE I was coaching at CFNE for five years before starting this gym. I was head coach there for two years. And then COVID struck, and life got turned upside down. We were shut down for a while we were zoom only for a while doing parking lot stuff. And basically I saw this opportunity to branch out and do something different and take that zoom CrossFit class platform and run with it.
Dan Uyemura 1:50
Okay, I'm gonna dive into that in a second. But I just want to dive in. I want to I want to get deeper on this just to make sure we understand that pretty quick. And you're being very humble. CFNE is...
Morgan Bungerz 1:59
CrossFit New England.
Dan Uyemura 2:01
Okay, and who did you get your doctorate from?
Morgan Bungerz 2:04
So with an under Ben Bergeron, for the past five years, just an incredible mentor taught you something every day. I remember the first few times there and like reviewing a class and just feeling like the worst, though he's gonna come over and say like, okay, it was all wrong, let's fix everything. But after five years, it's been really it was an incredible experience lots of learning.
Dan Uyemura 2:25
Can you share with our listeners, maybe one little nugget of something that he instilled upon you on how to run a class or how to deal with customers that is part of the CFNE brand?
Morgan Bungerz 2:36
Absolutely. So it's actually kind of a funny one. We call it Katy Perry. And it's because Ben's wife, Heather made him watch a Katy Perry documentary one night. And in it, she was a mess. She was a wreck behind the scenes, she was crying, her staff was getting ready to go out on stage, she pops up on stage and she does a great concert. And that was saying like as across the coach, you have to do the same thing. You are presenting excellence, no matter if it's your fifth class of the day, no matter if it's 4am. If you're having a crappy day, when you're on the stage, you aren't you got to be Katy Perry, you have to make the members feel incredible that are what's going on your life.
Dan Uyemura 3:11
I love it. I love it. So I used to tell my coaches the same thing like the reality in my opinion of what we're selling in gyms, half of it is fitness, half of it is proper movement patterns, and all of that. And the other half of it is experience, right? Like they're coming in after a long day of work. They might have got shit on by their boss, or they've been in their in their home, watching their kids do zoom classes all day long, whatever their day is like, and you know, like this is their break from life. And I used to tell my coaches like I don't care get to tell jokes and tap dance. Like everyone needs to leave happier than they came in. Because that's part of what they're doing this for.
Morgan Bungerz 3:48
Totally, it's the best hour of their day. And the best fitness program is the one that people actually do. So I believe cross it is the best, but I feel like that guy's an asshole. I don't like going that guy's classes like I'm not going across there anymore. They have fun, and they come back. That's most of the battle right there. Right. There you go.
Dan Uyemura 4:07
Okay, cool. So you were coaching at New England when COVID hit? Yep. So this will be an interesting take. I like understanding like, behind the curtains of other well known or well run facilities. How to COVID effect New England and how do they respond?
Morgan Bungerz 4:21
Yeah, it was eerie. So we were actually the first gym in the country to shut down. I was like, Thursday, March 12. There's only that but our 430 class was empty. Usually a 25 person class, we had two people in it. And from about noon that day until the evening people were calling in canceling their membership. So okay, I'm watching the news. I don't want to come in and like I don't know what I'm gonna do, but I can't expose myself to that risk anymore. So we as coaches basically got together and it took us like not even three minutes. We're like, yeah, we have to shut this place down. So we shut down under the understanding that it was gonna be I thought it'd be a week I was very naive. Okay, week one. See you guys soon like, Don't worry, we'll go back real soon. It'll be once of a shutdown and took us a while to get the whole zoom classes up and running. But it was crazy how quickly it stopped us in our tracks.
Dan Uyemura 5:12
Yeah, I think everyone listening to this can probably relate to that. There was definitely a blindsiding moment. I was actually in Chicago when COVID was breaking, I took a trip a business trip out there. And I remember talking to my Uber driver saying, like, hey, do you think this is gonna be something we really need to worry about? And lo and behold, kind of was.
Morgan Bungerz 5:29
Yeah, here we are. It was weird. We like we eased into it. We would we took away our chalk buckets for about two weeks before we had to shut down just tried to be pre emptive. we instill better cleaning, and then still the worst hit us.
Dan Uyemura 5:42
Yeah, exactly. Okay, so let's talk about your gym Gym Bungerz. How did that get started? Once you tell us a little about the backstory to that and let us know like how that's looking today?
Morgan Bungerz 5:53
Yeah, absolutely. So it is the culmination of my why the free is it I get up every day. It's to celebrate my abilities. Like I'm so stoked that I get to do what I do. The gym is actually named after my father, Jim Bungerz. He unfortunately passed away from als just about 12 years ago. And if you're familiar with the disease, it's an awful, awful disease. It robs you of your ability to move your muscles leaves you bound to a wheelchair, eventually bound to a hospital bed, and eventually takes your life to seeing my healthy and happy father go through that awful, like withdrawal of his abilities really motivated me to move and help others experience movement and celebrate it. So CrossFit coach, that's why I'm doing what I'm doing. And then this opportunity came up to, to name a gym after him to get hundreds of people saying his name every day. That's the biggest honor and to continue sharing that love of movement with others. Kind of what I saw the opportunity to do that and I jumped on it.
Dan Uyemura 6:55
Have you had this long in your mind for years, Jim Bungerz, Gym Bungerz? It seems to perfectly lined up.
Morgan Bungerz 7:03
Surprisingly enough, it was not it was a post workout wildbrain thought probably middle of the summer, I knew I want to do something virtual, I do want to do something on my own. And when post WOD brain, put two and two together, Gym Bungerz like that's a no brainer, we have to do this.
Dan Uyemura 7:23
Okay. So let's dive into that. Now. Let's talk about the virtual thing. Why do you think virtual is the way to go at this moment?
Morgan Bungerz 7:30
Yeah, a very little bit of my Why is the safety like, unfortunately, on the cusp of the most likely a second wave of shutdowns and of complications, people don't feel safe going back to the gym, whether it is safe or not. People are just super hesitant. And I don't want that fear or the complications from shutdowns to affect people's health and fitness and happiness. So be able to offer them something safe is huge. That Coronavirus safety aspect. But even bigger than that is the convenience aspect. Like we have members from our 7:30am class who get up at 715 stroll to the gym in their basement with no shoes on and get dressed and get ready and hit the class at 730. They're back thinking they're taking care of their kids at 850. It is so convenient to do a virtual CrossFit class.
Dan Uyemura 8:25
Right on. Yeah, I mean, I'm pretty much a proponent that in person, group based fitness will never go away. I think the community aspect of it is something that as humans we look forward to and strive for. Now, that being said, I haven't gone back to my gym, which is the gym I used to own even because working out from my garage and not taking 30 minutes to get all my shit together and drive to the gym has somewhat prevented me from taking that step. And I can only imagine there's a large percentage of people out there like that, like me, who feel overwhelmed with what they've got going on the day but still want to work out still want to get 40 minutes of 15 minutes a workout in and just cut everything out that they can to make sure they get that that's me. How do you foresee this playing out in the future?
Morgan Bungerz 9:15
Yeah, so the big goal for this to BHAG the big hairy, audacious goal that seems too scary...
Dan Uyemura 9:22
I love that! You've read some books...
Morgan Bungerz 9:24
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. big part of that doctorate over at CFP. But so the B hag for this goal for this endeavor is to have 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Do CrossFit classes when the Australian evening class is wrapping up the Boston morning classes starting and employ hopefully 10s of coaches across the world and it's 2/7 zoom, world class coaching fitness classes.
Dan Uyemura 9:51
So you're talking potentially spanning time zones and you would have you have live coaching then in your workouts like to explain to me the structure of your workouts exactly.
Morgan Bungerz 10:01
Yeah, I love that. So we do, it's a live class, just how you and I are interacting over zoom right now. I start the zoom call, people join in. And from there it is a CrossFit class how you know, Hey guys, here's the workout. Here's how the weight should feel, here are some modification options. Cool. Let's start moving, full warm up with me demoing, full teaching progression or whatever the movements are, again with me demoing and correcting as I see athletes move, practice round, bathroom break, which is crucial for cars, they love their bathroom break. And then they hit the workout and athletes have seen and correcting the entire time throughout the workout. So it's not just cheerleading, it is certainly important to say like I see you say their name and encourage them, where there's also like, hey, lock out your elbows, hey, squat, lower, a great job getting your knees out. It is a full CrossFit experience, just from the comfort of your living room or your basement.
Dan Uyemura 10:58
So let me ask you two things. I foresee two potential problems with this. First, what happens when I go off screen? Or how do you make sure everything's framed correctly so that this workout can happen in under Coach's Eye?
Morgan Bungerz 11:12
Yeah, great question. It's tough. It certainly takes some maneuvering of the person's laptop or phone to make sure they're mostly in screen. And what I've realized through seeing movement for 10 plus years and being on zoom with CFNE, and now Gym Bungerz for over six months, if I can see from your elbows to your knees so I can see 40% of your body, I can see and correct you on your movement. I can see half your body, I see your elbows moving while you're snatching like I can pretty much guess and see how well you're doing throughout that.
Dan Uyemura 11:45
Man, I have so many questions on this. So Okay, so the next question is, how do you make sure everyone has equipment? Right? I mean, what if I don't have a rower? Right, cuz that's...
Morgan Bungerz 11:56
Totally, it has been a programming puzzle. It's honestly awesome. So when members of our gym? Oh, yeah. Yeah, it's been it's a problem solved opportunity to find a solution. Yeah, but everyone gets a questionnaire when they join. Hey, welcome to Gym Bungerz. What equipment Do you have, and we ask everything from like single dumbbell running route, any kind of cardio machines, any of that stuff. And then every day when the programming gets posted that SugarWod in the workout prep notes, there's dumbbell variation, if it calls for a barbell, there's vice versa, if it's called for dumbbell, there's machine conversions for run and run conversions for machines. There's no equipment versions posted as well. So we have some members who are using water jugs right now they have access to the stairwell in their building and to water jugs. And that is what they are using to get our workouts in. And it works. It's awesome. Take some creativity. Yes, there's a little bit lack of variance. But compared to doing nothing, it is way, way better.
Dan Uyemura 12:53
Yeah, I guess when you always compare back to that, that is one of the points. So I guess in that respect, and this is going to lead into my next topic that I want to talk about, but yeah, howdy. Okay, so I was gonna ask if you guys do runs, because if I'm working on my basement, like what I gonna do run out of my house and go do a run? How do you coach them through that? Or do you...
Morgan Bungerz 13:13
Totally, there's a lot of awkward silence on running days, when everyone's out in a run, it's being a blank screen, just keep myself occupied for two minutes. But there's always someone modified to a machine. And the athletes who are running notice that they're set up their selves up outside or in their garage. So for running, there are athletes who are on like the fourth floor of an apartment building. And then we say, All right, we're gonna move for two minutes to do jumping jacks, mountain climbers, we're gonna do shuttle sprints. Hopefully, you know, the neighbors downstairs. It'll piss him off. But we're gonna do something. So you're moving.
Dan Uyemura 13:46
Got it. Okay. And have you had any tech challenges? I'm a member of a bunch of masterminds. And it's always like, you get 20 people in a room on a zoom call, and four of them can't get their mic to work and three videos are talking on one internet doesn't work. Like how is that?
Morgan Bungerz 14:01
Yeah, I don't want to jinx myself knock on wood with me, but so far really, really good. We in our studio, in my buddy's garage, which is now a studio. We got it hard line with an ethernet cord. We have some pretty simple lighting, we got a webcam with big wide lens on it. And so far with that we've been...
Dan Uyemura 14:20
But for your customers, there's no they haven't had any frustrations getting set up and going?
Morgan Bungerz 14:25
No minimal. Everyone signs on that first call. It's like, Oh, I'm too far away in my backyard. I gotta get closer. But beyond that, everyone's been pretty solid.
Dan Uyemura 14:34
Awesome. That's cool. Okay, let's talk about the coaching aspect of it. So I'm trying to imagine myself in your shoes. I'm looking into a zoom grid of people doing movement, like, do you have a monster TV you're doing this against?
Morgan Bungerz 14:46
Yes, so our busier classes, almost 20 people could be done on the computer screen but it will get real small. So we have a minor setup where we have everyone blown up a little bit bigger.
Dan Uyemura 14:56
Okay, cool, and you're able to give them all coaching cues and guidance and Personal shout outs or attention as needed.
Morgan Bungerz 15:04
Totally. And if you think about an in person class of like 15 people is totally manageable. That's like the ideal size class. Arguably, it's easier because I don't have to walk around the room. Everyone can hear me from right where I'm standing, looking at their their computer screens. And it's exactly go through the grid, make sure you're using everyone's name. Make sure you're either celebrating a good movement piece like hey, great job keeping your back flat, or give them a little correction, like, hey, try to get your knees out more next time.
Dan Uyemura 15:31
Right? So I'm a huge process guy and running a gym. We've been trying to work with a lot of gym owners and building process into their everything right?
Morgan Bungerz 15:40
Dan Uyemura 15:41
So again, I'm running through my mind how I would do this. If I was you. I would have like a something taped to my screen, which is just basically like, go through the grid, use their name, blah, blah, blah. You know, like the thing that that's great about being at home and remember, in a virtual setting is you can have teleprompters all around the screen.
Morgan Bungerz 15:59
Haha Yep. Behind the scenes of the of the operation. Yeah.
Dan Uyemura 16:02
Do you have any that are like, what is your process look like for an engine?
Morgan Bungerz 16:05
Yeah, it was. Luckily, I got to practice when we were in shutdown with CF, and he got to practice the whole zoom operations. And then before starting our first class, took a note from the book Traction, and which hopefully, we get a chance to talk about in a second, but I've ended that, yeah, I love it. core processes. Like you have to write out everything that gets done. If you're hit by a bus, God forbid, or you just stop working, can someone come along, pick it up and follow along? And like, keep operating? So I typed out like literally second by second how a class should run? What are we doing? What am I saying? What should the people on screen be doing? And then practicing that. And having that kind of ingrained in my mind. That's how we operate each class day in and day out.
Dan Uyemura 16:50
Which I assume has to be pretty important because if you're talking about having an Australian coach coaching Australian hours, the experience probably needs to be replicable.
Morgan Bungerz 16:58
Dan Uyemura 16:59
Morgan Bungerz 17:00
Yeah. So right now I'm in the process of building out what that hiring and onboarding process is like. And brutal and extensive are the words I'm using to frame it. Like it should be an uncomfortable experience. It's so thorough, because we have to keep the experience comparable across all coaches, time zones, classes. So it's going to be a very hefty onboarding process for our coaches as they get hired.
Dan Uyemura 17:24
So let me challenge you on that, actually, because we are kind of knee deep. I'm actually running a book club right now. And we're reading E Myth with a bunch of owners.
Morgan Bungerz 17:31
Yes. Oh we should talk about that, too. Yeah.
Dan Uyemura 17:34
So it sounds like you're big on knowledge. We can probably rap for many hours after this. So E Myth, he talks about building a process so airtight that you're going to hire the lowest common denominator for the job. Yes, in fact, you probably this is where I try to wrap my head around this and how it applies to gyms. But you probably want to be able to hire somebody who's never done this job before. Because they're going to come in with preconceived notions and past experience that is going to invariably conflict with what you want. If you're describing to me your hiring process as what were the words you used?
Morgan Bungerz 18:07
I forget exactly. But I quote Parks and Rec where it's, like, brutally intricate, brutally intricate,
Dan Uyemura 18:12
It's brutal and exhaustive. To me, that seems to conflict with the idea of hiring somebody as lowest common denominator as you can.
Morgan Bungerz 18:21
Dan Uyemura 18:22
Can you can you explain that divergence? Because you obviously understand enough?
Morgan Bungerz 18:26
Absolutely. Yes. So great point. So you saying like franchise model, make your model so simple, that you put it in the hands of any Joe Schmo on the street, and they're running your business for you in terms of the like, X's and O's of it like, here's the format for a class it goes warm up, teach bathroom breaks, that kind of thing. That should be simple, easy to follow. When we're looking to hire someone we're looking to hire on character first. Who are they how they operate? How are they going to respond when they interact with adversity, that you can't teach that unfortunately, for a lot of it, so we're going to be very careful that we weed out the right person, regardless of their skills. And like you said, hopefully, they might be new to coaching in general, but we're going to hire based on character first, and then we're going to indoctrinate them and how we think and feel and operate. From an emotional standpoint, that'll be the the stringent part of this, the really intricate part will be basically brainwashing them to think the way we do. And then the actual X's and O's of start the zoom call 10 minutes early, greet people as they come in, that'll be easy and simplified to the point where the lowest common denominator can follow it. Got it? If that makes sense.
Dan Uyemura 19:38
Yeah, it does. Cool. So let's kind of dive into that segment of things. And then we'll start to wrap things up. So I've always been a proponent. And I kind of alluded to this earlier in the episode that the experience in the gym is part of the product. It's Yeah, how in pushpress we've kind of indoctrinated the concept that our gym owners actually experience, and their ability to access us for help is part of our product. It's not just software, right? How if I was a gym owner right now, and I didn't have any experience opening a gym, or I'm a fitness trainer out there, I'm thinking about opening a gym and I'm thinking about creating a new entity in my area. What advice would you give me in terms of like, what are the most important things to starting a gym? Because in my opinion, most people are focusing on too heavily on the wrong things.
Morgan Bungerz 20:25
Totally. Yeah. So if I give you one piece of advice, try to limit it to one, it would be to overdeliver spoil the crap out of your members, your members or your product, Seth Godin says it like your product is your marketing. If you can offer a deliver or deliver an incredible product, you knock your socks off, day in and day out their word of mouth, they become sneezers. They have to tell everyone else about it. That is your best bet. Promise a lot. But then over deliver on top of that promise.
Dan Uyemura 20:56
Morgan Bungerz 20:57
You got to wow your members.
Dan Uyemura 20:58
How would one do that? So that's easy to say, right? And I guarantee you every single business owner, no, not even gym owners. Every single business owner says like, that's what I do. Right? Yeah, yeah. How do you actually make sure you do that?
Morgan Bungerz 21:10
Trust. Trust and the emotional bank account. So you got to understand that everything you do is either going to deposit something into your members bank account is going to make them feel good, or everything you do is going to withdraw from their bank account, make them feel kind of sour, or crappy. And the way that you deposit more and more and more is you build trust with these people. If they trust you, you're building up that emotional bank account. And trust comes from things like making good on your promises, say you're going to do something and actually doing it. Trust comes from making people feel happy, and letting them understand that you have their best interest in mind. Basically, coming down to promises and trust, the more you fill up their emotional bank account, the more they're gonna feel like you're over delivering. Right?
Dan Uyemura 21:59
I'll give the listeners one too, because this is one that I feel is very important. And I actually lead. I didn't mean to but I lead our conversation with this. I think there's a lot of businesses I frequent, where the owner is this figure behind the curtain? Right? Maybe a figure larger than life, you don't deal with them. I think trust is inherently created in vulnerability. And if you remember the beginning of our conversation, and again, I didn't mean to do this, it just happened. Like, I used to have a problem telling people who I was my where my flaws were. And I told you right at the beginning of our conversation, like I had a drug problem at one point, and I had to go through rehab, and I burned down a lot of friends and I figured my life out from them. Showing vulnerability, in my opinion, is the foundation for trust, because it lets people know that you are on their level. It's weird because people walk into a business and they think like, oh, the owner is the owner. Right? You don't talk to him. You don't deal with her. You know, like, she's more important than everyone else. When you show your customers that you're on their level and you show your employees are on their level, and you're willing to relate with them on their level. That nothing builds trust more than that, I think.
Morgan Bungerz 23:09
Totally. I love that.
Dan Uyemura 23:10
So that's my little nugget. Yeah. Cool. Well, I mean, this seems like a good place to wrap up. I really appreciate your time today, chatting with us. The future to some degree of fitness encompasses some type of virtual I do believe, I strongly believe there's a lot more leverage that gym owners can get out of going virtual, you've taken it to the hilt, you're 100% leveraged and virtual, which is cool, because if you can get a coach in Australia and England and New England, and California, right, like that becomes a lot more people you can help with their fitness goals. And like you said, any fitness is better than no fitness. Right? Absolutely. And I mean, I'd be willing to bet 90% of the population is doing no fitness at this point, or virtually no fitness. So a lot of big green guild for you there. I want to thank all of our listeners for taking the time out to listen to this. Hopefully you guys have learned something important from this take out like with every episode, I just hope you take one little nugget away and you can apply it to something in your business. All right, Morgan, thank you for your time and again, we appreciate everything you had to drop on our audience.
Morgan Bungerz 24:12
Absolutely. I appreciate the opportunity. That was so awesome, Dan, thank you so much.