Back to Basics // ft. Doug Chapman, HyperFit USA

In The Trenches catches up with Doug Chapman, owner of HyperFit USA, to discuss leadership, principles, values, planning, staff development, and a “before, during, and after” look at “readiness and resiliency” through this crisis.

“Never stop learning because once you think you know, thats when you’ve got a problem.”

“Never stop learning because once you think you know, thats when you’ve got a problem.”


Doug Chapman

Doug Chapman is the owner of HyperFit USA in Belleville, Michigan. In this episode Eric sits down with Doug to discuss leadership, principles, values, planning, staff development, and a “before, during, and after” look at “readiness and resiliency” through this crisis.

Show Notes

Full Episode Transcript

Eric LeClair [0:04]
Welcome to In The Trenches a weekly podcast series dedicated to entrepreneurial leadership, the principles and values that define and develop it, as well as actionable steps that you can take to immediately lead your team to victory.

Good afternoon guys, this is Eric with LeClaire over at PushPress and today we’re continuing our In The Trenches series. And I’m super happy to have one of my old friends and when I mean all, we’re talking about an original affiliate someone who was around 15 years ago, and has lent his knowledge and wisdom in his hand to not only producing some of the most original training concepts but has really helped elevate both on the side of the sport as well as in the side of health. Doug Chapman, my friend, give the guy a little bit of background on yourself.

Doug Chapman [1:02]
Like warm walks on the beach, holding hands, you know, that type of stuff.

Eric LeClair [1:08]
Let’s do it. I love it.

Doug Chapman [1:10]
Now I’ve been coaching, training and coaching for you know, 20 odd years plus you know, I’ve been a college wrestling coach, I’ve been, you know, all this different stuff now I’m back to I went from my box which is could be a little tour in the garage two story, you know, I built it originally in order to do personal training, and at the time I was booking about, I was actually working in Bally at the time. And I was working right around 120 hours every two weeks once was which was gnarly because like at the time was a pretty good model. We could make a lot of money there because the way they were the modeling work, and then I was going to go, the management was kind of turned into a bunch of Richards and I decided to spend $100,000 bucks on a garage and I’m gonna do personal training. And then then one of my buddies called me as I found CrossFit. So I end up opening CrossFit Ann Harbor, and which you were at 8000 square feet, you know, million dollars in equipment, that type of stuff.

Eric LeClair [2:17]
What year was that?

Doug Chapman [2:18]
2005 is when I have affiliated 2006 when I open the big box, you know, it took me a while to get it, had to use a little bit, a little bit of money gathering and what have you. And so for a little over, you know, 10-11 years, I did that and one day I just decided I wanted I just get tired of dealing with, you know, the regular day to day gym stuff, and I just decided to actually, this is almost, this is pretty close to my anniversary of me making the announcement I’m like, I’m not doing this anymore. And so I pull all the equipment and move back into my garage.

Eric LeClair [2:56]
What an amazing turnaround, now I mean, obviously folks know Ann Arbor and they also know, HyperFit USA as your brand, right?

Doug Chapman [3:06]
Yes. And that’s, we’ve carried that the whole time.

Eric LeClair [3:11]
And so there’s obviously a segment of the CrossFit culture that recognizes what you’ve done, both for the sport and so I mean, those were some major highlights for you. There was some great times, I mean, somewhere was written 50 plus games appearances, 10 podium appearances. I mean, you’ve really helped turn some clients, professional athletes lives around.

Doug Chapman [3:38]
I write programming that gets people, you know, that if somebody has and now here’s the magical thing, right? If If you were to do like, you know, you just talk about John Welbourn right. And for talk talk, if you were to do if you’re an average high school football, can you try to do John Welbourn’s workout how John works out. the guy’s gonna break right because they don’t have the genetic potential and physical potential. So I write programming that’s geared towards people who really have the genetic potential to get there. And work ethic, and everyone thinks is that the one thing that kind of soured me to the whole games process is that, you know, people were more interested in putting up booty photos than they were doing the fucking work. And that’s and you know, and it really is, it’s like, you know, hey, I’m doing this now look at this my little I’ve got this little mug and eat this out of it, you know, like, it’s and and that’s it. Got it. It’s it turned into very trivial. I think Greg felt the same way. And that’s the thing like, kind of de emphasize the games.

Eric LeClair [4:36]
Right. I’ve heard, I’ve read, I’ve got some people’s opinions also that think that the exact same line. Well, I mean, so go back to those days in your mind in Ann Arbor. And now obviously, the switch to transitioning into your own business, your own garage and running your own programming, of course, transitioning to maybe a different market segment. Can you think of any themes or principles in the cut in the concept of leadership that is brought you through 20 years of service and 15 years as an affiliate and you know tons of games athletes to include now regular normal business back to the beginning like what is kept you going from a discipline or a structural standpoint

Doug Chapman [5:25]
That’s a really good question. And I could do the Joe Biden thing and make up my own new question, but I, you know, hey, it’s good. I’m almost I’m almost at a dementia age so I probably so it’s, it’s what’s kept me going is is I love to be of service to humans. Okay. You know, I have like I one of my like, one of my kids came over to one of the, when the coaches from from a small school up north, he’s a former wrestling guy, so I’m known There’s his head soccer coach down with him to do a little, buy some equipment and do some and do a workout. And one of my high school athletes who happens to be you know, as a sophomore going into Junior, and over the last year, she has developed into be quite quite a remarkable mover. Okay, you know, we’re not moving big loads, we’re gonna make it because honestly, because remember, there’s this thing called CrossFit. It starts with mechanics, consistency, intensity, and right mechanics first. Yeah, there’s there’s a, there’s a rank order there. Right. And, and so it was really I was so proud that this morning was I had burry. Okay, show me what you know how to do with a barbell from top to bottom. I do a skill set, right. And here’s a 16 year old girl just got her driver’s license, you know, the whole bet, right? And she can move a barbell very, very well. It was, I think, honestly, and in time, she will move as well as Julie did, ya know, and that will be because if you pursue mechanics, and you really are interested in that, like I can think of like the, the athletes that I’ve worked with over the years, then the CrossFit athletes mostly, and they will a lot of times bypass some of those real fundamental things. And sooner or later, they’re going to have a decrease in efficiency. They won’t be able to they literally they end up with an injury, they’ll end up with you know, why can I cycle a barbell as fast as so and so, because your path is all fucked up, right? Because you’re, you’re impatient, and it was proud going back to Bree, is that here’s this high school girl who moves almost as well as the two college strength and conditioning coaches. And in flex flesh, had been one of my athletes and done the programming for quite a while and understands my adherence to, so it keeps me focused is I’m really huge into human movement and quality of movement and you know, if somebody does that and adheres to it they don’t get hurt. It’s when their ego gets in the way, it’s a problem.

Eric LeClair [8:06]
And that also creates a longer path for them or their longer potential journey for them, more durable, more resilient, more capable down the road versus, you know, the real short, high intense piece flash bang, done, one year, maybe.

Doug Chapman [8:24]
You remember the old like the with the Level 1, there weren’t even Level 1’s, it was CrossFit certification when we started right. It’s supposed to go a long steady trajectory to a distant horizon. And it wasn’t this. It was this, and then I remember Pat Sherwood at Level 1’s, we’re teaching Level 1’s, it was like, Pat would talk about that too. And the thing is, is that, you know, there’s a lot of impatience, right, and I mean, it’s what people do to drugs. They they do their enhancing drugs, because they’re not patient to do the work for a long enough period of time. They want immediate gratification. Yep. And it’s and to me, the kids I’m working with now like right now. A bunch of high school kids. Some of them like one of them’s like 11 years old look at my IG, his name’s Meyer Murry, and a little guys doing dead hang pull ups from chimes those those Rogue chimes on. Yeah, yeah, I mean totally badass. And again how would I get my college customers is I’ve gotten all my customers from referrals from people I know. And like one of my my friends from high school that’s his son guy news couple years ahead of me in school, it’s his son, it’s doing it so he hired me to do this develop this kid and my other friend had me train her boys and you know, and all of a sudden, wow, we hit this trainer that, you know, I don’t advertise at all. I mean, again, I need to redo a website.

Eric LeClair [9:57]
Talk about the just the transition of like, before, during, and after, not even of, you know, today’s crisis, but like, just the evolution of you and your offerings and your products. I mean, you’ve obviously had a base fundamental of excellence, whether you want to call it mechanics or the chasing virtuosity, we go back to the very beginning, those dialogues we’ve had 100 years ago, but you’re still pursuing that same level of excellence and expecting that, teaching that and instilling that in these young athletes, they will take that with them often to their college years or from their college, often to their sporting years. Which I mean, I’m gonna we’re gonna totally deviate from the the crisis piece here. And I know this is because it’s an important thing. There’s thousands of coaches out there today that I think are missing that fundamental understanding of movement, and they are failing at their business because they’re just selling what’s sexy today. What would you tell them what would you share coached young coach or, you know, senior leader to junior leader, what would you What would you share with them?

Doug Chapman [11:02]
Really? That’s another really good question. And it’s pretty thought provoking. It’s like, what would I, if I were a young coach starting out in my career in this? I would make sure that your customers people is that you’re there to help them achieve their goals. And the thing is that a lot of a lot of success long term is redirecting people back to focus to their goals. You know, they’ll see they’ll do that like, like my little metal hockey players. It’s Kenny. It’s funny as shit. Funny kid, long hair looks like little, looks like dude, Joe Dirt. He’s like 14 years old. And so he’s onto this CrossFit thing. So he goes through this ritual and says, I’ll circle back. So he’s watching CrossFit. And so right before we’re gonna do a workout, he goes, Hey, going full CrossFit, takes his hat off, takes his shirt off and grab some chalk. You know, and love and the thing is, is that I think that to give advice to them is I don’t know if I have a huge library of information is never stopped learning and the one and the biggest thing is once you think you know, that’s when you’ve got a problem, right? You got a problem and you know it’s every day like right now I just I found some YouTube kettlebell videos right. You ever watch Funk Roberts?

Eric LeClair [12:22]
No, no.

Doug Chapman [12:24]
Never heard of him, right? So he’s an MMA trainer, I found him searching around kettlebells because I love kettlebells as a training modality and I’ve been RKC and all that kind of stuff back in the day and and I think it’s a fantastic thing right? But I’m watching this video and I picked up a new kettlebell move I’m like I’m in my living room and like my Nikes over here right? And this guy’s doing it was called gorilla row. Instead of going like a bent over row with your with that with the hands outside. He goes call it a gorilla row. And this was wasn’t Funk Roberts, it was somebody else. But guys get a big arch in this back, good solid position like this sumo deadlift, he’s getting in a row, right now, if you think about right now, the real problems you have with austere equipment most of your customers are you don’t have an ability to do a whole lot of pulling. We are a very pushed dominated situation.

Eric LeClair [13:15]
Unless someone’s got a bar on the doorway or downstairs on the stairs.

Doug Chapman [13:19]
But you are you’re assuming like the average client can’t do a pull up at all, so you know, they don’t have a set of rings like in their gyms, we had tons of rings, they just took a picture of like, I got like 40 pairs of competition rings, like straps and rings. I just found them in a box. And so I’ve been I’ve been selling off some equipment as some of the people around here locally, stuff I have in redundancy, but think about this is how many, how much actual load can you match because you’re doing all this pushing, right? If you can’t do a pull up, what’s a good modifier right? Throw a loop over a, who knows, you know, I mean, who knows? Right?

Eric LeClair [13:56]
Or sheets down rings down or what can do for rowing, barbell rows, dumbbell rows, kettlebell rows…

Doug Chapman [14:04]
If you have enough weight, you know

Eric LeClair [14:07]
Oh, that’s not gonna work. Yeah.

Doug Chapman [14:10]
Well, and most people have they come to CrossFit gyms because they have a problem. And the problem is, is they don’t, they’re not motivated to workout at home.

Eric LeClair [14:22]
And now we’re jamming everybody back home.

Doug Chapman [14:24]
Right. And so now we’re like, like, we’re using zoom right to talk to each other. So check this out. It’s, you know, they’re like, my girlfriend’s doing these live classes. And she’s doing them out of my studio upstairs. And she’s beating herself senseless to do it. And in the conversation we had earlier today was how to get more, you know, sagittal pulling, or even frontal plane pulling type stuff. Because you I mean, right now, everybody’s gonna be like this, like high school football players all they do is benchpress.

Eric LeClair [14:56]
Right? So you got to be creative, you know, and this time, we’re forced to adapt, we’re forced to try to overcome the considerations that folks are limited by. Look so we’ve only got about two minutes to go and this will this will chop off here in a second. But I, you know, what I want to maybe we can kind of finish on is now instead of you talking directly to that junior young coach, what about the affiliate owner today who still has the brick and mortar? They’re struggling, their clients are struggling, they can’t, you know, who knows how many gyms are going to come out of this successful 50%? Maybe for that affiliate owner now who’s staring down the barrel? Like, you know, let’s just say that your girlfriend she’s struggling to think of maybe creative ways to adjust training programming, put in the position of where you were back in Ann Arbor. What would you tell the the struggling gym owner right now today knowing the current situation and kind of the unknown longevity of this Coronavirus?

Doug Chapman [15:59]
One is probably preparing financial health to begin with, you know, I mean, we’ve been living a lot of gyms have been hand to mouth. You know, I had been a wall street guy before I had done all this stuff right way back in the day I first got to college in the MBA thing, the Wall Street thing, right, whatever. You need to have nine months of income in the bank.

Eric LeClair [16:19]
Save. Yep.

Doug Chapman [16:20]
Okay, so that means, yeah, you should be putting 10% of your income away every month, no matter what happens, you know, and live within your means. Now, then you got an opportunity. Now, this is an opportunity as much as as a threat to your business. Maybe that building that lease wasn’t as good as you want it, go get your shit out of it and find a cheaper lease because there’s other people going to be having moving stuff in, you’re gonna have a lot of the guys who were struggling getting by month to month. This is like, the pandemic right? Every time there’s a pandemic, it works. And this is I’m not being unemotional or mean about this right because it’s shitty because people are dying. It’s not something you want, but if you watch a herd of gazelles which one is fucking eat the old ones, the young ones, the sick ones, you know which ones get sick and die, the old ones. And what we do in CrossFit and this is part of my mission and your mission too here is that our job is to make people healthier and fitter. And the thing is, is that if you keep on that motion, year, we’ll have a ton of business at the end of this, because the guys are doing it thinking they’re gonna make a quick, quick buck, ain’t gonna happen. You know, take this opportunity to rethink your business, all the processes, how do you intake clients? How do you serve as clients? How do you hold clients accountable? How do you provide like, what do you do? I mean, off the bottom, you’ve got a probably, you know, let’s say, June 1, everybody gets thumbs up they can go back. I mean, Michigan, California, you know, you’re not gonna be in California any more, but it’s like they’re pretty liberal, very kind of controlling type governments, okay? Governor is pretty, she would declare herself Emperor if she could. And it’s the way it is human nature, right? It’s the way that he once you get power, you want more power. But there’s going to be opportunities. June 1, between now, we’re not even April 15 to June 1, there’s another six weeks, let’s call it you can rethink your entire business you can go you can fix all of your messed up website, you can do all the stuff you want to do. And really think through how you’re going to do it.

Eric LeClair [18:40]
This is a perfect opportunity to to refine or reorder or to sit back and kind of assess where the weak spots are.

Doug Chapman [18:50]
Absolutely. And I think that that’s one of the things providing an opportunity, remember is that that Chinese character is a Chinese character, but the Chinese character says same thing as risk per danger also means opportunity and anything if you can find a way of finding opportunity when everybody’s panicking, everybody, whether it was a Baron de Rothschild said, I love to buy when there’s blood in the streets, when everybody is selling, I’m buying. I mean, honestly, this is after the end of this, I’m probably going to open a brick and mortar again because there’s going to be a gigantic opportunity for it.

Eric LeClair [19:28]
Yeah, there’s a massive vacuum to capitalize on. Man. Well, Doug, I sincerely appreciate your time, more importantly, I appreciate your friendship.

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