Episode 287

The MBSC Formula for Continuing Education with Kevin Carr

In this episode, Kevin Carr joins me to talk about the MBSC formula for continuing education.

[00:00:00] Hello, my friend on today’s episode, I am speaking with Kevin Carr, coach and partner at Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning. And we’re talking about a really important topic, which is continuing education for your team, specifically for your trainers. Kevin breaks down their approach to MBSC and gives, I think, a really clear framework for how you can approach continuing education in your gym in a simple and effective way.

So if that sounds useful to you, keep on listening, my friend.

Welcome to the Business for Unicorns podcast, where we help gym owners unleash the full potential of their business. I’m your host, Michael Kehler. Join me each week for actionable advice, expert insights, and the inside scoop on what it really takes to level up your gym. Get ready to unlock your potential.

And become a real unicorn in the fitness industry. Let’s begin.[00:01:00]

Hello, fitness, business nerds. What’s up. Welcome to another episode of the business for unicorns podcast. And today I’m super excited to have someone who probably needs no introduction, but I’m going to introduce them anyway. It’s Kevin Carr from Mike Boyle, strength and conditioning, who’s now a partner at Mike Boyle, strength and conditioning, and someone who, if you have been in the fitness game at all for more than a minute, you probably know who Kevin Carr is.

So I’m so excited to have you on the podcast. Thank you for being here. My friend. Thanks for having me Michael longtime listener happy to be a guest. Oh, what a delight. What a delight I know we’ve been talking more and more about doing more and more work with you and Mike and the rest of the MBSC team And I’m excited to have you on the podcast more often and direct people to your podcast and so if there’s happens to be some listeners who just don’t know, you know, Our little corner of the fitness world or haven’t heard of micro strength conditioning somehow You just talk a little bit about you know about you and your role at MBSC over your many years there Yeah.

So I’ve been a coach at MBSC since 2008. I started there as an intern [00:02:00] and I’ve worked in various roles from personal training, group training coach to manager, and now evolved into partner over the last year here. So it’s been a great journey, obviously a great place for me to work. And in that time we developed the certified functional strength coach, practical coaching certification as well.

So I wear many hats here. It keeps me busy, but it’s, that’s a great place to work. Yeah, I love that. I love that. Yeah, I’m excited. And I think for listeners who are looking to level up their game and find their next kind of continuing education opportunity, look no further than this, than that program. The CFSC program is fantastic and, and it’s actually related to what we’re going to be talking about today.

So let’s just dive into our topics. I know we could talk about this for probably days, but we’re going to try and say something meaningful in 20 minutes, but the topic I want to cover today is Trainer continuing education. And let me just, let me tell you what I, how I see this going often for gym owners.

So a lot of gym owners, including our Unicorn Society members, I find so many of them overcomplicate continuing education for [00:03:00] trainers. They, it’s important to stress it. I think having a team that continuously learns and grows, I think is really meaningful, but some of them just make it. too complicated.

And they try to have too many in services. They try and get people to do too many certs and they get people to always be learning and they learn or are often trying to get them to learn more than they could actually ever apply to their business. And so what I want to pick your brain about today, and I genuinely am curious to hear your thoughts.

This is not just, I already have an answer. I genuinely don’t have the answers here. I really want your perspective is how do you, let’s start with the big picture. How do you think about continuing education for trainers, even at MBSC? I think the big thing, especially for us, and we have a pretty big team, we have about 40 coaches between the two facilities is continually tapping into what we think we need to get better at in our program within our facility and then trying to filter a lot of those influences from the outside into our internal meetings, into our individual meetings and then focus on, you know, how can [00:04:00] we take some of those ideas that come from outside MBSC to continue to develop our staff’s education and then ultimately work Better provide a better service to the people that come here.

And so a lot of our meetings Um are based around problem solving and our staff bringing us Ideas and mike often bringing us ideas or myself and then us diving into whether it’s research or a seminar or a book And then actively thinking about how can we filter that in to improve our approach here.

Yeah. Trying to really tie it to the daily practical things that we want to improve. And so I know it seems like we go through seasons where it’s like, Hey, we want to get really. onboarding that new client or improving our speed development program or improving our conditioning, whatever that topic might be that we want to get better at.

We try to, as a team work on going down that rabbit hole and then figuring out how does it fit within our environment? Because there is so much education out there, but none of it really matters [00:05:00] if it doesn’t fit within our business, at least in our mindset. And so trying to really filter it. To best serve us inside our walls.

Yeah, yeah, that’s really well said, Kevin. Let me just recap how, because I really heard this happens in kind of three stages. Yeah. Tell me if I got this right. The first stage is really about figuring out what are our gaps right now? Where are the places we know we could be performing better, that we could level up, where we’re dropping the ball, or we’re not living up to our own expectations.

Then filtering, okay, what information is out there that could be helpful in filling that gap? And filtering to find the best information available amongst the ever growing sea of content for trainers out there. And then the third part is that whatever that learning is has to be applicable to the job every day.

It’s practical, right? It’s not just learning for learning’s sake. It’s learning to fill the gap and improve the service you’re delivering. Did I hear you? Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I think Let’s break those down a little bit. Is that okay? Yeah, I would love to. the first one. Because I think this is the first one is I think the thing that people miss.

The first one, they just skip right over [00:06:00] it. They jump into what are we going to learn without asking, like, where are, where are opportunities? So how do you guys figure out where the gaps are? Yeah, we can’t, we have meetings, big company wide meetings every Tuesday where we’re pretty much running down our punch list at the beginning of kind of housekeeping stuff, but then our big rocks that are submitted by myself, the other team members about where we think we have those gaps.

And in that week leading up, I had a text going with Mike and the rest of the team this morning about, Hey, what are the things we want to hammer tomorrow? And what kind of things can we bring to the staff to try to improve places where we feel like we have gaps? And so we make it an intentful every week where we’re thinking about.

What are the things we need to get better at? And sometimes when you’ve been here for a long time, it feels repetitive. Like I always joke that I’ve been in the same staff meeting a hundred times, but the, our service has changed. Our coaches have changed in the information that’s out there. It’s changed.

So it’s [00:07:00] necessary for us to almost rehash some of the same things to continue to try to get better. And continue to look for resources. We all know that this game is about being really excellent at the basics, right? And all human achievement at the highest levels is about being just excellent at the absolute basics.

That’s going to involve some repetition. But can I ask you to get, like, really tactical? So as you and Mike or anyone else on the team are preparing for that meeting, how are you finding the gaps? Is this through shadowing? Is this through, um, audits? Is this through just How are you figuring, how are you noticing what the team needs?

Yep. Um, being out on the floor, um, we rotate who are floating coaches, whether it’s myself or Dan or Steve or Vinny. Um, watching the groups run, being out there, uh, regularly and seeing, you know, where are our coaches struggling, whether it’s, you know, understanding regressions for a new client who comes in or.

Managing around specific injuries or adjusting a program for a specific type of [00:08:00] athlete where we start to see those issues come up and having eyes on the floor and communicating with the coaches we have. A group communication where we’ll start to put in our list. Hey, these are the things I saw this week.

And all of us will weigh in and be like, okay, how do we address that in this coming week? So I think it really starts with being on the floor and that credit to Mike, now that he’s doing what he says, like his disappearing act, he still comes in the afternoon. It’s very slow retirement. Yes. He floats on the floor and watches.

And then that, because we have our eyes on the floor and. We are continually communicating with our coaches who are executing those groups. We’re able to keep our finger on the things where we think we need to improve. Yeah, I think that’s so critical. I think you’re gonna, if you’re going to identify what the gaps are in your team’s performance, you got to watch them perform.

I know it sounds very, so obvious, but I think all too often, and I say this with love to a lot of our listeners who are gym owners is that they just wear so many hats in the gym. The the one of the things that gets dropped because time is [00:09:00] precious, is that time actually being present on the floor and watching your trainers.

But when you can do that, you can really put your finger on the pulse of where do they need help? Where are they dropping the ball? Is it like welcoming people as they walk in the door? Is it programming progressions or regressions? Is it dealing with injuries, right? Is it scheduling? Having con conversations about scheduling conflicts?

What are the things that they’re struggling to do? And then let’s go find some continuing education that helps us fill that gap. I think that’s really critical. Because if you don’t get that first piece, you just are searching for education’s sake. You never actually improve the service. Yeah. We always joke about there’s so many certifications out there.

And sometimes when our coaches go and go to this course or read this book, like they come back and they become like that certification guy or girl for a few weeks where they do everything. And it’s always about narrowing it. Into what can we get that’s valuable out of this for you to improve your service as a coach here?

Yeah, that’s so crucial. Well, okay So that’s the first piece is you got to be watching the performance taking notes making lists [00:10:00] of where’s my team need to level up And it might not be everyone Needs to level up in a certain area But you got to look for the trends kind of look for the places where as a whole The team could level up and then you mentioned the second phase is really this kind of filtering process So, how do you pick the best content for continuing education?

Yeah, and sometimes that’s a process. I think often we have our internal resources that we’ve always used, whether it’s some of our internal education platforms like StrengthCoach. com or MBSC TV where we’ll say, Hey, let’s go back through some of the content on here because you realize some of our younger staff members might not have, it hasn’t been cemented for them the same way it might be for me who’s been here for a long period of time, or sometimes it means going out and we will sometimes bring in guest speakers who we think Help us solve some problems.

And so we’ve brought in people for in services the kind of Help us attack some of those gaps and then we’ll as a team after they come and speak [00:11:00] Reconvene and say okay. What did we all take away from that? What can we better apply? From that. And that’s a good investment for us to bring people in house for us sometimes to help us see the things that we can’t see, because we’re inside the four walls every day.

And sometimes you got to bring somebody in to help you see that. Yeah. What I love about that so much is that you all have resources that you return to again and again, that define your basic expectations and standards, whether that’s some of Mike’s content from, I think he said, MBSC TV or just other standards you have.

And that’s like the foundational library that everyone learns. And you’ve obviously been absorbing it for many years, but that’s, so there’s some foundational content that people keep returning to. And then on top of that, when you have challenges that you need on top of that, then you ask for some outside help, whether it’s a book or an outside speaker.

I think that’s so valuable. How do you vet some of those things? Obviously, like when vetting a speaker, it’s probably people in the industry that you’ve known for years that you trust, but what about vetting certifications or books or online courses? [00:12:00] Cause again, there’s so many. So how do you make sure you’re, you and your team are picking the.

The best ones for the moment. Yeah. Sometimes that can be difficult because there is so much. And we definitely have had instances sometimes where maybe we brought someone in and maybe the presentation was great, but at the end of the day, we come back around and we’re like, I don’t know how much of that we can actually apply, but it helps us know what we can’t do at the same time.

And sometimes what we’ve done again, book club where we’ve said, Hey, let’s buy this book. Seems interesting. It might be able to help us. Let’s buy the book for everybody. We’ll read it. Come back in and maybe not total application. And so there is a trial and error. And as we’ve been doing this longer, I think Mike, myself, Steve, we’ve done, we’ve been able to better vet some of the things that we bring in.

And sometimes it’s good. And sometimes you’re surprised. Sometimes you find when you’re like, this was amazing. And we start to really change things. And so it’s just a lot of trial and error and the continual effort to look for resources that might fill some of our gaps. I love that the [00:13:00] question, it seems like you all are continuing asking yourself, like the filter you’re using is, does this resource have content in it that we can apply to what we do every day?

That seems to be the constant filter. Is this information that we can use starting tomorrow to improve how we do our work? And I think that’s really valuable. I think so often I see trainers and just following their bliss, following their passion, which I think is valuable, right? But as a business owner, you want most of your team, most of the time finding education that they can actually apply to how they show up every day, how they create a better experience for your clients.

So that very practical lens feels like the best possible filter. Yeah, and what we’ll do lots of times with our staff is we always encourage them They have a continuing education stipend that they can spend at their will and we say listen if you find something that you like Make sure you bring it to us because if it’s something that you find valuable in your daily work Then it’s something most of your co workers will find valuable as well And that’s something we’ll probably invest in and so they do a [00:14:00] really good job sometimes bringing Things to us that I might not have any idea about that can be really helpful.

Yeah It’s just on that topic before we switch to third phase here of applying the work Can you just say a little bit about how your stipend process work? You don’t need to give away any money numbers if you don’t want to but just generally speaking How does your stipend process function? Yeah, essentially we give them a set amount of money that they can spend every year on whether it’s books, courses, online courses, in person course, whatever it might be.

And then we just ask them, hey, bring it to us before we purchase it for you and just tell us why you’re interested in it, why you’re excited about it, and how you think it could help you. And that could be us sending them to a public speaking course. I just sent one of our coaches to a public speaking course for a weekend.

It could be going to an in person workshop or just, hey, I really want to read these books and they’re expensive. Listen, if you think it’s good, I’m always going to encourage people to spend money on education, if we can do that, because it almost always comes background to help our business and make [00:15:00] them feel like they’re being supported in their growth as well.

That’s great. Yeah. It’s a great retention tool for, for employees. If you want to keep your staff around for a long time, give them a sense. That they can grow and learn and keep challenging themselves and they’ll stay longer and your business will hopefully, um, improve as a result, which is the kind of the third thing I want to talk about.

So the third phase here is, so once you’ve identified the gaps, you for how, where can we get better as a team, you filter through all the content, like where can we find the best content that helps us apply our learning. to these gaps. And then there’s that process of actually applying your learning. I think you started to talk a little bit about how you do that.

So you mentioned when you have a speaker, after the speaker or the book, you get together and say, okay, what did we learn and what can we apply? But can you talk a little bit more about that process of making sure that loop gets closed and you always circle back to applying the learning to your work?

Yeah, absolutely. And we try to really make it a point in like the following meeting and in the week in between where we have our kind of Our group communication thread where we’ll say, okay, what were everybody’s biggest [00:16:00] takeaways and is there anyone who would like to come and present on their takeaways in the following week?

And so for instance, we just had our whole staff go through the girls gone strong pre and post nail course. And a handful of our coaches last week came up and provided their own presentation based on the material that we went through, what their takeaways were and how they thought they could best apply it.

In our setting with our clients and so I think it does two things that it gives us their perspective On the education that might be different than maybe mine or mike’s or somebody else’s and it gives them a sense of Agency and as far as how we run our program and it makes them feel like they’re a part of us Changing the program rather than myself or mike telling them.

Hey, these are the changes we’re going to make and so it makes them more tuned into the education process and helps us as a staff continue to feel like We’re helping shape the program direction we want to go, and that, I think, makes the education much more valuable for us, because [00:17:00] there’s a little bit of responsibility on their part to help vet the quality of the things that we bring in and how we apply it.

Yeah, I think it’s so smart. I think it’s so smart, Kevin, the idea that you have your team go. digest all this continued education and then come back and present. I think it’s a great way to make the information sticky for them, but then also then to distribute the responsibility, as you said here, for everyone has a role in our team’s growth.

Everyone has a role in our team’s continued education. As you all learn, we want you to share that learning with each other. And I find that those are the teams. That really learn best are the ones that that kind of shared sense of responsibility that we’re all lifting each other up. We’re all growing together.

I said, I think listeners, if you don’t do that yet, I think it’s a great takeaway from this conversation. There are many, but it’s one of them. I think the ones I want to press on the hardest is like making sure that people have to. Digest the information and then come back and regurgitate it back to your team, right?

They often say teaching is the final step of mastery, right? If you really want to get good at [00:18:00] something not just don’t just learn it but learn to teach it I think that’s a great way to make again the information sticky for your team. Yeah, absolutely Yeah, let’s so we covered the kind of the process that you go through to identify the gaps filter the information Make sure the information is applied.

So let me ask you this i’m going to give you a challenge here kevin One of the obstacles I see when people are doing continued education is There’s always, it seems like on every team, there’s one person, maybe sometimes two on bigger teams, that just is so resistant to continue education. Maybe they have the attitude of, I’ve been doing this for a long time.

I think I know everything I need to know, or I’m not the one that needs to learn. There’s other people on the team who are way worse than me and you should go make them do continue education. I’ve heard that before, and I don’t know, I’m sure you’ve had experience with people just being a little resistant to the idea of learning.

How do you get through that? How do you overcome that kind of resistance? I think we’ve definitely have had periods on our staff where I think we definitely had a lull on a handful of members about pursuing [00:19:00] education. And I think that changed and we’ve gotten better with it when we. Did a better job meeting with individual staff members.

I know Mike mentioned this in the past that like when it was really just him and Bob, they had a hard time managing everybody. And now with myself and Dan and Vinny and Steve, we’ve split them up into smaller cohorts where we’re meeting more regularly and trying to identify. You know, really what they’re all passionate about because they have different things they’re interested in, um, whether it’s the technical piece of training, the communication skills, do they want to become a speaker?

Do they want to become a writer? There’s a lot of paths and fitness. And I think that sometimes we find staff members get disillusioned or unenthused about education when And They feel like there isn’t necessarily anything that excites them. And so when we start to meet with them more and say, Hey, what are you really interested in learning?

Or where do you want to be five years from now? We can start to pull some of those things out of them and then say, okay, here’s a path where, you know, this education would be good for you. That’s where this, the most recent I said, we got to the girls gone strong certification. We had a couple of [00:20:00] girls who, that’s what they were really interested in.

We said, okay, let’s dive into this. And so, but it takes sometimes asking and really trying to have the communication with each individual member because sometimes everything’s going so fast here that it’s easy to just say, Hey, this is the next thing we’re going to focus on. This is the next thing we’re going to focus on.

And there might be some staff members sitting there thinking, Oh, this doesn’t really excite me as much. And so I think trying to figure out what each of them really want to improve on and what they’re passionate about and then setting path. Forward a path for them on top of our foundational education that kind of helps and excites them to grow in the field Yeah, I love that Kevin.

There’s a few things. I want to reflect on one is no You’re really putting your finger right on the number one driver of motivation, right? So I big nerd about motivation and motivation research and the one thing that that all motivation research has in common Is that if you can get someone really tapped into their purpose?

They are much more motivated to do anything that you want [00:21:00] them to do. And I think that’s a big part of what you’re saying here is that in one on one conversations with your team, you can really be like, okay, what’s your purpose? What do you want to do? Do you want to be a speaker? Do you want to be a writer?

Do you just want to get good at communication skills? You want to go to the technical things when you get a program designed, you want to get good at Dealing with working with clients that are in pain. What is the thing that you’re really feel like purposeful about? And I think when you can find that they’re much more excited to be, to dive in.

I’m also hearing you say that sometimes it’s okay for it to be just, okay, Hey team. I think we all need to get better at this. Let’s all read this book. So I think there’s a great balance you’re describing here of sometimes as leaders, you need to identify gaps and just say, everyone, we’re going to level up on this one area.

Here’s a book, let’s do it. And it has to be balanced with people’s individual pursuit of their own purpose and passions. Am I hearing you right? Absolutely. Yeah. Dead on. Yeah. I think that’s such a smart way of thinking about it. And that balance, I think, is what keeps people engaged. Sometimes they’re challenged by you.

Sometimes they’re challenged by themselves and their own sense of drive and purpose. And that’s a wheel that’ll keep on spinning. Yeah. All right, my [00:22:00] friend, I know we’re at time. We could keep going all day on this, but it’s like we’re just scratching the surface. But let me wrap up by just asking you open ended questions.

Anything else about continuing education for trainers? I didn’t ask you about that you think is really meaningful. I think that what really sets the tone for us is it starts. We have an internship program that like everybody goes through when they start here in an internship going through our foundational education.

Where they have bi weekly meetings where there’s formal lecture or q a hands on practical coaching in addition to their experience of doing things on the floor On a daily basis and that really starts to set the tone here for I would say we’re Somewhat of really an education facility in addition to a training facility with the certification and with the internship And so it sets the tone here that That’s something that we value as one of our real kind of foundational things here.

And so with that, we continue to always have breakout practical meetings with the interns and then with our newer staff. And we really make a [00:23:00] point to invest time myself and Dan, especially doing weekly. Smaller meetings or practical meetings with the interns and some of the younger coaches that continues to Make that part of our culture and if I think that from the beginning if you do that You can create an environment where you’re going to have people almost self selecting who want to come work for you Who also probably share that value with you?

Yeah, that’s really beautifully said, Kevin. So I’m hearing that is in that is that you really have a culture of learning. It’s a learning environment and gym owners out there listening. You don’t need to have your own certification process to create a culture of learning, right? You don’t have to be MBSC to create a culture of learning.

It starts with all the things Kevin mentioned, which is this expectation that we learned together that on day one, we’re going to be both teaching each other and learning from one another, that you can see education is a big part of the learning. Time that everyone’s investing in each other and that managers are investing in one on ones that they’re having with people.

So it’s about that. We really show what we care about by the time we spend on it. And if you’re spending time talking about [00:24:00] and doing new education together, it sends the message. This is a culture where that’s what we do. And that’s what we care about. Absolutely. Yeah. Beautiful. I love that as a closing thought.

So thank you for that. Is there anything coming up in your world knowing this is going to be coming out in the next few weeks? We’re recording this the beginning of November. It’s coming out in the next few weeks. Anything else going on that you want to tell the people about? Yeah. You can always catch us or traveling all over teaching certification events for CFSC.

Those are all listed at CertifiedFSC. com and I just, I’m announcing this for the first time right here, exclusive. Yay! The Business Freedom of Recording Podcast, April 13th and 14th, 2024 is going to be our annual spring seminar. Uh, we’ll put out more details about that as they come out. But yeah, that’s the big stuff on the horizon for us.

I love that. April 13th and 14th, where is it? At MBSC, here at, at Mike Bush in the conditioning and Woobard. Fantastic. And say a little bit more about who that’s for, Kevin. We always like to try to get a mix. We always try to find a speaker who kind of focuses on business end of things, as [00:25:00] well as someone who’s more on the technical side of strength conditioning and personal training.

So we try to usually, we bring in usually two or three guest speakers. We’re finalizing that list now, as well as Mike Boyle speaking and a number of our staff members. And so We’d like to try to get a mix of topics to, you know, get scratch everybody’s itch from an education standpoint. So to speak. Yeah.

Fantastic. Listeners go save that date. We’ll put any links that Kevin mentioned down below in the show notes. So go check it out, see where they’re at and check out the certification because you’ll be so glad you did. And everyone that I know, including, I think you were at Mark Fisher fitness. Not that many, not that long ago talking with our team about continuing education, Kevin and his team.

These are the people you want to learn from. Thanks for being here. Kevin. This is a great conversation. I really appreciate your time and your expertise and your listeners. If you enjoyed this, leave us a five star review everywhere that you listen and I’ll see you on the next one. Thanks again, Kevin.

Thanks for having me.