Home Blog Three Years of Cressey Performance: The Right Reasons and the Right Way

Three Years of Cressey Performance: The Right Reasons and the Right Way

Written on July 14, 2010 at 7:16 am, by Eric Cressey

Though a somewhat “normal” day at the gym, yesterday marked Cressey Performance’s three-year anniversary.

While my business partner’s blog post yesterday did an excellent job of doling out “thank yous” to a lot of the important people who have been so involved in our success – from clients to parents, coaches, interns, and significant others – I wanted to add my own two cents on the matter today.  More than anything, I really wanted to highlight a sentence that illustrates what makes me the most proud about where CP has been, where it is, and where it’s going.

We’ve done this for the right reasons, and we’ve done it the right way.

newcp21

I read a business development blog post by Chris McCombs the other day where he wrote something that really hit home for me.  When he was talking about how he decides to accept or reject a new project/opportunity, here is one of his guidelines:

Only Take on Projects That Are In Line With My Current Values and Fulfill Me Beyond Just The Money – A project must fulfill me in some way BESIDE just money…too many people spend their life JUST chasing a buck; to me, that’s no way to live.  For me, the money must be there, but it should fulfill me personally, be fun, help a lot of people, and build and be in line with my current brand and brand equity.”

Back in 2007, I had a tough decision to make.  My online consulting business had really taken off, and the Maximum Strength book deal was in the works.  My other products – Magnificent Mobility, The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual, and Building the Efficient Athlete – were selling well and getting great reviews, and I’d just had a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.  This website was growing exponentially in popularity, and I had just wrapped up my first year on the Perform Better tour – so lots of doors were opening for me on the seminar front to present all over the world – and I could have stayed home and just written all day, every day.

I was getting really crunched for time, as I was already training clients 8-13 hours per day, seven days per week, as my in-person clientele had rapidly grown. My phone rang off the hook for about three weeks after Lincoln-Sudbury won a baseball state championship after I’d trained several of their guys, and one of my athletes was named state player of the year.  And, after being featured on the front page of the Boston Globe with a nipple so hard I could cut diamonds, I was in demand as a t-shirt model (okay, not really – but it made for an awesome blog post, The School of Hard Nipples).

picture-1

I was exhausted and stressed – but absolutely, positively, “living the dream” that I’d always wanted.

To make matters a bit more interesting, I had just started dating a great girl (now my fiancee) who I really had a good feeling was “the one” after about three months.  The work days, however, were insanely long and I was worried that I’d screw up a good thing by not spending enough time with her.

Every business development coach out there would have seen a “simple” answer to all my problems: stop training people in person.  Just write, consult, make DVDs, and give seminars.  It would have cut my hours by 80% and still allowed me to earn a pretty good living – and enjoy plenty of free time.  There was a huge problem with that, though; as Chris wrote, it wouldn’t “fulfill me personally, be fun, help a lot of people, and build and be in line with my current brand and brand equity.”  I like doing evaluations, writing programs, coaching, sweating, training with my guys, cranking up the music, helping people get to where they want to be, collaborating with and learning from other professionals, and watching my athletes compete – whether it’s at some high school field or at Fenway Park.  Giving that up wasn’t an option; I guess I’d have just been a crappy business coaching client, as I would have been stubborn as an ass on giving that up.

stubborn

Fortunately for me, Pete Dupuis, my roommate from my freshman year of college, had just finished his MBA and was in the midst of a job search.  And, during that MBA, he’d started to train with me and packed on a ton of strength and muscle mass – making him realize and truly appreciate the value in what I was doing (especially since he was and is a goalie in a very competitive soccer league).  Pete had also met and become friends with a ton of my clients – and taken a genuine interest in my baseball focus, as a lifelong Red Sox fan.  Almost daily, Pete would encourage me to do my own thing and let him handle all the business stuff for me.

Simultaneously, Tony Gentilcore was ready for a change of scenery on the work front.  Having been Tony’s roommate and training partner for almost two years at that point, I knew he was a genuinely great guy, that he’d read everything on my bookshelf, and that he could coach his butt off and “walk the walk.”  He, too, had met a lot of my clients – so there was continuity from the get-go.

So, on July 13, 2007, Cressey Performance was born.  Here is what we started with.

first-picture

Boatloads of renovations and equipment additions later, it wound up looking like this.

cressey-performance-1

Of course, we outgrew and demolished this space after about nine months and moved three miles east to a facility twice the size.  And, we’ve continued to grow right up to this day; June was our busiest month ever, and July should be busier.  We’ve got regular weekly clients who come from four states (MA, NH, CT, RI), and in the baseball off-season, I have college and pro guys who come from the likes of OH, AZ, CA, SC, NC, GA, FL, and VA.  And, we had 33 applicants for this summer’s internships.

To be very candid, though, I don’t consider myself a very good “businessman.”  No offense to Pete or Tony, either, but I don’t think they even come close to the textbook definition of the word, either.  We just try to be good dudes. “We’ve done this for the right reasons, and we’ve done it the right way.”

We don’t allocate a certain percentage of our monthly revenues to advertising.  In fact, we haven’t spent a single penny on advertising – unless you count charitable donations to causes that are of significance to us.

We don’t search high and low for new revenue streams to push on our clients.  In fact, if I get one more MonaVie sales pitch, I’m going to suplex whoever delivered it right off our loading dock.  Rather, we bust our butts to set clients up for success in any way possible – and trust that those efforts will lead to referrals and “allegiance” to Cressey Performance.  We ask what they want from us and modify our plans accordingly.  It’s what led to us bringing in manual therapy, a pitching cage, and, of course, pitching coach/court jester Matt Blake’s timeless antics.

Along those same lines, we don’t measure our success based on revenue numbers; we measure it based on client results.  In three years of seeing LOADS of baseball players non-stop, we’ve only had three arm surgeries: one shoulder and two elbow.  All three were athletes who came to us with existing injuries, and in each case, we kept them afloat as long as we could and trained them through their entire rehabilitation.  I don’t want to toot our own horn, but this is a remarkable statistic in a population where over 57% of pitchers suffer some form of shoulder injury during each competitive season – and that doesn’t even include  elbows!  And, our statistics don’t even count literally dozens of players who have come to us after a doctor has told them they needed surgery, but we’ve helped them avoid these procedures.  The college scholarships, draft picks, state titles, individual honors, and personal bests in the gym are all fantastic, but I’m most proud of saying that we’ve dedicated ourselves to keeping athletes healthy so that they can enjoy the sports they love.

The same goes for our non-competitive athlete clients.  The fat loss and strength gains they experience are awesome and quantifiable, but beyond that (and more qualitatively), I love knowing that they’re training pain-free and are going to be able to enjoy exercise and reap the benefits of training for a long time.

We don’t penny-pinch during our slowest times of the month (late March through mid-May – the high school baseball season).  We see it as an opportunity to do more staff continuing education, renovate the facilities, and get out to watch a lot of baseball and support our athletes.  And, we adjust our hours to open up on Sundays and stay later on weeknights during the baseball season to make it easier for athletes to get in-season training in whenever they can.  If a pitcher wants to come in and get his arm stretched out before or after an outing, he stops by and we do it for him – but don’t charge him a penny for it.  It’s about setting people up for success.

We don’t try to just “factory line” as many clients through our facility as possible with everyone on the same program.  You might walk into CP and see 20 different clients on 20 different programs – because a 16-year old pitcher with crazy congenital laxity is going to have a markedly different set of needs than a 16-year-old linebacker with shoulder mobility so bad that he needs help putting a jacket on.  One program on one dry erase board for hundreds of athletes isn’t training; it’s babysitting.

Taking this a step further, we don’t boot clients out after a certain amount of time.  Clients take as long as needed to complete the day’s program. And, when they’re done (or before they even begin), loads of our clients spend time hanging out in the office just shooting the breeze and enjoying the environment.  As an example, Toronto Blue Jays Organizational Pitcher of the Year Tim Collins spends a minimum of five hours a day at CP all off-season.

collins_stride

Tim has sold girl scout cookies for the daughter of one of our clients, and he’s been our back-up front desk guy when Pete is out of town.  Yesterday, he was back to visit on his all-star break – and he said hello to every client he saw – and remembered them by name.  If you’re a 15-year-old up-and-coming baseball pitcher, how cool is it to get that kind of greeting when you walk into the office?  Well, at CP, kids get that greeting from 10-15 pro guys all the time.  And, if they’re lucky, they might even get to throw on a bobsled helmet and join these pro guys in a rave to Miley Cyrus, apparently.

At least once a week, I get an email from an up-and-coming coach asking for advice about starting a facility.  When I get these emails, I now think about how Rachel Cosgrove recently mentioned that more than 80% of fitness coaches leave the industry within the first year. In most cases, this happens because these people never should have entered the fitness industry in the first place – because their intentions (money) were all wrong.  They usually leave under the assumption that they could never make a living training people, but in reality, these folks are going to have a hard time making a living in any occupation that requires genuinely caring about what you do and the people with whom you work, and being willing to hang your hat on the results you produce.

ec-bk

As such, the first advice, in a general sense, is obvious: do it for the right reasons, and do it the right way.  Sure, making a living is essential, but only open a facility because it would fulfill you “personally, be fun, help a lot of people, and build and be in line” with who you are and what your values are – which together constitute your “brand.” Making the move to start up this business was one of the most daunting decisions I have ever had to make, and all the efforts toward actually getting the business started were equally challenging.  However, in the end, it has been more rewarding both personally and professionally than I could have ever possibly imagined.

Thank you very much to all of you – clients/customers, parents, EricCressey.com readers, seminar attendees, and professional colleagues – for all your support over the past three years.  We couldn’t have done it without you – and look forward to many more years of doing things for the right reasons and in the right way.


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  • Eric,

    Your work has been of such great influence to me over the last several years. I’m genuinely appreciative of the time you take to write this blog and share your learning.

    You also represent the very model of the guy who is out there in the trenches producing results instead of cranking out bullshit fat loss products from the comfort of your own home in an attempt to rake in the money.

    I sincerely wish you continued success in your business and personal life.

    PS: This is awesome -> “One program on one dry erase board for hundreds of athletes isn’t training; it’s babysitting.”

  • Eric,

    You truly pay it forward. The help you have graciously offered me in my journey of becoming a “fitness professional” has been priceless. Thank you for all the advice, the great info, hospitality, and making our family into athletic beasts…even Zach, at times.

    Congrats!

    GR

  • Eric,

    Thanks for sharing the information that you do on your website. You are definitely a great source of knowledge and I learn a lot visiting your website every day. I couldn’t agree with you more about having a passion for what you do and doing it for the right reason. The worst thing in life is doing something without a desire for it.

  • Eric,

    Congrats on 3 years man! Thanks for sharing so much on the site. Love the message in the post.

  • Sam Leahey

    I believe every young coach should print this out and at every glance remember the underlying principles from which it is written. It’s a powerful lesson Eric and definitely motivating.

    Keep pushing the envelope for true quality both personally and professionally.

    All the best,

    Sam

  • .

    EC,

    Great post.

    Thanks for letting us inside.

    Rick Kaselj of ExercisesForInjuries.com

    .

  • Mike B

    I read this and think, Eric Cressey might be my hero. What you describe is all I want from life. Thank you for all of the quality information and motivation.

  • JPR

    Thanks for all the memories Timmy. We already miss you here in Toronto.

  • Congrats! On your anniversary. We wish you continued success!
    Jeff

  • Aaron B.

    Eric,

    I’m sure that when you started on this path of becoming a fitness professional, you had no idea the reach of influence you would have. I’m 20 years old and live in Arizona. My first contact with you was completely by chance when I came across your book ‘Maximum Strength’ about a year ago. Ever sense then I’ve been a loyal follower and reader. You love fitness, but most of all, you love helping people and that is definitely evident. You’ve influenced me and helped me find my passion in life which is to pursue a career in Physical Therapy, and for that I’m extremely thankful. May you enjoy many more years of tremendous success.

    God Bless

  • Dear Eric,
    congrats on the 3 years. from an athlete to a very successful coach/businessman while retaining all the humbleness & human touch. today’s business needs that quality very much. some of you out there are true torchbearers of this wonderful industry we all are in. our future is in safe hands. god bless & good luck for many more years to come.

  • Eric,

    I met you in Boston at Integrative Diagnosis back in 2008. I was a chiro student then, just busting to get started in practice. I studied your blogs and books among other things and now use them daily in practice. My practice is set directly inside a CrossFit gym my wife and I own and I’ve modeled it after CP. Granted, we don’t train specialized athletes but our general fitness clients benefit just as much from specialized understanding of their own movement systems. Each client gets a detailed initial movement exam to help identify their issues and prevent any problems from developing. My practice is completely fulfilling as I get to help them empower themselves to athleticism and fitness.

    The knowledge you give people about their bodies helps them far beyond their athletic goals. I see many former athletes with piss-poor mechanics and what I call the Collegiate back squat (chin to the ceiling, complete hyper-extension, avoid any depth). Your athletes will know better, and I’m sure avoid a lot of the post-athletic pains that often accompany such poor movement quality.

    This post speaks volumes to why I’ve appreciated your blog for so long… it directly mirrors my own feelings and resulting successes thus far.

    Thank you very much. By the way, you opened your doors on my birthday.

  • Deborah

    Eric,

    I started reading your blog about 9 months ago, bought Maximum Strength and just started distance training with Tony. I would have never guessed you guys were only in the third year of this endeavor. On top of knowing your stuff, you all exhibit complete professionalism, hard work, class and phenomenal humor. This clearly reflects that you are doing what you love and loving what you do. I’m looking forward to the day you bring CP to the West Coast — wasn’t there a video along those lines? 😉

  • P. J. Striet

    Eric (& Tony):

    Congrats on your 3 year anniversary! As a facility owner (who also works “in the business” training folks 30+ hours/week) who is coming up on his 3 year anniversary, a lot of what you said in this post resonated with me. I, too, am not the best business man in the world (the Cosgrove’s are currently helping me with that :), but I’ve done OK by going the extra mile for clients and genuinely caring about them. Keep up the great work…your training philosophy has had a huge impact on how I deal with clients.

  • Eric,

    You are definitely a great example of doing things the right way, and you are a true leader in an industry in serious need of leadership. I have modeled much of my business growth after yours, and you have been a huge influence on me.

    I am also in a somewhat similar position to your 2007 position (first study accepted for publication on JSCR, book contract, online business taking off, getting some media exposure, seemingly endless biz opportunities-100% exciting and 100% exhausting) and am facing some of the same issues you described. Thanks for sharing your decision process.

    Jeff Blair
    Los Angeles

  • EC,
    Been a big fan for years and articles like these are the main reason why. You have a set of standards whether it is training, business or work that you stick to. If they are for the right reasons then you will never fail.
    I will keep this article handy and read frequently
    Thanks and congratulations.

  • Congratulations on 3 years of success! The post was very informative & inspiring! I am big believer in doing things “my way” and not following textbook rules of business; glad to see this model can be successful!

    Can’t wait to see where you guys will be at in 3 more years!

  • Happy anniversary mate, congrats on all you’ve acheived, keep doing what your doing.

    All the best

    Dave

  • This was one of your best Eric! Thank you for your candid and detailed insight. I’ve enjoyed your blogs since they started as newsletters years ago; they’ve been great inspiration for an up-and-comer in the fitness industry like myself!

  • This post couldn’t have come at a better time. My business partner and I will be opening the doors to our facility here in Seattle on August 1st and are most definitely looking forward to it.

    Not that we needed a reminder, but its good to hear that “doing it for the right reasons” is what its all about.

    Thanks Eric,

    Jaison Naiker

  • Isaac Ho

    Great Post Eric this is definitely a well timed post. Jason, Funny seeing you comment on here. Met you this week at the NFBA meeting. Great luck on opening up your facility. I’ll definitely have to come check it out.

  • I currently coach some of the top athletes in my sport of racquetball and your site and information is invaluable. Thanks for opening some minds out there. Keep up the great job! Onward and upward,
    Jim Winterton
    USA Racquetball Coaching Development
    former USA Coach the year ’95,’99,03
    Racquetball HOF inductee 1999

  • Thank you very much, everyone, for the kind words and continued support. They mean more than you could possibly imagine. Hopefully, there will be many more good years to come!

    Best,

    EC

  • Eric,
    congratulations on the 3 year anniversary!

    I can’t tell you how much you have influenced the direction of my career and starting my own facility, not to mention being a great mentor and helping me not lose sight of what’s important.

    I know it will only get better because of the person that you are.

    Thanks for everything you do and keep raising the bar!

    Look forward to seeing you in Long Beach.

    Luka Hocevar

  • aimee

    Thanks for being you EC!

    aimee

  • Great write up EC. Awesome to know there are very passionate people in the profession who are doing it for the right reasons AND being successful. Awesome.

    Rock on
    Mike T Nelson PhD(c)

  • Travis

    You know it’s a great write-up when it inspires the reader…thanks for the post!


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