Every Day is Day 1

This is part of an open letter I wrote to our members around the end of 2016 and into 2017.. but kept it to myself. When I read it again, I think it’s safe to say that this letter has some timelessness to it–we will never stop working for our members, we will never stop trying to be learn-it-alls for our members and ourselves, and we will continually strive to iterate every moment of our lives to be better in some way for the people that let us help them. Thank you to everybody who has been a part of our family, is a part of our family, and will be a part of our family.

To our members/clients:

Black & Red has passed many milestones in 2016: By year-end, we have cultivated a strong community of 30+ members, and we have cultivated a culture of fun married with hard work, as well as–without overtly insisting upon it–a culture of self-motivated excellence. We have also grown a positive reputation locally in our LWC, regionally amongst the Mid-Atlantic region, and Nationally within USA Weightlifting, and continue to do so.

But this is Day 1 for Weightlifting and, if we execute well, for Black & Red. Today, Weightlifting is one of the fastest growing niche sports, thanks to CrossFit and the exposure Weightlifting has received from it. Tomorrow through personalization, Weightlifting will no longer be an ostracized sport, but rather, an important tool to help develop and accelerate athleticism in our youth and provide safe and meaningful methods of helping our elderly maintain a higher quality of life. Black & Red uses this exposure and sensible teaching methods to create real value for its members and, by doing so, hopes to create an enduring program that can spread, even in established areas.

It’s All About the Long Term

We, Black & Red, believe that a fundamental measure of our success will be the member/client value we create over the the long term. The value will be a direct result of our ability to extend and solidify our current club and program position. The stronger our club and program leadership, the more powerful our message will be. Program leadership can translate directly to more folks signing on to be part of a like-minded community of people who want to better themselves physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It creates a stronger community, which creates a stronger world, and correspondingly stronger returns on invested energy, money, and time.

Our decisions have consistently reflected that focus. We first measure ourselves in terms of the metrics most indicative of our club and program leadership: member/client progress, the degree to which our members/clients continue to progress with us on a repeat basis, and the strength of our brand. We have invested and will continue to invest aggressively to expand and leverage our member/client base, brand, and infrastructure as we move to establish an enduring presence in the sport of Weightlifting.

Because of our emphasis on the long term, we may make decisions and weigh tradeoffs differently than some clubs. Accordingly, we want to share with you our fundamental leadership and decision-making approach so that you, our members and clients, may confirm that it is consistent with your own athletic philosophy.

  • We will continue to focus relentlessly on our members and clients.
  • We will continue to make club and program decisions in light of long-term athletic development rather than short-term reactive gains.
  • We will continue to measure the effectiveness of our programs and services analytically and holistically, to jettison those that do not provide acceptable returns, and to step up our investment in those that work best. We will continue to learn from both our successes and our failures.
  • We will make bold rather than timid investment and leadership decisions where we see a sufficient probability of gaining program leadership advantages. Some of those investments will pay off, others will not, and we will have learned another valuable lesson in either case.
  • When forced to choose between optimizing the appearance of our Weightlifting and sport programs, and maximizing the present value of future coaching innovations, we’ll take the innovations.
  • We will continue to be strategically patient and tactically urgent with our approach athletic development, program development, and our club and program growth.

We aren’t so bold as to claim that the above is the “right” approach, but it is ours, and we would be remiss if we weren’t clear in the approach we have taken and will continue to take.

With this foundation, we would like to turn to a review of our business focus, our focus in 2016, and our outlook for the future.

Obsess Over Members

From the beginning, our focus has been on offering our members compelling value. We realized that Fitness and Strength & Conditioning was, and still, a niche. Therefore, we set out to offer members something they simply could not get any other way, and began serving them with comprehensive programming–including a free class program–and coaching services, in training and in competition. We presented our offerings in a straightforward manner, along with a community base that is accessible 365 days a year, 24 hours a day (within reason, of course). We maintained a dogged focus on improving the member experience, and in 2016, enhanced our club offerings. We now offer an instructional class for new and inexperienced individuals interested in Weightlifting. We still continue to offer the class program and offer tailored programming to the majority of our members. We have also started offering online programming and coaching to folks who see the value in being associated with us. Word of mouth remains the most powerful member/client acquisition tool we have, and we are grateful for the trust our members have placed in us. Long-standing membership and word of mouth have combined to make Black & Red a leader in the Weightlifting community.


During 2016, we worked hard to expand our club’s infrastructure and online presence to support the increased demand on coaching, programming:

  • We now have 8 permanent platforms, over 12 sets of bumpers and change plates, upwards of 12 bars each for men and women, and equipment for block work. We also have platforms that can be assembled relatively easily depending on the occasion.
  • We significantly strengthened our staff that meet our bar of excellence.
  • Our space utilization has increased through our on-site members earning our trust and being able to train at times most pertinent to their schedule while maintaining close contact so his/her respective coach can track their progress and understand their athletic needs intimately.

Our Staff

The past year’s success is a product of a talented, smart, hard-working group, and I take pride in being part of this team. Setting the bar high in our approach to bringing staff on has been, and will continue to be, perhaps the single most important element of Black & Red’s success.

It’s not easy to work here. Typically, you can work long, hard, or smart, but with Black & Red, you can’t choose two out of three. We are working to build something important, something that matters to our members, something that we can perhaps tell our grandchildren about. Such things are not meant to be easy. We are incredibly fortunate to have this group of dedicated staff whose sacrifices and passion build Black & Red.

Goals for 2017

We are still in the early stages of learning how to bring new value to our members through increased service offerings or improvements on existing offerings. Our goal remains to continue to solidify and extend our brand and member/client base. This requires sustained investment in systems and infrastructure to support outstanding member convenience, selection, and service while we grow. We are planning to improve our means to remotely coach effectively and efficiently to our product offering, as well as start looking at various youth programs, and over time we believe that other services may be prudent investments. We also believe that there are significant opportunities to better service our clients who are not local, such as the aforementioned systems and infrastructure, and better tailoring the client experience. To be certain, a big part of the challenge for us will lie not in finding new ways to expand our business, but in prioritizing where we invest our time and energy.

We now know vastly more about coaching, online coaching, and other aspects of our sport than when Black & Red was founded but we still have much to learn. Though we are optimistic, we must remain vigilant and maintain a sense of urgency. The challenges and hurdles we will face to make our long-term vision for Black & Red, and the world, a reality are several: aggressive, capable, well-funded competition; considerable growth challenges and execution risk; the risks of service and geographic expansion; and the need for large continuing investments to meet an expanding market opportunity in our sport. However, as we’ve long said, Weightlifting, Fitness, and Strength & Conditioning in general, should prove to be a very large market, and it’s likely that a number of clubs will see significant benefit. We feel good about what we’ve done, and even more excited about what we want to do.

2016 was indeed an incredible year. We are Black & Red are grateful to our members for their patronage and trust, to each other for our hard work, and to our supporters for their support and encouragement.

Mike, Black & Red