It’s always interesting as the end of the year rolls around to hear people say ‘I’m so glad that year is over.’ (often with a lot more swearing). It’s like January 1st magically clears the slate and will make everything better.
But the reality is that the next year will bring with it a new set of challenges. And as we learned this year, many of these challenges are completely outside of our control. What we can control is our perspective of what happened.
Do we just brush everything under the rug and rush on by? Or do we take a moment to see if there was any useful lessons in there? (Hint: It’s the second one.)
So here is my annual review. My opportunity to look at what worked and what didn’t. Where I got lucky and where I could do better. It’s an awesome learning experience and I do it every year.
What went well? And what did I learn?
The Pandemic Pivot
I had a lot of things lined up for this year. In fact, I wrote them down in a post at the beginning of the year. The big thing was a live workshop I had been creating.
Of course, then March hit and we watched the world shut down.
Straight away, I started seeing posts in our Facebook group that bootcamps and studios were being shut down. Others were anxiously watching their local political leaders to see if they were next. Trainers were trying to keep their clients updated but struggling to find good information themselves. We didn’t really know at that point if this was going to be a short term thing that could be solved by just shutting for a few weeks or whether it was long term and was going to need a full business restructure.
In hindsight, of course we didn’t know what to expect, we’d never been through a pandemic before.
At Bootcamp Ideas I realised quickly that in order to keep helping trainers we would need to make some changes to what we did. I didn’t want to just react to everything happening though, I wanted to make sure the steps myself and the business took were out of good leadership, not fear.
I spent most of my time in those first 2 weeks connecting with members of the community and asking them to share what they were working out about running a group fitness business online. They were the ‘troops on the ground’ experiencing this first hand. If I could just act as a conduit to share what they were learning with our larger audience, I felt that would be a valuable thing to do. I ran several livestream interviews in BootCraft which led to a few community Zoom sessions to give trainers their first Zoom experience. (It’s funny to think that at the start of the year most people had never even heard of Zoom, and now we casually talk about ‘Zooming’ someone.) We were also able to quickly gather virtual and social distancing workout ideas to start sharing with trainers.
I’m really proud of the support BootCraft and Bootcamp Ideas was able to give trainers during that time. Many thanks go to our new Community and Content Manager, Theresa Prior, who was just 3 months into the job when this all happened. She was an absolute lifesaver along with long-time behind-the-scenes Crafter, Lizelle Din.
Another group of people who were incredible helpful and generous were the regular contributors to BootCraft, we call them the Master Crafters. Lyndon, Bri, Janice, Lauren, Lori, Liz, Kjell, Kim, Jamie, Roxanne and Nick, thank you very much.
Launched a new ‘pilot’ program
Over the past 2 years I’ve been working on a training and mentoring program for self-employed group fitness trainers. Most of all I want the program to be effective. I want participants to actually finish it and to help them feel more confidant and successful in their business. I also want it to be affordable. Not a course that maxes out someone’s credit card. Of course, I also want it to generate revenue for the business so the pricing part is really tricky.
Towards the end of this year I quietly opened the doors to version 2 of the program to a small group of Crafters. It’s called the BootCraft Fellowship. It’s currently a cross between an online course and a business mastermind.
It has been a really fun experience and the feedback has been very positive. It’s helping the participants shift the way they see business and marketing and that was always my goal. It’s not been without it’s mistakes, but that’s the point of trialing and testing, to find what works and what doesn’t so that I can improve on it.
Version 3.0 will surface this year and I’m excited to share it all with you.
If you’re keen on running something new next year, but you don’t have the idea 100% fully formed yet, consider running a pilot program to test things out.
BootCraft turned 5
There were two big date milestones for my business this year. Bootcamp Ideas turned 10 and BootCraft turned 5.
Unfortunately due to everything happening this year we ran out of time to celebrate Bootcamp Idea’s birthday, so we’ll try to do something big for it’s 11th birthday next year.
For BootCraft’s birthday we ran a special giveaway just for members and launched some new community features which we’ll expand on this year (Workshops and Challenges).
Theresa, who helps me out behind the scenes of BootCraft, surprised me with this tear-inducing message from some of the Master Crafters:
The Trainers Tribe – Back to podcasting
This year marked the return to podcasting after a 3 year hiatus. After raising nearly $10,000 together for bush fire relief (How have I not mentioned that yet? Thanks so much for your support with this!), Dale Sidebottom and I remember how much we loved working together.
From a selfish perspective, this was such a good decision. Having that weekly commitment where I had to show up and record an episode with Dale pulled me out of the deep quagmire of quarantine many times.
What didn’t go well? And what did I learn?
31 Days to a Better Bootcamp Launch – Terrible Timing
Right when our government was starting to think ‘Hm, this COVID-19 thing could be pretty serious…’ I was in the middle my annual launch of 31 Days to a Better Bootcamp.
I remember launching it late one week and then that weekend the Premier announcing the first step of lockdowns here in Victoria. As the launch continued multiple countries began to lockdown more and more. With so much uncertainty going around people just didn’t want to sign up and commit to a new course (and fair enough).
I thought about cutting my losses, thanking those that signed up and then refunding them but then decided that this was actually a great time to run it. Giving trainers a daily task that was inside their control and weekly calls where they could jump on and chat to everyone was exactly what some people needed.
So the course went ahead, just a small tribe completing it, and it ended up having a fantastic side affect… it gave me purpose.
I too benefited from the weekly calls and daily check-ins. Holding the group accountable helped keep me accountable and gave me purpose. So even though financially it didn’t go as well as I would have liked, it ended up being a huge win for me.
Lack of growth in BootCraft
Another area of financial disappointment this year was BootCraft. BootCraft is the main way Bootcamp Ideas makes money (it brings in about 80-90% of gross revenue).
I know I don’t need to tell you that the pandemic brought an incredible amount of instability to the fitness industry. The emails I received from trainers who had to close their doors, in some cases permanently, was heart-wrenching. But along side that were the many trainers who pivoted and found new success in our new world.
Many thanks to all of you who hung on in there and kept supporting us.
I tried a few things this year in order to encourage people to keep trying BootCraft:
- At the start of the pandemic I offered a limited-time discount for new members. I wanted to make the BootCraft community accessible to all trainers as I felt that would be one of the key differences to a trainer closing their doors or finding a way to continue. Not knowing how long the pandemic would last at that point, I limited the discount to just 3 months. About 70 trainers took me up on that but only a handful stayed on after the discount ended.
- Later in the year I ran a 14-day free trial for new members but didn’t notice and increase in sign up rate. It appears people don’t mind paying without trialing BootCraft. That’s good, it means they see the value in it before signing up.
- I’ve also been testing out a 30-day trial for $1. Again, after several months of testing is doesn’t seem to be increasing the rate of sign ups so I’m going to go back to having no trial.
What I learned:
This has just been a challenging year for the industry. And especially towards the end of 2020 I began to feel the effects ripple out towards me.
Instead of offering trials and things to encourage more people to join BootCraft, we’re going to go deeper with some higher end services like the upcoming BootCraft Pro plan.
What went well?
Daily blogging: At the end of the year I challenged myself to blog every single day for 30 days on my personal blog and I’m proud to say I did it! It was really challenging at times. I tried to do it first thing in the morning but sometimes I was writing it quickly before bed. The goal was not to be perfect but consistent. You can read them here.
Improved as a Dad: My parenting skills improved through the many challenges the lockdowns provided. I had to get better at coming up with activities, it made me go outside a lot more and importantly, I still had to find personal time to recharge.
Honed my work schedule: Since having my daughter I’ve struggled to find a good schedule for working at home. Having most of our extra activities shut down helped me carve out a consistent chunk of time every day to show up and do the work.
Played a lot of Minecraft and bonded with my nephew: The Minecraft part could be seen as a negative, but here’s the back story. In 2020 one of my nephew’s was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer. Because of this he spent a good chunk of the year in and out of hospital with a cast on his leg. So… Minecraft. Lots and lots of Minecraft sessions which provided a great mental break with me and a chance to connect with him each week. (He’s now finished his chemo and things are looking very positive.)
What didn’t go well?
Drinking more coffee: I’ve always been very sensitive to coffee which has helped me limit it and take regular breaks from it. But somewhere along the way this year it spiraled into a proper addiction with 2 to 3 coffees per day. Previously this would have turned me into an anxious mess by the end of the day. But, for whatever reason, my tolerance has increased and it seems fine.
Toddler sleep: By the time a child is 2 years old, 95% will be sleeping through the night. Well, my wife and I obviously won the lottery as she’s in the 5% that don’t. This has caused some periods of very tired parents and tension in the Wood household. But it was also a great reminder of accepting things outside my control. Luckily, we remembered Possums & Co and we were able to get some help through them. Our daughter still wakes up, but settles quickly and bed times are now a million times easier.
Things that I loved this year
Here are a few tools, shows and other things that I really enjoyed this year:
Podcast: Unlocking Us
Blog: Seth’s Blog
TV Show: The Expanse
Fiction Book: A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie
Non-Fiction Book: Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport
Digital Tool: Notion
Usually around this point in the review I share a few things that you can expect this year. But the last few years, especially last year, has taught me that I always expect to do way too much. Instead this year I’m going to leave you with a few intentions I have for this year:
- Connection and Creativity are my words for the year. So far, I’m thinking this will show up in teaching and coaching more. But that may change.
- Forming a team around Bootcamp Ideas. Having Theresa help me last year showed me how important having new points of view and support is. My ego wants to be a one-man-show but it’s really limiting the potential of Bootcamp Ideas. I’d love to add to our team this year, however that looks.
- Letting go of old cruches. The underlying stress and anxiety last year created a good chance to see what coping strategies and habits are my go-to. I would like to just gently let go of some of those and embrace the things that serve me and those around me more.
And that’s it!
2020 was definitely the hardest year for me to review out of all of my yearly reviews so far. I mean it’s already February and I’m only just publishing it! But as I say every year, I’m really glad I did do it. It helped show me some blind spots and patterns and that has made working out what I want to do this year so much easier.
Do you do Review too?
If you’d like to do your own review of 2020 and work out what projects you should work on this year, join us for the 21 Day Yearly Planning challenge here on Bootcamp Ideas starting next week.
You’ll get 1 short written/audio (your choice) lesson every 3-4 days and at the end you’ll know exactly what’s most important for you to work on this month.
Kyle Wood created Bootcamp Ideas in 2010 when he was hunting around on the internet for workout ideas. He ran a successful bootcamp in Victoria, Australia and spends his spare time managing this site, adventuring (or lazying) with his wife and find new ways to make bootcamps even better.