Jun 13, 2024

Zipper Podcast Episode 5: Learnings from My Gym's 1-Year Anniversary

Nick Countryman, Owner of Joint Flow, shares his story of becoming a fitness entrepreneur and lessons learned from his first year.

Zipper Podcast Episode 5: Learnings from My Gym's 1-Year Anniversary


Nick Countryman, owner of Joint Flow, shares his journey of becoming a fitness entrepreneur and the unique training approach of FRC (Functional Range Conditioning). He discusses the challenges, successes, and lessons learned in his first year of business, offering valuable insights for aspiring fitness entrepreneurs.


  • The journey of becoming a fitness entrepreneur involves overcoming challenges and learning from both successes and failures.
  • FRC (Functional Range Conditioning) is a unique training approach that focuses on conditioning joint capsules for strength, responsiveness, and resilience to external forces.
  • Community building and engagement are essential for the success of a fitness business, with classes serving as a means of bringing people in at a lower commitment level.
  • Balancing personal training and classes can help solidify the community and provide opportunities to infuse new philosophies into the training approach.
  • The motivation to keep going as an entrepreneur often comes from the love of the work and the positive impact it has on clients, reinforcing the value of the journey.


Chris Alto (00:02.154)
How's it going? This is Chris with the Zipper Podcast. Today we have owner of Joint Flow, Nick Countryman on the podcast today. Nick, thanks for joining us.

Nick Countryman (00:10.72)
It's a pleasure to be here.

Chris Alto (00:12.49)
Amazing. Well, can you tell us a little bit about Joint Flow and the business and then we can dive into some other questions from there?

Nick Countryman (00:20.928)
Yeah, yeah, I started around five years prior to opening Joint Flow, working for myself. My name's Nick Countryman, so it's Countryman Fitness. During that time, I rented studio space from another studio. And after a certain point down the road, I just met with a series of opportunities, pointing me in the direction of opening my own space. So I already had...

I would say half capacity of clients rolling into opening, which was, I mean, best case scenario. So it's always been a dream of mine that I've jumped on it.

Chris Alto (00:58.986)
Amazing, cool. And so you just celebrated your one year anniversary, which is super exciting of your own location. So you tell us a bit more about like Joint Flow. You guys have a pretty specific type of training called FRC. Yeah, tell us a little bit about that.

Nick Countryman (01:15.104)
Yes. Okay, so this is probably the biggest question, so buckle up. But FRC stands for functional range conditioning, and I think that the name is its own definition. So we condition our joints' usable ranges of motion. I want to point out that a joint is not simply just skeletal. Bones connect to tendons, connect to muscle, which are all innervated and weaved together to create

what we call a joint capsule. So when we seek to condition that joint capsule, this by definition accounts for all of those tissues and trains them for strength, responsiveness and resilience to external forces. So FRC can be leveraged to train a body to handle normal life. We would call this rehab, but it can also be leveraged to maximize athletic performance. And we would call this training. So.

I would argue that it's all the same thing just applied within different contexts.

Chris Alto (02:19.818)
It's a fairly new type of training, right? I think it was founded in 2017. Is that right?

Nick Countryman (02:25.504)
I think it was before that. Partially, yeah, I want to say like, I don't know, tens or something, but yeah, it is relatively new and I'm very passionate about it. I've seen it work. Absolute wonders.

Chris Alto (02:27.77)
Okay. You know what to.

Chris Alto (02:37.706)

So how did you get into that? Because I know yourself, you're a former lacrosse player, martial artist, you do all sorts of cool stuff. What made you want to become a fitness entrepreneur?

Nick Countryman (02:51.936)
A lot of it was happenstance. So I through college, I started training at a kickboxing gym and through my athletic past, I already had just a huge list of injuries that I didn't necessarily tend to properly. So, you know, by 19 years old, my body hurt. I was teaching people how to throw kicks and punches and then they asked, why do my hips hurt? And I would say, I said, I said, I said, I said, I said, I said, I said, I said, I said, I said, I said, I said, I said, I said, I said, I said, I said, I said, I said, I said, I said, I said, I said, I said, I said, I said, I said, I said, I said, I said, I said, I said, I said, I said, I said, I said, I said, I said, I said, I said, I said, I said, I said, I said, I said, I

I was studying human physiology at the time, so I tried my best to apply that knowledge, but I actually had a mentor who was exposed to the FRC world. Seeing me really try my best there and really took a chance, exposed me to FRC and mentored me through my introduction phase. And I'm very grateful for that. But it was through that experience at the kickboxing gym that I worked at that I became interested.

And I started with addressing my own issues and from then the work had expanded.

Chris Alto (03:57.354)
Cool. So you graduated and then you started working at other gyms, right? And before opening your own brick and mortar. So can you tell us a little bit about that story and how you decided to make that transition to becoming your own boss?

Nick Countryman (04:12.992)
It was an interesting story. So the timeline is through college, I was around a sophomore studying at CU for human physiology and I was working at that kickboxing gym.

but through COVID around my junior year, that gym had closed and I had been getting into FRC. So I threw a couple of connections, found a gym that was willing to rent space out for me. And so I had a couple of clients from that kickboxing gym that had closed that had nowhere to go, asked if I wanted to train and I did. And...

From then I had I worked at one gym and then that gym had closed because of COVID too. So then I bounced over to a studio owned by two companies, a physical therapy clinic and a I would say functional training. They're functional trainers who also works there and the functional trainers allowed me to rent space from them when they weren't there and that

just logistically worked with school and all of that fueled itself. So I was studying human phys and that fueled my interest for FRC, which fueled my interest for entrepreneurship, which also made me want to study harder and they just snowballed. So to answer the question too, yeah, it was about a year, it was about a year after I had graduated and I was building up my client base.

Chris Alto (05:46.698)
So yeah.

Nick Countryman (05:56.832)
And because of some leasing turnover with those two companies working out of that space, I was effectively kicked out. So I it was it was kind. I mean, everyone was like very kosher and above board about it. So I say that, you know, tongue in cheek. But it was an excellent opportunity because I also had the opportunity to purchase all of the equipment from that space at.

a fraction of retail value, which was just the one silver platter opportunity that I feel like I would get. So I jumped on that immediately and opened up my own space. So the stars aligned.

Chris Alto (06:39.178)
Yeah, very cool. And so to get your first, so you opened and then to get your first cohort of clients, for those mostly folks who you'd already worked with, so you had your relationships, then you moved them over, is that how that process worked?

Nick Countryman (06:52.768)
Absolutely. Yeah, primarily. And then first organic clients that came after Joint Flow's opening were through classes at first, and then word of mouth had grown for personal clients as well.

Chris Alto (07:11.178)
And so how do you think about classes, going to do classes, you have personal training. How do you think about balancing those two together and any advice for anybody else who might be considering opening a gym around how to like think about their different products and services that they offer?

Nick Countryman (07:27.872)

I've found that classes are a really good means of bringing people in at a lower commitment. The barrier to entry is a lot lower, so there's less of a screening process. So for my personal work, of course, there's a large screening process. It takes a little bit to figure out the machine that I'm working with. And from then, you know, progressions are really refined.

Chris Alto (07:36.81)

Nick Countryman (07:54.272)
However, with classes, you could take people through the same progressions and kind of lower the bar to the median. And that's a great opportunity to get people on board with your philosophies if you're trying to infuse anything new into your classes. So.

Chris Alto (08:01.546)

Chris Alto (08:12.938)
Makes a lot of sense. So it's almost to your point, it's a lower barrier of entry. So someone that doesn't have to book a, you know, X dollar personal training session that can come in with a friend. And then from there, they get to know you a little bit, get to learn more about the philosophy and then helps with conversion.

Nick Countryman (08:27.072)
Indeed, and classes solidify community. So I found that people are lingering longer after a year of going to classes, which I find to be a great thing. I want people to be talking and hanging out and excited about the work and the benefit that they find in it. So I think that classes really open the doors to expanding your community.

Chris Alto (08:32.586)

Chris Alto (08:50.41)
Have you found any other strategies to be helpful around the community side to get people to engage with each other and to, you know, to make friends they might otherwise not have met outside of the class or outside of the facility?

Nick Countryman (09:08.736)
My mind already wandered. Can you repeat that question?

Chris Alto (09:11.306)
Yeah, have you found any specific strategies or tactics that have been effective for building community in the facility?

Nick Countryman (09:21.368)
Yeah, yeah, I find that finding common goals. So a lot of people have their unique flavor of a common goal. But if you find that common goal and really start to reinforce that outside of the gym, for instance, I have a postural awareness group chat where I'll just send the word posture with the exclamation mark, or even a picture of me.

Chris Alto (09:42.09)

Chris Alto (09:47.21)
Ha ha.

Nick Countryman (09:49.536)
looking very exaggerated with my posture to remind them of all of the nuance and What that has done is is reinforced Really just thinking about these things, you know outside of the gym There's you know, if you're in the gym for an hour a day there's still 23 hours of the day where you're not training and reinforcing proper posture so a little bit goes a long way with

Chris Alto (10:16.618)
Very cool. And so coming up on your one year mark, what have been some lessons that you've learned or maybe some things that you would change if you could go back in time and start fresh?

Nick Countryman (10:31.04)
It sounds cliche to say, but it would be difficult to say if there's anything I would have changed just because even the failures that I've had teach me just as much as the successes. And so I'll hold strong with that answer and say that this is such a multifaceted process that, you know, if I were to go back in time and unlearn lessons, I would feel like that would be

detrimental, almost more so than the mistake itself, if that makes sense.

Chris Alto (11:05.962)
Yeah, that's a theme that I hear a lot. It's just, you gotta go do it and you gotta figure it out after you make the mistakes versus having, you're hesitating, being like, this has to be perfect before I go and do it, you know?

Nick Countryman (11:17.696)
Yeah, if there's any advice I could give it would be It's not necessarily like your decisions don't matter but making a decision matters more than the quality of the decision like if you execute and roll with it with Purity in your hearts and the full intent to make it the best You know product or whatever it is you seek out to do then

I guess the barrier to entry is making the decision in the first place. So.

Chris Alto (11:49.578)
just being action oriented and just going and doing it. Yeah, I think that makes a ton of sense.

Nick Countryman (11:55.136)
Yeah, and if you move forwards with good intent, then the chances are you're probably not going to make a mistake so egregious that you can't figure it out. But again, I'm only a year in, so I'm still learning these lessons. It's easier to say than to live.

Chris Alto (12:15.146)

Chris Alto (12:18.602)
Sure. Cool. Being an entrepreneur is hard. So what motivates you to keep going when things might be getting a little bit tough?

Nick Countryman (12:34.08)
I don't know if this is a good strategy, but I've separated my practice, the work that I do with people from the business side and compliance and all of that structure. And I love the work, the practice so much. I think it's so cool that the difficulties I've faced have always seemed much smaller than the positive things that I feel.

one of my clients come to me and they tell me examples in their life where the concepts I teach were applied. For example, I had a woman that I work with taking her son to baseball practice and I mean it seems so circumstantial but there was like a weird ramp and she was carrying a bag and then you know fell backwards but then was able to just...

tumble her way through it and not hurt herself at all. And so I teach that that is injury prevention, the ability to roll with things because, you know, we want to be resilient enough to handle the external forces that life can apply. Falling on a weird ramp with a baseball bag included. And so it's for her to come back to me and say, my God, I get it. It works.

Chris Alto (13:49.13)
I don't know.

Nick Countryman (13:57.28)
Like I know all the ankle drills that we did to make this something that didn't hurt me. And those little nuggets of excitement have absolutely made it all worth it.

Chris Alto (13:59.978)
Ha ha.

Chris Alto (14:10.762)
So great, amazing. Cool. Well, any last piece of advice you might have for folks who might be early on in their fitness entrepreneurship journey, their gym ownership journey, longevity entrepreneurship journey, things that you recommend to think about?

Nick Countryman (14:31.968)
say welcome. It's the best industry, I think. I would also say it can be an intimidating space, but I truly have come to believe that it's only just because there's a lot of really excited people about their work. And so as long as you stay excited and continue to strive for that excitement and experimentation, there's no reason to be intimidated and just put your stuff out there.

Chris Alto (14:35.082)

Chris Alto (15:00.074)
Amazing. Cool. Well, Nick Countryman, owner of Joyflow, where can folks find more information about you and FRC and some of the things that you help other folks with?

Nick Countryman (15:09.472)
So Facebook, Instagram, jointflow .co is my handle. That's my professional. You can follow me at Nick Countryman as well on Instagram if you want to follow my personal fitness endeavors. Also, www .jointflow .co is kind of my main body of work if you want to see blog posts or just check out the happenings of the local business itself.

Chris Alto (15:35.434)
And he has a lot of really cool, quick plug for Nick. He's looked a lot of really cool virtual programs as well for longevity and for, you know, staying fit and healthy as you continue to age or you want to improve your athletic performance. So.

Nick Countryman (15:48.96)
Thank you for adding that, Chris. Yes, absolutely. You can find that on the website. I have some plans to really work on that in the future as well. So I wish we should have another conversation in the near future about that, particularly if you're open to it.

Chris Alto (15:50.346)

Chris Alto (16:06.89)
Definitely. All right. Well, Nick, thanks for sharing a little bit about your endeavors as an entrepreneur and founding Joint Flow and your first year in business. Congrats again and we'll chat with you soon. All right. All right. Talk to you later. Bye.

Nick Countryman (16:20.064)
Thanks, Chris. Appreciate you having me on.

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