Lessons From The Best: The Movement Minneapolis

By June 24, 2016Blog

I’m pretty excited to say that I had the honour of working out at one of Men’s Health’s “Top 30 Gyms in America” a few weeks back.

My girlfriend and I decided to check out the space when we were down there to watch some baseball. I contacted fitness friend Dave Dellanave, owner of the gym and Mark Schneider, one of my speakers at this fall’s Prairie Movement Workshop, and both were thrilled to have us join their members for a Saturday lift.

The moment we walked in the door, it was evident why the gym was so successful. The entire experience is what sets them apart, not to mention having my ass handed to me worse than I have in months (thanks, Mark). Not only can the following paragraphs inspire people like myself, but these are lessons that can be applied by anyone in almost any field.

Lesson 1: It’s ALL About Community

See that last paragraph in the Instagram snapshot above? Yeah, that had nothing to do with the Men’s Health article, but the people at the Movement Minneapolis know all too well that it’s the community that takes them to the next level.

When you enter the front door, you actually can’t even see the gym. There’s an area to hang our coats and store your shoes and a small “store” with merchandise, etc. Then there is a huge open space with 2 couches, a table, a TV and a fridge free waters and space to store lunches and shakes.

After the workout, I asked Mark why they used the space that way and if he felt it was a waste of “money making space”. His response was that if you take a long term approach, that “wasted” space has actually allowed them to make MORE money than if they didn’t have it AND he said that that’s the one non-negotiable that he wants to keep even if they decide to rework the layout.

Not only does something like that allow people to chill out before and after their workouts, but it allows them to chill out TOGETHER. We always talk about creating relationships and building community but don’t realize that it’s pretty hard to strike up a conversation with another client when you can’t even catch a breath! The magic of creating community happens before and after class. Just ask the Women’s Only Training Group they host on Friday nights, complete with post-workout red wine.

Now there’s a winning idea.

Lesson 2: Less is More

I actually found this to be true in two instances while at the Movement Minneapolis. First, when you enter the gym, you see a lot of open space and seemingly not a lot of equipment. If you were to compare this to a commercial gym, it would look barren. I brought this up with Mark, and once again, he made a great point. He said he’d actually like less equipment and more space. His reasoning was that you can get creative with less equipment, people get better at using that equipment and moving their own body around in space and you cannot replace open floor space. It is incredibly valuable and allows for so many options.

Second, and I will build on this point in Lesson 3, the movements we used were by no means “advanced”. They built on the basic movement patterns and principles and they creatively exposed weaknesses in each of those patterns. For example, he had us do a “Goblet Kneel to Stand” where we started kneeling with a kettlebell in the goblet position and got up into a squat hold one leg at a time. Simple, easy to coach, easy to regress or progress and hard as hell! My clients are now hating me for it.

Simply put, it’s clear to me now that you don’t need anything fancy to have success anywhere in life. There is a reason that “the basics” have been the basics for a very long time. They work. Every time. Keep it simple and get really, really good at finding creative ways to reach the same goals.

Lesson 3: Lay a Strong Foundation

Mark Schneider barely had to do any work with his clients during our training session.

No, he wasn’t being lazy at all. He actually spent a lot of time with my girlfriend who has had knee and back injuries in the past.

The key takeaway is that the coaches at the gym had taken the time when members joined to ensure they moved almost perfectly. Mark knew each client’s particular hang-ups and was able to adjust and coach as needed. Otherwise, he was there to facilitate the session and ensure we all got crushed – safely.

I don’t think you can even put a value on this.

Not only can they get more people in the gym at once and feel good about each client’s safety, they can continue to create value for every person on the floor by not having to take all their attention to 1 or 2 clients.

Separate the new folks and allow them to learn the foundation with ample assistance. Then they can go into more of a group environment and have the freedom to explore and learn without someone breathing down their neck.

Lesson 4: Stay Humble

Or don’t. Either way

Huge thank you to Dave and Mark for allowing me to write this piece. I hope I can create some value for you like they did for me. If not, send them a message and head down for a visit!

Yours in Fitness and Business,


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Gavin McHale

Author Gavin McHale

Online training and nutrition coach, retired semi-pro hockey goalie, and ex-skinny kid. Currently a beer league superstar, and lover of lifting heavy things, Gavin will help you reclaim that athletic, dead sexy body, and shrink your clothing budget. Because tarps are always optional.

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