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Cross-Train the Body — Cross-Collaborate the Brand


The C word, culture, is of great significance. It is the heartbeat of our fitness brands, why people come to work (and workout) with us. It’s the driving force of our company’s existence and the perfect concoction that allows for collaboration across all departments to move us forward as change agents. Culture is the foundation that allows us to inspire and create transformation through fitness and wellness that fuels both the body and mind of our team and fanbase.

Creating a strong culture with a simple message is often overlooked by the day-to-day tasks of running a business. Departments often get siloed, hindering communication and cooperation. We often see teams working separately in their own divisions with little cross-functional collaboration or crossing over party lines.

We cross-train in our workouts, in the gyms we own and operate. We intrinsically know doing the same exercise every day in one small corner of the gym will benefit a small part of our body, it may make us experts of that exercise, and we’ll most likely see results in one or two targeted muscles, but it won’t benefit our whole body of work. Why shouldn’t we apply that rule to the work culture of our corporation?

Cross-functional collaboration is, as defined by Google, when a group of people with different functional expertise “come together to work toward a common goal. In many cases, the team is simply a group of people from different departments across a business working on solving a specific problem.” 

Just like doing the same workout day after day and only focusing on a few muscles will give you limited results, only staying in your department doing your job will be beneficial in a limited, task-oriented way. 

But by crossing over and becoming cross-functional collaborators, you will catapult yourself, your team and your entire company’s ecosystem to the next level. You will become booming innovators, create a greater culture and continuously crush your competition.

Here are some benefits of cross-team collaboration:

  • Creativity and innovation 
  • Better insight
  • Increased management skills
  • Ownership and leadership
  • Team spirit 
  • Open-mindedness
  • Authentic work relationships 
  • Respect for others’ opinions
  • Trust in others’ ideas
  • Enthusiasm and enjoyment

As we can learn from each other as collaborators, getting educated outside the four walls is the one thing that shouldn’t be pushed down the to-do list. It needs to be intermittently pinned to the top of our tasks. Learning helps fuel and define why we do what we do, what brought us here in the first place, and how we are going to keep creating our differentiator today and tomorrow with the same level of pep as when we started.

So who’s up for a field trip? Here are a few types of education we can offer our teams:

  • Visit fitness conferences and tradeshows.
  • Tour health clubs and boutique studios in neighboring cities and towns to see what they’re doing that is fresh and unique.
  • Take a trip to New York City to see what’s happening in fitness and wellness, recovery, medical fitness and technology.
    • Everything and anything fitness and wellness-related can be found in NYC — consider it a large, urban expo floor.
  • Explore certifications and continuing education in business, marketing, group fitness, personal training, technology, social media and branding.
  • Research what other businesses outside the fitness space are doing, what their best practices are, how they create culture, and how they message their brand, vision and philosophy.
  • Discover and learn how technology can elevate your business and its offer. Learn how artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and data science can transform your business. Bring in a speaker and do monthly forums where we learn about something new.
  • Take the team out of the office for a fun team-building field trip or even volunteer as a team to give back — which can be rewarding for all. Look for both mental and physical team challenges to create fellowship and fun.

As a leader of a fitness brand, the more your team learns on their own (outside the office or gym) via podcasts, books and e-courses, the more valuable they become. Self-study and development is key to transformation and modernization. Let them know your top pick and help create beneficial banter around the Keurig.

Here are a few fitness and non-fitness books, podcasts and e-courses I, and others in my circle, recommend for business, fitness, marketing, technology and more:


  • “Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World” by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall
  • “Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries” by Safi Bahcall
  • “Lean Business Planning: Get What You Want From Your Business” by Tim Berry
  • “Financial Intelligence: A Manager’s Guide to Knowing What the Numbers Really Mean” by Karen Berman
  • “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman
  • “Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t” by Simon Sinek
  • “The First Time Manager” by Loren B. Balker
  • “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World” by Cal Newport  
  • “Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges” by Amy Cuddy
  • “Possible Minds, 25 ways of looking at AI” by John Brockman 
  • “Building a Story Brand” by Donald Miller
  • “Rocket Fuel” by Gino Wickman and Mark Winters 
  • “The Personal MBA” by Josh Kaufman 
  • “Contagious, Why Things Catch On” by Jonah Berger
  • “How to Have a Good Day” by Caroline Webb
  • “Originals” by Adam Grant
  • “Top of Mind” by John Hall 
  • “Give and Take” by Adam Grant
  • “Essentialism” by Greg McKeown
  • “Pitch Anything” by Oren Klaff
  • “The One Thing” by Gary Keller
  • “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek


Fitness and wellness:

  • Fitness Business Podcast
  • Fitness Career Mastery
  • The Rich Roll Podcast
  • Halo Talks
  • Ben Greenfield Fitness
  • The Fitness Blitz Podcast
  • All About Fitness
  • Todd Durkin IMPACT show
  • Bullet Proof Radio with Dave Asprey

Marketing podcasts:

  • Marketing Geeks
  • Social Media Marketing with Michael Stelzner
  • Marketing School — Digital Marketing
  • Marketing Over Coffee
  • Online Marketing Made Easy with Amy Porterfield


  • The Tim Ferriss Show
  • Seth Godin’s Startup School
  • Rise Podcast with Rachel Hollis
  • The $100 MBA Show


  • Entrepreneurs on Fire
  • Smart Passive Income 
  • Mixergy Startup Stories


Ann Marie Barbour

Ann Marie Barbour is the founder of BeWell Advisory, helping fitness brands level-up their service/product offer with streamlined systems and effective brand messaging across all media channels. You can contact her at annmarie@bewelladvisory.com or visit bewelladvisory.com.

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