Marcus Filly: How the six-time CrossFit Games athlete has always relied on OPEX Fitness

Marcus Filly

Marcus Filly is arguably best known first for being a perennial CrossFit Games athlete, and second for his Functional Bodybuilding brand. Like all successful elite athletes and business owners, he hasn’t achieved his accolades solo. Filly credits much of his success to OPEX Fitness.

His story is a familiar one: Filly discovered the Sport of Fitness and fell in love.

“I found CrossFit in 2009 and loved it, and immediately started investigating everything I could find online about it at the time,” said Filly, the owner of OPEX Revival in San Rafael, California.

“I caught wind of who James (Fitzgerald) was and listened to a lot of his interviews. What he had to say about training and life really resonated with me. There was just something about how he spoke when he was on camera, something about the way he talked about the journey of being an athlete and a coach—how it’s bigger than just being about sets and reps,” said 34-year-old Filly, now a father of two.

He added: “After that, I sought out every opportunity to get acquainted with him.”

Pretty soon, Fitzgerald became Filly’s personal coach, a role he kept for three years. Fitzgerald also programmed for Filly’s affiliate team that competed at the CrossFit Games. Today, Filly continues to work with an OPEX Coach, only now the buck has been passed to the highly esteemed Mike Lee.

As he was finding his way as a top-level athlete and affiliate owner, Filly recognized the need for individual program design. It’s what worked for him, and it’s what he believed would work best for everyone else as well. So he sold his CrossFit affiliate in 2016 and opened OPEX Revival in 2018.

“(Individual program design) was what I was passionate about. It’s what I was following myself, and I saw the value in having a guided personal approach. I didn’t want to keep selling the one-size-fits-all approach through a group class anymore,” Filly said.

He added: “There were so many shortcomings in that group model. I found myself answering the same five or six questions over and over again, and kept seeing the same five or six failures from clients. Things like, ‘I keep getting hurt,’ or, ‘this isn’t working for me,’ or, “I don’t like this programming.’ We kept trying to come up with short term Band-Aid solutions, but there was no long-term plan (in the group model).”

Filly, who works with clients remotely via his Revival Strength and Functional Bodybuilding businesses, also has a group of mostly lifestyle clients who train on-site at OPEX Revival. He said he’s offering a better service today than the group fitness model could ever deliver.

“I absolutely think we’re better able to serve our clients. It comes with its own set of challenges, but we welcome those challenges because we have the tools to help them, versus trying to paint a pretty picture of a really messed up system,” Filly said.

Many of these tools he learned through OPEX education—through the OPEX Coaching Certificate Program (CCP) and the OPEX Gyms License Program.

“For me, the CCP was my first introduction to having thoughtful coaching structure. I didn’t have a system for assessment before that. I was a group fitness coach and just guided people through a workout, so learning about assessment was essential to me,” he said. “That, and having structure and an approach to program design were absolutely key.”

Having these systems in place today means Filly spends just a few hours a week coaching. On top of this, he said he spends about 20 percent of his time on programming for his 20 clients, and the rest of the time—50 to 60 percent of his time, he said—working on business development.

“When I was an affiliate owner, I spent way more time coaching so there wasn’t much time left to work on the business. It’s kind of an inverse relationship now,” Filly explained.

As a result, he also has more time to spend mentoring and developing his four on-site coaches to help them grow their book of clients and have successful careers in the fitness industry. This is the key to growing a successful business, he said.

“I think for people who want to be successful business owners, they need a model or a system that works in the long term for the business, the client, and the coaches, and this model has the best chance of being successful.”

Differentiate yourself from the typical fitness coach with the same thoughtful coaching structure Filly praised and apply for the OPEX Coaching Certificate Program (CCP), today.

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