Sean Sweeney’s “The Cowboy Way” Highlights Community Support and Quality of Life

December 14, 2022 by
Photo Credit: The Cowboy Way
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Sean Sweeney officially launched his programming, The Cowboy Way, in January 2020. In the nearly three years since the debut, he has grown the community while continuously finding ways to support its members. 

Remind me: One of the goals of The Cowboy Way is to provide quality programming and help community members improve their quality of life. Another is to support those that don’t necessarily have the funds to cover equipment purchases or travel to competitions.  

  • Sweeney has taken 20% of the revenue and put it into a special fund. He has used that money and 100% of the funds donated through the monthly donation subscription to help provide equipment, ranging from weight plates to Rogue Echo Bikes. Sweeney also helped one member make the trip to a competition. 

“One of our athletes qualified for [The Fittest Experience] last year,” Sweeney said. “She lives in Idaho, and obviously, that’s in Texas. She qualified and she didn’t really didn’t know that she was going to qualify. She qualified in the RX’d division. 

“And then once she qualified – she was a younger athlete that was working as a nurse and was just brand new in the field. And she didn’t have the funds to be able to get there. She was like, ‘F***, I’m qualified, but I’m not going to be able to go there.’ I bought her a plane ticket, and we got her there.”

The transportation to a CrossFit competition is only one example of The Cowboy Way supporting its members. Sweeney has also sent numerous members heart rate monitors. 

  • This seems like a smaller purchase on paper, but heart rate work is a key part of the programming. Purchasing the monitors for the members took away some of the frustration of trying to track them down or fitting in the extra expense. 
  • Those that live in the Fallon, NV, area have access to another perk. They can take part in the weekly training days. These community members can get hands-on coaching from Sweeney on Saturdays, free of charge. 

Key partnerships: The Cowboy Way has been around for multiple years, and there is a dedicated group of members that have used it to hit PRs and make major strides. This is great progress, but Sweeney continues to play the long game while making strategic moves for the future. 

  • Sweeney has plans to grow the program and its community. One way is bringing in a dedicated media person that can film behind-the-scenes videos and tutorials while the CrossFit Games veteran focuses on coaching. 
  • Sweeney knows that every online program needs an online presence. Starting on January 1, 2023, he will be able to better address this without sacrificing quality in other areas. 
  • Another method for growth is partnering with some gym owners around the world. Sweeney has provided his programming to two different affiliates, including one in South Africa, but he has not taken the standard approach.

“So actually, what I’ve done with these guys is I’ve sent them the program to the gym, the full program for free,” Sweeney said. “And the idea is that they do exactly what we do at Powerstroke, they run the base program, the bones of it. 

“And then the athletes — exactly like we do here – the athletes that want to have the access to additional work, then those guys can download and join The Cowboy Way and be in that community. So then as a gym owner, there’s no costs and they’re not extorting members and saying, ‘Hey, you’ve got to pay this extra money for the programming.’ It’s all free to them.”

A unique approach: Providing programming to multiple affiliates free of charge is unheard of in CrossFit. This goes doubly so for using a portion of the membership fees to support the community. 

  • Sweeney’s unique approach extends to how he communicates with his members. He doesn’t have a PR person that serves as a go-between, nor does he use robotic language when providing coaching cues. 
  • Whether Sweeney is writing programming notes or filming videos, he lets his personality shine through. He will be direct about which workouts “will suck,” and he will likely make obscene comments while providing guidance. He will also make himself directly available to the community members.

“So everybody who signs up, I shoot them a message with videos of, ‘Hey, this is the program, this is what you can expect, this is how you know what you should prioritize, this is how to view your training. If you have any questions, if you need any help with figuring things out, here’s my personal cell phone number. Feel free to reach out through the app or on there.’” 

“So every single person has my cell phone number, every single person has an open door policy in our brick and mortar gym. So they can come and train with us, free of charge, any time. So no holds barred there.”

What’s next: Sweeney has some key partnerships in place, and he has a new media person joining the fold in January. So what is next for The Cowboy Way? The main thing is working directly with the community members and delivering unique experiences. 

Sweeney is going to hold some “camps” in 2023 where members of the program can head to Nevada. They will have lodging at his house courtesy of RV hookups that will be in place, and they won’t have to pay for a rental car. They can simply focus on fitness and fun for a few days while trying to make improvements. There isn’t a set number of these camps, but the first one will take place prior to the 2023 CrossFit Open.

  • Sweeney recently held a test run of this camp concept. Two of the athletes headed to Nevada and spent a full day with Sweeney. They took part in two separate two-hour sessions at the gym where they worked on anything they wanted. The day also featured a lengthy discussion of macros, nutrition, meal prepping, and nutrient timing. 
  • Once the work was complete, Sweeney showed off his infinite backyard. He took the two attendees out on BLM land in his side-by-side, and he showed them the desert sunset. 

“So, that concept – and we documented it. Our media guy was with us. It was honestly f****** awesome,” Sweeney said. “And so now, that is something that I’m going to start really – coming up after this first of the year here – pushing out to try to bring athletes or… athletes, people, it doesn’t matter. I mean, I can work with, I can effectively help people who are new to fitness and are just really enthusiastic about it and want to spend some time getting eyes on them and progressing.”

“They’re just novice athletes. That is my bread and butter. I love working with novice athletes and everyday people. That’s the extreme majority of our population. And then I’ve been a pretty top-level athlete for some time too, so I can also work with… I love working with younger athletes that are up and coming that are really hungry and chomping at the bit to get to that next level.”

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