A lot of people have dreams of owning a CrossFit gym. From the outside it looks pretty simple. Find a spot, get some equipment, make up some workouts, and coach! I wish it was that simple. I opened my gym a little over a year ago, and although its been an amazing journey, it hasn’t come as easy as I had thought it would be. Here is a list of things I have learned over the last year.
1. It’s a lot of Work
I routinely put in 12–14 hour days. I get to the gym at 5:45 am every morning and I’m there until almost 8 o’clock every night. The gym is closed from 11–4:30, during which I get to do all of the businessy stuff that needs to be taken care of, i.e. invoicing, paying bills, updating website, and social media stuff. Coaching/Programming is the fun part, but there are a few things that suck, like chasing after people when their auto bill gets declined. They’re like Ninjas!
2. Not everyone cares about CrossFit as much as you do
When I first started CrossFit I was, and still am, crazy about it. It’s pretty much all I thought about all of the time, and I wished I could do it all day. When members started to join, I anticipated that they would all have the same enthusiasm that I did. While the majority of my members share the same love for it as I do, there are still a few that just go through the motions. At first it was hard not to get frustrated with them, but after time I learned that some people are there just for a decent workout, and to hang out, and that’s ok! They’ll never buy Nano’s, or shoes that you can only lift in. They’re fine with working out in their running shoes. Makes me crazy, but hey, who am I to judge?
3. You get to do a lot of CrossFit and it’s FREE!
4. It’s really hard to take rest days
Rest days are super important to any athlete, especially CrossFitter’s. When you practically live at the gym, it becomes next to impossible to take a day off. The competitive nature of CrossFit makes you always think, “I could beat that time” ,or “I can lift more than that”. It takes a lot of ego checking to be able to say that maybe today is a good day to take off. I definitely struggle with this one.
5. It really is like a Family
My members really are like family members. I’ve always been terrible with names, but I know each and every one of my members by name, and a lot more than just that. I know their occupations, I’ve met their spouses and kids. I know more things about them than I know about a lot of my own friends. We hang out. We go to each others kids birthday parties. We go to each others businesses. We Support each other!
6. Cleaning toilets sucks
Members are people, and they pee, and poop, just like anyone else. The difference is that here I get to clean up after them. I have seen, and smelled, AND seen things that I wish I never had, but hey, where all human right?? Everybody poops!
7. It costs more than you think to get going
The gym now just started turning a profit which is a great thing. The initial investment, and the monthly overhead was a lot higher than anticipated. It’s easy for members to do the math and say well he must be raking in the dough, but rent is expensive, and so is paying coaches, and certs, and affiliate fees, and insurance. Even that toilet paper you all use to wipe your butts starts to add up!
8. You have to market…a lot
Remember that movie, Field of Dreams where Kevin Costner hears the voice that tells him if he builds it they will come. Then he builds the baseball field, and all the old-time players come out and play baseball, and then all of the people come and watch them play old-timer baseball, and he saves the family farm? Ya, it’s totally not like that. I’d say 80% or more of my members had no idea what CrossFit really was before they started at my gym. It took a lot of work and time to get the word out there. From giving the first 30 days for free, to hiring kids to swing signs around, to giving away free shirts, and hoodies. Anything to get the name out there. Eventually word of mouth takes over, and friends bring friends and so on. But initially you need that push, and you have to get the word out there that you exist.
9. It’s absolutely the best job ever
At the end of the day, I really do love what I do. I am extremely blessed to be able to make a good living by helping people make themselves better. At times I feel like a professional athlete, I’m getting paid to do, and teach a sport that I absolutely love. The only thing missing is the million dollar contract and the endorsements, and that’s ok! But to be able to say that when you wake up, you can’t wait to get into work is a special thing, and I couldn’t be more grateful for that.