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Running a CrossFit Facility Tips and guidance on how to open and operate a CrossFit gym.

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Old 07-25-2010, 12:08 PM   #1
Alec Hanson
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So you want to start a Garage Gym (Part 2)

I’ve just got a couple for emails from fellow CrossFitter’s and figured it was time for a little update to the ole’ Garage Gym post I made back in July 2009. Wow, one year ago. That is definitely weird. Here is my original response. http://thecrossfitgamer.com/blog/?p=681

Here are some of the questions I was just asked.

1) How do I deal with not having enough equipment/money?
2) What about having noobs (see “new people”) show up along with experienced members?
3) How do I deal with random numbers of people showing up or not having enough space to train a large class?
4) How do I explain the cost that most people think is way too high?
5) What are the equipment must haves for a Garage Gym?
6) Do you increase your fees after expanding into a larger space?
7) What about boot camp specials in parks?

These are in no specific order so I’m going to answer them in my own order.

Let’s start with money and what you charge people.

First understand your competitors. Pricing your service is not difficult. What is around you offering a similar service? In most cases you have Globogyms and personal trainers. From there you can get the Boot Camps stuff sprinkled in as well. Globo’s charge anywhere from $25 a month to $200 (yes, $200 would be an Equinox type place. Or a Day Spa as I like to call em). Personal training can start at $45 an hour and then up top $200/hour. Boot camps are like $25-$50 an hour I believe. I don’t know them too well.

So lets break that down. Globo’s charge you in hopes you don’t come and workout. They offer no coaching/training and lame machines you don’t know how to use. But they will have a sweet sauna you can sit in, maybe. Personal training, assuming you go 3-4x’s a week add up to anywhere from $500-$700 on the cheap side a month. I know guys who spend near $1,000 a month on personal training.

Lets say you charge $200 a month as your cost. Assuming a member comes 3-4x’s a week and their cost is $16.66 to $12.50 a session for group personal training. Charge less and the cost can get as low as $6-$7 bucks an hour. This is less than most people’s latte’s.

Don’t undervalue your service.

So price is not really the issue, communicating your value is the issue. When you quote price to people, ask them how often they plan on coming and tell them your hourly rate is $6. Quote your price backwards sometimes and see what happens; just a thought for you. The main reason your friends and loved ones may think your price is high is because in their mind you are NOT an expert. They might not question a “certified personal trainer” charging $75/hour but you are you, so… Funny how assumed expertise affects people’s perception of value, right? Understand your value and what you are providing.

Let’s move on to expanding.

As you expand in either equipment purchases or space remember that your “tribe” your members are along for the ride, so let them be a part of it. If you need to buy new equipment ask the members what they would like and offer suggestions that could happen if you had X or Y. If they think that would be awesome and want you to go for it, raise their dues slightly to cover the cost or recoup the expense. They will understand. These people are not simple consumers of your product; they are part of something bigger than themselves and will have no issue contributing to the tribe’s growth. This goes the same with expanding into a bigger space. If you feel insecure about bumping the pricing on them, tell them they are grandfathered in for 6 months or a year before they will be bumped. It’s really a no-brainer but it’s semi-awkward so start talking to them early. Ask them how they feel about moving, getting new space, equipment, etc… Create the buzz and watch what happens. Don’t just spring it on them.

Now let’s talk logistics.

This is my favorite topic simply because it’s the creative space I love to play in.

Tons of things can happen while running your gym. 1 person shows up, 20 shows up the next day, 5 new people show up unannounced who have never CrossFitted before, you don’t have enough equipment, it rains, something breaks pre or mid-WOD, etc… The list goes on and on.

You have to be creative and flexible. If you can’t think on the spot, have a list of workouts you can audible into. Limited equipment uses? Create WOD’s like Fight Gone Bad, where you can cycle through the equipment you have in stations or start workouts in heats with the fast people first. The ideas are only limited by the though work you want to put into it to be prepared. Make sure you know how to scale absolutely every WOD you program so if new people just show up you can handle it.

Of course the other way to handle all this is to force people to sign up for classes and come at specific times. I’ve tried this and guess what, even when I posted on my website and told ALL my members to NOT bring new people unannounced and to NOT just show up, people still did. It was unbelievable. So just be ready.

We graduated to an On Boarding program now and run things differently, but still people show unannounced.

Finally, here is a little advice for marketing your gym.

1) Walk/Jog a 5-10 mile radius of your box and introduce yourself to each and every business
a. Every business is a potential client: think employee discount program, lunch/learns, etc…
b. I know one CrossFit that has a deal going with a real estate company’s members

2) Make sure every athletic store near you has your cards at the cash register
a. Think Dick’s, Sport Chalet, Nick Women, Lululemon, Champs, etc….
b. Make rounds one a week or so to restock

3) Wear your CrossFit shirt every day. Be a walking billboard.
a. No Joke

4) Map out every school / police station / fire station / military
a. Talk to every Athletic Director / Coach / Chief / Captain
b. Offer free seminars / lunch learns
c. Offer free months for new recruits / freshman / etc…
d. Make friend with these people the best you can

Meet people and let your passion and conviction for what you do shine into their lives.

If you have members, befriend them on facebook, give them shoutouts on your webpage, make them stars and legends of your program.

They are your product. If they are not experiencing gains and transformation you are dead in the water.

That’s a start anyway. You have to be vigorous and uncompromising in your preaching and spreading the light about CrossFit. There really is no other way.

Buying Internet space, fancy fliers, great stickers and tshirts. That crap doesn’t work. Passion and a connection and deep love for human beings creates success.

Also, I went ahead and reposted by original post below. It covers some basics like “Is a garage gym legal” and incorporating versus a sole prop, etc… ENJOY
__________________________________________________ ________________
Posted 7/23/2009
http://www.board.crossfit.com/showthread.php?t=49155

I have gotten several messages asking me about how my partner and I did what we have done. I decided if this helps anyone, it would be worth it for me. I’ve taken a ton from CrossFit, which gives so freely, so I am compelled to give back.....

Click the link to read the original post from 1 year ago.

Last edited by Alec Hanson : 07-25-2010 at 12:21 PM.
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Old 07-26-2010, 01:01 PM   #2
Alex Lofgren
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Re: So you want to start a Garage Gym (Part 2)

Great thread Alec! Very helpful resource. Thank you
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Old 07-30-2010, 07:47 AM   #3
Chad Edwards
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Re: So you want to start a Garage Gym (Part 2)

Awesome stuff dude. This should totally be in the journal.
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Old 08-04-2010, 07:58 PM   #4
James Quam
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Re: So you want to start a Garage Gym (Part 2)

You really should consider writing something a little more formal and more detailed and submit it to the journal........ VERY helpful for one considering his own box.....
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Old 08-05-2010, 07:33 AM   #5
Matthew Fried
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Re: So you want to start a Garage Gym (Part 2)

Alec, I've just read parts 1 & 2. Great story!

Here's my question: You & your partner busted your asses, 12-14 hours days, regular jobs on top of running classes, marketing, etc. etc. etc. ... do you guys have families? Wife, kids, significant others?

Particularly if you have kids - how did you have the time for personal family stuff?

Thanks
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Old 08-06-2010, 07:45 AM   #6
Alexander Martin
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Re: So you want to start a Garage Gym (Part 2)

Great post Alec.
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Old 08-09-2010, 03:01 PM   #7
Alec Hanson
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Re: So you want to start a Garage Gym (Part 2)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthew Fried View Post
Alec, I've just read parts 1 & 2. Great story!

Here's my question: You & your partner busted your asses, 12-14 hours days, regular jobs on top of running classes, marketing, etc. etc. etc. ... do you guys have families? Wife, kids, significant others?

Particularly if you have kids - how did you have the time for personal family stuff?

Thanks
Hey Matthew,

No kids but we are both married. I have two dogs too!

The saving grace for me has been the fact my wife is an avid CrossFitter now. If she decided not to be in this great community, well, I can see how hard it would get.

Instead it's become a second family for us. She loves the people as much as I do, got her level 1, and has even assisted in a few classes here and there. I would say CrossFit definitely helps our marriage, especially the um... you know, bedroom WODs

Anyway, Thanks for the encouragement everyone, I'd be happy to put this into a more readable (and edited) version for the journal if asked by them.

I love CrossFit and would be happy to spend the time doing so if asked.

I do my best to get back to everyone that writes me to, so please don't be mad if I haven't written back to ya specifically yet. I will!

Good Times!
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Old 10-22-2010, 04:58 AM   #8
Fathia Clay
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Re: So you want to start a Garage Gym (Part 2)

Awesome thread!! I too am looking into opening a garage gym and not sure how/where to start. Especially that my ceiling is low (8ft). But your little "article" gave me a boost.
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Old 10-22-2010, 05:31 AM   #9
George R Coleman
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Re: So you want to start a Garage Gym (Part 2)

Alec,

I have printed this Thread out and it is a huge help for me and my buddy who are partnering to start our own box. Working out is my passion and when i got intruduced to CF, it was like putting C4 and pulling the trigger! I live, eat and thing CF every day. We are both in the Navy right now and are ready to get out and open up. THis was very informative and helpful! Thanks.
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Old 10-25-2010, 12:30 PM   #10
Alec Hanson
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Re: So you want to start a Garage Gym (Part 2)

Thanks George! Best of luck with everything. It's a great ride.
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