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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 01-24-2008, 11:40 PM   #1
Xi Xia
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Warehouse gym is best, but most likely "illegal"

I've been looking for space and also going through a crash course in Building Code with the city in the past few months. After seeing the multitude of warehouse CrossFit gyms on the main CrossFit videos, I have to ask how did you all find a warehouse that you could start a gym in???

Warehouses are not meant to be gyms in the eyes of the city. To convert 5000+ sqft of warehouse into such a space can easily cost more money than most CrossFits spend on equipment alone. If you don't convert and just start your business, you'll probably be fine until and if the city catches you.

Finding warehouse space here isn't hard at all. Finding space that is legal is much more difficult though. This is from my perspective of looking for legal space but I wander how many CrossFits are actually in "legal" warehouse spaces?
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Old 01-25-2008, 05:50 AM   #2
Kim Layton
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Re: Warehouse gym is best, but most likely "illegal"

There are different types of zones...if you don't want to pay / apply for re-zoning then get a zoning map of your city. Cross out all the areas / zones that don't allow whatever it is you are categorized as (In my city we are categorized as "Indoor Participant Recreation Facility") and circle the areras / zones where it is legal. Ok ok you can highlight instead of circle.

Now go find your space. It took me over 4 months to find and finalize my box so be patient. You may be looking too industrial. In my city the "heavy industrial" is a no-no, the "medium industrial" is discretionary (they have to ask all your neighbors within 200 metres or something) and "light industrial" is approved.

They really do make it that simple...at least where I'm from.
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Old 01-25-2008, 08:31 AM   #3
Xi Xia
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Re: Warehouse gym is best, but most likely "illegal"

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Originally Posted by Kim Layton View Post
There are different types of zones...if you don't want to pay / apply for re-zoning then get a zoning map of your city. Cross out all the areas / zones that don't allow whatever it is you are categorized as (In my city we are categorized as "Indoor Participant Recreation Facility") and circle the areras / zones where it is legal. Ok ok you can highlight instead of circle.

Now go find your space. It took me over 4 months to find and finalize my box so be patient. You may be looking too industrial. In my city the "heavy industrial" is a no-no, the "medium industrial" is discretionary (they have to ask all your neighbors within 200 metres or something) and "light industrial" is approved.

They really do make it that simple...at least where I'm from.
I agree that Zoning is not the issue. Getting the Zoning map and locating the permitted areas is clear. Here in my city, locating a building in the appropriate Zone does not mean it can have a gym. It's Building Code that gums the works. The building or even just the space (if you are subleasing) is evaluated as to whether or not it was meant for a service like a gym. If not, then the conversion fees and process piles on. I know that this is red tape feeding itself and getting bigger from my pocket. But, it is what it takes to "get legal" here.

Other cities are different but there is a standard set of building codes every city will draw from. Even so, I imagine the large city markets here in the US are just as restrictive. Maybe Canada is just more reasonable.
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Old 01-25-2008, 09:13 AM   #4
Rob Izsa
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Re: Warehouse gym is best, but most likely "illegal"

I worked with a realtor who new all the right questions to ask, cost me one months rent to realtor - was worth the cost. In NJ, I also looked at the zoning map to make sure it was in the right area then double checked with the zoning officer.
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Old 01-25-2008, 09:48 AM   #5
Joe Waguespack
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Re: Warehouse gym is best, but most likely "illegal"

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Originally Posted by Xi Xia View Post
I agree that Zoning is not the issue. Getting the Zoning map and locating the permitted areas is clear. Here in my city, locating a building in the appropriate Zone does not mean it can have a gym. It's Building Code that gums the works. The building or even just the space (if you are subleasing) is evaluated as to whether or not it was meant for a service like a gym. If not, then the conversion fees and process piles on. I know that this is red tape feeding itself and getting bigger from my pocket. But, it is what it takes to "get legal" here.

Other cities are different but there is a standard set of building codes every city will draw from. Even so, I imagine the large city markets here in the US are just as restrictive. Maybe Canada is just more reasonable.
Something I have learned in my affiliate process is that when it comes to permits and codes do not try to open a "gym" you are opening an "educational facility". For example the same type of thing as a Martial Arts studio or Yoga studio. The needs for something like this are not as strict as a gym in the eyes of the city and state. I'm sure it differs from state to state but for example for a gym you need a certain number of parking spots, bathrooms, showers and a bunch of other stuff. The needs for an educational facility are usually a lot less.
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Old 01-25-2008, 10:32 AM   #6
Roger Harrell
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Re: Warehouse gym is best, but most likely "illegal"

This differs drastically from one city to another. Different city offices will classify your business differently, they will be more or less lenient on zoning. You may or may not have to get a conditional use permit. It may be easy, or it could be a nightmare. It really depends on where you live.
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Old 01-25-2008, 11:36 AM   #7
Xi Xia
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Re: Warehouse gym is best, but most likely "illegal"

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Originally Posted by Roger Harrell View Post
This differs drastically from one city to another. Different city offices will classify your business differently, they will be more or less lenient on zoning. You may or may not have to get a conditional use permit. It may be easy, or it could be a nightmare. It really depends on where you live.
Thanks for the tips and perspective. I guess the differences from city to city is more than I thought. For instance, calling it an "educational facility" here would be paramount to business suicide. The requirements become immense. Conditional Use permit heres are upwards of 12 G's, and that is not a guaranteed "yes" either.

Basically, I'm not really sure if it really pays to follow the code and be "legal".
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Old 01-25-2008, 02:16 PM   #8
Randy Tarasevich
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Re: Warehouse gym is best, but most likely "illegal"

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Basically, I'm not really sure if it really pays to follow the code and be "legal".
Yes, it does. Don't go the "illegal" route. CYA policy at all times. I feel your frustration. It is like that around me too.
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Old 01-25-2008, 02:26 PM   #9
Bill Pontius
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Re: Warehouse gym is best, but most likely "illegal"

Can you check out neighboring towns? The codes may be stricter in the city where a lot of redevelopment is taking place than in the 'burbs. Maybe not, but perhaps worth checking. Good luck.
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Old 01-25-2008, 06:29 PM   #10
Steve Liberati
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Re: Warehouse gym is best, but most likely "illegal"

I learned the hard way that whatever you do don't ever mention the word "GYM." Most towns see that as an open facility with alot of people coming & going. Parking is a big factor when you say that you're opening a gym. Instead, the personal training/coaching facility is the best way to describe your facility. Then when they ask, tell them that you won't have more then 6-8 people there at a time. If they think GYM not only is parking an issue but restrooms, fire resistant walls, handicap accessiblity, etc are as well.
Some zoning officers can be real jerks if you don't know how to handle them. Be confident but not cocky. And don't expect them to help you out and be on your side.
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