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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 07-28-2004, 01:54 PM   #1
Coach
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Affiliates are joining the CrossFit family at an accelerated rate. There are a dozen or so of us now and almost as many in various stages of planning and development readying to come on line.

The potential for personal gratification and financial gain are breathtaking especially in light of the low start up and overhead costs required to get a facility up and running.

I’ll start the discussion with the suggestion that the prospective affiliate find a location in an industrial rather than retail center. The rents are much cheaper, roll-up doors are common, and the ceilings are higher in industrial units.
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Old 07-28-2004, 02:50 PM   #2
Lincoln Brigham
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Square footage?

and how much income does a super-small facility require? i.e. rent-to-membership ratio?

Do you typically have restricted hours? Like early morning, late afternoon, and weekends?

Good topic.
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Old 07-28-2004, 03:16 PM   #3
Mike Minium
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And what sort of pricing structures do you employ?

Is it a combination of a la carte (pay X$ per session) and flat, unlimited access (pay X$ per month for unlimited access)?

Thanks,

Mike
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Old 07-28-2004, 04:55 PM   #4
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Lincoln, Mike:

After running our program in commercial gyms (countless Gold’s, World’s, Powerhouse, 24-Hr Nautilus…) Lauren and I moved in with a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu school where we had about 400 square feet allocated and the entire facility when the BJJ crew wasn’t around. Within six months we’d grown to the point where we were an annoyance to and distraction from the BJJ business plan and sent packing. We were able to train up to five or six simultaneously and comfortably within our allocated space and three or four times that number when the BJJ crew wasn’t around. We agreed on a $500 rent and it “Braziled” up to nearly $1,000 by the time we left - one year later. Lauren and I were able to generate nearly $50K annually within that space working predominantly in the AM’s though we were there 6 or 7 days per week. The BJJ/CrossFit academy was 5,000 square feet in a retail shopping center.

Our next stop was our first independent facility – CFHQ1 – 1,250 feet of industrial mini-warehouse. This gave us the room to run several trainers simultaneously with a few clients each or one big and crowded class of 15. We worked this space for two years.

This year we knocked down our western wall and took another 1,250 feet – CFHQ2 - that doubled our rent but seemingly quadrupled our utility. We regularly run classes of 20-25, and it is NICE! We also regularly run classes of seven or eight while two or three other trainers with one, two, or three clients each simultaneously work.

Our trainers charge somewhere between $50-75 for one-on-one training, and $15 for pay-as-you-go classes. We offer $150 per month for unlimited classes on an EFT basis.

We charge our trainers $10 for a one-on-one appointment, $20 for one-on-two, and $30 for one-on-three and stop there. If a trainer can fill 15 slots at $15 each the house take is $30 and the trainer’s is $195.

Our intention was not to see other trainers as revenue stream so much as partners in a co-op like arrangement to reduce everyone’s rents. It is working beautifully.

Lauren and I dominate the A.M. and run classes at 6,7,8, and 9. These run at or near capacity. We work one-on-one’s at 5AM and 10AM. Our trainers often have one-on-one appointment or small groups on top of these slots. Afternoons and evenings the gym’s utilization is spotty and belongs to our trainers. Working AM’s only Lauren and I can net $500-1,000 daily and average somewhere around $650, but all numbers are growing for everyone. Lauren and I deliberately limit our training work because of seminar, speaking, certification, web, and other consulting work and might be able to double our training work otherwise. On total our gym is working at 1/3 to capacity.

Officially, CrossFit is a “private gym”, that is, no one is coming in and working out alone though we’ve dubbed certain friends of the program “family” and given them keys because their presence is a plus regardless of crowding.

All efforts to make CF trainers of regular gym trainers has been a complete failure, but several of our professional clients have made the leap to trainers and they are absolutely AMAZING. Grow your own!

One of the natural outgrowths of our practice is the advent of the group class. We started these as a vehicle for martial arts training and they were so fun, loud, and exciting that they “submarined” most of our one-on-one work, increased our hourly income, and stabilized the practice by increasing the number of participants. Everyone seems to agree that the group classes are more fun and preserve a great deal of the focus and benefit of one-on-one training. The group environment brings out the best in everyone. One client referred to it as personal training in a team environment. We love it to death.

Rents in Santa Cruz are approximately $1/square foot and vary for affiliates from $.25 in Chico to $2.00 in the Bay Area. Overheads other than rent are insignificant to the total picture. Start-up equipment costs can vary widely. We started with $5,000 worth of gear and have added at least another $20K of gear over five years – all paid for by the program. Quite a bit of the extra/newer gear is in infrequent use but nice to have around.

We’d bounced our business plan off a coterie of business and finance professionals (clients again to the rescue) and it all looked good to them on paper, but more importantly, in practice it is panning out much like planned. Several clients/friends from high-powered professions have expressed amazement at the simplicity and workability of our model/business.
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Old 07-28-2004, 05:22 PM   #5
Mike Minium
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Coach,

Thanks for your in-depth reply and your willingness to discuss dollar amounts openly.

I've been bouncing around the idea of starting my own facility and am grateful for any info I can get.

Mike
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Old 07-29-2004, 04:40 AM   #6
Lynne Pitts
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Couple of questions for the established folk:
a) What kind of liability coverage do y'all carry?
b) Do the trainers, core and adjunct, "just" run everyone through the basic CrossFit program, or do the workouts include tailoring to individual needs/issues?
c) Generally, do the staff/trainers carry any other certifications besides CrossFit?

Thanks!
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Old 07-29-2004, 08:27 AM   #7
Michael Rutherford
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Lynn-

I carry a general liability insurance that also includes coverage for some recommended gear I promote with my other program. I consider it to be reasonable. I know that P.T insurance can be purchased on-line for $500-$800. There might be cheaper policies available.

I am in the process of identifying trainers to share time in a similar fashion to the Santa Cruz model. I don’t see being a certified personal trainer as a necessary component. Actually, it’s a disadvantage. While I have friends who are PT’s here in the city, I am generally under whelmed. I have other qualifiers that are more important to me. Could I interest you in relocation?

LIVE STRONG!

RUTMAN
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Old 07-29-2004, 09:42 AM   #8
Robert Wolf
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Lynn-

Being able to scale a workout to a diverse population is vital, fun and more art than science. In one of our classes in chico we have several very talented and fit martial artists, a former professional skiier recovering from complete reconstructive surgery of the ankel, and a pregnant woman whith staggering morning sickness (make a deal up front regarding pukie t-shirts!)

It is without a doubt the "funnest" work I have ever done and it has created community in only a few months.

For everyone:

We also made our start sharing space with a martial arts school. This was a good starting point but the reality is that many people are simply not interested in MA and you always seem to be trying to seperate your image/business from that of the MA school. Additionally your program will, as coach mentioned, outgrow its welcome very quickly. We just leased a 4K sqft facility and it is going to be.

We also found an amazing rescource available from virtually any junior college called the Small Business Development Center. This is a tax dollar funded federal program which will help you with business plans (do one...buy business plan pro and do it!!!!!), grants and loans, marketing....one would pay $200/hr for this info elsewhere but it is FREE through the SBDC. If you are interested in a special population (kids, the lederly) think about a Non-Profit Organization (NPO). It can rain money for an NPO from grants and it makes it amazingly easy to outfit a facility from donated gear as you can provide a tax right-off.

We have an amazing opportunity here considering the talent we can pull from and the community we already have established.
Robb
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Old 07-29-2004, 10:11 AM   #9
Lincoln Brigham
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This is great stuff. Sometimes I get fed up with my current day job, server system administration. Problem is I'm very overpaid!

Right now I'm training two guys gratis in my garage, 2x a week, for Olympic weightlifting. The agreement is that if they want to train with me, they have to compete. That way, if I can get one lifter to qualify for the American Open, I can qualify to get my USAW Senior Coach certification. I'm going for my C.S.C.S. certification in September. So maybe I can grow what I've started so far.

If only I wasn't such a late riser in the morning! :smile:
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Old 07-29-2004, 10:44 AM   #10
David Werner
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Lynn

a) comprehensive liability, and because we rent space fom the city of Seattle we have to carry property insurance. Total cost of about $1800/yr.

b)We seldom do the WOD as written on the same day. We have our own set of abilities, needs and schedule. Many adjustments are made for individual ability. Running a WOD is a very hands on process with lots of technique coaching as well as exhortations to push harder. Other issues include number of people being trained, space and equipment available, it takes a lot of creativity.

c) the only other cert we care about is USAW Club Coach and familiarity with Kettlebell training.

Dave werner
Crossfit North
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