I remember some years ago when I had random thoughts of what it would be like to own a CrossFit gym. I saw all the CrossFit gyms here in South Africa as well as on social media and I could imagine my ideal gym: world-class equipment, top-notch coaching, and a friendly, welcoming, non-competitive environment. These were of course rather idle thoughts at the time. There were far too many questions running through my head for me to consider that owning a CrossFit gym could ever become a reality. Who would handle the business side of things? Where would the gym be? Who would I have on the coaching team? The list went on and on.
Over a year later, I met my current girlfriend, Eleanor, at the wedding of one of the coaches at the CrossFit gym I was attending. We ended up chatting for hours, from lengthy discussions about the NFL (I’m an avid American Football fan and she’s an American who supports the one team out of 32 that I can’t stand), to CrossFit (she is quite strong!), to animals (I’ve had about 5 dogs running around the house for most of my life), to how she had started her own company, to both of her parents having a PhD. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t somewhat intimidated by her background, business accomplishments, or achievements in the CrossFit world.
A few months later, Eleanor somewhat randomly asked, “Have you ever thought about opening up a CrossFit gym?” The question caught me off guard as at that stage my dreams were just dreams. She said she believed in me, and that it really could work, and my list of practical concerns or questions began to disappear. Her business acumen was something that the gym needed to become a reality, and complemented my desire to coach and interact with members every day. Often I’d read online or heard people say, ‘Oh you can just open a gym and people will come.’ I firmly believe the business side of things is just as important; something like 90% of new businesses close down so clearly enthusiasm isn’t enough. My vision for this gym needed something more than just passion. I believed Eleanor was that something.
When I had these thoughts of opening up a CrossFit gym all those years ago, I had always thought that my school friend Cameron would be great to have on the team. I’d known him for nearly half my life and we’d spent a lot of time together, from LANs in school, to being in most of the same classes, to playing rugby on the same team, to doing a couple Warrior obstacle races after school etc. I decided to broach the subject with him, and I could see he was interested, but he had other aspirations at the time, and possibly he wasn’t sure if I was serious about it. I can’t blame him really; if the roles were reversed I’d have thought he was mad, we can’t possibly do this. I didn’t give up and kept raising the subject again and again; and eventually he must have started to understand that this business could really work. I remember competing with him and Eleanor in a team in the Mixed Division of a local CrossFit competition (pictured above), and we placed 2nd. We just worked so well as a team. I know that working in a CrossFit gym is quite different to competing together, but I couldn’t help but think it’d be a shame if he wasn’t a part of it. Eventually he said yes he’s keen to join me. I was elated. I had my girlfriend with me on this adventure, and now I had one of my oldest friends joining in too.
I couldn’t pick a better team to do this with.
Fast forward to May 2017, and we are on the brink of opening. It’s been a long and somewhat frustrating process at times dealing with hassles of renovation, importing equipment, etc. At the end of the day, my dream is finally becoming a reality, and I couldn’t be happier.