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Why Real Gyms Don’t Look Like “Gyms”

I opened CrossFit FUNCTION in 2010 on a $20,000 loan.

I felt like I won the lottery.

Now, $20k isn’t much to start a gym. Most gyms cost at least 100 times that much (that’s $2 MILLION). But the small budget was actually an advantage: Instead of focusing on the chrome and mirrors that attract newbies to gyms, I was forced to buy only what worked.

I knew I wouldn’t have a marketing budget. I didn’t even know what marketing was supposed to look like back then. But what I did know was that I would have to depend on my clients spreading the word about CrossFit FUNCTION. And that meant I had to get RESULTS.

So when I made my shopping list, I bought barbells. I bought big rubber bands. I didn’t buy any cardio machines initially, but instead relied on running and skipping ropes, mats and eventually two rowers. We built two boxes and had a couple of medicine balls. Rusty old dumbbells that didn’t match, a random barbell that I am not even sure where it actually came from. And one of each kettlebell weight.

On the day the equipment arrived, I thought, “This is all I need.”

And it was. For three full years in that small strip mall next to smelly Subway, we helped people get VERY fit. No mirrors, no chrome, no fancy stereo system. We made a lot of noise. A lot of noise while people were trying to relax while getting a pedicure!

These days, I can afford to buy more equipment. But what I buy is more of the SAME equipment: rowers, barbells, pull-up bars and boxes. You still won’t see pec decks or cable crossovers or leg extension machines or ski ergs. Instead, you’ll see people doing squats and push-ups and pull-ups. Because that’s what actually works.

Very fit people know that a large variety of equipment is a red herring. Most gyms sell comfort: padded machines, oiled stacks, polished chrome. But truly fit people—or people who NEED to lose weight, perform, or are desperate to fix their bad backs—avoid that stuff. People with skin in the game know they don’t need more choice; they need more work. Work they can be consistent with. Nutritional advice that is realistic for them and someone to hold them accountable.

Almost everyone who comes to CrossFit FUNCTION has been to other gyms. And when you ask any of them, they say, “I just didn’t get anywhere. I just didn’t see results.” They looked for the cheapest option. Or the largest. Or the one with the most machines. But eventually, when they decided they needed results, they went looking for a coach.

And coaches don’t use that stuff. Professional, career coaches, whose livelihood depends on getting results, use barbells. Boxes. Squats and push-ups and food plans. Forced to choose what works, professionals will always choose the basics.

Many new clients who book a No-Sweat Intro tell me, “This just looks like a lot of open space.” It’s true: You need space when you’re going to move a lot. And if you want to get fit, you’re going to move a lot. Fitness requires no chair, no padding, no seat belt.

Everything you need, and nothing you don’t.

No wasted space. No wasted time. No wasted effort.

In hindsight, I’d buy less. Some of the equipment I bought for CrossFit FUNCTION in 2010 now sits in our storage room, available but unused. Instead, under the bright LEDs, our clients are doing burpees and snatches; climbing ropes and smiling. They’re far more fit than they were back then. Our coaching has improved tenfold. My equipment hasn’t changed at all.

Need help? Book your free No Sweat Intro and sit down with one of coaches. We’ll build a plan together that will help you be the most successful! Click here to book.

Inspiration provided by Chris Cooper at Catalystgym.com

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