You’ve only been open since January 2012. What’s it like starting a new CrossFit gym now, after CrossFit has become so popular, as opposed to several years ago?
There are different ways to look at it. You could say it’s easier now to open one because it’s popular. Because I had free advertising with Reebok and the CrossFit Games on TV and online all the time, that made it so much more familiar to everyone than it was five years ago. On the flip side, it may make it more difficult because so many people are doing the same thing. I’ve been CrossFitting for four years, and the original gym I started at is in Chattanooga, [Tenn.], and there are now four CrossFit gyms in Chattanooga. There was only one when I started. I just opened the first one here in Cleveland, Tenn., which is only 20 minutes from Chattanooga.
You have a very unique facility — a 100-year-old mill with a great industrial feel to it. How important to you is creating a unique atmosphere for your members?
I love the old building and the architecture of it. All the wood that’s exposed is original to the building. It’s the epitome of a CrossFit gym. It’s wood beams and brick — that’s all you see. And the building’s not heated or cooled. I have restrooms and an office that are but not the rest of it. It stays around 50 degrees in the wintertime and around 80 degrees in the summer because it’s a four-story solid-brick building. It creates an atmosphere where you feel like you’re in an old-school gym, and that’s the atmosphere I wanted to have, yet we’re doing CrossFit in here, not bodybuilding. People love it. My members are totally excited every time they come in here. So many people didn’t know we were here, and when they find us they say, “This place is awesome. This is where I want to work out.”
It took a pretty serious renovation to get the facility ready to be a gym. What were the most important things you had to consider when doing the renovations?
The building had a bunch of broken glass in it, and I wasn’t going to let anybody in until we cleaned up all that. I also wanted to have nice bathrooms with showers so you could come in at 6 a.m., work out, take a shower and go to work. But I also wanted everything to blend in and match the style of this building. With a building that’s 100 years old, there are going to be expenses that you wouldn’t normally incur on a brand-new building. I had to redo every bit of electrical in this entire space. I had to put in all new plumbing. I had to put in firewalls and update the sprinkler system. I had to meet building codes for today that changed since the building was first built. Those are things you have to watch out for, where money kind of creeps up on you.
Locations: 445 Church St. SE, Suite 140, Cleveland, TN 37311
Number of members: 55
Number of trainers: 5
Years in Operation: 1+ (official opening was January 2012)
Facility Size: 8,000 square feet
Membership Fees: Unlimited membership is $145 to $155 per month; limited memberships start at $65 per month