What’s your process for new members?
Juliet Starrett: We’re pretty standard in that we require all our new clients to go through an On Ramp-type class or start with private coaching. We don’t allow people to jump straight into group classes.
Kelly Starrett: We ask the same thing of all our high-level athletes. Most people have had no movement coaching, so a lot of them have fundamentally flawed motor programs, bad habits, missing mobility, deranged metabolisms and all that. This is one of the few environments where you can actually coach from top to bottom — nutrition, sleep, warm-up, cool-down. People have such big holes that we ask them to invest some time with coaches, and it always pays a dividend.
You are known for your MobilityWOD program. How do you integrate MobilityWODs into your training?
JS: The whole MobilityWOD concept and programming is a huge part of San Francisco CrossFit. We do one formal mobility class every week, but the work we’ve done in MobilityWOD is integrated into all our classes. When you come to a class at San Francisco CrossFit, the coach’s highest priority is good and correct movement and providing our athletes with the mobility tools to achieve that.
KS: Juliet’s right. We like our model because it really sets our gym up for success. We understand people have different priorities, and we feel like we can really meet the changing needs of our athletes. They get interested in Olympic lifting or powerlifting, or they want to do a crazy ultramarathon. And with our training, we can modify things to reflect those different goals.
What are the biggest challenges you face as gym owners?
KS: The most challenging thing for any gym is having an incredible, diverse, growing, badass coaching staff. We’re all about the athlete, but a lot of the work we do at our gym deals with developing coaches.
JS: There are a lot of “workout administrators” out there. But being a workout administrator and a coach are two very different things. Anyone can write a CrossFit workout up on the board and say, “3, 2, 1, Go.” The challenge is not only finding people who can coach, see movement problems and work with a diverse group of people; finding someone who chooses to be a coach as a lifelong profession is hard. Often coaches are people who love CrossFit and want to become a coach in their 20s, and then they realize they can’t make a million dollars doing it and they move on. Our goal is to create an environment where we can have true professional coaches who have chosen this as their career and really care about it in a nerdy way. I’m not a coach; I just run the business side of our gym. And part of the reason I don’t coach is that I don’t have the nerdy obsession with doing movements like all our coaches do.
KS: You can still be passionate and be a workout administrator. We’re not dissing those people. But at San Francisco CrossFit, it’s almost like a think tank. One of the things we’re really proud of here is that our coaches listen to each other and take each other’s classes. We actually call it “The Crucible” because the idea is that you are exposing your ideas to all these coaches who then go out and test them. And we get immediate feedback. Your coaching staff is the heart and soul of your gym. That’s how you attract and retain people. Not one brilliant coach — 50 brilliant coaches.
Locations: 1162A Gorgas Avenue, The Presidio of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94129
Number of members: 400
Number of trainers: 14
Years in Operation: 7 years
Facility Size: 6,000 square feet
Membership Fees: $275 (lower rates available for longer-term memberships)