We opened CrossFit Vashon in 2016 with a tiny amount of space, no bathroom, and a few pieces of equipment.
We had a limited budget, so we didn’t get the typical stuff. Opening a gym on a shoestring doesn’t seem like a good idea, but it was actually an advantage. We had to focus on the bare necessities of fitness. The things that really worked. No chrome plated machines, fancy mirrors, or specialty lifting plates. We bought pull-up bars, rubber bands, and medicine balls. Then barbells, weights, and a couple boxes.
Vashon is all about word of mouth. That meant we had to have happy people, do excellent CrossFit, and help people get strong!
So in a little garage space with no bathroom or heat, that’s what we did. We got strong and fit. No stereo. Just one bluetooth speaker. We opened the single garage door and ran, lifted, carried, laughed, and maybe cried a little sometimes (together though).
These days, we have more budget for equipment, but we still buy more of the same: Rowers, dumbbells, sleds, and ropes. If you look in you still won’t see fancy gimmicks or complicated machines. You’ll only see people doing burpees, squats, pushups, and pull-ups because that’s what works.
The fittest people sense that a large variety of equipment or options is a red herring. Comfort, luxury, padded sauna seats, those are nice but people who NEED to lose weight, NEED to lift things safely, NEED to be able to squat without knee pain – avoid the frills. More stuff doesn’t do the actual work. We do. And as a people we benefit from focused effort and consistency, not luxury.
We’re all passionate about some form of physical activity, and we’ve probably tried a lot of different things. Eventually we learned that the biggest gym doesn’t mean the best, and with the cheapest gym you get what you pay for (nothing), and the facility with the most equipment usually has the least amount of people which is boring and no fun. We get the best results when we have accountability, passion, training partners, and a coach who focuses on the basics. Using the tools that get the job done: Boxes, burpees, dumbbells, and sweat.
Many people starting out ask “What do you do here?” because at first glance it just looks like floor space in a garage. No computers, screens, lights, or heart rate monitors.. And it’s true that it’s mostly floor space. Because you need space to move, to work… you’re going to move and work a lot. Fitness doesn’t need a padded seat or a luxury towel.
We have everything we need, and nothing that we don’t.
Inspiration provided by Chris Cooper at Catalystgym.com. https://catalystgym.com/why-real-gyms-dont-look-like-gyms/