Staying The Course

By Coach Manny Alayon

Perhaps this post won’t directly mean much at first. However, I believe we can draw a lot of parallels and find how the meaning of this post may fit into your life. When I opened up the gym in 2012, it was a time where CrossFit as a whole was still very raw. It was new, it was abrasive, it was bare bones, it was like the punk rock culture of the fitness industry. At that time most gym owners had very little to no background in business. Many actually didn’t even have much an extensive background in fitness. What everyone had in common was a vision and a passion to help others.

The majority of the affiliate owners at that time were testing the waters with business structure like class organization, programming, pricing, what and how much equipment to buy etc. Many affiliate owners were thriving in the early years. CrossFit was booming as a whole and as a result, affiliation increased rapidly. As time went on and affiliation increased, we started to see changes in the industry. We started to see investors helping to open up “glamour boxes” as CrossFit affiliates. We started to see social media marketing take a completely different turn. We started hearing about CrossFit affiliates that even banned chalk from their gyms! Along with these changes came a shift in culture in some of these places. As more “glamour boxes” opened, the expectation of what a CrossFit affiliate should have or be began to change. I guess we can call this a “market shift”. Market shifts are a natural evolution in virtually any industry. Since the market has been undeniably shifting, have our views of fitness shifted as well? Do we choose a gym because of the expert coaches who genuinely care about our fitness? Or has our attention shifted to what new cool equipment the gym has? Do we still care about the camaraderie, laughs, high fives and socials that happen inside the box? Or do we care more about towel service and being “convenienced”? Is what the people want for a workout more important than what they actually need?

This shift in the market is dangerous. It is scary. It is something that I think every affiliate owner, including myself has questioned. We currently see many affiliate owners shifting with the market demands. Towel service, a spotless gym with showers and no chalk, smoothie bars, brand new expensive equipment, you name it. I don’t think many people see the writing on the wall. When the focus becomes on material things, your community and culture changes. Along with that, your PURPOSE changes. Your purpose is nowhere near your original vision, passion and dream. Truthfully, your work may not be a fun and fulfilling place anymore. I am here to give some reflection for anyone feeling this way (about anything in life, if you haven’t caught my drift yet).

Reflect on your purpose and your why. We have been told that material things in life never have true value or meaning. It is absolutely true. Lately I have been thinking a lot about my purpose. What has helped me reflect has been reading some old notes back from 2012, 2013 and 2014 that I still have laying around. I laugh at some of my notes because of how straight forward they can be. How much of a “dreamer” I was (well still am). How a lot of my goals that were written in 2012 are now a reality. Reading some of these old notes has brought some relief back to my brain. Because running a gym, with a lot of members with a shifting market can be stressful sometimes. This recent reflecting has brought me back to my original goals and visions from when I was a 24 year old young Manny with a little more hair.

What I want and what I don’t want for myself, my staff and all of NECF is becoming clearer once again. Our goals from day 1 have always been centered around improving the lives of our members through fitness. We use CrossFit as our vehicle for this goal. Sure, we enjoy having a nice facility and upgrading constantly, but truthfully, this is not our primary goal. We’re here to inspire, educate and entertain during each and every single class. We genuinely care about the well being of our members. Spending time with our community is the best part of our day and we want to continue this for as long as we live. Let us all stay the course, keep the focus on the right things and surround ourselves with the right people. Rock on NECF!