Why Real Gyms Don’t Look Like “Gyms”

Why Real Gyms Don’t Look Like “Gyms”

I opened CrossFit CTRL in December of 2019 on less than $15,000.

Now, $15k isn’t much to start a gym. Most gyms cost at least 100 times that much (that’s $1.5 MILLION). But the small budget was actually an advantage: Instead of focusing on the fancy stuff like mirrors or treadmills with built in TVs that attract newbies to gyms, I was forced to buy ONLY what worked.

I knew I wouldn’t have a marketing budget. I would have to depend on my clients spreading the word about CrossFit CTRL and that meant I had to get RESULTS.

So when I made my shopping list, I bought barbells and bumper plates. I bought dumbbells, jump ropes, mats and some rowers. I was able to get a great deal on facebook marketplace for our pull up rig and flooring.

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

And it is! We got people VERY fit with the right programming and equipment. No mirrors, no chrome, no fancy stereo system.

Now we are looking to expand and I can afford to buy more equipment. But what I will 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.

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.

Almost everyone who comes to CrossFit CTRL has been to other gyms. And almost every person says, “I just didn’t get anywhere.” They looked for the cheapest option. Or the one with the most machines. Or the one with all the extra services. 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 choose the basics.

Everything you need. Nothing you don’t.

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

In hindsight, if I was starting of I’d buy less. We have some equipment that hasn’t been touched since we opened. 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. My coaching has improved tenfold. My equipment hasn’t changed at all.

Inspiration provided by Chris Cooper at Catalystgym.com.