During the best of times we all can say we are grounded by our values; it is during the worst of times that this is tested. Recently I was interviewed by Box Pro Magazine and I had the opportunity to put into words my reflections from this past 8 weeks. We have all been put to the test and who we are at the core will come to the surface. What I have been grateful for is this community of people who continue to show up for each other. I am now more then ever, committed to seeing this community of CrossFitters through this crisis. The challenge is enormous but we will continue to move forward because we are made of Iron and Grit.
I was asked what 3 pieces of advice I have for other affiliate owners:
Honest and clear communication with your staff, your members and especially with yourself. Honesty has to be at the center of everything we say and do. I’m not here to preach to people but to support them during this incredibly difficult time. Our message has been consistent since we closed–workout everyday for the sake of your health, sanity and family!
With my staff I have asked them to step up and they met the challenge. We had two interns at the start of March and I threw them into the turbulent waters and told them they had to run classes on Zoom. I didn’t know what would happen but both young coaches are running their own programs on Zoom. I think the coaches that have had the hardest time adjusting are those who have been with us for a while and the “norm” turned upside down. My life partner, Brian, and I both coached regularly in the gym and the changes we had to make deeply affected us the first two week. We are in our 50s and don’t like social media but if you saw us now you wouldn’t know it. Not only did Coach Brian get his Instagram game on point, he is also an excellent coach on camera. Who would have thought!
My communication to my team has been as clear as possible–I’m here for you and we all have to continue to deliver to our members the best hour of their day if they show up to your Zoom class. So far it’s working and we continue to improve everyday. It’s not perfect but the coaches are willing to try and that is a blessing. I am proud of this team. Coach YoYo runs kids classes, Coach Miguel runs the Bumper Plate WOD and continues to provide stability behind the scenes, Coach Kaleigh and Laura both stepped up run their program for their own classes, Coach Connor runs a rowing class, and Coach Matt is learning new skills developing YouTube content and helping me with the newsletter. Truly it’s been a team effort.
Honesty with myself. This was a tough one and in week three I struggled with this because I asked myself “Do I want to continue to run my gym in this environment?” There are so many unknowns. I let myself sit with this for a week and after many tears I decided yes, I want to try and keep this business running but more importantly keep this community together. It may not work in the end but I am going to give it everything I got.
Be ready and willing to pivot–This is important and every owner has to be ready to pivot with a plan and be ready to change that plan in a day! This is where I have been tested the most as an affiliate owner. The plan I had 6 weeks ago is very different then the 3 month plan I have now. We didn’t know what would happen in mid March. Everything I read indicated gyms would be closed longer than two weeks but I wasn’t sure. There wasn’t any data giving a clear picture of what was going to happen in the near future let alone the rest of the year.
In 2019 we pivoted our business and we were poised to have the best financial year in 2020. That is not going to happen. I had to shelve all those plans and rethink my business model. Currently, I plan week to week and I have a short term plan for reopening. The reopening will be determined by the state and city regulations, which are unknown at this time. We are living in the unknownable and if we are going to survive COVID 19 as a community we have to be ready to pivot!
Stick with your values–Now more than ever you as the affiliate owner have to know why you are doing what you are doing, why you started a CrossFit affiliate and why you want to continue. The values that lead you to open are more important NOW and I have gone back to them and this is what I communicate to my members and my staff:
Community–it is at the center of everything we do. It’s an overused term now but it has meaning and it is important that we let our members know how much we value them. Even the members who have had to put their memberships on hold. I deliver the same message–you are important to us and we want you to continue to join us on Zoom classes. Let us know what we can do to help you during this difficult time.
Community to us has also been about helping marginalized children in the city of Boston. This was one of the reasons I started Boston Iron & Grit and I want to keep this community together as much for their health as I do to keep improving the lives of children in Boston. That can be a difficult balance during good times; right now it’s easy to lose sight of what motivated me in 2015 to open. I remind myself everyday the importance of giving to our wider community.
Consistent–This value has two different meanings for us. This has been a value for us as a coaching staff and a message we give to our members. We are consistent in the delivery of our coaching. We show up to give our members the best hour of their day. We have very specific roles for each staff member and they must be consistent in their jobs–we have a nutritionist on staff and this is all she focuses on, our coaches coach and some develop the programs, and my role is to keep us on task and aligned with our vision, mission and values.
We tell our members being consistent is how they will live long and healthy lives. Getting “fit” in a month or getting a beach body in 6 weeks is not who we are. This is not how you build a strong body, strong immune system and health into your 90s. Sure we all want to look better naked, but that isn’t who we are….we are about longevity of health and this only happens with consistent training and healthy eating everyday.
Commit–We are committed to our community, our way of life and to each other. This is a time to be grounded in our values. I think it is a time we get to see true colors and decide what we want for our community and our selves. For some, both coaches and members, they may choose to leave. That is ok. We have to let people go and make them feel comfortable leaving. This is an unprecedented time. We don’t know what the new norm will look like and if it will stay, change or if we can ever go back to doing business as usual. I’m not pessimistic but being a realist and now more than ever I have incredible hope–hope in an unknown future but one in which I think we can build a better business for our community of members, children in Boston and my coaching staff.
We continue to be led by our vision, we are grounded in our mission and we live by our values.
STAY HOME*STAY SAFE*STAY HEALTHY*STAY FIT