Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Story Of CrossFit Springfield

Over the past few months, I've received numerous calls and emails from individuals asking questions about CrossFit Springfield's business model, our growth, and what has led to our success as an affiliate. As a result, I've been thinking a lot lately about CFS; about where we're at, where we've come from, and where we're going. I figured I'd write it down while it's all fresh on my it goes...

If you were to document the rise of CrossFit Springfield's growth and influence in southwest Missouri, you'd have to start at the VERY BEGINNING. Before the 12,500 sq ft facility within which we currently reside, before the office space on Lark Street. You'd even still have to look before the opening of The Next Level Fitness Academy at the strip mall behind the Ye Ole Buggy Bath Car Wash on Lark St. CrossFit Springfield's rise to be generally acknowledged as one of the largest CrossFit Affiliates in the Midwest began with a man by the name of Carl Jungers who, after identifying several well respected and talented fitness clinicians training and teaching classes at the Springfield Jones Family YMCA, decided to present an offer to them. An opportunity to start up their own business based on training individuals through multiple fitness related disciplines. Carl would foot the bill and the core group of trainers and clinicians would be responsible for making a business plan and executing it as best they could. Jessi Grove, with her management background, personal training and group training experience would primarily take the lead, while other training domains (eg Boxing, Capo-era, Selah, and bootcamps, hiphop dancing, and personal training) would fill in the gaps and ideally provide additional revenue. The biggest problem with this format was that it left the business with no true sense of direction or solid identity. Next Level Fitness was kind of like "jack of all trades and master of none".

In the winter of 2008, my involvement with NLFA came about basically by chance (and "by chance" I, of course, mean "by way of God's divine plan"). I was in a church life-group with Dr Jami and Rana Jones. At the time I was a full time student in school for sports medicine and athletic training. I had just left the globo gym circuit in Springfield where I had worked for a few different training facilities making peanuts and for the most part, doing my absolute best to provide the clients I was blessed to work with with a quality strength and conditioning experience despite the "fluff" my employers expected me to dole out to them. At this time I had already discovered CrossFit but wasn't yet fully committed to the CrossFit method (mainly because my knowledge base on CrossFit programming was very minimal). Rana and Jamie encouraged me to meet with Carl and Jessi to discuss whether or not I might be able to contribute to NLFA. So I met with them. We hit it off well. Our initial agreement was that I would bring in my established client base, be able to train them at NLFA and in exchange, I would assist in building up and coaching NLFA Team Bootcamp sessions. During this time, Jessi and I realized that we shared the same interest in pursuing the CrossFit method wholeheartedly. In May of 2008, we flew to San Diego and participated in a two day CrossFit Level 1 Coaches Course. It was a phenomenal experience and birthed in both of us the genuine desire to start a CrossFit Affiliate in Springfield, MO. When we returned home from our certification, Jessi immediately wrote to CrossFit HQ and acquired our affiliation. I immediately launched and began structuring and formatting our WOD times, programming CFS daily WODs, and established membership rates. We decided to throw an event; a CrossFit competition-we would throw a Fight Gone Bad WOD challenge and scheduled our CrossFit Springfield launch date for June 28th, 2008. We had over 100 athletes show up to participate. The event went very well and because we offered Charter Membership rates for anyone who joined us on that date, we ended up immediately getting around 30 new CrossFit Springfield members.

Now, at this time both Jessi and I were embedded in Nursing school (Jessi) and Sports Med School (Me). Because of my obligation to my clinical hours and a verbal offer I'd received to be hired by St. John's Sports Medicine after graduation, my concern about committing to the new direction kept me from pulling the trigger on dedicating myself to CrossFit Springfield as a Co-Owner. Looking back, I find it hard to understand why I didn't simply commit due to my wholehearted love for what we were building at CrossFit Springfield. My thoughts were that after having spent so much time, energy, and effort (not to mention, money) at establishing myself as an ATC, how could I just throw it all away to pursue something that was uncertain. It was an obvious risk. The problem for my heart and head was that I knew deep down that CFS was were I wanted to be. I also knew that never, EVER, would I be able to find another business partner as wonderful and skilled as Jessi. Carl told us once that, "You guys are like thunder and lightning. If you two ever decide to pool your talents and your passion for people, you're going to be an unbeatable team."

So, after taking a great deal of time to pray and seek God's will, after taking much time to talk with Jenny, and after ultimately feeling a complete peace in my heart about my decision, I approached Jessi and let her know of my desire to partner with her as co-owners of CrossFit Springfield. Over a long 400m lunge with "Sandy" she oblidged and we discussed our desire to build up something special. Something unique even within the unique world of CrossFit. We expressed our desire for CrossFit Springfield to be a strong community of athletes whose relationships would be forged in respect and love and encouragement. We resolved ourselves to be engaging to every person who stopped by to try out CrossFit Springfield. To learn names. To build people up. To take the time to listen to our members when they had concerns or ideas about how we might improve the service CrossFit Springfield provides.

Today, September 7th, 2011, over 3 years later, we're just as committed to these tasks as ever.
We've had many changes: New members (500+ now), we've had additional owners in Grant and Melissa Wistrom who share the same vision and core values as both Jessi and I, we've moved facilities 5 times in an effort to expand the amount of impact we might be able to have in the community. But the heart of CrossFit Springfield beats on with the same sincere intention to help people achieve more physically, mentally, relationally, and spiritually than they might not have ever been able to achieve on their own or elsewhere. How blessed we truly are to be a part of such a caring CrossFit affiliate that is motivated to take action in their community and in the lives of each other.

Thanks so much for 3 years of great memories, CrossFit Springfield! Here's to many, many more!!

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