I have received hundreds of emails from people stuck between stability and box owner. They usually sound like this…“I want to open a CrossFit gym, but I am not sure if I can quit my job to pursue this full time. Do you have any advice?”
We all know what they are really asking….“I want to do what I dream about, it literally keeps me up at night, but I am scared as hell. Can I really take a non traditional path? Society says I need a house, car, two kids, 401k and stability. Can you please hold my hand and tell me what to do!”
Well mobility lovers I do not have the MAGIC PIXY DUST, but I do have a story that should help push you out of that desk chair and onto a foam roller.
In my previous life I taught children how to throw a baseball, kick a soccer ball, and stand in a straight line. The rewarding career of a physical education teacher was my choice. Damnit, I was determined to make a difference in children’s lives! Well, I landed in a high school full kids going through puberty and complaining about doing all physical activity. I am sure I had an impact on some children, but I could not put up with being cussed out, moaning about 5 push ups, and complaining every time I tried to actually teach them something. I mean seriously their grade was based one thing, changing into their flattering P.E. uniform.
I wanted to make an impact with fitness, but avoid the restrictions of public schools, teenage hormones, and over involved parents. Should I just quit!?
I had four years in, a solid retirement plan was set up when I stared at the ripe age of 21. I was tenured so it was next to impossible to lose my job. Education reimbursement plans were in place. I would get my masters paid for and I could easily retire at the age of 41. Oh yeah and my job was extremely easy.
It did take some serious thought, but the finial decision was QUIT and move to San Diego. California, the place where dreams become reality and the sun shines everyday. Well in my case I had no job, no plan, and no support. I needed change, I was not happy and I love to surf. So California it was! (I know, no family or wife to worry about, but you do not have to move across the country to start a gym)
I was two weeks into my Cali life and I landed a job. How? PURE HUSTLE (aka applying to everything on Craigslist.) I was stoked….for about a day. The job was a personal trainer, teaching spin class, working the front desk and making creamsicle protein smoothies for $9.50 an hour. (Whew…I get chills thinking about it)
The dream of San Diego living had landed me no benefits, no office, and no salary. Oh by the way the gym consisted of 90% homosexuals (there is nothing wrong with this, just makes a straight male teaching spin slightly uncomfortable.) To top it off, I had no experience teaching spin class.
Day one, I walk up stairs at 5:45 am to five gentleman warming up on bright yellow spin bikes excited about the new instructor. I plug in my ipod and introduce myself. “I am Geo are you ready to feel the burn!” Ha I did not say that, but you get the point, right?
As we begin to climb our first imaginary hill, I instructed the boys to pump up the resistance and rise out of the saddle for a big climb. It was then I realized a little part of me just died inside. I went from professional, I had my own office and real responsibility, to front desk boy/spin instructor in a matter of two weeks.
This crazy story comes together because I met my future business partner at that gym. Ian was a trainer at the local gym for a few months and we hit it off because of our interest in CrossFit. We eventually realized we had just enough money to open a small warehouse style gym with the CrossFit methods. After a few months of planning we pulled together our funds signed a lease and got started. It was our first business venture and we were about as naive as they come.
We were so green that we actually did not factor in owing the first and last months rent when we signed the lease. I used a college loan check ( I was getting my masters in nutrition at the time) to pay for the gym instead of school.
To bring this all together I have now quit my professional job as a teacher, quit the job I landed in San Diego after 4 months and about 60 painful spin classes later, and dropped out of school because I needed to use the loan money to start a business (not sure if that is legal). All conventional wisdom would look at that and say…DAYUM, that was dumb!
Without that risk I would still be teaching physical education at the local high school and counting down the days until summer. Some people thrive in that environment and will make a profound difference in the world, but it is not for me.
As a business we never took out a loan and started paying ourselves about 5 months after opening. My personal account was down to the last $500 before we finally got paid. We worked our way up to a legit salary in about two years. Obviously there was a ton of sweat and tears that went into becoming the affiliate we became, but this post is not about that. It is about showing you how the risk can be worth it in the long run.
I hope my journey of being scrappy, rolling with the punches, hustling, and believing that if I keep pushing I will find what makes me happy inspires you to pursue what you are passionate about.
Here is what I learned along the way.
1) Start Small- If you have a job and want to quit to open a CrossFit, then start training some friends. Get rid of the I have no time excuses, the I work for another gym crap and just do it.
2) Listen- No advertising trick in the book works better then listening. I mean really hearing someone when they tell you about their day, their story or their problems. If you take a genuine interest in every single person who you train you will build an amazing community of people.
3) Passion or Hobby? ask yourself what this is? It might sound cool and the lifestyle might seem nice, but if you are not dedicated then you will not be successful.
4) Live a Little- I am not going to give you the cliche’ speech, but seriously we only get one shot at life. You can be a wantaentrepreneur or an entrepreneur, your choice.
Drop a comment below and let me know your story…