How We Got Here and The Unknown Ahead

Oct. 8, 2020

I find myself facing an upcoming position with a lot of questions. I’ve been in situations like these before and was always grateful for the turnout and experience.

In 2019 I made a few attempts to reach out in a polite and professional way to the landlord. I was interested in the potential to expand our location into Wild Birds or the fencing club. I also offered to assist them with cleaning up the overgrown brush and trees behind the building since they stopped maintaining it 3 years ago.

I opted to use a tenant representative broker to navigate the conversation since I wasn’t having much luck getting through to him. He quickly and half heartedly recommend that we switch locations with Sweet Dreams. I went over to check it out and wasn’t sure how that was going to work and asked for another option. He said my contract was to far away to address the need at the time. It was about 18-20 months in advance.

Our lease is up on March 31st, 2021. That is now 6 months away and before we know it that time is going to be here. So we have came up with some possible alternatives but wanted to ask the community for prayers and positive vibes as we go into unknown territory.

What I mean by that is with the market the way it is now we feel that our need to be here is greater than ever. And our vision of serving in this ways and much greater have never stopped evolving.

Listen if you happened to be around when we first took over CrossFit West Des Moines in August of 2017 then you’ve seen significant changes already made. All remodels aside I am talking about the types of people Jess and I were, the type of business practices and knowledge it was running off of then, the total amount of time coaching and time spent developing the business and ourselves as coaches back then…. compared to today…. its a different atmosphere. Its a different culture. Its a different product to some degree.

You have rode through the storm with us. You have learned with us. You all have made it possible to lay this incredible foundation of the new generation CrossFit West Des Moines.

I didn’t take over CrossFit West Des Moines to turn my investment over quick. I knew the statistics of failure for small business. I prepared myself for a storm. I took up some entrepreneur and college classes which began shortly after beginning CrossFit in 2015. I never stopped working my ass off and finding overtime. Double shifts. Occasional weekend shifts. Stay extra late to just take care of the small things and keep things tidy. I poured into the stores and the teams I worked with at QuikTrip. I started studying minimalism. Learned how to budget. Started studying how to manage time more efficiently (literally, and still do this).

I didnt know when my moment was going to come and I would leave QuikTrip for a bigger and better opportunity. I didnt know what that package was supposed to look like. But when I knew… I knew.

After years of battling carple tunnel syndrome in my wrist I finally decided in 2017 I would take advantage of the amazing insurance I had and do something about it. I hated going to doctors, and traditionally hated taking time off work but the way this unfolded allowed me to maximize my time off of work in a passion I always wanted to spend more time on!

Jess and I happened to schedule our Level 1 Seminar the weekend before the Monday that I was having my surgery on one wrist. So we spent 2-3 months preparing to become a coach. Shadowed some classes but mainly… immediately started applying all of the incredible information we were studying in the L1 Guide into our daily practices as athletes. We began observing other athletes more intentionally. Began watching the coaches closer.

That Monday I asked the surgeon to consider the longer angle to recovery and he blessed me with that. I also re-injured the incision after 10 days which delayed it a little longer before I had to have surgery on my opposite wrist. In total I had almost 3 full months away from QuikTrip getting paid 60-80% workers comp. Wow!

I began having frequent conversations with the owner as he was building another business. I began spending more time with the manager of the gym and understanding what it took to run the business operationally. We began developing relationships with other coaches and members of the gym. Were we a breath of fresh air or insecure newbie coaches? Who knows. Cause everything about it was exciting to me. During that 3 month period I had never been so exposed to such challenging circumstances.

You’ll laugh when I tell you that standing in front of a class was challenging. Introducing myself to everyone was challenging. Teaching felt okay but raising my voice was really hard. I saw a lot of things that I wanted to understand but I didn’t understand it enough, nor have enough courage to approach every athlete that I wanted to. I started chipping in financially to protect the business from collapsing right in front of me. I just started getting my feet wet when I was faced with a $3,000 bill to stay affiliated with CrossFit. This was after 1 month of leaving my job. The 3 owners involved did nothing to pay that bill, the credit card bills, nor the insurance bills (which 2 months later was shut off without me knowing). I was seeing soooo many things that needed improvement and guidance that I just started doing them and putting out fires.

At some point I racked up over $9,000 in investments towards the gyms cause. I skipped 3 months worth of pay and the day came when I was actually going to sign the dotted line to purchase this business that I already witnessed taking way more from me (time and money) then most people would want to partake in. But to me… my faith in knowing that this business was not only going to survive but it was going to come back stronger than ever.

I love trial and error. I love experimenting with what works and what doesn’t. I’m always okay with making mistakes and reflecting on them. And holy cow have I trial and erred. I have used a couple of business mentors and coaches along the way. I found Jesus along the way. I have had athletes who stepped UP to coach and serve their community willingly along the way. I have tested some alternative structures with employees along the way. I have tested new programs, new equipment, new methods of programming, and Googled “how-to” endless times in the last 3 years. Signed up and studied for 10-15 different coaching courses. Different structures of Fundamentals and pricing offers.

My faith in this gym has evolved tremendously. We went from 67 athletes to 130. Very slow and steady growth over the last 3 years to get there. Annual revenue went from $98,000 to $172,000. We still to this day only use Google, word of mouth, and facebook/Instagram as our marketing. That is almost fully organic growth.

Two things we are addressing now is the development of our staff and leadership team. As well as level of communication to our members and coaches. In turn we hope to see better retention and engagement.

We are also working on more creative ways to generate awareness of our brand and how we serve.

I believe that our approach to change, our business principles, the relentless desire to improve the facility, faculty, and experience will shine through these times of trial. As we consider our next phase we plan to keep you all in the loop with where we stand and what the plans are for the location of CrossFit West Des Moines.

Could be here.

Could be Suite Dreams.

Could be elsewhere! We’ve checked out 3 other locations and have a couple more in mind. Throw out any suggestions you have so we can consider the alternatives.

We appreciate you all so much. This journey wouldn’t be what it has been without you all. We are so grateful to be able to host a challenging and rewarding experience for you day in and day out. We truly want to be a staple in the Des Moines area for fitness, coaching, and community.

If you know someone that needs CrossFit. Please introduce us. You have an opportunity to share what you have been able to experience with others. Aren’t you glad someone told you about CrossFit?

Kris Gregory
Owner, CrossFit West Des Moines