First, let’s get the casual readers up to speed.
Naturally, a lot of things happened between my certification and now, including becoming the gym manager at CFNH and the social media guy. Writing the CFNH blog every day took the vast majority of my CrossFit Creativity, so this blog suffered as a result. Eventually I became just the social media guy (as well as a coach throughout my tenure), which meant a little less responsibility but was still taxing on the creativity side of things.
What’s changed to justify dusting off the old blog? I’ve stepped down from my role as the CFNH blogger as one step along the path to running my own CrossFit box. I’ve given myself a bit over two weeks to let my brain recover and start thinking of more great things to say about CrossFit. I’ve decided that I’ll spend this blogging time giving you folks some insight on what it takes to open a CrossFit box nowadays (hint: expect lots of freaking out). The other thing that kept me offline for the past couple of weeks was not knowing where the box would be and letting my superstitious nature keep me quiet.
If you know any motocrossers or hockey players, it will come as no surprise to you that I’m more than a little superstitious at times. I’m usually okay with the generally accepted superstitions: no qualms about the number 13, black cats can walk wherever they want and the only reason I don’t walk under a ladder is because I don’t want something dropped on me. The majority of my superstitions tend to be personal ones, often of the “I was wearing this the last time something good happened” variety. One of the things I’m relatively consistent about superstition-wise is the feeling that talking about good things before they become a reality practically ensures they will never come to be. This was starting to become the case with our #1 location for the new box.
It’s hard to not be excited about something as momentous as opening your own CrossFit box as well as your first business venture, and with excitement comes loose lips and subsequent sunken ships. Especially when you find the PERFECT place for a box: an out-of-the-way gymnasium with its own baseball field which shares a gigantic parking lot with a
referral engine Planet Fitness. You would actually have to drive past the Planet Fitness to get to us. Awesome.
We originally found the location on LoopNet, a site catering to commercial properties. When we first tried to find the place, we drove around in circles for a good ten minutes. Once we finally found it, a ray of light broke through the clouds and choirs of angels started singing. Even before talking to the realtor, I was already dreaming up prowler and wheelbarrow WODs for the field next to the gym.
We created our LLC and submitted our affiliate paperwork and set up an appointment with the realtor. Turns out the inside of the place was pretty grim. It had been empty for the past 7-8 years and on the market for the past 5. There was a lot of disrepair and some downright creepiness, but Barb and I have rehabilitated old places before. After you’ve pulled fused-together dead rats out of a wall in a 1910 Victorian house, there’s not much that will faze you.
We got home, checked our financials and put together an offer. Since we called their realtor out of the blue, it was basically up to us to do the negotiating. Since there was a lot of legal mumbo-jumbo to go through as well and since our WODtime consigliere isn’t licensed in CT, we tracked down a real estate lawyer to give us a much-needed hand.
History and superstition were beginning to prove me right, as our negotiations with the landlord kept dragging out and getting bleaker and bleaker. The breaking point was when the landlord talked to some contractors and decided our list of tenant improvements (things like “fix broken windows, put on a fresh coat of paint, make showers less rapey”) would mean the price per square foot would need to go up an extra $2 from the original listing, close to an extra $1500 per month, or almost $87k over the span of a 5 year lease. Woof.
At that point, I decided that sadly, we wouldn’t be getting this space. Between my superstition and the interactions we had up to that point, it appeared that it was time to look elsewhere. We talked to a tenant representative (someone who tracks down places, shows them to you and does all of the lease negotiations) and it turned out he was good friends with the realtor we had been talking to about the property. He gave the realtor a call to see where their side of this negotiation stood, since we were reluctantly ready to walk away at that point.
That lit a fire and got things rolling again. I continued with the story that negotiations were falling through because again, superstitious. Superstitious for good reason, I might add, because we’re about to sign a lease for the new home of CrossFit Zenith in Meriden, CT.
As I type this, we’ve just had an offer to meet in the middle price-wise, so we’re looking at signing a lease for this place soon soon soon. It’s now time for me to step away from the computer and dance.