Friends don’t always hand out the best advice, but every once in a while they do.
Carl Balentyne, owner of Sycamore CrossFit, got into CrossFit at the recommendation of a friend, and a few weeks ago his Box celebrated five years of business.
“We started it like most CrossFit gyms started many years ago with a small following and just a little bit of equipment,” Balentyne said. “From there we slowly grew for a couple years, and expanded at about two and a half years to triple our size to our current facility.”
Balentyne added that there was a severe need for a CrossFit gym in his area of northern Illinois.
He said when he first began, he was forced to work out in commercial gyms for lack of CrossFit Boxes in the immediate area.
“All of my workouts came from the CrossFit.com website, the old videos explaining the workouts were inspiring and showed us what we had to do day to day,” he said.
Fast forward five years, and Balentyne could be found celebrating his success as a Box owner by hosting an in-house competition — a staple at Sycamore CrossFit.
“Over the past few years we have done ‘Friday Night Lights’ for the open and many of our members have enjoyed it so much they talk about it year round,” he said. “We decided an in-house competition run similar to our ‘Friday Night Lights’ was the perfect opportunity for our gym to celebrate their fitness but also the growth of our business over the past five years.”
The Box owner said that one of the reasons Sycamore CrossFit has been around for as long as it has is because of the way he operates his business.
Balentyne boasts a Master’s in Business Administration, and believes his business background assists in the way he runs his facility.
“I understand the operations of running a business many CrossFit gym owners may be missing. I can look at a financial statement and know what it means and then be able to make projections from it,” he said.
He emphasized the importance of having strategic operating procedures in making sure a Box is run smoothly and that every employee is familiar with protocol as well, adding that he does not want to run his Box as if it’s a hobby, which he said he’s seen from other gyms over the years.
While five years is an accomplishment, and Balentyne’s strategies seem to work for he and his members, Sycamore CrossFit is constantly looking toward the future.
“We are focusing on having high-quality coaching and transforming our business from just doing group CrossFit classes to now, specializing in a personal touch with all of our members by doing one-on-one coaching in addition to group classes,” he said. “We feel this is the next step in the evolution of CrossFit facilities.”