When you walk through the glass doors at Strong Side CrossFit in Louisville, Kentucky, for the first time, you are immediately escorted to a side room. There, you are met by a tape measure, a BODPOD and an instructor, all ready to help you test functional mobility.
Open since March 2015, Strong Side CrossFit claims to be stepping away from what “a normal CrossFit Box should offer” as one of the first Boxes in Louisville with a real-time heart monitoring system and a BODPOD body fat testing machine.
Before opening the Box, Strong Side had a clear idea of what extra equipment it would utilize in order to differentiate itself and provide the best experience for members. “We’ve fallen into this trap [of buying extra equipment] with one or two pieces, but there’s a lot of pieces of equipment that look sexy to have, but [are] not really practical and they end up getting in the way,” said Judah Boulet, a co-owner of No Risk CrossFit in Rhode Island.
Boulet said he started to gather equipment for his gym on an “as-needs” basis. He started out with the typical Box equipment – rigs and boxes. From there, he bought “extra” equipment based on feedback and the needs of his Coaches and members.
When deciding if a piece of equipment was worth buying, Boulet not only considered what his members wanted, but also how many people were coming to his Box daily. He built No Risk CrossFit for classes of 15 people and acquired “extra” pieces of equipment based on growth. Boulet said if his Box doesn’t really need it, the equipment just ends up getting in the way of workouts.
There is also a choice, and a difference, between buying American-made equipment and imported equipment. For example, Wright Equipment offers American-made, USA-grade equipment, because that allows them to ensure its quality and design.
“The quality is so much better because we can really get our hands on it and really make it the way we want to make it,” said Brian Steigleder, who works on sales and marketing at Wright Equipment. “And make it so that, from the issues with the import, we can fix those issues and we can make it the way we like it.”
Before adding extra equipment in his gym, Boulet said he first listened to customer feedback, then stood back and watched classes. Finally, he will evaluate if he needs to buy singular pieces of equipment or more of the necessary pieces.
Longazel agreed. When progressing to “the next level” at Strong Side CrossFit, not only did he buy the technology-based equipment that helped his Box stand out, he also wanted to consider the different walks of life found in his membership. He focused on a specific warm-up piece that could specifically help an athlete with a limitation.
“With the landscape of CrossFit right now, as it is growing in popularity and getting easier for people to open a CrossFit gym, there’s going to be an over infiltration of gyms in the area. Finding something that you can stand out and be unique with and offer some unique value to your customer base is going to help you be one of the better gyms in the area,” said Longazel. “I think a way to help each athlete find something that’s going to specifically help them individually, and not just a general warm up.”
Steigleder finds any purchase of equipment as an investment. “The equipment that you’re purchasing is an investment toward your business. You want to make good investments, of course, and when you invest in a good quality piece of equipment, it’s not something that you’re constantly having to repurchase or to fix,” said Steigleder.
He also recommends Affiliates do research and look for a company that offers a warranty. “The warranty is just one to show that we do make quality equipment that is going to last … in rare occasions where things fall apart, break or have an issue, we will stand behind it and we will fix that issue.”
Unfortunately, pieces of equipment can’t be evaluated when first opening a package and visually inspecting the piece. Steigleder said an Affiliate needs to use the equipment before realizing if a piece is great quality and worthy of taking up space in the Box.
Boulet will put up surveys to see how pieces of equipment are working and if more need to be purchased, but he sticks with a supplier that has built a strong relationship with his gym. He finds having pieces from the same company with which he has a good relationship makes his Box special and adds to the uniqueness of No Risk CrossFit.