Ashley Mitchell, the coach and manager at Adroit CrossFit, opened the gym with her husband in 2017.
She shares about the business below, from successes to challenges and more:
AM: I think the most obvious way we stand out is in our design/branding. We wanted our space to feel more like your local hip brewery/restaurant and less like your average CrossFit gym. We spent a lot of time in our branding, logo, website, design, and layout to make the space feel hip, modern, industrial and to make it fit in with the overall vibe of our neighborhood, which is an up and coming arts neighborhood filled with awesome repurposed buildings.
We’ve actually gained several members who found photos of our space – not even knowing it was a gym – on the explore page of Instagram who happened to click through, see that it was a CrossFit gym, and decide we might be a good place for them to give CF a try. It has been a great tool for us to bring people in who might have previously had a perception of CrossFit only being in dimly lit, grungy garages.
AM: Myself and my husband Jeremy were looking for a new way to get in shape before our wedding in 2013, and some friends recommended we try CrossFit. We walked into our local gym, took our introductory class and were hooked. We were members for about a year. Jeremy became a Coach, I followed soon after, and we started chatting about what it would look like if we opened our own Affiliate. It took a few years to come to fruition, but it has been so rewarding.
The biggest challenge for us was finding the perfect space – we wanted something with room to grow that wasn’t too big to start out in, and of course, within a budget we could afford for a fledging CrossFit gym with no big partnerships or investors. Funny enough, the very first place we toured ended up being the home for Adroit.
AM: We definitely possess a “work hard, play hard” mentality at Adroit. We take what we do very seriously, as what is more serious and impactful than giving people the tools to take control of their health and wellness? We also realize what we are doing is exercising for time, so we try to make each person’s time at Adroit as fun as possible.
We do a ton of community events and love getting folks outside of the gym for fun activities – beach WODs, partnerships with local breweries to do workouts, etc. Our Affiliate has definitely been the place a lot of people have started their first CrossFit experience, and to us that means everything, We have joked we are the “CrossFit gym for people who don’t do CrossFit.”
A really fun fact about myself and Jeremy as owners is neither of us is inherently “athletic.” I rode horses growing up and Jeremy did some BMX/skateboarding, but we aren’t your “typical” owner in the sense we weren’t high school or college athletes, and we don’t come from team sports backgrounds.
However, we firmly believe this gives us an advantage as Coaches and owners because when someone comes in that has no CrossFIt experience or really any athletic experience, we truly do know what they are feeling as we’ve been there. This makes us great Coaches for inexperienced lifters and CrossFitters.
AM: We contribute our success to a lot of hard work, a lot of tenacity, not taking “no” for an answer, and of course, a lot of support from our family and friends. It takes a little bit of gumption to open any business, especially one with this much overhead, and you have to have a little bit of recklessness inside of you to take the big risks.
AM: I think one of the biggest things people get wrapped up in is their number of members. People are always searching for ways to bring in new bodies. We prefer a slow, steady growth, as those people that do come to us stay. We offer additional programs via our gymnastics, barbell and nutrition programs. We do a lot of fun apparel orders that bring our ACV way up. So, we prefer adding two to three members a month and providing them with the best experience possible.
There is no “right” way to run a gym – that is the beauty of the Affiliate model. Do what works best for you – just because the gym down the road has 150 members doesn’t necessarily mean you need 150 members. Think outside of the box – no pun intended – and focus on the clients you already have. They are going to be the best walking billboards you can have.
AM: We actually only offer CrossFit – and a couple yoga classes a week – at this time and that is where we have put our focus. We did start out with a 45-minute boot camp style class, but our CrossFit program took off to the point we realized we were investing a lot of time and money into a program that wasn’t seeing results. Other programs work great for other gyms, and we may revisit new offerings later, but for now, we are focused solely on CrossFit. We do offer additional programming for our athletes in terms of barbell and gymnastics work, as well as a small nutrition program. These do well as add-ons to people’s monthly CrossFit classes.