Every day, starting at the age of 6, Brian Franzen would leave his elementary school and cross the street to a city recreation center. With a single mom working during the week, Franzen said he would spend his time playing sports in city-run programs.
“That really helped mold me and develop my passion for fitness, passion for sports,” said Franzen. “That always stuck with me.”
In fact, Franzen said the driving force behind opening his own gym, CrossFit Insurgent in West Covina, California, was the ability to offer a free after school program. And for the past two years, he’s done just that.
At 3:30 p.m., from Monday to Thursday each week, kids ages 13 to 17 show up at the gym for an hour-long class. They come from middle schools and high schools in the area, and Franzen said he has an average of 15 to 17 kids each day.
“The biggest thing that I have seen is that there is even more interest than I expected,” said Franzen. “These kids, some after school, they walk here and it takes them 20 to 30 minutes to get here. I’m just surprised at how popular it has become. CrossFit is not easy. CrossFit is a hard sport and I underestimated how popular it would be, but I’m thrilled. I’m happy with it because that just means we’re serving a larger community.”
Although marketing for the program is limited to social media and word of mouth, Franzen said that’s not a problem. He explained since the program is free, he only wants people who want to be there to join. However, with friends telling friends and with Franzen’s connection to high school and junior high coaches, kids are increasingly made aware of the after school option at the Box. In fact, Franzen even said the program has won several local awards from the surrounding high schools and the city of West Covina.
Passion for the program is not limited to Franzen himself. While he was the only Coach for the kids in the beginning, over time his staff asked to get involved. He let them volunteer at first, proving that they really wanted to help out. “Once I saw that passion growing and that desire to coach the kids program, we brought [the Coaches] on board as paid staff,” said Franzen. “I didn’t force anybody to do this, and it’s really neat because now they look forward to coaching the kids.”
It all comes down to the want and desire to run an after school program. Franzen said he funds the program, but with his staff believing in it as much as he does, it has become successful. “What drives it is just our passion to really help our community and help out the kids, and because of my background it made a big impact on my life,” said Franzen. “It makes me feel like I’m giving back.”
Photo credit: Rian Carmona