CrossFit Cimmeria

CrossFit Cimmeria
Images courtesy of Shutterstock

CrossFit Cimmeria (CFC) in Portland, Oregon, opened in 2012 and Affiliated in 2013. Ty Holbrook, the owner of the gym, shares about the business below.

Business Breakdown:

  • 120 members
  • 4,000 square feet
  • Cost of membership three times a week is $119 and unlimited is $149
  • Four Coaches

Question 1: Describe your business. What makes your box unique/stand out from the rest?

From Day One I made a commitment to create a place where people could come get a great workout with a supportive, encouraging and positive community. This community is now self-sufficient, and it’s been an absolute joy to watch it grow from 2012 until today and keep that same welcoming feel. Members like Gina, Howard, Becky and others that have been with us since Day One have been instrumental in helping that happen.

We host a pool party at the local community college each year for all of our members and their families as a thank you for continuing to support our Box. This has turned into a great event where members bring and share food, stories and memories. The optional pool workouts are a blast.

We believe in the quality of our Coaches. We know everyone on some level would like to improve on some aspect of the fitness. Our Coaches are there to help in any way they can and do a fantastic job inside and outside of class answering questions and offering advice whenever asked.  

Question 2: How did you get involved in CrossFit? What were your greatest challenges in opening your Box?

I’ve been coaching athletes in a wide variety of sports for over 20 years. Out of high school and through college I was a ski/snowboard instructor during the winter months and a personal trainer during the summers. I went on to teach rock climbing at Mt. Hood Community College while building an undefeated record in MMA. I was the head strength and conditioning coach at Team Quest, while continuing to coach MMA and wrestling under Matt Lindland, an Olympic Silver medalist. It was around that time in 2011 I was introduced to CrossFit, and I haven’t looked back. Opening CFC was the natural progression in what has become my life’s work. I pride myself on our world-class coaching,  friendly and welcoming environment, and continuing to help people lead happier and healthier lives.

When I first opened, literally the only piece of equipment I owned was a 35-pound kettlebell and a Bosu Ball. And actually, the kettlebell was my dad’s, a Christmas gift I had given him the year before that he kindly “loaned” to me. For the next few years, every new member allowed me to buy or save for the next piece of equipment. We’ve built CFC from very little to something I’m happy with without any loans or financing. My dad’s 35-pound kettlebell is still on our rack today and a great reminder of how far we’ve come. 

I really think those of us that opened up around or before 2012 had an easier time getting things going than those that opened up more recently. People didn’t walk in with any expectations. If I could provide a comfortable, motivating place along with a solid workout, I didn’t need axle bars, peg boards, GHD’s or much else. All of the fun stuff we have now is from and for our members.

Question 3: What are some fun facts about your business?

1. As a fundraiser to buy a Ski Erg or two, one of my Coaches Brian and I pulled a sled loaded with 90 pounds from our gym in Gresham up to Mt Hood Ski Bowl. It took us exactly 24 hours with no sleep and no long breaks to travel the 39 miles and 3,600 feet of elevation gain. We carried water and snacks in our backpack, and many of our members met us at certain points of the trip with more food and drinks. The last six or seven hours were filled with winding roads in pitch black, snowy conditions. We stopped every 400 to 600 meters to down candy bars and Pepsi, just to make it another 400 meters. It was a great experience and community building effort. All in all, we were able to purchase a few more Ski Ergs.

2. Cimmeria is a name most people younger than 30 may not have heard. Cimmeria is the fictional birthplace of Conan the Barbarian. That’s where CrossFit Cimmeria came from. I still thank my wife for coming up with such a great name.

It stands for: 

  • Community Focused
  • Inviting Environment
  • Member Driven
  • Mindful Coaching
  • Equal Opportunity Fitness
  • Respect
  • Intensity
  • Accountability

Question 4: Who or what do you contribute your success to? 

I’ve already talked a bit about our Coaches and members, without which we wouldn’t have been as successful as we’ve been. Along with many others, I have to thank my wife who over these years has sacrificed so much of her time, energy and paycheck to make CFC work. Her patience has allowed me to put in the long hours required to build our Box. I would often leave the house at 4:30 a.m. and didn’t get home until 9 p.m. Happily, those days don’t happen as much anymore, but when they do, I know I’m coming home to a supportive partner. We’re closing in on our 20-year anniversary, and I couldn’t be more thankful for her.

Question 5: What is one lesson you have learned that other affiliates would find beneficial?

You can’t and never will please everybody. So, pick a schedule, program, cycle, etc. and stick with it until it legitimately is time to make a change.

Plan and be prepared for quick/aggressive growth — lack of space, equipment, etc. We grew when I couldn’t offer what I wanted to offer.

Communicate your plans for the gym with your members. Make sure they are always aware of the changes you are planning to make so they don’t feel blindsided.

Question 6: What is one program you do exceptionally well? Why?

Olympic lifting. Coach Brian and I both have our CrossFit Weightlifting certification. I’ve also taken the Outlaw Way lifting course, Parabellum. I’m a firm believer in the value of working with the barbell, but we’ve got to keep our members using it safely. 

When we have an Olympic lifting portion of class, we begin with The Burgener warm-up to ensure each athlete is hitting each position properly, whether that is with a PVC pipe or an empty barbell. Athletes are only allowed to add weight once they’ve hit their positions and both the Coach and athlete feel comfortable moving forward.

Heather Hartmann
Heather is the editor for Box Pro Magazine. Contact her at heather@peakemedia.com.