It took moving away from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for Kevin Beamon to realize his future in CrossFit involved owning a Box.
A month after being introduced to the world of WODs in Pittsburgh, he and his family moved to Miami for his wife’s job. After joining a Box in the Sunshine State, Beamon began to be integrated into its community.
That’s when he met Brad Tobias.
“There was a new Coach that showed up, and every time he was there, I was like, ‘Uh, it’s him. I don’t like him. He’s mean,’” said Beamon. “And it ended up being this guy, Brad Tobias — he’s really the one that started pushing me a little past my comfort zone, and within a couple of weeks, I was hanging out [at the Box] for a couple of hours a day, getting tips from Brad. Immediately, I knew this guy was a little bit different than the rest of the Coaches there.”
Beamon knew his time in Miami was limited; he would be moving back to Pittsburgh in two years, and he didn’t want to return to the Box he had gone to before moving. “It didn’t give me that same community feel,” he explained. “Certainly my new Coach wasn’t there, and I’m a business guy, so I said to [Brad] half jokingly, ‘Would you want to move to Pittsburgh from Miami with me in two years?’ He didn’t even hesitate for a second; he said ‘absolutely.’”
As a real estate agent that returned to Pittsburgh every month, Beamon began to scout for a location to start up a gym. Meanwhile, Tobias met and trained Anna Tunnicliffe, an Olympic gold medalist in sailing and the CrossFitter who placed 9th in the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games.
When the two years were up, Beamon, Tobias and Tunnicliffe moved to Pittsburgh and began CrossFit Mt. Lebanon together. “Within a year, it’s really taken off,” said Beamon. “I never really did this for the business end of it. I knew that it would sustain itself, but I didn’t realize it would be as successful as it is so quickly.”
Beamon said two things have contributed to CrossFit Mt. Lebanon’s success: coaching and community. He explained coaching needs to be taken seriously, and as for community, setting a standard that everyone is accepted.
That philosophy parallels with the different program offerings at the Box. Classes like CrossFit Kids — junior varsity and varsity — and CrossFit Teens — for 12 to 17-year-olds — draw in the neighborhood’s youth, benefiting the business. “What we’re seeing is that these kids’ parents are joining now as well,” said Beamon. “They bring their kids in because the neighbor kids are coming, and then all of a sudden they see that inside this CrossFit Box there are people that actually look like them, and it’s not just Anna Tunnicliffe.”
To keep all of this running smoothly, defining roles is essential. “If you’re a really good Coach and a programmer, you have to focus on your athletes,” said Beamon. “Brad and I, we’re very clear on what we’re responsible for and what we’re good at, and we try and stick to what we’re good at. We do that with our Coaches as well. We try and let them know that we want them to do what they’re good at.
“We don’t want them to be Brad,” he continued. “We don’t want them to be me as far as coaching goes. We want them to be them.”