Elevate is a brand and gym that beats to its own drum.
Which seems fitting, considering its owners have a history with drums. Back in their youth, Taylor Race was a drummer in a band, and his now-wife Nicole would go to the shows. And being together since teenagers hasn’t hindered their business relationship. “To see how well they operate, sometimes you wouldn’t even know they’re married because they’re so concerned about the business and the people and the love they have for their members,” said Audrey Sanchev, a Coach at the gym located in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Concern for members and the greater community have driven each of Taylor and Nicole’s decisions since they stepped in as owners of Elevate. At the time they joined in 2013, the gym wasn’t Affiliated and just provided cross-training style classes. When the Races came onto the scene, they had already fallen in love with barbell training. Nicole started teaching some classes, growing them exponentially.
Taylor shared the previous owners didn’t have much of a plan for the business when he and Nicole came onboard. So, by the end of 2013 they found themselves taking over and going all in to build the gym. “It was really the answer we needed as far as wanting to start our own business,” he said. “We wanted to start a gym; we just weren’t sure how it was going to happen.”
At the same time, they decided to Affiliate as SPSC CrossFit. “We got Affiliated with the idea of really raising the standard and prove to people CrossFit could be a very high-quality program, which isn’t necessarily the case for all CrossFit gyms,” said Taylor.
Since 2013, the business has grown. Nicole said it wasn’t through social media, but by being aggressive and proactive in the community. “It was just get out there, put as many signs out, create awareness, introduce ourselves, offer a lot of free trials, offer free memberships to business owners who have influence in the area, just trying to really prove ourselves and take a help-first mentality,” she said.
However, with growth often comes adaptation and evolution. And in 2017, the Races made two changes that would set the gym on a new path into the future.
The first was rebranding from SPSC CrossFit to Elevate. Taylor explained they had various programs beyond CrossFit, and it was confusing their audience. They realized the need for an overarching brand all of their programs could fit under.
Whiteboarding the brainstorming sessions, they looked for a name that was positive and about self improvement. Eventually, they landed on Elevate. But, a brand doesn’t come from just changing a name or making a logo. Nicole explained before they could even think of rolling it out, they wanted the entire brand to be solidified.
From outsourcing a designer to create the logo to choosing a color scheme, they even determined how they would refer to their community and team under the new brand. The website was made ready, new apparel ordered and sign-changes prepped all before they announced the rebranding to their membership on Facebook Live. However, hints were given via hashtags that contained the word “elevate.”
Consistency and building a strong brand have helped the rebranding be successful. Taylor said you must have a consistent voice and message behind your brand. Nicole said you also have to have your team onboard.
“We rolled it out as something very positive, but we made it very well known that we had made that change, so we could keep our reputation and continue on with it,” said Taylor.
Sanchev explained each and every change the Races have made in the business has been for the better. As one of their staff, it’s important her and the rest of the team get behind their decisions. In fact, she said one of the things that has kept her at Elevate is the fact the owners elaborate on issues and are very open. They understand members are different and need different things as well. “You have to be open minded to changing and to evolving as a gym and as a person and as a Coach,” said Sanchev.
Evolving is a word that continues to define Elevate and its owners.
One of the biggest evolutions of 2017 happened in November, about 11 months after the business’ rebrand: Elevate decided to unaffiliate from CrossFit.
“What we were finding was we wanted to do other things,” said Taylor. “We wanted our program to be more comprehensive than it was, because even though CrossFit as a method is very general, there’s still a very specific type of training you have to provide, and that training over the years has gone into this very competitive atmosphere.”
But, he said it was more than just that fact. The talk around St. Petersburg about CrossFit is full of negative things. Taylor and Nicole kept running into the same barriers of misconceptions of CrossFit and trying to defend it. “I think a lot of Affiliates are in a spot right now where no matter what you do in your gym, you’re going to be compared to the best or the worst that’s around you,” said Nicole. “Since we’ve done it, we just felt like we opened up an entire new world of people we can touch and reach and help.”
While they still love CrossFit in its purest form, it was a decision they felt would be best for business and for the community. They want to give people a 360-degree view of fitness and better lives. “We just know how much the barbell changed our lives and we want to convey that to other people, and at the same time show them they can be healthy and have a sustainable lifestyle and continue to be strong and happy with themselves,” said Taylor.
In fact, Taylor and Nicole have taken their own advice. They aren’t trying to be everything to everyone. The owners are doing what they do best at Elevate – serving their members. And that starts from the very beginning of their journey. Nicole said it’s speaking to your market about how you are going to help them solve their problems, not all the nifty features and programs you have available. “We want to be hands-down known as the place to go where people can have not only a fun time, but get great results and be supported and have a very professional, top-notch, over-the-top experience,” said Nicole.
While the big changes in 2017 will be hard to beat in the years to come, the Races are ready. Because they know the beat of their own drum and they are sticking to it, no matter what lies ahead.
“We fail at things all the time,” said Nicole. “[Which means] they weren’t truly what we wanted to do in our hearts. Sometimes we make irrational decisions just based on desperation or maybe what the next gym or the other business is doing because it may be successful for them, but if it isn’t truly aligned with you and your philosophy and your bigger mission as a gym and a brand, it’s probably not going to be successful.”