Finding Your Perfect Space

Still with motorcycle parts scattered about, Chad Warren toured the second floor of a vacant 8,000-square-foot Harley Davidson dealership envisioning his future CrossFit.

For years, he had driven past the building every day on his way to and from work. His thoughts? “I always imagined that would make such a perfect location for a CrossFit,” said Warren. “It’s an absolutely beautiful, enormous building, right on one of the busiest roads in the county … It’s really kind of an anchor for the area. It’s the most prominent building for miles, actually.”

Warren referred to the two-story structure as his “dream building,” admitting it was the only spot he ever wanted Space Coast CrossFit in Melbourne, Florida, to dwell in. But, it was a long journey and only truly began after he got into contact with the owner of the building, Steve Oktela.

Calling up Oktela, Warren proceeded to explain his love and enthusiasm for the location, as well as what he had in mind for its future. “His response was, ‘wow, sounds like you have a clear vision, but I’m not sure we can do this. Let me think about it,’” said Warren.

But he was not deterred, and while Warren kept looking at other buildings, his dream location resided in the back of his mind. “Find something that really strikes you. Find something that you just can’t stop thinking about,” he said. “Go look at every other street [and] building in your city, in your county, but always keep an eye on what really strikes you. What really lights your fire because even though I knew the one building, I went and looked at hundreds of other ones.”

It was January of 2013, months after they had first met, when Warren wished Oktela a happy and blessed New Year. And it was the reply to that text message in which Warren was invited to come in and talk.

After touring the building, Oktela asked Warren what he could pay for leasing the second floor. When Warren offered up the number, Oktela’s response was simple. “He just looks at me rather sublimely and says, ‘you know Chad, sometimes in life you have to let the person know just how big of a favor they’re doing for you, and this is one of those moments. I’ll accept your offer,’” said Warren.

Since Jan. 19, 2013, Space Coast CrossFit has expanded to the first floor as well. Warren said they now have space for a lobby and are renovating to add a pro shop. The space also allows for a room to hold classes and seminars. Throughout the process of making the space unique, Warren admitted to a single mentality that has driven all of his choices. It’s asking the question, what would Apple do?

“What would Apple do if they built a CrossFit gym?” he said. “So, basically any decision since before day one, the question was how would Apple do it? It would be a state of the art facility; it would be the best equipment; it would be the cleanest CrossFit gym anyone has ever experienced.”

Warren said he has not done anything for his Box unless he could do it right, even if that meant waiting to put up signs outside the building or holding out for the perfect location.

With the space at the Box, he said it opens up doors for the members. “By expanding our gym we are able to offer more classes, reduce class size and get back to the individual attention of the athletes because there’s nothing more important,” he said.

What it all comes down to are the members. For Warren, that’s what finding the right space, and making the right use of it, means. “The overriding thing is just truly trying to create the most spectacular CrossFit experience ever for our members and our guests,” he said. “Everything falls back to that.”

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