Get Outside of the Box and Collaborate


Running a gym is a lot of work, and we often spend a lot of time looking through blinders as we grind away at our businesses alone, trying to do it all. 

We learned early that spending all of our time in the gym and only with members and staff can get repetitive and stifle creativity, which you need to keep classes fun and fresh, plan fun events, write good ad copy, keep up with retention, freshen up your marketing materials, etc.

Early on we spent time working at coffee shops, breweries, restaurants and any other small business nearby that we could, partially out of necessity. We are based in Fargo, North Dakota, and the cold temperatures coupled with heaters that were not conducive to productivity outside of working out forced us to work in a warmer building. The fact that we were brand new to Fargo with little to no connections while trying to grow a gym sent us dropping into lots of different places. 

However, the relationships we built and opportunities that has afforded us have been innumerable. I would highly encourage you to do the same for your business no matter what it is. 

We have a lot of different collaborations/partnerships we have done and many we do on an ongoing basis that have been critical in the success of our Box. Here are a few along with tips to make them effective:

Shop Local

We frequented a local shop downtown – Unglued – that is basically if Etsy came to life selling goods from makers all over the region and teaching classes for the less artistic folks. It’s magical; every town needs one.

When you go to these studios, chat with the folks working and get to know them better. This shop came to us shortly after we met them and shopped a few times to ask us to teach bootcamps at their adult summer camp they were hosting. All we had to do was help plan the camp, which was an absolute blast.

It was free marketing to 200 local Fargo people and a great way for us newbies to meet people. This was honestly a big tipping point for our business to finally get some traction. Plus, it was so fun we go back every summer and are even helping with their first ever winter camp.

Be Yourself 

We also frequented a local brewery down the street as they were brand new as well. They wanted to bring a regular “Viking Yoga” class to their brewery, but they didn’t want any “babbling brook bullshit.”

They had met me as a patron, knew I was doing my yoga teacher training, that my type of class would jive with their vision, and that our gym was nearby, so they asked me to take lead on it.

Three years later we still fill the taproom one Saturday a month. We host class one hour before they open, so they open up to a full taproom and a boost in sales during a time that is usually slow for them. They also just moved in next door, so we also host monthly “No shower happy hours.” They are even a sponsor for our Friday Night Lights event each year.

Make it Mutually Beneficial

We never present an idea to another business if we don’t have a way that we can directly help them, even if it is small. 

Our new Yoga+HIIT/CrossFit Hybrid Program called Flux was taking longer to get the awareness out and gain momentum than we wanted. So, we decided to partner up with a local yoga studio in town. 

Our members get some free classes each month, and their yogis get access to our classes. All members get flexibility in class offerings, and a little extra stretch or strength and conditioning. We sell more punch-cards as a result. More awareness around town and a boost in sales for both gyms means it’s a win-win.

Doing these types of events is fun and shakes things up, which our members love. And having other business owners to work with, bounce ideas off of and team up with makes your bench that much deeper, and life as a business owner that much greater.

Now, get out of your Box and collaborate.

Born and raised in York, Pennsylvania, Courtney Shoemaker then slowly migrated over the years to Fargo, North Dakota. She spent most of her adult life working in corporate America, and finally took the leap to leave for a new career in CrossFit. Outside of the gym she also spends time skydiving or doing yoga. CrossFit Icehouse was established in 2015 in Fargo, North Dakota, with the goal of “Building Everyday Athletes.” CrossFit Icehouse is a “You First” fitness environment. It builds relationships and create healthy habits through fitness to allow you to become the best version of yourself. Reach her at