When the owner and staff of CrossFit Portsmouth were approached by six members about opening up a gym in Maine, they said why not?
“When they came to us, it was something that I had been passing around the idea of with our owner anyways,” said Justin Mahan, the director of coaching at and a co-owner of CrossFit Harpoon in York, Maine. “We all agreed that because it was a dream of ours, like a shared dream, that we could make it happen, because at the same time we were opening Harpoon, we still had a pretty successful gym to run, which was very, very challenging.”
With CrossFit Portsmouth in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, having been around for five years, Mahan explained they didn’t have to do any trial and error with Harpoon — they already knew what worked and what didn’t. “Portsmouth had done all the work in the laboratory,” he said.
However, that didn’t make it any less difficult. The four co-owners of Harpoon had their responsibilities at Portsmouth to uphold while demolishing and constructing the new Box. York also had yet to taste CrossFit, so the entire culture of Harpoon is different than Portsmouth. “It was definitely scary, but it was definitely worth the risk to do it,” said Sophie Ludi, the office manager and co-owner of CrossFit Harpoon in York.
What made it all work was time management, said Madeline Senkosky, the director of media at and a co-owner of Harpoon. She said they had to find a balance between being at both Boxes in a way that didn’t cripple performance at either location. Plus, having a skilled team in place was helpful. Finally, emotional investment was the last ingredient that pulled it all together, said Mahan.
As for the differences in culture and community, Ludi explained a lot of the members at Harpoon are new to CrossFit, unlike Portsmouth which has veteran athletes. However, she said it has been nice to go back to the basics and teach people about CrossFit.
Senkosky echoed this. “The own personality and community of York — it’s definitely a different breed than it is Portsmouth, but we had a foundation to build on,” she said.
Although the foundation has been nice, Senkosky added that passion is probably the largest factor no matter what your role in the CrossFit business is. Truly loving teaching and helping people better their lives is what it’s all about. “My biggest piece of advice is you have to have passion for the sport and development of the community, otherwise it’s just something you show up for,” she said.
Photos by Mike McMahon