How to Organize at 8th Day Gym

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Equipment is spaced out along the walls at 8th Day Gym.

At 8th Day Gym, organization has taken on a whole new meaning.

Joe Cebulski, the owner of the gym located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, said it started with dialing in the macro things of the business, like programming and excellent coaching. Then he began to look at the micro areas of the gym, as in what wasn’t functioning optimally?

It started with designing and building new plyo boxes that were adjustable in height and could be stacked and stored more efficiently. From there, it sent Cebulski on a journey to do what he always tells members: “To continually make progress to change and improve,” he said. 

Cebulski said he looked for more ways to deliver not only a comfortable and organized class, but one that was familiar and easy to navigate. He began to ask the question: How do we save time in class to give the coach more time to teach? This meant they had to organize equipment around the four training spaces that total 15,000 square feet. “We looked at ways to disseminate equipment quickly and efficiently to spread it about the room in ways to keep people from bunching up,” he shared.

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Dumbbells are stacked by weight.

For example, he moved the barbells from being all located in one corner to being placed throughout the gym. Same with the kettlebells, meaning a member is no more than five steps away from a kettlebell anywhere in the Box. This allows for members to grab their equipment without wandering around and creating traffic jams.

But how do you get members to put everything back? Simple: through colors, shapes, numbers and a sense of satisfaction.

After a hard workout, Cebulski said the deepest an adult can think is in colors, shapes and numbers. So, he has various systems that tell members where things go via these three things. And often, it’s satisfying to put them away. For example, dumbbells go back into the properly labeled weight rack, fitting perfectly into the space. Foam rollers slide into cylinders made just for them.

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Foam rollers fit perfectly in their place at the gym.

Ultimately, Cebulski said you can either try to modify behavior or modify the environment. He has found the latter has often worked better.

To organize goes beyond simply making class run better, however. It also looks to give those walking into the gym for the first time some comfort, as what they are doing is terrifying. “In so many ways, walking into a CrossFit gym is exactly the same feeling people had walking into the cafeteria in junior high for the first time,” he explained.

Understanding that fear, Cebulski came up with the idea to create sets of numbered, orange magnets. He launched them around Halloween, and they have, for better or worse, taken on the name of “pumpkins.” The idea is to avoid the hassle of getting members to determine what bike, rig, etc. they are using. Instead, they can grab a set of similarly numbered magnets and slap them on the rower, kettlebell, barbell or whatever, claiming it as theirs. He said the members have loved it.

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The infamous “pumpkins” at 8th Day Gym.

All in all, 8th Day Gym’s ability to organize is about giving members the best experience possible. And that involves asking one final question. “At the end of the day, your member leaves the gym with an experience and a feeling and emotions,” said Cebulski. “What generates that feeling and experience and emotion?”

For 8th Day Gym, part of it is organization.

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