For 10 years, Chris Cali was a trainer at Fitness Concepts health club in Gardner, Massachusetts.
At one point, a couple of his clients wanted to try CrossFit, so he encouraged them to go for it. “They, in fact, went to a CrossFit gym and loved it,” he said. “So that automatically got my interest. We as a health club knew CrossFit was a rising interest in the gym world but weren’t sure how popular it would actually become.”
Cali did his own research, took the Level 1, and found his and his clients’ training took off. The owner of Fitness Concepts, and Cali’s uncle, gave the green light to bring CrossFit into the health club. A space adjacent to the gym was built for the Box, and CrossFit 696 was born. “It was necessary to have the additional space because a traditional CrossFit workout would never go over well in a standard gym because there’s too much moving from one piece of equipment to another,” he said. “It really needs its own space and equipment for it to work.”
There are some similarities and differences for a CrossFit Box located as part of a health club. Cali said what’s most similar is the awesome community that still engages in local competitions. Top-notch coaching is also a key element.
It’s different from many CrossFit gyms in the fact they offer 24/7 gym access to more equipment than a standard Box would offer. Fitness Concepts gives CrossFit members access to cardio equipment, a variety of machines and other group fitness classes. There is a lot of opportunity for accessory work in addition to the WOD.
“Let’s face it: one workout size does not fit all,” said Cali. “Offering our athletes all of these additional machines and classes helps them round out their fitness programs so much more.”
One of the few challenges the Box faces is making sure its music isn’t too loud. Plus, athletes must put their shirts back on when walking through the main gym. Other than that, Cali said the best benefit of having a Box inside a health club is the constant exposure they get. “A stand-alone box only gets people walking through its door who are typically looking for CrossFit,” he said. “We have people walk through our doors every day who are just ‘checking it out’ while they’re taking a break between their sets or just looking for something to make their routine different.”
But no matter if your Box is in a health club like CrossFit 696 or not, Cali’s final advice applies to all: it always comes back to coaching.
He said Affiliates need to ultimately help people move better, not just move more. And for that to happen, it comes down to coaching your members. “My biggest pet peeve about any training facility is a lack of attention to detail with people’s movement,” he said. “It’s not just about working out, it’s about helping people move better. If you do that you will always be successful.”