The Million Dollar Gym: Idea into Reality


The Idea:

Move our current CrossFit business from a 6,000-square-foot space that we rent to a brand new 10,000 to 12,000-square-foot facility that we own.

The Benefits:

Owning a piece of commercial real estate that generates income.
Create a custom-built space that allows for expansion.
Create the gym of our dreams.

The Challenges:

Where do we build?
How do we build?
How are we going to pay for it?

Where do we build?

The first step was to determine what are the options:

  • Stay in very close proximity to where we currently are. There are several vacant lots that would be suitable for our needs. This is desirable because it wouldn’t disrupt our current membership when we move and would allow us to remain the predominate option for CrossFit in south Lexington, Kentucky.
  • Move to a more centrally-located site. This option would allow us an opportunity to be accessible to more potential new members, but might create an inconvenience for current members. Would the plus of potential new members outweigh possibility of losing existing members?

How do we build?

For this we leaned on the advice, “when you have a goal/idea, let everyone know about it.” You never know who has expertise or a connection to someone who does. By talking to people about our idea, we found both. This then led us to referrals of general contractors and project managers – both of which have their advantages and disadvantages. These will be addressed in a later article, but after meeting with both, we learned a lot of things we would have never known and started to get closer to taking an idea we have in our heads and turning it into something tangible.

How are we going to pay for it?

To answer, we had to determine what it would cost. We did so by creating a budget using some very loose estimations of land and building cost and coming up with a monthly cost for a mortgage. We then compared those numbers to our current monthly revenue and were able to determine if this grand idea was even in the ballpark of reality. It was! The next step was then to replace those loose numbers with ones that are real. This also goes back to meeting with general contractors along with real estate agents representing some lots we are interested in. After doing so, the plan didn’t seem as within reach. This however didn’t totally crush our dream. The great thing about this whole process is that everything is negotiable, there are ways to cut costs, and possible new partners/investors have been popping out of the woodwork ever since we started talking about our idea with everyone.

So for now, the dream remains alive. It may be a one in a million shot, but to quote Lloyd Christmas – a.k.a. Jim Carrey – “So you’re telling me there’s a chance? YEEEAAAHHH!!!”

Eric Karls is a founder of CrossFit 859 in Nicholasville, Kentucky. He also helped open CrossFit Fisticuffs in Georgetown, Kentucky, and is the founder/supervisor of Georgetown College CrossFit. Eric can be followed on his personal Facebook or contacted at