Mike Babin’s introduction to CrossFit was through motocross athletes.
In 2008, he started sports performance training, soon founding Next Level Performance. For a few years, Babin jumped from facility to facility, training mostly youth athletes. Then in 2013, a few motocross athletes came in asking for training and if Babin could train them in CrossFit.
So Babin traveled to Houston, got his Level 1 and was sold on the concept of the fitness regimen. Moving into an 11,000-square-foot facility, he has CrossFit APAR, Next Level youth performance training and On the Geaux Fitness, a private fitness company run by Melissa Cantrell, all under one roof.
Bringing multiple businesses together hasn’t been easy, but Babin said there’s a lot of crossover. For example, the only difference between Next Level and CrossFit is the fact Next Level works more on speed and agility with the kids. But this means Babin has to schedule accordingly as he is the main trainer for both programs.
A big thing Babin has learned with so much going on is patience when it comes to people and their progress. “You’re getting people with different goals, not everybody is trying to make it to the CrossFit Games and not everyone is just geared toward, ‘I just want to feel better.’ Some are wanting a little more; some are wanting a little less,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s about fun. We’ve got to be able to create some kind of fun atmosphere for people.”
One thing he would do differently is grow slower. He jumped to such a large space so quickly because he wanted to reach as many people as he could. “I felt that if I was restricted with the size of facility, then I was never going to be able to reach those people, or as many people,” he said. “But then on the flip side of that is I’m only one person. So you’ve got to be able to duplicate yourself. You’ve got to be able to grow staff within. Try to teach them the methods that you’re trying to have within your Box so that it expands out. If my facility is known as a facility that is just geared toward health and wellness, then I want my trainers from within here to have that same passion for the clients.”
He also solved the problem of a large space by building a percentage-based partnership with On the Geaux. Cantrell is utilizing space he isn’t, giving him another revenue stream. “I want her business to grow,” he said. “I’m going to spend as much time and energy into helping that, otherwise we’re just two entities under the same roof.”
Most importantly, Babin said to recognize the inward battle of your trainer self and your business owner self. He explained they don’t usually agree with one another — the trainer wants to give stuff away and spend money; the business owner is about numbers and marketing. It can be a constant battle, but is something you must be aware of.
Through it all, Babin said don’t get let your desires get ahead of themselves, but also don’t remain stagnant. Adaption is a key to success. “If you don’t decide to move or change, you’re going to be left behind,” said Babin. “I love the fact that I’ve got all of these different things going on within my facility, and I hope that works.”