When Sean Emery was first introduced to CrossFit, his body screamed at him to quit, but his mind didn’t. “I was completely destroyed and also completely in love,” he said.
Emery’s sister, Erin Losie, had a similar reaction to her first CrossFit experience. “I thought, ‘this doesn’t sound that difficult,’” she recalled. “A quarter of the way through, I thought I was going to die.”
Both Emery and Losie had served in the U.S. military, so weren’t strangers to extreme workouts. Emery served eight years in the Navy, while Losie served five in the Marines.
After their time in the military, the brother and sister duo decided that nine-to-five day jobs weren’t their cup of tea. “Neither of us were thrilled with our employment,” said Emery. “We were drawn to the idea of owning our own business.”
As a result, Emery and Losie coupled that desire with their love of CrossFit, and Old City CrossFit in Washington, D.C., was born in October 2013.
Old City CrossFit almost immediately exceeded Losie and Emery’s expectations. At the time, it was the first Box in the area, and the co-owners thought they’d be able to train all of their members themselves. However, due to above-expected membership numbers, they had to almost immediately hire additional Coaches. “Anyone who starts a business doesn’t fully know what they’re getting into when they’re getting into it,” said Emery. “We’re constantly reassessing and constantly trying to improve.”
“This is our baby,” said Losie. “We’ve put our life and life savings into it.”
Losie and Emery are just as devoted to their members as they are to the business itself. Instead of hoping to help members through CrossFit alone, they take an encompassing approach, offering nutrition advice through seminars as well. “Although there’s a lot of work done in the gym, there’s a lot done outside the gym that can effect your life,” said Losie.
Additionally, the co-owners hope to improve members’ enjoyment in other areas of their lives. Sometimes, the Box will organize camping or skiing outings for members to join in on. “We want to create avenues for people to express their fitness outside of the gym,” said Emery. “A lot of our members live the cube life that [Erin and I] escaped.”
“As junior officers in the military, a lot of your job is to help others with their life goals,” added Losie. “We’ve translated that into the CrossFit gym.”
A great example of Old City CrossFit’s devotion to its members is the fact that it has recently begun offering ASL-interpreted classes, which Losie and Emery plan to make a regular occurrence. The Box is located directly down the street from Gallaudet University, the only university specifically designed to accommodate deaf and hard of hearing students. About 20 percent of Old City CrossFit’s members are deaf.
According to Losie, she and Emery are excited for the business’ future. “We’ve had a great response from the entire community,” she said. “We’ve had great feedback from our members that they’re meeting their goals, and that’s what we’re all about. Our motto is ‘preparing you for life.’”