Talented at Being Different

Open-minded. That’s what Meredith Simmons, the owner and founder of CrossFit Riverfront, was when one of her current members first rolled into the Box in a wheelchair.

“I asked her if she could get out of her chair and she could not,” recalled Simmons. “And I said, ‘We’ll figure it out.’”

Paralyzed from the chest down, Simmons said they did some research and bought equipment for the member. Since then, CrossFit Riverfront in Wilmington, Delaware has truly encompassed Simmons’ words: “You see people of all ages, sizes, ethnicities, and they all come in [to the Box] and they’re all able to do the best of what they can do — whatever that is,” she said. “And they can decide whether [CrossFit is] for them or not, but I would never turn somebody away.”

CrossFit Riverfront opened in 2010. However, it wasn’t Simmons’ first Box. In 2008, she opened a gym in Lewis, Delaware. Realizing Wilmington, Delaware had a better demographic and a lot more people she could cater to, Simmons made a business move. And it seems to have been a good one: CrossFit Riverfront has expanded from its initial 2,400 square feet to a current 12,000 square feet. “I think that I learned a lot from owning my first gym,” said Simmons.

Although CrossFit Riverfront started out as simply a Box, it has now incorporated classes similar to kickboxing, yoga and even a running club. “I think expanding in that way, and getting more opportunities to the people besides CrossFit, has allowed us to expand the business as well,” said Simmons. “There’s just a growing trend in my mind that once the CrossFit gyms … once it gets too oversaturated, you’re going to have to find other ways to get people in your door and make yourself different. Make yourself a little bit on top of the rest, as far as offering different things.”

Different is something CrossFit Riverfront seems to excel at. “Within our community, we have so many different kinds of people and we offer so many different classes that I think that separates us from the rest,” she said.

Simmons stressed the importance of never turning anyone away. However, she said one must be very cognizant of who they’re hiring in order to ensure a gym’s Coaches encompass the same mentality. “Right now the staff I have and what I look for … I don’t want a Coach that only wants to have the best athletes,” she said. “It’s really important to me that their mentality is ‘we want the program for the mass[es], we want everyone to be happy, we want everyone to do well and achieve their goals.’ I want them to be as open-minded as I am. I also want them to be super friendly and obviously dedicated and knowledgeable of what they’re teaching.”

Simmons said she loves her Coaches and staff, as well as the wonderful community CrossFit Riverfront supports. From having events on a monthly basis to the Box’s Monster Bar where people can just hang out, CrossFit Riverfront is open to anyone walking through the door. “You can’t treat certain people differently than others,” said Simmons. “You have to treat them all the same.”

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