The Decision to Close


On February 24, 2016, the town of Bloomington, Illinois, experienced whiteout conditions. Visibility was low on main roads, and 5 Alarm CrossFit’s concrete parking lot was very icy. In fact, two members’ cars got stuck in the parking lot.

The owners, Leah and Josh Wheeler, went into the gym around 9 a.m. Leah said the roads weren’t fantastic, but they made it there OK. But when they pulled in the parking lot, they realized it had not yet been plowed.

“Normally, we’re all for letting everybody decide whether or not [to come to the gym.] It’s up to them. Should you try and risk it or not?” said Leah. “So we knew if the parking lot wasn’t plowed, there was going to be a serious risk of people getting in an accident in the parking lot.”

For the first time since buying the gym in September 2015, Leah and Josh decided to close the Box for the day. Thankfully, they had two indicators helping them make the decision.

Bloomington, Illinois is the home of the State Farm Headquarters and Illinois State University. Both State Farm and ISU canceled work and classes by 2 p.m. because of the weather. “That’s kind of a good indicator for us that if they don’t think it’s safe for their employees to stay there, it’s probably not worth it for us to stay open and risk people coming in and going to the gym,” said Leah.

But that doesn’t make the decision to close any easier. Leah understands that people pay a monthly membership, and some members at 5 Alarm CrossFit pay a three classes per week membership, based on their availability to come to the Box, and that day may be taken away from them if the Box is closed.

To combat the unforeseen circumstances, the Leah and Josh programmed a bodyweight workout members could do at home. In fact, Leah would recommend any Affiliate programming a workout that can be done at home in the event of having to close. Members are still paying for fitness.

Ultimately, Leah said if an Affiliate is at all nervous about staying open, then it’s not worth it. “It’s just a workout. It’s never worth your members or your coaching staff getting hurt trying to come in for an hour at the gym,” said Leah. “It’s a tough call, it really is. And I don’t think it gets any easier the longer that you’ve owned it.”

Hayli Goode is the former digital editor for Peake Media.