Woodshed Covid Response: Being a Small Gym

We’re going to pull back the curtain a little bit here.

When we first opened up the gym doors about ten years ago, 150 was a magic number. Whether you were a CrossFit affiliate or a strength and conditioning shop, the idea was that a hundred and fifty members were like that middle spot in the meme:

Sign up 150 members.

The problem with that number, as with most blanket recommendations, is that it represents a goal independent of ideal. What we’ve seen in practice is that 150 members usually means that 30-50 remain on the periphery, that classes are packed to the gills and bumping into one another, and most importantly that the onus of being known is placed upon the athlete instead of the coaches. This is of course not the case at every single larger gym, but we’ve seen it play out this way often enough to call it data.

We’ve never gotten to that number, or really all that close. And honestly, I used to feel a little ashamed that we couldn’t. If I could just say the right things, or portray the right tone on social media, or discount the right amount, or run the right promotion (usually involving a month or two at no charge), maybe we’d hook into that magic number. It ate at me.

The thing is, as we look towards reopening our gym post-COVID, I now realize what I should have realized all along: our small size is a big part of who we are. It’s a huge strength. Our coaches are communicators and teachers. They are real, wonderful people who foster real, lasting connections. Our class size facilitates deeper instruction and allows for physical and mental space between athletes and segments. You come into our gym and you are seen, guided, encouraged, and coached.

Because of our smaller scope, we are able to forge pretty deep connections with our members. We know what size kettlebell they swing, we know what their starting weights are, we know what times of day they usually come to class.

We know who will show up ten minutes early, on the dot. We know who will take showers after class. We know when they’re traveling, and we know when they’ll be back.

During this time of shutdown, we are coaching them all through the pause. Some are working out when they can, some are getting two or three longer sessions in each week, and others are taking it one day at a time and using us for accountability buddies. Whatever they’re doing, we’ve got their back.

And when we reopen, we’ll be ready to meet every single one of them where they are and guide them through reentry. Our size and scope make it very easy to deliver on that promise.

In our next entry we’ll talk about what our first steps back into the gym will look like; logistics, cleaning, and coaching. Until then, stay safe, stay healthy, and keep moving!

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