Why On Earth Would I Buy A CrossFit Gym?
My name is Mary and I own CrossFit Murfreesboro with my husband, Jason. We’ve been married for 14 years and have two children, ages 11 and 9. Both of our kids are super active in sports and we do the typical practice/game shuffle most every day of the week. Jason works a full-time job outside of the gym. I work one day a week as a nurse in the hospital and spend the other six days working on the gym. We lived most of our young lives in northwest Indiana, moved to rural Minnesota for 4 years, and then moved again to middle Tennessee. We lead the typical busy family life as most of our peers do.
Jason has been an athlete all his life. From baseball at a high collegiate level, to World Champion Racquetball player. You name it, he’s done it (and has been pretty good at it all). Me on the other hand, I’ve tried being some sort of an athlete all my life but have zero coordination and haven’t really been great at anything. Sure, I did a lot of things including cheerleading, color guard, track…but I have never really excelled at any of them.
I’ve been chasing fitness for a while. It is important to me as a mom that I exhibit healthy behaviors for my kids to observe and practice as well. However, it’s not been the journey of a CrossFit Game’s athlete. I gained 75 pounds with my first pregnancy and never lost it all before the second baby. I added another 35 pounds with the second pregnancy. Both times, I had gestational diabetes. I’ve tried it all. Personal training, big box gym, videos, long distance running, dance classes, aerial arts classes. I loved aerial classes and dance. That’s when I started understanding that it wasn’t all a race. It was a flow. It was you against you. You were the only thing that could hold yourself back from what you wanted to do. During that time, I also loved running. Training long runs every weekend, getting out and running to the cow field and home again. That’s where I could think. That’s where my biggest and best choices were made. Then I broke my foot and landed myself in a boot for several weeks. I got way out of the running habit, and just never started back. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this happens to other people.
We moved from Indiana to a small rural town in Minnesota. I continued working out, and never seeing the results I thought I should have. I did the 24/7 gym thing. I found myself trying to search out routines on-line, but never really being consistent enough to make true changes. I stopped going to the gym and tried videos at home. I saw more success with them. I remember training pull ups at home in the doorway of our utility room. I remember the day that I didn’t use the band anymore!
In that small town, through a charity silent auction, I won a month membership to a new CrossFit gym in town. I didn’t even know what CrossFit was really. I heard that it was intense, and I thought that most of the time was spent lifting tires! Boy was I wrong! Meeting Jeff and Brandy at New Ulm CrossFit forever changed the trajectory of our life. Not only did I see what it was like to be coached and start seeing the changes that I had worked for with no success, but we found so much more. We found a community, lifelong friends, strength, endurance, mental clarity… things that I had never imagined I would find walking into a gym. I wasn’t the best athlete there. I couldn’t lift the most weight there. Its been several years and I still don’t have my Snatch technique right. I learned that I could push myself harder than I thought was possible. I learned that every time I walked into the gym, it was me against me. Most of all, I learned that I had set my family up for a lifestyle change that has more health benefits than I ever imagined. We all know that we should work out. We all know that it helps with long term health. I never imagined what it would do for us.
As life goes, Jason had a great job offer in middle Tennessee, and we took the plunge and planned our move. Our house was for sale in Minnesota for nearly a year. Jason commuted back and forth from Minnesota to Tennessee. I stayed with the children and house in Minnesota. That near year, my CrossFit family was everything. They helped when I need it at the house, with the kids, and just lending an ear. When tragedy hit our family, they were right there with me. My father died in 2017 of complications after a long fight against an aortic and double cardioid dissection. I flew back to Chicago the day of his dissection. It was the day after Christmas. We were supposed to be out of our house January 2nd. My CrossFit family knew it. They knew I wasn’t ever going to be able to pack the entire house myself while traveling to be with my Dad. When I got back, they had planned a huge New Year’s party at my house. They all spent the night and then the day after they all packed my house for me. The entire house!!! These people! They are why I knew when we got to TN, we had to find ourselves a CrossFit Family!
Within days of moving to Tennessee, we entered CrossFit Murfreesboro, became members, and got to work developing relationships that we could call our “Tennessee CrossFit Family”. Again, I wasn’t the best athlete. I still had a lot to learn from some amazing coaches. Our fitness increased, and so did our health. I remember one day shortly after we moved, Jason had come home from a “check-up” at his new doctor’s office. They had gathered blood work and he had been told that he had high cholesterol. He knew he didn’t want to go on medications for high cholesterol and had asked the nurse practitioner to give him a chance to see what he could do on his own. We knew enough that we could buckle down on our nutrition plan and work at the gym, and make a change. Three months later, after adhering to the “eat meat and vegetables, mostly vegetables…” CrossFit Journal article 21 plan and upping days at the gym, Jason’s cholesterol was back to a normal level. We had seen the health benefits from CrossFit affect others, but now, in even just a small way, it affected us personally.
One day, a few short years later after moving to Murfreesboro, a spontaneous conversation that I didn’t even know was serious, and here we are thinking of buying the gym! What? Why on Earth would we buy a CrossFit gym? We had stable careers. We loved sports and fitness, but enough to make it our business? It sure is not to get rich quick. It isn’t exactly an easy business to be in. The fitness world is harsh sometimes for sure as a business owner. We saw a community of people and we knew we could make a difference in their lives just by being good “friends” and helping, but what if we could do more? We started to write down our “why” to clarify if we were wanting to buy the gym for only emotional reasons, or if there was a purpose behind our actions.
Remember in the beginning when I said I was a nurse. Well, I have been a nurse for 17 years. I spent nearly 12 of those years working as an ER nurse and the last several years I have been in Critical Care. I am grateful for my nursing career. It has allowed us to do a lot of things. Moving states has never been a worry for me because I know they need nurses everywhere. I will probably never step away from beside nursing completely. I have seen a lot. I spent a year in NICU and knew almost immediately that sick babies were way more than my heart could handle. I have spent several years in a Level 1 Trauma Center dealing with every single sort of trauma you could imagine. I worked a year doing colonoscopies with a Surgeon in a Rural hospital ER. Some were routine. Some came with a cancer diagnosis. I have held the hand of patients and family members as they took their last breaths in the CCU. I have comforted families that have been through the tragedy of losing their closest loved ones. It is a great privilege to walk into a room and care for a person in their most vulnerable state. I have spent years giving people medications to treat chronic diseases. However, after years of treating chronic disease on the back end… the losing end… I got brave, took a leap of faith, and decided it was time for Jason and me to help our community fight back against chronic disease on the front end! Primary prevention before anything else is key. I remember I was washing dishes and Jason and I were talking about buying the gym for what felt like the 4,000th time. We had been back and forth on if this was the right decision for our family several times. He asked me what my why was. I turned to him and said, “I would much rather help people fight chronic disease like diabetes and heart disease through fitness and nutrition, than see them laying in my hospital bed when it might be too late.”
That’s it. That’s why we bought a CrossFit gym. Greg Glassman has been quoted endlessly on the subject. He stated that CrossFit Affiliates are the “lifeboats in the tsunami of chronic disease”. I truly believe that. If I can help one person get off their blood pressure medications, one person drop their A1C, one person not have to take statins for their cholesterol anymore, one person stay out of the nursing home… then my goal has been met.
Its not easy, but as the adage goes, “Nothing worth doing is ever easy.” Our motto is “progress not perfection!” I’ve been there. I am still there. Everyone struggles, but your health is worth it. You are worth it.