Inside CrossFit South Brooklyn

Welcome, new readers! My name is David Osorio, and I am the owner of CrossFit South Brooklyn (CFSBK), the first CrossFit gym in Brooklyn, New York. We started this blog, Inside the Affiliate, over four years ago in the interest of open-sourcing and sharing best practices for running a CrossFit affiliate. If this is your first time visiting, you're probably here because you watched one or more of the incredible videos produced by Michael Dalton and the rest of the CrossFit Journal crew, who spent a week hanging out with us over the summer of 2017, in honor of CFSBK's 10th anniversary. We are so humbled and excited to further our platform beyond this blog for sharing information about what works well for CFSBK. Below is the full list of the videos released so far in the "Inside CrossFit South Brooklyn" CrossFit Journal series. We will be reposting each video as they come out and after you're done watching, we hope you stick around to read some articles!

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10 Things I've Learned in 10 Years of Owning a CrossFit Gym

CrossFit South Brooklyn’s 10-year anniversary is this month and as it approaches, I've been thinking about many things I've learned in my 10 years of owning an affiliate. 10 of them are below...

1. Treat your employees the way you would want to be treated.

I started my career at a globo-gym in Manhattan, where I learned that the fitness industry has a high turnover rate. When I hired my first coach at CFSBK, I was determined to reverse that trend. 10 years in, we are fortunate to have had very little turnover. I believe this is largely because we've tried to create a work environment and compensation structure that enables coaches to plant their roots and view being a CrossFit coach as a career and not a side job. It is important to have an open dialogue with your employees about their financial needs and what the gym can realistically do for them, and to help them think through steps to creating additional revenue streams if they are motivated.

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Choosing Membership Management Software for Your Gym, Plus a Q&A with Zen Planner

When it comes to managing our membership, CrossFit South Brooklyn has come a long way since our days at St. Mary’s Playground in Brooklyn. We started off not with a software system but with the honors system, which included a pencil pouch for keeping cash and a paper log and pen for signing in. In early 2013, with our membership body in the hundreds, we knew two things: we needed an upgrade, and we weren’t software developers. Around the same time that we built out our front desk, we knew we needed to delegate this aspect of our management and we began flirting with some companies and their software systems. Eventually, we chose Zen Planner, both for their software and their people. There are a number of factors to keep in mind when choosing membership management software, but for now, I’ll share our experience and some factors that influenced my decision.

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How to Run a Preschool Class at Your CrossFit Gym

ITA comrades! A couple weeks ago, our friends over at Box Pro Magazine interviewed me about running a preschool class at CrossFit South Brooklyn. (As you might remember, we wrote about this before in our article, "5 Things I've Learned from Working with 5-Year-Olds.") I share some new thoughts in Box Pro's great article, and would love for you to check it out HERE!

Happy reading!


Why You Should Write Out the Core Values of your CrossFit Gym

Last October, I went to a Box to Business seminar in New York City, hosted by Jason Khalipa from NC Fit and Jarret Perelmutter of BRICK Sport Performance. The seminar took place over a couple days, during which Khalipa and Perelmutter shared their perspectives on the do’s and don’ts of running a gym. Even though I’ve been in the business for over a decade, I still like to take advantage of professional development opportunities, and appreciate hearing the perspectives of others. One of my biggest takeaways from the seminar was about the importance of gym owners clearly defining their core values, and communicating them to coaches and staff.

Obviously, we’ve discussed the core values of CrossFit South Brooklyn on Inside the Affiliate before, and they’re even written on our About page. Those values are that training experiences should be professional, inclusive, and effective – and those values have intuitively guided my decisions over the years with my gym. But soon after the seminar, I decided to take the time to write out exactly what I mean by those values, and added a few as well. More on this below.

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Steal This Foundations Template for Your CrossFit Affiliate

In January of 2014, we posted an article about the importance of having an introductory course at your affiliate before allowing inexperienced people jump into your group classes. Different gyms often call these programs Foundations, On-Ramp, or Elements. While the ethos of our argument behind having this program holds steady, we've since revised our Foundations template and want to provide you with our most current version as well as some of our goals coming into it. As always, the spirit of Inside the Affiliate is to be a free, open-source resource for the CrossFit community. If you like our template, steal it and make it better!

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What Makes a Great CrossFit Group Class

Anyone familiar with CrossFit knows that no two affiliates are alike. CrossFit’s fierce aversion to traditional franchise models means that each gym is able to express their community, culture, and training biases however they please. With over 13,000 affiliates worldwide, there is a massive spectrum of class structures and styles—however, there are some fundamental principles which can and should be applied to all CrossFit affiliates.

In today’s article, we’re going to talk about some of the principles that make a great CrossFit group class. For coaches, this article can serve as a due-diligence checklist to make sure you’re providing a professional, inclusive, and effective training session. For athletes, this article will be a helpful resource to give you a sense of what standards you should have for choosing a CrossFit gym. Because different gyms run different programming styles and structure classes differently, we’re focusing today on principles that can be applied to almost any gym.

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How to Give Newbies Their First Taste of CrossFit

Everyone remembers their first CrossFit workout—but for many people, it was also their last. While some people think of it as a badge of honor that they attempted the “Filthy 50” or “Fran” as their first WOD, many non-conditioned folks are thrown into workout like these and spit out. A person’s first CrossFit workout should be appropriately challenging and leave them with the notion that CrossFit is hard, but also scalable and accessible.

In one of our previous articles, “Free Intro Classes at CrossFit Affiliates,” I discussed the importance of running free intro classes at your affiliate and provided a step-by-step breakdown of what we typically do with folks throughout the entire class. If you missed that article, I recommend you read it over so you understand the intent, tone, and importance of intro classes. In today’s article, we’re going to provide some more examples about reasonable workouts you can use in your own intro classes, and we’ll discuss some concepts to help you write your own workouts. 

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Breaking Down Olympic Lifting For New CrossFitters

As mentioned in our article "A CrossFit Coach's Guide to Working With New or Troubled Movers," new athletes are often working semi-autonomously during group class, which requires coaches to triage them while still not ignoring the rest of the class. A quick trick that we sometimes use during our lifting segments for working with people brand new out of Foundations is to breakdown the Olympic lifts into more manageable complexes.

One of the challenges for new people working with Olympic lifts is not only putting the movement together, but also remembering the names of everything. By breaking down the lift and writing it down on a little white board, the athlete begins to internalize the names of all the movements he or she is working on. They can then work on a series of compartmentalized tasks, with visual reminders of everything they're doing. For beginners, performing standardized technique complexes is infinitely more doable than just telling them to "snatch"perhaps the most technically complicated movement we perform in CrossFit.

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Inside the Affiliate, Literally

Today, we want to take you inside our affiliate—literally. We recently added another 5,000 square-feet to CrossFit South Brooklyn (CFSBK) across the street and wanted to find ways to leverage the expansion online. As you may have noticed in Google Maps, you can take a virtual tour of many businesses (it's called Google Street View). I loved the idea of this, and contacted a photographer through Google, who created a virtual tour of our three spaces. You can see them below.

One of great things about CrossFit is that because we're not a franchise model, we have the ability to create our own unique cultures—and our facilities are a big part of that culture. As CrossFit continues to spread, one of the ways we can differentiate ourselves from other affiliates is by showing off our facilities online (ideally you'll be showing that space off on your website). Your online presence can help sway prospective members when they're making the pivotal choice to come check you out instead of the other gym that might be closer to where they live or work. Personally, I know that whenever I'm looking at other gyms' blogs, I always check to see what their facilities look like, which often creates a powerful impression of what they're all about.

It's important to remember that you definitely do not have to have the biggest or best facility out there, but you do need to take care of what you've got. Organize it well, and obviously, keep your bathrooms clean. Be proud of and confident about your space. It makes a huge difference.

Here is our original space, which we call 597 (since the address is 597 Degraw Street):

This is our recent expansion (which has our showers in it!), which we call 608:

This was the second space we expanded into, above 597. We call it "the Annex," and we use it for our CrossFit Kids programming, personal training, and Pilates and yoga classes:

Check out these other gyms that we spotlighted to see their facilities!