Want to know a secret?
It’s not my secret, it’s the business community’s secret and something I’ve noticed.
An awful lot of successful single-owner and partnership businesses don’t really have a business plan.
I know, I know… we’re supposed to have plans. Business is supposed to be a dry, serious matter. But sometimes a business wells up from the heart instead of the head and hearts don’t specialize in planning.
I interviewed Beth Hoppe of Progressive Fitness Crossfit (PFCF), here in Colorado Springs and discovered that’s exactly what happened. This “box”, as we say in Crossfit parlance, was started by Beth and her son Chris.
PFCF didn’t start out as a plan. It started out as a mother doing what she could to support her son’s dreams.
In 2009, “Chris was starting out as a personal trainer and he needed people to train, so I let him train me,” explains Beth.
She wasn’t an athlete back then. It’s hard for people who know her now to believe, but she was overweight, on all kinds of medications and “couldn’t do anything,” as she puts it.
They worked out in the garage. “I remember when we got our first kettlebells,” she reminisces. “They were 15 lbs and 35 lbs and they destroyed us!”
How heavy is that? Well, let’s just say that these days, we need at least a 44 lb and a 70 lb kettlebell to wear the Hoppe family out.
Chris had other clients and continued to train Beth, who was losing weight and getting into better shape.
They started to do some Crossfit as part of their workouts and Chris started to talk about starting a box.
“I didn’t take it seriously at first,” says Beth. “I just went along with it and eventually said, ‘Let’s talk to Dad’. ”
Steve (Beth’s husband and Chris’s father) was ok with it, so they rented a space.
Their first gym was in a strip mall. They still laugh about how one client shot through a ceiling tile when learning to do muscle ups and how they finally had to take the tiles out so there would be room for wallball.
A Successful Partnership
Over time, PFCF moved to a bigger space and built up a bigger membership. I encountered them when the Crossfit gym I had been part of for more than 5 years closed. The members could have gone anywhere, but many of us chose PFCF because of the friendly community.
People who stick with Crossfit often do so because of the community as much as because they like the workouts. I tell a joke about the “shared trauma” of the tiring workouts being a bonding experience. There is an element of truth to this, but it starts with the tone set by the owners.
Our mother and son team work together beautifully to make our gym a warm, welcoming place where people feel safe to face challenges.
You may have heard that most partnerships fail. This is true. I once heard a story about a friend’s grandfather who was poisoned as part of a failed partnership!
Most of the time, it’s not that dramatic, but I asked Beth how their partnership is so successful when most fail.
“We have a certain dynamic that is very rare,” she says, tearing up. True to form, she apologizes in case the tears have made me uncomfortable, but they haven’t.
The mixture of motherly love, gratitude and awe at what they’ve achieved together behind those tears is heartwarming and way better than a good business plan.
Making the World a Better Place
It’s not just about fitness. Both Beth and Chris have been in substance abuse recovery for a long time. Physical activity can help people stay sober and Chris had been volunteering as a coach with The Phoenix, sober active community.
PFCF and The Phoenix merged in early 2018. The membership fees from our organically grown fitness community now help support people in recovery.
The goal for 2018 is to bring enough new people to PFCF to support the entire Colorado Springs Phoenix operation. That would mean donations and grants to The Phoenix could provide more outreach and services to the people in our combined community who need them.
You Don’t Have to Be Fit to Come Here
Are you ready to try it?
“You don’t have to be fit to start Crossfit,” Beth says emphatically. “We can modify any exercise for the individual. We’ll work with you.”
“Just leave your ego at the door.”
That might be a good way to describe starting a business from nothing too. It will challenge you, make you learn new things and show you how much more you’re capable of than you thought.
Just leave your ego at the door and face the challenges with authenticity and gratitude as they come along.