In a time when some affiliates are closing their doors for good — 47 as of Monday — other CrossFit enthusiasts are choosing to take on the financial risk of getting into the gym business.
Sharon Palermo and Lawrence Miller have both purchased existing affiliates, and Catherine Scherer just affiliated her garage gym in Hockessin, DE. officially opening CrossFit Clarity.
Palermo, along with three other business partners, signed the papers last week and is now the owner of True Peak CrossFit in Manchester, NH, while Miller just took over ownership of Amnesty CrossFit in Oswego, NY.
- “Why did we buy a gym in a pandemic? The best answer is we know the worth of keeping this place going for the people who go to this gym, and to satisfy a dream all of us shared,” said Palermo, who has dreamed of owning a CrossFit gym for five years.
- “Yeah there’s a risk, but we also know there is a lot of light at the end of the tunnel. We have members who are sticking with us. And we were lucky to have a landlord who was willing to compromise and work with us due to the current situation. That helped our decision for sure as it would have been a rougher start to get this going,” she added.
Miller said his decision to buy Amnesty CrossFit, where he has been a member since 2017, was largely about saving the community he loves.
- “I was honestly worried that myself and the other members wouldn’t have a place to train,” Miller said.
He, too, understands the financial risk, but as the owner of a successful pizzeria, he has entrepreneurial experience and thinks the decision will pay off in the long-term.
- “Obviously now is not the ideal time to buy an affiliate…but I feel that the industry is going to be primed for success as we come out of this. While I understand people have found a happy place in home gyms, many of the people I’ve spoken with have expressed that the group setting of CrossFit helps to keep them accountable and motivated. I think there will also be a New Year’s style approach to fitness once bans are lifted and people will be looking to be healthier and more active,” he said.
Scherer, a Certified CrossFit Trainer (CF-L3), Precision Nutrition coach and USAW Sports Performance Coach, has been training clients in her garage for the last two years with the intention of opening an affiliate when the time was right.
- “Business has been busting at the seams, and I was finally ready to expand,” she said.
Just before the pandemic hit, Scherer was preparing to sign a lease for a 3,000 square foot facility, which was aborted when gyms started to close their doors.
She continued to train her clients in a one-on-one environment in her garage gym and decided she wasn’t going to let the pandemic stop her from becoming an affiliate.
- “I just said, ‘Screw it. This is what I have been trying to do for so long. I’m in a good financial situation. I’ve got my $3,000. I’m ready. Let me in,” she said.
All three said they’re hopeful for what post-pandemic life as affiliate owners will bring: Palermo has been working hard on business development, while Miller has been using this “downtime” to make cosmetic and operational improvements so he can be successful when he re-opens his doors. And Scherer is busy preparing to eventually move her affiliate into a larger location. Until then, it’s business, as usual, training her clients at home, except now she is the proud owner of an affiliated gym.
- “We looked beyond the now to provide a future to our members…Patience is key,” Palermo said.
- “We want to be the beacon of hope when all hope is lost for those trying to reach their fitness goals or overcome obstacles,” added Miller.
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