Kicked Out, CrossFit Roots Community Steps Up to Help 13-Year Affiliate Find a New Home
All was going well for 13-year affiliate owners Nicole and Eric Christensen. In January 2020, after running CrossFit Roots in Boulder, CO since 2009, they decided the time had come to purchase their own building.
Then the global pandemic hit.
What happened Next
CrossFit Roots lost half their members, and the Christensen’s realized they wouldn’t be able to afford to run their gym in the new space, a facility that also needed major renovations. So they were forced to stay in their current space, even though their lease was about to expire and their rent was set to double.
In July 2021, a new curveball was thrown their way: Their building manager informed them that their lease wouldn’t be renewed again and wished them good luck finding a new space for their business.
So the challenging search began for a new space “in a market with limited available space and exploding commercial real estate prices,” explained Amy Smith, CrossFit Roots’ General Manager. Some spaces were too big, others had low ceilings, some didn’t have adequate parking, and one didn’t even have a drinking water line.
“On top of that, building materials were now triple the normal cost due to the pandemic shortages and time was against (us) with an extremely slow commercial real estate process,” Smith said, adding that they were given just 10 weeks to find and move into a new space.
“I definitely lost a lot of sleep over the past five months,” said Nicole, who is also a CrossFit Level 1 and 2 Seminar trainer and a senior content writer for CrossFit LLC. At one point, she was considering closing the gym, but something told her to keep fighting.
“The idea of not being at the shop, laughing in the back office with my coaches, taking classes with my members, and coaching people to see them improve over another decade: That’s what I live for…I built this thing because I believe in it for the people that come to workout every day,” she said.
So instead of giving into the stress, the Christensen’s and their team kept searching and eventually found a half decent location just one mile away from where their gym was at the time. It required some construction and was half the size—4,800 square feet—of their old space for the same amount of rent, but it was a home that could work for their community.
Four months since being evicted, CrossFit Roots finally opens their new space today and is bringing their community together to do the Veterans Day Hero workout Chad1000x—in honor of Navy SEAL Chad Wilkinson, who took his own life—to raise awareness for suicide prevention. And just like every other year, CrossFit Roots will donate $5 to the Navy Seal Foundation for every member who completes the workout.
Their Community’s Role
The CrossFit Roots community never would have survived these past months if it weren’t for the community support they received.
“I broke the news to everyone on a Zoom call back in July. It was tough, and I was worried about how the news would be received, but everyone just kept saying, ‘You got this. We’re with you,’” Nicole said.
To say her community was with her is an understatement. From helping them negotiate a lease extension for a couple months as they were searching for a new space, to looking after their kids, to helping with construction and the move itself, the entire Roots community stepped up to make the experience less stressful.
“From inside the affiliate came project managers, lawyers, commercial real estate brokers, painters, laborers, trucks and trailers, and many hands, and muscle, to help,” Smith explained.
Last Friday, members took part in a “pick up your favorite piece of equipment and carry it to the new gym workout…People carried Assault bikes on their backs for 1.2 miles, or kettlebells or plates, or teams of two or three carried GHDs…It helped us make a lot of progress quickly,” Smith said.
The next day, because they had so many members offer to help them move the rest of the equipment, the Christensen’s set up “a move party.”
“There were over 75 people there, and it happened so fast…they moved and set up a giant gym in three hours,” Nicole said.
And although Nciole and her team admit they were sad to leave their old facility for a smaller space, they don’t think this will stop the community from continuing to flourish for many more years.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t sad to leave the old space, but I think that is more because it was a forced move…not because there isn’t another place that Roots can thrive and call home,” Nicole said.
Smith added: “I don’t think it would matter where we are. We just wanted a home. And I think the members are just super pumped and thankful they have a home…While the building is important; it’s the community inside that brings it to life.”