Round Rock’s Marcus Musgrove on Realizing Dream of Owning a Gym: “The main focus is always just trying to help people”
Marcus Musgrove, a 29-year-old coach, born and raised in the Austin area, took over ownership of Defiant CrossFit in Round Rock, TX about six months ago. In an inspiring founder’s story, he’s become a business owner much sooner than he thought possible.
As some background, Musgrove grew up playing basketball and was looking for ways to improve his game. In finding CrossFit, he was pleasantly surprised by the challenge.
“When I found CrossFit, just like anyone else, I was totally wrecked afterwards. I was like, ‘Dude, what is this? I need to keep on doing it.’ And I was managing a Globo gym (at the time) and I was doing my best to learn everything about CrossFit, and I would just do it on my own wherever I could,” he said.
He went on to share that at 20 years old he knew he loved helping people but wasn’t in college or planning to go. He then discovered Defiant CrossFit and was determined to be a part of the magic. “I didn’t have a car yet and I told the owners, as soon as I get my car, I’ll be joining this gym,” he said.
Initially self-taught in the foundational movements, Musgrove eventually got his Level 1 certification and began coaching the onboarding classes at the affiliate. Eager to be involved without an open position available, he would substitute coach classes whenever possible and began picking up tasks around the gym until he became a manager a few years later.
“And then shortly after, it turned into me owning the gym, and it was a completely peaceful thing. The owner still works out at the gym; she was just ready to move on and do other things, and she knew that I was next up and passionate about it. So I stepped in at 28 years old, and I began owning a gym,” Musgrove expressed proudly, almost in disbelief himself.
“I always knew I wanted to own a gym, but I didn’t know when — that was kind of uncertain. I’m pretty young, so it’s kind of hard to have that vision of owning something and running everything and having these systems in place and everyone’s listening to you. There was a lot of fear that came along with it just because I didn’t go to college, I didn’t know anything about business. I just knew how to coach people, and that’s basically it,” he said. “Nothing has changed for my members or people that walk into our door, the goal is for people to train and have a space to grow.”
During his time as gym manager before taking over, the CrossFit community as a whole was experiencing tremendous turmoil following the disturbing racial remarks by the company’s former CEO, Greg Glassman. Between that and being in the thick of the pandemic, the repercussions were felt close to home within the walls of affiliates, and particularly those of marginalized communities.
Musgrove said that it was hard seeing people that he knew cared about Defiant, still not wanting to associate with something because of comments the CEO made. However, ultimately in many cases, the desire to support African-American owned businesses extended beyond the distaste for the views of the former figurehead.
“(They feel) it’s important to have African-American representation in their community and town, and they are willing to support the black business because it has a black owner now. They feel like putting their money back into CrossFit is good for the owner,” Musgrove said.
When he was new to functional fitness, Musgrove cites seeing athletes such as Elizabeth Akinwale, Neil Maddox and Elijah Muhammad compete in the the sport of CrossFit were important for African-American athletes like himself, and said “seeing your own do well — it gives you hope for sure.”
In an attempt to continue to elevate African-American business owners like himself, Musgrove encourages members of the community to support companies managed by minorities of all kinds. Yelp allows you to search for an establishment by categorizing as woman-owned or black-owned, for example, and he suggests “try finding woman-owned, Mexican-owned, Asian-owned…all of it. I want all people to feel loved.”
In addition to supporting various local businesses, the affiliate owner also encourages you to be genuinely curious with the human-beings you’re surrounded by, both in class and beyond.
“I have a whole bunch of Indian people in my gym, and one thing I do is I ask them things; about their holidays, what they do for their kids whenever they have kids, because I know they have different ways of doing things. And with my LGBTQ community, I asked them, ‘Hey, what do you want to identify as?’ It’s just getting to know more about us and really taking interest,” he said.
He continues: “Relationships are what got me to this point. Helping people (and) loving people, regardless of financial status. The main focus is always just trying to help people. That’s why I say you can make a change — you can make a change in your community or the world…and I’ll just say that if you think you can’t do something, just know that you can make change in that.”
And, the community close to home of kind, inclusive individuals is continuing to grow with a different kind of change. Musgrove and his wife, Alicia, just announced that they are expecting their first baby.
Writer’s Note: During the week and weekend of the Rogue Invitational, Defiant CrossFit (16801 Radholme Court, Suite A – Round Rock, Texas 78664) has expanded their open gym hours and created a special multi-day drop-in rate, and you can sign-up for that or a class here.