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From 14.3 to 23.3: How CrossFit Omaha Evolved Over a Decade

March 15, 2023 by
Image Credit: Ava Kitzi
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On March 13, 2014, CrossFit HQ descended on Omaha, Nebraska and CrossFit Omaha for the live announcement of 14.3, featuring gym owner Stacie Tovar and Allessandra Pichelli. Last week, history repeated itself as the live announcement of 23.3 once again took place at CrossFit Omaha. While still the same gym at the core, the affiliate has undergone many improvements and growth phases over the last decade. 

The Stats: Since its affiliation in 2007, CrossFit Omaha has opened its doors to hundreds of members, and has gone through several locations since its original building on the University of Nebraska Omaha campus. 

  • The gym has grown from 120 members to nearly 300 since 2016. While the pandemic and space issues at the old facility made population growth challenging, the gym is back up to pre-pandemic numbers. 
  • Gym owners Stacie and Dustin Tovar invested in the new gym location in 2018, but only moved in in January of 2022. However, with over double the square footage and a better location, the wait was well worth it. 
  • In the new space, Big Omaha Fitness offers more than just CrossFit, with more than 70 classes each week. These include HIIT, bootcamp, gymnastics, strength, weightlifting, and of course, CrossFit. 
  • Big Omaha Fitness employs six full-time coaches and another six part-time coaches. 
  • The gym also partners with a mental health and addiction rehabilitation group and the Special Olympics. 

Member Reactions: With such a huge community and plenty of long-time members with years of memories, CrossFit Omaha receives raving reviews. 

MinDee Ritchie, who started at the gym almost 10 years ago, has watched the gym go through much of its transformation. 

  • “It’s an amazing transformation. If you’ve ever been to the old gym, then you come here to this and you’re like, ‘How did we ever work out at the old gym?’” she said. “It’s been really fun and exciting to see all the programs that have developed and all the new faces.”

Many members, like Joe Hautzinger and Pete Nordlund, have fond memories of the community coming together. Like Ritchie, the pair both started over 10 years ago and point out the gym’s annual beer workout, which brings in new faces and lots of memories each year. 

For the 23.3 Live Open announcement, full-time coaches Corie Kammerer and Matthew Watt faced off in front of the entire world before the elites took on the workout. While doing that grueling workout with a total of 588,000 viewers over the first 24 hours was intimidating, the pair said being able to do it in front of their gym family was rewarding. 

  • “The adrenaline was still there, you try to calm down but obviously it’s still there,” Watt said. “With the community there, I liked to get eyes on the people that I knew.”

Gym-owner Dustin Tovar says he’s proud of the growth the gym has made over the past years, in particular, the ability to attract members outside of just the CrossFit space. It’s helped create a larger, more cohesive community, he said. 

  • “We always wanted to be more than just a “CrossFit box” and attract more people. That was the driving force behind Big O Fitness,” Tovar said. “We are confident that we can help so many more people become happier and healthier human beings if we can just get them to step foot inside our facility.”

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