The Outcast Garage Coalition: A CrossFit Co-op
In January of this year, Zach and Angie Minor left their gym in Vacaville, CA, along with more than 30 members, in search of something different that better fit their needs.
This large group had formed tight bonds over the course of ten or more years together, and the ties that bonded them were created through CrossFit. They wanted to stick together, but finding a gym that accommodated so many new members and aligned with their larger goals was a challenge.
The new normal: For a time, the group kept up their workouts, sans workout space. They met at each others’ garages, at parks and in communal spaces, everyone bringing with them their own equipment to share.
- “People were loading up minivans with barbells – it was crazy, and it connected us, but it just couldn’t last. We were such a huge group and it just wasn’t something that would work in the long run,” said Angie Minor.
The lightbulb: In 2020, Morning Chalk Up’s Maggie Weaver wrote an article about two separate CrossFit gyms in Wisconsin, successfully operating as cooperatives, with a large group of members, guided by a small board.
The Minors, along with a number of their friends, read the article and were inspired by the idea of a cooperative: a common space with like-minded leaders, and a board of advisors that would vote on big decisions.
- “We were so inspired by the idea, so we thought, ‘we could do this!’ …We elected a board, with a president, (Abe Flores), vice president, (Luis Valencia), treasurer, (Aaron Davanzo), and secretary, (Melissa Davanzo) and a social media manager, (Noel JR Oribello), who are a mix of coaches and members,” continued Minor.
The first step was securing a space that would accommodate their community, which was challenging, and although it was small, they found the perfect location. As a large group, the cooperative met and discussed finances. They needed start-up costs as well as equipment, which everyone was willing to provide, in some regard.
- “People were like, ‘I’ll give $1,000’, or ‘I’ll give $100’, or ‘I have an assault bike that I can donate.’ And that’s how it all began, just people donating equipment from their garage gyms and donating the money that they could so that we could build this. Everyone was so into the idea, they were so excited. We knew we could do this,” said Minor.
Members cleared out garage gyms, and moved what equipment they had into the new location, which is what they currently use for their classes. They were given keys to their new space on April 5th. With the amount of people that they had pitching in to help, taking time off work, and setting their lives aside, it took 13 days to build out the gym, with a second story, and a kids’ room. The first class was held April 19th.
- “Because of all the help we had and everyone pitching in, it took 13 days to build a full gym from an empty garage. People worked from 7 am to 10 pm a lot of days. It was the coolest thing I have ever seen a community do.”
- “People gave up their echo bikes, their rowers, it’s incredible. It’s a small gym, but it’s so cool. We have a crew that just loves spending time together,” said Minor.
CrossFit OGC today: Besides the cooperative members of the gym, there are members who attend and pay a membership fee. Those fees are substantially lower than every other gym in the area, and discounts are given for students, military and family members.
Paid memberships keep the lights on, and pay for the nine coaches, two of whom are the Minors. In addition to coaching, Zach Minor programs workouts for the gym, along with two other members, and has seen his members flourishing, thriving and PRing on a regular basis.
The Minors emphasized that because there are so many “owners” of the gym instead of just one or two, everyone takes such pride in the gym. They diligently clean the space, care for the equipment and foster the community bonds that makes an affiliate special.
- “We’ll be working out with barbells, and I’ll look around and be like, ‘oh yea, you’re using that barbell, that belongs to her.’ Everyone is using everyone’s stuff. It’s so cool.”
“Everyone has the same mindset. It’s ours. It’s theirs. Everyone has so much pride in what we built,” said the Minors.