Meet Donald “DK” Kidwell owner of CrossFit OptIMize of South Carolina. Prior to his service with the military, DK started his career with an IT company in 2000 and by 2006 led the company as President and grew the company’s revenues exponentially. In 2014, Kidwell decided to combine his leadership and business skills with his passion for CrossFit and founded CrossFit Iron Mary’s (later changed to CrossFit OptIMize). DK can truly say CrossFit has changed his life for the better and offers that opportunity to everyone in his community. CrossFit OptIMize has multiple locations within South Carolina and welcomes athletes of all skill levels.
W: Give us a brief background on yourself and your box:
When did you get into CrossFit? Why?
DK: Back in 2012, I was 335 pounds, crazy overweight. My doctor told me to make a lifestyle change or I would die. A friend of mine was a regular CrossFitter, so I decided to give it a try. Nine months later I dropped my weight to 207 pounds through CrossFit.
Why did you open?
DK: I actually bought the original gym that I started [doing CrossFit] at. I saw our local fitness community and its challenges and I thought I had a better approach to get the best out of everyone. I bought the gym because it was home to me and established in the community. It just needed a new direction and since it did so much for me health-wise was the perfect fit. I wanted to do something to give back to the community as well as change the landscape in our fitness community.
How many coaches do you have?
DK: We have 24 coaches on staff. Since 2015 we have grown from 149 athletes to 590 with 4 locations.
What motivates you?
DK: Changing folks’ lives for the better is what motivates us.
What do you enjoy about being an owner? A coach?
DK: I really enjoy seeing someone accomplish more than they thought possible. Seeing those changes and reactions are some of the most rewarding experiences ever for an owner and coach, especially.
Can you share a success story about one of your athletes?
DK: We have several athletes that have dropped weight, reached fitness goals, or have been elevated to competitions. Just in January one of our athletes, Amber, took first in her division in Wodapalooza.
What makes you different than other boxes?
DK: If you just walk in our doors, then you will see it. People will stay or leave for one of three reasons: 1. The gym itself (clean new equipment etc.), 2. Our coaches (do they like them?) and 3. Programming (are they getting better faster stronger?).
Tells us about your gym operations and how Wodify has played a role:
What made you decide to implement Wodify?
DK: It was in the gym when I bought it, the previous owners enjoyed Wodify and I have kept it.
Were you using any other management system, software or pen and paper, before beginning to use Wodify?
DK: No, we started from the get-go with [Wodify]. Everyone loves Wodify. We looked into FrontDesk, but stuck with Wodify for its value: everything you need in one place.
How did you drive adoption and encourage users to log their results?
DK: CFIM lives in six week cycles. [We] beat it over their head to log in every day because we need their data and histories to make them better.
How has Wodify changed/helped your personal day to day?
DK: I think that Wodify has made tracking easier for our athletes with the Leaderboards and managing the overall business is simple, easy to do.
How has Wodify changed/helped your box?
DK: Wodify has set us apart from a traditional whiteboard-athlete because we are able to gauge real results with our Leaderboards. All of that information that is at my and members’ fingertips.
Do you have a favorite feature? If so, what?
DK: All of the reporting tools have been my favorite, so far. The reporting tools allow me to dig into the gym’s finances, workouts, and athletes’ performances on a different level.
Anything new and exciting going on at CrossFit Optimize that you want to share?
DK: We are now the largest in the [South Carolina] market. We are always adding and changing program options to further give our athletes a better experience.
Just last year, CFIM opened their latest and largest location of 12,000 sq./ft in downtown Columbia. Donald and his CFIM team are working to expand their legacy across South Carolina with two more locations, totaling at six, by the end of this 2017.