[This discussion has been edited for length and clarity.]
Our latest Box of the Month is Southern California’s CrossFit Chalk, owned by CrossFit Regionals veteran Ryan Fischer. We spoke with him to learn about the care he takes in making a visit to CrossFit Chalk a one-of-a-kind experience.
RF: I’m an OG competitor with seven individual appearances at the CrossFit Regionals. My gym CrossFit Chalk is also recognized as one of the nicest and most well-run gyms in the world. It’s been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, and if anyone would like to hear the whole rags to riches story, they can subscribe to my “Real Chalk” podcast. There may or may not be a section of my life where being a male stripper was a reality, but you’ll have to listen to find out ;)
That was actually a really tough decision because of the sheer density of gyms in Orange County. However, I always knew that my gym would be different, not just from an ownership perspective, but because of the vision I had for the gym as a whole. I wanted only the best equipment, the highest paid coaches, and an addictive vibe that I knew only I could create. So I did what anybody else would do in my scenario...I spent every second in that gym for four years. It required serious dedication and I definitely had moments where I second-guessed myself, but now every single second has been worth it. When you walk into Chalk, it’s immediately apparent what type of vibe you have just set foot in. And more than try to describe that vibe, let’s just say that once I have a member, they almost never leave. Our rate of retention is through the roof!
My favorite part about being an owner is being able to make my own schedule. I mean, I have no schedule because I’m always crossing things off my to-do list and taking care of tasks both in and outside of the gym. However owning the gym does let me control the overall vibe that people feel experience when they walk in. I get to make the workouts and I get to decide what my members need every day. I am definitely lucky with the people I have in my gym, because I am able to program almost anything I want and they like high volume.
As soon as you walk into CrossFit Chalk, you know that no expense has been spared. The floor, the equipment, and almost anything else that you can see is clean enough to eat off of. Not only that, but the entire gym is decked out with the highest quality competition plates, Eleiko weightlifting bars, and enough rowers/bikes/Ski ergs to run in daily classes. The bathroom is equally as nice as something you would find in an Equinox. We’ve also had the Myzone heart rate system for the last three years. Athletes from all over the world who visit say it’s the nicest gym they’ve ever been in. I will accept that comment any day.
We’ve had a few individual regional competitors train at CrossFit Chalk, which is great, but honestly, my favorite stories are about those athletes who have gone through a serious body transformation. I’ve had a ton of members lose 40 to 50 pounds and go from a normal looking body to absolutely shredded. I’ve also seen really skinny athletes put on a significant amount of muscle. The stories I hear from these members about how the gym has changed their lives will always come before competition and competition results for me.
I had already been running Myzone for two years before it was part of Wodify because people always love to see hard evidence. A tool that shows them how hard they’re working and how many calories they’ve burned is priceless to someone trying to get in shape. Especially with places like Orangetheory out there, heart rate training is a way for us CrossFit gyms to stay competitive and add value to our gym. If you have heart rate monitors and another place doesn’t, it’s just one more thing for a potential member to add to their list of reasons to join your gym.
I think Wodify by itself is a great feature to keep into account when joining a gym as well. Whiteboards just aren’t as cool these days. Saving everything and being able to interact with a scoreboard from anywhere is where it’s at.
Having Myzone in my gym for over two years has resulted in one solid statement that I can say: For all the members I have, none of those who wear Myzone heart rate monitors have ever left. Ever. That’s got to stand for something!
RF: CrossFit Chalk has actually grown to the point where we have hundreds of people following our online programming. Making Chalk a huge brand and a household name is becoming more and more of a reality every year and it’s been super exciting to watch! You can check out our online programming and be part of our worldwide leaderboard by visiting crossfitchalk.com/the-program.