From Garage to Grand Opening: Sam Murphy on Opening a CrossFit Gym

Article | Josh Scully

Sam Murphy, Owner of Crossfit Reclaim in Unanderra, talks to us about getting started and what he's learnt along the way.

Sam Murphy doesn't deal in half-measures. A glance at his new gym CrossFit gym, CrossFit Reclaim, makes that pretty clear. "There's no point building up equipment in dribs and drabs," he says standing in the fresh new box.

Sam has worked in the fitness industry for 12 years, from Bodybuilding to Basketball, but when he jumped into Crossfit he found his niche. "I tried Crossfit, got my ass handed to me... and did it again and again".

Having fallen in love with Crossfit, Sam affiliated in his garage working with clients while he looked for the perfect space to start his own business. After a couple of years Sam found that space & opened Crossfit Reclaim at the start of 2017.

With an angle of targeting athletes new to Crossfit, as well as a youth program - Sam is out to leave a mark.

So what are his tips for opening a Crossfit Gym?

"If you’re starting a Crossfit Gym, make sure you focus on maximising floor space. When you are choosing a location, look for a space where you can utilise every cm.  If you have dead areas in the gym, space that you can’t use – look for another location.
At Crossfit Reclaim I looked at suppliers in the fitness industry that could help me use the walls, if you layout the walls to help you store equipment, you can really increase your floor space.
Storing Barbells vertically instead of horizontally I saved floor space, storing our rowers on the wall saves floor space." 

"Try to get close to a main arterial road – if you’re off the beaten track you make it difficult for your members and that makes it difficult to grow your member base.

And don’t underestimate the importance of parking! You’ve got to have easy, accessible parking alongside your facility.
Don’t rush into it, I was looking for a location for three years before I found one that ticked all the boxes.  I looked and looked and looked and looked and waited and looked."

If you can’t put a minimum of half your maximum class size on it, don’t do it (at least to begin with). My maximum class size is 16, so I have either 8 or 16 of everything. 16 boxes, 16 24kg Kettlebells, 8 ropes etc. This means that everyone in a class is taking part in the WOD at all times.
Consider holding off on gear like GHDs & Sleds to begin with, there’s no point having 1 or 2 of these as it makes programming difficult if you don’t have enough equipment for your members to use!
Try to get equipment that you can perform multiple exercises with, particularly starting out this is a smart investment.

The rig is the centre of your gym. For any Crossfit Gym, it’s the foundation piece of equipment. We do countless exercises with it. From your nuts and bolts stuff; ring exercises, pull ups, racks – all those basic movements, as well as more complex movements.
The rig is also going to impact your budget more than most pieces of equipment, so start there. Make sure the rig/frame will meet your needs, check out the finish, hole positioning etc.

The process of starting Crossfit Reclaim has constantly reminded me that to succeed you need to be a great business-person as well as a great coach.
Know the numbers of what it’s going to cost & what you’re going to need to succeed.
You need to be able to recognise your strengths and be humble enough to ask around and learn from others as well.

Crossfit Reclaim are based in Unanderra - check them out here or on Facebook.