Our gym – Lift Off Crossfit, Bishops Stortford
Our gym – Lift Off Crossfit, Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire.
Back in January 2014, Tom, James & I decided to open up a Crossfit gym after a few months of meetings and discussions. Tom at the time was working for the London met as a police officer. James was already a part owner at Crossfit Cambridgeshire and I was running my sports injury clinic from there. We used to train together daily, following different programmes and really falling in love with Crossfit. Naturally for us, it felt like the next progression would be to have our own place. A place where we could put our individual stamp on things and having your own gym with your best mates had also been a recent ambition of mine.
We were extremely keen to get this going so we started looking for a facility in the Bishops Stortford area. Tom would be our head coach and we wanted to bring Crossfit here. Within a few months we had found the perfect location in Bishops stortford for this. We set a date for our open day in July and once we were given the keys we worked tirelessly as fantastic and skilled DIY men (those that know us would appreciate this) to whip the place into shape. Even before our gym opened we got a taste of what the local community was about. Big Tom and Katie, Amy and a few others grafted so hard to help us. Without them, especially big Tom, we wouldn’t have coped!
Following on from our opening day, it felt pretty surreal that we actually had a functioning Crossfit gym. Because everything was brand new to us, a lot of what we were doing was trial and error. There was a big change for Tom who came from a secure employed role where he was told what to do, to having to work much longer hours and be creative about spreading the word of Lift Off Crossfit.
Whilst James had previous experience of coaching, Tom & I had experience in strength and conditioning on a more one to one level, so the group coaching was a little newer for us. The biggest difficulty I found was that because 99% of our new members hadn’t performed Crossfit before, everyone seemed to be a beginner who was at different levels. Now in classes, we might have an AMRAP for example which consists of 5 different exercises, and we might spend the majority of the coaching time focusing hard on one of those exercises. Previously in the early stages, we needed to keep going over the fundamentals rather than actually focusing on one. That diluted the time spent at making you guys better at one thing each session. It’s much easier to spend 20 minutes trying to improve your skipping than spending 3-4 minutes on 5 different things.
I remember in the beginning the classes being small and timid. It was hard to get a light conversation going whilst remaining professional and focused on the bigger goal of getting stronger and fitter. My, my, how that has changed.
I have absolutely no regrets. I really look forward to my 14-hour day on a Thursday (no joke) because I have so much fun and I really enjoy coaching. I get a buzz from seeing women in particular throwing around huge weight with outstanding form and aggression, against the mainstream perception that women shouldn’t lift weights. F**K you to the people that say that. It took a while to persuade a few of you that lifting heavy ass weights is not going to get you big, bulky and manly. You’ve embraced it. Lots of you notice that you have slimmed down, lost some weight and love your training.
I love seeing our member’s progress from what we teach them. We have amazing members that are competent in so many technical movements and have learnt skills such as handstand push ups and double under’s – skills which seem impossible at first.
I love seeing new members who are about to start their Lift Off journey. Slightly nervous and worried about what they’ve got themselves in for. To see their progress and to see the happiness of when something clicks in their mind about a particular lift.
Why we love it – turning you into machines, seeing progressions, it’s like nurturing a plant, seeing it successfully grow. Embracing what we go on and on about. Nutrition, strength, conditioning, and lifestyle – it’s great that we can see that all of this is having a positive effect.
As our gym gets busier, we need to keep getting bigger with it. We soon hope to remove the blue turf with more matting, put another pull up bar up and knock a few of the walls down to give us a little more space. We will also be getting some more barbells and other equipment. Eventually we are planning to expand through into the chill out area and work out how we can put some showers in.
With more members, the classes get full. Therefore we will be increasing the amount of classes we have throughout the day and possibly expanding the class size by a couple. At that point we will also be looking at taking on a coach to help us out so we can continue to keep the quality of coaching/service high.
All in all, a huge thank you to you guys for making our box what it is. I know how much we all enjoy it and we love seeing your progress. Keep helping us by spreading the word, which you do a fantastic job of.
All aboard the GAINZ train!