Opening and Closing Doors

By December 5, 2018 CrossFit, Jessica

By now most of you know that I coach at a CrossFit gym. And that I run the website of the gym. And the Elements (newbie) program at the gym. And the social media. And Marketing/Creative. And, just a lot of stuff. If you had told me 10 years ago that I’d be doing CrossFit, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. If you told me I’d be really part of the day-to-day running of a gym, I’d probably laugh until you walked away.

My role at Fringe is really unique. I collected my first pay for coaching this year, and aside from that, I don’t receive income other than a trade for the value of membership/childcare for Neil and I. I think that makes people uneasy that I’m either being taken advantage of, or that something is really really mentally wrong with me. I can assure you, neither are true. Giving at the gym has always felt like giving back to the universe for an amazing gift that I still receive every day. And it’s never felt pressured or like work.

Until this year.

If you’ve been following along in my life, you know that a few years back, we (meaning our affiliate owner) bought out another affiliate owner who wanted out of the CrossFit business. The price was doable, there was only one other gym in town, and the idea of scaling the business in that direction seemed like a logical next step for us, especially since we were helping 150+ people keep their community — which I could empathize with deeply because of how connected I was/am to my own.

But there were some big hurdles that emerged pretty quickly. The previous owners had rented a new larger space just months before, but it was in a high rent complex. There were unpaid bills/vendors, staff to bring back and retrain, and a huge amount of community skepticism regarding our entrance. It’s been a ton of work to come back from that, and it’s been rewarding every step of the way to right wrongs and really try to build trust and enthusiasm back where it’s been possible. But one thing has been totally out of our control, and that’s the rent of the building.

When we renewed the lease last year we started a conversation about the long-term strategy for Fringe. The rent and utility issues of the location were creating a formidable challenge for us to really feel any sense of true growth. When I talked to people, I typically described it as a black hole. It doesn’t matter how much I grow the community, or bring people to our services — everything goes into paying rent, and it never feels like enough. Because it isn’t. Always trying to cover rent prevents a lot of things day-to-day that you feel. Can’t subscribe to new CRM app to make managing easier because we have to pay rent. No fun giveaways, no AdWords. Can’t buy this new piece of equipment or add more value to the service, can’t replace broken stuff as easily because of rent. You get the picture. And rent is unseen, so it feels like that monster under your bed no one believes you about. Members don’t want to hear about your rent problems, and they don’t want crappy equipment or fewer classes. It’s a lose-lose except for the win that it’s close to a lot of people’s homes, including mine. And we know people choose goods and services because of proximity.

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So in addition to the day to day busy, I put a unique pressure on myself that what I do really matters because income keeps my friends afloat to take care of their lives and families. I’ve also been a part of this business for a long time, and a lot of this feels like it has my name on it, and I don’t want to feel like I’m letting it go, or failing, or not doing it as well, because I expect a lot from myself and I always want to be perceived as capable, talented, up to the challenge, etc.

It’s keeping a lot of physical and emotional balls in the air. And it hit the point this year where it’s become tough to feel joy in it. Everything feels rushed and squeezed in and worn thin. I’ve placed other goals and things I love aside, like blogging and my own little business. So when our Fringe team started talking about the possibility of not renewing our lease and consolidating, there was that immediate feeling of “ugh, this will be perceived as a failure” and “people will think I’m not good at this all.” But surprisingly, those feelings faded fast and were replaced with pure excitement. While my mind was consumed with how others would perceive the decision, my heart didn’t see it as any kind of retreat. It was, in fact, the opportunity to leap forward toward all that could be possible with this change — both for me personally in all my roles and us as a business. It reminded me of an NYTimes article I read several years back on the topic of closing doors. I especially resonated with this line:

““Closing a door on an option is experienced as a loss, and people are willing to pay a price to avoid the emotion of loss,” Dr. Ariely says. In the experiment, the price was easy to measure in lost cash. In life, the costs are less obvious — wasted time, missed opportunities. If you are afraid to drop any project at the office, you pay for it at home.”

We could continue on in the same path personally and professionally with Fringe, but I know deep down what that all would look like. It wouldn’t be our best work. It wouldn’t make the biggest impact, And we would continue to make sacrifices to avoid the pain of closing a door and changing course. But the door isn’t really closed, and we need to stop seeing it that way. We can always go back, nothing is ever off-limits forever, but the best path forward, no really, the BEST path forward is this. Just like in marriage, I feel the need to declare that even though there are doors (literally) closing, something great will grow from this, and I really look forward to seeing it all open before us in 2019.

Anyway, thanks for letting me jump back in here. I know it’s been a weird ride, and I hate coming to this quiet corner that used to be full of so much life and all the moments I wanted to remember forever. Hopefully soon.

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