The Cost of Leading a CrossFit Community

One year ago today was a day I will soon not forget. October 28th 2015 was the day I closed the doors to seemingly the most important place in the world to me, my gym: CrossFit Intersect. If you’re reading this you probably know the story already but if you don’t here’s the short version. I open the gym in 2011 and poured every drop of my heart and soul and finances into it. The message was simple, to provide a safe place for people from all walks of life to come and get fit, regardless of gender, race, sexual preference, social, or economic status. Thus the intersect community was created.

In it’s infancy Intersect was the kind of place that made a lot of people feel like they belonged to something for the very first time. Greeted by familiar faces, encouraged by people you would normally never be friends with in the outside world, and given the opportunity to learn something new every day. Intersect rapidly morphed from a just to a gym into a family. In community the feeling of family also breeds the feeling of entitlement and entitlement can be a crippling disease to a business.

By 2013 Intersect had become a household name among CrossFit athletes. We were competing in high-level events and proving time and time again that we were the fitness gym in the area, giving us what felt like was a well-deserved seal of approval by the local CrossFit community. With pressing demand from new members and expectations from the current community we decided to move to a larger location. This location would also give us more exposure allowing our current partnership with Progenex to grow. Unfortunately, due to decisions out of my control, that partnership turned into a bad separation, leaving Intersect with a crippling amount of overhead and debt.

For the 20 following months Intersect continued to grow as a business and continue to present itself to the community as a pillar of strength in Long Beach, however, numbers and marketing are not the only thing to define a successful business. Although everything seemed fine from the outside, Intersect was slowly dying on the inside. As systems changed, staff grew, and new member processes were developed, a division was created.

I saw what was once a place of love, acceptance and equality become a place of entitlement and pridefulness, seemingly overnight. As a result membership began to decline and thus our ability to afford the overhead became an impossibility. I realized that I was blindly holding on to a dream that had become a nightmare for more than just myself. It became very apparent to me that I had exhausted ALL of my resources and my health and state of mind were now taking on the load. I decided that it was time to pull the plug. I had no idea that this would be simultaneously the most painful and liberating decision of my life.

This last year has truly been the biggest roller coaster ride I’ve ever been on. Coming away from the closing of Intersect I had so many unanswered questions and was in so much pain that I had a hard time even doing simple everyday tasks. As most of you know, I’m a very happy guy and I don’t let a lot of things get me down. I wear my heart on my sleeve but I’m also really good at faking it when I’m hurting. Within just a couple of months of closing the gym I was forced to file bankruptcy. Unfortunately, this not only included the business but also myself and Navy’s Mom. From that moment forward I lost my apartment, my business, my truck, any money I had saved, what was left of my pride, and what I thought was my sanity. I was truly at rock bottom. I was so overwhelmed and had bottled everything that I had gone through up so tightly that I thought I was losing my mind. No amount of praying, drinking, reading, fitness, or therapy could dig me out of the hole I was in.

Until I let go. I let go of the shame I felt for ending the thing that brought so many people so much joy. I let go of the pain and hurt that I carried for so long that I had somehow let everyone down. I let go of the people in my life that didn’t lift me up. I let go of the Idea that I was supposed to be this great inspiring leader in the fitness community. Most importantly I let go of the idea that I had failed. I believe that God forgives, and if the Creator of the Universe believes that I am worth that kind of forgiveness then it was time to start forgiving myself.

This past year almost killed me. Literally. However, because of the love of my family, amazing girlfriend, beautiful little girl, and a group of the truest, most loving, most loyal friends, I was able to turn what felt like a lifetime’s worth of hardship into a blip in history. The last 6 months have been the greatest time of my life. I couldn’t ask for a more amazing, supportive and inspiring group of people to share this epic life with! Thank you for everything you have done in my life over the last year. It means more to me then you could ever know.

Love heals all wounds… Love often!

joey

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