Jacob G. Crossfit Gym Owner, Wellness Coach

Indianapolis, Indiana

Opened Muscatine, Iowa’s first Crossfit gym, starting with zero clients and ending with 150 members.  I was responsible for training and tracking performance of 10K athletes over a five-year span.  I am an Air Force trained leader with 15 years of operational experience in coaching clients and measuring results.   I am focused on building sustainable, revenue-driven training programs to clients of all ages and abilities.  I advise small business owners, health education, non-profit management expertise ranging from youth Kidfit classes to Senior Parkinson’s longevity training. I am highly knowledgeable in exit strategies for selling a business.

I would be happy to discuss additional areas of expertise as follows:  Military Training, Functional Fitness, Physiology, Entrepreneurship and Physical Education.

Wellness Coach Jacob Garvin’s Journey From Airman to CrossFit Gym Owner 

In 2008, while deployed in Iraq with the US Air Force, Jacob Garvin discovered the challenging world of Crossfit, and it changed the trajectory of his life forever. Learn how Jacob, armed with nothing more than a dream, turned a newfound passion into a thriving gym with over 150 members. 

Turn your inspiration into a thriving business

Inspiration comes in many forms—a beautiful sunrise, a lovely sonnet, or a motivational speaker can move people to action. For Jacob, it was the site of his commander vomiting that lit his desire for entrepreneurship. 

How did you get interested in opening a gym?

I was first introduced to Crossfit while deployed to Iraq. I saw the Wing commander puking in the corner of the gym. He then proceeded to go back for more ‘Fran’ (an intense sequence of exercises associated with CrossFit). I was hooked and implemented the program into my routine right away.

Combining CrossFit with Rob Shaul’s militaryathlete.com—which takes Crossfit methodology and tailors the programming to military and law enforcement with an emphasis on strength and durability—I found my niche. I spent the better part of 2008 to 2010 looking at the main CrossFit website, wishing I had a gym to call my own. 

Diving headfirst into entrepreneurship

Jacob didn’t wait long before turning his dream into a reality. After moving to a small town in Iowa, he opened a CrossFit gym in September 2011 and got to work building a customer base.

The challenge: How to adapt an established system to fit your client’s needs

According to Jacob, “When we first opened our doors, I was begging people to try out this new workout program. I wasn’t sure if Crossfit was sustainable in a town of 23,000. And puking in the corner of the gym is not exactly a sustainable business model.” 

He asked himself, “How do I take an intense, world-class training platform and scale it so it appeals to the general population? More specifically, how do I give something of value to folks over 60 who are obese, suffering from chronic joint and back pain, and never exercised before?” 

The solution: Customize programs based on your philosophy

Jacob designed a four-step solution to address his challenges and help clients find success in the program. The four steps include: 

  1. Identity foundational movements 
  2. Stay the course 
  3. Coach other trainers 
  4. Create a fun environment 

Stay true to your intention

Jacob’s business motto is Tada gan iarracht, which is Gaelic for ‘nothing without effort.’ No one becomes a warrior without effort. He says that “like the CrossFit program, our slogan was broad, general, and inclusive.” 

Furthermore, “The idea applies to physical health and fitness and all aspects of life—mental, emotional, social, and spiritual. We aimed to create a community of warriors who strive to put maximum effort into everything they do in and out of the gym.” 

Inclusiveness is a critical component of any program

Instead of mirrors or elliptical machines, Jacob used the CrossFit program, which delivers a fitness that is expansive by design. The program relies on functional movements that anyone can do, including:

  • Wall push-ups
  • Banded pull-ups
  • Lunges and chair squats
  • Running and jumping
  • Weighted sit-ups
  • Olympic weightlifting

Anyone willing to put forth the effort reaped the rewards, no matter their fitness goal. Jacob’s customers ranged from entire fire departments looking to build strength to elderly groups with Parkinson’s wanting better balance. 

Diversify your training staff

Your coaches directly impact your bottom line. According to Jacob, “The depth of an instructor’s knowledge affects whether clients buy into the program.” Even trainers with rudimentary abilities can achieve success if they have a winning attitude and powerful people skills.”  

An owner has a responsibility to provide trainers with opportunities for improvement. Jacob says, “An instructor with extensive skills and technical know-how can have difficulty retaining members if they have a terrible attitude or difficulty making personal connections. A commitment to improvement is a truer measure of potential success than an instructor’s proficiency level. It’s easier to teach technique than to instill ambition.”

Moreover, refining coaching skills help instructors “develop virtuosity and separates you from the competition.” Of course, being able to relate to people is vital. “Choosing the right music, knowing when to push people, and high fiving (or elbow bumping) folks after a job well done are three pillars of a sustainable group class model.” 

Don’t underestimate the power of word-of-mouth marketing

Jacob began with three clients in his first month. However, “Little by little, hairdressers talked to their clients, nurses spoke to their patients, and family members witnessed their loved one’s transform.” 

With zero investment in advertising, membership skyrocketed to over 100 people in the first year. If you have a product that works for most of the community, word of mouth can open the gates to a primary revenue stream.

Start building your gym today

Don’t overcomplicate things. Tracking athlete performance and membership dues can be as simple as making a spreadsheet. People need guidance, a little push or a pat on the back, and a safe place where they can enjoy getting fit. 

Do you have what it takes to lead clients to a better way of life?  Jacob can show you battle-tested methods that worked for him and devise a plan that works for you. Schedule your call with Jacob today.