Reflecting On Eight Years of Cressey Sports Performance
“Hey dude, wanna open up a gym?”
I had come home from a full day of training clients at SportsClub/LA (a former fancy pants high-end health & fitness club that was bought out by Equinox not too long ago) when Eric peeked his head through the doorway, plate of egg whites in hand, and said those seven words to me.
That’s more or less how Cressey Sports Performance came to exist.
That was roughly eight – eight! – years ago to this day. The two of us, along with Pete Dupuis1, decided to jump head first into gym entrepreneurship. The odds were against us to say the least.
Not that we weren’t confident in our abilities and work ethic, but if you were a betting man (or woman), and based off the somber statistics (8 out of 10 new businesses fail within the first 18 months of operation. A whopping 80% crash and burn.), there was more likelihood [cue Dr. Evil voice] Unicorns would fly out of an erupting volcano attacking us with freakin laser beams from their freakin heads than there would have been any chance in us succeeding.
1. We were (back then) two 25 year olds and one 30 year old with no track record of business ownership.
2. We were (back then) two 25 year olds and one 30 year old with no track record of business ownership.
3. We were (back then) two 25 year olds and one 30 year old with no track record of business ownership.
4. I was balding. Not that that had anything to do with anything, but I was sad.
The fact I’m writing this post eight years later speaks to the actual outcome.
We Survived. We Made It. We Beat the Odds
Make no mistake: the ride hasn’t been all butterfly kisses and rainbows. All three of us can recall very long hours, 6-7 day work weeks, sleep deprivation, limited time with significant others, subsisting on nothing but protein shakes, and any number of growing pains tied with opening a new gym (purchasing & assembling equipment, construction, lease negotiation, lead generation, marketing, payroll, cleaning, not to mention assessments, program writing, coaching, and arguing over what’s being played on the stereo).
Despite it all, we’ve managed to not only not suck…but thrive in the eight years we’ve been in operation.
I’m not going to sit here and blow sunshine up our own asses, but it’s pretty satisfying knowing the three of us have been able to build what started as a 2200 square foot gym located inside an indoor batting cage facility with broken windows and a bathroom which required a tetanus shot to use…
…to a 15,000+ square foot flagship facility that’s often regarded as one of the premier “go to” training facilities in North America (if not the world).
Not too shabby for a place located in little ol’ Hudson, MA.
And yes, I could easily sit here and wax poetic on all the things we did right. Work ethic, having a client roster right out of the gate (because we were both already sorta-kinda established in the area, between Eric and myself we had a list of 40+ clients who were willing to train with us on Day #1), starting small and only building out/expanding when it was appropriate (and fit our needs), only hiring when it was within our means, starting an established internship program, and understanding that by identifying an under serviced demographic (in our case, baseball players) it was more than okay to target – and eventually own – a niche market.
All of it played a role.
I’d also be remiss not to mention how fortunate we’ve been in how are coaching staff has grown throughout the years. Our first hire was Brian St. Pierre who has gone on to a very successful career with Precision Nutrition.
Right now we have eight coaches who, on top of being profound ambassadors of the CSP brand, have also gone on to build their own successful brands within the fitness industry. Something we adamantly encourage. Everyday I feel fortunate that I get to work in a place that’s not only super fun, but challenges me to get better on a consistent basis.
But more importantly, it’s about the people we have the privilege of working with on a day-to-day basis
While I still have to sometimes pinch myself at the shear number of professional athletes I get to interact with – my 13 year old self would flip out and punch my older self in the face in disbelief if he knew how many guys I’ve met whose baseball cards I collected back in the day – it’s everyone who makes CSP such a special place to work and train.
Gerry, a 60+ year old who first came to us after having major heart surgery 4-5 years ago, who’s now hitting the weights 3x per week without fail. And busting my balls every step (and Prowler push) along the way.
Emma, a 20 year old who originally started coming to CSP because her father, Clint, did, who’s now training for her third powerlifting competition. And can do this:
Or any number of our Strength Campers – male/female, varying ability levels, varying ages, all shapes and sizes – who come in and get after it week in and week out.
Everyone – athletes and general pop clients combined – buy into the #CSPFamily mindset, and it’s amazing and a testament to the culture we’ve worked so hard to establish, cultivate, and maintain.
And lastly, just to put things into perspective.
Pete and I were having a conversation the other day reflecting on the whole “eight year thing.” Everything I mentioned above (and the dozens, if not hundreds, of things I failed to touch on) could fall under the “why we made it” umbrella.
Pete brought up a good point, though.
Vision vs. Actuality
I find that many coaches, trainers, and people who love the gym (and will end up stabbing their boss in the neck if they have to spend one more day behind a computer) who entertain the idea of starting their own gym, tend to battle a large gap between their vision and what is manageable and realistic.
Pete never had the vision of turning CSP into a 10,000 square foot mecca. The thought never entered his head. Rather, his goal, the thing he day dreamed about, was to have his own office. A place where he could shut his door and not worry about signing people in, answering the phone, and listen to me and Eric bicker about why Tiesto should or shouldn’t be played more often on the gym floor.
He eventually got his office. In year FIVE of our business.
Thank you everyone for your support and patronage throughout the years. And thank you Lisa – my wife – who has always been my biggest cheerleader.2