Reflecting On Eight Years of Cressey Sports Performance

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“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.

I mean

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

Did what you just read make your day? Ruin it? Either way, you should share it with your friends and/or comment below.

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

I don’t share email information. Ever. Because I’m not a jerk.
  1. Pete, fresh from earning his MBA from Babson College, recalls the story of receiving a voice mail from Eric as he was on the golf course awaiting to hear back from TWO job interviews a few days prior. “Dude, shit hit the fan (at the previous gym Eric was working at), are you still interested in what we discussed? Want to open gym?”

  2. Who, lucky for me, digs bald dudes.

Comments for This Entry

  • Rachel

    Congrats on your success! Though I haven't been in the industry long, so far I've almost preferred to work with "general population" over more athletic clients, simply for the fact that you can help change someone's entire life, and that's a great feeling. :) I am headed to Rhode Island this week for the Fitness Summit and I keep thinking about Family Guy just because it's set there haha. Hope to see you there!

    July 13, 2015 at 1:52 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Trish

    This made me a little teary eyed! Congrats on your success and thanks [to all three of you] for being such friendly, inspirational pros willing to dole out all your knowledge to the rest of the world! Funny that after 8 years you guys still argue over the music lol

    July 13, 2015 at 6:02 pm | Reply to this comment

    • TonyGentilcore

      Well thanks for the kind words Trish. The people we've been able to work with throughout the years - many of whom have become great friends - has made everything more than worth it. Plus, CSP has MORE than helped me establish my own brand and career outside of its walls. I am forever grateful.

      July 15, 2015 at 7:58 am | Reply to this comment

  • Musings and Things to Read - 7.15.2015 - Miguel Aragoncillo

    […] Tony wrote a great blog about some of the origins, along with various milestones that many of our clients have done, not to mention how cool it is to look back in hindsight at the amount of professionals we’ve all worked with in recent years. […]

    July 15, 2015 at 10:17 am | Reply to this comment

  • Vlad

    Guess what else has thrived for 8-years beyond wildest expectations: TV's "Keeping Up with the Kardashians"!

    July 16, 2015 at 5:35 am | Reply to this comment

  • Linden Ellefson

    Building your own personal brand while working for a training company is absolutely massive. It's something I am currently working on figuring out myself. Have you, Pete, or Eric ever written a blog on that? I would be heavily interested in hearing your experience! Thanks Tony!

    July 22, 2015 at 4:07 pm | Reply to this comment

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