Tough break

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UPCOMING ELEMENTS WORKSHOPS:

#25 (Williamsburg) Mon/Thur @8pm, starts May 10 (4 slots left) (1/2 price = $150)

UPCOMING ENDURANCE WORKSHOP:
Rowing Workshop -- Saturday, May 15th

Monday 100503

BLACK BOX WOD:

For time, complete the following:

21 ring dips
250m row
15 ring dips
500m row
9 ring dips
750m row

Post time to comments.

CFBK Strength Preference: CF Football

Complete as many rounds as possible in 10 minutes:

5 One Arm KB Snatch (RT) 2 pood
5 One Arm KB Snatch (LT) 2 pood
5 Push Ups

Post total rounds completed to comments.

Happy Birthday, Cathy!

All BBB members, if you haven't already, please read Sunday's post.

31 Comments

Happy Birthday Cathy!
Birthday WOD?

We are aware that part of what has made Brooklyn unique is the ability it affords many members to pursue alternate programming (e.g., CF Football, etc.) We would like to begin to think about how we can offer additional flexibility to those of you who would be interested in coming to Manhattan. Please post your thoughts to comments.

Thanks agent Bauer!

Happy Birthday Cathy!

From my experience over the past year, crossfit brooklyn is basically a place where people do what they want. the majority of the time it's the main site or football but on any given night you see people all over the place doing other WOD's or just lifting. I've always liked the flexibility to see a WOD that I can't do because of an injury but being able to come in and do something else and not have to worry that I am inconveniencing people.

I have been following CF Football programming for the past 3 months or so, and there has never been a space or convenience issue. This is a major concern of mine about training in Manhattan, the options we have at BK are a big part of what makes it a great place to train.

I've recently been following the CFE programming and enjoy it greatly. Will the programming at Manhattan be more restricted to following the mainsite? The recent mainsite programming has not really been that appealing to me.

BBB’s greatest strength as a community is also one of its greatest weaknesses as a business. The freedom for people to pursue their own programming is wonderful on a small scale while the owners fund the operation. To be an actual business, we need to function like Manhattan, with a specific schedule and a specific plan. Had we moved into the new spot, many people would have appreciated the new facilities, but a significant number would have bemoaned “the loss of BBB’s soul,” as we got busy trying to grow the membership. In my opinion, within three months of moving into the new space, a third or more of our current members would have left.

On the one hand, BBB members have often felt like a stepchild, but at the same time its members have also relished the minimal intrusion of formal rules imposed from above. All these things helped make the BBB community what it is today. Despite all claims to the contrary, there is no way to retain this atmosphere and turn a profit. The idea of running the place like a commune may be appealing, but it is simply not practical.

To function, we need to pay rent, insurance, payroll taxes, etc. The owners’ names are on numerous legal documents that extend liability to us personally. We cannot let people work for free; there are actually laws against this sort of thing. Even if we could let people work for free, experience shows that reliability is directly proportional to salary. If you think there have been too many incidents or BBB not opening on time, just imagine what it would be like without our paying $5000 per month in payroll to the trainers.

In sum, the closing of BBB is not a matter to be negotiated with the membership. If a bunch of you wants to start your own box in Williamsburg or anywhere else, we will be glad to help. If any of you want to discuss how we can make your transition to Manhattan as comfortable as possible, then we will be extremely receptive. We’ve put $120,000 of our own money into this operation, and no one has had a greater incentive to make it work than us.

Hari, I know myself, Craig, Zach ,Sarah and Cathy have had great success working off the Crossfit Invictus programming. If possible, I think we all would like to continue that.

Brett

Hari,

To say that culture in BBB is one of its greatest weaknesses as a business implies that somehow my desire to do CFFB WODS (or Emerson’s desire to do CFE) has in anyway contributed to the failure of BBB is hardly fair. That is a cop out. The box did not fail because people didnt follow the main site WODs. If the entire membership did one WOD a day would that in any way change the situation? Nope. Given that, it is just wrong to blame the programming on this situation.

People come to BBB for one reason and one reason only – members tell them to come. There has been almost nothing done to market BBB itself. Foot traffic in that spot is all but non existent....so a placard is just not gonna get it done.

The culture and the workouts are why I have brought people to the gym and why I have been a member for 18 months. If the gym didn’t work because the varied programming made it hard to run effective classes then I would agree with you…but, to my knowledge, that has never been the case. If my wrist injury prevents me from doing heavy push jerks then what is the problem with my doing a metcon on the other side of the gym?

The fact seems to be that you had a business that has been failing for 18 months and, instead of working with the extremely dedicated community to try and fix things, or having yourself or josh come out to bk and spend any time at all trying to make improvements, you chose to just announce it was closing.

I think all of us are just really disappointed in the way this was handled. As a member for the past 18 months I thought we deserved better than that. You regularly ask the manhattan membership their thoughts on small issues like whether there should be a 6:30 am class vs a 7:00 am class….did we deserve that much less? No one is arguing that you have an incentive to make it work...but so do we. We love the gym, we love the workouts and we love the community and you didnt even give us the chance to try and save it.

Craig

Craig,

You have completely missed my point. You're angry, and I'm not going to change that. You feel we could have done things better, much better; that but for our failing to seek your help, things would have worked out fine. I'm not going to change your mind, and I'm not going to try.

I do recall (not that long ago) there being a request for manhattan members to lock in their membership rates for an extended period of time in order to generate some money.

wasn't this a tremendous success?

Hari,

Honestly I think Craig is just asking questions, it's not about anger as much as it is frustration and I think alot of us want to know if something can be done now? Lots has been said over the past year and to some of us this is a shock, to others not so much.

Anyway, I think the town hall meeting is good and in the mean time myself and others would probably just want some simple questions answered like, is it possible for the members to take over the lease, buy the equipment, keep the place running? What's the cost structure? We can sit here and point fingers all day at how we got to this point but enough people are showing interest in at least trying to find a way to keep the gym going. If it's not possible then everyone will have to figure out what to do. I understand that it's not in the best interest of the CFNYC to want to help to keep CFBK open since some of us would come over and that's revenue lost.

On another note, why is every other crossfit surviving in the city. Virtuosity, (they pay way more for that space). South Brooklyn, LIC. Obviously something went wrong here. It was said that we have about 40 members. It seems like more. If you pay for the manhattan membership but workout in brooklyn mostly, are you considered a manhattan member?

Has there been any effort to negotiate lower rent at the current location? I know landlords aren't in the business of charity but surely there's not a lot going on at the intersection of Metropolitan and Bushwick that warrants what it appears we are paying.... especially not in this economy. Maybe I'm just a bit wide-eyed to the nature of doing business in NY but there's not much to lose at this point.... then we could sell a bunch of stuff to cover the difference. I mean really, what are they going to do with that location other than let us use it? Film the SAW VII or HOSTEL 4 or something?!?!

Hari-

Doing some quick math... if BKers paid the same rate as NYC there would only need to be an addition of 25 members to break even. Now granted, some conditions in BK leave a little to be desired when it comes to charging the same as NYC but I think it's something to consider. (that would get you to $200*64 members= $12800 revenue) I understand that some people might not want to pay more but I think to many people it's much more than a gym membership (as seen via Craig's frustration). In the end, it's your business but I think there are some critical assumptions that have been made in terms of cost structure, getting new members (gym capacity), culture that might not be fully accurate. I appreciate your willingness in trying to make this work (and spending as much money as you have) but I do not think loose class structure was really the problem here, probably more a failure of harnessing the power of this community (not saying this is something easily done).

I've been a member of BBB for about a year and a half now, but my posts are few and far between. So far, all that has gotten me to post in the past is nobody coming to open the box or Torch yelling at me for not posting. Guess closing the place deserves something too.

I am disappointed to see BBB close, but am not surprised. As Kev P mentioned in another post, some of have heard rumblings that business was not good and we were operating in the red. I always had this funny feeling this announcement was coming, and that we were all on borrowed time. Unfortunately, time is up.

I'm not going to get in to a discussion over what was done, what wasn't done, what should have been done, etc. This was, after all, a business, and this decision was a business decision. I'm not in a position to question it.

My latest 6 month membership expired today. After hearing about the closure, I decided not to renew for the final month, and instead join a box closer to my apt. No hard feelings.

The ability to come in to BBB and do whatever you wanted (within reason) was part of what made BBB so great, and is what I think helped build the community atmosphere out here. Hari, I appreciate that you want to try to incorporate that in Manhattan, but you also admit in another post some of the challenges this brings. I hope it works, and at least some of the freedom of Brooklyn seeps in to Manhattan.

I think the biggest problem with Manhattan for most of us is that it is in Manhattan. Just not convenient, especially on weekends. I know it doesn't work for me.

That's all I've got.

Hari,

While trying to figure out what my Crossfit training status I did have a few questions on Mnahattan policies as I have only worked out there twice. What is the official policy on dropping weight, can this only be done during certain hours, only on weekends or only in certain areas of the box? I have been focusing on more strength specific training and would like to continue doing so wherever I train, as I think this is greatly lagging on the mainpage and one of the issues I see with exclusively doing mainpage training, how will this be treated at Manhattan, I know I saw Sara mention before there are options to do such before class.

David

The thing to keep in mind about Manhattan is that it is an office building. Within reason, we try to allow people to do the full range of CrossFit activities. The primary restrictions are these:

1) AM and PM WOD's need to be in the Front half of the gym (our neighbor below works primarily under the back half).

2) Early evening 40-minute "express" WOD's are done in the back of the gym, during which time we try to minimize the noise, while the regular full-hour WOD's are done in the Front.

3) We have not had much complaining from anyone after 7:00 PM or on the weekends. Still, we try to develop a culture where droping is done for safety, not dramatic effect, and not to cut a few seconds off a WOD.

4) I had a fairly long talk with Brett. We are aware of the type of work many of you want to do, and we will do our best to accommodate.

5) Although it may not be conveniently located and have the same vibe, there are some advantages of having air conditioning and showers. You may be surprised, if you give it a try.

6) In sum, if BBB was a 10 on CF freedom and the globo gym is a 1 ot 2, then Manhattan is anywhere from an 7 to a 9 depending on the time of day and the day of the week. For your locked-in Brooklyn price, I don't think you will find a better value.

If a significant part of what you love about BBB is CF and the CF community, then I suggest you consider preserving that experience in the best way possible. In theory, one way is for our members to put in a heroic effort in terms of time and money to save BBB. In our opinion, a far more practical and rewarding alternative is to put a similar or lesser amount of time and/or money into making the trip to Manhattan. The people here aren'tthe same as the people in Brooklyn, but they're CrossFitters and they will be influenced by your presence in a positive way, and vice versa.

Has anyone spoken with the building owner to see what they are looking for in rent on a new lease?

If not, can someone post the phone # that's on the sign outside the gym?

"Even if we could let people work for free, experience shows that reliability is directly proportional to salary."

As someone who worked for months without being paid as a trainer at BBB, I'm kind of sad about this comment.

Personally, I can only think of one incident where the BBB opened late and some members had to wait outside. It didn't matter at all that I wasn't paid, I loved working out and training at the BBB and once we did start being paid it wasn't the money that motivated me to come in; what motivated me was helping people grow and improve in dramatic fashion.

I think that all the other original founders/trainers of the BBB would agree with me in saying that considering our lack of resources and full-time jobs we managed that space as professionally as could be expected. Again, not for money, but because we loved it.

Even now I still miss that team of people and the camaraderie we shared in turning that hovel into something that became much more than the some of its parts. The enthusiasm we shared created an exciting atmosphere and our comparatively relaxed modus operandi made working out there more fun than I've experienced at any other Crossfit location (and I'd argue that our members agreed with us).

Anyway, I'm sad that BBB is closing and wish all the best for the trainers and members. I have some amazing memories and I'm proud of what we accomplished.

Thanks to all who made it so fun. (You know who are)

Sam


If you think there have been too many incidents or BBB not opening on time, just imagine what it would be like without our paying $5000 per month in payroll to the trainers.

I am fortunate in that I do not have to resort to imagination as I was there when that was the case. When not only were people not getting paid but the idea was not even in our minds. In those days, I recall that we ran quality training schedule and posted a very strong record of opening the doors on time that I know would favorably compare to that of the first Black Box (run by financially-invested partners and Allison) and likely trump any similar stretch of the BBB's existence.

Perhaps money is not the only thing that drives people.

Word from manhattan is that the place is extremely crowded. A few weeks back during the filthy fifty Sara was standing in front of a board with 40 names on it, how is it going to work when 20 people from brooklyn get dumped in there? if on the freedom scale Brooklyn's a 10 and Manhattan is an 8, why was I told by multiple people to not go to manhattan for a lunch WOD unless I have at least an hour to spend. That doesn't sound like CF freedom. I was going to spend the extra money just to be able to use manhattan during lunch but half the time I need to get in and out fast, like go, warm up, do the WOD and run out, I have a job that I have to get back to. I was told that this was not possible. I want the coaching, I love the tips and need them but other times I just don't have the time and if the WOD is ring dips, wall balls and any other things where I just need the equipment, the brooklyn crowd has enjoyed that freedom and I just don't see how that continues by overcrowding a place even more and lunch WOD's are probably smaller and I was still told freedom was limited.

It would also be awesome if someone - perhaps someone being paid if that's the only way to get stuff done right - would take 2 seconds to kill that extra "strong" tag before the "(1/2 price = $150)" bit.

In the interest of enabling people to move in and out quickly, we have recently implemented 40-minute "express" WOD's that accomplish exactly what Mike N describes. We have also done the same in the AM, while leaving people the flexibility to come in a bit early and/or stay a bit late. If there is demand for a similar approach at lunch, we will meet that demand.

Filthy Fifty is one of the most popular WOD's. It always brings people out. Sara not only ran forty-plus people through the WOD, she did so with minimum delay to anyone. If you read the comments that day, you will find nothing less than rave reviews for the way the WOD was handled.

moon: agree regarding pay
community & seeing results in yourself+others>>>>>>$$$

I just wanted to make sure my earlier comments were clear, I have never had an issue with the way the box was run. Quite the opposite, the reason I have stayed a member for so long is precisely because of the way the box was run. I just wanted to make sure that was clear because I really do appreciate everything the trainers have done for myself (and the box as a whole).

My disappointment is in the way the dissolution happened. No warning, no chance to pitch in and try and save it...nothing. So many members would have jumped at the opportunity (and they still are) to fix issues(Referring to Hari's comments) with the way the box operated or help with recruiting new members if given the chance.

Thanks again to all the trainers, and members, who have been in and out of the box over the past 18 months...it's gonna be sad to find another place to train.

The conversation was about CF freedom. The fact that there has to be a dsicussion about having express WOD's at lunch and I couldn't just show up today and do what I want was what I was getting at.

As far as Sarah and the filthy 50 and to the point again about CF freedom, that's a day and there are probably many where if someone wanted to do football or invictus or anything else they couldn't. I'm not saying that CFNYC should provide that service because I don't think they can based on what I've heard about crowds over there. I also think it might be disingenuous to make us believe that some of our culture will seep into CFNYC when it can't really. I'm still trying to wrap my arms around why we were told we were moving to a bigger better space when the previous one was losing money. Usually failing business models don't look to expand. I'm no business expert but if I can't afford the rent on my studio apartment I don't move to a two bedroom and buy a piano.

It would be nice to have some simple questions answered though instead of having this debate:

lease - $?/month
insurance - $?/month
trainers - $?/month
utilities - $?/month

This really is tedious. Mike N describes a desire to be able to get in and get out quickly. I explain how we adressing that need. He complainsthat we cannot function if we get any more members in Manhattan and points to a particular WOD as evidence. I explain that his evidence doesn't support his claim

We are not going to provide you with a complete economic rational of our decision, which was based on more that just economics. We said we were moving to a new location because we genuinely thought we were. As we wrote, we couldn't finalize the deal.


I don't think the goal of looking at the numbers is to try and convince you guys that you are making a bad move. You've made your decision and probably won't be changing your mind.

On the other hand, it seems there are quite a few people on here interested in seeing what can be done to keep Brooklyn running on our own. It would be nice to see the basic numbers so we know whether this is a feasible option or not.

Hey everyone-

I understand that people are very upset right now and trying to find a way to continue things as they are in BK.
And I know that you would like to understand where we are coming from in our decision to stop our cash-loss by closing BBB. Josh & I will be happy to meet with members for a meeting during a non-WOD time. We will not post our financials online, that is our private business info. We may be willing to share some of that in person, but not here. I know many of you feel very badly about the way this has gone down. I can also tell you this has been a draining decision for us and has been a huge investment for us, some of us far, far more than others, in terms of time, planning, and a very substantial investment of personal income, over and over. I know this is sudden for many of you but it has been discussed at every meeting for months. As other members have mentioned, we have also tried advertising, flyering and other approaches before. None of our Manhattan locations ever gained membership due to foot traffic. We will suggest an alternate meeting time in the next couple of days and this conversation can continue then.

Thanks,
Court

Sorry Hari, clearly this conversation doesn't port itself to some discussion board. Yes, I mentioned 1 WOD as an example, but people in Brooklyn have said for the last several months that manhattan is a zoo and it has to be. The lease is big, legal bills, utilities, trainers for more hours. I didn't understand how either location stayed in business when I have visited about 8 other crossfits that claim to not make much money at all and spend far less than 15K or whatever it costs a month on a lease for space.

I wanted to see the financials. I won't get them, that's fine. I live and work in manhattan, closing CFBK doesn't inconvenience me as much as others. Sometime this week I would like to come in for the lunch time WOD and check it out.

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