Growing a new gym in a thriving Crossfit community with Mark & Tony of Climate Crossfit

Good morning, this is Peter Keller from FringeSport, and I'm happy today to be chatting with Mark Shumacher and Tony Schuster, business partners in Climate CrossFit out of Omaha, Nebraska. How are you guys doing this morning?

Mark Shumacher:  Good, good. How are you?

I'm doing fantastic. It's a little bit chilly in Austin, everybody loses their minds when there's any ice on the ground. That includes me. I'm not above it all, but that would probably be laughable for you guys.

Mark Shumacher: Yeah, what's your definition of chilly? Like what's that temperature going to be? Because we're coming off -20 below windchill days the last couple days, so.

If it hits freezing, people, like I said, lose their minds. School is canceled earlier this week, because kids can't go to school when it's freezing, and yeah. So, it's a little different down here.

Mark Shumacher:  Yeah, pretty much, pretty much. You guys are a little pampered is what we're hearing.

Definitely, definitely. But then, again, it gets cold so infrequently I guess people just don't have coats, so Mark, Tony, why don't you tell us a little bit about your background. What did you guys do before you opened Climate CrossFit?

Mark Shumacher: I've been in Lincoln most of my life, which is about an hour away from Omaha. Just went to school there, played sports, got a degree in exercise science, and just hopped around from job to job personal training. Worked at CrossFit Lincoln for quite a while.

And then Tony's gym, Climate, was kind of going through a transition, so he asked if I'd move out to Omaha and help him run things.

Tony Schuster: Yeah, and as far as myself, I'm the self proclaimed Matt Chan of Omaha, just not as good looking to as talented.

I actually started CrossFit through firefighter training in Colorado, and then actually moved back to Omaha where I'm from, and just jumped back in with personal training and fell into a group of guys at our local globo gym, started doing CrossFit, and we kind of did our own thing.

Had the opportunity to start Climate a couple years ago. And then met Mark through local competitions and stuff. Had a lot in common. We were on a couple teams together. Then, when the opportunity came up to get a new partner, he was the first in line, the first choice. So yeah.

I love it. Thank you very much. Let our listeners and readers know a little bit about the demographics of Omaha. How big of a city is it? And what's the vibe? Who are the major employers? Who are your clients at Climate?

Tony Schuster: I can't give you an exact number on population, but with the way, I guess business TD Ameritrade, ConAgra recently.

Mark Shumacher: LinkedIn.

Tony Schuster: LinkedIn, Google. There's a couple different offices in this area that we get a lot of about 25 to 45 year old kind of age range. And then, obviously, the few and far between, or not few and far between, just like athletes of high school caliber and things like that.

Mark Shumacher: Yeah. Nebraska has actually become really big in startups here over the last like five years. So, here in Omaha, we have LinkedIn, one of their big bases is here, and then a couple other ones that are becoming really big, like Hayneedle is a startup that's becoming pretty, pretty big. Facebook has a new data center here, which is just massive. So, a lot of businesses will start up here in Omaha, because we're so centrally located.

Gotcha. And what does your client base look like? Are you employing a lot of these start ups? Excuse me, are you training a lot of these startup employees, or who comes to Climate?

Mark Shumacher: As of right now, we kind of have a small number from maybe a couple of these businesses. We're moving facilities, trying to get that up and going. Once we're finally done with our new spot, we're setting up chances for us to go into these businesses and talk about fitness, the role of fitness in the corporate world, and why it's beneficial for not only the business owners to have their employees do physical fitness, but also why it's important, obviously, for the employees, as well. So, we're getting there.

I love it. And you had mentioned on the pre-call stuff to ask you about how and why you're going to knit together all the CrossFit gyms in Nebraska. I thought that was a really interesting question. So, there you go. Here it is.

Mark Shumacher: Yeah. So, we had this idea. Tony and I are kind of throwing around ideas on what to do next, and one of the ideas we came up with is  starting out with Nebraska, it can always grow, obviously, in the Midwest, but almost like a summit for all the CrossFit gyms and all the CrossFit coaches.

Here in Nebraska, especially in Omaha, I think in the metro area we have more CrossFit gyms per capita than anywhere else in the world. We have not only a lot of pretty good CrossFit gyms with really good coaches, but we also have one of the hardest regionals. We usually bring some of the best athletes from Omaha over the past 10 years or so.

So, we have a really good CrossFit space and a lot of really good names from CrossFit here in Omaha here in Nebraska, so it's going to be our goal to create a summit to where all these good athletes, and coaches, and business owners can come. We're going to bring in some specialists in Olympic lifting, power lifting, gymnastics-

Tony Schuster: Nutrition.

Mark Shumacher: Nutrition, and just trying to get everyone and every gym a leg up and help them succeed. Even though we're technically going against them, we want to see them succeed and do the best for their members potentially.

Tony Schuster: So, the big for me is that, kind of to piggyback on that, is it is super competitive in Omaha, but the beauty of CrossFit is the community aspect of it. You have your own gym communities.

And then what we're trying to do is create more of an Omaha community where we're ... Not saying that we're not there for each other right now, but it is super competitive, and I want gyms to be able to support each and help each other, rather than try to overly compete and knock the next person down. Because we're going to be better as a gym if the gyms around us are better, and no better way to do that to get us all together to make us better coaches so we can make Omaha a more healthy and just better area.

I love it. So, one of the things that I often think about when I talk with gym owners, because of course I've talked with quite a few gym owners, is that what we're doing, including me with FringeSport, we're all fighting the couch. Like we shouldn't be fighting each other, because there's just so many people who need fitness, who need education on healthier eating and things like that, that you don't need to be poaching from each other. We need to be motivating those people who are on the couch, or who are maybe runners, or who are participating in some other sport, and get them into the gym and teach them something. That's really fundamental to the way I look at the world. What do you guys-

Tony Schuster: Yeah, absolutely. The big thing is we get stuck in our little niche and we're competing against each other in this whole CrossFit or gym game, but when you ... I mean outside looking in, like there's so many people that we haven't touched or been to because we're in this small bubble. If we get better as gyms, then we're able to get all our names out, there's plenty of members and people in this area to have 30 successful gyms.

We've got to do that by making each other better, so that our billboards per se are our members, and when those guys go out in the community, they promote for us. We're not battling each other. We're just doing the best that we can for our members, and everything else takes care of itself.

I love how you said, "Our billboards," and then you corrected yourself to your members. Let's focus on that for just a second. What I find with a lot of the best gyms is that, yeah, their members are their best marketing, because their members are talking about the gym, bringing their friends in, making positive life changes that cause other people in their lives to say like, "Hey, wow, you're looking awesome. What's going on?"

So, can you talk to me a little bit about that?

Mark Shumacher: Yeah, I think I had this conversation with somebody the other day about there was another gym that we went to for just a real small competition, and they mentioned that gym was doing really well just over the past year or so. They've been around for a while, but just over the past year they've been doing better.

When I sat and thought about it, it's the community ... Like to a certain point, when you're a new gym, you have to market to get people in the door. After a while, if you create a good community, good community will recruit more good community. That's why certain neighborhoods blow up or certain areas blow up, because you get like-minded people inviting other like-minded people who will fit in really, really nicely.

So, when we create an atmosphere and an area for certain individuals, they're going to go out and recruit like-minded individuals to just help create this atmosphere, this family, this tribe, whatever you want to call it.

Tony Schuster: Yeah, my big thing is the hardest part business wise is retaining people. You can have the coolest logo, you can have the sweetest spot there is, but if you don't have quality coaching, or quality members, or quality community to keep everybody going, none of that matters, because they're all going to leave.

So, if our main advertising is the average person comes in, no matter what their goals, if they feel better about themselves, they feel like they belong, they're going to go out and ask all their friends and all their coworkers to join them, because it makes them happy and they want other people to be involved with that.

So, again, you can have really cool stuff, but unless you take care and do the right thing by your members and your community, none of that cool logo, whatever, really matters. So, it's definitely your members and your community is your billboard.

I love it, and I 100% agree. Well, that's all the time we have for now. So, I find you guys at online. Is that the best way for somebody to follow up and find out more about Climate or about you guys?

Tony Schuster: Yeah, they can check the website. We update it on a regular basis. They can also find us on Facebook, Climate CrossFit, or on Instagram, just Climate CrossFit, as well.

Sounds awesome. Well Mark, Tony, I'm going to try to stay warm here at my 32, 34 degree Austin weather. You guys really try to stay warm up there. And like I mentioned in the pre-call, I'll be in your area in about a month. I look forward to throwing some weight around with you guys.

Mark Shumacher:  Absolutely.

Have a great holiday.


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