Getting newbies not afraid of crossfit with Tanya & Jobim of Crossfit Virilis

Good morning, Fringe fans. This is Peter Keller as always from FringeSport and I'm talking today with Tanya Sammis and Jobim Zapico of Crossfit Virilis. Did I get those last names correct, guys?

Jobim Zapico:  Yes sir.

Awesome. How are you guys doing today?

Tanya Sammis:  Good. How are you?

Fantastic, but then again I'm always doing fantastic. So we were talking a little bit in the pre-call and we had a couple of questions for you guys before. I'm really excited about this interview because you talked about how you have many newbies to crossfit coming to CrossFit Virilis and I think that's really interesting. And then also a little bit about the history of how you and Jobim came together as business partners is very interesting. Well, why don't you tell us a little bit about your background. Let's start with you Tanya and then we'll go to Jobim. So tell us a little bit about your background, where you came from and what brings you to fitness.

Tanya Sammis: Sure. So actually my education and upbringing and experience is in public relations. I started at a PR agency with my other business partner almost eight years ago. I always thought I was a healthy and fit person. Then I was introduced to crossfit because of the agency. We started doing PR and publicity ad promotions for one of the original crossfit gyms in San Antonio. It took me about eight months to start doing crossfit while we were doing the PR. I was kind of hesitant to try it out even though I was promoting it. That's where I met Jobim. He was coaching it. But I've been doing crossfit for a little over five years. But again my profession and background was in public relations and I first worked for an agency and have built my other business up with my business partner Mario. And then we took the leap to start our crossfit gym, which we can talk about a little but more, a little over two years ago.

Awesome. And Jobim what's your background? And then we can get in a little bit to kind of the foundation of CrossFit Virilis.

Jobim Zapico: I was the athlete background. I played sports growing up and then a little bit in college. When I got done with sports and I got done with school, I was going the exercise sports science route. I moved back home and during ... I'm originally from way south Texas, so in the valley. In the entire region, which is a pretty vast region. It's not heavily populated, maybe a million people across the entire region. There was only two crossfit gyms and one of them happened to be in my town. So a friend of mine mentioned to me there was a gym so I went in there and it reminded me a lot of the workouts that we would do when I was playing football. So I was immediately hooked. I went to the seminar pretty soon thereafter. Maybe like three months later after I'd been going to the gym. And when I went to the seminar it was so much ... It just seemed way more thoughtful, way more I guess science-based, than the stuff that I had learned at the university and it just seemed way more impactful.

I thought it was definitely something to latch on to. So I moved to San Antonio and started coaching up here.

Awesome. I want to key in on one thing that you said there. You felt like it was more impactful, but just more science-based than what you learned at the university. So were you doing a Kinesiology degree there? Or what were you doing at the university?

Jobim Zapico: Yes. I was doing Kinesiology. So basic, a lot of the stuff that gets taught at the university. There's not a lot of theory. And I guess that the more I learn about how common, or how the principles that most people will go by today. Not people in crossfit gyms, but most people will go by today. The more I learned about it and how all that became like the dogma. It's just like one of two studies that weren't really found in a lot of fact checking. People just ran with it.

At the university the good stuff was the anatomy and the physiology stuff that I picked up, but aside from that, like as far as nutrition goes, as far as like what creates adaptation physiologically. There wasn't a lot of that. You kind of do this many sets then you rest. You know you might put some muscle on and you eat a lot of carbs and you might put some muscle on that carbs do. You know you need to eat a lot of carbs. And that was pretty much it.

You know nobody really asked questions, which was interesting too.

Wow. That's really interesting insight in kind of a university education versus you know getting a crossfit L1. Did you continue your education going to different certifications and things like that?

Jobim Zapico: Yeah I've done my level two and I'm here studying getting ready to take the level three. So I'm looking forward to all that stuff too. But anybody who's done the level one or have access to the journal, there's tons of stuff on the journal and all those articles that are on the journal they are ... That's the thing I appreciate most about HQ, is that they'll never tell you that their way is correct. They'll just show you how their way works based on data that they've collected. And as soon as you show them a better way they'll immediately say okay let's try that.

Awesome. I love that feedback. That sounds really great. Let's talk about when you guys got together and the opening of CrossFit Virilis. So take us through a little bit of that.

Jobim Zapico: We were actually training people out of our garage for a month or two. Then we kind of took a look at the financial requirements that we were going to have to make and it was feasible. And we found a warehouse space that could hold everything we were going to do. It was pretty cost-effective. So you know we decided to take the plunge.

Tanya Sammis: I think even before that when we first met we talked about it. I was running the PR agency and we met at Alamo CrossFit when Jobim was head coaching there. I have the business background and like many entrepreneurs it's experiential learning. You don't really know until you know, until you experience it. It was a really helpful combination between Jobim's expertise in coaching and training athletes and my experience in bringing my other business to what it's turned into and just learning along the way. That combination of business and coaching skillset has been really helpful and I think it really is imperative for anyone starting a crossfit gym because so many people I've heard about and seen ... It's like they break away to start their own thing. They do it because they really like crossfit. I think an important thing to know is that you have to run it like a business and not like a hobby.

So that's made a difference for us for sure. Being able to compliment each other very well in that aspect and obviously we've both grown a lot in the business knowledge, particularly in the crossfit industry in the past few years as well.

Yeah it really reminds me ... I was talking with a gentleman up here in Austin named Travis, he owns Travis County Strength and one of the things that he told me is he said just because you love to workout doesn't mean you should own a gym. And I thought that was pretty profound. So thanks for sharing kind of the business versus the coaching background. I do think that that's a great combination.

Let's talk about the mix of clients that you have at CrossFit Virilis. You had mentioned that you have a lot of first-timers to crossfit. Was that by design when you guys started the business up? Did it just happen? I think it's pretty interesting, so take us into that a little bit deeper.

Tanya Sammis: I don't think necessarily it was by design. It was just kind of the way it worked and I have my parents are two of the most supportive people in the entire planet and they were our first members at the gym. I think they're a perfect example of the fitness for all mentality that we have and the ability to welcome people into what the definition of fitness is through crossfit. My dad had back surgery, significant back surgery, about 20 years ago and Jobim can talk more about the scientific piece of it because I couldn't explain it other than telling you that. But he's partially blind in one eye because of the surgery and has some other limiting factors. My mom has had four joint replacement surgeries between her knees and hips and shoulders and has arthritis that has been pretty severe and has improved dramatically. They're both, I guess when they started crossfit, were around 66, 67. So now they're up around 70.

Just that definition, painting the picture of who they are and the fact that they come in and hit the gym three times a week and they're able to do everything. Obviously there's infinite scalability so anyone can do any of the workouts that we have programed. So they were inaugural members and it just so happens that many of the people then, and still, who walk through our doors for the first time worked out or think they're healthy. I mean there are some who haven't worked out in years who walk through the door and have been members with us since close to the time we started.

It's kind of nice because they come in without really having a huge knowledge of crossfit so we create the habit, or break many of the habits, in order to effectively teach and coach and train them. But it's really nice to have people walk in for their first time just really not knowing what to expect because we're able to create that expectation for them. We certainly have members who have come from other crossfit gyms or moved from other cities. I'm not saying that's a bad thing. I feel like we develop the empowerment a little bit better and more strongly when they don't have the overall knowledge of it firsthand or when they first walk in.

Awesome. You talked about it a little bit. But I've found that many people are afraid to even come in the door because they may think it's too hardcore or maybe they believe some of the rumors slash myths about crossfit. Oh, you're going to get injured or you know whatever the case may be. How do you overcome those thoughts in the minds of those first-time clients?

Jobim Zapico:  We've definitely had our struggles with that as well. I don't think there's a perfect way to get somebody with those thoughts in the door. You know you just kind of keep harping on them. And you know hopefully they trust you. But then ultimately once they come in, whatever the workout is we definitely scale it down almost to the point where they kind of walk out the door and they're like, oh that wasn't so bad. Because we want to ensure that they have a little bit of success and they feel like it is something that they can do. And we'll save the big guns for later. You know we're not trying to get them "Fran" as soon as they walk in the door. That's the big thing, is just making sure that we really do a good job of scaling them down and give them a little bit of confidence that first day.

Tanya Sammis:  I think also the fear factor of getting them in the door, I can speak to it a lot experientially because I truly sat and watched crossfit happen in front of me before I decided, almost daily, before I decided to do it. Jobim and I have both heard every excuse possible, ever and we hear them frequently so we know how to combat them and then thankfully we know, we have experience. I mean, I myself, I used to be every day when I would get home from work, I'd drink a beer or two. I would go to the gym every day and do the elliptical ... Five sets of 10 on my eight stationary weights. So you know it's a typical story. And then I see something like the crossfit games on TV and I'm like, "Oh, I can't do that." Or even just watching the class and you're a little bit intimidated.

But because I've been there and because I know the transition is very possible I can talk about my own experiences and we do everything we can to show like-minded or relatable individuals in our gym. Say if someone's interested in trying it or tells us they're scared of it. I'll compare them to a member of our gym. I use my parents all the time as an example because I say if someone says they can't do it, they're incapable, they're scared, et cetera, et cetera. Whatever excuse it is, I say and my 70-year-old parents who have had surgery after surgery, who have arthritis, who are blind in one eye, they can do it. If they're able to do it, how can you not be able to? I'm not throwing my parents under the bus, but you give us any limiting factor and we can talk to you about how we can work around it and make your fitness have an impact on your overall daily life.

Awesome. Well, that's about how much time we've got. Is there anything else you'd like to share with our audience.

Jobim Zapico: No, I can't think of anything.

Awesome. Well, I found you guys online at Is that the best place to find you guys? Or would you prefer people hit you guys up on Facebook or Instagram?

Tanya Sammis:  The website's great. Facebook and Instagram. We're also on Twitter. All those things @crossfitvirilis. And Snapchat.

What's Twitter?

Tanya Sammis:  The same. @crossfitvirilis.

I'm sorry. I was making a ... I have a personal dislike for Twitter. So I was making a joke. But I know you come out of the PR field so I think maybe it's more important ...

Tanya Sammis:  Every platform has a little bit of a different audience.

Exactly. Cool. It's been a pleasure for me to talk with you guys. And we'll look forward to seeing you guys soon.

Jobim Zapico: Thanks man.

Tanya Sammis: Thank you.


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