How the market has changed since Josh of Crossfit Metro East first started in 2008

Good morning Fringe fans. This is Peter Keller from Fringe Sport and today I'm here with Josh Nimmo from CrossFit Metro East in beautiful Illinois. Josh, how are you doing this morning, or afternoon?

Josh Nimmo:  I'm doing great Peter, how are you?

Doing just fantastic you know in Austin we're in March right now and the weather is just beautiful, what's it look like up your way?

Josh Nimmo: The truck reads 37, and it's it cloudy and overcast and just downright cold, this time of year, we're slowly getting out of the cold but it's still, winter lingers here until at least mid to late March sometimes.

Wow, well it's still great weather to get in the gym and build your summer body, right?

Josh Nimmo: Oh, that's for sure, yeah, we just today launched our Summer Shed program. We've got a lot of people getting ready for that swimsuit.

I love it. Well Josh, tell me a little about yourself. What's your athletic and work background before you found CrossFit and came to CrossFit Metro East.

Josh Nimmo: Yeah sure, so I grew up in the gym, my dad actually owned a training facility for as long as I can remember. He owned, what I call, an old school body builders type gym. Had a lot of free weight and selectericized type stuff but it was, man it was just kind of like a sweat shop man, we had guys in there just throwing weight around and, had some tanning beds, and he also ran a TaeKwonDo School, so I grew up just in the gym and did Marshall Arts and really probably established my love of fitness then.

Kind of went up through the ranks, my father went on, sold his facility, started working for a city-owned facility, it was a major sports complex: football, field and tracks, indoor tracks, and basketball courts, and I started working with a strength and conditioning coach there, when I was about 12. And this guy was the head strength and conditioning coach for Bradley University, at the time. I'm from the Peoria, Illinois area, so central Illinois. Essentially in the center of the United States almost.

And started working out with a strength coach, he since, once he left Bradley, went on to do strength and conditioning for the Chicago Bulls and now works in the University ranks. But that's kind of where I started, and so I kind of lucked out as a young kid being taught by pretty top level strength and conditioning coaches. So I started training when I was about 12, had a goal that I wanted to go play college athletics, I wanted to either go run track or play football.

Through high school, trained with my high school teams in football and also trained with my dad and at his facility that he ran and wound up starting to kind of train other kids that were my age or a little bit younger than me, you know, I had been training and doing these programs for a long time and so when kids had to come in and do a speed and agility program or had to learn new warm ups or new lifts, I would just kind of help out and coach them and train them. So that's at a very raw level, that's where I started coaching.

Got injured, my sophomore year of high school. Hurt my shoulder and had to go through some physical therapy and got to work with some physical therapist and athletic trainers and in that time I started to latch on to the idea of going in to athletic training as a major. I wanted to do athletic training only so I could better prepare elite level athletics as I trained them. I knew I was going to own a gym and I said "Okay, I'm going to own a gym and I'm going to train elite level athletes," I want to have the sport's medicine background to be able to help treat them or even rehab them or prevent those injuries.

Thought I might go into physical therapy school. When I got into college I started working for a company that was a physical therapy clinic as well as fitness center. Started personal training with them and managing our fitness centers and heck I was maybe 19 or 20 years old at the time. Started CrossFit in 2007 at the same time my son was just born and I honestly I stopped playing college football. I was kind of looking for the next thing and done some endurance events like half marathons and marathons and iron man's and things like that and so I decided, well maybe I'll just try this CrossFit thing and I had a buddy that wanted to go do a marathon and I said, "Okay man, well I'll go do a marathon with you, but I want to do it somewhere fun, like I want to go somewhere for it".

So in the meantime I had started doing CrossFit. I said, "Man I'm just going to do this CrossFit thing," see how it goes, see if it can really prepare me for anything like a marathon. And, I did CrossFit leading up to the marathon, I maybe did four or five long runs in the process. Other than that I was doing 400 meter and 800 meter runs in workout, that was about it and I dragged my body through this marathon. And I was like, okay, well I'm sold and so was my buddy and so we started doing CrossFit. This is like January of 2008, after that got my Level 1 cert. in September 2008, yeah 2008 I got my Level 1 cert. And started training people. So kind of from there, the rest is history.

Wow, so you really came up, really through an athletic background with, you know, the father owning the gym and all that sort of thing. So when did you start CrossFit Metro East?

Josh Nimmo: We affiliated in 2010 and I was still working for the company that I started working for in college they knew I had a love for CrossFit at the time, I had been doing it for a few years. And so I wanted to affiliate, they helped me do that and we affiliated inside like a mom-and-pop fitness center and started running a group CrossFit class. We had probably, man I don't know, a 10 x 20 square foot piece of carpet that we basically cleared out of the way of any machines so we had a little bit of open space and then we started doing CrossFit classes there.

Wow, and 2010 was on the early side. Plus, I think you mentioned you got your L1 in 2008, is that right? So what changes have you seen over the years, because it's a pretty different environment these days than it was before.

Josh Nimmo: Yeah, it really is man. So probably from 2008, I mean Chris Feeler was at my Level 1, if that tells you anything, how far back 2008 goes. He was on seminar staff at the time. Oh gosh, I'm trying to think of who else was at my Level 1, who was my flow master there. The guys that are now, they're no longer even involved in the part of CrossFit when it comes to training, they own gyms. Chris owns a gym and is a high level athlete, then a couple other guys work for HQ at this point. Probably the major changes has been the difference in gyms and in programs that are offered.

Back in 2007 and 2008 everybody was essentially following mainsite. And so, at that time, no gym was within a 50 mile radius of me either and so I was trying to do mainsite workouts at my college weight room or my work weight room, trying to figure out how to do a kettlebell swing with no kettlebell, and how to do kipping pull ups on one of those split bar pull up bars on a cable crossover. So I very much started CrossFit at bare bones, especially in the Midwest. There just wasn't a lot of access to things... to where now fast forward 10 years and I mean there are five gyms within a 10 mile radius of my gym.

Now in a city perspective, like if you're in Austin, I'm sure that's even more saturation than what my market is. But, yeah, now there's so many programs that you can follow. And so many either gym programs that one coach is providing through multiple gyms in an area, or there's still some mainsite followers. I know if I look at the affiliate pages there are a lot of gyms that do follow mainsite still. Just the programs that are offered, the amount of access you have, the information in general it's completely different than it was in 2007.

So kind of a loaded question, where do you think the market's going in the next two, three, five years? You having been in now for literally 10 years. What do you think the next two to five are looking like?

Josh Nimmo: Well, I would say that there has already been a little bit of a shift to the market that there, in 2012 there was a pretty big flush of gyms coming in. In 2010, we affiliated, in 2012 I left the gym that I was working for and opened my gym on my own, when I did that there were probably four to five other gyms opening at the same time. And I think what we are already seeing, and this is just keeping my ear to affiliate owner groups and things like that is that we're seeing people who got into CrossFit because it was a passion of theirs, like they started doing CrossFit and then they enjoyed doing CrossFit so much they thought well I can do this too and so those people, but they didn't really have any business acumen to handle the business side of things, or they really didn't, they weren't career based fitness professionals, right.

And so now, fast forward five, six years and you're seeing a lot of those gyms, their leaving. They're closing or they're selling or they're just no longer around because they didn't have the long term plan in mind. Whereas what I probably see happening in the next five more years is that you're going to see the true professionals come out of the woodwork where the gyms that are in this for 20, that are saying this is a 30 year business, right?

This isn't me going in for five years and trying to figure something out and not really knowing what I'm doing. This is a career that I intend on doing. I've built this career since I was 12 years old so there's nothing in this career that is going to stop me from continuing to grow my business. I think what we're going to see is we're going to see true professionals come out that are prepared to handle the ins and outs of business ownership, not just CrossFit training. And then the other thing I think we're gonna see is I think we're gonna see a shift, which Greg Glassman really, this is how he started this but we're going to see a shift into individual design.

I think we're already seeing that shift a little bit. That people are going to want a more tailored approach to their fitness and the group CrossFit, or just the group exercise, one size fits all plan, I just don't think is going to be a sustainable model for long term. Not from a revenue standpoint or from an actual, you know, product that we're providing our customer. So I see professional gyms sustaining, I feel that unprofessional gyms will fall off by the wayside and I see a reenergize focus around individual development coming into our gym.

Wow, I love it and I'm very much with you with what you're seeing coming out there. Unfortunately we're about out of time. It has been super fascinating for me. If somebody's interested in finding out more about CrossFit Metro East or contacting you, what's the best place for them to find you?

Josh Nimmo: Yeah, me, I'm not super, I'm not that popular yet that I don't have like enough room for more Facebook friends. So you can always find me on Facebook, Josh Nemmo. You can also find out more about our gym you can follow us on, Instagram @cfmetroeast, you can follow me @Jnimmo24 on Instagram and see pretty much all the happenings of the gym and all the happenings of my crazy family and that's pretty much how you can access me.

Awesome Josh, that sounds fantastic. Thanks for talking my ear off. This has been the easiest interview I've ever done. I think asked like two questions.

Josh Nimmo: I'm so sorry man, you asked like two questions.

No, no, no, don't be sorry this was easy on me, I love it. So thanks for giving me the time and let's have you look cool brother.

Josh Nimmo: Thanks brother, we appreciate the time Peter.


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