Good afternoon. This is Peter Keller from Fringe Sport and I'm super excited cause today I am speaking with Mat Frankel, the owner of CrossFit City Line in Watertown, Massachusetts just outside of Boston. Mat, how you doing today?
Mat Frankel: I'm doing great. Doing great. Beautiful day here in Boston. Couldn't be better.
I love it. And it's a Monday, the best day of the week, right?
Mat Frankel: The best day of the week. That's right. It gets the whole week started.
There you go.
Mat Frankel: Can't have a Saturday without a Monday.
There you go. I was actually talking with Chris Clyde earlier today. Do you know Chris Clyde?
Mat Frankel: Yeah. Name rings a bell.
So he was telling me that his slogan is "thank God it's Monday" and I told him I've not heard that before.
Mat Frankel: That might be the only time anybody's ever said that but it's true. I like that. I like that.
There you go. Well, Mat can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Mat Frankel: Yes. I'm the owner of Crossfit City Line. It's in Watertown. We opened the box in 2011 after I was a part of a Crossfit Games team. I won second place championship and after that I decided to open my own affiliate. Before that I was a college graduate in 2008. I went to Brown University in Rhode Island and majored in economics but nothing really about the business. I had learned a lot about the business side of running a gym while being a coach at a gym. I had the opportunity to learn and do that kind of thing. I really kinda stayed around home, which is Boston.
When I found Crossfit, I was athletic and all that stuff beforehand, but I found Crossfit and I knew that this was the thing that I really would want to wrap my life around. Been coaching and involved in Crossfit since about 2009 when I first found it.
I love it. And before that, what was your athletic background?
Mat Frankel: I played football at Brown and did track and field as well. I threw the shot-put. I had a bit of a weight loss journey and transformation there after finishing up football and then track ... much heavier athlete and lost weight and all that stuff. And I got involved in distance running and marathon running after college before Crossfit but once I got bored with that and was looking for something else, really realized how weak I was. I think at that point I was playing football. That's when I started searching for something else and found Crossfit.
Wow, that's really interesting. And one thing that's interesting to me about that is I actually came from a running background as well. I played rugby in college. Then got into distance running. And similarly didn't like how weak I was getting with distance running and found strength and conditioning training.
So I found it through some message boards. How did you transition from a distance and endurance background into CrossFit?
Mat Frankel: That's really funny. That's a pretty cool story and that's actually the same thing. I'm just gonna copy your words. I found it on a message board. It was a boxing message board. I was looking at just different things to do. Someone said try this hardcore workout and I was like "hardcore workout? Do you know what I do?" So yeah I'll click this link, let's see what this is all about. I remember watching one of the movement demos, I think it was Greg Amundson doing a front zerch and sumo deadlift high interval workout. It was on that grainy, homemade, camcorder kinda film. And I was like what is that? Alright I'll try that tomorrow. And so I did it and I posted back to the message board that I originally found, I was like that was hard. And then once I kinda started doing a little bit more frequently I went on the message board, the Crossfit ones there.
I love it. Now from there you were with CrossFit New England is that right?
Mat Frankel: Yeah.
Tell us a little bit more about regionals, and games, and all that.
Mat Frankel: Yeah that was a really fun, competitive time in my life. It was at an age where I could put literally everything I was doing and all my energy into training. My girlfriend and now wife was part of all that. So we did that stuff together. In 2009 I did a competition on my own, it was my first Crossfit competition. It was Crossfit Milford in Connecticut. I went down there by myself and did it, and met them. Heather and I were like "can I come workout with you guys?" They said yeah and I decided to do regionals that year, which at that time you could just sign up for it. No qualifying necessary.
Signed up for that, did that and got just hooked on the competition aspect. The next year in 2009, there was a games team that went to Aromas. I got to travel with them. I wasn't on the team but there was a little internal gym competition to see who was gonna be on the team. That just got me so fired up to compete and want to be in that spot. And so the next couple of years I worked for that. In 2010 I went to Crossfit Games as part of the team on New England and same thing in 2011. And in 2011 won the affiliate's championship with them and then that's the year that I also opened up my box.
And so in 2012 I competed as an individual at regionals. I did get injured there that year so I took 2013 off. Then in 2014 I trained again and went back to regionals as an individual again here in Northeast. And looking back at those competitive years ... some of the most fun and life changers and your priorities change and the amount of time you can spend on the things change and stuff. But I'll always look back at those years as real fun memories.
Awesome, I love it. So when I was talking with Eamon Coyne from CrossFit Pallas earlier he suggested that I chat with you. And we talked about this a little bit in the pre-show interview ... He told me to ask you what you ate after winning the Affiliate Cup. And when I mentioned it to you, you kinda started laughing so let's hear that story. I'm loving it.
Mat Frankel: Yeah. So I have a big appetite being a football player, as a rugby guy I'm sure you know, you gotta eat and I have an appetite that's kinda tough to turn off. So James Hobart was another athlete on the team in New England that year in 2011. During that time there was this like stupid YouTube video, it's not actually stupid it's kind of awesome, but basically they made these entire meals of gluttony.
Like huge, huge pizzas stacked up all on top of each other and just monstrous cookies and all this stuff. And training for the games we were at that time hooked on nutrition 100 percent. So after the games we made a meatball with macaroni and cheese and bacon on the inside and then we covered it up, baked the meatball, put it on top of garlic bread that we made with like this crazy meat sauce. And my wife made pancake-sized cookies that just took up the whole pan like one of those cast iron skillet cookies. But we each had like three to ourselves.
So we were just sitting there at my house at that point just totally comatose. The sugar in the food was even pretty clean but definitely a meal that I'll never forget.
I love it. That's just amazing. I'm sitting over here kinda laughing very quietly, but like dying laughing.
Mat Frankel: It was ridiculous, yeah. Now that I look back at it-
Has any meal since then measured up to that standard or is that like the first hit of crack? That you know like people talk about - they're chasing that for the rest of their lives?
Mat Frankel: I think I'll be chasing that one for the rest of my life, yeah, definitely.
Probably a good thing. Cool. Well let's go back to CrossFit City Line. So what led you to open that gym?
Mat Frankel: Yeah, I think it was the ability to run a community-oriented business that does something for other people. And when I found Crossfit to be a method of fitness that I believe in wholeheartedly. I saw what it did for myself and other people that I was coaching at the time. And it wasn't an exclusive kind of thing, it was an inclusive environment.
That's when I knew that I wanted to open a Crossfit gym but actually, when I first opened I remember a couple of friends of mine who still live around the area and come to the gym they said to me 'you remember when you were thirteen and you said you were gonna open a gym?' And I was like oh yeah, I did say that, didn't I?
I guess it dates back that far for me. That when I started working out at a gym I said this is kinda cool. It would be cool to be able to do this all day. I don't get to work out all day, but I think for me it does date back to that, even though I lost a little bit of that sight when I was in college and graduated looking for other stuff. But once I found Crossfit I kinda just got sucked in.
I love it. So one thing when you had signed up for this interview you had mentioned about starting a gym, accomplishing a goal, so you told me before your goal was a community-oriented business that does something for other people. Or that's what you wanted. Would you call that what your goal was when you started out or did you have a more concrete goal, like a hundred members or something like that?
Mat Frankel: Yeah it was ... I had a membership goal and those kind of numbers-oriented goals that are kind of more tangible, possibly a word you'd use for that. You can see on your membership software, oh I have a hundred members or you can look at your revenue and those kind of things. I did a lot of soul searching before I opened, and got what really mattered to me in terms of my core values and beliefs. I still have the papers to today, that I wrote down. I was away, it was my last vacation before opening the business and I wrote down what really matters to me and kinda like my vision, what I wanted out of this thing. We've been chasing that stuff since.
That making a different in people's lives matters, it really does matter every single day that we open the doors that's important to us. We live for those things. If we stray away from them we can immediately feel it and know that that's happening and we can make an adjustment and then we can make our decisions based off of what's best for our members and how we can help them best. That's kind of a guiding thing for us still.
I love it. So one more question based on what he had mentioned and we'll head into the lightning round. So before you had mentioned being an economics major at Brown and I've talked with a lot of affiliate owners and I have to say that a lot of times when they mention going to school and having a degree, it's very often a kinesiology degree or something like that. I would say you're more in the minority when you have an econ or some sort of business degree. Do you feel that that econ degree helps you in what you do day-to-day today?
Mat Frankel: I do think it helps a little bit in that I like the business side of running a business. I do like looking at accounting and things like that but in the grand scheme of running a business someone has to do that. I think for me it may give me a small kind of, not advantage compared to anybody else, but something that's just a positive piece of it that brings the whole circle together. I like that part.
I think that a business has to have somebody that will look at numbers and understand that side of it but it has to also be based on not just understanding those numbers and chasing those numbers, because if the chase is after numbers I think the important stuff gets looked over and missed. And the important stuff is the people that are in the gym and the good that's happening there. I feel like if I didn't have that background I would still run the same gym that I have now but it would just be somebody else who would be looking at those numbers and having to explain to me kind of what they all mean.
I think that's the real kind of advantage of it. I like that stuff. I understand it. it's intriguing so it's not something that I'll just like brush off but I do think it's possible, and it is and it's clearly being shown too, daily, that you don't have to have a business background to have a successful business.
Awesome. That was such a great answer man, I love to hear it. Well let's head really quickly into the lightning round, which is just a few very brief questions and brief answers. So what's one amazing tactical business tip that's helped you in the last thirty days?
Mat Frankel: Tactical business tip. That's a big one. I think it's been delegating. Delegating to the members on the team and trusting that they're gonna do the things that need to get done and that their job responsibility is built around and trusting them and following up on it.
Awesome, I love it. So what's the best business book you've ever read?
Mat Frankel: The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People is the one that just pops right into my head by Stephen Covey. It's a great book, a long book, but a lot of really good information that helped me set up my thoughts and priorities.
Yeah that's awesome. One thing I'll always remember from that book is "begin with the end in mind". I think that's maybe number one, or maybe it's not, but it's one that stuck with me. Cool.
Mat Frankel: Always, yeah. That one's ... didn't forget that one. Yep.
What is an amazing personal tip that's helped you in the last thirty days?
Mat Frankel: Personal tip for me it has been that tasks that I have will take up as much time as I give it. And to prioritize my tasks. To do the things that are most important and needed as a business owner, and family, and all that kinda stuff. You have to prioritize your day or else you end up just doing nothing. You look back at the last ten hours of your day and go 'what did I actually accomplish?' If you have a project there has to be a deadline and a timeline. You gotta work on it, set the time and finish it and follow up and complete it and not just kinda pick at it and pick at it and pick at it and leave the things ... it just eats up into all the other things that you should or could or need to be doing.
I love it. All right, what's your favorite piece of fitness gear or equipment?
Mat Frankel: Favorite, it's probably not the thing that's best for me, but favorite is probably still my running shoes.
I love it. So I still run endurance as well and I tell people that I have an endurance addiction but I just really enjoy it and I can't give it up.
Mat Frankel: It's true man, once you have that bug it's like I still love it, it may not be the thing I do as my focus but it's so nice to get out there.
I totally agree. Well if you make it down to Austin, I'm a big trail runner. And so I love running the trails. So if that's something that's down your alley, look me up, we'll go run a trip.
Mat Frankel: Oh, definitely.
Awesome. And so what's your favorite exercise?
Mat Frankel: I really like chest-to-bar pull-ups and actually thrusters. I think there's something about those two movements that are kinda rhythmic and you can get into a kind of a groove and a breathing rhythm and, for someone with an endurance background, I think breathing ... you find yourself breathing to a certain rhythm and a cadence and that translates a little bit into those movements, for me at least. And I ended up liking them where I know other people hate them but I'd say sometimes I'd say bring them on.
So this has been a really interesting interview for me for a few reasons but no one has ever told me that they like chest-to-bar pull-ups, or thrusters, let alone that they're their favorite. So I love that.
Mat Frankel: Yeah I'm an odd duck, I love them.
Yeah it sounds like it. Cool well that brings us to the end. If people want to get in touch with you what is the best way for them to get in touch with you or to find out more about CrossFit City Line?
Mat Frankel: They can go to our website. It's CrossfitCityLine.com for our affiliate page and then either way for me is either on my Instagram page - that's @Mat_Frankel. And my email is also on our website.
I love it. Well Mat, this has been fantastic. Especially since you're telling me you're having such great weather in Boston, go on and strap those running shoes and get a run in, man.
Mat Frankel: Yeah, I will. Thanks a lot.
Cheers, be well.
Mat Frankel: Thanks.