Promoting your Crossfit gym without using the "C" word with Jason of Crossfit 1710

Good morning Fringe fans. Peter Keller here from Fringe Sport as always, and today I'm talking with Jason Llanis. He is the man, the boss, the big kahuna behind Crossfit 1710 in Wharton, Texas. How are you doing, Jason?

Jason Llanis:  I'm doing great. How are you, Peter?

I'm doing fantastic. I'm in beautiful, cold Boulder this morning. I'm looking out the window, see some pine trees and snow. It's not that bad. How about yourself?

Jason Llanis: I'm doing well. Yeah, a lot of changes happening today. A lot going on. It's a good day.

Awesome, sounds good. Well in the pre-call when we were chatting, you were telling me a lot of real interesting things about how you got started both into Crossfit and how you ended up affiliating. So tell us a little bit about yourself and your background, let's say before fitness.

Jason Llanis:  So I am a husband and father of two. We have a seven year old daughter and a four month old son. Our journey just before fitness, I've kind of always been into fitness since college. I was in to jiu jitsu for about six years, right after college after I moved off. I was in jiu jitsu for about six years. After that, that kind of fizzled out. I was doing jiu jitsu in my garage for a little bit and then just looking for something new. Googled different work out regiments and Crossfit popped up. So saw that and said, "Okay let's give this a try." Me and a couple of friends, we had no experience. We didn't even know what Crossfit was at the time and just gave it a shot.

We started out by, this is going to sound kind of crazy but, pushing my friend's pick-up across the parking lot. The junior college is across the street from our house. Pushing the truck across the parking lot and it just started evolving from there. You know, I had a few weights in the garage-

Help us understand about like what year this is?

Jason Llanis: This is around 2012. We made our own equipment, I made rings. Googled how to make rings in the oven with PVC, made our med balls out of basketballs taped up, we'd throw them against the tree or the wall. Occasional sand would get in our eyes. You know, just trying to get by, I didn't have money to buy equipment at the time. Box jumping from the ground to my pickup to the tailgate of my pickup just for box jumps. Just, you know, stuff like that just to get started. It was so much fun. We wanted to learn this, we have no training and then that evolved until about 2012. 2013 I think my wife bought me my first set of bumpers so we had some bumpers eventually. In 2014, I was like "Hey, I'm gonna take my level one cert," so once there, got my level one, learned so much. It was an eye-opening experience. You know that kind of changed all of our training, looked back like, hey we were doing all of this wrong, you know let's go back and start from scratch.

After that we were posting things on Facebook and whatnot, my cousin contacted me, "Hey, you know, I wanna come do what you're doing," "Okay, fine that's cool,", just kind of informal training. Eventually, she invited some friends over, she thought it was cool, "Hey, let's get some more people in here." Had a few more people come in and we were like "Hey, let's start charging a little bit," maybe get some more equipment for these people from the gym.

And then this just kind of took off from word of mouth, people started hearing about what we were doing and I couldn't, obviously advertise as "Crossfit" because I was the only trainer but I wasn't an affiliate. That was kind of hard trying to promote what we were doing "strength conditioning gym" but you want to do Crossfit at the same time. That's kind of difficult. 

Can we dig into that a little bit more? So you had your L1, you got this growing number of people who are coming to you for training but you are struggling with how to advertise or how to really call the style of training that you are doing. Help us understand that struggle a little bit more if you don't mind.

Jason Llanis: Man, I used all the knowledge I got from Level 1 and just apply that to the gym. Ultimately, I knew I wanted to become an affiliate but I didn't have the funds to do it. So, I just stuck with the training, stuck with the methodology that I was taught and hoping for the best that more people would come along and eventually, I would have the money upfront to afford the affiliate cost and insurance, and what not. It's just being patient with that, if you are in a bind financially, I know a lot of people probably take out loans to cover the cost of boxing and what not but delivering good coaching, good training so those athletes are coming to you. If you're just starting off, gaining their trust, that you know what you are doing, you know how to scale for those new athletes. On top of that, it's kind of fresh, it's a learning process of how to scale and how to try to keep those athletes coming back to you. Even if it's just kind of informal. It's all about learning and wanting to learn and wanting to grow.

Totally get you. So you've talked to us a little bit about it before you had the actual certification. What do you think changed and was it an overnight change or what it intermittent change, when you got certified as Crossfit 1710, or affiliate rather as Crossfit 1710.

Jason Llanis: Ask that question again?

You talked a little bit about the struggle of not having your L1 but not being affiliated and how it was worthwhile to become affiliated. So help me understand how fast does that change? So was it literally you get the okay from HQ, "Hey, Jason, you're Crossfit 1710". I mean overnight did things change, did it take week, did it take months, take years. What are we talking about?

Jason Llanis: Yeah, I mean once I applied, had the funds to apply, get insurance that drive that is there it's just an overnight thing, for me at least, its just a sense of being a part of that community, not saying that we weren't part because we were a strength and conditioning gym but more so to have that name. We are the only Crossfit gym in Wharton. We have other towns 15 minutes away from us that has a Crossfit gym, another town 30 minutes away that has two Crossfit gyms but to be able to be within that community it kind of changes. I don't know it's hard to say this but being a strength and conditioning gym versus a Crossfit gym it outweighs being a strength and conditioning gym in a way.

I mean for me that was my ultimate goal to become an affiliate. It's just what I wanted. And I want my athletes to embrace that change that this is what we are doing. Now we can advertise Crossfit. Let's be proud of who we are, as a community, now and spread the word amongst our community and have more people come in and enjoy what we enjoy and spread that around our town.

I love it. So let me do one more question and then we are about out of time. Let's think about your athletes that have been with you the longest. Since the start, since the early days, was there a change for them when you affiliated with Crossfit versus being "just a strength and conditioning facility"?

Jason Llanis: Yeah, I have a really good friend, Anthony Lane, I dropped his name on here if that's okay. He's been with me from the very start from even transferring from jiu jistu, he's hung in there with me. Yeah, he's on the same boat as me .... Crossfit ... its hard to explain.

Take your time, don't worry.

Jason Llanis: I don't know its just one of those next stepping stones for us. Like we've been working so hard. I keep seeing the garage grow. From just us, to having four people, having six people, and now having 24 athletes come to your garage. It's humbling to be in the garage and have this many athletes come. Which is not a big, large amount of athletes, if you come to a boxers gym, it's a whole lot bigger. But to see this growth and be a part of that, he's just excited for me and for the gym, about the growth and about what is happening there for us in Wharton.

Awesome, I love it. Well that's fantastic Jason. We are about out of time is there anything else that you would like to tell our audience.

Jason Llanis: Yeah, if you are interested in opening a Crossfit gym patience is the key. Just hang in there, keep doing what you are doing, and just work hard and it will happen. But be patient.

"It will happen but be patient." I love it. So I found you on the Facebook, is that the best way for people to find you or what's the best way?

Jason Llanis: Yeah on Facebook. We don't have a website yet, we are still working on that. Yeah Crossfit 1710 on Facebook and we have @crossfit1710 on Instagram as well.

Awesome, we will link that up and get some people over to you. Well, Jason, its been a pleasure and I don't know that I ever talked with anyone with the last name Llanis so my pleasure and a first for today. Any outgoing messages for the audience.

Jason Llanis: No, I think I'm good. Thank you for the time. Thank you for taking the time to talk with me today. I appreciate that.

A pleasure. Lift heavy, lift cool. And Jason we're out.

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