First off, do you want to be downtown, in a suburb, or in a more rural area? Let's take a look at each of these areas for a minute.
Downtown: Especially in larger metro areas, the downtown location will have a higher population density. Of course, having more people in an area it is more likely that there will be CrossFit or Functional Fitness enthusiast. A few percentage of 100k is a lot bigger draw than a few percentage of 10k population. That is great for growing client base! but, there could be a couple of down sides. Suitable locations tend to be harder to find, and typically will be more dollars / square foot. (not always true). And, unless you and your clients live near, parking can be challenging.
A more rural location is appealing to many people. Rent may be lower (although not always easy to find), There can be more opportunities for working outside, with trails or bigger outdoor areas. Drawing a crowd from a large, less populated area may be more challenging. But, the athletes that you find (or find you) will probably be very committed and loyal to your box.
Suburbs: A quick pole of our customers results in most of the boxes are in the "suburb" area. They are a nice compromise between the two. Of course, find a good location with plenty of foot traffic. Empty store fronts can offer great compromise of ease of access and the short commute for your clients. Mike Tenerelli of CrossFit Alphadog in Lombard, IL quoted "Location is key, a spot with good visible access on a busy road was important to me, I live in the suburbs so the gym's location is in the suburbs".
In all of these locations, you have to think about your clients. Are you going to draw from offices, military, university, schools? Typical gym makeup is a range of all of these groups. And it is important that CrossFit can be expensive. Will the area support a premiere training facility? Remember to market to all of these groups, but don't forget about younger kids and high school athletes.
What are the businesses are your neighbors? Especially if you have joining wall, what do your neighbors do? We have heard many stories that go like this: A box owner finds a great location; they order equipment from Hammerhead; the client base grows, and the noise of barbells and kettle bells, and music grows. Now, the neighbor who has an accounting company on one side and the day care on the other are upset, and the land lords try to come up with solutions. Mostly, how can you do this quieter? You can turn down the music, but 20 people lifting heavy objects or jumping on boxes can get noisy. It is always best to be in first, be a good neighbor, but let them know what what to expect from your box.
One last discussion point would be expansion and modification of the building. When you lease, most land lords will offer a "build out". Need bathrooms, office space, move a wall, ect to make your location work for you. But, be aware of growth in the future. Growth is a great thing, but we have seen gyms outgrow their space too quickly. After 6 months they are going though the lease process again, and moving just down the road.
Lastly, to recap what Mike Tenerelli said above, make sure you are in the location you want. Figure out what is important to you, and find that location. You will be spending a lot of time there!
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