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Nuts and Berries by Zach Even-Esh - CrossFit Journal

Nuts and Berries

By Zach Even-Esh

In Equipment, Videos

December 20, 2009

Video Article

The economy may be in rough shape, but Zach Even-Esh still thinks now is a good time to open a gym. The key is to create a critical mass of clients before taking the big plunge, then assemble gear like Johnny Cash in One Piece at a Time.

You can build up a client base by any means necessary if you’re willing to get a bit dirty. Evan-Esh himself trained clients out of sketchy parks frequented by unsavory characters. He had people lifting random rocks and doing pull-ups on swing sets, and it enabled him to build momentum before he put up a shingle.

When he started his rugged gym, Underground Strength Coach/CrossFit Underground, he looked for a small, affordable space and then got creative with equipment.

“Don’t buy anything new,” Even-Esh says. “I know a lot of people are like, ‘You need to get a great Olympic bar.’ No. That’s bullshit. Not in the beginning you don’t.”

Collect random equipment, keep building momentum, add in a little guerrilla marketing and Even-Esh is certain you’ll have a badass gym full of clients in no time.

5min 42sec

Video by Again Faster.

Additional reading: Beyond the Garage Gym: Starting or Expanding a CrossFit Affiliate by Pat Sherwood, published Nov. 1, 2007.

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23 Comments on “Nuts and Berries”


wrote …

Funny dude...


wrote …

Right on.


wrote …

Great stuff. Love the attitude and drive you have Zach for putting it all together, piece by piece. And couldnt agree more about what you said at the beginning about this being the best time to rise above everyone else.


wrote …

Thx for the input! I'm scraping to put my box together right now! I've got an awesome place picked out! It's an old YMCA in the middle of an 40 acre park! The location sux, it is buried in an older neighborhood! I want to get the word out about the opening in the spring; however I read that you can't advertise w the Crossfit name until your Level 1 cert and affiliate app is approved! Any sugesstions?


wrote …

Kirk -- yes in order to teach CrossFit class by name you have to have a L1 cert and apply for affiliation and hopefully you'll get approved and be good to go!

What you can do in the meantime is just start teaching CrossFit "like" classes until youve gone through the requirements to affiliate.

Zach - great video man. Looking forward to seeing you in Jersey next month!


wrote …

i love this guy!


wrote …

This was exactly what I needed to hear at exactly the right time. Love it.


wrote …

This might be a topic for an upcoming installment, but I'm curious, Zach, about the accomplishments of all those high school athletes shown in your videos. When they go off to their respective sports and seasons, how are they doing?

Obviously, if they're tearing things up, the question among peers at school or competitors on the field is going to be, 'How is this guy training?'

The appeal of an 'underground' gym, a tribe of beasts, would be irresistibly cool to young athletes, I'd have to imagine. You must be getting referrals in this sense, kids coming in and saying, 'I want to be like that!' True?


wrote …

great article, this guy is all about busting excuses for starting your own box, I love it. I started with 2 rusty iron plates and a bent bar that I scored for $25 on craigslist, don't wait people... it's only going to get more expensive to affiliate and someone else will pop up on your block before long!


wrote …

i agree with the website/blog spot. We as a crossfit society have originated and spread mostly because of the internet and the verious websites and forumsso we understand the importance of having a website. Recently i have been checking out other affiliates web sites and i was surprised how out dated and shitty alot of them were. My generation (in thier 20's) will go on the website first and we will check the stuff out before we go in and if the affiliate has not done anything except post new WODs up then its not appealing at all. The other thing is record everything take thousands of picture, new people, PR's, workouts, BBQ's, events, Weight loss achievments, people helping each other in the gym, what you do for the community and so on. the more that you post the more other people will see it from the outside as a family. Everyone wants to be in a thight nit group.


wrote …

great video series! I love this guy's contribution to the journal. I do my crossfit wods in the weight room at the high school I work at and it isn't the greatest equipment in the world but it does the job, it's all about attitude and not excuses (which today seems to be the opposite for the most part). Keep up the great work zach!


replied to comment from Matt Shannon

Thx for the tip, Matt!


wrote …

I like it!!!


Zach Even - Esh wrote …

Thnx for all the props guys :)

VERY flattering.

Thomas most of the kids go on and dominate or at the very least lead their team.

But, is every single client transformed into a straight up stud? NO.

Some find ways to skip, not show up, eat like shit, and basically do not follow the "training" outside the gym: this is the nutrition, rest, sleep, sports training, etc.

Yes, referrals are HUGE, they are my biggest way for getting clients.

I also have a newsletter for members, it is physical and mailed out monthly, and it's a good 10-14 pages each time.

The morning of X mas eve will be a strength gathering and lots of grub :)

I am also NOT the typical price you see, I am in big disagreement w/the typical $150/month unlimited.

Not everyone can afford what we do and not everyone is mentally cut out for what we do.

Fine by me, I'm a bit crazy when it comes to my expectations of people, and so it does push plenty of peeps away.

It does look great when a ton of kids are coming from 1 school, they wear their Underground Tees on scheduled days and it really represents some serious pride!



wrote …

How long did it take you to build up the initial base of 22 clients?


John, that sh*t exploded fast.

I did a FREE bodyweight seminar at a wrestling club and offered a special price, a charter membership so to speak.

I got 3 guys.... bang!

2 of those kids and their Dad told MANY others at the wrestling club, which brought more people.

I also had a web site with a newsletter and had lots of locals subscribed to it.

I was active on a wrestling forum in NJ and got the buzz going BIG time.

By mid summer I had clients in the teens.

It was very stable... Then, I got the itch to get the f**k out of my house.

I told my kids aggressively, to bring friends and I brought in an extra few to bring me over 20.

By then, it was time to leave!



wrote …

Love it. This is exactly what I needed to see after doing my L1 cert. Yeah, it may be cold in MA, but the same people who are "crazy" enough to do CrossFit will be "crazy" dedicated enough to get out in the cold. Awesome advice Zach, thanks so much for putting it out there!


wrote …

Love this guy and his philosophy.


wrote …

Jimmy Joe is a killer dude! Wish you the best Zach!


wrote …

More videos from Zach! One of the most legit trainers out there.


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wrote …

Gold, inspired.... yes :-)

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