The Soulful Side of CrossFit

By Bill Grundler

In Affiliation, CrossFit, Videos

January 02, 2012

Video Article

CrossFit Inferno stuck to the original Greg Glassman recipe: start small, grow out of your space, repeat.

Bill Grundler, founder and co-owner of the San Luis Obispo, Calif., affiliate, talks about the journey that started with $50 Olympic bars bought off craigslist, econo-bumpers and homemade plyo boxes.

“We started small with stuff that we made and then just grew. It was a very, very organic kind of set-up,” he says. “It was very low end, and what I liked about that is, in the true heart of CrossFit, … you don’t need a lot of money, you don’t need a lot of equipment, and you can do all the same stuff.”

Inferno’s space is a tin shed, says Grundler, who finished seventh in the 2011 Southern California Regional. It’s not glamorous or glitzy; the temperature has dropped as low as 43 F and has climbed as high as 104 at times—like the day the WOD was Fight Gone Bad. Battling the elements is what CrossFitters have become accustomed to, Grundler says, and that grittiness is part of what characterizes his box and start-up affiliates like it.

“When you grow through like what we did, it’s actually like you’re growing up. I mean you start through the infancy phase and you become a teenager and then grow into a man in that whole CrossFit world,” Grundler explains. “There’s a lot more soul to that, I think. I mean that’s the way CrossFit was supposed to be.”

He added: “If you don’t have the CrossFit heart-and-soul part down, then I think you just lose the community, you lose the whole feel, and you just become another gym, and I don’t think that’s the point. We already got plenty of those.”

9min 18sec

Additional reading: Taking Age Out of the Equation by Hilary Achauer, published July 22, 2011.

Free Download


23 Comments on “The Soulful Side of CrossFit”


wrote …

Great video. Love the organic growth concept. Have seen the same thing occuring where I'm at.


wrote …

Wow, frigging amazing story, amazing guy. Good on ya Bill Grundler. Ooorah!


Phillip Sarris wrote …

We follow the same recipe at CrossFit Signal Hill! Great interview. Keep up the good work.


wrote …

I've been to the Inferno a few times. It is one of my favorite boxes. It definitely has a great feel. And Bill is an awesome guy.


wrote …

Bill great video, great work.... I bet your gym has an amazing atmosphere there, just because you put your heart and soul into it. My gym is growing similar way. I;m proud to see it grow that way, the way which coach has describe it. Start small, grow big. Good on ya fella, top work...


Dan Mielke wrote …

Love Bill and Love Jordan!!! Great video guys. We need to keep getting the word out that you can't "skip" the step of Organic growth...If you do, you'll be missing a huge part of CrossFit!


wrote …

refreshing and inspiring. It does make you think about where Crossfit is going now that it is becoming more common for large fully equipped boxes like Reebok Crossfit are opening.....we are in the process of applying for affiliation and just want to begin by trying to forge community through small, community based classes before we think seriously about establishing a larger space......if the "heart" isn't there, then really, all you have is another gym. Crossfit has to be about the people doing their thing together, anywhere.


wrote …

Refreshing is right! If the community is your priority, then you're going to have something special. A great example for others on how to do it...wishing you much success in the future!


wrote …

Bill, mad props on the gym. I totally relate to everything you said. I work as a Firefighter as Houston FD, and started off doing CF style workouts at the station as well. 5 years of main site wods, I just opened up CrossFit Baytown last night. We are still low on equipment, two 45lb bars from craigslist, and our 2 15 lb bars. Plans to keep adding equipment, and only part of the main floor has rubber mats. But the energy of our first classes were amazing! And more people showed up than expected, and plan on brining their friends. Everyone kept asking me why I was opening so soon and with so little equipment and capital. My wife just watched this video with me and I think it makes a little more sense now what was going through my head, hearing what you had to say explaining the history of your box. Would love to come by and visit some day.!


wrote …

I'm with Chris, mad props to Bill. My Lt. and I are in the same boat as Bill and Chris. I'd been doing CrossFit for almost 2 years prior to being hired and my Lt. approached me about starting a gym only a few months on the job. We were both kind of nervous since I was the probie and running a business was new to us. But we started off with 2 45lb bars, 1 15lb bar with maybe 300lb of bumpers and 2 sketchy ass boxes and pull up bars we built in a garage too small to fit one car in. In the year we've been opened 26.2 CrossFit, we've made mistakes but came through with a great gym with a good group of clients and a little bigger gym and more equipment. This video really put a good perspective into what others have done like us and are making it big or keeping it small and simple. Either way keep up the great work brothers, stay safe and good luck!!


wrote …

Another great CF story. Keep it up.


Andreas Janzen wrote …

I agree with you Bill!
I'm still in my CF infancy stage and have a garage gym as of now.
To answer your question about what business can you start for less than 10k, not many that are of value I agree but I started my Visalus Sciences biz for 500$ and its blowing up! Anyway I'm glad I met you at the Regionals!
God bless!


wrote …

OK, I'm going to admit it. Rich Froning is cool, Josh Bridges is awesome.... but, dammit, BILL GRUNDLER IS MY GODDAM HERO! Go, Bill!

- Brian "The Grinder" Moore


wrote …

Great story. I just opened my box. Its 500 sq ft with most of the equipment either bought used or homemade.


wrote …

Bill is an amazing person and he 100% understands what CrossFit is and how to grow a fun, tight knit community. If you have ever met him then you know that he could not have picked a better logo or name for his gym. He is one of the most passionate people I know and you can feel it the second you meet him.

Great work, Bill! I hope to see you soon.


wrote …

I agree with comment that Bill Grundler is my hero! Not even considering his personality and leadership of his box, his level of physical performance is astounding - for any age -much less 42! I may be off a rank or two, but I think he came in 17th in world in the open games - open (i.e. NOT Master's) division! That is insane. I think it is absolutely an open question whether folks like Froning, Spealler, et all will be posting Grundler-like performances when they are 42!!


wrote …

Just awesome. Ill be hitting this box up in the future! Love the small box feel. Its a must for me.


I started my affiliate, CrossFit H-town, out of my garage 2 years ago. Same thing. Small and organic. It will come. Baytown is a great place to start an affiliate. I am also HFD. Keep at it.


wrote …

Good stuff!!!! My gym is growing in the same way man....home made pullup system, med balls, ropes....etc. Def makes you appreciate the hard work of "Growing up". Love your mentality and enthusiasm....Great vid!


wrote …

I can't agree with the above comments more. Bill is one of my favorite people in the CrossFit community because he truly "gets" it.

Happy to see you get some love, brother.

Rob O


wrote …

Great piece and perfect example of the true meaning of CrossFit, rooted in the community, by the community, for the community. Awesome job.


wrote …

Love this story! We have introduced some Crossfit aspects to the Gym I help run and are also on a major tight budget ...mainly due to the rest who help run it not buying into it, which means making our own boxes etc but,I'll show them this and hopefuly given time and sense .. growth will happen. Good work Inferno :)


wrote …

This would make a great FREE DOWNLOAD, for some of the smaller boxes; as encouragement to their athletes.

Leave a comment

Comments (You may use HTML tags for style)