The Ups and Downs of Expanding into a New Location

April 26, 2021

I’m writing this after having verbally accepted the terms of a new location for Baltimore Kettlebell Club. I’ve been working on securing this spot for about 6 months now. 

The fact is, I’ve been looking to move for years now. The current location has its limitations; it’s hard to find, parking is a pain and there is no professional courtesy from the neighbors. 

I’ve visited many potential locations to move BKC to over the years but this is the first one I had a strong feeling about. It met my requirements of high ceilings and a garage door, and it has the added benefit of being in a retail location. 

Super convenient to share a parking lot with a grocery store, a liquor store and a BBQ joint. 

More details to come! I look forward to seeing you there!

May 12, 2021

I got the keys and visited the new location for the first time as a tenant today. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done! The previous tenant was a music store which had a lot of classrooms for lessons, so there’s a lot of walls that have to come down.

The building is shaped oddly and I don’t have much of a floor plan, so it will be difficult to envision the layout until it’s completely gutted.

For now, there’s enough work to do in the way of demo and getting contractors lined up.

I still need to tell my current landlord that I’m leaving. I have some concerns about how that might affect our already precarious relationship in the month or two that we’re still here.

May 14, 2021

The talk with the property manager (current space) went well. Now that I’ve officially notified my landlord, I’m ready to make an in-house announcement. I don’t want to put it online just yet… I need to think more about how to go public….

I’ll be at the gym most of the day tomorrow (Saturday) setting up and getting ready for construction. If anybody wants to stop by the address is:

4132 E. Joppa rd, suite 100

Baltimore, MD, 21236

The old Inner Sound building by Mission BBQ.

May 15, 2021

I couldn’t sleep last night. Too much running through my mind. I’m really excited but also nervous. This move is sink or swim. I’m either going to succeed here or lose everything I’ve worked for over the last 20 years.

I feel like it’s kinda prophetic this journey I’ve been on. I got my first gym as a trainer working out of my home gym, and in a fairy-tale like beginning, my client got me hooked up with a spot rent free through one of his connections. It was a month-to-month lease that lasted exactly 365 days.

The second spot I will have been in for 1 month shy of 9 years. Which means that my first month paying rent at BKC 3.0 will be the start of my 10th year as a gym owner! Literally 10 years to the day! 

It takes more or less 10 years to become an expert at something. I’ve often said that when I opened my gym I was a “blackbelt in training and a whitebelt in business”. I certainly don’t claim to be an expert businessman now, but I’ve learned enough that I’m no longer a novice. I’m ready for this!

May 21, 2021

It looks like I’m going to go over budget for the renovations of the space. The first major purchase was a dumpster rental. A 30yd can costs $500 and we filled that up with less than 25% of what needs to be come out of there.

I’ve salvaged what I can and am selling off whatever people will buy, so that should help cut down costs. I guess I could take some of the junk wood home to burn it in our fire pit.

I’m still stuck with a couple of pianos that technically belong to the landlord. They are supposed to have them removed by the end of the month, but that doesn’t make the demo any easier.

As far as the built out, I got word from a good friend of mine who is coming back into town in a couple weeks. He moved out west and has been rehabbing and flipping houses for the last 5 years. Mike Rosier is as skilled of a tradesman as I know. I’m looking forward to him becoming my pointman on all of this because I’m out of my league here as my budget planning would suggest.

May 24, 2021

It’s been a struggle to keep my workouts on schedule with everything that’s going on. I’ve come to terms with this being a period of life where maintaining fitness is priority and chasing PR’s is on the back burner. 

That calls for a minimalist program that is fast, efficient and easy to recover from. Simple & Sinister and The Quick and the Dead came at a perfect time.

However, one of my goals for 2021 was to attend at least once weekly jujitsu classes for the entire year. Most people that train a martial art practice far more frequently, but I knew when I set the goal that once weekly was all I could commit to. And if training has taught me anything it’s that consistency trumps all.

So as I move into a hectic next few months, consistency is the goal. I know which exercises to focus on to maintain a high level of fitness while minimizing time and energy expenditure. Now I just need to execute. No excuses.

May 28, 2021

Awake at 3:30am. I got up to go to the bathroom, my mind turned on and there was no turning it off. So I figured I’d get up and start working on my list of to-dos.

Everything is coming along according to schedule. We’ve got most of the demolition done this week. There’s still a good amount of stuff I’m trying to sell or give away so as to not be wasteful.

It’s crazy how much bigger the space looks without any walls. It’s rather intimidating thinking about how I’m going to fill it. Both in terms of the layout and increasing membership. Double the space and we’re going to need at least double the members. 

I’ve got ideas pouring out of my head and these “journal entries” are helping me manage my thoughts. Allows me to separate thoughts and feelings from actionable items. I figure it’s a good way to keep everybody updated on what’s going on as well.

June 9, 2021

Mike arrived earlier this week and we got started Monday at 8am sharp. He brought exactly the perspective I needed, as I knew he would. He’s not only good at renovations but he’s thoughtful about design too.

After organizing and taking inventory of everything in the work area, his next priority was drawing up a floor plan (to scale – which I was super impressed with). We talked about the “flow of traffic”, how to optimize the space and what kind of tradesman we’d need to do which jobs.

He’s a very strategic thinker and that puts me at ease. I can trust him 100% with the buildout plan and all I have to do is answer his questions and purchase whatever he tells me to. I’ve had better sleep since he’s arrived.

The last of the walls are coming down today and most of the carpet has been torn up. I’ve still got some stuff to sell (that’s my job – hawking things on FB marketplace) and I’ve got to determine how all of our equipment gets laid out, but construction starts next week!

June 15, 2021

With demolition done and Mike onboard things have kicked into high gear! We’ve got multiple projects running simultaneously and people in and out constantly. I’m really fortunate to have such an amazing network of people that have either volunteered their help, given me good pricing or provided quality referrals.

My focus has now shifted to figuring out the layout. Where’s classes going to be held? Where are the racks going? How much more equipment can we fit? (How much more equipment can I afford?)

Many other decisions that need to be made are still floating in the air, most of which are dependent on budget. Indoor turf or lifting platforms? Second bathroom now or later? Contract out or DIY? 

I still need to market and advertise as well. I’m also revamping our membership structure and increasing prices. I’ve actually never raised rates in almost 10 years, so it’s time (but don’t worry, current members will be grandfathered in).

With 1 month to go until our opening date there’s still a lot to do, but man, exciting times for sure!

June 25, 2021

There’s some serious projects going on now. Framing, sheetrock, electricity, plumbing, HVAC, etc. None of which is cheap. It seems like everytime I turn around it’s another thousand dollars.

I’m still way better off with friends helping me do the work. It’s hard to put into words how grateful I am for that. I keep seeing this meme on FB:

I don’t know if that’s true of “society” but it’s certainly not true for me. Personally, I think highly of tradesmen and I wish I was more skilled in the trades. I can get by with small household projects but it’s going to take me some time and about 13 trips to Home Depot.

I realize that we’re not building the Taj Mahal here and in the grand scheme of things this is still a relatively small project. But we’ve got a little of everything going on and I enjoy being onsite to see it all happening, helping out where I can. I pretty much haven’t trained all week because of it. Oh well. A week off might actually do me good.

July 5, 2021

We’re coming down to the wire with less than 2 weeks left. Walls are up, painting is happening now and flooring this week. After that it’s time to start moving.

I’m hoping to get some help breaking down the current location this week and disassembling the rig this weekend. The main move will be the next Fri & Sat (16 & 17th). So anybody that is available, your help is appreciated! If you’ve got a truck or trailer, even better!

July 8, 2021

I turn 43 tomorrow. I remember an old boss of mine told me that it was “all downhill” once you’re 42. He made it sound like life was over; your body fell apart, you lost your sex drive, you couldn’t do the things you used to when you were younger, etc.

Why did that happen at 42? Well, that’s what somebody told him. 

Apparently that stuck with him. I worked for him when he turned 42 and he confirmed that it was true – life was pretty much over at that point. 

I didn’t think about that conversation for nearly two decades until I turned that age. Except my 42nd year was much different.

First of all there was COVID. That posed some challenges but it also created some opportunities. The pandemic forced us all to slow down and reprioritize our lives. Like many, I was able to pick up a few hobbies.

I decided to spend my pastime learning Brazilian jiu jitsu and playing music. I’m not [yet] very good at either but it’s fun to start something new. There’s certainly no age limit to start practicing the “arts” (martial arts or performing arts) but both are something that most people take up when they’re younger.

However, I’m not like most people. 

I don’t feel old at 42, I feel like I’m just getting started!

There are two ways to look at your 40’s. The first is that your life is halfway over and your best years are behind you. 

The second is that you’ve got another 40 or so years to live and you’re not the stupid kid you once were. 

Think about it, you’re basically learning how to not die until you’re 20. Those first couple decades are practically wasted. Very little life experience. No wisdom.

But at 40 you got some substance. You know who you are, your strengths and weaknesses. You’ve had more than a few jobs and made money in a couple different industries. You’ve got a network, a sphere of influence and hopefully a good reputation.

Maybe you can actually do something spectacular in the next 40 years!

That’s what I’m trying to do with BKC. I’m trying to do something spectacular.

I always talk about how training changed my life. I wonder how many lives I can change through training? It’d be great to put a couple hundred thousand people on the path of training as a way of life.

The way I see it is 42 is the perfect age to be growing my training business. I’ve been preparing my whole life for this!

July 9, 2021

I spent the afternoon cleaning out my desk getting ready to move to 3.0. Found some old journals and business plans from over 10 years ago. I was surprised to see much of what I wrote down back then is EXACTLY what I’m doing now. I’ve been consistent with my plans for this business and its finally taking off!

It was also nice to come across notes/letters that have been given to me over the years. The chances are that anybody who has ever given me a personalized thank you note, I kept it. It was great to have the path that I’m on “reinforced” by encouraging words from people I’ve worked with in the past/present.

I don’t get much time alone (hardly ever, unless between the hours of 12-5am) so it was nice to have an afternoon by myself and read over these things, on my birthday. Also feels great to clean out my God-awful mess of an office and throw away everything that I have no use for anymore. I love to purge!

July 16, 2021

This weekend is the move. It’s near unbelievable that the renovations have gone according to schedule the way they have. Everything’s just falling into place at the right time, no sooner or later then it needs to be. This reassures me that God’s hand is on this move.

I feel incredibly blessed at the support I’ve received during this whole thing. From people who have volunteered their time, equipment, vehicles, etc. to help make this transition happen. I’m humbled by this community and grateful for each and every person who is a part of it, past and present.

I’m also seriously impressed by this community! We’ve got over 20 people now participating in the farmers walk on Sunday! Not just the people that regularly do crazy challenge workouts and competitions, but we’ve got kids from the Homeschool class and their parents! 

How awesome is that?!

I LOVE that this is a family gym that embraces serious no-nonsense strength training!

“Hardcore gym with a family feel” as someone aptly put it before.

I’m looking forward to this weekend!