Ronny Varghese: Going the Extra Mile

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  • How do you share responsibilities with your co-owner/wife?
  • How do you create a sense of community at a new(er) box?
Being a CrossFitter is a different experience from being a CrossFit box owner, yet athletes around the world are making the transition almost daily.

We sat down recently with Ronny Varghese, co-owner of Paradigm CrossFit in San Jose, CA. He runs and manages the gym along with his wife Melody-Miser-Varghese. Paradigm CrossFit has been in business for almost a year now, so we chatted with Ronny about the issues and challenges associated with running a new affiliate.

In Part 1 of this two-part interview, we discuss the list of his daily responsibilities and what it takes to build up a community at a new box.

What are your responsibilities in terms of running your affiliate?
We also try to share [responsibilities] enough so that one of us can be gone and we can still still follow each other’s roles.
Ronny: I take care of the backend, the financials. The website is not just the blogging; I take care of the functionality stuff regarding the website and not as much of the website content. I take care of the coaching. We split the programming. I meet with prospective clients. I do the intros and the sales side of engaging new clients and foundations.

The reality of it is we try to help each other as much as possible, but we can split the roles pretty evenly. We also try to share enough so that one of us can be gone and we can still still follow each other’s roles. The problem with a complete split is that one person may not have any knowledge of the other person’s duties, and the something may not get done because of that.

How much time is spent running the business side of your affiliate vs. coaching it?

Ronny: I would say 40% of my time is spent on the business side, while the rest is spent shadowing other coaches, giving feedback to my athletes, etc.

Does your priority list for day-to-day activities change daily or do they stay the same?
…If you have less than 100 members, you should be obsessesed with every single one of them.
Ronny:  It pretty much stays the same. There are some auxiliary priorities that come in and go, but for the most part I focus on programming, coaching, and financials for my clients. As long as that’s in order, then I can do that extra-mile stuff. It helps to have someone that I’m accountable to, like my accountability partner, Judd Xavier. That auxiliary work occupies about 20% of my time.

So are most of your members relatively new — or brand new — to CrossFit?

Ronny: Yes. We’re approaching our 1-year anniversary, so most of our members haven’t CrossFitted for a year yet. We have some travelers who are experienced, but for the most part, most of our members are pretty new to CrossFit.

How would you advise other affilitates to build up their community when first starting?
Go that extra mile for every client when you have less than 100 members. If you have more than 100 members, have other coaches who help you do that job.
Ronny: I’ve taken advice from TJ, who said that if you have less than 100 members, you should be obsessesed with every single one of them. Be on a text message basis with them. We have 75 members, and I’m on a text message basis with every single one of them. 1)Know about them and 2)know about their lives and genuinely care about them. Those 2 things are the base of the pyramid. From there, you are able to think about the needs of the client and fun activities to do with and for them. All of this piggybacks on having a relationship with them, because these activities and events enhance your rapport with your clients. If you don’t have this rapport, it’s just awkward to organize activities.

We have a rule that everyone has to introduce themselves to new members. If not, there’s a 20 burpee penalty.
Also, use class time not just for business but as rapport-building time. Go that extra mile for every client when you have less than 100 members. If you have more than 100 members, have other coaches who help you do that job. Coaches who are personable and can duplicate you. If you have 300-400 members, you should have at least 3-4 coaches that are obsessed with these members. That’s what separates CrossFit from everything else, since it’s not like they’re doing anything unique. It’s the community aspect which separates it from other fitness programs. At our box, we have a rule that everyone has to introduce themselves to new members. If not, there’s a 20 burpee penalty.

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