CrossFit Fianna – What You Have to Do to Run a Successful Box

CrossFit Fianna in Dublin, Ireland wants to ensure their members can enjoy their life to the fullest outside of the gym. They train their members so that they can live pain free, avoid disease and play football with their grandchildren when they're older.

For this reason they place a huge focus on teaching good movement, improving mobility and programming functional movements that carry over into the member’s daily lives.

Owner of the Box: Grant Moran

What makes you get up each morning and run the Box? 

I remember thinking when I was in university “how do working adults manage to get up everyday to make it in for work for 9 am?!” Fast forward a couple years later and I am waking up at five thirty in the morning mid winter! I love coaching. I love going in and chatting to the members. They are all great people and they help me grow just as much as I help them to get fitter. I love those little ahah moments where they learn a new skill or nail a lift.

It’s brilliant to see something you built help so many people year on year.

What’s a typical day for you?

Running a business everyday is different, but it usually goes like this, up about 05.30, bang the coffee into me (I have a coffee problem!). Hop into the car and head to the box early so all the lights are on, the box is warm, music is on, all ready for the members to rock into a welcoming environment. After coaching in the morning I tend to some admin, social media, or member check-ins for the rest of the morning.

In the afternoon I play with the puppy and have some down time and then head back to the box in the evening where I’ll either be coaching or taking part in the class. It’s a bittersweet feeling to be beaten by your own members in a workout! I usually finish off the day with rugby training with my local team. Just as the members have the box as their outlet, I find it also massively important to have my own away from work!

What has been the hardest challenge to overcome whilst setting up and opening your Box?

Take your business projections with a pinch of salt…. or a fist full. Nothing moves as fast as you want and this can be very frustrating. You will need to work hard to get people in the door, and then even harder to keep them. Everyday you need to be providing a quality service, no matter how much of a bad day you’ve had!

And on a side note, basing the success of a business on the number of members you have isn’t always the best as there are so many other factors to consider. You could have a smaller gym where there is lower rent, tax, insurance etc. be more profitable than a large gym with more overheads. It’s vital that you budget for all of these properly! (lesson learnt!)

What piece of advice would you offer anyone else looking to open a Box of their own?

If you wait for it to be perfect, than nothing will ever happen. Start now.

Do you hold competitions, how do you keep them unique and exciting?

We haven’t hosted any competitions yet but we will have one soon to raise money for Puerto Rico in the wake of hurricane Maria. One of our members is Puerto Rican so we reached out to see how we could help and we decided to organize something together!

How do you cater to the individual needs and goals of your members?

We have monthly check-ins with everyone to see how they are getting on with their goals and to get some feedback on how they feel at the box. If anyone has any particular goals like getting a pull up or muscle for example we will write them a program they can follow in their own time and we leave these on clipboards in the box.

Additionally we think it’s really important to get to know our members on a personal level. We have small class sizes (limit is 8) so before class and in the warm up we usually get to chat to everyone and see how they are getting on outside of the gym. We regularly go out together for a few beers or do activities together as a box like paddle-boarding or hiking so these also bring everyone closer together.

Tell us more about the programming in your Box:

As the years progressed, so did our philosophy on programming. With the best intentions, we tried to fit too much into the class (one hour), by doing a strength element and then metcon every day. Trying to do too much often led to substandard performance in both areas and with so much to do it was hard to dedicate enough time to teaching which is so important.

We have since adjusted our programming to emphasize quality over quantity.

We always perform a proper warm up followed by some mobility work. We then dedicate some serious time to teaching and improving everyone’s technique. Then we can hit the strength piece or metcon with the right level intensity.

A few times a week we will do both a strength and a metcon piece but the metcon will be shorter and more intense to allow for enough coaching time. There were some raised eyebrows from our members at first but once we explained the thought process they got on board and we have have now been seeing much better results! Side note, it requires much more work from the coach!

Describe your members in 3 words:

1. Hilarious

2. Sound (In Ireland this means nice basically!)

3. Encouraging

How did you get into Crossfit in the first place?

I did the usual chest Mondays, back Tuesdays etc and the slow cardio, it got very boring and never got me to the fitness levels I needed for rugby, army reserve and all the other outdoor pursuits. Hunting for more I completed a third level course in the University of Limerick on Health and Fitness (Definitely not needed!) and came out still not having what I wanted.

Then I came across CrossFit. Like so many others who thought they were ‘fit’, I was floored after my first session. I loved the buzz of the community atmosphere and the constant strive to get better. It wasn’t long before I saw my performance on the pitch get better, I was running faster and hitting harder, my army fitness tests improved massively against old scores and I knew then, that this was the way forward.

Favourite WOD?

Linda… it has bench, deadlifts and power cleans. Great to get a pump on before a night on the town!

What are your plans for the next year and beyond?

At the moment we’re quite a new box so we’d like to continue to grow. Our mission is to make our members the best they can be in a space that feels like home. In order to achieve this we plan to add an extension to our current location to create a comfortable space for our members to hang out in.

Additionally we’re going to buy some new equipment like assault bikes, sleds, yokes. Down the line if we reach capacity at our current location we could potentially open up another CrossFit Fianna!

Felt better #crossfitfianna #crossfitireland #crossfit #exercise #fitness #fitfam

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Training Tips

Can you give us 3 tips on how to avoid injuries in Crossfit?

  • Move well. This means listening to your coach and being patient. You can’t build strength on weak foundations.
  • Scale appropriately. Don’t try and do too much too soon in terms of weight or volume.
  • Warm up properly and take care of your body with regular mobility work and plenty of rest.

What piece of advice would you offer to Crossfit beginners?

Fitness is a lifelong journey and it is important to treat it as such. Start slow and realise it takes time to develop the skills and body awareness to do the more complicated of lifts. Furthermore, get to know the people you’re working out with. They’ve all been in your shoes and would be happy to help and training is much more enjoyable when you’ve made a few friends.

How do you program for the longer term goals of your members?

We check in with all of our members every month to see how they are getting on. Most of them are happy and just enjoy doing class but for those who have more specific short or long term goals we give them their own programs that they can follow outside of class.

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About The Author

I was born in Bratislava, Slovakia. Here I also got my journalism degree. Writing is my biggest passion as well as dancing, specifically dancehall. I keep myself fit in the gym on daily basis. I´ve moved to Berlin, Germany to become a trainee at BOXROX magazine. I got a great opportunity to develop my writing skills and get to know more about crossfit and everything what comes with it.

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