SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — San Francisco CrossFit helped broaden the appeal of a type of training that was considered unconventional in the fitness industry when it opened 15 years ago. Now the popular business has become another victim to the pandemic.
CrossFit held a final training session on Sunday then closed for good. Longtime members of the facility said the loss is much bigger than just a gym. They said they will miss the community and the relationships that they’ve built over the years.
“You can lift weights anywhere,” said Mike Puente, a 10-year S.F. CrossFit member.
“It’s not even a job, it’s a life, it’s my dream life,” said CrossFit Coach Yesmen Mehta. “I’m just getting real emotional but this community means everything to me. It’s why I get up 4:30 in the morning and come train with these people.”
“It’s really sad. I mean we’ve been here for 15 years. As you can see, you know, there’s a huge community of people around us. It’s a sad day,” said Juliet Starrett, co-founder of S.F. CrossFit.
Juliet and Kelly Starrett opened the first CrossFit gym in the city in 2005 when most people didn’t know what it was. Now, there are roughly 15,000 CrossFit gyms in the world.
“We started before the fitness revolution. There was no Peloton. There was no SoulCycle. There was no boutique fitness,” said Dr. Kelly Starrett.
The Starretts say they are a small business that has a gigantic brand, with members who come from across the globe.
Since the start of the pandemic, membership has gone down by 70 percent yet the rent at their Presidio location remains high.
“We were just losing a massive amount of money every month with no end in sight,” Juliet said.
They’re not alone. San Francisco saw the first wave of store closures back in April and May when dozens of businesses shut down permanently.
“We saw an early wave of early business closures and that was because … the margins for some of the businesses were really, really thin. And then what you saw was sort of this second wave as people have managed to hold on … but we still haven’t seen movement in Congress. We still haven’t seen any meaningful support for the small businesses,” Kelly Starrett explained.
Economists warn that, unless there’s new stimulus money soon, this second wave of Covid cases could shut down even more well-established small businesses.
Puente also owns House of Bagels with a retail store on Geary Street. They also wholesale to smaller cafes and bakery shops.
“We used to deliver to, like, 400 customers — coffee shops, downtown San Francisco grocery stores, hotels — and now we’re down to maybe 170 customers per delivery. And all those coffee shops are basically closed, ” said Puente.
He said his retail store is also down by about 40 percent in sales.
“I’m hoping for another round of government assistance and, if there’s not, we’re going to be, you know, shrinking down a little bit,” he said.
As for SF CrossFit, the Starretts left open the possibility of reopening when the pandemic is over. For now, they said it’s tough to lose such a big, passionate community.
“We’re heart-broken, you know? It’s just so sad,” Juliet Starrett said.
The Starretts operate an online fitness coaching business on the side, at http://www.thereadystate.com. That business will continue to stay in operation.