Photo Credit: Gateway CrossFit

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When someone enters Gateway CrossFit, they find themselves in an unfamiliar scenario.

Instead of the stereotypical group of people gasping for breath after a high intensity workout, they will likely see just a coach and an individual in personalized training session. Instead of a big whiteboard full of names and times along the wall, one would see folders filled with clients’ information, times, personal bests and training programs. 

Mark Whitener, founder and owner of Gateway CrossFit Personal Training in Clayton, Missouri, can definitely call himself an “unconventional” CrossFit Coach. 

Back to Basics

Whitener’s success lies in his commitment to CrossFit principles. CrossFit’s emphasis on constantly varied, functional movements, performed at high intensity resonates with every training program he writes. 

  • “The scalability of CrossFit workouts ensures that anyone, regardless of age or fitness level, can benefit from this approach,” he said. 

Whitener’s journey began in 2007 when he decided to affiliate with CrossFit, a decision born out of a personal quest for a fitness regimen that combined intensity and functional movements. After experiencing the mundane routines of traditional gyms, CrossFit offered a refreshing approach. This affiliation led to the birth of their gym in 2011.

Starting Small

With just ten clients and a passion for CrossFit, the gym started as a small operation. They opted for personal training sessions rather than group classes, believing that individualized attention would ensure clients understood and executed movements correctly. This approach proved successful, resulting in a remarkably low injury rate among their clients.

  • It’s worth noting that Greg Glassman developed the CrossFit methodology while training athletes and first-responders in one-on-one settings, or in very small groups.

The growth of Whitener’s gym was gradual, with a focus on quality over quantity. Over the years, the client base expanded to a consistent 50-60 clients. The gym offes a mix of one-on-one, two-on-one, and three-on-one personal training sessions, providing a blend of personalized attention and the camaraderie of a small group atmosphere.

A key to Whitener’s success is tailoring workouts to each client’s unique goals and needs. 

Recognizing that no two clients are the same, he creates well-balanced programs that address specific fitness objectives. This individualized approach ensures that clients stay motivated and make progress.

  • “The gym’s onboarding process starts with assessing each client’s movement patterns. Whether they’re beginners or seasoned athletes, everyone begins with the basics. This attention to detail ensures that each client moves safely and efficiently, setting a solid foundation for their fitness journey.”

A Tight-Knit Community 

Despite not having a large class setting, the gym members form strong bonds. They often socialize outside of the gym, bringing their families into the fold. 

  • “I often train couples, moms and daughters and members of the same family in a single session. This creates a supportive environment, and keeps them motivated every day,” Whitener said.

This uncommon business model showed its resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Like many businesses, Gateway CrossFit had to close its doors for three months. They navigated the challenges by securing a small business loan and adapting to online coaching where possible. Despite the setbacks, they emerged stronger from the pandemic, a testament to their dedication to the CrossFit community.

The Path to Success 

For those aspiring to build a career in fitness and coaching, Whitener offers valuable advice. 

  • “The importance of hard work, continuous learning, and maintaining an open mind is vital to accomplish personal and professional goals.” 

“Starting small, working tirelessly, and caring deeply for clients are all essential components of coaching, and most importantly, having great communication.”

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By admin