Brian Wilson is in his element as he gives encouragement and feedback to the participants of the 5 p.m. class at Potomac Crossfit in Clarendon. Wilson, 32, is a perfect advertisement for the Crossfit methodology taught at the business he co-owns with his good friend, Dan Hoffman.
“I was training at Crossfit D.C. and just saw that there was a huge, growing demand for it,” Wilson said about their decision to open the gym in Arlington.
A native of Rising Sun, Md., Wilson had completed four deployments-- three as a Marine Corps intelligence officer and one as a contractor, prior to opening the gym.
“My good friend [Hoffman] had also gotten into Crossfit and had just gotten out of the Navy and had a little bit of money set aside, and so we said, 'Let’s give this a shot.’”
The two business partners have known each other for 16 years and enjoyed a close friendship, according to Wilson. “We played JV [junior varsity] basketball together in high school, we went to college together and his twin brother was in the Marines and we were stationed together at Camp LeJeune.”
In order “to get a feel for it and to build buzz," the pair started offering free park workouts in the summer of 2008, which they posted online. They opened in August of that summer and by February of 2009 they had established the fastest growing Crossfit affiliate; they now have over 300 clients and 14 staff members.
Wilson explained that they pay a fee to use the Crossfit trademark but the methods, systems and pricing are left to the owners to decide: “How we run everything is totally up to us.”
Asked to give an elevator speech describing the Crossfit methodology, Wilson noted, “It’s impossible to describe—I can tell you that we combine gymnastics and Olympic lifting and sprinting, but what does that mean?” Instead Wilson suggests that people try the free class. “As soon as you do it, you’ll say ‘This is exactly what I’ve been looking for my whole life or these people are crazy!’”
Kari Parsons started the program as a client in June of 2009 and became a coach last December. “Anybody can do this,” she said adding, “Everything that we do is scalable to that person’s capabilities.” Wilson proudly counts his 73-year-old grandmother as one of his clients.
Emily Meehan said she was looking for a program that was really going to challenge her when friends recommended she try Crossfit. “My primary goal is to get stronger and I’d say I’ve definitely gotten stronger,” Meehan said.
It’s typical for friends to recommend the program, Wilson said, and so they have not needed to advertise because clients are only too happy to spread the word. “The greatest thing about the Crossfit methodology is that it actually works…they look, feel and perform better than they have—ever!”
Mike Rauseo, another of the Crossfit coaches working the class said, “It’s great to help the athletes achieve their goals and to witness them reaching far beyond what they thought they were capable of.”
Wilson is quick to credit his Marine Corps background and training for giving him skills that have transferred to running a small business. And he’s grateful to be at their location in Clarendon. “It’s kind of funny how things work out sometimes—we looked for a space for nine months and this was the only place that would take us,” he said, adding, “It’s worked wonderfully, the way that everything came together…it’s been a bumpy ride but a great run.”
To learn more or to register for a free class, visit www.potomaccrossfit.com.