Building a Behemoth Gym


I have been an athlete for most of my life. What I didn’t realize until stepping foot into the business of running a gym was that my true calling was seeing the potential in others and figuring out how to bring that to life. What drew me into this business was the ability to influence, affect and ultimately change people’s lives for the better. Having complete control over how I could implement these things into my own business made it an easy decision for me. Some days (and people) are a challenge but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Finding CrossFit in 2010 and starting Behemoth not long after gave me an opportunity to be in front of a handful of coaches and gym environments that allowed me to see how I wanted to operate my facility and in some cases, how I did not. I hold high value to my previous experiences and I can accredit some of the things we do at Behemoth to those very experiences early in my career. In my experience, we do things a little differently at our facility. It’s evolved from having clear goals and boundaries from the start; holding everyone involved accountable and demonstrating these values on a daily basis by leading from the front.

With that being said, and in no particular order I’ve outlined a few of our core values at Behemoth:
Customer Experience
At the end of the day, our gym is a business and we desire to provide a high quality service. Our members are integral parts of our community but they’re also paying customers and we want to do everything in our power to exemplify that day in and day out. This includes every aspect of our member experience from equipment, cleanliness and programming to intangibles like interaction with clients, presence, attitude and of course, coaching. Every day when our members show up I want them to enjoy the space they’re in. I want them to feel welcomed and cared for. I want them to experience the difference. We go above and beyond to make sure these basics are truly in place every minute we’re on the floor. I never want any of our members to ever second guess or question their decision to be a part of Behemoth. The little things go a long way. Details matter and if you don’t think they do, you are wrong. People notice.


Accountability – “Character is what you do when no one is watching”

Accountability builds character and also reveals character. Show up when you say you will show up. Be on time. Sign up for classes. Put up your equipment. Count your reps accurately and move to the best of YOUR ability. This mentality has really set the tone within our gym environment. Many times people are coming to classes they might typically miss because they told someone else they’d be there. People show up early and on time because they know 5 minutes past the hour means they’re late. People put their equipment up after using it because they’re respectful and they know other members will call their asses out. We work hard and have fun while doing so, but we set a standard and hold people to that standard. Neither our members nor our coaches take advantage of one another or their privileges. Those that disagree; give a man an inch, he’ll take a mile. They’re clichés because they are true!

When Aryan and I started this gym, I never wanted it to be about what I may have accomplished in this sport. I have always kept my athletic accomplishments as far away from our gym as possible because “Aja Barto, the competitive CrossFit athlete” has nothing to do with my abilities as a coach or even owning a gym. I would rather someone seek my services or become a member based on how we can help them not what I have accomplished athletically. I want the spotlight to be on the people that make up our community rather than those who run it. To our benefit and our community’s credit, this mentality has spread. Every one of our members will go above and beyond for the person next to them. This behavior has been infectious and it’s pretty amazing to see the true selflessness that exists within the Behemoth community. Ego doesn’t exist within our walls. I can proudly say, we are a douche-bag free environment!


Coach, damn it
Too often I’ve heard of the Groupon coach who sits and texts while they watch people exercise. Or the coach who cares only enough to proctor the workout then sit in oblivion, cheerleading from their chair every few minutes. This isn’t coaching. This is laziness. The root of good coaching is simply caring enough to interact with your clients. Coaching is what people don’t get in their garage gyms. Just the simple act of caring and coaching can separate a good facility from the rest. From the start of class to the finish, keep folks engaged. Don’t assume anyone has mastered anything because the minute you do is the minute you stop bringing value to your classes experience. Each time you’re on the floor, find different ways to teach and to educate. If your people can walk away from a class having learned something, you know you’ve done your job. If you care to deliver the best possible experience to each and every athlete in the room, coaching will come easy.
Master of your craft
In the fitness industry, things are constantly evolving and if you’re not learning, growing and changing with it, you’re irrelevant. Good coaches are constantly learning. I also believe great coaches are never satisfied with what they already know and are always open to comments or constructive criticism and questioning what they currently believe is true. Read, watch, listen, observe. Empty your cup then refill it. Repeat.
Make them earn it
If you haven’t noticed, our society revolves around the notion of instant gratification and it’s getting worse not better. Within our industry, it may look like the newbie who wants to kip at all possible costs even when they’re unable to hang from the bar. It can also look like the athlete that wants to go “prescribed” regardless of the quality of their movement. We have always been about intelligent progressions not just for the sake of coaching but also for the safety and efficacy of our member’s progress within our gym. Before you drop 3x your body weight on your shoulder girdle, show me you have the requisite strength to do 5 pull ups. Before you get inverted and start doing handstand pushups, show me you have the requisite strength to perform 10 perfect pushups from the ground. We care for our folk’s health, progress and well-being in the gym. If they’d rather do things for the sake of doing them, they’re at the wrong facility. We believe that with intelligent progressions implemented at the right pace for the individual, that individual can potentially progress for the rest of their life. However, if that individual moves faster than what their body is able to keep up with, they may end up living a life full of pain, discomfort and injury. I believe progress is always most rewarding for those that commit to the process and can respect the journey.
All in all, getting Behemoth to where it is today has been a HUGE learning experience, a lot of trial and error and a whole lot of experimentation. I truly believe my brother Aryan and I built our business the right way. We started at ground zero with a handful of equipment, a vision and a burning passion to teach, coach and educate. Even though our direction may not have been as clear as it is today, our “why” behind starting has helped build our core values which in turn has shaped our culture, our community and the way we provide our services.

I believe I was put on this earth to teach, coach and educate and I will continue to be relentless in my pursuit to help those that desire to be helped.
Aja Barto