Fitness specialty retail and CrossFit gym marry under one roof

Very different worlds collide at a new facility in Phoenix that houses a specialty fitness store as well as a CrossFit gym. SNEWS talks to owners to find out more.
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Although there are some marked differences between traditional exercise and CrossFit (where people lift odd objects like, you know, truck tires), the two concepts live together under one roof at a new facility in Phoenix.

The facility, opened Dec. 1 in the city’s midtown, includes the Ultrafit Gym Store (www.ultrafitgymstore.com), which is a specialty fitness retail shop owned by Ray Barone, and a CrossFit Boot Camps, which is a licensed CrossFit affiliate gym owned by Dean Bozanno, a personal trainer and nutrition consultant.

“We look at it as separate businesses, but they feed off of each other,” Barone told SNEWS®. “It’s more of a health and fitness approach than just a retail store. We have multiple avenues to get people healthy.”

Barone said that when he worked years ago for the now-defunct Fitness Experience retail chain, he used to supply equipment to Bozanno, who also owns three other CrossFit gyms in the Phoenix area. Barone said the two decided to partner and share space to benefit from each other’s clientele.

The retail portion occupies 1,800 square feet and includes equipment from Bodyguard, BodySolid and Apollo Fitness. Barone said his philosophy is to display a smaller number of choice products from a few brands rather than overwhelm customers.

“Instead of having 5,000 square feet and 25 treadmills, just put out your five best, because it can be overkill and too confusing for the customer,” said Barone. “You can’t keep 10 manufacturers happy in one store.”

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Barone said his store’s motto is “quality fitness equipment at affordable prices,” and he said he does not try to sell $4,000 pieces of equipment to people who don’t need it. “In today’s market, you end up pushing someone away doing that,” he said. “You don’t have to mortgage your home to get a piece of fitness equipment.”

Barone said one interesting aspect of the store is that he sells used equipment.

“I’ve always seen that there’s been a demand in stores for used fitness equipment, but a lot of dealers shy away from it for whatever reason. I thought it was something we should try out, and we’ve done pretty well with it,” he said.

CrossFit retail goods

While the store carries the typical mix of cardio equipment and strength machines, there is also a separate room measuring 12-by-12 feet that will soon have CrossFit training supplies for sale, such as sandbags, platforms and exercise rings. This will eventually encourage CrossFit practitioners to shop his store, but he said he’s already attracting them with a full line of Poliquin nutritional supplements.

Behind the retail area is the 2,500-square-foot gym for Bozanno’s CrossFit Boot Camps. Barone said that gym caters to a different type of clientele than the typical fitness center because CrossFit devotees want much more specialized workout facility and exercise experience, and they pay $149 a month for a membership to the gym.

Though CrossFit practitioners don’t fit the mold of the typical fitness enthusiast, Barone said the gym and the retail store have proven to be mutually beneficial. 

“We’ve found that just because a client does CrossFit, it doesn’t mean they won’t buy equipment for someone else or refer a family member,” he said. “I had a Crossfit member refer her dad who came into the store and bought something.” Plus, people who enter his store looking for traditional fitness equipment can get exposure to CrossFit as an alternative way to get in shape.

Barone said that about 50 percent of the people come to the location for the gym, and 50 percent come to the store. He added that the business has achieved a good balance and should succeed because it offers a variety of tools to help people reach their fitness goals.

“If we can sell them a piece of fitness equipment and help them with their routine and nutritional supplements, they’ll get to their goal.”

And, he added, “If they don’t want to drop a couple of thousand dollars on equipment, we have a program that’s a monthly gym membership for CrossFit and other boot camp classes. We have many ways of getting people to the end result.”

--Marcus Woolf

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