David Israel lives for his box. And for a very short while, he lived IN it. Committed to creating a well-equipped gym with a unique vibe, he invested all of his resources into CrossFit Felix, a beautiful brick-walled space in downtown Seattle. Bunking in the box to save money on personal rent while he built his professional dream was a no brainer for “Izzy.”
“My members were great,” said Izzy. “They know I was sacrificing to invest in their community, so they invested in me. They brought me food, one cut my hair, they took me out for dinner. They knew every cent I had was invested in the gym.”
And that investment has paid off. After 14 months, he moved out of the box and into an apartment. And just two years after opening, 200 members and 7 coaches now call CrossFit Felix home. (For their workouts anyway.)
“My goal was to have one of the nicest gyms in Seattle,” said Izzy. “My members appreciated that, and I appreciated their support.”
Izzy is the former owner of CrossFit Amped, so he knew what it would take to open and grow a successful box. He prioritizes community and inclusion above all.
“If you want to be successful, everyone has to be included,” said Izzy. “At Felix, we focus on fitness, atmosphere and experience. Every decision we make is made for the greater good.”
CrossFit Felix is a community with athletes of all levels. Izzy describes a few of his athletes as “elite,” but the majority are new to the sport, and he loves that.
“We are in the middle of Amazon country, located very close to their headquarters,” said Izzy. “90% of the people that walk through thru the door are wanting to start something new. Helping them inspires me.”
Izzy asks his new athletes to undergo a mind shift. Like many others in the CrossFit movement, he invites his athletes to forget about their appearance, throw the scale away and simply focus on performance.
“Fitness is what we do, how your body changes and reacts is a by product of that,” said Izzy. “I tell my athletes to stop worrying about what they look like and just focus on the progress. The person who wants to go from 200 to 300 needs a scale. But my athletes who want to lose 10-20 lbs. are reshaping their body. They might gain some muscle and lose some fat but their number might not change drastically.”
When asked what Izzy loves most about CrossFit Felix, he cites the power that his community has to change people’s lives. For the better.
“Everyday I get the opportunity to learn and grow with my athletes,” said Izzy. “I have a guy who walked in here weighing 335lbs. and could not run to the end of the block. At the end of his on ramp month, he ran a mile. He had not run a mile in 25 years. We all cried. His doctor told him on the pace he was going, he was going to die. He changed that, and I got to help.”
Izzy gives all his new athletes some simple advice that has nothing to do with headcount and everything to do with the future of their personal relationships.
“When you join my onramp, you should do so with your significant other,” said Izzy. “Very quickly, your goals, motivation and thoughts will be very different. Within 6 months to a year, many folks get a new job or promotion as a result of their new-found confidence. You don’t want to do that alone if you have a signifigant other.”
Izzy does not do it alone, even though he does not have a business partner. He has a programming partner who works diligently to ensure athletes of all levels have their needs met. Sal DeRosalia of CrossFit Outcome is the mastermind behind the workouts performed at CrossFit Felix.
“I looked at a lot of programming, and I truly feel he’s the best,” said Izzy. “Sal programs progressional scaling options for three levels: fitness, performance and competition. He really knows how to modify and change each level of the workout so that everyone gets what they need. We never get complaints about our programming.”
When Sal came on board he visited CrossFit Felix to observe the community and get to know the space. Izzy describes the work they do as “old school and constantly varied.”
“Some days are long and some are short,” said Izzy. “Sometimes we work skill, sometimes we work strength. We work on a skill on one day and and 48-72 hours later that skill is in the workout. That gap is important so people recover before they throw a high level skill in a WOD.”
The athletes of CrossFit Felix work these skills in a 5,200 square-foot, beautifully appointed space with brick walls and a glass front. Izzy worked hard to set his box apart from the competition, but that does not mean he does not support the local boxes. He wholeheartedly believes in community and makes it a point to welcome newcomers to his area.
“It’s no secret the market is flooded,” said Izzy. “Before anyone could open a CrossFit and do well, and that’s just not the case anymore. We try to differentiate ourselves by focusing on community, atmosphere and events.”
One such event is a huge undertaking getting ready to enter it’s third year. Izzy will host the Elysian Games on August 13-14, 2016 at Woodinville Sports Fields, with over 600 athletes and 2400 spectators. In today’s landscape where competitions are seeing less action, last year’s event sold out in just four days.
“The Elysian Games are not about profit,” said Izzy. “They are about experience. We give some pretty awesome gifts including customized swag. We want you to leave knowing it was the best competition you’ve ever done.”
Izzy knows the importance of protecting his community at this massive event by having the appropriate insurance coverage through Affiliate Guard.
“Good insurance is not an option. You have to have it,” said Izzy. “At an offsite event, your regular policy will not protect you. So I call Vaughn. Onsite, injuries are not a box owners fault, but that’s not the point. If there’s no signed waiver or appropriate coverage, you’re getting sued.”
Izzy is happy to be a part of the Affiliate Guard family, even though he’s never had a claim.
“I’m lucky,” said Izzy. “But I also work to protect myself and offer safe and effective programming with scaling options that prevent injury. Worst case scenario, I know I could call Vaughn and in two minutes It would be a non issue. I have peace of mind.”
Izzy is a great business man and has an intense work ethic. While he considered it “easy” to set up his affiliate and secure a top-notch insurance provider, getting his Level 1 certificate was not as effortless.
“The third time’s the charm,” said Izzy. “The first time I took the test I ran out of time. The second time I barely finished. I eventually passed though. I’m very thorough.”