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The top 7 things I’ve learnt in 7 years of CrossFit Marbella

The Top 7 things I’ve learnt in 7 years of CrossFit Marbella


With the 7 year anniversary of CrossFit Marbella fast approaching (February 14th – 2013) here are 7 of the top things learnt in that time. 

1) Character over qualifications when choosing your team

I couldn’t be happier with the team that I have around me right now. A group of happy, humble individuals with a drive to keep on learning. They all have a fantastic relationship with each other, our members and our visitors. It’s taken a while for me to realize (almost 7 years in fact) that a person’s characteristics and willingness to learn far outweighs their experience and/or qualifications, particularly when it comes to the chances of being able to work successfully alongside that person and help them buy into your vision. That, of course, works in reverse, are they the kind of person that you feel that you could learn from too. Now, if I’m hiring a coach (for example) the qualifications and work experience they have is, of course, something that I would look for. However,  more importantly (for me) would be their work ethic, how they communicate with other people, their manners, their goals, their willingness to learn, their life experience and last but definitely not least, their willingness to work in a team.   

2) Speak (or at least try) to speak both Spanish & English

When I first arrived in Marbella I was told time and time again “don’t worry about speaking Spanish, everyone speaks English here” … looking back I know what people were trying to say “don’t worry you don’t have to speak Spanish here, you can get by only speaking English”… in other words, not everyone speaks English…

I only started learning Spanish (very briefly) after 3 years of being here and trying to speak it shortly after. I’m still not fluent **hangs head**, but the goal is to be this year. 

In CrossFit Marbella we coach the majority of our classes in Spanish and English, it might not be perfect (at times our English isn’t perfect either, not mine at least) but we get our message across, and we do a good job. 

Now, I see why it is so important to at least try and improve speaking Spanish, imagine a Spanish guy try to coach a class or PT only speaking Spanish in London for example? Not a chance…

We have staff and lots of members who are bilingual (or trilingual etc etc…) but we have lots who only speak one language. It’s been pretty cool to watch Spanish speakers try to speak more English, English speakers speak more Spanish, Spanish speakers try to speak some Swedish, Swedish speakers try to perfect their English etc…


3) Concentrate on "us" and don't stress about the "competition"

I have to be honest, I’ve never spent much time worrying about what the “competition” is doing. By competition I mean other gyms, functional fitness gyms, CrossFit gyms, BootCamps that are perceived by others to be your “rivals” in business…

If you’re confident in what you’re doing, your team, your vision, your work ethic, your willingness to take knocks and keep moving forward, then who cares what “the gym down the road” or “around the corner” is doing. If anything, good luck to them. 

On the same note, I believe it’s important to be open-minded to working alongside other gyms, personal trainers etc. There are some cool people out there in the same industry as you, why not work alongside them if the opportunity is there. Maybe you ́ll learn something from them, maybe they´ll learn something from you, and maybe you´ll push both of your businesses forward. It’s all good. 

We have in the past and will always be open to working alongside or collaborating with other businesses in our area and always will be, but first and foremost I worry about what we are doing as a business and how we are going to grow, that is where I believe all of your energy must go.  

4) CrossFitters are some of the nicest people I have ever met!

I have met some of the nicest people ever over the past 7 years, from the regular CrossFitters to CrossFit athletes and everyone in between. People from all different kinds of backgrounds, cultures and nationalities. 90% of them via CrossFit (albeit I spend my life around CrossFitters, but still….)

Each year we get lots of people “dropping in” to train at the box. It’s difficult to explain, but almost all of them are nice people. Polite, engaging, interested in what you have to say and offer as a gym. 

There is definitely something to be said about the “CrossFit community” and the kind of people that CrossFit attracts. In our box alone we have so many nice members, members who go that extra mile to help out, members who have a “growth” mindset and bounce off each others energy. It’s such a cool place to work and be part of, long may it continue! 

5) Go the extra mile for your members!

A bit of a cheesy one, but true. The small things have and can make all of the difference when trying to build a gym and a community of nice people. For example,  we’ll open all most every holiday. Why? Like previously mentioned, we have members from all over the world, and while we respect the Spanish holidays we also realise that we have a group of members who would still like to train on those holidays. Today alone (6th January – Dia De Los Tres Reyes) we had 23 people training in one class that we organized. 

We’ll open some Sundays, we’ll have open gym before classes on weekends to accommodate some members who like to train super early, we’ll train with our members. We love what we do and we like to surround ourselves with nice like-minded people. In return, we find that our members jump at the chance to help us out when needed. They’ll volunteer/ judge at competitions, help us build new equipment, they’ll help us with odd jobs around the box, they’ll help us set up events that we plan. They can’t help us enough. 

6) Keep it sociable!

Over the past 7 years, we’ve hosted and organized CrossFit competitions, organized “in house” competitions (members only) had numerous get-togethers for Summer parties, birthdays parties, leaving parties and not forgetting our Christmas party & awards evening.

Our Christmas party is one month full-on preparation, each year it grows and grows and they keep on getting better and better. We have 10+ categories for prizes & awards for our members, last year (December 2019) prize winners received a medal from non-other than jewellers “Gomez & Molina” thanks to our amazing members José and Carmen. 

2020 we have lots of “get-togethers” planned, there’s nothing better than seeing everyone have fun while getting fit or have fun while letting their hair down!

7) Above all else have fun, we live in an amazing part of the world!

If you live here you’ve probably figured that one out already! What’s there not to love, we have the mountains on one side and the sun, sea and sand on the other. We have lots of cool cafes, restaurants with some of the best healthy (or unhealthy) food you can have. November, December, January the sun is beaming and the temperature during the day is perfect.  You can jump in a car and head to Malaga City, Tarifa, Gibraltar, Sierra Nevada for a completely different vibe (ok, I sound like a tour guide now) … it’s a great place to live, if you haven’t had the chance to visit yet, then make sure you do sometime soon! 

ALL THE BEST FOR 2020! Richard Ashton 🙂