This month's Box of the Month is TRAIN. We caught up with Dominic Beardwell, Craig Massey & Darren Freeman, all part of Team TRAIN, to find out more.
KB: How did TRAIN begin? Why did you decide to open the box?
Dominic Beardwell: We wanted to create not just a great box but, a great brand in TRAIN with several offerings sitting under that. We, of course, wanted to create a high quality CrossFit facility but then also provide other services to offer some specialisation to our members, which is why we offer specific classes such as Olympic Weightlifting, Gymnastics, Conditioning, Strength, individualise coaching and Yoga. CrossFit is at our core, but in a way, TRAIN goes beyond CrossFit.
Craig Massey: Our TRAIN Castlefield affiliate is called CrossFit Black Five, and people always ask why. When we decided on the name TRAIN, because it’s what we do here, we wanted to convey the ideas of strength and power and Black Five was a steam engine train which won the Rainhill Trials (which also explains the event name). The steam engine races were also a big testament to Northern engineering, which we wanted to give a nod to with the affiliate name - as well as tying the gym into this notion of strength, precision, power and skill.
What makes TRAIN so special?
CM: Quality and community. Quality in the coaching and the product that we provide. Our team has a strong desire to continually improve and make our members better every day, we never rest on our laurels. From this, the community evolves organically and now we’re lucky enough to be surrounded by likeminded members who want to constantly improve and are passionate about the same things that we are.
Darren Freeman: The community is an important aspect of keeping people motivated too. I know that our members enjoy our classes and it’s not just because we’re great coaches or that the programming is great, it’s because we’re all great friends and the camaraderie is always there, making it great fun.
What have been the highlights since you opened?
CM: My highlights are made up of lots of little individual highlights from the athletes who train here, whether in the class or PT clients, I love watching people progress and hit milestones from consistent attendance and following the programming. We see so many members coming through our Foundations courses and struggling with the basics to one month later, moving a million times better and putting weight on the bar. Of course, from a business perspective, opening T2 (Media City) and T3 (Heald Green) were huge milestones and highlights for me also.
DF: The in-house competitions are always the yearly highlights for me. We do ‘WOD and Wharf’ in Summer and then ‘Wodding In A Winter Wonderland’ in Winter. The buzz everyone gets from the day is just brilliant, that’s my reward. The running of the event is fun but what the members get out of it is brilliant. The 7am class goers meet the 7pm class goers and we get everyone together, it is great fun. And speaking of comps, watching Sam Briggs win the Games was pretty amazing too!
What's your coaching philosophy?
CM: For me, it’s creating a relationship with each member; it’s about meeting people where they are in their current fitness journey and understanding where they want to go. Then from that, give them what they need to achieve that. So, while there’s a class programme that everyone follows, it’s about helping people focus on the right aspects of things for them. For example, if you know a member has a focus on running as their sport outside of the gym; of course we’d make sure that they learn safe and efficient movement across the board but we’d do what we can to tweak their sessions to maximise their training for running.
DF: I know you can’t force it but I really like to give something to everyone in every class. So even if it’s just a little tip, a corrective cue or some comp prep advice for example, I like to make sure everyone is taking something away that they can use to better themselves. In general though, our coaching philosophy as a team is to coach quality movements and create a good vibe in the classes.
What are your members like?
DF: They’re absolutely brilliant. They all want to be there and they’ve all got their own quirks which you get to know in time. I like seeing the members who start off quite quiet and shy in the gym then 6 months down the line they’re loud, full of jokes and have really come out of their shell.
CM: We’re fortunate with the location of our boxes in Media City, Castlefield and Heald Green that we have a group of very different people from all walks of life, different countries and they all come together and form a bond through their desire to improve their fitness and their lives, which is great to see.
What happens in a typical day at TRAIN?
CM: Early start, open up the gym, write the workout on the board. Set up for the class, logistics wise, if needed. Get my game face on before the class, welcome everyone in, and wake everyone up! Throughout the day, I try to give the same enthusiasm to the morning classes and evening classes, that’s really important for us. After the morning classes, I’ll coach PT sessions, tidy the gym, program for my PTs/remote coaching clients, and make sure everything is ready for the madness in the evening which is our busiest time - then do it all over again!
DF: Get up, have a coffee using my new £280 coffee machine, which I’m drinking 5 coffees a day from to get my money’s worth! But seriously, before the classes, I always say to myself and our coaches, whatever is going on in our lives, gets put on hold. It’s not the members’ fault, they’re here to train and we give them 100% for that hour of training and try to make it the best hour of their day. A typical class will involve a brief from the coaches on the workout of the day, a warm up, a skill/strength session then a workout.
What does the future hold for you guys?
CM: The philosophy will be the same, always, but we’re constantly growing and looking to offer as much as we can to our current members and also attract new members. So, we’re looking at opening more gyms, offering bigger and better training camps - OTB style - expanding our corporate offerings to businesses and increasing our individual design programming. We want to build the best team of individualised coaches in the country.
DB: Our plan is to have five full, thriving group training facilities as well smaller 1-2-1 coaching and individualised training facilities in Manchester. We’re growing our apparel brand and growing our events (Rainhill, Just Row) too, which is really exciting. Our aim is to become the most respected and renowned strength and conditioning group in the UK. We’ll continue to strive towards that goal by always looking to increase our quality and level of service to our members, by continually educating our coaches, hosting education courses at our gyms and never losing the passion for what we’re doing here.