From gym member to gym owner in eight days flat

When the facility she worked out at closed, Jamie Maier and her partner made the quick decision to dive into the highly competitive fitness business by opening Ozaukee Crossfit in Grafton

OZAUKEE CROSSFIT OWNER Jamie Maier (front) said she wouldn’t have decided to open the Grafton gym this year had not the three coaches she had been working with joined her. They are (back row, from left) Jason Olejniczak, Kyle Krogmann and Joe Moro. Photo by Sam Arendt
By 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press Staff

Jamie Maier went from gym rat to gym owner in the span of eight days as she opened Ozaukee Crossfit in the Grafton business park in January.

It was an evolution born of need, said Maier, who with a silent partner owns the gym. She had been attending a 5 a.m. Crossfit class at a Cedarburg gym, but the facility was closing and she couldn’t find another class at that hour.

“Our 5 a.m. group was in trouble,” Maier said. “We had no options, so my partner and I said we should just buy it, we need it.”

They bought the gym equipment and opened Ozaukee Crossfit eight days after the Cedarburg facility closed. 

Although there was only an eight-day gap, Maier said, “we lost quite a few people (to other gyms). It’s very competitive out there. People heard about it and they swarmed. They want your people.”

Ozaukee Crossfit has 176 members, as well as 16 youngsters in its kids club, Maier said.    

The kids club has classes for youngsters ages 3 to 8 and 9 to 12, that are scheduled during adult classes.

“That way, everyone can do their workouts,” Maier said.

The Crossfit academy, for youths ages 13 to 18, is open daily and serves high school athletes who want to better their skills, she said.

Crossfit started as a place where veterans worked out, Maier said, but today it draws “people from every walk of life.”

About 70% of Ozaukee Crossfit members are women, she said. Most are from Cedarburg and Grafton, although there are a few members from Mequon, Port Washington and outlying areas.

People who work in emergency services, such as police, firefighters and emergency medical technicians, comprise the biggest segment of members, Maier said, followed by people in the medical professions.

“Anybody who helps out people is the typical person at our gym,” she said.

One key to the gym’s success is the coaches, Maier said, noting that the three Level 1 Crossfit certified coaches from the previous gym transferred to her facility.

“If the coaches had left, I would not have bought this,” she said. “They’re phenomenal. These coaches really coach. They’re very big on technique.”

In today’s competitive field, gyms need a niche. Crossfit is Maier’s niche, although she said it’s really a gym for everyone.

“It’s for any type of person,” she said. “That’s the uniqueness of Crossfit. You don’t have to be a superstar athlete. Everything can be scaled to your ability.”

And, she said, every day’s workout is different, encompassing cardio, core exercises, weight lifting and gymnastics.

“We don’t just do weight lifting,” she said. “We’re working every part of the body.”

Maier, a former college swimmer, said she started in Crossfit two years ago.

“I was looking for someone to push me,” she said, noting she’s not self-motivated when it comes to exercise. “Having a coach coach me again was so rewarding.”

So, too, was the atmosphere she found with Crossfit, Maier said, noting members  form a family of sorts and worry if someone isn’t there for class.

The class members also rally around one another, Maier said, noting workouts require a specific number of repetitions, and if one person isn’t done, the rest of the class members cheer them on to the end.

“We never leave someone behind,” she said. 

Crossfit gyms are relatively stripped down facilities, Maier said, noting many are built in renovated auto shops. Her gym, in a relatively new building in the business park is a “very nice” facility, she added

“All you really need is a barbell, weights, medicine ball, pull up bar and rower,” she said, noting there aren’t mirrors in the room. “It’s minimal. It’s all about body movement.” 

Another key to business success is the atmosphere created at Ozaukee Crossfit, Maier said.

“Creating the atmosphere that people want to be in — that’s the key,” she said. “It’s that closeness that brings people to your gym. They keep you accountable. You want to have fun — we have a lot of loud music going. You have to have the right coaches. You want stability and trust.”

Most members attend the hour-long classes five days a week, Maier said, adding the 5 a.m. and 5 p.m. classes are the most popular. Class sizes are usually limited to 16 to allow the coaches to spend time with each person.

But Ozaukee Crossfit offers more than just gym classes. Members can sign up for dry needling, chiropractic services and nutrition counseling.

People who are “just starting their fitness journey” often start with what are termed Unloaded classes that use body weight, kettlebells and teach members about lifting, Maier said.

Others begin with personal training, and when they feel ready begin taking the Crossfit classes.

Maier, whose son has cerebral palsy and works out at the gym, said she would like the business to delve further into adaptive exercises.

Ozaukee Crossfit is open seven days a week, with Sundays serving as open gym days.

Ozaukee Crossfit charges $135 a month — or about $4 a day, which Maier said is about the cost of a daily latte, with discounts offered to people who work in emergency services.

“That’s why you want to come every day,” she said of the cost. “To make yourself feel better, you can spend a latte a day.”

 As a bonus, people who have been members for a year — Maier counts tenure at the former gym in measuring this — have their handprints emblazoned on the wall.

“People should be proud they’ve been part of this,” she said. “Let’s thank them for being here.”

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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