The CrossFit community is arguably the biggest driver of CrossFit’s global success. Labeled a “cult” by outsiders, it’s one of those phenomena that’s hard to understand unless you’re in it. CrossFitters look out for each other, encourage each other, share a love-hate relationship with beastly named WODs like “Murph” and “Fran” and will pursue drop ins to out-of-town boxes while traveling. Founded in 2005 by Dr. Kelly & Juliet Starrett, San Francisco CrossFit was humbly located in a parking lot behind the Sports Basement. They created a unique experience through their “Training House” approach that placed intention on coaching and community. It’s no surprise that parking lot quickly earned the nickname “Parking Lot of Dreams” and became a destination for the growing CrossFit community around the globe.
In 2010, Bill and Becky Strahan met Dr. Kelly Starrett at the first CrossFit Mobility Seminar and subsequently traveled to San Francisco for PT treatments with Kelly and a few WODs at the Parking Lot of Dreams. During her visit, Becky shared Bill’s design for an innovative workout sled that was portable, quiet, versatile, and operated on electromagnetic resistance rather than weight. Kelly was so impressed by Bill’s design, he encouraged the Strahans to pursue bringing it to the fitness market.
While the first XPO Trainer (then the XPO Sled) was a hand-built prototype for CrossFit Richardson, the second was for Kelly, Juliet, and the community at SFCF.
Kelly and Juliet continued to support the Strahan’s development of this unique sled with feedback, introductions to their friends, and community workouts; and a few of them found the wheeled prowler sled would be "fun" to push 1.7 miles across the Golden Gate Bridge! They continued to show the XPO to their friends, other fitness enthusiasts, CrossFit box owners and anyone who would be as wowed by its performance and design as they were.
Hands down, the XPO Sled is my favorite piece of equipment in the gym. Actually, if we tracked actual athlete contact time, no other training tool would log as much time under use either. Someone brings it out in the morning, and it is used the entire day, from warmups to brutal bouts of XPO chicken. We love it.
The XPO Sled scalability also can't be beat. My seven-year-old daughter and I are both able to use the same load. The days of changing a million plates are over. Did I mention this thing won't destroy your floor and won't bum out the neighbors with the sound of sled-grind?
We've been running a prototype for a year and have literally had to tell a thousand people that they cannot buy ours. If you could buy one thing in addition to a barbell, the XPO Sled would be it.
-Dr. Kelly Starrett, DPT
Founder, The Ready State & Owner, San Francisco CrossFit
Over the years, the Starretts continued to offer input into the XPO’s evolution and eager adopters into their community WODs. Bill and Becky credit the Starretts early encouragement and continuous support with the XPO Trainer’s success.
"It was definitely Kelly’s enthusiastic response to what was at the time a work in progress that convinced us to pursue creating Armored Fitness and embarking on a new business. With backgrounds in software, we would not have had the confidence to push through the hurdles we faced if we hadn’t had Kelly’s immediate understanding of the benefits of this approach over a traditional sled."
They say nothing lasts forever and sadly, like thousands of other small businesses across the United States, San Francisco CrossFit lost the battle against the COVID-19 lockdowns. Juliet’s Facebook post on November 5th announcing the news of SFCF’s closing broke their hearts.
It was sometimes hard to appreciate that, pre-COVID, SFCF was a really busy place (unless you were in one of the always busy 5:30 a.m. classes…). In the 90 days before the shelter order, our little gym hosted 700+ hundred unique bodies. Today, it feels like a ghost town and our membership is down by half. Many of our coaches and staff have moved on. The world map on the wall is a clue that it wasn’t always so. The map where people pinned their hometowns and home countries is a testament to the fact that SFCF was more than a few squat racks.
If you read the whole letter from Kelly and Juliet, be cautioned – your heart will break, too. The Starretts, like many CrossFit box owners, felt like their members and guests were family. They shared in life’s ups and downs and were always an encouraging force for others as passionate about personal fitness as they were.
It is an impossible job to thank all of the members who have become mainstays in our lives. Fifteen years is a fair amount of water under the bridge. We’ve seen marriages, and babies, new businesses, heartache, triumph, and the privilege of bearing witness to the constant hum of being a part of the daily lives of thousands of people. We cannot begin to tell you how much our lives have been enriched by you, or to begin to thank you for such a cherished gift.
No one saw this coming; no one could have predicted that this global pandemic would still be a crushing force on our economy and family businesses that don’t have a wealth of capital to ride it out until a vaccine is approved. We know the Starrett’s will be ok. Kelly and Juliet are brilliant professionals and their family will be ok. The family they built over the past fifteen years from San Francisco CrossFit’s member community, though, somehow feels broken. Broken for the members affected. Broken for the CrossFit community that saw this location as a flagship, part of the original CrossFit fabric. Broken for the small businesses that feel this pain as their own, hitting close to home and if it can happen to this legendary business, it can happen to them.
“We’re sure that the Starretts will be successful in whatever adventure is next for them, because that’s in their DNA. It is just how they do things. So while we say goodbye to San Francisco CrossFit we know that there will be great things in the future, and the Starretts will continue to make a positive impact in the lives of those around them, like they have for us and many many others."
-Bill & Becky Strahan
Founders, Armored Fitness Equipment