Read about how CrossFit Delaware Valley got its name, its noticeable lime green color as well as where owner and founder Rob Miller got his start.
Q: How old is CrossFit DelVal? How did you settle on the name CrossFit Delaware Valley? Where did the lime green color idea come from?
A: I started CrossFit DelVal in the summer of 2007. Our first location was my then Mother-in-Law’s 2-car residential garage, in Springfield. Pretty low tech. We built our own pull-up bars from Home Depot plumbing pipe in those days. I liked the name ‘CrossFit Delaware Valley’ because I thought that if I moved it, I wouldn’t need to worry as long as it stayed in the Philly area.
Actually, the current color scheme is a relatively recent phenomenon. Our colors were red, white and blue for the first 6-7 years of the gym. This is why the front door is different than the wall banner. But the green and white is bad-ass.
Q: How did you get so involved in CrossFit (the company and the workouts themselves)? Did you workout at a previous box before you owned DelVal?
A: I started exercising in 2004 after my son Lukas was born. I was overweight and needed a way to lose 25-30 pounds. I started with running and then lifting. I remember in December 2006 doing a Google search for ‘power clean’ because I’d heard that was a hardcore move. One thing led to another and I ended up on the CrossFit.com mainpage.
From there, I just started doing the workouts, on my own. Imagine being in a commercial fitness center (Gold’s Gym in Marple), doing Overhead Walking Lunges past a row of treadmills. Yeah, that was me. I actually had someone come up to me mid-workout and ask if ‘I was training for something?’. Those were fun days. Fringy and weird, but fun.
I met Nicole Carroll and Pat Sherwood in January of 2008 during my L2 test in Santa Cruz (the original CrossFit gym). They asked me to join the Seminar Staff that year and I did my first gig in April 2008. I’ve done that job (CrossFit Seminar Trainer) on-and-off for the past 11 years, while running DelVal. I’ve been lucky enough to do over 100 Level One Seminars and even a few overseas and at military bases. That’s a really fun job, too!
Q: Where were you before DelVal? What occupation were you performing prior to you opening the gym?
A: I’ve had a couple of careers, but the major arcs have been as a 1) trucking dispatcher and as an 2) IT manager. The last bit was the longest - I worked for Mars Inc. (M&M’s, Snickers, Pedigree Dog Food, etc) for over 10 years. My last role with that company was as a local Personnel Manager for their West Chester IT site. It was a great job - very rewarding and I met a lot of good people there. Unfortunately/fortunately, I was made redundant in 2010 when they shut the site down, following a merger with the Wrigley Gum company. When we moved to Parkway, I had just left Mars and really put my efforts into making the gym bigger and better.
Q: How many locations has CrossFit DelVal occupied? Are you looking to stay where you are or potentially relocate any time in the future?
A: All total, we’ve had five spots: The Springfield Garage; the basement of a Karate Studio in Springfield; a 1500sq ft building in Glenolden; our 3600sq ft spot on Parkway and now the Abbott Drive gym. We just signed a 5-year extension on our lease so we’re parked, for now.
Q: How many clients did you have when you first were training out of your garage? How many members did you have when you first opened DelVal? How many do you currently have?
A: When I started, I had zero clients. I had never trained anyone, nor had I really done any athletics, save for some JV Lacrosse and Martial Arts. But I was passionate about learning and about CrossFit! Right now, we have about 220 regular DelVal members, some of whom have been training with us for over 10 years. It’s crazy.
Q: Did you ever see yourself as a gym owner? If someone told you at 16 years old you’d be a successful gym owner, how would you respond?
A: Wow! Not really, but I bet most people would say the same thing at age 16. The appeal for me has always been the DIY aspect of CrossFit and the fact that we’re really, truly on our own. I don’t think that I’d want to open a franchise or use someone else’s template. I like having my own business and especially after being downsized at Mars, it’s nice to know that I can’t be made redundant (unless I want to be).
That said, being a part of a big company had a lot of benefits for me so sometimes I get anxious about how the gym will grow, how we’ll meet our client’s demands, how we’ll continue to be novel, etc. It’s like a puzzle for me. That said, I wouldn’t trade it for anything and I really believe that this is my calling. I don’t know if I really answered the question but hey, I get to wear shorts to work so everything is great!
Q: If you could rent a DeLorean time machine (Back to the Future reference for you younger folk..) do you think you would still own DelVal? Or is there another career path you would have like to have given a shot?
A: Hmm. I don’t have many regrets in life, so I’d likely keep everything the same. I do wish that I had put more effort into being a better bass player. My dream job would be to play bass and sing in a successful band.