From Idea to Established Brand: Building Rhapsody CrossFit into Charleston’s Fitness Destination
We don’t know if it was their dynamic personalities, their Ken Doll good looks, or our shared passion for community-driven business, but the second our team met Trinity Wheeler, Alan Shaw, and Stan Tsoy, we knew we needed to collaborate.
When we first connected over, what else, a workout, this talented trio was in the planning stage of their new venture, Rhapsody CrossFit.
After 15 years living the New York grind (Trinity and Alan in the theater world and Stan as an ER nurse), the three friends were looking for a meaningful career change.
“We wanted to build something that would outlive us; something that would be a legacy,” shares Rhapsody Head Coach Alan Shaw.
They had all trained in CrossFit for many years to keep up with the busy pace of demanding jobs. (Acting and producing on Broadway and saving lives - no joke!) They’d witnessed the life-changing impact of fitness and wellness, both personally and for so many of their friends, but they never really considered it as a career. That was, until taking an immersion workshop a few years ago.
“We were even more motivated and inspired to launch Rhapsody CrossFit after participating in the Ben Bergeron immersion course by CrossFit New England,” says Alan. “That program showed us that we had what it takes to open our own facility. We see so much value in health and wellness and realized we could share that knowledge to help others.”
For the uninitiated, CrossFit is a fitness methodology centered on three key modalities: gymnastics (bodyweight movements like push-ups, pull-ups, lunges), metabolic conditioning (cardio activities like running, rowing, jump rope), and weightlifting. The Rhapsody co-owners envisioned a CrossFit hub that would build on these primary movements, but with varying workouts each day to keep things fresh and with enough progressions and modifications that anyone could participate.
“Everything is “infinitely scalable,” so if we have a workout that consists of handstand pushups but you’ve never been in a handstand before, we’ll give you a progression to eventually work your way to that movement,” explains Alan. “We also offer adaptive programs for people with impairments; no matter what the movement is, we can always find a way to tailor to everyone’s body.”
With their concept in mind and the coastal lifestyle calling, they moved to Charleston and began plotting how to start this bold endeavor. As newcomers to both the area and the roller-coaster ride that is entrepreneurship, they needed a partner who could help strategize an opening plan, build a sexy brand, cultivate a community, and set them on the path to success.
Here’s how Alan tells it:
“As the Head Coach, my goal was to create an experience unlike anything else inside our four walls. From a marketing perspective, Trinity really understood that in order for us to make an impact in Charleston, we needed to have someone who had their finger on the pulse of what’s going on here. Before we met Mary Beth, we were trying to find ways to get connected and find an audience that could eventually become the Rhapsody community.
We made the smart decision to partner with Front & Center before we even opened our doors to get that ball rolling super fast. Mary Beth brought amazing insight as a writer, marketer and business coach. She helped us focus - pinpointing the top things we needed to do on a quarterly, monthly and weekly basis to move forward.”
While Alan, Trinity, and Stan got to work building out their state-of-the-art facility and mapping out wellness programming, we rolled up our sleeves to craft the distinct Rhapsody CrossFit voice while developing a marketing and community outreach plan that would lead to a successful launch and long-term engagement.
“We had over 80 members in our first month, which is unheard of in the CrossFit world,” says Alan. “That number has steadily increased since. I don’t think we’d be where we are right now without Front & Center’s support, and I couldn’t be more thankful.”
Since their initial launch, we’ve continued our collaboration growing Rhapsody CrossFit into the greater Rhapsody Fitness brand, immersing ourselves in the Rhapsody community, sweating our tails off in their workouts, and learning what their coaches and members really want out of the brand. To us, it’s not about handing over a strategy and then walking away; we’re passionate about the businesses our clients are creating and strive to be an ongoing partner on their path to success.
Says Alan, “The way Trinity and Mary Beth work together on our marketing has really taken Rhapsody to the next level. As the Head Coach inside the gym on a daily basis, I see the impact of our branding and messaging - the wording behind blog posts, our Instagram stories, our Facebook posts - it all helps shape and cultivate conversations in the community.”
In an effort to continue those conversations, we recently helped launch Rhapsody Radio, a podcast featuring badass risk-takers...with colorful commentary from our own Mary Beth. Our aim is to continue growing the Rhapsody community, because in the end, that’s what this brand is all about.
“We set out from the very beginning to build a humble, happy, and hungry community,” shares Alan. “It’s a community of people who are humble and willing to take feedback; people who are happy when they’re here, no matter what’s going on in their lives; and people who are hungry to achieve their goals. We’re a community for everyone.”
Photos by Arielle Simmons Photography.