Local Trainer’s Equipment Business Now Worth $13 Million
In eight years, Jon Gilson went from making a homemade, trapeze-style pull-up bar in his Brookline living room to owning a multimillion dollar business for high intensity training equipment. His company, Again Faster, and the equipment he provides was recently featured on Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition, and his business is projected to be worth between $13 and $15 million. Surreal? Perhaps, but the CrossFit trainer and Boston businessman attributes much of his success to being in the right place at the right time.
“It’s pretty cool to see my equipment on TV,” Gilson says. “It’s not even as impressive personally as it’s exciting when people that I’ve trained with see the equipment on ABC and tell me about it. There’s also gratification in seeing people transform their lives using our gear.”
Again Faster was born out of Gilson’s obsession with the CrossFit Boston in 2005, which was at the time one of the first CrossFit boxes in America. Now, there are more than 9,000 CrossFit locations in America and even more around the globe. A few months after getting certified to train people, he still didn’t feel comfortable coaching people. “What happened was that I would take dumbbells from the gym and put them in the trunk to practice on weekends,” he says. “The box was closed on Sundays, so I would take the dumbbells to Jamaica Pond with two of my buddies and we would work out there.”
Two buddies turned into four friends, which slowly became more than 30 people. Eventually, Gilson realized that the one pull-up bar in the park was not enough for all of the athletes he was coaching at his Sunday workouts, so he headed to the hardware store and bought materials to make his own. “I took my new, homemade pull-up bar out and I used it. Then I realized that I couldn’t be the only one who needed this equipment,” he says. He put a picture of the trapeze-style pull-up bar on his CrossFit blog, also called Again Faster, and added a “buy now” button next to the picture. People bought it.
That was eight years ago, and Gilson says that he’s come a long way since then. He began by selling the pull-up bar, then moved on to making videos of himself leading CrossFit classes. Eventually, Gilson became a head trainer for CrossFit because of those videos. He also created a partnership with Gill Athletics early on which allowed him to sell his equipment, although he didn’t begin developing his own versions of traditional, high-intensity equipment until more recently.
“There are unique requirements for CrossFit,” Gilson says. Because of this, he designed barbells with bumpers that are specifically geared towards CrossFit athletes, many of whom are often lifting more than they can drop safely. His equipment also includes down-market gymnastics rings for less than $100, a squat stand for power lifting, and plyo boxes, among other things.
Over the years, Gilson has seen his business evolve from a $2000 venture to a multimillion dollar business, the bulk of which comes from outfitting new CrossFit boxes all over the country. He attributes much of his success to the success of CrossFit and to his involvement within the high intensity workout community.
“CrossFit is on every continent not covered in ice and penguins, so we work a lot with new CrossFit boxes. We also give individuals sets of equipment much like the sets you’ll see on Extreme Makeover Home Edition,” Gilson says. “They asked if we could supply the show and of course I said yes, so we made 15 kits for the 15 contestants and sent the equipment to their homes. That’s what we do for our other customers, too.” Gilson also supplies his Again Faster equipment to military organizations.