Popular CrossFit Algoa fit for success
Stepping through the doors of a “box” in Port Elizabeth, you can hear music pumping, weights clanking and the occasional groans of exertion.
Exercise equipment lines the walls, some people are doing pull-ups, others are lifting heavy weights and one man is even doing push-ups – in the handstand position. And right in the centre of this seemingly chaotic scene stands Dave Levey, the owner of Crossfit Algoa.
Fitness is his business and his Newton Park-based box – which is fitness industry lingo for CrossFit gyms – is where he has been successfully exercising his entrepreneurial skills and members of his extensive client base, for the past four years.
As one of South Africa’s most reputable fitness experts and the holder of two consecutive Fittest in Africa titles, 39-year-old Levey is synonymous with the gruelling excise regime and sport of CrossFit and has leveraged his expertise and experience to craft a solid brand of both himself and his CrossFit Algoa enterprise.
“We don’t pretend to know everything. In this business, much like with exercise, we are always growing and always developing. Over time I like to believe we have created a good brand and a good name people in our community recognises,” a smiling Levey said.
Born and raised in East London, Levey studied at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), completing his studies in human movement science and biokinetics, before completing his masters degree in exercise science.
He landed his first job at the university and later headed up the biokinetics unit there, before opening his private practice as a biokineticist. After a business selling exercise equipment fell flat, he started looking at CrossFit as a possible opportunity.
“Over the years I tried many types of exercise, and at one stage even played around with the idea of becoming a professional fighter. But CrossFit caught my attention at a time when it was fairly new in South Africa, and from there my passion for this sport grew, and I started considering it as a possible business avenue,” Levey said.
In 2011, he opened CrossFit East London, and over the following two years established himself as a leader in the field by winning the Fittest in Africa title in 2012 and 2013, during which years he also went on to the World CrossFit Games in California where he placed 36th and 32nd respectively.
Those accolades helped him build his credibility, and as CrossFit gained popularity over the last few years and started growing as a sport and exercise option, Levey had already established himself as a professional.
In 2013, he launched CrossFit Algoa with his wife, Cindy, 36, and also landed a job as the strength and conditioning coach for the EP Kings rugby franchise, while simultaneously running his East London gym.
As time passed, the Port Elizabeth box steadily grew, and Dave had to shift his focus away from other business interests.
“In 2015, I made the decision to move on from the Kings, and early last year, I also stepped away from CrossFit East London.
“It became time to focus my energy in one place, and spend more time with my family, so the Port Elizabeth box became my business priority,” he said.
CrossFit Algoa’s success can be gauged by the number of big brands interested in affiliating with the box. International clothing brand Reebok, with its own line of CrossFit gear, sponsors both Levey as an athlete and his gym. It is the only Eastern Cape box affiliated with Reebok, and one of only eight in the country.
Port Elizabeth-based supplements manufacturer Nutritech also supports Levey, the gym and collaborates with him on the Nutritech East Cape Champs – an annual functional fitness event that offers novices the opportunity to take part next to the experts, exposing the community to the sport
CrossFit Algoa has upwards of 150 members, ranging from a handful of serious competitors to the majority of members who are just casual trainees looking to lose some weight and stay healthy.
“Our main focus, and I believe the key to our success, is our commitment to changing people’s lives. We care about our members, and we have worked hard to create a community in our gym. This is about taking a genuine interest in their lives and helping them improve themselves,” said Cindy, who is also Levey’s business partner.
“CrossFit is not just for the super-fit. Anyone can do it. It was made for the everyday man and woman on the street of any fitness level,” Levey said.
While his experience as a biokineticist is another asset to their business, Cindy is a qualified sports scientist herself and has launched a CrossFit Algoa Kids programme that keeps the little ones fit and healthy as well.
The couple, who are raising three young children, agree that finding the balance between running a home and running a business can sometimes be a challenge.
The business, however, employs eight staff members, four of whom are full-time coaches, which helps ease the pressure on the couple and give them more time to focus on ensuring the success of their business.