CrossFit Juke Joint (CFJJ) is a box, not a gym. Unlike gyms, CrossFit facilities (boxes) do not house treadmills or 20 weight machines. They resemble a box with four walls that contain weights, ropes, and bars. However, perhaps the most important piece of equipment a box can carry is a sense of community – something CFJJ owner Sung Hong cares deeply about.
An accomplished martial artist, Hong was first introduced to the CrossFit lifestyle while managing a fast-growing martial arts school in Virginia. Hong was immediately hooked by the challenging and rewarding fitness routine CrossFit offered, sometimes even working out twice a day.
In 2015, Hong decided to leave Virginia to pursue his dream of opening a CrossFit box. Armed with his list of 19 potential new cities to call home and a full tank of gas, Hong traveled across the country in search of a new location – preferably someplace warm and dry. After checking out 27 different CrossFit boxes in New Mexico, Arizona, and California, Hong met a couple who suggested he look at Grand Junction.
In 2016, Hong opened his first box in Grand Junction in a leased space next to a busy grocery store. While the space met his and his members’ needs, Hong wanted to own the building, which was not an option at this location.
In April 2019, a CFJJ member found the box’s new home, a former road sign company building just south of downtown. Seeking financial guidance to purchase and complete the building’s much-needed renovations, Hong was directed to the SBDC. Hong worked extensively with Grand Junction SBDC Director Julie Morey and SBDC Coach Helen Roe while developing and polishing his business plan.
“Julie Morey with the Grand Junction SBDC helped me as I planned for purchasing a new location to move my business, giving me her time and expertise to complete a business plan. Helen Roe patiently advised me on preparing my loan application,” said Hong.
Upon being approved for a $30,000 loan, Hong and his dedicated members quickly moved in and began renovations. Building renovations have not impacted membership numbers or classes. CFJJ’s membership has increased to 35 members since moving to its current location.
“Since we moved, we’ve added 10-15 more members,” said Hong.
The Story Behind the Name
Hong thought of the name, CrossFit Juke Joint, while venturing south along the Blues Highway during his cross-country journey. He stayed at the historic Riverside Hotel, a popular resting place for well-known blues singers and, later, a juke joint. A juke joint is defined as a vernacular term for an informal establishment featuring music, dancing, gambling, and drinking, primarily operated by African Americans in the southeastern United States.
“It was pretty cool. It was a community. It was random people, but they loved playing blues together. So, it’s kind of like the same concept of CrossFit, too,” said Hong.
Hong credits his growth to the one piece of equipment many gyms or boxes lack – community. Hong hopes to grow the box to 60 members and plans to enhance the community-based atmosphere further by helping members prepare and enjoy healthy meals together.