In 2008, David watched Noal walk around LA Boxing with a clipboard and stopwatch, training athletes one-on-one during CrossFit-style workouts. David was responsible for franchising the company’s new locations, and Noal was an athlete at the gym.
David remembers the conversation being a simple one: Noal mentioned wanting to open his own gym, and David shared that he’d come close to doing the same. “We didn’t really know each other,” David recalls, “but we solidified the deal with a protein shake on Noal’s roof, and that was that.“ Soon after, they hopped on their motorcycles and drove through Evanston, looking for property. In comparison to what followed, this may have been the “easy” part.
Shortly after, Noal spent countless hours drafting a traditional business plan and visiting CrossFit affiliates to better inform his approach in managing a facility. David quit his job, moved into his Dad’s basement, and began applying for funding. After getting turned down for a loan—multiple times—they eventually got their first “yes,” negotiated a contract, and signed their first lease for Defined’s new home in the Southport Corridor. “It was the scariest day of my life,” David remembers.
From there on, the pair built their gym and community with the resources they had. With help from his Dad and brothers, David built the gym’s interior. Noal brainstormed the daily programming, and all classes were divided up and coached between the two of them. “We were there everyday, all day,” Noal mentions. “We had an office above the bathroom, and you had to climb a little ladder to get to it. Sometimes, David would sleep there if he had to coach an early class the next morning.”
For them, Defined has always been about building a community: cultivating a group of like minded individuals who value health, wellness, education and on-going relationships. From day one, Defined introduced its athletes to CrossFit with an Onramp—and the strength, skill and conditioning programming followed its trajectory. A thoughtful approach to education was never reactive. “We study this,” Noal clarifies. “We live it – to do it right. Because it’s our whole lives. When people are moving well, everything kind of comes together.”
So why CrossFit? “Because the proof was in the pudding,” Noal says. “[For awhile] I didn’t have the body that reflected my training—but CrossFit changed that.” For David and Noal—and our coaching team, too—the aesthetic of CrossFit inspires, demonstrates and results in visible lifestyle changes. Through exceptional coaching, on-going education, and well-structured programming, they’ve been able to cultivate a relationship-driven community of athletes that both look and feel stronger.
“There’s a right way to do things,” Noal believes—but between now and when they first opened Defined, the duo still agrees that there‘s always room to improve. Educating people on how to move well and creating a positive culture is at the heart of their mission—and it’s an evolution. While Defined continues to grow, the two celebrate twenty plus years of coaching, and eight years of owning a business together. On day one, they made a promise, and looking back, they’re proud to have kept it: “We aren’t going to do it, unless we’re whole-heartedly in it.”
Coach David & Coach Noal.
Note: a huge thank you to Sarah G. for writing and putting this story together.