By Alan Shaw, Co-Founder and Head Coach of Rhapsody Fitness in Charleston, SC

Introducing Box Building. Follow Rhapsody Fitness Co-Founders Alan Shaw and Trinity Wheeler as they continue to build one of the fastest growing gyms in South Carolina. Answer the hard questions, explore various approaches, dive into strategy and share lessons learned that go far beyond fitness to be universal across entrepreneurship and startups.

Before Rhapsody Fitness was even a sparkle in our eye, Trinity and I dropped into 100+ CrossFit affiliates across North America while on tour for several years with the Broadway show Les Misérables. It was immediately clear what separated the best of the best in the industry – elite coaching, a well-maintained facility and a strong set of core values.

Taking A Trip? Rhapsody’s Favorite CrossFit Gyms Across The USA

Up to that point, I viewed health and fitness from the vantage point of an athlete and coach. Through this exposure while on tour, I gained a first-hand perspective of what it takes to build, develop and sustain a successful business in the health and fitness space.

I soaked in each and every drop-in like a sponge with lessons and takeaways that still prove to be mission-critical for us today. One of which was the importance of establishing core values – the fundamental beliefs and guiding principles of our business. These values created Rhapsody’s foundation and steer every decision we make. 

Inspired by the The Ideal Team Player by Patrick Lencioni, we landed on humble, hungry and happy as our core values before we even had a name for the business. 

To get here, we envisioned the coaches and members we wanted to be a part of our community – then answered: “What makes them so special?”, “What drives them?”, “How will we attract them?” and “How will we serve them?”.

Once we chose these core values, they became law. The litmus test for each and every choice. The terms by which we hire, fire and reward. The ballast to steady us during uncertainty. The North Star to keep us on course.   

Going into our third year, I have even more appreciation for laying this groundwork from the start. Through it all – trials, tribulations and triumphs – we stayed true to ourselves and true to Rhapsody. I attribute much of our success as one of the fastest growing gyms in South Carolina to sticking to our guns on core values.  


Here are 5 guidelines to help you choose the right core values for your business: 

  1. First things first. Before you do anything else, decide on your core values. Do not pass go, do not collect $200 until this is done. 
  2. Rule of 3. Rely on three core values as it’s enough to triage without getting mired in a laundry list.
  3. Picture your people. From coaches to community, envision the people you want to work with and use those profiles to reverse engineer the core values that will attract them. 
  4. Keep it simple. Core values should be crisp, clean and concise. No mincing of words or grey area here. 
  5. Never waiver. Once established, consider your core values set in stone. Never up for negotiation and never compromised no matter what. 

Although we’re speaking to core values as the cornerstone of a health and fitness business, I assure you the same fundamentals apply to any venture you set out to create. 

I cannot wait to see how you make your mark on the business of health and beyond. Follow Box Building on Rhapsody News or visit Rhapsody Fitness online to learn more.