Hyperinflation devastates Lebanon, Turkey, affiliate owners determined to keep their gyms alive

Photo credit: Lauren Smith

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Five years ago, Ramzi Kamareddine opened 9616 CrossFit in Lebanon, and within three years he had a thriving gym with over 200 members. But in the past two years, the country has been hit by hyperinflation, mainly due to political corruption, which has made running a business nearly impossible, he said.

Before the onset of the inflation crisis in Lebanon, members of Kamareddine paid the equivalent of US$100 a month, he said. Today, even after raising his rates, their fees are only worth $15 a month, making it difficult to cover rent and electricity, which he has to pay in US dollars, let alone pay his coaches properly. .

Moreover, the increase in its rates has prompted half of its members to resign, as their salaries, which are paid in Lebanese liras, have not increased with inflation. But if it hadn’t raised its rates, members would actually only pay $3 now, he said.

“Every day (inflation) keeps getting up, up, up… We are not even able to maintain our gym or fix anything in our gym. It’s really bad. And everything you have to buy (you have to pay it) in US dollars, while (members pay you) in Lebanese liras, which is not enough to do nothing,” said Kamareddine, adding that if this Were it not for CrossFit LLC having waived its affiliation fees for the past few years, he definitely should have given up his CrossFit affiliation.

A new life in Dubai

Realizing that his gym in Lebanon could in no way financially support him and his family, Kamareddine moved to Dubai last May to seek new financial opportunities, but he didn’t have the heart to close his gym. sports in Lebanon. It continues to operate under two other coaches.

“I’m sure some of my members think I just left them behind, but that’s not happening. I love them all… They really are my family. But it’s something I had to do. I just hope they know,” he said.

Shortly after arriving in Dubai, Kamareddine reconnected with an old friend, Rami Basheer. The two discovered CrossFit together in Saudi Arabia in 2015 while working as civil engineers.

It turns out that Basheer’s subsidiary in Turkey, CrossFit Bahçeşehir, also had big problems due to inflation.

“Our membership as a value has gone from $90 (in 2019) to $25 or $30, where we are today,” said Basheer, who opted not to increase his rates and paid many gymnasium expenses. out of his own pocket.

As a result, Basheer also left his struggling subsidiary in Turkey in the hands of coaches he trusted as he was unable to support his family through this venture. Today, he divides his time between Dubai and Qatar as a civil engineer.

As the two friends found each other, they decided to start a new branch together in Dubai, and in December 2021, they opened the doors of CrossFit Circle, which quickly grew in just a few weeks thanks to at the 2021 Dubai CrossFit Championships, they mentioned.

“It helped put us on the map,” Basheer explained of how the CrossFit Dubai Championships brought people to their facility, including an influx of new customers.

Both Basheer and Kamareddine say they are hopeful and excited about the future of CrossFit Circle, but their hearts continue to break for what is happening back home.

Not for the money

Although their gyms in Lebanon and Turkey are bleeding money, neither Basheer nor Kamareddine can bring themselves to close their doors to their dedicated communities.

“It’s the members. We have been there for five years. We have built a beautiful family, a beautiful community… Everyone says this is the only place we come to be happy, to feel safe,” Kamareddine said.

“Turks are really tough. It’s because of life…they’re not that easy going. But when you come to us, you don’t see that… You see humility with people. Every day you go there and you see how friendly they are all and are all together like a family… You see people who really want to come every day, being attached to the place. And I feel like, ‘I can’t stop this. I can’t close it. I can’t raise the prices. I can not do anything. But at the same time, I can’t be there,” Basheer said.

He added, “What we do and what our (coaches in Turkey and Lebanon) do is out of pure passion and love (for) CrossFit.”

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