What’s with Project AgerBomb?

andrea is on the beach

People always have a lot of questions, and I have a lot of answers. Project AgerBomb was the title of a fundraiser that was really fun… and raised a lot of funds… but then we gave it back to the raisers. 😉

I have always wanted to start my own gym. Like most people that dream of opening an affiliate, I felt like I was ready, and had learned from three of my closest friends owning gyms and me working at two of them. Seeing on the inside how much work it was, and how rewarding building a community from the ground up could be, I knew it was now or never. There had been opportunities floating around with investors for the last year, and I was currently in the middle of one of them, working to open a gym in Santa Monica. The amount of growing, learning, and experience I received from working with them for a common goal is irreplaceable. It didn’t end up working out as partners, and wasn’t meant to be, but they still opened and have a nice community by the beach where we were planning.

Project AgerBomb was what we called a genius plan my friends came up with as an outreach to help open a CrossFit community by the beach where there were barely any gyms. We were the first gym to use Indiegogo, which is an online crowdfunding site that helps start-up businesses. Having the finances of a 24-year-old that just graduated college and was coaching at a few different gyms, I knew it was something I couldn’t do on my own. Rent and property are so expensive in Los Angeles, and the hoops to be jumped to open one in a good area, were difficult and could prolong opening for months, even a year. Gyms in the area were opening up immaculate facilities with startups of 200k, 250k, 300k, left and right, and we knew to have a competitive gym, we’d need to be able to open with an idea to make the money last. We quickly went to work to raise money, and we spent every waking hour planning, streaming, writing, brainstorming, filming, and losing sleep over a common dream we all shared of making this successful before it even began.

The entire AgerBomb team came from the gym, and slowly as more people heard about it, more wanted to help. Ideas for incentives filled our pages with options for the donation packages, as sponsors flooded the doors with deals and discount codes and I was in awe of the amount of people that genuinely wanted to help. A designer friend that worked for Stussy designed the shirts and logos, and a local CrossFit jewelry company were all in to help the cause. A close friend in finance helped produce the AgerBomb indiegogo page, and set up everything to help write details on the project and complete the site and help write back and forth with sponsors. Our crew extended through a well-known CrossFit HQ photographer that wanted to produce the video and had a very specific vision of how it should be portrayed, which took weeks to plan. Spending an entire 12 hour shoot at the beach and countless hours and days and weeks of editing by a Disney animation editor was only a slice of the work. Having Fitness Lonnie, a close buddy, follow me around with a camera while I was coaching, being shy of the camera, and constantly stumbling on words trying to pretend he wasn’t there, having to remind myself it was for the project. Spending hours on interviews and footage we couldn’t even use because I was so naturally bad at talking in front of the camera, we got a lot of… practice… I finally had an idea of how my actor friends feel, and didn’t know how they did it, or why do they like that pressured feeling? Give me a place to workout and I’ll be on camera all day, but make me look at the screen and all I can do is laugh loudly and snort and say dumb stuff that doesn’t make sense!

I remember the day we launched the project. We were all sitting in my kitchen, going through the process of unleashing all our hard work. Each one of us had our laptops out, crowded around and I felt like Mark Zuckerburg’s crew starting Facebook as we spent the first day messaging, creating, writing back people with questions, and responses, updating on progress and sharing posts. Behind the scenes we were corresponding with investors, companies, and potential sponsors and making connections through networking. Immediately, the CrossFit community responded with enthusiasm and after digesting the whole project people donated anywhere from $5 to $1,000, whatever they could afford to help our cause, and it was beautiful. Starting with members I coach at the gyms I worked at, and spreading through SoCal, then slowly across the country, until we got a picture of a jar from CrossFit Insurrecto in the Philipines that said AgerBomb on it with change filling up half the container. It was impossible to not feel the love coming from people that either sympathized or knew it was a long-shot, or plenty of people that just wanted to be involved. The sharing of the videos, and posts, and updates was contagious, and we all continued to work around the clock to keep up with all the traffic for four weeks straight.

Reflecting on our idea over six months after the last day of the fundraiser, I can’t believe how much I learned and grew from taking part in such an experience. We came nowhere close to the goal, but it was sheer success that we had raised over $15,000 in just 30 days. We had signed up for an option where if we didn’t make our goal (what we realistically predicted we needed to open a gym) we gave back all the money. So on the 31st day, the money went back to all the funders accounts we were back to zero, and the incentives never got made or ordered, as we knew it was all coming to an end, we looked forward to seeing what was next.

I remember we started all this insanity right after one of the toughest competitions I’ve ever competed at so far. At Regionals in 2012 I got 5th place in Southern California, and was one point away from making it to the Games, and that’s where my athletic journey that year was on pause. One point away from qualifying, and in hindsight its clear that it was a blessing in disguise. When we went to the Games two months after regionals I was trying to promote for AgerBomb, and would sneak into the front row of the stadium to watch every single female individual heat, wishing I was out there. I realize now that this entire project was the healthiest distraction for me not making it to the Games. It was the best thing for me, and although I think the timing was off, Project AgerBomb still goes on. It’s a hope, it’s a dream, it’s an extremely bold and aggressive move for what we can accomplish if we ask for help.

The nickname stuck like glue, I always joke that it might as well be on my birth certificate as “Andrea Lea Ager(Bomb).” It is something I love to hear because to me it represents taking a chance and a risk, and that’s exactly what I always find myself on the edge of doing. The “Project”, is my journey, a continuation of my road to the fittest on earth; my road to the Games.

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