This is a Frederick Review interview with Tim Guinan. Tim is the owner and operator of Otherworld OCR. Otherworld OCR is an obstacle course and ninja warrior training gym located in Frederick, Maryland. To learn more about Otherworld OCR, visit their website at https://otherworldocr.com/
Hey everybody. This is the Frederick Review. I’m here with Tim Guinan. He is the owner and operator of Otherworld OCR. Otherworld OCR is basically an obstacle course/ ninja warrior training gym, and I don’t wanna butcher it any more than that so I’m just gonna turn it right over to you Tim. Tell us about yourself, Tim, and your business.
Tim: Okay. Well, like you said, I’m the visionary and CEO, owner, of Otherworld OCR, and as you stated, it’s an obstacle course and ninja warrior training gym. Ninja warrior, basically, has its roots in obstacle course training, so there’s a huge overlap. Most people recognize the word ninja, so that’s why we have to include that in there. We have some of the best equipment in here that you just won’t find anywhere else unless you go out on a race course or at the world championships. So, that’s what we are.
That’s really cool. That’s unique. I mean, are there any other gyms, kind of…I’m going off the beaten path here. I know it’s not on the list, but are there any other places kind of like you around? I’m just kind of curious.
Tim: There is one in Columbia, Maryland. It’s the Endurance Factory, run by my friend, Ken Peluso. And his facility a little bit smaller, but he has a robust group in there. He’s an awesome trainer. He helped me a lot when I was building this one.
Right. So it’s pretty niche, just in general, for this concept. So that’s pretty cool.
Tim: Very niche.
So when did you start, and what made you want to start?
Tim: We actually opened our doors very late August, early September of 2018. Not very long ago. I have a charity course I run out in Great Falls, Virginia, that may be open once a weekend, twice a weekend, depending…but it’s not a business thing, and we were going to a lot of places to train during the bad weather or offseason. There were all indoor, and we were doing the best that we could. I used to work with BattleFrog, which was a huge OCR company. I worked with them. We run with them. We had good relations with them. Unfortunately, they folded, but fortunately for me, I acquired their platinum rig, which is an amazing piece of equipment that I can change to go from somebody that can’t climb to the most elite and chat with everybody. That piece of equipment plus my dream of, you know, going from the outdoor, non-business type to providing something for the OCR community that it has never done, it just fell into place, and it just felt right.
Yeah. That’s awesome. So OCR, real quick, stands for Obstacle Course… What’s the “R”? Or am I just off?
Obstacle Course Racing.
Tim: Obstacle Course Racing. Yes. It’s a generic term. Tough, or Spartan, Savage Race, all of them, so OCR.
Got you. Okay. So I think I kind of have an idea what this answer is going to be, but what sets your business apart from your competitors? I mean, who are your competitors? Are they just normal gyms? Or do you not have competitors?
Tim: Well, as far as the niche market goes, we really don’t have any competitors that are within striking rate, you know, we’re fine. However, to keep the lights on, we are also a gym, so we take the regular people that follow the pattern of, “Hey, I’m training for a race. I need to…I can’t keep doing the same toys over and over and expect different results.” What we’ve created is a hybrid blend of training. It includes personal training and small group training, and the biggest muscles that get worked out here are the smile muscles. So it is a fun place with the most unique training equipment, we call them toys, to work out with. So every day is unique, different, but yet, it has a pattern. There’s a path to its success whether you wanna do a mud run, an OCR, ninja, or you just wanna look good naked. Either way, we have what it takes plus some of the best credential coaches around.
It’s very interesting. I’m going off the path again, but have you found that…I don’t know how long you’ve been involved with ninja or OCR or all that stuff, but have you found that over the years, it’s gotten more and more popular, just through different avenues and reasons or is there kind of a growing boom?
Tim: OCR kind of peaked and took a little dip about 2016 and then it’s just a steady, more consistent rise in Ninja. And I think what a lot of people, you know, they’re tired of spin class or they’re tired of the same old routine or pick them up, put them down. We want something different. We get you to pick them up and put them down in a whole different way. It’s fun and challenging, so…
Yeah. Because I think when you… Obviously, I’m sure you get this all the time, but when you think of this, the first thing that comes to mind is the whole American ninja warrior thing because that’s the big, flashy, popular stuff. But those Spartan races and things like those seem really cool and different, and I don’t know, it seems fun.
Tim: What makes it so unique is, like, the guys that are in the trenches at war, they’re not there for God, country, and family. They’re there for the other guys who are in the trenches, and they come out as a brotherhood and sisterhood, the camaraderie, and then what happens. That’s what I’ve found. That was the creation of my passion for all of this. The community is just amazing.
That’s awesome. If you could go back to before you started or when you were starting the business, what’s a piece of advice that you’d give yourself that you wish you knew then that you know now?
Tim: To have an IT person one hand because I’m doing way too much computer work, and that’s not my passion otherwise I would be in the IT world. And we’re getting there, so…
Yeah. No. I feel you. I feel that your endeavor is not alone in that regard. Everyone is not a computer wiz, unfortunately. What’s your favorite part about owning this business in your journey so far?
Tim: Just all of the support and love I get. Not enough from the local demographics, however, the whole community, we’re known, you know, nationally, internationally, and everybody loves what we’re doing. The people that come in just excel. It is so awesome to see somebody come in and look at a few things and say, “I will never get that.” Then a few weeks later, they’re on top of it going, “Take my picture.” The confidence, the self-esteem building, just knowing that I had a part of that, that’s just amazing.
So it’s really fulfilling. What’s the hardest thing for you?
Tim: IT, marketing. Just getting the word out. You know, I don’t mind working 14, 16, 18 hours a day. I love the construction and, you know, I’m very creative, and I can make a lot of different things happen. However, it’s, you know, the frustration of beating the feet, and meeting people and getting 10% return on investment. It gets there, but three things that I don’t have a lot of is patience, time, and money. So it’s, like, “C’mon, people, right now. I want 500 people in here right now.” But that’s true, and it will be true for the long term. You never have enough, right?
Right. No. I know exactly what you’re saying. So kind of on top of that, right now, what’s the way you bring in the most of your customers?
Tim: We do a lot of networking through the Chamber of Commerce. We’re doing a lot of social media, and a lot of it, it’s just face-to-face. Currently, we’re ready to cast the big net and go to… There’s a lot of huge companies around here, Leiders, Wells Fargo, that have thousands of employees, so we’re going to them and offering…see how we can work with their wellness, put out some discounts. Just get your people here, they can walk to this gym and have fun. So, you know the drill.
Kind of the whole corporate team building culture sort of thing. Tap into that kind of zone.
Tim: Exactly. Exactly.
So I feel like I’m beating a dead horse. We’ve been on this. How has technology played a role in your business? I know IT marketing and things like that. Do you guys push a lot on social media? I mean, anything, really.
Tim: Yeah. My partner, she’s taking over the Instagram part of it, and she gets a lot of influence from there. My daughter and my son, they do their part to push it out. All of our people push it out. Apollo Marketing is working with us now and pushing it out, so we do what we can. We do a lot of live feeds, especially when we have the lead into our league play. So we do competitions and they’re super exciting and super fun, so there’s a lot out there.
Just side note, does your whole family work out there, too?
Tim: My son and daughter do. Yeah.
Interviewer: Okay. All right. Cool. That’s awesome. Do they compete?
Tim: Well, my son just qualified in the fall, late fall, for the North American Championships, so…
Tim: Yeah. He’s got good genes. And my daughter, she comes up, she does a lot of the IT work, and she works out here. She’s done a lot of races with… Well, she’s done a handful of races with me, and she loves them, so it’s just fun for the whole family.
So the races, how are they structured? What exactly is it, the championships and all that stuff?
Tim: Well, Spartan has their own thing. They do their own championships. They’re kind of a different race, in that, you have to have speed, and they’re not as focused on technical. Almost every other race, they’re more technical. You get a band that you can…you start out…if you’re in a competitive waves, 100% obstacle completion, you keep your band, which separates you from everybody else who is getting the same finisher medal in the shirt and you can actually podium because you’ve kept your band for a 100% obstacle completion. The OCR World Championships reaches out to every fair size race and gets their signature obstacles, and they place them on the side of a mountain, and it’s just, it’s the whole community. Everybody contributes, and that is basically how we’ve laid out this place. I have flags for most of the big races here and signature obstacles from all the different races so that everybody gets a piece of their signature obstacle.
That’s fascinating. You know, on the outside looking in not knowing anything about it, to learn that it’s kinda so integrated like that is really interesting. It’s very cool. Another piece of advice, what’s something that you’d tell others thinking about starting their own gym? It doesn’t have to be an OCR gym, but just starting a business, in general, just a piece of advice.
Tim: Just do your market research, have a solid financial plan based on the results of your market research and, you know, investing in all of the toys and equipment and all the hardware, that’s one thing. Marketing is such a shot in the dark, but prepare for that, just prepare. Market ahead of time. We actually are working with a group called MadLabs that helps structure our business. They’ve had huge success, and I like what they talk about. So just prepare for the marketing end of it.
Hey, great advice. That’s all of the questions I have. I know I took you a little bit off the script here and there with the questions, but, you know, it’s really interesting to me, and it’s, I think, it’s really cool. It’s super unique, that can be definitely said. I don’t have any more questions. This was great. If you don’t have any more questions, you know, I think we’re good to go. I enjoyed talking to you. It was good.
Tim: Yeah. I’ve had a great time, and I loved sharing with you. I’m glad you’re the one that went off point instead of me, which should be the case. And I just…I would love to have you up here to experience what the rest of our tribe experiences here.
Maybe I’ll have to try it out. I still stay in shape.
Tim: There ain’t no maybe about it, come get your butt in here.
I’m trending upwards, so I like the idea!
Tim: Excellent. All right. Thanks for having me. Have a great day.