Hyperinflation Devastates Lebanon, Turkey, Affiliate Owners Determined to Keep their Gyms Alive

Hyperinflation Devastates Lebanon, Turkey, Affiliate Owners Determined to Keep their Gyms Alive
Written by publishing team

Image source: Lauren Smith

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Five years ago, Ramji Kamareddine opened 9616 CrossFit in Lebanon, and in three years he had over 200 gym members. He explained that the country in the past two years has been subjected to hyperinflation, mostly due to political corruption, which has made running a business next to impossible.

He explained that before the start of the inflation crisis in Lebanon, Kamar El Din members were paying the equivalent of $100 per month. Today, even after he has raised his prices, their fees are only $15 a month, making it difficult to cover rent and electricity, which he has to pay in US dollars, let alone pay his coaches appropriately.

Moreover, raising its rates led to the resignation of half of its members, as their salaries, which are paid in Lebanese pounds, did not increase with the increase in inflation. He explained that if he hadn’t raised his prices, members would actually only pay $3 now.

“Every day (inflation) keeps getting up and getting up and getting up…we can’t even maintain the gym or fix anything in our gym. It’s really bad. And all you have to buy (you have to pay for) in US dollars, while (Members) they pay you in Lebanese pounds, which isn’t enough to do nothing CrossFit LLC has waived its affiliation fees in recent years, and definitely had to give up his CrossFit affiliation.

New life in Dubai

Kamar El-Din realized that the gym in Lebanon could in no way support him and his family financially, he moved to Dubai last May to look for new financial opportunities, but he did not have the courage to close his gym in Lebanon. She continues to work under the supervision of other coaches.

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

Shortly after his arrival in Dubai, Qamar El Din was introduced to her old friend, Rami Bashir. The two first discovered CrossFit together in Saudi Arabia in 2015 when they were both civil engineers.

It turns out that Bashir’s subsidiary in Turkey, CrossFit Bahçeşehir, was also experiencing major problems due to inflation.

Bashir, who chose not to raise his prices and paid for many of his gym expenses out of his pocket, said.

As a result, Bashir also left his troubled company in Turkey in the hands of coaches he trusted, as he was unable to support his family from this business. Today he divides his time between Dubai and Qatar as a civil engineer.

After the two friends got to know again, they decided to start a new subsidiary together in Dubai, and in December 2021, they opened the doors at CrossFit Circle, which has grown rapidly in a few weeks thanks to the Dubai CrossFit 2021 Championships, he said.

Bashir explained how the Dubai CrossFit Championships brought people to its facilities, including an influx of new clients: “It helped put us on the map.”

Both Bashir and Kamaruddin say they are optimistic and excited about the future of CrossFit Circle, but their hearts are still broken for what’s happening back home.

Not for the money

Although their gyms in Lebanon and Turkey are draining money, neither Bashir nor Kamar El Din can shut the doors of their loyal communities.

“They are 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 so we can be happy, feel safe,” Qamaruddin said.

Turkish people are really tough. It is because of life … they are not that easy. But when you come to our place you don’t see that… you see humility with people. Every day you go there and you see how they are all so friendly and they are all together as a family… you see people who really want to come every day, and they are attached to the place. And I feel like I can’t stop this. I can’t close it. I can not increase the price. I can’t do anything. Bashir said.

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

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