Fior Fitness | Rory Marlow | CrossFit Affiliate Series – HE OPENED A GYM IN SAN FRANCISCO!

Sevan Matossian (00:00):

My mic. It’s driving me fucking crazy. Do you hear it? I guess you won’t hear it because you don’t have headphones on. Bam. We’re live. Rory Fjord Fitness Fjord. Say it for me.

Rory Marlow (00:15):

We’re not Italian, so it’s a more harsh sounding word. It’s pronounced Fear. Fear.

Sevan Matossian (00:23):

Fear fitness. Fear fitness. Fear fitness. And why not just write fear Fitness? Why does it have to be spelled FIOR?

Rory Marlow (00:33):

It’s, it’s, I guess play on the sound of words, but it’s an Irish word that means true. So it’s true fitness.

Sevan Matossian (00:42):

Oh, awesome. Okay. I love it. Is that what you are? You’re from Ireland? Yeah. And you opened a gym in San Francisco?

Rory Marlow (00:50):


Sevan Matossian (00:54):

I’ve run down this path before, and this morning I was practicing it in the shower again, and I don’t think I got a good run on it, but it truly is a blessing. Any community that gets a CrossFit gym in it is so fucking lucky. Just imagine someone walks into a seven 11 and then they walk out and 99.9% of the time, whatever they did in there is not good for the community. So they got a Slurpee, and now their chances are they’re going to throw the Slurpee on the ground. They’re going to be one day closer to going to the hospital. They’re going to consume more resources around ’em. They’re less likely. They’re probably indulging, they’re less likely to have their awareness and witts about them to help other human beings.


These aren’t small things, and yet you get a CrossFit gym in your neighborhood, and every person who goes in there is coming out and is probably going to do something that benefits society. Well, they’ve already done one thing to benefit society, but they’re probably going to do something to benefit society that they’re not going to do if they walked into any other place and call us a cult for that or not. It’s crazy. And so then I think of that juxtaposed with you, Rory, opening Fear Fitness in San Francisco, and this is a city that has the complete opposite of those values. I know I’m speaking a little bit in hyperbole, but you can see by what’s just manifested everywhere around them. People are not taking personal responsibility and personal accountability in that city. It’s abysmal. Yet that’s what you’re selling in that city. It’s wild.

Rory Marlow (02:31):

Yeah. I mean, from a leadership perspective, they aren’t taking responsibility, I would say. But there’s still people within the city that are, and that’s for we’re trying to get to is that for any place like this to change, the people within it have to lead the charge. Not that they have that much control, but what is the alternative? Just stop and do nothing and let

Sevan Matossian (02:59):

The dude, the best thing you can do is be an example, and all you’re doing all your businesses is every day. Bringing people in and putting them out as example, bringing them in, putting them out as example. It’s the only thing you can do. It’s the only thing. And you already know you’ve made a change. I mean, right. I mean, you already know. You a change. It’s crazy. I really do believe that cross CrossFit affiliates are really the only hope that places like Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, it’s the only hope that they have. It’s not more seven Elevens. It’s not more schools for kids. It’s not more, I mean, it’s nuts.

Rory Marlow (03:36):

It’s probably not just your Orange Theory bootcamp type classes either. It’s got to be this kind of togetherness group atmosphere, working hard with each other for each other, creating connections through going through hard things together, and then going out into the world. And then that being somewhat infectious to the people that, so let’s say you have a class and you have 20 people, then they go off and they affect another five people. That’s how you’re at least trying to spread some kind of positive change in the places that each member that we have, as small as our gym might be, they come into contact with multiple people through their day. And so if doing a class with us brings them up to this level of accountability, personal responsibility, and then even if it rubs off on one other person that they come into contact during the day, well then that’s how we create a better community outside of our gym.


It’s not easy in a study like this, you’ve often, I came from a very rural town in Ireland, and it was very community based, and that’s why CrossFit struck such a chord with me was like, this is, I’m now living in a different country, but I find the same community connection through doing CrossFit training for a long time. And so it’s like now I want to bring that to other people and create that same positive community. But when you go off into a big city, then it’s like people go outside the door and they somewhat are just into their own world again, and they’re not interacting with each other as they much they would in a smaller place. But

Sevan Matossian (05:28):

You come from a town where if you’re walking down the street, you nod to someone or you say hi or

Rory Marlow (05:35):

Doesn’t even have a street, that’s us. Okay.

Sevan Matossian (05:39):

And now you live in a town where you walk by someone and you clutch your shit. You clutch your purse.

Rory Marlow (05:46):

Yeah. Yeah. You’re guarded most of the day. Instead of being open and welcoming the people

Sevan Matossian (05:54):

You live in a town, if you see someone passed out, you would run over to them and help them right away. Now you live in a town where you step over them.

Rory Marlow (06:01):

Yeah. I mean that’s something,

Sevan Matossian (06:02):

That mindset, it’s almost like

Rory Marlow (06:06):

It’s probably one of the,

Sevan Matossian (06:07):

And now you live with animals. And by the way, I don’t mean just the people who are passed out on the ground. Those of us who step over them, we’re also hurting ourselves because we’re reducing our own connection to humanity.

Rory Marlow (06:21):

Yeah. It’s kind of wild coming over here, how quickly you get just numb to things and stuff that you see that when I first moved here was completely crazy, and it would make you stop and look. Now you just walk by and it doesn’t cause you a second thought.

Sevan Matossian (06:48):

There it is. On some of the most pristine real estate on planet Earth sitting there, right on the tip of the North American West coast, the amazing city of San Francisco, the entire Bay Area, they call it the Bay Area because it surrounds that body of water, that inland of water there at the top is where Rory lives. And down at the bottom is where I live. And then across the way across from Roy, on the other side of the water, kind of like where it says maybe Hayward area is closer to maybe where Craig Howard and Susa live. Now, if you ask them, they would say they don’t live there. But just to give you kind of, so we all live around this inlet body of water that’s called the Bay Area. The weather here is almost always perfect. Maybe not. Rory lives in a bit of a fog belt, but he can get out of it within minutes if he wants to at any time. And yeah, this is an incredible place to live. How old are you, Rory?

Rory Marlow (07:46):


Sevan Matossian (07:48):

I found CrossFit at 34. Crazy. How long have you been doing it?

Rory Marlow (07:52):

20. I became aware of it back in 2011. I played sport, a sport called Gillick football growing up from a child, I still play it, but just off season was looking for some strength and conditioning type program to do to help lend itself to the sport that we play. And I found that there was two extremes where you would have one section of the team who would just run all the time. They would just do conditioning, so it would be a lot of long runs building up over the winter period. And then they would come into the football season, and I went through this period and you didn’t really feel very fresh for a football season in a sport that requires stop, start, multiple change direction. The sport itself is the most vague term would be a mix between soccer and rugby. There’s a lot of nuances to it, but it’s a lot of athleticism. Running physical contact.

Sevan Matossian (09:04):

Do you carry the ball in your hands or is it down by your feet?

Rory Marlow (09:06):

We carry it in your hands.

Sevan Matossian (09:07):

And it’s shaped like a rugby or a football?

Rory Marlow (09:10):

No, it’s shaped like a soccer ball.

Sevan Matossian (09:12):

Okay. Round. Okay. Yeah. And you have a team at your gym, right? You have a district in San Francisco?

Rory Marlow (09:19):

Yeah. There’s a pretty big Irish community in San Francisco and in the Bay Area, but centered around San Francisco. And we have an entire league here with, there’s five adult men teams and two adult female teams. And then there’s a whole youth system as well.

Sevan Matossian (09:39):

How many people in your gym sound like you have your accent? How many members?

Rory Marlow (09:44):

Probably some classes you could come in and everyone, but that’s cool. Yeah, probably 40 to 50% of my members, I would say. Oh,

Sevan Matossian (09:55):

That’s awesome. So 13 years. And are you married?

Rory Marlow (10:01):


Sevan Matossian (10:02):

And do you have kids?

Rory Marlow (10:04):

No, not yet.

Sevan Matossian (10:05):

Oh, make sure we talk about that. What you’re going to do with your kids in San Francisco. You got to homeschool ’em.

Rory Marlow (10:13):


Sevan Matossian (10:14):

You got to homeschool. Holy shit. I just saw something. For people who don’t know, San Francisco is one of the richest cities in the world. Also most expensive to live in. The wealth there is insane. It’s Bezos and Zuckerberg money and the schools there are. Holy shit. I don’t want to get too much into it, but I have a bunch of stuff I’m going to talk about on the live Collin show. The scores there. So sad. I’m guessing most kids go to private school there that they do not use the public school system, right? Zuckerberg’s kids don’t go to public school in San Francisco.

Rory Marlow (10:53):

No. Pretty few. I think that, I know we can probably touch on the kids’ position a little bit later, but

Sevan Matossian (11:02):

Do you have a kids’ class?

Rory Marlow (11:04):

Not yet, but we will.

Sevan Matossian (11:06):

Yeah. How old’s your Jim?

Rory Marlow (11:09):

Six months.

Sevan Matossian (11:09):

Yeah. Awesome. Congrats. Dude. Were you going to say something about the kids? Sorry.

Rory Marlow (11:16):

I was just going to say that a lot of, obviously I hanging around with a lot of a large Irish community and it becomes a pretty pivotal decision, and a lot of our Irish friends out here’s future of being here is that when they get kids, it almost sets a clock where they have to make a decision. Are we going to move back to Ireland and educate our kids back there, or are we going to be able to afford to put them into private schooling over here? I do have some friends who they are in public schools, there’s some that are good, but because it’s a lottery system to an extent, you could be entering your child into this lottery for public schools and God knows what school they could get into. We do have some friends that are, they just had kids and they’re kind of facing that potential because private school is just out of the realm of financial possibilities. But

Sevan Matossian (12:22):

The good thing is, is if you can’t afford to homeschool there, the city has, and I say this realizing that every city has this, but the city has the greatest violin player in the world. They have the greatest physicist in the world. They have the greatest juujitsu studio in the world. The offerings in this place and the intellectual and physical and just all the, there’s amazing people in the city.

Rory Marlow (12:45):

I get

Sevan Matossian (12:46):

Into those programs. I mean, there’s tons of options, but there’s tons of pitfalls too.

Rory Marlow (12:52):

So from the outside, obviously San Francisco looks like a sham at the minute, but it’s not going to go like San Francisco because of the wealth, because of the people that are here. It’s not going to go away completely. So that’s when, as crazy as it might seem for me to open a business in this city, very competitive. Yes, large businesses are leaving, but there’s still a lot of people living here. They need services like this. So I didn’t see it as risky. A decision like a large franchise or large businesses. Yes, they see the downfall of it because their overheads are enormous. I’m running a much smaller, tighter business than they would be. So I think it’s still, I can do it. And I didn’t go into opening this gym in the city without putting a lot of thought into it. I spent a long time deliberating opening the business.


I was coaching for a number of years. I’ve been doing CrossFits since I discovered in 2011, started doing it whenever I moved to San Francisco in 2013, basically back in Ireland. The only reason I didn’t do it, because there was probably only about four gyms in Ireland, and the closest one was in Belfast, which is about an hour from where I lived. So it wasn’t feasible to do CrossFit when I lived at home. That’s just when I found out about it. I tried doing it in some just our local community gym, and it just doesn’t work in that setting. When I came here, I was very keen to then find a gym, start doing the training.

Sevan Matossian (14:40):

What Jim, did you join in San Francisco?

Rory Marlow (14:43):

I was actually working on a project in the East Bay, so I had a job in San Leandro and I joined a gym in Oakland down by Jack London Square.

Sevan Matossian (14:55):

Okay, okay. What was the name of the gym?

Rory Marlow (15:00):

It was called Just CrossFit East Bay, but it’s no longer, it was right. You know where Jack London Square is? It was right there on the little walkway where all the fancy restaurants are. There was just a CrossFit gym in the middle of that, and that’s it. Now, grassroots

Sevan Matossian (15:21):

Wonder who owns that?

Rory Marlow (15:23):

Yeah, they’ve closed now.

Sevan Matossian (15:25):

Oh shit. They closed too.

Rory Marlow (15:27):

Yeah, but they’ve been closed for quite a while probably.

Sevan Matossian (15:31):

Oh, that’s the same as CrossFit East Bay.

Rory Marlow (15:33):

Yeah. Yeah.

Sevan Matossian (15:35):

Damn. So you came to the States and you joined that gym and you started doing it and you fell in love with it.

Rory Marlow (15:42):

Yeah, just instantly knew that it was the type of train I wanted to do. It was, like I said before, I was looking for something that would lend itself to our sport, and you had the two extremes of either just doing running and conditioning or guys just doing strength, just bodybuilding type workouts, and they didn’t fully help you for the sport because you needed to be fast and conditioned and strong. So when I started doing this type of training, I was like, this is literally the perfect type of training for our sport as an off season. There’s obviously a lot of skills to the sport, but the base level of fitness that doing CrossFit give was very noticeable once I started doing it, how I felt that I developed within the sport. And then, so I continued training CrossFit for over the next few years.


I moved from a project in the East Bay, finished. I was down on a project in San Jose, and I just bounced around some boxes there, didn’t fully join one, and then I moved back up into a project in San Francisco, and then that’s when I joined a CrossFit gym called Telegraph CrossFit, and they would still be the closest gym to me. They’re about three blocks from where my house is right now. And we started training there, both myself and my wife, and we were members for probably four or five years, and then I started doing nutrition coaching out of the gym. My wife became a coach. She started coaching within the gym, and then we continued coaching through 2020. Once the gym lockdown, we basically opened our garages and we’re coaching out of our garage like five or six of our friends every evening, and we continued all the way through that. And then

Sevan Matossian (17:49):

Is your home in the city?

Rory Marlow (17:51):


Sevan Matossian (17:53):

And why did you come to the United States?

Rory Marlow (18:00):

Whenever I went through, I’d done a construction management type degree back at home in Ireland. And at the time, entering college, it was a kind of no brainer to get into construction because Ireland itself was booming. But then that was 2007 when I started college, and it went through a massive recession then while I was in college to the point where a lot of graduates were immigrating to Australia or they were going across to England to work, or you were having to move down to Dublin and work in Dublin. And I just didn’t fancy either of those options. My wife, her aunt and uncle have lived in the city for probably 25 to 30 years. And Alana, she would’ve traveled here a lot when she was younger, spent months at a time because she was actually born in, she was born in the US so she had a passport, and then she kind of spent months at a time when she was younger. So then whenever I finished college, she was still in college. We came and spent three months here on a vacation and I played for one of those teams for a summer. Met a bunch of friends, had some family connections out here, went back to Ireland, worked for a year and stayed in constant contact with the people that I met out here, and they basically were like, you have to come out here again. You’ll love it.

Sevan Matossian (19:35):

How long have you been married?

Rory Marlow (19:41):

10 years. Wow. Yeah.

Sevan Matossian (19:44):

Congratulations, dude. That’s an impressive feat at your age.

Rory Marlow (19:48):

Yeah, we’ve actually been together for 17 years. Tomorrow?

Sevan Matossian (19:52):

Yeah, tomorrow. Yeah. Wow. Good on you. Yeah. Wow. Good on you.

Rory Marlow (19:58):

Yeah, it’s funny, me, my brother, me and my both brothers, we both have been going out on our marriage to the same people that we started dating in high school. We all went to the same high school, both us and our wives, and we all at the exact same age at 17 started going out with our now wives and we’re all still together.

Sevan Matossian (20:24):

Yeah, that’s wild. Congratulations. Relationships can be, I mean, it always blows me away when people are like, yeah, I got divorced after being with someone for 24 years. I feel like once you make it over a certain hump and you figure out how to make each other happy, it’s like gold.

Rory Marlow (20:44):

What’s funny is yesterday I saw your video in that Oakland courthouse, and when I got married I was on a visa, and then the visa process was difficult. My wife or my, I was already engaged to Alana, so then we got

Sevan Matossian (20:59):

Married. Yeah, we don’t like immigrants in this country. I can’t believe you made it in here,

Rory Marlow (21:05):

But we got married at that Oakland courthouse as well. It was fun.

Sevan Matossian (21:09):

No shit. So you go in the lobby. Wow, that’s crazy. That’s nuts. And you had to stand there too. And the lady did the,

Rory Marlow (21:19):


Sevan Matossian (21:20):

Are you fucking me? And you got married at the same church

Rory Marlow (21:22):

Damn place. You mentioned that yours was a Chinese lady that could barely speak. Mines was not. She was an old black lady, and again, you could not understand anything. She was

Sevan Matossian (21:38):

Dude. Hey, and was she nice,

Rory Marlow (21:42):

The lady? Yeah, yeah, yeah. It was like she was treating, I mean, we were getting married, I guess Alana and I were already engaged. We’d always intend on getting married, and we did have a wedding that our families came to after, but the lady that was there, it was like, this is your legit wedding. This is the best day of your life.

Sevan Matossian (22:02):

That’s what my lady, I thought we were just going to go in there and sign papers. Next thing you know, we got this Chinese girl, English is her 17th language, and she’s doing it a real marriage. She cares about us and shit. I’m like, whoa, this is so different than the person who works for the city who gives you tickets, the parking. You know what I mean? This is,

Rory Marlow (22:24):

I know. And they’re going through the whole vows. I didn’t expect, I thought it was just going to be like a transaction. Just sign this paper. But then they’re going through the vows and it’s like, oh, look at your wife and say, it was like, okay.

Sevan Matossian (22:41):

Yeah, that was nuts. Just the two of you, or did someone’s mom or dad come?

Rory Marlow (22:45):

No, so Alana’s aunt and her aunt and her cousin both came as our witnesses. Her cousin was like 12 at the time, and he’s all like, oh, I was your best man. I was your best man. So I guess Avi was your best man for the

Sevan Matossian (23:01):

Yeah, totally crazy.

Rory Marlow (23:04):

We had some friends who similarly went, I think it was in Oakland as well, and they didn’t realize that you had to have witnesses, so they just had to go out onto the street and get to guys to come in and sit as witnesses for their wedding ceremony.

Sevan Matossian (23:21):

Hey, how weird is it that you’re on today, your anniversary tomorrow, and we got married in the same courthouse. That is weird.

Rory Marlow (23:28):

The fact that you just brought it up yesterday was fun.

Sevan Matossian (23:32):

I didn’t, didn’t even know until someone in the comment said, because we’ve been together so long. That date is just like,

Rory Marlow (23:40):

I know. I know. And the fact that I actually remembered that we started going out that long ago. I was just looking at the date yesterday. I was like, why is this date seem

Sevan Matossian (23:50):


Rory Marlow (23:52):

But then you’re a couple and you could celebrate so many dates. Oh, this is the date we started going out. This is the date we got engaged. This is the date we got married.

Sevan Matossian (24:03):

So my wife says to me yesterday, she goes, do you want to go to dinner tonight? I’m like, no. I’m like, why do you say that? She’s like, it’s our anniversary. And I look at her and we started laughing.

Rory Marlow (24:15):

Yeah, Alana said yesterday. She did not remember until I said it. And then she’s like, oh, no, what are you doing for me? I’m like, the podcast.

Sevan Matossian (24:28):

Good. Goodwill racing. I visit my mom in H Moon Bay. I’ll be sure to drop in when I visit next time. Rory, you got some cajones for opening an affiliate in San Francisco. A cajones or balls.

Rory Marlow (24:41):

Yeah. Familiar.

Sevan Matossian (24:43):

You’re not, okay.

Rory Marlow (24:44):

Yeah. But if you bring up the map again of San Francisco, I think what is shown and what you see the media of San Francisco, not to say that our area has not also got its fair share of homeless people and

Sevan Matossian (25:07):

Stuff, but it’s not the Tenderloin.

Rory Marlow (25:09):

No, not at all. San Francisco, since I’ve moved here, San Francisco has been overrun with homeless people, concentrated around the Tenderloin. You’ve grown up in the Bay Area, I’m sure you’ve seen it for years and years and years. What’s happened now is just expanded out from the Tenderloin, and so now a much wider area is Zombieland. So down around City Hall is complete shit show Union Square, a complete nightmare.

Sevan Matossian (25:42):

So Union Square got taken over.

Rory Marlow (25:44):

I mean, look how close Union Square is to the Tenderloin. Anyway, so it’s always been pretty dodgy because Union Square is a massive tourist area. You’re literally four blocks away from where the Tenderloin is. And so for years, whenever visitors come over, you’re trying to advise them to somewhat stay away from Union Square because it’s so easy to just wander a few blocks off the path. I’ve done it whenever we first moved over, me and Alana were on a bus and I was like, oh, let’s hop off here. And we had to walk straight through the Tenderloin, and it was an eyeopening experience

Sevan Matossian (26:28):

When Nordstrom’s went under there. I mean, for people in the Bay Area, who know? I knew, oh, that was that whole, so Market Street’s toast.

Rory Marlow (26:42):

Yeah, it’s been getting bad over the last three to four years. It’s been really bad. It’s down that area now. It’s just shuttered businesses, but it goes on In

Sevan Matossian (26:55):

My lifetime, that could happen to San Francisco. I never thought in my lifetime that mall could close down like that.

Rory Marlow (27:00):

Yeah, but do you go shopping or do you just go online and buy your stuff?

Sevan Matossian (27:05):

Yeah, you’re right. I just go online. But when I lived there, I loved going to that area. When I lived there, I loved the Apple Store. The Union Square.

Rory Marlow (27:16):

I remember when we done the first trip here in 2011, or my first trip in 2011, and we would go down to the Westfield and just hang out as how to pass the day. We’ll just go down to the Westfield. And it just had this smell. And when I came back a few years later, it instantly reminded me. I was like, oh, I can remember what we’d done that day two years ago, just by the smell of this mall. But I would say I haven’t been in the Westfield in probably three years.

Sevan Matossian (27:47):

How about Pacific Heights? Is it still just super nice?

Rory Marlow (27:51):

Well, sorry, if you bring the map up again, the North Northwest, if you were to draw an L on the city, the whole north and west side are way different to what downtown is.

Sevan Matossian (28:08):

It is. Okay. Hey, here’s the thing. Here’s the thing. Now, I’m not saying that this is right or wrong, although I do think it’s right, but I’m not asking you to agree with me. It’s right. If they just took a big, huge truck, like a dump truck that was four lanes wide, have you ever seen those giant dump trucks where you could park semis in them and they just drove it around the city and they had 40 dudes follow walk behind it, and they just pick people up and threw them in the back of it. You could clean up the city probably in 48 hours and all the problems would be gone. Right. It’s just basically just drug addicts everywhere. That’s what it is, right? It’s turned into a giant drug encampment.

Rory Marlow (28:48):

Yeah, it’s a complete just drug and mental health problem.

Sevan Matossian (28:51):

Scoop all those people up, put ’em in there, and then drive ’em to Vegas and the city would be better overnight.

Rory Marlow (28:57):


Sevan Matossian (28:58):

It’s crazy. I know, but

Rory Marlow (29:01):

That marina district is still super nice restaurants, nice bars.

Sevan Matossian (29:06):

Oh, cool. That’s good to hear. Okay.

Rory Marlow (29:08):

You’re not going to find any area that’s completely free of homelessness, but I recognize the homeless people in my area because it’s the same five or six dudes that I see all the time.

Sevan Matossian (29:26):

Have you seen this phenomenon? I’m intimately, I’m intimately familiar with homeless and that guy’s on that drug, that guy’s on that drug, but I can’t believe this new one that I’ve seen. And you can tell right away that people aren’t, have you seen the Tran people? They’re bent over. I’ve started seeing them at Santa Cruz. They’re standing, but they’re bent over drug, right?

Rory Marlow (29:49):

It’s like they lose all motor ability. They

Sevan Matossian (29:53):

Stand on their feet, they’re off their midline so far. You’re like, damn, this needs to be in the L one manual. Yeah. You see.

The above transcript is generated using AI technology and therefore may contain errors.

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