With a no-frills approach and utilitarian facilities, CrossFit Boxes may all seem the same to those who haven’t experienced them. After all, battle ropes, tires, barbells and weight plates are pretty similar. As more specialty fitness studios, value-based health clubs and personal training centers increase the competitive landscape, CrossFit Boxes should consider how best to distinguish themselves – both to potential new members and to raving regulars.
Certainly, each Box is unique according to its trainers, staff and participants, who develop a defining culture and camaraderie that fuels dedication. If you have a thriving community and brisk business, keep up the good work. But don’t take it for granted or assume you don’t need to keep an eye on competitive pressures.
While no one is suggesting luxury locker rooms or fancy juice bars are necessary amenities — lest CrossFit soften its edgy, industrial environment — it is possible to differentiate your Box in several ways that can ultimately add to your bottom line and keep noncommittal or infrequent CrossFitters from looking elsewhere for their next sweat session.
You don’t have to – and shouldn’t – aim to be like other facilities. Maintain your individual Box identity, but ensure you excel in the following areas as well:
When you strip away all the grueling WODs, the insatiable drive to challenge oneself and the community pride, CrossFit is in the service business, just like every fitness boutique or health club. That means you need to be great at welcoming new members of all fitness levels, being sensitive to newbies and the uninitiated. With the size of most Boxes, staff should learn everyone’s name and use it. And work to get to know individuals who choose to sweat with you – beyond what their AMRAP record is on burpees. Ask people about their lives outside of the Box to build connections that create loyalty.
A rugged, simple interior doesn’t mean dust bunnies or grime are acceptable, even when surrounded by perspiration. Although nobody likes to clean the bathrooms or wipe down mats, it is absolutely necessary to keep participants satisfied. Be diligent here, assign duties, keep a checklist and don’t let cleanliness slip.
Certainly there are similarities when it comes to equipment used in WODs, such as free weights, racks, plyo boxes and more. For cardio machines, a broader variety exists in terms of modalities and quality. Box owners should invest more up front in the best quality machines that can take a beating, over and over, without breaking down. Too often, lower-priced equipment results in a short-term savings, but a long-term headache with maintenance hassles and service issues. It’s better to spend more up front and benefit from higher quality and generous warranties.
Also, consider incorporating some variety in cardio to satisfy different level exercisers and provide additional challenges. While treadmills are standard, low-impact machines such as air resistance bikes, rowers and total-body climbers deliver intense workouts without all the pounding on the muscles and joints, which is helpful for beginners and those recovering from an injury.