CrossFit 105 has 10 Boxes within 10 minutes of their space, and an average of five to 10 drop-ins a month. To differentiate his space from the surrounding competition in Conroe, Texas, Affiliate Brad Overstreet included a virtual tour of the Box on its website and Facebook page.
Rebecca “Bex” Rose, a co-owner and head Coach of Venture CrossFit, had the same problem. “With so many options out there, you have to set yourself apart,” she said.
For Venture, the size of their facility was the differentiating factor. The 15,000- square-foot facility is the largest indoor CrossFit facility in Atlanta, Georgia, and Rose wanted to show that off through a virtual tour. “Our facility is a big part of what makes us so different. If we can show potential members how great our facility is while they’re in those early stages of gym-hunting, that makes my job so much easier,” said Rose.
Overstreet said not only does his Box have an atypical design, but he and his staff also pride themselves on keeping the space clean. “Google looks favorably upon those who use other Google services inside of their business, like Google Tour. It automatically rates you a little bit higher in your SEO,” said Overstreet. “We have painted walls and colored bumper plates. We felt like if someone Googled CrossFit in Conroe, Texas, we’re already in the top of the page. They would find our virtual tour online.”
In 2014, Brian Franzen was first introduced to virtual tours when a Google rep called his Box, CrossFit Insurgent, and explained the process to him. He said at the time, gyms weren’t doing virtual tours, so he was shown examples of retail spaces that had tours both in and outside of their store. “We thought it would be a really good way for people to see what we have inside our facility. And that way they can see if it’s a good fit for them,” said Franzen.
When the Google-contracted photographers came out to his Box three months later, he made sure the space was “appropriately set up for pictures,” which for Franzen meant setting up the appointment while there was a class. “Even though CrossFit has been around for awhile, people still don’t know the movements we do. I figured having people in there working out, showing a specific movements — whether it was a rope climb, lifting weights, rowing or on the air bike — just gives the people the idea of the different types of equipment we have in the facility [and] also an idea of the movements we do in the facility,” said Franzen.
The entire process of including a virtual tour costs around $500. Even though Overstreet doesn’t charge for drop-ins, he still believes the tour was worth including because of the Google reviews it gave his Box.
“One negative about the virtual tour, we have since changed our layout a little and moved our rig around, and then we’re actually fixing to break some wall down. So when this happens in another six months, I’ll have to have him come back out and redo some of the stuff. But that’s the only thing,” said Overstreet.
Franzen said CrossFit is in an era now where athletes are doing research before dropping into a Box, and social media is right at their fingertips. If a Box is not on social media or not showcasing their facility, Franzen said they’re “missing the boat.”