CrossFit is about constantly varied training, but having different classes with slightly different programming could be the icing on top of the cake when someone chooses your gym over another down the street, or decides to renew their year membership.
Lieven DeGeyndt, the owner of Petworth Fitness in Washington D.C., explained his facility decided to incorporate other programs as a way of offering another alternative to lower the barrier of entry for the undecided.
“Yes, CrossFit is for everybody, we all know that,” said DeGeyndt. “The problem is we know that; the outside people are the ones who don’t. It doesn’t matter if we know it, but if you can get them through the door and show them how the classes are for everyone, they will see a class with everyday folks just trying to make a difference in their life and their health. That is what we are here for, but you have to get them in the door. As wonderful as the name CrossFit is and as many people that it draws in, it has its downsides in its ability of preventing people from coming in, and these alternate programs battle that.”
Leading the fight in that battle are Petworth’s additional programs: FastFit, a combination of intense cardio, moderate strength training and core work aimed at accelerating results; StrongFit, a slowed down class focused on specific Olympic lifts along with technical accessory work; BirthFit, researched and designed for expecting and postpartum moms; as well as nutrition and personal coaching classes.
DeGeyndt explained they were able to add these additional programs due to the size of their facility, which is just over 9,000 square feet. While regular CrossFit classes are taking place on one side of the gym, a specialty program could be occurring on the other.
“From Day One of opening the gym, we knew we could offer two classes at the same time,” said DeGeyndt. “While a lot of gyms would love to do this, they know they are limited on space. We have multiple classes running at the same time for a good majority of our day. That’s a fortunate advantage we have due to size.”
At CrossFit Jersey City in New Jersey, they are a bit smaller than Petworth Fitness but have found the best option for offering their specialty programs — BURN, Strength and Gymnastics classes — is during their off days. These three programs are now offered during the time open gym used to take place to counteract members being confused on what style of workout they want to do during that time frame.
“People would show up and say, ‘I don’t know what I want to do during open gym,’” said Travis Dalrymple, the head Coach at CrossFit Jersey City. “We started to give them these classes, which gave them more options, and they didn’t have to think about that anymore. It’s better to have a structured program when multiple people have similar goals.”
Petworth Fitness created their FastFit program as a way to funnel athletes into the general CrossFit class. However, DeGeyndt explained over the course of six to eight months the class took on a life of its own, growing to an attendance usage of 55 percent, with 45 percent attending general CrossFit programming.
“I got worried it would overtake it, but it stopped,” said DeGeyndt. “It has hovered there for about a year. We have managed to create an atmosphere and situation with balance, and that is something we stress with all of our members. Everything is balance — you don’t have to pick one or the other. You pick what works for you. You can choose the workout that day that suits you. We have a lot of people who start FastFit with no intention of joining CrossFit and then they watch it for a while and finally give it a try.”
DeGeyndt also said adding additional programs has grown their retention rate. He has seen members want to focus on specific areas they can’t hone in on during a general class time frame.
“People who have been members for a long time are enjoying time to do something different, which helps us hit our retention goals,” said DeGeyndt. “Our average member is with us for 16 months, which being in a city as transient as D.C. we are really happy about.”
Offering programs outside of fundamentals and the general CrossFit classes creates a one-stop shop for your members’ fitness. Once they have found they love CrossFit they will want to become better, and you can offer them that. Dalrymple explained at CrossFit Jersey City they start to nudge their members toward other programming once they have been in the gym for an extended period of time.
“As your goals develop and as you say to yourself, ‘Well, I’ve always been running and I want to get my endurance up,’ we have a place for you to do that,” said Dalrymple. “That way they don’t have to find outside sources to work on this.”
As business in the fitness industry evolves, it is important Affiliates evolve with it, explained DeGeyndt. Different businesses pop up frequently, and it is important to ride the wave of change and find what fits within your gym.
“Over time, this is the nature of business. In general, everything evolves,” said DeGeyndt. “There are more options in fitness, not just CrossFit, and a lot of that didn’t exist five or six years ago. For us, having and being able to market an alternative has just made it so simple to get people to come in.”