You Can’t Sell CrossFit Like it’s 2008 Anymore 


There’s this thing happening to the microgym market that you may have noticed. It’s affecting CrossFit gyms all over the globe and even targeting other, high-intensity group exercise brands.

I refer to it as market sophistication and it’s here, like it or not.

Heres what our microgym market looked like circa 2008:

  • Grungy warehouse locations.
  • Little to no marketing efforts – especially in the digital sense.
  • A “you’re either with us or against us” approach to audience capture.
  • Coaching quality and scholastic information was immature compared to now.
  • Business acumen was glazed over as long as passion and intent were strong – the role of being an athlete and business owner were blended and viewed as co-existing roles.
  • Entrepreneurial seizures were summed up with a “If you build it they will come” paradigm.

Fast forward to today:

  • Aesthetic improvements are the fastest growing change to brick and mortar locations – not new types of equipment or methods of service.
  • Social media has created the opportunity for every business to advertise, lead grab and story tell at scale to their immediate market and beyond.
  • Microgyms are now more inclusive than ever with multiple service offerings vs. a single item menu approach.
  • Coaching knowledge, while vastly important, is now grossly available to the masses – leaving personality, presence, entertainment value and other variables as the key factors that lead to an instructor’s success.
  • Business coaching and development is revered as just, if not more, important than coaching development – finally the realization that you can’t own a gym and train for competition six hours a day.
  • Increase in market saturation requires newcomers to perform their own research and due diligence before opening up shop.

Which camp do you fall into?

It’s my opinion there are far too many Affiliate owners still stuck in the past, operating to some capacity in the 2008 model I outlined. To find out if you’re one of them, ask yourself if any of these are applicable to your business:

  1. Your business is located in a grungy warehouse or retail location and there’s definitely a Concept2 rower with an inch of dust on the neck of the monitor. Or perhaps you don’t consider spilled chalk on the floor as “dirty” because that’s just how a CrossFit gym should be.
  2. Your Facebook page is tattooed with one rep max Snatch attempts and shirtless bros doing muscle ups with synchronized grunts. Or maybe the prospect looking at your website has to click more than once to get in contact with you.
  3. An on-ramp, private coaching or fundamentals program is missing from your repertoire to introduce new members to your service offering. Or a prospect’s first day consists of kipping or Olympic weightlifting – #whatsrhabdo anybody?
  4. Instead of investing in sales training, hiring a bookkeeper or switching your 20-hours per week 1099 trainers over to W2, you’d opt to attend a competitive athlete camp or purchase a reverse hyper and axel barbells – because #gamesorbust.
  5. You decided over the course of a weekend certification that you were going to take out a second mortgage, order $30,000 of Rogue Fitness equipment, get seven business partners/gym buddies, and start a fitness company.

Hopefully none of the above scenarios are playing out as your real life, but if they are I highly recommend taking a long hard look at your business and what is going on in the fitness market around you. You’ll be able to to play a pretty easy game of “Which one isn’t like the others?”

Stuart Brauer is a 15-year student of strength and conditioning, and he was fortunate to find CrossFit in 2006. Since then he's dedicated his life to building a fitness business simply based on the pursuit of excellence. From humble beginnings making three figures and running park workouts to owning a million dollar gym, he's now ventured into business consulting for gym owners looking to chase their dream. You can find his content on Facebook and Instagram @wtfgymtalk.