Finding Your Niche and Staying Ahead


“You can’t please everybody.”

We’ve all heard the saying, but how many Box owners have failed to apply it to their Box’s strategy model? You opened your Box with a general broad focus – to bring fitness to the masses and help out all those John and Jane Does of the world.

Then you got more familiar with olympic lifting, so you started a premier olympic lifting team. Then you heard about CrossFit Kids, so you opened up a few classes for a premier CrossFit Kids program. Then you found out about CrossFit Endurance, so you began a premier CrossFit running club. Then you found out about CrossFit Powerlifting, so you created a premier powerlifting club.

Wait. That’s quite a few premiers in one Box, isn’t it? It may seem silly, but many Box owners are like wide-eyed puppies whose attention – and money – gets taken by every new trend introduced to the market. So how do we avoid this constant distraction and loss of identity? How do we form a strategy to sustain our business and its future growth?

Finding Your Fit

Although it may seem elementary, first you need to know your niche; or to be cliche, find your passion. Yeah, yeah, yeah. We already know what you’re going to say: “I like CrossFit.” But dig deeper. What about CrossFit specifically drives you? Is there a specific population you enjoy more? Everybody closely relates to a certain audience, so figure out what that is for you and reach out to them. Do you have a heart for adaptive athletes, overweight individuals or retired athletes? As long as you can identify a specific group of people, the list of niches will continue to grow. So be creative, be specific and yes, that means choosing one for now. Contrary to CrossFit’s philosophy of “not being great at anything but being good at everything,” in the business world sometimes you just need to master one niche to be successful.

Activities vs. Systems

Once you’ve found your niche, figure out what activities cater to that population. Lots of people can develop a system to adapt to their niche. They can organize the broad operation of things. They can adopt a check-in system for members. They can encourage their Coaches to facilitate a general recommended class structure, but when things are this broad, details suffer. Learn to play small ball. In the check-in system, what graphics show on the screen? Are automated emails sent out? If so, are they personalized? There is no detail too small.

When your niche is decided and you know exactly what client population you are going after, even the most minor details become easier to choose. By answering the simple question of “Does this target my specific population?” shirts, stickers, social events and even gym lanyards can be quickly agreed upon. Interested in buying window decals? Well, that’s not a time to go with military stencil font if you’re a family gym. Focusing more on a older-aged, lightweight-lifting, plyometric-focused group? Well, maybe you don’t need to by that $900 yoke or that $1,000 elite-level bumper plate set. The niche you happen to choose may benefit more from investing in high-quality mobility gear and some safety-padded plyo boxes.

Consistency is King

The flaw in only establishing large systems is that it is far too difficult to keep all the smaller activities consistent. They’re too broad, and if after a few months – or years – you take a step back and notice that your niche has not been catered to consistently, it’s difficult to correct a huge system because you’re not sure where it went wrong.

Folks, in the competitive business world, consistency is king. Focus on the activities that cater to your population, be sure each one is specific and perfect, and as a result you will have a system in place. If each activity is polished to perfection, then consistency is a beautiful result.

Consistency is also the very thing that will separate you from your competitors – or rather imitators because aren’t we all imitating what everybody else is doing, but trying to throw fancier names at them?

Well, if you have crafted every activity in your gym to cater to your target audience, then the fitness facility down the street that attempts to imitate you and target that same niche, without focusing on each minor detail like you have for the past three years, will not only fail at imitation, but it will make your services look all the better. Now I am not hoping other gyms look bad, but what I am saying is this: We all have different passions. Our hearts bleed for various and very specific populations, so find yours. It doesn’t matter what the Box down the street’s niche is – cater each small activity toward your group, keep it consistent and you will become untouchable.

Gabriel Perez the owner of CrossFit North Pasadena and part owner of CrossFit Altadena, both located in Pasadena, California. He has his L2 and his MBA from Azusa Pacific University. He has competed as an individual at the 2012 and 2013 CrossFit SoCal Regionals. Contact him at