When the Honeymoon is Over

I remember well the exhilaration I experienced opening CrossFit Stevens Point. Our membership grew quickly and we ended up needing to move three locations in our first six months. I remember the thrill of getting our permanent location up and running. All that excitement and adrenalin easily carried me through my first nine or ten months. But at some point, the newness wore off, the excitement faded a little, and owning my own business became, you know, WORK. Like any relationship, I have to work at my relationship with my business and my athletes to keep things going strong for the long haul.

Falling in Love

For many athletes, finding CrossFit is a little like falling in love. Maybe a lot like falling in love. The rush you feel after your first experience; the excitement and nervousness that overtakes you before each WOD; the fact that you just can’t shut up about it to your family, friends and co-workers. You found “the one” ― “exercise” is fun again ― you’re almost giddy about it. We’ve been there. We get it.

But just like falling in love, after awhile the excitement fades. You get used to it. Oh, it’s still fun. You still love CrossFit, but you also know the drill. It becomes part of your routine.

Keeping the Romance Alive

As an owner, how do you keep the romance alive? Not just your athletes’ romance with CrossFit (although that is the most important), but also your own romance with your business? In a successful relationship, two people take care of each other. As an owner, you need to take care of your athletes. We are in a service business. With CrossFit’s rising visibility and popularity, it is not too difficult to get athletes in the door. It is keeping them loyal to your Box that is your mission.

CFSP is a Box largely made up of intermediate and novice athletes. Our programming needs to fit their needs. It needs to be balanced, offer variety, make them feel they got a “good workout”, and (most of all) be FUN. We regularly schedule the team WODs our athletes love. We give everyone a chance to lift big on regular basis and most WODs feature some kind of metabolic conditioning activity. We’ve learned that our athletes want to feel a sense of accomplishment on a regular basis.

Of course, we have our fire-breathers too and we are learning better ways to serve them as well. In addition to incorporating skills work into our daily classes, we are planning a weekly class that will focus on advanced skills and training for upcoming competitions.

Special events are a big part of life at CFSP. We host competitions, but we also host member-only WODs (often followed by a pot-luck), charity WODs, and special clinics. These events give us a chance to have fun together and feel good about our relationship with CrossFit and one another.

Take Care of the Small Stuff

Small moments are what sustain a relationship on a daily basis. Keep communication open between you and your athletes and among your community as a whole. We use private Facebook groups. Our members use these groups daily to share a PR, seek support when struggling or share a new Paleo recipe.

Check in regularly with your athletes. Chat with them in person and over social media. Don’t just give attention to your most outgoing members. Take time to get to know all your athletes and make sure they are comfortable at your Box. Check in with athletes who haven’t shown up in a few weeks. Drop them a line and make sure there isn’t some issue you need to address. Unlike a globo gym, a CrossFit Box absolutely depends on regular participation. Do everything you can to keep your athletes tied to your community.

Take care of your facility. Keep it clean and neat. Gyms take a lot of abuse. It is a challenge to keep them feeling new, but it is important. Ask your athletes to put away and wipe down equipment. Organize equipment on a regular basis. Make repairs promptly. Clean ― really clean ― regularly. No one wants to walk in to a messy, dirty house. For many of your athletes, their Box is like a second home. Keep it feeling like one.

Finally, some new toys now and again don’t hurt. Any purchase of fun new equipment should be celebrated as a gift to the Box and its members. Incorporating new toys into WODs immediately gives all your athletes a chance to play.

Feel the Love

As a full-time Box owner, I know very well that you cannot make all your athletes happy all the time. It is a constant juggling act and you need to know when to listen to your gut. Still, having an over-arching priority of taking care of your athletes individually and as a group will keep you on track. I believe this kind of service relationship is what sets the really good Boxes apart from the mediocre ones. Go that extra mile. Be the owner that is accessible, approachable and respected by his athletes.

Earlier, I mentioned the challenge of keeping one’s own romance with one’s Box alive. Actually, I’ve learned that’s the easiest part. I love my CrossFit community. I take care of them, they take care of me. I feel the love every day.

 

Scott Keyser moved to Stevens Point, Wisconsin in 2011 and got his Level One certification and Affiliation in 2013. After time at two temporary locations, he left his ‘day job’ and took CrossFit Stevens Point on full-time at its current location. Scott, his wife Kristin and their son James reside in Stevens Point, and they all CrossFit.