Like a Good Neighbor, CrossFit Durham is There

An athlete at CrossFit Durham.For CrossFit Durham, one of its biggest marketing strategies is simply by being.

Located in downtown Durham, North Carolina, the college town that surrounds it has led to a lively, local neighborhood. Since 2008, the Box has sat among restaurants and breweries with Duke University about a mile from its location. “We’re surrounded really by students and graduate students and postgraduate students, and now just people who want to live in a college town,” said Dave Rubin, the owner of the gym. “We have some unique advantages as far as that goes. Our neighborhood in particular in downtown is a very social neighborhood … We’re in a really active, young area so our demographic is right around us.”

As such, Rubin said a lot of people pass by the Box, witnessing WODs that often take place outside on the front lawn. Usually, those who pass by aren’t doing the healthiest of things: “I get people all the time where I say, ‘Oh how did you know we were here?’ And they’d say ‘Oh well I was drinking on Saturday night across the street,’ or ‘I was at happy hour across the street and I saw your boot campers out there suffering while I was over here stuffing my face.’ So they get inspired from that standpoint to come,” said Rubin, explaining how CrossFit Durham seems to bring a healthy balance to the area.

One of the things people usually witness taking place outside is CrossFit Durham’s boot camp classes. While the program used to be in six and then eight-week increments, demand for it made Rubin rethink its set up in the spring of 2014. Now a separate membership from the regular CrossFit classes, the boot camp is CrossFit-style workouts without the Olympic weightlifting, barbell work or strength training. Simply put, it focuses on functional fitness with the use of body weight.

Plus, Rubin tries to hold the classes outside as much as possible. “We run a very strong boot camp program in addition to our CrossFit program, so we almost every day have activity going on outside the gym very visible to passersbys or folks sitting across the street or people driving by,” he said. “They’ll see some of our athletes every day either running up the street or flipping the tires or hitting the tires.”

In fact, he has had people find information about the boot camp online, signing up for it without ever realizing the gym is a CrossFit Box.

Being in such a diverse area, Rubin said it’s key for CrossFit Durham that they offer different opportunities for people to take part of. “We really try to not necessarily be all things to all people, but we’re very adaptive and we’re very open to what our athletes and what the potential athletes in our area are looking for, so we’re definitely not all CrossFit all the time, but that is absolutely our core and bread and butter,” he said. “Everything we do is really driven by our people and what they’re looking for and what they want.”

Heather is the editor for Box Pro Magazine. Contact her at