Making Your Box a Third Place

Third place.

The owner of my Box has always said he wants his gym to be considered as the “third place” for each of his members.

Home is typically the “first place,” and work the “second place,” so the gym is then the “third place” where the member hangs out the most. And if you work out on a consistent basis, this proves to be true.

I think it was this past Saturday when I realized that my gym had become something of a third place for me. I was there for a couple hours and I didn’t want to leave. People were chatting and hanging out, and I secretly wished I could stay and goof off with the rest. Plus, during the week I try my hardest to make it to a WOD at least four times. It’s nuts, but I’ve become addicted to more than CrossFit: I’ve become addicted to the community at my gym.

A year ago if you had told me this would be true, I would have laughed in your face. I’d only ever done the “big box gym” thing and never thought I’d love a place of fitness as much as I love my CrossFit Box.

From what I’ve heard, this is the goal of most Affiliates. I mean, that is one of the truly great things about CrossFit. The sport creates community stronger and tighter than imaginable. It makes retention soar and keeps members happy. Typically, the top Boxes in the industry have mastered this community aspect.

One of the great benefits of having such love and loyalty from members is that when things go wrong — because they will go wrong at some point — your members stick with you. For several days last week, my gym’s water was completely down. Although I couldn’t use the bathroom or fill up my water bottle, I wasn’t upset (versus when I would walk in my big box gym and be mad that they had got rid of the rowers or when all the treadmills were being used).

Despite the huge inconvenience, I knew the owners were working diligently to fix it. They had sent out a text, letting the members know about the problem. They kept us updated on social media and let us in on the conversation. And so, I wasn’t upset. My opinion of the Box wasn’t changed.

Relationships with your members, creating your gym into that “third place,” can be beneficial for your retention and the view people have of your Box. I’ve heard this reiterated numerous times from leaders in the industry, but experiencing it first hand only solidified the truth.

I love my Box. How can you help your members love your Box?

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