Mastery of the Business


There are 15 rowers at CrossFit Los Angeles, each named after a member that’s been at the gym for eight years or more. And now they’re starting to name bricks.

“Sustainability and retention is at the core of our ethos,” said Kenny Kane, the owner of CrossFit Los Angeles. “I think a lot of business owners get caught up living for the moment. If you live for the moment, you’re going to die by the moment.”

In the ever-changing industry of CrossFit, best practices have evolved out of garage gyms and bootcamps in the park. For Kane, he has found success in his gym through creating an authenticity of integrity in his space. That means he might choose not to add an Olympic lifting program or a competition class, even though it could potentially bring in extra revenue. Why? Because it’s not authentic to his gym’s mission.

The same rang true for Eric Stratman of TNL CrossFit Tampa. His vision and mission statement guide the business in what makes it unique. He said if Affiliates focus on their strengths, they’ll find success in investing in a few programs and Coaches.

CJ Martin of Invictus Fitness said he looks to create programs to suit his members’ goals. “Our business improved drastically when we made sure we were designing programs for our members instead of seeking members who wanted to do what we thought was cool,” he explained.

In terms of the worst thing he’s ever done, Stratman said it was not defining clear expectations for either the member or employee. But with those expectations now in place, Coaches know what Stratman expects of them each class in order to lead an impacting hour, because it only takes one bad 60-minute experience to end a membership. “We know people share good experiences with some people and bad experiences with everybody,” said Stratman.

An excellent experience is something Martin said is huge in a CrossFit gym. When you’re a large Box, that means building your culture and treating your staff like professionals so they provide members with excellence. Martin gave several ways you can do this: by paying staff like professionals, offering them group health insurance and hiring them as employees versus independent contractors.

It could also mean implementing administrative help. “Hire a great receptionist or office manager, and watch how they change the culture of your gym by allowing you to focus on what you love,” said Martin.

Kane said one of the biggest mistakes he sees across the board is Affiliates devaluing their products and their coaching. By refusing to follow satellite programming and using metrics to prove results, Kane’s members are given a quality product across the board that he can control.

But more than that, he believes in teaching his clients via a slow conversation focused on skills and practice, versus fast times and competition. That, said Kane, is key for his Box, because in the end it produces longevity in his clients. “What I’m after at our gym is mastery,” said Kane. “Mastery of the body, the mind and the spirit.”

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