Part Three: How the first month will make or break your business?

New members can make or break your business.Editor’s note: This is the third of a three-part blog series by Ben Isabella.

In part one and part two, we discussed taking that initial inquiry and turning it into an athlete starting your foundations/fundamentals program. The more guidance a new athlete receives during the first month, the more likely they are to stay. You want to establish a foundations program that is all encompassing, thorough and informational. Any solid program will teach athletes about 75 percent of what they will see during the “regular” CrossFit classes.

Whether you structure the on-ramp classes in a one-on-one or small group format, be sure to have your best trainers coach them. Most often the lasting impression is the first impression. Do not assume that just because someone starts the program, that they will stick with it. As a Box owner, you want to be sure that whether they decide to stay or go that they have been provided with the best training possible. The classes may not have worked out for them, but they might suggest your Box to another individual someday. At the very least, they will eventually have a conversation about their experience with CrossFit, and you want their memory to be a great one.

During the on-ramp classes, touch base with the new member often. Send them encouraging emails or words of advice. Provide as much feedback and information as possible.

The goal of the introduction classes is for the athletes to feel comfortable with the movements and language of CrossFit. Teaching new members how to scale and modify exercises and workouts will eventually be your saving grace. There is nothing worse than having to overly tend to the needs of one or two athletes during the regular classes.

First and foremost, athletes need to leave foundations understanding how to scale down an exercise. This should come in the form of weight and exercise modification. The goal of foundations is not to gain perfect form on the snatch and clean. The goal is to provide athletes with the proper tools to be safe and successful. Owners often overlook how providing effective coaching early on will ultimately make the regular classes run smoother. The more athletes you have leaving fundamentals that are not sure how to scale, modify or even perform an exercise, the more unorganized and frustrating classes will become. Members, old and new, will notice when things are disorganized.

During foundations, Coaches need to learn how to pick and choose their battles. The time we have with new members is limited. Instead of painfully explaining that they shouldn’t be pulling so early on a clean or snatch, let’s spend that time getting them in a safe position and understanding how to scale down their weight. Prioritize your feedback into stages of importance.

Once your athlete finishes the on-ramp program, they are ready to take classes with athletes who are there to work and skill movements at a fast pace. There can be an entire article on how to manage class when fresh athletes enter, but for now, let’s just keep it simple by making sure they are receiving extra attention and explanation. This can come in the form of a more detailed explanation at the whiteboard at the beginning of class so as not to draw attention to the new athlete.

Also, be sure to introduce the new athletes to the class during their first few times. Follow up with them after about three weeks to ask how they are enjoying and acclimating themselves to the regular classes. Before you know it, they are a part of the crew, showing that their first month is critical to the future of your business.

Ben Isabella
In 2009, Ben Isabella received his C.S.C.S from the National Strength and Conditioning Association. As well as being a strength and conditioning specialist, bootcamp instructor, and CrossFit Level 1 Trainer, he is a physical education teacher at Sayreville High School. Keep up to date with current fitness and nutrition info by following him on Instagram @Ben_Isabella.