Programming for Retention

How can programming help retention?

For many Boxes throughout the U.S., simply programming CrossFit is enough. However, as an owner it’s vital that you understand the surrounding demographic and what you can do to get more people exercising.

Adam Sturm, the co-founder of CrossFit Outbreak in Brooklyn, New York, has done just that by adding a boot camp program to the gym. “We originally began [the] boot camp in a local park, before the Box opened, as a way to draw attention to the gym and bring in members before we opened,” he explained. “Many of them found us through the free boot camps we offered in advance of our opening.”

There has been some discussion that Groupon and other discount sites aren’t good for CrossFit, but additional programming can open a Box to a lot of new opportunities without discounting the value of a CrossFit membership. “The day we opened we had already signed 50 members,” said Sturm. “We were able to show people that CrossFit movements are more than just lifting heavy weights. Many of our members have an endurance background and liked the body-weight exercises a boot camp offers.”

Sturm said the free boot camp program was a lot like going on a date before committing to marriage. “It also gave us a chance to introduce some movements to people before they joined,” he continued. “In our case the boot camp was part of our package of pre-opening publicity and we kept it on for members until it got too cold outside.”

For many people looking to get fit, the weights and stereotypes associated with CrossFit can be hard to get past. “As we mentioned, boot camp allows people to learn or practice some of the body weight, gymnastics and endurance aspects of CrossFit without the weights, which can be intimidating to some athletes who are new to our sport,” said Sturm.

In addition, Strum isn’t blind to the idea that CrossFit gets boring to some people after a certain amount of time. “This is another way to change it up,” said Strum. “Most Boxes in NYC don’t have a lot of outdoor space attached to the gym so [a] boot camp in the park is a way to get people outside and show them some movements they can do on their own in the parks.”

Matt Sharp, the co-owner of CrossFit Maximus in Lexington, Kentucky, has also found success in additional programming. “By developing these supplementary programs, what we’re able to do is take somebody, … they’ve done the typical class for a year and a half, and say, ‘alright, what’s something you’d like to work on,’” explained Sharp. What he finds is that the member may enjoy the CrossFit conditioning and feel tested in that aspect, but is still struggling with strength portions.

“We’ve got an awesome Barbell Club; just go in there for a few months and just get jacked,” said Sharp. “Just get strong, go in there and have fun lifting heavy weights. They go in there and it’s this whole new thing, just like when they first started CrossFit. It’s this amazing experience, they are challenged every day, everything is new and shiny, and then after about three or four months in there, guess what they get the itch to do? They want to go show off their new toy in the class WOD. So now they’re a little bit stronger and now they want to go back and kick their best friend’s butt in the class. At the end of the day, they never left. We just keep them.”

In addition to the Barbell Club, Maximus also boasts yoga, race course prep, a gymnastics club, weightlifting and several other programs.

Although CrossFit is the main focus for both Outbreak and Maximus, they have realized the importance of giving more opportunity to members through a variety of programming. Sometimes starting with additional programming can help the gym to ease members into the principles of CrossFit such as with Outbreak, but if you add programs into your gym as you grow, it can play as a retention tool as well like it did with Maximus.


Photo by Brian Slaughter

Tyler is a former editor of Box Pro Magazine.