Suffering to Build Retention


Once someone signs up for membership at your Box, he or she may be accused of drinking the “CrossFit Kool-Aid” or joining a “Fitness Cult,” both expressions too familiar within the industry.

But, like actual Kool-Aid, the liquid runs out. And when that happens, it’s up to you to keep that new member excited about CrossFit.

Emily Beers, a member of the CrossFit Journal writing team, suggests three ways to keep members involved in your “cult:” customer service, programming and software.

But Darren Eaton, the co-Affiliate of CrossFit Safety Harbor in Safety Harbor, Florida, doesn’t understand why viewing CrossFit as a cult has a negative connotation. “I never took it as someone saying it was a cult in a bad way,” said Eaton. “I thought it was just kind of funny, drank the Kool-Aid and now they’re in the cult — more of a joke than anything. Maybe some people take that cult thing more serious that I do.”

He said he understands how it can be viewed as a cult from those who don’t participate in the sport, because the nature of CrossFit is working out in a group. Then that group becomes your friends. Then you get dinner or do karaoke with your friends.

“Anything you do to suffer together, it [creates] a bond. I think that’s part of it. People get in here; they suffer together. They sweat and work hard together and build a bond along with that friendship and camaraderie,” Eaton said.

Beers quotes Cindy Allinson, the Affiliate of CrossFit Crux in Stoufville, Ontario, stating that when she knows what’s going on in her clients lives, down to her client’s children’s names, retention takes care of itself. She also hosts community events so her members get to know each other outside of her Box.

To Eaton, the biggest motivator is results. Once people see results, Eaton believes that’s what brings them back to his Box.

And if someone is not making progress, ask why. While it might be programming, Eaton said more often than not, it’s because that member is not frequenting the gym enough to get the results they’re seeking.

In her article, Beers said words of affirmation go a long way as well. If a member is making gains, a Coach should let that member know their progress is not going unnoticed. This can be in the form of a Facebook post, an act of service or encouraging them to try a harder workout. But the way you encourage that member should align with their love language.

“Some clients do not need gifts or social media to feel appreciated. Some people place higher value on the physical side of CrossFit: the workouts and their performance. Simply put, if they like the programming and they’re improving, they’ll stick around,” Beers said.

If a member does decide to leave, however, Beers recommends having an exit interview. Ask the member why they are deciding to cancel their membership. Keep the conversation positive and find out if it could be because of a problem you could fix as the Affiliate.

Hayli Goode is the former digital editor for Peake Media.