Taking Training Online During COVID-19

The empty gym at CrossFit Big D.

Around the world, Affiliates are closing their doors due to COVID-19. But that doesn’t mean business has stopped.

For instance, on March 13 CrossFit Big D in Dallas, Texas, shut its doors for the time being. Owner Chase Ingraham said it was after a long self-education on the pandemic that he made the decision to close prior to being mandated.

As such, for the time being he will be programming five workouts a week, posting them to social media Monday through Friday. There will be three different types of workouts each day:

  • Home Gym/Facility: This program is for the built-out home gym and will be fully programmed CrossFit workouts.
  • DB/KB plus medicine ball: CrossFit Big D checked out one dumbbell or kettlebell, a medicine ball and a jump rope to current members. The workouts center around having access to that equipment.
  • Bodyweight: These workouts combine bodyweight gymnastics and mon-structural pieces like running and double unders. No equipment needed.

Ingraham isn’t the only one getting creative about training online. Affiliates around the world are coming up with other options to pursue virtual connection with members. At CrossFit Zone in Victoria, British Colombia, the gym hosted the Quarantine Online Open mid-March. It was a two-week competition with three workouts released each week. Each was an iteration of a classic workout from past CrossFit Games seasons — inspired by the West Coast Classic. The WODs were adjusted so athletes only needed one dumbbell and a jump rope.

Co-owner Dan Schafer said with the current global situation they thought it would be good to give the Affiliate community something to look forward to. “It was intended to be a way to keep our members and friends engaged and communicating while taking some time away from the gym,” he shared. “As we started to slow down classes, let members borrow equipment and take some time away, this just seemed like a natural next step. No one is really sure exactly when we’ll be able to watch or participate in a competition, so we figured let’s chase that feeling you get during the CrossFit Open. With the online competition being so accessible, it’s the best way to bring the community together.”

Marketing for the Quarantine Online Open.

At $10 per person to participate, the Quarantine Online Open gained traction and expanded beyond the Box. Schafer said it wouldn’t have been possible without Adam Black who did the video voiceovers and took care of setting up the Competition Corner backend. Plus, CrossFit Zone’s other co-owner, Alex Mueller, tested each workout for timing and stimulus.

While the competition provided value to the business and a chance for participants to win prizes, the biggest thing was giving members a sense of normalcy. “The biggest benefit for our members has probably been the sense of normalcy it’s created during this time of uncertainty. Everyone’s routine has been interrupted; this is something we could do to keep that routine going. An event like the Open feels a bit more familiar than working out in a park or your living room. Instead of the depressing ‘not sure when we’ll see you again’ we get to say, ‘see you on the leaderboard.’”

BONUS: Need more coronavirus business survival tips? Catch this exclusive interview with Chris Cooper on how he is coaching gyms through this time.

Workout tracks, online competitions and more are becoming the norm. But beyond the daily workouts, Ingraham also shared he has a few other training online options for members during the COVID-19 outbreak:

  • Access to outdoor rigs and sleds: Members can use any of the outdoor equipment outside of the gym; they just can’t go inside.
  • Offsite workouts: A couple times a week, the gym will use tracks, trails and other spaces to get the community working out together — just no touching.
  • Free personalized programming via text: Ingraham said any member who wants can send him a photo of what equipment they have to use. He can give them a workout to use it all. He said he will also review movement videos and offer feedback.
Marketing for CrossFit Big D’s virtual offerings.

All in all, the above training online options by both Affiliates are out of necessity for safety for their members. Ingraham said closing one’s gym is the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do. But it’s for the best. After all, your business is about your members at the core.

“I am in the position to act, and I would rather be overly cautious in my member’s best interest than not act in a position of negligence or ignorance,” he said. “I will be closing the physical doors to the gym for the rest of March through April 5, or as long as needed. I feel it is my responsibility to ensure the health and safety of our members at CrossFit Big D.”

Members at CrossFit Zone.

Heather Hartmann
Heather is the editor for Box Pro Magazine. Contact her at heather@peakemedia.com.