The Revolving Door to Your Box

Is your Box like a revolving door?Box owners are not prepared for the moment when their first, most loyal athletes are no longer making their way to the Box as often as they used to. There is this feeling of attachment that one has with the members that laid the groundwork for what is now an established Box. The original members shared in the sweat, hard work and grind during the early months to get the Box off the ground. The original crew shared this feeling of connectedness and love for fitness. These members were there when class sizes were three, four or five. When the Box owner organized “outings,” it was the same familiar faces that made it out. This tight knit group could not be happier with their fitness. Open gym was a cluster of individuals who just could not get enough. They entrusted you with their fitness and followed blindly through the trenches. However, there becomes a time when the owner sits back and realizes the faces have changed.

The foundation is starting to show wear and tear. The new brick, which continues to be laid, is shining brightly as their enthusiasm encourages the owner. The new athletes enter with the same enthusiasm with which the tenured athletes had just years earlier. The owner has a troubled time figuring out how the Box keeps moving forward, despite the brittle foundation. The old faces at dinner have been replaced. Open gyms are filled with new goals and aspirations. The committed athletes are looking to improve just as your originals once did. The revolving door has appeared.

This definitely came as a surprise as you once thought the originals were as loyal as you still are. They would be there as long as the Box was open, you told yourself. Now you realize that the door has hinges for a reason. As the door opens for new people to enter, it is also opens for veterans to leave. Box owners are left wondering why, how, when, who and what is going on. We start to question if CrossFit or specifically, our CrossFit, is not meeting people’s goals. Are people tired of the AMRAPS, EMOMS and Chippers? We are left scratching our heads as to why attendance of the originals have either dropped or disappeared. Some originals moved, found new jobs or became injured along the way. Some are holding on, showing their face here and there. How could anyone leave our Box and replace it with another fitness option?

This realization will cause us to challenge our programming, challenge our effectiveness and challenge our ability to sustain a Box long term. We begin to realize that this current group of athletes will soon suffer the same fate as new athletes who walk through the door. In a year from now, the room will be filled with faces that are not similar to the ones you see today. There is a new “core” group of individuals that make it to all the functions. And there still are those athletes that have remained through the turnover.

As a Box owner, it is your duty to serve and change the lives of people around you. You cannot make someone want it more for themselves than you want it for them. It is okay to challenge your business and your practices, but expect turnover to occur. Assess why people are staying and why people are leaving. Do more of what works and less of what does not. At the end of the day, stay true to yourself and remember why you opened a Box.

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.