Tread Counts

Matt Sharp, the owner of CrossFit Maximus in Lexington, Kentucky, referenced a well-known company as an example of the branding power t-shirts can provide. “Take Harley Davidson,” he said. “People travel all over to collect t-shirts from different Harley Davidsons.”

Now, Sharp is seeing that trend in CrossFit. According to Sharp, CrossFitters from all over the U.S. are collecting t-shirts from the different Boxes in which they’ve conducted a WOD. To these CrossFitters, the t-shirts act as a trophy of sorts.

The benefit goes both ways — CrossFitters walk away with a t-shirt as a souvenir, and Affiliates get to spread the word about their Box whenever that CrossFitter wears the shirt.

“We’ve used t-shirts since the very beginning as a way to empower our community and spread the word about CrossFit and our Box,” said Sharp. “[Selling t-shirts is] one of the most effective forms of marketing a Box can do.”

To be effective, you can’t just sell run-of-the mill t-shirts that can be found in any average store. Sharp and his team put time and effort into ensuring their t-shirts are interesting and the best quality. “I’m very protective of the fabrics and the colors,” he said.

When CrossFit Maximus first opened, Sharp said he made the mistake of selling cheaper t-shirts to save costs. However, he soon realized that members would be willing to pay more for a better quality shirt, and wear them more as a result. Instead of focusing on the price, “Now we focus on the material, feel and fit,” said Sharp.

Not to say that CrossFit Maximus’ shirts aren’t affordable. A typical shirt ranges between 20 to 25 dollars. And despite what you might think, oftentimes the simpler the t-shirt is, the better it sells. One of the Box’s most popular shirts simply says: “rest later.”

In October, the Box had great success selling t-shirts and supporting a good cause at the same time. “We sell a ‘Respect the Rack’ t-shirt that’s pink, in honor of breast cancer awareness,” explained Sharp. “That one was very popular.”

To ensure your t-shirts are effective branding powerhouses, the message needs to be clear. “Some shirts are very pretty, but you don’t know what the point is,” said Sharp. “You need it to be easily associated with your brand. It must be consistent in colors, tagline, font.”

By having members, guests and staff in your t-shirts, buzz about your Box will spread in no time. “At the end of the day, you just want people in the shirt,” said Sharp. “It helps generate a lot of word of mouth and referrals for your business.”

Rachel Zabonick
Rachel Zabonick is the editor-in-chief of Peake Media. Contact her at