For some, diving into a CrossFit class is intimidating. And then for some women, the fact that it’s coed is even worse.
“You start with a person that’s interested in CrossFit: They obviously are always going to be nervous, they’re going to be a bit intimidated. Add on top of that a woman who, for whatever reason doesn’t feel comfortable, has this perception all the men in class are going to be big and beefy and screaming and cussing, or whatever the stereotype is,” said Nicole Christensen, the owner of CrossFit Roots in Boulder, Colorado.
At CrossFit Roots, the Women’s Only Program was started about seven years ago to remove one obstacle that kept some females from taking the plunge into the fitness regimen. It’s a closed program — only women can go to that specific class — and meets Monday through Friday at 9:30 a.m. Members pay $185 a month for the Women’s Only Program, the same price as the three-times-a-week membership package for the regular CrossFit classes.
Alison Vermeil, one of CrossFit Roots’ Coaches, leads the program. Christensen explained it’s Vermeil’s job to grow it, as she receives 70 percent of the revenue from the program. That fact incentivizes her to keep about 30 ladies in the program, which allows for an average class size of 12 athletes.
One big key in making the program successful is the fact Vermeil must grow it from outside the gym. Christensen explained when it started there was some crossover in membership, but now it’s Vermeil’s job to bring in a new subset of the population.
“It’s a benefit to my business because it offers something to a demographic that otherwise we would lose,” shared Christensen. “I don’t have the time to [grow it], and if it fails, to be perfectly honest, it’s not such a big revenue for me. But, if Ali wants to put in the work and the time, she can build a program and learn how to sell it and market it and promote it – all within another business, so she’s not taking on the full responsibility of taxes, payroll, insurance and stuff.”
One way Vermeil has grown the program is through “Bring a Friend” days. While the ladies are always welcome to bring a friend, Vermeil will do specific days geared toward friends. There will be a 30-minute workout that day, and then a time of sipping on coffee and chatting about why the women like the program.
Vermeil has also found what the women in the program want and applied it. For example, every Thursday the ladies have 30 minutes of mobility and time to socialize. While it used to be a lower attendance day, now it garners the same attendance as the rest of the week. “I think that’s the beautiful blend for Ali, where she’s figured out what works well for women,” said Christensen.
And while it’s not a goal of the program, from time to time you’ll see a lady tell Vermeil she is ready to move to regular classes. Because while the program is female only, the workouts are the same as the general population programming for the rest of the gym. Women build confidence, see they can do it and then move on.
But, Christensen said ladies who started with the program seven years ago are still with it today. “For some women, they legitimately just enjoy working out with other women,” she said. “It’s another little subset, a little niche of our population, that gets to come together in their own way.”