Outside the Box
In 2005 CrossFit had just 13 Boxes (the CrossFit term for gym). Today, the organization has over 10,000 affiliated Boxes throughout the world, with dozens more opening up each month.
“It seems like every time I turn around there’s someone else opening up another CrossFit Affiliate,” said Matt Mallard, the director of education and personal trainer development at Gainesville Health and Fitness (GHF) in Gainesville, Florida.
To capture some of that audience, GHF opened its own CrossFit Box in 2013. To best compete, Mallard shared the following strategies.
CrossFit incorporates elements from high-intensity interval training, Olympic weightlifting, gymnastics and other exercises, and some moves can be too advanced for some athletes, until they master their form. “We make sure that everybody goes through a very comprehensive screening process before they come out and take classes,” said Mallard.
Members are screened in one of either two ways. They can set up an introductory session, where their basic form is tested, or they can sign up for a two- to four-week fundamentals course.
In addition, GHF hosts workshops throughout the year, where members can work to master things such as Olympic weightlifting or toes to bar. “It’s in a class setting, but the coach will figure out what’s going wrong with each one of those movements and help you get better at it,” explained Mallard.
More than anything, Mallard said it’s important to ensure members are properly vetted, to ensure their safety.
“CrossFit is one of those things where it’s nice to say that everything is infinitely scaleable, but at the same time you want to ensure people are staying as safe as possible, because you can’t see results or have any type of transformation if your body is broken,” said Mallard.
Part of prioritizing safety includes having trainers who know what they’re doing. At GHF, it is required that CrossFit coaches be successful one-on-one personal trainers, prior to teaching at the Box.
Offer Something Different
GHF’s CrossFit Box stands out in a unique way from other Affiliates in the area — it is located outside. Equipped with Astroturf and a variety of other training tools, this is a draw.
“In Florida [in spring], the hottest it gets is 80 degrees, and it’s absolutely gorgeous,” said Mallard.
GHF also emphasizes community, which is an extremely important aspect to CrossFit.
“More than anything else is community and relationships,” continued Mallard. “If that’s not there, there’s no magic to a class. Not only do you have accountability to the coach, but you have accountability to the other [athletes], so everybody pushes one another, and then everybody sees results.”
Ultimately, if you’d like to successfully compete against a boutique CrossFit Box, keep safety, community and differentiation in mind.