The Beatles taught us that all you need is love…but unfortunately, they were wrong. Whether it’s a relationship, a business venture or a goal, love may initiate the journey, but it won’t get you through it unscathed. It’s easy for visions of grandeur to muddle your rationale. The appeal of ownership may seem filled with prestige and dollar signs, but that’s not the reality. The nitty-gritty needs like long hours, hard work and unwavering dedication even in difficult times are too often overlooked. When it comes to opening a box, you need a lot more than love for the sport of fitness.
As the market continues to approach saturation, it’s clear that the technicalities involved with opening a CrossFit gym are fairly minimal. The fact that any level 1 trainer can open their own box is both wonderful and worrisome. The overwhelming passion so many people experience in the CrossFit community is fabulous, but without a realistic perspective and some basic knowledge of business, marketing, finances and training, that passion won’t get you very far. Ordering equipment and opening doors is one thing, but getting members to come back every day requires a sense of trust, enjoyment, and loyalty, none of which magically develop.
With such a rapid increase in popularity, there are more and more random investors and rookie CrossFitters trying to jump on the bandwagon. With the right staff, and more importantly, the right reasons, success might just be in the cards. But if money, power or prestige are the primary goals, failure is almost inevitable. The people who support a gym, and the people who pay the bills, are the members. And they will easily identify the difference between a box focused on betterment and community, and a box motivated more by money.
When considering opening your own CrossFit gym, consider a few important things. Are you up for early mornings and late nights, regardless of your social schedule, prior commitments, and even your own workouts? Do you have a support system of people willing to work with you on a consistent and respectful playing field? How close are other boxes, are they established, and how will you compete? Are you capable of solving problems ranging from landlord complaints to member modifications due to injury? Will you still love it when you have to live it every single day?
As an owner, you become responsible for provided a service…a safe and satisfying service. Coming up short in your delivery is not only bad for business, but it also hurts the core community with regards to reputation and reliability. Opening a box is much less about you and your personal missions, and much more about having your member’s best interest in mind. There are a lot of factors that come into play, and they’re not all about how much you love CrossFit. So carefully assess the decision to build a box, because along with the fun and games, are finances and daily grind.
Co-Owner, Trainer, CrossFit 8035
Director, The MAT Games
Author, Pretty N’ Gritty