The idea that “the cream will rise to the top” in the laissez-faire CrossFit affiliate model may be scuttled by a very powerful glass ceiling in the form of social connection. When we talk about the cream rising to the top, we’re referring to concerns about low barriers to entry into a CrossFit affiliate that time will reward the best in business … eventually.
Surely, we’re seeing the market begin to differentiate that there are some less than amazing CrossFit experiences to be had. Nonetheless, much of the criticisms of the open affiliate model include the gripe that people often default to the closest gym to them instead of taking time to gym shop for who is “better.” Still, the rebuttal I mentioned above says that given enough time, the market will reward the best in business.
What isn’t taken into account, I’d argue, is the emotional connection and relationships being formed at athletes’ first gym experience, whether it’s a great gym or not. Athletes, then, over time may realize that they aren’t at the best gym in town, but the emotional cost of making the switch may be too high to bother. Thus, the cream may not rise to the top.
As a gym owner and a staunch libertarian, it may be odd to write about a critical position on the affiliate model. Though I think the potential social roadblock to the cream rising to the top is an interesting, albeit necessary, conversation to have. I trust that the market is as fair of a place to play as any. Furthermore, I don’t worry about Deuce Gym, nor do I view potential students through a lens of scarcity. My purpose for writing this is different.
The reason for bringing this up is to speak to the students. If you’re consciously holding on to a lesser fitness experience because you’ve got a pile of good friends at your affiliate, you’re, in many ways, impeding the natural evolution of this community. Just like you’re seeking to being the best version of yourself in training, I’d encourage you to constantly seek the best, not just in the CrossFit market but also in every market. Vote with your dollars, if you will.
The result? We all get better!