CrossFit in a Spin
I’m not sure if you are aware that on 23rd August 2018 Greg Glassman the Founder of CrossFit has made a statement through in interview that he plans to reshape CrossFit by de-emphasising the CrossFit Games and prioritising the grass roots of CrossFit – the affiliates and the impact they have on the health of their local community. FIND THE ARTICLE HERE
This put the CrossFit community into a spin.
I believe this to be a business decision based on branding and strategy and a good one at that.
There are 3 streams to the CrossFit business
1. The affiliates (gyms)
2. Certification Courses
3. CrossFit Games
The first two impact hundreds of thousands of people and make truck loads of cash for CrossFit at little expense. CrossFit claims they lose money on the Games but but from an outsiders view it has been good advertising to get people into the courses and gyms.
It seems history is changing and Glassman has changed his mind on what a ‘good advertising’ strategy is.
The Games has exploded in it’s popularity and now most people have seen the CrossFit Games on their TV’s.
However, the challenge CrossFit faces is that most people are thinking to themselves, “I couldn’t do that. CrossFit is not for me”!
Effectively CrossFit is shooting themselves in the foot using the Games as advertising for it’s gyms.
With their very own Glock pistol, as it be.
The CrossFit Games has Made and Destroyed CrossFit
For the longest time I have said that I believe the CrossFit Games has both made and destroyed CrossFit.
When I found CrossFit in 2007 there were no CrossFit Games.
CrossFit was a revolution in the fitness industry. A training methodology that wasn’t about boring gym based training on machines (bodybuilding) to get muscles or long cardio based sessions (running, triathlon) focused on losing weight.
It was a move away from machines and doing cardio to an exciting blend of free weights and bodyweight movements done against the clock that brought with it serious intensity.
Rather than having to do 60-90 minute training sessions, CrossFit allowed us to do some sessions that were only 10-20 minutes. There session done at high intensity were harder, more fun and more effective than anything I had ever done before.
The results spoke for themselves, CrossFit was a program that for most did a better job of adding muscle than bodybuilding and of losing fat than running and it still does.
Then came the CrossFit Games and a sport was born.
Don’t get me wrong I’m a massive fan of the CrossFit Games.
Having competed at the original Games site in Aromas on Dave Castro’s family farm in 2009 and then again in Carson in 2010 and 2011 all on teams I have a certain soft spot for the Games.
I still follow the Games with fanaticism and I believe that the changes that CrossFit is making will bring about an even better CrossFit Games. Although it may take a year or two to sort itself out.
However, I also believe as an affiliate owner since 2009 that the popularity of the CrossFit Games has destroyed what CrossFit originally set out to be.
A time effective and fun exercise program to assist us to live a longer healthier life.
Nowadays, so much of what CrossFit is is influenced by the Games.
Everyone wants to be a Games athlete.
Every second person under 30 who comes in to the gym has a goal to go to regionals.
And so many CrossFitters are training multiple hours and sessions a day as if they are a CrossFit Games competitor neglecting basics for fancy movements they see there idles doing on Instagram. Most of these people don’t have half a chance of going to regionals. I believe they have missed the point of what CrossFit is at it’s core and I think Glassman agrees with me.
This year only a few hundred people participated beyond the CrossFit Open. That’s 0.00125% of the CrossFit Open participants. Not to mention the thousands of other CrossFit gym participants who didn’t complete in the Open.
Glassman is now Focused on a Bigger Game
For the last 12-18 months from what I can tell Glassman has been focused on a bigger game than making the already fit even fitter. He has been focused on changing the health of the average Joe and Jane.
Targeting doctors at medical conferences, going after the soda companies and promoting (through the CrossFit Journal) everyday people who have made a massive change in their lives and got themselves healthy with the help of CrossFit.
This is now Glassman’s mission.
He wants to change the lives of the ordinary people who feel that CrossFit isn’t for them because they only see super fit CrossFit Games athletes on their screens. He wants to expand the business by essentially creating more customers.
Glassman wants the average man and woman to feel welcome in a CrossFit gym. The funny thing is that they already are welcome it’s just the perception that they are not.
However, CrossFit has developed into this ‘super fit’ brand due to the exposure the Games has developed. I hear it all the time.
It’s a massive task that Glassman is taking on. But if anyone can do it Glassman can.
I have had the pleasure of meeting and hearing Glassman share his thoughts a few times. The first being at my L1 Cf Cert in October 2008 at the original CFX. He is a gifted speaker and a deeply thoughtful man. I wish him the best of luck.
A Different Perspective
I hope that I have put forward a perspective of this change to the CrossFit games that is more than changes to the Games but rather what I believe to be behind the decision to de-emphasis the Games.
It will be interesting in a couple of years to look back at what has happened in the CrossFit landscape and if Greg Glassman has been able to create more CrossFit customers by changing the perception of what CrossFit is at its roots – the CrossFit gym not the CrossFit Games.