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There seems to be a great divide/question in the world of CrossFit Affiliates.   Should we allow or sell open gym?

Here is how understanding human nature and having EQ have an advantage over conventional wisdom.

If you sell (50) open gym memberships at $100 a month hypothetically speaking you would make an extra $5000 a month for doing nothing but providing gym access.  Conventional wisdom says this is a win.

Emotional intelligence says otherwise.

  1. We don’t sell access, we sell our expertise, our philosophy of fitness and nutrition.  We sell an experience.

We see it all too often, a new member starts getting a little better at CrossFit.  Usually after the 1-2 year marker.   They start looking at other programming online, they see invictus, “what is rich doing” and they assume that if they just do the programming the Games athletes are doing that they will become better.  99 times out of 100 they are wrong.   If you can’t move well, if you don’t have a base of strength and stability no program can save you.  Master the basics first, then and only then does it make sense to add volume.  This is a whole other article but too many athletes and Coaches are stuck in the pursuit of high volume training sessions falsely believing that it will be the silver bullet.  Carefully watch who likes this article, it will be thought leaders, great coaches and smart affiliate owners.

More is not better, better is better.

2. It is a culture killer

Here is the often overlooked effect of open gym and letting athletes do whatever they want.  It creates cliques, small groups of entitled people who believe they need a special program because of their athletic prowess. Now I know there are some exceptions to every rule but talking with hundreds of Affiliate Owners really gives some great perspective into the problems that gym cultures face.   You begin to see trends and those trend are telling.   Never make concessions for the 1% because I promise you they are going to be the ones who create 99% of your problems.   I know what you are thinking.   “How are people who don’t need my coaching going to create problems for me?  They will just be off in the corner doing their own things while I collect their $100 a month for doing nothing.”

Sure that is one optimistic way to view it, but the opportunity cost is high and the potential to negatively impact your culture is higher.  

“Good judgement comes from experience, experience comes from bad judgement”

We don’t allow open gym.  We don’t allow others to do their own programming.  We are the experts and we sell that expertise in programming, coaching, community and culture all in one package that our members appreciate. Culture is king in our business and we protect that.

While some gyms focus their energy on the .001%, you know the semi-professional exercise racers and instagram stars.  You will see the smart gyms focusing on the 99%.

We sell expertise and coaching and we will continue to do so, and you should too.

Chip Hartford – Owner CrossFit Ironborough









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