The CrossFit Affiliate model has seen a continuous trend of growth and expansion since its inception back in 2000. Today there are more than 13,000 CrossFit Affiliates worldwide. With the rising popularity in the fitness and health industries, the need for well-run gyms continues to increase as well. This demand has created an opportunity for CrossFit athletes everywhere to follow their dreams of opening their own CrossFit Affiliate.
Although Crossfit and functional fitness regimes are popping up everywhere, there are unique challenges associated with opening and operating an Affiliate today. One challenge, in particular, is how to stand out as a new Affiliate amongst a landscape of already established gyms. To get an inside look at the process today, we sat down with David Cardenas, owner of CrossFit Windrose which opened just last month in Johnston, Rhode Island.
How did you find CrossFit and how has the “sport of fitness” evolved since?
In 2012, I tried a free class at a local CrossFit Affiliate and like most, I was hooked after one class. I enjoyed learning how to perform movements correctly and pushing my body and mind to new levels of fitness. I knew I wanted to be part of this CrossFit movement, which led me to work towards becoming a coach later that same year.
Even in the short amount of time I’ve been doing it, CrossFit has definitely changed. CrossFit is now more than ever about helping anyone and everyone to improve their physical health rather than the competitive nature of the sport. Affiliates have changed their appearances to be more welcoming, improving curb appeal, and offering amenities to attract and retain members.
What was the driving force behind wanting to open up your own CrossFit Affiliate?
After coaching for a few years, I realized just how much I enjoyed helping people. I had the same level of excitement when someone got their first pull up or their first box jump as I did when I saw someone get a 300 pound back squat for the first time.
I spent a few years coaching at several Affiliates in the area, and realized that my own personal vision just didn’t line up with the leadership of particular facilities. At one point I had to make a choice… I could go back to the restaurant industry (which was the safe option), or I could try to open my own CrossFit Affiliate (the option with more risk).
After many years at other gyms, I had built up enough experience, clients, and confidence to open my own CrossFit Affiliate. I had a great vision of how to help people and I knew that to achieve your goals and dreams you would have to put in the work. And that’s what I decided to do.
What have been some of the struggles you’ve faced when trying to open a CrossFit Affiliate?
Location, location, location. The biggest struggle when it came to opening an Affiliate nowadays is of course that there are already thousands of existing and established CrossFit Affiliates. You have to compete against gyms that already have a few years on you in the same community and audience you are working to attract. That means you have to find an area that has a need for a CrossFit Affiliate.
Additionally, there are lots of other, smaller battles a new Affiliate owner has to overcome such as:
- Boring but important legal stuff to get your CrossFit Affiliate up and running
- Making a small, startup community more fun and exciting than an already established nearby gym
- Creating a team that will help grow the business to where you know it can be. As much as you think you can, you can’t do it all yourself
- Figuring out how to attract prospective clients
Luckily, for those looking to open a CrossFit Affiliate today, there are a lot more resources available now, and I found it beneficial to learn from what has and hasn’t worked for Affiliates in the past.
What do you attribute to your success in opening an Affiliate?
What has helped me stay “sane” and on track is having a support system. Having my significant other and friends to talk to and bounce off ideas helps as well as allowing myself to “get away” for a day or a few hours is important. As much as we want, we can’t be on 24/7. This is why it’s important to have help, even in the beginning, you can’t do it all alone or you will get burnt out.
Additionally, before I found a building or even got funding, I had crafted a detailed plan on how to run my Affiliate. I put myself in a member’s shoes and I thought of what their journey would look like. From how they would find me, to what happens when they walk through the door, to their first day, to their third week. It’s helped me come up with systems and processes that I knew I’d need to implement. I know my current systems and procedures will change over time, but right now the original gameplan is what’s helping me grow my CrossFit Affiliate.
Gym management software is crucial to the success of your Affiliate business, so why did you choose Triib?
I’ve used multiple gym software systems over the years and I’ve stuck with Triib the longest. The system is very user-friendly to the members and it’s helped with the business side of things, too. Triib provides me with the metrics I need to make educated decisions for the gym. It’s not perfect – no business or software system is – but they are constantly trying to better their software by listening to users (like me). They are always providing software updates to make my life and the experience for my members better!
Have you recently opened an Affiliate, or are you considering opening one? Share your insight and/or questions below!
Author: Nicole Brazier
Niki Brazier (CF-L2) has been coaching CrossFit since 2011 and has been a sideline reporter for CrossFit HQ since 2014.