Not All CrossFit Gyms are Equal

One of the most common questions I get during our free intro process is: “Is this a franchise?” and the answer is a resounding “Nope!”

There are a lot of fitness franchises out there. A quick google search shows that there are over 1800 fitness franchises available. The benefit to owning a franchise is that everything business-wise is done for you. All of the systems, processes, layout, equipment, marketing, etc. is handed over on a golden platter. But that platter might as well be made of gold because to buy into a franchise can cost anywhere from $100,000 – $500,000 plus cost of fit out ($300,000 – $1 mil+), plus royalty fees each month. The experience you get at one location should be exactly the same at another because the idea of a franchise is replicability. As of now (Jan 2020), Planet Fitness has 1600+ locations, Orange Theory has 1100+ locations, and Burn Boot Camp has 200+ locations.

CrossFit has 15,000+ locations. But it’s not a franchise, it’s an affiliate model.

We pay a license to use the name “CrossFit,” but otherwise can run however we want. We have to come up with our own marketing, our own business systems and processes, our own membership offerings, and our own way of running classes, PT, kids, nutrition, yoga, etc.

This means if we realize there are class times that work better for our demographic, we can add/delete as needed. If we realize there’s a better way to offer programming (I.e. The Level Method) then we can make that change. Basically if we see a better way of doing things, we don’t have to go through “corporate” to make changes.

Of course, one of the downsides to this is that most people think CrossFit is a franchise and therefore assume you get the same experience at each location. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

When I was a high school counselor, I told my students to go visit colleges because each one was different in location, size, offerings, and especially culture. It’s not so much that one is better than another on an objective level, but more of a personal, subjective one.

I feel the same way about CrossFit gyms. I did some education consulting for a couple of years and got to travel around the country. Dropping into 70+ CrossFit gyms allowed me to see a variety of locations, sizes, cultures, and delivery of coaching. I’ll admit, some were terrible experiences. “Coaches” would point to a whiteboard and tell us to go through the written warm-up and then go retreat into a back office. Others would show up 5 minutes late to open the doors or the gym had clearly not been cleaned in months.

Most experiences were very positive though. Friendly faces, solid coaching, and fun workouts were more normal than not. And then a few gyms were excellent experiences. Immediately greeted when walking in the door, clean gym, superior coaching and class experience, and class members that treated me like I’d been there forever. I took notes about what I liked from each of those experiences and have infused them into CrossFit Kanna. Everything from our wall of polaroid pictures of members to equipment storage is inspired by gyms that provided a top notch experience.

I guess the whole point of this is to say that we care about the member experience a lot and we have the freedom to make adjustments as necessary. If you or a friend had a negative experience elsewhere, then don’t assume it’s the same culture here or another CrossFit gym you’re looking at. We’re not a franchise and I see that as a net positive.

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