Most people are now aware of the backlash against Greg Glassman, the founder and CEO of CrossFit, for speaking deaf, insensitive, and dismissively about George Floyd's death and COVID-19.
We don't have to reheat all of this here because it has killed everywhere else. However, we have to deal with one thing, the future of boxing gyms, especially since they struggle to open up in a post-pandemic and, as it seems likely, in a post-CrossFit world. The simple fact is that there is no CrossFit.
CrossFit is a brand. It is a name and an ideal. It was once a proponent of a process that organized high-intensity interval training (HIIT) into a methodology for functional fitness and general physical readiness (GPP).
It has made Olympic weightlifting, kettlebells, tabata, EMOM, gymnastics and weight training popular in group training. They either loved or hated CrossFit. For many personal trainers and strength and conditioning trainers, it was the entrance ticket to a gym, many of which started in their own garages.
CrossFit enabled boxing gyms to find a mainstream audience. It also helped private training studios find an identity and tie them all to the brand.
For this, the boxing gym owners paid participation fees for certifications, membership and finally for CrossFit Open and Games. The certifications went from Level I and Level II across all disciplines like a CrossFit Strongman approach.
Affiliations was a simple startup kit for aspiring fitness entrepreneurs. Simply log in to CrossFit and wait for customers to log in. The Open and the Games were recruiting tools, aspirations and community building.
CrossFit always sucked
While the CrossFit community was and is a real thing, CrossFit HQ (CFHQ), the governing body, was anything but collaborative. CFHQ has always been brutal, aggressive, insecure, controversial, and just disgusting to anyone who ticked it off. For many people who got caught in the crossfire, CrossFit was an organization. For some, it seemed more of a cult than a fitness company.
While CrossFit flourished worldwide, opened markets everywhere, and became synonymous with crazy-intense workouts that made you vomit or have to lie in a deep pool of your own sweat, it never took responsibility for individual partners and never really had a hand in it Hand providing training and programming instructions that are not provided through certification.
In fact, CrossFit transferred everything to the affiliates, although they were supported by their own lawyers when they felt their brand was under attack and never really committed to defining a CrossFit training or method that they are responsible for the liability.
In other words, there are no CrossFit workouts because the brand is legally defined. Sure, there are CrossFit workouts like Fran or Murph. We all know them.
However, no partner could claim to have offered CrossFit training, especially if this training harmed someone. Affiliates offered their own workouts under the patronage of a CrossFit box.
It didn't matter because the world did everything it wanted to do with the CrossFit name. It became mythical training for the general press, and it became a confusing mess of inconsistent quality for consumers who went to affiliates who didn't really know what they were getting.
The Darwinian CrossFit Box Gym
Glassman had always expected the subsidiaries to rise and fall due to market forces. The good would survive and the bad would fail. It was supposed to be libertarian or something, but ultimately it only caused inconsistency, unreliable coaching, and poor programming because there was no oversight.
And it didn't matter when the brand took off. There were times when in some densely populated areas three or four CrossFit boxes were within a few blocks of each other. From a business perspective, this didn't make sense, but everyone passed the same money on to the CFHQ, so it didn't matter.
Sure, over time it became clear that you can't build a business through wear and tear, especially if you ask your business partners to go to war with each other and pay you for the privilege.
But that didn't stop Glassman. As the US CrossFit market began to stagnate and shrink, international markets picked up. The United States was three or four years ahead of the rest of the world.
Whether CrossFit made good or bad business decisions pales in comparison to what happens to CrossFit partners when they make bad decisions. If the separation becomes a thing and CrossFit, like any other fitness fad or fitness trend, loses relevance, the question arises as to what replaces the workout.
Anything that is not CrossFit could be and vice versa
CrossFit box owners must recognize that they are the brand behind the workouts. Consumers should be aware that a CrossFit partner's head coach or trainer is the person responsible for the training, not the CFHQ.
Once you do this, you will find that CrossFit is irrelevant despite what it has done. It was irrelevant, and thinking differently is exaggerating his ability to do great coaching and training.
Sure, maybe CrossFit is an acronym that everyone can understand. But box gym too. Box gyms are also an abbreviation. CrossFit partners are, without exception, boxing gyms, which means that they are not Globo-Gyms or Orange Theory or SoulCycle or Gyms. There are pull-up bars, barbells, kettlebells, rowing machines, rings, sweat and chalk.
If anyone wishing to cancel their membership agrees to call themselves Box Gym, we at Breaking Mucle would like to standardize this terminology.
Let's face it, box gyms do HIIT, Tabata, EMOM, AMRAPs, weight lifting, personal training, deadlifts, handstand walks, burpees and, as much as we hate, wall balls. What else do you need?