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Running a CrossFit Facility Tips and guidance on how to open and operate a CrossFit gym.

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Old 07-28-2004, 05:27 PM   #1
Mike Minium
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For those of you who run CF gyms, how do you attract clients?

I'm primarily interested in how you brought in those all-important first (five or ten) clients.

Thanks,

Mike
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Old 07-29-2004, 07:07 AM   #2
Nicholas Nibler
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Mike,
We started in a garage and were primarily looking at our own training. As we progressed and the people around us saw the results, they asked for training. At first it was only 2-3 people. However, they liked it and started spreading the word.
So we rented some storage space to accomodate more people. We got in a couple more, maybe 5-6 total and moved to a bigger space.
Then we brought Greg and Lauren up for a seminar. We did a little promotion for it and had 15 or so show up for it. We got enough clients out of that to move into our current gym, 3000 square foot.
Word of mouth has always been our best method of bringing in new people. One of the guys we are training has started his own class with some of his friends. They pay him a small fee and he rents space from us.
I think he is on the right road. His friends will see some good results, get excited and recruit a couple of more people for him.
So, I would suggest you get your first clients from people you already know. Another way to get people in the door is to offer an introductory class of some kind. We teach a basic kettlebell class that has been pretty effective in bringing in new clients.
Good luck,
Nick
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Old 07-29-2004, 08:11 AM   #3
Michael Rutherford
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I’ve tried to cross promote with my BOOT CAMP FITNESS program. It’s an established concept that is essentially a portable CrossFit. As Nick implied, the guerilla marketing approach is very effective. Make one person happy and they will tell another. I have focused on getting my students the best results at the best possible price point. I will pay for referrals who are converted into students. The bottom line is the cream raises to the top. If you are practicing the real deal they will find you, and you will have fun training them.
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Old 07-29-2004, 09:21 AM   #4
Steven Khuong
 
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Mike,

Start with friends that you know. They are your best advertising. As long as you make yourself available, people will find you!
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Old 07-29-2004, 12:37 PM   #5
Jeff Martin
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I have a little bit different experience than the other people responding but I believe what I have learned is transferable. Marketing from within has already been mentioned and is probably the most important thing you can do. To be successful you have to believe in what you are doing, be excited by it and share that excitement with others. I opened as a martial arts school. We are in a little community outside of San Diego and our customer base is not big. I offered something new to our area, a reality based martial art. Our first students were friends of mine who wanted a place to train. We grew from their recommendations and continue to find our biggest growth comes from referrals. I also did something that most martial arts schools refused to do. I charged people on a month to month basis and told them they could quit anytime. Most martial arts schools lock people into contracts for a year or more. People were able to see that I was willing to not only bet they would like what we were doing but I was betting they would continue to like it.
CrossFit is the perfect addition to our program. In the self defense/fighting arena the person with a bigger gas tank has an edge. In the street or in the ring I’m looking for that edge for myself and the people I train. CrossFit provides that. I tested the CrossFit program on myself and then my son. People saw the results and wanted me to open up CrossFit classes. When I did, I started having people bring their friends and family members who were not interested in the martial arts. Interestingly, some of those people are now starting to cross over the other way and take some of the self defense classes.
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Old 07-29-2004, 01:24 PM   #6
Lincoln Brigham
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I've often wondered if Crossfit is economically suited to smaller communities. The real estate is cheaper than urban centers and you wouldn't have to compete with 10,000 sq. foot fitness gyms with their acres of shiny chrome machines. The general fitness approach to Crossfit might also be more appealing than in an urban center, where specialization seems to be more the norm. Plus the low overhead/startup costs mean you don't need 1,000 members and a huge population base to stay afloat, unlike the big chain fitness gyms.

I've also wondered about martial arts gyms vs. fitness gyms vs Olympic gyms. In San Diego, martial arts gyms seem to be typically small square footage, low overhead businesses in strip malls. Olympic gyms are usually even smaller, most often someone's garage with less than $3,000 worth of equipment expenses. Whereas fitness gyms are usually huge, often in their own dedicated structure, and filled with a huge number of capital-intensive chrome machines.

Of course, martial arts gyms go out of business all the time and Olympic lifting gyms never make money, ever.
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Old 07-29-2004, 01:50 PM   #7
Robert Wolf
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Depending on what rescources you have at hand this can be approached several ways as evidenced by Dave, Lincoln and Jeff's experiences. There may come a time (months?) with inadequate sleep as you start a small business and maintain your other work. Starting small, building infrastructure and getting "buzz" regarding your business is essential.

I called all of the local media people, TV, radio, print and invited their sports/ small business people out to see the facility and film us. We were aired on tv I think 6x's in a two day period with the news and had a great little piece in the local free newspaper. I got about 8 people from this and it has opened several othr doors for us.

Robb
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Old 07-29-2004, 04:49 PM   #8
TJ Cooper
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CrossFit for me something I experienced and decided that others needed to embrace the idea as well. The genesis of our program ( after the Coach's introduction of course, ) was the simplicity of actually doing it in front of others, while they were doing their workouts. We invited others to experience it after asking how long had they been exercising or training. We then showed them our variants of their exercise so there would not be too much resistance. flutterkicks vs hollow rocks etc. We identified the importance of doing more than working out, and stressed growth,learning and sharing. The rest was simple.
1. provide times the CrossFit Workout was going to be available.
2. Provide teaching models to the exercises
3. Provide partners for newbies
4. Challenged the participants to complete 8 workouts to "earn a CrossFit Shirt"
5. Throwup to get a pukie
6. showed them CFHQ ( the site )
7. I believe that as I continue to learn, I can ensure them that even in a class of 40 they are not a number. the model for growth works. I think thats how we grew our first 10 and the rest followed. As to maintaining them, I think the key for us was to not re-invent something. We urge others to see the coach for certifications, we always talk about other CrossFit Locations, and wear their Gear, ( CrossFit North, The Harris Brothers, Intergrated Martial Arts etc. We mention the names and skills available to us and how easy it is to access the community and folks like Lincoln, Mark, Garth, Greg, Lauren, Eva, Lani, Kelly etc. More importantly the vision of something for nothing is THROWN OUT. CrossFit East is a family based on all of CrossFit. I remind folks that are coming to a workout that today is an exercise, next week it might be an event, and the next trip an lecture. I remind them we NEED them. Their time, their money, their ideas.
Last, because we try to maintain a minimalist approach, we try to provide a space for growing. By showing them that if they wanted they could do it all at home, but the choice to return brings community and greater intensity, they become stronger, fitter, achieve wellness and get what the pay for. Be it money, or sweat.
This is a great topic, and i suppose i could say more, but I hope I defined the start enough to answer such a tough post. ( And I am pretty crappy and periods, commas, splices, and spelling and sentence structure.)
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Old 07-29-2004, 05:01 PM   #9
Mike Minium
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Everyone,

Thank you for all your responses.

Mike
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Old 07-31-2004, 05:28 AM   #10
Coach
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There’s another “build it and they will come” story that needs sharing.

Before Kurt Bowler, a Renton, Washington LEO could get the doors open to Rainier CrossFit in Puyallup, Washington we were able to introduce him to his neighbors at Milton Police Department (a couple of miles away from Rainier CF!) where CF is the in house PT program under the guidance of Lieutenant Eric Hamry. When we announced the Rainier CrossFit launch on the main page of the CF site, U.S. Army Rangers from nearby fort Lewis contacted Kurt – they’d been CF’ing on their own for a while.

Rainier CF opens its doors in three days. This was an extraordinary case of “build it because they’re already there waiting for you”. It's sure to happen again as CF spreads.
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