Disclaimer: This article was written by Wykie Etsebeth the head coach of a CrossFit affiliated gym, Andfit CrossFit in Auckland, New Zealand. WodSites is not in any way affiliated with the CrossFit brand. The days of randomly picking a WOD and throwing it at your members is long gone. If you want to build a lasting CrossFit Affiliate today, you need to provide the best CrossFit program that is, inclusive, structured and progressive. The plan for affiliate owners should be to make CrossFit available to the everyday human being – mums, dads, office workers, nurses, teachers, and, well, you get the picture. Here are 5 things that we have learned and now apply to our CrossFit programming:
Although CrossFit as a sport is exciting, and competition clubs have their place, the focus has to be on the general population! The main word that I believe needs to be mentioned here is VOLUME. The majority of members that walk through your doors do not view CrossFit as a sport, they view it as their exercise program of choice. I know this seems obvious, but that means that they do not have to train as if they are going to be competing! High intensity is still king, and I’ll take a beautifully designed couplet or triplet over a ‘sexy metcon’ (a workout that looks impressive and fancy on the board, but really just causes you to work at a low intensity as you stumble around the gym trying to get through the ridiculous volume) any day of the week. After a decent warm up and skill work, do some strength, Olympic lifting or gymnastics work followed but a high intensity 5-15min WOD. Of course you have longer days, but for the most part a high intensity anaerobic workout is going to give your members the most bang for their buck when it comes to increasing all 10 components of fitness.
Educate Your Members, Don't Entertain Them
CrossFitters are more educated and opinionated than ever before. I know you get suggestions on programming and WOD’s from your members on a weekly basis. Don’t fall in the trap of entertaining your members. Make up your mind about the kind of program that you want to run at your gym, then spend all your time and effort educating your members in class and on your blog about the principles you follow and why. You’re the fitness professional, you should not be reacting to the demands of your members when it comes to creating the best CrossFit programming, instead you should be teaching them.
Simplicity Is Sexy
We’ve already mentioned the sexy metcons, but honestly, members appreciate structure and simplicity, especially when it comes to strength work – don’t try and be fancy when it comes to creating the best CrossFit programming. If you help your members see that they can progress in a safe gradual manner, they will become your biggest fans. SLOW SLOW NEVER STOP is a saying we often use. Human beings like to plan, compartmentalise and feel like they are in control. I would recommend you send out a skeleton of your next 6-12 week plan to your members. Not only will it make them look forward to training and feel valued, but it also communicates to them that you are organised and have thought through the program. Simplicity is key in producing the best CrossFit programming possible for your members.
Constantly Varied Is Not Random!
One of the things that attract people to CrossFit is that the workouts are different everyday. The variance means it’s fun and it keeps things interesting. Although this fun constantly varied program will get the members in the door initially, it is a well thought out and structured CrossFit program that will see your member’s progress and stay! We have a saying here that we use almost daily – FITNESS IS A LIFELONG JOURNEY. If you can get your members to buy into this mindset and trust your progressive and well thought out program, they will stay with you for the long haul. CrossFit should be varied, but certainly not random! Here is an example of what a 6 day cycle could look like:
We like a 6 day cycle as it offsets the theme by one day each week. This means that if you have members coming in on set days (as gen pop tends to) they continue to get exposure to all the movements, modalities and time domains.
Program For The Majority, Scale For The Rest
This one is key in not loosing the community feel that is so important for any CrossFit gym. As your membership grows and your gym matures, you will find that the gap between your fittest members and your beginners increase. I believe that my 26 year old top athlete should be able to train in the same class as my 62 year old members, get value from the session, and not feel like the workout wasn’t enough for him. So what we do is program with the majority in mind, and ensure we have scaling options (up and down) prepared for both my stronger fitter athletes as well as my newer members. I communicate this to my members, and teach them how to scale appropriately by giving them goal times and rep schemes to hit for each WOD. What this means is that our athletes feel like they can come to class. I believe if your fitter members start to feel like they need to get together and do their own sessions because class isn’t enough – you’ve got a problem on your hands. This does not mean you shouldn’t provide a competition training squads and/or program additional work for your athletes – if you can do this, great! But your athletes should know that even though they get additional CrossFit programming and a comp squad, class is always the priority!