The CrossFit Affiliate owners group on Facebook can be a fantastic resource for affiliate owners. One thing we truly believe in at Team Misfit HQ is that you should always be searching for “better”. Better experiences, better workouts, better cultures within our box, better business practices, etc., and this quest has me exploring this group on almost a daily basis. However, I recently saw something in that group that I fundamentally disagreed with: eliminating free classes. The post stated that they had recently removed their free trials from their facility and instead were electing to only have paid options. Within the post, the reasons for justifying this position were given and included eliminating scammers (people who have no intention of becoming members but enjoy your free service), and people who claim they are starting but then are no-shows when the scheduled appointment occurs. While I 100% understand and empathize with these concerns, I still believe in offering a free class once a week, and here are 3 reasons why.
The first reason I am advocating for this free class is exposure. A typical event at your box is someone from outside your community walks through your doors and wants to know “what exactly do you do here?” or “what is CrossFit?” and, like most of you would agree, it would probably be easier to show them rather than tell them. Talking about the ten general physical skills, the theoretical hierarchy for the development of an athlete, the sickness-wellness-fitness continuum or any other means of explanation would most likely miss the mark, and showing them what you’re about is probably best. Further, a humongous selling point for most affiliates is their community. The ability to participate in the magic that happens within the CrossFit box is a unique feature of our gyms. For some, the initial shock of our monthly rate may outweigh their desire to join and without the free options, they may never come through the doors despite being a perfect fit for your affiliate. At both of our facilities in Maine, our free class is called “Sweaty Saturday,” and it has been instrumental in showing hundreds, if not thousands, of prospective clients what we offer. In addition to allowing customers to engage with your service before purchasing a paid membership, these large group classes serve to improve your coaching staff.
The second reason a free class is great for your gym is coach development. Similar to the variance we expect from excellent CrossFit programming, the variation in experiences for coaches is critical to developing proficiency. As box owners, we want our coaches to be able to coach athletes and couch potatoes, young and old, RX and scaled, and small or large classes confidently. Basically, we want our coaches ready and able to help any single person who walks through your doors regardless of their health and fitness. The free class we offer at both of our affiliates in Maine is open to anyone with or without CrossFit experience, which ultimately means a wider variety of patrons, broadening the scope of coaching skills needed to coach said class. Through this experience, we see that our coaches grow radically more confident and better prepared to handle any day-to-day class offerings we have during the week. These two reasons alone may change your stance on whether or not to have this free class, but in case you still need convincing, we do have one more.
The reasons to start a CrossFit affiliate vary greatly depending on who you ask. Some cite their infatuation with the methodology while others completely change their life at an affiliate and want to share that life-changing experience with others. Whatever the case is, most would not cite “because it’s the right thing to do,” but this is something that resonates with me. The belief of, “it’s the right thing to do” guides many of the principles and decisions we make at our two affiliates in Maine, and I honestly believe that the CrossFit affiliate is the absolute best path to improving your health in today’s modern society. This fact, coupled with our obesity pandemic, should be all the reason an affiliate needs to help as many people as possible within their communities. Being the so-called “lifeboat,” as Coach Glassman puts it, in an open ocean of disease and dysfunction brought upon us by poor lifestyle choices puts most of us in a situation where helping our communities is simply the “right thing to do.” Living in a world where the right people do the right things, for the right reasons, is a world in which we want to live. If the first two aforementioned reasons weren’t enough to convince you, hopefully, this last point strikes a chord with you.
Written by Matt Sherburne