Just like the Internet… I want to throw a disclaimer right off the bat: I am not writing a post to bash Crossfit and its aficionados in the hopes of getting a few clicks or instigate some kind of viral controversy.I’m rather more interested in making some observations and business suggestions so that all trainers who plan on doing what they love beyond the 18-36 months average career span of a trainer can adapt to the two kinds of markets that will benefit from the Crossfit movement.
The expression “if you can’t beat them, join them” goes somewhere along those lines. I don’t believe anyone needs to beat Crossfit. Its numbers are growing quickly and steadily, and may reach a slowing in their hockey-stick growth, but not much in terms of a dip (I don’t have a crystal ball either, but I am not too bad at detecting trends).
It’s not a matter of endorsing the philosophy behind it, what happens in the public perception, whether WODs are reflective of the Crossfit Games athletes’ actual training and how training is done in a box (Crossfit jargon for “gym”). Can you look like them and perform the Herculean feats of strength displayed in those games with the ever-changing software of their seemingly preferred go-to Paleo Diet and a few WODs per week? I don’t believe so, or rather, “it depends”, but that’s for another blog.
What I do believe (and the belief is supported by hard evidence with numbers in the first option) is that Crossfit creates either a market of joining them by becoming an affiliate, and benefitting from the movement’s popularity, or simply, as I chose for myself, by providing a workaround some of the more known setbacks experienced by the masses who join Crossfit boxes run by inept trainers.
Indeed, you can pay your way through a one-day course, pay your fee and open a box. I know amazing and smart trainers that did it, and I also saw nimrods with less fitness education than my 4 year-old do that as well, fueled by only their enthusiasm for fitness. For many years, my email signature was “I fix Crossfit”, and I was tapping in the injury market that was spilling from every box nearby. I’d run into people at sporting good stores, hear them chat about X move, or try on toe shoes, and insert myself into the conversation, drop a simple tip and a business card, and wait. Anytime I got a call, I converted that into a client. 100% of the time. I’d improve their deadlift, fix their swing, or help them do real pull-ups (no kipping).
Silly, huh? Some trainers who know may think “that’s stupid, those are basic moves”, but, um, yeah, it’s all about the execution of the basics. I don’t have to be Pavel Superman Cook to teach that basic if I know it well and deliver. If it’s awesome to the client, it’s good for both the client and my business. For reference, my approach to fitness has always come from an injury prevention standpoint first. Just like your first gun lesson revolves around safety, my own background in spinal injuries (which led me to become a trainer) got me to move clients safely and strongly.
Crossfit only helped me expand on that approach. I even created the SmartFlex™ with the intention of helping people move better, and when at some point in its marketing development, people asked me “would you partner up with Crossfit” (this was an exploration, that conversation was only hypothetical), at first I thought it was against my philosophy, but then I realized: if the popular belief is that Crossfit causes people to get injured, why not help them not get injured and make a buck while at it?
So, join them by becoming an affiliate, or help them by getting the education to help them reach their goals, correct their imbalances or other issues. There are many options, from the FMS (Functional Movement Screen), NASM’s CES (corrective exercise specialist), Z-Health, Indian Clubs, partnerships with physical therapists and chiropractors, Teeter inversion tables for spinal decompression and realignment, tools like the SmartFlex™ etc. They can be the pilot of the NASCAR, you can be their pit crew!