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Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

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Choosing a CrossFit Gym: An Affiliate’s Role

Back in the day, before the astronomic growth of the CrossFit Affiliate program and before there were jokes about the number of CrossFit gyms vs. Starbucks, a CrossFit program was really a much more personal endeavor. Unless you were one of those very fortunate souls to belong to the first 100 or 200 gyms you did CrossFit alone, or in a very tiny group. Everything about CF was really “you vs. you” because the three people in your gym were “me, myself, and I”. We could truly say that the omnibus CrossFit really was for everyone, at least everyone who was willing to learn enough to adapt and scale the WOD. Only those given to self-loathing had any problems with the community aspect of their gyms.

Now? People new to CrossFit are often unaware that an online version even exists; they are clueless when you ask them about anything that might be on CrossFit.com. Some large percentage of people only know the CrossFit Affiliate model and are introduced to CrossFit by someone who knows someone at some CrossFit Somewhere. Their first exposure to CrossFit and the CrossFit community occurs when they walk through the front door of the Affiliate. This changes the conversation. With a very few, really unique exceptions CrossFit is STILL for everyone. However, every CrossFit Affiliate may not be for everyone.

In my son Lil’bingo’s Affiliate on Saturday I listened to one of the members who quite sadly related the tale of a good friend who was turned off by the vibe at the Affiliate he visited. He felt right away that he didn’t fit. Didn’t feel welcomed. Why he felt this way is probably not all that important because someone else surely walked in the next day and felt right at home. It is a bummer, though, because he has extrapolated his initial experience in this particular Box to ALL Boxes and to CrossFit itself. That’s really a shame because from all accounts he’s a guy who would not only benefit from CrossFit, he’s a guy who would really enjoy a CrossFit community.

What went wrong? No idea. Could have been any number of things, really. Maybe no one greeted him, or said hi. Maybe he’s a little far from his prior athletic peak and he was intimidated by an advanced class, or worse made to feel that he didn’t measure up. Might have been something as easy to understand as he showed up on a day when the Open was being judged and all of the trainers and member-ambassadors were just tightly focused on 13.5. Older than the group, younger than the group. Whatever.

I certainly don’t mean this to be a critique of this particular Affiliate, or even the vibe given off there. The beauty of the explosive growth to the CrossFit Affiliate model is precisely that you can find a Box that fits both your fitness goals and your “community comfort zone.” Each one of us should go out of our way to counsel newcomers to explore the various Affiliates in a community, go out of our way to tell them that how a place feels can be different for different people, and that they shouldn’t walk away from CrossFit if the first Box doesn’t feel right. Trust me, it’s a blast when a friend hits up the Affiliate you suggest and falls instantly in love with everything, so much so that they get a bit angry when you remind them to check out other Boxes! Your gym becomes your “third space” and we should all remember to include comfort in the community when we are making ¬†CrossFit suggestions to our friends.

And that Affiliate? In my opinion an Affiliate does have a responsibility to be an ambassador for CrossFit “the fitness program” and the CrossFit community at large. Welcoming the newcomer to your gym might be welcoming them to CrossFit itself. Very little is actually asked of Affiliates in the way of CrossFit as a whole. No purchasing agreements or requirements, no mandatory programming or equipment. An annual check to mail in and an informal understanding not to disparage Crossfit. That’s pretty much it. My call is that there should be just a little more, a tiny bit of ambassadorship for the program and the community, and all that both can do for all of our friends and family, each time someone new graces your doorway. Greet them with a smile and answer a couple of questions. If you’re really busy ask them to come back when you both have a little time. Tell them about your particular version of CrossFit and your very particular CrossFit community.

Each Affiliate may not be for everyone, and that’s really OK. But CrossFit itself, with few exceptions, is STILL for everyone.

 

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