I bring a message to you from the future. I’ve sent my consciousness back in time to my 2014 self to warn you of things to come. By the year 2018 CrossFit hit critical mass. The community managed to survive a corporate buyout scare from Berkshire-Hathaway, a Reebok anti-trust lawsuit, a class action lawsuit against the RRG, the harvesting of Rich Froning’s stem cells (and the eventual clone farm), a few polarizing comments from CrossFit HQ, and two fatalities. By 2020, the market had become fully saturated and the bubble burst. What was once a strong, friendly and tight-knit community had turned into a turf war for clients and real estate.
But all of this can be avoided. There’s still time to change it. There can still be a strong community in the years to come if we all follow these principles and work together.
Full Transparency of the Affiliation Process
In the future, CrossFit affiliates have become like Starbucks: There’s one on every corner. For now, the best solution is for CrossFit HQ to add a layer to the Affiliate map to include Affliliates-in-Progress. These potential future affiliates would appear on the map in a different colored pin at the proposed location of the new gym, and a proposed opening date. This would allow other potential new affiliates (and current affiliates) to see if any other gyms are opening up in the same area, and the proximity to their location.
As CrossFit continues to grow each gym will have to differentiate themselves from the others in their geographical area in order to survive. Some gyms will focus solely on the competitive athletes, while others will hone in on the average joes. Some will focus on the specialties: Olympic lifting, Gymnastics, etc. While others will stay as generalists: Metcons all day. Everyday.
Knowing what the personality of your gym is and who your ideal client is will determine the success and longevity of your gym. Eventually, the quality of your monthly programming and the knowledge and skillset set of your coaches will be what draws members to your gym. Gone are the days of hearing “I googled CrossFit and your gym was the closest. So, I’m here.” The community has become highly informed and demands dedicated coaches. The days of the casual coach will come to pass and the rise of the professional coach is upon us.
Reconsidering the 9 Foundational Movements
Even in the future the trolls are still hating on kipping and butterfly pull-ups. There will always be criticism about the movements performed in CrossFit, but a consideration to change two of the 9 Foundational Movements will have much better carryover to the actual movements we are trying to prep our athletes for. The two movements in question are the Sumo Deadlift High Pull (SDHP) and the Medball Clean.
The SDHP gets a really bad rap. Whether or not it is a high-risk movement for shoulder impingement and/or tears, it should be reconsidered on the basis that there are better movements to teach as a progression toward the clean. A muscle clean, or even a hang power clean, take you through the early stages of the more advanced movement and can still be performed with some intensity. Once you add intensity to the SDHP you start to get an uneven contact of the plates with the floor and one arm pulls slightly earlier than the other causing a wave-like motion on the bar. The classic CrossFit benchmark Fight Gone Bad could easily have the SDHP substituted with a hang power clean. Athletes would in turn be able to hit the workout even harder with more intensity because you can cycle through hang power cleans much more quickly and efficiently than you can SDHPs – leading to a better workout with a much higher power output. That’s a Fight Gone Better.
The goal of the medball clean is to teach the drop, or pull, under the object. Since you use a barbell when you perform a clean anyway, it would make more sense to use a barbell in a progression toward doing the full clean. Two possible moves to substitute are a hang clean, or a hang clean drill where the athlete starts by balancing on their toes at full extension with the barbell, and then drops underneath the bar catching it in the bottom of their front squat. This teaches the athlete to pull under the bar, shuffle their feet to their squat width, and catch themselves under the bar, all while using an actual barbell.
A Rising Tide Floats All Boats
In order for this community to stay a community, and not unravel into a tribal turf war, we all have to understand that everyone can be successful if we collaborate, share information, and work together to make the entire community better as a whole. Neighboring affiliates are your friends, not your enemies. Most people who start a CrossFit gym do so because they are excited about CrossFit. That excitement and passion is what makes CrossFit so great. Let’s not lose sight of why we’re all here. The future can be changed.