Dropping into Crossfit boxes can be a very fun and exciting experience for many Crossfitters, whether it’s your first box away-from-home or you are getting the chance to drop into one of the big names like Rogue Fitness, Invictus, Crossfit Central, Catalyst Athletics, etc.
We had a few visitors this morning to the 7am group class at Invictus, and it got me thinking about my recent experiences when dropping into various boxes all over this country. As most of you know, my job requires me to travel extensively and in the past 2 years, I’ve been to over 60 boxes all over this country. Recently, I’ve had some really good and really bad experiences so I thought I would share these tid bits for all of you Crossfitters out there; this isn’t just for affiliate owners either – this is for everyone. This is for the community.
I think that many many people often forget that Crossfit is a business; yeah it’s a very cool, very fun passion-type job. But it’s still a business, and word of mouth can sometimes make or break a box. In today’s technology-advanced times, people travel a lot for work and if your box is in a decent sized city, it’s a good chance you’ll get drop ins. Jen told me recently that Invictus gets 75-100 drop-ins a month! Granted, Invictus has had a lot of publicity, especially after Josh Bridges killed it last year, so some boxes get drop ins simply by word of mouth. That’s how I pick a lot of my drop in locations – I get on twitter, forecast to the TweetVille where I’m going next for work and ask for box recommendations.
Another thing often forgotten is the community aspect – and when I say ‘community’, I don’t mean the little cliques that frequently form at your run of the mill Crossfit box. I’m talking about the collective “community” – worldwide. I’ll never forget the first time I was in an airport, sporting a CF shirt and some random dude came up to me and was like, “Hey Crossfit! Awesome! Which box? I go to so and so! What’s your (enter benchmark WOD here) score?” I felt like we were a part of some secret club and it was totally cool, especially since I dig talking to strangers (especially when they are cute CF boys <3). I’ll also never forget my experience last week when I had high hopes for an amazing experience while dropping into a big named Crossfit – which I’ll leave un-named – and then having a not so great experience while there (see below for more details).
As more and more Crossfits begin to sprout up all over the US, people will have a lot more to choose from when making their decision on where to join or even where to drop in. It’s my prediction that the boxes that focus more on the community and the word of mouth of their athletes will be the ones to succeed and not the ones who simply rely on spending big bucks on advertisement. Sure, my $15 drop in fee isn’t going to make or break your bank per say - but I do have over 1,500 followers on Twitter and almost 1,000 on Facebook and my word of mouth goes a long way! (Granted, yes, many are spammers – but they probably exercise too, so who knows.)
You all know how I hate long winded blogs so I’ll try to wrap this up but I did want to share some of the good, the bad and the ugly in terms of my experiences over the last few years. If I am talking negatively about an experience, I’m choosing to leave the box’s name out of it. However, feel free to hit me up for recommendations at any time.
Friendliness and Inclusion is the key! Encourage your athletes to be welcoming! I’m not just talking about the owners or the coaches. I’m talking about the entire class. At Invictus (and many other boxes I’ve been to), our coaches announce during warm up that we have a visitor, what their name is and where they are from. Sometimes, Coach Nuno will even make us all shake hands. At Grapevine Crossfit (Texas), I actually dropped in multiple times during the month of January and each time there was a new coach that I hadn’t met yet, they approached me immediately and introduced themselves.
I don’t expect everyone to be a chatty cathy like me but I do expect some friendliness at boxes. Last week, I had two very different experiences. I dropped into a very big named box, was super excited about it, the coach never announced me as a visitor or tried to pair me up with someone and basically every single person in our 12 person class ignored me. Not one peep from anyone. The only reason I even chatted with the coach is because I initiated conversation with him after class. On the other hand, the next day, I dropped into a box that was a mile down the road from aforementioned box, and for the 6am class, it was just me, the coach, and 3 guys – who treated me like I was their long lost sister! We spent the morning laughing, joking, conversing and sweatin out to 12.5. Whereas I never felt like just some visitor at the 2nd box, the first box made me feel like an outsider.
Drop In Policies - be realistic and be upfront. Again, within the past few weeks, there was a box that I was excited to drop into – not because they were a big name or anything; it was just because I knew a few athletes there. The drop in experience itself was ok – friendly people, friendly coach, etc –but at the end of class when I went to buy my standard usual t-shirt, I was met with a very unpleasant surprise when the owner charged me $50! Yes folks, $25 for a tshirt and $25 for a drop in. And yes folks, this was my first drop to the box. Had I known he was going to charge me for both, I would have not bothered with the tshirt. Personally, I feel like the website or the coach should have stated right away about their drop in policy. It was almost like they were trying to discourage drop ins.
Extra special stuff…… Just a few cool things that I’ve seen over the past few years that aren’t necessities but add that little extra touch to a drop in experience. Jen from Invictus tries to personally reply back to all drop in email requests, thanking them for stopping by. I’ve had a few boxes do this to me as well. Some boxes will take photos during the work out and post the ones of the visitors on their blog the following day while others give shout outs on their Facebook or Twitter accounts to visitors.
So the next time you see a visitor at your box, make sure you go up to them, shake their hand and make them feel welcomed. Because you never know - your actions (or lack there of) may make a world of difference in their experience while visiting the place you love.