The Culture of CrossFit(Steele Creek)

At this point, we should be able to agree that CrossFit is not “just a fad”.  I’m not sure when the tipping point of this fitness revolution occurred, however, I don’t think you can deny it’s here.
The beauty of CrossFit, in addition to its ability to create a fitness program that disrupted an entire industry, was in its ability to create a massive opportunity for those looking for something different in the fitness industry and ability to open a small business.
From the outside looking in, you can never understand it. From the inside looking out, you can never explain it.”
–Author Unknown
Every CrossFit gym (I hate when people call it a “box” and when people use “WOD” as a verb) is unique in its own way. Unique in its culture. Culture can be defined as the attitudes, customs, behavior characteristics, social institutions and achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social group. If you talk to enough members of a CrossFit affiliate, the majority will always have great things to say about where they go, for a variety of reasons. Each person has different reasons for joining, and if the place they go to can support them and help them achieve their goals; that’s great!
It’s been a cultural roller coaster as an affiliate owner since 2009. The landscape is vastly different now, than it was then. In those 7 years (Wow! Time flies when you’re having fun!) I’ve learned a lot of lessons about business and human behavior. Besides all the mundane, yet important aspect of running a small business; the topic of culture rarely makes the front page of business magazines. Yet, the longer I’m around, the more important I feel it becomes in regards to the ability to build a great organization that people want to be a part of.
The culture of any group or organization starts from the top. I believe this is especially true in a service based business, such as a CrossFit affiliate. How the owner treats and respects the coaches you hope will trickle down to how coaches treat and respect members. If it’s a friendly, caring manner; the hope is that member will in return treat other members the same way. This is the ONE thing that no matter how hard another business can try; they will not be able to replicate the stickiness of the relationships the best gyms create.
At CrossFit Steele Creek that all starts with “Help First”. That’s not term I coined, it’s the title of a book written by my friend/mentor Chris Cooper. Google it. Help the staff get what they want. Help the members get what they want. If those two things are done, you’ve set the ground work for great things to happen. For the last 3 years our interview process of staff starts much differently than it had in the past. When someone wants to coach, the first questions are, “What do you want to do?” followed by, “How can we help?” When new people call to ask about CrossFit, we don’t “sell” them anything. We ask how we can help.
Another piece high on our priority list is “fun”. People come to us because there is something missing in their journey to “get in shape”. Some are bored of their current routine, others want the coaching, for many it is also an accountability tool. This shit is hard! Much more so than walking on a treadmill and waiting to see who’s the baby’s daddy on Maury reruns. In addition, the majority of Americans and thus, the majority of gym goers hate their jobs, are in debt, hate their spouse, are taking 7 medications for multiple health issues, hate their cat and wish their kids would move out of their basement…so, this stuff needs to be fun! We want people to come in, put down their phones, forget the stresses of their days and enjoy the best hour of their day inside our gym.
If you looked at my business plan 7+ years ago, “help first” and “fun” were not terms that you’d find there.
You can be certain that they will be on any future plans I’ll be making.