The Business of Crossfit by Crossfit Inc.

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J O U R N A L

A RT I C L E S

The Business of CrossFit
CrossFit Inc. defies categorization according to traditional business models. Perhaps that’s why the company is exploding during the worst economic climate since the Great Depression. Marty Cej

Staff/CrossFit Journal

It’s March 2009, and Dave Castro is sitting over a laptop, planning a CrossFit Level 1 seminar. He and colleague Nicole Carroll must decide which trainers will take part and who will lecture, and they’ll have to deal with a hundred other fine points that require discussion before every seminar. Only this time, Castro is hunched over a computer screen somewhere in Afghanistan. Carroll is in Sydney, Australia. 1 of 11

Copyright © 2009 CrossFit, Inc. All Rights Reserved. CrossFit is a registered trademark ‰ of CrossFit, Inc. Subscription info at http://journal.crossfit.com Feedback to feedback@crossfit.com Visit CrossFit.com

Business ...

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CrossFit: A Virtual Company
Special Operator Chief Petty Officer Castro is a Navy SEAL and has just returned to base from a mission. He’s taken off his helmet, turned on his computer and is typing instructions, working with a team of trainers now rather than soldiers. At about the same time in the southwest corner of New Hampshire, CrossFit operations manager Lynne Pitts moderates—and contributes to—a rancorous online debate on the proper execution of a workout bearing her name, examining the company accounts in between posts. In Santa Cruz, Calif., media director Tony Budding edits and posts an article to the CrossFit Journal. The company’s customer-service staff in Ottawa, Ont., helps a recent CrossFit convert through the website, while the CrossFit Store based in Laguna Beach, Calif., verifies its inventory and ships another order. Meanwhile, in the southwest United States, CrossFit founders Greg and Lauren Glassman fret over Castro’s safety and marvel at the efficiency, profitability and evolution of a company that still has no fixed headquarters by any standard definition of the term. And the Glassmans are fine with that. “The world knows nothing of the virtual company,” Greg says. “Venture capitalists don’t get it, the MBAs don’t get it, and the media don’t get it. The very people who should understand it best are aghast at the concept.” Glassman, 53, a competitive college gymnast and the son of an engineering professor, started out in the late 1980s training individual clients in and around the Santa Cruz area. Now he and his wife control CrossFit Inc., a privately held company nominally based out of an office in Washington, D.C. Together with a small core group of managers that currently numbers around eight, they oversee an exploding fitness empire that extends from Seattle to Bogota to Reykjavik and includes nearly 1,500 affiliated gyms, with hundreds more in the pipeline. The company publishes a subscription-only online fitness journal, certifies hundreds of CrossFit trainers a week at an average of $1,000 US per person, and provides the expertise and inspiration for trainers to open their own gyms—what they call “boxes”—bearing the CrossFit imprimatur for a fee that ranges from $500 to $2,000 per year.

A few things are certain: CrossFit is hugely profitable, and its growth has only accelerated during the worst economic downturn since the 1930s. That’s something very few companies—fitness or otherwise—can claim.

Staff/CrossFit Journal

Greg Glassman’s company doesn’t adhere to traditional business methods—and he’s fine with that. 2 of 11
Copyright © 2009 CrossFit, Inc. All Rights Reserved. CrossFit is a registered trademark ‰ of CrossFit, Inc. Subscription info at http://journal.crossfit.com Feedback to feedback@crossfit.com Visit CrossFit.com

Business ...

(continued)

CrossFit Inc. is variously portrayed as a fitness company, a grassroots health movement, a nascent sport, a fad, a publishing business and sometimes, disparagingly, a cult. Whatever the...
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