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July 18, 2017

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Enhance Your Fitness Facility's Functionality

The benefits of using a functional trainer at home are well known, but these machines also work wonders in commercial workout facilities. The flexibility of this machine is hard to beat. And it works for a cross-section of the population, the kind of people who visit

  • hotel workout rooms
  • work gyms
  • work gyms
  • school gyms
  • hospital/rehab facilities.

Let’s look at why.

Keeps You Long and Lean

The functional trainer is compact. That means you can squeeze them into small places and remove other items that lack their versatility. This provides clients with more options and leaves your facility with more space.

Bulks Up Your Wallet

These machines save money because they incorporate a number of exercise options into one machine. Therefore, there's no need to spend money on things like weight stacks. And it cuts down on the range of free weights needed.

Provides Smile Gains

The functional trainer works for beginners who are just starting a workout program as well as pro-athletes. It's even great for rehab patients. That means it keeps the wide range of people who visit your gym happy.

Everyone Earns a Gold

Because this machine uses cables, there's no limit on what a person can do. As long the user understands how to move with the cables and employ different angles, a good workout is within reach. It's not hard to figure out.

Newbies Feel Like Pros

If one of your goals is to help people start an exercise program, a functional trainer is a good way to do that. As we mentioned above, it's easy to use for just about anyone. But there's another reason it works for newbies: It's less intimidating.

The unobtrusive design, as well as the quietness, draws in those who are new to working out. There's no clanging like sometimes happens with free-weights. It doesn't demand an aggressive attitude. 

Let's Streamline Your Fitness Facility

So what are you waiting for? Get functional! Contact Rally Fitness today so we can talk about getting your fitness facility stocked with a functional trainer.

Post-Workout Stretching: You May be Missing an Opportunity to Supercharge Your Strength Gain

Many dedicated fitness fanatics believe the traditional warm-up regimen of stretching is a complete waste of time. As it turns out, they may be right.

According to many strength-training books and websites, including JMAX Fitness, “The main problem with conventional stretching programs is they often work against your body’s physiology rather than with it. If you take a tight, cold muscle and expose it to prolonged standard stretching, you could incur scar tissue and micro-tearing, which could then lead to muscle weakness, inflexibility, and injury.

“Furthermore, many professionals have prescribed stretching before exercise as a form of warm up. This is wrong. A study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research concluded if you stretch before you lift weights, you could find yourself weaker and “off balanced” in your workouts.

Not something we want when hoisting hundreds of pounds of metal.”

Does this mean that CrossFit athletes should avoid stretching altogether? No.  It means that this activity should occur AFTER the workout. Post-workout stretching has been shown to supercharge results.

Here’s why and how.

Kick-Starting the Recovery Process

CrossFit trainer working out

Many strength training experts, including those who train CrossFit athletes, note that post-workout stretching can help kick-start the recovery process, loosen up the joints and muscles and lead to better flexibility.  This process should be seen as the continuation of the workout.

Nerd Fitness notes that “When you lift a weight your muscles contract. And after the workout the muscles remain contracted for some time. The following restoration of the muscles’ length is what recovery is. Until the muscle has restored its length, it has not recovered. Hence he who does not stretch his muscles slows down the recuperation process and retards his gains. Besides, tension and relaxation are the two sides of the same coin, if the muscle forgets how to lengthen, it will contract more poorly. And that is stagnation of strength.

When you go through a great stretch routine after a heavy weight lifting day, your muscles are already starting to recover and expand, which will allow to you get back to ‘normal’ more quickly than if you didn’t stretch.” Plus, as we age, regaining flexibility becomes more and more difficult.

A Simple Stretching Routine

The type of post-workout stretching routine depends on several factors. These include; your level of fitness, your level of flexibility, how hard you worked out and which muscles were strained. Here is a simple stretching routine that most beginners can benefit from.

A More Advanced Stretching Routine

Combining yoga, stretching, tai-chi, and Pilates the folks at Nerd Fitness have put together a more advanced stretching video. Their suggestion is to stretch as far as possible, hold it for a few seconds without bouncing and then repeat the process.

Anabolic Stretching

Many serious body builders use a post-workout stretching program that uses weights for resistance while stretching. This is called anabolic stretching and it has some controversy surrounding it.

This exercise uses hyperplasia which is the growth of muscles not through the increase in size of the fibers (hypertrophy) but through the increase in number. According to JMAX Fitness, “Aggressively stretching a fully-pumped muscle is the perfect mechanism for growth. You increase overall muscular tension while also maximizing the cell swelling response for maximal muscle damage.

The article notes, “Anabolic stretching challenges your body to build both flexibility and strength in the positions you need it most. By anabolic stretching in the proper manner, you will be able to build strength into your flexibility. Stretching the sheaths or layers that encapsulate the muscle bundles will elicit another anabolic effect. In protective response to this unstable change, the stretched muscle sheets trigger an increase in protein splitting, muscle cell division, and collagen breakdown and repair. The result is, again, hypertrophy for survival.”

This anabolic stretching program demands precise technique and should only be pursued with proper instruction from a trained strength or CrossFit trainer.

What types of post-workout stretching do you use? Let us know by making a comment below or contacting us here.

The Business of CrossFit: How to Hire a (GREAT) Trainer for Your Gym

CrossFit trainer

Many, if not most CrossFit gyms are started by fitness professionals who have that entrepreneurial gene in their DNA.  Typically, before starting their gym, they have been personal trainers or coaches and have decided that the CrossFit philosophy and potential for business success is worth their investment – in time and money. Then, the pressure begins for expansion.

After a start-up period, the owner of the box often realizes that running a business requires more time and energy than someone who is also in charge of leading several classes each day has. The owner/trainer has to then decide if they want to spend their entire day training members or use some of that time to build the gym’s membership, plan promotions, scope out new locations, plan the sales and marketing for the gym and about a hundred other critical tasks for growing the business.

It’s at this time when the owner has to make the most important decision he will make as a CrossFit entrepreneur – hiring another trainer.

What to Look for in a CrossFit Trainer

Great fitness trainers, even those who have owned their own gym, are not always great judges of potential employees. There’s a reason why big companies have HR departments. It is very difficult to pre-judge talent and employees can make or break any company of any size. More importantly, in a CrossFit environment, a trainer (s) is the pretty much the heart and soul of the gym.

Finding an trainer who will (1) show up for work every day with a great attitude, (2) has the training and certification required to properly and safely teach newbees and veterans who are throwing heavy weights around, running, pulling and struggling (potentially hurting themselves and their fellow CrossFitters), and (3) has the personality to actually LEAD a group is a challenge. However, there are a few considerations that can help an owner find a trainer who can help the business continue to grow.

Are They Certified?

The first criterion that every trainer must have is a Level 1 Certification from CrossFit. This is common knowledge for gym owners who started out as trainers or coaches. However, for investors or owners of gyms with no background in training, this is very important.

According to the CrossFit.com training page, the Level 1 certificate course is “an introduction to CrossFit’s methodology and foundational movements. The course includes classroom instruction on these topics, as well as hands-on small-group training for the movements. These group sessions are conducted under low intensity with a focus on improving mechanics. Students’ movements are observed and Students’ movements are observed and corrected, and they engage in dialogue concerning effective coaching techniques. Large group CrossFit workouts are conducted as an example of bridging the gap from theory to practice. These workouts provide examples of how to:

  • Conduct a class.
  • Hold a standard of effective technique at high intensity.
  • Achieve relative high levels of intensity for each individual.
  • Scale for any ability level.

The Level 1 provides introductory education on the fundamental principles and movements of CrossFit. It is structured to meet two goals: 1) Provide attendees with the knowledge to better use CrossFit methods for themselves; and 2) Provide attendees with an initial and foundational education to begin training others using CrossFit.”

This training and certification is not cheap. The prices for this two-day training and certification are:

  • Course (and test): (US) $1,000 if registered 14 days or more prior to the course date or (US) $1,200 if registered within 14 days of the course start date.
  • Revalidation (course and test): (US) $500.
  • Retest only: (US) $150.

These two-day training and testing sessions are conducted around the United States and other countries. For locations and dates, just click on the training page.

Where to Find Your New Trainer?

This question has two choices. The new trainer will either come from within your gym or outside your gym and there are advantages and disadvantages of both.

According to Journal Menu, When you hire from within you will already know if your potential hire has the right personality and fit for your gym, since you will have observed them in numerous classes under a wide variety of situations. However, it’s important to realize that a cool person, one-on-one, may not have the chops for full class responsibility, you'll have to throw them into the mix before you can make that determination.”

The article noted other benefits from hiring within, including:

  • Reduced/no costs associated with advertising the job opening
  • No time spent creating job postings

The article advised putting this new hire through an internship for several months, in return for no membership dues, to see how they handle the leadership role. As noted earlier, before they take on the full-time trainer role, they must go through the Level 1 certification, and depending on how great of a prospective trainer they are, the owner can opt to pay for this training and testing.

The other choice is to hire the new trainer externally. The Journal Menu notes, “Hiring externally will require some more footwork, but will also allow you to find specialized coaches to fill in a void you currently have. You could require all applicants to already have their Level 1 as well as other specific certs, like gymnastics or Olympic lifting. 

“Hiring externally might allow you to get one of the best skills related coaches around, something that your internal prospects might not have been able to put on the table. This would allow you to make a few strategic hires that would drastically increase the potency of your program.

“When you externally hire, you will not need to worry about the transition from member to coach. This transition can be very tricky since members might not view an internally hired coach as a ‘real’ coach for as long as a year or two.

“If you hire externally you will need to advertise the slot. You can advertise through a blog post, a Facebook post or even a post on the CrossFit boards.

CrossFit WOD

There are many job boards where CrossFit trainers and wannabe trainers share the thoughts about their profession. This one from “Thomas” is an interesting insight into how he got his job as a trainer and what he thinks is important.

“How I got my job was pretty much like an open tryout. My resume impressed them then I had to go in for two weeks, non-paid and prove myself as a leader and my ability to program and coach every movement and exercise I claimed to be proficient in. I like the format of hiring as an open tryout (because) you find out who really wants it. I like the Idea of finding someone you trust and grooming them too, if you have relevant knowledge to pass on and instruct people on giving instruction. Don't hire anyone based on a resume and pay them until they are proven.

In our box we don't shy away from heavy lifting so peoples’ lives are literally in our hands and it has to be treated that way. Safety is #1 period, and knowledge is key. I feel like you are robbing people of their money if you aren't giving them the whole enchilada of CrossFit in which I see as including heavy lifting. I’ve had people threaten to walk out of the box when I introduced heavy lifting. They said that didn't want to be football players. Month down the road, these people are thanking me for their new strength gains and notice in power output in there other activities, especially the few cyclists I have at the box."

What is the Pay Scale for a Great Trainer?

Many trainer/entrepreneurs who have run one-man-band in the beginning, will have many questions about what to pay these new hires.  As with every business, it’s all over the road and depends on many factors, including: experience, range of teaching skills (i.e. can they deal with weight training, gymnastics, nutrition counseling, etc.) and the city where the box is located.

Fortunately, there are several online resources for helping an owner to determine a competitive compensation package for a new trainer. One excellent resource is PayScale Human Capital. This site also offers a cool compensation calculator which will help an owner get a better starting point for this subject. Unfortunately, CrossFit trainers are like any other employee in that their personality is very important for the job and a trainer with interpersonal gifts is worth more (in the long run) to the growth of the gym than someone who is a just great athlete or coach.  

There’s Paperwork…Lots of Paperwork!

Running a business and hiring more people can be worse that tire flipping in July! In order to do this right – meaning the avoidance of state and federal taxes violations and employment commission violations – it is important to get good legal and accounting advice. Anyone who is serious about growing a business should get competent help in both of these areas. Don’t make the mistake of thinking these tasks can be done by a high school intern or your cousin Vinny who went to junior college for one year!

There are also reams of paperwork to deal with! This blog post is a good place to start your hand-to-hand combat against the forces of bureaucratic evil. There are also a couple of helpful sites from IRS and The Small Business Administration.  

Go for It!

Sure there are challenges to expanding your CrossFit enterprise, but if this more than a hobby for you, hiring GREAT trainers along with other talented staff members is worth the grief. Go for it and let us know how you’re doing.

When is it too Hot for a CrossFit Workout?

How to train CrossFit in the heat

It’s that time of year again. Summer, when the days are longer and the sun is hotter, can either super- charge your CrossFit workout or knock you on your butt!

A vigorous workout in the summer heat can certainly lead to serious health consequences, but, to the surprise on no one who has ever sweated through and benefitted from Bikram yoga program, it can also enhance the performance impact of the activity. To quote Don Schlitz, who wrote the song most likely to be sung by the every one of the slightly-overserved patrons of any karaoke bar south of the Mason-Dixon Line – The Gambler  – “You gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away and know when to run!

The Heat is On

Glenn Fry – 1985

Your mama probably warned you about playing outside in the summer heat and most likely you disregarded everything that saintly woman ever said!  Like a lot of motherly admonitions, this advice to “play in the shade” was based some science and some old wives’ tales.

First off, the bad news. She was right. If you overdo anything – from playing golf to flipping truck tires in a CrossFit class – when the temperature is 103 in the shade, you can find yourself dehydrated, disoriented or dead. Fortunately, dying from a heat stroke is extremely rare. One will typically become incapacitated with heat exhaustion symptoms long before the Grimm Reaper of Heat comes to fetch you!

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 2,000 U.S. citizens die of heat-related causes each year. The agency notes, “Exposure to extreme natural heat poses a public health problem because it may result in heat-related illness (e.g., heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat syncope, and heat stroke) and heat-related death. Exposure to extreme natural heat also may result in death because it exacerbates preexisting chronic conditions (e.g., cardiovascular, cerebral, and respiratory diseases), and because patients receiving psychotropic drug treatment for mental disorders and those taking medications that affect the body’s heat regulatory system or have anticholinergic effects are more susceptible to heat effects.”  

Hot Fun in the Summer Time

Sly and the Family Stone – 1969

For all of the bad news about the dangers of working out in the heat, there is some great news for athletes who want to increase the physical benefits of their work. While there will be copious sweat involved but slugging through a WOD when it’s hot as hell can result in exponential gain.

According to an article in Men’s Health Magazine, a heat-wave workout can do wonders for the athlete’s performance. “Researchers from the University of Oregon tracked the performance of 12 very high-level cyclists (10 male, two female) over a 10-day training period (with two days off in the middle) in 100-degree heat. Another control group did the exact same exercise regimen in a much more comfortable, 55-degree room. Both groups worked in 30% humidity.

Researchers discovered that the cyclists who worked through the heat improved their performance by 7% (a noticeable and significant amount in cycling), while the control group did not show any improvement. What surprised researchers most was that the experimental group not only showed that they had achieved a level of heat acclimation, but the training also helped them to function better in cooler environments.”

How to CrossFit outdoors

This research points to some “magic numbers” for working out in the heat:

101

The number of degrees Fahrenheit you need to elevate your core body temperature during training sessions.

60 

The number of minutes you want to have that elevated core temperature maintained during your heat training to make sure that you’re truly getting the heat acclimation benefits.

5 to 10  

The number of days you need to train in the heat. In order to really heat acclimate the way the researchers were proposing an athlete must go out and exercise in the heat for five to ten days, with pretty significant exposure at times.

Drop it Like its Hot

Snoop Dogg and Pharrell -2004

Dr. Michael Landers  who is  a sport medicine physician in Dallas and a member of the physician referral line at Texas Health Spine & Orthopedics Center has some words of advice for those who decide to take on the hot summer WOD’s

“It’s critical to stay hydrated,” Dr. Landers said. “You sweat more as it gets hotter and more humid. You need to ensure you are replacing those fluids as you run, bike, or do other workouts in such extreme weather.”

He recommends consuming 16 to 24 ounces of water two hours before exercising in hot temperatures. Past that, he says to take in another six to eight ounces of fluids every 15 to 20 minutes of exercise.  

“The humidity is also an important factor to consider for summer workouts,” he said. “During and after exercise, the body is cooled by the evaporation of sweat. When it is humid the athlete does not experience as much of that evaporative cooling effect because the air is saturated with humidity. On days when it is both hot and humid, take the WOD inside.

“The most important consideration for these summer workouts is proper acclimation,” Dr. Lander said. “In the summer we spend a lot of time in air conditioned spaces and when it comes time to exercise outdoors the sudden heat overwhelms the body.  Try to acclimate to the heat a few hours before your workout by going outside or at least raising the inside temperature.

“Finally, it is very important to take it easy in the beginning and gradually work into the extreme heat. Wear breathable clothing and ramp up the intensity over days. Don’t try to go full-bore if you are not used to the heat.”

He noted some signs to watch out for.

Heat Exhaustion Symptoms: Profuse sweating, severe headaches, dizziness and intense thirst.

Heat Stroke Symptoms: Lack of sweat in spite of heat, a core body temperature greater than 104 degrees Fahrenheit, with complications involving the central nervous system that occur after exposure to high temperatures. Other common symptoms include nauseaseizures, confusion, disorientation, and sometimes loss of consciousness or coma.

If these symptoms are noticed, call 911 immediately!

Have you had good experiences or bad experiences with working out in the hot summer sun? Contact us and we’ll share your story with our readers.

The Business of CrossFit: What Kind of Equipment Do You Need to Start a Gym and what does it Cost?

CrossFit class in session

Fitness entrepreneurs are drawn to the CrossFit business model because the outward appearance of a typical CF gym or “box” is decidedly industrial-looking (i.e. cheap) and the antithesis of the fancy schmancy chrome and glass franchises (i.e. expensive) such as “LA Fitness” and other well-known brands. It looks like a great business opportunity and it is!

The affiliate fees are modest ($3,000) as is the training certification cost ($1,000) and there is no revenue sharing required. Of course, there are expenses for rent, insurance, utilities, legal and accounting, but when an entrepreneur sees these converted warehouses, packed with die hard fitness fanatics who are paying $150 per month he/she thinks: “Hey. I can make some money doing what I love to do - helping clients get fit – with a CrossFit gym!”

It’s true about the modest accommodations of a typical CF box. However, all of those CrossFitters who show up at 6 a.m. ready for the workout of the day (WOD), demand great trainers and commercial quality equipment, both of which require initial capital investment and in the case of equipment, ongoing replacement.

When starting up a CrossFit gym, nothing is more important than the investment in excellent trainers. Finding these professionals is a very challenging task and this subject will be treated in greater detail in an upcoming post. However, this post will deal with what equipment is needed to open the doors on a CrossFit gym.

Location, Location, Location

Choosing appropriate equipment for a gym is partially dictated by the location of the workout facility and the clientele an owner wants to work with. A box on the Upper East Side Manhattan might require more modern and brand name equipment than one found in the warehouse district of New Orleans or Dallas. Plus, a smaller town may have fewer competing CrossFit programs and can survive and even flourish with very basic equipment.

According to this planner, “CrossFit is an ever-changing field in fitness, meaning there will be times when every affiliate box will need to include new equipment to keep up with the latest workouts. For example, the Assault Bike is an up and coming affiliate gym trend that not every fitness equipment company has available. Choose companies that are aware of and are able to accommodate these trends.”

It further noted that many boxes follow what they call the “Rule of Three,” meaning that a class should be able to be broken into three groups. For example, a class of fifteen individuals can be broken into three separate groups, therefore you would only need enough equipment for five individuals for each WOD. If the decision is to hold larger group sessions, each member of the group will require the same piece of equipment. Needless to say, this can be very expensive for a startup venture.

Equipment Investment Costs

According to many websites on the subject, outfitting a new CrossFit box with commercial equipment can run from $5,000 to $100,000 dollars. The types of workouts that are planned, the number of people in each session, the training strategies contemplated, location of the gym and other factors will dictate how much investment in equipment is required.

tire flip exercise

Some equipment, such as used truck tires which are used in workouts geared toward building explosive lower and upper body strength are cheap and readily available at any tire store. While the state of the art commercial grade, “Big Grip Kettlebells” from Rally Fitness cost about $85 each.  If the plan is to use these Big Grip Kettlebells in a group of 15, the investment will be $1,275 (and change) plus tax for this equipment.

big grip kettlebells

Most gym owners benefit from researching “package” deals from equipment manufacturers. Each company offers a little different package, composed of different pieces of equipment. Rally Fitness has a competitively priced package it calls “The Captain.” This includes:

The price for this package is $2,399.00 and most gyms would want to purchase at least three and perhaps five of these packages in order to accommodate the “groups of three” noted above.

Caution

It is tempting for an owner of a startup box to save money by purchasing cheaper equipment from a big-box retailer. This is certainly an option but it is a bad option.  

CrossFit athletes are much more serious about their workouts than any other, more casual, fitness enthusiasts. Because of their average income and professional standing they expect quality training and safe equipment. This is part of the reason they are not hesitant to pay upwards of $150 per month in fees.  

Don’t skimp on the quality of the gym’s equipment just to save a few bucks in the beginning. Buy quality and build confidence in the staying power of the box.

If you have questions about the type of equipment you need for your CrossFit gym, contact us and we will be happy to share ideas and financing options

Sleep: The Secret Weapon for CrossFit Success

CrossFit and Sleep

Good CrossFit athletes are often said to “eat and sleep” the program.  Based on a great deal of athletic performance research, this may not be such a good thing. Among the overwhelming majority of high-performing athletes, quality sleep is an essential training component.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, “The quality and amount of sleep athletes get is often the key to winning. REM sleep in particular provides energy to both the brain and body. If sleep is cut short, the body doesn’t have time to repair memory, consolidate memory, and release hormones.”

High intensity exercise such as CrossFit depletes energy, fluids, and breaks down muscle. Hydration and the right fuel are only part of training and recovery. “What athletes do in the moments during and immediately after competition also determines how quickly their bodies rebuild muscle and replenish nutrients. This helps maintain endurance, speed and accuracy.”

The Stress Hormone: Cortisol

Many athletic trainers and physicians have noted that sleep deprivation can result in an increase in the “stress hormone” known as cortisol. An article in Psychology Today noted that “The stress hormone, cortisol is public health enemy number one. Scientists have known for years that elevated cortisol levels interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease. Chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels also increase risk for depression, mental illness, and lower life expectancy.  

Cortisol is released in response to fear or stress by the adrenal glands as part of the “fight-or-flight” mechanism and adequate sleep helps to reduce its incidence in the body. Sleep deprivation has also been seen to decrease production of glycogen and carbohydrates that are stored for energy use during physical activity. In short, less sleep increases the possibility of fatigue, low energy, and poor focus at game time. It may also slow recovery after a workout.

Reduction of Injuries

CrossFit class in session

Anyone who has gone through a grueling CrossFit session has first-hand knowledge of the potential for injuries in this setting. A University of California study concluded that injury rates in youth athletes increased during games that followed a night of sleep fewer than six hours.  Another study looking at injury rates in high school athletes found that sleep hours was the strongest predictor of injuries, even more so than the hours of practice.

What accounts for this? First, fatigue affects reaction time and a tired athlete is slower to react to potential twists and turns of a CrossFit WOD. Secondly, fatigue affects the body’s immune system, making athletes more susceptible to illness. Finally, shorter sleep periods don’t provide the body with sufficient time to regenerate cells and repair from the abuse of workouts, games, and daily activities. As the research notes, “Over time, game-earned injuries, health issues, and the inability to fully recover can wear on an athlete and contribute to more time spent on the sidelines.”

Sleep Deprivation Can Drive You Crazy

Sleep deprivation can also have profound effects on one’s mental state. Dr. Joyce Walseben, a psychiatrist and the former director of Bellevue Hospital’s Sleep Disorders Center noted in an article in The Atlantic, “Sleep loss can cause psychological damage because sleep regulates the brain’s flow of epinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin, chemicals closely associated with mood and behavior.

“Mood and sleep use the same neurotransmitters,” she said. “It’s very hard to tell if someone has sleep loss or depression.” Walseban added, “When these neurotransmitters are disrupted by sleep loss, the chemical changes in the brain can also result in manic feelings and behavior similar to bi-polar disorder: high highs of ecstasy and low lows of depression and anger.”

Can You Make it up on the Weekend?

Working too Much

Everyone has heard about the athlete, student or business tycoon who regularly lives on fewer than five hours of sleep each night. While this is certainly possible to do, the long-range health dangers of this type of lifestyle are extremely real.

Some believe they can regularly pull all-nighters and then “make it up” on the weekend, or sometime later. This is also a fallacy. It is a similar problem found in jet-lag. “The problem, the researchers write, is that many people who chronically lose sleep live in societies where their work and school schedules are not aligned with the body’s circadian rhythms.  So they never make up for lost sleep from the nights before, and build up a “sleep debt” that is never repaid. The consequence of chronic sleep debt  is “social jetlag”—a chronic slowing of concentration and hampering of bodily systems.”

If you want to accelerate you CrossFit training impact, get some rest – anywhere from 8 to 9 hours each night. This will also speed your recovery time and give clear head when it comes time to go to the grocery store and buy some healthy food.

Have you had any experience with sleep and workout success? Post them below and we’ll share with our readers.

Five Ways to Get New Members for Your CrossFit Gym While Keeping the Current Members Happy

Results of CrossFit workouts

There’s good news and bad news about marketing your CrossFit gym and both are based on the same fact.  In 2005 there were 13 CrossFit affiliates and as of the writing of this blog, there are more than 13,000 in 120 countries. This means two things: (1) this is a wildly popular exercise program – in fact, THE most popular – on the planet (good news) and (2) this is a hyper-competitive landscape for any gym operator (bad news).

On any given day, a potential CrossFit member will likely pass 2 or 3 gyms on her way to work. Plus, current CrossFitters are like any other consumer in that they are always looking for a better, cheaper, more rewarding experience, which might be down the road only a few blocks away.

In a very real sense, success in building a sustainable CrossFit business involves the survival of the fittest. This is made more challenging by the fact that the people who decide to start their own affiliate are most likely fitness experts, but not business or marketing experts. Both skills are critical to success. Hopefully, this post will begin the process of connecting those marketing/business synapses.

Here are five ways to attract new members while keeping existing members happy.

  • Decide on your gym’s identity
  • This seems pretty simple. You want hundreds of fitness fanatics, who are also paying customers, to show up every day and then tell their friends about the cool box where they sweat their guts out. Simple.  Right? Not so fast Sparky!

    This identity decision is the one factor that many unsuccessful CrossFit affiliates failed to think through. As Webris founder/contributor Ryan Stewart noted in his piece on marketing CrossFit gyms, “This can be simplified by two choices: catering to experienced CrossFit athletes or newbies.

    “Having experienced CrossFitter’s work out at your gym is great for building a brand for your gym – the better your athletes, the higher you place in competitions, the greater the association between your gym and quality training.

    “However, this can have a negative impact on training new athletes. New athletes need a lot of attention before and during the workout – advanced athletes don’t.”

    It is certainly possible to have a box with both of these groups, but the marketing focus will be different depending on the target population.

  • Use smart tactics and media that appeal to your target group

  • Track your sessions of CrossFit on Faecbook

    Again, this seems pretty straight-forward but the devil is indeed in the details. The types of incentives that are used to attract experienced CrossFitters are much different than those used for people new to the CrossFit experience. However, everyone wants a chance to check out the facility with little or no risk.

    The most important consideration on any marketing tactic is its relevancy to your target market. According to Vanessa Rodriguez in her post on this subject, “Reaching your ideal audience has never been easier but you do need to know what to market to them once you’re in front of them. You need to make sure your “offer” is something your target finds interesting.”

    Whatever incentives are used for getting new members – coupons that are good for one free workout, two-for-one memberships, free workouts in return for writing and posting online reviews – are best delivered via social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other, more targeted social media such as Pinterest, which caters to a more female audience.

    The prime CrossFit member lives on social media. They read almost no newspapers, watch almost no network TV, listen to very little commercial radio and wouldn’t think of going anywhere without their phone. Since most prospective and existing members are on social media, this is where a smart gym operator should focus his/her marketing efforts.

  • Work the internet

  • It’s true what your mama said. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. In case you’ve been living in a cave for the past decade, that first impression for your gym starts with a website. In many cases, this website is poorly designed and difficult to navigate. Unfortunately, when you hire someone to design your website you either get MORE or you get LESS but never what you pay for. Here are some suggestions for getting more.

    Thousands of books have been written on the subject of building a company website and there is not enough space in this post to do this topic justice. However, hiring someone (please resist the temptation to hire your brother-in-law or cousin who lives in the basement of their parent’s home!) to design your CrossFit gyms site is pretty much a crap-shoot.

    Before hiring anyone for this make-or-break business tool, ask for examples of other sites they have created/designed in the “fitness” or “self-help” categories. Then ask them what they were trying to accomplish with the design and elements of content for these sites. If what they were trying to do comes close to what they actually did with the site, they should at least be on your list of possible contractors.

  • Spring and summer promotions

  • Vanity can be a powerful motivational tool and it can get otherwise lazy couch potatoes off their butts and into your gym. The best time to start these types of promotions is immediately after January 1st when men and especially women are thinking about how they are going to look in a swimsuit, come spring.

    Summer body with CrossFit workouts

    Any variation on the “Summer Slim Down promotion, suggested by Rodriguez, is a good approach for this time period. The basic promo involves using Facebook to attract new members. “This involves marketing this as a special 6-month high-intensity program that is different from the regular class workouts. New members would sign up for six months at a special price and once they are hooked and love the results they see they would sign up for a long-term commitment to your gym.”

  • Get business people busy at your box

  • As we noted in an earlier post on the demographics and psychographics of CrossFit members, most of these folks bring home a decent income, which means they work hard in their chosen profession. Plus, they are extremely competitive. A corporate wellness challenge promotion is a great way to channel these factors into new memberships for your gym. A variation of this idea was proposed by Rodriguez in her post.

    “Get local businesses to compete against each other. Give the winning business either a free membership for 6 months, products (such as vitamins, protein powder, etc.) or a trophy (because everyone loves to brag with a trophy).

    The competition could be whatever suits your gym. It could be weight loss, the total time devoted to working out, increasing in strength, or training for a triathlon or something like Tough Mudder.”

    The great thing about this promotion is that it appeals to both existing members and potential members. Plus, many companies would consider paying for the membership costs for their employees as a part of a corporate wellness program.

    Start Slow and Go for It!

    The number of marketing ideas for your gym is only limited by your imagination. Since every business has a constant turn-over of customers, a year-round marketing schedule it critical to the success of your box. Don’t wait. Start this process now.

    In the coming months, we will offer more marketing suggestions for CrossFit boxes in this space. In the meantime, if you have any killer ideas, send them our way. Post a comment below.

    Water in/Water out: Why Hydration and Perspiration are the Yin and the Yang of Your Workout

    CrossFit class

    Is there anything better than a long drink of cold water after a grueling CrossFit class? The body craves it and there are very good reasons for this. Water regulates the body’s temperature, it lubricates those joints that have been pounded into submission and it also helps to transport nutrients, giving the athlete just enough energy to get up off the floor and go home!

    If hydration is the yin of your workout, then perspiration is the yang.

    In addition to being the body’s air conditioner, sweat has many other remarkable advantages. These range from purging toxins from the body to acting as an antibiotic for the skin.

    Having the right amount of water coming in and going out in the form of sweat, is another part of getting fit. Here are some things to think about


    Never Underestimate the Power of Hydration


    How to stay Hydrated


    According to FamilyDoctor.org, if an athlete is not properly hydrated, it is impossible for him/her to perform adequately. Without this water, muscle cramps, dizziness, fatigue or many other, more serious symptoms will occur. How much water is needed?

    The American Council on Exercise has suggested the following basic guidelines for drinking water before, during, and after exercise:

    • Drink 17 to 20 ounces of water 2 to 3 hours before you start exercising
    • Drink 8 ounces of water 20 to 30 minutes before you start exercising or during your warm-up
    • Drink 7 to 10 ounces of water every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise
    • Drink 8 ounces of water no more than 30 minutes after you exercise

    Athletes may want to measure how much fluid they lose during exercise to get a more specific measurement of how much water to drink (16 to 24 ounces of water for every pound of body weight lost).

    Many athletes favor sports drinks instead of water. There are good and bad aspects of this hydration strategy. First the good: The potassium and nutrients in some sports drinks can help provide energy and electrolytes to help an athlete perform for a longer period of time.

    Now here’s the bad: They are often high in calories from added sugar and may contain high levels of sodium. If the objective of a workout is to lose some weight, adding unnecessary calories is counterproductive. Plus, some sports drinks contain caffeine. All and all, water is the best, cheapest and most healthy drink to hydrate the body.

    Signs of Dehydration

    Dehydration occurs when an athlete loses more fluid than he drinks. When the body doesn't have enough water, it can't work properly. Dehydration can range from mild to severe. Symptoms of dehydration can include the following:

    • Dizziness or lightheaded feeling
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Muscle cramps
    • Dry mouth
    • Lack of sweating
    • Hard, fast heartbeat

    Symptoms of severe dehydration can include mental confusion, weakness, and loss of consciousness. You should get emergency medical attention immediately if you have any of these symptoms.

    Too Much Agua

    Weirdly as it seems, it is possible to drink too much water. This brings about a condition known as Hyponatremia which is a rare condition that happens when there is too little sodium in the body. It can occur in athletes who drink too much water. Athletes who participate in endurance activities (for example, marathons or triathlons) have a higher risk of hyponatremia. When sodium levels in your body are too low, your cells begin to swell with water. This can cause your brain to swell. It can also cause your lungs to fill with fluid. Symptoms of hyponatremia can include confusion, headache, vomiting, and swelling of the hands and feet.

    How do you know you have an adequate amount of hydration? That’s simple. It’s all about the urine.  If his/her urine is consistently colorless or light yellow, the athlete is most likely staying well hydrated. Dark yellow or amber-colored urine is a sign of dehydration.

    No Sweat? Big Problem

    sweating from CrossFit workout

    Perspiration may be the most under-rated bodily function in history. (I know what you’re thinking. And YES it’s just as important as THAT one!). For a CrossFit athlete and anyone else who gets hot and sweaty, it’s a miracle drug.

    According to the Lifehack Blog , there are at least ten “amazing benefits” to sweat that most people never think of. These include:

    1.  Sweat glands help heal wounds

    For the last few years, more and more research has been done on eccrine sweat glands which host an important reservoir of adult stem cells which aid in the process of wound closures.

    1.  Sweat enables toxin release

    When the body heats up, toxins are released from our system using sweat as the conduit.  Experts agree that we mainly release excess salt, cholesterol and alcohol. Which means that a sweaty work-out will de-bloat us, clean our clogged arteries and help with a hangover?

    1.  Sweating is an antibiotic

    If the skin is wounded by a small cut, a scratch, or the sting of a mosquito, antibiotic agents secreted in sweat glands, such as dermcidin, rapidly and efficiently kill invaders.

    1.  Sweating can inhibit kidney stones

    Research shows that regular exercisers and dedicated water drinkers flush their system more efficiently and help to control the onset of kidney stones.  Sweating during exercise causes the body to demand more hydration which in turn keeps the kidneys flushed.

    1.  Regular physical training produces amazing sweat glands

    CrossFitters push themselves into whole new arenas of training.  Fortunately, our body’s incredible anticipation of these sessions allows it to begin cooling earlier as well increasing the actual size of sweat glands to keep up with body’s needs.  

    1.  Sweat cleanses pollutants from the skin

    The sweat glands tend to be one of the ways our body rids itself of dangerous pollutants such as BPA.  Even when not detected in blood or urine, our sweat has shown potential to effectively eliminate BPA from our system.

    1.  Sweating is happy juice for the brain

    Getting good and sweaty can improve one’s demeanor but it is important to train with heavier weight training or anaerobic exertion to get the real benefit. A person’s endorphin level is unique and it will be through trial and error to find the right kind of physical activity that will induce your very own brain “opiates” and get you hooked on feeling the “rush” after sweating it out.

    1.  Sweat is a natural pain reliever

    Those exercise endorphins not only stimulate the brain’s mood enhancers, they also are natural pain relievers.  Exercise stimulates neurochemical pathways in the brain, resulting in the production of endorphins that act as natural painkillers.

    1.  The zits take hit from perspiration

    By opening up your pores, the perspiration process helps them release the grit and grime that holds in bacteria which as we all know, leads to ZITS.  

    1.  Sweating is a personal HVAC system

    This is still the best reason for good, old fashion sweating. Regular exercise, which keeps the sweat glands in tip top shape, help our bodies regulate its temperature more easily.


    Whether it is hydration or perspiration, to get the best benefit and stay safe in your CrossFit workout, watch the water!  Let us know what you think about this by posting on our Facebook page . Oh yeah…send this article to a friend. That’s what friends are for.

    The Business of CrossFit: An Update on New Market Research

    New Market Research on CrossFit 2017

    A couple of years ago, we shared some market research data related to CrossFit facilities. Since 2014, there have been BIG changes and its growth graph now looks like a hockey stick!

    According to a recent report from CNBC,By the numbers, CrossFit  is possibly the biggest fitness trend in the world. CrossFit has 13,000 gyms in more than 120 countries, up from just 13 in 2005. That's more than the 12,521 Starbucks  locations in the United States. Its direct rival, Planet Fitness, has just 1,124 locations.

    With 4 million CrossFit devotees, roughly the population of Los Angeles, it is crystal clear that this fitness program – which some liken to a cult – has tapped into something that was missing in the fitness industry. What was this missing ingredient?  That’s hard to pinpoint.

    Is it the shared pain of a CrossFit group? Perhaps it is the camaraderie that results from this pain? Most likely, many factors have led to this explosion of popularity, but the basic premise is just as simple as it was when Greg Glassman started it.

    CrossFit workouts change daily and contain variety to keep its membership on its toes. The regimen consists of functional movements that aim to increase individual work capacity and is applicable to other sports activities. CrossFit also encourages its members to follow a Paleo diet.

    By the Numbers

    As noted in a Quantcast Analytics report, the vast majority of CrossFit members are between 24 and 34. The breakdown of CrossFitters is as follows:

    Under 18:   18 %
    18 – 24:        6%
    25 – 34:       42%
    35 – 44        19%
    45 – 54         8%
    55 – 64:   Less than 3%
    65+:          Less than 3%

    Gender

    Men and women are represented equally as CrossFit participants

    Ethnicity

    The percentage of CrossFit athletes who list their ethnicity as “white” is 86%

    Earnings

    Over half of CrossFit participants have an annual income of greater than $150,000

    Families

    The percentage of CrossFitters with children is 59%

    Education

    The percentage of CrossFit participants with post-graduate degrees is 40%

    CrossFit workout with RallyFitness gym equipment

    Business is Good for CrossFit Affiliates!

    A report from Channel Signal, a business analytics service, notes that the failure rate of CrossFit facilities is less than 2%. This is a remarkably low failure rate.

    According several media sources  “affiliates pay a fee to use the name CrossFit, but then that's basically it. Affiliates are also locked in at the fee they paid when they joined the network. CrossFit founder, Greg Glassman said he has some early affiliates who still only pay $500 a year. The current licensing fee sits at $3,000, and Glassman doesn't plan on raising it anytime soon.

    “The Reebok CrossFit Games aren't a major source of income, even though the event draws 15,000 people through its gates daily. The Games attract sponsorships from fitness companies, but the vast majority of those deals fund the prize money. Last year the Games doled out $2 million in prizes.

    Another huge part of CrossFit’s appeal has been its ability to scale.  According to a report, “Once a prospective box owner has completed his or her certification, the barriers to entry are quite low. CrossFit gyms are called “boxes” to emphasize their low-tech bias. Many are opened in former industrial settings, within garage or loading-bay doors for example, offering access to fresh air.

    Start-up costs are so low and most boxes offer monthly memberships for somewhere around $200 per month with additional discounts for long-term commitments and for active military, police, fire personnel, and teachers.

    Early Adoption of Social Media has paid off Big!

    CrossFit social media adoption

    The small but dedicated management team of CrossFit has shown amazing insights about how their members consume media. CrossFitters don’t watch a lot of TV, listen to a lot of radio or read a lot of newspapers. They do, however, consume a boatload of social media such as Twitter, Facebook and others.

    Quartz noted, “In the beginning, CrossFit gained converts by posting daily workouts on a no-frills website. It still does, but now those daily workouts are also mobile-friendly and broadcast to CrossFit’s 864,000 followers on Instagram.

    “CrossFit has also launched several Instagram stars. Two winners of last year’s games—Camille LeBlanc-Bazinet (Facebook profileand Rich Froning —have 600,000 followers and over 450,000 followers, respectively. And Instagram has also made stars of some of the sport’s more photogenic but perhaps less accomplished athletes like Lauren Fisher  (398,000 followers) and Brooke Ence (154,000 followers).

    It has been noted that CrossFit has followed the lead of Uber, where affiliate assume the costs of capital while the lean and mean corporate management team led by Glassman manage the image and innovations. “Whether purposefully or through a fortuitous accident, Glassman’s diffuse, no-frills business model has transformed a bunch of fitness nuts lifting tires in their garages into a brand Forbes estimated is now worth $4 billion. And the juggernaut shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.”

    Snatching CrossFit Victory from the Jaws of Da Feet (and Ankles)!

    CrossFit Ankle Workout

    When the music is blasting, the box is pulsating and the sweat is flowing, it’s easy to jump into a CrossFit workout with reckless abandon. In fact, that’s the whole idea. However, sometimes that “jump” can cause injuries and it’s difficult to separate minor soreness from potentially major problems. This is particularly true with injuries to the feet and ankles.

    Who worries about their feet and ankles?  Right?

    Sure they get sore when you’re running, jumping and lifting but every other muscle gets sore too. While this is true, it is equally true that the feet and ankles, just as the shoulders and knees, are vulnerable to stress injuries.

    Have no fear! With a little knowledge, you can avoid these injuries.

    An Ortho Doc Who Understands Why You Are Crazy about Your Workout

    Dr. Keith HeierMost participants in intense CrossFit workouts have experienced the pain of a sprained ankle. While this is a very common injury, the medical explanation of this condition is somewhat more complicated.Dr. Keith Heier is an orthopedic specialist at Texas Health Orthopedic & Spine Center in Carrollton, Texas. In his practice, he has treated hundreds of CrossFit athletes and he has some insights about avoiding injuries to the feet and ankles during one of those grueling WODs.


    “There are acute injuries such as sprained ankles and metatarsal fractures, which typically occur when a runner accidentally steps in a hole or off a curb and lands awkwardly, Dr. Heier said. These happen randomly and aside from careful observation, there are very few preventative measures which can be employed.


    “There are also injuries which can be prevented among CrossFitters who are just getting started with their program called “overuse” injuries. Muscles can be strained, especially if there is little warm-up, and if the runner doesn’t give this strain the time necessary to heal, the pain and injury will get worse. Overuse injuries can also result from an athlete increasing the length of his/her run before his body is acclimated to the distance,” he noted.


    “Genetics can also play a part in these injuries,” he said. “Some CrossFitters have flat feet, high arches, bunions or hammertoes, and these conditions can lead to stress fractures of the metatarsals, tendonitis in the Achilles or planter-fasciitis.

    “CrossFit participants are so into their workout that they are more likely to get that overuse injury to their feet or ankles,” Dr. Heier said. “And because the workouts are so intense, these athletes are more likely to get the acute injury. Participating in explosive activities such as flipping tires can easily lead to a tendon tear if the correct form is not used.”

    Pushing Through the Pain

    Part of the essence of CrossFit training is pushing one’s body to an uncomfortable and even painful level. The standard response for hardcore CrossFitters is to push through that pain. Dr. Heirer explained how an athlete knows when the condition is more than just uncomfortable, and perhaps dangerous for the foot or ankle.

    “Any pain that is directly over a bone is a potential problem,” he said. “You can push yourself hard and work through most muscle or hamstring pain, but pain over a bone is NOT something you should work through. Also, pain that is lasting over a week and particular that which is over a bone has the increased likelihood of being a stress fracture. If you notice this type of pain, it’s a good idea to stop the high-intensity workout for a few days and see if the pain subsides. If it doesn’t, it’s time to go an orthopedic doctor to check it out.

    “The best way to treat this type of foot or ankle injury is to stop the high-intensity workout and use a milder, aerobic workout on a stationary bike or some very low impact workouts or mild lifting. Once you can feel less pain, you should very slowly get back into regular workout mode. It is easy to re-injure a foot or ankle by returning to a high-intensity regime too quickly. Slow and steady is better. There is a time for tearing down and a time for healing.”

    Preventing Feet and Ankle Injuries

    Many injuries to the feet and ankles can be avoided by simple, preventative actions. Dr. Heier explained.

    “For the CrossFit athlete and serious runner, there are several stretching exercises that can help prevent minor injuries,” he said. “The classic calf stretch involves the runner leaning against the wall and stretching the back of his Achilles tendon.

    “A hamstring stretch – where the athlete is bending over and touching her toes – is an easy and effective exercise to do before the workout. It is also advisable to do a planter-fasciitis stretch, which involves pulling one’s ankle back as far as possible and then grabbing the toes back toward the tibia (lower leg). With this stretch, the runner will feel the tightening in the planter-fasciitis part of the foot.

    “Finally, simple balance exercises, which help to strengthen the core of the body, are advisable before the run begins. This could be in the form of planks, back extensions or jumping rope.”

    Shoes for CrossFit Training

    Lacing up shoes for CrossFit workout

    Choosing the right shoe can make huge difference in both the health and fitness success of a runner or CrossFit athlete.  According to an article “Men’s Fitness” on choosing the correct shoe for CrossFit training, “Although a regular gym shoe might be good enough for any old workout, you aren't just doing any old workout—you are doing the ultimate workout. So you need a CrossFit shoe that provides stability while lifting, comfort and cushion while sprinting, and secure support for jumps and WODs. Just like you take care of your body while working out to ensure correct form and movement, you've got to take care of your feet, too.” Click here for the MF recommendations for the six best shoes for CrossFit training.

    “CrossFit shoes may look great on the outside, but when they have been used for more than 250 miles they present an injury danger to the wearer,” Dr. Heier said. “Wear and tear can cause running shoes to be too tight or too loose. The padding can be worn away and this causes problems.

    “My approach to choosing the right shoes involves first examining the type of foot of the athlete. Someone with flat feet should choose a ‘motion control’ shoe with a high arch which helps prevent the flat foot. There is also the classic ‘neutral’ shoe which enhances stability or cushioning. If, for example, someone has a high arch and they choose a shoe designed for a flat foot, this will tilt the runner to the outside of the foot. This could lead to a stress fracture on the outside of the foot.”

    Treatment for Foot and Ankle Injuries

    As a foot and ankle expert, Dr. Heier treats many serious and casual athletes in his practice. The treatment can range from the very simple, such as rest, or complex, such as surgery.

    “In most cases, stopping the running, icing, light stretching and prescribing a nonsteroidal are the first lines of treatment,” he said.  “Sometimes our treatment includes changing running shoes or placing an orthotic in the shoe.  In rare cases, the injury might require surgery.

    “Conditions such as plater-fasciitis, tendonitis of the Achilles and even stress fractures will heal if we give them a chance. Surgery is always the last resort” he concluded.


    Check out our Facebook page and post any experiences you’ve have with foot and ankle injuries.
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