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%
Men and women are represented equally as CrossFit participants
The percentage of CrossFit athletes who list their ethnicity as “white” is 86%
Over half of CrossFit participants have an annual income of greater than $150,000
The percentage of CrossFitters with children is 59%
The percentage of CrossFit participants with post-graduate degrees is 40%
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!
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 profile) and 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.”
In most traditional gyms, a typical warm-up involves about 15 to 20 minutes on a treadmill or stationary bike. That’s it. While most fitness experts note that “this is better than nothing,” getting ready for an all-out CrossFit session requires more than this type of cursory warm-up.
Several CrossFit websites noted the benefits of warm-up exercise:
Warm-ups serve two important functions. They enhance performance and prevent injuries. As such, an effective warm-up has both physical and mental benefits.
All too often, those trying to keep fit are pushed for time. They have jobs to do, kids to pick up, dinner to cook and any number of other responsibilities. As a result, they often join a work-out session in progress and immediately begin the group’s activity at full speed. This is a recipe for disaster.
Warming Up the Blood
According to Gale Bernhardt, a former Olympic Triathlon coach, the 10 or 15 minutes period before the actual workout begins is critical to getting the optimal benefit of the activity. She notes, “Relaxed, sitting in your chair and reading this column produces a relatively low 15- to 20-percent of blood flow to your skeletal muscles. Most of the small blood vessels (capillaries) within those muscles are closed. After 10 to 12 minutes of total body exercise, blood flow to the skeletal muscles increases to some 70 to 75 percent and the capillaries open.
“Along with more blood flow, comes an increase in muscle temperature. This is good because the hemoglobin in your blood releases oxygen more readily at a higher temperature. More blood going to the muscles, along with more oxygen available to the working muscles, means better performance.
“An increase in temperature also contributes to faster muscle contraction and relaxation. Nerve transmission and muscle metabolism is increased, so the muscles work more efficiently.”
The most likely injury resulting from a CrossFit athlete failing to warm-up properly is a muscle strain or even a muscle tear. When the muscles are stretched during a warm-up, it is more difficult (taking considerably more force) for them to be injured. While muscle strains can be painful, there is also a more serious result in the failure to warm up properly.
In her article Bernhardt noted, “There have been human studies on sudden, high-intensity exercise and the effects on the heart. One particular study had 44 men (free of overt symptoms of coronary artery disease) run on a treadmill at high intensity for 10 to 15 seconds without any warm-up. Electrocardiogram (ECG) data showed that 70 percent of the subjects displayed abnormal ECG changes that were attributed to low blood supply to the heart muscle.
“To examine the benefit of a warm-up, 22 of the men with abnormal results did a jog-in-place at a moderate intensity for two minutes before getting on the treadmill for another test of high-intensity running. With that small two-minute warm-up, 10 of the men now showed normal ECG tracings and 10 showed improved tracings. Only two of the subjects still showed significant abnormalities.”
Yogi Was Right
The former New York Yankee catcher, , was famous for his malapropisms, especially about sports. One of his most famous was his brilliant, yet goofy, description about the mental aspects of baseball. Yogi deftly opined:
“Baseball is 90% mental and the other half physical”
Of course, this analysis can be made about a CrossFit warm-up session as well!
A proper warm-up prepares the athlete for the rigorous activities that await them. When the warm-up sessions are consistent – meaning the same activities are done as warm-ups in each session – the CrossFit athlete does not have to “think” about anything. They can just DO.
Many CrossFit trainers use the same warm-up regimen for each workout session for this reason. This allows the athletes to focus on preparing mentally for what will very likely be new activities, arranged in novel ways.
A Great CrossFit Warm-Up
There are as many CrossFit warm-ups as there are CrossFit trainers. However, following the KISS principle is always the best policy. According to Greg Glassman, the founder of CrossFit Inc. and the publisher of CrossFit Journal, here are simple pre-workout stretches and activities that are excellent ways to get ready for the WOD.
He notes, “The essential features of our warm-up are that they include a stretch and major hip/leg extension, trunk/hip extension and flexion, and pushing and pulling movements. The combinations are limitless and might include more challenging movements like good mornings, hollow rocks, rope climb, or handstand push-ups in place of back extensions, sit-ups, pull-ups, and dips. The movements used will largely depend on your athletic development, but over time the more challenging movements can be included without being a whole workout.”
No matter how pressed you are for time don’t skimp on the warm-up phase of your workout. If you work out at a CrossFit facility, follow the lead of your trainer and if you have a home CrossFit gym, use these suggested warm-up exercises. Your workout will be better for it.What do you do for your warm-up? Leave a comment and we’ll share with our readers.