This morning, many CrossFit affiliates are considering a break from CrossFit Inc.
My position has always been to make gym owners successful regardless of the fitness methods they use. Two-Brain doesn’t work with CrossFit Inc. We work with a huge collection of individual gym owners who use various training methods to make their clients fit. Their commitment to equality and health hasn’t changed because the owner of a fitness company made racist remarks. If anything, it’s made them more committed to end racism and promote unity.
These gym owners don’t support the comments of CrossFit’s founder, and their connection to CrossFit Inc. is actually negligible: They pay a very small annual fee for permission to use a name that describes a training methodology that produces great results for clients. That’s it.
They don’t take direction from CrossFit Inc., they don’t pay royalties, they aren’t employees or franchisees. They are free to operate completely independently, and they create wonderful, racism-free businesses that support health for all. Each gym owner has built a separate brand over a period of years, and their clients know exactly what they stand for. These owners have taken steps in recent weeks to make that very clear.
More than anything else, gym owners want to do the right thing in their businesses every day. The decision to affiliate was a personal one, and the decision to deaffiliate will be, too.
The Path Forward
I spent many hours on calls with affiliates yesterday. Mostly, I listened. To be honest, I’m really worried: Many of the gym owners who said “we’re deaffiliating” don’t have a plan to bridge the gap from their original brand to their new one. My concern is that many are choosing to jump without a net.
I want gym owners to land on their feet and keep moving forward. If you’re asking yourself “should I deaffiliate?” this morning, there are questions you should ask—not because this is purely a business decision but because you should always gather all facts before making choices.
We abhor racism, and racist comments must not stand unchallenged. We’re also committed to helping gym owners plan to recover. Your business needs to come through this time so you can continue making a difference in the lives of your clients and in the world.
Here are the business considerations of deaffiliating with CrossFit Inc.:
1. You’ll have to change your website and social media presence, and you’ll have to bear the associated costs to do so.
2. You’ll lose any SEO you’ve built up for local searches of the word “CrossFit.”
3. You might lose your primary source of referrals. What percentage of your new clients find you because they’re looking for CrossFit—the training method—in your town? (If you’re not sure, start asking your clients “how did you hear about us?” during your intake process.)
4. You’ll need to find a new certification for your coaches when their current CrossFit credential expires (it won’t automatically be invalidated when you deaffiliate).
5. You can’t call your classes “CrossFit classes” anymore. What will you call them? And how will you make sure the public knows what they are and how they help people accomplish health and fitness goals?
6. This is the biggest consideration: Have you been telling your own story widely? If you haven’t been publishing content regularly—at least three times a week—to highlight your clients, explain your methods and teach your audience, you really don’t have a replacement for the CrossFit brand in your business.
Now, the personal considerations.
When I left another mentorship practice to found Two-Brain Business, I was worried about the risks—but also about my clients. So I wavered in my decision.
A friend took me to breakfast. I explained the crisis of conscience I was facing. Instead of asking why I wanted to leave my company, he flipped the question and asked this:
“What could they say that would make you stay?”
I thought about it. I realized that the answer was “nothing.” There was nothing they could say that would make me want to stay with the company.
So I left.
That might not be your choice. But whatever you choose as a gym owner, I stand with you.
And we all stand against racism.