The two most-discussed podcast guests I hosted this year were Greg Glassman (of course) and James Fitzgerald, founder of OPEX.
James was my first CrossFit hero. Greg is my business hero.
What I didn’t anticipate was that gym owners would perceive such a wide rift between 1:1 training (or individual program design) and CrossFit, because I don’t.
I found CrossFit after spending 9 years as a personal trainer. That was 2007, the same year Fitzgerald won the Games. I owned a 1750sqft personal training studio, with beautiful natural light and a good location. We ran noon classes, but that was the only one. Everything else was 1:1. We sent clients to globogyms to do their homework.
I opened our CrossFit gym as our second location. Unfortunately, it suffered mightily (I was trying to sell a ton of group memberships, using free intros and discounts.) But I survived on the revenue from the PT gym. And soon realized that the best path for the client was NOT the group-only model. In early 2008, the idea of just selling group memberships was popular but not the default. Now it is.
We combined the two gyms, switched our OnRamp back to 1:1 from group, and sold fitness delivered two ways: individually, or in a group. The group classes followed CrossFit programming overtly; the individuals did constantly varied functional movement performed at high intensity. They came to our gym to do their homework. Some people did both groups and 1:1 training, depending on their preference and budget.
CrossFit has always been the “budget option”, because I believe that 1:1 training is still the fast-track for client success.
We have 220 clients. Around $240k of our annual revenue comes from 1:1 training.
At intake, we ask people, “would you be more comfortable exercising 1:1 or in a group?”
Sometimes, at goal reviews, we’ll ask people “Are you making progress as quickly as you’d like?” If they say no, we might recommend PT; or we might not. There’s no up-sell; just coaching.
Before he registered crossfit.com (thereby ‘naming’ his process), Greg did 1:1 training. Then, when his schedule was filled, he did 1:2 training, and then 1:3, 1:4…and, eventually, groups. That’s what happens when you’re the best trainer in town: you fill up. It happened to me, too. The only way we could grow was to encourage some people to train in a group.
Luckily, they do better in a group. Many like the group more (including me) but NOT everyone, and not most people all of the time.
We are selling fitness. We are delivering fitness by designing meaningful programs, and then delivering instruction and encouragement in a private setting OR in a group setting. That’s our business. Catalyst is our brand, CrossFit is our message, dogma is our anathema, and “what do YOU want?” is the most important question we ask.