CrossFit at the Crossroads

Known for being brash and outspoken, Greg Glassman, founder and sole owner of CrossFit, Inc., is a self-made billionaire. Based on his unique fitness training philosophy, Glassman started the company in

2000 and has created one of the fastest-growing, most successful fitness businesses in the industry.

CrossFit gyms, known as “boxes,” have spread throughout the world through an affiliate program. Unlike other gym franchises like LA Fitness, Planet Fitness, and Anytime Fitness, CrossFit affiliates are extremely affordable at a cost of just $3,000 a year (plus other expenses for the facility and equipment), and the only other requirement is a brief training seminar to become certified as a Level 1 instructor.
Because Glassman is a big believer in freewill (he refers to himself as a “rabid libertarian”), he allows affiliate owners to operate their boxes on their own terms, a practice which some describe as a troubling lack of oversight.
In addition to the revenues from affiliates’ fees, CrossFit, Inc., also earns income by providing insurance to affiliates. These gyms require unique insurance policies generally not available from more traditional insurance providers, so CrossFit’s RRG (Risk Retention Group) covers CrossFit affiliates in a specialized way. A third revenue stream is the CrossFit Training Certification Programs.
CrossFit devotees are known for their near-obsessive dedication to Glassman’s method of fitness training, which has now become a sport in itself. Thanks to these CrossFit fans’ in-person and online word-of-mouth advertising, the CrossFit brand has spread like wildfire. Glassman himself has also used technology to his advantage by creating a website and blog that provide a wealth of free resources for the CrossFit community.
For fans of CrossFit, the annual CrossFit Games have become a huge event, attracting hundreds of thousands of participants. Since 2007, CrossFit has been hosting this yearly competition where CrossFit athletes compete for cash prizes and the title of “Fittest on Earth.” Reebok is now the official sponsor of the games, and as such, it is providing an increasing amount of money for the prizes. ESPN provides valuable media coverage.
In spite of a multitude of competitors, serious criticism from industry experts about the safety and efficacy of Glassman’s methods, and an apparent lack of a formal business plan, CrossFit, Inc., continues to be a rising star in the fitness industry.
Strategic Issues and Suggested Discussion

  1. Identify several of CrossFit’s key tangible and intangible resources. How have these been used to create capabilities and core competencies?

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