If you have been doing CrossFit for any amount of time, odds are you have run into the question, “What is CrossFit?”
As you spew out a few popular movements that non-weightlifting and fitness freaks might understand, there is a remote possibility that what occurs in a CrossFit box was accurately depicted to your audience. Assuming that your answer was coherent enough, the next question is almost always, “Why do you do THAT?”
Some times I feel that the innate pressure that a CrossFit work out creates to compete with yourself and others, get that PR and to push your body to its limits in gym allows for the purpose behind the journey outside the gym to be lost.
Why is it exactly that we do this week in and week out? Why is 30 minutes of cardio and segmented body workouts not good enough anymore? Why do we pay money to do what can only be described as torture, at times, and then show up the next day for more?
In short, because it works.
The secret though, is it only works if you know what you are working towards. What is your purpose? What are your goals? Wanting to lose weight? Wanting to increase fitness? Wanting to be a better parent or partner?
Those are all valid questions and a place to start, but what does it all mean?
So you want to lose weight? Join the club. But what is it about losing weight that is desirable?
What do you want to do with your body and mind that you couldn’t do before?
This is the ultimate question that only you can answer for yourself. And it needs to be answered.
CrossFit can be the tool to help get you there, but you still have to decide the ultimate destination.
Over time, I obtained a vision of myself and my body that became disproportionate to reality. CrossFit has allowed me to change that reality, but more importantly, change my vision. The ceiling and what I know I am capable of has risen. I have higher expectations for what I can do and what I want to do.
I remember going on a hike last spring that I had hiked the year prior as well. My first go-a-round was a struggle. I breathed heavy and my self-consciousness took away from the joy of being in nature and surrounded by friends. After walking into the gym nine months prior and attempting the hike a second time, it was a completely different experience. I was aware of the beauty around me. I joked and laughed with the people I was with. I found different objects to press overhead. I was able to enjoy this amazing activity and be grateful for my ability to participate in it.
I eventually paused at one point and silently reflected, “This is why I CrossFit.”
As excited as I was to hit a 475 pound deadlift PR last week, applying what we do in the gym to improve our lives outside of the gym is pure euphoria.
CrossFit is a tool. A wonderful and powerful tool to get you to where you want to be. However, even powerful tools need conscious and aware operators to be effective. CrossFit can be the tool to help get you there, but you still have to decide the ultimate destination. While you’re on your way to your destination, don’t forget to stop and enjoy the process.
So, where are you going and why do you want to get there? Where is the byproduct of all your hard work in the gym going to take you? Ultimately, what do you want to do with your body that you couldn’t do before?
Yesterday evening at Kane Hall on the University of Washington campus in Seattle, Washington, I had the honor and privilege of attending a seminar presented by the founder of CrossFit. Known by most as simply “Coach,” Greg Glassman shared insights into how the CrossFit phenomenon was created and the importance in establishing a free enterprise system in which affiliates thrive.
This was the first time, aside from CrossFit Journal videos, that I have heard Glassman speak. Overall, I found his demeanor likeable and his perspective straightforward. He was not afraid to discuss the economics of the business and fielded questions that many folks have put on the table, such as issues around saturation and brand protection.
“an opportunity so rich that it became an obligation.” -Greg Glassman
Throughout his speech, there were several nuggets of insight that I found particularly interesting. Glassman discussed that business owners should focus on pursuing excellence as opposed to money. “Excellence is the beacon. Excellence is the light house,” Glassman said. Excellence is the only thing that is constant and should be the focus of all that we do. He said, “Markets move capital to excellence.” Glassman pointed out that by building a brand and culture that exudes excellence, the money will follow. This process cannot happen by focusing on money first. Focusing on excellence allows individuals to pursue a passion. Glassman said that his goal was to establish “the best training program every created.” This perspective allowed him to provide a value to his clients that other gyms and personal trainers did not make a priority. He focused on excellence without ever realizing he was becoming an entrepreneur and the wealth soon followed.
Glassman said that, “Business is presenting uniquely attractive opportunities.” I absolutely loved this definition. You typically read that business is about solving a problem or taking an existing idea and manufacturing it more efficiently or for less cost. What types of opportunities are businesses offering their clients? I work in Higher Education and even through that lens, this perspective is applicable. If you are not able to provide a unique and attractive product/service/experience to customers, you will not be in business for very long.
Glassman shared his experience in Africa, building schools, and how the CrossFit community banded together to raise money through the CrossFit for Hope work out. The work out generated nearly $1.7 million in donations. He discussed how much power there is in giving. A quote that truly stood out to me about this experience was that he felt it was “an opportunity so rich that it became an obligation.” Wow. A millionaire founder of an exponentially growing fitness program made it a point to discuss how giving is enriching to the point that he feels obligated to continue doing so. I find that to be a powerful perspective.
Towards the conclusion of his talk, before taking questions and answers, Glassman discussed his marketing philosophy. He said, “The best marketing is when you are so good that people won’t shut up about what you do.” There was laughter in the crowd as I am sure most people have heard the joke, “How do you know that someone does CrossFit? Because it’s all they talk about!” Glassman said he doesn’t recommend marketing. He recommends branding. Focus on your brand and clearly communicate to others the value that your company offers people. His goal was not focused on maximizing the rate of return on his investment, but to “maximize the healing.” He knew that if he focused on healing his clients by providing “the best training program ever” and optimizing their nutrition, the marketing would take care of itself.
Glassman set up a free enterprise model of affiliation, as opposed to franchising his brand. He has almost single-handedly created a platform in which thousands of individuals have become entrepreneurs. He expressed that the overall “pie” of revenue generated by the CrossFit brand and community (Affiliates, shoes, supplements, apparel…etc. All companies that are positioned as targeting the CrossFit population) is estimated at $1 billon. The CrossFit brand slice of that pie is roughly $50 million. Glassman conveyed that the overall goal is for the pie to continue growing, while his slice continues to shrink. Glassman has put his opportunity for obscene wealth on the backburner to empower those in the community.
I was not quite sure what to expect from this seminar. I decided to come in with an open mind and worst-case scenario was that I got to listen to the founder of this life-changing activity that we have come to know as CrossFit. I mean, it’s not every day that you get to listen to a millionaire speak for roughly $10 a ticket, right? I could not have been more appreciative for the opportunity to hear him speak. I felt rejuvenated and excited as we walked back to the car. These “business” lessons are extended beyond the boardroom and the bottom line. These words are how we should be living our lives.
Focus on excellence. Seek opportunities to give that are so enriching it becomes an obligation. Pursue your passion. Provide uniquely attractive opportunities. Pay attention to the process and not the end result. If you’re good at what you do, people will not shut up about you. Do not market, brand. Maximize healing.
And most importantly, as Glassman said, “Love the hell out of your clients.”
A special thank you to the Freedom Foundation for hosting this event.
I am passionate and write about personal development, leadership, education and healthy lifestyles. I work in higher education and I am committed to being an outstanding mentor and professional in my field.