Ending The Box Vs. Box Mentality

Winning and losing is as primal as you can get and the competitive spirit born from it is what makes us strive for greatness. Deep under the wave of 12,000 CrossFit gyms around the world is a current that flows against us: the box vs. box mentality; the idea that a nearby box is your competition. From an owner’s perspective, these nearby boxes are in direct financial competition to their own while from the members’ standpoint, those belonging to the neighbouring gym are viewed as competition on an athletic level.

Like little micro tribes, we constantly want to defeat each other. I did it too and I’ve since learned it’s a mistake to think that boxes are or should be at odds with each other. It’s not true and we need to think bigger.

Box to box “tribalism” in CrossFit stands at complete odds with the ethos and identity of CrossFit itself.

Every athlete, whether serious or recreational, is worth cheering for because no matter what, their individual greatness should be celebrated. Every box near or far is part of the solution to the worldwide problem of rising obesity rates and is on the front lines fighting against heart disease and other illnesses. The world is a harsh place at the moment and there is one truly good thing that stands out amongst that harshness: communities helping and supporting each other to get better.

Box to box “tribalism” in CrossFit stands at complete odds with the ethos and identity of CrossFit itself.

In almost every country around the world, CrossFit brings people into a small confined area to collectively pursue a challenge and not stop until we all finish together (i,e. the CrossFit Open). We all do the same thing and that sameness is what unites us. This is what makes us great and that is the biggest strike against the us vs. them, box vs. box mentality.


We do it because it’s human nature. The competitive juices live within us. We naturally want to be the best and that’s okay and we should celebrate that instinct within us because it ultimately drives excellence. The trick is that we need to draw the line between competitiveness and negativity. We are not at war and we are not at odds. We are exercising.

From a business standpoint, there is a strong case to scrap the tribal mentality as well. Box owners who are able to forge strong friendships with other boxes look like confident leaders. It shows confidence in the owner’s ability to lead, to not fear the greatness that comes from other gyms’ athleticism or buzz. Being genuinely happy for others’ success feels good and says deep down that you know you can do it too. Like most things that flow through close communities, an attitude is most often manifested from the top down, coming from owners, coaches and top athletes. It comes from the top, and therefore problems are also fixed at the top.

Let the success of other athletes and gyms be the catalyst to your action. Invoke confidence, identity and belonging in your own box by celebrating greatness no matter the origin, and wave your flag with pride while always keeping your eye on the bigger picture: we all belong to one community.

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