Top 4 Tips For Soon-To-Be Box Owners

So you want to open a CrossFit box?  Great!  You can and you should.  You want to help people and that’s a wonderful thing; the world needs more people like you.  

You’ll join the ranks of thousands of box owners who eat, breathe and sleep CrossFit.  If you’ve made it so far as to commit to the idea of opening your own box then you’ve likely run the numbers.  “How many members do I need?”  And hopefully you’ve also come to the realization that it’s not a get rich quick venture.  It’s a labour of love and your members will know if you love it or not.  Not to say that you can’t make a great living; of course you can!  But it isn’t as easy as open affiliate, live blissfully. But if you follow the fundamental rules below, you’re well on your way. Here are my top 4 items that successful box owners know and do very well.  For simplicity let’s call it the LEAD system.  

Leadership, via emotional intelligence.
Energy, you gotta emit the good stuff.  
Authenticity, be the product.
Design systems, innovate services.


Leading with emotional intelligence.

Prove to your staff and members that you deserve their attention through kindness, understanding and compassion.  The business of CrossFit is as much a business about building genuine relationships as it is about delivering a stellar fitness program.  As the captain of this ship you need to be brutally honest about a few tough questions.  

Are you willing to take ownership of everything, the good and the bad?  Poor leaders will place blame and assume a victim mindset, great leaders will own every mistake and learn and press forward.  

What kind of boss are you?  Are you a hard person to work for?  Are you hard to be around?   Or are you someone who wants to lift people up and thrives on the idea of making people around you better?

 In this day and age people have choices- your best staff aren’t going to take being treated poorly so don’t repel talent.  Never see staff as “costs”. Ground yourself in the fact that none of your staff are “lucky” to work for you- it’s quite the opposite.  Business cartoon about leadership. Part of the problem is that everyone thinks they know the solution.

Never lose sight that your staff are your most important asset and they must be respected, heard, paid well, and invested in and if you’ve done a good job hiring, they are often smarter than you.  Read this paragraph over 3 more times.

Positive Energy.

Emit the good stuff.  And get the heck out of the gym when you’re not at your best.  You’re human and are allowed to feel moody, but have enough self awareness to spare your paying members from this temporary less-than-stellar state.  

Seeing people for who and what they really are and loving them for it is the key to this business.  You’re going to spend a lot of face time with your members so you’d better be a people person.  This doesn’t mean you have to win the popularity contest but it does mean that you have to be approachable, trustworthy and ultimately someone that other people want to be around because you create a non-judgemental, positive training environment where people feel comfortable enough to push hard.  CrossFit’s hard; don’t make it harder to get up and get there.  



Being authentic means that you live and breathe CrossFit but its depth carries beyond thinking that CrossFit is great.  The most potent form of authenticity is caring.  Most folks don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.  Your members need less coaching cues and more genuine interaction about how they felt that lift went or asking what they think the issues are etc etc. You can never underestimate the CrossFit community.  

Close-up of man holding heavy kettlebell at gym

This is a body of people who are typically Type A, extremely bright and very successful professionally.  Their respect has to be earned.  Daily.

Be authentic by developing yourself as a well-rounded CrossFitter.  But do not be afraid of athletes in your box being fitter than you- if this is the case, you’ve actually done a great job and you should take a lot of pride in that.  If you’ve opened your box as a means to fund your journey to the games that’s fine, but don’t expect your members to give a flying frig about that goal.  

Design systems and constantly drive innovation.

Design systems for everything.  Change Room cleaning schedules, membership policies, cancellation policies, opening/closing procedures, product and supply ordering and the list goes on.  

Innovate by holding events, writing newsletters worth reading, articles and videos that benefit the community and hosting evenings and parties that show your appreciation.  Host seminars and invest back into your community in every way you can.  


Your exercise program is a system too, so spend hours every week making sure this is one of the smoothest running systems you have.  Write programming worth talking about.  The trick is to write exercise progressions people will benefit from but also programs that people will spend days looking forward to!  

Most importantly, ask for the brutal honest truth from your members.  It only hurts if you’re unable to change and adapt.  Run annual or semiannual anonymous surveys so you know what people are really thinking.

Be the boss you’d want to work with, walk around with a smile, be a great CrossFitter and deliver the best possible CrossFit program you can and you’ll be well on your way to a full, happy and thriving CrossFit Box.  

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