Building Community through your Blog

A blog is an essential tool for communicating with your members and cultivating an authentic, exciting community. There is a psychosocial element built into CFSBK’s business philosophy that recognizes that people don’t just walk through our doors to get fit, but also to be part of something larger than themselves. As an affiliate owner, you have an enormous and meaningful opportunity not just to facilitate athletes connecting deeply with the CrossFit program, but also with other likeminded people. And of course, that connection does nothing but make your business more exceptional, by encouraging retention, loyalty, and investment.

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Using Time Stamps to Manage Group Classes

As mentioned in a previous article, “Starting Classes with Introductions,” quite a lot of movement and coaching needs to fit into a 60-minute CrossFit group class. A typical class might include a compilation of three to five segments involving barbell warm-ups, reviews at the white board, WODs, lifting, skill development, and cool downs, etc. Especially as your affiliate grows, you'll need to have consistent and effective time management strategies to get large volumes of people through each class in a clear and practical way. At CFSBK, we constantly use time stamps—by which I mean specific, pre-set amounts of time—to achieve our planned programming within the hour.

Below I'll discuss some different class segments we typically use, how long each segment takes, and how we manage the segment’s time limits. As you'll see, we're heavy users of wall-mounted digital timers.  If you're only using timers to measure WOD finish times, you're totally under-using them. We have four digital clocks in our gym—one always displays the actual time, and our coaches use the others to communicate time stamps and run WODs. Having multiple clocks is also helpful when running more than just Group Classes at any given hour.

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Equipment Hacks: Labeling Barbells, Bumpers, and Kettlebells

To offset some overhead costs, most young affiliates start out with economy bumper plates and kettlebells. The cheapest versions are usually all black, and the more of them you accumulate, the harder it can be for you and your members to properly identify during equipment selection and clean up. Unlabeled 10lb and 15lb bumpers can easily get stacked together and a sea of black kettlebells can lead to lots of individual inspection in a hunt for the desired "pood". Of course, more expensive versions come handily color-coded, which—when you can afford them, especially the bumpers—are totally worth it.

Until those purchases are feasible, you might have all black or mismatched equipment. Here are three easy steps to labeling equipment and making it consistent with more colorful and pricey counterparts:

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Compensating Coaches Part 2

In Part 1, I mentioned that the fundamental principle behind CFSBK’s pay philosophy is that staff is our most important investment. I addressed the first category of a coach’s income, which was Group Classes. Today, I want to discuss the other three categories:

Personal Training and Special Programs
Administrative Duties
Additional Benefits

As I said in my last post, without offering competitive and sustainable wages, you will not be able to hold onto highly skilled professional coaches.

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Starting Class With Introductions

A longstanding tradition at CFSBK is to start classes with introductions and a short Question of the Day (QOD) while we do our general movement preparation. We’ve been doing this since the days when were still meeting in a park and over time, it’s become a staple of our class template. Initially, I just thought it was a nice way to start classes and get people acquainted, but it has since proven to be a valuable tool for setting the tone of the class, learning people’s names, and showcasing the personality of our members and coaches. The QOD reflects the importance we place on both having an on-going, continual conversation with our members, and creating opportunities to foster a sense of community.

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Compensating Coaches Part 1

The fundamental principle behind CFSBK’s pay philosophy is that staff is our most important investment in the gym. Without offering competitive and sustainable wages, an affiliate owner will not be able to hold onto highly skilled professional coaches. Anyone with experience working in traditional commercial fitness facilities has observed the high turnover rate, especially with the most talented trainers. One of my proudest accomplishments since starting our affiliate is our low-attrition rate with staff. In the past five years, we’ve only had one coach we’ve hired leave the gym. Hopefully, that means we’re doing something right, and so I’d like to talk about how we structure compensation for our coaches.

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Continuing Education: Giving Coaches Tests

At CFSBK, we promote ongoing in-house education through discussion, workshops, and tests. About a year and a half ago, I started creating and administering graded tests as an attempt to increase the quality and consistency of our coaching staff. As our gym grew, it became clear that we all needed to be on the same page regarding our basic understanding of the information that we’re accountable for on a daily basis. Tests as a form of continuing education also reflect the ethos of a professional staff that consistently strives to increase their knowledge base and utility to both the gym’s members and each other. Graded tests happen every few months at CFSBK, and while they can be quite time-consuming to create and administer, they are an indispensable tool. In this article, I will explain testing more and provide specific material from a recent test I created. (In future articles, I will provide additional tests and continuing education material used at CFSBK.)

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Welcome to Inside the Affiliate!

Inside the Affiliate is a blog, which I want to use to share what I've learned over the last six years running a CrossFit gym. In the spirit of CrossFit’s open source affiliate model, I'll be discussing our class management principles, continuing education programs, and the lessons my coaches and I have learned since starting CrossFit South Brooklyn. The ultimate goal of this blog is to promote strategies that help affiliates create professional, inclusive, and effective training experiences for their members.

The intention of this blog is not to assert that there is a right way to run an affiliate. It’s up to every small business owner to learn from and adapt to their specific communities and environments. I’m simply trying to start a conversation about the things that have worked really well for us, hopefully to the benefit of anyone reading. If you read about something we do and dig it, steal it and find ways to make it better. If you have a different approach to something that’s working for you, please let everyone know about it in the Comments section.

To learn more about my affiliate check out the "About" page.
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