The Evolution of Fitness; What’s Next?

If you’ve not taken notice of the popularity of CrossFit you’re obviously either dead or living in a hole in the ground. In my area here in central Florida alone, this past year has seen the birth of 3 CrossFit studios in a market that was already saturated with glob-gyms, sports training facilities, and personal trainers. It seems the message is clear: if you want to make money in fitness then open a CrossFit box. As a student of market trends though I can’t help but wonder what’s coming down the pipe next? Everyone is clamoring to get a piece of the CrossFit pie yet as usual few seem to realize that the pie is only so big and the slices are getting smaller. What does this mean for the viability of these start-up gyms in the years to come, or the viability of the trend itself?

CrossFit may have at best a few years left to ride the wave of popularity before America becomes bored and moves on to the next thing. While this will undoubtedly be warmly received by those hardcore devotees that have been along for the ride since the beginning and hearken back to a less commercial less Olympic lift filled CrossFit it won’t be a good thing for the legions of business owners that have staked their future to this trend.

Make no mistake I am a fan myself and a participant. I also work in a Cross Training Facility that is CrossFit in all but name. However I also know what CrossFit is; a cleverly repackaged workout system that has been around in one form or another for decades. The devout will undoubtedly object to this statement but ask anybody who’s actually worked in the fitness industry over the last 30 years and they will tell you the same. Maybe working behind the scenes as a trainer and instructor at CF seminars and Clinics gives me a somewhat clearer view of what’s going. It’s hard to say. But I can say without hesitation that even though we all love training and helping others we’re in this to get paid first and foremost. Anyone who argues counter to that is lying to you, while they’re taking your money.

Just in the last 10 years, we’ve seen P90x, Insanity, TaeBo, Delta-Fit, Seal-Fit, Bootcamps and the list goes on. All are at their hearts High Intensity Circuit Training (Look-up the term for an in depth history of just how long that’s been around) the only real difference is the inclusion or exclusion of weights and various devices and trademark gimmicks. All promise to “get you in the best shape of your life.” All promise a kick-ass workout and most actually deliver. Most also started as a backroom workout invented by people tired of the same old boring routines and crowded gyms and all blew up, left their core market behind to sell units and sold out.
If you think CrossFit isn’t in the process of selling out you’re obviously blind to what it is companies like Reebok and Rogue do; recognize a trend make a product to support that trend then sell the shit out of it to make money and profit. You’re also blind to the goings on of Founder Mr. Glassman over the past few years. The man cares about two things; brand marketing and market dominance. I find it hard to believe that a man who looks like he hasn’t lifted a barbell in 10 years is in it to make people healthy, think about it for just a second. Would you hire a trainer that looked like he spent most of his day parked in front of a TV eating donuts?

I’m not trying to demonize CrossFit or anyone who hits it big. That is what we all want isn’t it, whether we admit to it or not? CrossFit is both effective, hard not to like once you try it, motivating, inspiring, and fulfilling to the serious fitness buff. I do have a problem with people resolutely denying that something is what it is though, and in this case it’s a business designed to make money. Regardless of the intentions behind it when it started let’s be adult enough to call a spade a spade and admit where we are today.

Now that we’ve established what CF is let’s move on to my original question; what’s next. Like any product CF has a set shelf life. People are by nature and especially in fitness possessing of a limited attention span. If the results aren’t instant, the effort minimal, and the skill involved simple they will move on after 30-60 days and polling the local gyms this statistic is holding true. The ratio of those seeking out, trying, CrossFit or for legal intents Cross Training versus those who commit is actually not all that good. This could be because of price, difficulty, poor trainers, medical conditions, or any number of reasons.

The point is a majority return to their $10 a month globo-gym memberships within two months of trying CrossFit or a similar program. This is not a stable enough market share to support the explosive growth of the brand as far as facilities are concerned. In short; when the CF bubble bursts in the next few years a lot of gym owners are either going to have to adapt to the next fitness trend, craze, or go down.

To Be Continued…..

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