This question has been asked more, given the bad publicity it’s received. So. what’s the answer?
CrossFit is still very popular today and continues to grow. Its growth path is steady, with approximately 122,000 new members joining worldwide between 2021 and 2022. In the year 2021, the number of affiliates grew by approximately 1000 new locations, all around the world, despite a disbanding from disgruntled affiliate owners in response to Greg Glassman’s behaviour. The goal of CrossFit LLC is for growth to exceed 100 million active members in the next 9 years.
Why Was CrossFit In The News Lately?
CrossFit LLC has been in the world news of late. With scandal, ‘anti-politically correct’ behaviour behind closed doors, plus a huge take-over making for juicy reading. Despite some bad press here’s why it’s still growing and ever-popular.
There was hysteria in mid-2020, as the founder of CrossFit Greg Glassman was outed by a number of people as being unsavoury. This led to a number of CrossFit Affiliates ‘de-affiliating’ in support of those affected, and as a knee jerk reaction to his very outward insolence noted on Twitter.
Private opinion outed
Internal emails were also published, with Glassman’s inner dialogue then writ large across many platforms. This caused huge unrest within the company, the sport and the entire CrossFit community in general.
Around this time, a little something called Covid-19 also happened. Perfect timing.
Strategic step down
To avoid implosion in June 2020, Glassman quickly changed his role, then stepped down as 100% owner, eventually selling CrossFit Inc to tech titan Eric Roza for an undisclosed amount known to be north of $1Billion.
Since then, CrossFit continues on a very solid growth trajectory, with Roza making huge changes to the sport and community.
Our own personal views of Greg Glassman are in some ways irrelevant. The man has undoubtedly changed millions of lives with his ‘outside the box’ (pun intended) thinking.
The worldwide movement he created will also continue to change millions of lives going forwards.
New CrossFit Ownership Fosters Growth and Positive Improvements.
Eric Roza, a tech CEO, is a long-time CrossFitter.
He took Datalogix”
“from an offline analytics company into the largest data company in digital advertising.” According to General Catalyst, “Datalogix did business with over 80% of the top 100 marketers and all of the largest digital publishers.”
Do you like reading about CrossFit? Check out this article with the 10 best books that every CrossFitter should read.
Stepping in the right direction
So what exactly has Roza done, to change CrossFit for good? To help it grow? There are a number of things.
He is a man of data, digital marketing and tech know-how. He is also the founder and owner of CrossFit Sanitas in Boulder, Colorado.
Tech giant Oracle Corporation went on to purchase Datalogix after Roza’s overhaul for a reported $1.2billion!
A good resume
Roza’s track record made him an ideal candidate to purchase CrossFit LLC, and really turn it around during the downturn quickly unravelling.
He understood CrossFit too, having his own affiliate (CrossFit Sanitas), and encouraged his employees to use the gym for physical and mental health reasons.
In February 2022, he made a public announcement that he was moving over to Chairman of The Board, from CEO.
This was always his plan but decided to accelerate the timeline.
During the press release about this move he noted:
“Our team’s strength comes from its breadth of experience, background, knowledge and skills, all united by a shared passion for CrossFit,” Roza continued. “It is a tribute to this team that, in spite of the pandemic, in 2021 we added more than 1,000 affiliates, credentialed over 15,000 new coaches, and welcomed hundreds of thousands of new members, even as COVID continues to impact many of our key markets”.Eric Roza
What Is Eric Roza Doing For CrossFit?
A strong push emanated from CrossFit Inc immediately after Roza’s takeover, including things such as a subsidised CrossFit program in less privileged countries.
Other positive changes include affiliation feedback being more warmly invited and accessible.
Force for good
Also the CrossFit Open has seen welcome changes to format.
The headline sponsor has changed from Reebok to NoBull, with a very noticeable increase in prize purse for the hard-working athletes; and some previous well-known and beloved employees of CrossFit Inc have been welcomed back, just to name a few positives.
A key purpose of Roza is also an increased professionalisation of the sport, with an emphasis on injecting huge amounts of monetary value from more large brands and media outlets, which in turn would stimulate more aggressive growth, better paid high-level athletes and further popularity around the world.
Eyes means revenue
Yes, CrossFit has the largest number of affiliates in the world for any gym. But it needs more viewership. That is largely where lot of the money lies.
From that, merchandising, sponsorship deals, advertising and all that other fun stuff would help accelerate the growth.
It’s exciting to see where it will go in the future given how far it’s come in a relatively short space of time already.
What Is CrossFit’s Growth Strategy?
A key objective for the new CrossFit management team is to really further professionalise the sport. Its already likened to the relatively new sport Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), where it is now mainstream in its brand awareness, media coverage and ultimately the real cash money being pumped into the sport.
CrossFit LLC openly declares they want this too – as with more money comes more opportunity and reward, creating an even stronger business model and community.
How Many People Did The CrossFit Open This Year?
Nearly 294,000 people signed up for the CrossFit Open this year, 2022.
This is up approximately 30,000 from 2021, but down approximately 123,000 from 2018.
The number of participants in 2019 dipped sharply, before an uptick in 2020, 2021 and 2022.
Separate to everyday CrossFitting, this open competition is for anyone in the world to enter. Perquisites are that your workout entry and submission is judged by a qualified judge, or it is filmed in keeping with CrossFit’s judgement standard and reviewed internally.
Data analysis of the Open participation
Below is a useful graph that plots the number of participants into the CrossFit Open from 2010 to 2021.
Why the slump in participants?
A contributing factor for dip could be one of a number of things. The business was going through some internal changes at the time of the slump, which some on the inside of the business described as “turmoil”.
Media teams were axed. Budgets and overheads were being slashed. A new focus on CrossFit Health presided over the CrossFit Games – both equally important to the community but with different reasons.
Glassman likened the Games to being circus-like, putting it rather succinctly (or abruptly) by saying something along the lines of “I just spent $1million in South America to get 1 man to the CrossFit Games” (in reference to The Crossfit Regionals). Kind of tongue in cheek, but also understandable from a business standpoint.
So, the sport-side of CrossFit took a slap in the face.
The CrossFit Open is the sport-side. But this is also one of its main revenue streams. The last 2 years have seen a steady uptick in participants.
Also, 294,000 people participating in an open worldwide event is no mean feat. So we can safely say the sports side is still flourishing with strong signal of recovery.
It will be really interestign to see the next graph plot in Febrary 2023, when the nect CrossFit Open is held.
Since the overhaul, the target of CrossFit LLC is to obtain 100 million total members in 10 years, which would make it one of the biggest sports on the planet.
This would further add to its credentials that it’s one of the fastest-growing sports on the planet, ever. It has the highest number of gym affiliations in the world already, with more than 17,000.
So in conclusion, it is very safe to say that CrossFit is still growing and that its trajectory path for growth is unparalleled to any other sport.
It is going to be around for a very long time, with a very exciting future for sure.