Would it benefit CrossFit affiliate gyms when it comes to existing members and recruiting new members to turn towards a more functional fitness gym that incorporated more boot camp and cardio type classes and less heavy lifting?
The purpose of this study will be to determine whether it would benefit CrossFit affiliate gyms when it comes to existing members and recruiting new members to turn towards a more functional fitness gym that incorporated more boot camp and cardio type classes and less heavy lifting. The study will investigate the effect of implementing a program focused on boot camp fitness for different demographics, and then determining how these programs affect retention rates, perceptions, and overall attitudes in the particular CrossFit affiliate gym. The study will be conducted using surveys of existing members and of members who are joining for the boot camp program in an attempt to understand how perceptions and attitudes change over time with exposure. The structure of a CrossFit affiliate seems to fit well with the structure and philosophy of boot camp workouts as a whole, so the evidence suggests that the integration of a boot camp style workout program might effectively increase the membership of the CrossFit affiliate.
Boot camp style workouts have become very popular in recent years. While group exercise has been popular for many years—the rise of aerobics classes is evidence of this popularity—boot camps offer something slightly different for the average individual. First of all, boot camps offer programming at times that are convenient for individuals who work full time (Brager, 2016). For instance, many of the most popular boot camps investigated by Boost Fitness Marketing (2014) took place in the early morning; people were willing to join and consistently attend a boot camp program even in the morning when that program was run by an engaging instructor (Boost Fitness Marketing, 2014).
Boot camp is designed to be a gateway program into fitness in many cases. Gyms and trainers tend to use boot camp style programs to engage potential clients and members in fitness that is intensive but not time consuming; these boot camp programs are also designed so that anyone can join and engage in the fitness process (Tribble, 2016). Because these classes are rarely more than an hour—sometimes even less—they can be incredibly intensive in their pace and their structure.
Alternatively, CrossFit is a different type of workout programming. While boot camp programming really refers to the type of programming—short, intensive workouts that are based on both cardiovascular workouts and resistance training—CrossFit is a brand (Boost Fitness Marketing, 2014; Butcher et al., 2015). CrossFit (2016) claims, “The aim of CrossFit is to forge a broad, general and inclusive fitness. We have sought to build a program that will best prepare trainees for any physical contingency — not only for the unknown, but for the unknowable. After looking at all sport and physical tasks collectively, we asked what physical skills and adaptations would most universally lend themselves to performance advantage. Capacity culled from the intersection of all sports demands would quite logically lend itself well to all sport. In sum, our specialty is not specializing” (CrossFit, 2016). To break down these goals further, as a brand, CrossFit strives to ensure that individuals practicing the programming are capable of building and utilizing “functional” fitness.
Although each CrossFit “box”—the terminology used to describe a CrossFit facility—is different, the overall goal of each seems to be to build functional fitness in their athletes. CrossFit boxes are run like fast food franchises: anyone with a certain set of qualifications is able to use the CrossFit name and run a gym that trains people in the CrossFit style of athletics (Paine, Uptgraft & Wylie, 2010). CrossFit is well known for having strange terminology and an almost cult-like following; CrossFit athletes tend to dress strangely and draw significant attention to themselves, something that even the corporate owners of the CrossFit brand recognize (CrossFit, 2016).
While there are similarities between CrossFit and boot camp style workouts, there are also distinct differences. A CrossFit workout can certainly be tailored to fit the needs of a boot camp workout, but it is important to note that the general target of a boot camp program and a CrossFit program overlap only slightly. However, beginning CrossFit programs—while focusing on compound powerlifts and Olympic lifts—also double as a kind of boot camp introduction into the CrossFit lifestyle and training program (CrossFit, 2016; Paine, Uptgraft & Wylie, 2010)
The purported benefits of both CrossFit and boot camp programs are decidedly similar, however. Both of these types of programming often use similar language to describe the benefits that participants will enjoy; however, there is massive variation in the programming used for boot camp programs because the term “boot camp” is not copyrighted. CrossFit programs and CrossFit programming are variable based on the different CrossFit instructors, but the programming used in different CrossFit boxes is not nearly as variable as the different programs used by boot camp instructors.
The purpose of this study will be to determine whether it would benefit CrossFit affiliate gyms when it comes to existing members and recruiting new members to turn towards a more functional fitness gym that incorporated more boot camp and cardio type classes and less heavy lifting. There are many studies that suggest that heavy lifting helps burn more calories than cardiovascular exercise, and that heavy lifting helps with body re-composition much more quickly than cardiovascular exercise; however, there is also a significant argument that there is an appeal in boot camp style exercise and workout structures that are not nearly as present in CrossFit style workouts and in the CrossFit theoretical understanding of fitness.
Because CrossFit boxes can be quite intimidating for those individuals who are not naturally drawn to fitness or who are just beginning their fitness journey, offering boot camp style classes might be the perfect balance between the tough fitness courses that are prevalent in a CrossFit academy and the individualized training sessions that are available at a conventional gym.
The sample demographic that will be studied will be individuals with low levels of fitness and who are not represented significantly in the general population of the CrossFit box where the study has been completed. Each of the boot camp sessions offered will be offered to a specific, targeted demographic: people over 40, women, and adolescents are all important groups to target with this programming (Mayo Clinic, 2016; Quelch, 2016).
A number of measurements should be taken to properly assess the different changes that are occurring in the CrossFit box where the study is being completed. First, a general demographic understanding of the type of person that attends this particular CrossFit box should be obtained. Age range, gender, employment status and income level, and athletic history should be gained from a significant sample of the population.
In addition, any marketing done by the boot camp program must be monitored and measured; the way a boot camp is marketed, according to experts, can have a very significant impact on the way that boot camp is able (or unable) to attract new members. Social media has been shown to be quite effective for some groups—particularly young women—while other groups, like the older demographic, is less responsive to these types of marketing strategies.
There are some fitness measurements that should be taken, but these measurements are less important than ensuring that the researchers are able to understand the mindset and goals of the individuals who are currently working out at the CrossFit box, and those who have chosen to take the boot camp classes. Understanding motivations can go a long way in building sustainable programs for target demographic groups, particularly women and adolescents (Watson, 2016; Boost Fitness Marketing, 2016).
The more information that can be gleaned from the sample, the better the understanding will be. These surveys of member attitude should be conducted at regular intervals during the implementation process for the boot camp program, so that an accurate understanding of customer attitude towards boot camp style classes, heavy lifting, and traditional CrossFit programming can be obtained.
The assessment of the existing members should occur three times: the first time the existing members of the CrossFit affiliate box should be asked for their opinion on boot camp style classes is before the implementation of these classes at the affiliate gym location. They should also be assessed for their perspective on heavy lifting and the current CrossFit programming. It is assumed that, because they are participating at a CrossFit affiliate, they will have an overall positive view on the programming provided by the affiliate. They will also be asked to give answers midway through the implementation process, and after a trial experience in one of the boot cam classes of their choosing.
The new members will be consistently monitored over the course of the program. Before the program’s implementation, the participants will be asked about their goals for the program, and their perceptions of CrossFit as a brand and their perception of the CrossFit affiliate where they will be taking their boot camp classes. They will be reassessed for their opinions midway through the eight-week boot camp cycle, and then again at the end of the cycle, when they will be given an opportunity to join the gym as a regular member.
The researcher will also track demographic data over the course of the boot camp program. It is likely that some of the boot camp participants will drop out of the program, but it is also likely that some of them will join the regular classes at the box before the end of the boot camp program. It is important to track these demographic shifts and to understand what is driving the students at these particular locations.
CrossFit has been incredibly successful at branding themselves as a hardcore workout provider, but this reputation has caused problems in some affiliate gyms. Because of this reputation, there have been losses in terms of retaining clientele; women in particular have been quite difficult for many CrossFit boxes to retain (Butcher et al, 2015). However, the fact remains that group workouts are much more effective than individual work outs in most cases for maintaining health and motivation; having another person available for accountability seems to be incredibly important in the development of a healthy lifestyle (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2016).
Indeed, people who participate in CrossFit will regularly discuss the benefits of working within the confines of the CrossFit “classroom;” individual workouts in the CrossFit community are quite rare, as most practitioners are able to participate in classes that allow them to push themselves further than they would ever have gone without the class. The appeal of CrossFit is very much based in the idea that working out and doing exercise as a group is more effective psychologically than doing exercise that is boring alone (CrossFit, 2016).
Understanding that the foundational philosophy of CrossFit and the foundational philosophy of boot camp programs fit together is important, because these two types of programming can easily be integrated into the same program flow. Many people have a poor understanding of physical fitness, and they have a misunderstanding about the way that heavy lifting will affect the body; throwing these types of individuals into a CrossFit class would be overwhelming. However, a boot camp program might act as the bridge between the traditional CrossFit style programming and the kinds of programming that is more commonly found in lighter aerobic group classes.
If the boot camp program is considered more of a structure used to encourage people to move more and understand the fundamentals of exercise, the boot camp programming would fit very well into the general programming of most CrossFit affiliates, outside the affiliates that focus very significantly on competition programming. These boot camp structures might even act as an effective feeder program for individuals who might have otherwise been hesitant to participate in CrossFit programming.
As a brand, CrossFit has been immensely successful in recent years. The brand has grown to have an international following, and there are hundreds of thousands of participants across the globe (CrossFit, 2016). However, “toughness” is very much a part of the image associated with CrossFit, and this image can be off-putting to people who are not very fit or who are interested in becoming more fit. Their mentality might change as their self confidence grows, however; this is why it has been suggested that the boot camp program, which starts with accessible, intensive movements and workouts, might be a good feeder program for CrossFit affiliates. It might also allow these affiliates the opportunity to approach a new demographic of individuals that would be quite lucrative for the organization as a whole.
Brager, A. (2016). The Benefits of Bootcamp. Retrieved 10 February 2016, from http://www.active.com/fitness/articles/the-benefits-of-bootcamp
Boost Fitness Marketing,. (2014). 10 Gym Promotion Ideas to Sell More Gym Memberships. Retrieved 10 February 2016, from http://boostfitnessmarketing.com/blog/8-best-ways-sell-gym-fitness-memberships/
Butcher, S. J., Judd, T. B., Benko, C. R., Horvey, K. J., & Pshyk, A. D. (2015). Relative Intensity of Two Types of Crossfit Exercise: Acute Circuit and High-Intensity Interval Exercise. Journal of Fitness Research, 4.
CrossFit. (2016). Welcome to CrossFit: Forging Elite Fitness. Retrieved 10 February 2016, from http://www.crossfit.com/
Mayo Clinic Staff,. (2016). Boot camp workout: Is it right for you? - Mayo Clinic. Retrieved 10 February 2016, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/boot-camp-workout/art-20046363
Paine, J., Uptgraft, J., & Wylie, R. (2010). CrossFit study. Command and General Staff College, 1-34.
Tribble, S. J. (2016). Boot-camp workouts' cardio and strength benefits attract loyal following (video). Retrieved 10 February 2016, from http://www.cleveland.com/healthfit/index.ssf/2011/07/boot_camp_workouts_attract_man.html
Watson, S. (2016). Boot camp: Benefits, Intensity Level, and More.WebMD. Retrieved 10 February 2016, from http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/a-z/boot-camp-workouts
Quelch, F. (2016). How to Succeed at the Business of Boot Camp. Retrieved 10 February 2016, from http://www.ideafit.com/fitness-library/how-succeed-business-boot-camp-0
Figure 1 (Watson, 2016; Quelch, 2016; Brager, 2016; Butcher et al., 2015; CrossFit, 2016)