CrossFit is all about instilling core values in your clients and working for something more than monthly memberships and financial goals. You’re building a gym culture, and that can only be achieved if you have a vision statement to work towards. Once you do, you’ll know which core values will lead you on your path to hitting those goals.
This is how you identify what’s important, create core values based on your findings, and instill those values into your members, staff, and in yourself. Remember: you have to embody all the changes and core values that you want to see in your gym, so this plan is also about you and how you’re going to personally carry it out every single day. Let’s get into it.
Brainstorm With Co-Founders and Early Team Members
Brainstorming is powerful when you’re alone, so what could you get done if you brainstorm as a team? Your employees need to be trained and help set up your new gym, so this gives you an opportunity to include them in the core value process.
Early team members are those employees who are there when the walls are still being painted and the PoS system hasn’t even been installed yet. They’ll know your gym intimately and will have valuable input.
If you’re not going into this as a sole proprietor, you can also ask your co-founders for advice. Get everyone together, and brainstorm by asking yourself a few questions:
- Who do we want to serve?
- What feelings do we want our members to have when they leave?
- How can we empower our members?
- What can our core values do to help us with growth?
- Can we be accountable and hold integrity for our staff and members?
Your mission statement derives from your core values. Now is the time to figure out how to take what you value and you want others to feel, and work it into a saying, a slogan, and a way of running your gym.
Ask Yourself the Hard Questions and Answer Them Honestly
You have to have a one-on-one with yourself. It’s time to dig deep, answer questions, and find your key reasons for doing what you’re doing.
- What is the purpose of your entire gym organization?
- Who do you want to serve?
- What do you want people to think about when they look at your gym?
- What value does your gym bring besides personal training?
- Which unique problems are you solving in the demographic you’re targeting?
- How do you fit in the local community as a leader?
- What values do you personally hold true, and how can those help you become a better CrossFit affiliate leader?
If you’re fully honest with yourself in your own head, these questions will flow out naturally, even if it takes a few days to fully let them sink in. They’re important, so answer them as if your business depends on it (because as it turns out, it does depend on it). If you’re having a hard time answering questions like these, this is where you start:
- Be Vulnerable With Yourself: Be objective, like someone from the outside looking in. How would you judge yourself, and how do you carry yourself? Be brutally honest with yourself with no filter, and understand how you may come off to others. It doesn’t matter if your core values are great if you can’t carry them with you.
- Reflect Decisions That Led to This Moment: What led you here, and can it lead you further? Is opening this gym what you really want to do, or is it the current “it thing” and you can’t see your future? As a matter of fact, that leads us to another interesting point.
- Visualize the Future: Is this where you’ll be in three years? It’s okay if the answer is no, because you’re in a section of your field where you have room to grow. Your operations can change based on what you want, just be sure that you know what you want so your entire plan doesn’t become destabilized.
- Be Increasingly Self-Aware All the Time: The gym opens, the admiration comes in, and you start making money. That’s great, but it can change a person very quickly. Constantly assess yourself as if you were on the outside looking in. Be self-aware of how you’re acting, who you are, and you’ll constantly have a clear head that can help you make important decisions about your gym’s future.
Nail Down Your Niche Audience by Being Specific
A niche audience is defined as the smaller subset of an audience that fits within the “bucket” of a wide audience. It’s a CrossFit gym, so we know that we’re targeting people who are into CrossFit, but that’s a very gray area. What types of people are interested in CrossFit? That’s what you have to find out.
Here are a few examples of finding and serving a niche audience as a CrossFit affiliate gym owner:
- Based on Income: Your niche or demographic to target may be in a very specific channel of income. If you notice your competitors are all pricing their services relatively high (which happens in CrossFit), make it cheaper. Or better yet, make a sliding scale system. Offer lower monthly rates to families beneath a certain income bracket.
- Mother’s Day Club: A large number of CrossFit athletes are women. If your classes are in the middle of the day during school hours and ideal for stay-at-home mothers, appeal to them and what they value. Market it as the daily retreat that helps them build their personal strength and confidence just before picking the kids up from school in the afternoon.
- Hustler’s Evening Workouts: Some people don’t work nine to five. They work later. Is your gym going to be open late, say until around 10:00 PM? If you plan on having late hours, have a special time for classes designed to appeal to the crowd that’s just getting out of work. If they have to be in work super early, the evening is their only time for personal physical development. Be the answer to their problems, and they won’t think twice about signing up for your classes.
Keep in mind, you do not have to solely focus on one niche. If you focused on stay-at-home mothers for the first half of the day, you could focus on the after work crowd in the second half of the day, while applying the income-based sliding scale membership pricing to both niches.
It’s time to get creative. You can’t appeal to everyone, but you can absolutely appeal to a handful of groups. Your core values will adapt to these audiences and show them that they have their own place in the fitness world to call home.
Modify Value Based on Your Clientele and What They Value
You should enter your journey as a CrossFit affiliate owner with rock-solid values, but they shouldn’t be completely unmovable. Maybe your values are being perceived as toxic positivity, or maybe they’re not aligning with what your current crowd and clientele hold dear.
- Speak to Clients: Talk to clients about what they get out of your gym, and what they believe it stands for. This will tell you a lot about their impressions about your establishment as their membership ages and they’ve gone past the first impression stage. Obviously you’re doing something right, otherwise they wouldn’t be here, but we can always optimize what our gym offers to people as we go and make it a more inviting, inclusive place that better aligns with their goals.
- Your Schedule is Subject to Change: If you nailed down a few niche audiences to target, that’s great. You can find out what they value and build on it. Your schedule, the way you run your gym, and everything about how you currently operate can change based on your customer needs. That’s okay. Maintain core values that you believe in and mean something to you, but that also apply to your handful of niche audiences, and you’ll do well.
- Advocate for Your Clients: Do they want a rock climbing wall because you found out a handful of your clients are rock climbers? Consider putting one in. Do some of them prefer to do CrossFit in a yard setting, but you’re currently 100% indoors? Let’s talk about an expansion. Nobody knows what your customers want except for them, so listen to them, take considerations into account, and find out how it would impact your business.
Describe How Your Core Values Benefit Team Members and Clients
Your core values aren’t there to make you feel better: they’re there for your clients and your staff. If your team members can’t identify with your core values, they’re going to have a hard time backing your business on a personal level. That will come out at one point or another in their work, and it could be damaging to your gym brand.
Talk about your core values with your team. Talk about them with your clients. Identify with those values, because if you don’t, then nobody will know what you stand for.
This actually builds up an excellent rapport with a lot of individuals and helps you achieve a level of respect among them that you might not otherwise attain. You’ll find common ground with most of the people you talk to, and they’ll realize you’re not just some random gym owner: you’re someone with passion, drive, and determination to make your CrossFit affiliate gym a more inviting place for everyone.
Make it Mean Something to You
Ditch the basic list of corporate values that everyone tries to preach. Yes, you want to surround yourself with people that have integrity, but when you really boil that word down, most people do have integrity if you stop and think about it.
So how do you make your core values mean something to you without taking the easy way out and copying some commercialized values that every major brand seems to claim they have?
Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Be empathetic, and think about where you are in your journey to find a new fitness studio (as the client). What are you looking for that’s going to grab your attention and not let go? After all, there are a dozen gyms in the area, so you can take your pick from whatever you want.
But there’s a reason that prospective clients don’t just pick from the list of available gyms. Those gyms aren’t offering them what they need or what they want to hear, and these traits or aspects they’re looking for can best be described in your mission statement. In your core values.
You essentially have to bring your company to life and make it mean something to you, so that way it can mean something to somebody else. Have you ever met those people who strongly identify with a brand?
The perfect examples are iPhone and Android users. They’re die-hard for their team and love everything about them. Even if it’s just biased, those companies earned the right to have an audience be biased towards them.
You’re the next Gold’s Gym, you just don’t know it yet. Stick to your core values and others will appreciate you.
Become a Leader, Don’t Just Be an Employer
You’re leading a team, not micromanaging your employees. Yes, you pay your staff and trainers, but don’t think of it as a job where you have to crunch the numbers and talk to them like they have a stake in the bottom line.
Identify their needs, talk to them, and lead them by example. Find out what speaks to your team, and they’ll happily find and execute what speaks to your inbound clientele.