How to Operate Your Gym According to CrossFit

Your gym’s operations rae your own to dictate, but CrossFit’s successful business model has these suggestions - and why they work so well.

Sam Karoll
July 11, 2022
How to Operate Your Gym According to CrossFit
Your gym’s operations rae your own to dictate, but CrossFit’s successful business model has these suggestions - and why they work so well.

CrossFit has their Affiliate Playbook—the list of operations, procedures, and everything you need to know about running your gym from the ground up. It’s important to take it to heart, but also remember that your gym has your own unique flair. You’re not just a carbon copy of every other CrossFit gym out there.

You have your own unique way of doing things, but there are also operational procedures that help you maintain a profitable, comfortable, and happy gym that puts your members at ease as well. This is how you operate your gym if you go by CrossFit’s guidelines.

Daily Operations

Your daily operations are, simply put, the way that your gym runs every single day. Without daily operations in place, problems quickly arise, and there’s no system to put out the fires or prevent them from happening in the future.

This is what you need to know about your daily operations, and why they’re so important. Without daily operations, you have no rhythm, and problems will stack up quickly. At the very least, having daily operations will quickly teach you what the most critical needs in your business are.

Incorrectly prioritizing one problem over another problem is a surefire way to irritate your members and turn your gym upside-down before long. If you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place and there’s going to be some sort of loss either way, mitigating that loss by as much as possible is critical in your leadership role.

Pay Attention to Details

Every detail matters, right down to the color of your interior paint. In the CrossFit Affiliate Playbook, they mention that Disneyland closes and 1,500 workers go through the park, making it shiny and new again. Details matter, and it keeps the magic alive.

Pay attention to the little details. The goal is to keep everything operating so smoothly that your gym members and community members never, ever notice the small details. They should have the perfect environment to focus on their workout, class, instructor, or whatever their goals are.

Keep maintenance on a tight schedule. Make sure machines don’t just fall apart or go down randomly. Basically, pay attention to everything. Here are some guidelines on how to do that, and where to keep your focus.

General Operations

Schedule everything. Your gardeners outside should have a schedule so that it doesn’t interrupt your guests. You should clean up the parking lot before guests show up. Make sure everything has a place in your schedule, and that it keeps your operations flowing beautifully.

Despite some general operations being frustrating, everything has to be carried out in a professional manner at all times. Schedule frustrating tasks (when available) for times where it won’t interrupt any kind of flow when you’re helping customers.

Center your general operations around whatever makes your staff as least frustrated as possible while also meeting the needs of your clients in real-time. There’s a way to make those two objectives line up; it just takes some creativity to figure out for your specific gym.

Front Desk Operations

Your front desk is the central hub of where everyone meets and finds their next task. Trainers will walk off and host their classes while other operations are going on, but everything comes back to the front desk.

This is where you’ll post schedules, goals, and some supplies that your staff may need (of course, some things should be left in the back room).

Post team schedules, cleaning schedules, maintenance reports, everything along those lines. Your goals should be visible so your team always knows what they should be aiming to achieve. Make these quarterly, otherwise you can overwhelm your staff pretty quickly.


Daily reporting is imperative for building substantial data, which can and will change how you do business. It will influence small decisions which add up to big changes over time.

Track new member monthly data so you can be aware of new signups, weekly reports for operation and class attendance, and daily interactions and operations at the gym.

Track everything that you possibly can to build actionable data. Refine your data collection process over time. This will help you build:

  • Manager reports
  • Membership reports
  • Monthly profit and loss
  • Monthly and quarterly class attendance reports
  • Daily desk reports containing urgent information and messages

If you aren’t gathering data and understanding trends in your business, you’re already falling behind. It’s important to gather and provide reports to your staff so they know how to adjust their position.

How Can Surveys Improve Your Gym Operations?

Surveys are ridiculously powerful if you utilize the data that you get from them properly. You can optimize your business, cut out features of your gym that people aren’t using or don’t see value in, and figure out what’s missing. Surveys help you get honest feedback from people to really show what your X factor is.

This is just a taste of what surveys can do for your business:

  • Membership Feedback: Did your members have a good time while they were active, or did they quit because of an unpleasant experience that they didn’t want to talk about at the time? Were they mad, or was the price just too expensive? This opens up a lot of doors for us to explore, and brings up valuable data for you to extract and use across your entire business.
  • Scheduling Conflicts: You notice your class attendance is low, but you never found out why. Your members can help you figure out what the problem is through a survey. Is the building difficult to get to on time with certain traffic patterns? Change your schedule to make the classes later. Is the hassle of travel not worth it for the classes? Find out what price point would make people happy and see it as worth it to get there.
  • Train Your Staff Better: You did a great job training your staff, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make improvements as you go—you should have continual training place, and surveys can give your unbiased information as to what staff are doing right, and what areas they’re lacking in. After all, members with a mental exit strategy are less likely to complain when they think that the family aspect of being a gym owner will put your bias in the favor of the gym employee. Surveys give them a chance to tell you what they think without fear of repercussion.
  • Get Members Back: Previous members fill out the survey in their email, then you fix the common problems, and send them a personalized email to get them back. It sounds simple, but there’s definitely a lot of layers to it, such as frequency of contact (you don’t want to bug them with offers after they just filled out a survey), typically low response rates, and fixing systematic issues in your business before making it more appealing to previous members. Re-acquiring older members is a much more cost-effective strategy to building up revenue than acquiring new members.
  • Confirm Your Business Decisions: Have you made decisions for your business that need a little more confirmation? It could be something simple, but if it’s mentioned in the comments of your survey, then it’s a surefire confirmation that it’s at least being noticed and appreciated by somebody.

Quick note: when you conduct surveys you want the most honest feedback possible, which is why you need to make sure you’re collecting the results anonymously (and make this apparent to the previous member). People are much more likely to submit their actual opinion if it’s anonymous, otherwise you won’t get reliable results that you can apply to your business like we mentioned above.

How to Conduct a Survey

When you conduct a survey, you’re also being vulnerable to your survey audience. Whether this includes current members, previous members, or a mix of both, you want to get the most accurate feedback possible. To do that, you have to ask the right questions in the right way. Here are some tips to get started on the right foot.

  • Set Objectives: WHat’s the entire point of you doing the survey in the first place? What do you want to learn by the end of it? You have to align this now before you continue with the idea of a survey, otherwise you’re going to get a lot of data that you can’t really do anything with.
  • Keep it Short: Short, sweet, and to the point. You want your questions to be concise and not ask too many, otherwise users will either quit halfway through (which will happen anyway), or they’ll give quick answers to get through the whole thing. Optimize their time, because after all, they’re giving it to you for free.
  • Draft, Review, Then Send: Your survey is like a piece of copywriting. You wouldn’t just slap up any slogan or saying on a big billboard, and you should treat your surveys the exact same way. The goal is still the same: to elicit a reaction, and in this case, a response. Make sure you draft it, review it, fine-tune it, and then send it once it’s ready. It makes a world of difference in your response rate.
  • Inform and Inspire Action: Communicate your survey. How can people take it if they don’t know where to find it or what it can do for your gym culture? If it’s specifically an exit survey, you’ll have to take a different strategy, but for general surveys that current members and guests can take at any time, inform them as to what the entire point of the survey is. Tell them what their time and information could change about the gym they go to.
  • Share the Outcomes: You don’t just get to make one single survey and then be done with it forever. You have to keep implementing and gathering new data, especially as staff, programs, and your fitness products change and evolve. Make sure that you find a way to drive change with the survey results that you’re able to collect. Otherwise what good is it?

Example of a Survey

Here’s a quick example of what one of these surveys would look like and how you could make one that drives results.

  • How long have you been a member? (you can find member activity in PushPress, but if you aren’t using it, this question is important)
  • How did you hear about us?
  • How many days do you take a class each week?
  • Which class times do you attend? Which ones do you wish you could attend?
  • How fast have you seen results from training with us?
  • Are the staff members that you’ve interacted with helpful and kind?
  • Have you ever referred someone who later became a member of our gym? If so, who?
  • How likely are you to renew or extend your current membership?
  • What could we do to better serve our gym and this community?

Leave some questions open-ended, such as the last one, and you’ll get unfiltered reactions and responses from members. You want as much information and as many opinions as possible to form your data off of.

Gather the Right Information, Then Operate Accordingly

Your daily operations dictate everything that you do with your gym. WIthout having a system in place, you’re sure to fail. If you have trouble defining the correct way to carry out your daily operations, consider bringing on a co-founder or a head coach to help you out.

The great thing about being in the seat that you’re in right now is that you can hire, delegate, and build an ecosystem of your staff members to help carry out these tasks. It’s a hard-learned lesson, but you have to understand that you cannot do everything yourself, and if you try, it’s unhealthy. It’s time to put your daily operations system into place.

Sam Karoll

Sam is our Community Manager for PushPress. He also owns and operates Xplore Nutrition, a personalized nutrition coaching service designed "for your lifestyle and goals by a Coach who's always available."

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