2014 is gone and everyone is working on the new and improved 2015 version of themselves (hopefully). For some that will mean seeking out the latest and greatest in magical pills to drop them 4 pant sizes in a week while still allowing them to eat whatever they like and without having to exercise. We all know those work SUPER well. (Insert eyeroll and heavy sarcastic tone here.) For some that will mean a late-night purchase of a new DVD program that promises 5 minutes a day in your living room and you will look like the sculpted fitness models in the video. (Again, SUPER effective.) For some, it will mean researching and buying a gym membership.
Whenever curious friends or family ask me how much our gym costs, I can expect their typical response to be surprise at our $75 a month price tag. It is at this point that the questions either stop or goes to, "Why are CrossFit gyms so much more expensive than regular gyms?"—a valid question if you’re comparing CrossFit boxes (that's what we call it, it's not a gym) to a standard “gym membership.” But to really answer that question, you have to really know what you are paying for, right? Is a CrossFit box a gym in the sense that it is a place to work out? Yes. However, what you get from us, versus what you get at a 24-hour gym, for example, vary greatly and could be the determining factor in whether you are still keeping up with your routine when the snow melts or whether you have returned to the couch with your Snuggy to binge watch Sons of Anarchy on Netflix. Just. Sayin'.
So, let's take a look at the prices of traditional gyms versus CrossFit affiliates, like us. How are they set in the first place, and what’s included in either membership? Now, I'm going to have to make some general assumptions, of course, and I probably don't need to let you know that I am Team CrossFit, but I'm gonna give YOU the information and YOU can decide.
Before we talk products and services, let's talk HOW the prices of gyms are set. For the most-part, all large commercial gyms (Planet Fitness, Gold's Gym, etc.) run on a pre-enrollment membership model. You know what that is already, don't you? Members sign a contract, typically for a year or more, in addition to "enrollment fees" at sign up. This works great for the Globo gyms (that's what we are going to call all the commercial gyms from this point on)- they have guaranteed income from each member for the next 12 months, at least! The member can come in every day, once a month, or never again. Not going to affect their bottom line and their work is done. It works. It works REALLY, REALLY well. In fact, the vast majority of people who enroll in these types of gyms don't even show up! Ever! If these people did show up, gyms would have to increase their price tag. Most of these Globo gyms have way more members than they can actually accommodate. Some average several thousand members per gym! Is the gym the size of a small town? No, the actual gym can only accommodate a few hundred. They can do this because they know most of the members won't show up. If you are a member of one of these Globo gyms and NOT going to the gym, you are actually that gym's best customer.
Conversely, CrossFit boxes rely on the people who show up to pay their bills. Our membership base is smaller and our rates are higher BUT our experience actually warrants the price tag. We need more space and equipment per person. Not only do we count on people actually showing up, regularly, we aren't expecting mom-of-2 to spend an hour on the elliptical. (We don't have those anyway.) We also need dedicated, trained coaches for EVERY class, EVERY day, no matter what. Do you think we charge what we do and then say "you're on your own" once you walk in? No way! We are here to instruct, correct, and guide EVERY class. Many people who train at Crossfit boxes (gyms) used to workout in a traditional gym and felt like it wasn't giving them enough. They got bored, frustrated, and lost the drive to go pretty fast.
Now we see how prices are set, but what do you get for your dollar? First things first, what you see. The equipment and facilities- everything from machines and weights to showers and childcare area.
Most Globo gyms are going to have your standard sea of treadmills, elliptical and other cardio equipment, a full set of various cable style weight machines, and then a smaller portion of the gym reserved for free weights and (hopefully) a place to stretch out. Typically the the layout is set up to get as many people running in place (enter treadmill here) as possible since those members don’t require a lot of space in the gym, and their equipment of choice doesn't require someone to teach you how to use it. If they can fill their gym with user-friendly equipment that people can either figure out themselves or refer to the handy instruction card mounted to the side of the machine, they have less work to do. Less work means less employees needed, less employees means less overhead, which means more profit! Now, to be fair, there are better-than-most Globo gyms just as there are not-so-great CrossFit boxes. The Globo near you may have everything you ever dreamed of and more! There may also be extras like showers, pools, and childcare, which could all factor in to your decision to join or not.
If you've ever set foot in a CrossFit box, or even seen pictures/videos of one, you will know that "amenities" is a word that, if used, is used tongue-in-cheek. We are far from fancy, and quite free of bells and whistles. (Well, we have PR bells.) At CrossFit boxes, we are pretty stripped down and basic. We have simple, yet effective equipment, a lot of which you won't find in a Globo gym. Rubber bumper plates, sand bags and climbing ropes, for example. We use the heck out of this stuff, and more, to program for strength and conditioning, and keep improving. This means our members follow this programming, and this, along with the standards it includes, is what we emphasize over everything else. There may be childcare, there may just be a spot for kids to hang out while mom and dad get their sweat on. There may be showers, there may not. Toilets are pretty much a safe bet. Some of us, in fact, many of us, don't have central heat or air. It wouldn't make sense being that most of us occupy a former warehouse. Ooh, we do have sweat towels! There are a few fancy (I guess?) CrossFits that have more amenities than most, and of course there is nothing wrong with an in-house massage therapist or sauna, but even the upscale CrossFits promote their workouts over their extras.
Now, beyond the stuff you see and use, let's get into the programming a bit deeper. Programming services for both Globo gyms and (some) CrossFit boxes include personal training (one on one time with a trainer, programs tailored for your abilities and goals) and movement instruction/feedback (what to do and how to do it)
Ok, Globo Gym member! You paid you $10/month for 1 year, so you have access to the facilities. Now, let's just schedule a few sessions with the Personal Trainer and you will be on your way to hot! Oh, crap! The personal trainer is expensive. Like, WAY expensive. And unlike the elliptical machine, he isn't part of the facilities. You have to actually pay extra. Dang. A quick search showed over $350 for 5 50-minute sessions at a popular Globo Gym in our state, and that's on the low end of the scale. If you are paying that, on top of your per month gym dues, the cost of a CrossFit membership is like the change I find in the dryer. Are there people motivated enough to come up with their own training program that works, keep an eye on their own movement and progress and a handle on their nutrition? Sure. And if you are one of those people, then a Globo Gym might be a great fit for you. But remember how i said that the vast majority of people who sign up don't show up? Why do you think that is? It's simple- they don't know what the heck to do once they get there and there is no one there to push them or hold them accountable.
Classes like cardio kick-boxing and spinning are big draws at Globo gyms too, and do count as programming services. The reason these classes are so popular, in my opinion is because #1 someone else (the trainer/instructor) is telling you what to do and when to do it and #2 you are doing it with other people. It isn't necessarily because they are super effective. Granted, it may be better than what you are currently doing, especially if you are binge watching SOA, and if you truly enjoy these classes, then keep at it! But, i would have to strongly encourage you to try out a CrossFit class before you stick to your guns.
At a CrossFit box, training- whether dealing with programming or movement instruction—is what you are paying for. Although every box is free to operate how it sees fit according to CrossFit Headquarters, typically a Crossfit box will program a warm-up suited for the day's workout, followed by some sort of strength or skill training and finish with a metabolic conditioning workout (which is never called a workout, always a “WOD”- workout of the day).
But, like I said, each CrossFit box is its own freestanding business, which means that each owner can put their spin on the programming of CrossFit, and also unfortunately means that the quality of training will vary. Is this issue exclusive to CrossFit? Hardly. Like any other industry you are trying to find your way through, be smart, be informed, and make the best choice for yourself. Crossfit gets a LOT of flack for not being completely safe. I would reason to bet that there remains to be a gym business or fitness trend that is entirely safe, 100% effective and totally efficient. At this time, there are over 10,000 independently owned and operated CrossFit affiliates. Common sense would tell you that when there are 10,000 of anything, you are gonna see some examples of awesome and some examples of awful, but for the mostpart, everybody is somewhere in the middle of the pack.
Last thing to consider- environment. No, Im not talking about whether your gym recycles and uses solar panels, I mean the environment within the gym- the atmosphere. If you find someone who loves their gym, it isn't because they have a rockin' playlist or the best set of dumbbells in town. It's the environment there. If you belong to a gym you are excited to go to, with people you enjoy being around, you will have a MUCH more effective, and fun training experience than if you belong to a gym where you drag yourself everyday because you "have to" . Gym A may have a shiny new flock of treadmills but have the worst community environment you've experienced since the cliques in high school while Gym B may have mismatched equipment and a leaky bathroom sink but you feel like the people there are family. Environment/ atmosphere are just as important as the programming and services a gym offers and can make or break your experience.
When it comes to the environment of a Globo gym, i don't think there's a whole lot to say. You come in, you work out, you leave. More than likely you have on head phones, as does everyone around you. If you happen to take one of their classes, you might interact a little with some of your fellow class-mates, but that's probably about as social as it gets. You do your thing, I'll do my thing, maybe I'll see you again sometime.
Different from traditional gyms, CrossFit gyms are all about community. All. About. It. We don't just interact before or after class, we interact during class, outside of class, pretty much all the time. We go out to eat together, have float trips, parties, BBQs, we REALLY like each other! What does this mean for the gym? It means we have people who are developing meaningful, supportive relationships with other people- people they probably would never have met or befriended aside from CrossFit. It means people are really excited to work out, eat healthy, and (sorry, friends and families) post non-stop on Facebook about what they did at the box that day. They aren't trying to be annoying, really, they have just found a place that they love, not only because of the workouts but because of the community and they want to share it with everyone!
So is CrossFit expensive? Maybe. It depends on your personal priorities, your budget and your disposable income. CrossFit affiliates certainly aren't “cheap,”- you won't find any of us advertising $20 a month, but for SO many people world-wide, it's obviously worth it. Come give us a try! Your first class is ALWAYS free, just contact us on Facebook for more info!