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crossfit marketing

7 CrossFit Marketing Strategies that WORK in 2020

  • June 21, 2019

About the author

Ryan Stewart

I have an unhealthy obsession with being considered the world's BEST internet marketer. I'm highly active on social media and love a good debate.

We all know how competitive CrossFit is as a sport – but as a business?

It’s cutthroat.

In 2005 there were 13 CrossFit affiliates – there are now almost 16,000.

crossfit affiliate gyms 2020

As a consumer this is great news. I can work out at a variety of gyms in my neighborhood at a much lower cost than before.

As a marketer, this presents a tremendous challenge:

How can we compete in such a crowded market?

We’ve worked with over a dozen crossfit gyms and delivered some pretty remarkable results.

Working with these clients gave way to a strategy that combines both online and offline techniques – those exact strategies are outlined in this post.

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Strategy 1: Define Your Identity

Sounds basic, but hear me out!

As a dedicated crossfitter I’ve had the good fortune to work out at dozens of gyms across the country. Even though they were all teaching CrossFit, each experience was vastly different.

Some focus more on teaching proper technique on Olympic lifts, others focus on overall health and conditioning, and others on their advanced athletes.

While there is no one right way to run your box, you need to define whats most important to you.


LegacyFit has amassed a cult like following through their culture here in Miami.


This can be simplified by two choices:

  1. Catering to experienced CrossFit athletes
  2. Catering to newbies

Having experienced CrossFitter’s work out at your gym is great for building a brand for your gym – the better your athletes, the higher you place in competitions, the greater the association between your gym and quality training.

However, this can have a negative impact on training new athletes. New athletes need a lot of attention before and during the workout – advanced athletes don’t.

While you can have both athletes at your gym, picking one or the other is important from a business standpoint because it has an impact on your marketing.

Here’s a perfect example – you’ve at least thought about running a Groupon deal for your box, right?

groupon for crossfit

Groupon deals will attract less experienced athletes – if you’re focused on training advanced athletes, the newcomers won’t get the proper attention needed to succeed.

Defining your business goals up front will help keep your marketing efforts focused and targeted.

Strategy 2: Build Lasting Relationships

You’d think customer service would be a no-brainer.

It’s not.

I can’t tell you how many Crossfit boxes I’ve been to where the staff isn’t just rude, they’re flat out mean.

Kindness is free, and it goes a long way to making members feel like your gym is a place they want to be everyday.

On top of that, take the time (and money) to get to know your athletes personally.

crossfit events

Events like barbecues and happy hours go a long with in building a sense of community at your box. These events also present the opportunity for your customers to bring friends and get to know your box as well.

If your customers are happy, they will be your top salesmen – utilize them!

Strategy 3: Use Social Media Influencers

I’m not going to tell you to use social media because I know you already do.

I want to tell you about a few little known tactics that can have a tremendous impact on your efforts.

  • Crowd source content from your customers: Ask your current customers to take pictures while working out and tag your geo-location when they post them.
  • Host giveaways: Incentive your customers to generate additional content. We had tremendous success creating a campaign based around progress (weight loss, strength gains, goals met, etc). We gave away a free gear to those that met their goals and documented their journey on social media.
  • Well known influencers: There are CrossFitter’s and workout gurus with hundreds of thousands of social media followers – reaching out to them with a sponsored post is a great way to drive brand awareness and traffic to your social pages (See my post here on how to do so)

Social media is powerful, but it only goes as far as your own network. Leveraging the followings of others is the only way to experience explosive growth.


Strategy 4: Invest in a Good Website

81% of consumers do research online before making a purchase.

Having a great website, rich with information about your business, services, testimonials and your expertise allows you to control the flow of content in your favor.

I’m well aware that good website design and development isn’t cheap – but good design, content and structure will deliver an ROI in the long run.

Here are some aspects that are a must on your site:

  • Testimonials (get videos if possible)
  • Lead generation form – make sure its embed in the header of your site
  • Blog that you update daily with tips, advice and workouts
  • Clear and professional images – hire a professional photographer if needed

Don’t cut corners with your website – it’s a key marketing tool that serves as the first impression for your potential customers.

Make sure you’re making the right impression!


Strategy 5: Invest in Good SEO

Call me biased, but search engine optimization (SEO) is the most powerful form of marketing you can undertake for your box.

(NOTE: SEO is the act of optimizing your website to rank higher in search engine results. For example, if your gym is located in LA, SEO would optimize your website to rank 1st for Google searches like “find a crossfit gym in LA”).

SEO is so powerful because of the sheer volume of people searching for CrossFit gyms in Google.

Below is a chart created by Google that displays the amount of searches related to CrossFit over the years.

Key takeaway?

There is a massive number of people using Google to find your exact services. By having your website present in these searches, your customers will increase.

SEO has become somewhat of an ugly duckling of web marketing due to the number of companies that optimize websites using spam techniques.

Luckily, we’re not one of them.


Strategy 6: Advertise online

There are a number of places to buy advertisements online, but I recommend the following:

  • Google search ads (bid on keywords related to “crossfit gyms + your city)
  • Facebook newsfeed ads (run video awareness ads and retarget with coupons)
  • Instagram newsfeed ads (run video awareness ads and retarget with coupons)
  • Instagram story ads (run video awareness ads and retarget with coupons)

Online advertisements don’t always drive the most direct conversions, but they do drive a ton of brand awareness. With a market as competitive as crossfit, brand recognition goes a long way in the consumer decision.

Banner ads (on Facebook and other websites) are extremely cheap. For less than $200 a month you can have a major impact on your top line.

example of banner ads

Examples of online banner advertisements.

Strategy 7: Test platforms like ClassPass and Groupon

There’s no definitive answer if Groupon or ClassPass will work for your box.

It works for some, others it doesn’t. The platforms are way too powerful for you not to test the waters.

When CP or Groupon people come into your box to redeem a coupon, make sure you have a staff member identify them and give them special attention.

Give them a tour of the facilities. Do your best to get to know them. Try and offer them another free class to come in outside of CP or Groupon.

You need to work the sales angle to convert them to a full time member.


CrossFit as an industry has proven that it’s not a flash in the pan. Popularity for the sport will continue to grow – but so will more CrossFit affiliates.

There is no right or wrong way to run your box – these are merely suggestions that have worked for our clients in the past.

Do you have anything to add? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!

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Comments ( 32 )

  • steve Says
    8 years ago

    great tips!

  • Jolly Says
    8 years ago

    Pointing out leveraging the following of other Twitter accounts is a great idea. This can create explosive exponential growth!

  • Ryan Stewart Says
    8 years ago

    Of course Jolly – anytime.

  • Putnam Says
    8 years ago

    Great info! I will share your post in some crossfit forums if you don’t mind.

  • Ryan Stewart Says
    8 years ago

    Please do – thanks!

  • Beaudine Says
    8 years ago

    “Crowd source content from your customers”. This is such a great suggestion! What better way to get some “real life” content.

  • Melendres Says
    8 years ago

    Too much competition in this niche. I don’t think I would wanna delve into it.

  • Gagg Says
    8 years ago

    Great! more room for me:)

  • Somrak Says
    8 years ago

    Nice writeup on crossfit marketing, very useful indeed!

  • Vale J. Says
    8 years ago

    Sounds like it will be a lot of work to break in to this niche, but I’m up for the challenge:)

  • Kirby Says
    8 years ago

    Excellent! You always have great tutorials to share Ryan.

  • Kirby Says
    8 years ago

    Excellent! You always have great tutorials to share Ryan.

  • Ben Says
    8 years ago

    Now I’ll better everybody and the mama gonna jump into crossfit marketing after reading this post lol…

  • lorenzo Says
    7 years ago

    Amazing post .. keep it up .. thanks

  • Travis Says
    7 years ago

    Some decent stuff here if you are not of ANY marketing background but it all comes across as pretty mainstream information. The first tip was great – establishing who you are is crucial.

    As someone who both owns a Crossfit Affiliate, AND I make my “full time” income as an online marketer I’ve been able to get knuckles deep into some campaigns to grow membership. The ideas that you mentioned are honestly really solid. I’m assuming for sake of time you left some things out which makes sense; however, there’s a LOT more you can do with Facebook. While I think that Instagram and Facebook are definitely the two best places to get REAL members… Groupons and the other “obvious” places are definitely great sources for getting the ball rolling.

    Here’s a couple strategies I use to differentiate our gym that might not be “orthodox”:

    1. Crossfit gyms are COMMUNITIES and not gyms. It’s strange to think about it like this, but you are NOT a gym. You are a place people go to hang out, and it just so happens that people work out and get fit during that process. If you work to build your community you will grow members. Period. Give your members something to be proud of and to look forward to. Getting to know them (great tip above) is a key factor to then being able to ask them “Hey – would you mind checking in on Facebook?”. Build the community up and you’ll get more members from your members. In fact – 60-80{476a1b9825899f7e21f124b8533c8410a6ecd3a860b9841e06adbefeac0656e9} of your new members will be from your current “walking billboards” (aka awesome members) so don’t overlook this.

    2. Facebook videos. Get one of your members who is in the video or photography space to do a 1-2 minute video for you one day. Short intro as to who you are “Hey, we’re Crossfit ________ and one of the BIGGEST questions we get is ‘What is crossfit’, so we wanted to show you what Crossfit looks like here.” This is a great opportunity to show a cool workout, get 1 or 2 members to say what they think about the gym, record some members laughing and kicking it after a workout, etc. This is SOOOO marketable because of what I mentioned above in step 1… Then you target people who are interested in fitness in your local area… or friends of people who like your fan page (assuming those are friends of your members).

    3. Creating Social Content Is EASY! A lot of gym owners I talk to say they just don’t have enough time to cultivate content for Instagram that would work on Facebook, that they can post to twitter, and post to Snapchat and whatever else. Actually you only need 1 piece of content per day… post something to Instagram and then take a screen shot of that post and post it on Facebook telling people to follow you on Instagram. Then the next day post something to Facebook directly and make sure you tag the people in the picture. You likely test a 1-3 rep max of something each month so those days will give you tons of content. Record those reps – store them – and then when you don’t have content use slow motion to post that and tag the person in the video. It’s REALLY not hard because you have 8-15 classes a day to get videos, pictures, and quotes…

    If you win the social media battle you will win the “local gym” battle. Let the other guys pay Groupon to send them the “freebie” seekers. Chances are (and we’ve done this) those customers (around 75{476a1b9825899f7e21f124b8533c8410a6ecd3a860b9841e06adbefeac0656e9} actually) will not stay as members and will likely eat up more of your time and your coaches time than the $35 they paid (and $17 you got) for that month.

    Your members appreciate that you are a business, but you are a business wrapped around community and results. If you give people one of those two things, they will get you new members assuming your gym isn’t falling apart.

    We pay $100/ month for a cell phone from Verizon SPECIFICALLY for our coaches to have a phone that always stays at the gym, on them while they are coaching and we tell them that when the moments are right they should film or take pictures. This is just some bits I’d ADD to what he mentioned here because this is a strong foundation.

  • Ryan Stewart Says
    7 years ago

    this is awesome!!! thank you for adding this, i should make this the entire post (ps if youre interested in writing this as a guest post, this website does a TON of traffic i’m happy to credit you as the author)

  • Joel Says
    7 years ago

    Great stuff from both of you. Loved Ryan’s post and Travis’s was icing on the cake!

  • Ryan Stewart Says
    7 years ago

    thanks joel!

  • Jim Says
    7 years ago

    Great information! As a new box owner that is currently using most of the techniques listed I can say that they really do work. We have also tried to use some techniques from different industries to help capitalize on strategies that are often overlooked by gym owners.
    We have used a 5×7 flyer with a nice photo on one side and gym information including a call to action on the reverse side. This flyer can be posted at local businesses. We have found that small businesses are always willing to help other small businesses. We then take the same flyer and meet with every apartment community within a ten mile radius. If you are polite and professional, 95{476a1b9825899f7e21f124b8533c8410a6ecd3a860b9841e06adbefeac0656e9} of the time they will allow you to leave flyers and every time a new resident moves in they will place your flyer in the move-in packet they distribute to new residents. It is a great way to reach hundreds of potential members each month and have someone else do the heavy lifting for you.
    We have also found that small yard signs that ask passers by to text a word to a number that you have designated is a very effective tool. The cost of signs is minimal so the return can be huge. One lead turned to a sale will pay for every sign after the first two months. The signs will be removed by city workers and potentially “other” people that might not like the competition but the rate of return is enormous. Just make sure to place them in high traffic areas at a stop light facing two directions.

    Thanks again and good luck!

  • Ryan Stewart Says
    7 years ago

    thank you for commenting Jim! i’ve been wanting to rewrite this post for a while, your inputs did it for me!


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