I Want to Open a CrossFit, You Say - But, Do You Really?

Tom Gannon



Business, Coaching

I want to open a CrossFit/training facility/studio. I’m gonna share it with everybody and I am going to be awesome. I can work my own hours and wear what I want. This is going to be awesome.


Great. So, how do you feel about working a commission-only sales job?



This one question can and sometimes does floor people. It’s an angle that many people miss or ignore. If you miss it, fine; you’ve just had it pointed out to you. If you ignore it, then you are an idiot. This is the reality of owning a facility or being an entrepreneur.


Just take a moment to have that sink in. If the business does not succeed you do not get paid. Not a dime. Sure you might have a pile of money at the start of the venture but eventually it comes down to your ability to do the following:


  1. Get clients.
  2. Service clients.


If you cannot acquire clients it does not matter how exceptional the service is.


business, crossfit business, opening a crossfit, new crossfit, gym businessI get that some people are not comfortable with sales. Some people view sales as a dirty word and consider it sleazy. Some people even believe that if they are exceptional at what they do they will succeed regardless. Maybe they will, and the attitude of never-ending improvement is one we live by here at my facility. However, if you cannot influence someone to use your service or product, then you will be left with an emotionally and financially draining hobby. Sales or influence also applies to other areas of coaching, like selling a kamikaze weightlifter on the merits of engaging in correct form in the interests of safety and longevity.




Still don't believe me? I want you to imagine two identical coaches with identical skillsets in identical facilities with twenty enquiries per month:


Coach A

40% of inquiries become clients

Finishes the first twelve month period with 96 clients


Coach B

80% of inquiries become clients

Finishes the first twelve month period with 192 clients


If you work on commission only, this is the difference between a $30k career and a $60k career, with all other things being equal. These are real and concrete numbers and these are not unrealistic in the slightest.


Please remember that you will be the one that lies awake at night trying to figure out how to pay the bills, feeling sick with worry, and being truly scared of the task ahead of you. The costs keep piling up and the job description just gets longer and longer by the day. You’ve gone from somebody that loved fitness, who wanted to share it with other like-minded people, to somebody who is cleaning a toilet at 4:00pm on a Sunday after a sixty-hour week, hanging on by your nerves. You need this new guy or girl who is coming in on Monday morning to buy what you’re selling or else you won’t be able to pay yourself a wage this week - or month.


You are ultimately responsible for the success or failure of the business and all that is attached to it. If you own a business that is not moving in the right direction, then ultimately you are responsible for that too. You can cry about it all you want and list off all the excuses in the world, but it is ultimately your duty to accept this scenario. If you cannot sell and develop business, then you need to up-skill yourself or outsource this vital task.


business, crossfit business, opening a crossfit, new crossfit, gym businessThis article may seem a little downbeat and negative. It is not. This is a real description of what can and does happen. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, and if you get this wrong you’ll end up like a huge percentage of new business ventures that fail. And please note that some of the businesses that continue to trade are doing so because owners are sleeping in the premises, getting additional support from family members, and not being paid a wage. This CrossFit/training facility/studio thing can kick you hard if you do not treat opening a business with the respect it deserves.


What I urge you to do is to figure out if the chaos and uncertainty of a commission-only career is balanced out by being in charge of your own destiny and career path. This is not for everyone, but for those whom it is appropriate, it is an incredibly rewarding venture. 


Photos courtesy of CrossFit Impulse.

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