Opening and successfully running your own CrossFit Box doesn’t have to be a pipe dream. If you’ve got the desire, the capital and the willingness to put in the hard graft, there is nothing stopping you from turning your CrossFit dream into reality. In this article, I will draw on the experiences of people who have done it and are now operating extremely successful Boxes to present a step by step guide to starting a CrossFit gym.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • Should you do it?
  • Initial planning
  • How to become a CrossFit affiliate
  • Create a business plan
  • Immerse yourself in the business of CrossFit
  • Register your business
  • Find your location
  • Obtain financing
  • Acquire your equipment
  • Find your staff
  • Develop your marketing plan
  • Capitalize on referrals

Should You Do It?

Before you start pouring some serious money, time and effort into opening your own CrossFit gym, you need to do some serious self analysis. The reason I’m putting this section at the beginning of this guide is that I have come across a number of people who have gone into the gym business for the wrong reasons. 

Do you want to open your own CrossFit Box because you love Crossfit? Of course, the answer should be yes, but that shouldn’t be your only reason and you should realize certain things about your own ability to train when you start your own gym. During the first six months of opening my gym, I went from being in peak physical condition to the worst condition I’d been in for many years. That’s because I was putting so much time and effort into making the gym a success that my own training went on the back burner.

To be a successful CrossFit gym owner, you need to be willing to put your clients first and your own training needs last. Even though you will be immersed in the Crossfit atmosphere that you love, you will be doing so as a business person first. That means dealing with the stress of monthly rent, insurances, regulations, employees and occasionally disgruntled clients. So, make sure you are going into this clear eyed about what you are taking on.

Initial Planning

Your journey to opening and operating a successful Crossfit Box starts with an idea in your head. To begin transforming that idea into concrete reality, you should begin committing your thoughts to paper. Start at the endpoint, which is to open your own Crossfit gym. Now reverse engineer  the key requirements to achieving it.

Obviously, to open your gym you need a building. For that, you need money. That will probably require a loan. So do you have a good enough credit rating to get one? In order to train CrossFit clients, you need to be certified. That’s because you are operating a gym under the CrossFit umbrella and so need to meet certain requirements as set out by CrossFit LLC. 

How to Become a CrossFit Affiliate

CrossFit Boxes operate under an affiliate model. This is different from a franchise. You pay CrossFit $3000 per year to use the CrossFit name, as well as a thousand dollars to become certified, and then have free reign to operate your box the way you want. Unlike the franchise arrangement, CrossFit does not impose quality control measures upon affiliates. 

CrossFit Affiliation entitles you to:

  • Legal use of the CrossFit name, logo, and promotional materials.
  • Legal use of the CrossFit Kids name.
  • Promotion from
  • Support from CrossFit, LLC on specific and general issues.

So how do you become a CrossFit affiliate?

The official CrossFit LLC website lays out the following steps:

  1. CrossFit LLC requires all affiliate applicants to have successfully completed their Level One training certification program as a minimum before submitting an application. The Level One program is a weekend course that is conducted in various locations around the world (these can be found on the Crossfit website). The cost is $1000.
  1. Fill out a general affiliate application form. This includes writing an essay discussing why you want to be a CrossFit affiliate, your background and what you want to achieve with the business. You don’t have to compose a 5,000 word tome here. The key is to write from the heart and let your passion spill onto the page.

In your application you will have to identify the location of your proposed CrossFit box. Obviously, you don’t want to sign any leases until your affiliate application has been accepted, but you should have scouted out a building that meets your budget and that is available.

  1. On your application you will need to provide three options for the name of your gym. Each name must contain the word ‘CrossFit’. CrossFit LLC requires that all CrossFit affiliates use only their licensed name and no other variation that includes the word CrossFit. Additionally, the “F” in CrossFit is always capitalized.
  1. Applicants will need to provide proof of insurance to CrossFit. Any insurance provider may be used but CrossFit recommends making use of the Crossfit Risk Retention Group.

CrossFit require that all affiliate applicants have the following amount of insurance cover:

  • Comprehensive general liability of $1,000,000 per occurrence/$2,000,000 aggregate.
  • Professional liability coverage of $1,000,000.00.
  1. An affiliate fee of $3000 is payable annually.

Create a Business Plan

It is essential that you write a business plan before you leap into any business. This is certainly the case with a CrossFit Box. The business plan will ensure that you are clear eyed about what you are getting yourself into. While your plan is necessary to share with other interested parties, it is also a valuable document for yourself. In it you will create your business and marketing strategy, your goals for the business and the details of how you plan to achieve them.

A strong business plan will also put you at an added advantage when it comes to attracting investors to the business. 

There are a number of ways to lay out a business plan. I’ve done an informal survey among a dozen or so CrossFit that affiliates, and the following sections are common to most of them:

  • A business summary
  • An overview of the gym services
  • Market analysis
  • Marketing plan
  • Sales forecast
  • Competitive analysis
  • Premises and location detail
  • Financial plan

The business summary provides a description of your proposed business. It should be brief and to the point. Imagine that you are making an elevator pitch to a potential investor.

Be sure to include the following points:

  • The target market
  • Your unique selling proposition (USP)

In the overview of your gym services, include the ways you are going to extend your revenue with additional services beyond your CrossFit classes. These may include branded merchandise, supplements and sponsored events.

The market analysis section should be as thorough as possible. It needs to include an analysis of your competition that includes the classes and additional services they offer, prices charged and how busy they are.

You should also include a paragraph or two about the broader CrossFit market. What’s been happening with CrossFit but since the pandemic lockdowns and what are the future forecasts? 

The more awareness of these factors you can demonstrate, the more impressive your plan will be.

In your marketing plan, provide an overview of how you will market your business to your local community. This is your opportunity to go into more detail about how you will differentiate your CrossFit from the competition. Identify your niche target market and explain your unique selling proposition. 

You should also lay out your specific marketing plan for the first six months, including how you will make use of social media and off-line promotion, and what sort of introductory offer and buzz you will build around your opening.

Next, you should develop a sales forecast, projecting your revenues and expenses over a five year period. 

Competitive analysis should answer the following questions about your competition:

  1. What is their target market and USP?
  2. What’s the atmosphere like – friendly and relaxed or competitive in all business?
  3. What’s the state of their equipment, bathrooms and service areas?
  4. Currently priced themselves in the market?

In discussing the premises and location of your proposed gym, go into detail about the factors that lead you to the decision to choose that spot. This should include the floorspace, layout, possible inclusion of bathrooms and showers, ease of parking and proximity to public transport.

Included an analysis of the demographics of the community that encompasses a 3 mile radius of your location. Prove to whoever is reading your business plan that the community can afford what you plan to offer.

The final part of your business plan should detail your start-upand ongoing costs and the way you plan to meet those costs. Break down your client membership plans, your targeted client signups,  and the expected revenue from additional services.

Immerse Yourself in the Business of CrossFit

Your desire to open a CrossFit Box indicates that you are a strong Crossfit devotee. Now, though,  you need to start thinking like a CrossFit businessperson. 

Pay careful attention to how the Box that you are attending operates. What is it doing well and what could it improve upon? How does it build engagement, and a sense of community among its clients? What digital and offline marketing efforts does it use and how successful are they? What are the busy, and quiet, parts of the day and what, if anything, is being done to attract more clients during these quiet times? 

Seek out a successful affiliate that you can use as a mentor. Study how they operate and use them as a sounding board. Immerse yourself in the Crossfit affiliate community, joining online groups and soaking in as much information as you can.

Register Your Business

Having gained your Level One CrossFit Certification and been accepted by CrossFit LLC as an affiliate, you will now need to register your business with your local government authority. This will provide you with an employer identification number (EIN). In the United States, you can register to obtain an EIN through the IRS website

Find Your Location

You’re now ready to start looking for your gym location. My recommendation, based on my own experience, is, rather than looking for an ideal spot, a new building, and fantastic parking availability, search out a location that is a little off the beaten track, that needs a bit of work and that doesn’t have as much sparkle. By going into it with this mindset you are probably going to secure a much lower monthly rental for a location that essentially has the same customer pull area as a more expensive location.  

Here are five key questions you need to answer when checking out a potential location for your Box:

  • Does the location satisfy your target market?
  • Does the street have heavy traffic?
  • Is the site visible from the street?
  • Is the location convenient?
  • Is there enough room for parking?

CrossFit Boxes are often located in warehouse type buildings. These are pretty ideal because they are spacious, open plan and often have plenty of parking spaces around them. They are also usually pretty soundproof. 

Know how much space you will need to support your ideal client numbers. Plan on 10 square feet of space for every client. Include administration space, locker rooms and a relaxation area. 

Buildings with high ceilings are an advantage. They will make the space appear bigger, promote better air circulation, and somehow promote a better workout atmosphere than low ceilings. A building that lets natural light in is another plus. 

Before you sign anything, make sure that you know what the governmental regulations and codes are in relation to the building. It will obviously be graded for commercial use, but does it have an occupancy limit or a noise caveat. If you need to make structural changes to the building, check that the regulations enable you to do so.

For more pointers on finding the ideal location, including negotiating your lease, check out our in-depth guide on how to find the best location for your gym.

Obtain Financing

You may be in the fortunate position of being able to self finance your CrossFit Box. While the costs to open a Box and not as high as a general fitness gym, they are still substantial, though it is likely that you will need some outside financing. 

Here is an overview of what it costs to open an average CrossFit Box in 2022:

  • Level One certification – $1000
  • Annual affiliate fee – $3000
  • Logo design & graphics – $1000
  • Domain name registration – $250
  • Location rental – $2000 per month
  • Flooring, lighting, mirrors – $10,000
  • Equipment – $20,000
  • Insurance – $1500
  • Wages ( for 3 trainers) – $15000 per month
  • Initial marketing campaign – $3000

That all totals to a little under $60,000. However, you need to add in a buffer for those inevitable unexpected expenses. I also recommend having an extra 3 months rent set aside when you open your doors. Taking these factors into account, I recommend a start-up budget of around $80,000. 

Here are five of the most common ways that CrossFit box owners have secured their financing:

  1. Unsecured business line of credit
  2. Commercial bank loan
  3. Government backed loan
  4. Cashing out retirement savings
  5. Crowdfunding

Acquire Your Equipment

At this stage, you have secured your CrossFit affiliation from Crossfit LLC, written your business plan, secured your financing, arranged your building lease and gotten your business licenses and insurance. You are now in a position to start building your Box.

Start from the ground up. You will need a floor that can handle the impact of dropped bumper plates and collapsing bodies. Rubber flooring is best. It should be at least 8mm (1/3 inch) thick. Rubber gym flooring is relatively cost effective and easy to install. 

Now you’re ready to start filling up your gym space with equipment. In deciding what brand of gear to go with, survey 7-10 CrossFit coaches for their preferences. The most high profile brands aren’t necessarily the best, but they are likely to be the most expensive. So, ask coaches for the recommendations for off-peak priced gear that still provides premium performance. 

Here’s the bare minimum you’ll need to get your Box equipped to open:

  • Half a dozen olympic bars for men
  • Half a dozen olympic bars for women
  • Three olympic bard for kids
  • Two sets of kettlebells ranging from 15 to 45 pounds
  • Two sets of dumbbells ranging from 15 to 45 pounds
  • Three power racks
  • Bumper plates
  • Collars
  • Four pull up bars
  • Two sets of gymnastics rings
  • Half a dozen medicine balls ranging from 20 to 45 pounds
  • Half a dozen jump ropes and speed ropes
  • Two sets of climbing ropes
  • Two Concept2 RowErgs
  • Half a dozen plyometric boxes at various heights

A budget of $20,000 should be sufficient to purchase all of this gear.

Find Your Staff

The success or failure of your Crossfit Box will depend on the atmosphere you create and the sense of camaraderie, community and caring that is engendered in your clientele. And that depends largely on the people you employ as coaches. 

When interviewing for the position of coach, look for a balance between CrossFit skill, knowledge and ability to teach with warmth, openness and approachableness. CrossFit skill can be taught, but natural friendliness and the ability to make other people feel relaxed and valued cannot. 

Look for people who display a professional outlook, are disciplined and reliable. They also need to be teachable and the sort of people that you can get along with and enjoy spending time alongside. 

In terms of certification, all coaches should have completed the Level I Certificate from CrossFit LLC as a bare minimum. The more qualifications they can show you, the better.

Here are some specific things to look for and tease out during the view process:

  • Are they able to clearly teach basic movements to a beginner and in a clear, understandable way?
  • Are they able to motivate a large group?
  • Can they effectively lead by us with mixed ability levels?
  • How do they give individual attention to beginners without losing a whole class’s attention?

Develop your Marketing Plan

Now that you have all the other pieces in place, you can set your focus to developing a marketing plan to fill your CrossFit Box with high-value members. The first step is to develop your pricing strategy. There are a number of approaches you can take here, but my recommendation is to situate yourself from the outset as a premium service provider with fees that are above the average price. 

The average monthly membership fee in the United States is $186. Consider setting your fee at around $220 and you will be able to meet your costs with fewer members. So long as you are marketing a premium service and then following through on that promise, you will be able to attract plenty of members.

Remember that a CrossFit Box does not require anywhere near the number of members as a general fitness gym to be sustainable. Whereas most gyms need to maintain a membership in the thousand plus range, you will be doing very nicely by maintaining a client number around 150. 

Within the 3 mile radius of your Box will probably love in excess of 30,000 people. Your mission is to attract 0.5% of those people. A smart, targeted marketing plan will get you there.

Too many general fitness gyms and CrossFit boxes are so eager to build a membership base, that they offer budget memberships to get maximum signups, most of which fall over within a couple of months. Your goal should be to attract high-value members who will stay for the duration.

In order to acquire those high-quality members, your marketing cost per lead will be more than if you followed a shotgun approach. But, having acquired those high-value members, your ongoing attrition rate will be very low, so that your future marketing costs will be significantly reduced.

I recommend a three-step marketing plan:

  • An extremely attractive low barrier entry offer targeted to high-value members designed to quickly build a membership base.
  • A targeted pricing plan that makes long-term membership the best option.
  • Ongoing community building.

The first step is the creation of an attractive offer to pull in new clients. In your market research of the competition, you no doubt found that many gyms offer a free trial session. That’s okay, but you can do much better.

Rather than one free session, offer a package of three complimentary workouts. The difference between one and three is monumental. A single free session is like an appetizer that is quickly devoured. A series of three workouts, however, is a meal to be fully experienced. Three workouts also build the foundation for a pattern and allows the prospective member to get a more immersive flavor of the atmosphere and community spirit of the gym.

Make a proviso that the three sessions need to be taken within 14 days as this will enhance the habitual aspect of working out. Once you get people in, it is up to you and your team to provide them with the premium level of service, attention and results that will hook them in long-term.

The way that you will promote your three package complimentary deal is with an online landing page. Make it simple, with a background image of people working out, the name of your gym, the words …

3 Classes Free

Opening Special

Then have a clickable tab to download the free pass.

Under the tab mentioned three things that make your prospect better than the competition. Examples could be ‘Expert Coaching’, Elite Training’ and “Beginner Friendly Atmosphere’. Provide an image to match each of these aspects.

Finish with another tab to download the free pass.

To get their free pass, people will have to will provide their email address. These email addresses will then automatically feed into your email marketing system. This will send them a series of messages reminding them to redeem their free pass. Each message should contain actionable content designed to educate the reader and get motivated to come into your gym. Here’s a five email sequence that has proven successful:

  • Email #1: Congratulate them on their decision and then encourage them to make the first visit even better by bringing along a friend – they will also be able to take advantage of the three-deal offer.
  • Email #2: What makes CrossFit a great fitness choice?
  • Email #3: Five things you should know about [name of your Box].
  • Email #4: Meet our coaches.
  • Email #5: What sets us apart from other CrossFit gyms?

When a person comes in to redeem their free training voucher, have them put their name and email address on a check in form. Enter these into your automated system so that their email address comes out of your ‘nurture’ list and into a ‘join’ list. 

From this point on, the prospective member will begin receiving a series of emails designed to lure them in so that they become members. I recommend a four email sequence as follows:

  • Email #1: What a membership at [Box name] gives you.
  • Email #2: How our value compares to the competition.
  • Email #3: What our members say.
  • Email #4: Why a long term membership makes better sense all round.

At the end of each of these emails there will be a link to the signup page on your website. On that page you should offer three levels of membership:

  • Monthly
  • Six monthly
  • 12 monthly

Prominently display the per month cost for each option, with each longer commitment reducing the price by around $20. So, if the monthly fee is $220, the average monthly rate when you pay six months in advance will be $200, and $180 if you pay a full year in advance. Offer extra incentives for the six monthly and annual payments such as discounts on gear, nutritional planning, and regular one-on-one sessions. 

With your landing page, website, and automated email systems in place, you are now ready to begin promoting your service. You should make use of the following social media avenues:

  • Instagram 
  • Facebook Ads
  • Google Adwords

In addition, I strongly recommend a direct mail campaign where you make sure that a flier goes into every mailbox within a mile radius of your gym’s location. I can tell you firsthand that, despite the popularity of online marketing, direct mail campaigns still work. Simply have a hardcopy representation of your free three pass offer landing page. Provide the link to your website along with a cut off date for the offer. 

The great thing about social media is that you can laser focus your marketing on a specific market segment. To do this effectively, you need to know exactly what your target market is. More than likely the people you are wanting to attract will fit into some of these categories:

  • Fitness enthusiasts
  • Aged between 18 and 50
  • Household income in excess of $80,000
  • Former athlete
  • Live within the gym’s ZIP Code

Use this information to target specific groups on Google AdWords and Facebook Ads. Post pictures of workout action on Instagram, along with links to your landing page. 

Capitalize on Referrals

The marketing campaign outlined above is a proven method to start building a client base. For every person who signs up, make it your goal to get five referrals. After a person joins, they will go onto a third automated email list. This will send out regular emails packed with usable information, tips and advice. But the first two will be specifically about referrals. 

The first email should provide an incentive for referring a friend. I suggest you provide the member with a month free if their referred person becomes a client. The next email will be entitled ‘How referrals create a community environment’. 


In this article we’ve stepped through from the initial idea stage to a thriving CrossFit Box. Here’s a recap of the 12 steps we’ve considered:

  • Should You Do It?
  • Initial planning
  • How to become a CrossFit affiliate
  • Create a business plan
  • Immerse yourself in the business of CrossFit
  • Register your business
  • Find your location
  • Obtain financing
  • Acquire your equipment
  • Find your staff
  • Develop your marketing plan
  • Capitalize on referrals

A month after opening your doors, the marketing strategy we’ve outlined should give you around 30 high value long-term members. The majority of them will be paid up for six or 12 month memberships. The revenue generated from these clients will set you up to go from strength to strength as you build a flourishing business.

Looking for better gyms software?

We can help you run a more efficient and more profitable business.

Learn more

Get Our Best Content In Your Inbox

Insights on how to manage and grow your gym

Subscribe Now

Get more articles like this directly in your inbox.

Learn how to make your gym or martial arts school a profitable business.

* Unsubscribe at any time