If the Shoe Fits …

By Kevin Daigle

In CrossFit, CrossFit Games

February 07, 2011

PDF Article

Reebok opens a CrossFit box in Massachusetts as the first step in a growing partnership with CrossFit. Kevin Daigle reports.

Canton, Mass.—In late 2010, the garage door rolled up and the very first athletes set foot in Reebok’s CrossFit box, a brand-new, top-notch facility built right on the campus of Reebok’s world headquarters in Canton, Mass.

The stage was Reebok’s annual global marketing meeting, which gathers together its top managers from around the world. The new CrossFit box is a direct result of collaboration between CFHQ and Reebok. Reebok CMO Matt O’Toole plans to leverage this experiment to bring CrossFit to all 20,000 of Reebok’s employees worldwide. Going forward, the face of Reebok is fitness, and CrossFit is one way that fitness will be created and defined.

“Where it goes from here … is the same way that CrossFit has gone,” O’Toole said. “Once people understand what CrossFit is about and how it can impact your life, I think we’re going to start a fire in the Reebok organization.”

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34 Comments on “If the Shoe Fits … ”

1

wrote …

So does this mean that Reebok will be scrapping the toning shoes and the Zig and epousing biomechanically efficient running technique? That's pretty exciting.

2

Gerard Mcauliffe wrote …

If they can get Ryan Giggs to CrossFit i'm onboard!

3

wrote …

Why Reebok? I remember when they came on the market in the 80's. Everyone bought them initially because the company spent alot on marketing. Soon after, you heard nothing but complaints about the quality of their products. They have consistently been ranked low by running and product review magazines,and there "toning shoes" represent everything that Crossfit is not. I hope it's a good thing that Crossfit has a major sponsor, but couldn't they have been a little pickier about who it would be?

4

wrote …

Only time will tell, I understand that it usually takes 6 months to several years for R&D and product development to release a product. If Reebok back in 2008 said we need to create a special shoe, it would have just now surfaced with marketing backing. I agree with the quality of Reebok, I've never been a fan of their products, but they have a brand that is recognizable, and the quality can change rather quickly, much like how the swing of Dell and HP have changed drastically in quality over the past couple of years (both for good and bad).

While the whole "toning" line of CRAP is utter bull, and very backwards to what Crossfit promotes, but lets hope that HQ has evaluated not necessarily where Reebok is, but where they are going (probably the more important of the two), and I think that them opening up a gym with the type of equipment and training methodology we use is proof of their willingness to give something else a go. For them it's also probably somewhat of an R&D type of opportunity, as the best way to create products is to immerse the creators in the environment.

Probably the biggest importance is that the sponsor doesn't screw with the program, and demand a level of control like under armor, espn, etc... desired. My 2cents

5

wrote …

I knew that this would eventually happen. Big business recognizes something good, and of course wants to be a part of it. I agree with Chris, I hope Reebok will only be a part of Crossfit and not define it. Crossfit has a pretty good track record for finding experts on the cutting edge of what is known about fitness, and these experts have helped shape Crossfit into what it is today. On the surface I see Reebok as a sub-par fitness company that hopefully is starting to see the light and is smart enough to hang on to Crossfit and save itself. I hope that this partnership is a positive thing, and not the beginning of the end of Crossfit as we know it.

6

wrote …

I agree with what is being said amongst the community so far- Reebok sucks. They have shirts and pants with built in "resistance bands" to tone you while you do nothing supposedly. If CFHQ sticks to its guns, everything should be okay...like the no franchising of affiliates etc.. Remember sponsorship vs. endorsement? That gives me hope. It still annoys me to see people in Reebok shoes and jackets on athletes thrown in videos I know they probably weren't wearing to begin with, but I hate that in movies too. Admittedly, if given some money to wear a jacket I'd probably do it. On the other hand, I'd rather have a heavier overhead squat than fight to stay on my heels in a pair of ReeTones, but maybe that in itself would be a workout. We'll see. Other than the games money, we will have to wait to see the benefits of this "partnership." I have faith in HQ. (for now)

7

wrote …

This makes me very, very nervous. I can only hope HQ knows what they're doing.

8

wrote …

Oh my God...i can´t believe that this is happening. If they try to create a Reebok fitness brand like body systems using crossfit, maybe that will be different, but yet, not good. I hope that this partnership goes along just for the games, money joint venture, otherwise...

9

Thomas Stegelmann wrote …

If Crossfit can change you, Crossfit can change Reebok.

10

wrote …

It was exciting to be there to witness this all go down, and see just how passionate Reebok - as an organization and their staff as individuals - are about CrossFit, what we believe, and who we are (they're crossfitters now too). They really get it, and are excited about the future of the partnership. Things are going in the right direction - quickly. Getting a chance to talk to Coach Glassman one-on-one while writing this was great. He has a deep understanding of Reebok's vision, and ownership of CrossFit's vision...and those two things are perfectly synergistic. It's a very exciting time to be a crossfitter, and to be involved in this community. Love this stuff guys, can't wait to get back to CF Reebok one again! 3-2-1-GO!!!

Daigle

11

Daniel Schmieding wrote …

Everybody on here who starts whining about "big business" getting involved needs to get a clue. Companies have been trying to associate with CrossFit for years. The only difference here is that Reebok doesn't want to change CrossFit, and needs an image update.

12

replied to comment from Daniel Schmieding

Agreed Mr. Schmieding and I'll add a few thoughts.

For those who are worried this is "the end of Crossfit". As long as you have a place to run, jump, do pull-ups, push-ups, situps, lift weight, squat and can do these movements and more with variance and intensity, then "Crossfit" never ends for you. If you're not allowed to call it Crossfit for some reason, call it AverageJoeFit for all I care. Bet you get the same results.

Why is it a bad thing that Crossfit gets "Too big"? Aren't we as crossfitters always encouraging friends and family to come to the gym? I have yet to meet a crossfitter that keeps his or her mouth shut about it, myself included and that's totally cool. Reebok's involvement can only accelerate the "word of mouth". Now the whole world might get healthy, medications and shitty food won't be mass produced. Our loved ones might live longer and healthier lives. OMG! What will we do?

As far as "Branding Crossfit with a sub-par athletic company" goes, it sounds like Reebok is looking to rebrand themselves with Crossfit (a tougher, numbers based, and successful program) and if they work it into their culture I predict Reebok will fix their problems and be a dominate force that will be taken seriously in the athletic community. I don't see how they can bring the Crossfit image down at this point. Crossfit isn't THAT big just yet. Plus, it's kinda cool that there is a company out there that is looking to produce better equipement for me to use doing what I love to do.

13

replied to comment from Charlie Mirkle

Huh?

Did I wander into the wrong website?
Nope, it's the CF Journal comments section.

Wow, people dealing with change logically and calmly. It just doesn't seem CrossFit somehow. :-)

I think it would be amazing if CrossFit could help re-launch Reebok. Both parties benefiting, CrossFit getting a worldwide marketing network to tap into, it's a dream come true really.

14

wrote …

People who hold CrossFit up as some shining ivory tower are the only ones making anything that is vulnerable to "outsiders" (another misleading concept).


For anyone who is afraid of CrossFit being "corrupted," I have two points:

1) Start by acknowledging (as main-site does itself, really) that there's nothing magical, revolutionary, or even original about CrossFit. CrossFit does provides some terrific food for thought on how to define fitness, and then some relatively safe and efficient modalities to make progress toward its own definition, but history and common sense indicate that what appears on main-site has evolved and will evolve a lot in the years ahead. So there's nothing sacred about what you see at crossfit.com. If your fitness research, experimentation, and application stop there, then you're not even CrossFitting, no matter how many CrossFit WODs you Rx in a given week.

2) The real "CrossFit" value to protect from "outside" corruption is simply the personal communities that people have built around the idea of general-purpose fitness. And nobody controls (or protects) that but you. For the fitness community that my CF gym calls home, CrossFit WODs are just the starting point. The same group of people also meets throughout the week to train for mud runs, lift weights, put on (paleo/zone-friendly) BBQs, discuss shoes/diet/fitness, etc.

How is Reebok going to take that from us?

15

wrote …

I hope this doesn't end up like Spinning.

14 years ago I was an instructor for the independent Johnny G Spinning,
there were specific guidlines and work efforts that must be adhered to.

3 years later and the involvement of Madd Dogg Athletics, the program began to get watered down. Cheaper bikes, home style bikes, easier and goofier programs.

Johnny G then dropped out of the picture entirely and now the brand sucks and there are dozens of imitators.

I hope Coach Greg G. does a better job at protecting his core brand.

16

wrote …

Sweatshops.

17

wrote …

Doesn't surprise me - The Games and expansion have been the main goal of Crossfit the past couple years, this just adds to it. Selling out is easy when your getting tons of money to do so. Love the idea of Crossfit, not liking what it is becoming lately......

18

wrote …

Until Reebok sells a single shoe that would be useful to a crossfitter, this is just a joke. There are some Nike's I might wear in certain circumstances, definitely Vibrams, Adidas.... But there's not a single shoe in the Reebok catalog that I would ever wear for anything I might conceivably deal with in a Crossfit environment.

That said, I hope they do change, and I'd love to see a line of Reebok lifting shoes.

19

wrote …

If you have to be a Reebok employee to be a member at their CrossFit I think it's great? They can have a huge impact in exposing CrossFit to the world. If not, the other CrossFit boxes in Massachusetts won't be able to compete with Reebok and their money. Why would someone new to CrossFit go to a grungy looking warehouse gym in an industrial complex when they could go train at Reebok where they know the name and have all the new shiny toys?

I'll just have faith in CrossFit HQ. They haven't steered us wrong yet.

20

wrote …

My hope is that Crossfit boxes don't remain grungy looking warehouse gyms in an industrial complex forever. Growing the affiliate base across the country/world has been a tremendous effort on the part of the countless entrepreneurs who took the risk to open a box. The first wave of boxes has had to be lean and mean as they have been redefining what it means to workout. I don't think offering amenities in the future like therapeutic cold & hot baths, retail/apparel space, rock climbing walls, food bar, etc would take from the core spirit of Crossfit. Giving adult people a clean & attractive place to play and train should be the goal of any box owner so that he or she can continue to drive value to the customer base. Reebox Crossfit just might bring in more awareness to the general public and thus bump affiliate memberships by 15% or 20%. More people allow for more classes, more equipment, better sound systems, more amenities,... What's not to like?

21

wrote …

What's not to like?.....Losing my box if Reebok, a multi-million dollar company opens up a CrossFit down the street. No small gym opener will be able to compete with that.

22

wrote …

Hah...I thought I'd write some witty comment about Reebok's stupid toning shoes but it looks like (many) others have beaten me to the punch.

23

replied to comment from A C

Oh, you mean kind of how no small, upstart fitness program could have ever conceived of competing with the multi-million dollar globo-gyms about 6 or 8 years ago? Or how there are no longer any opportunities for personal trainers/bootcamp entrepreneurs because they can't compete with the big gyms or Crossfit itself now?

Come on man, have some vision.

24

replied to comment from A C

David is right on this one, also- (and this has been true from the beginning, and majorly what made crossfit successful) the trainers/community is what makes CF. If Reebok's gym doesn't have the quality and personality that your trainers do, people will come to you (think results driven). Also one of the beauties of the CF box business is that member quantities usually get capped because members give a sh** and want to be there every day, so they generally can't expand past a certain capacity. Until every person is doing this fitness program, there is still room for more clients

25

replied to comment from David White

You are correct Dave, CrossFit has overcame some big obstacles to become what it is today. But if you were the owner of a box would you be happy if Reebok opened up shop down the street. I'm guessing not. Especially if you just opened and have very few clients to begin with. Needless to say, people will check out Reebok before they come see you.

26

replied to comment from Chris Slaughter

Chris, I get your point and we are all on the same team here. I love the rose color glasses we all wear sometimes. From your response, I'm assuming you do not own a box. But let's say you did....If someone NEW to CrossFit doesn't like the community/atmosphere or fails to get results from Reebok (because that's where they're going to go 1st given the choice) they likely won't be jumping ship to your box. They will assume that CrossFit is crap since they didn't get what they were looking for the first time. I highly doubt that they are going to be looking to join another CrossFit with the hopes they won't be disappointed again. Just like if you went into a big box store for the first time and got horrible service. You'd probably never step foot inside any of their stores again.


Also, I don't know of too many CrossFit's capping classes for good. They just move to a larger box and expand the business. Reebok has the ability to expand across the globe. I can't compete with that.


Greg Glassman is a smart man and would never jeopardize his loyal affiliates. I will assume that the locations of Reebok will be strategic so not to interfere with the already established CrossFit boxes. Reebok can have a very positive impact on the exposure of CrossFit. Thus the point of my initial statement. Needless to say, it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

Cheers.

27

wrote …

The more I get older the more I realize that money really does make the world go 'round. I'm not complaining, just observing. The recent Home Gym videos on the main site are a nice attempt by HQ to balance the overall image- why can't HQ have it's cake and eat it too?

28

wrote …

When I first heard about the partnership I was worried but the more I thought about it the more I like it. Some of you like to relish in the beleaguered looks you get when you do a crossfit workout or talk about crossfit to your friends, but I don't. I want everyone I talk to (family, friends, co-workers) to hear about and begin doing crossfit because it can change their life like it did mine. The more exposure it has, the better. If they get a deal with ESPN for the Crossfit Games, I will be ecstatic! A lot of people view Crossfit as that cool dive bar or that edgy band that hasn't signed a to a major record label; we feel cool that we found out about it before everyone else. But Crossfit is neither of those, it is a system that can redefine your life and transform your health and fitness.

29

Charles Charbeneau wrote …

I think people need to actually read the article and then go and listen to the CrossFit Radio interview with Chad Wittman, an executive with Reebok (ep 151 - http://journal.crossfit.com/2010/12/crossfit-radio-episode-151.tpl).

There were people at Reebok doing CrossFit, like all of us, it changed them. It changed them so much that a community within the corporation started to grow. As an athletic company they saw an opportunity to make it a part of their corporate culture, and they believed in it so much, they wanted to give back.

Isn't this what we all work toward in our own way? We are changed, and in return try to effect positive change because of it? We convince our family members and coworkers to come to a class - just one - to witness the effect. We enroll our kids and offer to bring the neighbor's kids with to the free Saturday class to help short circuit the broken system.

I'm just a software consultant, convincing whichever full time employee I'm working with at whatever client I'm at in which ever city I'm lodged in that week to come with me to the local box when I try to get a work out - imagine if I had the power of an example like Reebok to show them. A group of like minded people that is starting to change the culture of their company from within. Burpees for late arrival to meetings? I LOVE IT!

This is an awesome story for us as athletes, trainers, coaches and gym owners. Looking to increase your foot print and impact? Find your local big company, offer a free Saturday class to their employees, offer the example of Reebok embracing CrossFit corporate wide and ask "How can I help you?"

I don't know, as I said, I'm just a software consultant, but after all the negative press (even within the Health and Fitness industry) we've endured, this kind of example shows what we, as a community, have to offer to the industry and the impact a passionate, successful group can have.

Of course, it's a doube edged blade. We MUST strive for quality in ALL our affiliates and gyms (cf. Today's Journal Article "Left Out in the Cold" - http://journal.crossfit.com/2011/02/left-out-in-the-cold.tpl) so that, regardless of their first contact, be it CrossFit Minneapolis, Reebok Crossfit or my garage gym in the little town of Holmen, Wisconsin (C'mon by, I'd love to work out with you), they see and feel the impact of the strong community, knowledgeable trainers and passionate people that CrossFit has in spades. As long as HQ strives for that quality in Certification and Affiliation (Reebok or otherwise), and continues to foster it in the community, this kind of exposure will help us all.

So my question is, how is this GOOD for _you_?

30

wrote …

"On top of that, Reebok is committed to bringing CrossFit
to the world outside the United States on a scale previously
unimaginable. Full details are still unavailable, but
Jimi Letchford, head of business development for CrossFit,
says Reebok will be looking to move CrossFit into 12 key
countries where there is currently no significant CrossFit
presence to speak of."

I've actually had a very short email dialogue with one of the Reebok / CrossFit people. She was honest and straight forward - Reebok has no intention of running CrossFit boxes - they want to help affiliates get set up - and yeah, probably with some Reebok gear. They don't want to take over CrossFit and run affiliates.

As someone mentioned, it takes a while to get a product from the vision to the drawing board to making it and testing it, and then putting it on the market. Don't forget, Adidas and Reebok are the same company.

Maybe being a part of CrossFit will allow Reebok to get rid of some of the silly gimmicky shoes and clothing they produce and force them to focus on functional clothing and footwear. A huge corporation can change, especially when they see a niche market that can be filled, considering the vast knowledge, power, and money Reebok has in the fitness industry.

No need to worry about the sky falling....

31

wrote …

Coach, et al.

Awesome.

For all the doubters - how can we as a community affect change in the fitness industry (and America) without something like this. Look at the progress in the following:

1. The CrossFit Journal
2. The Cert programs (ANSI!)
3. The CrossFit Games
4. The number / quality of affiliates
5. Yourself in the mirror

Our community is based on its people. We have heard Coach say it over and over, "CrossFit is you."

I doubt very much WE will change. I doubt very much that Reebok will not.

Reebok also sponsors things like school PE programs.

This is awesome.

32

wrote …

Look, i agree that this could be very good for CrossFit, but also has the potential to cause problems for the whole concept of community that has developed. My concern has more to do with the Journal itself. Where are the interviews with other groups (ie competitiors, sports business experts, exercise phys guys not associated with CF or Reebok or why some have concerns)? As CF grows, the journal is going to have to transition from trying to provide marketing and information to users, and into a journalistic venture trying to provide not only quality information, but also strive for objective reporting (including negative aspects). If not, an outside group, much like the Navy Times did, will come in and offer critical reporting and information. This article comes across as press release as much as info. That's great but.... Can't we expect more from the journal than that?

33

wrote …

im hoping for the best with this but i am nervous.

34

wrote …

Coach Glassman always seems to surround himself with great people like Jimi Letchford who keep the good of the Community in mind. Trust his vision !!!
I am wondering if affilliates will be able to to sell Reebok's CrossFit gear out of their box

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