CrossFit Inc. has revolutionized the business of fitness, and now hosts of others are riding the wave. Chris Cooper reports.
Greg Glassman introduced a new way to measure fitness objectively. When your Fran time drops or your front squat goes up, you’re getting fitter.
Harder to measure is the effect that Glassman’s ideas have had on the broader fitness community since he launched CrossFit.com in 2001. CrossFit has changed the landscape: powerlifters who have never heard of Murph can buy better barbells cheaper than they could have 10 years ago, USA Weightlifting’s membership has tripled, and grandma has learned to deadlift. Hundreds of thousands have been introduced to kettlebells, snatches and Tabata intervals thanks to CrossFit.com programming.
CrossFit’s open-source business model has produced success in a manner similar to its workouts. Even as the global economy continues to struggle in the aftermath of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, the number of CrossFit gyms has swelled, growing to more than 7,000 from 1,500 just three years ago. But the ripple effect—the jobs, innovation, technology, small businesses and hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue not generated directly by CrossFit Inc.—is much tougher to tally than reps.