Is CrossFit interest declining?

I wrote an post a few weeks (months?) ago that it looked like the CrossFit “fad” might be slowing down. My main reasoning was that some of the Level 1 certification classes were not selling out. When I got my L1 you had to watch for when new classes were released for the Denver area because they sold out so fast. Looking at CrossFit.com right now there are five of the six courses for this week with availability. It’s a tough weekend with it being Thanksgiving weekend, but even next weekend two of the six have availability.

I think this is why they created the new L2 and L3 certifications – to drive more business/interest.

Anyway, that’s not what drives this post.

Everything peaks. Some peaks last longer than others, but everything peaks. Someone finds something that the market loves and a bunch of people copy it and eventually the market supply outpaces the market demand. Whether that product is a full size van (how popular were those in the late 80’s early 90’s), Jazzercise, P90x or Coca Cola (first time in years that public consumption has decreased) sooner or later the public moves on.

I think the trend of both CrossFit and craft breweries is sort of the same. Both got really popular at about the same time and, at least here in Denver, there is a CrossFit box or a brewery about every 5-10 miles (more CrossFit than breweries…but breweries are popping up everywhere). Sooner or later the market will be over-saturated for both. Sooner or later there will be more breweries than beer drinkers and sooner or later there will be more CrossFit boxes than those interested in CrossFit.

Well I think the CrossFit market might finally be full. I know CrossFit announced they had 10,000 affiliates this year, but I wonder what the count is now? Locally we have had three boxes close their doors this year – and those are only those that I am aware of. CrossFit Saddle Rock, CrossFit Unbroken and CrossFit Parker have all closed this year (and really all within about 6 months). In only one of those cases, that I know of, did a coach from one of those gyms open their own, new CrossFit box – Kevin Ogar opened his own box when Unbroken closed its doors.

Unbroken and Parker were both very long standing gyms in the community. Parker was the only box in Parker when I first started looking into CrossFit five years ago (now there are four, I believe, if I include Parker still). And at that time Parker was already well established. Unbroken was owned by Matt Hathcock (former games competitor and star of one of my favorite Games events of all time) and had been open for several years, too. When I was just visiting Glenwood Springs this past weekend I was going to go to CrossFit Generate (I think was the name), but found out it recently closed its doors.

Unbroken I heard closed mostly because Matt lost interest in CrossFit and I think once the owner loses interest the gym will struggle. If the owners can’t put in full effort its client base will see the quality drop and it makes it hard to sustain. I suspect the same thing happened at CrossFit Parker.

I travel to Phoenix every spring for golf and baseball and while I am there I visit Firebird CrossFit and I just saw that their owners just sold the box to another couple who have been members of Firebird for a few years. It will be interesting to see how that gym continues to grow – or fail – with new owners.

The point being that the interest in CrossFit is at least plateauing, if not declining. Those who have been in it for years are moving on. Gyms that have been open for years are closing their doors or selling to new owners. Some of the best of the best (Hathcock) have lost interest. The CrossFit Open isn’t growing exponentially any longer (I have seen claims of 270,000 participants in 2015, but when you scroll through the leader board there are a LOT of people who didn’t complete any workout).

Who knows, maybe this is just my small world of CrossFit. Maybe this isn’t indicative of CrossFit’s interest world wide. It is only a matter of time before it peaks and goes down. I don’t think it will ever wane entirely – there will always be people like me who will participate in CrossFit for the foreseeable future. There will always be people like me who love it, love the competition, love the work to improve myself, my lifts and my times. But there are many, many more who are in it just so their beer gut doesn’t get TOO big – they are OK with a beer gut, but they just want to feel like when they drink 5 beers a night that they work off a little of it at the gym three or four times a week. Those very casual CrossFitters far outnumber those who live and breathe it. Those casual CrossFitters will find the next Bikram Yoga, P90x or Jazzercise to sweat a little bit.

Does anyone have any similar stories or experiences of boxes closing locally? My curiosity would love to hear about them.

– EDIT –

I just read that Ferza CrossFit (I think that is located in Cherry Creek) has also closed its doors. They say the owners lost interest and want to pursue something else. Well, either that or rent was way too high in Cherry Creek for a CrossFit gym. That brings the total to four closings in the Denver area in about six months.

Unbroken CrossFit
CrossFit Parker
CrossFit Saddle Rock
Ferza CrossFit

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5 comments on “Is CrossFit interest declining?

  1. I think interest is leveling off but will still be very high. As far as CF gyms closing, I also try to keep up with that – more of the why than anything else. It seems as though most have a life changing event that requires energy away from the gym or they moved. I think some took too much debt to start, and others loved it at first but found out it was tons of work for not much pay, and decided to put their energy elsewhere.

  2. adam says:

    Im in Australia and the main equipment supplier to the crossfit craze is doing a big liquidation sale, employee mentioned ‘possibly’ closing down. Seems a bit of a sign.

  3. David HURST says:

    Do you have any update on This situation for 2017 ?

    • traviseses says:

      Ya – I think I was wrong. Supposedly nearly 400,000 people signed up for the Open this year. A new CrossFit gym is opening near us. However, I do see a bit of a trend in established CrossFit gyms shedding the name or term “CrossFit” to save the affiliate fee (NC Fit and Opex for example).

      • David HURST says:

        Exactly, good coaches don’t need to pay 3000$ per year for the CF label, they should invest this in better client care than just a brand

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