Chelsea Fitness Training Centre


ALT TEXTI read the following article in the April 30, 2017 edition of the CrossFit Journal.  The author is ALYSSA ROYSE.  I completely 100% agree with everything she says in it and feel that it is exactly what we have experienced in the first three years of our CrossFit business!  Please read it! In five years of running a successful CrossFit business, we’ve not sent a single athlete to the CrossFit Games. Not one. But we have seen countless members go off medication for high blood pressure, reverse a course doctors said led toward diabetes, rebuild strength after illness or injury, and dive into their “golden years” with more strength and vitality than they had in middle age. For us, CrossFit has never been about winning the Games. It has always been about building a strong community of empowered people who push and support each other to be as fit as possible. It has always been about health and fitness—for everybody. And a lot of sweat, with too much chalk mixed in. As CrossFit continues to grow, and with it our business, that growth is going to be the result of our attracting a diverse community of people whose bodies and goals don’t necessarily mirror what we see at the Games. Think about it: We have more than 13,000 CrossFit gyms, with millions of athletes around the world. Almost 100 percent of the people who do CrossFit aren’t—and never will be—Games athletes. Competitive athletes aside, it is safe to assume that most of the people doing CrossFit are doing it simply to be healthier. Meanwhile current Centers for Disease Control numbers reveal that more than 29 million people in the U.S. have diabetes. The World Health Organization has suggested diseases related to a sedentary lifestyle might be one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide. This is an international health crisis that can be mitigated by exercise. It’s not rocket science. It’s not even complicated math.

The future of CrossFit isn’t on the podium; it’s on the couch.
The future of CrossFit isn’t on the podium; it’s on the couch. The future of CrossFit isn’t at the CrossFit Games; it’s in homes, parks, playfields and gyms everywhere. The future of CrossFit isn’t in high-level professional athletes; it’s in busy people who have full-time jobs and families and need a way to stay fit in the face of stressful lives and aging. By reaching out to the sedentary and afraid, we can profoundly impact the health of the world. We can also grow our businesses. That’s a truly virtuous cycle. This is hardly a secret. If you ask any CrossFit gym owner, he or she would tell you CrossFit is for anybody. Regardless of age fitness level and physical limitations, CrossFit can meet you wherever you are on your fitness journey. At the same time, if you ask almost any person who has never tried CrossFit what he or she thinks of the program, the answer is often “that’s too intense for me. That’s for crazy people who are in awesome shape.” So where’s the disconnect? The easy answer is that people think the CrossFit Games and CrossFit the fitness program are the same thing. The harder answer is that, far too often, the language on our affiliate websites, and even in our gyms, is not welcoming to people who are deconditioned or simply not competitive. It’s as if we, also, are confused about what we’re doing. Not to mention why we’re doing it and for whom.

Everybody and Every Body

So how do you get the people who need you the most through the door if they believe CrossFit is scary? Easy: don’t scare them. Words like “elite,” “winner” and “beast” are not going to attract people who don’t consider themselves “elite” or “a winner” or “a beast.” Those words are more likely to repel the people who have just been told they are prediabetic, have high blood pressure and need to lose 100 lb. Those people are decidedly not thinking of themselves as elite beasts. Emphasize instead the idea that what you do is personal, customized and powerful. Use your website to talk about improving health and fitness, not about being beasts. Think about all the reasons your members are there, and use those reasons as your selling points to reach out to the larger community. Of course, a picture is worth 1,000 words. You can fill your website with all the right buzzwords, but if the only pictures on it feature people who look like fitness models, you’re telling people that’s what you’re about. Instead, populate your site with people of every shape and size—all ages, all abilities. Show people they fit in with your community, whoever they are. That doesn’t mean you can’t have super-buff folks; they just can’t be the only ones on the site. Show people that you are a place for every body by showing them lots of different bodies. The single most powerful tool you have for spreading the word about inclusive fitness is social media. Take to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with photos of your actual members working hard and having fun. A photo of a CrossFit Games athlete doing something that looks impossible and terrifying might scare someone a way, but that same person will be inspired by a photo of a neighbor doing a 35-lb. overhead squat with a training bar and a couple of 10s. You want someone to look at your site and think “I could do that” not “what the hell?” Celebrate the type of people you are hoping to attract. Not only is that good marketing, but it’s also an essential step in creating an environment that is empowering for “ordinary” people. When we ask new members how they found us, nearly 90 percent tell us it was through social media. We’ve never run an ad and we’ve never done a marketing campaign. But we do post photos of our members having fun, and our members share them on their social media. And then word spreads that we are a place for so-called ordinary people to do extraordinary things.


It's unlikely anyone in this picture is going to compete in the CrossFit Games, but it's certain each one is going to get fitter and healthier with friends. (Christopher Luna)

When Everyone Wins

In many ways, getting people through the door is the easy part. Creating a community once they’re in your gym is the hard part. If your website is a “first date” of sorts, how you treat people in your gym is the long-term relationship. Again, the language we choose when we speak to our classes is very important. The fitness industry outside CrossFit is notorious for pushing a narrow, and often harmful, concept of what bodies should look like. CrossFit has been revolutionary in focusing on the strength and power of men and women alike, changing many of the stereotypes we grew up with. But that doesn’t mean we don’t accidentally perpetuate some of the same myths as the traditional fitness industry in our day-to-day coaching. Train your coaches not to talk about what bodies look like and focus instead on what they can do. Rather than talking about weight lost, talk about weight lifted. Praise things such as strength, endurance and progress rather than shape and size. It is a cardinal sin at Rocket CrossFit to say anything along the lines of “you want that six-pack for summer” or “gotta get a hot body.” The reality is that being thin and muscled is not something everyone can do or wants to do. By assuming a singular goal for all of your members, you are inherently creating a value system that will leave some people out. Leaderboards are a common sight in gyms around the world, and nothing is inherently wrong with them. But many of us will never make it to a leaderboard, so how can you show those members you’re proud of them and celebrate their achievements? At Rocket, we have a Success Board on which members can freely write their own successes. Ours is filled with things like “got my first dubs” and “ran a 5K” and even “carried a rack by myself!” By the same token, our PR gong goes off daily as a celebration of little victories. This gives people a way to be acknowledged for things they accomplished, and it’s a great way to show everyone he or she matters.

ALT TEXTWhat does this picture say to a prospective client? (Rhys Pritchard)

Recently, a couple from another state dropped in to visit, and when we asked them for their names to put on the daily board, they said, “Oh, we aren’t going to do it RX.” Our coach was baffled. “Yah, it’s just for the daily board,” he said. “We have to scale,” they responded. Our coach was so confused. Apparently, a gym out there doesn’t write members’ names on the board if they scale the workouts. Think about it. That is literally saying someone doesn’t count, practically doesn’t exist, if he or she scales a workout. Is that inclusive? Does it show members they are valued and belong? How long would you want to stay part of a community that wouldn’t even acknowledge you? This brings up the concept of scaling as it relates to general physical preparedness for your members. “As prescribed” absolutely has a point in competition and in benchmarks. We are huge fans of benchmark workouts in order to track progress. After all, if I can’t do Fran as Rx’d the first time but can six months later, then I can clearly see I’m getting stronger in at least one capacity. But if you’re not testing, what is the role of “as Rx’d, and how can you talk about it in a way that encourages all athletes to work at their safe maximum capacity? Rather than using Rx in workouts, we use percentage of 1-rep max and explain what we’re looking for. “This should take you 10 minutes. For the snatches, you should be able to do 5 unbroken easily.” In this manner, athletes are able to push at the right level without feeling like they didn’t really do the workout. Not only are the athletes scaling to find their perfect level, but they’re also doing it themselves by paying attention to their own bodies. It’s a daily manifestation of our belief that it’s about you, not about how you compare to someone else. As a bonus, this approach forces athletes to check in with how they are feeling on a given day, reducing the risk of injury and putting them in charge of themselves.
All this isn’t about giving participation trophies to everyone. It’s about creating a safe place for people to come in and get stronger—together.
Scaling is an incredibly important part of running a successful class. It is literally the reason why we say CrossFit can be done by anyone. But too often we think of it just as scaling down. If you, like us, don’t really use Rx, then scaling is something that goes in both directions. You can make it harder or easier. So if a workout says “pull-up,” we will often coach it as “your hardest pull.” That’s a ring row for one person and a muscle-up for another, but they both finish in roughly the same time domain with roughly the same exertion. This allows your stronger athletes to train at a higher intensity, while your more deconditioned athletes are in a safe zone. But they’re all working out together from start to finish.

ALT TEXTIn the right environment, each athlete wins with every new PR and accomplishment. (Mike Iwerks)

The Big Win

All this isn’t about giving participation trophies to everyone. It’s about creating a safe place for people to come in and get stronger—together. In the process, we create situations in which everyone has a chance to “win” by working hard. Yes, we do the Open every year at Rocket. We run it as intramurals, we watch the announcements at the gym, and when the Games are on we stream them on the big screen. But we use them as an opportunity to talk about the differences between the CrossFit Games as a sport and what we do as a lifestyle. Truth be told, we have some high-level competitors. Watching them thrive at local throwdowns and on national stages brings us great joy. But they are the minority in our gym, and in most gyms. My greatest moments of joy happen when people hit their personal goals or come in telling me about a great check-up with their doctors. When I look at the future of Rocket, and the future of CrossFit, I don’t see gold medals. I see healthy people. We literally have the chance to save lives. There is no greater prize. About the Author: Alyssa Royse and her husband Brady Collins operate Rocket CrossFit in Seattle, Washington. When she’s not in the gym, Alyssa is a writer, speaker and frequent TV guest on the topics of fitness and human sexuality (often the intersection of the two). You can reach Alyssa through her website or at Rocket CrossFit. She can generally be bribed to do almost anything with the promise of good ribs.

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