John Dodd has a t-shirt problem. A CrossFit t-shirt problem. One of those if-I-bring-home-another-shirt-my-wife-will-scream problem. As a business traveler and long-time CrossFitter, John often drops in to CrossFit boxes around the country.
“A box can always use money, and I can always use a workout,” said John. “When I’m traveling, I don’t want to sit in my hotel room or use the small hotel gym. I like to check out local CrossFit gyms.”
For a small fee, most boxes offer a t-shirt and a WOD. It’s an opportunity for a CrossFit gym to share its top notch coaching and community, and even to become a home away from home to frequent travelers. “I dropped in at Brick CrossFit Los Angeles, and I was wearing a t-shirt from CrossFit 540 in Arkansas,” says John. “One of the Brick members was a former member of CrossFit 540. It’s amazing how the CrossFit community is so connected.”
But a lot of boxes overlook this potential revenue. They don’t list drop-in information on their websites. Or they don’t prime their staff on how to welcome, assist and coach a drop-in. A successful visit can result in a positive online review, a recommendation for other travelers, or recurring visits when the athlete is back in town.
So what’s the best way to attract the traveling CrossFitter?
For most CrossFitters interested in dropping in, the box website is the first point of contact. A visible “Drop In” link works well, with information on pricing, whether Open Gym is available and a general idea of what the drop-in should expect. There should also be a way for the drop-in to contact the box in order to reserve a spot for class or ask additional questions.
Antonio Alves, whose work travel allows him to visit a different box nearly every week, adds “In my opinion, if a Box replies to my email requesting info regarding Drop-ins, that is already an achievement. This is a problem in the majority of Boxes I visit around the world, but mainly in America – maybe because I travel there every week.”
During a recent trip to Ohio I was researching possible boxes for a drop-in. Regarding payment, one box added – in all caps – that ALL DROP INS MUST PAY IN CASH. CREDIT CARDS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED. I immediately decided not to stop by. I mean, no need to yell, right?
Here’s the deal. When you visit Crossfit boxes as much as I do, the coach is the first person you normally come in contact with when you walk in. They either make you feel like a guest or an outsider…” – Carlos Whittaker
When I visited CrossFit Prowess last October, I immediately felt at home. Coach Jason welcomed me and introduced me not only to the members I’d be WODing with, but also to those who had just completed their workout. I didn’t have to worry about what I should be doing (“go ahead and start on your own warm-up and then we’ll do a few things as a group”), or where I could find chalk, clips, or bands.
At Reebok CrossFit 5th Ave, John Dodd was paired up with a seasoned member. “It was really helpful having someone who could answer questions about equipment, the WOD or whatever else.”
Carlos Whittaker, an Author/Speaker who spends many weeks on the road throughout the year, talks about his experience at CrossFit The Ville in Louisville, Kentucky. “Coach Michael was not aloof. He was not on his phone. He was paying attention and helped me make sure my back was flat and my head was up.”
It’s important to remember that drop-ins still need to be coached. A few comments on form or a suggestion on technique goes a long way. Adds Carlos, “One of the things I love about dropping into a box is that I can learn new techniques for my WODs. Then I can take them home and share with my box.”
One of a box’s most attractive features for a drop-in is Open Gym. For travelers who are away from home frequently, Open Gym is the only way they can continue to follow the programming from their home box.
“My worst nightmare is most Boxes don’t allow Open Gym for visitors, which for me is terrible, because I cannot follow my training program when I am abroad,” adds Antonio Alves.
Carlos says, “Open Gym is something that I think more boxes should get into. I understand the liability but as much as I travel, it’s important for me to get at least 2 WODs a week where I’m on the same programming as my home box CrossFit West Nashville.”
Creating a welcome environment isn’t completely up to the coach. Says Carlos, “A single person introducing themselves to me at a box is a 100% more incredible experience than no one introducing themselves.”
Also, “a box owner should ask for feedback from a drop-in. Or suggest the best place for me to write a review. If I have a great experience, I’d like to share it,” adds John.
“I visit many Boxes in countries which English is not their first language, but there is not an option for English or visitors on the website, so you feel awkward in sending emails or calling to ask about their services,” says Antonio.
Lastly, “If I’m dropping in for a few days, could you cut me a deal? Nobody wants to pay a month’s membership in four days just because they are from out of town,” suggests Carlos.
So what boxes have earned a repeat visit from John, Carlos and Antonio?
CrossFit Mean Streets: Open spaces, focused training. There’s nothing like doing squat cleans on the sidewalks of downtown Los Angeles.
CrossFit Duratus – Spokane, WA: Incredibly welcoming, knowledgeable staff. Unfamiliar with the word “Duratus”? It’s latin for endured or hardened.
CrossFit New Orleans: As one of the first 500 CrossFit affiliates, CrossFit New Orleans is the epitome of a CrossFit box: no frills, intense training.
CrossFit The Ville – Louisville, KY: Felt great. Was pushed. Well coached. And the entire class was very welcoming!
Reebok CrossFit LAB: Ron and Yumi are fantastic coaches and perfect hosts.
Reebok CrossFit Back Bay – Boston – Great atmosphere, very professional.
Reebok CrossFit Plaza Condesa – Mexico city: Very friendly, superb location, Penthouse Box.
Do you have a favorite box for dropping in? What makes you come back?