5 Tips for Crushing The Open at Your Affiliate Gym

6 min read


Athlete Retention
Affiliate Gym Open Tips

Learn some tips to make the open a success at your box.

In October, I will be entering my 11th CrossFit Open as an athlete, coach and owner. In that time, I have learned various affiliate gym open tips to run a fantastic Open for your box.

#1 It’s more about your community than The Open.

If your gym population is anything like mine, 98% of them don’t know who Dave Castro is, they could trip over Mat Fraser and not be aware of his status as “Fittest on Earth” and they certainly couldn’t care less about logging their results on a worldwide leaderboard.

While we do our part to educate our gym on CrossFit’s history, what The Open is and why it is a rite of passage to participate in, this is not our main focus.

If you want to have a successful Open in which your whole gym is involved in (not just the OG’ers and competitive folk), you need to make it about something they DO care about; spending time with their favorite people, having a blast and doing a little bit of fitness.

When properly supported, The Open provides your members with a positive and enjoyable experience with the challenge that is CrossFit.

#2 Go intramural.

One of the most important affiliate gym open tips is to get buy-in from your community is to make it a team event. Divide your members into several teams, with each one being led by a Coach. You can even hype up the team selection by planning a live drawing and showing it on social media.

Captains then lead their teams in coming up with team names, team logos and team t-shirts. Each week, the teams play for points (Top 3 Rx/Scaled, Spirit Award, Best Costume, Participation and so on) and at the end of The Open you crown the winning team. Be creative with the points system and try not to have it too focused on individual performances in the workouts.

#3 Use themes.

Another of the great affiliate gym open tips center around weekly themes. Weekly themes are another great way to add some fun and excitement to your Open, and you can combine this with the Intramural Open or do this on its own.

Split your staff into five teams (one for each week) and assign them a week of The Open. It’s their job to come up with a theme for their week, sort out decorations for the box (give them a budget!) and come up with any post-workout shenanigans.

You can give an overarching theme to focus them like countries, sports, cult film, music, decades (80’s, 90’s etc) – the list is endless!

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#4 Keep your classic CrossFitters happy.

Most CrossFit gyms have a small group of individuals who can be described as “OG’ers” (if you know, you know). They were around pre-Reebok, they watched the Games when they were held in Aromas and think Miko Salo is a legend! And of course, you may have a few folks who are the competitive kind and want to see how high they can place on the worldwide leaderboard.

Often, these people may feel left on the sidelines or ignored when it comes to intramurals and fancy-dress themes during The Open. They can even be left frustrated that others are not “taking it seriously.”

There are various ways to appeal to this group and keep them involved in your community event. We found it beneficial to hold an Open Skills Session on Fridays before we tackled The Open on Saturdays. In these sessions, we practiced the movements, did some skill work and discussed strategy for the workout. Not only was this very appealing to the more competitive folks, but we found it even got interest from the non-competitive people, helping to bring those different personalities together.

#5 Streamline the gameday process.

Nothing sucks the fun and enthusiasm from an event more than having the day run in a disorderly and chaotic way.

As soon as the workout is announced, get with your coaches and plan a flow of the whole day from start to finish. Look at it from the viewpoint of someone doing the workout, someone spectating, somebody warming up and so-on.

Things to consider to help run a smooth event include; heat times and heat sign-ups (the day or two before), lane markings (with warm-up and spectator areas), printed score cards, preparing a gameday brief, getting in supplies (food, drink, pro-shop items etc), decorations, one coach as “Head Judge” (to get judges ready for each heat on time) and one coach to run “Athlete Management” (to make sure members area ready to work out on time).

The Open can be one of your strongest retention tools and a killer community builder, all you have to do is make it about your community.

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About the Author: Kelli Sweeting

I'm Coach Kelli, a devoted CrossFit gym owner with 15 years of experience managing my facility, along with owning yoga studios and wellness centers. Beyond the fitness world, I have a passion for cooking, cherish moments with my children and family, and find joy in spending time outside. Having experienced the highs and lows, I'm dedicated to leveraging my expertise to help you grow and succeed on your fitness journey.