In the St. Louis CrossFit sphere, we have seen the landscape change from just 7 boxes in 2011, to over 50 in the metro area in 2015. The success of these gyms varies greatly. In some cases, boxes have sprung up, and closed down very soon afterward. Others seem to continually grow and prosper.

So what is it that makes for a healthy box? Here are three of the things.

Coaching: We have visitors drop in all the time that express sincere gratitude that our classes are coached by caring, knowledgeable, trainer/athletes. At first, we were thinking, “Really? Isn’t every affiliate coached this way?” Then, we did some dropping in of our own around the country and found a variety of formats and styles that were in some cases appealing and in others… not so much.

I’ve heard horror stories of boxes where the coach comes in, writes the work on a white board and disappears behind his iPhone for the hour. I dropped in for a week on an unnamed box on vacation, where every class was a horrendously long chipper designed to just leave you feeling exhausted. The coach actually said, “If you are exhausted today, I’ve done my job”.

Anyone that’s been to Level 1 cert knows that excellence is a key to member satisfaction. Be prepared to bring your “A” game to every class as coaches. Be prepared to queue, critique and compliment a job well done.

Community. How do you plan to treat people?

Are you introverted? You are going to have to find a way around that to reach people. One of the finest coaches I’ve ever met worked for us to start her coaching career. She has since moved home to California and coaches at CrossFit Invictus. A great person, Melissa would proclaim herself an introvert. But put her on a gym floor with a class and oh how she shines. She combines her passion as an athlete with her desire to help people and boom, the introverted person she claims to be is no longer found.

Connect with your members. Get to know them, help them get to know one another. We were born to be know and be known. Help people connect. Offer a business board in your gym where they can help one another by utilizing one another’s services as well.

Location. It’s true that some people will drive tens of miles to get to their favorite box, for some, that is the distance just to reach the closest box, but by and large, we like to work out close to home. If it takes 20 minutes to get to the gym, you’re dedicating almost 2 hours to your workout with each trip, and in our fast paced lives, that’s a precious chunk of time. As soon as a box springs up closer to home, assuming it too has quality coaching, some members will leave purely out of convenience.

Putting a box in a location where you expect that more than 50% of your potential members would need to travel more than 5 miles to reach you is generally begging for trouble.

The list of ideas to sustain a healthy box is endless and I’m sure that readers of this post could add a multitude of other components to this list. I certainly don’t disagree and would love to hear your thoughts.

In this post however, like a stool or chair cannot stand without at least 3 legs, I suspect that a CrossFit box cannot be sustained without the three components I’ve listed here. They are simply indispensable.