From Box to Big Box: What Happens When Your Box Gets Bought?

June 17, 2017

Photocredit: Shots by Neil 

The growing popularity of CrossFit means that nationwide fitness brands want to expand. Meanwhile, the challenges inherent with running a small business can lead box owners to sell, particularly if the right offer comes along. I’ve seen it happen in the Houston area – a smaller box is purchased by a nationwide chain.

But is this good or bad?

There are some arguments that this is a good thing for the box and its members.

  • The box stays open
  • Classes continue, and there’s more room for other programming.
  • The box staying open is probably the most important part: you don’t have to find a new box,
  • You probably can take class at the same time
  • And if the nationwide chain is smart, it will keep all the good coaches you’ve had since you first walked in.

But then there’s the added bonuses that come from the chain. They have a brand reputation to uphold, so they’re going to introduce as many amenities as they can. They may re-tile the showers (or add some in), finally bring in a replacement for that broken rower, and get a few extra Assault Bikes (wait, maybe that’s NOT a good thing!). Overall, it’s going to be a box that may be better equipped because the chain has the money to spend. Money to spend may also mean more events: a competition, special community WODs.

The chain will also add classes, and not just CrossFit. Some people are intimidated by CrossFit, so these chains often have strength and conditioning workouts or circuit classes. Anything that gets people moving is a good thing! They’ll also add in yoga classes and barbell workouts. There will be more variety, and maybe some of the circuit workout folk will come over to CrossFit. You may also get more open gym time to work on your muscle-up progressions.

The purchase may not be great for everyone, though. With a nationwide reputation also comes a more “corporate” feel.

  • It’s not just the box owner getting the final say; it’s an executive in an office somewhere across the country.
  • Everything is going to need to “conform” to brand standards, from the signage to the t-shirts to community WODs.
  • The branding in itself may make the box seem too sanitized.
  • The box may also lose its “family” feel as more people come to the non-CrossFit classes.

Overall, it’s worth it to stick it out for a while when your box gets bought by a chain and see what the changes do to the overall makeup of the members. Try  out the yoga class if it’s new, enjoy the amenities – and if it still feels too sanitized, the beauty of the CrossFit business model is that you can find an independent box nearby.

This is a guest post from Christine Parizo, a half marathoner and new CrossFitter based in Houston. She recently qualified for guaranteed entry for the Houston Marathon and plans to run it in 2017. Christine blogs about running, CrossFit, and fitness at You can follow Christine on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

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