10 incredibly interesting facts about the expansion of CrossFit
CrossFit is one of the fastest-growing fitness companies in the world right now and has been for the past couple of years.
Despite having millions of members, CrossFit still has quite an exclusive vibe. Members are required to join their local box (the Crossfit word for gym) and attend 5 sessions a week. Each session they take part in a WOD (workout of the day) and each day the WOD is different.
Each member also has the opportunity to compete for the title of Fittest Man or Woman on Earth. The CrossFit season starts with the CrossFit open where everyone is given the opportunity to compete. A series of further competitions then narrows the 100,000s of competitors down to 40 before crowning a champion.
The CrossFit Games are even broadcast live every year on ESPN and the winner is given $300,000.
Despite CrossFit being one of the biggest sporting communities in the world, many of us know very little about it. Let's change that, here are 10 interesting growth statistics about CrossFit.
#1 - Over 10 million people do CrossFit every year
We mentioned above that CrossFit has a gigantic community of active members.
Well, just how big is it?
Well, pre-pandemic numbers showed over 10 million people regularly participating in WODs at their local boxes. Yes, you read that correctly.
There are now over 15,000 CrossFit boxes across the world.
The sport is now more popular outside of the USA than in it. Which was not the case for a very long time. The first CrossFit box opened in California, but since then it has gained a huge following across the world. Particularly in Australia and Europe.
However, if you look at the top-level CrossFit participants the majority of the male CrossFit Games winners have been American.
Things are a little different in the Women's Game with the all-time great and 4 times CrossFit Games champion Tia-Clair Toomey hailing from Australia, and both Annie Thorisdottir (2 time champion) and Katrín Davíðsdóttir (also a 2 times champion) being from Iceland. The women's game has even had a European Champion - Sam Briggs of the UK.
To give you an idea of how big CrossFit is, its last three International Opens are the three largest participatory sporting events of all time - with 100,000s of people entering each year.
#2 - 60% of CrossFit athletes are women
In the section above, we talked about the diversity of winners amongst the female CrossFit Games champions.
This may have something to do with the fact that CrossFit is one of the rare sports that is dominated by women.
Over 60% of CrossFit participants in the world (based on pre-pandemic numbers) are women.
Many people who are anti-CrossFit have argued that it is a sport that excludes women. While others have used it as 'proof' that women cannot perform at the same level as men.
This stat proves that both of those viewpoints are misconceptions. The stats coming from CrossFit HQ state quite the opposite in fact. With one female CrossFit athlete recording a 155kg snatch. The current Fittest Woman on Earth (the title given to the winner of the CrossFit Games) is also a Gold Medal winning Olympic weightlifter.
While 60% of participants are women, this number is not reflected in the accredited training staff data. Crossfit currently has over 35,000 accredited trainers, only around 40% of whom are women.
#3 - CrossFit is investing in diversity
The data shows that the majority of CrossFit participants are white and able-bodied. CrossFit has acknowledged this and suggests that the numbers look this way because Crossfit is most common in Australia, the UK, and America.
In 2020 CrossFit's then owner and CEO - Greg Glassman - made comments online condemning the Black Lives Matter movement. Members of the community were appalled. Nearly every major athlete pulled out of the 2020 CrossFit Games and the company lost its sponsorship with Reebok.
While all this was happening senior members of the CrossFit board forced Glassman to step down from his role as CEO. He was also pushed into selling the company as CrossFit wanted to cut all ties with him.
When CrossFit appointed its new CEO, it also pledged to invest in bringing more diversity to the sport and company. This included employing more people of color as trainers and offering free spots in their boxes to more marginalized communities.
Due to the Pandemics' impact on the fitness industry, it will be a few years to see if this investment pays off in any way.
#4 - The prize money for winning the CrossFit games is now $310,000
If you want to earn a lot of money, being a professional CrossFit athlete is a good way to go about it.
One of the all-time CrossFit greats, Richard Foning Jr, earned over $1 million dollars from the CrossFit games alone during his time in the sport. Matt Fraser who won more CrossFit Games is believed to have earned nearly $1.75 million dollars from the competition.
This year CrossFit has upped the prize money to an impressive $310,000 for a win.
Being a successful CrossFit athlete brings the opportunity for lucrative sponsorships. Typically the athletes aren't very open about how much money they earn from sponsorships but it is clearly enough to fund their lives as full-time athletes.
CrossFit is also expanding its season to feature other invitation only events. The first of these was held in Dubai in 2019. The prize money for this event was $50,000 for the winner. Not bad for one weekend. CrossFit had mentioned introducing 6-7 of these events a year eventually. Giving their athletes more chances to earn a living from the sport.
#5 - CrossFit is now the largest fitness chain in the world
Did you know that CrossFit built its own stadium exclusively to hold competitions? It is in Wisconsin if you're curious. That is how big this company is.
We mentioned early that it has over 10 million active members in its community. But CrossFit has now been named the largest Fitness Chain in the world right now. That means it is bigger than any other gym company in the world.
In fact, it is one of the only gym chains that have premises across the world. It has over 600 boxes in Italy alone. (See the next section for more stats like this). CrossFit is a truly global company. So much so that it has to run its CrossFit Games qualifiers by continents. The last place left to conquer is Antarctica… We'd love to see penguins nailing their Clean and Jerks.
#6 - CrossFit is expanding faster than expected
Remember how we mentioned that there are now over 15,0000 CrossFit boxes? Let's take a look at the company's rate of expansion.
CrossFit started with 1 box. It took them 4 years to reach 5 boxes. Over the next 5 years, they built 500 boxes. In the 5 years following that they reached 10,000 boxes. And they now have over 15,000 boxes worldwide.
As we mentioned earlier, there are over 600 CrossFit boxes in Italy alone. Brazil has over 1100 boxes. Canada, the UK, and Australia all have over 550 boxes each. While the US itself has over 5000 boxes.
These 15,000 boxes are run by over 35,000 qualified CrossFit trainers. Europe alone offers over 71 different CrossFit certification courses.
#7 - CrossFit's revenue is around $4 billion a year
With over 10 million members in over 120 countries, it is no surprise that CrossFit is making a huge profit. But $4 billion dollars seems like an awful lot of money.
CrossFit boxes are all affiliates of the main company. Each box pays the company around $3000 a month for the privilege - meaning they earn around $45 million dollars from their gyms alone. The average CrossFit membership costs around $150 a month, this pays for the affiliate costs and then the box owners keep the rest of the money.
CrossFit also earns a large amount of money by selling the TV rights to the CrossFit Games, which is currently broadcast by ESPN. The event has previously been sponsored by Rebox but is now sponsored by NOBULL.
The company also has a series of other sponsorship deals that they make money from. Tickets are also sold to watch the Crossfit Games and the other regional qualification events across the world.
They are also trialing holding different events and Opens around the world (as we mentioned before, the first of these took place in Dubai in 2019).
The rest of its money comes from its coaching and training programs. People who want to open a Crossfit box must go through these courses to get their accreditation.
#8 - CrossFit is a champion of gender pay equality
Another factor that sets CrossFit apart from other sports is that CrossFit prize money is the same no matter what gender you are.
This has long been a controversial topic in sport with many (falsely) claiming that female athletes don't deserve the same prize money as men.
Tennis is a prime example of this problem. In the year 2000, female players were awarded a 10th of the prize money their male peers were given. The prize money gap was only closed in 2019. However, the story is not the same for the women who don't win the main prize.
However, if you are a CrossFit athlete things are different. No matter the finishing position in the CrossFit Games both men and women are paid equally.
As we mentioned above, the coveted Fittest Man or Woman on Earth title is now worth $310,000, with second place being $115,000, and $75,000 for third place.
#9 - CrossFit is growing at an average of 3.5% every year
Statistics from CrossFit and Chalk Up Morning show that CrossFit (as a company) is growing by between 2-5% every year. These numbers don't include the years that have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
These are great numbers that any business would be happy to see. However, they are much lower than in previous years for the company.
The slow down is mostly a local issue, with the US showing a lot slower growth than it has previously. However, the US is no longer the largest part of CrossFit's business. As there are now more boxes outside the US than there are in it.
The international growth numbers for the business are much more promising. And there are still a few areas of the world that the business has yet to expand into. Africa being the most notable of these areas.
#10 - CrossFit looks like it will bounce back after the 2019-2021/22 CoronaVirus pandemic
Unlike many other gym franchises, it appears that CrossFit has not suffered too badly during the Pandemic.
The company was still able to hold both 2020 (Nov '20) and the 2021 (July '21) CrossFit games. With qualifications for both events being held online. The 2021 Games are set to be held in person this year.
Early data also shows that the company was still opening new boxes across the world during the pandemic, and even though it was slowed down by the events of 2020, it looks to be coming back with a bang.
Many boxes were held outside classes where they were legal. While others gave out their equipment to members and moved online. Others raised money to pay for fellow box members' medical treatments after suffering from COVID-19.
Notably, CrossFit also started including members of the Emergency Services during their tribute WODs for the first time during the pandemic. These dedications had previously been reserved for members of the armed forces who had been killed in combat.
Despite the effects that the pandemic has had on our lives and business, we doubt that it will prevent CrossFit from continuing to grow in the years to come.