What CrossFit Can Teach You About Branding

Those who read my post last week will already know that I have not yet become totally cynical to the art of marketing. I fell victim to good branding once in a while. I have been reminded of this gullibility, because lately I have desperately wanted to start CrossFit.

For those who are not in the know, CrossFit is an intense exercise program characterized by functional training using non-traditional weighlifting equipment (such as kettlebells). It has been probably been the hottest thing lately (especially among guys) in exercise circles and become quite mainstream in last couple of years. Reebok is also betting heavily on the rise of CrossFit.

I am already sports crazy. I run and do circuit training every morning, play in two basketball teams and try to swim once in a while. I do not really need any additions to my sports regime. I am healthy enough. The urge to start Crossfit is not rational decision. It has been branded well. It feels natural, because the exercise is functional. It feels total antithesis of the shiny gyms: many times CrossFit-sessions happening in the old warehouses. It has strong ethos of pushing to the limit, which resonates well with my view of sports in general. Exercising is not supposed to be fun. Only pain brings gain.

However when I was searching for the alternatives for CrossFit training in Singapore, I was shocked by the steep price tag of monthly prices. You should not really pay over 200+ dollars for basic circuit training in shitty warehouse. Or should you?

This is the inner dialogue I had:

Left brain: Hey that guy just took your our basketball summer training and is now charging hundreds of dollars a month from a glorified circuit training!
Right brain: But I want to push tractor tires to feel like a man!

Left brain: You push yourself too hard even in your morning jogs, CrossFit can actually destroy your muscles.
Right brain: Whatever, I want to train until I puke.
(Actually I heard a rumour that Red Bull sales increased when there was news coverage about alleged deaths of mixing Red Bull with Alcohol. Danger attracts.Also a vast majority of the news stories about harmfulness of different sports are written and shared by people who just want to find excuses for not exercising)

Why Crossfit is currently so appealing?

1. Proven business model
Crossfit.inc (founded in 2000 by Greg Glassman) follows in many ways the same success formula of the rise of “Les Mills”-branded classes, best known for Bodypump-classes. They license the Crossfit name to gyms for an annual fee and certify trainers. Licensing business is one of the most profitable types of business in the world.

 2. Room for creativity
Whereas Les Mills feels more like the McDonald´s of Gym Exercise (it is the same in every part of the globe), CrossFit still feels like a rebel alternative for it. Every CrossfFit-training can be different and the possible variations for the training are infinite.

3. Perfect training type for digital office worker
No-frills type of training feels perfect antidote for the overtly digital world we are living in. Also the sessions are high-intensity short bursts, which you can easily fill even to the busiest calendar.

4. Fueled by social media
I doubt that the sports would not be as big without the connected world we are living. There are CrossFit-forums, Facebook pages and endless amount of training videos. After watching this video by Finnish CrossFit-hero Mikko Salo, it almost felt I was training myself (150k views, btw):

5. Good story to tell
Exercising should always be about your own health and development. The truth is though that many times people exercise also for the bragging rights. CrossFit just sounds way cooler than being in Spinning. No offense to Spinning.

I probably try CrossFit despite the steep price tag. If no for other reason than to give a nod for the branding well done.

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