You know what they say about first impressions.
Whether you’re looking for a place to drop in or maybe even your new CrossFit home, more often than not that first impression comes from a web site. There’s loads of components to a web site and, when done well, it can make a huge influence on where to go (and sometimes where not to).
You know I like to break things down to examine each element in more detail. I’ll point out some sites that I think are doing a particularly good job with a web site feature and why. As an owner/affiliate, you don’t have to be a master of web design or even lay out a bunch of money to make your web site more effective. There’s loads of tools that help get it done pretty inexpensively. It’s really the content that counts. When I look at a site, I want to know if it’s easy to find all the information I need to make a decision. The more convenient it is to find what I want to know, the better.
Web Site Organization
A site that is organized, intuitive and easy to navigate, is a big key to keeping people clicking on the site. If I can find everything that I need without hunting, it just makes the experience so much easier. That doesn’t mean I mind clicking to get to something. If it’s obvious I’ll find the sub-category under a main navigation that’s fine too. For instance, I know I’ll generally find coaches bios under About.
https://www.newcovcrossfit.com/ NewCov CrissFit has nicely laid out site. Hovering over the main categories on their navigation bar will take you to what you’re looking for. You can generally get to everything withing a couple of clicks.
https://blackbirdcrossfit.com/ - Similar with Blackbird CrossFit. You can hover over the main navigation bar to find the categories you need and then get to your destination within two clicks.
If I’m dropping in, I ask myself how easy is it to get the information about dropping in. Is it easy to find? Maybe on the main navigation bar? Is all of the drop-in information in one place? What about info on multi-day drop-ins or combos with swag? How about language to make people feel welcome?
In my research, I found a location (not going to name names) that’s pretty sparse on drop-in details. Finding their drop-in information, while not super difficult is not obvious and there’s only a drop-in button once you scroll a bit to click to a schedule and pay the fee. No other language around drop-ins. Not too terribly welcoming. While it’s probably not the intent, it feels like “yeah, you can drop in here but we’re not all that interested in having you.”
https://www.crossfitforthepeople.com/ - Right on CrossFit For The People’s home page, after a few seconds there’s a pop-up for drop-ins.
https://www.crossfitotg.com/drop-in-visitors - CrossFit OTG has a couple of ways to get to drop-in information.
Honorable mention to Stay Classy CrossFit http://www.stayclassycrossfit.com/. Although removed for the moment, undoubtedly due to the pandemic, they had a banner on the main page that was very welcoming to drop-ins. I’ll keep an eye out for when it returns.
The next think I look at is staff and their bios. Are their certifications listed? I have a friend who looks specifically for that when he drops in. What does it tell me about their coaches? Is there a little bio on them? Things like what drives them as a coach. It helps build familiarity for someone who is dropping in or looking to join.
http://crossfitnewengland.com/about/coaches/ CrossFit New England has a short but sweet bio on each coach and all of their certifications. You can quickly get a sense of who they are.
https://blackbirdcrossfit.com/crossfit-coaches/ Blackbird CrossFit also has all of the coaches certifications plus a couple of paragraphs on each coach.
Most sites have a schedule that’s pretty easy to find. While it may be easy to find and what information can you see? Are there reservations? If so, does it show how full a class is? Is there a link to class sign up? Does it indicate who the coach is?
https://www.crossfitcrosscheck.com/schedule-location I like CrossFit Crosscheck’s schedule because it has the number registered for the class and the coach listed on the schedule. You can sign in as a member for a class with a password. Drop-ins would contact separately.
https://crossfitfairmount.com/schedule CrossFit Fairmount has links off the calendar schedule where a regular member can sign up and another link for new/drop-ins.
https://www.crossfitstthomas.com/schedule Reebok CrossFit St. Thomas has a calendar too. Click on the class you want and you can either register for class as a drop-in or a member.
Personally, I love knowing what the WOD is ahead of time. Having the a week’s schedule in advance would be ideal. If I’m somewhere for multiple days, I can select 1 or 2 workouts that appeal to me.
https://www.newcovcrossfit.com/workout-of-the-day-1 NewCov CrossFit has a great setup. They have the WOD listed in detail and can advance to the next day for the entire week.
https://www.crossfitotg.com/workout-of-the-day CrossFit OTG offers the workouts for the week all in one place. It doesn’t give the rep schemes but at least you know the movements.
While not on every CrossFit site, if there’s a statement on their philosophy or their culture it’s an opportunity to get a feel for them, or at least a first impression. Do they talk about a community environment or helping you reach your goals based on your specific needs? A short statement can say a lot. Are there testimonials?
https://www.hunterscreekcrossfit.com/testimonials/ Hunters Creek CrossFit has several good testimonials, including a video testimonial.
https://www.crossfitforthepeople.com/ CrossFit For The People has a short but strong mission statement and a button right below to take you to team bios, which seems like the next logical thing to look at.
This one sounds obvious but I’ve seen some sites where contact info is not as easy to find. This is more of an appeal to my owner friends. Is there a preferred contact method? Most of the time that’s not listed but if it is, it might help owners to receive a request and people to get a response more quickly.
Is the phone, email and location address listed? In my research, I saw a place that had none of those. They had a contact form to fill out, which I’ve seen on many other sites. However, I’ve filled those out and received no response more than once. If I don’t hear back in a reasonable amount of time (a couple of days), I usually move on.
If a facility is difficult to find, a description would be super helpful for someone who hasn’t been there before. Something like “the entrance is on the left side of the building” or “use the path between 326 and 328 Rogers Street and you’ll find us in the back”.
https://altitudeathletics.com/contact Altitude Athletics has a page for their contact info. The phone number is up top and a form is on the right. The email is further down. It’s possible that phone is their preferred contact method. There’s also a map that clicks into Google maps to easily locate them.
https://crossfitrocksteady.com/contact/ CrossFit RockSteady has a dedicated page for contact as well. It has a phone number and email front and center. There’s a map with an address. Clean and clear.
Keeping Things Up to Date
There’s a pandemic going on. Is it clear how that’s being handled? Are drop-ins still welcome? Are there special rules or conditions in effect?
Also, any simple things like changes in schedule, new coaches and blog updates. The schedule will be very important, of course. One of the things that makes a CrossFit shine is their coaches. If you see coaches listed with pics and get there and someone you didn’t see on the site is coaching the class, it could be a new addition. But if you ask and they say “I’ve been here for a year” you know not everything is kept up to date on their site.
These are just some of the observations I’ve made. In many ways this is just as much for owners as athletes (this blog is for everyone). Prior to a visit, the first experience someone has with a CrossFit is what they can find from their research. That’s why a well put together web site is so important.
As always, I invite your opinions (preferably constructive), ideas and additional input. Please feel free to respond to this post, email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment on my socials.
Please stay safe, stay healthy and stay strong in mind, body and spirit!
Special mention to CrossFit Cayman for the top photo - https://www.crossfitcayman.com/
With each day we find ourselves in new territory, not entirely sure what progress, challenges and setbacks we’ll encounter. We see this in our own personal dealings with the pandemic and how it’s being handled throughout the world. On the positive side, the pandemic has inspired creativity and innovation. New problems have inspired new ways to address them.
In the CrossFit world, we’ve seen online classes, daily programming to work out on our own and outdoor classes. One approach that I’ve yet to see elsewhere is from my home gym, Blackbird CrossFit. They’ve not just brought classes outdoors, they’ve moved everything needed for their classes outside.
Conditions were very well aligned to favor this setup, which otherwise may not have been possible. The landlord where Blackbird is located has a fenced area in the rear parking lot. In mid-May Matt and Rebekah Titus, owners of Blackbird CrossFit, struck a deal with the landlord to move items they had stored in the fenced area inside Blackbird so they could move the rig outside. To date, they’ve elected to keep classes outside to reduce opportunities to spread infection.
The setup is impressive. The “birdcage” as they call it, has a tent over the entire rig. They secured the rig to the ground and brought out mats from inside. There’s spaces marked for social distancing to accommodate 8 people under the tent and another 4 within the enclosure.
Inside the birdcage there’s two sink cabinets connected with a hose. People wash their hands both before and after workouts. After each workout, the athletes wipe down their equipment and spots on the rig. I’ve seen everyone doing this. No exceptions. The coaches cover their faces for the entire class and spray down the mats with a cleaning solution after each class.
Matt Titus also got creative with transporting barbells and plates. He built several carts that can accommodate two barbells, plates of all sizes and collars. It even wheels out on a pair of 45 lb. plates that can be removed for workouts. Very practical and useful. The carts are wheeled back in at the end of each day and, although the fence is locked when the area is not in use, no equipment is left outside.
The birdcage has worked very well since it’s been set up. There’s still space inside if it rains. A dozen people can workout inside with sufficient social distancing, if necessary. They’re very good about following state guidelines. You work out in a designated space. While in that space you don’t need to wear a mask but outside of it you do. You also enter by one door and exit by another if the workout is inside.
Everyone is doing their best to stay safe. Owners have to balance creating the best workout environment while keeping risk at an absolute minimum. Blackbird CrossFit has done a great job of seizing an opportunity. It’s understood that many affiliates don’t have these conditions available to them. Most don’t have a fenced-in area or the ability to move their rig. I applaud Blackbird for their creativity as well as all other affiliates who are doing their best to help their members stay safe and healthy in the midst of the challenges we’re facing today.