He also makes a concerted effort to avoid new streams of revenue. (See "CrossFit Doesn't Want Your Money.") CrossFit makes most of its money from training seminars: Every weekend, it certifies hundreds of people as trainers, at $1,000 a pop. It also collects registration fees for the CrossFit Games, royalties from Reebok for CrossFit apparel, and annual affiliate fees. The affiliate fees, which top out at $3,000 a year, are locked in at their original rates. Joshua Newman, who runs a big, successful box called CrossFit NYC, told me he pays just $500 a year.
The night before, he had rolled up with his entourage about 20 minutes late to a packed lecture hall of 500 CrossFitters at the University of Washington campus. He had been invited to speak there by the Freedom Foundation, a local libertarian group. Libertarians love CrossFit. It's neither a wholly owned chain of gyms nor a franchise, but the nucleus of a sprawling worldwide network of entrepreneurs. A local CrossFit gym is referred to as a box, because it can be anywhere and any style, and the culture of any box may be nothing like that of Glassman's company, or of any other CrossFit box. Boxes may even have different business models. And yet, there in the audience was the order spawned from the chaos: rows and rows of passionate CrossFitters, united in their love of the WOD, their muscled physiques rippling beneath T-shirts and hoodies.
This 2003 CrossFit Journal article captures an early conception of a universal, multi-event test of fitness that laid the foundation for CrossFit competition, including what would become the CrossFit Open and the CrossFit Games. The design requirements for such a test "included but were not limited to the following: quantifiable results; consistency with the CrossFit fitness concept; raising our commitment to improving absolute strength, relative strength, and gymnastic foundations; balancing intrinsic abilities of smaller and larger athletes; emphasizing exercises critical to and foundational to advanced training; mixing training demands within each test and, of course, over the total competition; a design that would identify an athlete’s weaknesses and possibly stand as a workout plan for improving overall fitness; and, finally, we wanted to design a competition that would be 'hard as hell.'"