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CrossFit’s Explosive Affiliate Growth by the Numbers

Oct 23, 2018 by

The story.

Since Greg Glassman opened the first affiliate in 2001 in Santa Cruz, CA, CrossFit has exploded globally. Currently there are more than 15,000 locations in 162 countries.

Not only is CrossFit the largest fitness chain in the world, comparatively speaking, it’s also one of the largest and fastest growing corporate chains.

  1.  Subway — 42,998*
  2. McDonald’s — 37,200*
  3. Starbucks — 28,720*
  4. KFC — 20,404*
  5. Burger King — 16,859*
  6. Pizza Hut — 16,796*
  7. CrossFit — 15,500 (2018 approximate data)
  8. Domino’s Pizza — 15,000*

*Numbers are from 2017, the most recent year with reliable data.

The golden years of growth.

In the summer of 2004, Crossfit Brand X opened the fifth affiliate. It took four years to grow to 500. Then on June 24, 2014, Royal Docks CrossFit in London, England became the 10,000th affiliate worldwide.

From 2012 – 2015, CrossFit grew at an unprecedented rate, adding approximately 8,500 total net locations.

Their bell weather year was in 2012, when CrossFit locations grew by at least 75%, adding approximately 3500 locations. Including gyms which closed, that equates to approximately 3000 net new locations.

Where CrossFit grows from here.

The growth of CrossFit affiliates as a whole has slowed down in recent years. Since 2015, affiliate growth has slowed in the United States down to about 2%-5% per year. Of affiliates that opened from 2012 – 2015, only approximately 62% are still open today.

However, it appears that pace is picking up again, especially internationally.

In the past 12 months, 2500 new affiliates registered with CrossFit; 820 were in the United States (32.8%), 1680 were opened internationally. And today, for the first time in CrossFit’s history there are more gyms located outside the United States.

CrossFit’s recent changes and renewed focus on affiliate growth and expansion makes sense given the continued growth of the brand internationally and the need to support new affiliates opening overseas. In our follow-up piece, we’ll examine specific growth internationally.

*By reviewing tax records we were able to identify when certain gyms created an LLC or incorporated. We then tied these dates the an affiliate’s number, which we believe are given out sequentially, to triangulate the date range a given affiliate number was likely issued. Of course a gym may not become an affiliate and create an LLC at the exact same time, however in our research it appears these are often done within months of each other. Approximating the number of affiliate numbers issued per year then allows us to approximate the number of new CrossFit gyms opened as nearly all groups gaining an affiliate status ultimately open a gym. Finally, we found some great reference material produced by CrossFit, primarily this

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