NO BOYS ALLOWED: What It’s Like To Run A Women’s Only CrossFit Affiliate

Feb 3, 2020 by

Empowering.

That’s the one word that affiliate owner and Coach Mandi Wilson uses to describe her booming business. She’s created a niche market — and her business model is simple — no men.

  • “I have known for a long time that my specialty is connecting with, coaching and empowering women,” she told the Morning Chalk Up.

CrossFit Contessa, on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast in Australia, opened in 2014. What started with 17 members, a mop bucket and a big goal six years ago is now an affiliate with two locations and 120 members — all of whom are women.

  • “How we train and what we train is no different from any other well-operated, mixed box. The difference is the culture we have created,” Mandi said.
  • The box chooses to outsource programming — following Ben Bergeron’s CompTrain Class and Mandi said: “This allows us to be able to concentrate on our members’ needs.” Clearly, building close connections through CrossFit is the top priority.
Source: CrossFit Contessa

It might seem like a poorly thought out business plan — limiting your potential membership base by half. But Mandi says, if anything, focusing JUST on females has been the secret to her success.

  • Jo Brooker-Clarke is a mother-of-five, lawyer and coach at CrossFit Contessa: “I’m sure there are plenty of co-ed boxes that offer amazing acceptance and support. But Mandi made a decision she believed in.”
  • “Her good energy and positive attitude attracts like-minded women. Not necessarily already fit women, but women who want to get better, be better, be strong and be the best version of themselves,” Jo said.  
  • Candice Lamb is another coach at Contessa as well as a trained Women’s Physiotherapist: “We don’t believe that women need to train DIFFERENTLY from men, but we do believe that we can provide them with a better support system through having an all-female coaching staff: we get it,” she said.
Source: CrossFit Contessa

Whether it is through a similar business model or women’s only classes, many affiliates internationally are catering to members who would prefer single-sex training.

  • CrossFit Alioth in Dubai runs women’s only classes, with female-only coaches five days a week. CrossFit Yas also runs “Yas Ladies.”
  • CrossFit Buxton in the UK offers a program called CrossFit Lite “for women who would like to become fitter, lose body fat and tone up in a friendly and comfortable environment through fun and enjoyable sessions including beginner CrossFit workouts.” 



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