Eric Roza Hosts Second Town Hall Event, Lays Out ‘Affiliates First’ Theme

November 6, 2020 by
Photo Courtesy CNN
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On Thursday afternoon, CrossFit CEO Eric Roza hosted a virtual town hall for affiliate owners  to learn about the directions the organization is taking to help affiliates navigate the COVID landscape and beyond, and introduce two new senior members of the affiliate team: Gary Gaines, Director of International and Kate Alexander, Director of Affiliate Success.

One big thing: The theme for this year, as Roza outlined it, is “Affiliates First.” That means that as CrossFit works to develop the impact of the Games, the reach of CrossFit training and seminars, and innovates in research and analytics, the affiliate community will be at the center.

  • Roza: “We are here today because we find our greatest life’s meaning and purpose in the transformation of others…Today what I wanted to share with you is how we are transforming CrossFit’s approach to supporting our affiliates and investing in your success through COVID and beyond. It’s vital that we stand together through the challenges and we retain hope that an even greater future awaits on the other side of COVID.”

Remind me: In August, Roza hosted the first quarterly town hall with the CrossFit community at large where he revealed CrossFit’s new mission statement, “to be the world’s leading platform for health, happiness and performance.”

  • A key component to that mission was that it is global in scope and that point was developed further in the second town hall this week.
  • A second key point from the August discussion was that Roza views CrossFit as a platform business and wants to invest in the success of all the businesses related to the CrossFit core. That point came across very strongly in the discussion this week, as Roza and team discussed all the initiatives they are instituting to help affiliates.

It’s a small world: Roza introduced Gary Gaines early in the discussion as a 13-year CrossFitter and the former COO of SoulCycle, who helped them create their COVID strategy. Gaines discussed the work he’s doing the country managers in an effort to help define their roles within the organization and as conduits between CrossFit and affiliate owners around the globe.

  • One takeaway from this part of the discussion was that, while there had been little direction for the country managers previously, now there is a weekly conference call and the program is expanding, soon to include managers for Canada and Scandanavian countries.
  • Gaines: “In terms of advocacy, [country managers] are trying to find trade associations that are really trying to combat [COVID] restrictions that local municipalities are placing on these gyms.” 

Affiliate success: Next up was Kate Alexander, a Games athlete from Team Reebok CrossFit One in 2017 and a four-time regionals qualifier who previously served as the VP for Customer Success at TrueCoach. She focused on differentiating “affiliate success” in a pre-COVID era vs now.

  • Roza and Kate Alexander discussed a number of initiatives that can help gyms, not only through COVID restrictions but also going forward more generally.
  • Alexander: “I think what’s most important to remember right now is understanding that definition [for affiliate success] has also changed significantly in 2020… we need to understand what that means for our affiliates and provide the resources that will help them succeed in 2021 and ‘22 and continue to grow and thrive.”
  • Next week there will be an announcement of legislation related to gym closures and COVID restrictions — stay tuned for more.
  • There was also an affiliate survey released yesterday to gather feedback on possible affiliate initiatives going forward.

Tech Insights: Roza’s background is in the technology field, so it makes sense that as he and his team get established, we will see developments in this area. Here are a few he mentioned during the discussion.

  • The Givitas App: This is an app based on the work of Adam Grant, a Wharton Business School professor, and a psychologist who believes that the ability to ask for and give advice is the key to business relationships. CrossFit is using this app for affiliate connection and launched it first in Australia. Importantly, it’s not a social media app, It’s a closed system that helps subscribers to create a supportive community.
  • Roza teased the idea of offering 24-hour-a-day classes on a virtual platform featuring coaches from local affiliates as well as “celebrity coaches” and Games athletes. This would be a service offered for free, but only to current members of CrossFit affiliates. 
  • Gym management software: Although there were not a lot of details to share here, the idea of developing back-end gym software is clearly on CrossFit’s radar and might also help solve the data collection issues in a disparate affiliate ecosystem.

The bottom line: This town hall discussion illustrated once again the investment that Roza and his team are pouring into the affiliate community. That investment was apparent in the promotional materials surrounding the CrossFit Games last month and it has been at the foundation of almost every public statement Roza has made so far.  

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