Who is Dan Williams, WIT Fitness Founder and CrossFit’s New Apparel Partner

June 20, 2021 by
Photo Credit: Dan Williams (instagram.com/dan__witlondon/)
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Brit Dan Williams’ route to launching a sportswear retail business is most definitely not your typical story.

The WIT Fitness founder, who just signed a large-scale deal with CrossFit, studied international politics at the University of Leeds, focusing on African nations and graduated in 2007. Then the year after he founded a cleaning company out of Leeds.

“We literally started cleaning student’s houses and kind of did this end of tenancy thing,” said the 38-year-old. “And we actually used to do the cleaning ourselves and that kind of snowballed.”

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Soon the cleaning company had picked up contracts for almost every nightclub and bar in Leeds, but Williams, who was a collegiate runner, knew his heart was obviously not in cleaning. 

“It wasn’t enjoyable and the hours were really hectic, and I wasn’t even cleaning anymore and it obviously wasn’t my passion. And after five years we got acquired by a larger company that wanted to franchise in that region.”

He walked away with a fair chunk of change, enough to spend a year figuring out what he really wanted to do. He quickly realized sport, which had been a part of his life since childhood, was where he wanted to go professionally. His father was a rugby player, and Williams was still running and competing. 

Williams started working as a Regional Sales manager for inov-8, a running-focused apparel and footwear company, in London, but only lasted a year, and quit in 2014. He said this was because he was going to his bosses raving about this new training regime, CrossFit, and its market potential, but his musings were falling on deaf ears. 

He did his first CrossFit class in 2012, but couldn’t get the company he worked for to bite on the idea of functional fitness having a huge upside as there was an engrained community and identity already built into the sport which seemed to also encompass fashion in the form of workout clothes. 

“Back then not many people were aware of it, but I could see the potential of it given the cult atmosphere around it and how passionate people were and also all the different types of people who were doing it. The athlete down to the everyday person trying to get fit. While I was at innov-8 they basically put it in with functional fitness by mistake and made one shoe for it.”

His wild predictions turned out to be true, but at the time, Williams said no one was listening to him.

“I kept telling them, ‘You guys have to focus on training, leave trail running behind, training is going to be the biggest sport in the world.’”

Soon Reebok got on board, sponsoring the CrossFit Games, and Williams said he saw his opportunity to strike, so he founded WIT Fitness in 2015 along with sports retail expert Sam Kitching. 

“It took off immediately because when I was with innov-8, I’d been to pretty much every box in the UK at that time, so I knew every affiliate owner and every member basically in the UK. So when I came up with this concept to bring all the brands together in this one space, I jumped into that community straight away and I knew it was something they were calling out for.”

Much like CrossFit’s new CEO Eric Roza, Williams does WODs regularly, five to six times a week he said. That first class, like many, was an immediate connection for him.

“It was love at first sight … I remember it was a pull-up and running workout and it immediately bashed me, but it also involved all my passions already.”

Of course, not only is Williams a lover of CrossFit, he is also a fan. He said he’s got some thoughts on who will win the much debated men’s division when it comes to the 2021 CrossFit Games, now that five-time champion Mat Fraser has retired.

“From a personal perspective I would love for Chandler Smith to win it, he’s a great character, a phenomenal athlete. But who is going to win? It’s going to be (Justin) Medeiros I think. We would also love (Jeffrey) Adler to win it, because (WIT) is involved with him, and he’s a great guy, and he could win it too, he’s a dark horse.” 

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