The Affiliate Playbook Is Here, Major Takeaways From The Global Launch Of CrossFit’s New Tool

September 8, 2021 by
Photo Credit: CrossFit LLC
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CrossFit LLC. has added a major tool to its offerings of support to the global affiliate community, as the first ever CrossFit Affiliate Playbook was published earlier today.

The document, which provides a comprehensive roadmap for affiliate owners present and future, continues to make good on CrossFit CEO Eric Roza’s promise to provide “tools over rules,” to a growing contingent of more than 12,000 gyms worldwide. 

The 159 page playbook is without a doubt the most comprehensive piece of literature on affiliates seen to date, but in characterizing some of the big picture themes of the playbook, three words come to mind that – for reasons beyond alliteration – highlight major takeaways from the first iteration: Resources, Reflection, Representation. 


One of the things that is immediately apparent when combing through the play book is the sheer volume of resources at a gym owner’s disposal. In Roza’s opening statement he notes that members of the community with more than 100+ years of successful affiliate ownership have contributed to the playbook, and it shows. 

  • The resource topics are wide-ranging, running the gamut from the minutiae of introducing oneself, financing equipment, and determining tax status, to larger elements like mission statements and creating a gym culture. 
  • Introductory and explanatory videos are included at the start of each segment, and provide a more dynamic element to the information presented. There is so much information that having video elements breaks up the monotony of written form. 

The types of resources also vary such that it allows the playbook to pull from outside of the CrossFit bubble to leverage best practices and approaches to business that may benefit an affiliate even if the origin lies outside of the fitness industry. 

  • Samples and examples are in abundance throughout, along with a dissection of their relevance to the given topic, to provide real-world examples of usage in context. 
  • Case in point: During the mission statement section, a breakdown of REI’s mission statement was included as an example from another adjacent lifestyle company.
  • Relevant commentary was also sprinkled throughout from notable minds and leaders in various fields including videos from Simon Sinek, and Penn State football coach James Franklin on company and core values.

Checklists and notes sections are also included to provide immediate tools for use while working through the playbook in addition to the traditional listed tips and tricks. Doing so adds a level of interaction to the document that segues into the next takeaway.


Like most informative pieces of literature there is reason to return to the playbook time and time again. Roza denotes in his opening statement that the playbook is a “living document,” and General Manager of Affiliates Gary Gaines labels it the “CrossFit Affiliate Playbook 1.0,” highlighting that the playbook is anything but a set it and forget it manuscript. 

  • Baked into those descriptions is the commitment from CrossFit to continually update and refine the information provided as dictated by a constantly evolving, multi-faceted global state of affairs for affiliates. 

Reflection is the engine that will drive such innovation, which is apparent from the outset considering the first section after the table of contents is a three page self reflection exercise questionnaire. 

  • The playbook asks the reader a lot of questions throughout for the purpose of reflection and self-examination. Included in that are notes sections at the end of each chapter for the user to leverage. 
  • Hyperlinks are included to jump between previous or future sections as well to encourage the cross-pollination of information as the user works through and revisits relevant topics covered in other areas of the playbook.

In many ways this element of the playbook mirrors our training since certain characteristics of self-improvement are pertinent across the board. As CrossFitters we step into our affiliates or garage gyms each day with the intention of improving our health and fitness, which requires some level of reflection and assessment to accurately gauge progress and set course accordingly. 

Reflection also enables and empowers the last takeaway from the playbook.


In one of the early town hall live streams, Roza mentioned that one of the immediate ways to work on proper representation of the diverse community was imagery. 

While the playbook is largely script, the imagery used does in fact include a wide range of community members in addition to expanding upon the idea of representation in an affiliate across the spectrum.

  • Culturally: The playbook dives into things like mission statements, core values, and culture of the gym via it’s coaches and members to make sure that the cultural representation of the business through its community is in alignment with what the owners have envisioned. 
  • Experience: Including imagery, gym programming, interpersonal engagement, social events, and more, the playbook addresses the many ways that affiliates can ensure that the member and coach experience is actually representative of the environment they want to create, and is inclusive to those seeking similar benefits.
  • Outreach: The playbook spends 26 pages on branding, marketing, and sales, all of which play major roles in how the affiliate is represented outside of the walls of the gym and to people outside of the CrossFit community.

Representation also extends to physical location and layout of the gym, things covered in the playbook that pertain to new or prospective affiliates and work to drive home the point that representation from a business perspective is a deep and complicated topic that the playbook doesn’t take lightly.

Overall the playbook is extensive, and to put it bluntly, impressive. For two decades the affiliate community had largely been unified by our freedom of choice, and the adoption of fitness principles put forth by CrossFit. 

That freedom still exists, but it’s also a breath of fresh air to now have the option at our disposal  to leverage the collective experience and wisdom of the largest network of gyms on the planet.

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