CrossFit CEO Don Faul Aims to Tackle “Misperceptions” in New Role
CrossFit announced on August 2 that Marine veteran Don Faul had taken over as CEO. He has only been in the role for just over two months, but he is already on a mission to change perceptions about the training style and the community.
The details: Faul addressed his new role during an appearance on the “My Other Passion” podcast from Front Office Sports. He detailed some of his background working for companies such as Facebook and Pinterest, as well as lessons learned during his time in the U.S. Marine Corps.
It was during this conversation Faul identified the most pressing concern for CrossFit, in his opinion. He said that there need to be some changes in how the general public sees the training style. Like those that head to the box every day, he has heard the criticism about “having an orthopedic surgeon close by” (editor’s note: thanks, Mark Wahlberg) or how CrossFit is only for “very intense” people.
- “I think the first thing that absolutely jumps out is until you’ve experienced CrossFit, I think there’s a lot of folks who have misperceptions that, ‘Hey, you’ve got to be really fit to do CrossFit,’ or, ‘Hey, I see these athletes lifting really heavy weights and [it’s] completely dangerous.'”
- “And the truth is, if you experience it, had the opportunity to do CrossFit, you’ve seen like I have people of every age, every fitness level, folks who are recovering from injury, folks who have metabolic disease, folks who are over 65 years old. You’ve seen their lives change through it. You’ve seen the community welcome them. You’ve seen them achieve things that they never thought were possible.”
Faul explained that these “misperceptions” still exist despite the massive changes that everyday people have made over the years. He acknowledged that CrossFit has touched millions of lives, but he sees an opportunity to reach even more.
- “So I think back to my own experience and think, ‘Gosh, I am… we have to figure out how to do a better job of helping more people realize that CrossFit can be for them, that CrossFit can be for anyone.”
Approaching this goal: Reaching millions more people is a lofty goal, but it’s easier said than done. How will Faul and CrossFit HQ accomplish it? There are a few different ways.
- First is highlighting even more stories from the community and focusing on those that overcame an illness, injury, or another hurdle. This is something that Faul specifically highlighted when he took over as CEO.
- The second focus is on establishing a long-term plan for affiliates and members. Where does CrossFit want to be in 2030 other than simply being bigger? Faul wants to establish a game plan and keep the lines of communication open with affiliates.
An interesting tease: One other thing that Faul briefly mentioned during this discussion is the ongoing plan to work with key sponsors. Rogue, NOBULL, and Trifecta among others will return with their CrossFit focus. However, CrossFit HQ will also work with some others that have an “audience overlap” with people that don’t necessarily use this training style.
- Faul did not detail any of the potential partners or provide a date for when these moves will take place. He simply indicated that these talks are ongoing as he spends more time in his role as CEO.
- “We’re hustling really hard to kind of think about what are the right types of relationships. We’ve got a bunch already that fit the mold and, hopefully, some new ones going into next year that we’re excited about.”
The changing landscape: Another line item for Faul to address is the number of fitness enthusiasts that have built gyms in their homes. COVID-19 forced the closure of facilities around the world and some people just remained at home with dumbbells, exercise bikes, and other equipment.
Getting these people back in the gym is not a matter of proving how one type of programming is better than something found on YouTube or an app. It’s about another important factor – the community and the mental benefits.
- “We need community. We need connection, and there is just no substitute for having people around you to motivate you, to challenge you, to support you, to push you in terms of what you get out of this fitness experience.”
- “I think the future of fitness is hybrid. It’s going to be largely physical, but where we need to provide the flexibility of where if you are working from home that day, you can walk out to your garage, grab a pair of dumbbells, and get a great workout. And then the next day show up to your box and reconnect with your community.”
The mission is set: Faul has his goals in place, and he has plans to succeed. Will he achieve this by 2030 or another milestone? No one knows the exact answer, but there is one thing that Faul repeatedly mentioned during his appearance on “My Other Passion.” He sees nothing that will be better for the everyday person.
- “There is nothing that works as well as CrossFit, period. Full stop. If you look at the results of the folks who stick to it and commit, they are healthier, they have better outcomes, they are generally happier.”