Three Back-To-School CrossFit Event Themes to Bring Your Community Together this Fall

August 28, 2023 by
Photo Credit: Patrick Quinn Paquet (
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As summer starts to wind down, kids aren’t the only ones heading back to class. 

As the temperatures start to drop and beach vacations come to an end, thousands of CrossFitters start to return to the gym with a more consistent schedule.

One big thing: With so many CrossFitters returning from their summer hiatus, this time of year also serves as a fantastic moment to draw the community back together. 

  • While it might be difficult to rally a group on a summer weekend, the fall marks the perfect time to think outside the box (both literally and figuratively), as to how you can create valuable community experiences for your members.
  • Today, we’ll talk about three different themes of community events that you can use at your own affiliate.

1) Fitness Outside the Box: While the core of CrossFit is, of course, functional fitness within the walls of the affiliate, the original mantra of CrossFit preached that one must “regularly learn and play new sports.” 

It is this objective that one can utilize to craft unique experiences for members to gather outside the context of a CrossFit class. Here are some examples of fitness outings that you can organize for your members.

  • Rock Climbing: Rock climbing is perhaps one of the most translatable sports to CrossFit.
    • The pulling strength, grip strength, and body awareness required for the sport merges eloquently with the gymnastics elements of CrossFit. 
    • Just look at 2023’s Fittest Woman on Earth, Laura Horvath, who has a significant background in rock climbing.
    • Reach out to your local bouldering or rock climbing gym and see if they offer group discounts for day passes.
    • Even better, see if they would be willing to offer a class specifically for your members for an introduction to climbing.
  • Hiking: A sport that requires both agility and endurance, rally your members for a local hike to see the scenery and get their bodies moving on a weekend rest day or after a workout.
    • To find a trail near your affiliate, utilize an app like Strava or AllTrails.
    • Be sure that you are selecting a route that is doable for most, if not all members of your affiliate.
    • By utilizing an app like Strava or AllTrails, you can see the difficulty levels, as well as the vertical feet of the climb before you head out.
    • AllTrails also allows you to read reviews of the routes to determine the best direction and get tips from hikers who have completed the route before you.
  • Running Club: For those members who can’t seem to get enough running workouts or have been itching to sign up for the local 10k, a running club is a great way to give members a chance to shake up their weekly workout routine.
    • If you have enough interest, you can break the group into two distances/paces depending on the skill and experience of the runners who show up.
    • Keep the distance short and sweet and the pace conversational to encourage the social and casual atmosphere of the activity.
  • Pickleball:The sport that’s sweeping the nation, is a great way to get your members outdoors and socializing.
    • Because it requires less skill than tennis, players are able to pick the sport up rather quickly.
    • The doubles aspect (teams of two) of the game, also allows for the activity to be extremely casual and social, though be warned, it can get very competitive.
    • If you’re looking to really tap into the competitive nature of your members, organize a pickleball tournament at your local courts (most local Pickleball courts will be converted tennis courts, so look to your local high school or YMCA).
  • Group Bike Rides: If one of your coaches has a bike and an interest in road cycling, putting together a community bike ride can be a great way to get members outdoors for an active recovery day.
    • Use an app like Strava to build a route and set the distance.
    • Keep the route and pace short and sweet to make sure that everyone can have a good time and enjoy themselves.
  • Scavenger Hunt: Organize a scavenger hunt in the city or town around your local affiliate.
    • While this requires a substantial amount of planning, the result is a fun-filled day of adventure and fitness.
    • Pair athletes up and give them a list of sights to find and activities to complete.
    • The activities can be things such as “20 burpees at X location” or “perform 60 seconds of air squats in front of this famous landmark.”
    • Have teams digitally document their experience and use apps like WhatsApp to have them send in proof.
    • The final clue of the scavenger hunt can lead athletes to a local bar or brewery where celebrations can commence.
  • Compete In A Tough Mudder: While it doesn’t have to be a Tough Mudder specifically, getting your gym members to compete in a local obstacle course race can be a great way to encourage camaraderie and fitness outside the gym.
    • Many races, including Tough Mudder, offer group discounts and incentives.
    • Encourage coaches to sign up by offering to fully or partially comp their entry fee.
    • The recruiting power of coaches is hard to match and can be a great example to set for members who might be hesitant to take on the challenge.

2) Social Events: Getting outside the gym and outside the context of fitness can be a great way for your members to connect on a more personal level. Here are some ways to integrate more social events into your community.

  • Local Business Outing: A great way to partner with and support local businesses in your community is to organize an evening at a local bar, pub, or brewery.
    • If you’re expecting a particularly large number of people to attend, it’s always in your best interest to reach out to the business in advance to ask what their policy is on large groups.
    • However, most will be happy to accommodate and may even throw in a few free drinks for good measure.
  • Apple Picking: A great way to get everyone and their families involved. Pick a date and time to meet at a local orchard and pick some crisp, fresh apples and don’t forget the apple cider donuts afterward!

3) Event-Based Outings: Centering your outing (or inning, if you want it to take place inside your box) around an event can be a great way to centralize your community around a particular cause or goal.

  • Group Sporting Events: While it’s important to regularly learn and play new sports, nothing beats watching them.
    • Many local colleges or sporting teams will offer group ticket rates for large groups of people.
    • Put together a signup list for your local baseball game or college football home game and get a crew to head out and enjoy a day of sports.
  • Local Throwdowns: Many gyms host local throwdowns during the fall and early winter months.
    • Encourage members to sign up for a particular local throwdown and offer additional training sessions for those competing or specific accessory programming.
    • Encourage coaches to attend as spectators or help coach athletes during the throwdown, as well as members.
    • Rallying community support behind a local throwdown not only encourages members to chase a new goal but can amplify the sense of community, even amongst members who choose to compete.
  • Host A Weightlifting Meet: Less complicated than putting together an entire throwdown, host an internal weightlifting meet amongst your members.
    • This can be an especially great option if you have a weightlifting program or class in your affiliate.
    • Encourage members to sign up and test their lifts and encourage coaches to help work with members interested in advancing their weightlifting skills to compete.
    • Of course, don’t forget about the after party!
  • Host A Workshop: See if you can bring in a registered dietician or sports psychologist to host a workshop on their area of expertise for your members.
    • This can be a way to help promote local specialists, as well as bring value to your members outside of their regular classes.
  • Host A Halloween Family WOD: While most of your members are likely adults, many are still kids at heart and would love the chance to wear a fun costume while they workout.
    • Halloween falls on a Tuesday this year, but the Saturday before is a great opportunity to encourage members to bring their friends and family in for a fun community event.
    • Encourage members to dress up and bring a friend or family member to participate in a quick, fun, and approachable workout.
    • Be sure to make the workout simple and attainable for non-CrossFit participants, as well as for those with more complicated costumes to prevent wardrobe malfunctions.
  • Host A Breast Cancer Fundraiser: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and what better way to raise money for the cause than with 30 clean and jerks for time?
    • While Barbells For Boobs dissolved earlier this year after 13 years of serving the breast cancer community through CrossFit fundraisers, Compete for A Cure has stepped in to fill that void.
    • You can register your event on their website here.
    • Invite athletes from your affiliate and beyond to come in on a Saturday and perform the workout “Grace” (30 clean and jerks for time).
    • You can even encourage non-CrossFit athletes to participate by offering scaling options such as 30 ball slams for time, 30 dumbbell clean and jerks for time, or 30 reps of any similar, approachable movement you can think of.
    • All donations from the event can be made to Compete for A Cure, an organization with the mission to: “Fund breast cancer survivors’ & thrivers’ wellness within local communities and provide breast health education for coaches, trainers, and athletes.”
    • To further incentivize participants to donate, put out “burpee jars” for each coach during the month of October and during the event and encourage members to drop their spare change.
    • After the conclusion of the event, coaches must perform one burpee for every dollar in their jar and all funds are donated to Compete for a Cure.

The big picture: Whether you’re putting together a Halloween workout or taking your members out on a hike, the key thing to remember this fall is quality over quantity. 

Pick a few key, tentpole events for your members to elevate their community experience beyond the four walls of your gym. 

Encourage your coaches to support and attend the events and perhaps even take ownership of one. Whatever events you choose to host, keep the focus on community and how you can continue to build both inside and outside of your affiliate.

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