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Closures, Pay Cuts, Layoffs: How COVID-19 has Affected 6,000 Gyms

Morning Chalk Up

January 16   |   POWERED BY


Good morning and welcome to the Morning Chalk Up.

In today’s edition:

  • The evolution of training squads.
  • An Economist’s Perspective: Long-Term Challenges Facing CrossFit’s Financial Growth (OPINION)
  • A second look at the Two Brain Survey reveals critical insights.
  • A round-up of good news across the community.

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“Excuses only satisfy the person who makes them.” - Unknown

  The Evolution of Training Squads 

The Evolution of Training Squads

Over the past two weeks, headlines in the sport of fitness have featured a number of stories about the changes top athletes have been making in preparation for a 2021 season.

More and more it seems that the top level athletes are squadding up in hopes of creating training environments that can better prepare them for the stressors and intensity of competing at the sports highest level, but the evolution of such conglomerations of talent dates back much further than most people think. Let’s take a little walk through history shall we?

One big thing: The roots of the training squads trace back to the very first CrossFit gym, CrossFit Santa Cruz in Santa Cruz, CA where a trio of trailblazing women made waves in the community with a workout demo video that published December 4, 2005 and was infamously dubbed “Nasty Girls.”

  • Annie Sakamoto, Eva Twarkodens, and Nicole Carroll, tackled the three-round workout of 50 air squats, 7 muscle-ups, and 10 hang cleans, and in the process initiated a paradigm shift in a budding training community that was still more than two years away from blossoming into a sport.
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  • MUST WATCH discussion with Reebok’s Sr. Product Manager, Tal Short, who’s responsible for spearheading the production of the Nano franchise.
  • TUNE IN: The heaviest bout in history between Hafthor Bjornsson and Steven Ward kicks off today at 11:00 AM PT/7:00 PM GMT. The Boxing Scene has a preview of the match-up, and here’s where to watch live.
  • The Battle Cancer Program launches this week. The free 12-week program is tailored specifically for those who are post-cancer treatment. This year the program will be hosted in nine locations across the UK and US, including WIT, London and CrossFit Invictus, San Diego.
  • A Mayo Clinic study revealed that “Maximal exercise capacity determined from an exercise stress test before SARS-CoV-2 infection is independently and inversely associated with the likelihood of hospitalization due to COVID-19.” In simple language, high-intensity exercise helps build a buffer against the need for hospitalization in the case of a COVID infection.
  • Survey: Gainz Box is considering shifting from a monthly to a quarterly delivery, take their survey and get a buy one, get one free deal
  • ICYMI: The Community Gyms Coalition released a statement on the Biden Stimulus Plan.
    • “We applaud the president-elect’s support for small businesses across the country by moving forward with an additional stimulus package that includes funds for the hardest hit industries. Unfortunately, prior relief programs have not included targeted assistance that works for gyms. Nearly 4 in 10 gyms will not survive 2021 without support, and tens of thousands are at risk of closing permanently. We call on Congress to include dedicated support for small gyms, fitness facilities and studios in the final legislation.”
  An Economist's Perspective: Long-Term Challenges Facing CrossFit's Financial Growth (OPINION) 

An Economist's Perspective: Long-Term Challenges Facing CrossFit's Financial Growth (OPINION)

Having listened to many CrossFit affiliate owners both in person and in podcasts, it is hard not to compare their views of the business of CrossFit with that of the blind men considering the elephant.

At the affiliate level there certainly is no unanimity on the best approach going forward. Some affiliates have closed, others have gone exclusively online, and others have struggled to maintain a client base within the constraints of local COVID-19 regulations. What is clear is that from an affiliate’s perspective, there is no one-size-fits-all business model that is appropriate.

The economics of running an affiliate in extreme rental markets like New York City, San Francisco or Hong Kong differ from those in more affordable markets like Indianapolis, Sao Paulo or Reykjavik, and differ even further from places like Aberdeen, SD or Nairobi, Kenya or Nuuk, Greenland. An individual affiliate owner need not worry about the different markets or the different parts of the elephant; for CrossFit HQ it is a very different story.

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  • CrossFit Endgame opens in Belgium: Despite the pandemic that has kept the country in lockdown, Jasper Vanhoutte opened CrossFit Endgame and has been able to host small group workouts outside. They community is growing fast and has added 50 members in under a month.
  • Levi Sampley, from Three Sons CrossFit in Elizabethtown, KY, took on the Grand Teton Triathlon. It’s not an official race. It is an accomplishment where athletes bike 21 miles from Jackson, WY to the Grand Teton National Park, swim 1.2 miles across Jenny Lake, climb to the 13,770 foot summit of the Grand Teton and then do the whole thing back in reverse. And he made a documentary film about it.
  • Corps Fitness becomes CrossFit Crossing: After several years as active members, Kevin Kodz and his wife, Amanda took over Corps Fitness in late 2020 and rebranded as CrossFit Crossing. The gym is hosting soft opening workouts for now but will open fully to the community in March or April.
  • Swim coach uses CrossFit mentality to train athletes: Daniel McIntosh the swim coach at Spring Mills in West Virginia has used his experiences in CrossFit to train his swimmers. As a result, 18 of 22 swim records were broken at the school.
  Closures, Revenue Loss, Pay Cuts, Layoffs: New Research Reveals COVID-19’s Impact on 6,000 Gyms 


Closures, Revenue Loss, Pay Cuts, Layoffs: New Research Reveals COVID-19’s Impact on 6,000 Gyms

Earlier this week, we reported on the 84-page report that gym mentorship company Two Brain Business recently released — “the most comprehensive, data-driven analysis of the fitness industry ever conducted,” they said — about the state of the fitness industry in 2020. Today, we’re going to take a closer look at their COVID-specific data.

The details: Two Brain research examined 6,000 gyms. CrossFit gyms made up 70 percent of them, and boutique and yoga studios, personal training, martial arts and strength and conditioning gyms rounding out the other 30 percent. It included a 59-question survey and data from various other companies in the industry, namely Wodify, Arbox, Rigquipment, AGuard and Gym Lead Machine.

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Eight Brand New Single-Leg Exercises

Single-leg work is hard and many people avoid it. But, it's super effective for building muscle, increasing athleticism, and supporting health and longevity. Here are eight new single-leg exercises for you to work into your routine.




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How to Maintain a Barbell

In this episode, Armen Hammer takes care of some much-needed maintenance on his favorite garage gym barbell. In 2020, many of us invested in home gym equipment and Hammer provides some great tips on how to keep a barbell in good condition (of course, don't wait years to do it, as he did).


Chalk Up Highlights is our section dedicated to celebrating our community’s wins in the gym. Follow @ChalkUpHighlights and submit your highlight to [email protected] to be featured.

12/9 - 12/11: Fall Series Throwdown (Desio, Italy)
12/17: The Midwest Championship (Warrensburg, MO)
1/15 - 1/31: Athens Throwdown Qualifiers (Athens, Greece)
1/21 - 1/22: Modena Challenge: Beginner and Master (Modena, Italy)

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