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The cost of a traditional gym varies, and can range anywhere from $10-$100 a month. There are, of course, gyms that are significantly more expensive, but for the average American, the aforementioned cost is typical.
The most basic national gyms, such as Planet Fitness, are in that cheaper range. The more a gym adds in terms of provided services and amenities, the more that price will start to inch up.
Crossfit membership can also range quite a bit depending on your region. But know that it’s unlikely you’ll spend less than $150 a month to get your box jump on. In a big city with a lot of competition? Make that upwards of $200-$250 a month.
Working out in downtown Chicago? You’re looking at $220-$335. Move to the suburbs, though, and you’ll drop below $200 a month. Move into Missouri and prices drop even more. So just know that if you’re wondering about average cost, it really does depend on where you are.
Give a few local places a call and you’ll get a feel for the average cost for your area. But a rule of thumb is, the more metropolitan, the higher the cost.
Now you may be asking what the deal is with that cost? The lowest Crossfit membership is at the top of most gym membership prices. What gives? It turns out, the answer to that question is a bit more complicated than you may think.
A typical traditional gym typically requires its members to enter into a 1-2 year contract when signing up for their membership. As NPR reported in an episode of it’s podcast Planet Money, it turns out that only about 33% of these contract members actually goes to the gym on a regular basis. What this means is that the other 67% are subsidizing the membership of those faithful attenders, making the overall cost cheaper for all.
That gym can afford its spas, locker rooms, classes, trainers, and equipment, because they expect the low attendance (and therefore minimal results) of that larger percentage of members.
Crossfit boxes, unlike these gyms, are affiliates, not franchises. This means that a Crossfit owner pays the $3,000 to become a Crossfit affiliate, but then takes on all the other costs of running business for themselves. They pay for training for their coaches, equipment and replacements over time, and ongoing maintenance costs. It’s a huge investment, but that investment isn’t in the Crossfit name. It’s in the people.
What does that mean? Let’s look at what you get for your money at a traditional gym versus a Crossfit box.
The average low-cost commercial gym offers a large assortment of cardio machines (treadmills, ellipticals, rowing machines), an assortment of circuit machines for muscle building, an area with free weights and other free standing equipment (bosu balls, ropes, etc.), and an area in which to stretch. Think Planet Fitness, L.A. Fitness, and the like.
For a little more money you’ll get a similar layout but add in spinning and aerobics classes. The nicest of these gyms may include a swimming pool, basketball courts, an indoor track, child care options and perhaps even some specialty classes, such as barre, or hot yoga.
Usually, the base rate doesn’t include a trainer, child care, or specialty classes, so you’ll pay extra for these options.
For those who know how to use equipment, and have previous training, these will all be great options. With everything available at these gyms, it’s likely you can create a workout regime that’s perfect for you.
However, the average gym goer doesn’t have the experience or expertise to make this happen, and is unlikely to pay the extra for a trainer who will help them do so. A traditional gym setting isn’t bad, but probably is best utilized by a pretty small percentage of its membership.
At a Crossfit Box, on the other hand, you’ll receive far less in terms of options. No specialty classes, no pools, and far less machinery. You won’t find a fancy locker room or a sauna, but what will you find instead? In depth training and a far greater chance at success.
Yes the price is high, but the coaches at your Crossfit Box are going to do everything in their power to make that price worth it. This isn’t a place where you go in, walk on a treadmill for 30 minutes, and leave unnoticed. Instead, you get one on one training and group workouts where you’ll receive encouragement, support, and if you stick with it, results.
So the question really is, what do you want? Because once you know that, you’ll be in a better position to consider whether or not Crossfit is worth the cost for you.
The bottom line is that a traditional gym is, for the most part, set up for exercise, and a Crossfit gym has the goal of training in mind. What’s the difference between these two?
According to a Huffington Post Article from 2014, exercise is “physical activity done for its own sake.” The person looking to get in some exercise will have the primary goal of burning a certain amount of calories and sweating for a specific amount of time. Typically, it means doing the same routine on repeat, or having a set schedule of cardio + a targeted area (i.e. Monday, 30 minute run and arms; Tuesday, 30 minute elliptical and legs).
Exercise is good. It’s an important part of remaining healthy. But exercise does not have to be limited to this type of routine.
Training is also exercise, but it’s the kind used by professional athletes. That six pack or those biceps you admire on that pro-athlete you watched on TV last weekend are not a result of an exercise regimen. They’re a result of training. Training is NOT exercise done for its own sake. It’s exercise with a specific goal in mind.
For the average person, it might be strange to consider that this might be a better option than simple exercise. After all, if you are not a professional athlete, then what are you training for? However, it’s obvious that it’s this type of training that creates true results, that turns people into athletes. Enter Crossfit.
Crossfit takes the training approach to exercise. What’s the goal? Not just to get your workout in, but to get better. To improve. To end in a different place than you began. And it’s this difference that the Crossfit member is paying for.
When you enter a Crossfit Box, you can expect the following:
• One-on-one time with a coach, who will make sure you know exactly what you’re doing, help you set attainable goals, and keep you on track.
• A group training atmosphere, that encourages camaraderie and friendship. This is one of the reasons people can’t stop talking about Crossfit, and seem to want to hang out there all the time. It’s not just a workout, it’s a social event.
• New, frequently changing WODs (Workout of the Day). No more boring treadmill jogs.
• Results. There’s no arguing with the impressive impact of Crossfit. For those who are all in, the changes can be significant.
There’s no argument to be made that joining a Crossfit Box is cheap. It will definitely cost more than a traditional gym. But to actually earn some return on your investment, there’s also no denying that Crossfit often produces results.
We should also note, though, that just because Crossfit often works in impressive ways, it does not mean that all Crossfit Boxes are created equal. There are boxes you should avoid, and you’ll want to make sure you look at the options in your area and choose the one that is actually is delivering on its promises.
If you’re someone who wants to move beyond the experience of a traditional gym environment, it may be that Crossfit is worth the uptick in your membership cost. It often really is true that you get what you pay for.
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