Just when you think you're tough enough


Greg Glassman steers CrossFit to success with one secret

Greg Glassman stayed through to a simple principle in steering CrossFit to global success. (CNBC)
Greg Glassman stayed through to a simple principle in steering CrossFit to global success. (CNBC)

Greg Glassman founded CrossFit and has undoubtedly made it an overwhelming global success in the fitness industry. Every other person, from a 16 to 100 year olds are taking up CrossFit in many corners of the world. How did one man, inspire all this?

The 60-year old former gymnast started training individuals throughout the 1970s, and in 1995, he opened his first gym. Less than two decades later, there are 13,546 active affiliates in 144 different countries operating their own franchise gyms, called “boxes.” There are around four million CrossFit athletes, indulging in various weightlifting and gymnastic movements.

If Glassman can take any credit for the rapid growth of the CrossFit empire, he says, it’s that he has largely avoided making mistakes out of greed.

“I had amazing success as an entrepreneur showing restraint against the opportunities that appear, not that are real, but that appear around this movement,” says Glassman.

CrossFit has avoided putting its name on related consumer products, even when the product would potentially be attractive to CrossFit athletes. For example, Glassman sees wearable technology as largely a fad that will land products in the infamous kitchen “junk drawer.”

“Listen, you put your name behind something, everyone who has one, it will end up in a junk drawer, there are people that will associate your name with the s— in the junk drawer,” adds Glassman.

Reebok shoes made for CrossFit. (Reebok)

CrossFit did partner with Reebok to make a specially designed sneaker to fund the CrossFit Games, a national fitness competition. Glassman says he needed a corporate partner to both attract a TV sponsorship, which he got with ESPN, and to make the competition financially viable. Otherwise, Glassman resists offers to put the CrossFit label on merchandise and associated gear.

“The value lies in what comes to mind when they hear the name. When I do things like build equipment and put my name on it and it sells only because my name is on it not because the equipment is any good, if I do that for supplements, when we do that for apparel, I am trading on that good will,” says Glassman.

Read more on CNBC.