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Affiliate Owners Connect and Learn Through Roundtables

ByCrossFitAugust 3, 2022

CrossFit affiliate owners are exclusively invited to take part in CrossFit Affiliate Roundtables, which offer a chance to connect with fellow affiliate owners around the world to ask questions, share ideas, and get feedback on personal and business issues — and everything in between.

“Yes, it is a ton of business talk and talk about life as an owner, but within that is just life talk,” explained Danielle Hale, Senior Manager of Affiliate Community and Engagement. “It allows everything to tie together really nicely, both personally and professionally, and allows for an extremely therapeutic conversation. We’ve heard (from affiliate owners) that having the chance to offload some of what is going on in their lives allows them to be present in other relationships because they’ve offloaded already and they’re allowing themselves some time to breathe.”

Roundtable groups regularly meet virtually — with live roundtables on occasion at CrossFit events — and each group includes nine affiliate owners, one of whom is a moderator. Moderators are integral to the success of the program, Hale said, and all moderators receive live training from CrossFit HQ along with resources to help direct roundtable discussions. The moderator helps guide the conversation and ensures participants are using gestalt language in their interactions.

“(Gestalt language) allows people to be transparent and vulnerable … it really avoids the awkwardness of a conversation that can happen when you start giving advice,” said David Osorio, owner of CrossFit South Brooklyn and roundtable moderator head trainer.

Live Roundtable at the CrossFit Affiliate Summit, CrossFit Redemption, November 2021

The moderator provides structure around the discussion, Osorio added, saying, “The consistency of the meetings where you have a general format — people lean into the format, you’re not just left to your own devices … it’s a blend of organic conversations, but also a framework and a structure to keep it balanced, to keep it moving forward, to respect everyone’s time.”

All discussions are completely confidential. Everything said in your roundtable stays in your roundtable. This confidentiality helps to make participants feel more comfortable having open, honest, and vulnerable conversations, which in turn leads to deeper connection and relatability, though it does take time to get there — you don’t have to come in ready to share your darkest secrets.

“When we first started, there was a lot of, ‘OK, what software do you guys use? How do you handle programming?’ all that stuff,” said Dan Messinger, owner of CrossFit Breckenridge and roundtable moderator. “And now we’ve moved past that since we’ve gotten to know each other so well, so now it’s become more about the emotional side of being an affiliate owner … being able to have someone to talk to, and someone who understands because they may be experiencing the same thing has been really cool.”

“(Roundtables) are a chance for you to talk to like-minded people and share stuff — getting vulnerable is just going to happen. It’s the nature of human interaction,” Messinger added.

Roundtable discussions have led to real, tangible improvements in business for many affiliate owners as they’ve implemented actionable tools into their everyday operations from something as simple as setting up ACH payments to something as complex as getting new revenue-generating programs up and running.

“Launching of new programs has been huge in our roundtable,” said Michaela Beauvais, owner of Snake River CrossFit and roundtable moderator. “‘How do you get a kids program up and running? How do you structure that?’”

CrossFit’s business model allows affiliate owners an enormous amount of autonomy when it comes to operations, but that often leads to feeling like they’re navigating business all on their own.

“A common theme is that everyone feels like they’re on an island,” Osorio said. “We’re not a franchise model so everyone’s left to [run their affiliate] on their own and figure out their own best practices in their own way, and that’s great, but I think that leaves this big Pandora’s box of, ‘What are other affiliates doing?’”

Live Roundtable at the CrossFit Affiliate Summit, CrossFit Triple River, October 2021

Roundtables provide an opportunity to learn from collective experiences shared by other affiliate owners. And when obstacles inevitably pop up, roundtables are a great place to troubleshoot and bounce ideas off of others who may have similar experiences.

“I really appreciated that I could tell the truth in my roundtable,” said Beauvais. “I didn’t feel like I was being judged, and there were other people in that roundtable who were experiencing the same things that I was experiencing. … The first two sessions were surface level and then after that you cut the crap. You get into what matters because everyone sees the value in connecting, and learning, and venting, and brainstorming.”

Since the discussions are confidential and only the Licensee of Record (LOR) is permitted to join (no managers, coaches, etc.), participants are encouraged to share personal struggles if they feel comfortable. Personal challenges impact your business, and your roundtable is a safe space to seek help, share experiences, and celebrate successes with other affiliate owners.

“Whatever you’re going through personally, there’s such an opportunity to share and it gives you so much empathy for other people,” said Cary Hair, CrossFit Community Engagement Specialist. “When we went through moderator training, we were actively sharing very freely … you realize that everybody’s got at least five things sitting on their shoulders and you just get a little perspective. Everybody’s got something going on.”

Once you’ve been able to connect through a personal story or struggle, Hair said, opening up about business is easy.

Getting support from your peers as you navigate business struggles leads to better decisions, clearer business goals, and more confidence in your actions. Learning about others’ successes and failures can inspire you to stretch yourself beyond your comfort level.

At the heart of the program is the owner-to-owner connection that occurs in each and every meeting, Beauvais said.

“The heart of the affiliate owner is really the same across the entire country, and it’s so refreshing just to come in and talk with other business owners who also share a love of people, and they’re hardworking, they’re hustling, they’re running into a lot of similar challenges, and they’re navigating leadership, and life, and people together. I can’t think of a time over the last 10 years where I’ve felt more connected with the community on this level.”

CrossFit is excited to announce we have just launched our new registration platform for CrossFit Affiliate Roundtables. This new system will make signing up for the program easier than ever, allowing participants to view open Roundtables days and times, and make a selection that best suits their schedule, location, and language.

This is an exciting time for Affiliate Roundtables! This new registration process will help us increase the number of groups that can meet around the world — in turn, supporting our CrossFit affiliate community tenfold. Click here to learn more. 

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