Let’s talk about marketing your CrossFit box legally. CrossFit® is one of the fastest growing brands within the fitness industry both within the US and Internationally. CrossFit® is a registered trademark.
CrossFit ® is not a chain of fitness facilities nor is it structured as a franchise. Rather, CrossFit® is a network of licensees who license the name and utilize the training methodology of the CrossFit® brand founded by XX Glassman. A local CrossFit® gym facility is referred to as a box. The term “box” is not accidental. Box is used to reinforce that a CrossFit® gym can be anywhere, represent the style of business owner, and reflect a culture that is unlike any other CrossFit facility. Boxes can even operate on the business model of the licensees’ choice.
So if you are a CrossFit® affiliate how do you ensure that you are marketing your CrossFit® box legally?
Here are 7+ steps to marketing your CrossFit box legally!
Step 1: Ensure you have and maintain appropriate licenses to use the CrossFit® name and logo.
To legally use the CrossFit® name, and to be a CrossFit® affiliate you need to have undertaken their proprietary training and have entered into their affiliate agreement which explains the rights and responsibilities of licensees. If you have not applied to be an affiliate and entered into an agreement with CrossFit® to be able to use their logo and name as part of your fitness business, then any use of the intellectual property of CrossFit® is infringement and you are risking being sued by them. This includes not using a domain name with the word CrossFit® in it until after you have been approved as an affiliate. It is hardly shocking or a negative that CrossFit® is so determined to protect their intellectual property. Every owner of a trademark has a legal responsibility to defend their mark from dilution. Dilution includes a mark or name falling into common usage.
Step 2: Understand the laws around email marketing
The marketing experts within the fitness industry often talk about the importance and value of email marketing. If you decide to use email marketing to communicate with prospective and current box member, make sure that you do so in compliance with email marketing regulations in your jurisdiction.
Step 3: Be careful of promising results you can’t guarantee
You may have seen clients (box members) achieve incredible results – You may be incredibly proud of their hard work and your part in their success. However, you need to be very careful to avoid any statements that could be reasonably interpreted as a guarantee of a certain level of results. This is why you may have seen “Results are not typical. Your results may vary. Results not guaranteed” disclaimers on advertising for other fitness related products or services. Consult your attorney if you would like to clarify the best wording for your circumstances. See this article more information about results guarantees.
Step 4: Use only photos of individuals you have explicit permission from to use in marketing and promotion
It is a common strategy to use impressive “before and after” images to show progress and results from working with your business! Even if the images were given to you by a satisfied client, you must have their explicit permission to use them to promote or advertise your business. We’ve written about using before and after images of clients in your advertising including using a model release.
Step 5: Be sure that your coaches understand the limits of their professional practice – and that you are not straying into medical advice in any discussion of nutrition or use of supplements.
Your coaches are part of your marketing team, and their actions and statements reflect upon your business and your CrossFit® box. It is essential that, when representing your fitness business, they understand the limits of their role as a fitness professional, and specifically that they are not engaging in offering medical advice, nor engaging in any other practice for which they are not licensed, like nutritional counseling. For more information on activities that can constitute medical advice, and some considerations to ponder in relation to advising clients on supplements.
Step 6: Have members of your CrossFit® box sign a lawyer drafted injury and illness waiver before beginning to work out.
Although not strictly a matter of marketing your box – it is important to lay a good foundation for the relationship between your CrossFit® box and your clients. This is even the case during “try-out” sessions organized by your marketing team, so be sure to make use of a lawyer drafted injury and illness waiver as part of your onboarding process for new clients.
Step 7: Consider protecting the intellectual property of your CrossFit® box
We return back to the status of the agreement between CrossFit® and your business that was discussed above in step 1. CrossFit® is not a traditional franchise business – rather it is a licensing agreement. What this means is that you need to consider if your business (the CrossFit® box you are growing) has intellectual property assets – this could include a logo, or a name – that you need to file a trademark for. If you have questions about what aspects of your business might benefit from intellectual property protection, speak with an attorney who specializes in intellectual property in relation to the fitness industry.
Step 8: Make sure your website isn’t increasing your risk of legal liability.
One of the key platforms for marketing and the method CrossFit® uses to assist affiliates to market their boxes is a website. Once approved as an affiliate, you can register a domain name that includes CrossFit® in the name, and you will be able to make your website live. There are some key disclaimers, waivers, and policies you need to include on your website to limit the risk of liability that a website can and often does present.
It doesn’t look like CrossFit® is going anywhere anytime soon. But, like any fitness business marketing is part of growing a successful business and marketing your Crossfit box legally is essential to limiting any risk of liability for you and your business.