Hobbyists vs Professionals

As CrossFit continues to grow there is a divide happening….hobbyists and professionals.

The growth of the CrossFit games is a perfect example.  Five years ago anyone could have attended the first ever CrossFit Games where they pulled wods out of a hopper and the winner took home $500.00 cash.  I think there may have been 100 people total at that event.  Fast forward to 2011, 29,000 people started the CrossFit season fighting for 45 men’s and 45 women’s spots.

With the extreme growth each year, it’s getting more and more difficult to get to the CrossFit Games.  For the most part, your ‘hobbyist’ CrossFitter is no longer going to have a shot at making the CrossFit Games.  An athlete is going to need to dedicate themselves to the sport, watching what they eat, how they train, when they train, when they sleep etc.  Much of their life is going to be revolved around CrossFit… aka it’ll become their ‘profession’.

Much of the same is happening on the affiliate side.  I’ve seen boxes opened as a side business or as a way to make money so that the owner can do other things.  I call that a ‘hobby’.  I and other box owners have put all our eggs in one basket opening an affiliate with no back up plan and our only desire is to be a great coach.  I call that a ‘profession’.

Now don’t get me wrong…. not everyone fits in one category or the other.  There’s always a grey area.  I can only speak from my personal experience.  I have sacrificed everything for CrossFit.  I quite my job, left my MBA program, sold everything I owned and opened an affiliate; Coca CrossFit.  If someone asks me what I do for a living my response is; I own a CrossFit gym and compete professionally in the sport.  This is my profession.

As CrossFit continues to grow and the number of athletes and affiliates continues to expand it’s going to only increase the divide between hobbyists and professionals.  I know in the last year alone I’m one of 9 gyms that opened in a 60mile radius in Cleveland and there are 3 more possibly opening within 15 miles of my affiliate.  I couldn’t be more excited!

I know in my profession the more people that are CrossFitting in the area the more people there will be talking about and possibly trying CrossFit.  The more people trying CrossFit, the more people CrossFitting the more potential athletes in the area and for me…training partners.  ALL GOOD THINGS!  I know I’m working my tail off everyday to improve myself within the profession of CrossFit, and have no doubt I’ll continue to impact the lives of my clients.  This is NOT a hobby for me, this is my profession.

What do you think?


12 thoughts on “Hobbyists vs Professionals

  1. I have not yet try to do a crossfit ever since that’s why i’m so over confused how fun it is to be performed. I think Professionals has a big advantage than the Hobbyists

  2. I guessed if you passion on that kind of CrossFit you will surely win that kind of event. It will not figure if your a hobbyists or professional but it has something to do with your determination, focused, and dedication on that games. Go for it..

  3. I haven’t heard this crossfit but it’s interesting. I will research this one to know more information about this. Thanks for sharing.

  4. KR;

    You’ve said it completely on the dot. And I wouldn’t even say this stemmed from -this- year. It started LAST year. And I can only imagine what it’s going to be in the years coming. Take a look at all the professional athletes who are now using CF training to supplement their athletic careers. Think about what they’ll do once they see the prize money involved and the big Reebok sponsorship. All of a sudden, normal individuals like you and I, have to compete against big name NFL athletes. That’s a bit intimidating to think about, is it not?

    Yes, this is definitely a fulltime job. And it’s most certainly not a job if you are passionate about it. This is my life. Owning my Affiliate is my life. And I’m going in all the right steps to make training my life. My profession. My life.

    Only those who know are, right? Only those who want it, will.

    Thanks for all the continual help setting me on the right footpath towards this life. One day we’ll be beside each other down there in the arena.


  5. We can all compete in the Games in the Open format. Making the cut is another matter. While I think the top 20 or so in the Finals will be fairly consistent each year, there are going to be a lot of new faces coming out of the Regionals.

  6. Amen sistah. Even local competitions are splitting into Elite/scaled divisions, there are way too many xfitters to accommodate every level — gone is the day where we pretend we can all “play” together (this aint grade-school where no one wins at field-day) haha. But I remember even as little as 2 yrs ago when Atlanta tried having rx-only competitions omg people squealed. Now it’s almost a necessity.

  7. Kate, what about those of us who have opened a gym with a DREAM of one day quitting our full time jobs? Are we not as dedicated as you? I’ve spent every dime of my savings and I’ve taken out a loan to open my box. I’ve risked a lot! If I didn’t have student loans, family obligations, bills, etc I would quit my full time job just to CrossFit. I don’t yet have that luxury, but hopefully someday I will. I’m up at 6am – then full time corporate job, then spend the rest of the day at my box – I don’t eat dinner until 10pm, I go to bed at 1am, then I get up and do it again…Oh and sometime in there I get my own workout/s in. I’m open Saturdays, I spend Sunday programming, reading CF journal among others, quickbooks, precook meals, household work, marketing, spend a little bit of time with my g/f and family and then repeat…I’ve given up vacations, I’ve given up most things outside of my full time job and box. Who are you to say I’m not dedicated? I admire you and what you’ve been able to do, you are amazing!…but you might want to think about individual situations prior to generalizing all of us who don’t have the luxury of being full time CF’ers….yet!

  8. Who knows, maybe HQ will splinter off an amateur track and the result will some sort of Pro/Am competition. The only ‘higher paying’ athletes I see coming into Crossfit though are the ones that have maybe tried numerous times to make their particular sport but were never able to survive the cut. With regards to football for example, if one does not make it in the NFL, there is still NFL Europe, Canada and Arena football. Not to mention semi-pro leagues. At any time, their game could improve enough to make the NFL. So I don’t really see them making the transition to Crossfit as a source of income unless it’s in the off season and their contract allows it.

    The same goes for other high profile sports. An MMA fighter who may not have moved up the ranks as fast as he/she wanted due to injuries and losses may be more likely to make that jump.

    But I can see what was once an approach to fitness becoming a spectator event with even bigger payoffs. Rogue and Again Faster may not be the only ones sponsoring competitors. You may see other clothing lines as well as sport drink makers. Crossfitters may become like Olympic athletes and doing things to raise money and soliciting sponsors to compete.

    I can still remember a time when professional football players had jobs in their off season. Not like with today and free agency and contracts in the tens of millions. In the early days, that was never thought of. But it evolved. Crossfit could potentially make a similar evolution. Maybe not to the level of the NFL, MLB or NBA. But certainly the prize money could be enough to keep someone comfortable so they could devote their time to their training and nothing else.

  9. Yes agreed.
    Most competitors at the games this year either owned a box, or was a coach at a box, or some kind of professional athlete.
    Holding down a fulltime job while trying to prepare for the games does not cut it and I am not saying this only for individual athletes, the same is true for the teams. Competition is fierce at all times.
    Having said this, small countries like South Africa where there is only 8 boxes scattered across the entire nation, it is a difficult thing to do. Not only is there not enough competition to keep driving harder, there is also not really a way to survive making a living except if you are a box owner.
    But, the human bean is an interesting living organism and one makes a plan.
    CrossFit keeps on growing and the challenges will keep coming.

  10. Awesome article. The fact that we haven’t yet had a repeat games champion says to me that the standards are shifting every year (in a good way.)
    Next year I foresee that the pool of entrants will double and the difficulty of getting to regionals, let alone the games will go right along with it!

  11. Be careful whose toes you step on you arrogant self important “professional”. Without us lowly hobbyists, you wouldn’t have a business to run!

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