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Competitive Training Program at CrossFit Calgary

Posted by: Emily Beers

CrossFit Calgary owner Brett Marshall is one of the most experienced CrossFit athletes and box owners in the world. While he might be best known for having placed second at the first ever CrossFit Games and is essentially the guy who invented the butterfly pull-up, he’s also a successful affiliate owner in Calgary. And his box, CrossFit Calgary, is a perennial powerhouse at the  Canada West Regional competition each year.

Part of the reason for CrossFit Calgary’s competition success is Marshall’s Competitive Training Program (CTP), made up of competitive athletes who follow their own programming each week. 

In order to be let into the program, Marshall instated a barrier to entry which screens his athletes’ physical abilities.

“The program is assessment-based, meaning you have to meet a certain criteria to be allowed to participate,” Marshall explained. This barrier to entry allows him to keep the number small, ensuring he and his coaches can give their competitors what they need. 

Although his competitors follow a separate program than the rest of the gym, Marshall think it’s very important to make sure his top athletes stay connected with the greater community, so he has found a way to uniquely blend the two streams, all the while allowing competitors to continue attending regular classes.

For example, his competitors may have additional work before class, and then will work on heavy thrusters and work up to a heavy double during the class, and will join the rest of the class for the workout of the day. And then afterward, the competitors might have another additional task, like sprints on the assault bike, explained Marshall. 

For Marshall, it’s really important that his elite athletes continue to be a part of the community. “(Having them in regular classes) is one of the ways that we keep our general membership and competitive athlete populations tied together to ensure we continue to foster the community as a whole.”

Ultimately, it’s about mutual respect. “Without this mutual respect it doesn’t work. Athletes become segregated and divisions form. We do not allow this,” he said.

That being said, despite joining regular group classes during the week, on the weekends the competitors have a designated time slot for the entire group to train together. And on Saturdays Marshall also offers open gym. 

“We find that this allows them a lot of flexibility so that they can each make it work despite variable personal schedules,” he said. 

The CTP has also means that Marshall no longer battles people wanting to self-program and do their own thing in the corner, an issue lots of affiliates today are trying to figure out how to handle.

“Since implementing the CTP, all of the competitive athletes have joined this program, as opposed to following strict individual programs," he said, admitting that before the CTP his athletes were much more disjointed. “We do, however, modify the program to some degree on an as needed basis for individual needs.”

He also thinks the cohesive program helps when it comes to fielding a team later in the year. “The workouts are not team-based, until we establish the team, but they are very familiar with one another because they are constantly training together,” he said.

In terms of financials, Marshall’s athletes pay an additional $50 a month for CTP. For Marshall, it’s simple: these athlete pay a premium because they get an additional service. And if they choose to have individual programming on top of the competitor’s program, they pay for this, as well. Marshall explained it’s working well because $50 isn’t a huge amount, where as it would get too expensive for most athletes if they had to pay for a totally individualized program. He has learned that it’s a balance; it’s important to find the right balance.

“I do believe that our athletes need to pay a premium because they do receive more individual attention, but if it becomes too expensive then you potentially lose out on some athletes that may not be able to afford it,” Marshall said. “For us, our CTP was a balance that made it financially viable for the athlete as well as making it viable for us coaches to manage our time spent with them.”

Overall Marshall is happy how his CTP is going. It’s beneficial for his coaches and his business, and most importantly it’s keeping his athletes happy.

“Ultimately we are just trying to find ways to meet everyone’s needs, which results in additional programs—the side effect benefit being additional revenue streams,” he said. “As Coach (Glassman) has always said, look after your members and they will look after you.”





Posted by Emily Beers on

Emily Beers, hailing from Vancouver, crosses bridges by being not only a CrossFit athlete, but also a journalist. She has been a regular contributor to the CrossFit Journal since 2011. She qualified and competed at her first CrossFit Games as an individual athlete in 2014.

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