This past Sunday, my BFF Jenn (J. Spice, to all you 603′ers) and I had a deliciously girly day. We had a fantastic breakfast at this cute little cafe in Nashua, then drove down to Burlington to do some shopping. (There’s a Nordstrom, and a Lululemon, and a Sephora at the Burlington Mall. It’s pretty much Girly-Girl Heaven.) We hit Lulu last, figuring we might be there a while.
So I’m in the dressing room, and I hear Jenn outside, talking to the Lulu-lady. The lady asks Jenn, “Do you do yoga, or…” and Jenn replies, “No, we CrossFit. Melissa owns a CrossFit gym in NH.” And the woman says, “I’ve never heard of that. What’s CrossFit?”
And then I hear Jenn doing her very best to try to describe CrossFit to the Lulu-lady. Now, Jenn’s been CrossFitting with me since before we even opened the affiliate. She knows CrossFit – hell, like the rest of us, she lives CrossFit. But the Lulu-lady had about six other customers… and perhaps she was only being polite in asking, but she was still patiently waiting for a quick response. And damned if Jenn wasn’t slightly stumped at having to come up with an on-the-spot CrossFit Elevator Pitch.
The concept of an Elevator Pitch comes from the business world. Wiki defines it as, “An overview of an idea for a product, service, or project.” The name reflects the fact that an elevator pitch can be delivered in the time span of an elevator ride (maybe thirty seconds, and no more than 100-150 words). Say you find yourself riding in the elevator with the big boss at your office. You’ve had this great marketing idea for a while now, and here’s your shot to finally pitch it! You’d better be able to impress him – and get the outline of your plan across – before those doors open, right?
As a new affiliate owner, I find myself having to give the CrossFit Elevator Pitch all the time. Friends, family, co-workers and potential clients all want to know what this CrossFit thing is all about. And in those three tiny words, “What is CrossFit?”, lies my challenge. I need to be able to get the key elements of CrossFit and my affiliate across in just a few concise sentences. I mean, no one is going to stand there while I read from the CrossFit Journal’s “What is Fitness” article, right? But I can’t be so brief and vague in my description that I make CrossFit sound like every other fitness program out there. The last thing you want to hear after your Elevator Pitch is, “Oh, so it’s kind of like my Zumba class?”
Plus, I’m trying to keep it brief, which means I need to choose my words carefully. Start tossing out things like “handstands” and “clean and jerks” and most women (and lots of guys) will immediately write it off as too advanced. And there are so many overused buzzwords in the fitness industry these days – make the mistake of using one of them carelessly and I guarantee you’ll lose your audience. Take “functional fitness”, for example. Functional movements are clearly a big part of CrossFit, but people’s eyes glaze over when you mention the words, because they’ve heard them used to describe everything from Swiss ball crunches to bicep curls on a stability board. Now you’re starting to see the dilemma. Be brief, but not too brief. Be descriptive, but not so technical that it’s scary. Tell the story, but avoid cliches and jargon. Whew. Tall order, huh?
You don’t have to be an affiliate owner or a trainer to face this issue. Everyone who CrossFits is asked, at one time or another, “What’s that crazy workout stuff you do?” And most of us are so passionate about the program and the results that we want to share it with everyone. So it’s important for all of us to be able to get the concept across, without fumbling for words, speaking in riddles or scaring the daylights out of a potential gym buddy.
I’ve given this a lot of thought, and I’ve had a lot of practice so far, but my own Elevator Pitch still isn’t perfect. Still, the more I say it, the better it gets, and I’d be a terrible blog hostess if I didn’t at least share with you what I’ve come up with so far. So here it is, as best as I can document it:
CrossFit is a fitness program designed around the things you do in the real world. Every day, you bend down and pick things up, you put things over your head, you squat down, you stand up, you run after your kids or jump over a puddle. CrossFit prepares you for all that and then some by performing those exact movements in our workouts. We borrow exercises from things like weightlifting, gymnastics, and track and field, and we mix it up a lot, so your body is always adapting, getting stronger, faster, better conditioned. And the key to the whole program is that you work really, really hard… so you get fit really, really fast.
Now, that’s pretty watered down, and certainly doesn’t encompass all the principles of CrossFit. But I’ve covered “functional exercises”, “constantly varied” AND “high intensity”, given a few examples of some of the things we do, and closed with a sweet little carrot… Come train with me. Get really fit.
Things I haven’t addressed include the group classes and the sense of community, the infinitely scale-able aspect of the programming, the ten components of fitness and our focus on safety, technique and intensity. But those are all things I can hit on pretty quickly if the person shows some interest. If I get a bite on my Elevator Pitch, then I can start really selling, based on exactly who I’m talking to. As just an opener, however, I’ve found this standard Pitch works pretty well.
So here’s my question. Have you thought about your Elevator Pitch? What do you say, what key elements do you address, what do you purposefully leave out so as not to overwhelm or scare the person off? Do you vary it based on who you’re talking to, or do you open with the same lines, regardless of who’s asking? Is your pitch too short, too long? Do people stay interested, ask follow-up questions, seem to “get it”? And finally, what do you think MY pitch is missing?
Consider this homework, people, and post thoughts to comments. You’ll thank me for it, the next time someone asks you, “How’d you get so fit, anyway?” In the meantime, I may have to go back to Lululemon to ask the Lulu-lady how Jenn did with her CrossFit Elevator Pitch. In the interest of research, of course. It has nothing to do with buying that gray pair of Boogie shorts that I reluctantly put back on the shelf.