CrossFit is a popular form of training due to its supportive community and its ability to make you stronger across multiple types of fitness. But monthly membership costs at CrossFit gyms are high, which puts it out of reach for many people.
Fortunately, there are several CrossFit alternatives that can help you save money:
- Street Parking
- CrossFit Linchpin
- Fitness Blender on YouTube
- Peloton Digital
- Local Specialty Gyms
In this article, I’ll talk about why CrossFit is so pricey and discuss these cheaper CrossFit alternatives in more detail. I’ll also show you why CrossFit isn’t necessarily as expensive as it seems and provide tips on saving money on a CrossFit membership.
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What Is CrossFit?
CrossFit is a style of training that combines high-intensity interval training (HIIT), Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, gymnastics, and endurance. It’s constantly varied in nature because the workouts are different each day, and it focuses on functional exercises that mimic the movement patterns you utilize in your daily life.
During a typical CrossFit class, coaches lead their members through a warm-up, a strength portion or skill practice (for example, you may do 4×5 back squats at 80% or do drills to help you work towards a bar muscle-up), and the workout of the day (WOD). Some gyms also program specific cooldowns for the end of class.
All classes at the same gym will perform the same WOD each day. The coaches will provide the weights you should do for each movement, but you can always go lighter if you need to.
Similarly, if a WOD includes a skill that you haven’t mastered yet, you can swap it out for another similar movement (like subbing regular push-ups for handstand push-ups).
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How Much Does CrossFit Cost?
The cost of a CrossFit gym varies significantly. CrossFit itself doesn’t set the prices for its gyms, and affiliate owners are free to set their own prices based on geographic location and how much experience its coaches have. Whether or not there are other competing gyms nearby can also dictate a CrossFit gym’s prices.
On top of that, many CrossFit gyms will also offer different packages based on how often you want to go each month. A package for 10 classes per month will have a different cost than a package for unlimited monthly classes.
With that said, the cheapest CrossFit membership I’ve come across is about $60 per month. However, it’s much more common for CrossFit memberships to cost at least $100 per month. The price can go up to $200 per month or even more if you live in a large metro area or an area with a high cost of living.
Why Is CrossFit So Expensive?
CrossFit is expensive for a few reasons:
- Class sizes are often limited to 10-20 people. CrossFit isn’t like gyms such as Planet Fitness or Gold’s Gym where members come and go as they please throughout the day. Classes are offered at set times and limited to a certain number of members, which impacts how many people will be in the gym at any given time. A lot of CrossFit gyms have open gym time where you can go in and do your own thing, but you still won’t find a huge amount of people in the gyms during those times.
- You get more one-on-one attention from the coaches. At a commercial gym, you’re on your own unless you hire a personal trainer. At CrossFit, the coaches leading each class will correct your form and provide tips to scale a workout based on your current abilities or if you’re working around an injury.
- The coaches often create programming themselves. While some gyms may purchase programming from other sources (such as successful coaches of CrossFit Games athletes), most coaches are responsible for their own programming. Despite the misconception that CrossFit workouts are random and serve no purpose, smart coaches know how to program workouts that meet a desired training stimulus. And when done correctly, creating effective, well-structured programming that can help members reach short- and long-term goals takes a lot of work.
- They know people will pay for it. CrossFit has a tight-knit community and a unique culture that you can’t find in other gyms. A lot of people will pay anything to be a part of that. CrossFit affiliate owners know this, and that influences their decisions to set high prices. People are also willing to pay a premium price to join a gym that’s owned by a CrossFit Games competitor or their coach.
Can You Save Money by Joining a Commercial Gym Instead?
A common response when people bring up cost as a limiting factor to doing CrossFit is that they should just join a commercial gym instead to save money. While that is certainly a possibility, as I’ll discuss below, you may not be saving as much money as you’d initially think.
Commercial gyms like Planet Fitness and Gold’s Gym (which are also called “globo” gyms) typically have hundreds, if not thousands, of members. A large percentage of those members rarely or never actually go to the gym but also never cancel their memberships. Commercial gyms rely on those individuals to help pay their bills, so to speak.
But as I explained above, CrossFit class sizes are limited to a small number of individuals. Not all CrossFit gyms have hundreds of members to help the business afloat.
And if you do the math, the cost of joining a CrossFit gym may not be as exorbitant as it initially appears.
For example, let’s say you want to join a commercial gym that costs $50 per month. You also want to work with a personal trainer, but because personal training costs aren’t included in your gym membership, you have to pay an extra $75 per hour.
If you did one session a week with a personal trainer for a month (4 weeks), you’d pay close to $350 per month because $75 x 4 = $300 and $300 + $50 = $350.
As well, many commercial gyms have started offering their own versions of CrossFit (Gold’s Gym, for example, offers classes called Gold’s Fit that are inspired by CrossFit), but even those usually incur costs beyond your monthly gym membership.
Of course, if your goals are more geared towards bodybuilding or even just general strength training, you’d be better off with a commercial gym membership. The vast majority of CrossFit gyms don’t have things like cable machines and EZ curl bars, which are staple pieces of equipment required for many strength training routines.
But if you’re hesitant to join CrossFit because of cost alone, you may want to crunch some numbers before joining a gym because CrossFit may actually be more cost-effective.
7 Best CrossFit Alternatives That Won’t Break the Bank
If you’ve decided that you want to try CrossFit but you’re still hesitant about the price, or if you’re looking to cut back on some of your expenses, there are plenty of budget-friendly options available.
Some of the options I’ve listed below are intended for people with home gyms, so you’ll need some basic pieces of equipment at home.
At the very least, I’d recommend a barbell, a pair of dumbbells, and a pull-up bar. This equipment will cost you some money, but since buying these things will be one-time purchases and you’ll be saving money by not paying for a hefty monthly membership, it will still be more cost-effective.
It is also possible to do some CrossFit workouts in a commercial gym, though you may have to get creative with exercise substitutions — for example, doing bent-over rows instead of pull-ups if you can’t find an open pull-up bar. If you’d prefer, you can join a globo gym and pay for inexpensive CrossFit programming, which will still help you save some money.
The Fitbod app doesn’t offer CrossFit workouts per se, but it does enable you to create circuit-style workouts, which can feel like a CrossFit WOD if you choose your weights appropriately and work at a high intensity.
Fitbod is also an excellent option if you want to build strength and are having trouble doing it with CrossFit alone. You can choose which muscle groups you want to focus on, and if you want to keep your strength work limited to a certain amount of time so you can do a CrossFit WOD afterward, you can tell the app how much time you have available.
The Fitbod app can also customize each workout for you based on how recovered your different muscle groups are from previous workouts. This is a great feature to utilize if you’re combining CrossFit and strength training since both forms of exercise are demanding on the body.
Related Article: Cross-Training vs Crossfit: Differences, Pros, Cons
2. Street Parking
Street Parking was founded by two former CrossFit Games athletes, Julian and Miranda Alcaraz, who have also each worked closely with CrossFit HQ on either the seminar staff or as testers for the Games workouts. A Street Parking membership costs a fraction of what you’d pay to join a CrossFit gym.
On Mondays through Fridays, you get multiple versions of the daily workout: a dumbbell or limited equipment option, a barbell option, a sandbag or advanced equipment option, and a beginner-friendly option. You also get a team workout on Saturdays.
Sometimes the workouts can feel basic and repetitive. The coaches seem to cycle through AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) and “rounds for time” workouts a lot and repeat many of the same movements throughout the week. Most of the workouts are less than 20 minutes.
However, Street Parking also offers strength, running, and gymnastics programs as well as mobility routines, so you can pick and choose what kind of workout you want to do on any given day.
If you’re looking to socialize with other members, you can join the Street Parking Facebook community, which has over 25,000 members. People often schedule in-person meet-ups so you can work out together. The Street Parking team also hosts annual camps and retreats, which offer a sense of community that’s hard to come by when you’re following a virtual program.
3. CrossFit Linchpin
If you’re looking for more advanced and structured programming, I highly recommend CrossFit Linchpin. It was developed by Pat Sherwood, who also used to be a CrossFit seminar staff member and is a Games commentator and analyst. It’s another low-cost CrossFit option that’s entirely virtual.
CrossFit Linchpin is similar to Street Parking in that it offers multiple versions of its daily workouts based on different ability levels and available equipment. But its programming is a bit more varied and well-rounded.
For example, while Street Parking offers strength and endurance programs, it doesn’t schedule them for you throughout the week. You have to decide on your own how you want to incorporate those workouts within your weekly routine. But Linchipin will specifically program days that are just focused on strength or steady-state cardio.
Linchpin also regularly programs more workouts that include movements like bar muscle-ups and handstand walks, which only appear occasionally in Street Parking’s programming.
Linchpin doesn’t have as large of a virtual community as Street Parking, so it’s a better option if you’re not interested in joining Facebook groups and going to in-person meet-ups.
If you’re looking for a completely free alternative to joining a CrossFit gym, you could simply follow the workouts on CrossFit.com (which the community refers to as “main site programming”).
A new workout is posted on CrossFit.com each day along with beginner and intermediate options. There are also videos posted with each workout that provides tips on strategy and pacing.
With CrossFit.com programming, you may have to be creative when it comes to swapping exercises in a workout if you have limited equipment. It’s also not quite as structured with well-thought-out long-term planning as other programs, but it’s a fine option if you’re on an extremely limited budget.
5. Fitness Blender on YouTube
Another completely free alternative to CrossFit is to look up workouts on YouTube. One of my favorite fitness channels is Fitness Blender, which is run by two former fitness professionals and has over 6 million subscribers.
Fitness Blender has hundreds of workouts ranging from 10 to 90 minutes that are suitable for all experience levels. There are bodyweight, dumbbell, yoga, and Pilates routines as well as warm-up and cooldown videos. Fitness Blender workouts aren’t the same as CrossFit, but they are high intensity in nature and will get you in shape if you do them consistently.
6. Peloton Digital
Peloton is most known for its spin bikes, which cost thousands of dollars, but you could also pay just for the mobile app, which is very affordable.
The app offers boot camp and circuit training workouts, which are great options if you like the high-intensity nature of CrossFit but aren’t interested in doing a lot of heavy barbell or high-skilled gymnastics work.
If you do have the budget to get a spin bike for home, you can also get any non-Peloton bike and use it to take Peloton cycling classes through the app. A spin bike will cost a couple of hundred dollars, but you’d still end up saving money over a recurring CrossFit gym membership because it’s an item you’d only have to pay for once.
7. Local Specialty Gyms
Many independently-owned gyms throughout the US follow the same training methodologies as CrossFit but don’t use CrossFit in their name simply because they choose not to affiliate. You may be able to find one by doing an online search for functional training gyms or HIIT gyms in your local area.
Because these gyms don’t have the CrossFit branding, their prices may be lower since you’re not paying for a name.
Similarly, if you’re interested in the lifting aspect of CrossFit and not so much in doing daily WODs, you can search for powerlifting or weightlifting gyms in your area. Again, because you’re not paying for the CrossFit name, you may be able to save some money by joining one of these gyms.
It’s still likely that the cost of these types of gyms will be similar to a CrossFit gym since they are independently owned. But it doesn’t hurt to do some price comparisons. Even if a non-CrossFit gym is only a few dollars cheaper per month, those savings can add up.
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Ways to Save Money on a CrossFit Membership
If you’re still keen on joining a CrossFit gym but don’t want to pay a high monthly fee, there are several ways you can save money.
1. Don’t Buy a Plan With Unlimited Classes
I mentioned earlier that many CrossFit gyms offer packages for a certain number of classes per month, which could range anywhere from 10 to 20 classes. You may even be able to get packages for 3 classes per week. These packages are often cheaper than paying for unlimited classes.
Even if your preferred CrossFit gym doesn’t advertise packages like these, it’s still worthwhile to speak to the gym owner. They may be willing to work something out with you.
2. Ask About Discounts and Referrals
Many CrossFit gyms offer discounts for teachers, law enforcement personnel, students, healthcare workers, and military veterans. They may also offer family discounts if you join with a family member who shares the same address as you.
As well, if you know someone who already attends a CrossFit box, have him or her ask about discounts for referrals. You may be able to get lower pricing for a limited amount of time if someone else refers you, and your friend may also be able to get some kind of credit on their monthly dues.
3. Wait Until There Are Special Offers
As excited as you may be about starting CrossFit right away, practicing some patience can be easier on your wallet. CrossFit gyms often run promotions at various times throughout the year, which enable you to get a month for free or discounted pricing for your first three months.
I recommend following some local CrossFit gyms on social media so you can know right away when they’re offering special promotions.
4. Pay for a Year in Full
If you have the means to do so, you should ask your CrossFit gym about paying for a year in full. Even though the upfront cost will be high, you’ll still end up saving money in the long run.
For example, if your CrossFit gym costs $120 per month if you pay monthly, that would equal $1,440 per year. But if you can sign up for an annual membership, it may cost $1,200, which would equal $100 per month.
5. Work at the Gym in Exchange for a Discounted Membership
CrossFit gym owners are busy and have a lot to worry about between managing their coaches, maintaining their equipment, keeping their facilities clean, and managing finances, among other things. But they also may not want to hire paid staff to assist with these tasks because having to pay for more employees could drive their costs up more.
If you’re willing to help clean, do some bookkeeping (if you’re good at managing money), manage their social media accounts, or assist with member management, the gym owner may offer you a discounted membership in exchange for your services.
CrossFit is a fun and effective way to get in shape, but the monthly dues put it out of reach for many people. You can save money by using the Fitbod app, following virtual CrossFit programming, or looking for a non-CrossFit branded gym that offers functional fitness classes.
If you do want to join a CrossFit gym, look for special promotions or buy packages that only offer a limited number of classes per month instead of unlimited classes. You can also offer to do some work at your gym in exchange for a discounted membership.
About The Author
Amanda Dvorak is a freelance writer and powerlifting enthusiast. Amanda played softball for 12 years and discovered her passion for fitness when she was in college. It wasn’t until she started CrossFit in 2015 that she became interested in powerlifting and realized how much she loves lifting heavy weights. In addition to powerlifting, Amanda also enjoys running and cycling.