Run A Local CrossFit Competition Like A Boss

how to organize xfit competition
Jose Martinez – CrossFit Emanation

Recently we had the privilege of sponsoring a CrossFit competition in Florida in conjunction with CrossFit Emanation. Jose Martinez runs the show down there and it was a treat to get to work with him and his team.

We wanted to pick Jose’s brain about how to organize and run a successful local CrossFit competition. If you run your own box, or are volunteering with an upcoming competition, Jose’s advice will help you make it a success.

We interviewed Jose below where (ZF) represents our questions and (JM) represents Jose’s responses.

Let’s get this show on the road.


(ZF) Do you do anything unique to promote your competition?

(JM) As far actual promotion for the competitions we really don’t do anything special. The key for us is to focus on building relationships within the community and reach out to each box personally. Once we get the box owners on board we usually get a few athletes from each box. We systematically reach out to the boxes closest to the venue and work our way out from there. Once we feel we have a good number of commitments, we stop inviting new boxes. As we move closer to the event date, we continue to send out reminders and if need we reopen the list of invites.

(ZF) What have you found to be the best way to get competition sponsors?

(JM) We are selective in our networking for sponsors. We only invite sponsors who’s products we currently promote, or we have some sort of working relationship with. We look for partners who are committed to us and in return we are loyal to their brands both at the box and in future competition. We promote our partners on social media year round and try to do our part to expand their brand recognition.

(ZF) Is there anything you do that helps build up the hype before the competition?

(JM) All of our competitions have a theme and people are really drawn to that. For BrewFit, we had boxes come in from out of state because they thought the idea of a competition at a brewery was so unique and fun. Making the competition fun for the spectators is what builds the buzz for future competitions especially local competitions.

Photo cred: CrossFit Emanation
Photo cred: CrossFit Emanation

(ZF) How do you choose the CrossFit competition programming of movements/lifts? Is there some kind of special mix or formula?

(JM) The movements are picked no different than our day to day programming at the box. push/pull or upper body/lower body split. We try not to double up on any of these, so we don’t overwork the athletes. We are not trying to be the next Dave Castro, so we keep it simple. For example your not going to do wall ball in one WOD then OHS in the other. That’s over kill. Or Deadlifts for reps then Olympic lifts. Vary the load and intensity for each even.

(ZF) How do you keep everything organized and running smoothly on competition day?

(JM) Backward planning and building in time for the unknown. Leave enough room in your timeline for things that are going to happen that many don’t plan for. Judges get hungry and tired and have to be switched out, plan for it. Technical difficulties happen, built in time to fix it, and so on. The worst thing you can do in a competition is run late. Nothing frustrates people more that showing up to the stage only to find out they are not going for another 30 min, and now they have to warm up again or risk injury because they cool off. So be respectful of peoples time and methods and run your competition on time.

(ZF) Any tips on location if your box isn’t big enough to hold a large competition?

(JM) We have a small box so hosting competitions our location is not feasible. What we like to do again is find partners in our community who would benefit from hosting such an even. Who in you community would benefit from having 200+ people walking around their place of business? That is our formula. If not, you will have to large venue fees that cut into your profits.

(ZF) What types of things do you include in your swag bags for each competitor?

(JM) Promotional items from all the vendors who supported us. This is our chance to introduce our partners to people who may not be familiar with their brand.

(ZF) Have you found there to be certain prizes that get the athletes more motivated? Are there some prizes from which you’d suggest staying away?

Photo cred: CrossFit Emanation
Photo cred: CrossFit Emanation

(JM) Cash prices always motivate people but if you are hosting a small competition that might not be a possibility. Another incentive is gift cards or credit for shopping at some of the sponsors of the even. That way people can try the products you are promoting. Additional swag really anything you can give away will work. I’ve never heard anyone complain about winning free stuff.

(ZF) Is it difficult to make a profit from your competition? If you feel like you’ve been able to do this rather successfully, what are some tips to ensure your competition doesn’t suck a bunch of money out of your business?

(JM) For us, the key has been picking the right venue and matching it with the right programming. If the cost of the venue is too expensive and the programming is too complicated, your profits will go to venue fees and equipment purchase or rentals. I’ve seen competitions with 200 athletes struggle to turn a profit and competitions with 70 athletes turn 90% profits. Be true to who you are, and be realistic. Program events around the equipment you already own and be creative. If you don’t own any Assault Bikes do not program them into your events. Maximizing your own equipment will help keep cost down.

(ZF) Any other tips you’d like to share with ZojiFit nation?

(JM) Know what you want and stay focused on that goal. Competitions are a lot of work, and you need to have a clear vision. Also, keep in mind you are going to need a lot of help the day of the even. I like to have a few Captains that are in charge of an area such as judging but still they have a clear understanding of my overall vision to the point they could run the competition in my absence. This allows me to keep a hands off approach and frees me up to engage with the vendors and box owners to ensure everyone is having a good time and that things are running smoothly.

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