Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Here It Comes: Reebok CrossFit Gear -- and Affiliates?

A picture's worth a thousand words, right? Well, these might be worth a bit more:

After Tim showed us these photos at this morning's post-workout CoffeeWOD, we (along with the Terminator) spent the better part of the next hour chugging caffeinated beverages and geeking out over the information crammed into these images.

First things first: The guy pictured above is actor Ricky Kim (a.k.a., Kansas State University alum Ricky Lee Neely), Reebok's "official model" in Korea. He tweeted these pictures out on Monday.

(By the way, it's not clear to me what Ricky was attempting to do with those kettlebells. Was he doing biceps curls? Handing a kettlebell to small child? I just hope he didn't hurt himself.)

Ricky's sporting some brand-spankin'-new Reebok CrossFit gear, including a pair of "X-Functional Board Shorts." Haven't seen the new Reebok CrossFit apparel and accessories that CrossFit HQ recently made available for sale on its online store? Go take a gander.

Haters gonna hate, but I think some of the stuff looks sweet. I'm ordering myself a beanie or two, and maybe some shorts and a shirt, too.

No sign of the shoes yet, though.

Perhaps the most intriguing thing about Ricky's glamor shots, though, is his Reebok CrossFit Seoul t-shirt. We know that Reebok has a CrossFit box in Seoul, Korea -- on SICFIT, you can find a video clip of folks doing Fran there, and people have written about visiting the place. (There are plenty of photos on this blog, too.)

The physical space looks super-slick -- look at all those treadmills! -- and very similar in aesthetic to Reebok CrossFit One, the affiliate located at the company's Canton, Massachusetts headquarters.

But does this mean Reebok's launching more company-branded boxes? Check out this question-and-answer that's popped up on the FAQ section of Reebok CrossFit One's website
Is Reebok opening CrossFit boxes?
No. Reebok is not opening Boxes. We’re offering our brand name to affiliates that meet certain qualifications. 
In Global markets, Affiliates will leverage both brands to scale CrossFit across the globe. These dual-affiliated boxes will run like any other CrossFit (affiliate owned and operated) and will become educational hubs for Cross Fit Certifications and Specialty Seminars.
So it looks like Reebok CrossFit Seoul is one of the world's first "dual-affiliated" boxes (outside of Reebok CrossFit One). It may not be owned and operated by the company, but from the looks of the place, Reebok's poured a good amount of resources into it. And that's not such a bad thing. In places where CrossFit gyms are few and far between, I think that -- on the whole -- Reebok's investment in new gyms around the world signals its commitment to spreading the CrossFit gospel (along with its own brand, naturally). As Tim puts it, "getting the masses to do CrossFit will take massive efforts" -- and it looks like Reebok's ready to put in that effort.

For me, the bigger question involves North America. I believe Reebok when it says it isn't opening boxes of its own to compete against established CrossFit gyms. There's no reason for the company to steal market share from existing affiliates who can help them sell shoes, shirts and shorts. But what happens when Reebok starts lending its brand name to boxes that "meet certain qualifications"? (And just what are those qualifications?) 

In the years to come, will Reebok-branded affiliates be viewed as the gold standard in CrossFit boxes because they'll have the backing of a big company? Will they be seen as higher-quality gyms than other affiliates because they've met Reebok's standards and received its official stamp of approval? Or will they be disdained as overly corporate, restrictive, and generic? And how will non-Reebok-branded gyms be perceived?

Will affiliate owners beat a path to Reebok's door to obtain the company's blessing and permission to use its logo? Or will the majority of 'em steer clear in an effort to stay wholly independent of Reebok?

I have SO. MANY. QUESTIONS. Thankfully, there's only nine more days 'til we all congregate in Carson, California to endlessly yammer about this stuff.


UPDATED: Philipp Imbusch pointed me to this photo of a shirt from Reebok CrossFit N├╝rnberg (Nuremberg) on the Facebook page of Drake Sladky (formerly of Landstuhl CrossFit). Looks like this Reebok-branded affiliate's been in the works since at least March. Interesting!