You can pretty much drive to any McDonald's restaurant in any town, and you know the Big Mac is gonna taste the same. The menu will be the same. In fact every aspect of the operation is tightly controlled, down to the temperature they cook the fries. God forbid you're actually eating this stuff, but it makes for a good analogy.
CrossFit is not like that. It's NOT a franchise. All you need is a valid credit card to open an affiliate. Okay maybe you need a bit more than that, but not much. There is no corporate control, no directives from anyone telling you what to do or how to do it. No one tells you what exercises to include in workouts, how to arrange the gym or how to run your business. You can do just about anything you want to do, whether it's absolutely dead wrong, horrible or whether it's stroke of genius brilliant. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of support from other affiliates who run quality operations, there's a great community of people, lots of resources provided by HQ to help new people get pointed in the right direction. BUT you as the owner of your box are perfectly free to louse it up and and hurt people, create poor programming, overcharge people, make dishonest claims, be careless, complacent, lazy, deliver sub-par coaching etc...etc...
Bottom line is, people hopefully would vote with their feet and not go to a gym like that. They would recognize the mediocrity. The free market would naturally eliminate that box. In an ideal world that's how that would go down. Sometimes, however, there are situations where people may just not know any better. Until a person has been exposed to a quality run box, good coaching, best practices, and passionate individuals who embody the spirit of CrossFit, well, they may just may not know any different. Sometimes we need the stark contrast of good and bad to really distinguish quality from mediocrity.
As CrossFit continues to burgeon in popularity, the consumer must be vigilant and do their research. Don't make the mistake of just choosing the box that's closest to you out of convenience. It may be great, and it may not. Sometimes a 20 minute drive to a different affiliate could be so radically worth it that you'd kick yourself for not doing it sooner. I've heard this story many times actually. Look around, ask questions, it's an important decision. If you really intend to give this CrossFit thing a go, do it right. Don't settle for the closest one.
Far worse though, are the brand-jackers, wanna bees, imitators, posers, impostors, and band-wagon jumpers who want to try and capitalize on the popularity of CrossFit without going thru the legit application process, paying for the insurance, and ponying up the affiliate fee. They stop short of using the word CrossFit in any of their advertising, as they know this would get them in legal trouble. Sometimes they look, smell, and feel quite real. They quietly tell potential clients that their boot camp is "just like CrossFit." They imitate, but fail to duplicate. They fall short. This kind of thing is occurring everywhere, it's inevitable.
What kind of person is it that lacks the commitment to see a thing through to its fulfillment? If they are not willing to put their money where their mouth is, then something doesn't add up. Why are they on the fence? Do you want to put that trainer in charge of your health and fitness? The one who see you as a quick buck? Do they really believe in the effectiveness of CrossFit to shape your health and your life? If they are unwilling to make the commitment to something they outwardly claim to believe in, how can you expect them to be honest and committed to YOU?
Either they have their own training system or philosophy and they stick to it, or they don't. Which is it?
My honest opinion is that with a few exceptions, the majority of CrossFit boxes are great places to train. If I travel, I'm gonna find a CF gym where I can drop in and get the kind of workout I want. With that being said, if I'm looking for a place to call my own, and my health and fitness is at stake, I'm gonna shop carefully and see what the landscape looks like.