CrossFit Inc. Fights Unwinnable Battle with Licensing

CrossFit Inc. has engaged in a fight that few trades have won before, as they fight regulations that would require trainers to obtain licenses to teach CrossFit classes. This once again brings up an issue of “how much regulation is enough regulation?” While their argument states that CrossFit Inc. believes regulation will stop “…low-income people from entering certain fields and limits worker mobility…,” CrossFit Inc. is fighting a battle that many other trades have fought since the 1950s (and lost). In the past 40 years, there have been only eight successful appeals, one of which was overturned (Morath). A White House study states that 25% of US workers are employed in fields that require licensing and that amount has steadily increased over the last 60 years (Morath). The numbers are not on CrossFit Inc’s side, but their argument is a compelling one nonetheless.

While CrossFit Inc. does have some merit to their argument, the numbers simply do not back them up. Licensed professions make 10% – 15% higher wages than non-licensed professionals in similar fields (Morath). Licensing a profession does prove to be a barrier to entry, but more importantly it protects the individuals who have acquired necessary training for their profession. CrossFit Inc. is a fledgling athletic activity that has been steadily gaining popularity in the last decade, but is by no means incredibly established. It makes perfect sense for CrossFit Inc. to fight entry barriers because they want to allow trainers to gain easy access to teaching classes, in hopes that the athletic style will expand in popularity. However, it appears that making the occupation of a licensed CrossFit Inc. trainer more lucrative with higher pay will attract more people. CrossFit Inc. may just be hoping to avoid anything that slows the process of becoming a trainer.

Safety is also a big issue, especially in weight training. As Erik Strouse, as personal trainer from Washington points out, “It’s scary when you see a trainer do something that could cause a life-long injury” (Morath). Strouse obtained a Master’s degree in Strength and Conditioning and understands the proper ways to train an athlete. CrossFit Inc. stands the chance, by avoiding licensing, of serious lawsuits and claims against them by having unlicensed “professionals” teach classes to people who are unfamiliar with techniques and their own limits with weights. This risk brings up the question of what these regulations are really focusing on: public safety or professional protections?

Most trades require proper licensing, one good example being plumbers. Plumbers and HVAC technicians are required to hold licenses before working on someone’s home. Every state holds different licensing standards and requirements, but many differ on how to obtain licenses and who to receive them through. Pennsylvania does not require plumbers to obtain licenses at a state level, however, plumbers must receive licenses in their respective city of operations (“Contractors – Legal Aspects”). These laws are not created to encourage people to obtain licenses, rather they are created to protect the public. If a plumber makes a mistake that causes someone serious injury, state governments (and insurance companies) want to make sure that these mistakes weren’t caused because someone received improper training and was unlicensed. Licensing and government regulations are designed to protect the public.

This utilitarian1 approach to law making is justification for increased licensing. While these regulations may serve as entry barriers and not allow for open competition, in the end they are designed to benefit society as a whole. While CrossFit Inc. may disagree with this ideology, there is a great deal of validity to the concept. An unlicensed CrossFit trainer may seem harmless, but when deregulation spreads to lawyers, contractors, plumbers and electricians the stakes become much higher. Senora Simpson of Howard University discussed regulations and stated “We are charged with protecting the public, not the professionals” (Morath). This statement reaffirms the utilitarian view of government licensing and sadly, CrossFit Inc. trainers may have to bite the bullet and get some formal licensing.

Roger SinClair



“Contractors – Legal Aspects.” Contractors – Legal Aspects. Angie’s List, n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.

Morath, Eric. “License Law Is Nixed in D.C.” Wall Street Journal 14 Nov. 2015: A3. Print.

1 Utilitarianism: Ethical stance that judges an action’s ethical standards based on the net good/bad that is caused to society as a whole

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.