Case Study

CrossFit: the path to global success

Acolad as the right (localization) coach to help top fitness brand achieve its international expansion goals.

The Client

CrossFit, Inc. is an open-source, international business dedicated to the improvement of human health and athletic performance. CrossFit is a real-world, functional fitness program with a unique capacity to humble the world’s best athletes while at the same time remaining universally scalable to facilitate development at all ability levels.

In 2001, the company started providing daily online workouts for free to the world via and over the last 18 years, the popularity of CrossFit’s fitness regime grew rapidly. Today, they support over 15k affiliate “boxes” (i.e., gyms) and over 130k CrossFit-credentialed trainers.

The Challenge

In 2015, CrossFit reached a tipping point. The company had seen rapid growth in the US, but their EU affiliate numbers were quickly exceeding those in the United States.

As CrossFit’s popularity grew in markets outside of North America, it became clear the company needed to provide translated materials to support trainers and customers in their native, non-English languages. To keep up with its international growth, CrossFit needed to:

  • Translate training materials into multiple languages 
  • Develop a company-wide translation and localization program 
  • Redesign their website to better align with their evolving mission

Initially, CrossFit leveraged in-house resources to support its multilingual content needs and translate information into three languages. However, it eventually became apparent continuing to manage increasingly complex translation needs in-house was not sustainable. By 2017, translations for CrossFit’s training guides, tests, registration pages, correspondence and online course offerings had expanded to 16 languages. As a result, CrossFit needed a solid partner to help them establish a scalable, long-term translation solution – enter Acolad.

Using CSA’s Localization Maturity Model (LMM), Acolad first assessed CrossFit’s localization state overall and determined it was at a “Repeatable” level, meaning it was beginning to formalize processes for core localization tasks and there was someone in charge of those tasks.

Then they evaluated CrossFit’s training department, which had done a phenomenal job with minimal in-house resources and determined it to be at the “Managed” stage according to the LMM. This meant the team was using consistent processes, and with the company having initiated a partnership with an external supplier, they would have the support needed to meet their growing needs and guide them through their localization journey. 

The main challenges CrossFit faced included:

  • Using a translation process that was not scalable and relied on internal SMEs for translation 
  • Not having a style guide to accompany the company’s extensive amount of terminology
  • Needing to redesign the website and ensuring all digital content was localized for target regions 
  • Having to localize content that had a very short shelf life 
  • Lacking a cohesive understanding of what “going global” meant 
  • Struggling with internal systems architecture, such as an English-only content management system and a payment system that accepted only US currency 
  • Balancing budget and communication constraints

The Solution

Acolad’s approach to implementing CrossFit’s translation program aligned with the CrossFit’s core philosophies:

Partnership / coaching

Scale to ability (versus scalability) and adaptation

Measurable, observable, repeatable results

Acolad has been a great coach on our localization journey. We went from having a home-grown translation program to having the support of an expert. This has been instrumental in our continued growth and in allowing allowing us to build our localization program across departments.

Leah Polaski, Training Department Operations Manager, CrossFit, Inc.

First, Acolad partnered with CrossFit and coached them on how to establish a more sophisticated localization process. By collaborating closely with CrossFit to understand the company’s goals, Acolad was able to integrate new solutions with existing tools.

Acolad integrated their translation management system (TMS) into the existing CrossFit content management system which enabled CrossFit to stay within its budget.

Second, Acolad also ensured the translation program was scalable to support CrossFit’s current situation and future growth. This ensured the processes being established could always handle translating the increasing volume of training material, website content and videos. To ensure scaling to ability, Acolad and CrossFit took a number of key steps:

  • Initially, reduced the language set from what was desired to what was achievable 
  • Introduced file transfer via the Box application until the implementation of automatic file transfer was complete 
  • Improved the website structure / design before translating the content – what good is translated content if a website doesn’t offer the right user experience? 
  • Instead of waiting for the website improvements to be complete, Acolad translated critical, standard materials in parallel to decrease implementation time 
  • Took a cost-effective approach to video content by providing sub-titles or captions instead of full voice-over 
  • Continued to leverage CrossFit’s SMEs, but helped them source new linguists to support increasing demand

To ensure new linguists were CrossFit experts, they were enrolled in one of CrossFit’s two-day training courses – this fully immersed them in the company culture and ensured their translations were more accurate and on-brand.

Third, to ensure the new translation program had measurable and repeatable results, Acolad incorporated localization metrics into CrossFit’s existing data dashboard (Looker). This enabled employees to make informed business decisions about the company’s global growth. For example, the dashboard allowed employees to understand if web traffic volume and the amount of localized content were contributing factors to growth in certain regions.


The Result

No one walks into a gym for the very first time knowing exactly what equipment or workouts will help achieve their fitness goals. The same can be said about establishing an end-to-end translation program. In either instance, it is critical to partner with the right coach to realize one’s objectives.

Acolad’s ability to leverage CrossFit’s existing localization processes avoided ripping out existing infrastructure and replacing it with brand-new processes and systems. This resulted in significant cost savings.

The scalable localization program also helped CrossFit fulfill their mission by delivering engaging multiformat content to customers in their native languages.

Furthermore, partnering with Acolad has increased maturity of CrossFit’s localization program to an “Optimized” state in the LMM, which means the company successfully deployed shared language services enterprise-wide, further centralized the translation function and is supported by translation management technology.

Ultimately, the new solution helped CrossFit reduce translation turnaround time and cost, thus enabling faster market expansion and fueling global growth.

It’s been a pleasure to work with CrossFit – to build upon the solid foundation that had been started such that they could realize truly company-wide global content and delivery. Every company is different, and it’s been great to collaborate with CrossFit to find a solution that aligns with their goals and their constraints.

Strategic Account Director, Acolad

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