If you sat me down with a pen and some paper and told me to write down the craziest 72 hours I could imagine in the world of elite fitness sports that would result in over 250 gyms de-affiliating from CrossFit, I could not have come up with, in a hundred tries, on hallucinogens, what has transpired over the past three days.
Tired of reading the comments yet? I am. But let me say this. We all woke up this morning feeling lost. Feeling unsure about what the future looks like as the brand we’ve built our lives upon crumbles around us. Here’s my piece of advice. Do what you do every day. Go do your workout. Go provide your critical service to the people in your community. Go be a good human. Don’t get drowned in the tidal wave of questions about the future. You can control the now. It’s why I’m recording the podcast episode right now. I don’t want to say the word “CrossFit”, let alone the 19 times I’ll end up saying it over the course of this episode. But what I do here is bigger than that brand. What you do is bigger than that brand. I don’t care if you’re some guy in his basement or the owner of thirty gyms. Your work matters and your work goes on.
Good morning and welcome to the WODDITY podcast for news about elite fitness sports. We are a daily podcast, Monday through Friday, doing fitness news in five minutes or less.
My name is Ben Garves and today is Monday, the 8th of June, 2020. Don’t forget, links to all of these stories are in the show notes of your friendly neighborhood podcasting app, as well as on WODDITY.com.
A quick summary of events, in case you’re lucky enough to have dropped your phone in a lake or something. The world has been speaking up about racial injustice in the United States. Notably silent was CrossFit, Inc., even when major affiliated brands, like Reebok, LifeAid, and Rogue weighed in on the topic. As gym owners and community members reached out to CrossFit to ask for moral leadership, an email surfaced from founder and Chairman Greg Glassman calling a gym owner in Seattle evil, and saying he believed COVID had made her delusional. In the midst of the uproar on Friday, Glassman coyly tweeted “FLOYD-19” to a group studying racism as a health risk for black Americans. At this point, gyms started to announce de-affiliation with CrossFit. On Sunday, I weighed in with a video talking about our community’s relationship with race, and stating WODDITY would no longer be CrossFit-adjacent, while de-affiliation gained momentum.
As of now, there is a list being circulated with 245 gyms, representing over $730,000 in lost annual revenue for CrossFit. Major sponsors like Reebok, ROMWOD, Rogue, and LifeAid Beverage Company have stated they’re ending their relationship with the brand pending ongoing conversations about CrossFit’s leadership behavior and existing contracts.
On the list of gyms ending their relationship with the brand include 12 Labours – the gyms behind the Strength in Depth Sanctional, Invictus – with a longstanding history of competitive teams and athletes, NCFit – a gym and online training platform built by 2008 CrossFit Games champion Jason Khalipa, and Reebok-affliated gyms like Reebok CrossFit 09 and Reebok CrossFit Thames. The list also includes home gyms of notable athletes like Brent Fikowski in Kelowna CrossFit, and Bethany Shadburne in Streamline CrossFit.
You can check the list, which is actively growing, using a link in our show notes.
This is a classic case of affiliates and athletes choosing to vote in the way that they can most-impact CrossFit: with their wallets. We’ve also seen prominent seminar staff like Julie Foucher and Matt Chan resign. Athletes like Chandler Smith (announcement), Noah Ohlsen (announcement), Brooke Haas (announcement), and Kristie Eramo (announcement) have announced they’re boycotting the 2020 CrossFIt Games. Even Sanctional events have begun to step back from their relationship, including an announcement from the Italian Throwdown this morning.
The stories have been far-reaching, carried by Fast Company, Forbes, and CBS Sports. With the brand value quickly sinking and the association of the name with fewer and fewer positive thoughts and ideals, we find ourselves at a crossroads. Some will stay, while others continue to leave. As embarrassed as I am by Greg Glassman and the brand associated with him, I know he is not the norm and that there is a vast majority of CrossFit employees who don’t feel the way Glassman does.
His apology late last night was very much disingenuous and it was telling that it didn’t come from his account, that it came from CrossFit’s. Glassman did reportedly meet online with a group of black gym owners and hear them out. How everyone in the community feels about the response is up to them, but I can say that I very specifically detailed out five criteria CrossFit must meet in order for WODDITY to begin positive promotion of the brand again, and to date none of those criteria have yet to be met.
And I understand my intention to separate myself and the actual application of separation from CrossFit are two very different things. But you should read this episode as it is intended: negative coverage of negative behavior. And as this news cycle passes, so will our coverage of that company. In the meantime, this is what’s impacting our community.
Don’t forget what I said at the top of the show. What you do is bigger than that brand. I don’t care if you’re some guy in his basement or the owner of thirty gyms. Your work matters and your work goes on.
And that’s it for the WODDITY Podcast for Monday, June 8th. If you’re grateful for having this podcast every morning, there is an easy way for you to show your gratitude. Give us a five-star rating and write a quick review. It means the world to us that you’re here and you appreciate the content. Thanks for listening. For WODDITY, I’m Ben Garves. Behave yourselves out there.