I hope you’re all staying safe. I’ve decided to use my spare time during lockdown to re-vamp this blog. Most of my long-term subscribers will know that this blog was once mainly a nutrition and recipe blog, like my Instagram. Over time I have transitioned to a new theme, and my Instagram has primarily become a fitness diary that shares some of my training within the sport that I do, which is (or now was – but we’ll get into that later in the post) CrossFit. You will see my blog making the same transition. As an avid CrossFitter, this post will mainly be covering the changes to the Sport that is – or was – CrossFit. Here we go.
2020 has been a shocker. Bush fires in Australia, Covid-19, the brutal murder of George Floyd and now the fall of the CrossFit brand (although not to put all these on the same level of severity). Here I’m going to be focusing on the latter two, which are somewhat connected.
The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has been eye-opening for us all; it has brought to light the vast scale of police brutality and systemic racism, particularly in America, and it has been an intense and emotional few weeks. Everyone is trying to help in different ways – personally I have done my best to educate myself on racism, I’ve chosen to donate and sign petitions, including one to get History topics such as British colonionalism and enslavement onto my secondary school’s curriculum, as well as more education on racism during life skill lessons, neither of which I remember being taught about during my time at school.
Whilst I have shared more of my thoughts on the BLM movement over on my IG story, I don’t want to get too deep into it here as this is first and foremost a fitness blog, but it is necessary to acknowledge the role of it in the following topic.
The Fall of CrossFit, Inc.
Ah, Greg Glassman. You screwed up big time. For those of you that don’t know, Greg Glassman is the founder of CrossFit, Inc. He is also, as you will see from his tweets, an asshole. CrossFit is a community that is designed to welcome people. It is meant to be inclusive. Health and fitness do not, or should not, discriminate. Whilst individuals and organisations alike were posting to show their support for the fight against black oppression, Greg stayed silent. CrossFit, Inc. stayed silent. And it did not go unnoticed. People, of all races, were hurt and angry that an organisation that they had invested so much into, was remaining in the shadows. CrossFit social media accounts continued to post training information, but refused to acknowledge the murder of George Floyd, or to reassure black CrossFitters that they were loved and welcomed in the community. Greg stayed silent, and as we know, silence is seen to be choosing the side of the oppressor.
And then, once in his hole, Greg decided to keep digging. In the days that followed, he made some incredibly insensitive comments on Twitter. He replied to a polite affiliate owner who emailed him expressing her thoughts on his silence, calling her ‘delusional’, a ‘shitty person’ and then telling her that he was ashamed of her (see below). Greg behaved more than unprofessionally. He behaved like an indecent human being. I would encourage you to also read Alyssa’s full email to Greg using the link below so that you can see what it was that he chose to reply so unacceptably to.
Unless Greg had an urge to destroy his own business, the reaction that he got was inarguably not expected by him. Affiliates de-affiliated. CrossFit’s biggest sponsors ended their relationship with HQ, including Reebok, Nobull and Rogue. (I should add just to clarify that Reebok’s contract was due to end with CrossFit this year, but they chose to end it early and took the potential for any future negotiations off the table).
My own gym, previously known as CrossFit Worlds End, have also made the decision to de-affiliate, a decision that I fully support. I have also asked for a refund for my Level 1 CrossFit coaching qualification, which is due to be held in September. It is a very strange time for the world of CrossFit. On the one hand, the unity that came from the many gyms who made the decision to de-affiliate and stand in support of the BLM movement was amazing. On the other hand, it feels sad.
I love my gym and its members and I have loved the community that I have known to be CrossFit. I have put a lot into CrossFit and it has given me a lot back. I see this CrossFit as entirely separate to Greg Glassman’s cruel words and I do not believe that he speaks for the world of CrossFit. We all feel let down and ashamed by his actions. The CrossFit community that I know is inclusive, friendly and supportive and does not sound like Greg.
Suddenly I feel a bit lost. Perhaps for most gym-goers seeking to improve their fitness this does not matter. Gyms will continue to provide great quality CrossFit-style classes – after all, CrossFit did not invent any new movements. All that is missing is the CrossFit name. But what does this mean for the athletes? Those who pursue CrossFit as a sport rather than leisure or fitness. What are you if your sport is nameless? CrossFit athletes are suddenly confused. What are they competing in, now? It’s as if there is now an identity crisis within the community.
When asked about my goals within CrossFit and training, I was never very sure what I wanted to achieve. I knew I wanted to compete at some level but didn’t have a crystal clear goal in my mind. Now that CrossFit is under fire, I recognise how important it was to my goal. My purpose suddenly seems unclear. I have realised how closely-tied my motivation and training were to this sport. I dislike not being able to pin something down, or to confidently know what it is identified as. I do however, think that this current situation will result in something positive and that it is a step in the right direction in terms of equality.
My hope is that Greg Glassman will step down following the abrupt loss of support for his leadership. Perhaps he will sell the company. Or perhaps he will remain CEO and have to accept the damage he has caused and individual gyms will be left to focus more on growing their own brand. Personally I hope that Greg will sell it and that CrossFit will reform itself so that gyms can re-affiliate under a new, better leadership.
For now, it all comes down to the decisions made by CrossFit HQ, which, following this situation, unfortunately I have little faith in. I hope that they can release some information soon, and that it will be something that we can all benefit from. There is a lot more to be said on the matter and about how CrossFit can strive to increase racial equality, but I have chosen to talk about one element for this post. I am also very conscious that what is going on with CrossFit right now is the result of a far bigger issue and don’t want this to take centre stage when there are more important things to be concerned about and fighting for.
Thanks for reading.