The founder and CEO of the global CrossFit fitness brand, which has more than 500 affiliate gyms in Australia, is stepping down over controversial and offensive statements about the coronavirus and George Floyd. Floyd is the US man whose death at the hands of police has sparked worldwide outrage and protests.
His comments have caused an international uproar and here in Australia the Sydney Morning Herald reports that several CrossFit-branded affiliate gyms have already said they are either parting ways with CrossFit or are considering doing so.
Commercial partners and gyms part ways
Globally, several commercial partners have now distanced themselves from CrossFit. These include Reebok, which has been an apparel partner for a decade and the major sponsor of the annual televised CrossFit Games.
“Our partnership with CrossFit HQ comes to an end later this year,” Nike said in a statement. “Recently we have been in discussions regarding a new agreement, however, in light of recent events we have made the decision to end our partnership with CrossFit HQ.”
The statement continued: “We will fulfil our remaining contractual obligations in 2020. We owe this to the CrossFit Games competitors, fans and the community.”
Founder says he has ‘decided to retire’
Glassman announced on Wednesday, 10 June that he had “decided to retire” and step down as chief executive.
“On Saturday I created a rift in the CrossFit community and unintentionally hurt many of its members … Those who know me know that my sole issue is the chronic disease epidemic. I know that CrossFit is the solution to this epidemic,” he said in a statement.
The decision came after a pair of offensive tweets by Glassman. On Saturday, in response to a tweet from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation which stated “Racism is a public health issue”, Glassman tweeted “It’s FLOYD-19”.
He continued: “Your failed model quarantined us and now you’re going to model a solution to racism? George Floyd’s brutal murder sparked riots nationally. Quarantine alone is ‘accompanied in every age and under all political regimes by an undercurrent of suspicion, distrust, and riots.’ Thanks’!”
Aussie affiliate gyms look to cut ties
The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Ezra Poyas, owner of CrossFit Balaclava in Melbourne, as saying he would be changing his gym’s name to Balaclava Fitness to break away from the CrossFit brand, for which he pays about $4 000 a year in licensing fees.
“Unfortunately, CrossFit no longer holds the same values we do,” Poyas said. He condemned Glassman’s “complete lack of empathy” and said it “was so out of tune with what’s going on in the world”.
Another Aussie gym, CrossFit South Yarra, said in Facebook and Instagram posts: “We will decide our steps going forward over the next few days depending on the actions of CrossFit HQ. Please know that this doesn’t change the training or support the CFSY gives to all our members and family.”
See one of the messages the gym posted here:
Also pulling the plug is CrossFit Volume in Sydney, whose owner Hassan Abdallah told The Herald : “I do not stand for racism at all. My gym is a multicultural community; we have clients from over 30 different countries.”