On Sunday, about 50 black house owners of CrossFit affiliate studios joined a Zoom convention name with Greg Glassman, the chief govt of CrossFit. They symbolize a small proportion of the house owners of the greater than 14,000 gyms all over the world that pay $three,000 a yr to make use of that identify.
Maillard Howell, 41, is an proprietor of Dean CrossFit Gym in Brooklyn. He had one query. “How many black people work at HQ?” he mentioned.
Mr. Glassman mentioned he wasn’t even positive, Mr. Howell mentioned. He then requested an affiliate on the decision, who additionally didn’t know.
“CrossFit, the method, has done amazing things for me and for many people, but the company, systemically, it’s very much flawed,” mentioned Mr. Howell, who holds an M.B.A. and labored within the pharmaceutical business for 11 years earlier than opening his health club.
Mr. Glassman and his company staff had unexpectedly agreed to this name, as the company model descended additional right into a disaster.
On Saturday, Mr. Glassman had responded to a tweet that mentioned: “Racism and discrimination are critical public health issues that demand an urgent response.”
He tweeted in reply, “It’s Floyd-19.”
CrossFit, not like many different manufacturers, had not made nice public reveals of assist to its black neighborhood on social media for the reason that demise of George Floyd in late May and the following protests in opposition to police mistreatment of black those that have captivated the world. (The police officer charged with Mr. Floyd’s homicide, Derek Chauvin, is expected to appear in court late this month.)
Mr. Glassman’s tweet was his first public statement on the topic. Just the day before, the brand’s Facebook page had published a conversation starter about serving its black community better, though it did not mention Mr. Floyd or Black Lives Matter.
On social media, Mr. Glassman’s tweet drew a swift response. “Thank you for letting your Black athletes know exactly how little you care about them,” one tweet said. “How to kill your brand in three words or less,” another read. Some supportive voices emerged, too: “Trump will support you!! Hes totally into CrossFit! I see his gatherings! So many CrossFitters there!”
More than 24 hours after his initial tweet — and several hours after the call with the black owners — CrossFit issued a statement with an apology it attributed to Mr. Glassman. “I made a mistake by the words I chose yesterday,” he said. “My heart is deeply saddened by the pain it has caused. It was a mistake, not racist but a mistake.” (Neither Mr. Glassman nor a CrossFit representative responded to a request for comment.)
The apology did not prevent associates from breaking ties with CrossFit. “From a monetary standpoint, it will cost CrossFit millions, in royalties, in its Reebok deal, in licensing fees, in sponsorships,” said Justin LoFranco, the creator of Morning Chalk Up, a newsletter about CrossFit. “You’re going to be hard-pressed to find a company that says, ‘Yes, I want to put my name on the CrossFit Games right now.’”
But the real damage was more profound, Mr. LoFranco said, affecting the community spirit of individual CrossFit gyms. “It does trend white but it is still a big tent,” he said. “There are gay people, straight people, black, white, too fat, too skinny, people who say, ‘I’m looking for a better version of me’ and they find it there.” The fitness system is based on military training exercises and attracts a large number of veterans, including those who have been injured, have paraplegia, or who have lost limbs.
Mr. LoFranco posted a survey to the Morning Chalk Up Instagram account, asking affiliate studios how they felt about Mr. Glassman’s leadership. By Monday afternoon, more than 500 said they would discontinue their affiliation with the CrossFit brand.
Reebok, the official CrossFit outfitter and a major sponsor of the CrossFit Games, an annual competition that last year awarded its winner a $300,000 prize, announced on Sunday that it would not extend its association with the CrossFit brand.
“Our partnership with CrossFit HQ comes to an end later this year,” Reebok 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. We will fulfill our remaining contractual obligations in 2020. We owe this to the CrossFit Games competitors, fans and the community.”
And Rogue Fitness, an equipment manufacturing company closely associated with CrossFit, said it would remove CrossFit’s branding from its upcoming fitness competition, scheduled to take place this month in Columbus, Ohio. “We stand behind the community,” the company wrote in an Instagram post.
For Dasia Welsh, 28, a leadership consultant for a technology company in Nashville who does CrossFit six times a week, Mr. Glassman’s words represent a loss of opportunity.
“I see firsthand the benefits this would have for so many in the black community,” she said of the fitness regimen. “And yet there is this entire group of people who don’t feel supported by this company. This is very hard because CrossFit is not just something you do on the side, it is a part of the dynamic of our life.”
Carlos Navarro, the owner of Iron Reign CrossFit in Lodi, N.J., said he’ll have to decide if he’ll renew that affiliate membership when it expires in four months. “In order for me to keep this place open, I need to bring members in. And the word CrossFit is what you pay for,” he said.
Chandler Smith said he was projected to be ranked 20th out of thousands of athletes at the CrossFit Games.
“For the last eight years, making the CrossFit Games has been the No. 2 priority of my life, second only to accomplishing my duties as an Army West Point cadet and then as a United States Army officer,” Mr. Smith said. “Those who know me know that making the Games in 2020 has been my primary goal since my wrestling career ended, and that has made the recent happenings within the sport absolutely devastating.”
Mr. Smith said he was optimistic that CrossFit will survive. “Given the apology issued by CrossFit headquarters, I am optimistic that an actionable plan will be developed and lead to the games still occurring.”