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CrossFit Clash Threatens its Survival

On Saturday June 6, Greg Glassman, the Chief Executive of CrossFit, responded to a tweet that said: “Racism and discrimination are critical public health issues that demand an urgent response.” Glassman tweeted in reply, “It’s Floyd-19.” 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 George Floyd or the Black Lives Matter movement. Glassman’s tweet prompted a swift and predominantly negative social media response.

On Sunday, June 7, about 50 Black owners of CrossFit affiliate studios joined a Zoom conference call with Glassman. These owners represent a small percentage of the more than 14,000 gym owners worldwide who pay $3,000 a year to use the CrossFit name. In the Zoom call, Maillard Howell, a Black owner of Dean CrossFit Gym in Brooklyn asked, “How many Black people work at HQ?” According to Howell, Glassman said he wasn’t sure, and then asked an associate on the call, who also didn’t know.

Several hours after this call, CrossFit issued an apology it attributed to Glassman: “I made a mistake by the words I chose yesterday. My heart is deeply saddened by the pain it has caused. It was a mistake, not racist but a mistake.” The apology did not prevent many –including sponsors, facility owners, and patrons--from breaking ties with CrossFit.