Ever since our inception, we have been affiliated with CrossFit. Up until this point, this has been a proud affiliation. This does not mean I or we have agreed with every stance they have taken, every post they have made, or every opinion they have voiced, but it was never about that. It was about the methodology that changed my life, their unique and groundbreaking view of fitness and broader health, and the community that it gave birth to, both locally and globally.
Greg Glassman has long been a divisive character; outspoken and abrupt, often to the point of rude, and dismissive of differing viewpoints - even when they have merit. It is still my belief that in order to achieve what he has, that this was somewhat necessary. I have not been aware before of any such serious comment on his part, hence my taking a stand now and not previously. His comment, his subsequent reaction, and the detail of his video call with affiliate owners, and the comments he made throughout, are enough for me to want nothing more to do with him.
Separating from CrossFit as a brand is a little more difficult to me than this though. I would like to take a few moments to explain why I think immediate de-affiliation may be the wrong reaction, although I have absolutely no quarrel with those who have chosen this path. Whilst Greg Glassman founded the company, and created much of the methodology we know today, he is not the company. I have attended ten certifications or courses run by CrossFit, worked out at well over two dozen affiliates, and been a spectator at three Regionals competitions. I have taken part in the CrossFit Games Open every year since 2013, and have owned an affiliate for almost four and a half years. Through all of that, every single member of seminar staff, both for mainstream Level 1 and 2 courses, and speciality courses as they once were, has been inspirational, professional, knowledgeable and above all, inclusive! From Matt Evans, Davs Dennis, Danny Watson and others who ran my Level 1, Karl Steadman, Rob Lawson, Drake Sladky and others responsible for my Level 2 to Oakley Woodhouse who helped guide me towards my Level 3, I feel I have benefitted from some of the very best training it is possible to receive. Their mentorship and guidance is something I look to daily to help shape my decisions and to make me a better coach. This entire framework exists because of CrossFit. This entire framework is inclusive, open and a force for good that I don't want to see lost. In fact, I still believe it can be hugely influential, positive and even one of the key factors in making the changes that are so clearly needed.
There are enormous numbers of capable, respectful and influential people within the walls of CrossFit HQ, as well as their more widely disseminated seminar staff. These people are regularly impacting people across the globe with their teaching and knowledge, and have collectively been responsible for teaching your coaches the majority of what they know. I believe we owe it to ourselves, and those good people who are the heart and soul of the community, to see where they can take it. I ask an open question: if the CEO of Asda or Starbucks were to make a public blunder like this, would you ask for the company to close down, or would you ask for them to step down and be replaced by a competent leader? Would you cease to ever give them your custom again, or would you insist that their leadership was changed before carrying on to shop as normal? I ask this because there are countless examples of tasteless and classless leadership of companies, both in the UK and abroad, where those companies have not been boycotted.
I fully agree that change is required at the top in order for CrossFit to remain a relevant and impactful company in the global fitness space. My questions and comments take nothing away from the inappropriate and unacceptable nature of Greg Glassman's comments, and I stand by our core value of inclusivity as a company, in a particular those black members of our wider community, who are particularly stricken at the moment. It is for these people I reserve my thoughts as they struggle to be heard. I have this morning emailed CrossFit HQ to clarify our position, and will not be continuing to pay affiliation so long as Greg Glassman remains responsible for running the company. Should they not release a statement with a satisfactory plan outlined, with dates by which their promises and changes will be achieved, I will remove our affiliation altogether. I truly believe that this is a powerful statement, combined with the many other affiliates I know to be doing the same, that HQ will have to listen to. I believe that this action is most likely to see both justice and equality in the space CrossFit controls for Black people, but also create the organisation we all need, and CrossFit should be.
I have attached the email I sent to CrossFit HQ to this blog post, in an attempt to be completely transparent. I also openly admit I am not an expert on any of these matters, and I am learning as I go. Making decisions that affect the potential future of my business and livelihood on such a tight timescale is challenging and scary. I will inevitably make mistakes, misjudge the tone of my comments, and fail to consider angles and opinions. I welcome any and all constructive conversation, especially from current members who feel strongly about these issues, and will happily discuss perspectives on or offline.