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How St. Pete’s CrossFit community is responding to CEO’s Black Lives Matter controversy

Megan Holmes

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Local CrossFit gyms respond to national controversy. Photo taken from CrossFit9 Facebook Page.

St. Petersburg’s CrossFit community is in the midst of responding to national backlash against the CrossFit brand after inflammatory tweets, emails and comments were made by CrossFit founder and CEO Greg Glassman over the weekend.

In response to a tweet from the Institute for Health Metrics and Education stating, “Racism Is A Public Health Issue,” Glassman responded with a tweet of his own, which said, “It’s FLOYD-19.”

— Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (@IHME_UW) June 6, 2020

The tweet, which many CrossFit affiliate owners and athletes called out as racist, was quickly condemned by CrossFit affiliates and CrossFit Games athletes across the globe. Sponsors, including FitAid, Rogue Fitness and NoBull have condemned the comments and threatened to end their sponsorship of CrossFit HQ an the CrossFit Games events.

Reebok, the title sponsor of the CrossFit Games, publicly stated Sunday that they have ended negotiations for future seasons along with their partnership with CrossFit HQ. Reebok’s contract with CrossFit HQ and the CrossFit Games is set to expire at the end of the 2020 season.

“Our partnership with CrossFit HQ comes to an end later this year. 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,” Reebok said in a statement emailed to Footwear News.

“We will fulfill our remaining contractual obligations in 2020. We owe this to the CrossFit Games competitors, fans and the community. What doesn’t change is our commitment and dedication to CrossFitters and the passionate CrossFit community. We’re so thankful for the strong bonds we’ve created with coaches, box owners and athletes around the world over the past 10 years.”

Glassman later explained that his tweet was trying to “stick it to” the Institute for Health Metrics and Education because of the institute’s statements and actions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, including “their invalidated models resulting in needless, economy-wrecking, life-wrecking lockdown.”

However, Glassman’s tweet comes shortly after the release of an inflammatory email sent from Glassman to Alyssa Royse of Rocket Community Fitness (formerly Rocket CrossFit) when Royse called out what she saw as “absent leadership at a time when leadership is most important, and a moral ambiguity that doesn’t jibe with the zeitgeist or our own values.”

“The George Floyd murder threw our country into massive unrest,” Royse continued. “CrossFit is the only major brand I can think of that has failed to take a stand, make a statement, show support for social justice in general and Black lives in specific.”

Glassman responded with an email questioning the affiliate owner’s mental health, calling her “delusional.” He concluded, “I am ashamed of you.”

Glassman’s response sparked intense outrage within the CrossFit community and in less than 24 hours, hundreds of affiliates have publicly vowed to end their affiliation with CrossFit Inc. and hundreds more have condemned Glassman’s words.

Here’s what local St. Pete CrossFit gyms have had to say. Responses from CrossFit9, CrossFit 727, Skyway CrossFit and CrossFit St. Pete are included. Burg CrossFit and Burg CrossFit North, as well as Hell’s Bells CrossFit have not made statements on the controversy.

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Silence is compliance. CrossFit St. Pete will always be an all-inclusive community that stands against injustice, racism, & discrimination of any kind; we hear you, and we stand by you. Thank you to everyone that took on the workout "Big Floyd", originally created by @blackpowercleans and shared with us by @jordanchristie5 in honor of the life of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, who recently died in Minneapolis, Minnesota, after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, knelt on his neck while he was handcuffed face down on the street. . . . CASH-IN: Research articles about George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, etc. & become educated on the history of Black oppression in America. For Time: 25 Deadlifts + 25 Burpees 400m Run 25 Squat Cleans + 25 Burpees 400m Run 25 Push Presses + 25 Burpees 400m Run 25 Clusters + 25 Burpees 400m Run CASH-OUT: Sign petitions, donate to local organizations & support local black businesses (https://greenbooktampabay.org) Spread awareness on topics like systemic racism. Be open to have honest & productive conversations with people inside, and outside the box. #BlackLivesMatter #WeStandByYou

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At #CrossFit9, our mission is to create durable, happy, and healthy humans. Humans – including Black humans – who now more than ever need us to stand in solidarity and call out racism when we see it in our own community. That’s why we have to make it unequivocally clear: We vehemently condemn the statements made by CrossFit CEO Greg Glassman surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement. We’re disgusted and deeply disappointed in the deafening silence from CrossFit HQ. #CrossFit is bigger than one person. We are one of thousands of affiliate owners and coaches on the ground who dedicate our lives to improving our community, serving all people — including People of Color— in our quest for health. Internally we are discussing what our future holds. We celebrate diversity under our own roof, but it’s no secret CrossFit has a diversity problem overall. If CrossFit HQ leadership does not change, we’ll be forced to reconsider the renewal of our affiliation, as it means our values are simply not in alignment. We hope they’ll get with the times. There is so much work left to be done, and it’s always best done together. We seek to be a more inclusive space. We are listening. We are planning. We are not backing down from the challenge to listen and deeply reflect on how we can dismantle systemic barriers to fitness, and then do the work. After all, hard work has always been the thing that draws us together at #CrossFit9. Sincerely, Team CF9 200607 “George Floyd” 8:46 AMRAP: 12 Sumo deadlift high pulls 10 Front squats 8 Burpees over the bar ✊🏻✊🏼✊🏽✊🏾✊🏿

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To say that we condemn and denounce Greg Glassman and CrossFit's actions over the past couple days is an understatement. CrossFit 727 has always been a place of inclusivity and diversity, and to learn that the company we have aligned ourselves with 7 years ago feels this way is heartbreaking. ⁠ ____⁠ ⁠ Whenever we are faced with a decision regarding CrossFit 727, we always look within our hearts. If it doesn't align with where our heart is at or if it isn't something we can be proud to tell our kids about when they are older – it doesn't happen…period.⁠ ____⁠ ⁠ To you, our 727 family – you belong here. You always have and you always will. We only ask that you show up exactly how you are, because, to us, that's perfect. What drew us to CrossFit and continues to be the driver for everything we do is our community. Community is bigger than one person.⁠ ____⁠ ⁠ We are taking some time to assess what our next steps will be, but know this. CrossFit 727 has always been more than the name "CrossFit". We will continue to operate as 727, providing you with a safe space to empower yourself physically + mentally – whether or not we have the word CrossFit in our name. We have also committed donating to the @thelovelandfoundation. ⁠ ____⁠ ⁠ As always, we want to hear from you. We always want to listen and grow.⁠ ⁠ #727made

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Some of you may or may not know who Greg Glassman is, but over the last couple days he has made some comments that have been "not nice" to say the least, pertaining to the current events of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and the pandemic. Although our banner says CrossFit, our views and beliefs on BLM do not fall in line with the recent comments made by CrossFit HQ. That is not who we are. A core value of our business and gym is to provide a safe space where the community is loving and accepting, a place where everyone is treated equally. Shawn, Steve and myself are currently discussing options for Skyway and how we can not only continue to provide our members with the best possible experience but also provide ways to help, build, and support our black brothers and sisters. Our first step will be to have a Memorial WOD for George Floyd this Saturday. We will be collecting donations all through the week to give to local St. Pete organizations to help in their fight for justice and equality. Skyway will also match every dollar donated. We want you all to know where we stand and would love to chat more if you have any questions. #crossfitskyway #crossfit #lookgoodfeelamazing #strengtheningstpete #stpetecrossfit #stpetefitness #fitness #healthystpete #functionalfitness #sweatskyway #workout #motivation #fit #gym #health

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