Charles Johnson and wife Miriam are back to “Da Box”, dropping the CrossFit name in the face of recent revelations from former CrossFit Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Founder Greg Glassman who appeared to make light of the situation of systemic racism and social injustice in the United States.
The Bahamian entrepreneurs, who opened the first CrossFit gym in The Bahamas in 2011, previously operated under the name “CrossFit Potcake”, stationed at the Airport Industrial Park in Western New Providence. Glassman tweeted “FLOYD-19” in reference to the killing of African American George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and in response to a public health body statement that racism was a public health issue. He had also called an affiliate “delusional” for questioning why CrossFit had been silent on the matter – an incident that sparked outrage in major cities in the U.S. and around the world. Glassman has since resigned.
Level two CrossFit Coach Charles Johnson said really and truly, their minds had been made up before the statement from Glassman.
“A lot of things were happening behind the scenes leading up to Glassman making that statement,” said Johnson. “Most of the black affiliate owners worldwide, we were just trying to get a position as it relates to the brand. His statement just didn’t sit well with a lot of the CrossFit owners. People could forgive you for a mistake but not addressing the issue at hand prior to the statement was an issue. The issue of racism in CrossFit wasn’t a shock for me because I experienced the separation. Here in The Bahamas, we are predominantly black, but in the U.S. CrossFit is predominantly white with a small number of minorities.
“They just didn’t put themselves in position to listen. A lot of people who are challenged to understand what is happening in America and with George Floyd, they just don’t understand the injustices. They dropped the ball, and until changes are made, we will continue to distance ourselves. Right now, I can’t be a part of a brand that wouldn’t listen to its affiliates.”
Johnson said his membership is close to 90 percent black, and dropping the CrossFit name was really a no-brainer decision for him. There are about 15,000 CrossFit affiliates worldwide, and according to reports, about 3,000 have separated themselves from the brand.
“People still identify us as CrossFit. There are a lot of people who still believe in the brand. We’re dropping the name but we’re not dropping the CrossFit methodology. CrossFit is a methodology consisting of functional movement and high-intensity training. We’re here to provide health and wellness, a new form of training and good exercise for our clients. I had a community-based gym before I branded CrossFit and that will continue,” said Johnson.
Johnson operates a class-based structure, Monday to Saturday. His gym is opened from five in the morning to eight at night, but ever since the COVID-19 pandemic showed up in The Bahamas, they have been operating virtual classes online.
“All gyms in The Bahamas took a hit. I was able to adapt to digital media by creating a digital media platform so that clients would have an opportunity to work out and do their exercises at home,” said Johnson. “For us, there was about a 10-15 percent drop in membership, but people are still engaged online. Right now, we’re just waiting on phase five of the reopening plan before making any decisions. Once the government gives the green light, we will be able to put the necessary safety precautions in place and we’ll make assessments based on the severity of the coronavirus issue here in The Bahamas and based on the precautionary measures that are in place.”
As national champion, Johnson’s wife Miriam was set to take part in the CrossFit Games that have been pushed back to October, in Madison, Wisconsin. A number of top athletes worldwide have pulled out of the event.
Collectively, Charles and Miriam form one of the more conditioned husband and wife teams in The Bahamas. Following the passing of Hurricane Dorian last year, their gym stepped up and created a GoFundMe page as well as organized a fundraising event, ‘Hope for Bahamas’, which featured a WOD (workout of the day) in support of the victims of the northern Bahamas who were affected.
Da Box could be reopened in the coming weeks as the country gradually transitions into phase four of the reopening of the economy plan from the effects of COVID-19. Group exercise with social distancing is permitted in phase four, and in phase five restrictions on all movement are lifted.