In the face of a growing COVID-19 pandemic, and the perception of widespread systemic racism and social injustice in the United States (U.S.), CrossFit’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Founder Greg Glassman appeared to make light of the situation over the weekend, tweeting “FLOYD-19” in response to a public health body statement that racism was a public health issue.
Glassman also called an affiliate “delusional” for questioning why CrossFit had been silent on the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota – an incident that has sparked outrage throughout the U.S. and the world. Four police officers were fired and have been charged – Derek Chauvin with second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter; and three others with aiding and abetting second-degree unintentional murder as well as aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
Glassman has since apologized, but in the backlash of his tweet and ensuing comments, a number of fitness brands and club affiliates have cut ties.
Co-owner of Happy Hour CrossFit here in Nassau, The Bahamas, Karen Eldon-Jordan, said they were already disturbed by Glassman’s silence on the matter of racism and social injustice in the U.S. following Floyd’s death. Following the developments over the weekend, she said cutting ties with the registered trademark company in the U.S. was the right thing to do. They will no longer support the parent company financially in terms of affiliate fees and will drop the CrossFit name.
“We pay an affiliation fee to use the CrossFit name because we believed in it, but they don’t give much support,” said Eldon-Jordan. “During this time of racism and social injustice, we did a fundraiser on our end but the CrossFit headquarters was silent. Nothing was said from their point of view. Then, the tweet from the CEO was super insensitive. Basically, we were already upset from a lack of leadership before. The CEO apologized, but it didn’t seem heartfelt and we had decided to pull out as an affiliate. We feel a growing dissonance between our values at Happy Hour and his, and we do not want to be associated with an organization that doesn’t support one of our core values.
“We will lose the name but nothing else really changes,” she continued. “Our members will experience the same style of training and the same supportive community. We still uphold our individual values and mission. The method of training is one that we love, that we uphold, that we believe in. Our programming and workouts remain the same. Our community stays the same, our values, our beliefs and our mission stay the same. We still remain the Happy Hour of your day.”
Eldon-Jordan said ever since the uproar began in the U.S. over racism and social injustice surrounding Floyd’s death, they have shown their support and were looking for a similar stance from the parent body of CrossFit.
“When they didn’t say anything, it made it difficult for us to continue to give them financial support. They weren’t taking a stance like we thought they should be,” she said. “What has been said by Glassman does not speak for our community and the CrossFit community that we know and value as a whole. We believe in being inclusive and making everyone feel welcomed and accepted no matter their race, gender, background, age or sexual preference. This is a time to stand strong. Stand united. Demand change. Demand equality.”
Eldon-Jordan said they’re in the process of rebranding and changing the local name of the fitness facility.
“That is going to be relatively easy for us. CrossFit is more of a community effort for us where people work out together and share a passion,” said Eldon-Jordan. “For us, it’s more of a feeling than using the business name. We’re in a good location and will continue to build up the clientele and maintain our reputation. We’ve struggled a bit with differentiating ourselves from the typical CrossFit but our mission has always been to function as a community. We want people to feel included and comfortable and we believe that will relate to better workout styles and programs.”
Karen and her husband Mario started Happy Hour CrossFit in September 2016. It is located at 671 Bay Street in Downtown Nassau. Eldon-Jordan said they are currently working with about 30 clients virtually, but as soon as the gyms on the island are allowed to reopen, she expects their regular clients to return. Their membership was between 80-100 prior to the closure of gyms in the country due to the presence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The other accredited CrossFit operation in New Providence, CrossFit Potcake, has yet to respond to the tweet and comments from Glassman over the weekend but has apparently decided to cut ties with the CrossFit organization as well.