CrossFit’s Corporate and Social Responsibility

The word CrossFit has become somewhat of an enigma within the fitness industry over the past twenty years. The fitness movement, which was founded by Greg Glassman in California in 2000, has gathered a cult-like following by its members who have enjoyed the community mentality and constantly varied training that the methodology promotes.

As of the beginning of 2020 there were over 15,000 CrossFit gyms or “boxes” as they are known within CrossFit circles worldwide. To become an official CrossFit affiliate, gym owners must pay an annual subscription fee of $3000 USD fee and employ CrossFit certified trainers who have completed at minimum a CrossFit level one certificate, which is a weekend course which costs a further $1000 USD per participant. In all, CrossFit is now estimated to have an annual turnover of $4 Billion USD according to Forbes.

In the photo: CrossFit has averaged an annual growth of 166%. Photo Credit: Unsplash.

With such a wide-reaching platform CrossFit now claims to be the largest certifier of fitness professionals in the world, a claim they can certainly back up. This platform and scope of influence within the health and fitness industry has allowed CrossFit, and more specifically Mr Glassman, to flex their muscles in taking a stand against anyone who has threatened or denounced the methodology and sport.

Perhaps the most well publicised and notable legal battle for CrossFit was their win over the National Strength and Conditioning Association in which the court ordered the NSCA to pay CrossFit Inc a total of $3,999,868.66 following a lengthy and public battle in relation to safety concerns with CrossFit’s training methodology.

Due to its position within the global fitness landscape and its track record of public statements, CrossFit’s silence in the wake of the tragic murder of George Floyd and the subsequent Black Lives Matter movement was glaring. Despite being called upon numerous times by its community to issue a statement and take a stand CrossFit HQ remained silent.

This silence was broken by Mr Glassman when he released a tweet on his personal account in response to a tweet posted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation which stated that “Racism is a health issue”, to which he replied, “it’s Floyd-19”.

He then doubled down by saying “Your failed model quarantined us and now you’re going to model a solution to racism? George Floyd’s brutal murder sparked riots nationally.” 

According to Buzzfeed Mr Glassman was also quoted on a private zoom call in saying “We’re not mourning for George Floyd – I don’t think me or any of my staff are. Can you tell me why I should mourn for him? Other than that, it’s the white thing to do.”

In the photo: CrossFit gyms have only experienced a 2% failure rate. Photo Credit: Unsplash

These comments sparked immediate outrage with major partners such as Reebok and Rogue Fitness, as well as an estimated 1000 CrossFit Affiliates cutting ties with CrossFit HQ immediately. Mr Glassman has also been heavily criticized by many of the sport’s biggest names including champions Rich Froning, Mat Fraser, Tai-Claire Toomey and Katrin Davidsdottir.

Following a tense few days with both CrossFit HQ and Mr Glassman offering apologies, the decision was taken for Mr Glassman to step down as CEO and retire effective immediately. The role will now be filled by CrossFit Games CEO Dave Castro who released the following statement: 

“CrossFit is a community — one that is global, diverse, and tough. Every person in our community shares a common bond. We are all dedicated to a visionary, transformative approach to health and fitness. Our individual passions for that approach have forged an enduring community.”

“Our community is hurt, though. Our shared bond brings together millions of people with differing opinions, viewpoints, and experiences. Friction is inevitable. Common ground, mutual respect, and fellowship must also be inevitable. I’m honored to take on the role of CEO of CrossFit, Inc. I hope to do right by affiliates, trainers, athletes, and other members of the CrossFit community around the world and never lose sight of the mission Greg established for us all.”

Despite the numerous apologies and this strong statement from Mr Castro, it appears as though CrossFit has a long way to go to win back the trust of the community it has hurt. If the estimates are correct CrossFit stands to lose $3,000,000 a year in affiliate fees alone with a further significant loss expected in their training certification income.

However, it is the social standing and image of CrossFit that is set to take the most significant hit as the corporation failed to take a stand alongside its community in the pursuit of social justice and equality. With Dave Castro now in charge, the company must look to rebuild from the bottom up to repair the damage caused and show that it is truly committed to change and developing an inclusive community.


EDITOR’S NOTE: The opinions expressed here by Impakter.com columnists are their own, not those of Impakter.com. 

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About the Author /

A Freelance Journalist and former Personal Trainer based in London. With experience in the financial world as a Yacht Broker before committing fully to Journalism and Marketing with a focus on Sports, Health and Fitness and Sustainability. Studying towards a BA(Hons) Sports Journalism having previously studied a Bsc(Hons)Yacht Production and Surveying.

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