A day I never thought I’d see has come: Greg Glassman, founder of CrossFit, has resigned.
CrossFit changed my life, no question. I fondly remember meeting Greg Glassman and Nicole Carroll when they attended and taught the first ever CrossFit certification outside of North America, CrossFit Manchester in Stockport, England, the UK’s first CrossFit box*. And afterwards having a pint and a chat with Greg in The Midway pub, where I got to thank him personally.
[* If memory serves, there were 2 other affiliates before CrossFit Manchester: CrossFit Dental in Scotland, and Andrew Stemler’s CrossFit London, but I believe at the time, neither had a dedicated box to train in. CrossFit Central Scotland also had an affiliate around then, but I forget their exact timings.]
I still have the original CrossFit journals, issue 1 dated “September 1, 2003” with the headline feature: “The Garage Gym”. Issue 2’s “What is Fitness?” is still something that influences my training today. I loved what CrossFit taught me and did for me physically and health wise. It was amazing!
But over the years, CrossFit lost it’s way. The telling issue being so many of the inner circle that having been ousted and discarded over the years. Remember Mark Rippetoe, Robb Wolf, the Martins of CrossFit Kids fame, etc etc? When you keep falling out with those that are closest to you, one day you must surely look in the mirror and think: “Shit, I’m the common denominator, it must be me!”
Add to that the dangerous practices I saw being taught over and over without regard for safety (e.g. plyometric box jumps without warning of their tendency to snap Achilles tendons), the multiple injuries I and many others suffered (e.g. ripped up shoulder due to butterfly pull-ups, again taught without warning), the inexorable decline in coaching quality (e.g. refusal to allow scaling and threats to out as “cheats” anyone caught self-scaling), the lack of the much vaunted “community” which is only there if you drink the kool-aid and attend the competitions. Hence you’ll understand why, with a heavy heart, I quit CrossFit years ago.
Greg built something amazing, changed the lives of many, and changed the face of exercise & fitness for a generation. For that he can be proud and I am personally grateful. However he is also a liability to the CrossFit brand. CrossFit could have been twice as big had it had a more inclusive culture with a core focus on health and well-being, rather than the razz of athletic competition no matter the cost.
Think that’s harsh? Remember Julie Foucher in the 2015 CrossFit Games? She tore her achillies live on TV doing, guess what… plyometric box jumps! Then came back out after the break wearing a support boot and tried to continue to compete, eventually being given the “Spirit of the Games” award!! This sent the clear message from Glassman’s CrossFit that performance is more important than safety or health. 🙁
If you want to check how un-inclusive CrossFit is, search google images for “CrossFit Games 2019” and count how many screens you have to scroll down through before you see your first black face. You’ll be shocked. Now compare that to just searching Google images for “Athletics”, the difference is stark.
That’s why there was the very legitimate call for CrossFit HQ to make a positive statement on the #blackLivesMatter movement, and Greg blew it in way that only he could. “It’s Floyd-19” may go down as one of the most costly tweets of all time. Even Elon Musk’s spectacularly stupid tweet: “Tesla stock price is too high imo” had zero effect after the initial shock wore off, as Tesla’s stock rebounded and continued to hit record highs.
So despite my thanks to Greg for starting CrossFit, I’m not sad to see him go. Having said that, I am appalled that smarmy twat-in-chief Dave Castro has taken over from him! I’m very rarely rude about people, but I’ve detested Castro from the first moment I saw him speak. Though I reserved judgement as actions speak louder than words, I blame him in no small part for the poor path that CrossFit has trodden in the last decade, including many of the ridiculous decisions over the CrossFit Games programming.
I just wish that Nicole Carroll had held on for a few more days before deciding to resign. She would have made an awesome CrossFit CEO, someone who really could have taken CrossFit to the next level in terms of health, safety and inclusivity.
I truly hope that CrossFit learns and grows from this low, as it has so much potential and will hold a special place in my heart for the rest of my days.