On June 3, Alyssa Royse, owner of Rocket Community Fitness, formerly “Rocket CrossFit,” a nine-year affiliate, wrote a letter to Brian Mulvaney, chief advisor at CrossFit Inc. In the letter, Royse stated that “Rocket CrossFit will be changing our name to Rocket Community Fitness, and likely disaffiliating from CrossFit when it’s time to renew.”
CrossFit Founder and CEO, Greg Glassman’s response to the letter, which included a heavy dose of name-calling and gaslighting, has ignited a firestorm across the community.
One big thing: After the initial letter and response were added to the Rocket Community Fitness blog on June 5, the post was immediately and widely circulated around social media. In the past 48 hours, an avalanche of gyms have announced plans to disaffiliate, prominent Games athletes, led by Katrin Davidsdottir have denounced CrossFit HQ and leading fitness brands and Games sponsors, like Reebok, are seeking to distance themselves.
Some details: In her letter, Royse referenced the work she did with CrossFit HQ surrounding LGBTQ+ inclusivity but acknowledged more recent dissatisfaction with the brand.
- Royse wrote, in explaining the choice to disaffiliate: “The reasons boil down to an incoherent brand identity that is losing value, 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. 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,” she continued.
- “While I fully understand that you may feel like you’re in a tough spot, there are easy ways out of it. Certainly easier than the things we’ve already accomplished together with inclusivity in the queer community. (And that went really well!),” Royse reminded.
- “Let’s be clear, your silence IS taking a stand. You are standing, in silence on the side of history that Brady and I cannot stand on. Even taking a small step to the right side of history is better than haphazardly napping on the wrong side of history.”
In response, Glassman wrote: “I sincerely believe that quarantine has impacted your mental health.”
- He continued, “You’re doing your best to brand us as racist and know it’s bullshit. That makes you a really shitty person. Do you understand that? You’ve let your politics warp you into something that strikes me as wrong to the point of being evil.”
- “I am ashamed of you,” Glassman concluded.
Royse said she wrote the letter from “the perspective of an affiliate owner who had seen CrossFit make great changes, be able to learn and grow. Our relationship had been one of facilitating some big changes together, and it was from that place that I thought it was worth reaching out to them. I knew I was not the only affiliate feeling what I was feeling, I wanted to help.”
- “The irony is that my letter was an attempt to say ‘hey, I think there is danger ahead,’ precisely to avoid exactly what is now happening.”
- “My original letter was going to then serve as our explanation as to why we were rebranding. It was a sad moment for me, but it was made easier by his response. I think that people deserved to know how he reacted because it says a lot. Clearly I was not wrong.”
- “I think this is just all very sad. But I’m really looking forward to seeing what the future holds.”
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Will Hurst owns Big Little Gyms, a consulting and coaching support provider for gym owners, and spends his days…